Katherine Anne “Kitty” Pryde was born in Deerfield, Illinois, to Carmen and Theresa Pryde. Of Jewish descent, her paternal grandfather, Samuel Prydeman, was held in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II. Kitty started to have headaches at age thirteen, signaling the emergence of her mutant powers. She was approached by both the X-Men’s Charles Xavier and the Hellfire Club’s White Queen, Emma Frost, both of whom hoped to recruit her for their respective causes. Kitty was unnerved by Frost, observing that the White Queen looked at her as if she were “something good to eat.” She got along better with Xavier and the three X-Men who escorted him, quickly becoming friends with Ororo Munroe. Ororo told Kitty who she really was and about the X-Men, which made the teenager even more enthusiastic about attending Xavier’s school.
Their conversation was cut short when they (along with Wolverine and Colossus) were attacked by armored mercenaries in the employ of Frost and the Hellfire Club. The X-Men defeated their assailants, but were subdued by the White Queen’s telepathic powers immediately after. In the confusion, Kitty was separated from, and not captured along with, the X-Men. She managed to contact Cyclops, Phoenix, and Nightcrawler. With the help of Dazzler and Pryde, those X-Men rescued their teammates from the Hellfire Club.
The White Queen appeared to perish in the battle, which meant she was no longer competing with Xavier for the approval of Kitty’s parents. Kitty’s parents had not heard from her in more than a day, because during that time she was first being pursued by the Hellfire Club’s men and then working with the X-Men to save their friends. All they knew was Kitty had left with Xavier’s “students” to get a soda, there had been reports that the soda shop had been blown up, and Kitty had been missing since. Therefore, they were angry at Xavier when he finally returned with Kitty in tow. At first, it seemed like there was no chance of Kitty being allowed to attend the school and join the X-Men. Phoenix then used her considerable telepathic power to erase the memories of Kitty’s parents and plant false ones, resulting in a complete shift in their attitude towards Xavier. Kitty was then allowed to enroll at Xavier’s school with her parents’ blessing, becoming the youngest member of the team.
Joining the X-Men
Kitty joined the X-Men, and assumed the costumed identity of Sprite. Early in her career as an X-Man, Kitty’s adult self from an alternate future took possession of her body in the present to help X-Men thwart the assassination of Senator Robert Kelly by the second Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Kitty then singlehandedly defeated a N’Garai demon. Kitty also briefly attended the White Queen’s Massachusetts Academy when her parents became convinced that she needed to be with students of her own age, but following a failed attempt to subdue the X-Men, Frost revoked Kitty’s admission.
During her teen years, Kitty fostered a number of close relationships with others at the school and in the X-Men. She developed a crush on Colossus and became close friends with his little sister Illyana Rasputin. Initially uneasy around Nightcrawler and other mutants with physical deformities, Kitty finally overcame her fears and became close friends with him. Kitty also befriended Lockheed, a highly intelligent alien resembling a dragon, who followed her home after a mission in outer space. Lockheed is extremely loyal to Kitty, and the two of them share a psychic bond. Wolverine became something of a mentor to Kitty despite his usually gruff personality. Storm came to view Kitty as the daughter she never had.
Kitty was later assigned to the New Mutants, a team of younger mutants established in the absence of the X-Men while they were in outer space. Kitty convinced Professor Xavier to allow her to remain a full member of the X-Men on the basis of her high intelligence, maturity, and the fact that she was already a fully trained member of the team. Kitty was later abducted by the Morlocks and nearly forced to wed Caliban. She was then abducted by the White Queen, but rescued by the New Mutants.
During this time, Kitty began to “date” Colossus, but this did not last long. Colossus developed feelings for an alien woman named Zsaji whom he met on the Beyonder’s planet in the first Secret Wars. Colossus’ feelings toward Zsaji were primarily a side effect of her own unique healing abilities, which she had used on him after he became injured. Regardless, Colossus’ feelings were real and he returned to Earth consumed with grief after Zsaji’s death. He admitted to Kitty that he loved Zsaji, which hurt her deeply and ended the budding romantic relationship. Kitty had made good friends with a local boy from Salem Central named Doug Ramsey around this time, but her feelings for him never went as deep as his for her, and they never actually dated, though they remained close, even more so after Doug’s status as a mutant was revealed and he joined the New Mutants under the codename Cypher. They remained friends until his death some time later.
