(So You Wanna Read About...)

By Kelly "Kielle" Newcomb"

This Issue's Focus: Professor X

DISCLAIMER: This will be an irregular feature with about the same random chance of being updated as Say What?! All of the opinions below are mine alone and are not meant to indicate that one writer or story is better than another. Nor am I foolish enough to think that I've managed to cover every single good related story online. Keep in mind that it was probably written at the last second in the dead of night. ;) If I've left out a story or series you think ought to be mentioned (your own or someone else's), please feel free to sign it into the guestbook below. Suggestions for future topics are accepted -- again, see below for the entry form. And yes, guest columns are welcome. Thank you for your cooperation. No flash photography, por favor.

Yes, I picked a tough one on purpose for my first shot at this idea. I mean sure, it would have been easy to do Rogue or Gambit, and I was seriously considering it (in fact, I'll probably be covering one of them for my next SYWRA), but then I decided that I'd be copping out. And anyway, it all began with the Prof in the comics, so perhaps it would be proper to do the same here...

Let's face it: hardly anyone in fanficdom likes Charles Francis Xavier. Many see him merely as an authority figure to rebel against; some see him as an easy butt of jokes; an increasing number see him as a hypocrite, preaching tolerance at any cost while allowing vast amounts of bad PR/property damage and stunting his students' emotional health. I do not necessarily disagree with these points of view. However, like the unfortunate Summers brothers, Charles Xavier's character flaws can actually make him that much more interesting to write. He is neither evil, nor cruel, nor stupid; however, despite being the most powerful mutant telepath on earth, he is still merely human and he makes mistakes...sometimes with terrible consequences. He's not perfect, but he strives to make the world a better place nonetheless -- screw-ups, misconceptions, warts and all. Thus a well-written Xavier story is a gem well worth hunting for. Here's a few:

A Dark And Hungry God Arises by Amanda Sichter -- This is a last-second addition to this feature which I have not yet had time to review, but from the summary it looks to be a rather dark (R-rated, kids) psyche-exploration of what exactly led from "Xavier the magnanimous benefactor" to "Onslaught the all-devouring evil"...

Ashes In The Wind by J.A.C. Delaney -- I have not personally been able to review this story beyond the first chapter, but it comes highly recommended if you can handle a streak of strong violence. The tale rides on an Elseworlds twist: the Shadow King is back...and this time it's not going to be anywhere near so "easy" to pry his grip loose.

The Chuck vs. Chuck Pre-Game Show by Sigma 7 -- Onslaught or Charles: who's going to kick whose butt? That's the question dissected by the inimitable Dr. Moo and company in a classic installment of what has to be one of the funniest series on the net. An oldie but definitely a goodie; seeing as it's not widely distributed, it's probably a new one to anyone who joined the ACFF community over the last year or two.

Don't Let Her Play With Dolls by Gladys Hammond -- A wonderful little chiller about a child with a very unusual power. She seems harmless enough at first glance, certainly not deserving of her mother's fear and hatred, but as Professor X confidentally tackles her case it becomes swiftly apparant that for once his usual approach may have been the wrong one...

Dreams To Reality by Lestat -- A day in the life of Charles Xavier...while being held captive by Bastion. A short but interesting exploration of the deeply-buried guilt the man might be secretly carrying for his well-meaning mistakes. This tale is a little nightmarish -- literally.

Restless by Gladys Hammond -- Who's right, Magneto or Xavier? A neutral party examines the never-ended rivalry head on, and comes to a most unusual -- and wise -- decision.

Shadows In A Mirror by Sequoia Swennes -- A cold view of the Professor's potential megalomania, set in a world where he never lost the use of his legs and thus rose instead to the brink of world the cost of his own soul and that of his captive trophy-wife, Jean. This story does not focus directly on Xavier, but as a world resculpted in his image it's worthy of mention.

This Mortal Coil by Rajiv Mote -- One of the very few stories which revolves entirely around the man. An old friend and mentor arises from Charles' past, bearing a strange and wonderful gift. Can Professor X trust him...and even if he can, dare he set aside his burdens to accept what he has been offered?

X-Leap by Marty Blase -- An X-Men/Quantum Leap crossover, and one of the best Marvel-related crossovers online IMHO. Did the Prof seem completely out-of-character during the LegionQuest (pre-AOA) plotline? That's because he wasn't Charles Xavier -- he was Dr. Samuel Beckett! Written in script form, this clever retelling will make you feel much, much better about those awfully botched issues.

You Can't Go Home Again by Luba Kmetyk -- Certainly not a flattering portrait of the Professor, but an excellent story nonethless. Kitty Pryde comes home for the holidays with lover Pete Wisdom in tow; the X-Men, still mired in the past, treat the British agent to a cold shoulder, and Xavier is the worst of the lot! A darker look at the Prof as an overprotective substitute father, and what happens when his "little girl" decides to grow up.