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My fandom above all others, the X-Men!

I was always a child with a vivid imagination and a desire to read and create. I never ran with the popular crowd, never really wanted to although I did want friends and had none my own age. I was picked on by every student in my school, from the ones in grades higher than mine all the way down to the bloody Kindergartners. Every one wanted a piece of me. Every one had some reason to snub their nose at me, from my perfect grades to my slightly stooped shoulders (inherited) to my speech impediment to my being a bookworm (I did read quite avidly then) to my complete lack of interest in sports (I even once chose to write sentences rather than go to a school game).

I was alone. No one really wanted to be my friend. The students who did tolerate me only did so perhaps out of pity and, as soon as the popular kids turned their way, started ragging on me then. I wanted something better than what I had but didn't want the idiots around me. I saw them, even then, for what they were, and so although I wanted a friend, I don't want them and didn't really know what I wanted.

And then in 1992, a cartoon came along that completely changed my life. My one main hobby outside of reading and playing make believe at that time was watching cartoons, but this one far eclipsed everything that had come before it. I remember watching the coming on sequences and being hooked practically immediately. I loved Beast. I loved Morph. I loved Jubilee and Storm and Rogue. I wanted to be Jubilee or Storm. I wanted to study underneath Professor Xavier.

And at last, I understood what it was I really wanted: I wanted people like me, people who were different but intelligent and a cut above the rest of the world around them. I wanted other "freaks" like me to come into my life and be my friends but be more than my friends. The one thing I love about the X-Men, above all other aspects, is that they are far more than a team, far more than friends. They are a family, a family who, no matter how much they argue and fight, in the end will do anything to help and protect and SAVE each other not just from the world but often even from themselves.

I wanted to be strong like these people and intelligent. I was already well on my way intellectually speaking, but I'd always been somewhat of a weakling. I took the abuse at school. I let the idiots make me cry. I let my problems in my family life make me cry.

But finally, I had role models to whom to look up. I had characters of strength. Characters that might look no stronger than I but whose courage and heart possessed far greater strengths than their actual muscle or sometimes, like in dear Morph's case, brains. These people (they were very, very real to me at that time) had had people abuse them. They had suffered at the hands of prejudiced idiots. They had been berated all their lives for being different. They had been picked on and abused. They had suffered greatly for being different. And yet, they still fought for the people who hated them.

They hadn't become any weaker because of the abuse they had endured. They didn't simply let some idiot make them cry. They might well beat their butt (especially in Wolverine's case), and they always found a way to prove them wrong. They fought for what they believed in, and they stood strong -- no matter what anybody else thought about them.

The women were every bit as strong as the men, and whereas I was well accustomed to strong women (She Ra and some lady cop in Cops immediately spring to mind), I was not used to women who were so strong and brave and yet also beautiful, graceful, and feminine. These ladies did not hesitate to show their girly sides. They enjoyed shopping and looking beautiful. They enjoyed normal things like I did, from riding horses to communing with Nature to simply chowing down and shopping like a true mallrat.

I wanted to grow up to be Storm. I wanted to marry Hank (I've always had a thing for furry guys, but he was the cutest I'd seen yet). I think, too, looking back that my first girl!crush, fandom wise, was on Ororo. We all know how beautiful that mortal Goddess is!

I'd been enjoying the X-Men cartoon for just a few years when we first got Internet . . . and I finally started making friends. They were online, but the people I knew were smarter and far more interesting than any of the idiots that attended the one school around here in these redneck woods. I joined an X-Men RPG on AOL and ended up playing a character I scarcely knew -- Kitty Pryde.

My information on Shadowcat at that time was extremely limited. I hadn't even read anything on her at all yet. In fact, all I'd seen was a trading card -- which, coincidentally, also happened to be the very first thing I stole. It was back when action figures were packaged with trading cards. I don't remember who the figure was, but I saw Kitty and had to have her. As I said, it was the first thing I ever stole, and although I don't do such things these days, I'm still sitting here, typing this, and remembering that event in my life with a grin. :-)

It wasn't long thereafter that I FINALLY found my first comic book. It was the last issue of Dream Nails, and from there, I was hooked. I started spending practically my allowance on comics, but they were hard to find here. Now, after On Cue closing years ago, they're practically impossible to find in person. (Thank God for the Internet and subscriptions or I'd never get anywhere on my addiction.)

