Even allowing for the fact that we’re not supposed to like any of the characters in Uncanny Avengers (only this week, Wolverine calls Japanese mutant Sunfire “a walking atomic bomb” and nobody bats an eyelid – not even Sunfire, whose mother died in Hiroshima!), the book is going to startling lengths with some of the characters. Particularly Havok, who gives a speech in the most recent issue which is incredibly alarming.
The message of this speech has absolutely horrible implications. Whilst it’s possible to see what the character is going for – which writer Rick Remender may or may not be intending to associate into the scene – the actual content of his speech is shameful. Hopefully the book is intending for readers to side against the character, but it’s remarkably hard to tell at this point.
The idea that ‘mutant’ is an ‘m-word’ is comprehensively wrong. The idea that equality is reached via erasing differences is wrong. And the message this scene puts across is that minorities – for, of course, mutancy in the Marvel Universe is used as a metaphor for the struggles of persecuted minorities round the world, be they of a different sexual orientation, gender, race, religion – should want to become invisible and fit into their surroundings. It’s a message that minorities should feel ashamed of who they are, and seek to become, quote “normalised”.
If the word ‘mutant’ is swapped out in this scene for “gay” or “African-American” or “Muslim”, the scene becomes downright offensive. Hopefully, this should all be leading towards some kind of twist of some kind – but at the moment, it’s astonishing how brave this book is in making the lead characters appear to be utterly awful people.