The 'X-Men' Animated Series Left A Huge Impact On My Life

The 'X-Men' Animated Series Left A Huge Impact On My Life

Themes and characters I loved from X-Men the animated series.

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By now there's probably about a million stories out there about how Stan Lee's death affected people who grew up reading his comic books. I didn't know Stan Lee through his comics. I had no idea why this old, always seemingly horny, quip making, guy in glasses appeared in every movie from a comic book pumped out of Hollywood. However, without the source material of his X-Men comic books, I would never have been able to grow up on X-Men, the Animated Series. I want to pay homage to his passing by remembering the things I loved from the product of his origin stories, and what they showed me about the world.

See, I only know the X-Men through the cartoon show. The series ran from 1992 to 1997 on Fox Kids Network. From what I found out years after it was off the air, it stayed faithful to the comic books, so I feel like I have a pretty grounded following in the Mutant universe.

The theme song to the show was catchy and addictive for an intro with no lyrics. I remember seriously envying the powers of Professor X, Storm, Rogue, and Colossus. I found the storylines of the series as deep, involved, emotional, and dark as any from DC comics-based shows like Batman the Animated Series. The love stories of Jean Grey and Cyclops, Rogue and Gambit, and the love triangle of Wolverine, Jean, and Cyclops always kept my teenage heart fluttering.

The mutant and human villains the show introduced always kept me on the edge of my seat if the X-Men could continue to keep each other and the school safe. The numerous space expeditions the team went on brought more stories I was glued to, like The Phoenix Saga. Wolverine calling enemies ridiculous names making me laugh out loud. The constant wondering if Professor X and Magneto would finally put their deep friendship and respect for each other first instead of their missions. The video game based off the show kept me busy for hours on end in the game room at Thistledown Race Track.

I found the humans' reactions to the mutants sad, yet understandable. Even relatable — though back then I didn't know why.

My best friend and avid reader of the X-Men comic books confirmed and explained why we related to humans' reactions to mutants when we were growing up. The being hated and feared and discriminated against to the point of dealing with job security, health care, housing, social isolation, family rejection, romantic rejection, laws being passed against, and physical violence against mutants in the X-Men universe are things that are mirrored in every LGBTQIA+ individual.

I saw pieces of myself in each character I loved on that show.

I saw the naive and rebellious streaks of me in Jubilee. I saw the constantly unrequited love lorn side of me in Wolverine. I saw the torn and scared and self preservation sides of me in Jean Grey. I saw the headstrong and secret wish fulfullment of laser eyes side of me in Cyclops. I saw my race, the wish fullfillment to control the weather, and seeing the weather's affect on moods of myself in Storm. I saw the couple I couldn't stand to love because of their cuteness and their in sync with Rogue and Gambit. I saw my love of reading and intellectual pursuits in Beast. And I saw the willingness to help others though it puts one in danger as well of myself in Professor X.

Without Stan Lee creating the X-Men comic books, X-Men the Animated Series would not have been part of my life. I thank him for creating that. I thank him for staying with and supporting all the evolutions his characters made to the silver screen millions of times — even if he didn't want to — so those like me who only grew up knowing the show would know who he was. I thank him for sharing his creativity, sense of humor, and his knowledge with the world at large. I thank him for creating all the characters I love in the MCU.

May his legacy be everlasting. Rest In Peace, Stan Lee.

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Why Kirito Is The Worst Anime Character Ever

Talk about wish fulfillment.
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Kirito – most of us know this character. He’s the guy with the cool-looking dual swords from the 2012 anime "Sword Art Online." We’ve seen dozens of guys cosplay him at conventions, in all of his different forms and different story arcs. He’s a popular character from a popular series. But being popular or otherwise well-liked doesn’t always make a good character. For anyone who’s ever watched "Sword Art Online," let’s be honest – he sucks. He may be the best player in SAO (and ALO and GGO and every other virtual reality game ever), but when it comes to anime, he’s the worst. Here’s why.

He’s stupidly OP.

Seriously, he was at level 70 by the end of the third episode. And then, of course, he’s the only character who can dual wield in the game. There isn’t even a conflict when he eventually faces the main antagonist – he “dies” for dramatic effect, but within minutes, he comes right back and whoops the guy. You’d think that he’d have at least some kind of challenge in SAO II when he game jumps to Gun Gale Online, but nope – he’s still using an f’ing sword. Who cares about his stats – we all know that in a real fight, he'd be dead af.

He has no personality.

So edgy...

Clearly SAO writer Reki Kawahara spent way more time developing Kirito’s powers than his personality. There is nothing interesting about him whatsoever. NOTHING. I was more intrigued by some of the background characters than I was with the guy who’s supposed to be the main protagonist (shout out to that one kid who tried playing as a girl). He just fights enemies while being fawned over by girls, and that’s it. His only flaw was that he was too powerful – and the fact that he brought a sword to a gun fight – because basically, his sword skills define his character.

