Tag Archives: Sentinels

Star Wars Rebels: Shroud of Darkness – A Review

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SPOILER ALERT!!! SPOILER ALERT!!! READ FURTHER AT YOUR OWN PERIL!!!

WHAT AN EPISODE!!!!   From the lightsaber duel at the beginning, to our heroes’ return to the Jedi temple on Lothal, to the arrival of Darth Vader at the end of the show – WHOO!! This episode was great!!!

I am going to begin this review in reverse, readers. Please bear with me.

Kanan’s vision trial in the Lothal temple is the talk of the Internet – among other features of the episode. Searching for a way to defeat Vader and the Imperial Inquisitors, Kanan faces off against a Temple Guard (from the main Jedi Temple on Coruscant) in his vision. The Sentinel warns him that he cannot protect Ezra forever, and that if he tries to fight, he will die and the boy will fall to the Dark Side.

He and Kanan end up in a duel, which ends when Kanan admits the Sentinel is right: he cannot protect Ezra from everything, least of all can he protect Ezra against himself. He can only do what he has done – train Ezra as best he could. Bowing his head, Kanan clearly expects to be struck down….

Instead, the vision Sentinel knights him!

If this news was not enough of a surprise, Kanan gets a second shock when the guard removes his ceremonial mask/helmet – to reveal the face of the Grand Inquisitor, the Dark Side Adept who was hunting him and Ezra in Rebels’ first season!

I think my jaw actually dropped when the Pau’an took his mask off. Certainly, Kanan was not the only one left speechless with surprise! The astonishment is still reverberating through the ethereal currents of the Internet. Boy, did the writers keep this bombshell well-hidden under their hats!! (Or would that be “under their storm trooper helmets”?)

This scene is flabbergasting. The last time we saw the Grand Inquisitor, he was falling into an exploding reactor core. How in the galaxy did his spirit end up helping Kanan on a vision quest in a Jedi temple?!? He was a Dark Side Adept, one of the bad guys!

Well, according to the Grand Inquisitor’s own admission, he did not start out as a Dark Side user. He started life as a Jedi, specifically a Knight – and considering his ceremonial garb and lightsabers in this episode, it seems safe to think he was originally a Sentinel Jedi, one who took time to play Temple Guard at some point. This would explain why he and the other Inquisitors use double-bladed lightsabers. If the Grand Inquisitor was a fallen Sentinel Jedi, then it makes sense that he would train the rest of the Inquisitors in the lightsaber skills he was accustomed to using. And double-bladed lightsabers are very effective weapons!

It also explains how he figured out who Kanan’s master was. The Grand Inquisitor probably dueled with Depa Billaba a few times during training sessions while he was a Jedi Knight. He would recognize her influence on Kanan’s sparring skills after a few blows and make a mention of it to throw Kanan off-balance. (The tactic worked pretty well, too.)

A lot of viewers who saw Shroud of Darkness are a bit puzzled by the Grand Inquisitor’s appearance as a Sentinel spirit in Lothal’s Jedi temple. We knew that after falling to his death in the reactor core in Fire Across the Galaxy last season, he had become one with the Force. But most of us figured he had become one with the Dark Side.

Now, we know he became one with the Light-side of the Force!

This leads us to an interesting question: How did he pull that trick off? I have been racking my brain since viewing the episode, trying to remember the details of the Grand Inquisitor’s death from the final show of season one. From what I can remember, Kanan could have killed the guy while he was clinging to the catwalk. As a Jedi, of course, Kanan was not going to do that.

However, I seem to recall that I could not place the expression on the Grand Inquisitor’s face. He looked afraid, yes – who would not be in that situation? There just seemed to be more to it. Watching that scene several times since season one’s conclusion (the lightsaber duel really was amazing!), I got the impression that there was more to what the Grand Inquisitor was feeling than met the eye.

It has bothered me ever since, on and off. For a start, there seemed to be some remorse in the Grand Inquisitor’s features, as if he was sorry for wasting his life in service to the Empire. And what Dark Side Adept would so politely – almost sadly –state that Kanan and his apprentice were in for a harder time of it, now that they had defeated him, blown up Governor Tarkin’s Star Destroyer, and sent a message that would ignite a galaxy-wide rebellion against the Sith Emperor?

That speech seemed especially out of place. It would hardly have been surprising if the Pau’an had cursed Kanan and the other rebels, sneering that they were now in for more trouble than they could possibly imagine. Instead, he seemed almost sorry that they were going to face worse odds in the future.

That scene was very complex. Even with the adrenaline flowing through my system after seeing the Grand Inquisitor get his fanny handed to him on a platter by Kanan, I thought, “Wait. There’s something more to this. Something doesn’t feel like it should.”

Now I know why I felt that. Somewhere on his way down the reactor core – heck, maybe before he had even let go of the catwalk – the Grand Inquisitor returned to the Jedi path. It is the only explanation that logically answers why he was able to test Kanan in the Lothal temple. No Dark Side user – whether they were flesh or spirit – could hope to enter a Jedi temple without having a nasty greeting waiting for them.

