Oh, ye forgotten X-Men: Maggott

1997 was a strange period for the X-Men, and not for the villains like we covered yesterday, but for the team itself.  Following the Onslaught storyline, the X-Men began a period of deconstruction in which many longtime members of the team were pushed off the roster.  Unlike today’s strategy of having every single mutant ever as a member of the team, back then there was actually a core roster at the time.  Bishop was lost in space, fornicating with Deathbird (CW! Fun Fact: First entry ever with the word “fornicating” in it).  Iceman was busy hanging out with his injured dad.  Archangel and Psylocke were off fornicating with one another (CW! Fun Fact: Not as special anymore).  Gambit was abandoned, shirtless, in Antarctica in one of the more ridiculous plot points in recent memory.  And even Cyclops and Phoenix decided to leave the team after Cyclops had a bomb attached to his chest, which had to be cut out.

But with only Wolverine, Storm, Rogue, Cannonball and Beast left on the team, new characters would have to be brought in to fill space on the two monthly X-Men titles.  And thus we got this guy:

Intrigued by the mystery?  Not so much?  We’ll tell you his story after the jump.

Shortly after the Age of Apocalypse ended, someone came up with a new “rehabilitate Magneto” storyline in which following the destruction of the seemingly important, yet never touched upon Avalon orbiting fortress, the mind-wiped and catatonic Magneto vanished.  A couple of months later he turned up in Central America seemingly de-aged and happy to help his rescuers, a nun and her orphans.  This Magneto learned about the X-Men and took off to find them, shortly coming upon Rogue and then joining the team proper during the Onslaught event.

I say “this Magneto” because somewhere along the line the X-Office nixed their original plans that this would actually be Magneto and went with the clone angle, which granted kind of ended up making sense once all was said and done.  But before that reveal, we got the debut of this mystery mutant who came upon the nun and saved her life, asking for where her buddy Magneto could be found.  Shortly thereafter, the Magneto/Joseph (the clone) story was shifted and this mystery mutant, dubbed Maggott, was brought down to Antarctica for the special “Gambit’s secret revealed” issue Uncanny X-Men #350.

The issue dealt with Magneto (disguised as Eric the Red – a throwback to late Silver Age nonsense) putting Gambit on trial for his deep, dark secret: he had been recruited by Mr. Sinister to bring together the Marauders, then led them to the Morlock tunnels to start the Mutant Massacre (itself later amended to fix a continuity error).  The X-Men present for the trial all made a lot of sense.  Rogue had learned Gambit’s secret when she kissed him just before the world ended to kick of the Age of Apocalypse.  Psylocke had stumbled upon it when she was searching his mind seeking damages caused by Rogue’s kiss.  Archangel was there because he had lost his original wings to the Marauders during the massacre.  Beast was there…okay, he was just there because he was in the story before it.  But also present was Maggott, which didn’t really make sense.  The plot point was that he held some kind of debt to Magneto, but really it was just because an upcoming issue of X-Men featured the coming of the new members of the team which he needed to be around for, yet no story had yet linked him to the X-Men.  Beyond that, it made perfect sense.

So then that issue happened: X-Men #70 , yet another Giant-Sized Spectacular, complete with cover homage to Giant Size X-Men #1.

Maggott joined Marrow and Cecelia Reyes and was a new member of the X-Men.  But there was one more little problem with the character: no one had bothered to explain just what it is that he did.  We knew that his skin was blue and he had two metallic slugs that could eat pretty much anything, but still no explanation to how the whole thing came together.  Given the explanation that shortly came about, perhaps it would have been better left unexplained.

Maggott was born Japheth (last name never revealed) in South Africa during apartheid.  He was a sickly youth who could not digest solid foods, and thus tried to run away to not be a burden on his family.  He was found by Magneto who used his own abilities to reveal the source of Japheth’s maladies – his digestive system had mutated into two metallic slugs which Magneto pulled from him.  Once outside of his system, the slugs could devour nearly everything put before them.  Once they had eaten, the slugs could then transfer the energy back to Japheth, but only by burrowing into his stomach and giving it internally.  The exchange gave Japheth super strength and turned his skin blue.  Not exactly one of the more practical powers around.

Magneto had tried to recruit Maggott to his mission, but the mutant refused to be a part of his benefactor’s evil ways.  This, after all, was Silver Age Magneto whose schemes included trying to overtake then destroy a South American nation and sucking the mutant mojo from Archangel’s parents to create an army of mutant clones.  But Maggott remained thankful to Magneto’s deeds towards him and ended up seeking him up for no reason explained, but was certainly more than a throwaway non-point for getting him onto the X-Men.

The new direction of X-Men didn’t last a year before Marvel decided to get the team into a more familiar look and brought Gambit, Nightcrawler, Shadowcat and Colossus back to the group.  To make room, Cannonball was sent to X-Force, Cecelia Reyes became a supporting cast member rather than a team member, Beast got sent to the background of the franchise and Maggott was sent off to Generation X where he could still hang around, yet be as forgettable as Synch, Skin and Chamber.  Well, that was the idea at least and certainly the intention in X-Men, but over in the younger book, Maggott showed up for one lone issue and was never seen again.  And everyone seemed cool with that.

Years later, the somewhat-infamous Weapon X series introduced a mutant concentration camp called Neverland and needed identifiable cannon fodder, so it shuffled in several characters who had been abandoned over the years.  Characters like Wildside, Reaper, Diamond Lil and Random all popped up in the background, and heading into the forefront were two of the ’97 X-Men Cecelia Reyes and Maggott.  Maggott was presented as a mutant tagged for extermination in a not-so-subtle reference to the Holocaust of Nazi Germany.

Just before being led off to be killed with a number of faceless mutants, Maggott handed off one of his slugs to two child inmates.  And then he was murdered off-panel.  His slug ended up in a vat belonging to Mr. Sinister and was never touched upon again.  And the X-Men continued on not noticing his disappearance.

And that’s where Maggott’s story would end.  A tragic mutant with a tragic past, focused on for a tragic period for the X-Men before being led to a tragic demise.  He has certainly earned his spot on my list of Oh, ye forgotten X-Men.

I suppose I should mention the footnote to Maggott’s story.  During the Necrosha event in which Selene pulled out nearly every dead X-Character you could think of, Maggott made a quick appearance in the invasion of Utopia, before eating an optic blast from Cyclops.

He was not identified by name, yet it’s clearly him.  Necrosha ended with a loophole in which any of the resurrected heroes/villains could easily remain alive, and since he did not appear with the other resurrected X-Men in Chaos War: X-Men…I’m just saying.  Maggott in 2011?  Could be.(Author’s Note: It absolutely could not be.)

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