Aug 5, 2015

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 162: Uncanny X-Men #321, February 1995

One of the things I've really enjoyed about the latest X-Men movies is the relationship between Charles Xavier and Eric Lehnsherr, especially before their falling out in First Class. It's a relationship that's always been inflected by our seeing the latter state before the initial state. When we see the two of them together as young men, the sense of lost potential is overwhelming, the sense of youthful enthusiasm and idealism tragically doomed.

This comic captures that moment perfectly, the moment slightly before the two find out about each others' powers, but have some idea that they've each met a like mind, a kindred spirit. I think it's one of the things about that relationship that is often overlooked, the fact that these two men, who seem so oppositional, believe fundamentally in the same thing: a world free of persecution. I'll credit Mr. Waid again this issue with creating a really lovely atmosphere between the two men as they are just getting to know each other, that joy over the fact of having found someone that each can really talk to, the realization that there are indeed people on the planet who will understand you. Like one of the last issues of Adventurers that I reviewed, what we have in this comic is rather lovely and nuanced depiction of male friendship. While the training we undergo as academics skews us toward the critical, sometimes more so that the critique-al, if you take my meaning, it's worth always attempting to balance that view with the celebratory. The previous issue of this title contained some really terribly racist language, and the art presents hyper-sexualized (male and female), societally normative portrayals of the characters. There's always a lot to critique, and that critique is worth making. But to only see through the critical lens robs us of our optimism, and I refuse to go down that path. Charles and Eric (or Magnus, as he's known in this particular iteration of the story) are great friends, or will be great friends just slightly before they're great enemies, and this comic manages to communicate that friendship better than any of the others I've read that have dealt with the subject.

Tomorrow is a "Legion Quest" interlude in the pages of Cable, and then Friday the end of the quest, which means we have an "Age of Apocalypse" weekend on the horizon. See you tomorrow.

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