Friday, August 07, 2009

The X-Men: Girl friendly?

I was reading through the July 27 issue of Publisher's Weekly as part of my day job, and ran across a write-up of X-Men: Misfits, the Del Rey manga reimagining of the Marvel mutants by Raina Telgemeier, Dave Roman and Anzu.

The first half of the first line of the review really struck me: "X-Men is renowned for being one of the most girl friendly superhero comics franchises..."

Is it? I'm not trying to be a smart-ass or anything, I'm just honestly curious. I've never been much of an X-Men fan, reader, observer or understand-er, but it's never struck me as particularly girl friendly, or to have a noticeably large female fan base. I suppose there have always been a lot of women on the various X-Men team, after the Giant-Size X-Men team gave the Stan Lee/Jack Kirby version new life, particularly compared to, say the Justice League (where it was Wonder Woman and a bunch of dudes for most of its existence) or The Avengers (originally just Wasp and a bunch of dudes).

The second half of the sentence, by the way, is "so a shojo (girl's) manga 'reboot of the series is not that far-fetched."

The write-up's pretty positive, and after reading it (and seeing the final cover art) I'm looking forward to it a lot more than I was previously (Wolverine: Prodigal really dulled my enthusiasm for this book).

According to PW, the X-Men are "redrawn as supercute boys," Beast as "an adorable human-size badger-like thing," The Hellfire Club is "hilariously reimagined as a parody of Ouran High School Host Club" and, bet of all, "The art is over-the-top shojo parody, with lost of screen tone and flowers."


A Hero said...

Well, I don't know about most women, but my wife is a HUGE X-Men fan. She is especially a fan of the characters of Rogue, Mystique, and Magneto.

Humorously, even though we both were fans of the X-Men, I was a child of the eighties and she was one of the nineties. So we disagree completely on what the perfect lineup should be and who are the best villains.

On the other hand, my wife absolutely hates anime and manga, so this book would be an abomination to her.

Richard Cook said...

like A Hero, I can only speak from personal experience, but I know at least three women who are comic fans, and they all started out as X-Men fangirls.

I always assumed it was "popular" with girls in the sense that the few girls who read superhero comics felt X-Men more accessible than Avengers or JLA for the reasons you mentioned, e.g., it actually had more than one female character.

James Eyeklll said...

The girls I know who do read superhero comics are huge X-Men fans. That Gambit knows how to score the ladies.

T.R. said...

For what it's worth, among the many praised aspects of Chris Claremont's long run on X-Men (which, arguably, still influence the characters' popularity--both in the comics and in other media adaptations) was his strength in writing strong/interesting/well rounded female characters: Rogue, Storm, Jean Grey, Moira, etc..

Add to that the fact that X-Men is often as much about interpersonal relationships as it is about superheroic action, and you might have a bit of an explanation as to why X-Men might be (or be considered) more "female-friendly" than many other superhero comics.

Teebore said...

Yeah, my wife is a big X-Men fan, mainly because of the 90s toon, and I know several female comic fans who started out as and/or remain X-Men fans.

As an X-Men fan myself, it may have something to do not only with the number of femailes, but the fact that Claremont is, at times, credited with presenting those characters as strong females. Not necessarily feminist females, but powerful ones within the context of the book.

Phoenix and Storm were far more powerful than most of the male characters. Colossus was strong and metal, Storm controlled the weather. Cyclops shot a beam out of his eyes, Phoenix telekinetically re-arranged molecules.

And then Kitty Pryde came along, who could only phase through stuff, but who also quickly became a genius ninja that was perfect at damn near everything she did.

Bottom line, if a woman happened to pick up an issue, she'd definitely find plenty of women doing important and impressive stuff with which to relate.

Drew said...

The x-men is so soapy, I guess they all are really, but there is also a lot of forbidden love (Jean and Wolverine, now Cyclops and Emma, Rogue and everyone), which chicks dig (see Romeo and Juliet, Brokeback Mountain).

1979 semi-finalist said...

I think, without making some declaration that X-Men is "doing women characters right" (because gods know they've got plenty of screwups in their past - and future) that the very nature of the X-men roster makes X-Men books much more female friendly.

While I think DC has more marquee 'have their own book women' - Wonder Woman, Catwoman, Batgirl, Batwoman (sort of), Birds of Paradise, etc. and Marvel doesn't offer much of that, X-Men (and other X books) are always loaded with strong female characters - often with incredible power.

Richard is right in his comment that there's a lot more for women (assuming they're looking for female characters) in an average X-Book than in JLA, Avengers etc., where the women are few and far between. And in JLA, if you didn't like Wonder Woman, you were out of luck. In any average X-Book the women oft times outnumber the men. So I think that's appealing. I think the X-Books also do tend towards more relationship dynamic stories, which some women like and respond to.

So I guess, while not an endorsement of Marvel on the whole, the X books in general I think do have a lot to offer for women.

Anonymous said...

I am a massive x-men fan and *shock* a 20 something lady! It's not the sometime 'soap opera' relationships that got me hooked on x-men, it was that they are very much unintentional heroes. The characters coming to terms with who and what they are really pulled me in. It is also nice to see strong female characters that get punched and punch back!

I'm new to this blog but will def keep an eye on it from now on :)


1979 semi-finalist said...

Um Birds of Paradise? WTF was I thinking? Must have had flowers on the brain, Anyway, obviously I meant Birds of Prey. :)