School’s back in session! Launching as part of Marvel’s ResurrXion initiative, the new “Generation X” series by Christina Strain and Amilcar Pinna will put the X-Men’s school front and center once again. This is a big deal, as “Generation X” will launch two years after the end of the previous school-centric book, “Spider-Man and the X-Men.” Yeah, how has the X-line gone two years without a school series?
Of course you can’t have a school series without a student body, and we now know the names of the characters enrolling in “Generation X” next spring. As “Gen X” will star the lovable losers of the Xavier Institute, odds are some of these characters won’t be instantly recognizable to plenty of X-Men fans out there. Series writer Christina Strain pulled from many different corners of the X-Men’s mythos for her class of mutants, meaning we’re about to see kids from different backgrounds brought together for drama and action. Now that we know who’s in “Generation X,” let’s learn who’s who in the series as well — starting with the book’s most senior member.
Come on, you know Jubilee. Between her adventures with the X-Men, the ’90s animated series and her starring role in the first “Generation X” series, Jubilee is probably one of the most well-known mutants around. But even if you know who Jubilee is, you might be surprised to learn what she’s been up to lately.
Created by Chris Claremont and Marc Silvestri, Jubilee debuted in 1989’s “Uncanny X-Men” #244 when she played stowaway in one of the X-Men’s teleportation portals traveling from Jubes’ home (a mall in California) to the X-Men’s home (an abandoned town in the Australian Outback). Jubilee kept to herself for a little while before finally stepping out of the shadows to rescue a crucified and nearly dead Wolverine. From that point on, Jubilee served as Wolverine’s unlikely sidekick. His claws and her fireworks attacked bad guys from Madripoor to the Savage Land, and their partnership continued as part of the X-Men’s Blue Strike Force.
When Generation X was formed in 1994, the teen hero relocated to the Massachusetts Academy where she learned alongside mutants her own age. Following “Generation X’s” end in 2000, though, Jubilee became a bit aimless. She was one of the millions of mutants de-powered by the Scarlet Witch’s reality-warping powers on M-Day, and she’s remained fireworks-free for the last decade. That hasn’t stopped her from being a superhero, though, specifically because she now has vampire powers. Yep, Jubilee was bitten by the son of Dracula and has been a vampire ever since. She’s also a mother, as she adopted an abandoned baby boy she named Shogo while backpacking through Budapest.
Jubilee might not have fireworks anymore, but she does have vampire teeth and a child of her own. Now, as part of the new “Generation X” series, she’ll also have a group of misfit mutants to watch out for.
The on again/off again X-Men ally/adversary codenamed Kid Omega is also the most senior student of Jubilee’s Gen X squad. Quentin Quire was created by Grant Morrison, Keron Grant and Frank Quitely and introduced in 2003’s “New X-Men” #134. While Quire was a student at Xavier’s, he learned that he was adopted — a revelation that caused him to question everything about himself. The Quentin that emerged was radicalized, sporting a militant haircut and cutting-edge fashion. He rallied other students into joining his Omega Gang and led a mutiny on campus, attacking Professor Xavier with a baseball bat.
The deadly fallout from his mutiny left him without a body or active consciousness, until the Phoenix Force sensed his powerful telepathic abilities and scouted him out as a host body. While the cosmic entity passed on taking him over, that contact was enough to restart Quire’s brain and reconstitute his physical presence. After terrorizing the X-Men a few more times, Wolverine finally managed to force the young mutant to come back to the school as a means of reforming him. Quire begrudgingly served out his “sentence” in the student body, eventually graduating to become an X-Man.
But Quire just couldn’t stand to be in good standing with the X-Men. He defected to the Hellfire Club (the version populated by underage maniacs) and became their White King. And in true Quire fashion, he also burned bridges with the Hellfire Club. Quire’s kept a low profile over the last year, as he’s run out of places to turn to. It looks like “Generation X” will see him return to the X-fold once more, though.
It might surprise you to learn that Bling!, the only X-Man with punctuation right there in her code name, has been around for over a decade. Created by Peter Milligan and Salvador Larroca, Roxanne Washington was originally introduced in 2005’s “X-Men” #171. Bling! bone marrow produces diamond-hard shards that cover her skin with a crystalline shell. She’s able to expel those shards as projectiles and she also has enhanced durability and strength.
Roxanne came to the X-Men in order to escape the life her parents, two hip-hop artists, had planned out for her. Bling! wanted to forge her own path, one involving the X-Men. That aspect of her origin resonated with Strain. “I can identify with Bling!’s unrelenting drive to define herself beyond the scope of what her parents want for her,” said Strain in our announcement interview. “That’s rough.”
Bling!’s focus on her studies prevented her from joining any of the teen field teams, a move that kept her out of the spotlight for much of her tenure as a student. That didn’t stop her from getting kidnapped by Emplate, a supervillain drawn to her diamond-hard form. Bling!’s kept a low profile for the last year, popping up most recently in “All-New X-Men” as an attendee at Evan Sabahnur’s birthday pool party.
Despite being in relatively few storylines, Bling!’s history of crushes is well-documented. She’s crushed on other students (like Foxx and Mercury) and even a teacher (Rogue).
Trevor Hawkins has the distinction of being one of the first mutants to have their X-gene activated following the M-Day event years prior. As part of the fallout of 2012’s “Avengers vs. X-Men” event, the effects of Scarlet Witch’s reality warping were undone, resulting in the birth of a new generation of mutants. For Trevor, that meant growing new eyes all over his body. Jason Aaron and Nick Bradshaw introduced Eye-Boy in 2012’s “Wolverine and the X-Men” #19.
