X-Factor

How comic book heroes could play a part in local politics.

This election, there's one important swing vote that nobody's polled yet: mutants.

Say you're a white, heterosexual male with a mutant healing factor and 12-inch retractable adamantium claws: do you support public housing set-asides?

The question matters because this summer the X-Men — one of the most popular superhero teams in the world — officially relocated to San Francisco.

According to Nick Lowe, X-Men editor for Marvel Comics, the team's making itself at home. Wolverine goes to bars in the Mission; Angel has bought the Transamerica Pyramid; the "young X-Men" team is living in the belfry of Grace Cathedral (I wonder what that rents for ... ); and just this month, after a fight in a local BDSM club, team leader Cyclops had telepathic sex with his girlfriend, the White Queen ... except it wasn't really her, it was his disguised ex-wife, Madelyn, secretly returned from the dead. So, you know, typical Saturday in the Castro.

But in a city whose three obsessions are costumes, sex, and politics, it's inevitable that people are asking: What are the sexy costumed heroes voting for?

Lowe said the X-Men probably don't have a position on municipal public power.

Frank McGinn, who owns the Amazing Fantasy comic book store in the Sunset, agreed: "They probably have their own [alien] Shi'ar power source separate from the city grid."

Marvel spokesman Jim McCann emphasized that the team does not do endorsements. "It's our policy to keep our characters out of politics as much as possible."

But historically, the X-Men comic had a radical, subversive pedigree. "'Mutant' has often been a metaphor for people of color, for queers, for outcasts," said STORM, a San Francisco superfan who really did legally change his name to that of the X-Men character (and in all caps!).

That pedigree is what makes them such a good fit for San Francisco. "The X-Men had been in generally unaccepting places for all their existence, and the editors thought that putting them someplace more accepting was fantastic," said Lowe. To which STORM replied, "That's why I went to graduate school here — that's why a lot of us came."

Maybe that's why, whatever Marvel says, local fans see the X-Men as fighting mad about Prop. 8. "I'm pretty sure they'll vote against anybody trying to take away rights because of a person's clothes or sexuality," said one fan who asked not to be named.

Assuming they make it to the polls.

"It's hard to imagine Wolverine voting in the first place," said STORM.

McGinn agrees. "I've got a feeling they'd be too busy fighting bad guys to vote."

Fair point. Lowe confirmed that San Francisco is going to be attacked pretty severely by super-powered menaces (no, not the supervisors) over the next few years. "There will be some damage, but most lives will be saved," he predicted.

Sounds like our universal health care plan couldn't have come at a better time.

 
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