After six years (which is already five years too many), Marvel Comics finally decided to send the young time-displaced original X-Men back to the past. However, Extermination Issue 5, from writer Ed Brisson and artist Pepe Larraz, has led to certain fans getting understandably upset about a teenage Bobby Drake being forced back into the closet.
Writer Brian Michael Bendis is the one we all have to thank for creating the mess that was bringing the original X-Men from the past to the present timeline back in 2012. Having Beast (one of the smartest characters in Marvel Comics) make such a decision was very stupid. Anyway, the young X-Men remained in the present for years to come. They did try to go back, but it didn’t work.
Everyone went through certain changes. Jean Grey did her best to not fall prey to the Phoenix Force. Cyclops spent time with his father Corsair. Angel got cosmic wings. And Beast dabbled in magic. But it was a young Iceman who shook the Marvel Comics fandom.
He came out to the world as gay courtesy of a very problematic Jean. Of course, certain fans rejoiced, some said it was forced diversity, while some remained cautious due to Marvel’s track record with queer representation.
Since his coming out, we saw both young and adult Iceman embracing their sexuality. Young Bobby dated another boy. The adult Bobby got his solo series (by writer Sina Grace) which explored the queer aspect of his being.
Coming to Extermination Issue 5, the five part mini-series had a young Cable send the original X-Men back to the past to prevent a horrible future (you know, a typical X-Men plot). The entire story was about setting things right. Cable replaced Angel’s cosmic wings with an organic pair. He also killed the adult version of himself. But it was young Bobby being forced to go back into the closet to save the world which stuck out the most.
While the present adult Bobby is still openly gay, seeing a younger version of him having to live a closeted life is problematic and disappointing.
It was a necessary evil, a corner Marvel wrote itself into the moment they revealed Bobby’s true sexuality. I understand how such development comes across as another example of using queer sexuality as a plot device, and how Marvel Comics hand waved the entire thing away.
I knew it was going to happen whenever the X-Men went back in time. However, I do think having a queer writer handle the process would have helped make the event more palatable. Look at the incredible work done by Sina Grace in the current Iceman solo series. He gave us freaking Shade the mutant Drag Queen in this week’s issue!
I’m not saying you need to have the same sexuality or color as the character you are writing to tell an interesting story. But it is true having compatible and diverse voices on the team is important. It could have helped with the overall ‘we-need-to-put-Bobby-back-in-the-closet’ inevitability being handled better.
Anyway, I get why young Bobby had to go back into the closet. However, I do believe the situation could have been different (in a good way) if a queer writer was tasked to construct the narrative.
Feel free to share your thoughts with us.
Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.
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