Jul 18, 2016

Jubilee: The Underrated Other Immonen

Jubilee: A Detailed Introduction to an X-Men Legend
Part 6 – The Underrated Other Immonen
Back Issue Ben
Ben Smith

I’m sure there are probably a few decent stories with Jubilee inbetween where I left off last week, and the mini-series I’m going to be covering this week, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to sift through the crap that was the X-Men of the ‘90s to find it. It doesn’t matter anyway, because none of it could possibly top the best Jubilee comics of all time, as you’re about to witness for yourself.

Jubilee was one of the mutants that found themselves depowered by the Scarlet Witch following the events of House of M. She was turned into a vampire during a vampire assault on Utopia, and was happy to find herself with powers again. Now, she is struggling to find a place for herself back amongst the mutants, who do not trust her now that she’s a vampire.

Let’s get this party started.

Writer: Kathryn Immonen; Art: Phil Noto; Lettering: VC’s Clayton Cowles; Editor: Jeanine Schaefer

Coipel’s cover is one of my favorite covers of the modern comics era. I would really like to own the original art for it.

Dr. Rao is trying to offset Jubilee’s vampirism with regular injections of Wolverine’s blood. She’s now much more in control of her actions, but filled with a constant anger. While Rao, Cyclops, and Emma Frost debate what to do with her, Wolverine talks to her and calms her down.

(I love Noto’s art. It can be a little static and he definitely has trouble rendering distinctly different faces, but it’s just oh so very beautiful.)

They just want to be sure she isn’t going to hurt anyone, including herself. Wolverine decides to take responsibility for her, since he is the one she trusts the most. Later, Jubilee is trying to blow off some steam in the weight room, accompanied by the rock guy (whatever his name is).

Armor isn’t too happy about Jubilee interacting with her friend after she attacked them all, along with the other vampires, and confronts her about it. (The irony of the mutants persecuting the vampire because she’s different is not lost.)

Wolverine breaks it up, and lets Jubilee know that Emma wants to speak with her. Emma talks to Jubilee about trying to adjust to her new life change. Jubilee is struggling. As she says, “I’m just having a really hard time trying to be nice to people.” (I can relate to that. Maybe I’m a half-vampire. That would explain how much I hate the sun and enjoy sleep.) She knows that Wolverine’s blood is the only thing keeping her mind clear, but she also feels like she’s constantly in a fog because of it. After every injection there’s a high, and then she crashes hard.

They’re interrupted by Pixie, who’s there to show that not everyone is mad at Jubilee.

Outside, Pixie has the bright idea to spar with Jubilee, to show the others that there isn’t anything to be afraid of. That she won’t hurt them. But Jubilee’s anger is too much, and she almost crushes Pixie with a boulder before she teleports away.

Fed up, Jubilee leaves by herself and goes into the city. As she sits alone in a hotel bar, she flashes back to her days doing mutant tricks in the mall for change, and the first time that she saw the X-Men. (Nice touch.)

Her vision is interrupted by a mysterious woman in white, apparently a vampire herself.

She tells Jubilee that she gives the X-Men credit for embracing variation, but they won’t embrace deviation. She wants Jubilee to come with her, because she has something to show her.

Later, Wolverine and the rock guy are at a port in Oakland, tracking down Jubilee’s scent.

He finds her in a locked shipping container, covered in blood amongst a pile of dead bodies.

She keeps repeating “I didn’t do it,” as Wolverine yanks her out of the container. Wolverine hands a weird talisman he finds on Jubilee to the rock guy, and tells him to crush it.

Wolverine jabs a needle into Jubilee’s neck and proclaims that it’s time to do this his way.

Kathryn Immonen is underrated. I don’t actually know where she’s rated, but wherever it is, it’s under where she should be rated. Here she is, writing the best Jubilee story, and then she’d go on to write the best Sif comics ever done as well. Immonen, she’s the real deal.

Writer: Kathryn Immonen; Art: Phil Noto; Lettering: VC’s Clayton Cowles; Editor: Jeanine Schaefer

Jubilee wakes up in a hotel room, bottle of blood on the nightstand, and a desolate landscape out the window. Wolverine enters, and lets her know they’re in Siberia. After enduring her pity fest for a few, he lets her know that he tracked the shipping container number she was found in to Siberia. The bodies were victims of human trafficking.

Jubilee gets cleaned up and they head downstairs.

Wolverine drives her out into the middle of nowhere for a good ole’ fashioned sparring session. Except for he didn’t account for her vampire super speed, and ends up with his own motorcycle on top of his head in a funny exchange.

Later, the two hotel owners interrupt their latest mentoring session and ask them if they can handle the zombie problem happening in one of the nearby abandoned mines. They agree to look into it, and after indeed finding a nest of zombies, Jubilee is able to take out a lot of frustration on them.

(The zombies are never explained, unless I just missed it. I’m not one of the most astute readers around. Either way, I’m fine with it. More comics should have random zombie destruction scenes.)

Later, Wolverine is roused from his sleep by the arrival of the beautiful vampire woman from the San Fran bar, with Jubilee in tow.

(I’ve come to hate most modern depictions of Wolverine, but there’s just something that works about him mentoring a young female teammate. This makes me want to re-read X-23, another character I really shouldn’t like as much as I do, considering how much Wolverine annoys me now. Maybe this just confirms that Wolverine is better when he’s not the main character. Like Spike in Buffy, he’s the ultimate superstar supporting character.)

