Queering Wolverine

It’s difficult to find feminism in comic books. The women are generally drawn as sex objects and a majority of them are characters either to be the token woman on the team or to serve as a love interest for the main character. But don’t worry, I don’t plan on rehashing old arguments about comic book women.

I’d given up on the X-men for a while-though this was less of a decision for feminist reasons and more because to keep up with the X-men you need to be reading 4 or 5 different series. Still, I hadn’t read any recent X-men at all until my mom got me X-Treme X-men #6 for no other reason than that she thought I would find the cover amusing.

I found it very amusing actually. I’m always ready to laugh at Spiderman lunch boxes, especially when they’re held by other, much cooler, Marvel heroes like Nightcrawler.

I was expecting to read this and be more than a little confused. It’s in the middle of a series run, it’s an alternate universe I know nothing about, and I’m reading only 15 pages out of a more complex story.

From what I gathered from the plot, Wolverine and Dazzler are traveling across different universes to stop versions of Charles Xavier  from destroying worlds. The comic was nothing special until I came to a conversation between Wolverine and Dazzler that did more for feminism than I’ve seen in almost any comic. In this alternate universe, Wolverine is queer.

Take a look at the conversation:

As I mentioned in my post regarding the Doctrine of Labyrinths series, it is a big step for feminism when writers craft queer characters because it works against the notion that gay is feminine and feminine is what you don’t want to be. The author of the comic, Greg Pak, however does more for feminism than if he had just created a character who is gay.

This is Wolverine. He is a recognizable symbol of masculinity and his feelings for Hercules  are treated with respect. Look at the panel focused on Wolverine’s face when he talks about “any man…loving another” and see how his feelings for another man are not sensationalized or played for laughs, but are genuine and treated as such. Queering Wolverine is such a bold move not only in the fact that it makes readers rethink sexuality, but that Wolverine is an established character; it is not possible for this Wolverine’s personality to be stripped down to the word gay.

Hercules is bisexual in the canon Marvel universe, adding another layer of feminism to promote the fact that sexuality is not a gay-straight binary.  Masculinity is not the clearly marked ideal people wish to believe in.

It is such a relief to know there are authors out there who are willing to make their readers understand that being queer is not about being masculine or feminine and it’s not a person’s only attribute either. I don’t think I’ll continue to read X-Treme X-Men, but I am glad I got a hold of the issue that I’m sharing with you.

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Spirituality is not a Cop Out

Over the summer, I read a fantastic Justice League comic book and was amazed by the genuine interactions between Superman and Batman because when they spoke they spoke to each other as Clark and Bruce. They were witty and imaginative and personable and human. I knew I wanted to create my own interaction between the two heroes and cobbled together an idea based on a question of Batman’s religion.

I don’t see Batman as being religious. I cannot imagine Bruce Wayne following the structures and dogma that comes with religion. I do, however, see him as being spiritual. The premise of my story is that Clark calls on Bruce to go to dinner as friends, but interrupts Bruce when he was about to go pray. As the author I imagined Bruce lighting candles and praying that his parents went to a safe place and were happy in death.

I posted my story on fanfiction.net and one of the first reviews I got told me I had misinterpreted Bruce’s character because a man of Bruce’s intelligence could never deny the existence of God. In claiming Bruce was spiritual, I had copped out of a legitimate story.

Now, I understand that this is fanfiction, it’s about comic books, and all in all shouldn’t be so influential to my life. But I’m writing this post to explain why it has to be so influential. The reviewer touched upon a problem prevalent with religious understanding that has nothing to do with fiction. There is a strict dichotomy of Religion vs Atheism that is damaging to our understanding of God. If, as this reviewer claimed, spirituality is just taking the ‘easy way out’ from being religious then God is being put into a box.  Either one believes in God  and ties his or her faith to organized religion- and only to organized religion- or he or she does not believe in God at all. Where did this split come from?

God has become synonymous with religion. No other interpretation is allowed and any concept of a God that differs from the norm, leaves the believer ostracized between those who would call this belief heresy and those who would call any belief in God not worth consideration.

I do not mean to generalize about any groups of religious or atheistic thought, I only wish to point out that a person’s understanding of God should never be considered a cop out, even in fiction. Fiction is a window into the world of the times, and if spirituality is being critiqued as lazy, uneducated, and atheistic, it says something about how spirituality is treated in real life as well.