Fifth Brother and Seventh Sister found that out the hard way. From what I remember of the Star Wars novels (now non-canon “Legends”), anyone entering a Jedi temple would run into visions and illusions. For Jedi, this was a testing ground. A place where they had to overcome their fears, or could get answers to important questions – as well as gain insight on a variety of issues, theirs or another’s. Non-Force users entering Jedi temples would be disoriented by such visions. I doubt they would survive very long after entering a temple, unless they were good people who had become seriously lost. Or very desperate.

A Jedi temple infiltrated by Dark Side Adepts or a Sith would react with extreme prejudice toward them, if not to protect itself, then to protect the Jedi inside it. This is what happened in Shroud of Darkness. One of the reasons the Grand Inquisitor’s spirit was waiting for Kanan in the Lothal temple, I think, is because his ghost would scare the daylights out of Fifth Brother and Seventh Sister.

The two Inquisitors had to know they were facing visions which could not really hurt them when the phantom Jedi Sentinels appeared. So the sight of their old master’s ghost – dressed in a ceremonial Temple Guard costume and wielding a Sentinel’s blades – had to have been a shock. It certainly seemed to discombobulate Fifth Brother! That gave the temple the edge it needed to buy Kanan, Ezra, and Ahsoka the time to escape Imperial pursuit. It seems the temple could not really hurt the Inquisitors – it could only stall them. The Grand Inquisitor’s ghost was certainly an effective presence on that account!

There is something this writer has to admit here, readers. Seeing the Grand Inquisitor again was a shock for me. No question. But at the same time, it was also a hopeful scene which kind of gave me the warm and fuzzies.

It reminded me that we never really know what is in another person’s heart. Kanan and the rest of us assumed the Grand Inquisitor was lost to the Dark Side completely. Then he pops up in the Jedi temple, not as an enemy but as a friend!

Who are we to say where someone should or should not be after they die? Who are we to say, upon the death of another person, whether they made it to eternal reward or were sent to eternal punishment? “Consumed by the Dark Side were the Jedi,” Yoda said in Shroud. Depa Billaba, Mace Windu, and other Jedi of the old order probably became one with the Light-side of the Force after Order 66.

But it is doubtful that all the Jedi killed in the Purge earned that reward. Some probably fell to the Dark Side before – or at the moment of – their deaths. Just as the Pau’an Grand Inquisitor became one with the Light-side of the Force before – or at the moment of – his death in the reactor core on Tarkin’s ship.

Certainly, this is no excuse for going over to the Dark Side in the first place. The remorse-filled expression on the Grand Inquisitor’s face as he tells an astounded Kanan that the other is now an official Jedi Knight says it all. The Pau’an is looking at what he once was when he looks at Kanan. He is seeing a Jedi filled with the light of the Force. And he is remembering how he, who once had the same light in his soul, turned his own back on the Jedi way, walking in darkness in service to the Sith. Until a young man, who only had the training of a Padawan, bested him in a lightsaber duel aboard an Imperial ship.

*Sniff.* It really was a beautiful scene, readers. Can we have a round of applause for Rebels’ writers here?

Thank you.

*Deep breath.* Okay, on to the rest of the episode! Ahsoka has finally accepted the fact that her beloved master, Anakin Skywalker, became the black-armored terror Darth Vader. But she seems unwilling to give up on him, muttering, “There is still a way,” before racing out of the temple. It is hard not to think that she will try to turn him back to the light. Why in the name of the Force would she not try to do that?

We know her attempt will fail. It is Luke who will save his father’s soul, not Ahsoka.   Most everyone is saying Tano will bite the bullet in season two’s finale: Twilight of the Apprentice, Part 1 & 2. These episodes will play back-to-back on March 30, and while I agree that the odds are not in Ahsoka’s favor, I am not sure the writers will kill her off in these episodes. They could still get a lot of mileage out of a long, drawn-out conflict over season three between Vader and Ahsoka. That she will die before A New Hope I am sure. Will she die in the season two finale of Star Wars Rebels…? Eh, I am unconvinced. It could happen, though.

Of greater concern to me is Ezra’s fate in the season two finale. He is the only other apprentice in Rebels. Kanan just got knighted; he no longer counts as a Padawan. There have been hints that Ezra is skating near the Dark Side throughout the series so far. The first was at Fort Anaxes in season one.   And in Shroud of Darkness, it is shown that Ezra has begun to get cocky as his Force abilities have grown. He practically brushes off his and Kanan’s encounter with Fifth Brother and Seventh Sister at the start of the show, kicking back and relaxing as his teacher mulls over the Inquisitors’ apparent power to track them.

This probably would have happened to Ezra even if the Jedi Order had not been exterminated. Kids get cocky. It happens.

It also means that when they get knocked off their high horses, their first reaction is anger. Ezra is human, and anger is one of our big problems. As a Jedi apprentice, the risks to Ezra’s soul are even greater. Twilight of the Apprentice may not refer to Ahsoka at all. It may in fact refer to Ezra.

