David Stehman ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
When Chris Claremont started writing the X-Men, his original metaphor wasn’t for homosexuals. Jude Biersdorfer, the moderator of NYCC’s “X-TRAORDINARY: The LGBT Characters of the X-Men” panel Thursday evening, asked Claremont what his intention was in creating the superhero team we know today. Claremont replied with some examples of minority groups he wanted to symbolize, including Jews, Muslims, and Blacks. And in that mindset of inclusivity, it’s no wonder that Claremont’s run of X-Men produced positive representation, particularly with strong female characters.
With the recent movement of LGBT rights in America reaching unprecedented levels, Marvel have made an effort to include more LGBT X-Men, most recently Iceman, who has been in the comics ever since the original run. Iceman’s coming out comic has received a strong reaction. But according to Peter David, “60% of [Americans] don’t care [if someone is gay]. And the next generation will have 100% who don’t care. And that’s a good thing!”
Daniel Ketchum, Marvel’s first openly gay editor, talked about the process that evolved into Iceman coming out. “We passed it around to other editors and writers to try and see if we were putting characters and story first and the audience second. It ended up being just a really good story.”
Max Wittert, an artist for X-Men, hinted at the future of Iceman’s arc, including his visit to a gay bar in an upcoming issue. “It’s set entirely in a gay bar, and he’s learning to try and talk to guys.” He also implied a surprising ending to issue. The character-centered issue, in which a superhero is humanized and put into normal scenarios common to LGBT, is certainly a positive move towards proper representation.
Concluding the panel, when asked what would be a necessary diversity-themed story to tell, Claremont spoke of an idea he had that is more relevant more than ever: “A presidential candidate promoting bigoted values gets elected, and when we wake up, all the things we took for granted would be gone.”