Friday, January 06, 2006

My Girl, Jubilee

The tendancy for young kids of colour to gravitate towards characters that they can relate to is well-documented. As a kid, I used to adore the X-men cartoon, but for reasons I couldn't describe then (although now I understand) my favourite character was Jubilee. Looking back on it, Jubes is actually kind of annoying. She's got that Valley Girl accent that makes her sound more incompetent and flaky than anything else, and she's pretty much incapable of doing anything on her own, such that is it any surprise that in one DC/Marvel crossover, she and the Boy Hostage (ooops, I mean, Boy Wonder) were an item? Still, I loved and continue to love my girl, Jubes. For one thing, she was the Asian American character before most Asian American characters in comic books. (And no, being a White British woman trapped in the body of buxom Japanese assassin doesn't count, Psylocke!) She didn't know ninja or kung fu. Wolverine (in all his badass, Asiaphilic glory) spoke an Asian language better than she did. She was a genuine, bonafide, born-in-America, second-generation Chinese girl who knew about as much Chinese as I did. Okay, so she shoots fireworks out of her hands (I'm sure they were thinking: Chinese! Fireworks! That's not a stereotype!). She's not a prostitue-in-training and she doesn't objectify herself through overly revealing and completely impractical clothing (unless, of course, you get off on bright yellow raincoats). She's still pretty well-rounded, all things considered; her family didn't even have ties to the Triad until they discovered her long lost paternal aunt, Hope, who recently immigrated from China and was actually an assassin in disguise! I gravitated towards Jubilee precisely because of the disparity of non-stereotypical characters of colour in comic books. There was something about seeing a girl who looked like me, acted like me, and could have been me (if I could, you know, shoot fireworks out of my fingertips, and I'm not ashamed to say that in my younger years, I tried). In most comic books, if a character is a person of colour, they seem to need a reason to deviate from the White-is-right norm, hence the over-abundance of super-cool ninja powers. Micheal Choi, penciller at Top Cow, said it best: "You will very rarely find an Asian man or a black woman; Asian men are even rarer than black women. For some reason, if you’re going to stick a minority in--it’s almost like a quota--there’s always a black man or an Asian woman. Top Cow is guilty of [stereotyping], too. We have theYakuza [characters] and the mafia in ‘Darkness.’ Hollywood and comic books--they rely on stereotypes." Over the years, though I find most X-men titles to be rather boring when they're not too convoluted to follow, I still take the time to try and follow Jubes' progression through the Marvel universe. I'm not too proud to admit that I started reading Generation X in high school because of the characters of colour in it: Jubes, Synch, Skin and M. It's just nice to see us not being the stereotype, sometimes. So, imagine how sad I was when I talked to Wizard the other day and found out that following the recent House of M storyline, there's been a massive decimation of mutants in the Marvel 616 universe. Hundreds of millions of mutants have lost their powers, including my homegirl, Jubilee! And actually, as I peruse the names of mutants who have been confirmed as having been depowered over at Wikipedia, a lot of "minority mutant" names are cropping up: Magneto (Jewish), Mirage (Native American), Tag, Wind Dancer (Venezualan), and Angel (Beak's wife) to name a few. Meanwhile, supposed "A-list" mutants remain powered including all of the X-men. And we all know the diversity quotient of those guys. How did the Scarlet Witch (who precipitated the depowering event) create such a racist phenomenon? And if mutations are an analogy for racism, than what does it say when a hundred million mutants are able to lose their powers and re-assimilate back into mankind so readily? So, this is my plea to Marvel -- don't let it end this way! Don't make it so that mutantkind once again displays a vast underrepresentation of mutants of colour! Bring back Jubes' powers!! Think of the kids, Stan Lee! The kids!!!


Anonymous tekanji said...

You just ruined my night. ;.; How could they do that to Jubilee?????

1/06/2006 11:50:00 PM  
Blogger James said...