The Grand Inquisitor’s statements in Kanan’s vision quest, and the fact that Darth Maul will return in Apprentice, have done nothing to ease my mind about the question. Kanan, while not knowing about Maul, is doubtless worried as well. As the newly minted Jedi Knight pointed out, though, he cannot protect Ezra from everything for all eternity. Ezra has to grow up – and if he falls on his face in the process, well, that is what is going to happen. And it could have the wonderful effect of making him a better Jedi.

It could also, of course, have the undesirable effect of driving him toward the Dark Side – and Darth Maul. It is a good thing I have no nails to bite. My fingers would be bleeding otherwise!

As for Ahsoka’s inability to help Kanan open the temple on Lothal, it makes sense. She is no longer a Jedi. Though still a Force-user, her blade color – white – marks her as a neutral party/retired Jedi. She is not of the Dark Side, but neither does she serve the light as the Jedi did/do. It would be improper for her to enter a Jedi temple like the one on Lothal without permission – something Kanan apparently knew, as he was unsurprised when Ahsoka told Ezra she could not help open the temple.

Finally, readers, I have to say that I am rather fed up with people saying Kanan and Ezra have to die before the time of the original trilogy arrives. Seriously, does no one remember the novels?! Yes, they are no longer canon storylines (thanks so much, Disney/Lucasfilm …grrr). Nevertheless, in these novels there were other Jedi who lived to see the Rebellion arise. Some of these were new Jedi, like Kyle Katarn and Corran Horn. Others were survivors of the Jedi Purge: Quinlan Vos, Ferus Olin, and Kam Solusar.

It is true that Ferus Olin died before Return of the Jedi. But, in the books, he did cross paths with Luke and Leia before Vader killed him. Kam Solusar escaped to wild space at the time of the Purge, returning later on – where the resurrected Palpatine caught him and enslaved him. Luke was able to turn him, and Solusar became one of his best Knights in the new Jedi Order afterward. Quinlan Vos, a Jedi whose story was unfinished as of the advent of The Force Awakens and its new timeline (to the best of this writer’s knowledge), may have also lived to run into Luke Skywalker.

Kyle Katarn and Corran Horn were both Force-sensitive men who joined the Rebellion at the time of the original trilogy. Katarn joined up somewhere between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, while Corran appeared either between Empire and Return of the Jedi, or after the latter.

And then there is Mara Jade, Emperor’s Hand. Her official appearance was five years after Jedi, but books written prior to The Force Awakens showed her running around the galaxy on missions for Palpatine during the original trilogy. Each time, she and Luke almost met, but never quite managed to actually come face-to-face. This strategy of writing kept the timeline of the original trilogy intact, while adding to Mara’s history in the Star Wars Expanded Universe.

I do not see why Kanan and Ezra could not have fates similar to Solusar, Vos, Katarn, and Horn. Admittedly there is nothing to prevent them from dying, as Ferus Olin did. In his case, though, he had the same problem Ahsoka does: Ferus knew Anakin Skywalker personally before he became Darth Vader. The writers could not resist ditching him to ensure Luke would never know his heritage before The Empire Strikes Back.

Of course, those who think Kanan and Ezra have to die will cite Yoda’s line from Return of the Jedi: “When gone am I, last of the Jedi you will be.” Well, pardon me, but what about the five guys I just listed here? According to these other writers’ logic, Kam Solusar, Kyle Katarn, Corran Horn, and Quinlan Vos should all have died to make Yoda’s statement a hundred percent true.

There are reasons why Yoda would say this to Luke. 1) Back when Return of the Jedi was released, there were probably not that many novels focusing on other Force-sensitives in the same time-frame as Luke. This makes Yoda’s statement in the film a hundred percent true.

2) With all the new stories that have come out since Jedi, we need another explanation as to why Yoda would say this. The fact is, Yoda was nine hundred years old, sick, and dying in Return of the Jedi. He died hours after Luke returned to Dagobah to finish his training. Who says that he was still able to see and sense the other Jedi or Light-side Force-sensitives running around the galaxy? I mean, Yoda was strong with the Force, but he was hardly omniscient! It stands to reason he might miss somebody – or several somebodies – fighting for the Rebellion by using the Force as a Jedi would.

3) Solusar and Vos would not have been considered true Jedi by Yoda. Vos married a woman and had a son with her. He was going to leave the Jedi Order once the Clone Wars had ended. Order 66 did that job for him. Solusar, the son of a Jedi Knight who had wed against the Jedi Order’s strict ban, would not have been considered a real Jedi by Yoda either. While I doubt Yoda was a very prejudiced person, the fact is that there would be ample reason for him to consider Kam Solusar a non-Jedi Force-user. Kam became an official Jedi only after training at Luke’s Jedi Academy, anyway.

