Robot 6

The Fifth Color | Jubilee, vampire mom

X-Men #4 - Shogo

Look Upon Your Doom

Comics love kids. Whether as protagonists or antagonists or (especially) readers, comics have a long-established history with the young and young at heart. Youth are blessed with innocence and wonder, easily fitting into fantasy situations without fail and delighting in the escapism that most “grown-ups” would dismiss with cynicism or disbelief. It’s an easy starting point for a story to begin in a character’s youth or with the cliche “I was born …,” because it’s something everyone reading can relate to. We can all shout, “Hey, I was born once, too!” and suddenly everyone’s on the same page.

So, it sort of makes sense that comics hate parents. Any chance they get, parents are abusive, neglectful, swept off stage or, frequently, killed. Having parents around limits a character’s independence. They drag a “real world” sensibility into fantastic situations where we all have to wonder who are the people putting these kids up at the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning, taking us out of the fun of just having a super-powered school in the first place. Parents also tend to prove that kids don’t really “know everything,” and can put a damper on the adventurous spirit that kid superheroes require. And, let’s face it, not everyone has been a parent and, sadly enough, not everyone has had parents that stuck around. Aside from some debatable exceptions (and one awesome mom in Sue Storm), parents don’t get panel time in comics unless they are an obstacle to overcome.

When Jubilee became a vampire in the X-Men event “Curse of the Mutants,” I figured that would be the end of the character for a while. Not that vampires aren’t interesting, it just slows down what you can do with them if you decide to stick to the rules (aversion to sunlight, the need for blood, etc.) She’d fade to the background, show up for special events that might make use of her new vampiric abilities and not need to explain why she’s out during the day. However, X-Men #4 really puts the stake through the Sparkler’s heart by effectively killing off the character by making her … a mom.

WARNING: Talking specifics about X-Men #4 as well as spoiling a small plot point of the past three issues in the last sentence.  Whoops. Dare you read on?

In Brian Wood’s new all-female X-Men title, Jubilee started off the show by appearing on her friends’ doorstep with a baby. Turns out the infant was an orphan and wrapped up in a crazy plot that would make him a host for an oncoming villain, so this new team takes on the job of protecting the child and going on an adventure. By the end fo the story, the baby is saved and Jubilee comes to the conclusion that she’s keeping the child to raise as her own. She names him Shogo and that is that.

xmen4_home

In this most recent issue, Jubilee takes Wolverine on a tour through her own personal Los Angeles, showing him the place where she started. As Jubilee sits feeding Shogo PCU noodles in the food court she used to haunt, she and Logan look back at how she joined up with the X-Gang and note the distance between then and now. From the beach she used to frequent to the house where she once had parents to the mall where she used to rat around, all of what we’ve seen is Jubilee’s past, and she tells him so. “… But all these spots are important to me, they live inside me somewhere for sure. At the end of the day, though, it’s not home anymore. That’s with you guys. Wherever that may be.” It’s a classic understanding of the kid adventurer, someone who left the mundane behind for the fantastic. Their origins are always integral to their character, but no one focuses on the fact that Scott Summers was pushed out of a plane when he was a kid or that Captain America was a scrawny nobody as a teen; we know them better and more fondly as the superheroes they are today.

A more sentimental Wolverine tells Jubilee that she’ll make a great mom, which seems like a weird step backward for the character. When we’ve just finished talking about how the carefree life of following mutants into the Outback is what gave Jubilee her family and how her roots don’t factor into her life anymore, Logan encourages her to settle down. After seeing her childhood home for sale in Beverly Hills, Logan buys it for her on the sly despite her disinterest. Unless the Beverly Hills home is going to be this new X-Team’s base camp, it’s a very nice place to put away Jubilee for the long term.

xmen4_photoopCharacter-wise, it makes sense: Logan is fond of Jubilee and would rather see her live a full and happy life than lead the adventurous and insane one an X-Man gets. She lost her powers, nearly died at the hands of Omega Red and was turned into a vampire — I’m sure Logan just sees more dire threats to her life in the future and wants to head them off. Being a parent should curb any reckless tendencies and ground her emotionally; maybe she’ll survive to see another birthday. As a reader and X-enthusiast, all I can see is Jubilee saying goodbye. Yes, becoming responsible and more mature is great character growth, but it limits what you can do as a superhero.

