Jubilee is the best. While I thought she was an annoying kid sidekick when I was an annoying kid, history has turned Jubilation Lee into one of the most well-rounded mutants still appearing in comics. Jubilee begins life as a teenage orphan hiding out in a California mall. After the X-Women of the Outback era use Gateway to teleport there for a shopping spree, Jubilee rides the portal back to Australia. The firecracker orphan uses her powers to steal food, supplies and hide out in the Outback Compound. Jubilee stumbles back at the worst time, as Nanny and the Orphan Maker are fighting the X-Men. Not to mention that the rest of the team’s attention is split between the Master Mold, the Siege Perilous and the incoming Reavers invasion.
Jubilee hides while the X-Men retreat from the Reavers. Unfortunately, Wolverine returns to the base not knowing what’s happening and he takes the full brunt of a surprise attack. The Reavers crucify Wolverine and spend their days torturing him. Jubilee can’t help, but to help Wolverine as she keeps hearing his screams from her hiding place. During a break in torture sessions, Jubilee cuts Wolverine down and sneaks him back to a safe spot for help. While Lady Deathstrike (Spiral created samurai cyborg) spots them and lets a wounded Wolverine go, the other Reavers drive them from their hiding place and sends the duo on the run to Madripoor.
Many readers first dismissed Jubilee as a sidekick for Wolverine. Well, Wolverine would go on to prove that he had a knack for attracting young girls to hang out with him. It’s like he was the Doctor Who of Canadian adventurers. Jubilee’s early days were spent as Wolverine’s student. Wolverine had believed that the Reavers had killed the X-Men and he was going to piece together a new team to take the fight back to them. After leaving Madripoor, Wolverine and Jubilee stumbled upon Psylocke’s transformation in Hong Kong. After fighting off the Mandarin, Mat’suo and The Hand; Wolverine learned how powerful Jubilee might be when put to the test. Cut to a year or two of storylines where we see Jubilee fight it out among some of the biggest X-Villains.
But, everyone still remembers her as the whiny kid in the bright yellow trenchcoat from the FOX cartoon. Time carries on and eventually Wolverine leaves the X-Men after having the metal yanked out of his bones by Magneto. Jubilee begins to feel abandoned and the X-Folk decide its time to have another team of young mutants. That’s when we meet Generation X. After all, why not start a new team of mutants and leave them with the Irish guy who didn’t even know he had a kid until she was a teenager (Banshee). If that’s not enough, he’ll be assisted by a woman that used to gaslight and torture kids before getting them killed (Emma Frost). The book had a strong start, but eventually it dissolved as the endless march of writers quickly turned to garbage.
Jubilee has been ill-suited as a victim in recent years. During the early part of Chuck Austen’s forgettable run on “Uncanny X-Men”, Austen had Jubilee be crucified alongside several other mutants that the X-writers weren’t using at the moment. What made it worse is that the book was discounted to a quarter to be part of the earliest Free Comic Book Day tie-ins. Skin, Bedlam and a few others died; but Jubilee was spared since she had to only get partially injured to make a lazy anchor to tie Wolverine to the story. Eventually, Jubilee would be one of the victims of M-Day following the events of “House of M”. After losing her powers, Jubilee would struggle and then adopt a tech assisted identity to help fight crime with The New Warriors. But, that didn’t last since it’s the friggin’ New Warriors.
Jubilee did end up growing closer to Kitty Pryde over the death of Illyana Rasputin. While Illyana did get better in a resurrection storyline that has never quite made sense to me, the original death was meant to drive home the point of the Legacy Virus. While some consider it a lazy AIDS metaphor in an era where AIDS awareness was blasted into every facet of the media, it was an attempt to make the mutants vulnerable. If anything, it helped to make Jubilee remember that she’s a kid and not an adventurer like Wolverine. One of my earliest memories of buying comics for myself, was that cover to the issue where Illyana died. All of the other Marvel comics had action covers, but this had Jean Grey and Jubilee bawling against a white background.
Between that issue and the issue where Jubilee tries to teach Professor X to roller blade, we saw the best of what Jubilee could be. An anchor to humanity that didn’t let her powers define her. She was the wise cracking gal who just wanted everyone to lighten up and wear clothes with less pouches. The character works when she builds relationships and not as an action hero to lead a team. It’s important to have characters like that or you end up with a team of people like Forge. Nobody would buy that book. It was the crappiest incarnation of X-Factor.
The Curse of the Vampires storyline and the related fallout tends to irk some people. However, I feel that Marvel has done exciting things with the M-Day depowered Jubilee. It would’ve been too easy to have Jubilee wait out M-Day and get her powers back via Hope Summers. But, having Jubilee get hit by a terrorist Vampire blood bomb and turning into a vampire is insanely cool. Over the last few years, Jubilee learned how to get over a ton of the vampiric limitations and grow as a person. During the recent Brian Wood relaunch of the adjectiveless series, Jubilee has gone from wild teen to victim to the potentially greatest X-Woman ever.
After cleaning up a recent imbroglio with Arkea, Jubilee stumbles upon an orphaned Shogo. Fearing that the kid will go to the orphanages and places she feared as a young girl, Jubilee adopts the baby and decides to raise it as part of the X-Men. Everyone questions her decisions until she meets with Wolverine and explains why this is something she needs right now. Wolverine calms everyone’s fears and Jubilee has turned the situation into a mutant Lone Wolf and Cub if you will. During the recent “Battle of the Atom” crossover, Jubilee learned that one of the future X-Men is her grown up son Shogo. Seeing that her gamble pays off, we get to see an expression on an X-Man’s face that we rarely see…satisfaction.