Funnybook Babylon

August 12, 2015

Marvel’s Mutant Metaphor Massacre

Filed under: Articles — Tags: , , — Chris Eckert @ 10:40 pm

So here’s something that comes up in Team Comics conversations every few months and I never get around to putting in writing:

Mutantkind as a demographic group is a terrible analogue for any real world demographic group and people should probably stop doing it.

mutant-registration-act-of-1987

I have no idea if Stan Lee or Jack Kirby had the Civil Rights Movement on their minds in 1963 when they created the X-Men — it certainly doesn’t peek through much in the text if they did — but it’s undeniable that for four decades writers have mined that vein, and it’s resonated with a ton of readers. Individuals who are feared and hated for what they are, the search for safe spaces to “be themselves”, the path to taking pride in their identity, drastic measures taken to hide or “cure” their differences, it’s completely understandable why so many people of so many stripes saw themselves in these stories. If those stories helped anyone grow as self-actualized individuals that’s fantastic and I don’t want to take that away from any human past, present, or future.

This was all well and good back in the 1970s when writers were able to tackle racism, homophobia, religious persecution, etc. in coded terms, flying under the radar of the Comics Code Authority. But it’s not the 1970s anymore and Marvel can (and should) just go ahead and tackle those issues directly. If the creative staff at Marvel isn’t sure they can handle these topics using real people and cultures properly, go ahead and find some people who can.
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