On his weblog Kevin Reviews Uncanny X-Men, Kevin O’Leary had an interesting post last month in which he picked the six members of his “ideal X-Men team”. I liked the idea and thought I’d post my own version, albeit with a twist: instead of choosing from all X-Men comics ever published or which I’ve ever read, I just browsed through whatever comics I had currently at hand on my shelf and in my longbox, and from these I selected the characters that I found interesting for some reason or other. Here they are, in order of publication:
- Morph from Scott Lobdell’s and Joe Madureira’s Astonishing X-Men v1, 1995 (“Age of Apocalypse” storyline): no idea why I own a copy of this comic book, which is mediocre at best. But Lobdell and Madureira employ Morph’s shapeshifting abilities for comedic purposes, which makes him the most memorable character here.
- Bishop from David Hine’s and Yanick Paquette’s Civil War: X-Men, 2007: while I find Bishop’s mutant power (“energy absorption and redirection” – Wikipedia) rather boring and himself as a character not very likeable, his backstory – coming from a dystopian future – makes for interesting storytelling material. In Civil War: X-Men, Bishop feels compelled to side with the government and turn against Cyclops and the other X-Men.
- Wolverine from Cullen Bunn’s and Paul Pelletier’s run on Wolverine v4, 2012: while Wolverine certainly isn’t an underexposed character, Bunn and Pelletier showed that his backstory still has some new plot devices in it. Plus, his regenerating abilities can be stunningly visualised, e.g. when half his face is blown off by a shotgun, and he regrows his eye during the same fight scene (in #306).
- Warbird from Marjorie Liu’s and Gabriel Hernandez Walta’s run on Astonishing X-Men, 2013: Warbird is a member of the Shi’ar alien race and not a mutated human, but her ‘otherness’ (which Liu frequently emphasised) matches that of the other X-Men misfits nicely.
- Nazi Xavier from Greg Pak’s and Andre Araujo’s X-Treme X-Men v2, 2013: it’s Charles Xavier, the popular telepath. Only he’s a nazi. X-Treme X-Men introduced many alternate versions of well-known characters from parallel worlds, one weirder than the other. Technically Nazi Xavier is a villain, not an X-Man, but Marvel never had much problems with changing a villain into a hero and vice versa. Such a ‘deal with the devil’ would create those tensions that seem to be all-important in any superhero team.
- Magneto from Cullen Bunn’s and Gabriel Hernandez Walta’s Magneto, 2014: Magneto has already undergone the treatment from villain to X-Man (and back again, probably several times), so it shouldn’t be a problem to have him on the team too. It would be interesting to have Holocaust survivor Magneto (don’t ask me how old he is supposed to be) on the same team as Nazi Xavier, but the reason I want Magneto on my ideal X-Men team is that it’s just so much fun to see him twisting and twirling pieces of metal around.
It’s always interesting to keep track of references to one’s publications by using Google Scholar’s “My Citations” feature. Not only does it tell you which publications have received the most citations so far, it also tells you who has referenced them in which text. This can give you a clearer picture of how people read, understand, and use your publications.
I consider myself still very much at the beginning of my scholarly career, so unsurprisingly Google Scholar lists only two citations to my publications, both for my 2010 journal article “Authorship, Collaboration, and Art Geography”. It turns out that these two citations are quite different.
The first citation is from the 2011 article “Comics and the Graphic Novel in Spain and Iberian Galicia” by Antonio J. Gil González. The sentence which contains the reference reads:
“Until the mid-twentieth century, comics were understood as a genre of popular culture, but since the 1970s they have come to be viewed more and more as an avant-garde genre (see, e.g., de la Iglesia; on sexuality in comics, see, e.g., Peters).”
However, my referenced article doesn’t make the claim that comics have become an avant-garde genre. In contrast, the comic I analyse there is Marvel’s 2006 “event” miniseries Civil War, a mainstream comic if there ever was one. The reference to Brian Mitchell Peters’s article on “sexuality in comics” seems odd, too. The most likely explanation why Gil González references these two apparently irrelevant publications is: all three articles, Gil González’s, Peters’s, and mine, have been published in the same journal. Naturally, it is disappointing to be cited in such a way, that is, for reasons other than the relevance of the content of the referenced text.
I was all the more delighted about the way in which “Authorship, Collaboration, and Art Geography” has been referenced in a dissertation titled Truth, Justice, and the American Way? The Popular Geopolitics of American Identity in Contemporary Superhero Comics (PDF) by Mervi Miettinen at the University of Tampere. In her chapter on Civil War, she repeatedly references, paraphrases and sums up my observations on this comic, which are clearly relevant to her work.
I have to end this post with a caveat, though: as informative as the Google Scholar citation listings are, they are by no means complete (and sometimes they contain erroneous citations, but that’s another story). For instance, my 2007 IJOCA article “Geographical Classification in Comics” is referenced in the book The Media: An Introduction, the full text of which is even indexed in Google Books (including the list of referenced works), but Google Scholar fails to recognise this as a citation.