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Thursday, February 25, 2010

review: NYX Wannabe by Joe Quesada


NYX: Wannabe
by Joe Quesada
Illus. Joshua Middleton and Rob Teranishi

Say hello to a pack of New York City gutterpunks, the likes of which the Marvel Universe has never seen! The X-Men's dream has always been one of creating hope from despair - in a young mutant's darkest hour, Charles Xavier will always be just around the corner, ready with open arms and a helping hand. But Xavier can't be everywhere at once. What becomes of a group of young mutants that have to rely on themselves for everything from food to shelter to love? Wayward angels with dirty faces who, instead of preparing for Magneto's next big assault, must learn to survive in the cold, harsh world of the city that never sleeps. The world of the X-Men is brought to the streets, and the struggle for survival has never been more uncertain!

graphic novel ; superheroes { genre
PG-13 for violence and sexual content { rating
May 24, 2006 { first released
Marvel Comics volume (208 pages) { review edition
borrowed { acquisition
Amazon.com ; Amazon.ca ; IndieBound ; Book Depository { purchase links

Why I Read This
Assigned for Media Theory: Monstrous Feminine class.

Overall Rating
☂☂☂☂

A very different kind of mutant superhero story, with empowered female leads, a diverse cast, and the visceral backdrop of New York City's most run-down sectors. I was quite engaged in each of the characters stories and personalities, but perhaps due to its 7-issue limited run, a lot of potential left unexplored.

review posted to Amazon.ca, Book Depository, goodreads, LibraryThing, Shelfari

Plot/Themes
☂☂☂☂.5

The entire story takes place in the back alleys and ghettos of District X, New York City, a welcoming departure from the glamourized high-tech lairs and even middle-class comfort in other superhero comics. Our heroines are faced with the very real consequences of not having money to buy food or shelter, learning to live out of dumpsters and cardboard homes.
There is no plot to save the city/country/world. For the majority of the book, the protagonists are running away. I liked that they don't use their powers to seek out confrontations, even if they are powerful enough to kill anyone they wished.
What I loved most about this was it's focus on female characters as the powerful protagonists. They're the ones trying to figure out their powers and their futures. It definitely passes the Bedchel Test with flying colours (there's almost nil romantic interests).

Characters
☂☂☂☂☂

Kiden starts out as the hot-headed, self-destructive teenager at the peak of her rebellious stage. As the story progresses however, we see her adapting to living on the streets, and eventually really missing her home. Her character arc of dealing with whether she is a burden to her family and friends was quite emotional. I would have liked to see more of her and her bff, whom she's really protective over, though.
Tatiana is a Latina who lives in the slums and gives shelter to a plethora of stray animals. Her power I find impacts her most emotionally because of the sacrifice that needs to be made. It's not explored enough in my opinion, along with the potential of her and X-23 to be good friends after their first meeting.
X-23 is rather emotionless, and labelled by the others as "creepy", but I found her the most interesting character. She kills without remorse, but shows sympathy for Tatiana and the others. There's lots of potential for her character, but I guess that's explored more in the prequel...this volume is mostly Kiden's story.
As for Bobby Soul, I'm not sure if I like him or not. He claims to be a pseudo-reformed criminal, but has no qualms getting violent when he's earning money to save his disabled little brother. As with all the characters, 7 issues is hardly enough space to explore their personalities deeply enough, but I do love what I see so far for the most part.
The villains come with a variety of faces - some regretful, some unsure, and some just downright evil. The side characters are all struggling through semi-poverty as well, so there is no wealthy deux-ex-machina guy intervening to "save" any damsels (of which there aren't any really). I do like this truly "gritty" take on the X-Men, as opposed to that paradise-like mansion on a hill.

Writing/Art
☂☂☂☂.5☂☂☂

Some of the dialogue, especially the random bold italics were quite overdramatic...but that may just be an American comic thing. It's completely enjoyable most of the time, and I do like that the author fit in a few lines of Spanish for Tatiana.
I must say I adore Middleton's art (issues #1-4) for its semi-psychedelic colours and intricate expressions. Some scenes are bright and sunny while others are dark and gloomy. I especially love the weird angles and unconventional positions he chose to draw, very fluid action =)
As for Teranishi, I'm not as impressed. Some of the colouring clashed badly in some places, and the lines kind of varied in thickness too much. The characters faces suffered the most from this transition, and I found the expressions were handled less expertly. Plus, I'm a bit disoriented by the fact that American comics switch artists within series (manga are usually drawn, and written, by the same person for the entire run)...

Ending
☂☂☂.5

Okay, I'm not really an active feminist, but after cheering on the kickass females for 7 issues, that ending really pissed me off a little. I really wished the man could have fit into the story as an equal rather than a "senior" for the girls. I admit it wasn't an explicit dismissal of the girls' abilities, but patronizing messages really grate on my nerves. And on another note, what is up with the brother? I suppose it is hard to wrap up a story with such massive potential in so few issues, but I still walked out feeling disappointed.
Then again, I heard there is a spin-off with the same characters, except X-23 appears to have been left out? Meh, I'm not really that interested in more, though I might take a look into the X-23-centric prequel (Innocence Lost).

Reading Challenges
TwentyTen Challenge → Graphic Novels
What's in a Name? Challenge 2010 → place name
POC Challenge 2010 → POC character
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2 comments:

Ah Yuan // wingstodust said...

*shakes fist* damn you for making me want to read a superhero story, of all things. Do you own it? Can I mooch? *_*

Melissa said...

Oh my gosh...now I want to read this so bad! Great review! :)