Tag Archives: Wolverine and the X-Men

Spotlight: X-Men – Rogue/Anna Marie

Image result for marvel comics 1990s rogue

Recently, I found a number of posts dealing with a topic I have addressed on my own blog. Apparently yours truly is not the only one to notice and take umbrage with the current fascination for creating so-called “strong female characters.” There have been a couple of articles on other sites dealing with the subject. I have read them and they have gotten the gears in this cranium turning, which lead me to today’s subject: the X-Man Rogue.

First off we will go down the list of Rogue’s abilities. Those familiar with her history in the comics and television will have to bear with me, because I am going to rehash some old storylines to keep everyone in the loop.

The Marvel newcomer who is not entering the multi-verse via the poisoned comics will find Rogue in the X-Men films. This version of Rogue is close but not quite the same as the one found in older comics and cartoons. There is no slight intended when I say that the film portrayal of the character is actually a poorer presentation than the original. Anna Paquin does a good job as Rogue; it is the writers and director(s) of the X-Men films who have mishandled the character.

Anyway, if you “met” Rogue in these films, then you know that her mutant ability is to absorb the memories, talents, and/or mutant powers of anyone with whom she comes into skin contact. You also think she got that white streak in her hair after Magneto force-fed his abilities to her before the final battle in the first movie, but she had that from the moment she appeared in the comics. (I do not like how they gave it to her in the films; it takes away from her character – in my ‘umble opinion.)

Image result for marvel comics 1990s rogue

I have stated many times that I do not like the X-Men films, so I am going to stop talking about them here and go straight to Rogue’s comic book and cartoon histories. Similar to the films, Rogue’s mutant power manifested when she and her boyfriend, Cody, were having their first kiss. Rogue was thirteen at the time and so she was more than a little frightened when Cody suddenly passed out mid-smooch.

Rejected by her family for being a mutant, Rogue ran away from home, afraid to make skin contact of any kind with anyone. Mystique, in a guise other than her real blue-skinned, red-haired form, found Rogue and recruited her into her latest cabal of mutant trouble makers. She practically adopted Rogue as her own daughter….

…But she treated her as a secret weapon, using Rogue to her advantage in fights with the X-Men. Rogue was completely loyal to Mystique because she had taken her in and given her direction when no one else had and when no one else would give her the time of day. She rarely balked when told to use her absorption abilities on an X-Man, security guard, or some other person Mystique wanted knocked out or who had information she desired.

The one instance I know of in the comics where Rogue refused to use her power was when Mystique told her to absorb Angel’s abilities. Rogue was afraid that she would grow wings like his, so she did not want to touch him. As you may know from watching the films, readers, the powers Rogue absorbs eventually fade away. The memories and skills she “downloads” along with them remain like “ghost files” in her head, but they do not (usually) bother her after a while. Prior to 2015, the writers made it possible for Rogue to “recall” individual powers and abilities she had previously stolen from people, something I consider cheating. But in the case I mention above, Rogue did not have that power and she feared she would be stuck with Angel’s wings permanently if she touched him, so Mystique did not get her way in that episode.

Eventually, Rogue’s servitude to Mystique led her into a fight with Carol Danvers. At the time Danvers’ codename was still Ms. Marvel, and so her uniform consisted of a black swimsuit with a yellow lightning bolt emblazed on the front. Because her suit had no sleeves or pants, she was a perfect target for Rogue’s absorption abilities.

Thinking Danvers would be easy enough to overcome, Rogue grabbed hold of her and started draining her powers.

Image result for marvel comics rogue 1990s tv series

But unlike Rogue’s other opponents, Danvers did not immediately pass out. Since her powers come from Kree DNA that was somehow bonded to her body, Danvers possesses almost as much physical strength as Ben Grimm. She also has the ability to fire bolts of energy from her hands, sub-supersonic flight, indestructability, a ferocious Kree temper, and a precognitive “seventh sense” that allows her to see her opponent’s next move before it happens. I have never seen this last power demonstrated – and the number of times that Danvers has been smacked, thrown around, or otherwise hit makes me think she does not actually have this power.

Anyway, the Kree DNA kept Danvers awake longer than any of the other people Rogue had touched. It also fueled her anger and she started fighting back. Frightened by Danvers’ unexpected reaction to her powers, Rogue tried to let the woman go and make good her escape.

But Danvers would not let Rogue go. The two struggled for an eternity of minutes before they crashlanded. Once that happened Rogue discovered that, not only was she physically unharmed along with Danvers, but the other woman was out cold at last beside her in the dirt.