There was one girl who I'd known since first grade with whom I had a bit of a strained relationship. We were friends when no one else was around, but let somebody else come along and she'd ditch me in a heartbeat. Still, one day, we ended up sitting together on the bus, and out of boredom, started a writing competition.

The first fan fiction story I ever penned was a short Kurt piece where he saved a child (before, if my memory serves me correctly, I read the short comic at the back of an old issue that was practically the same storyline) from a fire. I called it Sudden Terror. We each enjoyed writing our stories and reading the other's, so we kept the competition going for the rest of junior high. (I homeschooled through high school and finally managed to escape the idiots that were my peers here.) Still, I didn't stop writing. A fire had been created in me, and it's been burning brightly ever since. :-)

Although I've always believed that everything written in this dimension becomes real somewhere (and have had enough experiences to confirm my belief in this theory, but that's another story), I have, of course, long since come to accept that I'm never going to meet the X-Men. Professor X, Banshee, and/or Emma are never going to come for me, which is all for the best as I certainly wouldn't leave my family now. But my love for the X-Men has never waned over the years. In fact, it's only grown ever stronger.

A great deal of that love is for all the reasons I've already written about here, but a lot of it also comes in my love of the characters. Marvel definitely knows how to bring a character to life. My first favorites, as already mentioned, were Beast, Storm, Jubilee, and Morph. Morph has sadly had too little facetime to remain a top favorite, but Storm and Jubie always have. Hank's always been high on my list of favorites, as well although my beloved X-Men (not X-Women, mind you) change often, depending both on what I'm reading and what's actually happening in the comics at the time. I've grown to love characters and romances I thought I never would, and my eyes have been opened so well to the characters in the X-verse that I can usually tear apart any character in any media I experience and get to their true heart and soul. (The X-Men storylines I've read over the years are also what's made it so hard for me not to be able to know what's going to happen with a story in most movies and books from practically the start.)

Storm and Jubilee will always be some of my favorite X-Women as will as Kitty. All three had a long run as my favorite X-Women of all time, and then I fell in love with Emma Frost and her many multiple layers. Here is a woman who is all the characteristics I love in my favorite heroines: beauty, grace, strength of mind and power, courage, boldness, compassion . . . And yet her compassion and passion are both things she's worked so hard for so long to hide. Why? Because she, like me, was hurt by so many others, but she found a way to claw her way to the top.

She did what she had to do to survive, and she did considerably more than survive. She made herself one of the wealthiest and most powerful women in the entire X-universe. People both feared and admired her. She finally took a chance to make the world a better place, to fight for her causes, and she was hurt again. Her students were killed, and she was left to rot in a coma.

Charles Xavier saved her. He saw in her so much more than the rest of the world saw, just like he had with Wolverine and with Rogue, and he reached out to her. She was snide to him at first, even seemed angered by the fact that he saw the true her, but deep down, Emma was touched when he made her the headmistress of his new school. Somebody actually finally did more than just like her or envy her or respect her for her power. He trusted her with the lives of the young mutants who were turning to him and his people for a better chance at life.

He trusted her, and she tried so hard to not let his trust down. She did all she could to save her children this time, and she even fell in love -- fell in love with a man who, although he respected her, was never the man she needed because he wouldn't admit his own feelings to her or to himself. And then one of her students was outright killed by her own sister. Emma did what she absolutely had to do, or felt she had to, to save the rest of her children. She killed her sister.

Many of the X-Men have killed before. Practically all of them have had blood on their hands at one time or another. Wolverine's been forgiven. Rogue's been forgiven. Magneto was once even with the X-Men -- actually, more than once now. But neither her remaining students nor the man she loved could forgive her for what Emma had done. After all she'd done, all of herself that she'd given to them, they still saw the evil White Queen. They still feared her, and they had never truly trusted her.

That almost killed Emma. A stronger woman would have been utterly and completely destroyed. But not Emma Frost. She found a way back into the X-Men even after her team disbanded and her students left her. She found a way to dig deep into the team and made a permanent position for herself -- on Scott Summers' arm.

It took me a while to understand Marvel's reasoning behind this pairing. I still loved Emma but hated Scott with a passion. I couldn't understand how he could betray Jean, especially after all they'd been through. I'd never been a huge fan of the Scott/Jean pairing or of Scott in particular. I liked Jean okay but wasn't crazy about her like a lot of fans. But still, they were one of the most powerful and passionate couples in the X-Men comics, and now Marvel was destroying them. It wasn't enough that they had to destroy any chance of happiness Sean and Emma might have had; now, they'd destroyed Scott and Jean and were giving my girl to ol' One Eye! I was, to put it simply, pissed.

