Luke Cage History: From Hero for Hire to Hollywood
TV, Comic Books
The forums at Comic Book Resources were closed recently, which is fair enough, but I thought it would be worthwhile to re-post a countdown I did back in 2010 based on votes by the CBR X-Men forum members of their favorite X-Men. This way I can save the list for posterity. I should perhaps update this list some day, as it is almost four years out of date at this point.
Anyhow, from 2010, here are CBR’s Top 50 X-Men…
50. Forge – 49 Points
Forge was being taught to be a medicine man when he was young, but he disappointed his tribe by being more interested in machinery (which was part of his mutant powers – he could pretty much invent anything he could think of). He went off to Vietnam and while there, his comrades were all killed (Forge’s first big failure).
Then Forge used their spirits to attack the other side, but in doing so, he brought the evil demon known as the Adversary to Earth (big failure #2). To stop the mess he created, he had the area bombed – he lost an arm and a leg in the bombing.
Years later, now decked out with a cybernetic arm and leg and working for the US Government, Forge created a device that could strip mutants of their powers (because, you know, obviously the US government would never use such a device poorly). He zapped the wrong mutant, though (failure #3?).
The mutant he DID zap, though, Storm, became his lover. When the Adversary came back, Storm and her fellow X-Men sacrificed themselves to clean up Forge’s mess once more.
Forge knew the X-Men were not dead, though, so he and the former X-Man Banshee became a sort of Starsky and Hutch-like team, traveling the globe finding the X-Men. Along the way, some old blind lady said that Forge would love the shapeshifting Mystique. He was all, “Shyeah right.” How foolish he was.
After thinking Storm would rebuff his marriage proposal (she wouldn’t, as he was the one true love of her life), Forge ended up hanging out with Mystique and the two did end up having an affair (never distrust old blind ladies – they know a lot).
Then he was in charge of X-Factor. Then that fell apart (major failure #4). Then he spent a lot of time as Mr. Hang-Out-in-the-Background-When-the-Main-People-Need-Help.
However, after the mutant Bishop smacked Forge around one time too many (Bishop used Forge as a sort of walking one-man Wal-Mart for Bishop’s time-traveling and arm-needing needs), Forge went nuts and he basically became a bad guy. Then he was seemingly killed (major failure #5)
Odds of him ACTUALLY being dead and never returning as a good guy under the reasoning “Bishop’s attacks gave him so much head trauma that he went crazy but now is okay” are somewhere around 0.05%.
49. Anole – 51 points
Victor Borkowski was originally going to kill himself because he was not accepted by either society (humans for being a mutant and mutants because he was gay). Writers Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir wrote the story so that it would cure all intolerance in the world by people seeing the tragedy of what happened to this young gay mutant. Sadly, Marvel editorial felt that a lack of intolerance in the world would ruin their Spider-Man franchise, as part of his hook is that the world does not accept him as a hero. If DeFilippis and Weir’s story was published, all intolerance would end and Spidey would be accepted as a hero. This proved too scary for Marvel, so they made a deal with Mephisto to spike the story.
Now alive, Victor went on to become a valuable member of the New X-Men (well, not strictly worthless, at least) and he was especially useful for giving an almost meta-textual look at the adventures of the X-Men (you know, sort of like “Really, X-Men? You want us to trust you when you get bunches of us killed and once you’ve established we’re in danger, you then DISBAND the school and leave us to fend for ourselves? And we’re supposed to trust you?”
In one adventure, Anole had one of his arms torn off, but it grew back and, due to the ingestion of spinach at the time of his arm growing back, it grew back Popeye-sized.
He’s now among the mutants on the island called Utopia. He helps out when he can.
48. Elixir – 53 points (1 first place vote)
Back in the early 1980s, there was this big pop culture sensation called “Luke and Laura.” They were this “super couple” on the soap opera General Hospital. When they got married in the early 1980s, those episodes drew in 30 million viewers!!! However, there was a bit of a creepy undercurrent to their marriage as earlier in the series, Luke actually RAPED Laura!
