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Sex Crimes of the X-Men
2001-11-24 02:25:25


Art Fux
 
If someone like Karl Rove had wanted to neutralize the most creative, intelligent, and passionate members of his opposition, he'd have a hard time coming up with a better tool than Burning Man. Exile them to the wilderness, give them a culture in which alpha status requires months of focus and resource-consumptive preparation, provide them with metric tons of psychotropic confusicants, and then... ignore them. It's a pretty safe bet that they won't be out registering voters, or doing anything that might actually threaten electoral change, when they have an art car to build.
-- John Perry Barlow

 

"Gee, I wish I was older."
"So do I."

A smooth-talking Russian holds a fourteen-year-old girl in his arms. He kisses her passionately -- then clasps her against his body. "When you're doomed, what's the point of playing by society's stupid rules?!" she asks.

That's from issue #165 of The Uncanny X-Men comic book. The male speaker is "Peter Rasputin," a Russian he-man whose superpower is a body that turns instantly into rigid steel. And the female is "Kitty Pryde". Who, remember, is fourteen.

So "Kitty" has had a bad dream, and she cries out in the night. In the very next panel "Peter" is there -- in her bedroom -- wrapping his arms around her tender body and comforting her. "Do not fear," he coos, "it is all right. I am here. I will protect you. Shhhhh, there's a girl...." After expressing his wish that she weren't underaged, Kitty asks him if he's toying with her. "I have never been more serious," he answers -- and then commences some lusty lip-lock.



All right, look, I'm no comic book fan-boy. An art school drop-out is just staying with me for a few weeks, and I found the issue in his box of old comic books. It's from January of 1983, and the art school drop-out assures me there's nothing unusual about its editorial staff. (Marvel writer Chris Claremont, editor Louise Jones, and editor-in-chief Jim Shooter, if those names actually mean anything to you.) So what exactly is going on here? What's with the "forbidden love" theme? I mean, the comic book friggin' specifies that she's fourteen just a few pages before. Did they really mean for this randy Russian to be macking on her?

I asked another long-time comic book fan, who at first stammered out rationalizing protests like "Maybe the age of consent is different in Russia!" But after some thought, he pointed out an intriguing bit of comic book history. "Marvel at the time wouldn't allow ANY reference to homosexuality, but apparently accepted Piotr and Kitty railing against (presumably American) society's clear laws against statutory rape."

Peter Rasputin: "This is not the proper time or place."
Kitty Pryde: "We may never get another chance."

Hmmm.....

This whole stroll through comic book nostalgia is making me a bit uncomfortable -- like that cover photo on a "Rifleman" comic book about a "mysterious bag" holding the secret to an outlaw's past.

I mean, granted, in this issue of the X-Men the Russian character was only 19 years old himself, my comic book-loving friend points out, but then again -- "this little fantasy of 14-year-old love wasn't written by a 19-year-old..." I tried searching the net for more information, but all I found was this home-drawn image where Kitty Pryde has enormous breasts.

An internet FAQ for the X-Men comic books does have a long section about the age of Kitty Pryde, including talk about "retroactive continuity" -- Marvel's writers allegedly keeping Kitty's character underaged to squelch rumors that she was sexually active. And elsewhere there's even some depressing fan fiction about Kitty Pryde giving birth.

But in the absence of a clear statement about the writer's intentions, there's no point in speculating. If you think too much about this, every panel in X-Men #165 suddenly seems to take on an additional leering double meaning.

"Is this MORE ACTION than even SPIDER-MAN can HANDLE?!?!?!"

Er, sorry -- that's from an ad for Atari's Spiderman video game in the same issue. But you get the idea.




Click on the picture of the doomed lovers
to read the entire page.


Over.  End of Story.  Go home now.

quintuplet@pigdog.org


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