After this, Rogue found she had absorbed Danvers’ capabilities of flight, indestructibiliy, and superhuman strength. These powers did not fade over the next two or three days, as all her other “borrowed” powers had, and it looked like they were hers for keeps.

But she soon discovered that these fantastic powers came with a terrible price. Her prolonged contact with Danvers’ meant that she didn’t just have the woman’s memories and powers; Danvers’ psyche was stuck in Rogue’s mind and body at the same time Danvers’ own body remained in a hospital in a coma. Her personality – almost her entire being – was seemingly just as much Rogue’s property now as her powers were.

This unintended arrangement left Ms. Marvel less than pleased, and Rogue soon found she didn’t like it either. If Ms. Marvel really made an effort at it, she could commandeer Rogue’s body. Rogue would black out in one place and wake up in another, sometimes wearing Danvers’ suit or accoutrements and surrounded by the things Danvers enjoyed. This was more than a little frightening and upsetting for her, and it brought her to the realization that she had practically committed murder by absorbing Danvers’ mind into herself.

As Rogue’s guilt grew, she asked her “Mama” to find a way to make Danvers go away or to transfer her out of her body. But Mystique did not know how to do that and, what is more, she did not want to do that. She might have thought that Rogue could adapt to having Danvers in her mind or something like that, too, because she wanted Rogue to go on using her powers – despite the fact that her “daughter” was sharing space with another woman who could take control of Rogue’s body at the most unexpected or unwelcome moments.

This led Rogue to run away again. Knowing the X-Men as well as she did, she went to them for help in removing Danvers’ psyche.

Image result for marvel comics 1990s rogue

Her reception was not a warm one. Danvers had worked with the X-Men on more than one mission, so they considered her a friend (for what reason, I have no idea). Wolverine was especially upset, since he and Danvers were particularly close. (Again, I have no idea why they were such good friends. Danvers should have driven Wolvie half crazy ninety percent of the time, but this did not happen, probably because the writers were working overtime to make their “uber woman” more acceptable to their audience through her acceptance by the other characters in the Marvel Universe.) Aside from the Professor, no one on the team saw anything likeable about Rogue, and she was a virtual outcast in the team she had sought out for help, as well as to begin to make amends for her past misdeeds.

But Rogue did finally earn full acceptance by the X-Men, becoming one of their most valued members and friends. Wolverine ultimately thawed to her as well, to the point that he became her informal protector and mentor during her early days on the team. She has since become one of the most recognizable and loved characters in Marvel Comics, as evidenced by the fact that yours truly is a fan of her.

What does Rogue have to do with the push for feminization in fiction? For a long time in the comics and cartoons, Rogue’s most apparent abilities were the ones which she had stolen from Danvers, to the point that I, as a young viewer, thought they were her actual mutant powers. Throughout the 1990s comics and cartoons, Rogue would punch or throw the villains into walls, knock down buildings, or hold up heavy pieces of buildings during different battles.

This meant that she was able to shake off resultant punishment in a battle as well. While fighting several Sentinels in the 1990s pilot, one of the robots hit Rogue in the back with his fist, sending her smack into the floor. Lifting herself up on her hands and knees at the bottom of the crater, Rogue shot the robot a smile and chided it for its bad behavior. Then she flew up, grabbed it under the arm, and threw it to the floor, where it promptly flew to pieces.

That is a pretty impressive display of strength, you have to admit. And I was young enough that such displays excited me. I happily rooted for Rogue whenever she pulled off an amazing feat of strength like that. I was a young, impressionable child who loved superheroes. I wanted to be strong when I grew up, strong enough to fight evil the way that I saw my heroes fighting it every Saturday morning. It is completely normal.

I do not know when it happened, but after a while Rogue’s apparent superpowers stopped being the main reason for my interest in her. It might have been the episode where she and Nightcrawler learned they were related through Mystique, or it might have been a different show entirely. All I know is that, after a while, I liked Rogue for Rogue and not for her superpowers.

Again, you ask, what does all this have to do with the strong woman trope we are having forced on us in fiction today? Some people have said that the feats of strength Rogue pulled off in the ‘90s might have been overdone.

This is entirely possible, even probable, but I would like it if these critics would keep a few things about her in mind. Some of the reasons Rogue’s fighting style in the ‘90s (and before and after in the comics) may have looked improbable were because Rogue herself did not actually know how to use her strength, or she was relying on Danvers’ understanding of how to use increased strength during a battle.