I actually stopped reading for a long time, up until the time we moved to the city and were close enough to an actual, live comic shop! The comic geek in me came right out flaming. I started spending around $20 out of each paycheck on comics, and quickly, I fell right back in love with all my old favorite characters who were still there, including Emma. I also finally came to understand the pairing of Scott and Emma.

She needed a way to stay with the X-Men so that she could continue to fight for a better tomorrow for the mutant children who were beaten, betrayed, hurt, and sometimes even killed for simply being different than the prejudiced humans: Scott was a perfect way. Scott, on the other hand, had been lost, and Emma had found him. She had found him and kept him sane as he'd lost Jean yet again. He used her at first, but somewhere along the way, he fell in love. He even told Jean to stay dead when he could have had her again in his life.

Now, at last, I was hooked on Scott/Emma, although I still long for Sean/Emma, and what did Marvel do? They broke them up, of course. I stayed with UXM for a while, but the issues were growing stagnant and continued to disappoint me. There were also too much of the newest mutants in them when I was still longing for my old favorites. By this time, we were out of the city and back in the country, back home in the woods and far, far away from any comic shop. But I had my subscriptions and made do with what was coming in while trying to figure out what series I would more enjoy.

Then I heard about the newest X-Men line, the newest series with an all female cast, and I knew I had to get in. I went ahead and paid for my subscription before the series ever started, and although I have been given some disappointing turns with the series, I have also continued to love it, most especially reading Storm kicking butt again and taking strong command and Jubilee being back in the X-fold where she belongs.

Now there's another character I loved who Marvel's handed a raw deal. I love the new twist of her being a Vampire. I love that she's back home with the X-Men, back where she belongs at last, and even enjoy her bond with Shogo, although I usually hate human kids. It was the perfect movie for Jubie, so bold and courageous and far beyond her years despite her style and speech, to adopt a baby she rescued. (After all, let's not forget that this girl rescued Wolverine before she ever became a hero or joined the X-Men.) But I still miss her ability to throw fireworks. I still miss the happiness she had when she was first with the X-Men and then later with Generation X, before Everett was killed, before Angelo was murdered and hung on that cross . . .

I do miss Kitty, though. It's not the same without having her there (and I still can't believe how they had 'Ro treat her after all they've been through together), and Monet certainly is no replacement for Shadowcat. I've never really been that fond of M. She's too full of herself, too opinionated, too confident . . . But still, for the most part, I'm loving X-Men. Having a team of X-Women has been an idea I've loved for ages; it's past time Marvel gave it to us!

Yet they've also given us a better series still in the new Amazing X-Men. Marvel is well known for killing off and resurrecting characters. God only knows how many times they've done it to Jean Grey, but as much as funs complain about that, we also all know that it's a relief when they return certain, beloved characters to us. I'm still waiting for Sean's return and Morph's and the AOA Sabertooth's. But finally, finally, FINALLY, we have been given Nightcrawler's!

Like the other blue and fuzzy guy who proudly wears an X on his belt buckle, Nightcrawler is another character whom I've loved since practically the first moment I set eyes on him!

Again, like Emma, part of what makes Kurt so enjoyable is his many, many layers. At first glance, you have a mutant who looks like a Demon, complete with adorable, pointy tale and fangs, and who has one of the purest hearts amongst any team of heroes. When you get to know Kurt better, you discover his religious side.

Now I used to be aggravated sometimes by just how Christian he was. I, like many others, both fans and other X-Men, wondered how he could put such faith into the Christian God, but that's just it: He puts his faith in God, not in the people who claim to be of God who are largely responsible for driving most outsiders away from the church and from God. Kurt's had his bad experiences with churches as well. Most of the other Christians he's met have treated him with disdain, fear, and hatred, which all of those of us who are LGBT and/or are or have been of another faith can certainly relate to. It wasn't until I myself was reborn in Christianity that I understood just how these people work and how much they are not of the God to Whom they claim to belong. But I'm not here to preach. On Kurt's religious side, I'll just say that being reborn myself has helped me to see his faith in a new light and appreciate both his faith and his character even more.

