Hello interweb, Nate here! So, this is something that has been on my mind as of late. Mainly due to the recent news of Disney buying Fox being pretty much confirmed at this point. The X-Men will definitely be part of the MCU in the future. Now despite that news, I’m not going to be talking about my thoughts on it at this time. I already did that back in 2015 (yes, this it really has been that long) and you can read my full thoughts here. Instead, I kinda just want to discuss this particular team in general for a bit. This post will probably be somewhat of a rambly mess because I actually don’t have any clear idea of what I want to talk about as I’m writing this, but here goes nothing!
I’m not sure how many of you guys are aware of this, but the X-Men are my favorite superhero team. That mainly just comes from the concept of the team as a whole. A group of people persecuted by society for something outside their control and all they want to fight for is to be accepted by others. Originally created in the 60’s as a dated metaphor for racism, it has since shifted to more of a metaphor about LGBT rights in recent years. Perhaps I’m biased, but LGBT rights honestly kinda fits the whole mutant concept more in my opinion.
Of course, you guys already know all of this. what you guys might not know is how I personally got introduced to the team in the first place. When I was in high school and just discovering Marvel superheroes for the first time, I found the cartoon series X-Men: Evolution on Marvel Entertainment’s YouTube channel (I’m pretty sure it has since been removed but it was there). I watched that show whenever I was bored because I thought it was really interesting. A school full of kids with superpowers is an interesting concept. Around I believe the third season, I got addicted. That’s when mutants got revealed to the world and everybody started fearing them. Up to that point, I’ve never really seen a show tackle the idea of prejudice in this way before and seeing the effects of being judged for something you can’t control just really got to me. The show did a great job at showing how hurt the X-Men teens felt being marginalized by society and treated unfairly. At the time I first saw that show, I haven’t fully come to terms with my bisexuality yet but later realizing that about myself only made me appreciate the concept even more. Granted, I haven’t actually faced any homophobia personally so I won’t say that it necessarily resonated with my personal experience. But knowing that others have suffered similar scenarios based on a trait I share with them just kinda makes me think. If that makes any sense.
Because of this show, I wanted to see what the comics were like. So when I went to the library, I picked up the first book I could find with “X-Men” slapped on the cover. Which lead me to read New X-Men: Academy X by Nunzio DeFilippis. This was the first comic book series I read to completion and I was HOOKED on it. Even when it changed writers half way through after the tie-in with the House of M storyline happening at the time (which I remember confused the crap out of me since I had no idea what was going on). The first half of the series was written more like a high school drama with superpowered teenagers than an actual superhero book. Which was fine by me because I kinda liked it. The later half of the series I remember taking a much darker turn as it became more superhero-esque. Post-House of M, different teenagers lost their powers, there was a short storyline with Reverend Stryker (which, if you take the mutants equal gays metaphor to heart is actually an even darker story then depicted), something happened with Magyk, it was kind of chaotic. Good chaotic, but still chaotic. I should actually re-read this series when I get the chance now that I think of it. For the most part, it’s not your typical classic X-Men book. It features mostly new characters (well, at the time new…this book is over a decade old) and characters like Cyclops and Emma Frost appear but aren’t major focuses of the series.
After this series, I did decide to read other comics besides X-Men. But of course I’ve already fallen in love with this team so I returned to different writers and different books. Like Joss Whedon’s run on Astonishing X-Men, a little bit of Grant Morrison’s New X-Men (which I really should finish one of these days), and Brian Michael Bendis’s All-New X-Men and Uncanny X-Men series. However, there is one famous run of the team that I’ve only really started reading. And I started reading this run mainly because I felt like I should since I love the X-Men so much. I am of course talking about Christ Claremont’s run starting with Uncanny X-Men #94-279. Yeesh, that’s 185 issues…and I’m only on issue #104! But yeah, Claremont’s run is pretty much considered the defining run of the team so I figured I really should give the book a shot. The only frustrating thing about it is that it’s a comic written in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Which means it’s written very much like a comic from that time period. It is tiring to read and I can only read like a couple issues at a time before I need to take a little break. Blame my short attention span I guess, but modern comics are written much differently than classic comics. I can sit down and read a well-written modern comic for hours, but a comic from the 1960’s to the 1970’s or 1980’s and…oof. Sure, the stories themselves are very well written and are pretty interesting to read if you have the time, but I guess the phrase “show don’t tell” wasn’t really explained to them because these comics are very wordy. Pretty much every character needs to say something in every panel with a narrator to boot. Am I the only one who feels this way? Or is my attention span really just that short?
Now, my favorite X-Men story ever written isn’t even mentioned above. My favorite comic is X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills which is written by Chris Claremont but I don’t believe is part of his original run. It is slightly dated as it was written in 1982, but it really takes a look at prejudiced caused by religious extremism and how easily somebody can spread misinformation and ignorance if they gain a big enough following. Being bisexual and raised in a Christian family, that entire story just sort of resonated with me. Granted, I think mutants were still used largely as a racism metaphor since the story literally starts out with two black kids being killed for being mutants and Kitty Pryde even shouts out the N-word (I know that sounds bad, but in context of the story she was comparing the N-word to the term “mutie” which is a slur in the Marvel U). But still, different people can have different things in art resonate with them and this story just kind of defines why I love the X-Men so much. Honestly, the name of the story doesn’t even make sense considering that the villain is a televangelist and it actually paints religion in a bad light.
So, yeah…that’s my little ramble about the X-Men. Before I leave you, there’s a a YouTube channel called Comic Book Girl 19 who has this series called “Epic History Of X-Men”. They’re little documentaries about the team and I enjoy them so if you want to learn more about the X-Men, check them out! Link here.