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.
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.
For years, Buck was talked about as someone who targeted and killed vulnerable Black men in Los Angeles, but authorities were reluctant to arrest him. It is unknown if there were other victims of Buck’s foul play.
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.
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.
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