Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Post 200: Failure and Mind Control Are Always An Option At Xavier's...


"Welcome child, to my school for gifted youngsters... and to the New Mutants."

And welcome to the 200th blog post as well. What better way to celebrate this surprising milestone than by flipping the script. This entry won't feature any mind control at all... A refreshing change of pace after the past several blogs on just how insidious and callous professor Charles Xavier can be when it comes to respecting the sanctity of other people's minds... especially his students'. 

New Mutants # 13 was all about Amara Aquilla's first days at school and more importantly: it showed the most powerful telepath in the world had morals and knew restraint, even when he had every reason to meddle and muddle.

For instance, he just took in an insecure, emotional girl who involuntarily causes earthquakes whenever she gets even the slightest bit upset...


"Until I've established the parameters of her ability... I'd best maintain a constant, light rapport with her. That way I can monitor her emotional state 
and prevent any accidental tectonic catastrophies."

Now, sure, having Charles decide on his own to form a psychic connection with a young girl may seem wrong... But what choice did he have? If he'd told Amara flat out he'd be inside her head as a safety precaution, she might have flipped out completely, which would have triggered a massive earthquake.

In fact, later that same day Amara loses it during a welcome barbecue thrown in her honor. Emotional after Cannonball accidentally spilled grape soda on a dress that belonged to her deceased mother, Amara generates tremors, fissures and lava spouts...

But Charles doesn't use his newly formed rapport to calm her down. In fact, all he does is gently check in on Amara as she's all alone, sobbing in the woods.


"The night's getting chill. As soon as she's asleep, I'll have the mutants put her to bed."

Again, Xavier could have taken over Amara or gently nudged her to return home 'for her own good'. Instead, he goes out of his way to give her as much leeway and personal freedom as possible... And he isn't even lusting after one of his underage students for a change. His heart and soul belong to princess Lilandra, who was half a galaxy away fighting to retake her throne, alongside the Starjammers.

And just in case you figured Charles only treated newcomers this well... Here he is the next day teaching computer science to the entire team. Now, computers in early 1984 were huge, cumbersome and anything but user friendly... that's why some New Mutants had great difficulty mastering its intricate complexities... 


"How can Rahne think that? It just isn't so. But how do I convince the poor girl?"

Charles is a virtual saint... He could have saved everyone a lot of time by simply using his telepathy to teach Sam and the others all they needed to know about computers. He used this instant mass-learning telepathic technique before, when he taught all the non-English speaking X-men and New Mutants the language in their sleep.

Instead, he takes the time to give Sam step-by-step instructions, allowing the boy the satisfaction of mastering the tasks on his own... And as for Rahne Sinclair's latest ignorance fuelled rant, when the professor overheard those strong, negative thoughts, he genuinely wants to convince her of the opposite. A subtle mind control whammy would have cleared all that suffering right up...

Later that same day, it's time for Amara's first trial run in the Danger Room. After handing her a uniform and the codename Magma, Charles wants her to burn through a metal beam to get a handle on her abilities. Magma is hesitant, to say the least...


"I will not be lied to! 
And I am not a slave to be paraded about and made to perform on command!"

Poor Charles... all he wants to do is help her, but Amara basically accuses him of using her a slave for his own amusement. Gee, I thought her mutant powers involved tectonics, not precognition? Still, she was way out of line, something she realised later that night when she couldn't sleep.


"He could have forced me to his side... but he has not. That counts for something."

Amara makes some rather valid points here, even though she spent most of the issue crying herself to sleep. Professor Xavier cán seem a bit creepy, considering his powers and their unspoken implications... Also, being bald, stuffy, stern and a teacher doesn't usually win one too many popularity contests either.

Plagued by all these doubts about the professor, her powers and presence on the team, Amara decided to go for a brief stroll when she spotted the lights were still on in Charles' study...


"Why is he up so late? Is it because of me?"

It's really difficult to remain sympathetic to Magma in this issue, when she so systematically acts like a spoiled brat who thinks the entire world is supposed to revolve around her... Which, with her seismic abilities and a little training...it actually might. But to answer your question Amara, no... the professor wasn't thinking about you. He was having an intergalactic Skype chat with Lilandra...


"If need be, from the gates of hell itself. I'll be waiting. Farewell, my love."

Charles could have very easily picked up Amara's approach and either erased this personal meeting from her memories, or simply have 'ordered' her to return to bed. He didn't do any of these things, he actually opened up to her, revealing a bit of his private life and feelings in order to gain the trust of his newest student.

And it worked.


"Have you ever failed with a student?"

...

Yeah Charles, have you? Let's review...

... Well, think positive: two out of four survived...

...


... Whaddayamean he can't fly? He's called Thunderbird, isn't he?...

...


... Evil Xavier's first crime is one against fashion...

...


... When his evil counterpart took over, Charles developed an unhealthy appetite for the young...

...


... Ah, she'll be back. Resurrection's her thing...

...


... Don't worry Peter, I'll make sure you won't feel a thing while the acid eats you alive...
...


... What can I say, those televangelists can be ver-ry persuasive...

...


..."Hey kids, don't let my new look traumatise you too much... Oh, and kill me, please?"...

...



... When the most serene of X-men starts throwing knives at you, rethink your teaching methods...

...


... "Save Angel's life? But I'm already in my pyjamas" ...


Have you ever failed with a student?

"Ow, yes... but that will never stop me trying!"

God bless you for that, Charles Xavier... and God help all your students past, present and future. You just might be the end of all of them. 

3 comments:

David said...

Congrats on 200 posts! It's quite an accomplishment, especially considering how in-depth they are.

I've been wondering something, and I'd be interested to hear what you have to say. What's your process like for writing these posts? Do stories just pop into your head, and then you write about them? Or do you pick up a random Claremont issue, and since the mind control is so pervasive, just go from there? Or do you read back issues, find a story and write about it? Or is it something else entirely? I'd love to hear how you do this, because it's a really fun thing that I enjoy reading, and you must enjoy doing it.

Jef Willemsen said...

Ey David, thanks for your kind words.

It does feel like a bit of an accomplishment, even though making fun on someone's work isn't exactly a legacy to be too proud of ;-)

As for my 'process' :-) It depends. I started back in 2008 with the stories I read growing up. Mostly Uncanny X-men and New Mutants, with some of his Fantastic Four I'd more recently read.

Nowadays, I check Chris Claremont's bibliography on Wikipedia and rather systematically seek out digital copies and scan through every series listed there.

I save the pages that contain panels I think best tell the story. After cropping the images, I upload and use them to write the blog entry around. It usually takes a good hour and a half and some editing after the fact to get a post just right.

And that's how you get to 200 posts :-)

David said...

Thanks! That's probably a good way to do it.

And while "making fun of someone's work" may not be the greatest accomplishment in human history, making people laugh is pretty worthwhile. And this post made me laugh pretty hard, so that's gotta be worth something.