Monday, January 24, 2011
Wolverine and Jubilee #1 - A Not-So-Hidden Gem of Awesome
When I finished reading the Curse of the Mutants story (also known as Mutants vs Vampires or shamelessly-cashing-in-on-vampire-craze), I felt like someone who paid top dollar to see Eminem live in concert only to get Vanilla Ice instead. It was a real downer. I ended up stuffing the book in my collection between the Spider-Man Clone Saga and some old Playboys featuring Anna Nichole Smith before she got fat. However, this book was not completely without redemption. There was some lumps of gold within the piles of shit.
At the end of Curse of the Mutants, Jubilee was left a vampire. She was essentially cast out by the vampires that recruited her and the X-men took her into custody. Because she's got a new thirst for blood in the same way Twilight fans have a thirst for Robert Pattinson's semen, she was deemed too dangerous to be left to her own devices. So they imprisoned her in the brig, leaving Jubilee's character in a completely different and much more interesting state. Since House of M, she's been powerless and pretty much marginalized. For anyone who was fond of the feisty teenage girl that captured your heart in a non-pedophilic way, it's been a rough go. So seeing her back with the X-men in any capacity and in a somewhat more badass state is more welcome than a stripper at a Nickelback concert.
This is where the Wolverine and Jubilee mini-series comes in. This new series picks up right where Curse of the Mutants left off with Jubilee. Her life is now at a crossroads and no one is really sure what to do with her. Since Wolverine has always been a big part of her life (again, in a non-pedophillic way), it makes sense for him to be the one that helps her. It brings back that old side-kick dynamic between Wolverine and Jubilee that the X-books have seriously been missing since Bill Clinton was still in office.
Wolverine and Jubilee #1 begins shortly after the last pages of Curse of the Mutants, which had Jubilee imprisoned in the brig. She's not very thrilled about it and it's hard to tell if that's because of her new vampire side or if she's just generally pissed about being a prisoner. It could go either way. Basically what they've been doing is use Wolverine's blood and infused it with Jubilee's so her vampire side could be suppressed. That doesn't make her any less a vampire though so Cyclops and Emma are hesitant to let her out.
The one who does want to let he out is Wolverine. He's the one vouching for her. So he and Jubilee have a little chat. It's the kind of chat they used to have, except Jubilee is now fuming with vampire rage. That makes her a bit less bubbly and a lot more badass. For some, that's actually an upgrade. For others, it's a little out-of-character. But naturally, she convinces Wolverine that they can let her out. Since Wolverine is like an annoying salesman/date rapist who doesn't take no for an answer, he pretty much bullies Cyclops and Emma into letting her out.
So Jubilee is let out and gets some more comfortable surroundings. However, her vampire urges are still pretty strong. There's a nice moment where she's looking at a bunch of bottles of blood, knowing that this is how she has to sustain herself now. She's basically gotta live the True Blood lifestyle minus the hot sex with Stephen Moyer. Wolverine shows up to remind her to behave herself. She makes it clear that's not going to be easy. Not only is she a teenage girl, she's a vampire with a shit ton of new urges.
She attempts to keep herself busy. So she goes for a workout in the gym. This leads to a pretty funny moment with her and Rockslide, which is clearly blatant sexual innuendo. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but you just knew at some point someone was going to throw in some vampire style sex. It gets heated in a different way (sadly no girl-on-girl innuendo here) when Armor comes in to work out. She's among those who doesn't believe Jubilee has enough self-control to be a vampire. She may be right because Jubilee ends up flashing her fangs. It's a pretty hostile gesture from a girl who isn't known for being hostile. Then again, she's a teenage girl so it's not that big an upgrade. It's also a sign that she's not in control as much as Wolverine would hope.
Jubilee's next encounter is with Emma Frost, who has about as much faith in her as Richard Dawkins has in voodoo healing. Although when you think about it, Emma is probably the one who understands her best. She's not known for her self-control or her modesty. She's been known to give into her baser instincts and enjoy the shit out of them in ways that men everywhere can masterbate to. She's also killed people and enjoyed it. So being a vampire for her isn't much of a stretch.
For Jubilee, it's more than a little overwhelming. This scene helps reinforce the notion that Jubilee isn't dealing with a mutation. Being a vampire and being a mutant are very different. She struggled enough being a mutant. Now she's struggling to be a vampire and not doing a good job at it. Everyone is wary of her and she's wary of herself. In other words, it's basically a metaphor for pretty much every teenager who ever went to public school. I had a few night terrors after reading this so I too have a bit of empathy for Jubilee. Except instead of vampire, I had acne. I almost would have preferred being a vampire.
