Fans of X-Men may remember Days of Future Past, a two-comic story arc that became iconic in its own right. But fewer people remember the following issue, Uncanny X-Men 143. This comic story, which apparently takes place during the Christmas season, has the youngest and newest member of The X-Men, Kitty Pryde, encounter an evil monster from another dimension. Resembling one of the creatures from the movie Alien, this demon-like character becomes the basis for this one-shot story created by the legendary team of Chris Claremont, John Byrne, and Terry Austin.
On Christmas Eve, a month later since the last issue, Kitty Pryde is being schooled by Professor Xavier on how to use the X-Men’s Blackbird jet. Soon after, everyone meets up in the mansion foyer. Wolverine introduces his love interest Mariko Yashida to Xavier, while Nightcrawler uses some mistletoe as an excuse to kiss her on the cheek. After Wolverine loses his temper and is restrained by Colossus, Kitty Pryde softens the mood by kissing Colossus on the cheek. She stands on the stairs to get above him, then holds the mistletoe over his head and says, “Merry Christmas, sexy.” He blushes immediately, foreshadowing their future relationship in later issues.
The entire X-Men team leaves the mansion, and Kitty Pryde is now alone for the holidays. Apparently she is Jewish, since she says that she had never spent Chanukah away from home before, and attempts to call her parents. She then proceeds to use The Danger Room as a gymnasium, pointing out that all the X-Men need to work out for an hour a day. While doing this, she thinks about the death of Jean Grey during The Dark Phoenix Saga and, as a member of The X-Men, could die as well. Ironically, she is about to encounter a brush with death.
The burglar alarm goes off and Kitty Pryde goes to the wall “scanscreen” to see that there is a possible intruder in Ororo’s attic. (A room with Storm’s plants.) What she finds is an attic full of dead plants and green goop, along with a broken skylight. More alarmingly, though, is a monster demon that takes a swipe at her. She runs away by phasing through the floor and walls, but is hopelessly outmatched physically by the monster. The creature tears through the reinforced mansion walls like paper using its razor-like claws.
After attempting to evade the demon and reach the phone, the monster slashes through Kitty Pryde, but not before she manages to phase the attack and avoid being killed. Unfortunately, the attack still manages to hurt her, even in her “ephemeral” state. She manages to go into The Danger Room to set up a dangerous trap for her enemy, but the demon monster is too smart, and finds her in the control booth. She dives backward and phases through the unbreakable glass of the control booth, but the monster somehow breaks the glass anyway and short-circuits the computers.
Even so, Kitty Pryde managed to set the trap for the demon moments before the controls were destroyed. The monster is hit with a barrage of metal poles, which only staggered it before it proceeded to rip up the Danger Room’s floor. The room goes crazy with assaults from all sorts of weapons, attacking both the monster and Kitty. The monster completely wrecks the room, and she sees firsthand the importance of combat training and what the room was designed for.
Kitty Pryde makes a direct reference to the movie “Alien” by pointing out how they used flamethrowers to kill the monster. She noticed that the demon creature was vulnerable to fire while in The Danger Room. Kitty reaches the hangar, where the modified SR-71 Blackbird sits. She figures that the monster has to go through the transit tunnel, since the hangar is built from a couple meters of steel and concrete. When the creature approaches from behind the Blackbird, Kitty uses the two engines to emit its full emergency power of afterburner flames, destroying the vehicle before shutting down the engines and flooding them with fire-resistant foam.
This Christmas tale ends with The X-Men returning at midnight to find Kitty Pryde warming herself by the fireplace while wearing a robe. She gives Colossus a big hug, and her parents arrive as well, as if a Christmas miracle. (A Chanukah miracle?) Kitty acts as if nothing is wrong, until Storm sees her attic, and asks what exactly happened while they were gone. She explains that while being attacked by a big ugly monster, she managed to wreck The Danger Room, The Blackbird, and a lot of the house. Surprisingly, Storm is proud of Kitty and not mad at her.
Uncanny X-Men 143 is clearly inspired by the movie “Alien”. The demon creature looks very similar, and has a skeleton-like tail that makes the inspiration instantly recognizable. The idea of an unstoppable foreign monster chasing a young woman gives the story a similar plot as well. I should point out that Kitty Pryde looks remarkably like a young Sigourney Weaver, the lead actress in the Alien film. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that X-Men artist John Byrne may have used her appearance as inspiration when creating the character.
Another interesting thing about this comic book (affiliate link) is that this issue, Uncanny X-Men 143, is the last story made by writer Chris Claremont, artist John Byrne, and inker Terry Austin. Their 36-issue run is epic, and includes The Dark Phoenix Saga and Days of Future Past. Artist John Byrne redesigned some of The X-Men’s costumes and created a lasting style that had impacted the franchise even to this day. The writing during this time period also established origins and backgrounds for character like Mystique, Nightcrawler, and Emma Frost. The impact of this team cannot be understated, as they dominated the direction of The X-Men for a long time.