Warning: this post contains spoilers for the Marvel comic X-Factor #10.
Until now, X-Factor fans had been enjoying the series and its queer representation, but as Gizmodo's Charles Pulliam-Moore points out, the book's queer storyline took a sharp nosedive in the series' most recent issue.
Part of the book's story has been about discovering how the queer mutant David "Prodigy" Alleyne died at some point in the past, before being resurrected through some comic book magic. There had been an attack on Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters at the time of his death, and so he had thought that's where he died.
Unfortunately, this issue revealed the truth, and it left a bad taste in our mouths.
\u201cSecrets, vengeance, and someone\u2019s number is up. Don\u2019t miss the Hellfire Gala finale in 'X-Factor' #10, on sale now in the Marvel Comics app for iOS and Android!\u201d
— Marvel Entertainment (@Marvel Entertainment)
Prodigy follows a set of clues that lead him to a gay bar in West Hollywood. When he gets there, the two bartenders immediately recognize him and hand him a package he had left with them. The package is Prodigy's old phone, which he had left with the bartenders right before he died. The bartenders are shocked to see Prodigy, as they thought he'd be dead, "just like the rest of them," as one of them says. This phone leads Prodigy to the home of Buck Thatcher, a film producer who has a penchant for targeting and killing young Black queer men in the city. For many in the queer community, especially in Los Angeles, that name and M.O. are all too familiar.
The character is based on Ed Buck, a real-life Democratic fundraiser who was arrested in 2019 on methamphetamine charges. According to many in the LA gay scene, Buck had a pattern of picking up young, vulnerable Black men, taking them to his house, and injecting them with drugs.
Two Black men, Gemmel Moore and Timothy Dean, were both found dead of overdoses at Buck's house, however, he was never charged with their deaths.
Unfortunately, this is a messy ending to what was an otherwise solid book. By introducing a character based on a real-life anti-Black fetish murderer, and rushing the story, X-Factor didn't give proper weight to the issue.
\u201cMore people should know about Ed Buck's crimes and the systems that made it possible for him to prey upon Black men for so long and face no consequences. But trying to shoehorn that kind of story into a comic that doesn't have the necessary resources to do it justice wasn't it\u201d
\u201cTW for today\u2019s comics, X-Factor #10 features an Ed Buck-alike having killed a black queer mutant. Given the relative lack of publicity re: Buck\u2019s crimes, I don\u2019t hate spreading awareness that it happened, but also (white) writers NEED to stop using black pain as a plot device IMO\u201d
Sometimes we want our comic books to reflect reality, but when they do, it should comment on society, or change the way we look at it. It shouldn't just serve as an ugly reminder of the violence, racism, and erasure that queer Black men face.