VOLUME 2, ISSUE #1
Welcome, everyone, to the BRAND NEW Stew’s Reviews! What’s new about it, you ask? Why, there is a slight format shift; gone are the “Thumbs Up” and “Thumbs Down” sections, and in their place is a more detailed breakdown of each book’s stars and creative team. Also each issue will have a TALKING POINT where you and I can discuss something adjacently relevant to the book at hand! And that’s right, I’m going to be keeping track of them and giving each entry in the series an issue number, just like your favorite comics have! Woo, dorky! In this series, we will explore comic books from the somewhat-recent to not-at-all-recent past to mull their merits and judge their genius, both with words and with an extremely rigid and definitive scale of 0-10. Every week, I will be your host as I examine a new book and let you know what I thought. In return, you can abscond to the comments section to let me know how much you agree or disagree. That’s the deal we have, writer and reader.
But that’s enough introduction from me. Let’s get down to business! To defeat the… er. To read comics?
TITLE: Wolverine and Jubilee: Curse of the Mutants
Writer and Artist: Kathryn Immonen and Phil Noto
Protagonists: Wolverine and Jubilee. Oh, and Rockslide. Because why not?
Antagonists: Some vampires and a big dragon.
I love Jubilee. I know this is hardly brand new of a news item to devotees of Ghosts Of The Stratosphere, and she’s regarded as a lot of what was awful about comic books in the 1990’s, but screw it. I don’t care. I was always a fan of Jubilee.
Her dynamic with Wolverine from his solo book was a lot of fun, and she’s just an overall interesting character. She has a smarmy and annoying attitude and comes off as a character you just want to slap, but she was given some relatively deep showings, as well, particularly in Uncanny X-Men around the 300th issue where she had two powerful issues featuring her. One with her sharing time with Professor Xavier (and teaching him to rollerblade), and then another just a few issues later, coping with the death of Illyana Rasputin. Also, she had gaudy pink sunglasses and shot fireworks. So flame me; I thought she was neat, and to this day she remains one of my five favorite X-characters. Two favorite X-characters. Okay, she is my favorite X-character.
Curse of the Mutants takes place in the aftermath of Jubilee having become a vampire, and it starts off with her imprisoned by the X-Men and being given a steady diet of Wolverine’s healing factor enhanced blood. Logan shows up and talks Cyclops and Emma Frost into letting the former mutant go with the caveat that he will be responsible for her, and from there we get several characters’ brief interactions with her. Some (like Armor) are extremely wary of Jubilee, to the point of aggression, while others (like Pixie) are tentative about their friend but hoping for the best. No matter which reaction she encounters—since everyone is treating her different to some degree or another—it all serves to remind Jubilee that she isn’t who she used to be, and it’s that sensation of being a foreigner that pushes her into the path of another vampire. One who sets her own plan in motion by planting a drugged Jubilee in a shipping container full of dead bodies. This serves as the impetus for Logan to take her on a road trip to Siberia after he investigates the container.
The story loses its focus here. There is a building full of zombies to clear out for no real reason. Jubes and Wolverine have a spar. The vampire who set all this motion appears again (but leaves almost just as quickly). There’s a vampire/monster guy living in an irradiated cave. And then the pair of X-Men are joined by Rockslide to fight an inter-dimensional dragon. It’s… a LOT of stuff all crammed into a few books, and it feels almost like a video game with the characters just meeting checkpoints before moving on to the next level. Any sense of fluidity is really lost in the rapidly changing settings and nemeses.
Its a shame that the plot itself is so scatterbrained because there is some good to be found here. Out of all of Wolverine’s dynamics within the X-Men, I have always found his relationship with Jubilation Lee to be one of the most fun (right up there with his interactions with Nightcrawler), and this story does a good job with that. It starts a bit rocky—Logan is incredibly hard on and accusatory of Jubilee for a while, but she HAD recently turned him into a vampire temporarily, so that at least makes sense, I suppose—but as it develops, they find the spark that made them such a good pairing. Jubilee has a well-rounded character here, too; her internal monologue is mopey and depressed, but also quite self-aware. She comes to grips with what’s happened to her, and by the last chapter, she rediscovers a bit of her old spark and bravado. So it’s a respectable character study of a story if not a successful plot-driven one.
Phil Noto’s art is up-and-down, as well. There are several pages where things seemed rushed or just otherwise sloppily done, but at other times, everything is very on-point. His use of facial expressions to drive Jubilee’s character works well, but often times the rest of the cast come off as half-finished or dopey.
It’s all-in-all a fine story to really introduce readers to the newly vampiric Jubilee before she would move on to a BFF-ship with X-23 and then have an adopted baby and then head up a reformed Generation X.
Talking Point: Talking Point will be a staple of the new Stew’s Reviews where we take an angular look at our weekly work give us all something to ponder in the comments. This edition’s topic for discussion: How Jubilee is the most underrated and irrationally hated X-Man ever. Positive comments only; Jubes is the best. No, wait, that’s not it, sorry. That’s just me. What other surrogate parent/child dynamics in comics have been well-handled throughout the years? What are some of your favorite stories involving these kinds of relationships?
Wolverine and Jubilee are two of my favorite characters in the X-Men, Marvel, and hell, comics in general, so as long as a story isn’t pure crap, I’m going to dig it. And this… isn’t pure crap. It’s uneven throughout, but the character moments are of quality. It does an effective job establishing the new status quo for Jubilee, and that seems to have been its purpose.
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