But that's still not all of Kurt's many sides, not by a long shot. For a would-be Priest, this handsome Fuzzy Elf has had his share of romances, is quite the ladies' man despite his appearance, and does love a good romance as well as a good swashbuckling adventure, rather it's simply reading/seeing the story or, and better yet, living it himself. He's a Pirate at heart and has often been a Captain, which is one of the many, many reasons why I'm loving Amazing X-Men. (Seriously, if you like/love Kurt at all and/or like/love Pirates at all, you should definitely try this book!)

Kurt has led the X-Men several times, but I really loved him in the Excalibur series where he was team leader. He has every bit of the determination, strong will, and good heart that make Scott and Ororo good leaders and is far more sensitive to his team mates and others' problems and personalities. I miss Excalibur so much, and he and Kitty are a large part of it.

However, they're certainly not the only reasons why this series remains one of my favorite X-series of all times. As usual, for me, it's not really the storylines or the writers or artists that made the book (although Excalibur always had great writers and almost always cool storylines and talented artists) but rather the characters therein. To start with, they had two of my all time favorites on the team, Kitty and Kurt, as already mentioned, but they also had Meggan (loved her for her sensitivity, sometimes childlike views, and relations with animals, the Fae, and Mother Earth), Wolfsbane (who I adored in the way she was handled in this series), Douglock (who was cute with Rahne), Pete Wisdom and Colossus each for a time, and, of course, Lockheed.

Almost all their characters were likeable. I still want to know more about Kylun and Feron, and although I've never liked Moira, I did enjoy her interactions with Rahne and Douglock and could easily overlook her in light of the other characters who shone in the book. Brian was also a starring character, but I didn't always care for him. As usual, it often depended on who was writing him as sometimes he was the true love who always seemed to be there for Meggan to help, support, and courage her as a husband, or wouldbe husband, should, but then at other times, he was written just so pompous and conceited, like Scott has also often been portrayed although, in the right writing hands, he can be a wonderful character.

As usual, with the X-Men and various other X-books, it wasn't just the characters that made me love the series but also, and even more importantly, the bonds amongst them. I love Kitty and Kurt's friendship; their fencing and Pirate role playing session remains one of my favorite moments in the comics. I also adore Kitty with Rachel; in fact, I rather hate that she and the new Rachel Grey seem to have so little of a relationship at all, not to mention no real bond. And again, with Kitty, I love her bond with Lockheed and just about every moment between the two of them. Never were a pair of friends more meant for each other, not even Wolverine and Jubilee, than Kitty and 'Heed, and Marvel's temporary split of the pair was one of their worst decisions ever.

As already mentioned, I enjoyed Moira's and Rahne's mother/daughter relationship and really related to her when she dove into the vault into which Moira was sealing herself to find a cure for the Legacy Virus before it killed her. Like myself, she was willing to do anything to be with her mom and help her, no matter what "Lady Moira" did or said to her in return. This really showed a growth of their characters, too: When Rahne was first introduced, she already greatly adored and respected Moira, but she was terrified too disobey her on any topic. Of course, this poor lass also thought she could go to Hell for doing simple things like drinking or wearing a skirt too short.

And then there was the romance. Kitty and Rachel saying goodbye is one of the most powerful and well-written stories I've ever read, although I STILL say Marvel should have found another way to bring Captain Britain back rather than Ray having to sacrifice herself. As I mentioned earlier, too, Douglock and Rahne were so adorable together. Kurt got to be very passionate with several ladies, including Cerise (what Excaliburite can ever forget the "lip massage"?) and Amanda, a Sorceress and his adopted sister!

I hated what they did to Amanda in X-Men: Evolution, BTW. I usually loved this series (I greatly enjoy the cartoons despite hating the movies), but this is one of the worst changed characterizations they brought into the script. Not only do you not change a character's race without changing the actual character (regardless of rather it's from white to black or black to white or another ethnicity change), but they made Amanda human. Amanda, who was such a powerful Witch, strong woman, and played such a huge part in Kurt's life, never had any of her Gypsy, Sorceress, or Inferno background and, although wise enough to not sway to peer pressure when it came to how her boyfriend looked, was certainly not the strong, kick-butt heroine she was in the comics or anywhere close to becoming so.

But back to Excalibur and, once again, off my soapbox. :-) This is, after all, supposed to be a post about how much I love the X-Men and why, not a rant about how many things the writers, though talented, have gotten wrong over the years.

