icon_uk: (Sonny Strait Nightcrawler)
icon_uk ([personal profile] icon_uk) wrote in [community profile] scans_daily2011-10-23 06:34 pm

An intriguing tale involving my OTHER favourite swashbuckling acrobatic hero

It's not often I deliberately buy a comic to showcase it here, normally my recent purchases and longboxes are adequate, but this one appealed to me a lot, as it raises some interesting questions (notably about one of the oldest groups in the Marvel universe which I don't think have ever been asked before) but doesn't provide pat answers.

One of my earliest comic reading memories was of a subplot in an old Inhumans issue (With early George Perez art), where a woman, her hair withered and grey and her face and skin covered in all manner of boils, blotches and wrinkles, pleads with Black Bolt to be allowed to use the Mists. Despite some (Gorgon for one) objecting to such a request being made out of vanity, Black Bolt permitted it, perhaps out of sympathy with her plight. And she later emerged from the mists looking like this;

Now as a kid, I don't think I was vain, but I was aware that I was perhaps never going to be amongst the greatest looking people on Earth, so there was a certain element of wish fulfilment that there might be a magical process which would make me special somehow (but handsome to boot), but in retrospect, is it a "Looks ARE everything" message here? I don't know, but one likes to think it's a story of compassion leading to lessening the pain of an individual.

Now, taking that story in a slightly different direction, from: Uncanny X-Men: First Class #1 and #2(and republished in the UK as this years X-Men First Class Annual) I present approximately 14 pages from a 44 page story) where the X-Men discover....

I should mention I've cut a LOT of fight scenes from these issues. They are perfectly decent fight scenes (I have nothing against such things) and some of them are enormous fun, but slugfests you can get anywhere. Awkward questions less so.

We start, however, with a dose of the pretty, and a glorious splash page which I make no apologies for sacrificing a whole page for.

Damn, but I miss this Kurt... and having him in an outfit which appears to gleam like it's liquid latex is just FINE with me! :)

This ends about as well as you might expect in the MU, in the sort of fashion that makes me want to take a 2x4 to the general Marvel population.

See what I mean... sigh...

We cut to a Danger Room workout, where the team are engaging in the usual trashing the giant robots, but Kurt's absence is noted by a rather annoyed Cyclops...

And I'm sorry, just looking at that first panel, I'm having naughty thoughts about Kurt and that tail of his...

Aaaawww.... don't you just want to hug him... at least. (and it's not like he doesn't have a valid point)

Events at the school are interrupted by a state visit by the Royal Family of the Inhumans; Black Bolt, Medusa, Triton, Karnak, Gorgon, and our favourite teleporting puppy; Lockjaw. They have stopped by their old friend Professor Xavier's after a long and gruelling session at the UN as the Inhumans seek official recognition on Earth.

Pleasantries are exchanged (and there's a nice little running gag about Wolverine and Gorgon I won't spoil) and Triton explains to Kurt about "the Great Refuge" the Inhuman's hidden city in the Himalayas. Kurt is fascinated at the concept (since he's slightly PO'd at the human world) and asks if he can visit it as sort of a cultural exchange. The Inhumans and X-Men agree, and Piotr, suspecting something perhaps, asks to go too.

There's a lovely rather Kirby-ish splash page of the Inhuman city which I could scan, but won't, as if, as a result of this posting, you go out and buy these issues, you deserve the treat! It does also highlight how physically disparate the Inhumans are. They meet other Inhumans, including a suitably snarky and short tempered Quicksilver and his wife, Crystal.

Kurt is, to say the least, impressed (by the city, not Crystal... well, no more than he usually is by a beautiful woman)

As always, it's nice to see an artists who can draw different body types (Though all gorgeous, and not a spare ounce of fat on any of them, Triton, Kurt and Piotr are different builds and shapes).

You have to feel for the blue fella here. But someone else can see where this is leading.

Ooh, that's cruel Kurt.... though Piotr does have the advantage of being able to look human any time he wants without needing an image inducer.

A new sound interrupts proceedings.

And this is where it gets interesting IMHO.

This does not end well. amid cries of "Blasphemy!" and "Desecration!" from the crowd (and especially Gorgon), Kurt manages to damage the chamber of the Terrigen mists, but is blasted by the High Priest, and Piotr is prevented from intervening only by Triton's appeal to him for calm backed up by Medusa and Black Bolt, who intervenes, upsetting the High Priest by over-ruling him and insisting there be a trial rather than a summary execution.

