X-Men: Misfits

Earlier this year, Del Rey (in conjunction with Marvel) published Wolverine: Prodigal Son, a shonen manga take on the loner with a healing factor. I thought it wasn’t bad, but I was really looking forward to this take on the characters, also part of the deal: X-Men: Misfits is a shojo approach to the classic mutant superhero team.

X-Men: Misfits cover
X-Men: Misfits
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I’ve always wanted to like the X-Men more than I did. I like the characters, and I like the angsty approach (when it doesn’t get too heavy) and the soap opera, but by the time I came to the series, there was too much back history for me to swallow. Plus, when there is an approach I can get into, as soon as I’m following it, they change the creators, and I don’t enjoy it as much. Anyway, that’s a long-winded way of saying that a stand-alone re-envisioning of these characters as teens for a girls’ manga audience is right on target for me.

In large part, that’s due to the writers. I’ve long appreciated the work of couple Raina Telgemeier (The Baby-Sitters Club, Smile) and Dave Roman (Astronaut Elementary, Teen Boat, Jax Epoch and the Quicken Forbidden). They know how to capture authentic voices for young people, a huge plus in this series.

It’s the story of Kitty Pryde, teen mutant with the ability to pass through walls, who has just been sent to a school full of oddballs like her. There’s Jamie, who makes copies of himself that then fight with each other. Devilish Kurt. Cold Bobby. Winged Angel (making his entrance on one of the most stunning pages in the book). Beast resembles an ambulatory teddy bear. Magneto’s another of the teachers.

Angel

Strangely, Kitty is the only girl, making this a bit more like a harem manga than may be intended. (More females are promised in volume two.) She falls in with the Hellfire Club, a decadent group of beautiful students who use the Danger Room to pretend they’re on a beach. Should she work hard and study or hang out and party? It’s not much of a conflict, but then, one isn’t really needed, since this volume is mostly a “welcome to this world”. “Choose your friends carefully” isn’t a bad message, if slight.

The art is typical for the genre — lots of expression-filled faces, beautiful boys, cat ears, and chibis. Kitty’s sometimes treated as a pet, maybe because she’s drawn to resemble a mascot half the time.

Anzu previously drew the American manga The Reformed, and the weaknesses I saw there have improved, although she still has problems with structure. The figures look like they’re built from the outside in, that it was more important to get the manga “look” than to give them believable anatomy (especially when it comes to necks, which may be too long, change size, or otherwise not behave properly). The pages are busy, with not much white space for the eye to rest. Individual panels work better as single images than as part of a storytelling flow. She can’t draw older characters. None of these flaws damage the story; they become apparent when you start analyzing the art. If you’re caught up in events, you likely won’t notice.

The bigger problem is that there are so many cool characters that many of them do nothing in the story beyond their introduction. I got amusement out of seeing how elegantly some of the characters translated, but someone who isn’t already familiar with the superhero cast won’t have that. I found it a quick read, but one that left me wanting a lot more. I wish many more of the cast got a lot more space — where’s my instant 10-volume series?

(A complimentary copy for this review was provided by the publisher.)

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21 Comments

  1. I was really hoping this would be about the X-Men meeting Danzig, but I’ll settle for Kitty Pryde’s high school troubles.

  2. [...] Lorena Nava Ruggero on vol. 3 of Vampire Knight (i heart manga) Johanna Draper Carlson on vol. 1 of X-Men: Misfits (Comics Worth Reading) Erica Friedman on vol. 17 of Yuri Hime (Part One) [...]

  3. I don’t know, Johanna. Maybe I’m just speaking as an old-time X-Men fan here, but this comic doesn’t seem like X-Men at all. Kitty Pryde mooning over all the hot boys is really goofy.

    But then again, I’m a guy in my mid-30′s, so I have no idea what young girls are into these days. Heck, “Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane” is a moderate hit.

  4. It’s true that this doesn’t much resemble a superhero book, although there are a couple of action scenes. And young mutant girls have always mooned over the boys, haven’t they? They still do in Wolverine First Class. :)

  5. [...] promote the recent release of X-Men: Misfits, writers Raina Telgemeier and Dave Roman held a live chat with fans. You can read the transcript, [...]

