Tag Archives: Mystique

How “Mr. And Mrs. X” Provides Hope (And A Template) For Married Superheroes

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If you were to go back 40 years and ask someone to tell a story about epic space battles, death stars, and wookies, chances are you’d get a lot off odd looks and insipid excuses. Some might even laugh in your face, saying such a story could never be told, let alone make over $7.7 billion at the box office. George Lucas is probably laughing at them on top of a bed made of money.

Great stories like “Star Wars” didn’t just prove there were millions to be made from elaborate space operas and quality sci-fi. It helped establish a template for others to follow in telling similar stories. Some have followed it better than others, but the most important thing “Star Wars” was demonstrate that it can be done.

The current state of married superheroes is in a similar situation to what the sci-fi genre was before “Star Wars” came along. Both Marvel and DC Comics have done a lot over the past couple decades to undermine married superheroes, some of which have left major scars for fans and characters alike. Just look up a story called One More Day for proof.

The excuses Marvel and DC have made aren’t very convincing, but they’re not entirely wrong either. Telling stories about married superheroes is challenging. There are only a handful of married superheroes that have stood the test of time. However, even the most iconic superhero couples have been prone to the complications of marriage.

That’s why a series like “Mr. and Mrs. X” is coming along at the best possible time. This series, which spins directly out of the denigrating heartbreak that unfolded in “X-men Gold #30,” may very well provide both the hope and the template for married superheroes moving forward.

The first thing I need to say about “Mr. and Mrs. X #1” is that it’s part of a larger story that began unfolding before the events of “X-men Gold #30.” Kelly Thompson, who wrote “Mr. and Mrs. X,” also wrote a mini-series called “Rogue and Gambit,” which I highly recommend. That story did something important for both fans of superhero romance and of superhero cartoons from 1990s.

In the world of iconic superhero couples, Rogue and Gambit occupy a gray area of sorts. They’re one of those couples that rarely tops any list of notable superhero romances, but they’ve always been closely linked to one another. This is due largely to the chemistry they showed in the “X-men Animated Series” cartoon that defined so many childhoods back in 1990s. I know because I was one of them.

While Rogue and Gambit have always had romantic potential, it was never fully utilized. Neither the cartoon nor the comics ever took it beyond a certain point and not just because Rogue’s life-draining powers hindered their capacity for intimacy. There was just no real effort to evolve their romance beyond flirting and card puns.

Ms. Thompson changed that with “Rogue and Gambit.” This under-developed romance grew more in the span of five issues than it had in over 15 years of comics, cartoons, and failed efforts to get a Gambit movie off the ground. With “Mr. and Mrs. X #1,” Ms. Thompson dares to skip several steps and let this couple take the plunge into superhero marriage.

Considering how even a much more iconic couple in Batman and Catwoman failed to get that far, that’s quite an achievement. However, the way in which “Mr. and Mrs. X #1” portrays the sexy, romantic details of married superheroes is a far greater accomplishment. I would go so far as to say that it sets a new standard for just how appealing married superheroes can be.

One of the most important things “Mr. and Mrs. X #1” does is expand on the events of “X-men Gold #30.” This isn’t just critical for the sake of Rogue and Gambit’s relationship. It helps fix the greatest flaw in that issue. When the marriage of Kitty Pryde and Colossus fell through in a heartbreaking moment, Rogue and Gambit basically stepped in to keep the ending from being a complete tragedy.

The way their impromptu marriage presented in “X-men Gold #30” is both shallow and crude. It’s basically just forced in there, a marriage for the sake of saving a botched wedding. It never even gave the impression that Rogue and Gambit were serious about marrying one another. They just did it on a whim, their wedding having the depth of a drive-through chapel in Las Vegas.

Mr. and Mrs. X #1” fundamentally changes that. It dedicates over half the issue to providing more details of that ceremony, making clear that Rogue and Gambit gave this more thought than the brand of cereal they ate that morning. There was preparation, planning, and even a surprise visit from Mystique, Rogue’s adopted mother.

