X-Men’s Legacy Virus

X-Men's Legacy VirusI annoyingly tagged along on my mother’s weekly grocery trips, using them to routinely see if the magazine spinner rack contained a new super-hero adventure.  As a youth, I connected with every aspect of the superhero genre: the ordinary persona was a cover for the true fascinating life away from restrictions.  The grocery store’s spinner rack held many A-list superheroes, such as Batman, Superman, and Captain America, but was overwhelmingly mostly C-list, Ex-Mutants or SleepWalker; others were B-list or cult heroes like the growing Dark Horse line, Ghost or X.  I flipped through each title, sitting on the ground, sampling their plots and characters, but their struggles felt too distant from my own.  It took months for me to find the title that was my life, that reflected everything that I was feeling – the X-Men.  These were heroes that instinctually understood me and I them.  Their world was my world.  I was a mutant and that’s why I didn’t fit in!

The X-Men family of titles when I discovered them were polybagged because they were amid the “X-Cutioner’s Song” storyline, and each issue contained a trading card.  The X-Men’s founder and mentor Professor X had been shot.  Searching for the would-be assassin the X-Men discover the attacker was a clone of Cable, time travelling son from the future of founding member Cyclops.  Before being defeated Cable’s clone, Stryfe, gave a mysterious canister of mutant DNA to the X-Men’s enemy Mr. Sinister, who opened the container to discover it open.  Rather than receiving the genetic code to Cyclops and Jean Grey, another founding X-Men member, Mr. Sinister released the Legacy Virus, a disease created by Stryfe that targeted mutants and disrupted their necessary RNA replication, making the body incapable of creating healthy cells, which resulted in the mutant’s death.  In the final moments of life, the Legacy Virus caused a mutant’s power to flare violently, in effect turning the mutant’s ability – what made them unique amongst other mutants – into the cause of their own destruction.

Underneath the garish early 1990s costumes the X-Men had pathos.  The Avengers and Fantastic Four were friendly clubs occupied by those who found being a super-hero an adventure.  The characters were chums and friends who spent their down time around a pool or squabbling over used condiments.  The X-Men were a found family because there were no other heroes that understood their position in society.  The X-Men didn’t want to save the world, they wanted to live and be left alone.  The villains of other teams wanted their opponents subdued so that victory could be achieved.   Down time for the X-Men was spent training to control their powers, running through numerous survival scenarios because their antagonists were actively attempting to kill and commit genocide.  Still the X-Men believed in showing compassion and empathy to their opponents, believing in finding a common ground to move forward.  The X-Men taught me that exposure to similar experiences has the potential to bring about understanding.

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Felix’s Evolution

When Felix was originally created, in elementary school, I garbed him in the standard blue and gold X-Men uniform.  As I grew through school more “personality” was injected into Felix’s costume through individualizing his presentation.  Until, by the end of middle school Felix was dressed pop-punk: urban military boots, jeans, half un-tucked t-shirt, and bomber jacket; because the 90s.  Being 13 years old, and knowing nothing of bad-assery, I had Felix chew bubble-gum; a big no-no in my house growing up.

Going through high school, Felix’s costume became a simplified bodysuit again with a hoodie over it, a set of cybernetic goggles, a thigh-strap for pouches and guns, and urban boots; because the late-90s.  At the end of high school, Felix had ditched the pull-over, but attached the hoodie to the bodysuit.  The boots gave way to padded soles on the body suit.

By the time I entered college, Felix had evolved from clown to trouble-maker.  Felix had begun as a fun character, evolving through the storylines into a stylized character.  Initially appearing as the jokester in Generation X, Felix grew to become a morally ambiguous character that juggled numerous facades by the Utopia-era.  I gave-in and gave Felix a green satchel bag, bringing him to full homage status.

Felix Masquerade

I dreamed of super-powers to be like the mutant X-Men, just as I had dreamed about being like the other boys in school.  I didn’t understand why I had to feel alienated and alone from everyone in my school and home; why couldn’t what made me different be celebrated the way athleticism and super-powers were? The character, Felix, I created was originally purely escapism, a way to join my favorite mutants as I read their new issues.   Over time he developed as I grew, becoming a character that I armored myself with in new and boundary-pushing situations.

The original power I grafted onto Felix were my wish fulfillment, liberating me from the conflicts I had with homosexuality’s shame.  Originally, I gave Felix shapeshifting abilities because I’d be able to become anyone other than myself.  With shapeshifting, I’d reflect the popular students throughout middle and most of high school, avoiding the lonely and isolation prophesized by television and movies.  Changing my appearance, Felix could literally become or match anyone’s desire, gaining the perfection that I had desired.  Being able to shapeshift I’d have more tools at my disposal to make my goals and fantasies match my outside.

Felix was eventually given telepathy as I struggled to juggle the various facades I had created to navigate interactions.  Telepathy ensured that the forms I took would be ideal for whom I was interacting with, removing the guess work about how to be part of the group.  I’d know exactly what to say, be prepared for what others would say, and always have a funny quip to keep grace.  Having the correct words, I’d be able to give the illusion that I was known without having to go through the painful experience of not exposing my queerness.

As I began to fully explore what differentiated me from others, I added the final super-power: teleportation.  Felix would be able to truly escape any situation that was uncomfortable; I’d be free to be away from ticky-tacky suburbia and be where the different, foreign, and unique are celebrated –  New York City, home to many of Marvel’s superheroes and faraway from the mundane.  By this time Felix stopped becoming escapism and became the armor for every day, designed to masquerade as popular and fleeting.  Felix had become the mysterious character whose silent smile spoke, so that I didn’t have to expose myself to isolation and alienation.

MCU: Cloak & Dagger

 

Cloak & Dagger by Marco Xiconhoca
Cloak & Dagger by Marco Xiconhoca

Yesterday, Freeform (the rebranded Family Channel) released the trailer for the Cloak & Dagger TV series’ 2018 premiere.  I first found Cloak & Dagger at the same barbershop where I had discovered comic books; it was their first four issue mini-series.  Unlike the X-Men I did not follow Tandy Bowen (Dagger) and Tyrone Johnson (Cloak) with a zealous vigor, but I picked-up every appearance they made once I discovered back issues at Empire Comics, captivated by their Romeo & Juliet relationship.  Tandy, a privileged white girl who took ballet lessons, ran away because she felt ignored by her super-model mom; Tyrone, an African American, was mistaken by the police to be a murderer.  Similar to the Shakespeare characters Tandy and Tyrone followed their misguided desires and broke from their parents’ world.  The romance discovered while running away was balanced by the everyday struggles of living on the streets.  That Romeo and Juliet bond realistically portrayed love and relationships as a strength and weakness because the support that is given can embolden action, but creates fear that action can drive the loved one away.  Freeform’s Cloak & Dagger trailer retains the core aspects that made me follow the characters.

 

Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger is the story of Tandy Bowen (Olivia Holt) and Tyrone Johnson (Aubrey Joseph) – two teenagers from very different backgrounds, who find themselves burdened and awakened to newly acquired superpowers which are mysteriously linked to one another. Tandy can emit light daggers and Tyrone has the ability to engulf others in […]

via Freeform and Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger Gets a Trailer — Graphic Policy