Category: X-Men


Back to basics again for me today.

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012, is the start of Tumblr’s “Men Reading Women In Comics” project. Luckily for me, I am a (gay) man, and my pet fandom is X-Men, which over the years has given me many powerful, amazing female characters.

Whether they’re actual members of the team or one of its affiliates, allies who struck me as particularly cool, or superheroines from other groups who just formed strong ties to Marvel’s mutants, I just love seeing these ladies in the pages of an X-Book. Some of them will have lots of images to accompany the text, and others will just be short blurbs.

This will be a three-part post, with Part 1 covering #15-11, Part 2 containing #10-5, and my Top 5 X-Women in Part 3.

So enjoy!

15) Moira MacTaggert

Image courtesy of xmen-supreme.com

Moira is tough to pin down. She’s not a mutant, and not an X-Man, but her character and history is so indelibly tied with the X-Men that she might as well be. While largely known as Professor Xavier’s ex-girlfriend and a gifted geneticist-slash-plot device for patching up the X-Men and/or unlocking any science-related problems they stumble across, I like her because of her courage and strength, as much as her brains.

She doesn’t have any real powers, just her brains and her guts, and she’s plentiful in both, as evidenced from her very first appearance in Uncanny X-Men #96:

Moira decides the Hippocratic Oath doesn’t apply to omnicidal demons. Image courtesy of media.comicvine.com

Yeah, she started off as willing to mix it up with the bad guys just as readily as the X-Men themselves. She’d spend as much time with a pistol, rifle, or machine gun in her hands as in her laboratory.

Over time, she got less combative and more like a den mother, particularly in the pages of Excalibur, but I’ll always remember her as the woman able to both solve the X-Men’s tougher scientific quandaries and pull a gun on anything and everything that threatens her or the people she cares about.

The Hippocratic Oath should also not extend to abusive rapist ex-husbands.

Long story short, Moira is probably the X-Men’s best-known human ally, and certainly one of my favorite non-team-members of either gender they’ve ever had.

14) Monet St. Croix

She’s sexy and she knows it. Image courtesy of media.comicvine.com

M started off in the pages of Generation X, as a…quandary. The woman who appeared in the early books calling herself M was an imitation, her young sisters Nicole and Claudette merged into the likeness of their elder sibling after she was transformed into Penance. Yeah…

Convoluted backstory notwithstanding, I think M is an amazing character. All the blunt, brutal honesty, snobbery, and snark of Emma Frost combined with a set of superpowers that would too easily guarantee her a spot on the Mary Sue¬†list. However, we’ve been lucky enough to get some top-notch writers handling her, who make her both a powerhouse and a flawed, but still sympathetic character.¬† Currently she’s X-Factor Investigations’ team snarker, having overcome her complex, troubled past to become one of the organization’s most popular, bluntly honest member, and thriving under the writing of Peter David.

13) Jubilee

Jubilee

Jubilation Lee’s signature design, courtesy of uncannyxmen.net

Anyone who’s watched the X-Men animated series in the 90s knows this girl. She was the smart-alecky teenage newcomer we were supposed to identify with. Her powers, and her wardrobe, were bright, flashy, and loud, her slang trendy and dated almost before it left her mouth.

In short, she was a microcosm of the 90s. So why do I love this character so much?

Probably because for all that she’s a bratty, smart-mouthed snot, there is a heart under the attitude, and a brain as well. In her time with Generation X, she grew into her own as a character, and I always liked her powers; she had real, genuine potential for growth and expansion in their use, unlike a lot of other energy-blasting types among the X-Men (I’m looking at you, Havok).

An alternate costume from a fan on DeviantArt. If you know the source, let me know so I can credit them!

That said, I can’t say I was completely displeased when, after M-Day, she became a vampire and faced a whole new set of challenges. The Wolverine & Jubilee limited series may have had something to do with this, since it showed that despite having a serious chip on her shoulder, she was definitely still the same person she always was, just with a new power set. I also really enjoyed her relationships with Gambit, X-23, and Wolverine during her guest appearance in X-23. So while I’d of course love to see her powers come back, if she stays as she is, I won’t cry too many tears. She’s still a valuable asset to any team she’s on. Just now, she’s the loudest, liveliest dead girl I know to boot.

