You come back here right now, and listen to this.
Because it’s a doozy.
Jubilation Lee is an astronaut vampire.
Whoa, when did that happen, right? That’s what we’re gonna talk about today: the (frankly) incredible evolution of how one of the most recognizable sidekicks in comic book history has come into her own kick-ass super-heroine saga.
Jubilee back-springed onto the scene in May 1989, in Uncanny X-men #244, created by X-men alum writers Chris Claremont and Marc Silverstri. Meant to be something of a replacement for Kitty Pryde (who’d been moved to the Excalibur series), she wound up a bit like an audience allusion: Jubilee had the excuse of being the new kid at school to allow for a lot of questions about the X-men. Times were a-changing, and it was a good opportunity to drop some X-knowledge on new readers.
It’s hard to say what original fan reaction was to her; the editors certainly believed in her character, and my generation grew up with her on the wildly popular X-men: The Animated Series. Rumor has it Claremont wasn’t looking to keep her around, but she grew on the demographic like fine truffles and earned her keep, remaining a part of the ensemble cast until X-men #280, September 1991.
Her origin story is a sad one, to the surprise of no one: Jubilee’s parents had her training every morning at six AM, as she was being scouted for the Olympics (vol 2 X-Men #4), before they were killed in a car accident. Her story really begins when she’s living in the Hollywood Mall. She put her powers to work, doing ‘magic shows’ with her fireworks to perform tricks. After nearly being killed by a group of lame mutant hunters (M Squad), she’s rescued by Dazzler, Rogue (controlled by Carol Danvers at this point*), Storm, and Psylocke (X-men #244). She later follows them back to their secret base via a portal, where she stays in hiding for count ‘em, three months. And then they don’t even catch her: she reveals herself to help Logan whose healing factor had gone wonky.
From there, she became a staple character. When X-men vol 2 began in 1991, Jubilee joined the star cast of the X-men’s Blue Squad. Her sidekick status truly began later that year, when she co-starred with Wolverine in Wolverine, #40-75. Perhaps this is the easiest example of why she’s thought of as the ‘kid sister’ type, as Wolverine was constantly trying to protect her from her brash, sometimes obnoxious ways. Of course, the aforementioned cartoon show didn’t help that either.
It’s too bad the previously noted archetypal Jubilee was so prevalent, because the general populace missed out on her starring in Generation X for the entirety of it’s run, #1-75, from 1994 to 2001. Gen X Annual 99, Family Business, comes to mind: Jubilee gets to the bottom of her parents murder, using all of her skills available to her. Her stealth, gymnastics, wit, tactics and leadership lead to her confrontation with Hunter Brawn (the man that called the hit out on her folks). She manages to channel Logan and scare Brawn silly by blowing a hole through his roof, telling him, “I’m going to enjoy the smell of your skin burning.” Of course, he gets arrested and not seared, but damn, girl!
Things got quiet for Jubilee after that. She starred in her own self titled, limited series (Jubilee #1-6) in 2005, but she didn’t make a return to the limelight until House of M: The Day After #1. It’s revealed the poor Jubilee is one of the mutants that were striped of their abilities. The X-men weren’t exactly, uh, nice about it: the powerless were more or less shipped out.
Luckily, that didn’t stop her from fighting mutant crime. She fought anti-mutant registration legislation with her self-started organization, useyourvoice.org, and went on to live at and run a mutant half way home. After Civil War, Jubilee joined the New Warriors, starring from #1-20 as Wondra, Wizard Gauntlet wielding crime fighter. The WG gave her enhanced strength and endurance, allowing her to run with the rest of her super powered crew as their field leader and commander. The whole series (2007-2009) is a rollercoaster of Jubilee dealing with massive paranoia, identity crisis, and extreme anger, and is highly worth the read.
Jubilee returned to center stage in X-men (vol 3) #1 (2010). Xarus, the son of Dracula, concocts a plan to rid the world of the X-men, and he needs Jubilee to do it. He arranges for a vampire with genetically altered blood to walk up to Jubilee in the middle of the day and throw off his robe, essentially suicide bombing, with the trigger of sunlight. The blood hit a few others, but most importantly, it affected Jubilee exactly to plan. The idea is that Logan would come looking for the captured Jubilee (unsure if she’s been turned or not), be changed himself, and from him, turn the rest of the X-men into slavish vampire lackeys.
It almost worked! But once Logan’s healing factor is back on (it’d been suppressed by nanobots injected into him secretly by Dr Nemesis at Cyclops’ behalf, it’s a whole thing), it’s up to him to talk Jubilee down. This whole time, she’d been extremely loyal to Xarus as a vampire, truly believing they were saving the X-men from extinction. Even going so far as to attempt to kill Dracula after he killed Xarus. Ol’ Drac knocked her out and gave her back as a parting gift.
She remained evil, only showing signs of being ‘good’ with doses of Logan’s blood with healing factor (Wolverine and Jubilee #1-4). Like a recovering addict, she still craves human blood and has shown weakness around it. As for now, the evilness is still within her; Jubes is just better equipped to keep it forced down, returning to something of a normal X-man life (they welcomed her back in with her new powers), showing signs of being in control.
Of course, Jubilee wouldn’t be an X-man if her life remained on the level. She becomes a regular character in the X-23 solo series of the same name (2011-2012), and voluntarily gets mixed up in Laura’s struggle. Most recently, she’s starred in the ensemble cast of X-men (vol 4) #1-25, from 2013-2015, where she found a baby and is raising it extremely well (X-men #1). Shogo is her precious pride and joy, and he loves his new mom.Phew! The gal has a lot going on, and will continue to. She’s grown to be a far cry from the bratty sidekick we met twenty-six years ago. Jubilee has gone on a tremendous journey, suffering total upheaval to be where she is today:
A totally badass, astronaut, vampire mama.
Oh, yeah, that astronaut bit? Yeah, she was dealing with the Shi-ar Empire when she was fourteen.
What were you doing at fourteen?
Yeah, that’s what I thought.
*this is a whole nother thing we’re not getting into right now