One of the saddest bits of comic news EVER was the announcement that Peter David was ending X-Factor. Throughout all the nonsense that the X-Men line has been put through over the last few years, X-Factor has remained an excellent read and a home for some of my favorite B-list X-Characters. That was the entire point of it.
But even though X-Factor is sadly coming to an end, Peter David is taking the opportunity to close out the various characters’ stories that have been building for some time. In the case of Wolfsbane, she finally got a place where she can have a happy life (as long as Craig Kyle and Chris Yost don’t get a hold of her). With this week’s issue #259, it was time to finally lay out the story of Longshot and Shatterstar – a story hinted at for most of the time both characters have been in the comic.
And, being the awesomeness of Peter David, it wasn’t just a simple “what is the connection between Longshot and Shatterstar”, but also an opportunity to fix a loose plot thread over a decade old, which probably only was still bothering an old cranky X-Men fan like me. But since I’m an X-Men fan like me, I’m going to tell you all about it.
SPOILERS AFTER THE JUMP.
Chris Claremont (who is awesome, by the way) shook up his X-Men roster pretty heavily with an event called the Mutant Massacre. Perhaps you’ve heard of it. The event allowed a nearly complete overhaul of the X-Men lineup, one of the new members being a interesting little character he had introduced in that year’s annual.
The annuals of both the X-Men and New Mutants had been focused on the ridiculous villain Mojo, and served to bring new characters Psylocke and Longshot into the team. Longshot didn’t factor into the Mutant Massacre as Psylocke did, but instead sort of started appearing amongst the other new members of the team once the old guard was out. He had no history of his own, and pretty much went with anything going that the X-Men had. He remained with the team for nearly the entirety of the Australian era until a weird dream sequence involving Storm led him to leave the team to find himself. And that was pretty much all we got out of it.
Much of the latter half of the 200’s of Uncanny X-Men were spent in a grand Claremont plan of completely breaking the team apart and slowly bringing them back together. Unfortunately, though, his grand plan was truncated by the growing presence that the red-hot artists of the boom period had, which ultimately led Claremont to leave his beloved X-Men for a decade. Most of his storylines managed to be wrapped up when his final issues ran, but two X-Men were left out in the cold. Dazzler, having traveled through the Siege Perilous portal, was left at her old glamour life house without any memory whatsoever, and Longshot simply never showed back up. It was a huge loose string.
While Claremont’s run was slipping away in X-Men, the spin-off book New Mutants was also getting a huge overhaul, as Rob Liefeld had taken the book from the hands of Louise Simonson and tailored it into X-Force, complete with an almost entirely new cast. The final issue of New Mutants introduced the new members.
One of those new members (and one Liefeld was very proud of) was Shatterstar, a sword wielding, mullet/pony tailed warrior. In the story itself, Shatterstar explains that he too was from Mojoverse, and like Longshot had done before him, he had journeyed to the other world to seek the aide of the X-Men. The comparison was pushed heavy – Shatterstar was a lot like Longshot.
Now those of you paying attention might call out that Longshot did not seek out the X-Men, but rather was tossed onto them as a trap set by Mojo and just kind of stuck around with them thereafter. The happenings in the Longshot mini-series that debuted the character had been lost in a memory swipe that seemed to be the norm for the character. But whatever – you could push that aside as history being kinder than the actual events that transpired. That’s how legends work. Anyway…
Before bolting Marvel in the great move that formed Image, Jim Lee had control of half the X-Men, and he used his Blue team to finish up the Longshot story left dangling. Longshot simply scooped up Dazzler and restored her memories, and the two began fighting for freedom in Mojoverse. The whole thing got two issues in Adjectiveless X-Men before wrapping up.
The story wasn’t particularly good, but to be fair, none of that era of stories were particularly good. Longshot ended up successfully deposing Mojo and installing the apparently less-evil Mojo II in charge of Mojoworld. Dazzler and Longshot, no longer fitting in on either X-Men roster, got their happily ever after with the revelation that Dazzler was pregnant and a little wink to the fans with a bit of dialogue at the end of the issue.
