Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Wood/Coipel's X-Men vol. 4

A Marvel NOW book was teased last week, with the names Wood, Coipel and the codeword 'XX'. This was rather exciting, implying as it did a female-heavy continuation of Wood's enjoyable 8-issue run on X-Men last year.

This was confirmed yesterday, as a book featuring Storm, Rogue, Kitty Pryde, Rachel Summers, Psylocke and Jubilee. I said when it was teased that
It needs to justify its existence somehow apart from its gimmick, but I'm sure Wood can do that.
There's always a danger with this sort of thing with looking gimmicky. Happily, there's less risk of this in the X-Men franchise, because it has so many great female characters. Four of the six above constitute the core of the senior staff of the Jean Grey School already (with the unreliable Wolverine and Gambit, the ill Beast and the equally unreliably but for different reasons Iceman), so they've got a perfect reason to be associating. But I don't think Wolverine and the X-Men has taken advantage of this group as characters (admittedly, it only just got Storm, and mostly just ignores Rogue, possibly so she can headline X-Men: Legacy). Jubilee is a vampire right now, so it remains to be seen how she will be brought into the fold. And Psylocke will be juggling this with leading a new Uncanny X-Force team (also featuring Storm).

All of these characters are ones that Claremont either created, co-created, or (in the case of Storm) defined. But he never quite had the team like this: he spread around these characters between the teams. So that looks like it is the distinctiveness this book needed in an increasingly busy X-line: More Claremont than Claremont. Both Jubilee and Kitty fulfilled the role of "the kid", but have had very different paths after that. Psylocke and Rachel are both "the telepath/telekinetic", but are, again, very different. Four of the team have been leaders in their own right lately (Storm in vol. 3, Rogue in Legacy, Psylocke in Uncanny X-Force and Kitty in Wolverine and the X-Men and now in All-New X-Men). The actual punching plot (return of Sublime!) looks quite interesting too.

I have seen the criticism made of this that it should have had a woman writer. Now, certainly there are not enough women writing for the X-Office or comics in general, I won't dispute that. But they are not entirely absent at the moment: Marjorie Liu did 21 issues of X-23 and is now the regular on Astonishing; Kathryn Immonen did Wolverine and Jubilee last year (she's now doing a Sif-led Journey Into Mystery). Elsewhere at Marvel, Kelly Sue DeConnick is writing both the long-awaited Captain Marvel series and is the current writer on Avengers Assemble. In the past comics publishers have been (rightly, in my opinion) criticised for ghettoising women writers by employing them only to write female characters. My view is that women should pitch and write whoever and whatever the hell they like; as should anyone. If that means some of them write mixed titles while a couple of men write female-only titles, then whatever.12 And at a more practical level, what was supposed to happen here at editorial - Wood came along with his pitch for what to do with his return to Adjectiveless - and let's assume that "they're all women!" was part of it (it might not have been - the chances of putting together a woman-only X-Men team are actually not terrible) - was Editorial supposed to say "hey, great idea, let's get someone else to do it?" Obviously, that would be nonsense.

1. Cullen Bunn is doing "Fearless Defenders", another all-woman title; this one with a firm in-story justification, viz. they are Brunnhilde and her Valkyries.

2. There are three female solos right now, too: the excellent Captain Marvel by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Red She-Hulk by Jeff Parker, a continuation of his run on Hulk, and Kathryn Immonen's run on Journey Into Mystery, about which it is too soon to tell. This is up from zero ten months ago.

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