His characterization? It barely counts as a characterization. Wanda isn’t in House of M or Disassembled much at all. We learn about her new retconned history by having a white guy explain it to us. Except that it’s only half-explained and full of implications the guy who wrote it hasn’t thought through at all. It doesn’t have anything to do with any other Wandas, except John Byrne’s WCA version and the terri-bad X-Men Evolution version, and it’s not really like either one of those.
I don’t mean to get Serious Business on everybody, but you might’ve heard that a black, mentally ill homeless man was shot by Los Angeles police the other day. This is part of a long history in the US of police violence against black men, but it’s also part of a long history of police violence against the mentally ill. There have been many, many cases like this.
There is a narrative that the severely mentally ill are all inherently violent and dangerous. This isn’t true. People with mental illnesses are more likely to be victims of crimes than perpetrators of them. We, as a society, are okay to recognize that pretty, young white girls who have Depression and Anxiety aren’t dangerous. They just have an illness, but we are not willing to extend that same compassion and understanding to people with dangerous mental illnesses and dangerous skin tones. Part of where we learn that people with, in particular, Schizophrenia (that’s the mental illness Bendis’ Wanda has a very distorted version of) are dangerous is through the media. Through the news and movies and episodes of Criminal Minds and comic books where people who can’t tell what’s real from what isn’t are automatically rendered murderers by that condition.
I’m not blaming Bendis for police shootings, but we are all responsible for what we bring into this world. No story is without context. What we write and what we do affects other people. This isn’t just about Wanda. it’s about how stories like that affect people’s perception of real human beings and how those perceptions harm already vulnerable people. Wanda’s not real. I’m not in the camp that thinks she deserves better, but real people with severe mental illness do deserve better. They deserve to not be painted as monsters because someone wanted Spider-Man to be on the Avengers.
It’s funny because Bendis thought he was writing a Beautiful, Tragic Woman Torn Apart by Trauma story, and some people read it that way, House of M especially. You can’t throw a rock on Tumblr without hitting somebody who thought that book was so awesome and tragically beautiful. But the universal thing I’ve noticed about people who think that story was moving and inspiring, they all think Wanda just had Depression. Or PTSD or maybe Bipolar Disorder. They didn’t pay attention all the times she said “I don’t understand what’s real and what isn’t.” The psychosis didn’t even register. In order to find her beautiful in that state, they ignore the reason she’s like that. They always have to say ‘she’s not crazy, she’s just traumatized” because they couldn’t empathize with her if she was this Other thing.
People who think Wanda is just “crazy,” they see the Schizophrenia (or Schizoaffective Disorder or whatever you want to call it). They may not know what psychosis is, but they get that she’s the bad kind of mentally ill, not the tragic kind. I don’t like seeing House of M romanticized at the expense of real people who suffer from psychotic disorders, but I don’t like seeing this whole thing written off as “he made her crazy” as if no real person has ever heard voices or had hallucinations. Basically, I hate everything, and people with severe mental illness get screwed over from all sides.
I have no idea where I’m going with this. I could probably talk about this forever, but I try to keep this blog mostly free of ~negative Bendis vibes.~ There’s a ton of complaining about Bendis in the world. Other people have said what I would probably say anyway. I don’t care enough to do it all the time. I like Wanda, and I like talking about her in ways besides complaining. I would rather talk about other things I enjoyed or didn’t enjoy instead of rehashing the same conversation we’ve had for the past 10 years.