X-Men: Misfits

X-Men: Misfits Volume One by Raina Telgemeier, Dave Roman, and Anzu

Of all the American manga-style productions, I think X-Men: Misfits must be one of the oddest ones. Why did Marvel lend out one of their franchises for manga treatment? Who had the idea to write a reverse harem shoujo version of the X-Men? What audience was this supposed to appeal to? I think most X-Men fans wouldn’t be fans of the loose way general X-Men continuity was handled in this book, and would manga fans care about the opportunity to look at Quicksilver’s tanned abs? I’ve read plenty of X-Men comics and I’m a big fan of reverse harem shoujo so I found this title incredibly entertaining, if a little flawed.

Kitty Pryde is having a rough year. She keeps accidentally falling through things. Silver Fox Magneto shows up at her house to announce that she has a scholarship to the Xavier Academy. When she gets there, she finds out that she’s the only female teen student in a school full of boy mutants and she’s the object of everyone’s attention. When I realized that this X-Men adaptation was going to be a blatant reverse harem scenario, I thought it was a stroke of genius. The original X-Men comics were essentially reverse harem anyway, with Jean Grey being the only female mutant surrounded by boys. Kitty is torn between FIRE! (Pyro) and ICE! (Iceman). Bobby acts incredibly cold towards her, because he is AS COLD AS ICE! Pyro ensures that Kitty is invited to the Hellfire Club, which turns out to be a separate student faction headed by Angel and including Forge, Havok, Quicksilver, and Longshot.

Anzu’s art is a little overly pretty and occasionally features some stiff poses. I wish she’d spent more time on character design, because there are a few glimmers of enjoyable insanity in the way she depicted some of the older characters. The Beast is a puffy, Totoro-like cat. Colossus switches to his metal form and looks like a cross between one of the Mario Brothers and Tik-Tok of Oz. Sabertooth hangs around the Hellfire club wearing a choker collar and a chain, serving fondue. I think that reverse harem series are generally more effective if there are a manageable number of handsome male characters. X-Men: Misfits has far too many attractive men hanging around Kitty, to the point where they become indistinguishable from each other. I kept getting confused about who Havok and Longshot were, despite the fact that Havok always appears to wear sunglasses pushed back on his head. Gambit is introduced without wearing his customary trench coat, so I didn’t even recognize him. There are amusing cameos from some of the established X-Men characters. Cyclops is a cranky vegan, and Storm appears in her mohawk mode.

Despite some flaws, X-Men: Misfits has a certain loopy charm. I was amused by the endless parade of hot mutant guys and Kitty’s awkward reactions to dealing with her new social environment and her mutant powers. She spends the early portion of the manga wearing a bicycle helmet and skating pads because she can’t really handle her abilities. Kitty does well filling the traditional role of slightly clumsy shoujo heroine, and she discovers that her friends in the Hellfire Club aren’t as benign as they might appear. I’m honestly disappointed that there won’t be a second volume of this series published. As it is, X-Men: Misfits will remain a hilarious artifact of some of the inexplicable aspects of the manga publishing boom.

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