Vampire Jubilee

Now if she’d just drop the damn jacket I’d be happy. Image courtesy of uncannyxmen.net

12) Rachel Summers-Grey

uncannyxmen.net again.

Out of all the characters in this portion of the program, Rachel (the second Phoenix and the third Marvel Girl) is probably the most quintessentially Claremontian. Her watchword started out as being ‘tough’…so tough that she was arguably the least feminine female character on the X-Books during her early tenure with the X-Men and her time with Excalibur.

Given her backstory…a victim of the original ‘Days of Future Past’ timeline where mutants were hunted nearly to extinction by Sentinels and most of the X-Men were slaughtered…it’s no surprise that she raised as many defenses as she did, or that she would fight so hard to keep it from coming true.

Rachel as Marvel Girl

Baby Phoenix? Yeah, no one calls her that twice.

Since taking the name Marvel Girl in 2004, she’s softened up considerably, adopting more feminine forms of dress and hairstyles, but she’s still plenty tough.

I wish the writers of Avengers Vs. X-Men (the latest CROSSOVER EVENT THAT WILL CHANGE THE MARVEL UNIVERSE FOREVER SERIOUSLY WE SWEAR) would remember Rachel’s ties to the Phoenix and use them better in the wake of this event, but as long as she continues to have a role in the books rather than be shuffled off to Limbo again, I won’t complain. Too much.

11) Danielle Moonstar

Mutant powers? Girl, please.

It would be so easy to write Dani Moonstar off as the token Native American on the X-Men. She certainly makes a bigger deal out of it than Forge, her closest male analogue, does.

But the great thing about her, IMO anyway, is that she managed to rise above being a token (at least in terms of her character), to be not only the leader of her own team, but one of the few examples after M-Day that there is life after mutant powers.

Don’t get me wrong; Moonstar’s powers, both as Psyche/Mirage and later when her codename was her surname, were awesome, and had some of the greatest potential I’ve ever seen in a field that, even by then, was starting to get old hat. Her psychic powers started off as a mix of emotion-based illusions and animal empathy, then went through many, many permutations until they finally became a kind of psychic Swiss army knife, where she could do anything that wasn’t the standard psychic tricks of ‘read minds, communicate psychically’.

Then she was depowered. And for most characters in the X-Men universe (see: Jubilee), losing your mutant power is the next worst thing to a death sentence, at least as far as being in the books goes. Instead, Dani taught young superhumans at the Intitiative for a while, and then went back to being in charge of the New Mutants, who had by now become their own team of X-Men, shouting down or smacking down anyone who dared tell her that she couldn’t.

To this day, she is one of the strongest characters in the X-Men universe, and the spearhead (so to speak) of her own book. I can’t help but wish she’d get her powers back, at least a little, if only because I’d like to see how they juxtapose with her new, tougher, go-getter attitude. But with or without them, she’s still a force to be reckoned with.

~*~

And that’s it for right now, as I’m officially late for work. Later today or perhaps tomorrow, I’ll post up part two, with pop stars, demon sorceresses, and doctors with serious chips on their shoulder.

Happy reading!

Welcome to a new feature on triplenerdscore called “Under A Rock.”

Basically, here’s where I sharpen my writing skills by summarizing a piece of popular geek media I enjoy/enjoyed that I think everyone knows about, or should. I’ll try and give a spoiler-free analysis.

Since this started out as an X-Men blog, and my X-Men posts remain the most popular, I’ll use my first segment to discuss how I got my start with Marvel’s mutants and talk about X-Men: The Animated Series today.

X-Men: The Animated Series logo courtesy of wikipedia

Comic book cartoons have a very polarizing tendency…that is to say, they can either be very good or very bad, with few middle-of-the-road exceptions.

For anyone who grew up in the early 1990s, X-Men: The Animated Series (simply X-Men or X:TAS for short) was one of the best. Even though modern audiences are more likely to be turned off by the over-the-top voice acting and hit-and-miss animation, for its time it was celebrated as one of the most complex, mature, and story-driven cartoons of the day, and is still ranked highly in the annals of animated TV shows.