Get it? The intention is that the child of Longshot and Dazzler eventually grows up to be Shatterstar, which works since he’s from the future of Mojoworld anyway. And that’s where they left it. Seems pretty simple, right?
Not so, said one Jeph Loeb when he took the writing duties of X-Force over following the Age of Apocalypse. During his run, Loeb decided that he would tell the origin of Shatterstar, making it bigger than simply a Mojoworld fighter coming into the 616 universe and staying for the fighting.
With this story, it was revealed that Shatterstar was both the Mojoworld being he always thought he had been, as well as the Earth mutant Benjamin Russell, whose comatose body Shatterstar’s spirit ultimately resided in. They both were identical or something, it was all really stupid and no one ever mentioned it again. That’s mid-90’s X-Men for you. It should be noted that Longshot popped in for this story.
So then not a lot happened for a while until just before Grant Morrison was to overhaul the X-Men world. Between outgoing Chris Claremont and incoming Morrison, the two main X-Books got a happy little crossover called Eve of Destruction written by Scott Lobdell.
In this awful little story, the X-Men are invading Magneto’s nation of Genosha for some reason or another, but none of the actual X-Men are around save for Wolverine, Cyclops and Phoenix, so a bunch of substitutes are brought in, including Sunfire’s sister, Northstar and Dazzler. Dazzler shows up here with no baby, nor any sign of pregnancy whatsoever (she dismisses it when asked), telling the X-Men that she doesn’t know where Longshot is, and fears he might be dead. But that’s fine – she can hang out in the Blackbird with the others and go punch Magneto once or twice until Grant Morrison is ready to blow up the island. At the end of the story, Dazzler elects to return to Mojoworld.
This storyline pretty much tanked the characters of Longshot and Dazzler. No one picked up on a Mojoworld story, and no one felt the need to explain just what happened to Dazzler’s kid. How hard would it have been to simply say she miscarried or had the baby kidnapped? Instead, it was left pointlessly vague, as was Longshot’s ultimate fate. Shatterstar himself was also fading into the background around this time as all the satellite X-Books started drying up.
Eventually, all three of the characters – Longshot, Shatterstar and Dazzler – started getting used again in the Marvel U. Shatterstar was hanging around for the Rob Liefeld X-Force reunions of awful, while Longshot showed up with the reality-hopping Exiles. Dazzler too came back with New Excalibur, where she was reunited with her lost love (courtesy of Chris Claremont, the writer who had first put them together). And then the characters were back in circulation. Usable, even.
So then we get X-Factor. Any reader of this blog knows that Peter David is a beloved creator around these parts, and the work he did with the second string X-Men was awesome. Each time a character would be added to the large cast was a joy, as he allowed them to shine once again. Side X-Characters tend not to get too much time in the sun, even with Marvel churning out sixteen million X-books a month. But Longshot and Shatterstar both got their place in X-Factor.
And then suddenly it started becoming apparent that there was something in common between Longshot and Shatterstar. Of course, that had been the entire point of the latter character, as stated in his first appearance, but a distinct tie had never actually been shown. Until, that is, X-Factor #259 revealed that Shatterstar and Longshot were each other’s father.
Let that one sink in.
Now I will explain. During a big battle with demons, Shatterstar got blasted back through time, dropping into the Mojoworld of the past. A so-called creator took his body and cloned him, tweeking things here and there, and created Longshot. Therefore, Shatterstar is technically the father of Longshot. Then, the story goes on to explain that the before mentioned pregnancy of Dazzler did come, and she did indeed give birth to Shatterstar. The original circle is finally closed, and the time-travel cookiness works thanks to X-Factor.
And Peter David, god bless him, even took the time to make all of the earlier nonsense fit in.
And the story makes fun of how stupid it was to have ever taken it in those directions to begin with. And finally the story is done, in an adorable self-wrapping time whammy that makes comics so much fun.