And, because she had Danvers’ indestructability, Rogue might have thrown herself into certain situations for no other reason than to protect a teammate who would squish far more easily than she would. These are possibilities I would suggest for any maneuvers the writers had her perform which people find hard to believe. I think they should remember that, from Rogue’s point of view, these maneuvers might have seemed totally normal or reasonable to her, given what she knew of using her super strength. Rogue did not have the best education, which we’ll cover in more depth below, and so she did not and does not know as much about physics as readers/viewers and others do.

Image result for marvel comics x-men evolution rogue vs. juggernaut

The other thing viewers and readers should keep in mind when they watch Rogue fight is her absorbing ability. If she suddenly acquires the strength of the Unstoppable Juggernaut and begins throwing him around, it can look a little silly to us. Here is a girl who barely comes up to Juggernaut’s hip whirling him around over her head like a ragdoll. Under normal circumstances, it is totally implausible and stupid looking.

But Rogue is not normal, especially when she absorbs the powers of others. If she absorbs Juggernaut’s power, then she has his strength. Whether she has it in proportion to her size, weight, and height does not matter; you could drop a building on her while she has Juggernaut’s powers and she won’t even get a bloddy nose, for the simple reason that he would not get a bloody nose. Unfair? Maybe, but this is fantasy we are talking about here. We enjoy it precisely because it allows us to imagine stuff we cannot actually do.

The other thing to remember is that Rogue cannot just activate the powers she steals willy-nilly. She has to access the memories of the people who actually own these powers so she can avoid blowing up the countryside or flooding Manhattan. If she wants to use Juggernaut’s own strength against him, she will rely on his memories – muscle and conscious/subconscious – to make the best possible use of his powers. Juggernaut’s fighting style is not Rogue’s, nor should it be. But when she immerses herself, however shallowly she does it, in his memories this means that we will see her fighting the way that he does. It looks ridiculous, but when you keep this aspect of her powers in mind it becomes understandable and allowable.

Now this does NOT mean the writers should not be held to a high standard when they portray her pulling off these feats, but it does mean that it behooves us, as the audience, to remember the McGuffin that allows Rogue to survive these battles and/or perfom these stunts. It is a balance between the writers knowing their craft and the audience accepting the parameters of the story they are telling. Writers who abuse or talk down to their audience must rightly be called out for their arrogance. But an audience that will accept a good story with thousands of impossible McGuffins scattered throughout it should not throw stones in glass houses. That is my opinion, anyway.

Now we will discuss why Rogue is not an “SFC” or “Strong Female Character” in the vein that Carol Danvers, Thorette, and Thundra are.

Image result for marvel comics 1990s tv show rogue & gambit

Long story short, Rogue does not qualify as the modern strong woman. First, her character design has fluctuated since the ‘90s and she no longer has the muscle structure of Ms. Marvel. Rogue is nothing like Carol Danvers, Thundra, or Thorette. These female characters are cardboard cutouts designed to appease and appeal to the Femi-Nazis, who are forever unhappy and whose hunger for the destruction of Western culture is utterly insatiable. It may appear from her 1990s debut – and, for all I know, some of Marvel’s newest stories – that Rogue qualifies as a “SFC,” but the fact is that Rogue is not a cardboard cutout, nor is she a strong woman in the sense that she is faster, smarter, and stronger than the guys.

One of the first people to admit that she is not smarter than almost anyone you could name would be Rogue herself. She is capable of outwitting an opponent and she is not stupid, but she is not a scholar, or a mechanic, or a super genius, or any of the other “SFC” tropes. What is more, she does not – or did not – pretend to be any of the above when I watched her on television and knew her in my limited way in the comics.

Most of the knowledge that Rogue possesses of higher mathematics, scholarly enterprises, etc., is knowledge that she stole from others. In the comics, Rogue ran away from home when she was thirteen. She spent years on the road after this, and a few more years under Mystique’s “guidance” before joining the X-Men. I do not think there was a lot of time in there for regular schooling, do you, readers? No, there was not. So this means her formal education ended, practically speaking, after she left home.

Now Danvers went through all the schooling necessary to become an Air Force pilot and Jane Foster – who used to be a perfectly respectable character – had to go through extensive schooling and training to become a nurse. We are just supposed to accept that Thundra, being from an alternate universe where women are the dominant sex (ignore the barfing sounds on the other side of the screen, please, readers) is naturally smarter than any man on this Earth or her own – though it is funny how she never shows it.

None of the above applies to Rogue. Everything she has learned since she discovered her powers has been taught to her by circumstance and by the consequences of her choices; her smarts were earned in the school of hard knocks, not in a brick and mortar building. Danvers, for all her supposed superiority to men, learns nothing from the battles she takes a part in. The evidence of this is that she is one of the few Marvel characters with no ability to resist telepathic control for even a fraction of a second. Rogue has had to learn to be tough to survive; Danvers survives through the writers’ stubborn intent to keep her alive.