Because they are trying to keep up with DC Comics .... whose Infinite Crisis storyline is killing all competition.

But it's Marvel "House of Stealing Ideas from African American Political Struggles" Comics. You get what you pay for.

1/07/2006 04:03:00 AM  
Anonymous tekanji said...

Marvel is dead to me ._.

1/07/2006 10:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Rtother said...

James is right. The thing is they just killed millions of mutants on Genosha during Grant Morrison's run.

I like X-Men, but most of the time it's just like other mainstream comics that are just soap-operas on page. Rarely is there a good storyline anymore.

1/07/2006 11:42:00 AM  
Blogger Ragnell said...

Here's the thing about Morrison's run, though. He played up the cultural differences parallel. He created tons of new mutants from all ethnic backgrounds. He gave mutants fashions, and pop culture icons, and neighborhoods where they clustered together and listened to mutant music and dated other mutants. It wasn't simply fighting each other. Morrison took the mutants and justified the "civil rights" analogue by showing us that there was more to the mutant world than violent superheroes. There was potential for an entire new species there.

But Marvel's EIC thought that the opposite was achieved. From this article: "In explaining the decision to cut down on the number of mutants in the Marvel Universe, Quesada said that part of the X-Men's appeal was that mutants were a minority, and that allowed for empathy with readers. As Quesada explained, that feeling of "minority" had been lost over the years."

I hadn't noticed the minority character thing until you pointed it out, though. That sincerely sucks. Marvel used to be a lot better than DC when it came to character concept and variety. I mean, if you haven't noticed, all of DC's heroes look alike when some artists draw them.

On the bright side, M's still around. She's in X-Factor and I'm glad, because she was one of my favorite characters from Generation X. She started out with so much potention. I was hoping for a bit she'd grow into Marvel's answer to Superman. Very different attitude, yes, but same power level, and possibly the same level of protection over the planet.

I also sincerely doubt Jubilee will be gone too long. She's got the pop culture recognition factor going for her. Whatever Quesada says, the second he realizes it'll make him a buck, Jubilee will be repowered.

1/07/2006 07:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

if you don't mind, i'm going to post a link to this entry to whileaway, an lj community focused on feminist sci fi. :)

polymexina (

1/07/2006 09:40:00 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

Hey polymexina, thanks for the re-post! I'm very flattered!!

To ragnell, I guess I just have to completely disagree with Quesada. While I agree that the mutant population was getting large, I feel this is more of a story-writing issue than a "realism" or "analogy" issue. Frankly, with every new character creating at least 5 or 6 new mutants to go along with their run on the various X titles, there were simply too many mutants to keep straight, and for that reason alone, I understand why the need to "Decimate".

On the other hand, whittling the mutant population down to 198 essentially eliminates the relevancy of the mutant population as an analogy to civil rights. Previously, the mutant population was a several million -- enough to be a force to be reckoned with, yet not enough to be able to assume majority dominance of global culture. There was still a sense of anonymity within the mutant population, and you could have viable interactions between mutants and non-mutants resulting in discrimination, bigotry and bias that correlated with real-life identity politics.

The Civil Rights Movement became a political movement because those in the minority were a large numerical minority, that were nonetheless marginalized in society. With 198 mutants, most of them all clustered together at Xavier's school, we're talking more the identity politics of a cult like Heaven's Gate rather than an oppressed community. With only 198 to contend with, the mainstream's inclination to ignore rather than retaliate will be greater, skewing the analogy.

Which is all a round about way for me to say that Quesada's rationale is a cop-out. And reading that article, I have even less hope that Jubes is coming back. If ever I had any reason to not read Marvel, this was it.

And, thank goodness there are still a few minority faces around. I assume Storm, too, still has her powers, she being an A-list X-man. Out of curiousity, wasn't Jubes in the The End miniseries that is supposed to be in 616 continuity? And doesn't she still have her powers? Or am I just totally out-of-it?