4) As for Corran and Kyle, who were both Force-sensitive, if I remember correctly they had some guidance from Jedi spirits on how to serve the Light-side of the Force. This was not, however, a substitute for real master-apprentice training, which Obi-Wan and Yoda had given Luke. At best, Yoda would have considered the two men maverick Force-users. They would not have qualified as Jedi in his opinion – though I doubt he thought they were evil.

5) Of course, Ferus Olin was dead by Return of the Jedi in the old canon order of the novels. He Yoda would definitely have considered a Jedi. Even though Ferus pulled an Ahsoka, leaving the Jedi Order after a mishap that ended with the death of another apprentice, he remained a Jedi at heart. Ahsoka did not. This would have been enough for Yoda to consider Ferus – and other stragglers from the Purge like him – as real Jedi. With Ferus and most of the other survivors of Order 66 dead, Yoda would have considered Luke the last of the rightly trained Jedi Knights in the galaxy.

I know this makes Yoda sound a little heartless, not to mention senile, mean, and bigoted. But by all the standards of the Old Jedi Order, this is probably what he would have thought. The main reason for this diatribe, readers, is to point out that Kanan and Ezra could very well survive to see the original Star Wars trilogy. Neither of them have to die – and unless the third season of Rebels will be the series’ last, there is no reason for the writers to kill either of them.

Ezra is the main protagonist of Star Wars Rebels. Killing him at the end of the series would be bad taste – killing him in season two’s finale would be a suicidal writing device. Kanan is not much more expendable; at the moment, as Ezra needs a mentor. And, when Ezra finally graduates to Jedi Knight, I still see no reason for the writers to eliminate him or Kanan.

Kyle Katarn and Luke Skywalker crossed paths at least a couple of times between the original films in the Expanded Universe novels without interrupting the saga’s timeline. Ezra could do the same thing. Ferus met Luke several times without revealing his true heritage to him. And Ferus knew Anakin was Darth Vader. If Kanan were to cross paths with Luke, I see no reason for him to let the young Jedi in on his heritage – especially since even Ahsoka never figured out that Padmé and Anakin were married. If she could not figure it out, how the heck would Kanan?

At most, Kanan could honestly repeat what Obi-Wan told Luke in A New Hope: Anakin Skywalker was a great Jedi Knight and, however improbably (from Kanan’s point of view), he was Luke’s father. That is all Kanan is ever going to know about the subject. Why in the galaxy would Ahsoka ruin his opinion of Anakin by revealing her former master had become Darth Vader? There is no logic there.

This is not much protection for Kanan, after a point, but there is even less excuse for the writers to kill Ezra. He is Luke and Leia’s age, born the same day they were. He has been a rebel on the front lines for years longer than either of them by A New Hope. When Return of the Jedi rolled around, he could be on Luke’s short list for recruits for Knights for the new Jedi Order. If Kanan survived the Rebellion as well, then he would be invaluable to Luke as an instructor for the new order of Jedi. The Force Awakens says Luke trained a new generation of Jedi.

It never said he didn’t have help doing it.

Besides, even if Kanan and Ezra refused to join or help found the new Jedi Order, that hardly means they would have to die. If Disney follows through on a rumor I heard a while ago, they will probably make a TV series based on the new Star Wars film trilogy. Doing that would be a great way to reintroduce us at least to Ezra and Sabine, with flashbacks to Rebels thrown in for good measure.

I really see no reason for Kanan or Ezra to bite the dust. That does not protect them being killed – I am simply saying that, from these arguments, it appears foolish to talk about the writers killing them. The people out there spreading rumors of Kanan or Ezra’s demise might want to take their foot off the gas pedal long enough to think things through a little more.

That being said, I have no crystal ball. We will know nothing until March 30. So, until then…

May the Force be with you, readers!

The Mithril Guardian

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Spotlight: An Introduction to Marvel’s X-Men, Part 2

Okay, readers! Here is part two of the crash course in X-Men lore for you!

Now please remember, I do not know EVERYTHING there is to know about the X-Men. There are many others out there who are more qualified to tell you about them than I am. I hope that some of them are reading this post right now. All the same, I have started this and I intend to finish it.

Plus, if you would like to see some of the X-Men I have just told you about, I can recommend about two or three X-Men TV series which will give you a glimpse of the characters I have been talking about. These are the 1990s X-Men series, the X-Men: Evolution TV series, and the series titled Wolverine and the X-Men.

Of these three, the 1990s series is the most faithful to the comics (specifically, the comics written and produced during the 1990s). Evolution plays around with the characters more, making almost all the members of the X-Men and their primary antagonists teenagers. Though this series is not as faithful to the comics, it is not bad.

Wolverine and the X-Men follows the more recent changes made to the X-Men comics. This series only lasted one season, and while it is not bad, it does follow the comic book writers as they take liberties with the established characters and storylines. Aside from a few episodes and characterizations, it kind of made me grit my teeth on a lot of anger and disappointment.

Now, with these series named for you to peruse as you wish, we will continue with the next phase of our discussion of the X-Men.

