Tuesday, 6 March 2012

X-Men #10: The Cultural Attitudes that Time Forgot

My initial impression of X-Men #10 was that like #6, it brings a Golden Age Timely character (Ka-Zar, the pronounciation of which is helpfully given as /keɪsɑːr/ on page 1) into the X-Men universe. Then I noticed the cover text claiming he would be the "most spectacular new character of the year". This is at best an exaggeration. He's very similar to the Golden Age Ka-Zar published by Timely, and although he'll later be given a backstory and name different to the Golden Age Ka-Zar, this has not happened yet.

The X-Men watch a TV news report about a man in a loin-cloth in Antarctica, a sort of "latter day Tarzan", as Jean puts it, and conclude, not unreasonably, that he must be a mutant. Professor Xavier is certain otherwise, but sends them south anyway. Hidden there they find a strange area featuring an anachronous mix of species from previous eras, in a pretty clean lift from Burroughs' The Land That Time Forget. Apart from Ka-Zar, there are also native "swamp men", who capture Jean and Warren and of course intend to sacrifice them. It's jarring to read this type of thoughtless pulp-derived trope in a comic that will later try to become an allegory about racism. I mean, it's even called the "Savage Land". But then, the highest grossing film of 2006 did the same thing much more objectionably.

One could see this as an early mashup, as Burroughs and post-atomic science fiction are brought together in one text. This tendency will only grow, as Marvel continue to create links between series, eventually creating a shared world where cross-title continuity is essential.

Continuity notes

Introduction of Ka-Zar, Zabu, and the Savage Land [not named]

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