In Japanese culture, family is an important part of daily ritual. Japanese families are considered multigenerational, linked by a respect for ancestors. Ancestry is a powerful force within society and a comic character that highlights the importance of family is Armour. A member of the X-Men, Hisako Ichiki has the power to create a shield made out of memory. Through Armour, I’m going to explore the concept of memory and how it can hold families together.
Joining the X-Men
Born in Tokyo, Armour grew up in a large family. She came from a traditional Japanese background of honouring her parents and the people who came before her. After hearing about the X-Men, she hoped to join the team one day. Eventually, her powers manifested and she joined the Xavier Institute.
Hisako made friends with a fellow student called Wing and they became inseparable. Armour’s first brush with danger came with she was attacked by the alien villain Ord. She and Wing teamed up, but they were overpowered. Although they survived, Wing discovered he’d been injected with a ‘cure’ for his mutant powers. Having lost his ability to fly, Wing sank into depression and killed himself. The incident scarred Armour deeply, but she chose to remember her friend for the hero he was.
As she matured, Armour developed close relationships with X-Men like Wolverine. In Logan, she found a father figure who could train her to be a better superhero. Wolverine saw Hisako as a daughter that didn’t need his protection because her armour did that for her.
Memory as physical protection
Hisako’s powers allow her to generate a psionic exoskeleton. Dark red in colour, the armour covers her entire body. The shield increases her strength and stamina, while protecting Hisako against physical impacts.
Interestingly, Hisako’s exoskeleton is composed out of memory and becomes more powerful when she thinks about family. An example of this occurred when she was able to block a blow from the Muramasa blade, which can cut through anything except memory. In Astonishing X-Men Volume 3 #39, Hisako’s armour grew to the size of a building because she felt distraught about not attending her mother and brother’s wake.
I think Armour’s superpowers are fascinating because they are a physical representation of how much she cares for her family. Her powers aren’t confined to blood relatives. When Wing and Wolverine died, Armour stated she physically felt their passing. Losing a loved one is a traumatic experience and it’s easy to be overwhelmed by grief. In Armour’s case, she’s taken strength from her loss, turning it into a reason to fight in the name of the people who believed in her.
Armour’s story highlights the strong connection between good memories and family. If you’re having a bad day, then you could remember a specific situation involving a relative. Not only could it help you cheer up, but the memory might encourage you to reach out to that family member.
Some people choose to turn memory into a physical image. Having recently lost my grandad, I decided to get a Viking tattoo to remember him. He was a soldier and a warrior. My connection to the image is based on the fighting mentality of Vikings, which is something I saw in my grandad every day. Tattoos, like Hisako’s armour, are powerful memory symbols. It’s characters like Armour that remind us to hold on to the positive memories of the people around us.