AvX And Why I’m Team X-Men

Hat tip to the crew on my comic book email list for inspiring this post.

As many of you are aware, Marvel’s latest major company event is here: AvX also known as Avengers vs.X-Men.

Given Marvel’s track record, I expect this story arc to go straight to hell in the second to last issue if not the final installment. Because that’s just how Marvel rolls. The fact is that The House of Ideas does indeed come up with some excellent concepts. However Marvel will consistently sabotage their own stories to maintain the status quo if said storytelling will result in character development or changing the landscape of the universe such as protagonists being unheroic or venturing the universe into unfamiliar territory.

Examples include but not limited to: Hulk being shipped off to another planet by his friends and their ship accidently murdering his wife. And while his comrades had a legit reason for their dubious actions, rather than explore their corruption, it deus ex machina’ed that some random alien sabotaged the ship and thus all the Marvel “heroes” are still good. Scarlet Witch murdering three Avengers and wiping out mutants, only it wasn’t her fault, a bad force made her do it. Tony Stark violating the Civil Rights of metahumans (yes I know that’s a DC term but roll with me here) and minorities only he gets amnesia and doesn’t remember his crimes. To be fair the last one was probably the best play Marvel could’ve made because even now I still can’t look at Stark as anything other than a racist Nazi fascist (read Adam: Legend of the Blue Marvel to see Stark’s racism at play).

The point is Marvel sabotages its great ideas maintain the status quo and maintain one dimensional characters: House of M, Civil War, World War Hulk, Children’s Crusade, Doomwar, etc. and so forth.

So even with Brian Michael Bendis at the helm (whom I’m personally a fan of) I’m expecting the same fail with this event given Marvel’s editorial mandates and their track record.

Moving on.

After reading issue one of AvX, there was an interesting gem that I took note of. Captain America comes to Utopia to take Hope into custody because the Phoenix Force has returned and currently resides within her. Cyclops of course isn’t having it. Hence the confrontation. And in the midst of the confrontation a very powerful truth is revealed:

First of all the Avengers are in no position to pass judgment on what X-Men should and should not do. Let’s not forget that Nazi Stark launched Civil War on the Marvel heroes (yet if he used half of those resources to track down actual villains then vigilantes would be irrelevant) and let’s not forget that Sentry and Scarlet Witch went rogue on the Avengers watch.

I don’t blame Scott for wanting to keep the Phoenix Force as far away from them as possible.

Secondly, as a minority comic book reader, this is something I’ve pondered on for years. As we all know, X-Men is an allegory to the plight of blacks and the Civil Rights movement. With all of the oppression that mutants face, why hasn’t Captain America, the Avengers, the Fantastic Four spoken out or did anything to defend mutant rights?

Scott is right, the only time Avengers or the other superheroes acknowledge the X-Men’s existence is when they want something. POCs, that sound familiar?

Clearly Stark won’t stand for minorities because he’s a racist Nazi fuck as proven in Civil War  but what about the rest of them? Captain America publicly speaking out on behalf of mutants could make an impact. Hell the same could be said for people of color and LGBTQs.

This reminds me of the famous Green Lantern scene penned by Denny O’Neil:

It’s a damn shame that comics in the 70s and 80s for all of their problematic elements were in many respects MORE progressive than 98 percent of the tripe being released today.

But then it begs the bigger question why don’t MORE of our real-life “superheroes” speak out against bigotry and injustice: celebrities, athletes, politicians.

Sure, some can’t because they’re under contracts by networks, record labels, movie studios to keep mum. But what about the A-listers who call their own shots?

“Celebrities aren’t supposed to be political.”

And if we were talking about foreign trade or economic reform, I’d probably agree. But equality for marginalized people shouldn’t be a politic. Me being allowed to serve in the military or marry someone outside my race or marry someone of the same gender is not a politic. Equal rights shouldn’t be political and that SHOULD be something that both liberal and conservative parties not only agree on but fight for. And if they don’t, that should be your first clue right there.

To quote Desmond Tutu, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

And much like the “superheroes” both real and ficticious, their silence on injustice is most deafening.

And when it comes to “Earth’s mightiest heroes” (who are mainly straight and white) who regularly run off to other galaxies to fight intergalactic big bads but don’t lift a finger to alleviate the suffering of their own people on their own planet, as a minority, they just don’t seem all that heroic.

At least not in comparison to the team of minorities who are fighting to protect a world that fears and hates them and survive in it by any means necessary.

20 thoughts on “AvX And Why I’m Team X-Men

  1. This is just an awesome post, Neo. Just awesome. Your point about the GL panels is well-taken – funny that it’s the second time this week I’ve seen those panels used to make a point about -isms in comics.

  2. Gah! The “I don’t want to be political” thing… I am so sick of being referred to as a politic.

    Oh, and I’ve never seen that GL panel before. It really is disappointing to find something more progressive coming out of the past. I’m iffy about the Cyclops/Captain America exchange though. A fucitional straight white male speaking as if he has our non-fictional experiences as POC and queers? Bleh. Well, I am generally iffy about the X-Men this way: having our struggles co-opted into a narrative primarily about straight white people with superpowers.

    Great post though.

    • I feel like that too, because it’s seems that it’s almost the straight white people duty to point out racism. I mean the scene would be better if it was Storm telling that to Captian America.

