[7 August 2009]
Popular cultural mediums are usually a few years behind youth sub-cultural movements. When those who work in such mediums do get around to addressing such groups, it’s usually in a way that only makes sense to those bound by Hollywood stereotypes or the embarrassing misinterpretations of New York literary magazines. For the most part, however, Marvel Comics addressed punk well.
They played it tongue in cheek in The Mighty Thor panel from 1984 in which some young punks give Thor fashion advice. As he walks into the Avengers Mansion, the kids tell him, “Listen, man, haven’t you heard? Long hair is definitely out. Why not come over to our place for a Mohawk?” To which Thor responds, “I thank thee. But were I to cut my hair, my helmet would fall off.”
To some extent, Marvel also addressed punk seriously. Though many people think back on Chris Claremont and John Romita Jr.‘s Uncanny X-Men story of Storm becoming punk as a silly sub-plot that couldn’t see past the time, the transition to the Wendy-O-Williams aesthetic was a good way to signify Storm’s identity crisis. After renouncing her faith in herself as a goddess and finding herself without a pre-set system of beliefs, Storm externalized her crisis in a new look. In this panel from Uncanny X-Men #180, Storm is explaining the meaning of her new aesthetic to Professor Xavier, who also sports a strange ensemble.