314 – Feelings, Alaska

Art by David Wynne. Wanna buy the original? Drop him a line!

In which Haven deserved better; Cyclops and Havok have a lot of feelings in Alaska; X-Factor is the cop team; breaking up with your girlfriend between issues is a massive faux pas; Haven got a bad deal; no one cares about Random’s feelings; Spiral is weird Twitter; and Alex Summers once again fails to finish his dissertation.

X-PLAINED:

  • Chaos (Daniel Dash)
  • Pie
  • Power suits vs. power suits
  • X-Factor #115-118
  • Haven (more) (again)
  • The Adversary (more) (again)
  • Naze (more) (again)
  • Several people who may or may not be holograms
  • One of Jay’s all-time-favorite single issues
  • Howard Mackie
  • Wally Wood’s 22 Panels
  • The Summers Family plane crash
  • Cyclops and Havok’s relationship
  • Havok’s Silver Age origins
  • Trans readings of Alex Summers
  • Shard (more) (again)
  • Canadian drama
  • A trap
  • The return of Random
  • Roma (again)
  • Mojoworlders on social media
  • Which X-teens should be audience surrogates in a new animated series

NEXT EPISODE: Wolverine & Gambit!


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7 comments

  1. Sinister Pryde says:

    It’s interesting how the continuity between the books was tighter in this era but the writers seemed to neglect past continuity in favor of their own stories. I’m okay with the Adversary popping back up. Old enemies always reappear by one mean or another. I was totally confused, however, with Naze showing back up without explanation.

    Also, given what it took to defeat the Adversary the first time, this arc is a little anticlimactic. Other than that, I enjoyed these issues well enough though I wish Epting had been on the book longer.

  2. LAndrew says:

    I’m always happy when one of the Cerebro X-men get namedropped. It’s one of my favorite late-90s X-continuity backwaters.

  3. Zachary Q Adams says:

    Funny,I always thought the personification of Entropy was named Entropy.

  4. 90sRF says:

    Aaaah another episode for my fave Haven! I can’t believe I missed this had come out! Better late than never I suppose.

    – I’m glad someone else knows about the nanotech Cerebro-created X-Men! They’re lowkey weird faves of mine.

    – I tool am forever angry about Haven’s treatment and I have been since I found out about her six years so I’m really glad to have that validated by such major fandom figures as yourselves!

    – The scene with Roma and Haven actually takes place in India, but the point stands, Roma’s disgustingly victim blaming her for…for what, for getting pregnant? Haven never ASKED for an entity of cosmic evil to posses her fetus, so whatever other bad things she did, I don’t see how she brought this on herself like Roma claims.

    – Omg IT IS like a Joss Whedon comic! Fun fact, I loved Buffy, but I had to tap out of Angel in the first season after the episode where Cordelia got demon pregnant because I just felt the vibes were way too misogynistic, and in retrospect it was in a pretty similar way.

    – Honestly Haven seems like a character who would have been SO GOOD for redemption arc? She clearly has good intentions and a kind nature FROM THE START, she’s victimized in such a horrible way (misled and discarded by a man, then misled and used by an entity of cosmic evil), she not only never hurts the heroes but in fact HEALS one of them and tries with another, and she’s genuinely aghast when she discovers she was the pawn of an evil being all along. Like second chances have been extended to WAY worse bad guys, yet, like Madelyne Pryor, whose downfall also involved demons and babies, it seems Haven’s just got to die (and thankfully not be resurrected and demonized OVER AND OVER like Maddie)

    Like, I get the whole “killed millions” things is bad TO SAY THE LEAST and like…there is probably no coming back from that morally, but that just gives her a motive to keep going, to try to make up for something she can NEVER make up for, and I mean…Magneto was responsible for thousands of deaths in Fatal Attractions, and again, he gets to keep going. And we’re getting Apocalypse now as a “not totally evil” figure, ffs. Also given that the Adversary was talking in Haven’s head for 20 years, I don’t see how that’s different from someone with, say, schizophrenia who hears voices for 20 years telling them to do something horrible. It’s still WRONG for them to do it, but we understand that it’s different than if they decided to do so in their right mind.

    I just feel like she had so much potential and was so interesting, and was treated with such racism and misogyny it’s hard not to want better for her even if she did such genuinely awful things (which, since they’re all off-panel against people we don’t know and never see, is also hard for me as a reader to hold against her as much as is probably deserved in-universe)

  5. 90sRF says:

    Also

    Compare Haven to the woman who DID get a redemption arc—Emma Frost—and to Mystique, who, while never ‘redeemed’ is frequently portrayed as sympathetic and ambiguous and even as an anti-hero in some stuff.

    While Emma has become a FAR richer and more nuanced character after the decision for her to switch sides, her pre-redemption self was not. She was cold, cruel, and had no redeeming factors at all. Her sole sliver of goodness was a moment of hesitation in which she reconsidered sacrificing Angelica—the teenage girl she’d been mentally manipulating to be her personal assassins, including killing the girl’s pet– on what would have been a suicide mission. That’s pretty much it, that’s our ONE moment of humanity we get from her prior to her waking up from her coma and realizing her Hellions are dead. And her motive? Power and greed. The whole “Shaw was abusing her” thing wouldn’t be retconned in until many years later, so she didn’t even have that then as a justification. She had a totally irredeemable personality, and did heinous acts against the X-Men and children for nothing more than her own gain; later books (written well after she became a heroine and complex character) have had her say that it was actually always for mutantkind but I find that claim dubious at best when I read her 80s stuff. But, she got a redemption arc.

