Rants & Ramblings

random commentary about culture, media, politics, technology and whatnot.

jan
20
2003

judge rules x-men are inhuman

The Wall Street Journal has a curious story in today’s paper (Fans Howl in Protest as Judge Decides X-Men Aren’t Human - 1/20/03). ToyBiz, the action-figure producing subsidiary of Marvel Comics asked a judge to rule that the Marvel mutants aren’t human. The judge complied. The action is part of an ongoing legal battle between ToyBiz/Marvel and the U.S. Customs Service. The company makes its figures in China, and “human” toys incurred higher U.S. Customs tariffs in the mid-1990s.

One of the odd things about this ruling is that it goes completely against the underlying theme of the X-Men comics since their inception in 1963 — that these mutants are humans, just born with extra abilities. Theirs is a struggle against racism and prejudice. They have a responsibility to use their powers for good, but the series emphasizes the day-to-day character traits of these mutants, showing that they’re just as emotional, conflicted, human as the rest of us.

Chuck Austen, current author of Marvel’s “Uncanny X-Men” comic-book series, is also incredulous. He has worked hard for a year, he says, to emphasize the X-Men’s humanity, to show “that they’re just another strand in the evolutionary chain.”