X-Men Vol. 1: Misfits (Manga)
Del Rey
Release Date: 8/11/2009
SRP: $12.95
Creator(s): Story by Raine Telgemeier & Dave Roman, art by Anzu
Format: 192 pgs.; B&W
ISBN-10: 0-3455-0514-X
ISBN-13: 978-034550-514-9
Age Rating: Young Adult
ICv2 Rating: 4 Stars out of 5

Unlike Marvel’s other attempts to manga-ize their characters, this one works!  This one isn’t just a matter of dropping Spider-Man into a Power Rangers plot.

Misfits is a shojo manga centering on Kitty Pryde as she enters Xavier’s school.  Unlike the mainstream comics version, Magneto is still friends with Xavier, and on the school’s faculty.  He has surrounded himself with a core of students he considers like-minded, and they have taken to calling themselves The Hellfire Club, a social group for the most powerful and attractive mutants.

As the story progresses, it is a high school romance, but also a deeper story about power, responsibility, authority, respect, and humanity itself.  There is humor, especially based on the physiques and powers of some of the mutants, but also on perfectly normal reactions to life itself.  The more serious story developing in the background is one common to the mainstream X-Men stories: the issue of whether mutants will add to the richness of human experience, or wipe it clean and replace it.

Anzu was an excellent choice for the art, as the portrayals of the “beautiful few” in the Hellfire club are perfect.  The rich and powerful are shown in a beautifully angelic style, suggesting how powerful their fall from grace will eventually be.  Telgemeier and Roman show a knack for teen dialogue and behavior, and the comic relief is manga-style, a way to relieve tension as the story progresses.

-- Nick Smith