Who are the X-Men’s enemies? The X-Men’s enemies are, like the Avengers’, myriad. As I said in my last post, mutants are generally viewed with fear and hatred by normal humans. Part of this is justified: if someone is telepathic, how can you keep them from reading your mind and learning all of your – or someone else’s – secrets? Someone born with super speed would be an unstoppable thief. And someone who could gain control of other people just by touching them – that opens up an ugly can of worms right there!

The other part, of course, is less well-founded. After all, whether the Marvel writers scientifically name mutants Homo superior or not, it is kind of hard to believe that mutants will eventually replace regular humans. It has not happened yet, mostly because the writers cannot let it happen. If mutants replace humans, then half of the X-Men’s story potential goes up in smoke. Not to mention heroes like Tony Stark, Hawkeye, and the Punisher have to be replaced by people with powers.

Yeah. That would go over splendidly. NOT!!!

Besides, mutants are humans. They were just born with different abilities regular humans cannot access. At least, that is what I like to think.

On the other side of the argument are mutants who do not feel they should limit their power. If they are so much more advanced than others – mutants and humans –why should they not lead? Why can’t they use their telepathy to get what they want? Why shouldn’t they make other people their puppets?

This brings us to that list of X-Men enemies I promised everybody. First on the list is:

Erik Lensherr/Magneto: Erik Lensherr is actually a false name. I cannot recall his real name right now, so for the moment we are going to call him by his villain codename: Magneto.

Commonly called “the Master of Magnetism,” Magneto’s mutant power is over anything and everything that has even the slightest bit of metal in it. He is one of the X-Men’s most dangerous foes, but he is also one of their most tragic antagonists.

During World War II, Magneto and his parents, along with other Jews, were rounded up by the Nazis. Magneto’s family was taken to the most brutal of the Nazi death camps: Auschwitz. Stories vary on how he got out: some have Captain America and Wolverine rescuing him, others have him getting out after the war, others tell different tales entirely. (I myself like to think Cap and Wolverine rescued him.) No matter how he escaped, Magneto’s parents did not survive the concentration camp.

Exposed to evil, and at such a tender age, Magneto never forgot it. He tried to make a life for himself, married, and even had a daughter. But some calamity of a sort hit the place where they were living. The townspeople went wild, and Magneto’s first daughter was killed in the panicking mob as they ran helter-skelter through the town.

That was when he first unleashed his magnetic powers for the world to see. Previously, he had kept them hidden. He ended up killing a whole lot of people in an attempt to rescue his daughter. His wife, horrified by this display of a power she never knew he had, fled. Magneto later searched for her but could not find her, and eventually he gave up on ever recovering her.

Sometime after this, he met Professor X, when the other was still able to walk. The two became friends and tried to help heal the world. They learned about each other’s mutant powers and helped each other keep their secrets.

But with increasing pressure being put on mutants everywhere, Magneto came to feel actions, not words, were needed. While Professor X went about trying to talk everyone into calm, rational discussion, Magneto started imposing his will on everyone. Professor X ended up standing in his way, and the two stopped being friends and became the most bitter of enemies.

Admittedly, most of the bitterness has always resided with Magneto. Professor X really pities him for not realizing that he has become as bad as the Nazis who murdered his parents. (That’s a touchy subject around Magneto, by the way. Bring that up only if you are desperate – and be ready to bolt when you do play that card on him!)

Brilliant as Dr. Doom and one of the most cunning men in the Marvel Universe, Magneto has a personality as magnetic as his powers. He draws mutants – good and bad – to him like paper clips. The good ones, once they realize what he is really like, get the heck out of Dodge, or they are corrupted to see things from Magneto’s perspective. The bad ones stay with him, either because he is their ticket to free destruction or, in some cases, because they are absolutely terrified of him.

Magneto has had several teams of not-so-nice mutants to back him up over the years. The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants was probably his best and most dangerous team; his Acolytes had more members, were dangerous, but he could not control them as closely as he could the Brotherhood (I think).

All in all, Magneto is the enemy the X-Men face off against the most, in any series. Sometimes he reforms and becomes a fairly nice guy, but that almost never lasts. For the most part, he is always fighting the X-Men. He is a tragic figure, I know. But that hardly makes him a less dangerous opponent!

 

The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants: Magneto’s first terrorist team “championing” mutant rights. The team has had various members over the years, but here are the notable teammates:

Blob: an overweight guy with super strength and the ability to increase his mass (The better to pancake an X-Man!), he is commonly called “The Immovable”;

Avalanche: a man with the ability to generate concussion blasts that cause earthquakes and avalanches, his power works only on inanimate objects (the ground, buildings, the pavement, etc.);

Toad: a mutant with a frog-like tongue, bad hygiene, warty skin, frog-like agility, and the ability to spit some kind of sticky gunk at an opponent (a recent power addition);

Pyro: a mutant who can control – but not generate – fire, he has to wear flamethrowers in his costume in order to have a ready supply of fire on hand for a battle;

Mastermind: a telepath, not very strong, but extremely cunning who follows Magneto out of fear;

Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch: That is correct. Avengers Quicksilver/Pietro Maximoff and Scarlet Witch/Wanda Maximoff served for a time in Magneto’s original Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. The two are, in fact, mutants. But because Disney owns Marvel Studios and the Avengers while Fox Studios owns the X-Men, in the Avengers films Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch cannot be called mutants. Disney does not own the rights to “mutants” as they relate to Marvel Comics; Fox does, and they ain’t selling them back to Marvel and Disney any time soon. Hence the reason the twins are not referred to as “mutants” at any point in Avengers: Age of Ultron.