Powers and abilities
Kitty is a mutant with the ability to pass through solid matter by passing her atomic particles through the spaces between the atoms of the object through which she is moving. In this way she and the object through which she is passing can temporarily merge without interacting, and each is unharmed when Shadowcat has finished passing through the object. This process is called “phasing” or quantum tunneling and it renders her almost completely intangible to physical touch. Shadowcat passes through objects at the same speed at which she is moving before she enters them. Since she is unable to breathe while inside an object, she can only continuously phase through solid objects (as when she travels underground) as long as she can hold her breath. However, contrary depictions of the duration of her phasing ability have been presented, such as when she has phased miles within an object. The use of her abilities also interferes with any electrical systems as she passes through by disrupting the flow of electrons from atom to atom, including the bio-electric systems of living bodies if she concentrates in the right way. This typically causes machines to malfunction or be destroyed as she phases through them, and can induce shock and unconsciousness in living beings.
Using her power began as an optional ability, but for a period (over ten years of published comics, approximately two years in-continuity) Kitty existed in a naturally “phased” state, and had to consciously choose to become solid. Kitty has returned to her original form and is normally solid and must choose to use her power. While phasing, she does not physically walk on surfaces, but rather interacts with the molecules of air above them, allowing her to ascend and descend, causing her to seemingly walk on air. While phased, she is immune to most physical attacks, and has inconsistent showings of some resistance to telepathy. The density of some materials (such as adamantium) can prove deleterious to her phasing, causing her to be severely disoriented or experience pain if she tries to pass through them. Some energy attacks also prove problematic for Kitty. For example, an energy blast fired by Harpoon, a member of the Marauders, caused her to lose her ability to become fully tangible for months. Magic and magical beings can also harm her in her phased state, as demonstrated in a battle with a N’Garai demon whose claws left no visible marks, but caused Kitty severe pain as they passed through her intangible body.
Kitty can also extend her powers to phase other people and objects. She is able to phase at least six other people (or objects of similar mass) with her, so long as they establish and maintain physical contact with her. She can extend her phasing effect to her own clothing or any other object with mass up to that of a small truck, as long as she remains in contact with it. Kitty can also make objects intangible by maintaining contact with them. She has threatened to leave people phased into a wall, and used her power offensively to harm the Technarch Magus, and Danger.
Kitty’s powers seem to have increased over the years. During an X-Treme X-Men story arc where she is kidnapped by Reverend William Stryker, she phases out of sync with Earth’s rotation to move from one place in the world (only east or west) to another seemingly instantaneously. At the climax of Astonishing X-Men, Kitty phases a 10 mi (16 km) long “bullet” composed of super-dense alien metals through the entire planet Earth. This feat caused her considerable strain, but she is unable to phase out of the bullet. Moreover, originally Kitty found it difficult or impossible to phase only part of her body at a time. In the Days of Future Past story arc, she is possessed by her older future self, allowing her to solidify only her shoulder while phasing the rest of her body through Destiny – a feat explicitly beyond the 13-year-old Kitty’s abilities. By contrast, the Kitty Pryde of Joss Whedon’s run can punch and kick someone standing on the other side of a wall, selectively phasing and unphasing body parts as necessary. She can even run and leap through an armed opponent, grabbing their weapon as she passes by, which presumably requires her to solidify only the surface area of the palms of her hands and them immediately phase both her palms and the weapon.
Besides her mutant powers, Kitty is a genius in the field of applied technology and computer science. She is highly talented in the design and use of computer hardware. She is a skilled pilot of piston and jet engine aircraft, and a competent pilot of certain advanced interstellar vehicles. She has previously shown a unique ability to wield the Soulsword and also be harmed by it. Since her possession by the ninja demon Ogun, she has been consistently shown to be an excellent hand-to-hand combatant, having since been endowed with a lifetime of training in the martial arts of Japanese ninja and samurai, such as aikido, karate, and ninjutsu. She is also trained in the Israeli martial art of Krav Maga.
She is a professional-level dancer in both ballet and modern dance. She speaks fluent English, Japanese, Russian, and the royal and standard languages of the alien Shi’ar and Skrull, and has moderate expertise in Gaelic, Hebrew, and German.
Kitty also shares a mental/empathic connection with her pet dragon Lockheed; both she and the alien dragon can “sense” each other’s presence at times and generally understand one another’s thoughts and actions.
Since Kitty used The Black Vortex her powers were augmented to a cosmic scale making her a god-like being. She can phase through any material of any density and can even phase a planet out of Thane’s amber which in her normal state is an extremly difficult task to simple phase herself out of the amber. She can also apparently transverse between the planes of the multiverse and is immune to the effects of space. Her appearance can be changed but her natural form appears to be rather gaseous in look