I think of that with Josh Foley, who was once on an anti-mutant group called the Reavers before he discovered that he was a mutant himself. So even though Josh has gone on to have a distinguished career with the X-Men, that’s some messed up stuff right there.
Anyhow, he joined Xavier’s school with his healing powers. Eventually, his skin turned gold. A major turning point in his life happened when his girlfriend, Laurie, was stuffed inside of a refrigerator. Her death changed Josh, turning his healing powers and gold skins into death powers and black skin (everything about Josh has racist undertones). Eventually, the memory of his dead love helped him move past his death powers and become a healer once again.
After a period where the X-Men ignored the fact that they had a healer on their team, Josh soon became the go-to guy to heal people, to the point where a name change was proposed, going from Elixir to Deus Ex Machina.
He worked with X-Force for awhile, but after his death powers returned during a battle against the evil Selene and her disciple, Josh’s former fellow student, Wither, Josh wanted to take a break from X-Force because he was afraid of what he might turn into (he could easily become a super-powerful megalomaniac, like Magneto).
He’ll pop up again, though, most likely when someone conveniently needs to be healed at the last second.
47. Juggernaut – 56 points (2 first place votes)
Imagine if your older brother was Jonas Salk. Your whole life, whatever you did, you’d be the brother of the guy who cured POLIO! That was sort of the problem that Cain Marko had when his father married the mother of Charles Xavier. Charlie was the good apple while Cain was a bit of a rotten one. Then again, don’t get me wrong, Charles Xavier could have amounted to just, like, a vice president at the third-largest cracker factory in town and that likely would have been too much for Cain to live up to, as Cain is not the sharpest knife in the drawer (or pretty much anyone’s drawer).
So when they were both together in the war, Cain was stuck in a cave-in for a few years (Charles escaped and thought Cain dead). However, he actually had gained the Crimson Gem of Cyttorak, which turned Marko into the unstoppable Juggernaut!
After a stint as a Man Mountain and as Sandman (seriously, what’s up with Stan Lee and the name “Marko”?), he finally got around to fighting the X-Men and his lame (literally) step-brother, Charles.
Juggernaut made friends with this weird Irish guy named Black Tom. You know how crocodiles let little birds hang around them and pick food from their teeth? That was the relationship between Juggernaut and Tom.
Juggernaut really wasn’t the most evil guy in the world, and as we all know by now, if you stick around long enough in a Chris Claremont comic, he’ll eventually think about making you a good guy, and we saw hints of Juggernaut not being such a bad guy when Colossus needed a good beating for his terrible treatment of Kitty Pryde during Secret Wars (“No, no Katya, it doesn’t count as cheating if we are on different planets. Did you seriously not know that?”).
Eventually, Juggernaut joined the X-Men but it did not go so well. Then he joined Excalibur, and he pretty much embarrassed himself there (Dazzler was worried when he began stroking her hair like she was a pet rabbit), so he became a sort-of bad guy again.
Currently, with his power greatly reduced, he is a member of the Thunderbolts.
46. Hope – 59 points (1 first place vote)
Hope is the first mutant born since M-Day, when the Scarlet Witch got rid of all mutants (what she actually said was “No more mutants except for those with speaking parts in X-Men films or for those that people want to still use or those that can have their powers returned through some other means”).
She was the cause of a major battle between different factions of mutants and anti-mutants. To protect her, the Road Runner, in the form of the mutant known as Cable, took her into the future and raised her from girlhood. They had to stay on the run constantly as Wile E. Coyote (AKA Bishop) was after them the entire time, and he had LOTS of neat ACME products that were bound to EVENTUALLY capture them!
Anyhow, now grown to young womanhood (likely too old to catch Colossus’ eye), Hope returned to the present (Cable AND Nightcrawler sacrificed themselves to protect her) and has now joined the X-Men with her powers to mimic other mutant powers (only THEN some). She also seems to have spurred the return of mutant birth to the world. So yay for her!
If only she could mimic her up a personality.
