After spending the past 1 1/2 to 2 years off panel and out of sight as far as I know, Northstar made his return to comics last week in Uncanny X-Men #508, thanks to writer Matt Fraction. The news of his return to the four color world was met by me with figuratively rolling eyes and a hefty amount of cynicism. Jean Paul’s history is amply littered with gaffes and the “best of intentions gone wrong”, at least in my opinion. Once made into an “other dimensional fairy” by editorial fiat, then not; then shouting “I’M GAAAAY!”, to a mini series followed by occasional appearances, but mostly lanquishing in limbo. Chuck Austen used him in his UXM run, starting with a feature story that had some gay readers in orgasms (I was not one of them and good for you if you were one) and then Northstar was quickly saddled with the “unrequited hots” for straight guy Bobby Drake, then killed by Wolverine, resurrected, kidnapped, brainwashed and…who cares? Enough with the continuity porn!
This past Wednesday I picked up the last copy of UXM #508 at G-Mart here in Champaign. Having purposely stayed away for years from all the X related books except for Whedon’s Astonishing and X-Factor I was lost, and that’s to be expected.
In the space of four pages Fraction achieved something unlikely by making me like Northstar! He’s brash and conceited and blunt, in many ways the same as before. But he also appears to be happy and smiling. And will miracles never cease? There seems to be a boyfriend in Jean-Paul’s life! Kudos to Fraction and editorial for finally giving Jean-Paul a viable love interest, and for giving him the personality that in its own ways can stand up to Northstar’s. It’s as nice a way I can think of to mark the character’s 30th anniversary!
Yes, I was lost for most of this issue. Yep, I just became aware of a possible fault in Fraction’s writing by reading some “less telling, more showing” criticisms posted in the Newsarama preview of UXM #509. Despite that, Fraction has me excited to read more about Northstar.