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Week of Cool Comic Book Moments – Warbird Gets the Spotlight

Every day this week will see me feature a brand-new Cool Comic Book Moment. For this week only, I’ll be specifically featuring cool moments that happened in the last couple of years (basically since I last did the Year of Cool Comic Moments). Here is an archive of all the past cool comic moments that I’ve featured so far.

Today we take a look at a great issue of Wolverine and the X-Men, where Jason Aaron, Nick Bradshaw, Walden Wong and Cam Smith look past the events of Avengers vs. X-Men to give a spotlight on the strange life of the Sh’iar warrior known as Warbird.

Wolverine and the X-Men #13 stands out to me in the two different ways that it showed how special Jason Aaron’s run on this title is. Firstly, Aaron shows his ability to take seemingly minor characters and suddenly give them so much depth that they stand out from the pack. Secondly, it showed his skills in being able to tell a strong, done-in-one story in the middle of a crossover, which usually saps all tie-in comics of all of their uniqueness (anyone remember Peter David’s X-Factor issues during X-Cutioner’s Song? There was one issue that featured pretty much no members of X-Factor in it!).

Warbird was introduced early on as the bodyguard for Kid Gladiator, the song of the Shi’ar leader, Gladiator.

Slowly but surely she showed more and more characterization until we got to Wolverine and the X-Men #20. The plot is simple enough – Gladiator has come to Earth to take his son home (and Warbird, as well), since his son has disobeyed his order to return to their home (Gladiator didn’t want his son getting mixed up in a situation involving the world-destroying Phoenix Force).

So in #13, Gladiator ends up trying to take on the Phoenix Five (the five X-Men who became possessed by the Phoenix Force) by himself while ordering Warbird to find his son and also keep him from entering the fray.

In this issue, Aaron gives us Warbird’s origin, of sorts, and it is a real doozy. It opens with this brilliant inversion of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen…

Warbird is a natural born killer (literally, she was born in the slave pits where she gestated in the body of an alien who could not birth Shi’ar, so she killed her first person just being BORN).

We see her in action…

She cannot do it. She frees the boy (although she later notes that he was captured soon after and sent to a worker’s camp. He probably died years ago, but she hopes that he is still out there drawing). However, enough time has passed that…

What a strong profile on a character. Someone who has spent so much time subverting her views that, in effect, the views disappeared (well, I should say became so hidden that they’re not readily apparent). Great work by Aaron. Bradshaw, meanwhile, excels in this issue by adroitly alternating between character-heavy pages and dynamic action-heavy pages.

Does Warbird really leave Earth (and Wolverine and the X-Men)? Pick up Wolverine and the X-Men’s fourth trade paperback and find out!

If you have suggestions for other cool comic moments from the past couple of years, drop me a line at bcronin@comicbookresources.com!


Charles J. Baserap

March 7, 2013 at 12:49 pm

And then Liu took her and proceeded to make her seem like a bigot for one issue, and now some emo nothing…

Once again I am fooled into thinking the post would be about Carol Danvers.

Same here. :/

How does the exposed cleavage help her in combat again?

I’m torn about how I feel regarding X-Men space stories. The original “Phoenix Saga,” where Jean saves the universe is good, as is the” Dark Phoenix Saga” and “E is for Extinction.” Even the “Brood Saga” is great despite the three issue interlude with Dracula and Rgoue and Belasco in the middle. And yes, I have a soft spot for Lobdell’s second-to-last “Uncanny” storyline, “Where No X-Man Has Gone Before.” But there are other space tales that are real stinkers. Like the War Skrulls in the 270s. And the first Phalanx story that introduced Generation X. But Jason Aaron is a writer in his prime and it looks to me like he has a firm handle on this character.

I have no idea what is going on in the greater arc of the plot, but Jason Aaron seems to have skills.

It was an incredible stand-alone story. And for a guy that got famous with a blog post insulting Alan Moore (which he got praise and criticism from his peers over), I still got a kick out of that first page, too.

Wow. I hadnt read this issue but this is powerful to me. It says a lot about Warbird and Jason Aaron.
I would say she spent her life repressing herself. Part of her identity (an important part) was subverted so she could live up to her cultures expectations. She did not want to, but the pull of her culture was too strong so she assimilated to protect herself. She conformed and in so doing subsumed her true self. I see it as analagous to transgender, lesbian, gay, or bisexual people who hide their identity and conform to the dominant culture, all while hiding their secret inside-one they would love to express, but have been shamed into hiding. I also think she represents ‘the other’ that dominant cultures often oppress for unjust and irrational reasons (cf. the discrimination of Black people in the US or the rabid anti-Muslim bigotry from many people who lump the billion plus Muslims of the world together with Islamic extremists).

The tragedy of Warbird is she symbollically represents everything the X-Men stand against: rigid conformity to social standards at the expense of individuality, rejection of ‘the other’ due to hate, fear, or ignorance, and calls for homogenity and conformity rather than appreciating and accepting the diversity of the human experience. So long as our actions do no harm to others-and really, being an artist no more harms another than being bisexual, Muslim, black, or transgender-we all should have the right to express ourselves and live our lives on our own terms. I would say Jason Aaron ‘gets’ the X-Men and why they resonate so powerfully for many people.

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