Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Race and Gender in the Uncanny X-Men.

The 80's brought about what is known as 'The Dark Phoenix Saga' and during this time period changes were made and characters introduced that were fundamentally different from the previous years.

  • Storm became team leader instead of Cyclops. Storm (Ororo Monroe) being an African-American princess and Cyclops being a sterotypical 'All American' white, middle class male.
  • Introduction of youngest member Kitty Pryde, who is from a Jewish family.
  • Piotr "Peter" Rasputin or Colossus is a member of the regular team who becomes romantically involved with Kitty.
  • Kurt Wagner or Nightcrawler, a German born to Mystique (member of Brotherhood) and the demon warlord Azazel.
The makup of the team is very eclectic, all different backgrounds are covered much like the United States has many different ethnicities within it.
The interesting part is in the X-Men's opposing team during this period, the Hellfire Club (The Inner Circle in TV shows because of young viewers) who have Sebastian Shaw as "The Black King", Emma Frost as "The White Queen", Harry LeLand as "The Black Bishop", and Donald Pierce as "The White Bishop" and later "The White King". [Note: none of them are black! The club is based on heirachy and chess.]
Emma Frost tries to recruit Kitty but fails, whereas Storm manages to connect with Kitty and bring her to join the X-Men. It is very much a case of the minorities grouping together and there is a sense of the Hellfire Club being almost supremisists. They are bent on destruction and gaining power, whereas the minorites have a peace keeping, saving the world agenda.

"Although the Club appears to merely be an international social club for wealthy elites, its clandestine Inner Circle seeks to influence world events to their own agenda."

  • Dazzler who wears roller skates and sings to disco is attacked by the Hellfire Club.
  • The Dark Phoenix (Jean Grey) becomes the new Black Queen and goes on a killing spree of billions around the galaxy.
The idea of the Hellfire Club being for the wealthy would lend itself to the issues of wealth during 1980's America. (The rich/poor divide getting bigger, tax cuts for the rich, Reaganomics.) This is still relevant today and the legacy can be seen in X-Men comics to this day, in particular X-Men Noir, with corrupt officials and government with everyone out for themselves.

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