Why The Russos Are The Best Thing to Happen to the MCU Since Joss Whedon
All month-long we’ll be featuring top five lists about either the Avengers or the X-Men. Here is an archive of all the past top five lists!
Today we’ll look at the top five X-Men created in the past ten years.
NOTE: A few notable mutants debuted JUST past the ten year mark. Rockslide, Hellion, Anole, Prodigy and Mercury to name a few. Similarly, Dust, the Stepford Cuckoos and Quentin Quire debuted even earlier.
There were a bunch of cool new mutants introduced in the pages of New Mutants and New X-Men that just haven’t been given enough exposure to make this list just yet. Match, Trance, Loa, Indra, Bling! are just a few of these cool new mutants, plus the Generation Hope mutants.
Also, I don’t count Abigail Brand as an X-Man. If I did, she’d probably be tops on the list. She’s awesome. Perhaps the same with Dr. Rao (she’d at least get an honorable mention). Doctor Nemesis is an old character, so he doesn’t count either.
Surge is a strong representation of the change between Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir’s New Mutants/New X-Men and Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost’s New X-Men. DeFilippis and Weir’s book was a much more pleasant comic book, mostly centering on either just good people going through relationship problems (Wind Dancer, Wallflower, Prodigy, Surge) or slightly mean people slowly turning good, as well (Hellion, Elixir, Rockslide). However, that was under the Grant Morrison mutant model, where the world of mutants was an optimistic place to be. Heck, it was a lot scarier for humans (as it seemed like they might become the minority on Earth). So such an optimistic book like DeFilippis and Weir’s made sense. After Decimation, though, when the amount of mutants were dramatically reduced, things looked pretty bleak for mutants. This led to Kyle and Yost’s New X-Men, which spotlighted characters with more to an edge on them, with Surge being the only flat-out heroic character making the transition to the new lead team for the title (not that the other characters didn’t prove themselves as heroes, but there was obviously an edge to them all). A downside of this, though, is that since Surge was pretty much already developed as a really good hero, there was less room for character development for her. As the leader of the team, she did get some nice attention as struggling with the fact that so many people depended on her for protection (spotlighted during a few later battles where her charges WERE injured) but Hellion and X-23 clearly got more attention in the early going and then Kyle and Yost expanded the cast a bit to spotlight the supporting characters (the other remaining students who weren’t on the main team) and then the book ended. Since then, Surge has not been used very often. She’s an interesting character, but I just don’t know if she was ever given quite enough of a spotlight to outshine the other characters on this list. The closest call, though, would be between Surge and the #5 character on this list…
If you were a fan of Joss Whedon and John Cassaday’s Astonishing X-Men and you just happened to pick up an X-Men title now, you’d be surprised to learn that Armor never quite made the impact that it seemed like she was going to make when she was first introduced in the pages of Astonishing X-Men. She seemed primed to become the new Kitty Pryde, but for a while there she was usurped in that role on the main books by another character on this list and since then, she really only had the Ghost Boxes storyline by Warren Ellis as a spotlight storyline since Whedon and Cassaday, and that story was DIRECTLY following Whedon and Cassaday, so it has been a long while since she has gotten the attention you would think she would have gotten following her time in Whedon’s run. That said, Whedon (and then Ellis) did SO much good with her that I think she still came out as a more interesting character in total than Surge. But just barely! They’re both good characters.
Darwin was almost an afterthought from the X-Men: Deadly Genesis mini-series, where we learned that there was a SECOND team of new mutants that had tried to save the original X-Men from Krakoa before the All-New, All-Different X-Men had been recruited. They had all seemingly been killed. However, Darwin’s power was that he would always find a way to evolve enough to survive (hence “Darwin” as his codename). So when another of his team members, Vulcan, was resuscitated following the events of Decimation, Darwin came along for the ride. He then played a part in the follow-up storyline to Deadly Genesis, the Rise and Fall of the Shi’ar Empire (as Vulcan vows vengeance on the Shi’ar, as before he was seemingly killed on Krakoa, his mother was killed by the Shi’ar Emperor). In neither story, though, was Darwin given exactly much of a spotlight. He had a cool power, but that was pretty much it. As seen with his great work with Layla Miller (a similar afterthought character left over from House of M), Peter David is the man to go to with characters who don’t quite seem to fit. He added Darwin to X-Factor and did a whole lot of great character development with the character, spotlighting in particular his crush on fellow team member M and also his quite reasonable fascination with/fear of death. Things went to a head when Darwin took on Hela and in turn his powers adapted by making HIM a “death god” of sorts. He left the team for a while but returned recently hunting down Wolfsbane’s son. Very recently, he has come to terms with his new lot in life, especially because M has finally shown him the time of day.