In moments of downtime in the 1990s series, Rogue also had a generally cheerful demeanor. She smiled, laughed, and joked regularly; this showed that she was someone who genuinely loved life, despite the numerous punches she had been dealt by it.

In contrast, Danvers’ sense of humor is thinner than cellophane plastic. When she teases or jokes, it sounds tinny and unreal; when she smiles, it does not soften her features. It makes her look like she is stretching her face to the breaking point.

Something else that differentiates Rogue from the “SFC” trope is that she is vulnerable. I read a book some time ago by Fr. Dwight Longenecker called The Romance of Religion. One of the interesting things he mentions in the book is that hero(es) of stories tend to have a fault or a wound that they must bear as they do their duty or carry on their quest.

Looking out over most of fiction – and especially Marvel – I have to think he is on to something here. From Spider-Man to T’Challa, from Captain America to Punisher, from Hawkeye to Ben Grimm, most of Marvel’s characters have some sort of emotional injury that they carry with them wherever they go. And ninety-nine point nine percent of them have character flaws they have to either overcome or continually wrestle to control – although by now, that fact is out the window. In Marvel’s – and our – brave new world, flaws are to be embraced, not resisted. They are natural to us while self-control is just an artificial restraint society uses to keep us down. (Yes, I am being sarcastic, readers.)

In the original stories, Rogue’s great emotional weakness was her inability to make skin contact with another human being – or any other being, for that matter. She had to wear longsleeved shirts and long pants, as well as gloves, all the time. She could not pat Wolverine on the hand with her own bare hand. She could not let someone brush up against her arms if her shirt, jacket, or suit somehow lost its sleeves – and she could never, ever kiss a man for more than a few seconds. And even the briefest of kisses would be dangerous for him.

This last was particularly painful for her because, during the ‘90s, Gambit was actively courting her. Oh, he would flirt with plenty of other girls during the series, but the one he consistently went after with every ounce of charm he could muster was Rogue.

Usually, Rogue would flirt back, but that was as far as she could and would let it go. Aside from two different times that I know of where Gambit kissed her, Rogue had to put her glove over his mouth and kiss that to show her feelings for him. On more than one occasion, her frustration with her inability to safely touch someone, anyone, would drive her to anger and/or cause her to make an avoidable mistake.

This was Rogue’s greatest vulnerability, but she had others. When captured along with the other X-Men by Mr. Sinister and his Nasty Boyz in the ‘90s TV series, Rogue admitted to Gambit that she was scared. Sinister had found a way to block mutant powers in this episode, which meant that both Rogue’s innate absorption abillities and the powers she had taken from Danvers were suppressed. “I don’t know how to fight these guys without my powers,” she admitted to Gambit.

Now, readers, can any of you name one single time that Carol Danvers has admitted that she is afraid of something/someone? I cannot. To the best of my knowledge, Danvers has never once shown fear. She might – MIGHT – show concern, but most of the time when she is captured or in a situation that looks grim, she just becomes angry. Thorette seems to be going the same route, while Thundra has always had a demonstrable temper and no real sense of, or respect for, fear.

Rogue certainly has a temper, but in this episode, anger was the furthest thing from her mind. Her primary emotion was fear because she did not know how to fight without using her powers. What “SFC” shows or admits to fear? I do not know of any, but if you can name me one, readers, I will look into her.

Image result for marvel comics x-men evolution rogue

In the series that followed the ‘90s X-Men, the writers changed Rogue’s appearance. They dropped Ms. Marvel from the series’ storyline and left Rogue to rely on her absorption ability alone. They also gave her and the rest of the teenage X-Men close combat and weapons’ training.

While this was a plus for Rogue, leaving her a way to protect herself if she could not somehow bring her mutant powers to bear, in my opinion the writers did make one mistake with her characterization in this series: Evolution showed Rogue as an anti-social teenage girl who was into Gothic makeup and clothing. Forget that her makeup would not have lasted five seconds in battle (yet it somehow lasted the entire series), the change in her demeanor was not something I think was really necessary. Rogue did well in the series but I did – and do – miss the cheerful zest for life she exhibited in the ‘90s.

Personally, I suspect the writers gave Rogue more angst because they thought it would sell. It must have, because the series lasted four seasons. Her tendency to brood and lose her temper did not detract from her willingness to help others, which was good, and this demeanor did give her a chance to connect with Wolverine as a father figure. While this last was especially nice, I still miss her earliler deportment a lot. If Marvel ever rights itself and starts telling good stories again, I hope they give Rogue back the joi de vive she had in the ‘90s.

