Nerd Talk: We can learn from the X-Men

Megan Roth’s bi-weekly column about pop culture and all things nerdy

Nerd Talk: We can learn from the X-Men

I’m sure it comes as no surprise that I am a fan of comic books and superheroes. And true to most superhero fans, I have an opinion about many.

For instance, I’m not the biggest fan of Superman. He is simply too overpowered and always miraculously gains a new ability just in the nick of time.

I was really hoping we were going to see Miles Morales instead of Peter Parker in the Spider-Man suit in the latest re-imagining of the superhero on the big screen.

Of course I have favourites, heroes that I will always go back to time and time again. I love Carol Danvers, a.k.a. Ms. Marvel, now known as Captain Marvel and Raven from the DC Comics “The Teen Titans” can really never lead me astray.

Over the weekend I was at a comic book sale in Calgary, a fairly regular instance for me as you can imagine, when I got caught up in a few X-Men comics, another absolute favourite of mine.

The comics weren’t in order and it wasn’t a key story-line by any means, but it caught my attention and drew me in from the first cover I sorted through.

Unlike some of the other comics, this one didn’t have epic battles or a “good guy” standing victoriously. Instead it had families on the cover running for their lives.

If you aren’t familiar with comics, or the X-Men, let me explain.

In the Marvel world there are mutants, people who have naturally evolved to develop various superhuman powers. Telekinesis, matter manipulations, teleportation all sorts of various abilities develop within seemingly normal humans, generally during adolescence.

Not only do they develop powers, many of which could be deadly or problematic, especially when first manifesting, but these people are ostracized, criticized and de-humanized.

Because of circumstances outside of their control, these people are put through horrors simply due to a matter of birth.

Some instances in the comics the mutants are rounded up and imprisoned just because of who they are. In other cases the comic book panels show these people being experimented on.

Standing looking through the long-boxes of comic books, with a stack of more than 20 already collected for purchase beside me, I was enthralled and horrified by the images shown in brightly coloured ink.

I had seen the particular comics before, I’m pretty sure I even own a few, though there are plenty of holes in my collection.

But standing in a small community centre in Calgary these X-Men comics held my attention far more than the Ms. Marvel comic from the 1960s proudly sitting upon my to-buy stack.

While X-Men is a little extreme, I mean as far as I know no one has superpowers, yet, I think the story is still incredibly powerful and poignant in today’s world.

Fear runs rampant, and often the voice spreading the lies and fears are louder than the innocent.

In one panel I remember clearly was a rather powerful politician calling for every mutant to be rounded up because they were a danger to “normal” people. The crowd surrounding the politician cheered and agreed.

All because they were afraid of something, someone, who was different then they are.

This is an unfortunately reality we see in the real world again and again. Men, women and children are blamed for things that are not their fault because of circumstance such as where they live, or lived, their race or religion.

Men, women and children are killed everyday because of those very same reason.

Yes there are bad people out there, but those bad people are everywhere of every creed and background.

Just because one group is different doesn’t make them bad, doesn’t mean we should fear them.

In the world of X-Men some mutant have extraordinary powers that have the potential to be deadly. Sure that is a reason to be afraid, but character like Charles Xavier, Professor X, believed teaching them about the abilities would be more beneficial than capturing them and putting them in prison just because they are a mutant and have the “potential” to do something bad.

It is a little terrifying when you can see your world reflected in a comic book. What is meant as a sort of escapism acts like a looking glass into what could happen if we let fear and hatred rule the world.

X-Men is a extreme viewpoint, but it doesn’t seem too far off the mark.

In today’s world and in the lives we live everyday, I think we can learn something from a series like the X-Men.