Superheroes are unencumbered, for the most part, able to drop everything at a moment’s notice to travel to space and save the day. Babies require care and change your perspective on what’s important — and finding a babysitter for a space adventure is out of the question. The best-case scenario is that she continues to ride with the team, and the baby becomes a dangling subplot, pulled out for dramatic purposes and put back when it hampers the action. The worst-worst case scenario is that something terrible happens to Shogo, requiring Jubilee to seek revenge. Both of these are horrible ideas. and Wood is far too solid a writer to let things drift in those directions. So what’s next?

We hate to see our heroes grow up. It reminds us of reality and limits their ability to be there for us when we need them. The letters page of this issue has fans excited about seeing more of Jubilee, and while editor Jeanine Schaefer promises we’ll see more of the character’s new vampiric power set in the future, I’m more curious about how much we’ll be seeing of Jubilee herself.  This direction for the character seems less Sue Storm and more Jessica Jones; she won’t be the power mom the Invisible Woman rose to prominence as, but Jubilee will certainly have a lot to learn, a huge extended family of heroes for help and conflicts that are more about her than what the villain du jour is doing. Being a parent might not make you a superhero in the classical sense, but it does challenge you to be a better, stronger person than you’ve ever had to be in your life. This is goodbye to the Jubilee we all grew up with, but it’s also hello to the Jubilee we could become.

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Comments

22 Comments

I… have to disagree, at least in part. Yeah, they’ve killed the Jubilee we know, but that happened after Decimation, not because her power defined her, but because they turned her a damsel in distress, see your own points: depowered, nearly killed by Omega Red in order to get closer to Wolverine, victim of the vampires… just to get closer to Wolverine…

I think that the last time I saw Jubilee was in the Liu/Pichelli short story for “Girl Comics”, and even there it wasn’t the same happy-go-lucky character, in that story Marjorie Liu added a few layers to the character in order to bridge her origin with the way se was being trasformed, and that’s when the mallrat was out and in came the new Jubilee, not a rebooted character, but an evolved one.

“Comics love kids…(especially as readers)”
Not according to Dan Didio.

I can see your concern but, you said it yourself, Wood is far too good a writer to let Jubilee fall into any of the cliched categories you mentioned. He has said numerous times that he’s loved the character since his days on Generation X some 15ish years ago, so I’m sure we’re in for nothing but great storytelling so far as she’s concerned.

“Yes, becoming responsible and more mature is great character growth, but it limits what you can do as a superhero.”

If that were true (and it’s really not), it would say more about the deficiencies in imagination of the creators and/or the audience than it would about any inherent limitation of the characters themselves.

I kind of see Jubilee becoming sort of the Sacagawea of the X-Men: riding off into adventure with a baby on her back. A bit irresponsible? Maybe, but this is fantasy and they can get away with it.

What they’ve essentially done with Jubilee is something that rarely gets seen with young heroes: they finished her coming-of-age story. And doing it by giving her a baby to raise is surprisingly brilliant. One of the themes at the core of Jubilee’s life has always been family, or rather the ability to create a home and family from what bits and pieces life gives you. I think it’s a very positive development, especially compared to the last 12 years in which they didn’t seem to know what to do with her. There are still some things I think should be reversed (her depowering and vampirism), but otherwise things are looking up for the character for the first time in ages.

Giving Jubilee a child makes her generation of mutants (Generation X, et al), and the ones slightly ahead of her (New Mutants, Hellions, Kitty Pryde) seem a lot older than they need to be. Heck, Iceman must be pushing 30 now if Jubilee is a mother!

Marvel is getting into the territory of DC’s dilemma wherein Batman was pushing 40 before the New 52 ‘adjustments’.

Try to remember the fact that Brian Wood, a (modern day) writer i very much respect and commend, has persistently stated that there is no personality difference between the Jubilee of then and the Jubilee of now. She’s still who she is, just with a lot more existential baggage.