Although, incidentally, I always thought M was a little suspect, ethnically. Sometimes, she looked so damn White.

1/08/2006 01:33:00 AM  
Blogger Ragnell said...

I think The End just got derailed with Decimation. And you're not the only one dropping Marvel right now over these moves.

And you're right, M seems to suffer from the same disease as Empress sometimes. They need to edit those Colorist mistakes better.

And they need more artists like Scott Kolins, who can do ethnic. He might be the first Flash artist who had Linda Park drawn as recognizably Asian.

1/08/2006 02:56:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I noticed this too with my favorite character Rictor (yes, I loved him even through his many tragic hair phases). He's another minority character that got his powers taken away by this new story line.

-- anashi

1/08/2006 03:20:00 AM  
Blogger phillyjay said...

The most useless character ever would be jubille.......hands down.

1/08/2006 04:17:00 AM  
Blogger William said...

I KNEW I was going to see a post when I told you that the other day.

First of all, The End was never canon. It's out of continuity. It's as much of a certainty as "Days of Future Past". Half of the cast have either died or lost their powers in the 616-universe since that "ambitious" (and I use that term lightly) series hit the stands. It's Claremont's vision as to how he'd end the X-Universe. Kind of Marvel's way of making up for firing him so many times. With the way it's progressing, let's hope it's not THE End, 'cause it sucks.

Secondly, the minority thing isn't as clear cut. Decimation is making up for Marvel's half-assed "tokening" of its universe. They spent the better part of their existence giving us down-on-his-luck caucasian heroes, and decided to change that when the 90s hit. Most of the mutants that made up the insane influx happened to be minorities. But instead of giving us powerful mutants who happened to be minorities, they gave us minorities who happened to have shitty powers. This is like the Margaret Cho thing: it's one thing to identify with Jubes 'cause you share a culture, but it must've dawned on you that she still sucked. It was one of those "we'll take what we can get" things. So, when they needed to pare down the numbers, it became a "last hired, first fired" kind of thing. To anon, yeah, you loved Richtor, but he sucked. Plain as that. Jubilee was a great character, with shitty powers. But she can still be a friend of the X-Men. Sure, that might be an insult, but Moira mcTaggert held that role and never got killed by friendly fire or crazy horsemen. She still got to ride on the Blackbird and hang in the manison, without having to deal with pesky Sentinel strikes ruining her booty calls. If you read Generation M, you'll see that Jubilation's already getting on with her life. This is simply a new chapter, and a guarantee that Stacy X will never darken our door again (until X3 comes out, if the rumors are true...). I'm just glad that formerly Jheri-curled Bishop made the cut, so the X-Men still have their soul glow.

You wanna get mad about something? Be mad that they're having Storm marry Black Panther this summer. 2 charaters who have nothing in common other than the fact that they're African. Hey James, we're both Black. Wanna get married? Oh wait, this is America and we can't do that here...

1/09/2006 10:47:00 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...


Of course I was gonna blog about it. It's my girl, Jubes! I'm not letting that slight pass me by without indulging in a little comic-y ranting.

First of all, The End was never canon.

Okay, I definitely misunderstood the point then. I thought all of the The End stuff was cannon -- especially when they did The End: Wolverine. Well, good, cuz you're right. The End sucked. Storm marries Wolvie and gets paralyzed? No thanks.

..the minority thing isn't as clear cut.

What you've elucidated is all well and true, but that's what makes it clear cut to me. They took away the diversity quotient, finding all these minority characters expendable. Sorry, but to me, that's just a few too many steps backwards. One of the only reasons I liked Marvel was their "tokenism" -- only in the sense that we did get to see minority mutants and it wasn't just Whitefolks gifted and cursed with special abilities. Sure, their powers were kinda shitty, but their characters and personalities were fun. I'm not liking Jubes because she could take out a Sentinel on her own (though they hinted that one day she could, as they showed when Synch took her powers and used it in ways that she never imagined, including being able to blow shit up at whim) but because she was a fun, interesting personality who indicated to me that we could be mutants, too.

