One of the major themes of Marvel's X-Men comic-book series is racism, with mutants representing any oppressed minority group. In Uncanny X-Men #255 (1988) the mutant team's long-time writer, Chris Claremont, introduced his analogue to South Africa, whose government then followed a policy of apartheid, whereby its black population was reduced to second-class citizens, ruled by the white minority. Claremont created the island nation of Genosha, where mutants were forced to serve as a class of slave laborers. Located off the eastern coast of Africa, between Madagascar and the Seychelles Islands, Genosha was a haven for pirates for centuries. By the twentieth century its population was almost entirely comprised of Caucasians, apparently of British descent, and English is the nation's official language. Decades ago, the Sugar Man, a refugee from the alternate timeline called “the Age of Apocalypse,” shared his advanced knowledge of genetic engineering with the Genoshan government. As a result, the government established a system whereby it examined all Genoshan teenagers for signs of mutations that would produce superhuman abilities. Adolescents with such mutations were subjected to genetic engineering to augment or change their superhuman powers. These “mutates” became the government's slaves. No longer allowed to use their names, the mutates were identified by numbers tattooed onto their shaved foreheads. Their uniforms, called “skinsuits,” were permanently affixed to their bodies. (The Genoshan slave system also resembles a nightmare version of a military draft.) Upon the backs of these slave laborers, the Genoshan ruling class built a highly prosperous nation, renowned for its advanced technology. Eventually the Genoshan militia seized control of the government. As a result, Genosha fell into civil war between mutants and “normal” humans, resembling the 1990s conflict in Bosnia. The United Nations imposed order on the country by turning it over to the mutant terrorist Magneto, thereby hoping to deter him from waging further war on the human race. Cassandra Nova, the evil twin of Charles Xavier, the X-Men's founder, dispatched Sentinel robots that devastated Genosha. In 2004 Xavier and Magneto joined forces to help the Genoshan survivors rebuild their country. The nation of Genosha was also depicted in X-Men: The Animated Series (1992–1997).
The Supervillain Book: The Evil Side of Comics and Hollywood © 2006 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.