Now, I can say that I am not the type of person who is averse to change. Oh, I’ll have my opinion about any changes that come into my life, but I’m not the type of person who is upset with a simple change. Especially when it comes to comics. I understand that certain things must, and should, change if we are ever to move forward. But there are some things I have a problem with, in comics or otherwise.
Have you ever read a series of books with several main characters you love and then all of a sudden a new book in that series is introduced, but it’s with entirely new characters that you never met before and know nothing about? Yeah, I hate that. Even if the book is good, I have such a tough time getting into it because the whole time I’m just wondering who these new fuckers are and where the hell my old characters are. Well, that’s kind of how I’m feeling right now about the Runaways comics.
Lal: “I am gender neuter. Inadequate.”
Data: “That is why you must choose a gender, Lal, to complete your appearance.”
Oh, Star Trek, you are one of those shows that consistently disappoints me. This conversation from Star Trek: The Next Generation perfectly illustrates how our society tends to view gender in a strict gender binary. In the episode “The Offspring”, the robot Data creates his own android progeny named Lal. He decides to create Lal gender neutral, so that Lal can choose what gender to be. It seemed like a great idea, but it quickly turned problematic when Lal declared gender neutrality “inadequate” before promptly choosing a female gender. For people who don’t fit the gender binary, this statement is wildly offensive. The message seems to be if you aren’t male or female then you are… inadequate. How fucked up is that?!
Xavin has quite possibly become one of my favorite characters ever. She appears in the Runaway comics, as the character Karolina’s betrothed. As a Super-Skrull in training—well, as a Skrull—she can shapeshift. During her initial appearance when she approaches Karolina to tell her about the arranged marriage, Xavin first takes the form of a human male, thinking that will be appeasing to Karolina; however, after Karolina hesitantly admits that “[she] like[s] girls”—much to the shock of her friends—Xavin thinks nothing of transforming into a young woman.
Xavin completes this transformation while stating:
Karolina, Skrulls are shapeshifters. For us, changing our gender is no different than changing hair color.
Xavin’s character has quite understandably raised some very significant questions when it comes to gender identity, and Xavin has a habit of switching between male and female forms depending on what situation she finds herself in. Notably, in Karolina’s presence, unless needed otherwise, she does choose to be a woman.