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.
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.