    Mystique’s villainy has often been genuinely motivated by the good of mutantkind. She has also sold out other mutants when it benefitted her, such as when her Brotherhood became “Freedom Force” for the US government, tracking down other mutants and forcing them to register, in return for the government pardoning them. She’s also committed numerous malicious acts for personal reasons or just for fun, and is an abusive parent—she mentally manipulates and tries to control Rogue and Kurt every which way she turns, and she violently abused her son Graydon (everyone forgets him) for the crime of being born human, eventually attempting to murder him and leaving him for dead. Like Emma, she’s become an incredibly complex character, but that’s never ceased her from doing lots of shitty stuff, and much of it has NOT been motivated by noble intentions for the good of mutantkind.

    Compare Haven. Her villainy is caused by her unborn fetus being posessed by an entity of cosmic evil and misleading her with false visions and talking in her head for 20 years, so so already she’s got more mitigating factors than Emma or Mystique. Prior to her possession, she was a wealthy young woman who from childhood was drawn to help others less fortunate than her, and as a mere teenager began using her family’s money to do so, hence how she got her name, and worked directly in the streets with the poor and needy. As a supervillain, her activism shifted to advocating for mutant/human peace, and she’s shown as having been pretty successful, having written a best-selling book on the matter and giving a lecture at an assembly of other very wealthy people who probably had a lot of influence that could be used to help mutants in very practical ways. While we’re told that her doomsday cult has murdered millions, this occurs purely offscreen, making it hard for the audience to feel much about it, and we never see any actual villainy from Haven herself, who instead just repeatedly tries to talk to the heroes while they attempt to physically attack her, and she in fact even heals Wolfsbane (while Wolfsbane is threatening to tear out her throat) of the horrible “bonding process” that made her a slave of Genosha, giving her back her free will in full. That’s a pretty far cry from the numerous blows that Emma and Mystique have struck against the X-Men.

    Note this isn’t an attack on Emma and Mystique, or me saying they shouldn’t have gotten redemption arcs. They’re fascinating, in-depth characters who have nuance and darkness that women don’t usually GET to have in media without being portrayed as wholly evil for it; it’s typically only male characters who get afforded that privilege. Women usually have to be angels or demons, the good girl or the bad girl. But it does make me ask—why did they get redemption arcs, while Haven, who has a much better setup to “justify” it, die in the mud while being victim-blamed?

    There are likely multiple factors. The different writers, different plans at the time, Haven not being as established or popular (though I’ve heard readers really liked her and in fact refused to root against her) But I also can’t help notice…Emma and Mystique are both very sexy white American women. Yes, Mystique is white; she’s drawn with “white” features, and when we see her lose her powers, she’s a white woman with red hair. And while we technically don’t know her national origins, she’s an American resident in everything we see her in for a long time. And Emma is a very white lady from Boston. And both of them are very sexy in a way that Haven, even with her chest window costume (which makes NO sense for a character who is actually ASHAMED over sex) is not.

    Haven’s foreigness AND her maternity (which is typically seen as antithetical to sexy in our culture) are both used to villainize and victimize her in her story. She’s the first Indian character in an X-comic, and the philosophy that her villainy is based on comes from real-world Hinduism. She’s a dark-skinned woman from another country who openly practices a non-Christian religion and publicly preaches peace, but the government sends X-Factor (yeah, the mutant team worked for the US government for awhile) after her on the claims that she’s actually a terrorist. And before X-Factor has even actually confirmed this, they do exactly that, attacking her and opening fire with their powers on her when she’s giving a lecture in a crowded place full of civilians, nearly hitting her (she had to hit the floor, otherwise Havok’s plasma would have incinerated her) and only THEN proclaiming that she’s under arrest. It’s chilling. It’s the equivalent of cops coming in, trying to shoot the suspect with no regard for civilian causalities, and only AFTERWARDS announcing hey you’re under arrest. And they didn’t even know she had powers yet. She also was, again, preaching human/mutant peace at this moment, she was NOT doing anything bad or even threatening to.

    So you’d think the moral, in a series about social justice and fighting back against bigotry, would be X-Factor realizing how wrong they were in this. But it’s not. After they go to talk to Haven later (because god forbid they investigate FIRST before trying to kill her) she freely admits that all the allegations are true. The moral is “yeah the brown people with the funny religions are all terrorists even if they say they’re about peace, so the government violating their rights is justified retroactively” I’m serious. And again, this is all happening because this good, kind, moral woman had sex JUST ONCE, then the dude ditched her and ran off, so she gets demon-pregnant, becomes a supervillain, and then dies in the horrible birth while Roma, Omniversal Guardian Goddess of the Marvel Multiverse, literally tells her she brought it on herself. It’s so fucked up.

    And it’s even more fucked up when you look at the wider X-Men universe and look at what types of characters do get given redemption, and compare them with Haven. Again, I’m not saying these characters shouldn’t have gotten these arcs, I’m saying I think it’s shady as fuck that they did and Haven didn’t, and I think there’s some very uncomfy factors as to why that is.

  6. NightcrawlerFan says:

    I just wanted to say: holy shit, the discussion of how being a “chameleon” and trying different versions identities related to assigned gender to try to find somewhere where you fit is a common trans experience really resonated with me. I’d never heard that aspect of being trans discussed before, at least not in language that makes as much sense to me as this, and it made me feel so seen and validated. With those words put to it, so much of my past before I realized I was trans makes so much more sense.

    Thank you so much! This is an amazing episode, as always.

  7. SublemonalMessage says:

    This episode really helped me realize why I’ve always liked and identified with Havok but was never able to figure out why. The idea of just fitting into and molding yourself into what ever role is needed because you haven’t either come to terms with who you are or haven’t come out yet hits me hard.

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