While at the Jean Grey School, Eye-Boy learned that his multiple eyes actually served a purpose beyond, well, seeing. Eye-Boy is actually gifted with enhanced perception of all sorts; he’s an expert at non-verbal communication, a highly skilled marksman and can see through illusions, deception and spells with great ease. Despite have non-combative powers, Eye-Boy still survived a mission against Frankenstein’s Murder Circus and a field trip to the Savage Land.
Most recently, Eye-Boy popped up in “Spider-Man and the X-Men” as part of another special class of misfit mutants. Aside from a brief appearance at Evan Sabahnur’s pool party, Trevor’s been M.I.A. since the last time the school had a starring role in a comic. That will change with “Generation X,” a series that will pair Trevor with a new class of misfits.
Giving Eye-Boy the skills to survive in battle may be one of Strain’s goals for the character. “Dude has an eye on his tongue. How’s anyone going to want to make out with that?” said Strain. “And while his heightened level of perception gives him insight into his cisgender, heteronormative, white privilege, it doesn’t really give him the ability to run faster when a Sentinel’s trying to stomp him dead.”
Whereas Eye-Boy joined the Jean Grey School after discovering his mutant abilities, Benjamin Deeds — who debuted a just a few months after Eye-Boy in 2013’s “All-New X-Men” #3 — reluctantly enlisted with Cyclops’ revolution. Created by Brian Michael Bendis and Stuart Immonen, Benjamin was introduced as a college student at the University of Texas at Austin. His powers kicked in during a rally on campus, a rally that was disrupted when Cyclops’ team arrived to recruit him. Amidst the chaos, Deeds rejected Cyclops’ offer — only to discover that his central role in the hubbub left him expelled and estranged from his parents. When Cyclops approached him again, Benjamin signed up.
While training with Cyclops’ ragtag group of X-Men-in-training, Deeds learned a little about his specific shape-shifting power. Benjamin can only transform into the person he’s interacting with, subtly altering his voice and appearance to mirror their own — a method he can use to make strangers trust him without question. Emma Frost put Benjamin through the wringer on one mission in Atlantic City, where she made him hand deliver a message to Dum Dum Dugan within S.H.I.E.L.D. using only his morphing power to get through security. His success earned him a spot on Cyclops and Emma’s junior X-team.
That mission, it turns out, is a major reason why Strain chose Deeds for the team. “The best thing that’s ever happened to that kid was Emma Frost steamrolling all over him in Atlantic City,” said Strain. “I want more of that. And then maybe afterwards, for him to grow a fully-formed spine. With his ability to morph his looks, Benjamin should be leading covert missions. But until he grows himself a bucket of self-confidence, he ain’t goin’ nowhere.”
And that’s where we last saw Benjamin Deeds, with the rest of Cyclops’ X-Men-in-training (Goldballs, Hijack, Triage and Tempus). So far, Goldballs has resurfaced in the pages of “Spider-Man” and Triage was seen in “Uncanny X-Men.” We know Deeds is returning in “Generation X,” leaving only Tempus and Hijack unaccounted for.
Nature Girl is the newest student in the “Generation X” cast, other than the totally new character we’ll get to in a second. Nature Girl, a.k.a. Lin Li, was created by Jason Latour and Mahmud Asrar and introduced in 2014’s “Wolverine and the X-Men” #1. A new student at the Jean Grey School, Nature Girl was first seen trying to bond with the plant-based mutant entity Krakoa on the school grounds. Eye-Boy, her “Gen X” teammate, was the first student at the JGS to greet her, making him one of her first friends at the school.
Despite being silent to her classmates, Lin Li is able to communicate with both plants and animals. Her persuasive nature also allows her to control them and put them in action against enemies — which she did when the determined time-traveler Faithful John arrived at the Jean Grey School on a mission to kill Evan Sabahnur before he could become the mad tyrant Apocalypse. Nature Girl used her command over animals to overwhelm John, leaving him vulnerable to other attacks.
Other than her appearance in the opening arc of “Wolverine and the X-Men’s” second volume, Nature Girl has kept a relatively low profile. She’s popped up in a few guest spots, her trademark antlers making her easy to spot in a crowd. Like Eye-Boy and Bling!, she was most recently seen at Evan’s birthday party earlier this year in “All-New X-Men” #9.
Strain said that she was drawn to Nature Girl because she was “interested in working with lesser known, pre-existing characters that I could have fun further developing. Because while I didn’t want to create an entirely new cast, I love the idea of adding a little definition to some relatively blank canvases. I mean, Nature Girl exists. Why not give her an actual voice? And maybe a penguin bestie.”
Every new X-school book needs at least one new character to shake things up and/or act as an entry-point character into the wild world of the Xavier Institute. Hindsight, a mutant gifted with the ability of psychometry, will play that role. As we’ve never seen Hindsight before, all we have to go on right now is what Strain has said.
“And then there’s Nathaniel Carver, the one character I did create,” said Strain. “In the interest of full disclosure, I’m just going to admit that Nathaniel’s half-Korean because I’m half-Korean — but I swear we come carrying completely different baggage. I just didn’t think I’d be doing [“Totally Awesome Hulk” writer] Greg Pak or I any justice if I didn’t create a hapa hero. Anyway, his ability’s psychometry (seeing something/someone’s past via touch) so he’s at the Institute trying to avoid his fate as a crime solving coroner.”
“Generation X” #1 arrives in stores in spring 2017.
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