Saturday, August 27, 2011

Academy X - A fan debate.

Previouly here, Alt-Tab has said that Academy X seems like Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost are using it to indulge in nerd high school revenge fantasies.

Personally, I like Academy X.  I thought it was a great comic run.  At times it does get a bit heavy handed.  The same could be said to spots of their X-Force run, but both seem to have story-centric reasonings behind it.

Academy X is relatable in many ways because of this heavy handedness.  It uses elements of school shootings within the confines of the Xavier institute.  Yes it uses a wide array of school character cliches like the guitar playing spiritual Guthrie kid, and has many others scattered about, but they aren't there as cliches because of lackluster writing, or forms of revenge fantasies.  They are there because of how universal these characters are to all schools.  What makes them stereotypes or cliches, is exactly what works in their favor by being universal to a wide range of people who experienced the same.  You know, that's how stereotypes and cliches start.  Traits being widely common among a set group of experiences for many even if they may not remain true forever.

I could do a character by character break down to show what I mean, but this entire debate just leaves me too drained to put that much energy into it as yet.

On one side you have people like me, who see the whys they were used as they were, and how the events unfolded similiarly to how many people can relate whether in highschool or graduated thanks to these tried and true student stereotypes.

On the other you have people like Alt-Tab who feel something more original was needed with less crutches and that writers shouldn't take the lazy way out to create that relatability.  (Paraprhased, but her words, not mine.)

While I did enjoy their run on X-Force with X-23, I can see her point too on how often it feels like they make X-23 'talk back to her elders' and repeatedly be 'put in her place' for doing so.  Both of which typically support her argument that they aren't exactly the best towards female characters.  I really don't have a defense against that argument other than X-23 was becoming more assertive through killing people, which is the opposite of what Logan had wanted which is why he lashes out at her so much within the comic trying to teach her how to channel the monster Cyclops is forcing him to create. This comes across in the issues where he emphasizes it's the innocent like Rahne Sinclair that they are fighting to protect. They get their hands dirty so that the innocent can remain so and have freedom. Something that may start arising in Schism it seems too as it doesn't seem like Cyclops graspes that concept at all. Well Summers does, but it's more complex than that, and typically most consider it naive to try and preserve innocence. Though honestly it could be considered more naive of Cyclops to think this, as he's yet to experience the considerably large experiences of war that Logan has. Logan is of the mentality that this is what a warrior does to preserve the freedoms and innocence of those that should remain untainted from taking lives themselves. Cyclops feels in an hour of need, they should all step up no matter what to be a soldier drafted to protect all of their kind. ( Small tanget: I'm saying warrior for Logan and soldier for Scott because of many reasons. Though to be fair, there isn't much of a distinction other than the fact a warrior may not follow orders but will protect those they need to protect, and a soldier must follow orders unquestioningly in a time of war. With both, there can be a sense of honor they follow, and there may not. It's a person to person thing. There are many more distinctions between warriors, soldiers, assassins, and spies, but that'd be getting off point for this entry.  It is a distinction that I am glad is made in the Captain America movie though.  "Not just a soldier, but a good man."  Being a soldier doesn't and never will automaticly make you a good person that deserves respect.  The reasons why you are one, and what you're doing while one is what determines that.  Those that are good people don't proclaim it, and don't demand respect for doing what they feel is right.  Something modern arrogance, and global statements don't want you to realize.  For the record, I applaud our true unsung heroes within the troops, but never ask me to make a global statement to praise them all.  Just as I won't praise or condemn all Priests either.  Some are great benefits to their communities, and some are monsters. Praise the good, condemn the bad.  Global statements create false bravado, hides the hypocrites, and is outright dangerous.)

There are many ways you can look at these issues with the character building and commentary it makes on becoming a killer, as well as Wolverine's agitation about X-23 even being on that X-Force team entirely.  He was adamantly against it, but Cyclops made him keep Laura on the team.  In many ways this is the source of his anger towards Laura in the title's run.  He brought her to the school to protect the kids, and for her to learn to be a kid herself, and now Cyclops has turned and made her back into the weapon she once was like the Facility had intended.  The exact thing Logan has been trying to not do and prevent as stated in both Target X and Academy X, but Cyclops isn't giving him a choice in the matter since X-23 is willing to do this.  Logan takes his frustrations out on X-23 for choosing this as she's supposed to choose her own path and just say no.  At this point it's something the character still hasn't learned.  As Logan says in his heated argument with Cyclops about it, she can't say no to a mission.  Something Marjorie Liu shows Laura growing out of in her issues, as this being the reason Logan kicked her off the team.  Liu takes the character and has her grow and gain her own voice.  Logan in the X-23 ongoing while talking to Gambit doesn't know how to defend this choice of having her on the kill squad either, as it really wasn't his choice but he's not the kind of man to put the blame on others.  In many ways he knows he should have kicked her off the team sooner so he would blame himself for this as much as her, and Cyclops.  He'd rather keep it to himself, and take the blame for it than at the time add another person to the list of those questioning Cyclops' judgement.

Then stuff like Hellion losing his hands happens.  The boy X-23 is crushing on can't touch her.  According to Alt-Tab, a symbolic gesture that shows they don't want anyone to touch X-23.  Whereas I see it as taking an arrogant spoiled borderline womanizing character and giving him something new to deal with in how he copes.  It's not just X-23 he can't touch, it's all tactile sensations he may have enjoyed.  Sadly, it's not an argument that works, as they weren't the ones who wrote the issues of him coping.  It is a point that does come up briefly in the first issues of X-23's ongoing though.  This includes his lack of trust in X-23, a woman who has time and again put her life on the line for him and yet he doesn't believe or trust her.  Something that rings true to the character and outright shows Laura needs to get away from him for awhile for her own sake.
You could go on and on about how well done the first 3 issues are in this regard towards how the characters treat Laura and her lack of not taking responsibility for her choices until issue 3 of the ongoing.  Something that's not her fault and yet is at the same time.  She had yet to grow out of her conditioning and life experiences, but she's also still got that edge of defiance she shows in X-Force and previous appearances too.

In the end, it's up to the fans to decide how they want to view it and what they take away from it.
So with this left to the fans, how do you feel about these story runs(X-23's time in Academy X and X-Force)?
What's your opinion of them?

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