X-Men and the Power of Community

You’ve seen the sketch variants for the 500th issue below, now you can see a few interior pages right here, free of those annoying words that only get in the way. The crowded cover is also quite appropriate to my newest article, now on Sight magazine. It’s all about the power of community, and that is one thing comics are certainly not short of. To teams of side-kicks (Teen Titans) to magicians (Shadowpact) reformed villains (Thunderbolts) kids (Runaways) and chemical compounds come to life (Metal Men) there’s a team for everyone.

Sometimes we may think that life would be better without all those people that are slightly different from us (especially if you work in retail!) but honestly, those people help us grow. When others rub us the wrong way, sure, sparks can fly, but like sharpening knives, you end up with a sharper, more useful instrument. Wow, deep. Anyway, read on….

The X-Men, Fantastic Four, Justice League, The Avengers, The Outsiders, Teen Titans, Green Lantern Corps. The list goes on and on.

The team concept is one of the comic industry’s best sellers and will undoubtedly continue to be. With extra characters come extra story possibilities due to all the varied interactions and personality clashes. Marvel’s Punisher would be the most obvious anti-team player in comic books. He sees himself as a hero; a man picking up the slack of the paltry legal system, whereas DC’s Batman has often worked with the Gotham City Police Department. The Punisher sees himself as the only man worthy to dispense justice. All of his rage and frustration spews forth from his fists and gun barrels. Batman knows that in order to dispense true justice, his methods and motivations must be in direct contrast to the odd assortment of criminals he fights.

Both men are self-made warriors, soldiers of immense focus and endurance. But they see the world and their place in it very differently. And it stems from the people they have around them, or the lack of, in Punisher’s case. If it were not for Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce Wayne’s English butler, the young orphan could easily have turned in to a mirror image of the Punisher. Frank Castle had no-one to offer him guidance and comfort , but Bruce Wayne had someone to at least tell him right from wrong, a father figure in the shape of a loyal servant. Alfred’s influence on the identity of Bruce Wayne can not be understated. He has also offered the various Robins over the years the kindness and moral support that Batman never could, or wanted to.
Pennyworth’s inner light has always cast a strong influence over the Wayne mansion, and the cave underneath it. To the church in Corinth, Paul advised that “bad company corrupts good character.” Bad guys rarely hang out together. Dirty deeds are done in the dark, alone, not in the light with others. In his letters to other churches Paul’s frustrations showed to the early church. They were easily being led astray. Lack of unity and leadership made these churches all too vulnerable. Paul took charge, and left for us a treasure trove of godly advice regarding everything from marriage to finances. The epistles are an amazing account of practical Christianity and down- to-earth spiritual wisdom.

We often hear that people lose their virginity too early or become drug takers simply because of peer pressure. Similarly, others attribute their run-ins with the law to “falling in with a bad crowd.” But the opposite can also be true.

With the proper influence and good examples to follow we can become holy people; God pleasers rather than only people pleasers. Heroes such as the X-Men Rogue, Psylocke and Gambit were once villains, but were then reformed by Professor X. Nightcrawler was raised by his mother, the villainous shape-shifter Mystique yet also joined the heroic X-Men. However other characters such as Sinestro started life as a member of the galactic peace keeping force Green Lantern Corps, yet left and became evil. Each day we make choices for good or evil. So too we must choose our friends and their influence over us with Godly wisdom. God has created the church as a community. We are all different parts of the same body. Within that body we can offer help and support to one another. Sometimes being heroic means not only helping others, but also asking for help from those around you when you need it.