Monday, June 14, 2010

The Top 10 X-Men Characters That Need Some Attention

With crossover palooza going on since Utopia and Wolverine and Deadpool getting 3 ongoings and however many mini-series and one-shots on the side, it's easy to feel overwhelmed by the A-Listers and wish creators would stop having such a jizz fest over them. What's worse is the less popular characters have gotten shafted into wallpapers roles. These characters tend to have a lot of devoted fans, and just suffer from writers not taking an interest in them. In my opinion, the ten characters most in need of some attention are:

10. Magma
Arguably the most powerful of the New Mutants yet this girl seems to lack any sign of a personality. She actually suffers from two problems it seems: the "With great power comes no space for personality" problem that happens where overpowered heroes become their powers and also the Polaris Complex where writers can't seem to agree on a personality for her unless she's evil. Which she is often enough, running with the Hellions and whatnot, but is it possible she's simply just that quiet and background a character?
Now, she is a member of the New Mutants series and Wells seemed to be working on her through her taking care of Empath. Which was a good move, I'd like to see how it progresses, but unfortunately the New Mutants have taken a hit in personal progression to be involved in lame crossovers. Another unfortunate problem is Cypher and Magik have a habit of getting the most time in the spotlight lately. In the end, here's hoping we see more of Magma in a personal light in the next few months.

9. Anole
It's no secret that New X-Men fans lose their shit over this character. Back in the day of the original Scans_Daily, fans would make "mega"-posts with whatever appearances of him they could find, mainly due to his status as a homosexual since, despite this entire franchise being about minorities, there aren't very non-heterosexual characters.
Anyway, the people were dying to peel this character from the wallpaper status he had. Creators eventually listened by promoting him and Pixie to New X-Men..right before it ended. Anole's next significant move was joining the Young X-Men to replace Wolf Cub, and as we all know, that ship sank fast. Anole's current status is running around Limbo in the Hellbound min-series.
So far all we know of Anole is he's a complainer, homosexual, and friends with Rockslide. Unfortunately a big problem with the New X-Men is that they need to get used or people are going to forget why they cared about them in the first place. And then they'll be like Generation X: Killed off to make arcs more "serious" or just screwed beyond belief. (I'm looking at you, Chamber)

8. Iceman
One would think that with the Original Five being the first set of X-Men that they'd be able to maintain their popularity and visibility through the years. But instead it seems they're the hardest to keep in the spotlight, well, besides Cyclops. Iceman's last moment of real note was when he was a part of Rogue's X-Men squad.
Since then Bobby's been running around in the vignette mini-series and appearing here and there in series to use his powers. The honest truth is he's just barely a step above a cameo queen these days.
A big problem is that Bobby's roles as the youngest and the funny guy have been eaten up by characters that are much more popular. Now we have funny guys....who kill people! Because you can't be funny without having the redeeming quality of being a serial killer! Who aren't even that damned funny. Seriously, I've read the posts on Scans_Daily where Deadpool is deemed to be "funny," and maybe 1 out of the 30 "funny" lines he delivers in an issue are worth an amused smirk. Anyway, the thing is Bobby's a character that can actually be taken seriously when he's not making jokes and is a great contrast to the group's overwhelmingly negative current status.

7. Polaris
Out of all the fans of characters mentioned on this list, I have to say that fans of Polaris have suffered the most. Seriously, currently their girl is in the worst limbo that exists: space limbo. Even people in dead limbo have a shorter wait time (uh, Kitty Pryde anyone? She had time to "die" and come back during the time that Polaris has been stuck doing diddly).
Polaris' last noteworthy move was when she went off to space for Deadly Genesis II to take care of Vulcan. In my opinion, space stories suck in general and this one lasted 12 grueling issues. But then she got stuck with Marvel Girl and Havok to be a part of the Starjammers to do countless ineffectual appearances in War of the Emperor Vulcan Genesis III. What's worse is during this time she hooked back up with Havok which means any chance for her to have character progress just got shot and killed.
You see, Polaris has three modes: Evil mode (she is the mother of damsel-forced-to-be-evil), Havok's Static Arm Candy mode, and We're-Not-Real-Sure mode. Because writers can not seem to agree on a personality for her. My take on Lorna's personality is that she's sort of like that Aunt that you have that's really flighty and "spiritual" so she does yoga and meditates and that sort of thing. Like she's not all there and this works because her mind's been fucked with quite a bit, and I think this works with Austen and Milligan's takes on her. Anyway, let's just see her claw her way out of space limbo first.