45. Warpath – 72 points (1 first place vote)
James Proudstar had one goal in his life – to honor his older brother John by killing the hell out of as many people as possible.
His goal got off to a slow start when, after attending Emma Frost’s School for Gifted Youngsters (or whatever it is called), James tried to take revenge on Charles Xavier and the X-Men because of what he viewed as their role in the death of his brother John (John was a member of the original All-New, All-Different X-Men, using the codename Thunderbird in honor of the legendary Indian mutant Neal Shaara). However, James was convinced to hold off on killing the hell out of the X-Men. No, his days of killing the hell out of people were still in the future.
Eventually, James quit Emma Frost’s school, which was lucky for him, as his fellow students were soon after killed all to hell by some bad guys. To balance the happy news of him not getting killed all to hell, James returned home to his tribe to learn that they, themselves, had been killed all to hell. This naturally made James quite upset, so he drowned his sorrows in the same thing all young mutants do when they have conflicted feelings – SHOULDER PADS, BABY!
So James soon joined Shoulder Pads ‘R’ Us (later re-named X-Force) where he served for a number of years. Around this time, he decided that his brother’s codename was not stereotypical enough for him, so after looking over some choices like Big Chief Wahoo he eventually settled on Warpath. However, after awhile, the shoulder pads went away, and James lost direction a bit. This was perfectly demonstrated by his out-of-nowhere ability to fly. That was his body’s way of saying, “yeah, WE don’t know what to do with you either.”
Luckily, after the events of M-Day (when Scarlet Witch said “No more mutants except for those with speaking parts in the X-Men films or those mutants who writers have any interest in doing stuff with”), James was one of the few mutants left with powers. He found his way to the X-Mansion where he joined the X-Men and met the love of his life – two vibranium knives Storm stole one day while Black Panther was in the bathroom.
After serving with the X-Men, James finally found his perfect calling – working as a member of Cyclops’ secret murder police, X-Force. As a member of X-Force, James killed the hell out of a ton of people. He and his darling knives eventually killed enough people to reach the 1,000 gold coins needed to free his brother John’s soul from Bowser’s Mushroom Kingdom.
Now finally at peace for the first time in ages, James is free to do whatever he wants. I’m sure we’ll see him as a member of the X-Men soon enough (he’s still on Utopia).
44. X-Man – 75 points (2 first place votes)
You know how there is that weird little leap of logic when it comes to the spelling of some characters? Like when a characters introduces herself. “Hi, I’m Magik.” “Hi, Magic.” No, not Magic, MagiK.” “That’s what I just said, ‘Magic.'” etc. Well that is silly, true, but Nate Grey, X-Man, goes one step further. His code name, at least if you followed his comic, was X-Man, but they never established WHY he was suddenly being called X-Man. It just started out of nowhere. Weird, right?
Then again, for a character with a history this weird, I suppose that’s just part for the course. Created to take the place of Cable for four issues, X-Man instead ended up running for over 70 issues, out of which an impressive 10 issues were good!
Like 3/4 of the Marvel Universe, X-Man is an alternate reality “son” of Scott Summers and Jean Grey. He has wicked powerful powers – almost as powerful as Dark Phoenix.
After a short stint as the “Shaman of the mutant race,” X-Man pulled the ultimate “I’m too cool for you peons” move by basically merging with the Earth. He was recently pulled back together and now he is a member of the new Nightstalkers (also known as the Dark X-Men).
Nate is enough of a blank slate that we might very well see some neat stories involving him!
43. Bishop – 77 points
It took Marvel 18 years or so, but they finally gave an answer to the cover of Uncanny X-Men #288 – the answer was “Madman.”
Anyhow, Lucas Bishop grew up in the future where the Buffy Summers Revolution has finally freed mutants from living in fear of Sentinels. Bishop and his sister Shard both became members of the XSE, an elite crime-fighting unit, similar to the cartoon show C.O.P.S. Sadly, his sister Shard was morally wounded and Bishop decided to “save” her by turning her into a hologram.
