As a kid, I remember sitting in my room for hours slowly, and carefully turning the pages of my X-Men comic books that I had just carefully removed from their plastic bags with acid-free cardboard backings.
I thought I had created the perfect trick when I looped back the pieces of tape to the backsides of the bag, to avoid catching a piece of tape on the comic book itself, which would have been — to me — a disaster. Any sort of damage, even the smallest crease, could vastly decrease the comics value.
Not that I have ever sold any of my comics … not ever. That does not mean I didn’t avoid tragedy, my parents, not realizing my intense attachment to my two large boxes of comics. Got rid of them after I joined the Army and later went to college. It pains me to this day.
But the X-Men have always been there for me. To this day, I know most of the characters by the first and last names they went by before they discovered their mutant abilities as well as I know their superhero alter-ego names. Scott Summers is Cyclops, Jean Grey is Phoenix, Charles Xavier is Professor X and so on and so on.
But I remember the calm of reading and living alongside the lives of the X-Men. I felt their struggles as outsiders that had superpowers resulting from mutated genes in their bodies. This upper swing of evolution was known to be caused by the presence of the X-Gene, giving mutants superhuman abilities such as advanced healing, controlling the weather, bending metal with your mind and teleporting. One of my favorite mutants was the young Kitty Pryde, who was able to phase … meaning she could control her density and walk through walls, or selectively step on molecules to walk on air.
But on I sat on my bed, smelling the gentle smell of newspaper / aka comic book paper and ink, hearing the gentle shuffle of paper as I turned each page, I remember ads of Sea Monkeys entire plastic armies for $1.49, cool movie posters or a page filled with magic tricks. I occasionally sent my money to these companies, was disappointed with the army men and x-ray goggles, but the magic tricks and fake blood were pretty good.
But back to the pages of X-Men. One of my favorite story-lines was the X-Men against the evil brood. The evil brood looked similar to the Alien monsters filled with acidic blood in the successful Alien movie franchise, but this was back in the 80’s, Marvel was likely inspired by the original 1979 classic.
My all-time favorite comic book cover — X-Men #234 "Glory Day" September 1988
The evil brood clouded the minds of the X-Men, and the queen laid an egg inside the spinal column of each X-Man. Wolverine’s super healing ability allowed him to survive, but the others weren’t so lucky at the onset. I can’t remember now how they all survived, but I found the story line poetic, and marveled at the beauty of fighting against an evil enemy but also traveling alongside them all in their mental degradation that they likely were going to die.
But they didn’t. They survived even though their chances were near nothing. It gave me strength, it gave me a willingness to know I could survive almost anything. And I did.
The X-Men weren’t just comic book characters to me, they were people who struggled as I did. And even though they had superhuman powers, they still had to deal with anti-mutant sentiments and hatred. I never realized how close their struggle was to Native people. Especially not an 80-pound Native kid like me.
Then the movies came out
It seems my entire life I was waiting for superhero movies. When the X-Men first came out, my wife Delores warned me not to see them, because the movies could disrupt the childhood visions I had grasped onto for so many years.
She was right.
I still LOVE the movies, but Wolverine, who once used to be may favorite character, took a substantial hit when Hugh Jackman played the role. Everyone — for the most part anyway — LOVES Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, but I never did. It wasn’t Jackman’s fault, but Wolverine for all of my childhood was a short, squat muscular and hairy almost animal-like guy. We are talking 5’3” - Do you know who Stan Lee originally wanted to portray Wolverine? Danny Devito!
So Jackman never worked for me. But bless him he was amazing in Logan.
So here we are with the latest series of X-Men movies and other flicks due to be released in 2019. The latest of course is the Dark Phoenix movie trailer. Jean Grey was once a telepath known as Marvel Girl, but underwent a massive transformation when she died as Marvel Girl and was reborn as Phoenix in the Uncanny X-Men issues #101–108 in 1976–1977.
This to me is spectacular. Check out the trailer.
If you are a fan of the X-Men Universe, know that the New Mutants movie is also slotted for 2019, though they keep moving the dates around, and features a Native American lead character Danielle Moonstar, played by Blu Hunt.
There is also the Fox Series The Gifted in which Blair Redford plays the nearly invincible and strong mutant, Thunderbird. Unsurprisingly for a Native American character, he is also an excellent tracker. (BIG SIGH)
Of course, the latest Deadpool 2 movie made too many X-Factor references to count so there is another movie franchise coming into play. I don’t mind, I think Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool is hilarious and Josh Brolin as Cable has great interactive energy between the two of them.
Enjoy the trailers.
One last thing.
Does every damn Native American character have to have a buck knife as a weapon, have an eagle on his shoulder or know how to track someone? There is also shape shifting, animal telepathy and more.
For ONCE I’d like to see a Native American superhero that could shoot plasma bolts from his eyes, or be a super-expert in electronics that can build robots out of a remote control and an extension cord.
Follow fellow Native Nerd, Vincent Schilling associate editor for Indian Country Today at@VinceSchilling- Make sure to use the Hashtag #NativeNerd
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