Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Uncanny X-Men #244: first app. Jubilee

The guest author of this blog post, Cristian ("Casby") Asby, is a government agent employed to have as little as possible to do with silly comics as current laws allow. He is hopeless at this job however and therefore owns a copy of every comic that Jubilee has ever appeared in, a vast array of her merchandise, an army of over three hundred Jubilee Heroclix figures and frequently gives away spare copies of recent Jubilee-featured comics because (a) everyone should read comics Jubilee is in; and (b) he's accidentally emptied Forbidden Planet of all its Jubilee-related stock while his sanity wasn't looking.

Like many 30-something comicbook and X-Men fans, he was introduced to the Marvel universe through the mid-200 issues of Uncanny X-Men, leading to the (for its time) excellent X-Men animated series in which Jubilee represented the audience. This has led to a skewed perspective of the (Marvel? entire? 1) universe, where the Jubester is central and following recent X-Men history is simply a matter of counting down months until she appears once more.

In this instalment of Uncanny X-Men, the heroic Captain Claremont recovers from his titanic battle with the evil Dr. Story Arc and celebrates by organising a relaxing shopping trip for his harem of (ahem) superheroes with breasts 2;. His angst-weary angels try on some dresses, defeat the not-Ghostbusters in a curb-stomp battle and succeed in being followed out of the comic by a recycled 1986 cameo super heroine who doubles as a youthful audience point-of-view character and happens to have a long X-career ahead of her as...let’s take a deep breath here...Kitty Pryde, Boom Boom, Carrie Kelly, Wesley Crusher, the 1980s incarnate, the final X-Man, Genki girl, the Deux Ex Machina, Janine Melnetz, reluctant I-beam, M-Day poster girl, Old Man Logan’s personal berserk button , Drill Sergeant Nasty, Lucy Westerna, Bella Swan, Marjorie Liu’s personal Pok√©mon, Pixie 0.9 and the individual that most long-time X-Men fans think of as their gateway first crush character into the X-universe.

Currently residing in editorially-mandated limbo despite the impassioned requests of several writers who are keenly aware of how incongruously fanatical the character’s (let’s face it) tiny fan base is, Jubilation Lee has taken a long, hard, questionable and at times downright baffling road to get from UXM #244 to the present day.

Whether you love or love-to-hate her, Jubilee is still alive and kicking. Well, kicking anyway.

Her accidentally vast array of personae now stands as a monument to editorial mismanagement rivalling that of Wonder Woman or Ms. Marvel, so it’s interesting to cast one’s eye back to the very beginning and witness the simple, clear-cut origin of the character.

Our story (the real one) begins in Hollywood Mall, Los Angeles. A young woman who has dubbed herself “Jubilee” (because with her, every day’s a celebration) is rather unwisely showing off her mutant powers to a crowd of mostly appreciative bystanders. Probably for money, since it appears the mall, for one reason or another, is currently her home.

Mall security express ambivalence towards Jubilee’s antics, with their boss Lou shouting the loudest and marshalling his heart-warmingly reluctant forces to neutralize the disrespectful brat once and for all.

Unfortunately for them, Jubilee happens to be quite the gymnast and with some fireworks, acrobatics and a little assistance from others, manages to avoid and infuriate her first nemesis: Chief Lou Marcelli.

But Lou’s had enough, so he’s gone and called the Ghostbusters. Or rather, the Ghostbusters as they would be if written by Ben Edlund, or in a universe where Dan Ackroyd preferred militaria and racial purity to Wicca and gadgetry.

Meanwhile on the other side of the world; Psylocke, Storm, Dazzler and (for a split second) Colossus are having their collective patience tested by early-Rogue being her early-Rogue self. Fortunately, only minor structural damage and comedy fan service ensues before Rogue’s other personality, Carol Danvers, takes over and calms everything down. Dazzler then proceeds to channel Chris Claremont directly, holding a lecture for the other ladies on the merits of meaningful dialogue and characterisation over mindless action and recycled peril. With the lesson learned, Alison proposes a practical demonstration to reinforce the message: a shopping trip.

Yes, let’s take Rogue to a place where she can do some real damage.

Back in Los Angeles, the not-Ghostbusters have arrived in a Deathstrike missile launcher, sporting epaulets. Bonus points to anyone who is now comparing Jubilee to Slimer. Dazzler simultaneously convinces Gateway to teleport the X-gals to the same location and the group’s first stop is a salon where all four are bestowed with brand new hairstyles. Stop number two is clothing, for the inevitable comedic fashion parade. Stop number three is party-time, where Dazzler sets Storm up with a Chippendale.

Unbeknownst to the X-women, their path is veering dangerously close to both the not-Ghostbusters and their newly-acquired admirer/stalker Jubilee, the latter of who’s reaction to the female foursome is strong enough to lead her into more trouble with mall security – this time a club bouncer who refuses to let her in until she’s old enough.

Yeah, that guy’s in for a LONG wait.

While Storm surprisingly softens to the affections of the proto-Gambit male stripper, beam spam breaks out as the not-Ghostbusters finally track down Jubilee. Things seem evenly-matched, until the not-Ghostbusters unveil the mutant equivalent of a ghost trap, shaped improbably like a mini Sydney Opera House. Jubilee struggles in the proton beams of the trap, but not for long, as the X-men leap to her rescue and demolish the monstrous contraption with a combination of their respective powers. Dazzler delivers the final blow (pew pew), but it’s noteworthy that in the midst of the chaos Psylocke is the one who actually rescues Jubilee, while indirectly learning that she’s an orphan.

In the aftermath of the short battle, the not-Ghostbusters are accosted by the very security guards who called them in to begin with, while the X-ladies decide they’ve had enough excitement for one evening and hop back into the portal to Australia. Not before revealing yet another fun fact about Jubilation Lee – she’s invisible to psi scans. Who knew? Who will remember?

Following their departure, Jubilee hesitates at Gateway’s portal, unsure of whether or not to continue stalking her rescuers and escape the now hostile environment of the mall. Yes, this story isn’t just a tween-arc comedy breather, it’s a prologue and Miss Lee is about to make a blind leap of faith into the golden age of the X-franchise to take centre stage as a full blown X-person for a long time to come.

She bites her lip at the precipice, with a world of adventures, yellow raincoats and Wolvies ahead of her, then dives in.

1. Definitely entire. Ed. 3

2. Exhibit A in the “how to shoot yourself in the foot when accusing some else of being sexist” showcase of commentary fail. Claremont had some stupid critics.

3. Wow, I get to be Ed. I feel like my whole life has been leading to this moment. Ed.

1 comment:

  1. Nicely done, all around. A wonderful homage to ol' Jubes, and funny to boot. I LOLed, as the kids say, several times. :)