Anyhow, some time later, Scooby Doo and Shaggy accidentally open the Chest of Demons, which houses ninety-three of the worst criminals of Bishop’s time. Along with Trevor Fitzroy, they escape to the “present.” Bishop follows with two red-shirt security officers. Once there, Bishop meets the real life X-Men and after his men inevitably die, Bishop joins the X-Men.
Once on the team, Bishop proceeds with his life-long dream to bed his own grandmother, as he becomes the one true love of Storm’s life. While he is making good time with Storm, he was not doing so well with his X-Men duties. He personally assigned himself to be Professor Xavier’s bodyguard (guess who got shot right in front of Bishop?). Later on, he was part of a team of X-Men assigned to protect Magneto from Xavier’s crazy time-traveling son, Legion (Legion wasn’t even TRYING to kill Xavier, but Bishop managed to let Xavier get shot right in front of him AGAIN).
This led to the Age of Apocalypse, and Bishop actually did so something important and helped avoid the Age of Apocalypse by helping to stop Legion on his second go-around. Soon after, while in a mission in outer space, Bishop took one for the team and threw himself on the grenade known as Deathbird. So they were a couple for awhile. He came home to Earth only to be transported to an alternate reality – then back to life on Earth – then back to an alternate reality – then back to life on Earth (back to life, back to reality – isn’t that an En Vogue song?).
Upon his final return to Earth, Bishop decided it would be useful to pretend to be descended from Aboriginal Australian. He can be such a goofball sometimes. He also has the ability to “let his spirit go.” I am not sure, but I think that has something to do with C+C Music Factory’s “Everybody Dance Now” and the line “let the music take your soul.”
Anyhow, after serving on a modern day version of the XSE, Bishop ended up working for the government, which we all know in comics means you are one step removed from either being unfairly targeted by the government or you, yourself, unfairly targeting OTHER people, and that’s what happened when Bishop’s group basically tries to capture all the remaining mutants during Civil War.
If that wasn’t bad enough, during Messiah Complex, Bishop decides that the first mutant born since M-Day (that’s when Scarlet Witch de-powered every mutant except 95% of the mutants anyone cares about) is going to screw up his future, so he basically snaps and decides to kill her. Along the way, he loses an arm and manages to shoot Professor Xavier in the head (man, some bodyguard, huh?) and is all together acting like quite an unpleasant guy. However, he sees himself like Parallax. Everyone he kills or hurts will not be killed or hurt because he’ll be changing the future, so the bad stuff won’t happen.
After following Cable and the baby Hope for years (as Hope ages into young adulthood), Bishop attacks them one final time, but his ACME products backfire and he is set into the faraway future.
He will definitely never ever ever never ever return at some other future point, as he is clearly totally stuck in the future. Anyone who says otherwise is foolish! There is a 100% chance he will never show up again.
42. Pixie – 77 points (2 first place votes)
In the world of the X-Men, being the “Friendliest Student” at Xavier’s often just means that you have not tried to kill or stab your fellow teammates at some point or another. With that being said, Megan Gwynn is still the friendliest student among the X-Men, even though now they’re not really students anymore (although Colossus keeps offering to teach the girls anatomy – so weird).
If you ever heard the story of how John Constantine came about, it was because Swamp Thing’s artists Stephen Bissette and John Toteleben just thought it would be fun to draw Sting from the Police in the comic. So Alan Moore created a character based on a guy who looks like Sting and this background character became one of the most popular Vertigo character ever (Constantine’s series, Hellblazer, has had more issues released than all of Swamp Thing’s various series combined!). That comes to my mind when I think about how Pixie went from being a cute background character into becoming one of the more notable members of the X-Men (even getting her own mini-series, something that characters like Cannonball and Sage have never had).
One of the major additions to her character is that she lost a little bit of her soul in exchange for creating a mini-soul sword. This aids her natural magical abilities, but at the cost of a little bit of her soul. It’s a good thing she’s so friendly, because that stuff could really creep up on you.
Oh, and she’s apparently the daughter of Mastermind for…some reason.