And I honestly don't think they're going to have room in the X universe for a bunch of X-affiliated depowered mutants. What would Jubes do? Dust the mansion? She's not exactly tech-gifted like Moira, and besides, I never liked Moira's role -- she was like the annoying kid in the candy store taking up space right next to the chocolate fudge bars but who didn't have any money to buy any.

And yeah, Storm marrying Black Panther is dumb. So dumb I'm not goign to even bother with a response.

However, even though James is mine, I would pay good money to see the two of you get hitched.I'd be taking bets on who would kill who first.

1/09/2006 12:16:00 PM  
Blogger William said...

Oh, I'm pretty sure J would kill me first. But it's cool, 'cause I know I'll have deserved it... =)

1/09/2006 01:15:00 PM  
Blogger James said...

The problem is simple: Marvel sucks.

We can't expect a comic book company that stole without acknowledgement or citation it's most popular and most profitable characters, plots, and themes from African American civil rights struggles to respect minority groups within its publications. Marvel is too profit-hungry to remember racial respect, and as long as young male comic buyers enjoy pictures of large-breasted sex-kitten superheroines, Marvel will depict its minority characters as the weakest, most incompetent, and most ineffectual characters they have, outside of the affirmative action token Storm. That's what many Marvel Comics fans will pay for.

And without question, in whatever bizarre Hypertime parallel Earth where Will and I are a married gay couple, Mr. West will be acquitted of first degree murder when it becomes known that he suffered years of psychological torture and verbal abuse at the hands of the sadistic James Lamb. Not that it matters. The entire marriage, ensuing domestic violence overheard by our neighbors, and requisite Law & Order homicide scene replete with flashing police lights, rubber gloves, cadaver chalk outlines and gruff D.C. police will be an elaborate ruse to fake my death, allowing me to pursue full time my duties as Washington D.C.'s preeminent vigilante crimefighter, The Darkness. May the venal, the corrupt, and the insane beware the midnight hour.

(Overdone? Well, get me a power lunch with Joe Quesada and we'll call it even.)

1/09/2006 03:47:00 PM  
Blogger William said...

Wow...I forgot all about the obligatory "ripped from the headlines" episode of Law & Order. I better be played by Walter Jones (the original Black Ranger) or Bradley from S Club 7. If they're busy, I'll settle for Alfonso Ribiero. And you can be played by BET movie superstar, Leon. Man, I would pay money to see Carlton & Leon as a gay couple. Ossie Davis might even rise again to host the whole thing. It can't be any worse than the dreck BET normally shows.

And are you really going to call yourself "The Darkness"?! Wow...that's worse than "James Lamb, Agent of...", well you know the rest =)

As far as comics go, Marvel is no DC right now. But it's a hard line to straddle. What's needed is good, strong characters, not necessarily good, strong minority characters. Don't get me wrong. Earth-1 AND the 616-Universe could use a little diversity, but the minute we put the color before the spandex, we end up with crap. Milestone Media, anyone? The only thing to come out of that was Static, and they STILL had to link him to the JLA for anyone to care.

It sucks what Marvel did, but it could be said that there has been a lack of originality in the past 15-20 yrs. Name an X-man, introduced since 1992, who even matters. There are none. All Decimation did was clean the slate of offal. Seriously, we've got Maggott, Cecilia Reyes, Beak, Kwannon, Joseph...all minorites, all shit; we didn't lose much. If you missed reading X-Men for that span of time, consider yourself lucky. All HoM did was ensure that you'll be spared that horror in the future.

And in closing (since it's been a while since I've been e-vile), I'm gonna send out the shot hear 'round the comics world: That Morrison run of X-men was WAY overrated. And for you DC kids loving Infinite Crisis, George Perez has got to be the most overrated artist in the industry.