The premise is an adaptation Marvel Comics’ franchise of the same name. The titular X-Men are mutants, people born with unique abilities and/or physical characteristics that manifest at puberty and set them apart from the rest of the world. There are dozens, perhaps hundreds, of mutants across the globe, with new ones popping up every day, and the general public’s reaction to them is…perhaps understandably…mixed.

The X-Men themselves, we mostly see through the eyes of a young girl named Jubilee, who has just discovered that she herself is a mutant, with the power to generate explosive energy from her hands.

The cast consists of the weather-controlling Storm; the flying, super-strong power-absorber Rogue; Gambit, who turns objects into grenades; Cyclops, who fires beams of energy from his eyes; blue-furred, acrobatic, poetic genius Beast; shapeshifting wisecracker Morph; psychic, telekinetic den-mother Jean Grey; Professor Xavier, telepathic founder of the X-Men; and feral, adamantium-clawed Wolverine, the most wildly popular character in the comics and show.

Although this was largely an action show, and as such devoted a good chunk of time every episode to comic-book-style fight scenes with impressive visuals and memorable feats, the real strength of the show lay in its character interactions, and the pains it took to juggle and develop a sizable cast. Some characters fell through the cracks over the course of the show…Gambit all but disappeared after about the third season or so, and Jean Grey only got one truly memorable storyline of note…but by and large, the cast remained an ensemble, though Wolverine, being the most popular character, appeared in every episode. The dynamics of how the team related to each other were strong, and relatively complex for a children’s show of the time; viewers were treated to Rogue and Gambit’s tumultuous love affair, Wolverine and Cyclops competing for the affections of Jean Grey (and in later seasons, hints of a mutual attraction between Wolverine and Storm), and the long-standing friendship and rivalry between Professor Xavier and Magneto, the show’s primary antagonist, though he was portrayed in a much more sympathetic light here than in the comics that were being printed at the time, to the point where it was heavily implied that he would become an X-Man himself in the series finale.

Characters who had been X-Men in the comics guest-starred frequently, among them the time-traveling Bishop and Cable, original X-Men alumni Iceman and Archangel, and fan favorites like Nightcrawler, Colossus, and Banshee. Other groups, like the government-funded X-Factor, also made appearances. Each story arc was tied to the rest of the series as a whole, but the individual story arcs, which could span anything from one episode to four or five, but mostly rested in the two- or three-part zone, could usually be followed in and of themselves. The only exception was a sub-plot in the second season where Professor X and Magneto found themselves in the Savage Land without their mutant powers, which began as a side-plot in the season opener and continued all the way through the second-season finale.

The show mostly had its own storyline, separate from the comics, but certain plots were adapted and lifted directly from the comics, such as Chris Claremont’s classic “Dark Phoenix Saga,” where Jean Grey attains nearly godlike power but is corrupted as a result of it. In stories like this, details were changed to make it suitable for a younger viewing audience, but the spirit and essence of the comics’ stories were largely kept intact.

I personally loved this series, and recommend it to anyone with children between the ages of 6 and 14. It gives lessons in prejudice and tolerance without being overly preachy, and is simple enough for children to understand while still retaining the interest of a slightly older audience with complex, intricate storylines.

If there are flaws in this series, they lie in the technical production aspects. The animation is choppy, though an argument could be made that the creators were trying to make it look like a moving comic book, and the dialogue may sound corny to today’s audiences, particularly Wolverine’s gruffly growled catchphrases or the long, dramatic invocations Storm utters when she calls upon her weather powers (something she does not have to do in the comics).

Despite these shortcomings, X-Men: The Animated Series is a solid show, and one that is enjoyable at almost any age. I strongly recommend it to any parent looking to give their child quality entertainment, and isn’t averse to action shows. Though I warn you, the theme song WILL get stuck in your head.

And there you have it! My summary of X-Men: The Animated Series for anyone who’s been living Under A Rock.

You can find these reviews at sharetv.org before I post them here. Just look for reviews by ‘ingonyama’ to see if I’ve finished it yet.

Next/soon-ish, I’ll take a look at what I consider to be the best anime ever to come out of the West:

Avatar: The Last Airbender (The Legend of Aang for UK audiences)