X-Men: No Boys Allowed

X-Men is owned by Marvel Comics.

X-Men is owned by Marvel Comics.

Like most comics fans, when Marvel announced an all female X-Men team my first thought was “Why is it called the X-Men?”

However, shortly after I asked, “How long is this gimmick gonna last?”

Maybe that’s just my jaded look on the industry as a whole, but generally these types of things don’t happen because people want to tell long deep stories, but to attract a larger audience for a short period of time while the editorial staff prep their next gimmick/event. This is in fact a business.

However, when I took a look at who was on the team, I was interested.

Now granted this team of Storm, Kitty Pride, Rachel Grey, Rogue, Psylocke and Jubilee is one of the dozen X-Men teams currently in the Marvel Universe at this point,  this one seems interesting enough to try it out.

The first issue (available now in comic stores and digitally) is fast paced, and does a good job of setting up what could be an interesting story. The story is backed-up by good art with a distinctive look. In short I’m going to collect this title in one form or another.

This time round the title is being written by Brian Wood (DMZ, Northlanders and former Rockstar Games designer) and drawn by Olivier Coipel (Legion of Super-Heroes, Thor) a creative team that seems to work well with each other.

I’ve enjoyed Northlanders in the past so I’m a fan of Woods work, and I’ve collected a number of X-Men titles for a short period of time but this one seemed different.

When it was announce I wondered how different the title was going to be with a all woman team, the internet comic strip Gutters also made a joke to pretty much the same extent. However, once I read the book, I realized that it was similar to most of the other X-Titles I’ve read.

So this leaves me to believe that the main reason I’m interested is because of the female team, the gimmick in question.

I’ve always been a fan of female-lead comic titles such as Batwoman (Detective Comics for a while), Birds of Prey and Batgirl and now this seems to be Marvel trying to do something similar by making an all female team made up of familiar faces.

There are few of these types of titles in the mainstream because they, at times, look like their branded towards a…different audience. That audience being female.

As a whole, comics are seen as an art form that is more aimed towards men of different age groups. While this isn’t true, over the past few years the industry hasn’t really shown much feministic growth (i.e. DC Comics Reboot as a whole).

Exhibit A: Starfire

Exhibit A: Starfire

While I do think the success of this title could mean a great deal for women in comics it does bring up the question of weather or not an art form that features attractive women with unrealistic bodies posing on covers could be feminist?

Going back to Birds of Prey, the covers at times feature some…interesting visuals, it was still a book about a team of women beating up supervillians. The characters were all strong, interesting and the creative teams told good stories with these characters. However it wasn’t a team that already existed with a primarily man cast.

The industry features a number of strong female characters however their not always showcased like the male characters (Where’s Stephanie Brown DC? She was Robin no matter how much you don’t want to admit it).

Never Forget

Never Forget

However, what’s even more worrying is that the industry as a whole is mostly run and operated by male writers and artists. Sure there are female writers (Gail Simone, Joyce Brabner, Pia Guerra) and they all deserve to be recognized for their work, but the spotlight is mostly on male creators like Jim Lee, Geoff Johns, Mark Millar and Brian Michael Bendis.

Ladies...

Ladies…

The industry needs to make female writers, artists, editors and even characters more of a focal point.

How do we do that?

That’s not all that clear.

One idea though would be to try a similar method that DC once tried in the 90s.

During this time there wasn’t a huge number of minorities’ in the comic industry. So Dwayne McDuffie (Static Shock, Justice League Unlimited and all around great writer) and Denys Cowan (The Flash, The Question), with the help of DC Comics, created Milestone Media.

Milestone Media's asets are owned by DC Comics.

Milestone Media’s assets are owned by DC Comics.

The idea was that the company would publish through DC, but focus on having creative teams from different ethnic backgrounds create and work on titles.

The imprint created some interesting characters, the biggest being Static Shock who would later have his own TV show, but the imprint ended three years after it’s creation.

Despite the short live span it did help to jump-start the careers of a number of creators. For example; Chris Williams aka ChrisCross (Blood Syndicate, Captain Marvel, Firestorm), J.H. Williams III (Detective Comics, Batwoman, Promethea) Maddie Blaustein (Deathwish, Hardwire and voice actress) and Humberto Ramos (Impulse, Runaways, Crimson).

Maybe the industry could use an imprint devoted to helping develop female talent and characters, the only issue is that it’s very expensive and as Milestone showed not always successful.

For the comic book industry to thrive their needs to be more diverse voices coming forward and working on major titles. It doesn’t really matter if these people have Y chromosome or not.

For some great female-lead titles look these titles with these creative teams up: Power Girl (w/Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray a/Amanda Conner), Birds of Prey (w/Gail Simone), Batgirl (w/Brian Q Millar), Detective Comics (w/Greg Rucka a/J.H. Williams III) She-Hulk (pretty much any creative team), Patsy Walker: Hellcat (w/Kathryn Immonen a/David Lafuente)

Think I’m wrong or want to add to the conversation? Please feel free to comment below.

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