In this column, I will spotlight plotlines by writers that probably weren't a good idea at the time and have only become more problematic in retrospect. I'll try to stick with stuff that's more ill-conceived than flat-out offensive (like racist stereotypes of characters during the 1940s).
Today, based on a suggestion (kind of, he didn't specifically say to use it for this column, but close enough!) from reader DocSpin, we look at the bizarre piece of time-traveling incest from Uncanny X-Men #321.
Legion Quest was a pretty simple storyline. Legion, the powerful mutant son of Charles Xavier and his one-time girlfriend, Gabrielle Heller, was suffering from acute schizophrenia along with multiple personality disorder. He was in a coma for years (presumably because the X-Men writers felt he was so powerful that he was better off kept out of the way) before Mystique woke him (she was trying to kill him because he killed her lover, Destiny, while he was possessed by the Shadow King). His personalities were no longer fractured and he began dedicating his psionic energies for a unique purpose - he wanted to travel through time.
At this point in Marvel history, they still went under the rule of "you can't change the present by going to the past, you just create an alternate time line." The X-Men writers (Fabian Nicieza, Scott Lobdell and Mark Waid) got around that by establishing in Uncanny X-Men #320 that Legion was SO powerful that he had control over special chronal energies...
So he travels back in time to when he was conceived to kill Magneto, since he thinks that will help his father. A group of X-Men travel through time with him. Initially, the journey through time leaves him with amnesia. In X-Men #40, Magneto inadvertently jogged Legion's memory and he remembered who he was.
This brings us to Uncanny X-Men #321, written by Lobdell and Waid and drawn by Ron Garney and Tim Townsend. So Legion comes to his mother, now a young woman in the past and, well, check it out...
Gross. Now check it out, she psychically screams out and Xavier hears it, and when they get there, see what it looks like...
It sure seems like on top of incest, it's incest RAPE, right? While that is crazy, the thing that gets me is that there does not appear to be a story-related reason for it. Was it possibly him trying to become his own father? Perhaps, but if that's the case, it is never explained in the story, as the whole thing ends the following issue, X-Men #41, which is mostly entirely just a big fight between Legion and the young Xavier and Magneto (as well as the time-displaced X-Men).
That issue has a weird bit, too, as it opens with Xavier recovering from an attack suffered between the end of the previous issue and the beginning of this one...
Which doesn't really make sense since Legion was there to HELP his father. So why did he attack him?
That logical leap is a lot less annoying, though, then the whole "introduce an incest rape plot point and then ignore it from that point on."
Anyhow, in the end, Legion ends up accidentally killing his own father (who sacrifices himself to save Magneto) and that leads to the Age of Apocalypse storyline (eventually Bishop manages to go back in time again and stop Legion from killing Xavier).
So, yeah, not a good idea for a plot point.
That's it for this installment! Thanks to DocSpin for the suggestion. If you can think of a good example for this column, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.