6. The Cast of X-Factor Minus Madrox
I know I've bitched about this often enough, but let's look at it: At one point not long ago, Madrox ate up like 50% of each issue. The rest of the issue was left for the rest of the cast including the arc's villain to fight for. And yeah, I get it, David's done something really swell with Madrox, but come on, David, he's good but not that great. Plus, I know the book's noir, but after the Messiah Complex he's been on a constant angst parade without many funny moments. X-Factor used to be fun, there was an energy and humor about it that was so refreshing. Now Madrox whines for all his narration and the rest of the cast fights to get a glimpse of the spotlight.
And the fact is that they are in need of some work. Luckily, David's finally got back on track with this by having Monet get her own side story and Ricstar getting their own issue dealing with Rahne soon, but it really needs to be above and beyond work to regain that energy that seems to have faded. Also, David would need to remind us why we care about Layla Miller now that a significant amount of her appeal has been removed. Honestly, I do hope that the other team members get some attention in the coming issues because they are a cast that I'm interested in...besides Darwin and Longshot.

5. Colossus
Colossus is a character who has suffered so much recently. He was resurrected for the sole purpose of being Kitty's boyfriend again (and to be part of an apocalypse prophecy but whatever it wasn't that important). From there he's been featured mourning Kitty for way too long because this is comic books, we only get one issue a month so if you make two six-issue arcs having Peter mourning in it then you've got yourself one note that's been held way too long. Then Fraction had Dodson tattoo Peter's chest with a love tattoo tackier than electric blue eyeshadow, and since then Colossus' appearances have been decent but far from what you'd expect for one of the former All-New All-Different X-Men.
The fact is it seems no one knows what to do with Colossus anymore because he's basically the quiet, artistic muscle. His character isn't very dramatic because he's sort of a wallflower so a writer with a talent for building more subtle stories is needed. Honestly, I think we could have lived without him ever being resurrected again, but the fact is he is here. He actually would be useful right now concerning his thoughts on the reformation of X-Force considering what he went through in Astonishing.

4. Northstar
Remember back in Uncanny X-Men #508 where Fraction mocked Austen's use of Jean-Paul by having him be hesitant about rejoining the X-Men since he hated being the X-Men's gay mascot? I sure as shit do. And guess what? He's committed the same sin in much worse way by making Northstar a total cameo queen. Yes, right now he's in the Hellbound mini-series, but what is he REALLY doing there? He's even a cameo queen there.
His last real meaningful appearance was his story by Tim Fish in Nation X #2 which did do him the benefit of having him shown with his boyfriend right before doing it and even holding hands. The thing is, I thank Fish for at least doing something with Northstar, but the thing is that story seems to basically be: Gays are cute, we're sort of vapid but tons of fun. And after Kurt from Glee, Jack from Will and Grace, and Marc from Ugly Betty, I'm tired of that route. Enough's enough, as one of the first gay superheroes let's actually see him get the respect and character work he deserves. Let's evolve him past his arrogance and snark.

3. Dazzler
I understand she just had a one-shot, but really, what else do you think she'll really do in the next year? If you'll recall my original cameo queen posts, they were made for a reason. That reason was to show that even though Fraction was receiving such praise for bringing in popular, neglected X-Men, he really wasn't doing anything with them except saying to those fans, "Look they appeared in panel 12! Buy my book!"
Dazzler has suffered the worse because she's done so little yet she's got this decently-sized group of devoted fans, most of them gay or beloved hags, who so deserve to have their girl back to her original personality. Not the bland take writers besides Jim McCann have used.
And I just feel like a disservice to the gay favorite of the X-Men is a disservice to the gay readers who made her their favorite. In the end, Dazzler would need a serious resurrection to have people past her fans be on board with her story, but I believe done right she could easily become one of the beloved B-Listers of the X-Men who people lose their shit over every time she appears (like Psylocke, whose fans LOVE her more than their own mothers).

