Monday, April 8, 2013
My big fat beef about the X-men
While I know that Marvel's X-men was for the longest time it's flagship book, and home to it's most popular (if not overhyped) Mutant anti hero wolvereen, who singlehandedly seemed to inspire the move of comics in the 1990s. But i was never the biggest fan of the X-men. I had several friends who downright fanatical for the book, collecting the spin off titles, and keeping track of every twist and turn. but that wasn't me. I actually preferred the Doom Patrol, which is I will admit a hipster response to the X-men's popularity. But what was it about this book that has had so many damn accolades and been a staple of the comics industry since it's inception in 1963. It comes down to the premise, which I believe to be flawed thanks to a plot hole you can drive a mac truck through. It goes like this.
Marvel was best known for being the more topical of the big two comic companies, with DC taking the role of more iconic. They have simple origins, that have no bearing on the times. Superman is an alien orphan sent to earth like a cosmic moses, and Batman became a vigilante after the murder of his parents. Marvel has more complex origins that reflect their times. Iron Man was captured by communists and forced to make weapons building the first iron man suit to escape the hands of his chinese captors. The Hulk was created after a government military nuclear experiment. This is especially true of the X-men. Their origin is stepped in the history of the civil rights movement. and was meant to be an analogy for race relations complete with Professor X being the Martin Luther King of mutants and Magneto their Malcolm-X. And this is the part that bothers me.
Mutants are the feared and hated social class akin to black people of the 1960s. A super hero version of the Watts riots or Rosa Park's historic refusal to sit in back. why is this a problem? simple. Hate, the kind of hate that caused atrocious acts like segregation or counting African Americans as 3/5ths of a person, yet in the Marvel Universe people can be quite selective in their hate. The hate mutants, yet people who look the same and have just as many bizarre powers can be not just accepted, but loved. Case in point in the first X-men movie, Senator Kelly talks about the mutant threat by talking about a girl out there right now that can walk through walls, with someone like that out there how can any of us be safe? she can creep into our homes, or into military complexes.
THIS is the girl they warn us about Kitty Pryde. She's like 5'2" and maybe 90 pounds sopping wet. but because she was, to quote Lady Gaga, born this way, she is hated and feared.
Yet this gal, who is like 7' tall, and has the same property shredding powers as the monster we call the Hulk. is not a threat. Nope, she's a lawyer, a model, a celebrity even though her powers are far more likely to cause injury and collateral damage. Why? Simple because she got her powers from a blood transfusion with her cousin who is the original Hulk. This is awful convenient and specific hate.
Imagine if real world hate groups like the KKK worked this way. Say they only hate Nigerians (after too many emails from their princes we could almost relate). But no other african culture is treated this way. Thats right, upon finding out that new family that moved in to that farm in the 1960s Hoss and the boys find out right as they were about to burn a cross in their yard and set fire to it, that the Washington family was originally from Kenya so instead they call out the welcome wagon, bring them pies and casseroles, and welcome them with open arms. God if only hate were this rational. Also why wouldn't heroes hide their true identities. Hell if my kid were a mutant in the Marvel Universe I would tell them to hide their powers until about 18 and then make up some BS story about how she got her powers after being bitten by a radioactive hedgehog, or was chosen by the flying spaghetti monster to be the defender of this quadrant of space. Well, that's my two cents anyway.