For those of you who might be a little confused as to why Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch would work for Magneto, there are two reasons for this, though the twins only knew of one at the time. First, Magneto saved Pietro and his sister after Wanda accidentally set a barn on fire with her powers and, in running back to Pietro, led an angry mob of villagers to their campsite.

Magneto defeated the mob, saving the twins. Owing him their lives, the two had to repay him somehow. So when Magneto took them in, trained them in the use of their powers, gave them codenames, and had them fight the X-Men, they were honor bound to do whatever he ordered them to do. Though they recognized that the X-Men’s cause was just, they owed Magneto their lives. It was a debt they had to repay, and the way he wanted it repaid was by their service to him in the Brotherhood.

The other reason the twins were part of the Brotherhood was to foreshadow poetic irony. Magneto never realized, until several years later, that the twins he had rescued from angry villagers in the middle of Eastern Europe were his twins.

When his wife ran off after he demonstrated his powers publicly for the first time, she was pregnant. It was the middle of the winter when she found a place to have her child. Only, when she had the baby, she realized there were two: Pietro and Wanda. Afraid that her husband would find her (and thus the twins), Magneto’s wife left her children with a caregiver and went out into the freezing cold. Winter caught up with her, as she had planned, and no one knows just where the snow buried her.

The twins’ caregiver eventually gave them to a Gypsy couple, the Maximoffs, and so the twins grew up as Gypsies and bear the last name of Maximoff.

They had been separated from their adopted parents by the time Magneto met them, and apparently he did not notice any family resemblance. Later, after Quicksilver and his wife, Crystal of the Inhumans, had a daughter, Magneto dropped in to get a look at the little girl and, in the process, told the twins that he was their long lost father.

Wanda was struck dumb with shock and horror but Pietro, ever the fastest to react, snatched his daughter Luna from Magneto’s arms and told him that he would never recognize him as his father. The only father he would ever accept was the Gypsy man who raised him and his sister.

The twins have had daddy issues with Magneto ever since (thank you so much, Marvel writers – ugh!), but only in the newer X-Men TV series and comics have they willingly accepted Magneto as their father.

 

Victor Creed/Sabertooth: Recent rewrites to Sabertooth’s history have seemingly made him Wolverine’s half-brother. He is at least as old as Wolverine, if not older. Like Logan, Victor Creed has animal senses and a healing factor. But he listens to his animal instincts more than Wolverine ever has. Vicious, brutal, and bloodthirsty, Sabertooth absolutely revels in carnage. Put simply, he loves the thrill of the kill, and where Wolverine has a sense of honor and loyalty, Sabertooth has only a desire to destroy.

Sabertooth and Wolverine were both part of the Weapon X program, but only Wolverine underwent the procedure that bonded adamantium to his skeleton. Older comics do not explain the history between the two, but newer stories suggest Creed could not undergo the same operation because his healing factor does not work the way Wolverine’s does.

Speaking of Wolverine, you remember when I said his memories were wiped by the Weapon X goons? Well, while he cannot recall much about his past, he does remember this: He HATES Sabertooth!

The feeling is apparently mutual. Sabertooth loves to brawl with Wolverine. The fact that they both have healing factors means they are, for all intents and purposes, evenly matched. Neither of them can kill the other, but they sure as heck try! Sabertooth has worked for Magneto from time to time, as well as other enemies of the X-Men.

For the most part, though, he is a free agent. He does what he wants, goes where he chooses, and every chance he gets, he leaves a body behind him. Sabertooth is an absolute animal and a holy terror in a fight. Few can stand up to him like Wolverine can, but he has been taken down by other heroes and X-Men. The thing is, like any wily predator, he always finds a way to get out of his cage and go on the hunt for his favorite prey: Wolverine or one of his friends.

 

Mystique

Raven Darkholme/Mystique: As I have said elsewhere, I despise Mystique.  Mystique is a blue-skinned meta morph. That is, she can change her form into anyone else’s form. She can impersonate anyone, male or female, or pass through town as a crow or a cat.

Though she is not his equal in power by a long shot, Mystique is easily Magneto’s equal in terms of cunning and scheming. While she has occasionally formed her own Brotherhood of Evil Mutants (often using Magneto’s goons when he is not leading them himself) and once even joined the X-Men, the only one Mystique seems truly interested in serving is herself.