I don’t really think things are as glum as the article puts it. Yes, the responsibility of providing and taking care of new life is daunting and exhausting and it’ll tax a lot on the character, but that doesn’t detract from where she’s come and where she’s going. AFAIK, this is the first time, ever, in Marvel Comics, where a renowned teen-character (and we certainly need more of THOSE) has been placed in a position like this, taking into consideration that she was formerly in limbo because of an absence of creativity on what to do with her and now comes out with this–it could have gone either way and this may not be logical, but four issues in, i for one, have seen nothing but good come of it. This particular issue in question (which is one of the best X-Issues i’ve read in a long time) provides well-needed growth and development for a character who was facing perpetual immobilization.

It’s not really a hello or a goodbye, cause as stated before, she’s still who she is, i think it’s more of a welcome back, for someone who’s been redefined and about to set the standard for a medium that’s in need of progression.

The Cool Thatguy

August 24, 2013 at 1:42 pm

Though I suspect we all know where this will end, I welcome it as the norm for now.

Of late, comics have struggled to be diverse is any meaningful sense. Besides being ethnically diverse, comics often struggle with character diversity.

Why must every character be single and young?

I mean, a single mother? Marvel has finally caught up with Murphy Brown! WTF?

Lets see single moms, war vets, single dads, grand parents, etc. Lets see something different, already!

Quote=Kenozoic: “Giving Jubilee a child makes her generation of mutants (Generation X, et al), and the ones slightly ahead of her (New Mutants, Hellions, Kitty Pryde) seem a lot older than they need to be. Heck, Iceman must be pushing 30 now if Jubilee is a mother!”

Truth be told, they’ve been in that situation for a while, just because of their need to introduce a new “generation” of teen X-Men every decade. We’ve gotten to the point where they’re trying to claim that Jubilee and her Generation X classmates are the same age as the new kids like Pixie, Rockslide and Hellion. Which begs two questions: if they’re the same age, why aren’t they in school with them? And if they’re still so young, why did it seem like they were in the Massachusetts Academy for years and years.

The age bottleneck will always be a problem for these characters, as long as they keep introducing new “classes” of X-teens.

wow!! Jubillee grown up. time flew very fast. it feels like yesterday when i first read about her on the pages of Wolverine, i hated her personality back then. it made me think about myself, still a comic fanboy at 42.

it seems that this Wood’s guy is doing great on the X-men, i’ll try an issue.

If you believe that a character having a kid in comics limits who they are and what they can do and become, then you’ve not only drunk the Joe Q Kool Aid you’ve bought stock in the company that makes it.

It should never matter what happens to a character that makes them interesting/useful/ relateable, it’s up to the writer to make them do such. And just because writers in the past were too lazy to think of interesting ways to make a superhero parent interesting, doesn’t mean a writer that cares can’t.

It’s about we as readers demand that writers step up their games and write a decent parent hero, instead of letting them off the the hook when they say it can’t be done (because they don’t want to do it).

@The Cool Thatguy

Actually, single mother superheroines are not unheard of in comic books. The first example that sprung to my mind was Rocket from the 1990s series “Icon”:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rocket_%28comics%29

@kalorama

You are correct that a superhero parent can lead to great stories if skeptical editors and readers let a creator cut loose. A great example once again was Rocket, who under writer Dwayne McDuffie became a richer character by accepting both the responsibilities of motherhood and fighting crime (along with the occasional alien invasion).

@Kenozoic

(A) Iceman should be pushing 30 regardless. (B) It’s not actually Jubilee’s kind; he’s a foundling. So there’s no inherent relationship between the kid’s age and Jubilee’s (or anyone else’s).

You wrote:
“Yes, becoming responsible and more mature is great character growth, but it limits what you can do as a superhero.”
- Is that why the Fantastic Four are soo lame, because people believe that b.s.? Sorry, I just totally disagree with that, but it does explain why the Fantastic Four are not a major brand name right now. Good story telling is good story telling, regardless of whether a character is “becoming responsible and more mature…”. Wow, seriously? Come on man, this is the reason the medium of sequential story telling is termed “comic book”, instead of “sequential”. There are soo many ways the “Super Hero” ‘genre’/universes can be improved, and including great stories about many a type of person needs it’s horizons broadened. At least the art on Fantastic Four is improving -Allred is all-rite!!! and Bagley, is baaaG-great!!! FF needs to slightly change to whom its targeted / marketed; its a niche that is underutilized.

