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New Comic Book Day February 12, 2020: My Pull List And Pick Of The Week

There are just a few days left until Valentine’s Day. For a romance lover like myself, it should be exciting. However, since I’m currently single, it’s hard to get that excited. Being single on Valentine’s Day is like being sick at an all-you-can-eat buffet. You feel awful, but see so many others enjoying the many treats available to them.

I still hold out hope that I’ll one day meet someone that will make every Valentine’s Day both exciting and special. In the meantime, it helps to be a comic book fan. It’s not just that comics offer a weekly dose of concentrated joy, courtesy of Comixology and my local comic shop. Many of my favorite comics also include top quality romance narratives.

I’ve mentioned a few before and every week seems to build on that foundation. Lately, romance in superhero comics has been more refined than usual. I attribute that to far less reliance on horrendous love triangles and more emphasis on actual romantic chemistry. What a concept, right?

Romantic undertones aside, superhero comics are a fertile ground for romance. Some are more iconic than others, but even the non-iconic ones help add a little drama into the narrative. I find myself appreciating those narratives more and more as my tastes in romance mature.

Eventually, I’d like to craft my own real-world romance narrative with that special someone. For now, I’m content being single and enjoying a fresh batch of new comics. Below is my pull list, which tends to be larger than usual around Valentine’s Day, and my pick of the week. Enjoy!


My List

Amazing Spider-Man #39

Catwoman #20

Excalibur #7

Gwen Stacy #1

Harley Quinn & Poison Ivy #6

Immortal Hulk #31

Iron Man 2020 #2

Go Go Power Rangers #29

Savage Avengers #10

Supergirl #39

Superman #20

Thor #3

X-Force #7

X-Men #6


My Pick of the Week

It’s never too late for a character to become more compelling. It doesn’t matter if they’re in a superhero comic, a Seth Rogan movie, or cartoon created by Seth MacFarlane. A character, no matter how flat or one-dimensional they may be, needs just one quality story to give them the depth they need.

It’s been years since Mystique had a story like that. Aside from the underrated and over-criticized version offered by Jennifer Lawrence in the X-Men movies, Mystique has been one of the flattest characters in the entire X-Men franchise. In a franchise that includes the likes of Deadpool and Mojo, that’s saying something. That finally changed in “X-Men #6.”

This is one of those issues that may ultimately become one of the most important single issues in Mystique’s chaotic, yet colorful history. Writer Jonathan Hickman builds on the role she played in “House of X/Powers of X.” Having been part of the deadly battle to destroy Mother Mold and the Orchis Forge, she was on the front lines of the pivotal battles that helped establish Krakoa.

In the shadow of those events, “X-Men #6” expands on Mystique’s motivation and how it clashes with both Charles Xavier and Magneto. For once, her motivation has nothing to do with tormenting the X-Men, alienating off her kids, or messing with Wolverine. Instead of her usual hatred and vindictiveness, this duplicitous woman who never misses a chance to back-stab the X-men is driven by love.

It’s true. Mystique is capable of love. It may seem strange to anyone familiar with her blood-soaked history, but it’s true. She has always had one true love in her life. Her name is Irene “Destiny” Adler.

It’s impossible to overstate how important Destiny is to Mystique. She may be selfish, violent, and misguided most of the time, but her love for Destiny has always been a driving force. Even though Destiny has been dead for years, she still influences Mystique a great deal.

That makes her continued absence a bit of a problem for Mystique. She was among those resurrected by the Krakoan resurrection protocols in “House of X/Powers of X.” She knows the protocols work. She knows that Magneto and Charles Xavier have the ability to resurrect Destiny, but they won’t.

While they have their reasons, which were also made abundantly clear in “House of X/Powers of X,” it’s not enough for Mystique. She wants the love of her life back. Hickman further establishes just how much Destiny means to her. It makes her motivations and frustrations understandable. It even makes Mystique somewhat sympathetic, which is saying a lot for someone with her body count.

It’s refreshing and ominous. “X-Men #6” doesn’t just give Mystique an overdue does of depth. It sets her up to be one of the biggest threats to the future of Krakoa. She’s willing to do all sorts of horrible things for selfish reasons, but when she’s motivated by love, she’s more dangerous than a million sentinel attacks. That’s what makes her worth keeping an eye on. It’s also what makes “X-Men #6” my pick of the week.

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Why Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique Is The Best Version Of The Character

x-men-jennifer-lawrence_612x380jpg

Everybody has at least one unpopular opinion that draws ire from the vast majority of people. I’m not referring to extreme political stances, though. Those who identify as full-fledged communists, anarchists, or theocrats are more defined by an ideology than an opinion. I’ve shared plenty of opinions in the past, some of which I’m sure qualify as unpopular.

Regardless of what those opinions entail, I’ve tried to make my point and most of the time, I can find a substantial group of people who share my views. It’s part of why I enjoy doing what I do. However, there’s one particular opinion I have that might be the most unpopular position I’ve ever held.

It has nothing to do with politics or ideology. It has to do with comics and superhero movies, another popular topic I’ve discussed many times before. I’ve shared it before in other forums and in almost every case, I have a hard time finding anyone who agrees with me. Knowing how dangerous it can be to share unpopular opinions on the internet these days, I’m going to take a chance and share it here.

I believe that Jennifer Lawrence’s take on Mystique is one of the best version of the character in any medium.

I’ll give X-men fans, comic book fans, and fans of superhero movies a moment to stop fuming. Take all the time you need. Believe me, I’ve heard and read all the vile insults you want to throw at me. Before you flood the comments section with a fresh batch of frothing hate, please hear me out because I feel like there’s a point worth making here.

If not, please take this stunning image as a consolation prize.

