Turning Jubilee into a vampire was one of the most nonsensical X-Men plot developments of the past 20 years. Vampires were really hot in pop culture because of Twilight, and in 2010, Marvel decided to turn Jubilee into a vampire to capitalize on the trend. Jubilee had already lost her mutant powers thanks to the House Of M event, so this gave her a reason to stick around the superhero team, but, with the exception of a very fun turn in Patsy Walker A.K.A. Hellcat!, most creators failed to make her vampirism a compelling plot point until last year’s Generation X revival. Writer Christina Strain, artist Amilcar Pinna, and colorist Felipe Sobreiro have done right by Jubilation Lee, and in this week’s penultimate issue of the series, they cure the character of her vampirism and restore her firework-shooting mutant abilities.
“Like a ton of kids who grew up in the 90s, my connection with Jubilation Lee began when I started watching the X-Men cartoons,” says Strain. “She’s a scrappy Asian girl that shoots colorful fireworks out of her hands—what wasn’t there to like?! And hey, come to think of it, I grew up to become a scrappy Asian woman who colored rainbow superheroes with my hands, so maybe Jubilee had a more profound effect on me that I realized!”
“I wanted to bring Jubilee’s mutant powers back because I thought it was time,” says Strain. “She’s been a vampire for something like 10 years now, and I think it’s given her a different perspective on who she was as a mutant. So many teen X-Men stories are about kids learning to cope with how their mutations make them different, but in my mind, Jubilee hasn’t been that kid in a long time. To her, the most ‘normal’ version of herself is her mutant self, but that’s something she couldn’t fully learn to appreciate until after she’d been a vampire for a while.”
Generation X had yet to address the events of last year’s The Mighty Thor storyline putting psychic teen bad boy Quentin Quire in the middle of a conflict between intergalactic gods, but this week’s Generation X #86 finally revealed where that fit in this book’s timeline. That Mighty Thor arc ended up containing the key to bringing back Jubilee’s old mutant status, and Quentin Quentin uses his newly obtained Phoenix Shard to heal his teacher when her life is in danger.
“The most important thing to me was to root the plot twist of making Jubilee a mutant again in any sort of emotional storyline,” says Strain. “I didn’t want it to be some super random plot twist that happened because I wanted it, it had to be the surprise result of what a character wanted/needed to happen. So I spent months running re-powering scenarios by some close friends, but it wasn’t until my editor, Darren Shan, reminded me that Quentin had the Phoenix Shard that everything started clicking into place.”
“Quentin’s an angry kid who never properly dealt with the fact that the people he thought were his parents essentially abandoned him at 15. As the parent of an adopted child, Jubilee understands this about Quentin. She knows that because his family hurt him profoundly, he’s never going to admit that he wants another, so she takes it on herself to let him know that she and the rest of the X-Men already see him as family. As soon as I had that, the idea of Quentin completing his arc by sacrificing his Phoenix Shard—a literal piece of himself—to save a member of his chosen family, just made sense to me. It justified the story to me.”
Strain has had the intention of restoring Jubilee’s mutant powers for most of the series, and knowing this end point influenced how she approached the character over the past year. “I knew her vampirism was probably going away so I wanted to highlight it in a few ways before losing it. And that includes the whole idea that Jubilee’s biggest fear was losing control and snacking on [her son] Shogo/her students. Also being a vampire’s been a big part of her life for several years now, but unlike her mutation, it wasn’t something she was born with, so I wanted to highlight how Jubilee’s grown and become comfortable with who she was before the fangs.” The A.V. Club has a first look at the cover for next month’s final issue, on sale February 21, which shows Jubilee back in all her fang-less, pyrotechnic glory.
“I personally would love to see future stories between Jubilee and Shogo, especially as he gets older. As a human raised by mutants, Shogo’s a unique kind of misfit in the X-Universe, and I think that there’s a lot of material to mine there. Does he feel inadequate? Does Jubilee feel responsible for him feeling that way? And how do they navigate those feelings? Who knows, but I hope someone writes it!”
“I’ve never identified with Jubilee more than I do right now,” says Strain. “I’m in my 30s but I still feel like a kid who’s still figuring things out, and I’ve just recently transitioned careers, and we just adopted a toddler. I understand Jubilee’s life now in ways I only could imagine when I was a kid. So having the opportunity to write for her now, at what feels like the best possible time for me to write her, has been insanely cool and rewarding.”