Way of X #4
In which Nightcrawler faces the problem of Cortez.
After reflecting on the last issue, in which a gay couple (one of the very few present in Marvel’s books) was traumatized and torn apart, during Pride month, I’ve come to regret the positive spin I’ve been putting on this series. There is a lot of good stuff here. The art is uniformly amazing, and the humor is top-notch. But there’s more wrong in this garden than a few maligned snakes.
I’m a queer person. I’m very sex positive. I hate bigotry and I try to live in a way that reflects my values. I’m also a Christian. So I’m honestly offended by a lot of the stuff in the last few issues of this book. I’m offended that a queer couple was tortured for the sake of a trap (that failed, so the torture they endured was doubly meaningless) during a month that should be dedicated to celebrating Queerness in all its guises.
As a Christian, I am offended that the Christian this book is being painted as a wishy-washy ass (with no convictions) when that’s got nothing to do with who the character actually is. I’m sick of everyone from Legion to Stacy X to flipping Cortez making assumptions about my faith that are then borne out in the text. Hey, guess what? Most American Catholics (and almost all German Catholics) are pro-choice. We’re certainly damned well pro-mercy.
Si Spurrier has stated that he’s an agnostic. This in itself is not a problem. But if he were a Christian and he was writing a Muslim, or a Buddhist, or any other religion this way it wouldn’t strike any thinking person as okay. Stereotypes are always harmful. Always. And it’s easy to fall into stereotyping when you don’t share the perspective you are exploring in your fiction.
Spurrier doesn’t understand what the issues a Christian would have with Krakoa are. So he flubs it. Spurrier is a straight man who doesn’t fully understand the things that queer people are going through, so he writes harmful stereotypes on that front, too.
When it comes to Christianity, I’m not saying that it, as a faith, is right. I think that it is right for me, but I’m emphatically not arguing for Christian supremacy. Christianity is one religion out of many on this planet and it shouldn’t be given any special treatment. Every religion is valuable and every religion is valid. I’m saying that if a writer is depicting a Christian, whose Christianity is central to the actions of the story, it is their duty to know what the faith is about.
In short, this series is asking the wrong questions. For Christians, immortal life is not the point. It should never be the point. Act not out of fear of hell or desire for heaven. The fact that Krakoan society has defeated mortality (at least until the heat death of the universe nullifies all this havering about earthly eternity) doesn’t shove God out of the picture.
In Uncanny X-Men, Nightcrawler had a crisis of faith when he met the Beyonder (a godlike entity) and eventually he came to the conclusion that just because something looks like a god and has the powers of a god, that in itself isn’t enough to overturn his beliefs. Because, as he knows from his experience as a Bavarian guy who looks like a demon, seeming and being are not the same thing.
Chesterton said, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.” Krakoa is the perfect opportunity for a person of my faith, because all of the things that normally stop a Christian from being, well, you know, are gone. They can try it fully. There probably aren’t any Republicans on Krakoa (except, maybe Cortez, and he’s barely tolerated), there’s no rent, no financial or medical difficulties. Nobody but the Five are working themselves to death. They can do the hard work of looking inward and changing themselves. They can make themselves better, morally.
And instead of this, Spurrier has depicted Nightcrawler as stuttering, slutshaming, and behaving like a judgmental idiot at basically every possible opportunity.
Nightcrawler’s interaction with Cortez was a perfect example of the flaws in this writing. It was a forced, toothless interaction that was based on a flawed view of what it means to live out a variety of Christian faith.
Other aspects of this issue, as I said, are wonderful. The exploration of how mythology affects our outlook, how we tell our stories to mitigate and understand our pain, was really well done. Lost is a phenomenal character and I’m so glad that we’re exploring her history.
The art was incredible; layered and nuanced, with an absolutely insane amount of detail. There’s an essential joy to Quinn’s work, an emotive, expressive joie de vivre that infuses each panel with beauty and life. Java Tartagila’s colors add jewel-like beauty and depth to every scene. He’s definitely a person to watch.
It’s interesting to see how the Temple Gate and Arakko’s conquest of Mars will affect what’s coming. Personally, I’m reminded of C.S. Lewis’ Perelandra. Writing about the motivation behind mankind’s (or mutantkind’s) desire to expand to the stars, he writes:
It is the idea that humanity, having now sufficiently corrupted the planet where it arose, must at all costs contrive to seed itself over a larger area: that the vast astronomical distances which are God’s quarantine regulations, must somehow be overcome. This for a start. But beyond this lies the sweet poison of the false infinite—the wild dream that planet after planet, system after system, in the end galaxy after galaxy can be forced to sustain, everywhere and for ever, the sort of life which is contained in the loins of our own species—a dream begotten by the hatred of death.
Lewis’ opinions were unquestionably problematic, in a lot of ways, but sometimes he got it exactly right. In the novel I just quoted, a mad scientist named Dr. Weston seeks to conquer Mars because he believes that by doing so, he can use technology to outrun death. Unfortunately, he didn’t think things through (like the Omegas of Krakoa, when they terraformed Planet Arakko) and some very important facts fell through the cracks.
I’m interested in seeing what the cracks in this story, intentionally written or otherwise, reveal about the state of this fictional nation.
This is a deep, interesting, philosophical work, rife with jokes, adventure, and a few near-fatal flaws.
Way of X #4: To Speak of Myths
- Writing - 7/107/10
- Storyline - 8.5/108.5/10
- Art - 9.5/109.5/10
- Color - 9.5/109.5/10
- Cover Art - 9.5/109.5/10
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