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When I was a kid, my favorite comic book series was, undoubtedly, X-Men. Thanks to a fairly decent cartoon and an accompanying toy line, X-Men was, at the time, the biggest comic book on the market. This was the early 90s, and Marvel had just launched their adjectiveless X-Men comic. Life for fans of Marvel’s Merry Mutants was good.
I honestly don’t know what it was that attracted me to the X-Men. I think it was because they were different. I know, that gets said a lot. The X-Men are, after all, fairly allegorical for the civil rights movement and the fight for inclusion of every race, gender, orientation, and creed. I was a fat kid (my mom doesn’t say fat – like the pants sizes back then, she says I was “husky”) with funny hair, a brain a couple of sizes too big, and a black hole where my athletic talent should have been. A lot of people would say that’s why I liked the X-Men. Because I felt like I didn’t fit in with anyone else, and they were treated as outcasts. Except I totally felt like I fit in, and had plenty of friends, so all you armchair psychologists out there can back off.
I like to think I was a fan not because I felt alienated, but because I had no idea who I wanted to be. The X-Men, unlike the solo titles like Spiderman, offered me a plethora of choices for personalities.
On any given day, during playtime and recess, I could slip on a new character. Was it a rough and tough kind of day? That’s what Wolverine was for. Out having fun and climbing hills? Nightcrawler was my guy. I don’t think I ever found a practical application for Iceman.
It was this diversity that kept me coming back. The team had an awesome leader, a strong guy, a genius, a charming thief, and people from all walks of life. I fell in love with the cast of characters instantly, and I was a dedicated reader from 1991 until 2006. I learned the name of every mutant and every backstory, the details of every saga, and the connections between all the different events and characters. And this was all before the internet was a thing, so you know it took some time and allowance money to accrue that much information.
I’ve tried to read the X-Men lately, but it just isn’t the same. They’re no longer fighting for a world that hates and fears them. They’re isolationists, determined to stay removed from the problems of regular humans. They’re not fun anymore – the whole team roster is basically filled with assholes and control freaks. Sure, there’s some good stuff happening over in Wolverine and the X-Men, but it’s mostly a character-building title, not really an action book.
My point is, it seems like the things that made the X-Men the X-Men are all gone. One after another, I watched the team fall apart and try to rebuild itself, each time with a new direction and attitude. Where the book used to be an allegory for teenage rebellion and alienation, now it seems to be acting like a teenager: it’s moody, angry, and not all that entertaining.
I dunno. Maybe I’m reading too much into all of this. It’s just a comic book, after all. But it’s a comic book I grew up with, and I can’t help but feel that the changes occurring in the title in recent years is indicative of a larger problem in the American comic book industry. But that’s a post for another time. Right now, I think it’s safe to say that I just miss the X-Men of my youth. I miss the fun we used to have, and I miss what they used to stand for. I hope someone at Marvel wakes up and sees what they’ve been missing.
Sorry about that personal rant. It’s been on my mind for awhile, and, since it’s comic-related, I thought I’d share with you. I took the day off yesterday, and I’m starting the new job today, but I’ll be back tomorrow with more fun stuff. See you then!