2. Gambit
Didn't you think that after the X-Men Origins: Wolverine movie that Gambit's appearances would explode like Deadpool's? I did, I mean for fuck's sake he was played by super fuckable Taylor Kitsch (the things I would do to him would be unspeaka-oh fuck, I'm writing that out loud aren't I?). It made no sense to me because Gambit and all his sexy charm and natural "Cool guy" factor is really popular.
Yet we haven't seen him much at all. He's been around Legacy, but lately it's been too much angst because writers believe angst means that character's serious now. Yeah because the only people I take seriously are the angsty ones. Seriously, this whole possessed-by-Death thing is so repetitive because we've already got evil Illyana and every other week there's someone else possessed. Let's get back to the dangerous and fun Gambit because, shockingly enough, playful people can have their serious moments and character arcs without fully surrendering to their angst.


1. Storm
Storm is truly the most neglected character out of this entire list because she's been A-List up until about now. Seriously, when Marvel makes a video game or book like Marvel Adventures and they need to send in two characters to stand in for the X-Men, who do they send? Wolverine and Storm. She's such an important part of X-Man history and yet look at her now: in a marriage most readers hate, acting way too "shocked" by violence considering it's heart-removing Storm, and the only place where she really matters these days is Astonishing which only just started moving again.
What needs to happen is Storm needs to be divorced, depowered, given a mohawk, and become leader of a team again. Storm is such a great character because she's admirable, she's a woman who won't let anything get in her way and does not quit. She's not supposed to be a pampered princess, she's supposed to be a woman fighting for peace with her bare hands. She needs responsibility without the glamourous status. In the end, Storm needs to have a comeback because she's a strong female voice in the X-Men that fans respect, and we need that considering the X-Men in power as of late are overwhelmingly men.

8 comments:

hasoon said...

Lorna also has her "member of tortured love-triangle" hat to wear.

Not that I want to see that again.

Selene said...

I'd replace Anole with Havok and Dazzler with Rachel,because Dazzler needs to be an Avenger.Beyond that,I fully-agree with your list.

On an off-topic matter,Mister Hellfire,you should criticize the Fantastic Four more often(I loved your review of Uncanny X-Men #525). :P

Mr. Hellfire said...

@Hasoon, indeed, I think just her and a love life spell trouble for her character.

@Selene, Thanks! And you'll probs enjoy my next post then, it has New Avengers #1 in it and I have a problem with The Thing being on the team.

Bonez_Giovanni said...

I agree with your list.

Hopefully some of these characters get penned by Mike Carey. I feel he brings characters to justice a la his depiction of Iceman when he was on Rogues team. Hopefully when Second Coming is over and Carey turns Legacy into a team book again (at some point... while still focusing on my wife Rogue) he'll include some of the people from your list.

I would love to see Carey write Iceman again, hopefully w/him and Rogue on a team again and have Northstar there too with his boyfriend around to make Iceman jealous :P

Mr. Hellfire said...

@Bonez_Giovanni, yeah, Carey does a damn good job with most characters. And he needs to get Legacy as a team book again because right now it's just one lead getting loads of development and then a bunch of supporting characters getting five seconds worth of work. Seriously, for someone who's good with character like he is, he needs to be working with his characters for an extended period of time so that the readers actually care about the developments. Not just hiccups of character work.

Selene said...

Mr. Hellfire,Polaris' fans really appreciated your input on her in her appreciation thread on CBR. ;-)

http://forums.comicbookresources.com/showthread.php?t=304964&page=57

Wonder Man said...

I so agree with Storm

Mr. Hellfire said...

@Selene, that's wonderful, I'm really glad they liked it!

@Wonder Man, mmm every time she appears these days I just find myself frustrated because the Storm that I grew up on was a BIG part of the X-Men and was tough as nails. At least Ellis seems to understand that about her (considering her depowered fight in Ast. #29).