Good Superhero Comics: Week of June 27

Just one this week, and it’s one I’ve been anticipating. X-Men: First Class launches as a series after a successful miniseries run written by Jeff Parker. Thankfully, it was as good as I’d hoped.

Even more thrilling for me, the story concentrates on what it must be like for Jean Grey, the only girl in a school full of boys. Professor X asks Susan Richards, the Invisible Girl, to mentor her so she has a female role model.

I love the way the guys think they’re being helpful: Cyclops lectures her on not practicing alone, not realizing why she’d want to. Warren (the winged one) says “It’s easy, just watch me,” making it about him. Bobby makes jokes (funny, but not any kind of solution). Beast hands her a stack of books on the same three women we always hear about as exceptional: Amelia Earhart and the like. They mean well, but they just don’t get it. They don’t understand the problem, or even why there is a problem, so they can’t help, much as they’d like to.

It’s a shame that this wonderful, reasonable exploration of the woman’s perspective is so severely undercut by the traditional superhero representation of artist Roger Cruz. When we first meet the Invisible Girl (I’m sure not calling her Woman yet fits somehow into continuity, but it sure sounds weird to my more modern ears), she’s drawn in the unfortunate “nude woman colored blue” style, where her costume is so skin-tight the only things left to the imagination are nipples and labial folds, and that’s only due to the all-ages rating. Thankfully, once the story is moving along, Cruz doesn’t continue the pinup approach.

The two women join the rest of the Fantastic Four in fighting the Awesome Android, another cool bit. I loved Awesome Andy when he was reimagined in She-Hulk, and I’d never seen his previous role as bad guy muscle. Not that there’s much to it here, which is period authentic, but it was still a fun reminder.

Jean’s success with another team gives her valuable experience with her abilities, adds to her confidence, and makes the X-Men a little jealous, causing them to appreciate her more. I like the way she has to work a little at her abilities at this time of her life; telepathy is too easy a power, sometimes, and it’s good she’s not the all-powerful force of nature she later became.

The absolute best part of the book, and big praise to Parker for observing this, is a bit of sympathy Susan gives Jean:

He doesn’t know how embarrassing it is to risk failure in front of the others, especially when you’re a woman and everyone doubts your abilities already.

Any female, especially those who work in male-dominated areas, knows that feeling. I didn’t realize until reading this how refreshing it was to see a superhero comic that met Bechdel’s Law. Usually applied to movies, it sets a bar of having two female characters that have significant conversation with each other about something other than men.

What a great comic! Action, adventure, humor, heroism, and an important point of view all in one! I’m eager for next month’s issue already.

One Response to “Good Superhero Comics: Week of June 27”

  1. Superhero Site Snark LinkBlogging » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] in the promotional spirit, “what other Marvel titles can you recommend?” My answer? X-Men First Class. […]




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