It’s with a strange feeling that I report that Marvel comics has decided to cancel their series, X-23… also known as their only title with a female lead. What it means for their comics in general is also pretty fascinating.
It’s not that there’s any real shortage of female characters in the Marvel Universe. (Some of my favorites belong to Marvel’s roster.) It’s just unfortunate that the only one deemed strong enough to carry her own on-going series was literally a clone of one of their most popular male figures: Wolverine.
With the vast majority of comic writers being men, creating strong, sustainable female role-models is a tricky, delicate business. There’s certainly been evidence enough of late to prove that it can be mishandled. [And X-23 was written by female scribe, Marjorie Liu.] Still. X-23 had a lot going for her. She had all of her spiritual father’s animal aggression, as well as an indomitable spirit– another thing she inherited from Logan.
So why is it being cancelled?
Perhaps because her most conspicuous traits are being borrowed from someone else? From a more practical point of view– maybe it just didn’t sell enough. That is usually the reason.
And while the character X-23 will continue to make appearances in other Marvel mutant titles… this doesn’t bode well for their feminine stand-alone heroes.
She-Hulk had her own title, and it was notorious for near-constant opportunities for cheesecake– and was another female reflection of an existing male character. Alias featured a foulmouthed, powerful stand-alone detective Jessica Jones… who ultimately settled down and raised a baby with Luke Cage. Go figure.
I sincerely hope that more female characters in Marvel’s ample ranks are given their own titles in the future. What about Storm? Kitty Pryde? Black Widow? Emma Frost?? If Wolverine can be on three teams at once and host his own solo adventures, surely the ladies can, too?
Essentially: these women deserve the chance to define themselves, rather than be defined by association or comparison to male counterparts. We have to experiment if we’re going to find anything new.
And where else besides comics are we going to find such fertile ground to explore?