June 16, 2010 Leave a comment
When Bishop debuted in Uncanny X-Men, he practically screamed ‘early 90′s hero’. He had loose morals, huge guns (both arms and weapons) and a mullet you could set your watch to. His point was quite simple: he was an X-Man of the 90′s future which meant killing was perfectly fine. The prerequisite misunderstanding sent him off on his own for a few issues before he was brought into the team, and actually fit in quite well over time. The biggest factor in making him work: playing down his being from the future. Over time, he stopped his monthly mentions of being from the future (after other X-Men began making fun of him about it) and he became a soldier of the present X-Men. And then he got lost in space and banged Deathbird. Great.
Almost ruined during a point where the X-Men were trying to get ‘back to basics’, he eventually was brought back for Chris Claremont’s return to the book, and the creator took to him pretty well, which is odd for a character not actually created by Claremont himself. Bishop became a detective (something he mentioned three times an issue) and took the veteran role on a team made up of veterans. He stuck around for a while in this role until Messiah CompleX in which he went crazy and tried to kill a baby. And once that baby escaped, he gunned down Professor X, got a metal arm and blew up the future. Ok, so now his character has been pretty much ruined beyond repair, but over the nearly two decades before it got to that point, Bishop was a fantastic character and invaluable member of the X-Men.
Quick – explain to me Psylocke’s origin in one paragraph or less, while still including ‘Revanche’. Now go get some aspirin for that headache. Originally debuting as a supporting character in the UK Captain Britain comics, Betsy Braddock was brought across the pond and thrown into the X-Men’s supporting cast before becoming a full member of the team during the roster shakeup of the Mutant Massacre. There had been telepaths in the X-Men before, but unlike Jean Grey or Professor X, none of the X-Men particularly trusted Psylocke to use her powers morally. She had been quick to suggesting killing if she deemed it necessary, even suggesting to kill Havok to keep the X-Men safe from potential threats. This mistrust ended up being well placed when Psylocke forced the remaining X-Men – Colossus, Havok and Dazzler – to disband and send themselves through the Siege Perilous portal.
And that move started a move in confusion that still hasn’t been completely cleaned up. Psylocke was transformed into an Asian ninja (which led to more mistrust) and rejoined the team at the behest of Wolverine. It was as simple as that at first, but then someone decided to add in another body, mixed up memories, and a whole big mess which bogged her down until she finally just called bullocks to the whole thing and began shacking up with Archangel and finally made herself work again. And then came the Crimson Dawn…but enough. Over time, Psylocke has established herself as an awesome X-Man, then forced to re-establish herself when creators repeatedly muck her up. That she still is a beloved X-Man says something about her. After all: sexy ninja with a British accent. What’s not to love?
#18: Multiple Man
Introduced in the 70′s, Jamie Madrox seemed doomed to forever be stuck in the role of background supporting character, remaining on Muir Island as an assistant for Moira MacTaggert for over a decade. But in 1991, Multiple Man got a pardon and escaped to X-Factor where he became a jovial trickster and a beloved member of the team. His duo with Strong Guy was a crucial part of what made that book so much fun. So, of course, when victims were needed to prove the the threat of the Legacy Virus, Multiple Man was put on the block and killed off for the anniversary issue X-Factor #100. Fortunately in later issues, creators were looking for anything to get X-Factor back on track, which brought Madrox back to life. Back to obscurity he went.
So why is he #18? A mini-series redefined the character and launched a new X-Factor series in which Madrox created a private investigation company staffed by numerous B-list characters. In this agency, Madrox was established to be as influential and well meaning as Cyclops, just in a much more realistic view. Madrox doesn’t agree with the Utopia idea, thinking that mutants should stick to trying to live amongst regular humans and just do their own thing. He’s become a leader that neither he nor anyone else thought he could be and he’s one of the biggest characters of the X-Men line. Not bad for a perenial supporting character, huh?
Being the little brother of Cyclops isn’t all that it’s cut out to be. Just ask Havok who for four decades has been fighting to get out of his brother’s shadow. It also doesn’t help to have your character tied to the rather terrible villain the Living Monolith, but Havok managed to make it work – slowly but surely. He wasn’t with the X-Men for long before leaving to try to live his own life, even after being kidnapped and forced to fight his former teammates. It wasn’t until after the Mutant Massacre that Havok felt that he could no longer sit on the sidelines and joined the team officially. He had control issues with his powers and his failure to live up to his potential frustrated teammates.
But after leaving the team, he was forced to reach that potential when he was put in charge of the government-based team X-Factor. Though constantly second-guessing himself, he came through more often than not and found himself loved by his fellow teammates. A horrid attempt to make him a villain didn’t particularly work and was eventually dropped and he was shunted off to an equally horrid alternate reality series Mutant X. But finally, he got back and rejoined the X-Men. After the death of his father Corsair at the hands of his previously unknown younger brother, Havok decided to take up the leadership of the Starjammers. That’s one thing Havok has on his resume that Cyclops doesn’t – interstellar pirate. Eat it, Cyke.
X-Men, Generation X
It’s easy to forget that Banshee debuted as a strange looking villain during the 60′s, complete with pointed ears. The relaunched 1975 X-Men redefined his character, making him a former member of Interpol and the NYPD before joining the X-Men. He served as second-in-command to Cyclops, actually leading the team briefly in the leader’s absence. Unfortunately, his newfound role came to a grinding halt when he was stripped of his powers, pulled from the team and shuffled off to Muir Island for several years. Eventually, he came back to the X-Men, but largely served in a backup role.
Banshee really hit his stride when he became the headmaster of the relocated Professor Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters, serving alongside Emma Frost as the leader of Generation X. His natural leadership style flowed forth, giving a father figure and guiding direction to the kids for 75 issues. Unfortunately, his beloved Moira MacTaggert went and died on him, leading him briefly to alcoholism, then to create a paramilitary unit called X-Corps which went badly. He redeemed himself by trying to save a plane full of people from being destroyed – an effort that cost him his life. Banshee is remembered as one of the greatest members of the X-Men, despite his relatively short tenure as an official member of the team.
Check here for the entire list thus far!
On Friday, we’ll be looking at #11-15!