As a child I always loved Mystique. Not only was she the most beautiful character in my opinion, she was also a strong woman and a leader of bad guys – who in my youth were still always men, never women. Just the mere thought of having a female as a leader of the bad guys was unthinkable at the time. And if that was to happen, it was only because she was utterly bad, a total psycho, uncaring for even her own children and without any womanly attributes except for maybe sexiness (as if that’s distinctively a womanly attribute). But Mystique was something else.
Mystique was a strong female leader of her group – not because she scared the rest of them, but because she was a good leader. She truly cared for her team mates and was loyal to them. Mystique wasn’t also bad just for being an evil person. She and her team tried to do horrible things, but it was never because they were just bad or dreamed about world domination or a million dollars in cash, but because they were trying to fight back the persecution they had to face from humans every day just for being different. She was like a female version of Magneto, but there was always something extra to her.
Complex family issues
Mystique had a family. On page 40 of Ryhmä-X 10/1985 Nightcrawler meets Mystique for the first time and they have a short conversation before she escapes:
N: “Unglaublich! You are… Mystique!”
“Your eyes… your skin… Mein Gott, we look so alike!”
M: “Could it be, Nightcrawler, you are not as unique as you thought?”
N: “You know my name? Who are you?”
M: “Ask your mother, Margali Szardos. She knows the answer.”
I didn’t know they had made the relationship of Mystique and Nightcrawler public straight from the start, but obviously they were hinted to be related to each other straight from the start, and later it was revealed she was his mother. If I remember it right, in hopes of giving him a better life than she had, she had given him away.
Mystique also had a daughter, Rogue, which was revealed much later. I think that story went something like Mystique abandoned her because she looked normal, or something. (We’ll get to that later when I get that far in my collection.) It was obvious Rogue and Mystique had some special bond between them, but I think it was always supposed it was because she was originally a member of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. (I think Rogue’s debut is only two issues away!) I think they only later invented she was related to her. But I could remember it wrong. It’s been almost twenty years since I read that story.
Relationship with Destiny
And the thing that set Mystique appart from all the other bad mutant leaders was the fact that she had Destiny. I found out only now, doing some background checking for this blog, that Mystique and Destiny were lovers. I had always thought of them as just having a friendship, but then again I was a very young girl when I read these stories. I knew there were homosexual men and I had heard there were lesbians, but I always thought of them in the porn movie way as in two girls doing it just to arouse a man.
I think I was in high school when suddenly I really got it, that real-life lesbians are just like real-life homosexual men – or like real-life heterosexuals – really being there just for the other half. (Remember, this was Finland in the early 90s.) That revelation also led to me understanding that I was, in fact, a bisexual, but that’s a whole another story.
Back to Mystique. I always remember how tenderly she cared for Destiny, but I always thought it was because she was older than she was, or because she was more fragile than her. Of course, now I know nobody really knows how old Mystique is, but obviously much older than she looks.
Another thing about Mystique that I really liked was how the other characters reacted to her. Even though she was involved in many evil deeds, she was always treated with certain respect by the X-Men. I think in a way they felt she wasn’t a bad person. Her bad deeds vere more of a reflection of her inner feelings and there was a feeling, if she was able to find inner peace she might one day join the good side.
Once again I must stress it’s been a long time since I read these stories so this could all be just my imagination or my memory playing tricks on me. I’m almost excited to find out how the story really went and how differently I might read the stories now that I have grown older and wiser.
In fact, this is almost like a personal journey for me. In my youth I saw Mystique as a sort of a role model for a strong female. Doing bad things and being a criminal, but not being a bad person. Doing hard decisions, but not doing them without remorse. Being a strong leader and female, but not being one dimensional. Looking good, but not treated as a sex object. (I know, I’m going to be disappointed, aren’t I? *shudders in fear*)
Life is about coping with disappointment
And now that I’ve mentioned it… WHAT THE HELL, INTERNET?! Pardon my French, but two days ago I noticed Google had added a new cool feature where you can drag any picture to their search bar and they will find you where that picture is from and other similar pictures. Of course, the search engine is not intelligent, so the search results might be anything from horses to space shuttles if the colours match, but still, it’s very impressive.
After playing a while with it I got this idea I’d try it with Mystique’s image. I had in my mind Mystique standing tall, in her white costume, skulls on her belt, facing the viewer, strong. I was in the zone. I was excited if Google would find me even more images of Mystique or something completely different. But first, I needed an image of her and since scanner wasn’t near I googled for Mystique.
This is quite hard to put in words, but the Mystique of the internet does not appear to be the Mystique I know. The closest representation, which is still really tacky, is the Wikipedia’s (English version) image of Mystique, but she’s too young and holds a gun between her boobs. Well, it’s been few years since I last held a gun, but I recall we females didn’t aim the gun with our cleavage. Correct me if I’m wrong. But still, even though the image was just silly and stupid, it was still closest to my Mystique.
The other Mystiques were something between a wild teenageboy-fantasy-cow-udder-hybrids I had a hard time recognizing as being human. Ok, I get the idea they were supposed to be sexy representations of Mystique, but even with my bisexual brain I find it hard to see, how this is in any level or universe considered to be sexy. The other Mystique I found was the Mystique of the X-Men movies. A beautiful, blue, naked lady. I always wondered where she forgot her clothes in the movies, but since she was not sexualized, I let it go. Well, I suppose quite many people just got the “naked” part. On the first page of Google image search results there were even photos of young women painted blue and standing there nude. (Remember, if you post it on the internet you might never get it back!) Anyway, they did a very good job at standing nude in front of the camera looking “hey, I did it, I have the courage to stand here nude! Eeeek!” instead of looking like Mystique.
And this brings me to my next point. I have very often wondered why is it that when we fall in love with a character from a movie or from a comic, and want to make a hell of a sexy picture of them, we just totally forget WHAT it is that makes him/her sexy in the first place. I mean, the superhero comics are full of darn good looking people. In fact, in most cases you wouldn’t recognize them except for the colour of their hair and their outfit. Why Mystique and not Storm? Why Rogue and not Scarlet Witch? Why Gambit and not Cyclops? They all have the same bodies. Could it be, well, I don’t know, their character and story, which makes them pop out for you? So why, WHY, whenever you make a Sexy Picture of your hero, why do you always throw away everything that makes him/her interesting and sexy to you and just concentrate on his/her bodyparts?
Besides, people, nudity isn’t the ultimate sexy factor. If it was we’d all be supersexy without any clothes. Sorry, but sexiness is an attitude, it’s the spark in his/her eye when s/he’s up to no good, and what you say or do. I admit I like good looking people, but often when they open their mouth, some previously good looking people start to look quite unattractive after all, and some ok-looking people begin to look all the more sexier when you hear them.
And funny thing, I usually find people less attractive the less they wear. And it’s not because I shun nudity. Sorry, guys, I live in Finland. We have sauna. Nudity is natural. Still there are occasions when nudity/scant clothes are not natural anymore but a distasteful distraction. Nudity becomes distasteful the moment you put added/emphasized sexiness in it. And usually people with the tiniest clothes have quite bad taste in style. Not always but quite often.
So, to finalize my point, here is the best image of Mystique I found. I love it.