Sure, she talks the talk about mutants and humans not being able to live in peace, and I am pretty sure she believes most of it. But in the end, all her schemes boil down to the fact that she wants what she wants, and she wants it yesterday!

As mentioned previously, Mystique is the X-Man Nightcrawler’s birth mother and the X-Man Rogue’s adopted mother. She had Nightcrawler in Germany and, when she realized her son’s mutation was obvious and that he could not hide his true features in some way, she abandoned him. She left him where he could – hopefully – be found by someone willing to take care of him despite his appearance.

Mystique ran into Rogue much later. In the Evolution TV series, she says she adopted Rogue when the X-Man was four years old. In the 1990s TV series, as in the comics, Mystique found Rogue after the girl ran away from her real family.

In some bizarre, twisted way, Mystique does actually care about Nightcrawler and Rogue. But all the same, she usually just fights them. She claims everything she does is for them, but all she does is hurt them more and more. In fact, in Evolution, she expressly states that she cannot lose Rogue to the X-Men because “she possesses the potential for limitless power!”

This was because Rogue’s ability to “download” other mutants’ powers into her own body means, according to the latest rewrites, that she can recall those powers and use them whenever she chooses. But it also means that she will always have a “copy” of the original mutant psyches in her mind. In Evolution, the fact that she had so many psyche “copies” in her head made Rogue turn on the X-Men in one episode. Only when the Professor was able to erase the “ghost files” and their powers from her mind did she regain control of herself – though she literally passed out at about the same second she was back in the driver’s seat.

So Mystique really cares only about herself. She may wish that she could be a real mom to the two X-Men, but in the end, she does not have the desire to make that wish a reality. Self-serving to the last, I suppose.

And yeah, this is a good part of why I HATE Mystique! Man, I wish they would have Black Widow or some other heroine beat her to a pulp!!!

 

Cain Marco/Juggernaut: Cain Marco has recently been rewritten as a good guy in the comics, having reformed from his previous criminal ways. But if you watch any of the X-Men TV series I mentioned above, or even the Ultimate Spider-Man TV show, you will encounter him as the “Unstoppable Juggernaut!”

Cain Marco is Professor X’s half (or adopted, maybe?) brother. The two had the same mother, but different fathers. Cain somehow became convinced that his father liked Professor X better than he liked his own son (Cain). According to the 1990s series, the reason Cain’s father showed such preference for Charles was because he was milking Xavier’s sick mother for her wealth, a fact he was doing his best to hide from both boys and their mother.

After the two reached adulthood, Professor X got all the admiration and attention, while Cain was left on the sidelines – again. Fed up with this treatment, Cain went out into the world to make a name for himself, only to rabbit when things got nasty. In the process, he stumbled on an old temple with a magic crystal in it.

The crystal granted him the suit and power of the Juggernaut (this story idea is construed as Cain awakening his own mutant powers through mysticism in X-Men: Evolution). Ever since, Cain has sought to use his power to harm or kill Professor X. The X-Men, naturally, do not let that happen, but it is very hard to knock down Juggernaut and keep him down.

In terms of sheer power, only the Hulk or Thor could match – and likely beat – Juggernaut. Even Wolverine, for all his durability, can barely hold up to Juggernaut’s strength. The X-Men’s only real course of action when faced with Juggernaut is to take his helmet off, since the helmet shields him from psychic attacks that knock him down and out. You can imagine how easy it is to get in close to take Juggernaut’s helmet off! It has taken entire episodes for the X-Men to accomplish that feat!

Lacking Magneto’s finesse and Mystique’s cunning, Juggernaut is dangerous simply for his strength and his single-minded determination to kill his own brother – and anyone who stands between him and Professor X’s wheelchair.

 

The Sentinels and Dr. Bolivar Trask: The Sentinels have to be the absolute worst and most terrifying enemy that the X-Men have ever faced. These mechanical monsters were built by Dr. Bolivar Trask, a scientist with a mutant son who wanted to control mutants. His solution boils down, essentially, to the Nazi and Communist solution. If you do not like them or want them around, then you get rid of them.

But with the varying powers each mutant possesses, normal humans risk a great deal in getting close to a mutant. Even if the mutant simply ties up and abandons his pursuers where they can be easily found or rescued, the end result is that the mutant escapes. Not only that, but humans have compassion, or minds that can be controlled. They can be convinced not to harm someone.

Machines have no such obstacles to their mission parameters.

Dr. Bolivar Trask

With government funding, Trask designed mutant hunting and capturing humanoid machines he called Sentinels. The first Sentinels were supposed to “only” capture mutants so they could be removed to high security areas where they would not be a threat to anybody. But it is barely a step from capturing and holding mutants to capturing and exterminating those who are different, or who simply do not match up with the machines’ “ideals” of perfection.

