Welcome, X-Fans, to another uncanny edition of X-Men Monday at AIPT!
As this column got going just before the launch of House of X and Powers of X, there are countless creators and runs that haven’t received the X-Men Monday treatment. That’s why it’s always a treat when classic creators return to Marvel to spin new tales featuring characters they helped define. For instance, writer Christina Strain penned a Generation X run from 2017-2018 that, though short-lived, remains quite beloved to this day. And now, she’s set to revisit Jubilee in an all-new short story for Marvel’s Voices: identity — a celebration of Marvel’s Asian characters.
Sounds like the perfect time for Christina to swing by X-Men Monday and answer a few X-Fan questions, doesn’t it? Good thing Christina agreed!
AIPT: Welcome to X-Men Monday, Christina! Let’s start at the very beginning with a question courtesy of X-Fan SoftButchLaura. Are there any specific series or issues that made you fall in love with comics, and if so, which ones?
Christina: This is embarrassing, but I honestly don’t remember THE comic that got me into comics. But I do remember a distinct issue of X-Men that left a mark on me. Uncanny X-Men #350, Joe Mad’s art pulled me in and then Steve Seagle had Rogue dump Gambit in Antarctica for his part in the Mutant Massacre and I was DEVASTATED.
AIPT: Yep! I remember that was a BIG one when it came out (that last page!). Your Jubilee story in Marvel’s Voices: Identity delves into the character’s past — something that isn’t often explored. X-Fan Kevin asked, what inspired you to go in this direction?
Christina: Originally, my editor (Darren Shan) and I had this interesting idea that was kind of like, Jubilee through the ages, where we sort of touched on several storylines she’s been in through the decades. The problem with that, we discovered, was it became sort of a greatest hits clip show. So we scrapped that and started talking about her parents, and both of us realized that we didn’t really know as much about them as we thought we did.
So Darren dug up some issues that touch on her parents and there was this one Generation X Annual (1999) written by Jay Faerber where Jubilee visited her parents’ grave and I was just like… oh. I’m having a lot of feelings about this. How about I unpack those? So Darren and I talked some more. We’re both the kids of Asian immigrants, and we both know what it feels like to be disconnected from parts of our culture that we intellectually know are important, but don’t fully understand.
And then for me, as a parent, the other thing I personally struggle with is knowing that whatever unconscious cultural disconnects I have, I will probably pass down to my kids. Off that, I was able to see Jubilee’s perspective, and how her disconnect from her culture stems from the loss of her parents and what effects it’s had on her character. And that became the emotional core of the story we wanted to tell.
AIPT: X-Fan Syl said that although Jubilee is one of Marvel’s most prominent Asian American characters, very few of her stories explicitly deal with her identity as a Chinese-American woman and a daughter of immigrants. How do you feel that this aspect of Jubilee’s identity informs her character, and how do you incorporate that into your own writing of the character?
Christina: I do think it informs her character! I think that the majority of people who have written her have shied away from telling it, or don’t necessarily identify with it, so it doesn’t occur to them to try telling it, but I think it definitely does inform who she is. But it’s possible that I feel that way because of my age. Because the thing I totally see in Jubilee is an Asian American girl from the ’90s, who is doing everything she can to assimilate with American culture.
The fact that she was a “teen mall rat,” rather than a martial artist or Asian stereotype, always felt more authentic to me growing up in the ’90s, because that was what kids did. They assimilated. And went to the mall. But as times change, and we all get older, I think it’s only natural for us to be more reflective of who we are now vs who we were then and ask why. So I just applied all of that to Jubilee and opened the door for her. And I’m hopeful that other writers will pick up this thread and continue to explore the Chinese-American side of her.
AIPT: X-Fan AppleJ (Jacki) mentioned that we’ve seen Jubilee go from the team kid, to depowered, to a vampire, to a mentor and also a parent. Now she’s doing magical missions. How do you connect to the character and where do you think she should go from where she’s at currently?
Christina: Oh man. This is a big question. I mean, the reality is, she’s a popular character who is ever-evolving. I have no idea of where she’s headed because all of that’s dependent on who has the privilege of writing her, right? So it’s hard for me to form any sort of concrete opinions on what anyone “should” do with her in the future. All I know is that I’ve always had — and always will have — an affinity with her. She was one of the first X-Men I connected with, and for better or worse, I’ll always see a part of myself in her. Probably because I’ve literally written parts of myself into her. So yeah. There’s that.
Christina: It meant writing after my day job and late into the night again. ;_; But also, it meant having another chance to hang out with Jubilee again, so it was totally worth it.
AIPT: Your Generation X run holds a special place in many readers’ hearts. X-Fan Kenny was curious to learn who your favorite character to write in Generation X was.
Christina: Honestly, I loved them all. And while I don’t have an absolute favorite, I always loved writing for Jubilee, Quentin Quire, Benjamin Deeds, Nathaniel Carver and Lin Li. (Nature Girl) Lin in particular was fun for me because I couldn’t find ONE issue where she spoke before Gen X, so getting to create her voice was the best. Especially now that I’ve seen her pop up in a bunch of other comics. Insert heart emojis here.
AIPT: What is your proudest contribution to the X-Men mythos to date?
Christina: It’s a tie for two things: Jubilee becoming a mutant again and Benjamin Deeds and Nathaniel Carver’s romance. I loved giving Jubilee back her sparkle and then I just love a slow burn romance, and Benji and Nathaniel were fun and adorable to write.
AIPT: X-Fan Kas was wondering if there were any plot points or character arcs you wanted to explore in Generation X that you couldn’t get to.
Christina: I REAAAAAAAAALLY wanted to write an arc involving Quentin without his powers. I really wanted to explore more what it meant for him to depend on people and understand that it’s OK to be vulnerable with the people you trust and love.
A) Jubez and Chamber rekindle their budding relationship
B) Benjamin Deeds and Nathaniel Carver go on fun adventures with Quentin
C) Husk kick a lot of ass
Christina: I choose A & B. I want to both have cake AND eat it, dammit.
AIPT: It’s your X-Men Monday — you can have two! Finally, X-Fan Ahri was curious to learn what you’re currently working on.
Christina: It’s all TV stuff I can’t talk about. SORRY! 😀
AIPT: Well, hopefully, we’ll get to watch whatever you’re working on soon! But on that note, thanks so much for taking the time to talk, Christina! X-Fans, be sure to pick up Marvel’s Voices: Identity this Wednesday to read Christina’s Jubilee story. Here’s an eXclusive sneak peek at the first page, featuring pencils by Jason Loo!
I know, you want to keep reading. To be continued, X-Fans! To tide you over until Wednesday, here are a few eXclusive preview images from upcoming X-Men comics, courtesy of X-Men Senior Editor Jordan D. White. And look, one of them even has Jubilee — and Doctor Doom!
Wash those hands all you want, Beast — we all know what you’ve done!
Anyway, until neXt time, X-Fans — be the opposite of Beast and stay eXceptional!
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