Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Should Kids Read X-Men?

Disclaimer: This post is by no means saying that the X-Men lines of comics are too offensive or mature for young readers. I just thought the title was eye-catching, and it's abrasive enough that I could use it to get a job at Fox News. I'm assuming there aren't many requirements for one of those positions. Instead, this is something a little bit different - an examination, if you will.

I had an idea while walking away from my local comic store, with All New and Uncanny X-Men in hand (Side note: Immonen's State Bird variant not only looks good, but the story behind it is funny enough to pick it up). A simple question popped into my head: Why the nuts am I reading X-Men?

As a kid, I never really got into The Children of the Atom. Yes, the movies were fun, and just about everyone knows who Wolverine is. Nevertheless, the idea of an entire comic book used as an allegory for racism seemed pretty boring to my young brain (Now, I realize that no kid knows what "allegory" means, but go with it).

Suffrage was more my jam.
However, I've been really into the X-books as of late. I picked up Schism, sampled Wolverine and the X-Men, spent way too much money on Avengers vs. X-Men, and fell in love with Rick Remender's Uncanny X-Force. What happened there? Obviously, the quality of these titles has been incredible in the past couple of years. But after putting some thought into it, I've come to a different conclusion: Maybe I wasn't mature enough to read them as a kid.

Sure, the parallels of mutantkind and racism exist, but so do the connections to equality and persecution in general. As kids, we tend not to notice the hard-boiled hate that some groups have towards others. We stay in our own little worlds, and everything seems pretty hunky dory. Yet, as we grow and mature, the rose-colored glasses (or, for the sake of this post, ruby quartz visors) fall off. We notice, or even feel, the hatred toward people with different races, genders, sexualities, or economic backgrounds than others. This all happens as we approach our teenage years, not unlike Marvel's mutants.

Another connection between us and the X-Men is felt usually by those in high school - the notion that "Magneto (now Cyclops) Was Right." For those not familiar with this concept, it's the driving force behind Erik Lensherr's Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. He proposes that mutants, the next evolution in sentient life (even dubbed "homo superior" by the comics), should rise above humans instead of fighting alongside them. Anyone who's been deemed "different" by the high school elite has probably supported this ideal in one sense or another. They see through the conformity and the bogus popularity contest that is public education, and they should be treated as superior, right? Whoops, my bitterness is showing.

Trust me, high school readers. This is all really important.
I would never say that we should keep kids from dabbling in the X-Men books; they should read what makes them happy, as long as it's appropriate. But I am saying that if they want to appreciate these books for what they have to say after the "snikts" stop and the smoke clears, maybe some growing up is in order.

What are your thoughts on all this? Your comments make me really happy, so I'd love to see some.


  1. You used the wrong "your".

    How happy are my comments making you now?