One other good thing about Rogue’s appearance in Evolution was her shorter hair. It is a well known fact that sexual predators target women with long hair because then they can grab hold of it and use that hold to force the woman to go where they wish. Such a hold is painful – if you do not believe me, readers, try it on yourself. (Trust me, it hurts.)

One of the strange things that writers for modern films and stories – including comics – keep doing is they are sending their heroines into combat with long hair. This is silly, as it can be a weakness; the heroine’s hair could catch in a machine and suck her down a hole, or her opponent(s) could grab it and use that hold to keep her still. Your heroine may look great with long hair, but remember, readers and writers, that even Princess Leia’s hair was done up in such a way that a Stormtrooper couldn’t grab it and yank her back. There was also no chance of her long locks getting caught in the Millenium Falcon’s inductors because it was pinned up and out of the way.

Image result for avengers infinity war

Allowing men into combat with beards is no more practical than sending women into a fight with long hair. (Yes, I AM looking at Cap’s beard in Infinity War.) One of the reasons the Romans shaved was so that, when they got into personal combat with an enemy, he would not be able grab the Roman’s beard and hold him immobilized long enough to behead him. Ask the Romans how they know about this.

Now most stories are fantasy, of course, and in some cases you can actually excuse the female characters’ long hair (who is going to be able to get close enough to Storm to grab her hair, I’d like to know?). However, Rogue’s shortened hair is not a problem for me, nor is her more feminine muscle tone.

This is why I do not and cannot see Rogue as the Feminist ideal of female superiority. Rogue is a normal woman with a power that she sees, with justification, as a curse rather than a gift. She has insecurities and fears; she makes mistakes and she is not well-educated outside of life’s hard lessons. Her strength does not come from her superpower or the powers she steals – it comes from her williness to fight evil. It comes from her desire to protect her friends and to make up for her errors in judgement. It comes of her willingness to consistently choose to be a heroine, even when doing so hurts her the most.

This is why she is one of my favorite X-Men and one of my favorite Marvel characters. This is why I cannot consider her a member of the “SFC” club, at least in her previous portrayals in the comics and cartoons. These days I can believe that Marvel would erase her from its canon if the banana brains in charge thought that would get them new subscribers and buyers. If they are going to try and make her the big, strong female character stereotype, they will ruin her as they have ruined all the other characters they are abusing.

But there is nothing I can do to stop them from torturing themselves like this. And at this point, telling them, “Hey, your company is bleeding money all over the place,” appears to be a waste of breath. If they want to bankrupt themselves, then nothing I say or do will stop them. I can only hope that when that happens, someone who loves the characters will buy the company and that they will hire good writers to clean up the mess. And yes, I would volunteer to be one of those writers in a heartbeat.

I hope it does not come to that, but it looks like it might. But if there is one thing Marvel’s myriad heroes have taught me, Rogue included, it’s that even when you get punched in the teeth, it does not mean the battle is over. It just means you got punched in the teeth. That is no reason to give up the fight.

So no, I do not intend to stop fighting. Only dead fish go with the flow, and I do not intend to be a dead fish. There is more than one way to fight, and the best way to fight Marvel’s current hierarchy is to introduce potential new Marvel fans to original Marvel fare.

In the interest of doing that, I recommend that you look up the 1990s X-Men televsion series, readers. Then study up on the characters in it, along with Marvel’s other heroes and heroines. Read between the lines; it is not the battles the characters take part in that are important, or the powers they wield, or the atrocities the current writers are making them commit –

It is who they are as characters that is important. This is what Marvel has decided to forget….

…..So this is what we have to remember and pass on to others.

EXCELSIOR!!!!

Related image

Advertisements

A Review of Avengers Assemble’s “Inhumans Among Us”

Image result for avengers assemble Inhumans among us images

I have said many times that I do not enjoy the X-Men movies currently being produced by Fox Studios.  The films are focused mostly on special effects, noir themes, and have too little hopefulness in them.  The characters – aside from Wolverine and a fortunate few others – receive very scattered, haphazard treatments which do not help them grow and which do not exercise their individuality to the full.  I am continually bewildered by reviewers who proclaim that the latest X-Man film is a hit.  The X-Men franchise is barely treading water compared to the Avengers’ franchise, from the numbers I remember having seen.

What does this have to do with the Avengers Assemble episode “Inhumans Among Us”?  In this show, Blackbolt and the Inhuman royal family of Attilan descend on a town which has been doused in contaminated Terrigen Mist.  This results in a human from the town, who has Inhuman heritage, undergoing Terrigenisis – the process by which Inhumans gain their superpowers.

