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Off The Rack Comic Review: Jubilee

July 12, 2020 | Posted by Rob Stewart
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Off The Rack Comic Review: Jubilee  

I spent Saturday filling in some holes in my Jubilee collection.

I got the first two trades of New Warriors (volume 4) from her time as Wondra. I always knew that existed, but just never sought it out for whatever reason. I wasn’t sure how big of a role she has in it, but she is arguably the main character.

I also picked up volumes two and three of a book I never knew existed called Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat. Why Jubilee was a regular guest star in a Hellcat book of all places, I have no idea, but… there she is. How was I never made aware of this?

I spooled through all the back issues of Generation X, too, but at two-plus dollars each, I’ll wait on those for another time. I didn’t realize that book went on so long after I stopped reading Marvel for a few years in the wake on Onslaught.

Either way, I have several new trades to read for the next week or so! Huzzah!

TITLE: Jubilee

Writer and Artist: Robert Kirkman (Wait, what? No, really!), Derek Donovan, Casey Jones, and Michael O’Hare

Publisher: Marvel

Protagonists: Jubilee

Antagonists: Kinda no one? Maybe some gangsters? I’ll get into it.

I have no idea what took me so long to get here. I’ve reviewed several books either starring or co-starring the single greatest comic book character of all time, but her own featured solo book? At 103 of my reviews in? What gives?

You’d think I’d have a good reason for the question I just chose to ask and write out, but nope… I just kept pushing it back and never getting around to it. I recently re-read it without any direct intention of its being a review, but when I was finished, it just seemed due.

Anyway, yeah… Robert Kirkman wrote a solo Jubilee series! How weird is that? It was apparently scheduled to be an ongoing, but was cut very early in production and was capped at six issues. Released in 2004-2005, it only pre-dated House of M by less than a year, whereupon Jubilee was stripped of her powers by the Scarlet Witch’s infamous “No more mutants”.

The series sees Jubilation Lee moving away from her heroic life and in with a heretofore unknown relative, Aunt Hope, in Los Angeles. She integrates into Payton-Noble High School, makes friends and enemies, and discovers her aunt’s secret while trying to manage the normal life she hadn’t had since her childhood.

You can easily tell this book wasn’t planned as a mini-series because the first full three to four issues sees absolutely nothing happen. Kirkman slowly builds Jubilee’s new world around her, introducing characters like Hope, Hope’s butler Brad, Jubilee’s new friend Meg, the school principal, a boy Jubilee crushes on, and others. It wouldn’t surprise me if it wasn’t until after the third issue was complete that Kirkman heard the run was getting axed.

In six issues, the title runs through three artists. Derek Donovan handles four of the six, and he is… stylized. He was easily the worst of the three pencilers to me. Jubilee is Asian-American, right, but Donovan makes makes her eyes such narrow slits that it’s hard for her to emote as a character. To be fair, it seems like most comic artists draw Jubes like every other white character, so at least Donovan went all in on making sure to represent her ethnicity!

For my money, Michael O’Hare is the best of the three pencilers, though he only handles the third issue. He carries on the racial representation that Donovan started, but everything is less sharp and angular; there’s a more typical comic art aspect to it.

I’m really pushing off talking about the plot because Kirkman wasn’t given the time to bring everything together. The series culminates in a struggle in Aunt Hope’s mansion between an assassin family and Jubilee, Aunt Hope, Brad, Wolverine, and a new mutant Jubilee met named Shane Shooter.

It turns out Hope’s secret is that she was a successful hitman trying to leave her life behind. It’s not explained why she would take this combustible period of her life as a time to take in her long-orphaned niece, but… you know. Six issues, cancelled early. Kirkman might have had a plan.

The finale sees Jubilation leaving LA after her aunt’s mansion was blown up and her body was missing. Everything gets tied up pretty neatly, though Shane Shooter just goes back out to his life as a now-more-benevolent gang leader. Has he ever appeared again? Shouldn’t he be on Krakoa now?

No, this seems like a case of “and he was never seen nor heard from again”. Man, I hate when books don’t matter.

That actually happens a lot with poor Jubes. She is popular enough that she appears regularly across the Marvel Universe and doesn’t have WILD continuity holes, but once a book she is in ends, it seems like the next writer barely acknowledges it. Like this aforementioned Patsy Walker book… I’ve read most everything she has been in since then, and it’s never mentioned she was Hellcat’s assistant for a spell!

Talking Point: Robert Kirkman wrote a Jubilee book! I know he is too big of a deal these days, but I’d love to see him at a Con and ask him about what his plans were long-term. What other famous writer wrote a book that people would be surprised to see on their bibliography?

That’s enough homework, though. If you liked this article, check out Ghosts of the Stratosphere. That’s my website where others and I write comic book and pop culture articles every day. Comics, Wrestling, TV, Movies… it’s all there.

You can also follow us on Twitter, @gotstratosphere for updates! Mostly I tweet about food.

The final score: review Average
The 411
Anywhere from a 5.0 to a 6.5 would work as a score here. The art is inconsistent, the story is rushed, and ultimately nothing mattered when it was done. And yet… it’s a decent story and I liked the world Kirkman was building. I’d have loved to have gotten a full ongoing run up to at least 20 issues or so.

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Off the Rack, Rob Stewart