She was recently used as the POV character of the X-Men, but she seems to have moved past that a bit, really, so who knows how she’ll be used in the future! Hopefully well!
41. Dust – 78 points (1 first place vote)
Of the many cool concepts Grant Morrison introduced during his run on New X-Men, Dust is one of the few ideas that has been treated well since he left the titles (don’t even get me started on what happened to Beak and Angel).
Sooraya Qadir is able to turn her whole body into dust. We are introduced to her in an issue of New X-Men where Wolverine rescues her from a slave-trading ring. She had been separated from her mother back in Afghanistan, so she came to America with the X-Men until she could find her mother, and while she was in America, she might as well get training on her powers, right? A traditional Muslim, Sooraya follows the Islamic tradition of hijab in which she covers almost all of her body in an outfit called an abaya designed to prevent her body to be fully observed (no curves, etc.) Sooraya, though, often likes to wear a very rare variation of the abaya that is called “sexy abaya,” where her abaya grips her breasts and hips very tightly. I presume that’s what she’s doing, as it couldn’t be that the artists drawing her don’t understand the concept of an abaya, right?
In any event, Dust has been a valuable member of the New X-Men, the Young X-Men and even the regular ol’ X-Men (heck, in the future, she is even useful, although she got killed all to hell by Madelyne Pryor).
It’s hard really to discuss Dust much, as there is still soooo much to explore about her character, but as a background character in a book filled to the brim with background characters, the opportunities are not exactly plentiful. By the way, how the heck have the X-Men NOT been able to locate her mother yet? Who’d they send to get her mother – Bishop?!
40. Rictor – 81 points (1 first place vote)
Here’s the thing – mutants don’t know what powers they are going to have when they are born. I mean, sometimes it seems to help if your parent has a particular power (like Siryn and Banshee and Lorna Dane and Xorn) but really, even there there is no guarantee (like Quicksilver and Xorn). So it is pretty darn weird that Julio Richter, whose last name is, well, Richter, would go on to have earthquake powers. Of course, if that is your last name, you would figure Julio would just go with it, right? “I have earthquake powers and my name is Richter, well, that pretty much writes itself, no?” However, Julio decided that Richter was not, I dunno, extreme enough or whatever, so he decided to go with Rictor because, you know, that’s apparently a thing. Watch out, everyone! Here comes Sighclopz, Wolvereen and Eyesman!
So anyhow, Rictor was one of the first mutants to be taken in by X-Factor. These young mutants banded together to form their own little team. For some reason, they called themselves X-Terminators, which was the fake name X-Factor used when they were pretending to hunt down mutants. Then again, when the guy’s best idea for a name is a mis-spelling of his last name, perhaps we should not be so surprised that he joined a team with a nonsensical name.
He eventually joined the New Mutants because he hated handicapped kids and dyslexics, but when the New Mutants were taken over by Cable, Rictor balked. He thought Cable had shot his father (it was actually Stryfe – Rictor was confused because Stryfe did not have the customary black goatee to denote being an evil twin). Rictor eventually joined back up with X-Force after first hunting them down with Canada’s pre-eminent superhero team, Weapon Prime (all of Canada’s pre-eminent superhero teams are made up of washed up U.S. heroes – just look at Omega Flight).
Once joining X-Force, Rictor had some weird feelings for his teammate, Shatterstar, but he also had feelings for his former teammate, Wolfsbane. Luckily for him, we all know what young mutants need when they are dealing with conflicted feelings, right? SHOULDER PADS! But eventually, the shoulder pads went away and so did Rictor, leaving the team along with Shatterstar to “find themselves.”
He ended up on an M-Corporation during Grant Morrison’s X-Men Run. Rictor next showed up after M-Day, when the Scarlet Witch took the mutant abilities away from every mutant named Rictor, Jubilee and Moonstar (she was quite specific). He ended up joining Madrox’s X-Factor team as a non-powered member. In a lot of ways, Rictor is the heart of the team.
Recently, with Shatterstar’s return, he and Rictor have taken their relationship to the next level (level 7) but he also has to deal with the return of his former love, ex-teammate Wolfsbane. Who knows what will happen next, but I bet it’ll be interesting!
