It’s sad, but in a time when superhero films dominate the box office, there are still people who look down on those who read comic books. As a lifelong comic book reader, I’m confident in my belief that many of us fans have a, how do I put this…more enlightened perspective on the world around us.
Does what I just wrote sound pretentious? Well, so is looking down on someone just because he or she enjoys reading comic books. Anyway, I’d like to talk about how all that time we’ve devoted to following fictional heroes and villains’ exploits has helped us better understand some of today’s hottest topics.
Muslims and Mutants
Take Republican presidential candidate and wall-building aficionado Donald Trump’s recent—and of course, controversial—comments about Muslim surveillance in his [might as well exist in a comic book] version of America.
“We’re going to have to do things that we never did before,” Trump said in an interview with Yahoo News. “And some people are going to be upset about it, but I think that now everybody is feeling that security is going to rule. And certain things will be done that we never thought would happen in this country in terms of information and learning about the enemy. And so we’re going to have to do certain things that were frankly unthinkable a year ago.”
The Yahoo interviewer then presented the idea of a Muslim database, to which Trump responded with, “We’re going to have to — we’re going to have to look at a lot of things very closely. We’re going to have to look at the mosques. We’re going to have to look very, very carefully.”
Trump has since backpedaled on these comments, but we’re dealing with a man who wants to be president, so who knows what he truly thinks. All I know is I instantly thought of the X-Men.
X-Fans know that the X-Men, and mutants in general, are feared and hated by much of humanity. The classic two-part storyline “Days of Future Past” focused on a future United States where the government passed the “Mutant Control Act” and mutants found themselves in internment camps.
In the present, the “Mutant Registration Act” was eventually passed so the U.S. government could know just who exactly was super-powered. This really didn’t do wonders for human-mutant relations.
I’m not even going to get into the “Superhuman Registration Act” at the center of Marvel’s Civil War storyline.
Now, while real-life terrorists can’t toss cars through the air with magnetic powers, they can certainly be just as deadly as the fictional Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. I don’t have the solution to the problem of global terrorism, but I don’t think it’s insane to feel that Trump’s unthinkable “things that we never did before” could lead to some serious feelings of disillusionment and anger among those who are under increased scrutiny. These feelings could give rise to retaliation and more violence as a real-life Magneto is born. How long before we have giant robots emblazoned with the “Trump” logo patrolling our streets?
Maybe someone needs to give Trump some comic books to read. He seems to have a taste for the tacky – maybe throw in a few of those ‘90s books with the gimmicky chromium covers.
Comics’ Most Famous Refugees
Also dominating the news: the Syrian refugee crisis. Much of the world is understandably on edge following the Paris terror attacks, but victory over evil requires everyone to keep a level head. And keeping a level head means not jumping to conclusions about people.
I was going to spotlight Trump again, but based on his skin’s orange hue, he’s had enough time in the light. Let’s instead spend a minute talking about fellow Republican presidential candidate/loon Ben Carson and what he said about the U.S. taking in Syrian refugees.
“If there’s a rabid dog running around in your neighborhood, you’re probably not going to assume something good about that dog,” said Carson at a recent campaign event in Georgia. “And you’re probably going to put your children out of the way. That doesn’t mean that you hate all dogs.”
Yes, the former brain surgeon in need of a brain surgeon compared some of the Syrian refugees to rabid dogs. I just want to take a second from mocking candidate sleepy eyes to point out that that pretty much half of the approximately 4 million registered Syrian refugees are children, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Like with terrorism, I don’t have a solution to the Syrian refugee crisis, but as a regular at my local comic shop, I’m very familiar with refugees. I mean, refugees are like comic books’ bread and butter.
Comics’ most famous refugee also just so happens to be the world’s most famous superhero: Superman. We all know the story – Kal-El, the last son of the doomed planet Krypton, rocketed to Earth and was raised by a loving Kansas couple. See? Two Americans perfectly fine with taking in a young refugee – and look at all the good he went on to do!
Oh yeah, and Superman comics have been tackling the whole egomaniacal-businessman-railing-against-refugees plot for years. Seriously, is Trump just taking political pointers from Lex Luthor?
Who else have we got? How about characters from possible futures that made themselves at home in the present? The X-Men books alone have been very welcoming to refugees from apocalyptic – possibly post-Trump presidency – futures, such as Bishop, Cable and Rachel Summers.
Oh, another refugee the people of Earth accepted – the freakin’ Silver Surfer! And he first came to Earth to let the human race know his master Galactus was about to eat it! And despite that rocky introduction, people were cool enough with this former resident of Zenn-La to let him stick around.
Before You Vote, Read Some Comics
So, despite the fact that I took some jabs at Trump and Carson, I don’t really have a political agenda here. Neither the war on global terrorism nor the Syrian refugee crisis is a black-and-white issue with an easy solution. My point is the countless talented men and women who have helped make comic books the cultural phenomenon they are today have explored some pretty complex themes throughout the past few decades. Comic book storylines have not only mimicked real-life events, but could hint at things to come – both wonderful and terrifying.
Those who remain ignorant to the depth of storytelling contained in the pages of a comic book should do themselves a favor and visit their local comic shop. It might just help them broaden their perspective on current events…and leave them entertained to boot!
Speaking of entertaining, look at this picture I found: