#40: Layla Miller
It’s hard enough to be a forced deus ex machina for a summer cross over, but it’s even harder to try to redeem yourself as a viable character once said crossover has ended. Layla Miller took the challenge and thouroughly decimated it. With the simple description of “I know stuff”, Layla has very quickly become a cherished member of the X-Teams and brings delight to any story she appears in. It doesn’t matter how or why Layla does the things she does – it’s just that she does them. Hopefully this one will be sticking around for quite some time.
Starting out by being forced into the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants by his father (a fact he was not aware of at the time) and having to fight the X-Men, Quicksilver has not been a poster child of good decisions, but he really does mean well. It’s just that he’s a complete jerk – but in fairness, you would be too if the rest of the world moved at a snail’s pace to you. Avoiding the X-Teams for the better part of two decades, he finally joined up with the government-sponsored X-Factor for no particular reason. He may be a little too close to his sister sometimes, but as long as Jeph Loeb doesn’t write him, nothing should really come of it.
For having the assumed title of ‘X-Man’, Nate Grey certainly hasn’t spent much time with the team. One of 4 Age of Apocalypse survivors to make it out of the event, he was the only one who was worth any particular interest, and he managed to keep a solo book going longer than anyone could have anticipated. It wasn’t until the end, when he became a mutant shaman, that he really became awesome. But of course, once that happened, the book got axed. Nate recently popped up in Dark X-Men and was quite awesome in it, sparking interest in the character once again. He looks to be coming to the team in July – and it’s about time.
New Mutants, X-Factor, Excalibur, X-Force
Cute as a button, shy and Catholic to a fault, Wolfsbane served as the voice of logic and reason to the New Mutants, though she was often politely dismissed. Being captured by Genoshans changed her both physically and mentally, putting her at odds between her new situation and her beliefs, but she still remained morally decent, especially by the time she joined up with Excalibur. After spending some time as the voice of reason on X-Factor, she was shoehorned into X-Force and wasted for a few years, nearly ruining the character in the process. She’s psychotically killed and is now pregnant with an Asgardian child. Let’s see if anyone touches that.
Talk about a rough history: Forge first showed up by giving the government a mutant power neutralizer which stripped Storm of her powers for some time. Then it turned out that he accidentally unleashed a demon that took the deaths of the X-Men to stop. He then led Freedom Force on a mission that took the lives of two of its members, including Mystique’s beloved Destiny. His stay with the X-Men was short-lived as he became disgusted with Storm’s lack of dedication to their relationship. So why does Forge rank so high? Because when he was on, he nailed it. He rebuilt the X-Men Blackbird single-handedly and upgraded almost all of their tech. He landed as leader of X-Factor and did a fine job in the position, before returning to support the X-Men. Eventually, he went completely mad, but he was quickly killed off to do away with it.
X-Treme X-Men, Excalibur, Exiles
For someone who debuted as a John Byrne-drawn servant girl simply delivering Sebastian Shaw’s robe, Sage is the very definition of how over-retconning can make a character. By the time Chris Claremont was done with her, Sage had become a part of Professor X’s origin story, a student dating back to the original X-Men, a spy for the X-Men in the Hellfire Club (who failed to tell them of the Dark Phoenix plot) and having a list of powers involving some kind of telepathy, a computer-like brain, and the power to manifest the abilities of latent and actual mutants alike. Oh, and she inherited the powers of a god and eventually became one with a crystal palace. I seriously doubt we’ll ever be seeing Sage again with the X-Men, but she was sort of cool while she lasted.
New Mutants, X-Men
Despite the longevity of the character, Karma at one point was seen as possibly the most uninteresting member of the New Mutants (Cypher notwithstanding), which is likely why that when she left the book as Chris Claremont stopped writing it, no one bothered to finish up her story (it was closed up in a Beast mini-series about a decade later). She popped up in X-Force a couple of times sporting a buzzed pink hairdo and suddenly revealing herself to be a lesbian, yet still didn’t have much staying power. Finally, she was restored (mostly) to her old self with some of the new stuff remaining to balance the character, and she’s once more become a staple of the New Mutants. She’s actually gotten a lot cooler since working with the X-Men and letting herself go for once – of course, it may have something to do with the odd disappearance of her young siblings, but I really don’t mind.
Generation X, X-Factor
She’s super smart, super powerful, super beautiful and lord does she know it. That simple premise gave us Monet St. Croix, the most uppity member of whatever team she’s ever been on. She was given a horrific origin of having twin sisters merge and take her place, but every writer since have politely ignored that and just used her exactly as she was intended – good at everything and stuck up about it. Like many characters of her type, Monet’s hard exterior hides her insecurities, and when they are brought forward – like when she was seduced by and slept with a Madrox duplicate – she usually responds in a violent manner. But even then, she still catches the eye of pretty much every guy around her and she knows it – she’s a telepath.
#32: Strong Guy
Originally an oddly drawn bodyguard for “intergalactic rockstar” Lila Cheney, Guido was tossed into the supporting cast of X-Men for no particular reason, then picked up by X-Factor when the various side-characters were being divied out for a linewide relaunch. It was there that he was allowed to shine, showing a wicked sense of humor, an actually tragic power set, and one of the most ridiculous (purposely so) codenames ever. When his best friend Multiple Man was given his own series, it was a sure bet that Strong Guy would be back in the mix too, and he’s regained his spot as one of the best characters of any of the X-Teams…though he really can’t be used outside of a humor-based book.
New Mutants, X-Force, X-Treme X-Men, Young X-Men
You have to give Sunspot one thing – he’s pretty much done it all. A soccer star in Brazil, a longtime New Mutant, duped into joining an evil-doers group, a member of X-Force, a psychotic villain, a member of the Hellfire Club, leader of the Hellfire Club, and now back pretty much to where he started back with his New Mutant friends. He may or may not have been the sinister Reignfire (lord knows I can’t figure out that god forsaken story), but if he was it can probably be assumed that it came from hearing ‘You’re strong but not invulnerable’ every day of his life. At one time he could fly and shoot energy blasts, but we won’t even bother asking what happened to that. Just take him as the charming cassanova of his team (or so he thinks) and you’ll be fine.
Check here for the entire list thus far!
Check back on Friday for numbers 21-30!