This goes a long way towards showing that Rogue and Gambit are serious about getting married. Even if you didn’t read Ms. Thompson’s “Rogue and Gambit” series, the first eight pages do enough to show that there’s genuine love between these two. Moreover, they want take that love to the next level.

Even for a romance not built on Disney-style fairy tales, that’s a pretty important detail. There’s a major difference between characters actually wanting their relationship to evolve and just doing it because it makes for a nice event. It’s the same difference between wanting to eat to McDonald’s and having to eat at McDonald’s. It affects the experience.

That shared desire between Rogue and Gambit shows in both the ceremony and the honeymoon. That’s another key component that “Mr. and Mrs. X #1” adds to the template. It doesn’t just stop at the heartfelt wedding ceremony they share with friends and family. It acknowledges and even shows off the sexy tidbits of married life.

Rogue and Gambit don’t just love each other enough to want to get married. They also want to express that love like any other horny couple. It doesn’t have to be a dirty secret or some trivial side-note. It can be part of the story and thanks to the wonderful artwork of Oscar Bazaldua, it’s a spectacle to behold.

We get to see these two in expensive wedding attire and their birthday suit. There are moments of genuine affection. There are moments of playfulness. There are also moments where they address more serious issues, such as Rogue not being able to touch without the aid of a device that inhibits her powers. All of that is fit into a single issue.

On top of all that, “Mr. and Mrs. X #1” still finds time to squeeze in some heroics at the end. It’s not all heart-warming ceremonies and sexy honeymoons. Rogue and Gambit are still X-men. That means they still answer the call to adventure when it comes. That’s just what heroes do. Being married doesn’t have to change that.

That shouldn’t be such a novel concept, but that is a common criticism of married superheroes. Once they get married, their ability to be superheroes is somehow diminished. That’s like saying being a rock star diminishes someone’s ability to enjoy random songs on the radio. It’s a false flaw that Ms. Thompson and Mr. Bazaldua go out of their way to subvert.

The nature of the conflict that interrupts Rogue and Gambit’s sexy time is somewhat underdeveloped. It involves aliens and space battles, which is basically a typical Tuesday for the X-men. There’s not much in terms of refinement, but that’s less a flaw and more a logistical limitation.

Mr. and Mrs. X #1” is the first issue of a series, which means there will be other opportunities to expand that story. Rogue and Gambit’s life as married superheroes isn’t ending. It’s just beginning. They’re still going to be heroes. They’re still going to fight aliens in between hot romps between the sheets. Married life doesn’t have to be boring. What a concept, right?

I’m not being coy. That’s the ultimate takeaway from this comic. Two well-known, well-developed characters can get married, share some loving moments, get sexy, and still be superheroes. Being married doesn’t have to supercede their heroics. It can complement it as well.

It’s a lesson that other superhero couples, be they iconic or based on a random hook-up, would be wise to learn. Even powerful heroes like Superman are only as compelling as the relationships and interpersonal dynamics that highlight who they are. In the same way teamwork makes the Avengers and the Justice League strong, marriage can make a superhero couple strong.

That really shouldn’t be such a radical notion, but Ms. Thompson and Mr. Bazaldua do plenty to remind us why it shouldn’t be. “Mr. and Mrs. X #1” sets a bold tone for Rogue and Gambit. It doesn’t stop at a beautiful wedding or a sexy honeymoon. The heroics continue. It just takes a different tone.

The ending of the issue, which I won’t spoil, even sets up some new drama between the happy newlyweds. It’s not the kind that’ll instigate another frustrating love triangle, but it does hint at a conflict that wouldn’t be much of a conflict if Rogue and Gambit weren’t married. Rather than limit their story, it expands it.

