Current Reviews


X-Statix #19

Posted: Sunday, March 14, 2004
By: Shawn Hill

“The Cure Part One of Two: Miracles and Wonders”

Writer: Peter Milligan
Artists: Mike Allred and Nick Craine

Publisher: Marvel

Vivisector has the world in his lap, as long as he keeps on risking his life for high pay, great sex and fan approbation. But he just wants to be a normal little boy.

I guess we learn this issue that Myles Alfred is far less media-savvy than the sadly deceased Edie. She knew exactly what this fame game was about, even as it drove her to exhaustion and addiction and (occasionally even) heroism. But Miles is a test case for book learning not measuring up to common sense, as he basically throws away everything his uniqueness has brought him without even realizing it.

What’s clever about this script is the reversal Milligan works in the stock metaphors. Usually, habitually, homosexuality is something that cannot be named, that can only be referred to in fiction through misdirection and indirect symbolism. Mutants stand in for gays, as do artists, as do social misfits, as does anyone who is different enough to be an outsider, barred from joining in the reindeer games. All well and good, but Milligan is well aware that we live in a post-O’Donnell world. Here, coyly playing with the idea that the titular “Cure” Miles is searching for could as easily be for his blatant homosexuality, Milligan is instead able to make a statement about the current state of public mores and values.

As Lacuna learned (and still evinces, even in a coma) fame has nothing to do with health or nobility, it’s enough to be glamorous and style setting. Getting everyone’s attention is its own reward in this corner of the Marvel-verse, and the best way to go about it is to be a mutant hero who goes on dangerous, regularly filmed and carefully edited missions. But when Miles falls afoul of a crooked doctor, all that goes horribly awry.

In short order, he’s dumped by his actor boyfriend and dropped from the team. But not before a very clever scene which amounts to the rest of the team (his fellow famous freaks) urging him not to go back in the closet of conformity (to them, he’s inexplicably been seduced by Ex-Gay rhetoric). This fundamental difference in perspective and confusion turns ultra-violent, but even that doesn’t bother the team as much as the concept of willingly giving up one’s ability to play among the gods.

All this plays against a sub-story about Lacuna where she is literally healed by the power of prayer. This month we get a very subversive set of issues smashed together brilliantly by Milligan, in the single best issue of the title since before the muddle of the Henrietta arc. Salt is rubbed in Mile’s wounds as we learn that his family still doesn’t love him, the team has no use for him in ANY role sans hair and claws, and the doc who betrayed him and burned his books on national TV is planning to make nefarious use of his purloined powers.

In the skewed logic of this hyper-saturated corner of pop culture, the feeling ultimately is that Miles deserves nothing better, as the proper fate for one who betrays no one so much as himself.

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