1/09/2006 04:31:00 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

Gee, Will, when did you start drinking the haterade?

I mean, how're you gonna diss the entire Generation X team like that? I liked that team, and true they didn't "matter", depending on how you define the term, but that has more to do with crappy writing than with bad characters. Blame the inherent suckiness of Marvel, not the victim, Jubes, Synch and company.

As far as colour first, why's it gotta be either-or? Can't we expect / demand colour and good characters?

1/09/2006 05:16:00 PM  
Blogger William said...

But Haterade is so much more filling than Sunny D.

Yeah, Gen X had some good characters (Synch, Skin), and they were killed LONG before HoM. My point is that there's no real fallout from Decimation. It was necessary, and those "marquee" mutants who're depowered WILL be back someday. After all, Joey Da Q can't be EIC of Marvel forever...

1/09/2006 06:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You get to decide what characters are good? By what criteria? Rictor was a respectable character with a great deal of conflict throughout his whole story. His origins story was handled better than most I've read. And he wasn't a good little soldier, questioning everything that Cable said. And his relationship with Shatterstar was one of the most interesting I've witnessed in comics. I never got the feeling that Rictor was a token character. He was just who he was and now he's powerless and thinking of killing himself. That's progressive? *sigh*

1/20/2006 07:22:00 PM  
Blogger Ragnell said...

I thought Cecila Reyes had a pretty good power, actually. Wasn't she like, invulnerable to all forms of attack?

And Monet St Croix could easily grow to match Superman. Forget the damned Sentry. Pump her up and make her Marvel's answer to the Big S. Better to bring in someone with a personality and background that fits your universe rather than jsut make another deconstructionist knockoff.

1/21/2006 11:32:00 PM  
Blogger William said...

Wow, who knew this thread was still going? Since I have "Operation: Zero Tolerance" burned into my memory, I can attest that Cecilia Reyes did NOT have a cool power. I'm not trying to be difficult here (honestly), it's just that her power was so..."iffy". She had a force field, but it did her no good if you knocked her in the back of the head. She had to be generating a field at the time in order to be invulnerable, unlike Carol Danvers-powered Rogue, who was always invulnerable.

I WILL say, however, that Cecilia was an interesting character. "The X-Man Who Didn't Want To Be There". They kinda forced her onto the team because it was the safest place for mutants at the time (sound familiar), but she never wanted to be there, and never even got a codename.

But, just like the afore-mentioned Gen X-ers, Cecilia was killed before House of M could get to her.

2/01/2006 09:40:00 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

They kinda forced her onto the team because it was the safest place for mutants at the time (sound familiar), but she never wanted to be there, and never even got a codename.

Is that an internment reference? Because I'm not sure if I should slap you or Marvel for that. ^_^

2/01/2006 01:40:00 PM  
Blogger William said...

Jenn, you know I'm not smart or "high-brow" enough to make an internment reference. My "soud familiar" refers to the fact that this is the exact Marvel U social climate that has resulted from HoM. One of those "The more things change..." kind of situations.

2/01/2006 02:45:00 PM  
Blogger Lionel Braithwaite said...

Sorry, but I prefer Cassandra Cain to this mall-rat. All Jubilee ever did was whine half the time and want to get into her boyfriend's pants.

Cassandra Cain, on the other hand, had to haul ass to preserve ass, and although she was a stereotypical Asian girl who knew martial arts and kicked butt, at least she wasn't a stereotypical mall rat who blew bubblegum all the time, but a girl who rose above her circumstances to become a part of the 'family' of the Dark Knight himself (and no, Cassandra Cain did not wear revealing clothing: she wore an all-over black suit). Plus, her story arc over all 70 issues of Batgirl beats the hell out of anything Jubilee ever accomplished in Generation X.

So no, this black boy dont't miss Jubilee all that much: I hope that she can come back, with better powers and a less irritating personality.

7/30/2006 12:24:00 PM  
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