Comic Book Storytelling: Giant Size X-Statix

Welcome back to another Comic Book Storytelling. Today we will be talking about the recent Giant Size X-Statix special. But you may not be familiar with who the X-Statix are so here is a quick rundown of where these characters come from.

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They began in the pages of X-Force. In an effort to revitalize some of their series in the early 2000’s Marvel brought on a number of well known creators to different titles and more or less gave them free reign. Peter Milligan and Mike Allred were given X-Force. They replaced the superhero action team with a group of reality TV star sellouts. The series tried to be a lot of different things. It was a parody of reality TV celebrity, but also a bit of a black comedy, but also a serious drama, and sometimes even a superhero action comic. I never felt like it struck the right balance between all these elements but the series has fans to this day. Because of copyright issues X-Force ended and the team moved to a new series called X-Statix. It lasted for 26 issues.

One more thing you should know about X-Statix. A lot of its members are dead. Back when they were still X-Force they killed off more than half the team at the start of the series. It was meant to be sort of a joke on the “anyone can die at any time” kind of storytelling but I always thought they played it way too straight. And then when X-Statix ended it looked very much like the entire team was killed.

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Okay now we can talk about Giant Size X-Statix itself. Front and center on the cover appears to be U-Go Girl who was the team female lead when it was still X-Force. She was killed off just before they became the X-Statix. And we are going to talk about that more but first lets go over what happens in this book.

This special is not about Edie Sawyer AKA U-Go Girl, but a girl named Katie Jones. You see back in the old series it was revealed early on that U-Go Girl had a daughter. Edie was a teenager when she got pregnant so the family pulled a “she’s your big sister” on the child. Katie is now a teenager and still believes that U-Go Girl was her older sister at the start.

Katie begins to manifest teleporting powers just like U-Go Girl that she can’t control. She ends up in the graveyard where U-Go Girl is buried and meets former X-Statix member Dead Girl. As you may have guessed from her name Dead Girl can talk to and summon the spirits of the dead. She summons U-Go Girl’s ghost and Katie learn the truth.

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Katie is not thrilled to learn that she has been lied to and her big sister is actually her mother. However the connection to the spirit world is lost before they can really work through any of it. Katie is upset and tries to distance herself from her departed mother but her teleporting powers keep activating a bringing her back to U-Go Girl’s grave. Katie’s skin even changes color to match her mother’s gray-blue skin tone.

Meanwhile we catch up with the other surviving members of the X-Statix. Guy Smith AKA Oprhan AKA Mr Sensitive, the former X-Statix team leader, is still sad that U-Go Girl is dead and does not want to have to lead another team. Vivisector, the one who had werewolf powers, is a novelist. Doop, the little green floating bean creature and team camera man, is trying to convince them to get together and be a team again. Also it turns out several deceased team members had secret kids with the same powers as their parents who are now teenagers seeking fame and fortune. So the stage is set for a new version of the X-Statix very similar to the old one to appear.

Anyway back to Katie, she still does not have much control over her teleporting powers. Then she gets kidnapped by an unknown group of mutants. It turns out this team works for Zeitgeist. Zeitgeist was the original celebrity X-Force team leader who was killed off at the start of the old series. Well somehow he survived being disemboweled. I imagine that means his lower half is all cybernetic now. Zeitgeist has assembled a team called the X-Cellent because he says there is a culture war coming. He needs a teleporter for his team and he wants Katie. He tried to use Venus De Milo, the teleporter who joined the team after U-Go Girl died, but it will take too long for her to recover from her near death at the end of X-Statix. Well the new X-Statix arrive just in time to fight off the X-Cellent and save Katie. And its broadcast live announcing their return to reality TV celebrity. But the new X-Statix are not used to working as a team so they could lose and need to escape. And the only one who can save them is Katie with her teleporting powers.

The next part is where this story falls apart for me. The problem is in how it is framed. They have established that Katie does not have control of her powers. They even mention earlier that she is taking medication to keep her powers in check. U-Go Girl had the same problem, she had to self medicate to regulate her powers. But instead of mentioning any of that they have Katie refuse to use her powers because she does not want to be like U-Go Girl. They have a perfectly reasonable set up for why Katie would hesitate to teleport several people at once, she can barely control teleporting herself. Instead they frame it as “look at this dumb selfish teenage girl who is prepared to get everyone killed just because she is mad at her mom”. I find it a prime example of why adult men are terrible at writing teenage girls. I could go on but we have more to talk about.

In the end Katie does give in and teleport everyone to safety. With the day mostly saved Katie goes home rather than join the new X-Statix. But now the public is aware of her and on the last page Katie thinks she is finally starting to understand why her mother craved the celebrity life. Now maybe she will be drawn into it too.

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At the end of the special there is an advertisement, not for a new X-Statix series, but for Zeitgeist’s team the X-Cellent. And that looks like Katie in U-Go Girl’s costume with Guy. I almost want to check it out but I really don’t trust this creative team as storytellers. They are both men over 50 and how they wrote Katie at the end does not fill me with confidence in their ability to write women. To be honest my distrust goes back further to how they treated the character U-Go Girl back in the old series.

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Edie Sawyer AKA U-Go Girl was the team teleporter and leading lady of the series and one of its more interesting characters. And from the first issue I read way back then I remember thinking “they are going to kill her”. It was obvious to me that they were building her up just so they could kill her off later. I tried to give them the benefit of the doubt for a little while but sure enough as X-Force came to an end, before X-Statix officially began, they killed off U-Go Girl for cheap shock value. Some might claim they were trying to make commentary on how women are treated as disposable in media, but even if that were the case, like I said, they never struck the right balance between the parody and playing things straight. Still I kind of want to know where Katie’s story will go, but again I really don’t trust them to treat her any better than they did U-Go Girl. Well the X-Cellent does not come out until next year so we will see what happens.

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