The powerful women of X-Men have finally received their own comic after 50 years. X-Men #1 – released May 29 – features the first X-men team comprised completely of women. The team consists of mutants Storm, Rogue, Jubilee Kitty Pryde, Rachel Grey and Psylocke, who are all joining the Fearless Defenders.
X-Men #1 features “an unnamed old enemy who shows up at the X-Men’s door, seeking asylum from an ancient evil come back to Earth” according to the Mary Sue. It also marks the return of Jubilee and her orphaned child who may save or demolish Earth.
Marvel describes X-Men #1 as:
“With an imminent alien invasion and an eons-spanning war between brother and sister around the corner, Storm steps up and puts together a team to protect the child and stop a new threat that could destroy all life in the Marvel Universe.”
Comic critics are heralding Marvel for highlighting women X-Men.
Jill Pantozzi, an editor for the Mary Sue and the Nerdy Bird comic book blogger said, “Women have always read and created comic books, it’s just becoming more visible these days because everyone has their own blog, everyone is on Twitter and Facebook talking about what they love.”
X-Men editor Jeanine Schaefer told CNN this was something she’d been wanting to “in my heart of hearts for year,” but it was difficult to convince others of the its importance.
“This is definitely not the first all-female team in comics, but there’s also a history of finding it harder to do,” she said. “For me, it’s tough because you want to do it. If it doesn’t succeed, it gets pointed out that that’s because it’s a team of all women.”
Women characters have a complex history in comics. Prior to the introduction of X-Men #1, the best-known all-female super-team was DC Comics’ “Birds of Prey.” Marvel attempted to introduce a female protagonist, X-23, in 2011 but the comic was canceled because of low sales. Red She-Hulk has been a Marvel staple, but she’s being discontinued in August.
Schaefer noticed the lack of women and knew she had room to maneuver after deceased Professor Charles Xavier’s school was named after X-Men’s first female member, Jean Grey, in 2011.
However, she and writer Brian Wood, are prepared for the sexist backlash sure to ensue with the release of X-Men #1.
“I was ready for it. I could have made up pre-printed bingo cards with words like ‘reverse-sexism,’ ‘pandering,’ ‘countdown to adding men to the line-up,’ and ‘but it’s not okay to have an all-male team, I get it,’ she told CNN.
She charges this to an unwarranted fear from devoted readers. “I think a lot of that is fear, though. Fear that a thing they love will be unrecognizably changed ‘now that women are reading it,’ or that the safe space they built for themselves is being invaded,” she said. “I’ve felt that way when a band I love goes mainstream, or when an actor I love gets popular, so I get it, and I try not to read real hostility in their words. But women already are reading comics, and these characters are already much-loved characters. I do think that once the book comes out and people see that this is an X-Men book through and through, a lot of those fears will be laid to rest. And then the next time an all-female team comes out the backlash will be a little less, and then a little less the time after that.”
Wood hopes X-Men #1 reassures Marvel readers that the brand isn’t changing.
“Some people expect it to be full of things like shopping and conversations about hair,” he said. “I can’t wait for the book to come out and for readers to see it’s not some gimmicky joke book where they talk about their periods.”
“Everything you want in an X-Men comic is right here,” he continued. “Huge ideas, heroes getting put through the wringer, break-ups, make-ups, giant robots, and tons of style.”
Wood knows the six X-Women featured will appeal to fans of both gender.
“At its core, it’s an action adventure book. It’s something that any existing fan of superheroes can’t help but be drawn in by,” he said. “But at the same time it’s designed to be new-reader friendly.”