For those who do not know about the X-Men or the Inhumans, the two have their similarities and their differences.  Marvel’s X-Men are a superhero team composed of mutants.  In the Marvel Universe(s), mutants are humans born with an advanced X-gene.  This gene usually activates in the mutant’s teen years, giving them access to superpowers built into their DNA.  This occasionally leads to their transforming in appearance physically to resemble an animal or to appear non-human in some other manner.  Some mutants can use their powers or look different from birth, but most discover their abilities when they become teenagers.

Inhumans are only slightly different.  Descended from humans who were experimented on by the alien Kree millennia in the past, Inhumans are also born with superpowers programmed into their DNA due to Kree meddling all those years ago.  Which type of superpowers they will have is unknown to Inhumans initially.  Also, it does not seem that a certain power, such as hydrokinesis or super strength, is passed down from Inhuman to Inhuman through direct inheritance.  For instance, an Inhuman man who is a telepath can marry an Inhuman woman who is an empath, but their child will somehow end up with superhuman strength instead of either of his parents’ powers.

Related image

Inhumans can live normal lives without their powers.  They will have above average strength, immunity, and longevity, but they will not manifest superpowers.  Their powers will be activated only through exposure to the Terrigen Mists, a gaseous cloud released by Terrigen Crystals taken from the Kree.

Terrigen Mist will not hurt normal humans.  But if a normal human so much as brushes up against a Terrigen Crystal without some sort of protection, it has an immediate and deadly effect on them.  The Terrigen Mist permeating the town in “Inhumans Among Us” thus does not harm Cap, Thor, Iron Man, Falcon, or the Hulk.  Admittedly, only Falcon and Cap would have had to worry.  Hulk is protected by his Gamma radiation, Tony by his armor, and Thor is Asgardian. Thus the Prince of Thunder is immune to so much as the common Earth cold.  Terrigen Crystals would be among the least likely things to harm him.

This episode serves as the Avengers’ first meeting with the Inhumans in Assemble.  Prior to this, only the Hulk had had contact with the Inhumans in the episode “Inhuman Nature,” a show from his own two season series Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.  Thor may have known of the Inhumans prior to this Avengers episode.  But if that is so he had not met them more than once or twice.  And in those cases he may have been on diplomatic missions to Attilan, or they might have been visiting Asgard for political reasons.

When the Avengers and the royal family discover a strange cocoon in the town library, the team fears the thing may be the result of a deadly virus capable of wiping out innumerable people.  But when the Inhumans recognize it and try to politely force the team out of the conversation – as well as the library – the Avengers realize that whatever the cocoon is, the royal family knows it is not dangerous.  And, what is more, they certainly do not want the Avengers finding out what it is.

But when Tony tells Blackbolt – rather politely, all things considered – that the Avengers are not going anywhere without answers, the alliance the two factions formed at the beginning of the episode disintegrates.  Gorgon responds to Tony’s statement by throwing him through the walls, across the street, and into the next building.  Then the rest of the royal family attacks the bewildered Avengers in order to “protect” the cocoon.

“Inhumans Among Us” was a very disheartening episode for me.  Why?  The Avengers went out of their way to be friendly and helpful to the Inhuman royal family.  They had no intention of hurting them, and once they knew that the cocoon was for a newly awakened Inhuman, they were ready to help Blackbolt and the others calm him down.  In contrast, the Inhumans looked xenophobic and intolerant, displaying violently the prejudices which they claimed the Avengers were demonstrating.

This is my key disappointment not only with the episode, but with the general trend in all things X-Men, Inhuman, and now most of Marvel.  The writers are devoting too much energy trying to make everyone in every demographic feel included.  The problem with this is that when you try to please everyone, you please no one.  Stressing differences between people instead of similarities fractures the very unity which you are trying to build.

The X-Men at the end of Marvel's X-Men: Evolution

The X-Men at the end of Marvel’s X-Men: Evolution

In the comics written from the turn of the century to 2015, all the X-Men did was whine about the fact that normal humans would never accept them.  They became so fixated on this that the team split in half; then one half went to war with the Avengers.  The royal family in “Inhumans Among Us” showed the same blasted tendency, leaping to the conclusion that since the Avengers had no idea what the cocoon was and feared it might be an infection, they would react with extreme intolerance against it.

Instead of doing the sensible thing, which was to explain what the cocoon was, the Inhumans went berserk and wrecked half a town attacking the Avengers – all without provocation.  It was suspicion and fear which motivated the Inhumans.  The Avengers were left trying to pierce that fog with clear reasoning; but reason makes no headway against deeply entrenched unreason.  Hence the destruction of half of a small town within the episode.

