2014: The Year in “X”.

9 01 2015

It’s pretty easy to understand why many LGBT geeks are drawn to the X-Men and their long-standing crusade for acceptance, tolerance, and coexistence. The parallels between the plight of Marvel’s mutant characters and the LGBT community are undeniable. As an avid fan of the characters and stories, I found it fitting to ring in the new year with a reflection on 2014’s memorable exploits of the Children of the Atom. Here they are… the good, the bad, and the questionable:

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Strong Female Character: Lila @#$%ing Cheney!

2 10 2014
A preview of David Lopez's art for "Captain Marvel" #9 (feat. Lila Cheney).

Preview of David Lopez’s art for “Captain Marvel” #9 (feat. Lila Cheney).

In a recent interview with CBR, “80s fairy tale rock opera” were the exact words that Captain Marvel scribe, Kelly Sue DeConnick, used in reference to the title’s upcoming 9th issue.

If you are fortunate enough to remember the magical decade known as the 80s, images of punk rockers, studded belts, glitter, neon-colored jelly bracelets, leather motorcycle jackets, teased hair, ripped fishnet stockings, and smudged eyeliner should be swirling through your mind.

What Marvel character epitomizes everything that was glamorously trashy and decadent about the 80s? There is only one. She’s British… she’s an intergalactic teleporter… she’s a mutant rockstar… she’s Lila Cheney. Yes, as confirmed by Marvel’s November solicits, Sam Guthrie’s former flame is set to cross paths with the (now) spacefaring Carol Danvers.

Newer comic book readers (and others that have been living under a wet stone) may be asking “Who is Lila @#$%ing Cheney?” In preparation for November’s issue of Captain Marvel, five of Lila’s “better than everyone else in the Marvel Universe” moments have been gathered below:

Lila Cheney's first appearance ("New Mutants" Annual #1).

Lila Cheney’s first appearance (“New Mutants” Annual #1).

1) The Bill Sienkiewicz cover of New Mutants Annual #1: The world’s first glimpse of Lila was courtesy of Bill Sienkiewicz’s stunning cover artwork for New Mutants Annual #1. The cover, featuring a Siouxsie Sioux-looking Lila with Sam Guthrie (a.k.a. Cannonball) at her side, is an obvious homage to other cinematic artwork (Conan the BarbarianStar Wars). However, instead of the female appearing in the submissive role, Lila is the alpha dog and Sam has become the “damsel in distress”.

2) Meeting Mrs. Guthrie for the first time: It should be common knowledge to X-Men fans that Sam Guthrie hails from America’s heartland… the ultra-Conservative and redder- than-a-candy-apple state of Kentucky. You can imagine Sam’s mortification when Lila showed up to meet the matriarch of the Guthrie family looking like a Jem and the Holograms groupie doing the walk of shame.

Lila meets Mrs. Guthrie in "New Mutants" #42.

Meeting Mrs. Guthrie in “New Mutants” #42.

In the end, her appearance was revealed to be a ruse after she teleported away to change into a more demure ensemble. Her goal was to determine whether or not Sam would ever be ashamed of her, their relationship, or their obvious differences. The family introductions went off without a hitch and Lila would remain friendly with Mrs. Guthrie for many years to come.

(side note: Parallels to LGBT relationships can easily be made throughout this memorable scene.)

3) Dazzler tried to upstage Lila so Ms. Cheney threatened to fire her ass: Despite growing anti-mutant sentiment, the events of Dazzler: The Movie saw the disco queen “come out” as a mutant to the public. Needless to say, it ruined Alison’s career and she was forced into hiding… as a backup singer for Lila Cheney’s band. Following a concert in San Francisco, the disembodied psionic mutant, Malice, took possession of Dazzler and began to influence her behavior.

Dazzler takes over lead vocals in "Uncanny X-Men" #214.

Dazzler takes over lead vocals in “Uncanny X-Men” #214.

