Five male Karokans meet in Switzerland for a global summit designed to discuss the future of human-mutant relations. The two female characters (out of fifteen) who have speaking roles are old — and therefore also evil. There's a lot of fighting, Magneto quotes Huxley, and Hickman's barely-disguised misogyny is very much on show.
Ok. I feel like the ‘misogyny’ line is going to get me a lot of flack, so I’m just going to lay out a list of my own personal complaints.
- The first thing Hickman did when he took over The Inhumans was humiliate Medusa by giving Black Bolt a harem. A. Harem.
- He slutshamed one of his ‘favourite’ characters. True, he did it through the voice of a (elderly, female) villain, but he still gleefully described Emma as a hoe.
- He wrote Jean as a weak little girl (try harder, Marvel Girl) absolutely lacking in agency. Moreover, he’s reissued Jean’s adolescent code-name.
- THEN he wrote her as a housewife and mother — ‘Yes, Dear’, and honest to God rubber gloves very much included.
- He gave Mystique (one of Marvel’s biggest badasses) an unbelievably stupid death — she snuck into an enemy base in her own form and got sucked out of an air lock.
- Out of a council of twelve, there are four female members. Two of which he had Xavier describe as ‘his children’ asserting their compliance to his hierarchy.
- Magik is the ONLY female captain — and right now, she’s in space.
- Rachel has had dialogue twice and during that time she’s both taken back her father’s name and been written as a bitchy teenager.
- The major villains of the series, so far, are elderly women. This seems to be progressive on the surface, but depicting powerful women as ugly, ancient, evil, and penis-wilting is an old misogynistic trope.
- In this issue, in which mutants claim to have learned humanity’s lessons and surpassed them, only two (postmenopausal and therefore, by his reasoning, both sexually undesirable and evil) women have speaking roles and NONE of the female Karokans are given agency or representation.
I’m going to be honest with you. I groaned when the preview for this issue came out and I saw five male faces in the cast list. My worst suspicions were confirmed when I read the rest. Marvel needs to do better.
This criticism doesn’t detract from the fact that this issue also brings us some of the best writing of the series thus far. It takes a strong writer to make a dinner, populated by talking heads, palatable to readers of this genre and Hickman has absolutely managed it. All of the characters who did speak were given truly excellent lines and this story served, in a major way, to drive the plot forward.
Yu’s art was absolutely wonderful — even if it is medically impossible to remove a person’s arm in quite that way without the shock and blood loss killing them. Yu has a knack for faces and expressions and that was brought into the forefront, here. Xavier’s close-ups were especially effective.
But there are structural issues (largely caused by the writer’s and editor’s hopefully unconscious biases) which cannot be ignored. And I’m sick of these issues being dismissed as blips, as linguistic slip ups, instead of features.
Dinner is served! Your main courses are fine art, an excellent plot, and a heaping side-order of unexamined misogyny.
X-Men #4: Meat and Two Veg
- Writing - 6/106/10
- Storyline - 7/107/10
- Art - 8.5/108.5/10
- Color - 8/108/10
- Cover Art - 7.5/107.5/10