Just as Wolverine: Prodigal Son did, the recently released manga version of the X-Men re-imagines everyone’s favorite mutants. And just like the former, it does it sooooo well.
Whereas Wolverine: Prodigal Son was very shonen in its conception, with plenty of action, fighting, and teen boy angst, X-Men: Misfits goes in the opposite direction, turning the soap opera of Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters into a nearly perfect shojo read for girls (although there’s plenty for boys to like as well).
The story revolves around Kitty Pryde and her coming to the school, her shy, somewhat naive self, and her clumsy understanding of her ability to phase through objects. Plus, it turns out she’s the only girl. There are other females, Storm is a teacher of environmental studies and Jean Grey is mentioned (though never appears in this volume), but as far as students go, Kitty’s the only one with the X-gene that has two X chromosomes. This, of course, makes her much sought after by most of the student population, with all of their male teen hormones raging. Her affections are vied for by Pyro and Angel, and there are plenty of hints that she will actually fall for the brooding Bobby Drake (Iceman) who gives her the cold shoulder (pun-intended) throughout.
Pyro and Angel, along with Forge, Havok, Longshot, and Quicksilver are actually one of the coolest adaptations of the normal X-storyline. They this series’ version of The Hellfire Club. In this rendition, it is apparent that they will form the basis of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants (with the teacher Magneto looming over as an influence on the thoughts and ideals of the Club’s members), but the Club is still also an elite social group. It is manifest here as that teen high school cliche of the “cool kids” club, with the hottest, most popular guys in it. And frankly, it works oh so well.
This is a brand new take on the X-Men, without a need for years of continuity. While other X-Men titles outside of the main Marvel U (Earth-616) continuity, have also been good, they were not this fresh to start with. Ultimate X-Men, for instance, was always hit or miss, but then completely failed before Ultimatum even happened (thus ending the series), when it was revealed that the “Banshee” drug was made from Wolverine (in a bastardization of the great Grant Morrison storyline in New X-Men with the drug “kick”). Likewise, X-Men: First Class, which goes back to the roots of the original X-Men in training at Xavier’s, from what I’ve read, is a goulash of random stories and adventures that I found rather unappealing (of course I’ve only read the first trade paperback, so I might be wrong overall). All in all, if I had any complaints about X-Men: Misfits is that some of the boys, especially Longshot, look too much like girls (which I know is a common occurence in this style of art, and for instance was the only blight on my enjoyment of the great series The Demon Ororon). That being said, I highly recommend X-Men: Misfits to anyone who likes manga, especially shojo, and to all fans of mutants everywhere. Like Wolverine: Prodigal Son, I hope Del Rey and Marvel commit to this series because it has lots of potential.