A new book ventures to the farthest reaches of the Marvel Universe and returns with stories to spare

Daniel Felsenthal in The Village Voice:

In a utopia, there’d be an issue for everyone. For me, it was Uncanny X-Men No. 414, which I read on the floor of a Pine Sol–scented Barnes and Noble when I was 11. Seated pretzel-legged in one of the aisles, I found something unexpectedly weighty in the Marvel comic: Abused by his father, a boy literally explodes. A lapsed superhero named Northstar discovers him in his home’s rubble. Northstar is gay, we know, because Professor Xavier, founder of a school for “gifted youngsters” with mutant powers they need to learn how to control, wants to hire the flying, ultrafast Canadian; he’d like to diversify his teaching staff so that his students have homosexual role models.

“Huh?” I thought, dropped from the drab retailer into a friendlier dimension. I’d never read anything so frankly queer before. The year was 2002, and I only knew gayness as the butt of jokes. Studio films were smattered with swishy stereotypes for comic relief, while the lyrics of Top 40 hitmakers like Eminem and DMX made mincemeat of homosexuals.

More here.