39. Boom Boom – 83 points
Some characters get introduced in places like X-Men #1, as the members of a special group of mutant heroes. Some characters get introduced in places like Giant-Sized X-Men #1, as replacements for the previous group of heroes. Some characters get introduced in places like Marvel Graphic Novel, as the next generation of mutant heroes.
And some heroes, like Tabitha Smith, get introduced in the pages of Secret Wars II as someone for the Beyonder to talk to.
Tabitha, a young mutant who could make little exploding “time bombs” of energy, was a companion to the Beyonder as he looked into what made yoo-mans tick. He would have been better off asking my cat.
Anyhow, once that was over with, Tabitha made her way to X-Factor as one of a group of young mutants who were taken in by the older heroes. Like a few of the other older mutants of the group, she eventually ended up on the New Mutants as Boom-Boom (clever name, huh?), where she met Cannonball, who she totally was into. So much so that when the New Mutants became X-Force, she was one of the only members of the team to stick around.
Now going by the much-classier “Boomer” (yes, Boomer – that was the name – Boomer – Boom-Boom was not working, so BOOMER was the next choice – yikes), Tabitha became a valuable member of the team. Well, I mean, she didn’t actively get anyone killed, at least. Eventually X-Force began living at the X-Mansion and her boyfriend, Cannonball, dropped her the instant he was offered a gig on the X-Men. Testing the limits of just how dumb she could get, Tabitha began to hang out with Sabretooth, who the X-Men were holding captive at the time (one of Professor Xavier’s best ideas). Eventually she led to him breaking out and nearly killing Psylocke.
She got all emo at this point and cut her hair and became known as Meltdown. She stuck around with X-Force for awhile after that, but really, it wasn’t until she recently became a member of Nextwave that she became cool again.
As a member of Nextwave, her mental abilities came in handy when the team was captured by a villain who manipulated their minds. In Tabitha’s case, though, her mind was non-existent, so she was able to “give him the explodo because she is clever.”
She has since left Nextwave and is just pretty much hanging around Utopia, hoping for a writer to make her cool once more. Where have you gone, Warren Ellis, a nation turns its lonely eyes to you!
38. Marrow – 88 points
Few characters in X-Men history have been as dependent on who was writing them at that particular point in time than Sarah Rushman, the mutant known as Marrow.
Sarah was one of the Morlocks who survived the Mutant Massacre. She was taken to another dimension by Colossus’ older brother, Mikhail Rasputin (who, despite being a sociopath, is actually the cooler of the Rasputin brothers) where she lived a life of “Survival of the fittest,” learning to despise mutants. Sarah survived nicely with her power to pull her own bones out and use them as knives. She eventually returned to Earth along with her comrades, now calling themselves Gene Nation. They were really nasty brutes and eventually, she forced the X-Men leader Storm to face her one-on-one, to the death! Storm complied by stabbing Sarah through the heart.
Of course, though, Sarah (sigh) had TWO hearts, so she lived. Her adopted maternal figure, Callisto, got her through the injury and the two lived underground. Eventually, Marrow joined the X-Men. It is not talked about often, but there are special pheremones in the air with the X-Men making everyone better looking, and these affected Sarah, making her basically a pretty girl, just with bones sticking out of her body in her forehead.
During this period, she flirted with Colossus (good luck there, Sarah, maybe in your Morlock days, but not so much now), but then Chris Claremont returned to the X-Titles and Sarah was off the team. She ended up showing up in Weapon X, where was now completely human-looking. At one point, she even dated Peter Parker, which is really messed up, as he was still married at the time (he just thought his wife was dead).
M-Day robbed Sarah of her powers. At first she seemed to be taking it well, giving reporter Sally Floyd more things she should yell at Captain America about not knowing (including Ke$ha, Justin Bieber and Katy Perry), but soon after, she showed up blaming the U.S. Government for M-Day.
She has not been seen since.
Go to the next page for #37-25!
Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.