My exposure to the X-Men comics came at a transitional time in my life. I had recently graduated college and just started my first job. I had always known that I didn't fit in, but I'd never really understood why. I spent my entire education, up through college, trying to copy my peers, in the hopes that I would accidentally find the secret formula to acceptance. I wore what they wore, I watched what they watched, I went where they went. But somehow they always knew I was faking it. Now that I was out of that environment, mingling with people who hadn't been with each other every day since they were 8, I began to finally understand my problem: I was weird. Instead of caring about professional football and makeup and movie stars and beer, I liked comic books and Doctor Who and fantasy novels and videogames. I never fit in because I was wired differently; I could no more become like them than I could change my species.


I spent a great deal of time considering the X-Men and how they protected a population that would just as soon see them dead. I read Mystique's description of how she was harassed because she was different, and I recognized her frustration. I saw Storm's apparently endless reserve of inner peace, and wondered how I could emulate it. I saw nobility and selflessness in the heroism of the X-Men, and I saw lonely bitterness in The Brotherhood of Mutants. Finally, here was something I understood.

Waiting for new issues was agony, so I read issues many times, cover to cover, right down to the ads for X-Ray specs in the back. It was this desperation that led to my salvation, however. Each X-Men comic included a few letters from readers, which usually referenced specific plot points or asked silly questions, like how Wolverine's hair managed to defy gravity (Shi'ar technology, apparently). One letter, however, was from a boy who was being bullied at school. He wanted to thank the writers of the X-Men comics for giving him heroes to look up to; heroes who were different from everyone else, whether they wanted to be or not.

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