Writer: Kathryn Immonen; Art: Phil Noto; Lettering: VC’s Clayton Cowles; Editor: Jeanine Schaefer

Wolverine lunges at the woman, but again doesn’t account for the super speed. Wolverine promises that he will kill her, and Jubilee tells him that he might as well go ahead and kill her too. His blood makes her feel great for a while, but when she crashes it leaves her vulnerable to anybody. The woman pulls out a small circular blue amulet and it sends Jubilee off to who-knows-where, and Wolverine slices off her arm in retaliation.

Long story short, this was all a plan to get Wolverine to retrieve a package for her where only he can go, a highly radioactive area. Jubilee is being held as collateral until he finishes the job.

Back on Utopia, Rockslide discovers that the amulet he crushed is now imprinted in his hand.

Wolverine is lowered deep into a tunnel below the Chernobyl exclusion zone.

Rockslide returns to the Oakland shipping yard where they found Jubilee, but is surprised to find a Dry Cleaner’s building there instead.

After falling a long time, Jubilee finally lands. She finds herself inside your classic creepy makeshift “girl’s bedroom.” Like when you’re captive by some secret government agency, or aliens.

(As of this writing, The X-Files has just returned to television. The X-Files was the first non-cartoon television show I decided to follow religiously. We’ve also been rewatching the original series, and most of these episodes I haven’t seen since they originally aired in the ‘90s. Whenever you binge watch an old show, you really notice how much they were not designed to be watched back-to-back like that. Scully’s skepticism was probably a little less glaring on a weekly basis, but watching them all in a row just makes her denial look almost idiotic. What’s ironic is that the X-Files is the first television show I can remember seeing box sets for, in VHS. Regardless, I’m glad it’s back. I can’t get enough of shows I love being brought back in the relaunch era of TV.)

Wolverine meets the guardian of the mystery package, a creepy vampire accountant that has been gnawing off his own arm for nourishment.

There’s some talk about how the beautiful vampire had a debt with his boss, and how Jubilee has now been impounded as payment on that debt. Wolverine will never get her back, blah blah. (I love a good weird accountant-out-of-place story as the next, but this got weird. I like it.)

Rockslide is getting impatient with the little old lady running the dry cleaner’s, and she with him, so she turns into a dragon.

Wolverine slices off the vampire accountant’s head, and then opens the box. Inside are a bunch of the same weird amulets like the one found on Jubilee.

Jubilee finally finds an exit to her little prison, and discovers that she’s not exactly on Earth anymore.

(My top TV show that needs to come back is Firefly. It’s a miracle that a movie was ever made, but it’s not enough, I need more. Buffy would have been cool at one point, but they’re all too old to pull that off now. They were a little bit too early for the TV show revival era. Freaks and Geeks would be interesting, but I suspect they’re all too old for it make sense. I’m not sure if I want to see a series about them all grown up. If you don’t know what Freaks and Geeks is, just look up the cast list. It’s amazing.)

Writer: Kathryn Immonen; Art: Phil Noto; Lettering: VC’s Clayton Cowles; Editor: Jeanine Schaefer

Jubilee tries to make her way through the fantastic landscape, all the while talking to Wolverine through some kind of connection brought about by the amulets.

(Oh, That 70’s Show! They should totally do at least a special, show us what the knuckleheads are all up to. It’s not like any of them have a whole lot to do right now. Except Mila. Mmmmm, Mila….)

Rockslide is trying his best not to fight the dragon-lady. He holds his hand up and she sees the imprint of the amulet on it. She immediately apologizes and takes him inside. She rifles through some stuff and locates the other half of his “claim check.” Which is another of those blue transportation amulets.

If you can’t appreciate the absurdity of a dragon holding paperwork behind a counter, then comics really aren’t for you.

After some snooping around, Jubilee finds the gatekeeper of this weird little dimension, an even bigger and angrier dragon.

Wolverine tries to find a transportation amulet himself, and finally digs one out of the severed head of the vampire accountant. Jubilee is on the run from the dragon, when Rockslide pops into the action. (Jubilee is starting to banter like her old self now. I missed her.) Wolverine pops in just in time to save her from falling endlessly to her doom.

Jubilee finally let’s her old self show, giving Wolverine a big hug and admitting to herself what she had really been worried about this whole time, that the real her was going to disappear.

Reinvigorated, Jubilee throws one of the floating train cars at the dragon, complete with a wisecrack.

“I added injury to insult!”

After some more running around, Jubilee finds herself on the wrong end of the dragon’s fire breath, but disappears just as its about to hit her.

She reemerges behind the creature, grabs a giant spike, and rams it straight through his head.

Much later, Wolverine and Emma Frost are in Siberia, discussing Jubilee and the other recent events.

Emma is concerned that Jubilee decorporealized, a power she shouldn’t have yet, and that they need to figure out how and why she was able to do it.

Wolverine isn’t going to tell her where Jubilee is, and tells her they’re not going to test her like some lab rat. Wherever she is, she’s loaded up with his healing factor, and she’s going to be okay.

The story closes with Jubilee and Rockslide back in San Fran, watching the sun rise behind the Golden Gate Bridge.

(I can’t say I really care about any of the New X-Men cast of characters. Must have been one of those “had to be there” books.)

Immonen and Noto delivered easily the best Jubilee story of all time, so that’s as good a place as any to end my exploration of Jubilee. Not only was the artwork beautiful, but it had some great lines of dialogue, both emotional and funny. I was honestly kind of surprised how much I enjoyed it, because I'm pretty sure I had read it before. Look, you can’t really beat a story with dragons, random zombies, and vampire accountants. If that sentence doesn’t make you want to rush out and buy this series for yourself, then comics really aren’t for you.

Next week, something else (finally)!

1 comment:

Tony Laplume said...

Certainly worth noting that the Immonens have done a number of graphic novels together, so if you're jonesing for more, those might be the place to start looking.

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