Sunday, 24 June 2012

Astonishing X-Men 51: Attack of the Stunt Wedding

Writer: Marjorie Liu
Penciller: Mike Perkins

Welcome to the Mighty World of Marvel Marketing! Yes! It’s the stunt of the summer – token gay X-Man Northstar marries his bland boyfriend Kyle. A gay marriage and a mixed race one too boot! How’s that for a right-on two-for-one?

The issue isn’t actually very good. It kicks off with suddenly villainised X-Man Karma causing trouble. She’s possessed Boring Kyle and is using him to try to shoot Northstar in the head! With a gun! Isn’t this a bit silly? Northstar is described as the world’s fastest man (what happened to Quicksilver?) several times this issue and in typical comic book style he could have outraced any bullet en route to his skull, right?

Be that as it may Kyle doesn’t blow Northstar’s brains out and Karma runs off leaving them to plan their wedding. Normally when a superhero goes evil their pals want to get to the bottom of it – not in this case though, they all want to get pissed for free in Central Park instead.
The ‘ceremony’ is where writer Marjorie Liu really drives this bus off the road of Snooze and into the ditch of Cringe. It’s a gay wedding so a guest needs to get their knickers in a twist to Make The Point – but who? Presumably the various writers in the X-Office don’t want their characters to be thought of as homophobes – so it’s left to new addition Warbird (an alien) to say she’s not going. Is anyone bothered?

The vows will have any sane adult reaching for the sick bucket. It’s as if the dialogue has come straight from a daytime sitcom. Who the hell would ever come out with this sort of cobblers? Does Liu also earn a crust as a romance novelist? If not she should look into it…

Meanwhile penciller Mike Perkins seems to have problems drawing faces. Is Northstar having the happiest moment of his life? Or a stroke?

The problem with this entire set-up is that Northstar’s role as the Token Gay X-Man requires him to be lumbered with a useless love interest – for how else are we to be reminded he’s gay every issue? In the olden day this wouldn’t be a problem – in the 80s every super-team had a large ‘civilian’ supporting cast – but in the era of Decompressed Storytelling (ie Nothing Happening with fewer characters) Kyle’s presence seems patronising.

His only purpose here is to be gay. We’re reading a gay storyline! Marvel supports gay weddings! Get The Point?

Contrast Boring Kyle with Striker in Avengers Academy. Striker’s sexuality is neatly written into the general soap opera of the comic. That’s the way to do it – by writing a character that’s more than just a one-note box ticker.

Ultimately this was a twee, quite cringey issue which only works as a marketing stunt. Kyle has got ‘canon fodder’ written all over him – it’s just a question of how long he’ll last. Any bets??

1 comment:

  1. I swear to you I shall always read your blog posts, forsaking some others, to the end of my days.