Some time later, as Lila’s tour was in full swing, Dazzler (Malzzler/Dazzlice) attempted to usurp the role of lead vocalist from Lila. Claiming to only be concerned for Dazzler’s safety, Lila threatened to sack the singer should she ever try shenanigans like that again. Truthfully, we all knew that Lila rightfully didn’t like sharing the spotlight.

Lila Cheney and Deathbird... badass babes with big guns ("Uncanny X-Men #276).

Lila Cheney and Deathbird… bad, beautiful babes with really big guns (“Uncanny X-Men #276).

4) That time she was recruited by Deathbird and had a really big gun: At one point, occasional Shi’ar Empress, Deathbird, elicited the help of Lila Cheney after the former witnessed Charles Xavier laying waste to planets within the Empire.

Being an intergalactic teleporter proved most useful as Lila used her powers to collect the X-Men at Deathbird’s behest. In the end, it was revealed that Xavier and his lover, Lilandra, had been replaced by Warskrulls who had seized the opportunity to attack Shi’ar alien races. The invaders were defeated and the real heroes rescued from their confinement.

It was never revealed whether or not Lila and Deathbird had raided Cable’s weapon stockpile to obtain the insane hardware that they so proudly wielded.

5) She played a flying monkey in Mojo’s production of The Wizard of Oz: Hoping for some r&r at her Malibu beach house, Lila was surprised to see that her bodyguard, Guido, had invited an amnesiac Dazzler to stay with them.

Lila Cheney... the true star of Mojo's "The Wizard of X" ("X-Men" #7).

Lila Cheney… the true star of Mojo’s “The Wizard of X” (“X-Men” #10).

The rag tag group of mutants  soon had a few more uninvited guests… first in the form of Longshot, who came seeking Dazzler’s help back in his home world, the Mojoverse. Next, came the sorceress, Spiral, in an attempt to convince Lila to teleport them all to safety. Unbeknownst to Lila, her powers had been altered, resulting in her, Longshot, and Dazzler all being sent to the Mojoverse.

The X-Men were summoned to help their teammates but soon ended up as prisoners of Mojo, themselves. With his love of televised entertainment unquenchable, Mojo produced The Wizard of X… starring the X-Men. Lila’s big, onscreen moment came when she was coerced into attacking the show’s Dorothy (Longshot).

Mojo was eventually defeated and his grip over the Mojoverse transferred to Mojo II: The Sequel.

tumblr_nakbnefdNC1rdqdhzo1_500

Carol Stardust and the Flerkins from Mars (David Lopez’s cover artwork for “Captain Marvel” #9).

Most recently, Lila had been seen in the company of David Haller, the mutant known as Legion. She assisted him in his mission to wipe mutantphobia from Great Britain (Si Spurrier’s X-Men Legacy #13-14) and has since been off-the-grid.

Details have been quite scarce as to the story behind Lila’s upcoming appearance in Captain Marvel. Judging by what Kelly Sue has done with the title, thus far, readers can be sure to expect quite a stellar ride! Afterall, it’s not every day that Carol Danvers gets done up in full Ziggy Stardust makeup!





Days of Future Past: Mystique Without a Destiny.

23 05 2014

imageFor as long as they have been in print, the plight of Marvel’s mutants has stood as a metaphor for oppressed minorities dealing with prejudice, bigotry, and hatred. The Civil Rights Movement, the Stonewall riots, the current fight for LGBT rights. Parallels to these real-life events can be found sprinkled throughout the 50+ years of X-Men history.

The X-Men, themselves, are not without their own LGBT representation. A minority within a minority, if you will. Jean-Paul Beaubier (Northstar), Xi’an Coy Manh (Karma), Victor Borkowski (Anole), Roxy Washington (Bling!), Shatterstar, Cessily Kincaid (Mercury), and David Alleyne (Prodigy) are just a few.

Perhaps the most notable bisexual character on Marvel’s LGBT roster, Raven Darkholme (Mystique) made her debut within the pages of Ms. Marvel in the 1970s. From there, she would eventually go on to lead an incarnation of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and become one of the X-Men’s most infamous adversaries. Ever morally ambiguous, the shapeshifter would also rear an adopted daughter (the future X-Man, Rogue) with her lover, the blind precognitive, Irene Adler (Destiny).

