Yeah, I know this column is usually out on Mondays, but did you really expect me to work on Labor Day, you capitalist scum?! Anyway, just two X-books in stores last week: New Mutants #12 and Wolverine #5. I'll tell you what happened in both of them.
Sworn to sell comics for Marvel executives who feared and hated the fact that Fox owned their movie rights, The Uncanny X-Men suffered great indignities. Still, thanks to a corporate merger, a line-wide relaunch, and Jonathan Hickman's giant ego, the X-Men can finally get back to doing what they do best: being objectively the best franchise in all of comics.
NEW MUTANTS #12
(W) Ed Brisson (A) Marco Failla (CA) Michael Del Mundo
The human world never seems to tire of lashing out at Krakoa. The NEW MUTANTS have their ways of striking back.
In Shops: Sep 02, 2020
New Mutants #12 Recap
This is the after-school special issue, the one that really badly wants to make a "point" about something. And that something is… online media. Yeah, you can imagine that the comic book industry, which has long viewed its own press, whenever it acts in any way other than as an extension of a publisher's marketing arm, as adversarial (really, the industry was ahead of the curve on the whole "press is the enemy of the people" thing), is not all that well suited to tackle an issue like this, but here we are anyway. So New Mutants wants to tackle this issue, and it's been building up to this since the start of the series, with the mutant website "Dox" tracking mutants and posting their home addresses and whereabouts and other personal information, getting mutants killed, because it's much easier to condemn your enemies if they are cartoonishly evil villains rather than dealing with any shades of gray.
The issue starts with soldiers in Nova Roma tracking monsters in the jungle. They are confronted by, and implicitly murdered by, the blond woman who controls the monsters down there. Then we get the title page and Magik and Trinary meet in the tiki bar on Krakoa, where Trinary hands Magik a thumb drive that contains all the information on Dox, the anti-mutant website that has been causing trouble. Trinary points out she could handle all of this electronically, but Magik, like Frank Tieri in a parking lot, wants to take care of things up close and personal.
So Magik, Mirage, and Glob Herman travel to Columbus, Ohio (okay, I'm starting to take this personally now) to raid the Dox offices. In the first indication that comic book creators have no idea how media works, Dox has an actual office with a bunch of people at desks writing their blog articles, as opposed to dozens of poorly-paid freelancers working out of their own homes. The Dox boss, Joseph Canning, is a cartoonish caricature, as expected. Dani rattles off the names of a bunch of mutants harmed by Dox's activities, which Canning dismisses as not his fault. He says all Dox does is report and they can't be held responsible for what people do with that information.
Magick argues that Dox is responsible. Dox provides the bullets, even if they don't fire the gun. Canning says nuh uh. Magik says uh huh. Dani says they aren't shutting Dox down and making them martyrs, but they are adding magical software that will publish the names and addresses of the Dox bloggers whenever they publish names and addresses of mutants. They try to leave, but Canning yells at them. Glob Herman turns around and punches Canning. He threatens to come back and kill Canning if one more mutant is hurt.
In an epilogue, Senator Aquilla (Magma's dad) is the last surviving person in Nova Roma, the rest having been slaughtered by the monsters. Monster Mom wants to know where the X-Men who were here a few issues ago went. Aquilla says he won't talk. So she puts a monster inside of him that will cause him immense pain until he does.
In a second epilogue, Glob Herman dumps a ton of info on his backstory. His parents were abusive, particularly his dad (all comic book heroes must have daddy issues, which I can only presume is because all comic book creators do), and that's why all that Dox stuff upset him so much. Magik tells him it's good to be angry sometimes.
What can you say about New Mutants #12? I knew going in that I was going to have some issues with this comic because of the premise. Yes, obviously Dox, the fictional website in these comics, is evil and is engaging in racism and bigotry and doxing. It's responsible for the deaths of mutants, and Joseph Canning, the fictional character, deserved to get punched in the face and the website deserved to get shut down.
But all of that was as black and white as it was because it was written to be that way. A more interesting story would have been less clear, more morally ambiguous. Why is Canning the way he is? Maybe his own family was harmed by the evil mutant villains that now have asylum on Krakoa? Maybe the website's actions aren't so overtly wrong? But that's not what we got. We got newsroom Hitler seething with anti-mutant hatred and the righteous mutants putting him in his place with their fists and shutting the website down. So what was really accomplished here? The role of journalism and responsibility in reporting is an important issue to talk about, but here it was oversimplified to the point where talking about it is meaningless and it served only to fulfill some kind of revenge fantasy.
And that's what leaves a sour taste in my mouth after reading this issue, and yeah, that's partially because I spent ten years as part of the comics press and witnessed antagonistic and sometimes even violent behavior by industry professionals against journalists and because I see the disdain even today that many creators and especially management have toward any less-than-fawning press coverage, and I can't help but feel like all of this whole storyline is just some kind of cheap catharsis because comic book creators can't handle a negative comic review or are mad about spoilers. Just look at the cover to the issue up at the top — it isn't just Dox getting sliced and diced by Magik's soul sword, after all. Anyway, I'm glad it's over, both this issue and my involvement (aside from this column) with the comics press.
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