Thursday

Why an all-female X-Men team is absolute brilliance

Little-known fact about me (except everyone knows it, so never mind): I love comic book superheroes. My interest in them in earnest started when the first X-Men films were out, and I became frenzied with a need to read the comic books, read character backstories and find out everything I could about the Marvel Universe. I was a walking teenage encyclopedia of Marvel lore.

Even before that, I watched the Spider-man and X-Men cartoon series as a kid, and remember being so in awe of the Dark Phoenix saga and just wanting to be Jean Grey, in all her incarnations. And once I started reading comic books, I would go to the comic book store in West Palm Beach, Fla., every week to pick up the new issue of the very temporary Emma Frost series.

So I'm quite excited and eager to get back into comics, because for the first time, the new X-Men  series will feature an all-female team of mutants.

They don't need adamantium claws to put a hurt on you
 You can say it's pandering, it's lame, it's irrelevant, whatever. I don't care. I think it's fabulous, and here are a few reasons why:

Little girls deserve better than Bella: When I say "Bella," I'm not just referring to the wimpy "heroine" of the Twilight series, who is such an unhealthy role model for young women that I can't stand it. I'm referring to, in general, any representations of women as superficial, ditzy, man-eating morons or submissive damsels whose stories we're supposed to think are so damn romantic because some handsome, wealthy man comes to save them. When that stereotype is presented as the ideal, we're in trouble.

Little girls deserve fictional female portrayals that aren't defined by the men in their lives. Women who are flawed, but not oblivious to it. Women who refuse to be victimized even by their own minds. Little girls deserve superheroes who make them feel like they have superpowers, too. And any handsome, costumed suitor is just a nice extra.

More images promoting a less-damaging body ideal: There's plenty of criticism of the major boobage and minor cloth coverage of comic book women (see: Emma Frost). And... yeah, valid. Totally valid. But while the X-Men still represent a largely unattainable physical ideal, at least the emphasis of the way they're drawn is on showcasing their muscles, their strength. And that's a good thing. I have never, even as a teenager, looked at a comic book female drawing and wanted to starve myself or cry. I've wanted to get my ass in a kickboxing class! I've wanted to do push-ups and throw high-kicks at the air!

Are you sure you don't want a jacket or something?
 Three cheers for female camraderie!: God help them if they mess this up, but I hope Marvel uses this opportunity to portray a group of women without clich├ęd cattiness and girl-on-girl hate. I'm all for anything where women are cheering each other on instead of tearing each other down.

Books are good stuff: Comic books are books. I refuse to hear differently. If you can follow the intricate, universe-jumping, supernatural story arcs of comic books, you're a genius in my book. More human beings reading is a good thing. And if a lineup change like this one makes someone pause at the comics section, that's awesome. If boys pick up the books because they want to see pencil-drawn tatas, that's fine by me. I'm just happy they're reading the words.

The main perk is that this is something different. It changes the dynamic of the X-Men and squeezes a new idea out of an industry where every ridiculous trope has been done and repeated and ret-conned and re-done. I hope it'll give a creative boost that's needed so people don't forget how amazing comic books are.

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