Activism-Men

22 05 2012

In June, the Marvel X-men character North Star will wed his boyfriend. This is a land mark event for not only comic book fans but also homosexual activist. It’s not often that in any form of animated media you’ll see a homosexual partnership, let alone a marriage. What isn’t surprising is that it’s happening inside of the pages of X-men.

The X-men comic book series has, for long periods of time, been a front runner in social change, often time being one of the first main stream books to tackle controversial topics. The core theme of X-men has always been “People who are born differently should be given the same rights as everyone else.” Today that idea seems like a no-brainer, today that is. The series premiered during the 60’s. A time when people drank from different water fountains just for having  different skin colors. In fact, the first issue of X-men released Sept. 1963, just a month after the famous MLK “I have a dream” speech.

The groups of people born differently were united and lead by a man in a wheel chare, who was also more powerful then all of them combined. While it’s heavily debated which wheel chaired leader came first, Xavier or The Chief (from the Doom Patrol), no one can argue that Xavier broke down a main stream wall by showing you don’t need to walk to kick ass….well…him and Rosevelt.

Race and the handicapped are far from the only ideas attacked at full force by the X-men creators.  America has never been a country which has proactively welcomed immigrants. Maybe after seeing how the English treated the original Americans we’ve inherited a “fool me once” mentality with new folks. Well Ol’ Professor X likes to rock his own boat. In 1975 rather then drafting US born mutants, he took a global tour and created an international team.  Africans, Canadians, and the Scottish where all welcome to party with Xavier.

Never hit a woman, Cyclopes, especially one that can shot lightning up your assBut what about women? Or even more important, women of power? Even today women are fighting an uphill battle for leadership roles in America. X-men said “we’re gonna kill two birds with one stone” by making Storm the leader of the X-men. You what a black leader on a super team? You got it! You want a woman as leader? You got it! And once more, she didn’t get the title by “talking about it” with everyone. No, she got it by kicking Cyclops, the original leader, in the one-eyed face. She battled and earned her title. And she did it without powers! The X-men introduced the first super hero leader of both color AND of female gender. It wasn’t long after other titles, such as the Teen Titans, followed the example. But even then, Donna Troy was only a temporary leader. Storm was undisputed leader for years and is still considered to be an equal to Cyclops in many regards.

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Young Justice: A true DCU show

1 05 2012

Young Justice isn’t just about the ex-side-kicks of the Justice League, sure they are the focus, but what really makes this show shine is that it gives a perfect image of what makes the DC universe fantastic to a large audience, while offering never ending geek-out moments for established DC readers. Like anyone else reading comics in the 90’s my heart will always belong to Batman TAS and X-men TAS, but these shows focuses entirely on the title characters. Even in Justice League TAS, it wasn’t until JLU that we saw a bigger image of the DCU outside of the League’ watch tower. In fact, in season one the creators made a point NOT to show any non-justice league heroes and supporting cast, outside of a few expectations such as Aquaman. This is why Young Justice was so much fun to watch.

 

Half way through season one we’ve seen classic characters like Alfred, Barbra Gordon, and Captain Cold but we’re also shown characters no one would ever believe would make an appearance in an animated series, such as Secret and Zatara. Chuck Dixon, a long time DC writer, once said “Eveyone is someone’s favorite character.” Young Justice not only offers fans of Lagoon Boy a chance to see their character in action, but YJ shows non-comic readers why these characters are so much fun. None of the characters are dishonored or used as puns. Young Justice also pays homage to the late Dwayne McDuffie by using several Milestone characters. This may not seem significant, but DC as a company has had alot of difficulty merging the Milestone characters into their own universe. Static Shock has already had his title canceled in during the relaunch, not even making it a year. In YJ the characters Icon and Rocket are introduced in a way that makes it appear as though they have been around as long as Roy Harper or the Atom.

 

The show also has no problem holding back with creative liberties. They have done some fairly drastic changes, such as having a different Aqualad then Garth and making Dick Grayson the youngest of the Teenaged heroes. I must tip my hat to them. This staff managed to do all changes, once again, in a way that respects their most famous adoptions. Season 2 just kicked off last week with a 5 year jump. I won’t reveal anything to keep from spoiling it, but this jumps makes it possible for the show to introduce nearly ANY character from the DCU into the series. If you’re a DC comic book fan, you should watch this so for no other reason than the chance to spot your character in this wonderfully animated series.