Heroes Never Rust #40 by Sean Ironman
All Will Be Well
The riot portion of the “Riot at Xavier’s” storyline has yet to begin. New X-Men #136 ends with Quentin Quire shouting “Riot!” into a bullhorn on Open Day, a day Xavier invited humans to the school. A sort-of Open House. But, except for the bookends, Quentin is absent from the main action of this issue. The middle section focuses on Xorn’s special class at Xavier’s school dealing with an attack from the U-Men while on a camping trip.
The U-Men (and I know most of you have never heard of them) are my favorite “villain” from Grant Morrison’s run on New X-Men. In X-Men comics, there are a few types of villains: other mutants, aliens, supernatural monsters, robots, and humans. Humans tend to be my favorite and hit me the hardest. Usually, humans are fighting against the X-Men out of fear—fear of becoming extinct, fear of not being the pinnacle of evolution. Humans fight against the X-Men because they can’t fight against nature. All of the X-Men could be killed and it wouldn’t matter. Eventually, humanity will die out and homo superior will remain. But the U-Men are a little different.
The U-Men are humans who wear suits that make them look like astronaut garbage men. They think of being a U-Man as a religion and can’t touch the air until the world has been made perfect. They don’t hate mutants, but they kill them. They, also, don’t care much for humans. As one says on the first page of #136, “For today is the day of the Recycled Man! The third species eternal!” The U-Men are humans who kill mutants and surgically attach mutant body parts to themselves. For example, if a mutant has wings, a U-Man will kill that mutant, cut his or her wings off, and then attach those wings to their own back. The issue opens with one U-Man’s funeral, having died of blood poisoning “when his mutant lung grafts went rotten after a week of agonized waiting.” And what does the U-Man who leads the funeral ceremony say—“Bob wasn’t pure enough to bear his transplants…but we are.” God, I love them. They are so insane, but still understandable. They are humans desperately trying to hold onto some kind of future. Nature didn’t grant them mutant powers, so they’re trying to sneak past the velvet rope into the club by gluing body parts onto themselves, body parts that may kill them. It’s half horror film and half comedy. If I ever get to write anything with the X-Men, I’m bringing back the U-Men. They’re a wonderful twist on the humans hating mutants trope.
The U-Men attack the Special Class, hoping to have more mutant body parts. The Special Class should get its own TV series. Basilisk has some of the best lines:
- “So, Mister Xorn…I definitely saw you sneaking a peek at No-Girls (A girl with no body) sexy fat butt just a moment previous.”
- “But we’re supposed to be losers. That’s the point of us.”
- “I never saw a human fart die in front of me before.”
- “I got no money. All I got’s a seizure in my brain—sets off a flash that freezes ‘em like roadkill in the lights.”
Xorn leaves the Special Class to fight off the U-Men. I won’t ruin the mystery of Xorn for those who haven’t read New X-Men, but this issue is so much better knowing the mystery. His scenes walk this line between sweet and scary. He genuinely wants the Special Class to gain confidence and become a community. “Sometimes the teacher must leave to make room for learning. Beak dreamed of respect. Ernst could find no one to be responsible for. Basilisk had no focus for his energy.” Angel goes off to find Xorn and finds him standing before a burning U-Man van and dead U-Men smashed on the ground. He turns with a finger over his mouth. “This will be our secret. All will be well.” It’s amazingly creepy.
The U-Men are defeated, of course. The Special Class has become a group of friends. Xorn has succeeded. When Quentin takes Professor X hostage at the end and says “Your ‘dream’ has failed the mutant race at every turn, Professor. Humans can’t be reason with,” it’s difficult to argue with him. Humans went from wanting to kill all mutants to wanting to be mutants. They can’t seem to learn just to let mutants live in peace. Maybe the Special Class can become the next generation of X-Men, and show Quentin what’s possible. I doubt it. But at least that would be more interesting than bringing the original X-Men from the past to the present day. But Marvel would never do something like that.
Sean Ironman is an MFA candidate at the University of Central Florida, where he also serves as Managing Editor of The Florida Review and as President of the Graduate Writers’ Association. His art has appeared online at River Teeth. His writing can be read in Breakers: An Anthology of Comics and Redivider.