Everybody needs a little bit of guidance. Think back to all your years spent in school and filter through all the teachers you had growing up; I bet there is one teacher who, above all the rest, sticks out the most to you in your mind. We all have at least one--a teacher who inspired us to reach for our goals, or taught us that whatever we put our mind to, it’s possible with hard work and a little bit of faith. Most importantly though, that teacher is likely the person who helped guide your character. Maybe that teacher helped you develop your ethics, your morals, and the structure of many of your personal beliefs. That’s something I think we all have in common with the X-Men--at one point or another we all had a good teacher.
The most recent issue of Uncanny X-Force takes the X-Force team into the Age of Apocalypse; a world without Professor Charles Xavier to influence and lead them. It’s interesting to see how different the world is for the X-Men without the guidance of Charles Xavier--but does that make for a better world? Over the years, the X-Men have had many teachers, and each provided their own individual and unique school of thought and philosophy for each new class of young mutants. So, how do you gauge which of these teachers was the best?== TEASER ==
Magneto was to the X-Men and the mutant race what Malcolm X was to the African American civil rights movement in the United States. This comparison isn’t at all a new concept, and is something the guys at Screened discuss in greater detail in a recent editorial. Eric’s philosphy on life and the mutant race being more powerful than humanity is something that evolved over time, and was due in part to bearing years of discrimination and ostracism. Eric suffered as both a survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp for being Jewish during World War II Germany, and again for being a mutant. He taught his children and his students that mutants are the superior race; doing everything in his power to “advance his cause of mutant supremacy.” While Magneto has sometimes been depicted as cruel and closed minded- his greatest concern has generally been for the survival and success of his race. Magneto’s ideologies helped drive many of the X-Men’s major story arcs including Mutant Massacre, Secret Wars II and House of M.
Since she was first created by Len Wein in 1975, Storm has been a prominent figure of leadership for the X-Men. Not only was she one of the first major black comic characters, but she was also one of the first female characters at Marvel to hold a position of power. In a sense, Storm endured discrimination on more than one level, similar to Magneto; unlike Eric, however, Storm grew up and became more like Charles Xavier than anything. In Charles’ absence, Storm became the leader of the X-Men and lead them through major events like the Mutant Massacre and Inferno. Once Charles returned, he split leadership responsibilities between Ororo and Cyclops. More recently, Storm married T’Challa and became Queen of Wakanda- but she has since returned to the X-Men. No longer holding position of leadership, she continues to be regarded by her peers (with the exception of Emma Frost) as a wise counsel. Storm is often written as a maternal and compassionate character.
Founding Xavier’s School For Gifted Youngsters was one of the many things Charles Xavier accomplished during his tenure with the X-Men. Charles is often seen as the foundation for the X-Men- responsible for bringing them together. Professor Xavier has always stressed the importance of his ideology: to strive for a peaceful coexistence between mutants and humans, and that no race is more important than the other. Charles acted as both a teacher, struggling to help his students harness and control their powers, and protector; often taking in mutant children who suffered ostracization and discrimination; giving them a place where they no longer felt like outcasts. However, his peaceful nature was later perceived by members of the X-Men as passive, and his leadership abilities were considered sub par. While Xavier did protect many mutants by taking them in, he also often left them vulnerable when he sometimes withheld important information pertaining to their existence.
Once a member of the Hellfire Club, Emma Frost has since reformed and joined the ranks of the X-Men. Following the death of Jean Grey, Emma was appointed co-headmistress of the Xavier Institute. However, long before that, Emma Frost had her own set of students, the Hellions, during her tenure with the Hellfire Club. The Hellions, who died under the tutelage of Frost, left a deep scar and she has since felt tremendous guilt over their deaths. Emma often utilizes her psychic abilities to help her students harness their powers to their utmost potential- linking Synch and Jubilee, for example, allowing Jubilee to reach her full potential in order to defeat the Phalanx.
These are, of course, only some of the X-Men’s more influential teachers, and there are several others (Cyclops and Beast, for example) who I haven’t mentioned here. Which X-Man do you feel is the most important and influential? Which mutant do you feel was the best X-Men teacher and why? Do you think Charles should have stepped down sooner? What would their world be like if another mutant had been there to teach?