Pryde and Wisdom were a great couple, and Kitty even had some wonderful moments with Piotr. Now there again is something too many of the paid X-writers get wrong: Kitty and Piotr are great together when handled right, but too often, Kitty has had to take a backseat to Colossus and been penned as a girl with very little thought for anything other than her boyfriend, how she can woo him, how she can get him, and how much he's hurt her. Recently, especially, they made Kitty seem to need Piotr to rescue her often, but in Excalibur, she rarely needed to be rescued, if at all. She was handled perfectly in those pages. I'll never forget how Wisdom was perfectly happy to just step back, let her beat up the bad guys, and then crow with pride about how much of a kick ass fighter his woman was. :-)

That's another couple I hate that Marvel broke up, although I do love pairing Kitty with so many others (Ororo, Ray/Rachel, Illyana, even Piotr on occasion). I also still don't get the Bobby/Kitty thing, but that's another changed they made because of the movies of which I'll never approve. It would have been bad enough if Marvel had simply changed as much as they did to make the comics more like the blockbusters, but never has a decision been made to show a character more completely out of character than when Jean killed both Scott and Charles.

She never would have done that, and although the Phoenix storyline has been done many, many times before, it should have been shown more in the movies. Even so, the Phoenix never wielded the kind of power in the comics that she was depicted as having in the films, and Jean always fought that cosmic entity down and kept her in check when it mattered the most. That girl would have let the Phoenix wipe out a whole 'nother world before she would have let her kill Scott or Charles, let alone both.

Charles was like a father to both Scott and Jean to many other X-Men, as well. The X-Men never would have been invented without him. Even in the Age of Apocalypse, the X-Men were created because it was Charles' dream, not Magnus', and Erik's way of honoring Charles after he was killed. That's two more relationships I love in the X-Men: Charles and his students, any and all of them who are close to him and respect and love him as they should and practically all of them do, and Erik/Charles. I swear, rather on screen or in the comic books, it is almost impossible not to see the chemistry between those two, and let's not forget how many times Erik has changed his entire life to try to make Charles happy and be close to him -- and also that that includes joining the X-Men two or three times over the years and having been put away from them and Charles not really so much because of his own wrong doings as because of Charles' students never really trusting and accepting him.

I remember a time in the comics when Magnus had actually left Earth. He was trying to live away from them entirely mainly because he was so weary of having to fight with Charles. He had his own home on his own asteroid, and then somebody attacked the X-Men and Magneto both at separate times. I forget who exactly was the attacker (I want to say Fitzroy but am not sure), but it was really brought home to me how weary Erik had become and how prejudiced the X-Men could be when they insisted on fighting him when all the while he was telling them that he had not attacked them. Erik defended himself and that caused the wedge between him and Charles to grow yet again.

I think that, more than anything else, is what really gripes me the most about the writers' poor decisions: the fact that they seem to pick some characters' pasts to overlook while never letting others live theirs down. On one side, you've got people like Wolverine, a guy who'd still honestly rather murder his enemies than simply defeat them and save the world; Rogue, who was forgiven rather quickly, in relative terms to how other characters have been treated for their wrong doings, for almost killing Miss Marvel, a long time friend of the X-Men and especially of Wolverine; even Charles, whose dark side as Onslaught, killed just about every non-mutant hero in the Marvel universe; and several others who have killed for this or that reason.

Now I'm not one of those people who are bothered by killing, as long as it's two leggers (not animals) being killed. I have, in fact, ranted many times in the past about how stupid it can be for heroes not to kill. I'd rather see the enemy (unless I like them) be killed than come back again and again and again, as tends to happen with bad guys, and girls, in the comics even more so than in other media. (After all, and in a note on another fandom, how many times has Batman had to go after criminals, included psychopathic killers and especially the Joker, who killed his own parents, after they escaped from Arkham where he put him the first time only to have them escape again and again and again and again and again . . . ?)

It's not the killing that bothers me. Rather, it's the way some characters seem to have so little to do to make up for their pasts whereas others never, or only after a very long time, seem to be accepted for their present selves. Gambit's one who's kind on the middle ground. Rogue actually dumped him in Antarctica, despite claiming to love him, after she found out his role in the Morlock Massacre. Now here's the thing: Rogue had nearly killed before herself. She's one of the ones who's been forgiven who knows the best about how hard some one has to work to put their dirty, murderous past behind them. She has killed and has secrets in her own past, and yet, she abandoned Gambit, believing he would freeze to death, because he led the Marauders to the Morlocks, when he didn't know what they were going to do to them or even who the Morlocks were.

