Defending Remender and Attacking Racism

by J.D. Cook

Brian Michael Bendis is a superstar in comic books. He has helped shape Marvel Comics into the modern juggernaut it is to this day. His current run on All New X-Men has been nothing short of spectacular. Although it started rather slow it picked up a ton of speed by Issue 5 and since then every issue has been a must read.  That said I have a bit of a beef with him because of his latest issue of All New X-Men.  To fully explain my beef I must first take you on a journey through time much like the All New X-Men.

A few weeks ago my favorite comic writer Rick Remender came under a great deal of flak for a speech he had Alex Summers (Havok) make in Uncanny Avengers Issue 5. Readers can check out the full speech here but The premise of the comic is that the Uncanny Avengers 7Avengers and X-Men must work together for the betterment of everyone. In that vein Alex Summers gave a speech where he asked not to be seen as a mutant but as an individual first. I loved this part of the story because it is essentially something I’ve been saying for as long as I’ve been an adult. There is no such thing as different races we are all just humans, “of one tribe” as Remender wrote. This has always seemed like the common sense approach to people. When I meet someone I treat them as unique individuals; I DO NOT first go through a checklist of what groups they belong to. Black? White? Hispanic?…Ok Gay? Straight?…Alright got that…City kid? Farm kid? Do you see how absurd it would be to think of people like that?! People are individuals first then when you get to know them you may find that they are proud of their ancestors, heritage, sexual orientation or plain background. If people were pyramids the individual personality would be the point and everything else would come below it. Does that make sense to you?

Well it didn’t make sense to a lot of people who then attacked Remender on twitter calling him a racist. Now take a minute and think about how ridiculous that is? How can someone having a character monologue about the need for people to be less stereotyped be a racist? Wouldn’t the people who demand to be seen as their skin color or sexual orientation before being seen as individuals be the true racists? Politicians need and want to keep People Divided and Categorized people divided into sub groups, Latinos, blacks, whites, etc because it makes people much easier to control. Playing the US vs THEM card is the oldest political trick in the book and it allows politicians to demagogue their enemies and control their allies by saying ‘you can’t betray your fellow group members by voting against the person they want!?’ This happens on both sides of the aisle and its pretty nasty stuff. It also undermines politics because instead of one people thinking and evaluating issues we bicker and fight and vote based on prejudices. Now this tactic doesn’t work on everyone because there are smart people in this country who see the games being played but apparently there are also a lot of people who don’t and they disliked the fact that Remender had Alex Summers ask people to treat him as a person first…A LOT.

Now let’s fast forward a bit. The issue has pretty much faded as Remender apologized and said his character’s speeches don’t represent his own views etc. Then all of the sudden the issue pops back up in All New X-Men Issue 13. Bendis had his characters react to the Kitty Pryde speech. The villain Mystique simply dismisses Alex Summers speech. Fellow X-Man and fan favorite character Kitty Pryde then goes on a tirade about how she is Jewish and a Mutant and she won’t hide that fact and she’s proud of it. This would have simply seemed like a natural part of the story IF it wasn’t for the fact that Alex Summers entire speech was re-printed at the end of the issue. So essentially what Bendis does in the issue is give a negative opinion of the speech thus providing his readers with a lens to then read the speech through at the end of the issue. While I love the fact that everything happening in the Marvel Universe is connected and we get to see characters react to things happening across the Universe this felt like some kind of cheap shot at Rick Remender. Now I do not know if this is true because I do not know Bendis personally but that is what this humble reader felt. Not only that but Remender didn’t have Alex Summers say don’t be proud of your religion or your ethnic background he just had him say don’t define people by those things without first getting to know them!

Now I return to my main point. Why did people react so negatively to Remender’s writing? I think it’s because people know that if people think like Alex Summers (people are individuals first)  then there is no more racial conflicts. No more Us vs Them, for politicians or anyone else. There ARE NO minorities if we just treat everyone as part of One Human Race! I hope Rick Remender keeps Alex Summers holding to his view of the Marvel Universe as unified and maybe some people will have their minds changed too. Kudos man for saying something a lot of us have been thinking!

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