On Marvel’s All-Girl X-Men

X-Men #1 by Terry Dodson

The all-female X-Men started off full of promise. The first issue had a solid premise and was graced with Olivier Coipel’s stellar lines. The first arc laid the groundwork for a variety of female characterizations we rarely get to see in superhero comics like single-motherhood and alpha-female postulating.  But Coipel didn’t stick around for long and as soon as the fifth issue, the small bit of momentum X-Men had gained was interrupted by the Battle of the Atom.

You know when you read an issue and have utterly no idea what’s going on? It starts in the middle of another story that happened in another issue of another title and you have not read those other issues – so now you are completely lost and the issue is a bust. I am certainly NOT going back to the comic shop. I am also not going to be ham-fisted into buying comics I would otherwise never read. I am obviously talking about a crossover … and I hate them.

You know what I hate even more? Crossovers that don’t layer well into the existing story of a book. At least make it so your story continues along its path. Then, reading other titles in the crossover gives you a broader, more complete story. Don’t make it so you have to read a bunch of different books to barely understand the one story in your comic that will be abandoned as soon as the event is through. Anyway, Battle of the Atom monopolized two issues of X-Men. I endured it. Erika didn’t make it to the other side and she dropped the book.

That’s a big deal, right? We were salivating at the idea of an all-female X-Men, yet it takes one crossover to shake a reader. You’d think the Big Two would get a clue and realize short-term gain could lead to long-term loss.

My crossover dismay was mitigated when Marvel solicited that the Dodsons (that’s Terry and Rachel) would be on art duties for issue #7 and Lady Deathstrike (awesome villain) would lead the new arc, Muertas. The issue proved to be pretty fantastic. Terry Dodson beautifully designed the monumental character appearances in the issue and Wood set the stage for cracking open the female characterization on the title for better, worse and potentially ugly.

Lady Deathstrike - X-Men #7

The return of Lady Deathstrike

I mean that ugly bit in a good way. Sure, we need more female characters to balance the scales. But once we have them, then it’s important they get treated like free-range characters representing the spectrum of human emotion and behavior. Besides, what’s more fun than a complex female villain? Lady Shiva, anyone?

At the close of issue #7, X-Men had embraced its potential. With upwards of ten female characters in any given issue – think of the possibilities! My hopes were up, and issue #8 built on that hope when they added Amora the Enchantress to the villain camp. It also featured two small, yet really great, moments.

This one …

Psylocke saves John Sublime - X-Men #8

That’s what the kids call script-flipping.

And this one.

Roxy kisses Jubilee - X-Men #8

Woot! Titillation-free girl kissing with baby side-eye!

After sticking it out through the end of the crossover, I finally felt like this story was going somewhere interesting. But issue #9 proved to be too ambitious … or lazy, depending on how you view the story choices. Either way, it flitted rapidly between power players and put too many pieces on the board. By the close of the issue, vague new plot threads had been created and not enough attention was being given to the existing. My hope dwindled.

Then last week, the tenth issue hit a wall. With wasted potential and palpable disappointment, a few fun panels spread across a few previous issues can not make up for it. Read my full review of #10.NOW HERE.

Ultimately, I am baffled. Marvel is proving innovative in some of its other titles, namely Young Avengers, Ms. Marvel and Hawkeye. Why would Marvel waste this golden opportunity to wreck the status quo of superhero comics with the X-Women? That sort of thing is trendy now, oh … and THE RIGHT THING TO DO.  This line-up of X-Men could make a huge mark on the superhero genre and lead the way for more books with all-female teams.

Storm, Rogue, Kitty Pryde, Rachel Grey, Jubilee, Psylocke, Karima Shapandar, Monet St. Croix, Lady Deathstrike, Typhoid Mary and Amora the Enchantress.

I mean, c’mon!!!

How, after almost a year, has no real progress or evolution been made in story or character? Who do I get to blame for shoving a crossover down its throat and convoluting the shit of these characters? Where can I yell that someone will hear that it’s super-hard to make Psylocke boring, yet this book did! You’ve got a team of three strange and powerful antagonists and you rely on revenge as a key motivator!? You’re not allowed to rely on lame tropes!

Headlines blazed a year ago with news of an all-girl X-Men, and I need someone to walk the walk. So, do better, editors – Tom and Jeanine. Do better, Brian. Do better, Marvel.

Sisterhood in the desert - X-Men #10.NOW

12 thoughts on “On Marvel’s All-Girl X-Men

  1. I agree with you all the way. This was a book I was actually looking forward too, to shake things up a bit and do something different. I am a few behind, but I think you hit the nail on the head with the crossover interruption. That was the moment the book went off the rails. I too hate it when crossovers just randomly appear in a title. Infinity did it well, in at least so far as the main three books were concerned. BotA did not. It read fine as a whole, but not when reading it piecemeal. I still hold hope for this book, Wood is a great writer and will hopefully reign it back in.

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    • That seems to be the consensus hope – that Wood will get his story together. It’s been ten issues and it keeps getting more convoluted and boring. He needs to inject quite a bit of life and trajectory to redeem the title. I imagine this book has quite a bit of editorial mandate involved – so I am sure that is a factor, as well.

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  2. I am right there with you. I put up with the crossover issues because I had faith that Brian Wood would do good things once he had the reins again, but the issues since haven’t rewarded that faith. At this point, there are too many players on the board whom I don’t know (and often can’t even tell apart, for which I blame Dodson) and too little time spent on the team. Not to mention two team members were lost within six or seven issues, due to events on other titles. Have Rogue or Kitty even been mentioned since they left?

    It’s a mess. I loved the opening arc, but it’s been a mess ever since.

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      • I’d read on another Comic blog that Marvel had killed Rogue off. Kitty’s gone too? I haven’t kept up much in the last few years (decades?) but I always hated how Marvel never took advantage of some of their great characters because they were so stuck on over-using the fan favorites. It’s disheartening to see things have changed little over the last decade and a half.

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        • During the Battle of the Atom crossover event, Kitty got mad at the Jean Grey School group of mutants and left them to go hang out with Cyclops’ crew. Since Wood’s X-Men team is all from the JGS side of the schism, that means no more Kitty on the book.

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  3. Usually in these instances you have to look at the editor. Either he/she is making those decisions or someone above them. I know we hear a lot negativity surrounding the big crossovers but I believe in these instances you have to blame the silent majority. It appears most of the buying public likes the big crossovers or they would not be doing them unless they are trying to create movie scenarios for the future. Either way it is about money or earning potential, not art. I am on the fence, if they are done right a big crossover is great. If not handled properly the big crossover is a waste of money and time and at my age the time is much more valuable. I agree though, I loathe the bait and switch

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  4. Brian Wood rarely does well except on his own stuff. We’ve been disappointed at the boredom factor in much of his work for hire. It’s too bad, I’ve missed Karima and was glad they were using her again.

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  7. love every issue. have no compliants just a hope….the return of jean grey (not that kid). how can they have an all x-women book without the FIRST x-woman. and with storm (her sister, remember that friendship 80s/90s xmen readers?) and rachel (daughter) are here so perfect place for her. they are resurrecting bad guys lets resurrect the ultimate good guy (girl?). other than that this book is a dream come true, literally i went on a rant about they need a book called x-women on comicvine and when i was a teen wrote a four page letter to marvel on it. ten years later and still cant believe its here. just going to bask in the glow of this glorious decade

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