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X-Position: An X-Men Podcast #6 - Cold Vengeance & Slave Island

Our focus returns to X-Men: The Animated Series with a pair of episodes centered on the theme of escape - in ways both figurative and literal - for our homo superior heroes. In "Cold Vengeance," matters of the heart compel Wolverine's flight to the very ends of the earth (or as he puts it, "somewhere cold"). As opposed to any sort of mutation-specific angst, Logan's unrequited love for Jean Grey serves as a universal and painfully relatable motive. In a positive exploration of human-mutant relations, however, Wolverine's enhanced physique and superhuman metabolism prove extremely advantageous to the indigenous people who have no experience or concept of mutant bigotry and take him in as one of their own. Despite seeking solitude, the loner has at last found companionship, even belonging, that arguably rivals his found family amongst the X-Men. Sadly, not everyone is so accepting of Wolverine's contributions. And when that resentment collides with a returning Sabretooth, looking to settle the score after his defeat two episodes prior, Wolverine realizes that no amount of distance is enough to separate him from his harsh, cold reality.

Meanwhile, a trio of X-Men are offered an escape from their thankless responsibilities protecting a world that fears and hates them by kicking back on the island nation of Genosha. As a purported safe haven for mutants, Genosha is all-too alluring for Storm, Gamit, and Jubilee, who relish the opportunity to investigate the authenticity of this sales pitch under the guise of vacationing tourists. Of course, in an episode entitled "Slave Island," Genosha's peaceful and inviting veneer conceals a nightmare beyond imagination. To their horror, the trio learn that the nation is only interested in mutants for their "economic contributions" as instruments of human capital. Backed by Gyrich and Trask's revived Sentinel operation, the Genoshans waste no time pressing Gambit and Jubilee into hard labor, while a rebellious Storm is locked away in solitary confinement. As originally conceived in 1988, Genosha's comics origin positioned the locale as a fairly transparent apartheid allegory. Though less contemporary by 1993 and obfuscated by adaptation and filtration through Broadcast Standards & Practices, this Genosha still packs a punch and contains notes of relevance that ring true today. As a classist society where the rich get richer and everything feels like a scam to the workforce exploited to prop up the monied elite, Genosha can just as easily be viewed as a commentary on late stage capitalism, driven to its most brutal extremes. And in that world, where there also exists a minority population endowed with fantastic special abilities? Of course they would be regarded as commodities enlisted in service of the state, voluntarily or otherwise. It's heavy subject matter for any Saturday morning cartoon, and a mere seven episodes in at that.


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