Hank McCoy (Before the Fur)

Despite the growing accessibility of comic books to readers (I often argue that comic books today feel more like primetime TV than anything else), there still just aren’t a lot of female leads out there. Very few can pull off headlining their own book and having decent sales. My sense is that people love Wonder Woman, but she’s actually sort of controversial with female readers. Power Girl doubly so.

X-Men probably holds the title as "comic book that has introduced the largest number of cool, interesting, relatable female characters" and has for a long time. Let’s face it: having Storm step up as team leader was a gutsy move, even in the 70s. Giving her a punk rock outfit in the 80s, providing her a cool contrast to her calm, goddess-like persona? Even frickin’ gutsier.

Apparently, Marvel is launching an ALL-FEMALE line-up for their latest X-Men title. X-Men mania may be slowly seeping back into the Marvel universe. I’ve already touched on Uncanny Avengers and the prospect that the X-Men are going to return to being a little more ‘central’ to our continuity rather than sort of parallel to it. And I really don’t have any beef with this move. Why would I? I mean, the X-Men are all about diversity. I suppose an all-female team isn’t diverse per se, but it certainly demonstrates progressiveness.

The choice of characters is top-notch too. Everybody around these parts knows I’m a sucker for the good old days and the fact that Storm and Rogue are sporting their 80s get-ups brings my attention front and center. I DO want to take a moment and note that I am somewhat disappointed that the Storm/Black Panther thing didn’t stick. I liked this and it always seemed, to me, to be a fitting match given Storm’s regal bearing. I also just like the idea that things change, so I was okay with Storm moving on. But hey, at least putting her back as team leader feelings right.

Jubilee and Kitty are too often forgotten about in X-Men history when, really, they’re kind of meant to be the eyes through which you see the other characters. Well, Jubilee anyway. Kitty is all grown up these days. And I like how seasoned and adult like she is. And hey, at least Jubilee isn’t a vampire!

I'm fixated on Rachel Summers/Grey. A truly outrageous X-Men character, she’s kept me mystified for many, many years. What I use to love about Rachel was this idea that she’s sort of a relic of a time and space that doesn’t even exist anymore. Rachel’s the daughter of Scott and Jean in a BAD future where the Sentinels have destroyed everything. Of course, the great irony of Rachel’s existence is that by doing anything to influence time to prevent the Sentinels' rise to power, she’s basically resigned to non-existence.

Nowhere was this clearer than when Christopher Summers (aka Cable) was born in our timeline. A son, not a daughter. This really hit home that this wasn’t Rachel's Scott and Jean. This was a different place, a different reality. Hers was gone. Of course, the great twist that was twenty years in comic book making was that an older version of Rachel was in fact the time traveler who saved Christopher by taking him to another future.

You got all that? Rachel was from another timeline that (hopefully) no longer exists. But she also time travels back from the future of OUR timeline (presumably after her living the rest of her life in it) to change events and, possibly, rub out another future. Now that Jean is actually dead, where exactly Rachel will fit into this whole big universe is an interesting topic. There’s so much emphasis on Hope being like Jean that people forget that Rachel is already out there and is as close to Jean as a young X-Man can get!

Psylocke is another enigmatic figure. The re-writes on this character were painful for a while but at least she’s back in some semblance of normal. It would have been cool to see Betsy sport her old 80s costume too--even in her new body--but I guess having a British woman’s soul in an Asian assassin’s body is confusing enough.

So all in all excellent choices here, giving us access to lots and lots of X-Men canon. This book is going to appeal to X-Men fans, no doubt. But is it going to appeal to women? I hope so, but I find this is still a tough trick to pull off. I think Jodi Picoult’s run on Wonder Woman is under-rated. I think she used the character to bring up a lot of insightful issues about feminism and, ultimately, is a good read for women, with women in mind.

Take Dazzler, for example. With the original run, it’s sort of like they were trying to get something out there for women, but it ended up feeling more like daytime soap opera than actually relatable for any woman reading it. Okay, to be fair, lots of comics felt like day time soap opera around then, but it was more sort of about how someone thought women behaved in movies and television than the way they really are. Of course, superheroes tend to be a little more perfect than we are but it’s their humanit that always grips us.

Time will tell if this book can do the same thing that Buffy the Vampire Slayer did and other Joss Wheedon undertakings do.