Mr. and Mrs. X #1” does so much in the span of a single issue that it would take me all day to list them all. It’s not a perfect issue. If I had to score it, I would give it a 9 out of 10, just because it had piggy-back on the heartbreak in “X-men Gold #30.” The most important achievement, though, is the precedent it sets. Married superheroes can be sweet, sexy, and fun and this is how you do it.

Like a marriage in a real world, relationships evolve. Getting married is not an endpoint. It’s another step in the dramatic, yet sexy narrative that is romance. Superheroes are fully capable of taking that step without turning into a bad sitcom. “Mr. and Mrs. X #1” shows that this step is worth taking. Hopefully, other couples follow and build on this sexy new template.

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Filed under comic book reviews, Comic Books, Jack Fisher, Superheroes, sex in media, X-men

Our Shape-Shifting Future Love Lives

Has a man ever woken up one morning and thought to yourself, “I wish I could be a woman today?” It may sound like the musings of someone with serious gender identity issues, but I think it’s more common than we care to admit. Besides, it’s hardly the craziest thought that’s popped into my head in the morning. Depending on how much I’ve been drinking, I’ve been known to think some pretty twisted thoughts.

I’ll save those thoughts for another post. For this post, I’d like to discuss what I believe is the ultimate endgame for upgrading the human body. Those efforts are already underway. As futurist and author, Ray Kurzweil, discussed in his book, “The Singularity is Near,” we’re well on our way creating what he calls, “The Human Body 2.0.”

This body is to us what a Lamborghini is to a horse-drawn carriage. It’s a body that’ll give us strength, stamina, longevity, durability, and connectivity in ways that go far beyond where we put certain body parts. It has the potential to fundamentally transform how humans relate to one another socially, romantically, and sexually.

The romance and sex part is definitely of interest to me, if only because it gives me some twisted ideas for novels. Men and women in these bodies will definitely have a lot of options once they’ve enhanced themselves to a point where they can carry out acts of intimacy that make even Japanese anime porn look boring.

However, there is one other step to this trend if you can believe that and it has the potential to step up the craziness of our love lives even more if you can believe that. It’s something else that Kurzweil discusses in his book, but not in great detail because our caveman brains can’t process the implications.

Thankfully, I’ve twisted and warped my brain with a potent combination of sci-fi, comic books, and erotica for decades. I feel like I’m a bit more equipped to process these implications than most. Kurzweil calls this endgame, “The Human Body 3.0.” I call it the “Mystique Factor.”

What is the Mystique Factor? Well, once again, I need to revisit my love of comic books, in particularly X-men. I’ve talked about X-men in terms of love triangles that suck and romances that are actually equal. I’ll probably find ways to apply X-men to many more issues on this blog, but in this case, I think most will agree that the context here is just too perfect.

Specifically, I’d like to talk about Mystique. Who is Mystique? In the comics, she’s a mutant shape-shifter who specializes in deception, infiltration, and generally making life for the X-men a living hell. In the movies, she’s the character that required Jennifer Lawrence to run around naked. For that, straight men everywhere should have a special place in their heart for this character.

For the purposes of this discussion though, she’s more than just a perfectly malleable character whose sexiness is only limited by one’s perverse imagination. She’s essentially a manifestation of what The Human Body 3.0 will do for humanity, minus the blue skin and strategically-placed scales.

Mystique can shape-shift into any form she chooses. In the X-men comics and the movies, she with the same amount of effort that most people put into changing the channel on their TV. One minute she’s Wolverine. One minute she’s a middle-aged senator. One minute she’s an insanely sexy 20-something woman with blond hair, great legs, and a smile that can resurrect a dead puppy.

Yes, I’m a big Jennifer Lawrence fan, by the way. No, I’m not going to apologize for that. Let’s try to stay on topic here.

It goes beyond just tweaking her appearance in ways that plastic surgeons can only dream of. Mystique can basically swap genders on a whim. He default form is a woman, but she can take the form of a man. It’s never directly stated in the comics, most likely because the censors prefer to leave such dirty thoughts to internet message boards, but it’s pretty obvious. Mystique can turn into a man, grow a penis, and use it.

