Wolverine and the X-Men go Manga
At New York Comic Con this weekend, Del Rey Manga announced the latest information on their two new manga-style retellings of Marvel Comics properties, Wolverine and The X-Men.
Both books will be all-new stories with original art — consider them a "radical re-mix" of the well-known comics characters.
Wolverine: Prodigal Son, with story by Antony Johnston and art by Wilson Tortosa, takes a shonen manga approach. It’s an American characater with a Japanese spin, and according to Associate Publisher Dallas Middaugh, to add to the international flavor, the author is British and the artist is Filipino. Due out at the beginning of April, this book will be extremely different from Marvel’s version, and does not require any prior knowlege of the Marvel continuity.
X-Men: Misfits, with story by Dave Roman and Raina Telgemeier and art by Anzu, is also a complete re-imagining of the X-Men universe and characters, mixing shojo conventions with elements of the classic X-Men story. It focuses on Kitty Pryde as the protagonist, telling the story entirely from her perspective. In this version, Kitty is invited to attend an illustrious academy as the first girl at an all-boys’ school. Release is scheduled for May 26.
Roman’s previous works have included comics Jax Epoch and Agnes Quill, and Telgemeier worked on the Baby Sitters’ Club comics for Scholastic.
According to Roman, the student body is a collection of bishonens who represent different subcultures. Cylclops is depicted as a "emo rocker." Nightcrawler is a goth. Angel is a "preppy pretty boy." Their looks are also inspired by real-life celebrities such as Justin Timberlake (Angel) and Zac Efron (Pyro). You’ll even encounter a Tim-Gunn inspired Magneto. "We had to distance ourselves from the characters as they were," said Roman, and consider "who were these characters to us, and who else they could relate to."
Nonetheless, the creators have attempted to preserve the core themes of the X-Men stories, finding that they have a lot in common with classic shojo elements. The book’s editor, Trisha Narwani, pointed out these include: feeling like an outsider, finding a place to belong, strong female characters, and of course the "soap opera element" of "who has a crush on whom."
Dave Roman said that growing up, his sister was a huge fan of the X-Men, and read all their books — she talked about them and showed them to him, giving him "a real fondness for the X-Men." He said the vetting process of which characters to use in the story included considering what his sister would like. (Keep an eye out for an appearance by Longshot, made upon her request.).
One of the hardest things the writers said they did was keep Kitty Pryde as the only major female character (though apparently there are some female instructors at the Academy as well) since the X-Universe has a lot of great female characters. However, they said they also had a lot to gain from the setup in terms of comedy and drama. There are two volumes planned so far, but according to Telgemeier they might add more female characters later.
"Marvel gave us unprecedented creative freedom," said Narwani. They were not tied to any pre-existing continuity, and were free to re-invent things.
Dallas Middaugh said, "If you are a Marvel comics fan, give it a chance."