X-Men: Gold Annual #2

Issue Date: 
October 2018
Story Title: 
Into the Woods

Seanan McGuire (writer), Marco Failla (artist), Rachelle Rosenberg (colorist), VC’s Cory Petit (letterer), Djibril Morisette-Phan (cover artist), Ema Luppacino & Chris Peter (variant cover), Jay Bowen & Anthony Gambino (graphic designers),  Kathleen Wisweski (editor), Nick Lowe (supervising editor),  Jordan D. White (X-Men group editor), C.B.Cebulski (editor-in-chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)
X-Men created by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby
Special thanks to Michael Martinez

Brief Description: 

Young Kitty Pryde decides to go to summer camp again and wants to use that time considering whether she really wants to be an X-Man. At camp, she hooks up with her old friends Madison and Sarah but soon realizes X-Man training has made her different. For example, she now relishes sports. She sneaks out at night to train and look for her missing cell phone. She catches some junior counselors stealing stuff and follows them. Later, she liberates all the stuff they stole, then gives it back and then pretends to be a ghost to scare them. However, that works out the wrong way, as they now spread rumors of an evil mutant haunting camp. Kitty is disappointed in her friends when they too make anti-mutant comments, after which they have an argument. Disappointed, Kitty runs into the woods, where she runs into a loner kid, Asher. He accuses her of being another anti-mutant bigot and Kitty is angry. The next days pass with her being ostracized by the others. In the woods, Kitty notes some kids hunting a mutant and realizes they mean Asher. Asher has the power to create some harmless lights but little control and Kitty offers him some training. When they feel attracted to each other they kiss, but Asher is scared because they daren’t pass on their mutant genes. He runs away. Late Kitty makes up with her friends and even Asher and decides she has to help change the world as an X-Man to make things better for kids like Asher.

Full Summary: 

Xavier’s School, years ago:
It’s the start of summer and 14 year old Kitty Pryde decides she deserves a summer vacation, so she is packing her stuff. Storm joins her in her room and Kitty asks, she isn’t mad, is she? She signed up for summer camp without asking first. Storm assures her it’s all right. Kitty fears there might be an emergency but Ororo assures her they can handle things without her for a few weeks. Kitty asks her if she ever had doubts about being who she is. Ororo replies she never had the opportunity for doubt. She tells Kitty she is fortunate to question and doubt and decide. It is an incredible gift. Kitty should take her time opening it.

On the bus to coach to camp, Kitty has her doubts about Storm’s advice. She doesn’t want doubt. She wants to know if she can still be normal. What if she goes there and the others will immediately notice she is different?

Nervously, she leaves the coach when they have arrived. A moment later, a blonde girl -  Madison - tackles Kitty to the ground, enthusiastic to see her again as is Kitty’s other camp friend Sarah. The two drag her to their cabin.

They ask Kitty if she wants the top or bottom bunk. When Kitty replies top, Sarah recalls she used to be afraid of heights. She got over it, Kitty replies. Sarah tattles that Madison is still afraid of ghosts and bugs and the dark. The two begin to argue and Kitty tells them she missed them. Of course, she did, they reply. Best summer friends forever!

So, the days pass with Kitty having fun like ordinary kids, canoeing, doing archery, roasting marshmallows at the campfire.

In the evening, they return to their cabin. The other two girls are exhausted, while Kitty announces she is going get up early for the two mile hike the next day. The girls are surprised. Who died and made her a jock? Kitty fibs she think she lost her phone on the hiking trail, then explains that private school she transferred to have a real focus on physical fitness. Yay, endorphins? Weird, the other two agree.

Later, Kitty wonders how they can sleep. She is still wide awake, missing the Danger Room, missing training. Plus, she really needs to find her phone. It’s locked but, if someone cracked it, they could find out she is an X-Man.

She decides she needs that hike and sneaks out. She takes the hike in the nighttime, not seeing the bright colored lights in the woods. She figures she can be normal all day and train at night. She easily climbs a tree and decides she can have it all. And once she has run off some of that nervous energy, she can go look for her phone.

Suddenly, she hears voice below her. It’s some of the older kids, the junior counselors. They talk about doing cabin six tonight, as some in there got cookies today. One of them warns the others to be quiet. They are almost back to camp. He doesn’t want to get caught in his last year.

Caught doing what? Kitty thinks and then recalls how, six years ago, Sarah lost her stuffed toy. Four years ago, Madison lost her grandmother’s necklace and they thought it was the camp ghost and, three days ago, Kitty lost her phone. Kitty realizes they’ve been stealing from the kids for years. She would have been happier with a ghost. At least that doesn’t destroy one’s faith in humanity.

She carefully follows them and sees how they break in and out of a cabin with practiced ease before returning to their own cabin with the loot. After they leave, Kitty phases inside and, the first things she sees are the stuffed toy, the necklace, her phone and even more. She begins to smile as she has a nasty idea…

The next morning, she is awakened by the morning call. She pretends to be happily surprised when she sees her phone, just as her friends are happy to find their stolen goods returned. So do others around the camp and the thieves sulk at dinner.

Later, they meet at their HQ and discuss how this could have happened. Did someone follow them? That moment the light goes out. Kitty, decked out all in white and wearing sheets, hisses she is the ghost of the Maplebrook Camp. They have transgressed against her and they will pay the ultimate price. Horrified, the teens run away. And Kitty laughs her ass off.