He’s a player… and I’m not talking about video games.

He can’t even stay focused on one girl! In addition to surviving virtual reality, "Sword Art Online" is supposed to be about the love story between Kirito and Asuna; so why does he need an entire harem? He spends the entire second half of SAO traveling and battling to rescue Asuna, and then in SAO II he’s in a cave all cozied up with Sinon during the Bullet of Bullets tournament (sucks that Asuna only calls him out on it in the light novel – come on girl, you can do way better). But yeah, someone has serious commitment issues here.

And that is why Kirito is the absolute worst. Here are a few things I think the writers could have done to improve his character:

Make him a noob: Obviously he doesn’t have to be a noob for the entire series, as characters are supposed to grow and progress throughout a story, but nobody should have maxed out stats after playing only a few levels. Show us the early stages when Kirito struggles to master basic skills and maybe even gets his butt handed to him a few times.

Make him a jerk: Something Witty Entertainment (SWE)'s "Sword Art Online Abridged" does this really well. Not only would he have a personality, but for the most part, he would have one unconventional trait for a typical hero. It was easy for them to make Kirito charming and affable, but he could have potentially been a really funny character with a sarcastic and obnoxious personality.

Make him a 40-year-old man: Holy major plot twist Batman! SAO could have possibly had the shocker of the century if Kirito had turned out to be anything other than a teen. That would of course throw the mirror effect out the window, but even losing that minor plot detail would have been worth it. Can you imagine the dynamic change between Kirito and Asuna?

Do you think that Kirito is the worst anime character? Or is he the wish fulfillment you always wanted to see? Answer in the comments!

Cover Image Credit: Tarmirel Vault

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Batman Is A Psychopath, And That's Why He's Great

Batman's psychosis and mental state are not only what set him apart from other heroes, but they are also what make him such a great hero.

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Comic books have been something that I have enjoyed ever since I was a little kid. My grandfather first introduced me to Superman when I was about two or three years old, and that led me to other heroes like Spider-Man, Green Lantern, the X-Men, and especially Batman. Batman was and still is, my favorite comic book superhero of all time. His status as an icon is also burned into our cultural zeitgeist, but Batman isn't just your typical superhero. He's damaged, obsessive, paranoid, and his rogues' gallery is filled with criminals whose crimes are much crueler and darker than the crimes of villains like Lex Luthor, or Weather Wizard from the Flash.

However, Batman's most defining trait is his major and permanent psychological damage. Let's face it, Batman is insane, albeit mildly insane, but even then, that sets him apart from his Justice League compatriots in a defining way. The tragedy of Bruce Wayne's youth damaged and changed his psyche to make him what we know him as today.

Batman's whole motivation as a hero is revenge; he's looking to avenge his parents. Every criminal encounter he stops is symbolic. He feels like he's saving his parents again and again. It's an intriguing obsessive-compulsive behavior that Batman can't stop on his own.

He also takes on an entirely different personality when he's got the cowl on. Bruce Wayne is the true mask that he wears, but Batman isn't his true face either. The true face of Batman is still the afflicted youth that has lost his parents. Batman is an identity he adopts to escape that trauma and make him feel like he's correcting the wrongs of the past. It makes him feel like he's capable of stopping another situation of death, which he is indeed perfectly capable of doing.

Batman is also incredibly paranoid. He's hatched plans to contain and defeat the rest of the Justice League in case they become villains and he continually has authoritarian tendencies for obtaining information and keeping tabs on people. He doesn't trust anyone but himself. That is central to the entire facade of Batman. His obsession with revenge leads him to put in almost every possible effort to stop crime, and that includes paranoia. The only rule that Batman has is that he does not kill.

That rule put into comparison with his psychosis, is the most interesting and important point of Batman. Although he is distant, cold, obsessed, paranoid, and at times cruel, he's still committed to justice. That's the strength of Batman. He has suffered the tragic deaths of his parents and the psychological impact of that and still maintains his ultimate sense of rationality and morality. This presents a compelling dichotomy: Batman is sane because he is insane.

As I've said, Batman is damaged, greatly so, but his moral code keeps him in check and helps keep his head about his shoulders, and that precarious balance presents a fundamental tension in his character that is not present in many other comic book heroes. All of the stories about the Riddler, the Joker, and even Kite-Man are just allegories for the mental state of Bruce Wayne. Batman isn't a comic book character that you read to watch him fight baddies, he's a character that you read about to see how his state of mind develops and whether or not he'll slip and lose what keeps him a hero. You read about him to see the eternal anguish he feels because of his parents' deaths. You read about him to see how he succeeds in his mission and how he fails.

What makes Batman compelling, in short, is that he is a psychologically damaged individual who ultimately maintains his sanity. His life is a balancing act, and that is the fundamental message and theme of every Batman comic you will read.

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