The current political climate of the United States (as well as the rest of the world) is an exhausting landscape filled with vitriol, fear mongering, and hyperbolic rhetoric. Comic books and other pop culture media are often seen as an escape from all the noise that fills the 24 hour news cycle, which is sort of ironic. Often times, fiction is at its best when used as an allegorical device to comment on real world struggles and social issues. The most poignant works are the ones that raise the mirror up to the audience’s face and challenges them or, at the very least, asks them to look at a current situation under a different light.
In recent years, there has been a schism among comic book fans regarding how much political allegory should permeate the medium. Fans on one side of the debate believe that artists’ personal politics should be completely devoid in their work, which, honestly, is kind of a tall order. After all, politics and art go hand in hand, especially in comic books. One of the more daring releases from Marvel Comics as of late in addressing topical issues has been one designed not to stir up more vitriol but to potentially quell it.
Tom Taylor and Mahmund Asrar’s X-Men Red is arguably the best of the trio of primary color (gold is close enough to yellow, you guys) X-Men books. While X-Men Blue has been a fun stroll through classic age X-Men tropes, and X-Men Gold has harkened back to the madcap adventures of Chris Claremont’s Uncanny era and beyond, Red has dived back into the politics that made the X-Men socially relevant: discrimination.
Despite all the giant robots, pet dragons, and intergalactic entities, The X-Men were built to be an allegory for the disenfranchised and the misunderstood. And now, with the somewhat recently resurrected Jean Grey, the comics have a figure head to rest their aspirations for peace upon without all the baggage former X-Men leaders have carried.
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