However, she is less happy the next morning when the junior counselors tattle that they were threatened by a bloodthirsty mutant. The woods aren’t safe for normal people anymore! Horrified, Kitty runs out of the cafeteria. Madison follows her to the lake. She knows it’s scary to think there could be mutants here. It’s normal to be scared of mutants. It’s just a way of saying ‘monster’. Kitty asks her to tell her she doesn’t really think that. Of course, she does, Madison insists. Mutants are freaks! They don’t belong around normal people like them. That’s not true! Kitty snaps. Madison asks if she is a mutant rights sympathizer. Being Jewish is one thing. But this…

Kitty gets up and orders her to grow up then runs into the wood blaming herself. She isn’t normal, she tells herself and runs into a boy with chin-long ref hair. “What are you doing here?” they both shout. The boy angrily adds why she is speaking to him? They’ve been at camp for years, she hasn’t said ‘boo’ to him. Kitty begins to apologize. He shuts her off, it’s fine. It’s only because apparently Santa came to camp and forgot the Jewish kid again.

He explains everyone got their stuff back, save for him. Kitty suggests maybe whoever did it is still sorting through stuff. He concedes her point and asks why she is here. She explains the other kids were talking about mutants. Of course! he scoffs. He knew she was just another of the vapid cliquish jerks who swarm around here, but he didn’t realize she was a bigot!

What did he just call her? Kitty bristles. Was that too big a word? he mocks. Kitty snaps he doesn’t know her. And she doesn’t know him! he retorts. What’s his name? Kitty draws a blank. He knows she ran out here to get away from the scary m-word. He knows she and her friends think they are above it all! They don’t… Kitty begins. But they are not! he continues. They are no better than anyone else!

Kitty orders him to shut up. He doesn’t know what he is talking about. The real world’s going to be a big wake-up call, he mocks, calling her “princess.” Maybe she is a princess, but he is a jerk, Kitty snaps. Better a jerk than a prissy stuck-up arrogant—

Kitty notices the flying colorful lights flying in the trees above and points at them. One of them flies away. She follows it with her eyes. When she looks away again, the boy has hidden behind a tree.

Later that week, Kitty is still not talking to her roomies. She starts being ostracized by others too, as the rumor she is a mutant sympathizer makes the rounds.

At lunch, she sees the boy and tries to walk toward him but another boy makes her stumble. She automatically phases when she falls and only goes solid at the last second. The others laugh and mock her. Kitty realizes they just want someone to hate. She shouts if they were always like this and she just didn’t notice. Were they always bullies? Have they just been waiting for someone to paint a target on themselves? Well, target her! Pick on someone their own… Unfortunately, she is being taken literally, as someone throws food at her. She runs into the forest.

Hidden, she hears two kids talking about hunting the mutant weirdo. When they find him, he better hope he is one of those badass mutants from the news. Kitty realizes they are not looking for her. She goes look for the red-haired boy and tell him to hide. When he doesn’t react and she hears the others, she drags him into the bushes by quickly phasing both of them.

She asks for his name. He introduces himself as Asher and belatedly realizes she is a mutant. In response, he shows her his power by creating the lights. He calls them will o’ the wisps. They appear when he is upset. He thought camp would be okay. He thought it would be different this year, but it wasn’t. The cool kids have a great time; the rest of them get pushed in the lake. And then someone stole back all that stuff and it got so much worse.

Kitty admits that was her. She can walk through walls. When Asher asks if she can control it, Kitty explains that she had some training. She can show him. She tells him to close his eyes and focus on his breathing. His power is like a muscle. Find it and hold it in. Asher can feel it. Kitty promises it takes time but he can learn it. The two of them kiss. Then Asher draws back panicked and shouts they can’t do this. Kitty is bemused. They are both mutants! He explains they both carry the X-gene. They are young, yes, but they can’t risk it! Passing on the X-gene should be… no, it is a crime! He’s sorry.

He turns away and tells her she is lucky. He’d give anything to be able to forget what he is. He lifts his longish hair to show his pointed ears. She can hide forever. He hopes he gets that chance. He runs away through the bushes, ignoring her plea that he should wait.

The next morning in their cabin, Madison and Sarah apologize to Kitty for acting like jerks. They just got scared with all that talk of mutants. Really? Kitty asks. Did mutants steal that kid’s inhaler? Or was it mutants who pushed Angie into the lake? She uses a wheelchair. She can’t swim. She sort of feels they should be more afraid of each other than some imaginary mutants. Chastened, the other girls agree. Camp ends tomorrow. Can’t they part as friends? Kitty hesitatingly agrees and hugs them while looking out of the window for someone else.

In the evening, the others are at the campfire. Kitty sits some small distance away. A small colored light flies toward her. Kitty tells it she is sorry too and it flies up toward the sky.

The next day, Kitty leaves on the coach and thinks to herself she got her answer. Maybe she’ll never have a normal life but, as long as people are afraid of mutants, as long as people like Asher are afraid of themselves, she knows where she belongs. She’s an X-Man because she doesn’t want the world to be like this. She wants it to be better. So, she’s going to make it better. Just watch her!

Characters Involved: 

Sprite, Storm (X-Men)

Madison, Sarah

Junior counselors

Written By: