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X-Men Not Human!

acheron

TRIBE Member
from The Wall Street Journal

Fans Howl in Protest as Judge
Decides X-Men Aren't Human


Marvel Fought to Have Characters Ruled
Nonhuman to Win Lower Tariff on Toys

By NEIL KING JR.
Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL


Judge Judith Barzilay huddled late last year with a telepathic professor and a cast of mutants to ponder an age-old question: What does it mean to be human?

In her chambers at the U.S. Court of International Trade, in New York, the judge examined Prof. X and the rest of his band of X-Men, all of them little plastic figures at the heart of a six-year tariff battle between their owner, Marvel Enterprises Inc., and the U.S. Customs Service.

Her ruling thundered through the world of Marvel Comics fans. The famed X-Men, those fighters of prejudice sworn to protect a world that hates and fears them, are not human, she decreed Jan. 3. Nor are many of the villains who do battle with Spiderman and the Fantastic Four. They're all "nonhuman creatures," concluded Judge Barzilay.

Marvel subsidiary Toy Biz Inc. pushed Judge Barzilay to declare its heroes nonhuman so it could win a lower duty rate on action figures imported from China in the mid-1990s. At the time, tariffs put higher duties on dolls than toys. According to the U.S. tariff code, human figures are dolls, while figures representing animals or "creatures," such as monsters and robots, are deemed toys.

To Brian Wilkinson, editor of the online site X-Fan (x-mencomics.com/xfan/), Marvel's argument is appalling. The X-Men -- mere creatures? "This is almost unthinkable," he says. "Marvel's super heroes are supposed to be as human as you or I. They live in New York. They have families and go to work. And now they're no longer human?"

X-Men's Wolverine: Man or beast?

Chuck Austen, current author of Marvel's "Uncanny X-Men" comic-book series, is also incredulous. He has worked hard for a year, he says, to emphasize the X-Men's humanity, to show "that they're just another strand in the evolutionary chain."

Marvel issued this statement: "Don't fret, Marvel fans, our heroes are living, breathing human beings -- but humans who have extraordinary abilities ... . A decision that the X-Men figures indeed do have 'nonhuman' characteristics further proves our characters have special, out-of-this world powers."

The X-Men series broke new ground when it began in 1963 by confronting racism and intolerance head-on. The good-hearted mutants rallied around their mentor, the wheelchair-bound Prof. Charles Xavier, to protect mankind, even as humans shunned and despised them.

In 1996, Toy Biz sued Customs in the Court of International Trade, which arbitrates foreign-trade disputes between U.S. companies and the government. Toy Biz said its pantheon of action figures should be classified as toys instead of dolls. Customs insisted the figures are dolls, and thus subject to 12% import duties, instead of the 6.8% rate for toys. Duties have since been eliminated from both categories.

Thus began the great debate over the figures' true being. Barbie is a doll. Pooh Bear's a toy. That much is easy.

But what about Wolverine, the muscular X-Man with the metal claws that jut out from his fists? Wolverine has known many forms in his more than 40 years as a Marvel character. In some comics, he resembles a futuristic robot. In the movie "X-Men," he's a scruffy Canadian who drives a camper until falling under the protection of the telepathic Prof. Xavier, dean of an academy for gifted mutants in suburban New York.

But is he human?

To weigh that question, Judge Barzilay sat down with a sheaf of opposing legal briefs and more than 60 action figures, including Wolverine, Storm, Rogue and Bonebreaker.

Toy Biz, in its filings, pulled no punches. The figures "stand as potent witnesses for their status as nonhuman creatures," the company argued. How could they be humans, Toy Biz said, if they possessed "tentacles, claws, wings or robotic limbs?"

Toy Biz had good cause to pursue this line. Having its action figures declared toys would mean a hefty reimbursement of past duties, though the company declines to give specifics on how much was at stake.

The U.S. government showed more feeling. Each figure had a "distinctive individual personality," the federal legal team argued. Some were Russians, Japanese, black, white, women, even handicapped. Wolverine, the government insisted, was simply "a man with prosthetic hands." Justice Department lawyers who handled the case didn't return calls seeking comment.

Judge Barzilay, through a spokesman, said that she would let her 32-page decision speak for itself. But she described in her ruling how she subjected many of the figures to "comprehensive examinations." At times, that included "the need to remove the clothes of the figure."

The X-Men, oddly, gave her the least trouble. They are mutants, she declared, who "use their extraordinary and unnatural ... powers on the side of good or evil." The judge observed how the character Storm, with her flowing white hair and dark skin, "can summon storms at will," while Pyro has a "mutant ability to control and shape flames."

Thus the X-Men are "something other than human." Case closed.

Tougher for the judge were figures from the Fantastic Four and Spiderman series. Judge Barzilay wrestled at length with Kraven, a famed hunter who once vanquished Spiderman, thanks in part to the strength gained from drinking secret jungle elixirs.

The judge found that Kraven exhibited "highly exaggerated muscle tone in arms and legs." He wore a "lion's mane-like vest." Both features helped relegate him, in the judge's mind, to the netherworld of robots, monsters and devils.

Judge Barzilay conceded that the closest call was the Mole Man, who once blinded the Fantastic Four with searing beams of light. The judge found him to be "stout and thick," with "exaggerated troll-like features" and very pale skin -- fitting for someone who lives underground. Given all that, Judge Barzilay concluded, the Mole Man was more mole than man.

Veteran comics fan Christian Cooper, who once worked as a Marvel editor, thinks Judge Barzilay got carried away. If Kraven isn't human, what about the twisted villains in Dick Tracy? Or worse yet, Superman himself?

"Here's a guy who changes his clothes in a phone booth and flies through the air," says Mr. Cooper. "Does that mean he's now an animal?"
 
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Yourmamas

TRIBE Member
I have collected comics for the last 15 years or so........never once have I thought they were real.

Some people need lives.
 

Klubmasta Will

TRIBE Member
there is much mis-information in the above article. to determine whether or not the characters are "human", you have to look at the originating STORIES.

Originally posted by acheron
Wolverine has known many forms in his more than 40 years as a Marvel character. In some comics, he resembles a futuristic robot. In the movie "X-Men," he's a scruffy Canadian who drives a camper until falling under the protection of the telepathic Prof. Xavier, dean of an academy for gifted mutants in suburban New York.

But is he human?

wolverine has never resembled "a futuristic robot".

like ALL members of the x-men, wolverine is a mutant, meaning he is a HUMAN born with an "x-chromosome" - the next step in the evolutionary ladder. while we are homo sapians, mutants are described as "homo superior", but they are still human.

Wolverine, the government insisted, was simply "a man with prosthetic hands." Justice Department lawyers who handled the case didn't return calls seeking comment.

wolverine has an adamantium-laced skeleton and an adamantium coating on his natural bone claws. the adamantium metal was added by military scientists. he has never had "prosthetic hands".

The judge found that Kraven exhibited "highly exaggerated muscle tone in arms and legs." He wore a "lion's mane-like vest." Both features helped relegate him, in the judge's mind, to the netherworld of robots, monsters and devils.

kraven the hunter is a regular human who augmented his natural physical abilities with drugs.

Judge Barzilay conceded that the closest call was the Mole Man, who once blinded the Fantastic Four with searing beams of light. The judge found him to be "stout and thick," with "exaggerated troll-like features" and very pale skin -- fitting for someone who lives underground. Given all that, Judge Barzilay concluded, the Mole Man was more mole than man.

the mole man is human; he was just born very very ugly. that is why he was shunned by humanity and that is why he chose to live underground. if you pretend the character is not human, then you take away the very essence of the character (i.e. it is only tragic because the mole man was shunned by his own people; if he was not even human to begin with, there would be no tragedy).

If Kraven isn't human, what about the twisted villains in Dick Tracy? Or worse yet, Superman himself?

"Here's a guy who changes his clothes in a phone booth and flies through the air," says Mr. Cooper. "Does that mean he's now an animal?"

no, you jackass, superman is kryptonian. he is most certainly NOT human. it is essential to superman's character that he NOT be human - he is destined/doomed to protect a group of people (i.e. humanity) although he will never truly be one of them. if you characterize him as human, then again, you take away the tragic nature that makes the character special.
 
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zee

TRIBE Member
Re: Re: X-Men Not Human!

Originally posted by Klubmasta Will
the mole man is a human; he was just born very very ugly.

aahahaha i find this so amusing

im so immature
 
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Klubmasta Will

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by Yourmamas
I have collected comics for the last 15 years or so........never once have I thought they were real.

Some people need lives.

read the article again. no one is claiming that the characters are "real". it is actually a neat case that arose because someone decided that "dolls" and "toys" (which are, apparently, mutually exclusive categories) should be taxed differently.
 

deep

TRIBE Member
Are the fans really howling though? Cause, really, it would make anyone reluctant to accept your point if you're howling everything you say
 

labRat

TRIBE Member
clearly the fans aren't human if they're howling.

and the fans shouldn't say anything, it'll make for cheaper dolls for them to play with in the end.
 
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deep

TRIBE Member
How the fuck did this ever end up in a court?????????

Increasing profit margins that are otherwise impeded by laws of debateable application

Yeah what a weird place for corporate lawyers to be
 

Klubmasta Will

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by *labRat*
clearly the fans aren't human if they're howling.

objection, your honour.

as exhibit A, i present the original captain america's "howling commandos".

they were all human, all howling, all american and they all killed nazi scum.
 

terrawrist III

TRIBE Member
wolverine has never resembled "a futuristic robot".

yes he has...remember "albert" the robot copy of logan who was sidekick to elsee dee?

of course, who cares......logan has taken dozens of forms,none of them robot:)
 

seeker

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by Klubmasta Will


objection, your honour.

as exhibit A, i present the original captain america's "howling commandos".

they were all human, all howling, all american and they all killed nazi scum.

Do you think they would work on soap scum? None of the products I've tried do an acceptable job.

I'm glad that they've worked this issue out. It's comforting to know that Marvel and its partners will be charged less taxes on their toys now. Any idea on when we'll get charged less taxes?
 
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terrawrist III

TRIBE Member
I can't speak for him...but i'm an action figure, the same thing as X-men "dolls"

how did this get in court...it's fuckin' ridiculous:D
 

seeker

TRIBE Member
I wouldn't really say that I'm either a toy, or a doll. I'd better fit in the category "unidentifiable".
 

seeker

TRIBE Member
can we define what constitutes a toys 'toy-ness'? perhaps that would help me clarify my current situation.

or i may just have gas.... :confused:
 

physix

TRIBE Member
Re: Re: X-Men Not Human!

Originally posted by Klubmasta Will


like ALL members of the x-men, wolverine is a mutant, meaning he is a HUMAN born with an "x-chromosome" - the next step in the evolutionary ladder. while we are homo sapians, mutants are described as "homo superior", but they are still human.


don't all humans -- male or female -- have at least ONE x chromosome???

oh, you're referring to the notorious "x-factor" in their gene...

much liek the mysterious unstable molecules....


mysterious indeed.

-physix
 
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MoFo

TRIBE Member
They were a HUGE part of my life. I read them to retreat. To read about characters that had the same experiences that I did with prejudice. Yeah, I never got imprisoned on an island but highschool sure felt that way.

So to all you fuckers, they ARE human. Like Holden Caulfield, they were an entity that affected my life.
 

zee

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by MoFo
They were a HUGE part of my life. I read them to retreat. To read about characters that had the same experiences that I did with prejudice. Yeah, I never got imprisoned on an island but highschool sure felt that way.

So to all you fuckers, they ARE human. Like Holden Caulfield, they were an entity that affected my life.

sniff. there you go.
KLEENEX.gif
:p :p :p
 

Klubmasta Will

TRIBE Member
Re: Re: Re: X-Men Not Human!

Originally posted by physix
don't all humans -- male or female -- have at least ONE x chromosome???

oh, you're referring to the notorious "x-factor" in their gene...

much liek the mysterious unstable molecules....

you are absolutely right. i meant "x-factor".

unstable molecules are kinda like the universal translator - they explain away all the things that had no explanation. *nerdy laugh*

i was actually thinking about this article and this legal decision last night. it looks like the judge probably had some fun with this case, but it made me wonder if judges often do this little research before making their decisions. if so, that is downright scary.
 
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