While Jenn's concern seems at first to be about diversity of characters within the Marvel Universe, most particularly the X-Men books, and the effect of the event on them, things got really interesting for me with Ragnell's post in the comments and what I think it reflects about firstly the mutant as minority metaphor, and secondly the white guy editor/creator's conception of what minority means (and subsequently how to fit that into the metaphor of mutants). I'll reproduce the parts of the post that I'm talking about here:
Here's the thing about Morrison's run, though. He played up the cultural differences parallel. He created tons of new mutants from all ethnic backgrounds. He gave mutants fashions, and pop culture icons, and neighborhoods where they clustered together and listened to mutant music and dated other mutants. It wasn't simply fighting each other. Morrison took the mutants and justified the "civil rights" analogue by showing us that there was more to the mutant world than violent superheroes. There was potential for an entire new species there.It's pretty lame, I'll admit, to be nostalgic about something that happened less than five years ago. Even so, I think Ragnell's really on to something when it comes to the appeal of the mutant population during Morrison's tragically short run. Morrison's mutants, more than any others prior or since, embodied--in a way that felt more authentic to me--what it really means to be a minority in a political sense, to be marginalized to the point of having to create your own cultural space in which to grow and thrive. As the post above shows, the mutants as Morrison wrote them had their own culture, and it was fabulous, and it totally freaked out the flatscans, and that was a wonderful thing. And it set up a tension, just like the tensions that exist in the actual world, between striving for equality and acceptance and maintaining what it is that makes mutant culture special. I guess what I'm saying is that if mutants are going to be a minority metaphor, then that's the way I'd like to see it handled (but with more superpowered fights and stuff of course).
But Marvel's EIC thought that the opposite was achieved. From this article: "In explaining the decision to cut down on the number of mutants in the Marvel Universe, Quesada said that part of the X-Men's appeal was that mutants were a minority, and that allowed for empathy with readers. As Quesada explained, that feeling of "minority" had been lost over the years."
By contrast, Quesada's view (if his view is actually as stated; it's hard to know when there is no real line between discussing the work and promoting it) seems mired in the idea of minority status as numerical in nature, which to me misses the point. After all, there are more women on the planet than men, but which one is the minority? Issues of otherness and power-over go way beyond mere numbers. I guess in that sense, though, House of M itself kind of missed the point, too. Well, "missed the point" is kind of harsh. I guess I should say oversimplifies or takes a shallow view of the situation. Within the "established reality" of the regular Marvel Universe, after all, the superhuman abilities of the mutants don't compensate for their political situation. The powers, apart from being responsible for their situation in the first place, don't really affect the political realities of mutant life at all. What I'm getting around to is, even if the situation is flipped on its head from a numerical standpoint as it is in House of M, that's still not enough to establish mutant as the "default" setting, and therefore getting rid of mutants' powers shouldn't have any effect on anything at all. Now I haven't read any of these books, so for all I know Wanda's actions were supposed to read as irrational in both cases (but since when, exactly, is Wanda so irrational? That seems to have come out of nowhere). But clearly some real-life human creators thought that getting rid of most of the mutants would make their status as minorities read more clearly, and I'm curious as to what the rational basis is for that.
I'm aware that it's all going to get changed back eventually, by the way, but the implications of the exercise are still worth thinking about here and now, in my estimation, given that every time a change happens in these comic universes, it's because some real-life person honestly thinks it's a good idea. That is, it's a stunt to sell books, but surely there's an explanation of the mechanics of it in there somewhere.
In many ways, I've tended to see the Marvel mutants as a pretty poor minority allegory not because of the number of them, but because the only thing that separates them from the "default" of humans is their powers, which plenty of non-mutants have as well, and who do just fine culturally and politically. Other than that, they seem to be completely assimilated into the default culture themselves, apart, again, from the Morrison run. In that sense, the political portion of their struggle doesn't ring true for me. Which is okay for the most part because the beating-up-on-the-bad-guys part of the struggle is what drives the books anyway (it's just not what makes them special). Where this ties back into de-powering is that you could reasonably have an enormous number of mutants and keep adding more every year and still never have it affect their political and social position as minorities if that's what you were going for. You also wouldn't have to retrofit the remaining powered mutants with new and contradictory personalities every time the plot needed it. Metaphorically and creatively, the de-powering seems like a dead end to me. And that's not even getting into how de-powered mutants self-identify, but I suspect that will actually be addressed in the various series because, well, how could you not?
Anyway, that's what went on in my head after I read that post. Back when I was actively reading this stuff, if you were a teenager and you read comics, you read the X-Men. I imagine it had a similar grip on others, and I'd really like to know what others think of the de-powering thing as well. Thoughts?