X-Factor and Racism


Have I told you how much I love Peter David’s X-Factor? I don’t believe I have, given I’ve never reviewed the book on here before. Shame on me.

Seems like the best time to do it is now, given all of the racist hooplah ruining the world as of late.

X-Factor

X-Factor #217
Peter David (writer), Emanuela Lupacchino (pencils), Guillermo Ortego (inks), Matt Milla (colours), Cory Petit (letters), David Yardin and Sonia Oback (cover). $2.99

Hunting for a murdered friend of J. Jonah Jameson, the hired X-Factor team splits up into two groups. Longshot, along with Rictor, Shatterstar and Madrox work to unveil the face of the killer at the scene of the crime, while Monet, Banshee and Strong Guy act as Jameson’s bodyguards.

The story quickly pieces itself together, building up to a tremendous finale. With some brilliant dialogue from David, the reader is left to wonder about relations between Longshot and Shatterstar, while worrying how quickly X-Factor can stop the killer.

What stands out for some great reading is the battle of emotions and religion between Monet and a New York audience about both racism and mutantcy. Jameson gets himself into the brawl and puts the protesters in their place with his quick wit. Crafty words are one of David’s greatest highlights with X-Factor and they can always guaranteed you’ll be glued to the page.

I’ve always been fond of Lupacchino’s work as I feel she can generate any facial expression flawlessly. This holds true in the issue with a great moment with Jameson and his bodyguard after being entranced by Banshee’s speech. She’s just a fantastic, unfortunately over-looked artist. At a monumental, if not one of the most important endings in recent X-Factor stories, Lupacchino beautifully crafts what may be a terrible blow to the X-Factor family.

My little beef, if any at all, comes from Black Cat’s almost irrelevant appearance. Admittedly, I can see her purpose for the next issue, but it was so minuscule that it almost seemed unwarranted. I would have rather preferred more dialogue with Monet and the protesters, or hey! even the mystery behind Longshot and Shatterstar! But I guess beggar’s can’t be choosers.

As probably one of the most powerful X-Factor’s yet – for both message and storyline – David and gang make it clear why X-Factor is the best X-book on the market.

Grade: 8/10

One big difference between San Francisco and New York is that there is prejudice in New York towards Muslims for particular reasons. But the reason why I really wanted to write this piece is because of my Twitter. After the earthquake in Japan, trending topics became “Pearl Harbor” and “Katrina.” By all means, both were tragedies. But the problem I saw was few people stating “The earthquake was karma for Pearl Harbor.” I could not believe it.

So I’ll say it right now: in no way do I agree with intolerance. I hate racism and wish it was abolished. But my point is yet to come.

Now I would like you to see Dean Stell’s review of X-Men Legacy #245. This is entirely relevant because there, Dean touches upon something to which I completely agreed on in the comments below:

One of the problems the franchise has suffered from over the last few decades is that as a society, the United States has become MUCH more multicultural and accepting of differences. . . Now, in 2011, a lot of those nasty old bigots are dead, it seems like half of the high school kids I know either are multi-ethnic or are involved in a multi-ethnic relationship and outside of certain religious groups, homosexuality has become a non-issue. This has made our world a better place, but it has taken that cultural relevance away from the X-Men. Nowadays, I just don’t buy the average Joe in an X-Men comic yelling, “Them muties gotta die!”

I read this and realized that in recent years, Mutants have become greatly accepted in their world. The X-Men are heroes in San Francisco, and there seems to be little, if any bigotry. Dean is right – it just doesn’t work anymore. And when it happens, it’s either too forced or seems entirely unnatural.

Then came X-Factor #217, where it does work.

The funny thing (not really) is that it has the problem has always been there, but the X-comics seemed to forget about it. But suddenly in X-Factor, the X-Men social relevance reinforced itself.

A crowd shouts, “Keep the strangers out!” “We don’t need more Muslim terrorists getting in [New York]!” “Yeah! They’re as bad as mutants!”

Monet appears. “Oh, really? I’m a Muslim and a mutant. Care to take it up with me?”

And so the crowd argues with her, saying wherever her type goes, death with happen.

She replies, “Which ‘type’ is that? Mutants or Muslims?” She continues, “Bad enough to be condemned for what you are. Imagine being hated for what you’re not.”

Monet St. Croix

From there, Jameson jumps in and gives the crowd a quick history lesson on America.

But with Monet. Powerful words.

And the thing is, I don’t remember the last time this was a problem with the X-Men. It has always been vague underlying factor – their move to San Francisco; forced to live on Utopia – for sure the X-Men have had their fair share of prejudice against them. But from recent memory, when was it this bad? When was it a mindset of a society, rather than some bad guy wanting to attack mutants?

Currently in Uncanny X-Men, regular humans are paying to become mutants. In X-Men Legacy and New Mutants, there is prejudice against mutants in a futuristic world – but beyond that, they’re all accepted in San Francisco and asked to help out. Sure, mutants have been attacked by Bastion who hated mutants. But it would be harder to compare it to a social mindset. If anything, it was a comparison to how the military is ran or like religious extremists – if any at all.

What I’m trying to say is that in recent comic books, and most importantly in the X-Men books, I have not seen a blatant call-out against racism. Unless I look for it in the Bastion example above, I cannot just name it. For the X-Men to be the “benchmark” of social commentary in terms of acceptance of other people, I find that it has swayed away from it a lot for years. And even when it seemed “bad” post M-Day (people going up to Xaviers School and trying to get rid of the remaining mutants) it was really all fantasy and seemed forced rather than natural.

Now, it feels real. And when it does feel real again, we know there’s a problem.

Kudos to Peter David.

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2 thoughts on “X-Factor and Racism

  1. Pingback: Classic Comic Fridays: X-Men – God Loves, Man Kills | Uncanny Derek Presents

  2. Pingback: Happy Birthday, UncannyDerek.com! | Uncanny Derek Presents

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