Death is a casual outing for the X-Men. They go to the store, they try it on for a little while, and then they take it off as if they never really were gone. As we all know, nobody stays dead in the X-Men.
In recent pages of Marauders, Kitty “Kate” Pryde was back-stabbed by Sebastian Shaw. He killed her on the spot. How a brilliant, super smart mutant who can become intangible manages to fall for this is beyond me, yet it happened. Also, this is not the first time Kitty Pryde has died, so like Mr. Sinister shrugging and throwing his hands up in the air… “Eh.”
What is truly beautiful about this issue of Marauders is exploring the emotional breakdowns of Kitty’s friends and teammates upon hearing of her passing. Bishop confirms her body as deceased and reaches out to Emma, who is in the middle of teaching a class (It’s wonderful to see Emma teaching students again, it suits her). Emma doesn’t bat an eye, and concludes their little field trip. Her brother senses something is wrong and she simply tells them to move on without her, and that something has gone wrong. After everyone has left the room and it’s just Emma alone, she falls to the floor in defeat. No one is going to see her break down.
Emma Frost has always been a complex character. She has thick skin (it’s literally diamond), and she doesn’t let anyone in. She puts up a persona that she is fierce and strong. She does not need the help of anyone but herself. Many view her as cold, but it’s characters like Beast or Iceman who manage to get through that rough exterior to realize she is just protecting herself. To see Emma break down, alone and out of the view of others, is sad and powerful. It’s just the way she wants it: alone.
The best moment comes when Emma relays the news to Storm, who flies over in a rage. She screams at Emma, blaming her by saying that she knew putting her in charge of a team meant something would go wrong. There is an amazing bit of dialogue where Storm demands to know where Emma was when Kitty was killed. Emma retorts back in her cold way by asking where Storm was, a powerful mutant who should have been shadowing Kitty.
Then Storm slaps Emma Frost. Nobody slaps Emma Frost.
But Storm gets away with it – and ironically, Emma finally lets Storm in. She hugs Storm, and Emma psychically shows Storm the feelings she experienced when she broke down hearing upon Kitty’s death. She always offers to go into her diamond form if Storm needs to knock her around a bit. This is Emma’s way of showing empathy and compassion, and it’s a side of her we haven’t seen since Generation X or New X-Men.
We also get an intense moment where Iceman receives news of Kitty’s death, and in the next panel he takes out a wall of her captors and yells “MURDERERS” before giving them all permanent frostbite. This is also very in character for Iceman.
The final panel ends with Sebastian and Shinobi Shaw gloating about their kill of Kitty Pryde – and joining them at the table are the Fenris twins. Come on, enough with Fenris! Nobody cares about them.
This comic book is beautiful. And while death does not last forever within the X-Men, seeing the writers explore them dealing with tragedy is very real.