Thursday, May 26, 2016

Superhero Media: Wolverine - Get Mystique

An interesting element of dating when you're a nerd are some of the "getting to know you questions" that every couple goes through. A popular one, from my experience, is "What superhero would you be?" (for the record, I pick Doctor Doom, or Hawkeye if forced to pick an actual 'hero'). One, rather memorable, encounter had the lady in question answer with Mystique, the shape-shifting X-Men villain. Her explanation of admiring Mystique for being empowered, self-determined, complex and endlessly adaptable won me over and stuck in my memory as much as anything else that happened in my bed that night. Since then, I've been keen to look at anything that features Mystique as a central character, to try and get a feel for her beyond what Hollywood has presented in the nebulous X-Men cinema canon. Unfortunately, Get Mystique is not so much a story that deepens Mystique as a character, but is yet more background padding for Wolverine. 

Yeah, turns out that Mystique and Logan dated/worked together in the 1920s running a gang of grifters. Why? Because every comic writer wants to put their name next to a major piece of canon and Wolverine still has a few decades of "blank space" left. The framing narrative is that Wolverine is tasked by, the slowly turning into emo Magneto, Cyclops to go kill Mystique because she betrayed the X-Men for the millionth time and someone at Marvel greenlit this trash. Logan chases Raven through the Middle East, dealing with the fallout of the couple of clever times she uses her powers well and being typically gruff and grim. In the climax, Mystique, for no apparent reason other than it being the final issue, grabs a bunch of guns and strips naked to fight Logan to the death. 

There was the possibility of a good story here, which is what makes it all the more disappointing. There is a huge opportunity for the exploration of the themes of duality and becoming what one hates here. Both Logan and Mystique are characters lacking their own identity. To cope, Logan has taken on the identities that others have given him; soldier, assassin, samurai, X-man. Mystique, in contrast, steals the identities of those people who she needs at the time, be they wealthy, powerful, innocuous or sexual. A story in which Logan was forced to track Mystique's trail, discovering the identities that she has adopted and discarded and seeing reflections of his own past, closing in before letting her go in a moment of empathetic ennui, would have been a real moment of character for the Wolverine. But we couldn't have that now, could we? 

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