He'd had no interaction with the X-Men or the Morlocks at that time. He was a thief who just thought he was going to turn a quick buck, not led vicious murderers to an innocent culture of mutants. He didn't kill any one himself. He instantly regretted what happened and even managed to save one of the Morlocks, little Sarah who later grew up to be Marrow. LeBeau was pretty much innocent of what he caused, but he kept the secret to himself because he knew how the others would react -- and he was right.

Gambit has since managed to put his past mostly behind him, but still, you have Emma and Magneto, who are not trusted by the other X-Men, who actually still trust Scott more, when he killed Charles! As I mentioned earlier, Emma lost her students and the second man to trust her and see the good in her, because she killed her sister because the woman had killed Everett and she knew she would not stop coming after the rest of her students until she herself was stopped. Magnus has tried time and again to be on the X-Men team. He's even taught the young ones and actually stopped Rachel from killing some buttwads who had kidnapped, hurt badly, and were intending to kill her best friend (and, many of us believe, lover) Kitty. Magneto didn't use his powers to stop Ray. He talked her down, because he himself no longer believed in killing when it wasn't necessary.

And let's take a further look at this guy who's supposed to be one of the X-Men's greatest enemies, shall we? As a child, he suffered the Holocaust. His parents, his family, millions and millions of people were killed by humans for simply being Jews. When he first tried to put that behind him, his wife and child were killed in a fire because he was a mutant, and again he lost the people he loved more than life itself because of prejudiced humans. Who wouldn't be out to defeat the human race after losing so many they loved to prejudiced humans?

And yet, he's tried, time and again and mostly for Charles, to put his past behind him and not kill. That scene where he talked Rachel down is one of the most powerful scenes in any fandom I've ever witnessed. It ranks right up there with Xander talking Willow down from destroying the world in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Buffy fans know well just how powerful that scene was!

And yet, like Emma, his past continues to haunt him. The poor man can scarcely get a break, and I seriously doubt that if Scott hadn't killed Charles himself, he wouldn't be accepting him now on his team. He hasn't exactly made things easy for him, like it is, but Erik continues to try and continues to do his best to do what he thinks is right not just for himself and not primarily for himself but mostly for his entire species!

Despite everything I've said about the differences in some characters being forgiven and others not, I have to admit I do still like the fact that Erik continues to plan to avenge Charles' death. Now that is one thing which I still don't understand how others can so easily forgive. Yes, Scott was being influenced by the Phoenix. Yes, he regrets that he killed Charles, but still, it was Charles!

This is about the only way I can actually see Jean killing Scott. As much as they've been through together, as many times as she's forgiven him, as much as she loves him, even to the point of helping him raise his son like he was hers when he actually belonged to a clone of her who Scott had married instead of marrying her, I don't see Jeannie forgiving Scott for killing the man who couldn't have been her father more if he had actually been her blood dad. And yet, Ororo's forgiven Scott. Bobby and Hank have forgiven Scott, despite worrying over and being wary of him. Even Logan forgave him enough that he stopped wanting to kill him for killing the man who largely helped save him from his own darkness.

Clearly, Marvel isn't perfect. The X-Men aren't perfect. But still, I love them for the characters and the bonds between them far more than the actual storylines or artwork. Of course, it takes all three things -- powerful characterization, excellent writing, and beautiful art to make the best of the X-stories. I'm much more on the characters and stories, but I have actually, on rare occasion been known to turn a book down because of poor artwork, Wolverine and the X-Men being one of them. I don't know if the artist there has changed recently, but the art really sucked in the beginning of the series. Even the characters and stories therein could not save the series because of those horrible drawings!

And I know I'm definitely not the only one who loves the X-Men as much as I do. Not only have these characters been around and the comics been steadily flowing in one series or another since the '60s, but I have read so many stories of fans who have been touched deeply by these same characters and stories that I myself love so much. It is for that very reason that I miss the letters pages so when they don't happen.

The X-Men is one of those rare fandoms, like Buffy, Star Trek, and Star Wars, that gets passed down from generation to generation, and like all the best fandoms, spans all ages, races, religion and sexual statuses, professions, and . . . well, you name it, in their fans. There is no set demographic for their fans, no set or even majority type of people to whom they appeal to. They appeal to people from all walks of life, just like the X-Men themselves consist of members from all walks of life, each trying to do their best not just to save a world that hates and fears them but to help their part of that world.