While in the present the X-Men have to deal with the “capture and round up” Sentinels, future teams of X-Men often live in a blasted world where barely any mutants or humans have survived the rise of the Sentinels. In these dark futures, mankind and mutantkind have both been driven to near extinction. After all, mutants come from humans, don’t they? To permanently erase mutants from the world, you would have to get rid of a lot of humans who could someday become mom and dad to a mutant.

In these futures, no one is safe. X-Man, human, mutant, Avenger – all are hunted down and destroyed, or left to forage for survival in the ruins of nations across the planet. This makes the Sentinels by far the scariest and worst enemies of the X-Men. Like Ultron, they cannot be destroyed. Unlike Ultron, they have no emotion – they are simply machines following the twisted logic of their programmer.

 

Mastermold: The “master” Sentinel, often their leader in the tortured futures the X-Men usually confront in their storylines. Mastermold is implacable, driven only by his programming: bring order to the world. You do that by getting rid of fear, anger, and hatred. And the only physical way of doing that, beyond a human or mutant’s own self-restraint and control, is to eradicate humanity from the face of the Earth. This guy (gal in Wolverine and the X-Men – blech!) is as bad as any Nazi or Communist. As long as he survives and does his job, who cares how many he kills and buries?

 

The Morlocks: The Morlocks are mutants who live in the sewers underneath New York City. Most of them are criminals, by choice or by the fact that their mutations make them stand out in a crowd and they therefore have no other way to survive. A lot of Morlocks have mutations which make them look like monsters. Fleeing persecution, they set up shop in the sewers.

In the original stories, the Morlocks are a lot like a street gang. They look out for each other and take care of each other, and they will accept new members from time to time – especially if those new mutants are “too ugly” to live on the surface, just as the rest of them.

The first stories had the X-Men pitted against the Morlocks fairly often. The Morlock leader, Callisto, was not particularly ugly, but she was nasty as heck. She and Storm had a running feud, due in part to the fact that Storm once led the Morlocks, but then left for the surface to join the X-Men.

The Morlocks don’t like it when one of their members goes up to the surface and stays there. It reminds them that most of them are too disfigured by their mutations to return to the surface world, and thus fans the flames of their hatred for normal humans and the mutants who appear normal.

In Evolution, the Morlocks are cast in a better light. They are just a group of mutants who cannot pass through the surface world without standing out like a sore thumb. So they live in the sewers on whatever they can find/steal. Storm’s nephew (made up specifically for Evolution, Storm never had any siblings in the original stories) eventually joined the Morlocks when his mutant power became obvious and made him look like a human Stegosaurus.

These Morlocks were on better terms with the X-Men, but in the comics and 1990s TV show, they do qualify as enemies. Sympathetic enemies, in a way, but enemies all the same.

 

Friends of Humanity Society: These guys are based almost entirely on the Klu Klux Klan. The Friends of Humanity Society is a feature of the 1990s TV series. They do their best to make mutants (especially the X-Men) look like monsters so that they can get arbitrary laws passed to, essentially, get rid of mutants. Later series do not really mention the Society and, by Wolverine and the X-Men, these guys are all but extinct as a group. They are replaced by government goons instead.

 

Extraterrestrial Threats: The extraterrestrial threats are myriad. They include: the Brood, insectoid aliens who transform members of other species into themselves via parasites; the Shi’ar, humanoid aliens generally friendly to Earth and the X-Men, but they have their bad apples; the Phalanx, mechanical aliens who eat anything organic; and a few other guys I can no longer recall. Perhaps I should have listed the X-Men’s occult enemies instead. They have faced a lot of magic-powered bad guys in their day!

 

Apocalypse: I have no real idea what is going on with Apocalypse these days. Initially, as I understand it, he had been going through time setting off wars to eliminate the weak so that the strong would remain. (He is/was more of a genetic purist than even the Friends of Humanity bunch!) In the 1990s comics and TV series, he is the one who gave Angel his new wings and “programmed” him with the “dark side” he still struggles to control. (Yes, Archangel absolutely hates Apocalypse.) Nowadays, though, Apocalypse is portrayed as a mutant from Ancient Egypt who survived to return in the here and now. He is “burdened” with the same “glorious” motivation as Magneto – only writ much, much larger and more deadly!

Mr. Sinister: A creepy, pasty faced guy with very sharp teeth who strongly reminds me of a vampire and who dabbles in experiments that would give Dr. Frankenstein nightmares. I am sorry to leave you with that brief a description, readers, but if I say anymore about him, I may throw up on my keyboard.

Well, readers, these are the top twelve bad guys (more or less) whom the X-Men have to deal with. I covered all of the interesting bad guys above; they may not compare with the baddies the Avengers have to face, but they are pretty darn dangerous all the same.

As a side note, Magneto has gone head to head with the Avengers a few times. What can I say? The guy is versatile…and his children are Avengers. It had to happen!

I hope, readers, that these Spotlight! posts have at least been fun reads for you. I know that I have greatly enjoyed talking about my First Marvel Favorites in depth, and maybe someday I will get to do another post about them. Until then…

Excelsior!

The Mtihril Guardian