Events in the pages of comic books can be scary. I’m not talking about alien invasions, horror stories, or a Hulk-sized arch-nemesis stomping through a city. Sure. Some of those stories have woken me up in the middle of the night in sweats, but stories about hate and prejudice really get to me. They chill me. They creep inside my skin and make me feel scared. Humans filled with hate are capable of and commit horrible evils in the name of it. They get to me because they happen in real life, not just in the pages of our favorite fictional stories.
Books like Days of Future Past and God Loves, Man Kills especially punched me in the gut because of current happenings in Astonishing X-Men: Northstar just proposed to long-time partner Kyle Jinadu. A loud minority is speaking out with nothing but insidious unacceptance.
In Days of Future Past, Senator Kelly’s concerns about mutants lead to them being slaughtered across the world and then ostracized. Mutants were treated with unbelievable cruelty by humans. It even gets to a point in the future where everyone is labeled with a letter. Even those with the genetic potential to become a mutant are forbidden from breeding.
God Loves, Man Kills tells the story of Reverend Stryker. He felt nothing but disdain and hatred for mutants and plotted to turn the public against them. He started with faking the deaths of Professor X, Cyclops, and Storm. Then he attempts mutant genocide.
It only takes one major event backed by rising discontent and unreasonable people to start the domino reaction in Days of Future Past. Kitty Pryde is able to trace the beginning of the mutants’ unseemly fate to one hearing. Senator Kelly invites Moira MacTaggert and Charles Xavier to discuss genetics and mutants in front of the Senate. The Evil Brotherhood of Mutants murder him as well as Moira and Charles. Thirty years later, that action leads to mutants being held in camps. They have no privileges.
Kitty and the remaining survivors of the X-Men believed that one point in time could change everything. The attempt to prevent the development of the robot sentinels (that eventually keep the mutants in camps and want to take over the world) was ultimately unsuccessful. Still, they had to try. For each event like the holocaust or any given war, there’s probably a similar stopping place where the tide could turn either way.
We could be approaching that now. A group called One Million Moms is naming Northstar’s proposal and the upcoming marriage as a “current issue.” Something they must rally against in the name of families. They are recommending that people boycott and write Marvel expressing dismay. More than one reverend of name-your-church over the past two years has stated that all gay people should be killed. Seriously. It seems like something right out of the pages of a comic book, but no. It doesn’t happen on an alternate Earth; it happens on ours.
Sure, the majority of people don’t agree with groups or pastors like these. At least I don’t think so. It doesn’t matter though. It only takes a very small number to fan flames and incite already disgruntled masses to action. To feel like you’re on the precipice of a time like that for such a silly reason – because people of the same sex want to marry – is scary. Just as scary as Reverend Stryker and Senator Kelly. When you look at the interment camps in Days of Future Past, it should hit you like a slap in the face. You should remember that such events are in our recent history – within the last 80 years – and that it could happen again.
Kudos to X-Men for being topical, for showing us the horrors that hate leads to, and for reminding us be accepting of all.
And if you’re a fan of the series and you’re not pleased with the recent developments, I think this tweet by Ari Marmell says it best: “If you’re an X-Men fan, and the upcoming gay marriage bothers you, may I humbly suggest that you’ve missed the entire point of the series?”