The Inhumans also assumed that since the person inside the cocoon was an Inhuman by inheritance, they alone would automatically be able to calm him down and get him to see sense.  They forgot that they had voluntarily cut themselves off from humans for so long that most people in the Marvel Universe(s) have no idea who or what they are.  What if the new Inhuman came out and, added to his confusion over his new powers, was confronted with people he had no idea he could trust?  What if, due to his confusion and fear of his unknown “rescuers,” he attacked them – his supposed “kind” – maybe even killing one or two of them in the process?

Even though they do not seek it, the Avengers are world famous.  They are easily recognized by anyone who has not been living without a television, radio, or the Internet.  Even the denizens of small towns know of and instantly recognize them.

In such a situation as exhibited in “Inhumans Among Us,” this would make the Avengers invaluable in helping to calm down a new Inhuman who had never known he was anything but human.  If the royal family had been thinking, not reacting, they might have realized the team would be an asset in this circumstance and not a threat or a hindrance.

But the writers ignored that possibility completely.  Why?  Why would they have the Inhumans jump to the conclusion of discrimination and fear?  Why would they write a story where the Avengers could be construed as aggressors instead of as calm, reasonable people?  (Interestingly, the episode portrayed them in this positive light instead of the intended negative view.)

The Avengers have accepted mutants, humans, Inhumans, aliens, androids, and at least one synthetic being as members throughout their history.  They do not care about a teammate’s skin color, gender, or what-have-you; they care about the person who wants to use their skills to help defend the world.  This is a proven track record that goes back to the time when Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, Gypsies and former enemies of the X-Men, were given membership on the team.  It goes back to Black Panther’s acceptance by the team.  Falcon’s membership in the team was accepted with facility as well, despite the government’s interference in the matter.  The Avengers are not a passel of small-minded bigots.  They never have been.

Yet recently there is a documentable effort to push them into this position.  While the team has never been anything short of hospitable to every proven hero, reformed convict, or good android, the Avengers keep getting thrown into conflict with people who claim they are not what they have shown themselves to be time and time again.  And these people, often allies of the Avengers, should know better than to claim this insanity.

Image result for wolverine and the x-men

In recent comics, the X-Men are the guiltiest party.  Accustomed to being discriminated against, they had previously battled the Avengers several times, until someone calmed down enough to listen to the Avengers explain why they showed up.  This once led to reconciliation after reconciliation between the teams, something which was tossed out after the Avengers vs. X-Men event.  In an attempt to heal that mess, Cap started the Unity Squad, a team which was composed of Avengers and X-Men.  He hoped to bring the two factions together through this new team.

But his plan was in many respects an unmitigated disaster, as the X-Men refused to see eye-to-eye with their new teammates, particularly the Scarlet Witch.  Yeah, yeah, yeah, she wiped out most mutants’ powers earlier in the decade after going nuts and getting mad at Magneto.  How many times have members of the X-Men – not to mention mutants in general – wanted to be rid of their powers?  Besides which, by the end of A vs. X, the mutant population had been restored.  There was no reason to keep picking on Wanda – no reason except to spite her, Cap, and their Unity Squad teammates from the Avengers.  Who wants to put up with all of that negativity?  Not me, thank you.

Once upon a time, the X-Men were allowed to make friends with non-mutants in a TV series.  The 1990s series saw the team become friends with Senator – later President – Kelly.  A mutant-hating politician who came to recognize the humanity of mutants through the aid of the X-Men, he became one of their best supporters and friends.  Beast made friends with a human scientist in X-Men: Evolution, the same series where Nightcrawler had a normal human as a girlfriend.  And the number of normal humans the X-Men befriended in the comics is so long I would have to look it up to make a comprehensive list!

But by the time Wolverine and the X-Men TV series aired, this arrangement had largely been flushed down the toilet.  The episodes that came closest to making the point that humans and mutants were different in terms of genetics only were the introductory shows and “Code of Conduct.”  In that episode, Wolverine had to fight the Silver Samurai, who was married to his old flame Mariko Yashida, a normal human woman from Japan.  The rest of the series focused on the war brewing between mutants and humans because of the latter’s’ hatred for the former.  And the X-Men were bent on avoiding a blasted apocalyptic future where all but a few humans and mutants had been killed by the Sentinels.

Did the writers ever consider that by befriending normal humans the X-Men could make greater headway in circumventing this future?  No, they did not.  It was all X-Men vs. Brotherhood, X-Men vs. the MRD, or X-Men vs. Magneto and his Acolytes.  Let’s just lie down and die already, huh?