I've read letters from people of all ages, some of whom have been with the X-Men since the very beginning. It's nothing unusual, in fact, to read something from a fan who has been with the comics for twenty to thirty years, or more. Come to think of it, I've been with the X-Men for a good chunk of time myself. From '92 to now makes -- good God! -- twenty two years! No wonder the X-Men are such a huge part of my life!

Thanks to the world of fandom, even if we don't stay with the comics the entire time we're fans, we still stay in touch with our favorite characters. We still follow the comics, even if we don't read them, and our love for our favorites never truly goes away. As I mentioned earlier, there was a gap when I couldn't, and didn't really want to, follow the current comics, but I still wrote a ton of fan fic, read some other fan's fan fics, and indulged in back stories galore. I once even got an entire series, X-Men 2099, at one time, each issue being only a $1. How I hate I later donated that and a few other comics! But still, as is, I've got four huge totes full of X-comics and never want to get rid of a single one!

I've read stories, too, from fans who are so desperate to keep getting their comics that they'll even buy a few issues when they're out of work and money is scarce. In fact, there was one such fan who wrote in in the letters page a few issues back in Amazing X-Men. Not only did the editor publish his letter, but he even asked for information on the guy's occupation in case he could somehow help him and asked for any one in his area to write in if they thought they might be able to help the chap!

Speaking of "chap", that's another thing I love about the X-Men. I've picked up a few words of so many different languages simply from reading the comics, like Kurt's German and Piotr's Russian and several British words/phrases from Excalibur. Am I the only one, BTW, who thinks it rather neat that the love of certain characters and fandoms causes fans to pick up words that might never otherwise use and use them in everyday language? The X-Men aren't the only ones who are responsible for this, though: I have to tip my proverbial hat especially to Spike's "bloody" and Rumpelstiltskin's "dearie". I actually heard a customer use "dearie" the other day and had to stop myself from asking her if she was a Rumpel fan. :-) Perhaps I should have asked her. She might e looked the type to be a Oncer, but then, as I mentioned earlier, the best of fandoms don't really have a stereotype of fans.

I myself can certainly relate to trying to scrounge up money for these comics we love so dearly. As some of y'all know, my beloved partner, Drew, has been out of work since the first of the year. Things have been extraordinarily tight; it's a wonder -- thank the dear Lord -- that we've managed to survive this long on only my paycheck, especially when, before I started this job I'm blessed to have now about a month ago, I was only getting fourteen hours the biggest majority of weeks! But I managed to score a renewal to Amazing X-Men from Drew and a subscription to the upcoming (this month, right around my day!!) Nightcrawler for my birthday. Kurt's series is the second comic book series to which I've outright bought a subscription to before reading a single issue, and before the first issue was printed!

You know, come to think of it, the way the stories are right now in the comics, I do believe Kurt has once again become my favorite X-Man, although I do still so love Hank's spots. He's so funny (chasing Bamfs over his coffee maker!) and yet so sweet and so endearing, handsome, and intelligent. But yet, he does have a beastial side much like Wolverine's. Yet again, he's another amazing X-Man with terrific layers into which to indulge!

Fans come to the X-Men for all kinds of reasons, from the artwork to the story lines to (I admit it) the movies to the 'toons to friends turning them onto the characters (I finally have Drew reading comics regularly!!), but I do believe that one of the main things that brings fans of the X-Men to them is, again, the characters, their many layers, and fans' abilities to relate to them. Like many other of the greatest series, the X-Men have helped their fans through so many horrible things, from grieving over loved ones to cancer and other serious and even sometimes fatal diseases and all sorts of things in between, but in the world of the X-Men, there is literally a character for every one to relate to.

There's Hank for us intellectuals, Hank and Kurt for us romantics, Wolverine and Cable for those who simply love to read a good guy kicking ass, Gambit for those who love Cajuns, Rogue and Paige for Southern belles (and yes, it is a thing -- I can say that honestly because I am a Southern belle myself and Rogue's Southern status is one of the things I love and to which I can relate the most in her character), Professor X for fathers, Jean Grey and Ororo for mothers and sisters, Wolverine and Cyclops for parents with children with whom their bonds are not the best and/or not what they would like them to be, Kitty and Husk for students who take their academic studies very seriously, and so, so many women for fans who just like to see beautiful, graceful women kick butt. Just to name a few: Storm, Domino, Mystique (there's another character with many, many fantastic layers and another to whom some mothers, myself included, can certainly relate!), Rogue, Meggan, Shadowcat, Shard. I've even read letters from fans who relate to Monet, although she's one of very few characters to whom I myself have rarely been able to relate well.