Before I get into the details of the comics and movies, I freely acknowledge that Jennifer Lawrence is one of those high-profile celebrities for which many have mixed opinion. Ever since she rose to fame, she has been a polarizing figure. People either love her or hate her with very little in between.

Regardless of how you might feel about her, as an actress, there’s no denying that she played an instrumental role in revitalizing the X-Men movies, beginning with “X-Men: First Class.” As Mystique, she succeeded a very popular version in Rebecca Romijn, who set the precedent for blue-skinned shape-shifters who favored nudity. However, there was one important distinction with Ms. Lawrence’s version.

Unlike Ms. Romijn, and every other version for that matter, Ms. Lawrence’s take on Mystique included a backstory that provided unprecedented depth for the character. That story, and the depth that came with it, proved critical in the role that this Mystique would play in “X-Men: Days Of Future Past.” I would go so far as to argue that both movies work largely because of how Ms. Lawrence carried this character.

I can probably find more than a few people who agree that Ms. Lawrence’s Mystique was important in making her first two movies in the role work. Where I probably lose those people is when I go a step further and claim that this version of Mystique is superior to most other versions.

Some might call that hyperbole and maybe it is, to some extent. I still contend that there is an argument to be made and anyone familiar with Mystique’s history in the comics can appreciate it. I doubt I’ll change anyone’s mind, but it’s that very history, or lack thereof, that helped make Ms. Lawrence’s take on the character so compelling.

Mystique, like many other comic book characters, has a history that is more convoluted than most. She’s been around since 1978, but in all that time, her character has never been developed beyond a certain point. In fact, in the grand scheme of Marvel’s vast universe, it’s remarkable that she has managed as well as she has with so little backstory.

There’s no canonical information about where she was born, who her parents are, or even how old she is. She has never appeared as a child or a teenager. She’s always been an adult who goes by the name, Raven Darkholme. It’s not even clear that’s her actual name. Being a shape-shifter, it’s impossible to tell.

Beyond her unexplored history, Mystique’s personality has been pretty flat over the years. She’s a villain. That much is made clear. However, her brand of villainy is not nearly as refined as others. She’s basically a sociopath whose only purpose in life revolves around tormenting the X-Men, especially Wolverine.

How she goes about it varies, but why she does it rarely gets explored. Granted, there have been times when she has joined the X-men, but it never lasts and often ends with her betraying them. It has happened so often that it’s somewhat predictable. Even when it seems like she has undergone some major growth, she always ends up regressing back to her psychotic ways.

She still looks sexy every step of the way.

That’s not to say she has no depth. Being the biological mother of Nightcrawler and the adopted mother of Rogue has been a major source of drama over the years. Her romantic and sexual entanglements have also been colorful to say the least, albeit not always in a good way. However, this drama rarely ever adds depth to her villainy.

While Rebecca Romijn’s version had some nuance, especially in the second movie, she didn’t deviate much from her comic book counterpart. For three movies, she was one of Magneto’s top henchmen and little else. Jennifer Lawrence’s version of Mystique dared to be more than that.

The first minutes of “X-Men: First Class” did more for Mystique’s backstory than three movies and four decades of comics had done to that point. It established her as a mutant who’d run away and had nowhere to go, something that has real-life parallels for certain minorities. From there, she develops a close sibling bond with James McAvoy’s Charles Xavier, which does plenty to develop his character as well.

However, what truly makes this version of Mystique special is how she grows over the course of several movies. Like her comic version, she shifts her allegiances repeatedly. She starts off as an ally of Charles Xavier. Then, she leaves and follows Magneto. Eventually, she returns to Xavier’s side, but not without undergoing major personal upheavals.

In both “X-Men: First Class” and “X-Men: Days Of Future Past,” she finds herself at a crossroads on multiple occasions. Sometimes, she walks a more villainous path. Other times, she’s more virtuous. They’re all contingent on difficult choices and, regardless of where they take her, there’s an underlying sentiment to those choices.

In “X-Men: First Class,” she chooses Magneto because she believes Charles wants her to hide her true form. In “X-Men: Days Of Future Past,” she choose Charles because she realizes the consequences of her actions. Friends and enemies alike try to influence her. When she finally makes a choice, it feels like something a real character would make.

In the comics, you can always assume Mystique will make villainous choices and be right most of the time. With Ms. Romijn’s, you can assume she’ll choose whatever Magneto chooses and be right, as well. The choices of Ms. Lawrence’s Mystique are truly uncertain and for a character defined by her shape-shifting traits, that’s more than fitting.

It wouldn’t be accurate to call Ms. Lawrence’s Mystique a hero. In “X-Men: Apocalypse,” she resents that label. It wouldn’t be accurate to call her a villain either, even though she doesn’t always side with the X-Men. She adapts to whatever her situation requires, like anyone would expect of a skilled shape-shifter. It’s an understandable, and even admirable, take for a character in a superhero movie.

While her ultimate fate was tragic, as revealed in “Dark Phoenix,” her journey has been remarkable. Regardless of how the events of “Dark Phoenix” played out for everyone else involved, it’s still the most complete story that Mystique has ever had. That’s why I feel Jennifer Lawrence’s take on Mystique is the best we’ve seen to date.

That’s not to say she’s without flaws. I don’t doubt that her diminished role in “X-Men: Apocalypse” undercut her development. Even with those flaws, she’s still more balanced than anything the comics or previous X-Men movies have given us. Whatever happens with the X-Men as they joint he MCU, I hope Ms. Lawrence’s Mystique inspires the future of the character for years to come.

To all those who disagree with me, and I’m sure there are many, I welcome your comments and thoughts. I only ask that you keep it civil.

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