I said in a related thread that a lot of the potential of having super-heroes with kids depends on how you choose to play it and how seriously you take their situation and the dangers around them. People tend to take super-heroes a little too seriously. So, people think that a superhero parent should quit the business to minimize the risk that the child is in or at least leave the child at home with a sitter during missions. However, if you are willing to allow the fantasy to extend to the parent-child dynamic and not take the supposed risk so seriously, then the hero can just take the child with them on adventures.

Derek Metaltron

August 25, 2013 at 7:00 am

I love the Fantastic Four because they’re parents and their children and the wacky family ties which come out from that amid all the super science. Comic book writers the world over seem with nearly every other couple to assume that when they get married or have kids it’s the end of their story, yet part of me think that had Marvel the balls to let Peter and MJ keep wee May during the Clone Saga and let Spidey be a young father he’d be every bit as interesting if not more so. I mean when was the last time we had a non-gay, non interacial couple get married in comics? In any case, even if I’m not a big fan of Jubilee I hope they let the baby plot carry on and don’t kill or vastly change the kid for the sake of it.

You wrote:
“Yes, becoming responsible and more mature is great character growth, but it limits what you can do as a superhero.”

Is that why the Fantastic Four are soo lame, because people believe that b.s.? Sorry, I just totally disagree with that, but it does explain why the Fantastic Four are not a major brand name right now. Good story telling is good story telling, regardless of whether a character is “becoming responsible and more mature…”. Wow, seriously? Come on man, this is the reason the medium of sequential story telling is termed “comic book”, instead of “sequential”. There are soo many ways the “Super Hero” ‘genre’/universes can be improved, and including great stories about many a type of person needs it’s horizons broadened. At least the art on Fantastic Four is improving -Allred is all-rite!!! and Bagley, is baaaG-great!!! FF needs to slightly change to whom its targeted / marketed; its a niche that is underutilized.

Would’ve been more interesting if the baby was her biological child. I am not a fan of the Jubilee vampire thing and I would rather see her with mutant powers intact getting into shenanigans with the Xmen/wolverine. Who knows maybe she could have been xforce material. I would rather see that then her being a vampire mother.

“Would’ve been more interesting if the baby was her biological child. I am not a fan of the Jubilee vampire thing and I would rather see her with mutant powers intact getting into shenanigans with the Xmen/wolverine. Who knows maybe she could have been xforce material. I would rather see that then her being a vampire mother.”

Most of that stuff could be reversed if the powers-that-be at Marvel wanted to. There are any number of Marvel-specific plot devices that could do the job. However, if they ever do cure her vampirism or return her mutant powers, I hope Shogo gets to stick around.

Raymond Wonsowski

August 25, 2013 at 5:02 pm

If a character doesn’t change or grow, like any other form of life, it will die. Let us be fair, Jubilee was a late 80′s to early 90′s symptom that was a horrendous stereotype to be a barometer for what adults thought was cool to kids at the time. The vampire thing was just a ploy to make her edgy and cool like the former editors thought she was.

Now, for the first time, we have real character change, that also feels like a natural evolution for Jubilee. Kids are supposed to learn responsibility, for themselves and others, and almost every child wants to be a great parent to their own kids. Add to the fact that there are so many single and/or teenage mothers who may need an example, Jubilee is an exciting opportunity to be an example of the solution, rather than repeating the problem ad infinitum.

I’ve been a fan of Brian Wood since Channel Zero. I trust him implicitly with his character work. To be honest, I’m glad to see a young lady like Jubilee experience the unknown as a new parent, instead of her traipsing across Genosha in a push-up bra as another Twilight-wannabe brat.

Give positive examples a chance to change things for the better, instead of giving the lowest common denominator your $3.99.

Not sure I agree. Super heroes cant be parents sounds a lot like super heroes can’t be married. Sue Storm disproves both these assertions.

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