The other week, I went to Steel City Con, the Pittsburgh Area’s valiant attempt at a comic con. Lots of vendors, bunch of B- and C-list TV celebs, usually two or three A-listers (last year I got autographs from Shannen Doherty AND Holly Marie Combs!!!), and of course: tons of passionate, weird, lovable pop culture junkies, God love ’em. As I went through through my loot, I realized I had had a gay ol’ time. My two biggest gems? Action figures of Willow and Tara, and All New X-Men #17: aka newly-out Iceman’s first, big (I’m talking full-page panel) gay kiss. This is exceptional, you guys: Iceman has been part of the X-Verse since its very beginnings in 1963, one of the original five X-Men. So how did we get to this place fifty-four years later? It’s the long line of the quirkiest comic team family expanding its inherent diversity. Let’s take a look.
This is the most awesome trailer I’ve seen in ages. I think it’s a pretty safe bet to say that I haven’t been this excited for a strictly X-Men movie in a while now, especially one that has Wolverine as the main character. But this? This is all I have ever wanted in a new X-Men movie, and it sets things up for hopefully diverse X-Men movies in the future.
When used well, allegory is a powerful tool for satire and critique. It can make complex subjects easier to understand, or foreign concepts more relatable. Of course, when used poorly, you end up with mixed messages and weak positions. Worse yet, bad allegory can send the entirely wrong message, and creators should know how to avoid that minefield.
When I was in grad school I had a Biblical Studies instructor who was from Romania. He was a member of the Romanian Orthodox Church, but he seemed to have a great love of Judaism and was an active advocate against anti-Semitism. I remember him sadly telling us how he was sometimes uncomfortable when he went back to Europe to visit family because he claimed that anti-Semitism was once again on the rise. That was three years ago. Now it seems like I can’t go a day without reading about how anti-Semitism is on the rise not just in Europe but in the U.S. as well. And sadly we can see this attitude reflected in our own geek culture. Today I am going to specifically talk about the anti-Semitism in the X-Men/Marvel Movie Universe.
For reasons that should be obvious, Storm is one of my favorite X-Men and favorite Marvel characters besides. However, there is one reason that stands out above all the others: she is unapologetic. Going through Ororo Munroe’s publication history, all the way back to her 1973 origin story, one finds few examples where Storm caves to feeling sorry for any part of her identity. Storm is unapologetically Black, unapologetically African, unapologetically a woman and a leader, and unapologetically powerful.
While she lacks a well-developed rogues’ gallery as an individual, she stands out among the female X-Men as largely not having been portrayed as some kind of embarrassing stereotype. She is not Jean Grey, constantly out of control, shuttled back and forth between men who have no idea how to treat women, and dying every other week. She is not Psylocke, characterized by her crippling identity issues. Beyond other comparisons, she never guilts herself for her childhood trauma, which includes a near-rape and a jet plane crashing into her home and happening to orphan her, by the by, or the pursuant claustrophobia she was left with.
Storm’s entire persona is very Riot Grrrl. She’s here, the elements marshal their infinite might at her command, get used to it. As with the Riot Grrrl movement of the 90s and the female punk and post-punk musicians of the 70s and 80s that preceded it, Storm comes and an ethos of Black female power and expression follow in her wake. What better personification of this than 80s Storm?
December 8th was Pansexual Pride Day and as a proud pansexual myself, I wanted to mark the occasion by talking about pansexuality in geekdom. Except… there isn’t much pansexual representation in geekdom, and I’ve already written about the few characters who have been identified as pansexual. Gay and lesbian characters are still barely represented in all of pop culture, and bisexual and transgender characters rarely, if ever, grace our sphere of geekdom. So while it’s not much of a surprise that other lesser known sexualities are not represented, it’s always nice to dream of a day when more queer characters will exist in our media. Today, I decided to pick five characters that I would love to see come out as pansexual. Just to clarify, these are characters I wish would end up being pansexual. This does not mean that I think they necessarily are pansexual or are presented as pansexual.
Without further ado, here, in no particular order, are five characters I wish were pansexual.
I’ll be up-front: I love superpowers. Sometimes I peruse this article just for funsies. There’s a few shows out there I watched that didn’t have any element of the supernatural or paranormal (Dawson’s Creek always comes to mind), but my very favorites tend to revolve around the superly powered, from Buffy and Charmed to today’s Teen Wolf. I trace my love of these types to early exposure to the world of The X-Men, the original superpowered team, who continue to hold a special place in my heart. Follow me after the jump as I look at some of the intersections of gender and superpowers in the comics of the X-Folk.
In fantasy worlds where the whole population knows magic exists, but only some minority of people are magic users, things tend to go one of two ways. The first is that those with magic use their power to become something of a separate, usually higher, class, like the Aes Sedai in the Wheel of Time series. Even the Avatar universe implies that there’s at least social if not legal inequality between benders and non-benders. The other is that magic is criminalized, because how dare that threatening minority have the same freedoms as regular folk? As a story device, I don’t deny that this is believable; after all, the majority does tend to react with fear and suspicion toward those who are different. However, this concept is often used as an allegorical stand-in for other minorities who have historically been denied human rights, which doesn’t always work out narratively.
Let’s get one thing out of the way right off: just as denizens of the internet had feared, Pietro’s goggles were really awful. Actually, let’s get two things out of the way: although he was referred to as “Peter” throughout the film, the mutant known as Quicksilver is actually named Pietro, and his goggles were really awful. Having said that, however, I was very pleasantly surprised to find that the rest of X-Men: Days of Future Past exceeded my expectations. In spite of all the time travel malarkey, the plot was cohesive, the casting was stellar, and lots of geeks got to geek out about their favorite less-famous mutants.
Spoilers after the jump.