Created by Chris Claremont in 1981 and first appearing in Uncanny X-Men #141, Destiny was intended, from the beginning, to be an intimate companion for Mystique. At that time, however, probibitions against gay/lesbian depictions in comic books were in place by the Comics Code Authority and the villains’ relationship had to be presented in a very subtle manner, often labeled only as “friends”. The original plans to have Nightcrawler be a biological child to both women (with Mystique shapeshifting into a man for the conception) had to be scrapped.

tumblr_lo2r5zFj1K1qj1ajtIt wasn’t until long after Irene’s death on Muir Island, at the hands of Legion, that the true nature of her relationship with Mystique was fleshed out and fully awknowledged. At Northstar’s wedding, Rogue would even make it a point to wonder if her childhood would’ve been different had her mothers been allowed to marry.

To date, Mystique has appeared in five of 20th Century Fox’s X-Men films, portrayed by both Rebecca Romijn and Jennifer Lawrence. While her questionable allegiances and motives are fairly true to her comic book counterpart, her sexuality has barely been touched upon (it was implied that she and Magneto had been schtupping).

X-Men: Days of Future Past is Bryan Singer’s return to mutant cinematic universe. Loosely based on the two-part Uncanny X-Men story of the same name, the basic premise sees Wolverine time-traveling back to the 1970s to prevent the birth of the Sentinel program by stopping the assassination of Bolivar Trask at the hands of Mystique. A glaring difference between the two depictions is that, while Mystique works alone in her attempts to murder Trask in the film, her entire Brotherhood, including Destiny, aims for the target (Sen. Robert Kelly) in the original storyline. In fact, Irene is the last member of the team to make an attempt on the Senator’s life.

While this may not seem like an enormous deal to most viewers, some fans could be left questioning whether or not Fox just fumbled a perfect opportunity to include LGBT representation into the X-Men cinematic universe.

Mystique scatters Destiny's ashes at sea. Destiny still gets the last word.

Mystique scatters Destiny’s ashes at sea. Destiny still gets the last word.

With the size of the cast already busting at the seams, it was quite clear that adding an entire Brotherhood of Evil Mutants was highly improbable from the start. Focusing on Mystique as an antagonist is not necessarily a bad idea. It helps establish a distinct development that was necessary to show how the character evolved, following the events of First Class, to become the woman we remember from X2.

With that in mind, including Irene Adler could still have easily worked in a different capacity and, with the amount of time that passed between First Class and Days of Future Past, the organic development of a relationship between Raven and Irene is not beyond the realm of plausibility. Not only would this have humanized the character of Mystique and allowed the audience to view her as more than just a mutant terrorist, it would have also added an extra layer to the motives behind her contentious actions throughout the series.

In essence, Days of Future Past, is a film about the “butterfly effect”. The slightest interactions by Wolverine and co. with the past can drastically and continuously alter the events of the future. The character of Destiny would have been an interesting liaison, of sorts, to the changes befalling the future timeline, randomly updating the characters as to their actions’ repercussions on the time stream.

1678700-brotherhood_of_evil_mutants_02Fox and the X-Men film franchise are not alone when it comes to lacking in LGBT representation. Despite a handful of gay/lesbian characters in its ranks, the Avengers have yet to really venture into that territory within their cinematic universe. Lesbian H.A.M.M.E.R./S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, Victoria Hand, who was featured during Brian Michael Bendis’ tenure on Dark Avengers, appeared briefly in the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. television series before being killed off after four episodes. Little development of the character was done before her subsequent demise and viewers would have no knowledge of her sexuality if they were unfamiliar with her comic book appearances.

With the number of LGBT comic book characters increasing, it seems, by the year, one can’t help but wonder how long it will be before the respective cinematic universes begin to follow suit. Including gay/lesbian diversity in these films is not a recipe for box office disaster and the throngs of queer fans at any number of comic book conventions can attest to that.

 





Losing Our Wood.

