10 Marvel Comics With The Best Social Commentary

Marvel has always endeavored to create comics that reflected the world outside of readers’ window. While one can argue on whether they succeeded in this, the company’s creators have often injected a lot of realism into their stories, trying to make statements about the current situations of the world outside of the panels.

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Over the years, Marvel comics have used social commentary as a backdrop for their stories, often injecting subtle and not-so-subtle allusions to real-world issues into their comics. For those who think that comics can’t be political, Marvel is the wrong place to look for stories.

10 Sabretooth #1 (2022) Kicks Off An Intelligent Discourse About The Prison System


Sabretooth in front of a wall of flames

The X-Men books have social commentary as part of their DNA, and the Krakoa era of the books is no different. Sabretooth #1 (2022), by writer Victor LaValle and artist Leonard Kirk, takes a hard look at the penal system. Sabretooth was imprisoned in the early goings of the Krakoa era but is given the freedom to tailor his incarceration to his own desires for him and creates a literal Hell, one which holds horrible things for the next people brought there.

LaValle is using the comic to talk about the way the American penal system works, and even though the story is only one issue in, it’s a haunting indictment of a system that creates more monsters than it rehabilitates and how some are punished for doing the same things others are lauded for doing.

9 Before The Hydra Cap Storyline Went Off The Rails, It Seemed To Be An Indictment Of Trump-Era America


Many fans immediately sourced on writer Nick Spencer and artist Jesus Saiz’s Steve Rogers: Captain America #2, which revealed Steve Rogers as an agent of Hydra. However, one need only look at what was happening in the US at the time, the rise of Trumpism, and see that the story was seemingly an indictment of the Republican party, who long claimed to represent the “true” America, embracing fascist ideology .

Spencer’s run on the book saw Rogers suborning the systems put in place to stop him, much like Trump and the Republicans did during their reign. While the metaphor fell apart in places as the story went on, the whole thing was rather obvious.

8 The Ultimates’ Jingoism Was An Indictment Of Bush-Era Patriotism


Ultimate Universe

The Ultimates, by writer Mark Millar and artist Bryan Hitch, came out right around 9/11, and one can see how that colored Millar’s writing as the series went on. The Captain America of the Ultimates was the ultimate no-nonsense American, and his patriotism was jingoistic in the extreme, playing into many excesses of the Bush era.

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Patriotism post-9/11 was a very shallow version of the word; basically, an American might makes right version of things that made any crimes the US committed okay. The Ultimates played into this, and The Ultimates II even showed Captain America being used to fight terrorists.

7 Vita Ayala’s New Mutants Run Makes A Lot Of Statements About Community And Is Very Queer Friendly


shadow king on new mutants #24

The New Mutants have long been one of Marvel’s best young mutant teams, and the current run by writer Vita Ayala and artist Rod Reis is showing why. Ayala is playing up the queer undertones of the characters and using the book to make statements about marginalized communities. In fact, the book seems to be using mutants to speak about LGBTQ issues.

Ayala is using the mutants as a metaphor for the LGBTQ community, and they aren’t even very subtle about it. The New Mutants act exactly like a group of LGBTQ individuals, having created a family amongst themselves, and speak to issues that make sense for the community.

6 Children Of The Atom Uses Superheroes To Speak About Queer And Trans Issues


Children of the Atom with X-Men

Marvel has embraced LGBTQ representation in recent years, and nowhere is that more apparent than in Children Of The Atom, by writer Vita Ayala and artist Bernard Chang. Ayala focuses on a group of humans who use found alien technology to replicate the powers of their favorite X-Men, constantly hoping to become mutants and join Krakoan society.

The whole thing feels like a metaphor for being closed, as the book’s main characters want the freedom of being a mutant hero but aren’t “out” yet even though they are superheroes. The group’s line-up is racially diverse and in sexuality and gender representation and speaks about issues that affect queer teens.

5 X-Men #4 (2019) Sees The Leaders Of Krakoa Meet The Rest Of The World


Professor-x-Charles-Xavier-Brain

The early days of the Krakoa era played up the politics of the whole situation, and X Men #4 (2019), by writer Jonathan Hickman and artist Leinil Yu, did this perfectly. The issue saw Xavier, Magneto, and Apocalypse meet up with world leaders and have a tension-filled dinner while Cyclops and Gorgon fought off an assassination attempt, and it played heavily into the interplay between nations.

Hickman used the issue to make a point about what happens when a marginalized community is finally given a seat at the table and how everyone else reacts. It’s one of the highlights of Hickman’s time on X Men and a standout of the entire era, as Krakoa’s most important mutants sass world leaders.

4 X-Force Uses Beast’s Brutality To Make A Statement About Black Ops Operations


X Force was brought back in the Krakoa era as the new nation’s CIA. Written by Benjamin Percy with art by Joshua Cassara, Robert Gill, Martin Coccolo, and others, the book put Beast in charge of the group, and he indulged in his most terrible instincts. Given carte blanche to do whatever it takes to ensure Krakoa’s survival, Beast often chose atrocities.

The book calls out the excesses of the intelligence community with Beast’s solutions to the problems. While members Wolverine, Domino, Sage, Black Tom, and Kid Omega aren’t exactly blameless, Beast rather gleefully does reprehensible things, bugging the embassies of other nations and trying to take control of an entire nation’s populace, all of which backfire on him .

3 House Of X/Powers Of X Calls Out The Power Of The Pharmaceutical Industry


House of X teaser feature

House Of X/Powers Of X, by writer Jonathan Hickman and artists Pepe Larraz and RB Silva, kicked off the Krakoa era in epic fashion. It heaped change upon the mutant corner of the Marvel Universe. While it overtly talked about racism, there was a much more subtle bit of social commentary about the power of the pharmaceutical industry.

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Xavier manipulated the power of that industry, using it to gain wealth with Krakoan flower-based drugs, and then used that wealth and power to leverage governments into recognizing the mutant nation. The pharmaceutical industry’s power, especially over things like the debate over health care in America, is nearly absolute, and Hickman calls that out expertly.

two Civil War Had Things To Say About Freedom Versus Security


Captain America Iron Man

civilwar, by writer Mark Millar and artist Steve McNiven, has its ups and downs, but there’s a very clever metaphor under its superhero bombast. During the Bush Administration, the question of freedom versus security was a hot-button issue, as the government used the Patriot Act to take freedoms away from Americans in the name of security.

One can look at the Superhero Registration Act as doing the same thing to superheroes. The book goes even so far as having Iron Man, the corporate billionaire, embrace fascism as the ultimate representation of the Republican party.

1 X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills Calls Out The Place Of Organized Religion In Bigotry


X-Men and Reverend Stryker in X-Men God Loves and Man Kills

The X-Men have always been Marvel’s main source of social commentary. X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills, by writer Chris Claremont and artist Brad Anderson, sees the X-Men and Magneto in one of his more noble moments team up against Reverend Stryker and his Purifiers. Stryker uses religion as the basis of his bigotry, which has a distressing tendency to happen in the real world.

Claremont is not at all subtle in showing the hypocrisy of organized religion when it comes to issues involving bigotry, as Stryker tries to use Christianity as a cudgel against those he deems impure. It’s a story that never loses its impact.

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three panel the miracle machine, the infinity gauntlet and hal jordan as a white lantern


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