I’m an endlessly picky and particular comic book fan. I have Ideas and Opinions, and that often means I’ll read fewer books. But, I think, it also means I find some absolute gems in the books I do read. In this case, I want to talk about the “Tomorrow Never Learns” story arc in Wolverine and the X-Men vol. 2.

I read TNL for the first time in early 2015, pretty much as soon as the arc went live on Marvel Unlimited, Marvel’s back-issue e-library subscription service. I was pretty new to comics, and this was the penultimate arc of Wolverine and the X-Men, the first comic book series I ever read the full run of. I absolutely loved characters like Quentin “Kid Omega” Quire, Idie “Oya” Okonkwo, and Evan “Genesis” Sabahnur and their classmates, already, but it was this arc that solidified something for me:

Idie, Evan, and Quentin are a tipping point, not just for the X-Men, not just for mutantkind, but for the X-Men comics themselves, and this is intrinsically linked to the fact that they — all three of them — are in love with each other, or will be by the end of the story.

This is the first in my ongoing series of essay-length posts about the craft, content, and themes present in different pieces of geek media. This first essay is about the XMCU, airing my grievances about its chronology problem.


The X-Men Cinematic Universe has not been a shining example of consistency in superhero movie franchises. There have been three characters called Angel, only two of which are versions of Warren Worthington III, two Jubilees, two different Bolivar Trasks, and no solid grasp on when Scott Summers was born.

That said, most of these problems don’t become apparent until X-Men: Days of Future Past, and I want to argue that Bryan Singer is the man who ruined the XMCU’s internal coherence, mainly through negligence and an inability to recognize how time travel works. Singer’s return to the franchise lead to several temporal impossibilities, and while telling a story involving time travel can be complicated, the mistakes made here are really basic.

Or, the insufficiency of binary feminist criticism in mutant discourse.

Richard Siken wrote the line history is a little man in a brown suit/trying to define a room he is outside of. A lot of the time, that’s how I feel about gender.

Growing up assigned-female, I was drawn to the idea of being ‘not like other girls.’ I spent most of my time with boys, but reveled in not being one of them. I tested out binding and packing for years before my best friend bought me my first binder. I talked to trans men about drag, about whether it was okay for someone like me — then thinking I was a girl — to participate.

When I started wandering around the queerer parts of the internet — you know, the places where kids try out new names and pronouns and try to explain themselves with a language none of us were ever taught and half of us only halfway understand. Tumblr’s a big part of that, especially for me. While I still thought I was cis, someone said, anonymously, that they’d thought I was nonbinary.

For some reason — wink, nudge — that mattered to me. So I started to consider things. What did I do with the characters I liked? I made them trans. Usually, I made them nonbinary.

And I looked back, too, on the single most consequential figure in my queer youth: Mystique, as played by Rebecca Romijn. Mystique in her nakedness, her refusal to conform. Cis feminists, I’ve since learned, see her as a concession to the male gaze, using the subtly insidious “empowered naked lady” trope. It’s the trope people associate with any character with breasts who maybe, sometimes, shows them.