ePUB Joseph J. Darowski é X-Men and the Mutant Metaphor Kindle Ì the Mutant é

First appearing in 1963 The Uncanny X Men had a rough start lasting until 1970 when the comic book was canceled due to low sales Following a relaunch in 1975 however it found new popularity thanks to intricate scripting by Chris Claremont and the artwork of John Byrne Within a few years The Uncanny X Men was one of Marvel Comics' best selling series and over the decades it became one of the most successful and popular franchises in comic book history Spin off titles mini series multimedia adaptations and a massively expanded cast of characters followed One of the reasons for the success of X Men is its powerful mutant metaphor which enhances the stories with cultural significance and the exploration of themes such as societal prejudice and discrimination In X Men and the Mutant Metaphor Race and Gender in the Comic Books Joseph J Darowski thoroughly analyzes The Uncanny X Men providing its historical background and dividing the long running series into distinct eras Each chapter examines the creators and general plot lines followed by a closer analysis of the principal characters and key stories The final chapter explores the literal use of race and gender rather than the metaphorical or thematic ways such issues have been addressed This analysis includes insights gained from interviews with several comic book creators and dozens of illustrations from the comic book series Of particular significance are statistics that track the race and gender of every X Men hero villain and supporting character By delving into the historical background of the series and closely examining characters and stories X Men and the Mutant Metaphor illuminates an important popular culture phenomenon

10 thoughts on “X-Men and the Mutant Metaphor

  1. says:

    The idea that Marvel's mutants serve as a vehicle for a metaphor about outsiderhood otherness andor minority status is an old one Comics commentator Peter Sanderson wrote in his introduction to a collection of interviews with X Men creators published in 1981They live apart from the rest of society in their mansion; their contacts with the rest of society seem limited; their powers serve as constant reminders that they are different From one point of view the Beast and Nightcrawler can be said to suffer from deformities A number of the X Men are foreigners who now find themselves living in the United States an alien land Note the explicit parallel drawn between mutants and persecuted minorities in X Men #150 wherein it is revealed that Magneto as a child was an inmate at Auschwitz and that over the years as far as he knows his entire family has been destroyed All of these distinctions reinforce the impression created by the X Men’s identity as mutants The word “mutant” can symbolize for the reader any reason for feeling alienated from society whether it be sex race creed physical appearance special talents that are misunderstood or provoke jealousy or any personal reason The power of the mutant concept makes The X Men uniueBut this does not mean that the metaphor is simple or that it is automatically progressive in itself This book however works from the assumption that the series is at heart about persecution and otherness from the outset which is particularly problematic in the first analytical chapter Darowski explicitly writes that these themes are not present in the early run and somehow curiously manages to fault it for that When the roster is introduced Darowski writes about their white middle classness and describes it as a very WASP ish group to be struggling against prejudice in a minority metaphor 26 This is to say the least a problematic way of looking at X Men comics it regards all of Uncanny X Men as working towards a set goal as always having been about what it is about now By doing this the book misses something that both Julian Darius of Seuart and I Rethinking the Jewish Comics Connection have addressed elsewhere the Cold War origins of the series Back in its early days the series was not a “minority metaphor” These aspects are pretty hard to miss in the early stories so the lack of even an acknowledgment of them is a pretty glaring omission There are also problems with the details and in methodology For example Darowski reproduces the comparison between Martin Luther King Jr and Malcolm X that is often applied to Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's Xavier and Magneto Rather than looking at the comics supposedly being analyzed for support he references Bryan Singer's 2000 X Men film and others who worked on the later X films this under the rubric Close Reading 30 After adding a few examples all of which are taken from outside the actual comics supposedly in focus Darowski concludes that it is clear that a dominant theme in X Men comics is a condemnation of prejudice 32 It is yes; except for when it isn’t The early years of Stan Lee Jack Kirby and Roy Thomas were not indeed several storylines were if anything harshly opposed to minority demands whereas Chris Claremont’s tenure stands out as a particularly engaged era More important they are widely different You cannot project developments from decades later onto something from half a century earlier and then claim to have proven something about the earlier era That's not how history works Moreover just setting out to prove the thesis that X Men comics address prejudice is not interesting especially not since the introductory chapter has already made this claim; you must also ask what that representation entails Sadly Darowski never asks critical uestions Instead he treads a path of almost pure description Each chapter begins with a brief and partial discussion of the context in which the comics were produced and the people who produced them Then comes a capsule presentation of the storylines from the period followed by thumbnail sketches of new characters which are often lacking in substance worst perhaps for a book about minority representation are omissions like any mention of Kitty Pryde's Jewishness or the characterization of Bishop as African American despite his character biography being clear about his Australian genealogy Finally we are given what are labeled close readings but are in essence rambling collections of select examples of ethnoracial and gendered representation that rarely hit their mark The book ends with a chapter of statistics that is supposed to give hard and fast proof for ethnoracial and gendered representation in X Men and to point to how these are skewed toward a white male norm But it is hard to take these numbers seriously when for example they include references to the X Men in their first sixty six issues fighting a Jewish villain; I assume this is supposed to reference Magneto but his later recreation as a Jewish character was then still many decades off When the one and almost a half page conclusion chapter begins it is difficult to not see the opening uestion as rhetorical So what does this analysis add to our understanding of the X Men? Darowski's response is The series does clearly and freuently use the concept of 'mutants' to explore issues of prejudice But in the end it freuently uses white male heroes supported by female character to battle racial and ethnic minorities while employing that metaphor This is not news In fact a guy named Neil Shyminsky published an article about the X Men almost a decade ago that addressed these issues and problematizes the use of mutantcy as a metaphor to boot Add to this the lack of any serious engagement with other scholarly writing on the X Men and a tone that is talky repetitive and fannish and the end result is a book that seems at best half finished and that adds nothing of substance to our understanding of the X Men

  2. says:

    Far too obviously a thesis rather than a book the text needs serious copyediting and content editing It is frustratingly repetitious to readA useful 'dip in' overview for those without an encyclopedic memory of the X Men comics across the years The bibliography is full of relevant sources but nothing earth shatteringly new is revealedThe insights are justified and often well supported from the source material but again are simplistic and obvious Often the text becomes hopelessly muddied why reference Magneto's Jewishness in a discussion of parallels to Malcolm X and MLK if the author is not going to explore an intersection of civil rights discourses??Just an underwhelming effort over all

  3. says:

    The book is a breakdown of the different eras in X Men comics and lists the characters and major story lines There isn't much analysis of the mutant metaphor as the title proposes I would have liked to see of a connection to real world events and the discrimination that minority groups faced