X-Men: Misfits 1 by Raina Telgemeier, Dave Roman, and Anzu: C-

Having fortified myself with some small exposure to Marvel-style Kitty Pryde, I felt equipped to tackle the first volume of Del Rey’s X-Men: Misfits for Manga Recon. Whether you’re an X-Men fan or a shojo manga fan, you’re bound to be disappointed (if not dismayed) by this hybrid.

In this shojo-style X-Men “remix,” Kitty Pryde is a fifteen-year-old girl who is an outcast because of her mutant abilities. When Magneto invites her to attend Xavier’s Academy for Gifted Youngsters, she accepts. Apparently, she’s the first girl to qualify as a gifted youngster in quite some time, because when she gets there she finds herself surrounded by members of the opposite sex.

Kitty quickly falls in with the wrong crowd: a group of boys calling themselves “The Hellfire Club.” Fans of the comic series will recognize this name as belonging to a band of villains, but here it’s more like a host club of rowdy hotties with disdain for normal people. Kitty starts dating Pyro and ignores many signs that he’s a creep until he finally gets in an altercation with humans while on a school trip to New York City.

Some scant attention is paid to Kitty learning to control her powers and accept her mutant identity, but it’s all very shallow. Some important things happen without any insight at all into her feelings (her first kiss with Pyro, for example) and other moments are too on-the-nose to carry much weight (“But am I really ready to accept this part of myself?”). The best thing that happens is that she quietly befriends Nightcrawler and Gambit, both of whom treat her much better than her so-called boyfriend does.

Kitty is rendered here about as vapidly as possible. She has a tendency to sprout cat ears and a tail when flustered or when she spots cute boys and is often depicted in the act of flailing her limbs around. She’s also extremely dumb where Pyro’s concerned—evading him for an afternoon after he breaks into her room then engaging in smoochy times with him at the next available opportunity. One wonders what Iceman, who leaves her a token of his affections in the final pages, could possibly see in her.

Anzu’s art has been described by Publisher’s Weekly as “shojo parody.” I wouldn’t have come to that conclusion myself, but I hope it’s true, because these pages are positively slathered in screen tone. Her artwork wouldn’t be bad if it were less cluttered; some of the guys genuinely look quite studly and even if Beast does bear more than a passing resemblance to Pokémon’s Snorlax, he is still kinda cute.

Coming on the heels of the incredibly kickass Kitty I just read about in Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men, this incarnation is downright lame. Also lousy is the implication that this is what someone thinks shojo manga is all about. The preview for volume two promises a fashion show and a cooking showdown. Gee, I can hardly wait.

Review copy provided by the publisher. Review originally published at Manga Recon.

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  1. Chris Smith says

    Isn’t Kitty in Astonishing X-Men supposed to be an adult now? After having already experienced tons of intergalactic/interdimensional battles and what not. Kitty in Misfits is more like a real teenager, new to the world of mutants. So it’s a very different thing. That said, I also loved Whedon’s run on Astonishing.

    • Yeah, Astonishing‘s Kitty is indeed an adult. It wasn’t Misfit Kitty’s ignorance of mutants that bugged me, though. It was her ignorance of glaring signs that “YOUR BOYFRIEND IS A HUGE CREEPY JERK!” 🙂

  2. Blech. It sounds like they took everything bad about the genre and put it all into one book. 🙁 I was hoping this would be good, but it sounds awfully disappointing. Glad I didn’t bother with it now. I wonder how the Wolverine one fared?
    By the way, I am so frustrated that this story also chose to make Beast more of a beast and less a human with beast-like qualities. Marvel really aggravated me when they changed his design.

    • I’m curious about the Wolverine one, too. But, yeah, bishounen and sparkles does not good shojo manga make if that’s all it’s got going for it.

      This Beast is indeed played as sort of a teddy bear, though there is a human picture of Dr. McCoy hanging amongst photos of the other teachers.

      This artist also did something weird with Cyclops, making him look like Wilford Brimley in the role of The Tin Woodsman.

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