Elixir is a fascinating character, although there has always been a part of his backstory that bugged me. He originally was working for Donald Pierce’s Reavers before he realized that he, himself, was a mutant and then his mutant hating friends turned on him so he ended up joining up with Xavier’s School (and even becoming the ward of Dani Moonstar). Here’s my issue – while there was some initial tension between him and the other mutants at the school, it was very quickly resolved. And I think it was resolved a bit TOO quickly. We’re talking about a dude who was a member of a mutant hate group! If you joined the KKK, that’s a pretty major thing, ya know? I can see eventually forgiving it, but people forgave it WAY too soon. Anyhow, if you just accept that as a given conceit, the character really has been a great find. He has the power to heal people. However, the same abilities that heal people could be used to do the OPPOSITE. Just as he could stitch together people’s wounds, he could tear people apart with his powers. He discovered this the hard way and that has been the source of conflict with the character ever since. This was especially important when he became a member of Wolverine’s murder squad, X-Force. He knows that what they are doing is necessary (or at least he believes it to be) and he knows that a team like this could really use a healer, but all of their missions just seem to eat a little bit of his soul a way. Kitty Pryde has noted that with Josh’s level of power and his mental instability, he could be the next Magneto (somehow, she managed to make this pronouncement without using the n-word, so good for her). Currently he is sort of in a state of limbo, dealing with his powers by himself.
It shouldn’t be much of a surprise that X-23 has succeeded as a character, as after all, she is basically a female Wolverine and everyone loves Wolverine, right? Honestly, when you pile up the crummiest things Cyclops has done, bringing X-23 to the X-Men to help her deal with her past being trained to kill and then using her as part of his private murder squad? That’s some Doctor Doom level shit right there. That’s like “We’d love to help you with your alcoholism, but for right now, I have a few cases of vodka I need to empty out, could you help us out?” Anyhow, while X-23 has had some nice development in the pages of New X-Men and X-Force, she was really served well by her ongoing series, where writer Marjorie Liu untangled the character from the mire of being part of a hit squad and spent the whole run on the book developing the character as a PERSON. In particular, her friendship with Jubilee turned out to be a great piece of work, as both characters know what it is like to fight back desires to kill (as Jubilee had been turned into a vampire) so they can really relate to each other despite the fact that otherwise their personalities are almost diametrically opposite of each other. She’s currently starring in Avengers Arena.
It is not like Pixie becoming a great character was a COMPLETE shocker, as even in her first appearance she was adorable as just a background character (she wore a bicycle helmet to protect herself while learning to fly), but when forty or so issues of New Mutants/New X-Men had passed without her even using her powers on panel, it would be safe to say that her biggest contribution to the X-mythos would be the fact that she was named the Friendliest Student at school in the Xavier’s Yearbook. But then the Quest for Magik happened. In that story arc, it was the background students who took on center stage as the young mutants were transported to Limbo in an attempt by Belasco to capture Magik. Here, Pixie was forced into a combat situation and she was amazing. Besides the first combat use of her “pixie dust,” we also saw a stunning display of bravery and loyalty to her friends when she, the purest of the pure, agreed to give up a piece of her soul to help save her friends. This gave her the soul dagger, the kid sister to Magik’s soul sword. In the end, the New X-Men teamed up with Magik and were saved. Pixie, though, was a background character no longer. Matt Fraction adopted Pixie as his point of view character on his run with the X-Men in San Francisco/Utopia and she was popular enough during this period to get her own mini-series, a fun romp written by Kathryn Immonen where we discover Pixie’s dad is Mastermind, whose secondary mutation apparently was super-potent sperm. Where we once were led to believe that Armor was going to be the “next Kitty Pryde,” it turned out to be Pixie instead. A smart, plucky girl who truly thinks of others ahead of her own self. A true hero. Of course, we haven’t seen a whole lot of her since Schism. Which is a real shame. At least they haven’t killed her yet!
That’s the list! Agree? Disagree? Let me know.
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