Warning: The following article uses the “M” word, Mr. Deitcher uses the term as a way to express pride as a member of subspecies Homo sapiens superior. Unleash The Fanboy does not wish to offend any individual or group, and believes in ones right to self-identification.
Recently, Uncanny Avengers #5 produced controversy due to a speech given by the “team leader” Havok, AKA Alex Summers. The issue, written by Rick Remender with artists Olivier Coipel, Mark Morales, Laura Martin and Larry Molinar, features Summers speaking at a press conference. Summers states he wants people to no longer use the term mutant and refers to it as the “M” word, claiming it is divisive. Summers says “the “M” word represents everything I hate”, and “the X-gene doesn’t bond me to anyone…”
The entire speech by Summers is a great way to bring up dialogue on the debate of assimilation by attempting to deny differences VS integration by accepting our differences. Summers as a conservative mutant with a different political opinion than most is very interesting. The problem is not what Summers said, but the fact that the writer of the issue, Rick Remender, does not understand the complexity of this debate or how emotional it is for many readers.
Steve Morris, writer for Comics Beat, stated his opinion on the speech well:
The idea that ‘mutant’ is an ‘m-word’ is comprehensively wrong. The idea that equality is reached via erasing differences is wrong. And the message this scene puts across is that minorities – for, of course, mutancy in the Marvel Universe is used as a metaphor for the struggles of persecuted minorities round the world, be they of a different sexual orientation, gender, race, religion – should want to become invisible and fit into their surroundings. It’s a message that minorities should feel ashamed of who they are, and seek to become, quote “normalised”.
Remender does not understand how hurtful Summers’ statements are to many. When people were upset, Remender tweeted the following:
He quickly removed the tweet, but for the writer to not expect people to get very emotional by the issue is clear ignorance.
In an interview for Newsarama, Remender stated “The theme of the series is unity.” This too is an ignorant statement as the entire team was placed together under an umbrella of racism. I wrote an article titled Top 4 Reasons Captain America’s UNCANNY AVENGERS is Super Racist showing examples of the Uncanny Avengers’s ingrained racism. The article discusses that Captain America’s white male non-mutant privilege afforded him to decide who was a “good” or “evil” mutant and who made up the team. While Summers is the “team leader”, he was placed in power by Captain America because the super-soldier felt Summers was a “good” mutant.
Captain America formed the team as a way to try and control a social movement as well as reduce his majority guilt. “Captain America thinks the Avengers need to save mutant kind, because when the mutant run X-Men tried to help, they almost wrecked the planet. Someone needs to speak for mutant rights, it just needs to be under the Avengers’ control.” Many social movements have tokens put on a pedestal, preaching ignorance so the movement can claim they are not racist, or to try and show that the “good” minority members agree with their movement’s oppressive policies. To have this play out in a comic is a great way to converse on this issue, but disappointingly Remender does not understand the unjust power play going on in his own book.
Remender stated “The mistake, I think, is to apply your own personal metaphor onto it and assume everyone else sees it the same way or that your version applies more than someone else’s.” This is very true, but to not take into account that many people see the mutants as analogies to homosexuals, Muslims, Jews, Black, Latinos and almost any oppressed minority is ignorant, insensitive and foolish. A great example of this foolishness are the tweets Remender sent out in response to Comics Alliance editor-in-chief Joe Hughes:
Mutants are absolutely an analogy for oppressed minorities. The story lines and characters have historically been directly written as mirrors to social movements and social activists. This is not an opinion, this is a fact.
Remender is an incredible writer that can evoke great emotions. His work on Uncanny X-Force was legendary. That said, he is clearly ignorant to important issues on race, identity and privilege. During his entire X-Force run, he hardly ever used mutants as an analogy for race. When the Uncanny Avengers first debuted it featured an all-white team, starkly contrasting Jonathan Hickman’s mutli-racial Avengers (at the NY Comic Con 2012, Remender made many jokes about the comic being “Crackerfest 2012″) Also, when the Japanese character Sunfire, whose mother died in Hiroshima, joins the team, he is referred to by Wolverine as “a walking atomic bomb”.
Am I calling Remender racist? As a straight white male with little insight on race politics, and insensitivity to those who do, Remender has no right to write on race issues or to tell me to drown in “hobo piss.”
Jay Deitcher, LMSW(
@mrdeitcher) embraces the term MUTANT and proudly represents his MUTANT brothers and sisters. He is an educator on comic history and runs successful Free Comic Book Day events yearly. You can see a listing of his incredible articles and his highly energetic videos here.