However, even Triton feels this will be more or less a formality, as the only punishment for such a crime under Inhuman law is death.

Piotr wants to bring the X-Men to, at the very least, be with Kurt as his friends. Triton is less struck on this. (Oh, and Triton's reply here refers to his very early adventures in the MU back in the Lee/Kirby FF era, when he was one of the Inhumans sent out as a scout for his people.

I ADORE that Lockjaw has dog toys in his basket, including what appears to be a Godzilla toy... or possibly Crocky the Crocodile (picked up in a jaunt to the DCU)

The X-Men are contacted though and set out at once (There's also a lovely scene between Scott and Professor X, where Scott is seen to over-rule the Professor's decision to join them, which is the sort of thing one might imagine happening between Picard and Riker, if Riker hadn't so often been such a complete personality void)

And now Kurt proves he's not just a pretty face (and posterior, though he's that as well), asking some rather intriguing questions of the Royal Family and the Inhumans as a whole.

Some food for thought there.

Yeah, they might, but when there's a telepath like Jean Grey (in her Phoenix phase) on board, you'd be amazed at what sentries won't see.

A fight breaks out, not helped by Jean being so overwhelmed by the anger the Inhuman crowd feels for Kurt and the other "outsiders" that she starts acting a little irrationally.

A REALLY BIG fight breaks out. Storm finds that she's not the only elemental in town thanks to Crystal, Medusa gags Banshee with a LOT of hair, and Gorgon and Colossus duke it out.

There's also this little encounter which alters things a little...

Now that's also an interesting question.

It's perhaps worth noting that Karnak does indeed have no terrigen granted power. His ability to detect weakspots is apparently naturally trained ESP. it is also worth noting perhaps that A) Karnak IS a member of the Royal Family, and B) The reason he was not subjected to the Mists in the first place was that his parents were concerned about how they might effect him, since his older brother had one of the most extreme transformations in Inhuman history, and his older brother is none other than Triton (Who needs a special "wet suit" to be able to even walk amongst the Inhumans, instead of having to live underwater all the time.)

Gorgon accidentally triggers an avalanche in the course of his combat, a very, VERY LARGE avalanche which can only be defetaed by Jeans newly amped up telekinesis and Balck Bolt having to speak aloud (For those not familiar with Black Bolt, the reason he never speaks is that his voice, even at a whisper, unleashes destructive power that makes an atom bomb look like a water balloon)

And so they leave, with bridges, if not completely rebuilt, then at least under construction.

So s_d, does Kurt have a point, or was he operating arrogantly? What does happen to Inhumans who don't undergo the Terrigen process, and who aren't Royalty?
ian_karkull: (Default)

[personal profile] ian_karkull 2011-10-23 08:55 pm (UTC)(link)
Yeah, you should have spoken up a little earlier there, Karnak.
Personally, I think Kurt is behaving incredibly arrogant and narrow minded and demonstrates a huge unwillingness to even try to understand the Inhuman culture, which as a fan of the character, saddens me. To me, Terrigenesis was never about "correcting imperfections, but rather embracing change in all it's forms and unlocking one's true potential, being who you truly are and being all who you can be. Surely no mutant could object to that..? It has made Inhuman society one of the most truly diverse and thus, truly accepting societies in comic books, as Kurt himself had just witnessed. Sure, it can have some drawbacks, but it's more about embracing your true nature than forcing you to change for the good of society. In some versions, the more, well.. inhuman looking Inhumans even have a higher social standing than those appearing as normal humans.
As for the child endangerment argument, Terrigenesis does not occur until children hit puberty, an age where children in our society are excpected to take on increasingly adult responsibilities and even have counted as full grown adults throughout history. It is a life altering decision yes, but it's not like they're tossing toddlers into the pool.
Arguably the closest real world analogue would be raising children in a specific faith or as part of a religious community. This can have a tremendous effect on the live and development of a person as well, yet it is considered normal to do so at even earlier ages and is in many cases still a huge part of culture and tradition, just like the transformation is for Inhuman culture. I'd argue that Terrigenesis is preferable as it would be liberating rather than restricting (as opposed to adhering to some dogma) and here at least the choice is made by young adults with at least some capability of reflection.
And as Karnak points out, the choice is not compulsory, opting out of it is a possibility. But really, would anyone refuse the chance of gaining superpowers and the full support of your community regardless of the outcome based on some vague, ill-defined point based on incorrect assumptions? Even if you do turn into a Giant Octopus, the Inhumans will still accept you and wouldn't you be the least bit curious what your full potential could be..? Refusing that strikes me as equivalent of hiding away yourself, your work and your passion for the fear of rejection. It's an incredibly unhealthy attitude.

