Marvel Comics series ‘X-Factor’ just revealed that one of its superheroines was raised Muslim. Should we brace ourselves for right-wing rage?
The most recent issue of the consistently excellent ‘X-Factor,’ a spin-off from ‘X-Men’ that follows mutant heroes working as detectives in New York City, features an anti-Muslim protest resembling last year’s “Ground Zero Mosque” demonstrations.
“America for Americans,” shouts one of the all white crowd, while another declares, “We don’t need more Muslim terrorists getting in here!” Yet another concurs, “They’re as bad as mutants!”
It’s here that buxom hero Monet flies in with a special announcement, “I’m a Muslim and a mutant!” Girl knows how to make an entrance.
‘X-Factor’ and all the other ‘X-Men’ comic books are inherently political narratives: the whole “mutant-as-outsider” meme always dovetailed nicely with any number of real-life injustices, particularly “mutant-as-black” or “mutant-as-gay.” But this issue gives the ostracization subtext a more pointed and timely angle, clearly linking today’s anti-Muslim attitude with the X-franchise’s fictional anti-mutant sentiment.
Shouts one protester, “All mutants want to take over the world,” as a cohort concludes, “And Muslims, too. It’s right in your sacred texts. You guys are at war with Christianity. And your mosques are really secret terrorist training camps.”
Though Monet tells the crowd’s what’s what, the real tongue lashing comes from mayor J. Jonah Jameson, who seethes at the protesters’ “reclaim the country” rhetoric:
Funny thing: I keep hearing that from the far ends of the both sides: ‘We want our country back.’ Where’d it go? If neither side has it, then who took it? Guess what? I did.
Me and my big white ancestors. We came rolling in and took it from the people who were here in the first place. And right after we did that, we kidnapped people from Africa to help us build it. And now we’re all worried that karma’s coming back to bite us on the keister. So we got to fight back because otherwise a hundred years from now, we might be the ones living in reservations and dying a small pox.
We can do that. Keep everyone we’re afraid of out. Send intruders back where they came from, or maybe put ‘em in camps like World War II, ’cause we’re afraid they’re terrorists. Or maybe… And it’s a crazy idea, I know… Maybe we can stop treating everybody like they’re the damned enemy.
Writer Peter David’s message starts to become clear: bigotry, real or imagined, toward Muslims or mutants, goes against the American grain, and treating “different” people like the enemy does the nation no favors.
Coincidentally enough, Monet traces her Muslim heritage back to Algeria, the same place as Nightrunner, the Muslim Batman character who garnered so much conservative ire last year.
One wonders whether she’ll receive the same kind of backlash as Nightrunner, and whether comic-boycotting white supremacists will react to fake Mayor Jameson’s remarks on white people, especially since one of the issue’s villains turns out to be a white girl.
Anyway, it’s nice to see David wade fearlessly into this debate. Others would be too chicken. And it’s even better to see him get recognition for his work: gay media group GLAAD just gave David an award for his LGBT inclusion in ‘X-Factor.’ Hopefully this mutant-as-Muslim story will bring the heroic writer some more attention, and perhaps even the right wing ire he actively courts.