At some point one’s comic reading career (yes, career), you’ve probably picked up and read about the X-Men. I say read about, rather than read an X-Men comic because the mythos is so large it’s nearly a brand as much as Icon and Marvel Knights. When I say that thinly veiled metaphors for the isolation and confusion of adolescence wrapped in a candy coating of super-powers and mystique make money, well. Just ask a standard issue 14-year old girl if Edward can beat up Jacob. We can’t escape multiple X-Books and hordes of characters, big sprawling epics with casts of thousands and the future of our own humanity at stake.
This is a stage that has been set for years, each generation getting their own X in some new form of social unity. The X-Men have bonded together as students, as friends, as family, as instructors, even as a corporation for a time. With each change, we the reader have been invited in as part of that group dynamic through writers and stories they tell (okay, maybe we didn’t want to be part of a corporation so much).
As of Uncanny X-Men #500, it looked like the next form the X-Men would take would be X-Towspeople. Moving the show to San Fransisco was a stroke of genius on so many levels I don’t even have to go into half of them. The change of scenery and motivation was unique enough to be a blessed breath of fresh air on a sadly stagnant and overcomplicated title. Let’s face it, we can’t all be Grant Morrison and by the time the Xavier Institute had become an internment camp for registered mutants, it’s really time for change. And San Fransisco is a vibrant, unique and unified community, which fits our merry mutants to a T. Or… X. Whatever.
So I ask you now, Gentle Reader: Where is the love?
(WARNING: Mild spoilers for Nation X and Uncanny X-Men #518 but I wouldn’t worry too much about Darth Vader being Luke Skywalker’s dad — oh.)
Then we moved to a former fortress/island after federal government interference. Then our (fearless) leader started admitting that he’s totally making this up as he goes along. Most recently, we lost our telepathic network (yeah, I know Xavier and Psylocke were standing right there), a hallmark of the X-Men Experience. It’s no mistake that their leadership has been one of the greatest minds on the planet before recent events, as I’m pretty sure leading this many diverse and complicated people is like herding cats. And now, their leadership apparently missed the story of the Tar Baby and is going to be out of the picture for an issue at the very least.
Where is the love, people? Some of the last of the red hot idealists, Beast in Uncanny X-Men has created his own team, just to gain some familiarity and now even that’s not enough. Nation X #1 had Iceman and Nightcrawler losing a little of their hope to the sad realization that they’ve been tricked into the Magneto side of thinking after all. That living in harmony with humans comes second to keeping your head above water. What a wonderful world.
Joe Quesada was right on this week’s “Cup O’ Joe”: The X-Men’s core metaphor has been perfect from day one, no reinvention needed. But while the minority aspect has returned in theme and story, there’s something even more crucial missing: a sense of unity through adversity. The world can fear and hate you, but as long as we have each other, there’s a brighter tomorrow on the horizon. Yeah, really hippie ‘peace, love and understanding’ sure, but what’s so funny about that?
One of the selling points on the new direction was that the uniforms are gone, gold and blue teams are gone, it’s now just mutants looking out for one another on their own. Is it so strange that I’m so longing for a sense of identity from mutantkind that I rather miss the yellow spandex? Meetings that weren’t held between the sheets from the world’s most forced relationship? Okay, that last bit is debatable, but the point still stands. If this is a nation, I’m not seeing any national pride. I’m seeing a lot of people wanting to move to Canada.
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