The Mall Rat’s come a long way since her days as a Wolverine sidekick! Jubilee was very much the ‘everyman’ used to introduce us to the X-Men in the ‘90s animated series of X-Men, and she’s been a favourite of mine ever since. Now, Brian Wood’s latest series of X-Men is bringing her back into the limelight, and I figure it’s a good time to celebrate the life and times of Jubilation Lee!
Click below for a lot more.
Writer Chris Claremont first revealed Jubilee in Uncanny X-Men #244 in 1989, when the young mutant stumbled into the X-Men’s lives – and soon rescued Wolverine from torture. From there, she pretty much fell into Kitty Pryde’s slot as Wolverine’s young sidekick for a while (a fact that some fans of Kitty Pryde found extremely irritating, to say the least).
While everybody thinks of Jubilee as the raw recruit member of the X-Men Blue Team, she certainly had some phenomenal adventures beforehand; she was even part of a cosmic arc in Shi’ar space, where several key characters had been replaced by Warskrulls.
Still, it was in the 1990’s that Jubilee flourished. As mentioned, she was part of Cyclops’ Blue Team, noted for frequently sarcastic wit. Conveniently, this kept her alongside Wolverine so she could still be supporting cast in his solo series (likely the real objective). This period featured some pretty awesome moments for Jubilee; some of my favourite issues star her.
First of all, cast your eyes to Uncanny X-Men #303. In this emotive issue, young Illyana Rasputin is dying from the Legacy Virus; Jubilee is our point-of-view character, an unusual but creative choice that draws the readers into a young girl’s emotional response to such a tragedy. It’s wonderfully (and so, in a sense, terribly) written, and is a solid tear-jerker.
1994 featured another absolute classic. In X-Men #28, we see Jubilee’s emotional reaction to a decision Professor Xavier has made. You see, Xavier was even going so far as to try to redeem Sabretooth, who was living in the Mansion as a prisoner back then. Jubilee had seen Creed’s evil first-hand, and tortured dreams kept her awaking in terror. It all culminates with Jean Grey, realising that Creed is enjoying torturing the girl, showing Sabretooth who’s boss. “You’re a firecracker, Creed,” she tells him, semi-quoting from Jubilee’s dreams, “And I’m an atom bomb.” It’s a wonderful issue, in that it shows Jubilee as not quite emotionally prepared for such a front-line position as a member of the X-Men. It was really cool to see characters struggling when forced to deal with things they cannot be emotionally mature enough to handle.
Yes, these were the golden years for Jubilee. At the same time, she was becoming increasingly popular through the 1990s X-Men Animated Series, although her character there wasn’t quite so compelling in my view. Interestingly, back in the comics, the time-travelling Bishop knew of Jubilee as ‘the last X-Man’…
In 1994, Marvel released an epic X-Men crossover – one of the best – called ‘Phalanx Covenant’. In a brilliant twist, Jubilee was one of a handful of mutants forced to rescue some next generation mutants from the Phalanx. And the rest of the team? Emma Frost, Banshee… and Sabretooth. In the wake of this, Emma and Banshee founded the Massachusetts Academy, and Jubilee became a central character in Generation X. It was logical character development for her, and Jubilee was used to superb effect, playing her experience with the X-Men particularly well against Monet (M). Generation X was an excellent comic from the outset, although it struggled in later years.
When, in 1996, Marvel geared up for another X-Men crossover – ‘Operation: Zero Tolerance’ – Jubilee took on a fascinating role. She was captured by Bastion, and we had a fun arc where she began to interact with the Prime Sentinel called Daria (I particularly recommend the superb and entertaining Generation X #26, although be aware you’ll get hooked!). Ultimately, Daria betrayed the Sentinels. Yup, Jubilee redeemed a Prime Sentinel.
One of Jubilee’s strongest appearances in Generation X is in the Generation X 1999 annual, in which she finds her parents’ killer – Hunter Brawn, a fraudster who was discovered by her father – and pursues revenge on him. It’s a fascinating character piece, in which we see just how far (or not) Jubilee is prepared to go. I mean, let’s face it, she was Wolverine’s protégé back before he was a headmaster, you know?
The next few years were… odd, and often uncomfortable, for Jubilee. She wound up crucified on the X-Mansion’s lawn, but was saved by Angel’s blood; from there, though, she got her own series. The series was a fun read (especially with Jubilee as ‘The Fresh Princess of Bel Air’), and the plotline – Jubilee’s aunt is an assassin! – is just crazy and cooky enough to make you laugh. It’s a series full of wit and humour, and I think my favourite scene is issue #1, where Jubilee gets in trouble for using her powers:
The series even features a Runaways reference, leaving me gleefully imagining what it would’ve been like to have Jubilee hanging out with that gang…
When the Decimation happened, Jubilee was one of the many mutants to lose her powers – a waste of a good character, at least until the post-‘Civil War’ series of New Warriors, where Jubilee was a central character. Using technology to simulate mutant powers, the New Warriors stories were dark and potent, ironically moving Jubilee – for the first time – out of the X-Men bubble of the Marvel Universe in which she had operated. When the series ended, that period of Jubilee’s life was quickly forgotten.
Jubilee returned once again in the 2010 series of X-Men, in the ‘Curse of the Mutants’ plotline. There, in a radical change of direction for the character, she was transformed into a vampire. Yeah, for real, a vampire. To be fair, this led to a superb series of Wolverine and Jubilee that explored her response to vampirism, and she became a notable backdrop character in Marjorie Liu’s wonderful series of X-23. X-23 was treated like a daughter by Wolverine in a way, and Jubilee had been like a daughter to him; both now had darker sides, and so their interaction was rather splendid. I loved it. Post-Schism, the girl was a core member of Brian Wood’s X-Men line-up, too. Incidentally, did anyone ever explain Jubilee’s ‘decorporealising’ in the Wolverine & Jubilee mini-series?
Now, Brian Wood has returned with a new series of X-Men, and he’s brought Jubilee back into the limelight. Although Wood was tempted to undo the vampirism, he chose not to (although, to be honest, you couldn’t tell). In reality, Wood’s interest in Jubilee has been with her emotions, and in just two issues that’s been rather impressive!