See what the X-Men would look like as their cool Manga selves

Many of our longest-lasting pop culture characters owe a large part of their success to their malleability, their retention of what makes them special in the face of regular re-invention in forms that run the gamut from the inspired to the totally lame.

The X-Men are of course no X-eption, an attribute that leads us to today's case in point, X-Men Misfits #1 (Del Rey Manga Original, $12.99). Written by Kainaq Telgemeir and Dave Roman, and drawn by Anzu, it presents a manga version of Marvel's mutants so removed from the world of cataclysmic battles for the fate of the world than Professor Xavier can only chuckle paternally when new student Kitty Pryde brings up the word "superhero" in his presence.

This is an X-Men almost entirely concerned with the social politics of Xavier's school, where the Hellfire Club is the clique dominated by all the popular kids, and Kitty's greatest concern is not fighting Magneto (who happens to be one of the "hot" teachers), but deciding among several possible candidates for boyfriend.

There is plenty here to make purists groan. The art and the storyline are inevitably more geared to cuteness than Kirby. Fred J. Dukes, known to long-time X-Men readers as the brutal super-villain known as The Blob, is here just the jolly fat kid. The Beast is, pretty much literally, a living teddy bear. Piotr Rasputin doesn't display his Colossus powers until the very end, and when he does, he looks like Tik-Tok of Oz, instead of the gleaming stainless-steel muscleman we all thought we knew. Kitty herself has a propensity for assuming the dimensions of a Peanuts character, and sometimes cartoon cat-ears, in some of her more infantilized reaction shots. Everybody's hair is spiky and almost everybody's eyes take up about a third of their faces.

These aren't the X-Men this reader grew up with. I, however, am not the target audience. These are the X-Men for the kids, mostly young girls, who would have no particular interest in the X-Men this reader grew up with. They are another facet of the jewel.

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