It’s times like these with the COVID-19 pandemic where we can turn to fiction to find new meaning in stories and our own lives. It’s why I did some digging to pull out a dusty copy of Uncanny X-Men: Quarantine, originally published in 2011. Matt Fraction, Kieron Gillen and artist Greg Land set out to tell a five-issue story arc about a mutant virus that shockingly follows a similar progression as the coronavirus, save for the fact that it only attacks mutants. Even Wolverine is down for the count in this series as the virus weakens mutant powers. It’s a harrowing sight to see our favorite heroes be affected by something invisible, but in this series, there are key takeaways we can all relate to.
Before diving into the lessons learned in this series, remember the CDC COVID-19 and World Health Organization websites are some of the best places to learn how to keep you and your family healthy and safe.
Lesson 1: Social distancing should be the first thing on your mind
Early on in the story arc, Cyclops is given an explanation of the situation and learns the virus is spreading fast due to the close proximity of mutants on the island of Utopia. Cyclops’ first thought is to lock the island down if the virus can jump to humans. With most of the mutants of the world on the island, the last thing they need is for it to spread to humans and take over the world. Cyclops is a master strategist and it’s smart that this was the first thing that came to mind.
Later, Cyclops encounters Logan and is shocked to see even he is sick. He soon learns Wolverine continues to rage as he attempts to get off the island before collapsing in exhaustion. Once again, Cyclops points out the obvious, that even though he has good reason to leave, he’d only be endangering others by spreading the virus.
Follow Cyclops and Logan’s example and stay inside and self-quarantine as much as possible.
Lesson 2: Even the strongest of us need to rest when sick
There are many people in the world that seem to think the right vitamins can make us all better, but even the strongest of us can get sick. People of all ages have been reported as needing hospitalization as a result of COVID-19. In Uncanny X-Men, Cyclops finds out Namor is sick — so sick, in fact, his ego allows him to back down and rest.
If you’re feeling sick at all it’s important to get as much rest as possible and stay in bed. Do as Namor does. If your symptoms worsen, contact your doctor.
Lesson 3: Taking care of yourself is the most important thing to fight this virus
A lesson can be learned by Wolverine — a hero who very rarely backs down — that staying in and resting is a big part of this fight. In the scene below, Wolverine admits he feels powerless, but we should try to focus on what we can do to better ourselves and be proactive in our intentions as we rest, take precautions, and stay home.
Lesson 4: Stay calm and don’t let misinformation throw you off
There is a lot of misinformation out there and it’s important that we listen to facts and avoid rumors. We saw it most recently with the ibuprofen scare, and people sharing false or misleading information over social media. This may not affect you, but spreading this information can cause real damage. There are many, similar to the journalist in the panel below, who want to create confusion and even hysteria. Don’t let them win.
Lesson 5: Be wary of those who will take advantage of the situation
It’s a sad thing when we see people take advantage of others at a time when we are only stronger together. You see it with folks who hoarded hand sanitizer, or others who are selling toilet paper for ridiculous prices on eBay. In Fraction and Land’s Uncanny X-Men story, we learn the man behind the virus had planned all along to take advantage of mutants when they were at their weakest.
It’s a simple supply and demand situation for some, even if it’s heartless. Some have even argued Trump’s White House attempted to secure a COVID-19 cure exclusively for the United States for monetary gain.
Lesson 6: We are all in this together
Regardless of how rich you are or how poor you are, the virus does not discriminate. Near the end of the Quarantine storyline, we see proof of that as the man who started the virus catches it himself. Cyclops realized the only way to stop the virus was to find its source and give it to them. In a sense he’s forcing them to see from their perspective, something we can all have a little more of in this day and age where so many lack empathy.
It’s here Cyclops makes the point that these folks who wanted to take advantage of mutants now know what it’s like to be an X-Men.
And finally, if you do have the means to help, do so via charitable causes. Not only is this virus affecting all of us, but it’s particularly affecting the elderly, children, and people with chronic conditions. This virus will not go away until we realize we need to look out for one another.
This story arc was a special case, far less dangerous than the one we’re facing today since it only affected mutants and mostly affected those on the island of Utopia. Let’s take the lessons learned in this series and rise up from this pandemic together.
A few suggested charitable organizations:
Meals on Wheels – This organization delivers meals to the country’s elderly population.
Cradles to Crayons – This organization provides basic items for children—clothes that fit, shoes, a coat for cold weather.
Feeding America – This organization helps feed communities and individuals facing hunger across the United States through a nationwide network of food banks.