Emma's solution if you can call it that is to surround Jubilee with people who she really doesn't want to bite. That means surrounding her with friends like Pixie, who if you had the misfortune of reading Curse of the Mutants know was the last person Jubilee was with before she got turned into a vampire. Pixie is all bubbly and upbeat, very much like how Jubilee used to be. She tries to remind her that they're still friends and she's still in the X-men fraternity (minus the keg parties). However, Pixie can't seem to resist doing the things that make some fans want to strangle her like Ted Bundie on a meth binge. She tries sparring with Jubilee, which is like coating your dick with honey and trying to get a blow job from a hungry bear. Jubilee doesn't react well to it. She demonstrates nicely that as a vampire, she's a lot stronger and a lot more dangerous to fuck with.
That's the last straw for her. So without so much as a Hallmark inspired note, she leaves Utopia and finds the nearest place a teenage girl can be herself...a bar in a hotel. She might as well go skinny dipping in the lake at Camp Slash 'n Maim. There she does some reminiscing of the old times and even scares off a creepy old guy who equates a teenage girl being alone in a bar with winning the lottery. She has a few flashbacks of her life as a mutant. There's even a nice reference to the first time she encountered the X-men when she was living alone in a mall. For those familiar with Jubilee's history, it's a nice reference to the past for a character that hasn't had the spotlight in quite some time.
Then it gets creepy again. An attractive woman in a white dress shows up and sits down next to Jubilee. Maybe it's not so creepy, but a situation like this involving an older woman and a teenage girl tend to be plots for pornos that aren't legal in certain jurisdictions. As such, Jubilee shows here that she's never seen an after school special about the dangers of talking to or listening to strangers. This one happens to be a vampire like her. She makes some decent points about how being a vampire is very different from being a mutant and the X-men aren't equipped for it. Then she asks her to come with her, which is like giving your bank account information to a Nigerian businessman. It can only end in someone getting screwed over and in this case, it isn't a very sexy kind of screwed over either.
Naturally, Wolverine finds out Jubilee is missing and goes out looking for her. He enlists help from Santo, who may or may not have been trying to bang her. They trace her to the port of Oakland, which in and of itself is a bad sign. Between crime and Raiders fans, it's not a place for a teenage girl even if she's a vampire. When they find her, it ain't pretty. And by ain't pretty I'm not talking about what happens on the toilet when you eat two burritos and a bowl of chilli. I'm talking ain't pretty in a way that happens when you give Freddy Kruger the keys to a daycare center. Jubilee and her new lady friend apparently went on a feeding frenzy and it got messy to say the least.
Wolverine is understandably disappointed. He vouched for Jubilee. He trusted her. Now there's a ton of dead bodies to deal with, which undermines pretty much any kind of trust. Jubilee tries to resist, but Wolverine ends up doing what every parent of every teenage girl probably wishes was legal. He sticks Jubilee with a needle to knock her out. It's a somewhat weak ending. It's not clear what this entails or what Wolverine's angle really is here, but it does offer a compelling series of events regarding him and Jubilee. If that was the goal of the mini to begin with, it's already succeeding.
By the time you finish reading this book, you feel sort of like Indiana Jones. You found something rare in a place you wouldn't expect to look. Curse of the Mutants ended with such a fizzle that most rational people probably wouldn't bother with anything else associated with it. Yet here's a new series that spun right out of it and somehow it's awesome. It seems to defy the laws of physics, but it managed to take the one big positive that came out of that series and build on it. It also reconnected two characters, Wolverine and Jubilee, who haven't had much time to capture that old magic that made them so much fun to read before. Anyone who enjoyed Jubilee and her quirky relationship with Wolverine has plenty to enjoy here. It offers a very new perspective on Jubilee and brings her back into the X-books in a way that's dramatic, compelling, and well-developed.
However, some Jubilee fans may be a bit turned off here. Jubilee has undergone a significant change. She's a vampire now and that's changed her. She's not as bubbly or upbeat as she used to be. She doesn't have the same charming attitude she did before. In some ways it's overly drastic. In other ways, it's very compelling. It's much more compelling than it would have been had her powers just been restored. There's a lot of potential here, but Jubilee as a vampire does fly in the face of her personality. So that out-of-character element may not jive with some readers.
Whether you accept the new characterization or not, Wolverine and Jubilee #1 is a great comic. It's a great beginning to a new series and does everything possible to make the reader want to pick up the next issue. The ending is a little weak and the characterization issues could rub some the wrong way. Overall, it's definitely worth picking up. It just begins to make up for Curse of the Mutants, but still has to play out before we can begin to say it was worth it. For Wolverine and Jubilee #1, I give a final score of 4.5 out of 5. If you're an X-men fan and looking for something refreshing and compelling, this is your book! It won't blow the world of the X-men apart, but it will tell a damn good story about a burly Canadian and a conflicted teenage girl. Can't go wrong with that! Nuff said.