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X-Men: Fairy Tales #1

Posted: Monday, May 22, 2006
By: Diana Kingston



Writer: C.B. Cebulski
Artist: Sana Takeda

Publisher: Marvel Comics


Hmm. I honestly don't know what to make of this one.

The inspiration for this, at least according to Marvel, is "Kitty's Fairy Tale", an old issue of Claremont's Uncanny X-Men. In that story, Kitty Pryde spins a fairy tale for Illyana Rasputin, with versions of the X-Men as the main characters (Xavier as a wise old wizard, Storm as a genie, Cyclops as a prince under a curse and so on).

Twenty-something years later (and for no apparent reason that I can see), Marvel issues a four-part miniseries retelling classic folk tales such as "The Tortoise and the Eagle", except with thinly disguised X-Men. Which kind of misses the point, because "Kitty's Fairy Tale" wasn't a direct adaptation of any specific story - the idea was to create a "new" fairy tale around the pre-existing character dynamics, rather than shoehorn the mutants into a narrative that's older than they are. So when she portrayed Nightcrawler as an adorable little girl-hungry plush toy, it was funny.

That's not what's happening here. This issue adapts the Japanese tale of Momotaro the Peach Boy, except it's Cyclops with a peach pit in one eye, and you can guess what happens when it's removed. When a nice bald man asks for help, Hitome/Cyclops goes off on a quest to gather some animal friends (a blonde bird, a blue-haired ape and a dog that can control ice) and defeat a master demon who likes to wear red and purple.

I suppose it's somewhat amusing to play "Find The X-Man" with the analogues; can you spot Mystique in the second scene? The problem is that the adaptations don't add anything to the story. The characters in this issue look like the X-Men, and have the X-Men's powers, but there's no other correlation: Angel is afraid to fly? Iceman has trust issues? Magneto's nasty just for the hell of it? Well... so what? The plot retains the simple structure of a folk tale - lessons are learned, the good are rewarded, the evil are punished - so it's not like Cebulski is making some grand metatextual statement here.

X-Men: Fairy Tales does what it says on the tin, so I can't fault Marvel for false advertising. But the results aren't very inspiring either. If I want to read the story of Momotaro, I can just look it up; beyond the questionable merits of retelling some popular legends, this miniseries doesn't seem to offer much more.



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