These X-Men and -Women inspire people from all walks of life, just like they did with me when I was younger. They inspire us to be strong, no matter what's going on in our lives, and fight for our piece of our world and our family. They inspire us to take what life hands us and come out strong, fighting, and sometimes even ahead. They inspire us to believe that change is possible, that it is possible to have family, friends, and love. They inspire us, many times too, to do what is right and fight for what we believe, no matter how hard the task ahead of us or frightening the situation. They inspire us to look at the world in a more creative light, to see the multiple layers in the people around us, and sometimes, even, to relate better to them.

They certainly do also inspire us to put our differences from others aside to work, live, sometimes love, and especially journey through this life with them for after all, is that not, in the end, what the X-Men are really all about? Each of these people . . . each of these mutants is different from the people around them and from the people for whom they fight, from those they save. They didn't ask to be different, but they are, and with them, it's not just a simple matter of black and white, Chinese and Indian, Christian and Pagan (or Muslim or Jew or whatever religion it is that celebrates Kwanzaa, all of whom have been represented by various X-characters), of right and wrong. Things are rarely black and white. The world is in multiple layers itself, multiple layers of grey. Not all that is good is purely, and not all that is evil is purely evil -- another grand lesson that the X-Men teach us time and again.

We read these stories. We fall in love with these characters. And a part of us, even if we stop the reading, even if we sign off the Internet, never completely leaves them behind us. I've read letters from senior citizens who still love the X-Men. They become a part of us and continue to inspire us for all our days, and in truth, if we could all become X-fans and not just read them, love them, and be inspired by them but actually follow their better lessons to the best of our abilities, the world would be a much better place.

They fight for a world that fears them because of their differences, differences that, at the very least, they never asked for but was born inside of them, just as some of us are born black and white, some of us are born male and some female, some of us are born with deformities or, like myself, a speech impediment. They never let their differences change or define them. They do what they can to save the world, and whereas they might not always succeed in their plans, they still touch others. They save lives in the comics every day, but how many more of us have been touched in real life by them, by their journeys and their determination to improve their worlds and the lives of not just their own and those they hold dear but all around them?

Looking back, I can see how the X-Men have shaped me. I can see how they've given me hope and helped me break out of my shell and talk to others, both X-fans, fans of other fandoms, and people whose interest in fandoms, if any, I have no clue upon. I can see how they've helped me to become the writer, the fan, and the person I am today. They were my first heavy fandom experience. They spawned my first fan fic, my first role play, both the first in which I participated and the first I led myself, and my first fan video.

They continue to inspire me every day, and to be honest, I don't want to think about how my life would have been different without them and I don't ever want to picture my life without them being in it in some way or form. In fact, to be honest, I can't. When I'm old and gray, I'm still going to be loving their adventures. I'm still going to think Hank and Kurt are cute and Ororo beautiful and every single one of them, in one way or another, an inspiration to fight for what is right and to be a better person.

The X-Men will forever be my all time favorite fandom, the one that inspires me and for which I create more than any other, but they're much more than just that. They're a part of me, a part for which I am very grateful, and I'm proud to say they always will be.

For a The Universe land comm challenge. Tell them Kat Lee of Team Fire sent you if you join!


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 7th, 2014 10:11 pm (UTC)
You've involved some happy memories and some deep thinking in me. I began with the X-Men back in the early 70's I think. I read the comics (sadly I have none. Mostly I used to exchange them to get the next one or borrowed because no money back then in a family of 7 kids). I loved the cartoons when they started.
I've never really thought how much I might have been influenced by reading strong women roles before. I've always done pretty much wanted I wanted whatever the job or role. I've always been pretty self sufficient. Perhaps som eof that is indeed owed to Storm, Jean, Emma and co.

Lovely read through. Thanks for sharing.
Apr. 9th, 2014 07:38 pm (UTC)
Thank you. Glad to have elicited such deep thoughts and memories in you. :-) I really do believe that the fandoms we follow as we grow up have a major affect upon us, but I still never realized just how much the X-Men HAVE affected me until I dug in for this post.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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