Monday, August 31, 2009

Feminist Feature: The X-Women

Despite the superhero world sticking to the thin but curvy female form (understandable though for what they do), females are quickly becoming the most powerful superheroes, as opposed to 60 years ago, when they were objects of the males’ affection, as shown by Invisible Woman and Jean Grey. Their powers were mostly offensive and non-threatening. Then Jean became Phoenix and then Sue Storm honed the ability to create force fields bubbles inside the head or heart and instantly kill a person. Basically she became a telekinetic, maybe not up to Jean-Grey level but still incredibly powerful, and the most powerful of the Fantastic Four. It helped that Chris Claremont writes his women as having incredible strength. Frank Miller also writes his women as being super badasses, i.e. Gail and Miho from Sin City, Elektra, and Queen Gorgo from 300.

But now, it seems all the X-title writers are focusing more on the women of the mutant race. My current favorite comic writer Mike Carey writes a damn good Rogue, the new main character of the book X-Men Legacy. She plays mentor to the younger generation of mutants and key to many problems that arise with swift reaction and useful powers that she now has under control. She can only have that problem for so long before it gets too old and repetitive, right? Same with Wolverine. He can only hunt down his past for so long without ever finding anything. I’m glad he found his past. Anyway, Rogue is awesome. I expect more women of greatness out of this book. I hope he gets Husk in his book because I’m positive she’d be in good hands.

Craig Kyle and Chris Yost have always written a completely awesome X-23. And now in X-Force they're writing a great Wolfsbane and Domino. They’ve really focused on bringing X-23 to the forefront as a formidable foe to the X-Men’s adversaries and a complete animal, a stranger to feeling emotions, which she’s beginning to experience in protecting who she now calls friends. She doesn’t understand the emotions she feels toward Hellion, but she knows to protect him with her life. It’s like Wolverine all over again, but much more complex and real.

Matt Fraction, finally coming to a better grip on his huge ensemble of X-characters in Uncanny X-Men, is relying on the women to execute the most dangerous and important missions, such as depowered Dani Moonstar, Emma Frost, Psylocke, Domino, Pixie, and Dazzler. When Dazzler burned Kwannon-mind-Psylocke-body’s face off, it was the most badass moment of the X-books in a long time. It helps that Terry Dodson draws his women with meat on their bones, often voluptuous and beautiful, not emaciated models with watermelon breasts. Psylocke is about to get bigger and better. After enduring a lot of crap done to her by various writers and becoming overly powerful to the point that it’s impossible to progress her character or use her for much, Psylocke has been nearly retconned and taken back to her roots after the body switch. Emma Frost has been one of the top females in the Marvel Universe, if not THE top female, but her character is becoming more and more complex with her unorthodox, secretive, backstabbing methods of working for mutant rights and the X-Men, even keeping her plans from her man friend Cyclops.

Warren Ellis (who, of course, will write something awesome) has delivered the badass hand-to-hand combat Storm that once showed us she was capable of beating a powered Cyclops and to lead the X-Men. Mind you, Forge's home-made mutant was disgusting with eyes all over his body, it would be difficult to even look at or touch the creature. Whedon, now off Astonishing, made all his women outstanding, especially Kitty, who ended up saving everyone by trapping herself in a giant adamantium bullet. PS-I love Simone Bianchi. And I'm getting all his variant covers. Mmmm.

Then there’s Zeb Wells, current writer of the female-heavy New Mutants. And he’s writing Dani Moonstar as having quite the attitude and a vengeance for blood. She’s out to prove herself of worth now that she’s depowered. And Cyclops knows she is, as seen in Uncanny, but her friend and team leader, Cannonball doesn’t. Until she saved his life after he told her she was worthless. And then there’s the literal volcanic, too-hot-too-handle Magma, possessor Karma, and deceitful, limbo queen and demon killer Magik.

X-Factor's noirish writer Peter David has done wonders with a cast that has all women with the most personality: Monet St. Croix, an autistic rich bitch that has super strength, telepathy, and invulnerability; Siryn, the manic-depressive, ex-alcoholic, sassy daughter of Banshee; Wolfsbane, the werewolf mutant that is a devout Catholic and yet a killer by instinct; Layla Miller, a girl who knows things…a lot of them…ahead of time, but she’s no mutant (so what is she?); and there’s been Ruby Summers (the future daughter of Cyclops), who might pass as a professional wrestler with a dry sense of humor. Every single character, especially these diverse women, is utterly unique and larger-than-life. It’s what makes fantastic stories for characters to play off each other. They all would make completely different decisions if in charge, and often do make drastic decisions that have repercussions in the future. But the women of X-Factor are by far the most intriguing of all X-books.

The X-universe is better than it’s been in a long, long time. With so many books, I’m sure it’s hard to keep the quality up, and since Fraction, Carey, David, Kyle, Yost, Ellis, and Wells have all taken to the X-Men pen, the X-Men may never be able to reach this level of greatness again, unless perhaps Margaret Atwood, Ursula Le Guin, or Neil Gaiman take them up too. And the Avengers aren’t far behind in showcasing the women. The upcoming annual will feature all the New Avengers women on a hunt to find a missing Hawkeye, led by Mockingbird.


  1. Just found this blog. I've never followed a blog before but you have 2 things going for you; Witty writing and a name that I love so much that my first born child will also bear that name. Thank you for an entertaining way to end my 19 hour work day.

  2. Thanks, Doug! Glad to have you! Hope we'll keep your interest!