At one point, famed X-men writer, Chris Claremont, even planned to explore that concept by having Mystique father a child with a woman. Specifically, he wanted her to father Nightcrawler. In case you don’t know, this is Nightcrawler. He’s as devilishly charming as he looks.

Marvel vetoed that plans for reasons that I can only assume had to do with how confusing it would be to the collective balls of the entire X-men fanbase. In a series that already involves clones, aliens, and time travelers, this was deemed to be too much. Go figure.

Even if it was too much for Marvel in the late 20th century, who’s to say it won’t become a legitimate issue in the 21st or 22nd century? Transgender issues are already an emerging issue today in 2016. A century can bring a lot of crazy social change. Just ask any minority before the year 1950 for proof of that.

If we do indeed enhance our bodies to the point that Kurzweil predicts, then it’ll do more than just radically alter how we relate to one another romantically and sexually. It’ll completely upend the concept of gender as a whole.

For one, it would effectively render the whole transgender issue a moot point. If our bodies enhance to 3.0 status and we gain Mystique-caliber shape-shifting skills, then that means we can choose whichever gender we identify with. On top of that, the gender we choose will have fully functioning equipment, so to speak.

Individuals born as a men could turn into women to bear children. Those born as women can turn into men to never ever have to endure bearing children. That, or maybe they just want to know what a boner feels like. I imagine they’ll get bored with that real fast, but who’s to say they won’t have other reasons?

Technically speaking, there’s no reason this can’t happen with sufficiently advanced smart blood and nanotechnology. One of the big advancements with the Human Body 2.0 is that it utilizes nanotechnology and biotechnology to revamp, rewire, and reconfigure our physiology into something more robust and less prone to puking.

Gender, and all the equipment that comes with it, is just a manifestation of genetic information. Once our technology can manifest this information in the form of actual flesh, then all bets are off. We will all effectively become Mystique.

What will this mean for us? What will this mean for our sex lives, other than the fact we’ll be much better at recreating sex scenes from Game of Thrones? What will this mean for our love lives when everyone around us can turn into the gender we’re attracted to?

Whether we do it in real life or within a virtual world that’s indistinguishable from real life, it fundamentally changes our identity and how we see ourselves. How would men see women if they actually experience what it’s like to be a woman? How would women see men if they actually experienced what it’s like to be a man? It’s a step beyond empathy. It dealing with entirely different body parts and all the maintenance that comes with them.

A romance between two shape-shifters is a romance that requires a complete overall of basic courtship rituals. How do they decide which bodies to use? Do they have a template form? Do they have preferred gender roles? How do they decide which one of them has the kids if they want to have kids? You think couples argue about trivial shit now? Think about the arguments they’ll have when discussing which one of them gets to have a penis.

At the moment, I don’t think our caveman brains are equipped to handle being shape-shifters. Mystique has a handle on it because that’s what she’s always been. The comics and movies never depict her as being anything else. Sure, she tends to be a homicidal maniac who has been known to have babies with men who look like the devil, but it’s unreasonable to assume that’s typical.

It may very well be the case that humans in 2016 are only equipped to be one or, at most, two genders throughout our lifetimes. However, the humans equipped with 2.0 or 3.0 bodies be better situated. Both versions of bodies emphasize enhancing the capacity of the human brain, if only to handle all the major overhauls for the rest of the body. That brain will very likely not have the same flaws as our 1.0 caveman brains.

For the moment, I’m stuck with a 1.0 caveman brain and all its assorted flaws. That means I can’t comprehend entirely what a society of shape-shifters may be like between the sheets. That won’t stop me from trying though. If there is a way to tell an insanely sexy story about shape-shifters, then I’ll find it and turn it into a novel. That much you can be sure of.

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