This different approach had started out in the comics, which began tearing the X-Men away from Professor X’s original dream of peaceful mutant/human coexistence.  It is as though, having reached a post-mutant-hating era, the writers decided to tear down all their good work and reset the original status quo.

But how exactly is this a good thing?  If you are so determined to build a platform of peaceful coexistence, why suddenly turn around and destroy it once it is built?  What can you possibly gain by this?

I once suggested an answer:  if everyone in the Marvel Universe became a mutant overnight, then the X-Men’s use as a team fighting for equality for mutants would go up in smoke.  Likewise, if you wipe out all mutants (an impossible task even for the Scarlet Witch), their reason for existence also disappears.  It seems that the Marvel writers, whether they realize it or not, are carrying out the second possibility – with unprecedented vigor.

In so doing they have neglected the third potential avenue for the team: could the X-Men not change their mission from peaceful coexistence to protecting the Earth, just as the Avengers do?  They have powers, gifts above the norm.  The achievement of one dream does not mean that you get to sit on your laurels or break off to follow your own pursuits.  It certainly does not mean you get to destroy your hard work.  It means you go out and get a new, better dream.

The imprisonment, death, or changed hearts of the X-Men’s old enemies does not mean they will never have new ones.  If the bigots who hate mutants are reduced, as had been suggested in comics in the early 2000s, to a minority, then that frees the team to fight on a wider field and for an even higher cause:  the protection of the two races from unsavory characters on Earth or in the galaxy.

Image result for avengers assemble Inhumans among us images

The Inhumans have suffered in a similar way.  Having existed as a race for millennia, they retreated from humanity to avoid persecution.  Living in hidden cities, they created their own culture, form of writing, and technology.  However, having made contact with humanity again, they continue to react intolerantly against normal humans first in an attempt to protect themselves.

How is this sensible?  How is this a “more highly evolved” attitude than that of normal humans?  If anything this reaction proves that you can build superhuman powers into humanity, but you cannot change human nature, no matter how hard you try.

Both of these teams have fallen into the bigoted tendencies that they either once fought against or retreated from facing.  Once the receivers – or potential receivers – of these attitudes, they are not willing to give rational normal humans the benefit of the doubt.  They instead react prejudicially toward them.

This is what saddens me the most about “Inhumans Among Us.”  Marvel, just like most other media institutions and academia, cannot let go of these hatreds.  Once seeking to fight against them, they have now become their biggest propagators.  They claim they are still combating intolerance when in fact they have embraced it.

This is the main reason I lost interest in the X-Men and never had much interest in the Inhumans.  If they are not willing to let go of past hurts and fears, then they will eventually become the new aggressors, the new bigots, the new haters.  Their writers have already fallen prey to this mentality, all the while thinking that they are helping to eradicate it in others.  They are not.  They are further dividing their audience, having succumbed to their own preconceptions of what is tolerant and intolerant.

This is a hard truth to speak, readers.  It is an even harder truth to hear.  We all like to think we are good people.  Only the most vile are exempt from this.  Everyone else thinks that because they have good intentions they are in fact good people.

But good intentions accomplished through bad means end up being evil deeds.  A lot of the people who supported the Nazi Party had good intentions.  They wanted their country to be strong again, they wanted their currency to be worth something, and they wanted their national and cultural identity to be respected.  But how many people – Jews, Catholics, Gypsies, and others – paid the price for those good things to “come about”?  How many died because the Russians who supported the Soviet system envisioned by Lenin and implemented by Stalin “just” wanted to make the lives of their fellows better?  And how many good-intentioned people ended up losing their heads under Madame Guillotine’s “gentle” administrations during the French Revolution?

The answer to these questions is:  too many.  Are we to repeat these well-intentioned people’s mistakes?  Mistakes are to be learned from but, if you learn the wrong lesson, you end up with the same result.  You just get there by a different path.

We learned the wrong lesson.  And we are beginning to pay the price.  If we do not stop and ask ourselves, honestly and without fear, what we are actually doing wrong…. then we will end up in the same place and in the same hellish circumstances.  And it will have happened all for the sake of “good intentions.”

The truth is all we need seek when we ask these questions, for the truth and The Truth are all that will set us free.  Everything else are traps and darkness, for the soul if not the body.   One is more precious than the other and needs greater care because of that.

Look for the truth, readers, and do not stop until you find it.  It is the only thing worth finding, the only thing worth living for…

And the only thing worth dying for.

The Mithril Guardian

Image result for Inhumans among us images

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