Shop the MH Superstore!

[ 1 | 2 ]

Continued from Page A1

       Ms. Storm and Ms. Grey were introduced to the world less than a year apart. But in an era of whites-only super groups and bigoted supervillains, they grew up in very different worlds.
       Born in New York City to David Munroe, a photographer, and N’Dare’, a Kenyan princess, Ms. Storm was named “Ororo”—Kenyan for “beauty”—because of her blue eyes, dark skin and striking white hair. When she was six years old, her father brought the family to Egypt so he could photograph the war-torn Middle East. On a fateful afternoon, her parents were killed when a fighter jet crashed into their villa.
       Orphaned, Ororo begged on the streets of Cairo until her superpowers manifested at the age of thirteen during a particularly intense puberty. She came to be worshipped as a goddess in a remote Kenyan village, and soon after, Professor Xavier recruited her as part of a second-generation of X-Men to replace those kidnapped by mutant assassin Omega Red. Among others who joined at that time were Thunderbird, a Native American, and Sunfire, a Japanese man. Mutant pundits groused that despite their formidable abilities, this group reflected quotas, not awesome powers like being able to create and slide around on an ice ramp. “Ethnicity won out,” recalls the reality-bending overlord Apocalypse. “Iceman had been kidnapped. Wouldn't another ice-person have been useful? Sure. But black folks don't do ice.”
       “It didn't matter that Storm could summon a tsunami at will,” said Mr. Sunfire, who has since left the X-Men and now runs a real estate firm in Tampa. “She was always viewed as a minority. Professor [X] was under a lot of heat at the time from the NAACP, and many mutants thought he was just making a statement.” Sunfire is a mutant with the power to ionize matter into plasma through a mentally triggered biochemical process.
       Professor X, the world's leading authority on genetics, mutation and psionic powers, disagrees. “Storm was recruited solely on her ability to control the weather,” he said with an earnestness that seems—no, is—entirely genuine. (The professor is the most powerful mutant on earth, with the ability to project his thoughts into the minds of others, including a reporter for the New York Times.)
       But that's not how Ms. Grey saw things. Also known as Phoenix, Marvel Girl, Ms. Psyche or Redd, Ms. Grey grew up privileged, the daughter of John Grey, a history professor at Bard College, and his wife Elaine. Race was not a frequent topic at the Grey dinner table, and Ms. Grey knew few minorities. (When she was ten years old, her best friend was killed in a car crash, and Jean’s subsequent emotional breakdown activated her latent telepathic powers, which include levitation and mind-reading.)
       Already a member of the X-Men when Ms. Storm joined, Ms. Grey was wary of the young mutant’s presence. “At the time, a lot of superhero leagues were recruiting minorities like Black Bolt and Black Panther. To a lot of us, we were like, ‘Okay, now here comes 'Black Storm.’”
       Ms. Grey's attitude was not unique. Most of the X-Men seem resigned to the notion that though black and white superheroes may act polite toward one another, they are still divided by mistrust and misunderstanding. Wolverine, an X-Man with an adamantium skeleton and retractable claws, summed up the prevailing sentiment: “I think we all get along, but there are racists in the institute. I'm talking about people at parties who have a little too much to drink and suddenly start talking about the difference between ‘mutants’ and ‘muties.’ I usually beat up those people pretty bad.”
       Even in this environment, race still slips back in. It is there when Alpha Flight takes on Proteus. It is there when the Marauders, the Reavers and the Brood trap Cyclops and Vertigo in a radioactive lair. It is there when Ms. Rogue single-handedly vanquishes the demons from the dimension of Limbo.
       The legal system, unfortunately, has been of little recourse to minority superheroes. Senator Robert Kelly (R-NY) has repeatedly stalled a bill that would make it a hate crime to psionically destroy a minority mutant. Lately, Senator Kelly has been campaigning for the Mutant Registration Act,

Continued on page B4

Two generations after the end of legal discrimination, the wider public discussion of race relations seems muted, if not mutated. Race relations are being defined less by political action than by daily experience—in schools, in sports arenas, in pop culture and in the headquarters of superhero leagues. These encounters—race relations in the most literal, everyday sense—make up this series of reports, the outcome of a yearlong examination by Times reporters.

[ 1 | 2 ]

More X-Men humor:
"A Little Prayer (Wolverine's Theme)" by Jewel

Copyright 2011 Modern Humorist, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.
Modern Humorist is not intended for readers under 18 years of age.