    • I feel you on that. I think for me personally I give X-Men a pass to an extent and here’s why. I was cool with an all-white team of superheroes serving as an allegory to the Civil Rights movement back in the 60s because had it been too obvious back then, X-Men would’ve been DOA and would’ve remained DOA. So Cyclops representing marginalized rights, I’m okay with to an extent because there’s real life historical precedent, if that makes any sense. And let’s keep it 100, sometimes straight white folks don’t listen unless it’s coming from straight white folks.

      That being said, there’s no reason why there aren’t more POCs and LGBTQs on the X-Men roster and the all-white straight teams that had been running rampant in 2012 was unforgivable.

      • That’s true, Reminds me of what Samuel Jackson said in A time to kill about that white lawyer defending him. “You talk (and look) like them”

        “That being said, there’s no reason why there aren’t more POCs and LGBTQs on the X-Men roster and the all-white straight teams that had been running rampant in 2012 was unforgivable.”

        Well I do belive that the reason why the is rampant because Mainstream belives that divsersity is too old school. (Which is a crock)

        • “Well I do belive that the reason why the is rampant because Mainstream belives that divsersity is too old school.”

          And really funny considering how nostalgia is in right now.

            • Oh I do remember the 90s. I remember starting to feel insecure about my race some time after the turn of the century (I was still at an impressionable age). Now we’re being to Asians being too Asian to play heroes from Asian cultures. Yes, I’m never letting Last Samurai, Forbidden Kingdom, and Last Airbender go.

      • Maybe that’s it. On one side, we have a panel from 2012 where a straight white man is speaking about our concerns as if it were his own. On the other, we have something from the 70s/80s in which a black person calls out a supposed paragon of justice for not doing taking the fight to where it really matters. I would give it a pass if this were back then but in a time when we’re told society has become more enlightened? No excuse.

  3. Neo, I will second the awesomeness of the post. When I saw that panel of AvX, I had many of the same things come to mind, and to be reminded of the Green Lantern panel… To see this well crafted post (as always) was what I needed this morning. I don’t comment…well, ever, but I had to send you a thank you!

  4. > With all of the oppression that mutants face, why hasn’t Captain America, the Avengers, the Fantastic Four spoken out or did anything to defend mutant rights?

    Because it’s how comics work. There are weird-looking heroes (with mutation-induced powers, too!) who are NOT persecuted on the basis of their appearance or power source, and there are X-Gene carriers who are – in the same setting. This is done purely for cash-grab reasons to maximize brand awareness and crossover potential.

    Black people look “weird”. Gay people act “weird”. This is observable, something assholes can latch on to act like assholes. In fact, bigots don’t give a damn about science, including genetics. They don’t care that white people are genetically closer to apes than black people, or that blue eyes originate in Syria (or that Arabs are white people for that matter); they think that homosexuality is something that can be “cured” or “prayed away”.

    The Hulk is a mutant. The Fantastic Four are mutants. Having “good mutants” and “icky mutants” in a single universe assumes that, apparently, scientists said that an X-gene is a no-no but space radiation / Merlin’s blessing / wtf tectonic powers are okay. That’s bullshit. Scientists are a force for progress and equality – it’s politicians that believe in a “cure for virus”, drawing support from an uneducated populace.

    So the correct answer to Cyclops’ question is, “Because the writers can’t run your persecution stories if there are nonpersecuted mutants running around in the open.” Same reason Joker has to be locked in mundane Arkham by Batman, not in a forcecage beyond the observable universe by Superman.

    But the Green Lantern pic is cool.

    • All the more reason why that illogic needs to be called out and given that this same reality works in the real world further proves that this isn’t so much about editorial mandate but blind privilege.

  5. I’ve been following DC more on their issues of diversity than Marvel as of late, and you’ve seen my videos on the matter… what gets me is that DC is, by their actions alone, really hostile to diversity with only token efforts and table scraps thrown out for people.

    Heck, the fact that Archie Comics has come out as more progressive with regards to race and sexuality as of late is proof alone that it’s not sales that matter to the people in charge at Marvel and DC, but plain old privilege where they just want to see more and more white people running around. It’s why Geoff Johns got to keep his series on Green Lantern running without the New 52 reboot interferring in it as well as pushing Hal Jordan as the correct Green Lantern when so many more people remember Jon Stewart.

    And that’s not to let Marvel off the hook either, with Tom Brevort calling an all black Avengers team contrived when I could easily rattle off the names of six or seven POC superheroes that could easily be classified as Avengers, and Marvel is supposed to be better at discussing issues of diversity. Like that panel above there or even X-Men First Class, they’ve always painted themselves as the superhero comic book company that calls out issues of social injustice through metaphore. It may have been clunky as all hell, and I may be looking at it through the rosy tint of nostalgia and what I’ve read in old reprints of ClassiC X-Men, but it was something.

  6. while In normally hate using privileged supernatural stand ins to portray actual persecuted groups (especially when marginalised people are so erased from the media and this genre in particular) I have to say this is spot on and a perfect example.

    Not just about how super heroes in these worlds are always protecting the most privileged – but also for how privileged people often look at marginalised groups in general – we’re there when we’re needed or called upon or cookies need handing out but otherwise tucked away. How we’re supposed to eb grateful for crumbs then ready to stand up when needed (ESPECIALLY by left wing political parties)

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