Islandexpat's Blog

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All aboard the X-Force train

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Recently I started reading Marvel’s new X-Force, by Si Spurrier and Rock-He Kim/Jorge Molina (I have to stop myself from typing “Alfred Molina” instead…). It made quite an impression on me – and this is coming from someone who isn’t usually interested in the various permutations and personal crises of the X-teams.

I like good writing and female characters who are narratively strong in the sense of being interesting and complex. X-Force certainly has both of those – while Psylocke’s physical Asian-ness is still super problematic (it will never not be a problem), it at least doesn’t become a point of fetishization in this series, and she even gets to be covered up and not subjected to butt shots or anything; meanwhile, Marrow has a whole other deal going on, and while she might wear skimpy tops, it’s presented with a sense that this is how she chooses to dress rather than her being exposed for male-gaze purposes – as well as clear relationships between the characters. Plus, there’s an arrogant, nerdy, intellectual character in Doctor Nemesis, which is a personal plus. It’s a bit like my Spider Jerusalem period in high school.

It’s also worth noting that many of the characters are on the LGBTQ spectrum; there are several instances of men kissing men, and Marrow has made several not-just-platonically favorable comments about Psylocke’s looks. I can’t remember reading a series from a mainstream publisher where a large proportion of characters aren’t 100% heterosexual – and, I guess, why should they be?

But the main reason for my X-Force love is Fantomex. Specifically, the bit in issue #4 where he has a breakdown because his team members are better at certain tasks than he is, and decides that he either has to live up to the image of being The Best at Everything or kill them all.

While I’ve never entertained thoughts of the latter about anyone, the basic jealousy and insecurity contained in that moment was almost too close to the bone, in the way that the larger-than-life embodied metaphors of comics often are.

I grew up with the constant pressure to achieve. At least some of that came from my own mind: achievement was a way for me to self-validate, so if someone could beat me at my own game, what did that say about me? What did I have left? Did I still have any worth as a person?

Sometimes I could rationalize it by telling myself that they didn’t have anything else going on in their lives. If they were friends, however, I knew better, which made it more difficult.

It’s been a long road toward acceptance, and I’ve gotten a lot closer to the end of it in the past year or so. But the conflict and turmoil so succinctly captured in Fantomex’s breakdown is an excellent illustration of the thoughts that tormented me – and, I suspect, many other readers – for most of a lifetime.

Fiction, I find, is often a hell of an avenue for self-discovery.








Written by Kelly Kanayama

August 17, 2014 at 10:31 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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