TL;DR Kurt is letting his emotions overcome his intellect, which turns him into a short sighted bigot and it's sad.
kagome654: (Cool Story Bro)

[personal profile] kagome654 2011-10-23 09:16 pm (UTC)(link)
I don't know, one could just as easily feel that they are capable of unlocking their 'true potential' and their 'true nature' (and what do those terms mean, exactly?) on their own, without using an outside force such as a mutating mist. I know little of the Inhumans, but it seems to me all this talk of embracing one's true nature could be viewed as spin and rhetoric to justify something that, if it's all voluntary anyway, doesn't really need justifying.
kagome654: (Riddle me this)

[personal profile] kagome654 2011-10-23 09:34 pm (UTC)(link)
He certainly seems to be doing fine.

I should add that if the Inhumans view exposure to the Terrigen Mists as an unquestionably good thing I don't see the harm in waiting for their people to reach adulthood to make an informed decision. After all, it would be the obvious choice, right?

Unless there's a specific reason for doing it when they're young...?
ian_karkull: (Default)

[personal profile] ian_karkull 2011-10-23 09:42 pm (UTC)(link)
Well, in the real world those are just buzz words, but in comic book terms it means unlocking the latent X gene that is present in all of humanity. Terrigenesis does not turn you into something else entirely, it merely brings to the surface whatever mutant potential is already there hidden in your DNA. It merel enhances the process by which natural mutants are born on Earth.
The Inhumans were created by the Kree by rapidly excelerating the evolutionary process of some prehistoric humans (Kirby, y'all!) to see what potential the human genome code holds (and use it as weapons, but that's a different story), so genetic evolution is naturally a big part of their culture. Over time, biological necessity became culture and finally ritual. It's similar to the religious spin put on some of the perfectly sensible (for a desert tribe thousands of years ago) living advice given in some religious texts.
kagome654: (Grump)

[personal profile] kagome654 2011-10-23 10:07 pm (UTC)(link)
I don't know, there are a lot of latent things tucked away in DNA, not all of it beneficial. These things are typically a bit of a crapshoot. That may not typically be the case in comic book land, but at the very least it couldn't hurt for the Inhumans to reconsider the rhetoric surrounding the event (calling something 'perfection' obviously implies the alternative is imperfect).
ian_karkull: (Default)

[personal profile] ian_karkull 2011-10-23 10:38 pm (UTC)(link)
There's no telling what the Kree experiments did to the Inhuman genome, so it may indeed be the case that their X-Gene can not be activated any other way. Otherwise, I'm not sure I see the logic here? Gene's are not intelligent, just because an ability does not present itself immediately and on it's own is no reason not to stimulate it. They're not rewriting the entire genetic code, they're merely trigger a latent genetical potential that is already there. Not doing so would be like not giving a musically talented child violin lessons.
ian_karkull: (Default)

[personal profile] ian_karkull 2011-10-23 11:18 pm (UTC)(link)
Those side effects came from early Inhumans going overboard with Terrigenesis due to their inexperience with the process though, they didn't necessarily have anything to do with what the Kree did to them beforehand. We only know that the Kree prematurely evolved them in some way, which could have possibly changed or even damaged their X-Gene.

They're not rewriting DNA in the sense that it's not a completely random transformation, but activating whatever mutant potential is already there. If a regular X-Gene changes a person into a sentient rock creature, for instance, then this is a dramatic change as well, but it's one preprogrammed in their DNA. Likewise, whatever mutation Terrigenesis triggers is already hardcoded into their DNA, the Mists merely activate it. This is significantly different from, say Spider-Man's powers, who are excusively the result of an external agent.

