Paul Smith – Kitty Pryde, X-Men classics and Leave It To Chance
It’s one I missed when it was released a few years ago, but there’s a great review by Kelly Thompson at CBR of X-Men Kitty Pryde: Shadows And Flame. To be honest, the story doesn’t sound all that great – Kitty Pryde in Japan to investigate another Lockheed type dragon, and inevitably falling foul of the ninja assassins that litter the place in Marvel Comics version of Japan.
But the art instantly transported me back to a wonderful place and time (1983 to be precise) when Paul Smith took over the art duties on the X-Men book (there was only one back then) and something clicked into place. Perhaps it was merely a combination of the right artist at the right time of my development, but even now, seeing Paul Smith’s artwork, especially on something like this, can evoke such nostalgic happiness.
Seeing Smith return to Kitty Pryde and Lockheed the dragon is simply fantastic, in a silly, sentimental, nostalgic, wasn’t everything so much better back then way. Except, when it comes to Paul Smith, I know it wasn’t just better back then, his artwork still knocks my socks off whenever I see it:
(Paul Smith’s entire 1983 Uncanny X-Men run, issue 165 – 175 is collected, in black and white, as part of Essential X-Men Volume 4. And if you prefer the original colour comics X-Men: From The Ashes contains issues 168-176. Covers and even more wonderful memories from Comic Book Database)
One gem from Paul Smith that I couldn’t leave without mentioning is the wonderful all ages series with writer James Robinson; Leave It To Chance. It was a marvellous series…..
It was a simple tale – perfect for children, great fun for grown ups, Harry Potter has nothing on Chance Falconer. At 14 she’s heir apparent to the legacy of the Falconer family, defenders against the occult in Devil’s Echo; a city so full of the paranormal, mysterious & downright bad that Buffy’s town looks quiet by comparison. Her Dad is Lucas Falconer, the best paranormal investigator in the city, upholding the tradition that for generation upon generation there has always been a Falconer to protect Devil’s Echo from the darkness.
Chance is smart, strong willed & resourceful, continually outwitting everything thrown at her – whether it’;s monsters, goblins, haunted pirate coves, apparitions, spooks, sprites or dragons Chance gets into trouble wherever she goes, but always prevails. In some ways there’s a touch of Kitty Pryde in Chance, both looks and spirit.
For all it’s apparent simplicity, this is very much a complex work, wonderfully executed with style & panache by Smith and a joy from start to finish. As far as I know it’s out of print right now, but should still be available somewhere online or at marts. It’s well worth it, just like everything Paul Smith puts his art to.