X-Men: Misfits Vol. 1 (Del Rey)

xmenmisfits-header.jpgOMG! It’s the X-Men via shojo manga, with all kindsa crushes and embarrassments and gooey teen stuff.

 

 

177 pgs. B&W; $12.99

(W: Raina Telgemeier & Dave Roman; A: Anzu)

 

"OMG!" gushes 15-year-old Kitty Pryde when she arrives at Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, "There are so many cute boys here!!!"

This is the X-Men via shojo manga; X-Men: Misfits is a new manga for teen girls, with all kindsa crushes and embarrassments and gooey teen stuff. It’s fun for all X-fans, though, with clean art and familiar storylines. And the sloppy, icky teen puppy-dog love is there, but not as overwhelming as it so often is in shojo books. The nice surprise is the fighting worthy of a shonen (or boys’) manga.

The plotline is familiar even to casual X-Men fans. Kitty Pryde is a mutant teen who has no idea how to control her power—the ability to walk through walls and objects. Magneto (at this point still a buddy to Xavier) convinces her parents to send her to Uncle Charlie’s Fun Time Party Center and House of Puberty (just kidding), aka Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters.

OMG! Kitty is the first girl at the school. You know what that means—all the boys are drawn to her huge, soft, sensuous eyes, drawn as large as those of the night-creeping aye aye lemur. And naturally, she gets all googly from the presence of so much teen beefcake.

Kitty soon falls in with the self-styled mischief-makers of the "Hellfire Club." Then, the real shojo lovin’ gets going. Pyro up and kisses Kitty, and then he becomes her possessive, asshole boyfriend. She’s too young and inexperienced in the ways of amor to recognize that he’s a badd’un, but this is only the first volume of the book, so there’ll be plenty of time for break-ups and such, later.

The theme, teen crushes and embarrassments, is played out amidst the usual passel of "X-games": anti-mutant sentiment among the "normals," anti-human sentiment among the angrier mutants (Magneto, Pyro, etc.). Whether it’s about mutant powers or teen angst, it’s all of the same piece—feeling like you fit in, or feeling like you don’t. No new ground is covered in this one, but that’s okay.

The veteran X-readers will get a kick out of meeting newly imagined manga versions of Havoc, Forge, Blob, Iceman, Longshot, Cyclops, Colossus, Gambit, Angel, Nightcrawler, Quicksilver, Madrox the Multiple Man, Storm, and of course, our man, our hero, our beloved cue ball-headed Professor Xavier. I appreciated the fact that Storm is drawn in her early incarnation, with a mohawk, which always seemed to make her cooler.

Artist Anzu has four assistants, whom she thanks at the end of the book. I wonder if that happens a lot with manga, especially in a nice long 177-page adventure like this one. [*] Her team does respectable work – the expressions, anatomy, action, communication of ideas (across cultures, no less), etc. are dependably tight. Unfortunately, the efforts to make every guy look like an androgynously gorgeous teen makes them look a lot alike, and it can be confusing. Each of them has an impossibly teeny nose, like Michael Jackson’s, too. It’s an annoying trope of this sort of manga (and anime), so what are you gonna do?

The innovative touches are nice: apparently the artists couldn’t resist making Beast look like a hulking but cute Domo, and Colossus changes into a tubby, mustached metal fellow fitted together with rivets. It’s odd fun.

The first blast of the shojo X-men ends with a really cool fight between mutants and normals that escalates until one of our muties is seriously hurt. The action, and the drama that goes beyond the romantic, are appreciated.

This is a breezy book that young X-types and teen girls (and the lucky overlap of those two groups) can dig. There’s potential to take this in any number of directions, already well trod by the X-books or new.

Personally, I thought the scene where Kitty kisses Pyro on the school’s roof, and her powers inadvertently activate, plunging them down through the roof and onto the floor of a lower level, was genuinely romantic.

OMG, am I, like, a shojo on the inside?

[blushes]. | Byron Kerman

 

Click here to read a 14-page preview of X-Men: Misfits, courtesy of Newsarama.

 

[*] Editor’s note: Art assistants are a very common element of manga creation—some artists have a handful, some have an army. Assistants are usually charged with the more menial tasks—backgrounds, laying in screentone, etc.—though that can be taken to the extreme. There have been rumors of a prominent shojo manga artist who only drew the eyes of her characters and left the rest of the artwork to her assistants, although that’s likely a rare exception. Most assistants are beginner manga artists themselves, using the position as a stepping stone to breaking into the industry and scoring their own series. —JG

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply