Friday, May 20, 2016

Losing Heart

I'll admit to having a bit of a soft spot when it comes to Marvel's X-Men. Quite like every other gay boy trope, the essential setup of the much feared mutant abominations hiding clandestinely amongst the rest of a nearly oblivious mankind naturally spoke to me.

Insufferable students? Angsty teenagers? Crappy midterms? Universally reviled for their secret selves? All seemed highly applicable way back when I was a closeted adolescent teen trying to keep relatively inconspicuous in the unforgiving midst of hundreds of rabid straight jocks ready to pounce on the peculiar freaks in an all boys' school.

Why, if only I had telepathic powers to hide my presence from them! Perhaps even influence them for the better; volunteering their time on weekends to repair broken school furniture?

And if possible, have the lithe school athletes do a seductive group striptease in the quad just for me. Maybe some extra co-curriculum time behind the church organ at the school chapel. Well, hey I was a horny teenage boy after all.

Still the X-Men managed to provide a safe refuge from the oppressive reality of high school where a at least there a persecuted minority could finally seek solace in each other under the relative protection of Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters. Relative since the school on Graymalkin Lane always seemed just a hair's breadth from complete decimation every other issue.

But in between demonic villains, crazed geneticists and intergalactic aliens bent on wiping them off the map, the merry mutants still managed to have time for fun. So there were campouts, barbecues, date nights - even the occasional baseball game. Heck, one memorable issue had the new mutants breaking rules just to smuggle in gourmet burgers at midnight. Different from many of the other comic books around then, they were after all, at the heart of it, a family of fearsome freaks.

You believed it when one character claimed kinship and brotherhood to another because they spent literally dozens of issues just to get there. There are even single issues dedicated solely to the soul searching of one particular character. Even their relatively obscure spin off teams such as X-Factor and Excalibur had a strong bond of familial ties tying outwardly dissimilar characters together.

Sadly that was all in the past.

Future's not looking too bright for their counterparts in the books. 

Lately - well at least in the comic book world - it does seem as if the X-Men has been losing heart. From a seemingly solid institution with highly experienced teachers dedicated to helping gifted youngsters, the band of misfits these days seem to have spun off in dozens of disparate directions, most of which spell terrible disaster and extinction from powerful whispers of 'No More Mutants' to sterilizing terrigen clouds. Even worse, most days we don't even care much for any of the new ciphers since they all seem vaguely interchangeable with very little in term of personality, powers or history.

When it comes to such a popular comic book franchise, many obvious conspiracy theories abound of course from surprising editorial misadventures to the more shady business dealings. A tragic end for the students of Xavier who battled mistrust, misjudgement and misapprehension only to perish under the mistakes of a prejudiced pen.

Guess you really can never go home again.

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