I feel like this argument could just as easily be reversed. Why not be all that you can be based on the off-chance that something might go wrong during a controlled process that has been perfected for over 25.000 years? You can't know whether any Inhuman would live a happier life with or without undergoing the transformation and following that line of argument to it's conclusion would amount to never actually doing anything. Any superhuman ability arguably increases the overall opportunities one would have in his/her life. I can think of no reason not to take this opportunity when it presents itself. And since Inhuman culture is built around cherishing their genetic diversity, a person would arguably be happier and more valuable member of society.
ian_karkull: (Default)

[personal profile] ian_karkull 2011-10-23 10:20 pm (UTC)(link)
Who's to say that there isn't a private ceremony or even a longer period of teaching, guidance and introspection beforehand? The comparison to religious indoctrination presented itself because the way the ritual is depicted strongly reminded me of Confirmation, which has a very big, public ceremony at the end, but is preceded by a year long phase of preparation from which one could opt out at any point if you reach the conclusion that it's not for you. With the huge, quasi-religious role Terrigenesis plays in Inhuman culture, I can't see it being forced upon anyone who is not ready, not willing or does not fully understand what it could do to you.
Kurt -and by extension we, the readers- only sees a tiny facet of something that utterly defines Inhuman culture and makes a snap decision that is at best ill-informed and at worst completely ignorant. He's judging an entire culture after all but five minutes exposure to said culture, based on his personal experience with a completely different environment.

And while a teenager may not legally be considered an adult -which in itself is a fairly recent development- I think it is unfair to deny them any sort of decision making capabilities. The X-Men themselves had (until recently) no problem with throwing children of the same age onto the battlefield, regardless of whether they wanted it or not, so this comes across as a teensy bit hypocritical. And even in our world children of this age are groomed towards their adult life, many major decisions on their path to adulthood have already been set in motion. Go a little further back in time or even just space, really, and a child of the same age would be expected to behave like an adult. Applying our contemporary western standards to a society we don't even fully understand is ludicrous.
Terrigenesis isn't a Baptism where a crying babe does not comprehend what is being done to him, but rather a rite de passage where an individual chooses his life's path. None of the participants even seem all that unwilling. Kurt is simply projecting.
ian_karkull: (Default)

[personal profile] ian_karkull 2011-10-24 04:53 pm (UTC)(link)
I have been confirmed as well, and in my case there had been a year long phase of preparation and formally asking the Confirmees (is that a word?) whether they want to join the faith or not was even part of the ceremony. Of course there are certain non-quantifiable factors of pressure like family expectations that apply in both situation, but the option to simply refuse has always been there through every step of the process. It's possible that this is also the case for something that is so higly ritualized and has such defining implications with regards to the community as Terrigenesis.
Strictly objectively speaking, we can't rule out that this is not also the case here, as we only experience a tiny snippet of a more complex, larger process. And again, I think it's entirely unfair to judge a different culture based on contemporary, western standards. Confirmation may have that much of an impact on your social life today, but only a few generations ago, when faith played a much more defining role in everyday life, it would have been a very important part of life within the community.
As it stands, there is simply no reason to assume that Terrigenesis is not a choice for everyone involved and an informed one at that. Since it is the defining part of Inhuman culture, there may arguably some familial expectations connected to it, btu that is not reason enough to decry it as a compulsory and mandatory institution. Such is a snap decision based on false and incomplete data, the very essence of bigotry, imho.

[personal profile] arilou_skiff 2011-10-24 04:42 pm (UTC)(link)
Terrigenesis is clearly an initiation rite. So yes, it's a definite sense of "you're not a full member of society until you've gone through it"

Which is rather the point of initiation rites.
ian_karkull: (Default)

[personal profile] ian_karkull 2011-10-24 05:33 pm (UTC)(link)
That's the other thing, metatextually speaking, it's clearly a metaphor for adolescence and the strangeness of growing up, just like being a Mutant is, really.
proteus_lives: (Default)

[personal profile] proteus_lives 2011-10-24 12:38 am (UTC)(link)
A truly accepting society that engineered a slave race.

Plus, it's been shown that Inhumans with lesser or worthless mutations get treated poorly.
ian_karkull: (Default)

[personal profile] ian_karkull 2011-10-24 10:11 am (UTC)(link)
Inhuman society is far from perfect and a lot can be (and has been) said about its rigid caste system and proto-fascist tendencies. That isn't the issue at hand here though.
ian_karkull: (Default)

[personal profile] ian_karkull 2011-10-24 04:35 pm (UTC)(link)
(Former) treatment of the Alpha Primitives (which have been abolished at least half a dozen times now) and general lack of social mobility after Terrigenesis has absolutely nothing to do with the question whether children are coerced into the Rite or not.