  6. [...] I accidentally ended up with an extra copy of X-Men: Misfits, the shojo manga re-envisioning of the Marvel superhero team, I figured it was time for a [...]

  7. THe artwork’s pretty decent and I like Scott’s new personality. I also like Bobby’s because lately he’s been portrayed as a goof off. It’s nice to see him serious.

  8. I like it. At first i didn’t like most comics and read mangas and such. But when i read this i felt like i could connect to the characters! I like all of the characters (except some in the hellfire club). I definatly think X-Men misifts can be related to by teens. Which is what some people look for in manga and such. I wish they had a fanfic category for just X-Men Misfits… but they dont….

  9. Maybe it’s just me, but I found this particular manga to be boring at best. The story is just your basic shoujo high school plot with X-Men names pasted in.It might appeal to those who like the same old shoujo formula in a different skin, but I gave up and just skimmed it after the first several pages.

    It’s kinda sad that the X-Men franchise is being shipped as a boring, uninspired, and unoriginal shoujo manga.

  10. Hm…At first i thought that the manga was going to be something stupid but when i started reading it i liked it although i was a littie sad when i read manga because it didnt have my name but oh well which one does!!My favorite character is bobby because one he looks cool(not cute but cool) two i love winter, ice and anything that has to do with cold and three i like his attitude because i am the exact same thing…So everyone who created the manga good job and keep on writing the rest of the series!!!

  11. I would like to say that I am a 20 something year old, that loves shoujo manga, but have been in love with the x-men for as long as I can remember. Therefore, when I saw that there was a shoujo adaptation of x-men, I knew I had to read it. In my opinion, the manga in its entirety was sub par. I was slightly offended by the straying from some of the characters traditional personalities, and I found the shoujo plot line and dialogue was fairly weak. I believe that there is room for definite improvement, but I also believe that the authors and the artist are capable of making that improvement in time. Regardless of my disappointment in the novel, I still found it quite engaging, so I plan to purchase the next volume when it comes out and view it as a work inspired by my beloved x-men and nothing more.

  12. [...] X-Men: Misfits was a shojo twist on the superhero team that came out Summer 2009. [...]

  13. i wish they would make a movie out of it. it tends to be easyer to understand what the writer means to say.

  14. comics rule

    I have been into xmen since i was little, this is a blasphemous piece of garbage. it is a very bad enterpritation of the marvel universe. kitty pryde in an all boy school? wtf. and the random cat ears? dont buy this garbage i found at the library.

  15. Normally, the word “blasphemous” is reserved for things against one’s religion. :)

  16. ive read theyre not producing the secojnd book due to publishers not being able to afford so please tell me thats just a rumor

  17. It’s true. There will be no second volume of this or the Wolverine manga.

  18. [...] wonder just how well this will do, since the early cancellation of the X-Men manga Misfits suggests that fans of superheroes and fans of manga may not overlap that much, even though I think [...]

  19. As a X- Men loverand as an 18yr old this comic was fun but I was looking frowar on seeing more of the tradional charates but I still liked it,:)NOOOOO!!!! They’re not continuing this or the Wolverine comics!?!:0

  20. i lovvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvve xmen misfites but i am riily upset with the stupid author they wote the first book and then you are ready to get the nexst one and booooom you find out that the series was discontinued thats messed up! and they even let you know the previwes to the nexst book also a shout out to ALL WOLVERINE AND XMENMISFITS FANS!!!!!!!!! there is a chance that we can see THE SEQLES TO THESE BOOKS!!!! the authors ushaly mack a ruff copy of the book befor publishing it sooo if they dicided not to publish the book at the last min there is still a chance that THE RUFF COPYS OF THE XMEN AND WOLVERINE BOOKS ARE STILL OUT THERE SOMEWERE if you hear any news about this tell me as soon as possible and i will look into it imedietly and give you a update on if i did find a cop or not ttygagl (talk to you guys and girls later)

  21. It wasn’t the author’s choice, but the publishers — Del Rey and Marvel decided not to continue the project. From what I understand, the authors were disappointed in that choice as well. I don’t believe there’s a second volume anywhere, because I don’t think they got far enough to create one.

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