I've rated almost all of the second season of X-Men Forever issues a solid 7-star rating in the last two weeks I've been reviewing them. The first eight issues were underwhelming and disjointed in a lot of aspects (particularly the main storyline concerning the Consortium and Mutant Burnout) so my enjoyment has suffered due to unavoidable criticisms I have on my part that are, at this point, REPETETIVE. I still believe that Claremont writes compelling character drama and he can consistently deliver such as the case with Jean Grey, Rogue and Kitty Pryde's internal conflicts and roles in the stories. In between those said character arcs I'm invested in, there are half-baked and forgettable subplots concerning the Consortium and the burnout cure which continue to alienate when there are supposedly worthwhile developments that should interest readers. Frankly, I can't bring myself to care enough because I think they only serve as the needed main problem in the narrative that requires a solution that would not affect me on any substantial, emotional level. On the other hand, the journeys certain characters have undergone do keep me reading this series and that's where Claremont flourishes as a storyteller.
Such is the case with these issues 9-10 that are heavily focused on Kitty Pryde.
After yet another clusterfuck of cameo characters battling it out with the X-Men for the most thinly veiled plot device ever as featured in issues #6-8
My favorite moment in issue #9 has to be her scene with Gambit (Remy) who has expressed concern and some vague romantic interest in her since that Black Magik storyline from a while back. I recall him mentioning to teenage Ororo that Kitty is in a difficult place because she just lost two people whom she considered like second parents (Wolverine and the turncloak Storm) and it almost feels like the people she can count on the most (including her ex-boyfriend Colossus who is now with Natasha, Black Widow) have been uprooted from her life and she could not do anything about it. Rage and confusion are ever-present in Kitty these days but there's also a smidge of longing--which explains why she tries to kiss Gambit, hoping she can hold onto someone tangible and real and who cares deeply about her. Remy proves he does care which was why he rejected her advances as calmly and gracefully as he could. I have always been at odds with Gambit as a character but I thought that was a pretty admirable moment for him. If Kitty really wishes it, Remy confesses that he would love to enter a relationship with her but he also acknowledges that she might not be in the best place to make such big decisions right now so he had to rebuke her offer. That's great. That shows maturity on Remy's part because that means he respects Kitty and would not want to prey on said young woman when she is at her most vulnerable. It also makes me root for the possibility of them becoming as a couple if ever Claremont decides it will eventually lead to that. What matters now is that Kitty needs to get her shit together. This is where issue #10 enters.
Kitty steals one of the X-Men's jet planes while 'Ro was still hiding inside it because she was playing with Nathan Summers earlier. Kitty and 'Ro find themselves in Japan to witness a union between the Silver Samurai and goddamn Matsuo whom I will never stop despising. To make matters worse, clone-Wolverine crashes the party and kills people and then tries to kill Kitty and 'Ro. The two girls barely escaped. And then Logan's ex-girlfriend Mariko Nashida came and Kitty was glad because she was friends with Mariko. BUT THEN it was revealed. Mariko has joined forces with fucking Sigrid Trask WHOM I CAN'T BELIEVE IS NOT DEAD. Mariko felt betrayed because Logan chose Jean Grey over her (WHEN? And must you be so vengeful just because the man you love does not love you anymore? It reinforces that stupid stereotype about 'hell hath no fury than a woman's scorn' bullshit scenario. For once, I just want to read a female character whose motivation of becoming bad is not hitched on the notion that she was rejected by some man). Anyway, she believes that her jealousy totally justifies her alliance with an evil organization hell-bent on mutant genocide. *slow claps* Wow, Mariko. Just. WOW. Way to nurse an ego, you prideful bitch.
Speaking of prideful bitches with egos...
Things become so much worse later on when some of the X-Men (Jean Grey and Gambit, more importantly) arrive in Japan to fight Sigrid and Mariko. Afterwards, there was a draw of some sort and the X-Men were able to make their escape, leaving Mariko and Sigrid to scheme new evil plans for future installments. To turn the whole 'scorned women' into a trinity crusade, Sigrid and Mariko contacts motherfucking Storm, now residing as the queen of Wakanda, and she listens to their proposal with disinterest at first until they present her a gift she could refuse: the teenage version of herself! It turns out that they managed to abduct 'Ro as the rest of the X-Men made their escape earlier. Well, holy shit.
I really enjoyed these issues. They were undoubtedly a massive improvement from the stale and irritating eight issues from before. They were gorgeously illustrated by artist Mike Grell, and are character-centered with lots of impactful revelations and action-oriented confrontations between our heroes and villains. Also, Storm is back on the game. As horrifying as it is that she has officially become a cunt of all cunts, I still want to read more about her because I'm a masochist with severe attachment issues.