By Joe Glass, Bleeding Cool's Senior Mutant and LGBTQ Correspondent
Now that IvX (Inhumans vs. X-Men) has started in earnest, it means we are most likely going to get post-issue break down interviews over at CBR.
And with the release of IvX#1 we get one such interview with series co-writer Charles Soule. As an avid comics fan and reader, a big fan of Charles Soule in particular, and admittedly, huge X-Men fan (though I have been enjoying the Inhumans books too), I of course read and pored over this interview intensely to get any more tidbits of info and teases I could find.
Then I came across this particular question and answer that left me…well, not so happy, shall we say;
Issue #1 gave us quite a bit of insight into how the X-Men feel and why they're fighting — will we get to see things more from the Inhuman point of view in upcoming issues? And is this a series where readers will have an easy time picking which side they're on?
I hope readers will let the story present its various arguments as it goes, but I know that some people go into these things with their particular fandom already well-established. Jeff and I worked hard to make sure both sides' position could be easily understood. Ultimately, though, I don't care that much about the "sides" element of it, because as I mentioned above, the "IvX" conflict is not an argument about a policy or political ideology.
The issue at the heart of "IvX" is central to both sides. There are ways each could move forward that wouldn't require an actual war – for instance, the Inhumans could work to destroy the remaining cloud, but that would mean their future generations wouldn't really be Inhumans anymore. Likewise, the mutants could undergo gene therapy to excise their X-gene, which would save their lives but take away their powers – or they could retreat to Limbo until a solution was found on Earth. There's no answer here that wouldn't cause a significant cost to one side or the other – or both. The leaders of the X-Men and the Inhumans should probably try to be as rational as possible with their approach here – but by its nature, this is the sort of conflict that people tend to look at very emotionally- and we'll see that in the story.
No. Just no.
Let me explain some personal backstory here: there is a reason that X-Men comics in particular mean such a big deal for me. As a gay teenager coming to terms with his sexuality, these feelings of being different and other and facing adversity as a result of this simple fact of who I am, the X-Men provided a sense of release, of familiarity, of seeing others like me on the page. Of feeling represented.
And X-Men and the mutant concept as a whole works so well as a metaphor for minorities. It's ingrained in the very nature of the concept, even to this day, and is so vitally important to what the X-Men are as characters and what they can be for readers, maybe now more than ever.
So for me, obviously, the touchstone for X-Men/mutants is so close to that of being LGBTQ.
So comments like 'retreat to Limbo until a solution was found' or worse 'mutants could undergo gene therapy to excise the X-gene, which would save their lives but take away their powers' just don't sit right with me.
Let's break it down using the metaphor as it has always worked for me: it's like saying that to avoid adversity or death for being LGBTQ, someone could go through conversion therapy to save them from it, but become straight in the process.
Now, do not think that I am suggesting Soule is homophobic or this was calculated; no, rather I think this is a bad choice of analogy/words thrown out absentmindedly in an interview. A mishandling or misunderstanding of the power of the concept of mutants/X-Men that is not uncommon actually.
After all, the concept is often getting lost a lot lately what with all the extinction threats.
It also seems to contradict what his series co-writer, Jeff Lemire, has said previously too, in one of the few interviews I can find where Lemire is has also talked about IvX,
X-Men stories have always been very allegorical and very symbolic for real world events. I think there is a permeating sense of fear and mistrust that is driving a lot of world events at the moment, and a lot of hatred and violence. So it's not hard to see the mutant/Inhuman conflict as a metaphor for much of what's going on around us.
I can see how Lemire's ideas permeate the story, as each side mistrusts the other. But this comment seems more in line with my thoughts on the nature of the X-Men as a concept and fly in the face of Soule's more recent comments suggesting the series is less about ideological or allegorical conflicts, and more a straight up battle of hero groups for survival.
On a lesser note, there's a smaller problem with the comment about the Inhumans options too, as whether they go through Terrigenesis or not, they are still Inhuman. Terrigenesis is an almost holy rite for Inhumans, true, and that alone adds a complexity to the notion of them helping remove the Terrigen cloud, but it is not what MAKES them Inhuman. After all, Karnak is an Inhuman but he has never undergone Terrigenesis.
That is why, for what we know so far, there is a fundamental imbalance between the two warring groups in IvX: for one group it means literal life or death, for the other, it means sacrificing a tradition and superpowers, but they would go on.
Of course, since the very time of the Inhumans increased presence and part within the Marvel Universe, there have been suggestions that there is something else coming, a threat that only Black Bolt and maybe a handful of others know about, plus the mystery still of the Skyspears, so perhaps there is more to the Inhumans reluctance to be rid of the mists too. Maybe we will learn more about that side of things in IvX, I certainly hope so.
Ultimately, the story itself is going in the right direction at least: because if I was ever told my options were to remove a part of me or run away, you can bet I'd be standing my ground and fighting.
Joe Glass is a Bleeding Cool contributor and comics creator. He's the creator and writer of LGBTQ superhero team comic, The Pride, which is available of ComiXology and the online store. He's also the co-writer of Welsh horror comedy, Stiffs, also available on ComiXology and an online store.