12 05 2014

XMEN2013016COV-407ed“Also, I guess there’s X-Men news,” Brian Wood said via Twitter on May 9th. “FYI, I left the title on my own accord, no drama, no pressure, just moving on.” Just like that, following issue 17, we would be losing the man who ushered in the first all-female team of mutants.

Who would Marvel deem worthy to pick up the reigns and continue the adventures of Jubilee and co.? Enter current Arrow executive producer and past scribe of Young X-Men, Marc Guggenheim.

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Out of Limbo: Strong Female Character Edition (Part II)

26 02 2014

tumblr_mptv40V8wP1sww0bwo1_1280The idea of a “rotating cast” is a concept that many comic book creators have set out to tackle but few have managed to accomplish successfully. For fans of “D-List” characters, a book that features a “rotating cast” is often one of the few opportunities for their favorite characters to make an appearance.  

Brian Wood’s (adjectiveless) X-Men has already undergone its first cast shakeup following the book’s first arc. Rogue and Kitty Pryde were traded out for Monet St. Croix and Karima Shapandar, the former Omega Sentinel. While these changes were likely editorially mandated, rather than decided upon by the writer, they still give hope to readers who would love to see some of the more underutilized X-Ladies tag in/out for some panel time.

We’ve already dug into the depths of “comic book limbo” and listed some wonderfully immoral ladies who could bring some additional firepower to the villainous Sisterhood. Now, let’s usher in some of the more heroic women back to the fold:

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Out of Limbo: Strong Female Character Edition

24 02 2014

imagelim-bo noun: 1) a realm housing countless demons of varying sizes, strengths, and intellects; also known as Otherworld. 2) a place or state of neglect or oblivion.

For comic book readers, the term “limbo” often calls to mind one or both of the aforementioned descriptions. In either case, it is a less than desirable place to end up. Just ask Illyana Rasputin or Amanda Sefton.

Fans of so-called “D-List” characters in the Marvel Universe are all-too familiar with the state of uncertainty that befalls some of their favorite heroes and villains once a writer has no more use for them. The best case scenario for these cast-offs is that another writer will have an affinity for the character and bring him/her into a future storyline. The worst case scenario is that they will end up as part of the body count in an upcoming Marvel crossover event.

Current (adjectiveless) X-Men scribe, Brian Wood, clearly has a soft spot for these neglected hasbeens. Cast members from the days of New X-Men: Academy X and Young X-Men have been included in his current run. Karima Shapandar and Sabra have also appeared regularly in the title.

Along with some long-forgotten heroes, Wood has also resurrected Selene Gallio and Madelyne Pryor and placed them among the ranks of the villainous Sisterhood. While their return is most welcome, it doesn’t begin to scrape the surface of MIA mutants who would make for interesting additions to this ragtag band of devious damsels. Below is a “who’s who?” listing of some grudge-bearing ladies that would fit in fabulously with the X-Men’s nemeses, the Sisterhood:

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The Bitches Are Back: Strong Female Character Edition.

17 02 2014
The Sisterhood (art by Terry and Rachel Dodson)

The Sisterhood (art by Terry and Rachel Dodson)

Here at Geeks OUT, it’s no secret that we adore our strong female characters. Hell, we even offer merchandise that proudly puts our devotion on display for all the world to see.

If television history tells us anything, it’s that the only thing we love more than powerful ladies, it would be their counterparts… the powerful WICKED ladies. Alexis Carrington. Sable Colby. Amanda Woodward. Kimberly Shaw. Katherine Wentworth. We love them. We hate them. We LOVE to HATE them. The same rule arguably applies to the comic book world and the current scribe of (adjectiveless) X-Men, Brian Wood, is pulling out all the stops to show these vixens the respect that they deserve.

The latest incarnation of the Sisterhood is about to add two of the most powerful adversaries that the X-Men have ever faced to their roster… and they’ve been known to do more than take over your company, snatch your man, or firebomb your apartment complex. Brace yourselves because the mutant psychic vampire, Selene, along with the deranged and corrupted clone of Jean Grey, Madelyne Pryor, are set to make their return to the Marvel universe in this week’s issue of X-Men.

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