Mister Sinister’s not the only one keeping track of the mutant gene-pool.
The concept of being a mutant has always been intrinsically linked to the subject of genetics. Because of the existence of the X-Gene, if one child is a mutant, then there’s a chance their siblings may also be mutants as well – along with one or more of their parents. It’s a reality that the Marvel Universe has had to deal with for a while especially throughout the 80s and 90s following Chris Claremont’s exponential expansion of the X-Men franchise during his first near 20-year run. He created groups of mutants with a mutual genetic origin, a fancy way of saying, super-powered families. It’s no wonder why a character like Mister Sinister came to be. It was inevitable. Historically, Sinister mostly focused his attention on the Summers/Grey family, but there are other gene-pools out there that I think can give the Summers a run for their money.
To qualify, a family must have three or more examples of mutants, otherwise, I’d be going on about this for weeks. We’ll be scoring each clan using a grading scale of 1 to 5 using several criteria;
Family Size (the actual amount of genetically related family members with powers)
Ability Diversity (the different types of powers within the family)
Potency (how strong the powers are)
Average Class (this is a quantifier, basically a shakedown of how many Omega, Alpha and Beta levels exist within the family, we’re limiting this to 3 to 5; 3 representing Beta, and 5 Omega)
Legacy (ripple-effects caused by the actions of family members on the mutant race, limiting this to 3 to 5)
After taking all the criteria into account, I’ll be using Essex-scale to rate each family. Let’s get started, shall we?
6. The Cassidy’s
The Clan Cassidy is a proud family, even without the presence of the X-Gene. Their clan has yielded three mutants – Sean Cassidy aka Banshee, his daughter, Theresa Cassidy, better known as Siryn, and Black Tom Cassidy, their cousin. The child that Siryn bore with X-Factor team-mate, Jamie Maddrox, could be counted, but the offspring ceased to exist when it was absorbed, or reabsorbed, back into Jamie’s body (the father apparently was a dupe, not Jamie himself, so tragically, the child was also a copy).
Banshee seemingly passed down his ability to project sonic waves from his scream to Siryn (hence the name); Black Tom can channel concussive energy through a wooden object as well as manipulate plant life. Similar to the brothers Cyclops and Havok, Sean and Tom’s powers cancel each other out, a rare but not unheard-of effect between siblings. The Cassidy’s weakest points are their Family Size and Ability Diversity with 2/3 of the known mutants of their clan having the same powers. However, all three members are undeniably powerful, so Potency and Class hold them up.
Banshee has been an X-Man for a long time, but he and his family’s overall influence over the X-Men franchise has been sparing. Black Tom is a career supervillain and Siryn has been a member of a couple X-Teams, but that’s about it.
Family Size– 3
Ability Diversity– 2
Class – 4
Legacy – 3
I’ll give them 3.2 out of 5 Sinisters…
5. The Guthrie Clan
Not the titans that are the Summers-Grey family, but probably the most prevalent in terms of sheer size. The Guthrie name has been attached to two X-Men in Cannonball and Husk, and two students, Icarus (deceased) and Aero (depowered after M-Day). The Guthrie family is huge. Thomas and Lucinda are the parents of at least TEN children and at least one grandchild from Cannonball. With half of their children being known mutants, it’s a pretty safe bet that the X-Gene is strong in this household. While they aren’t a clan of world-destroyers, like the Summers, they surely take the cake in the category of diversity.
Cannonball can propel himself through the air at high speeds and generates a nearly unbreakable kinetic field around him, he’s also an External, an immortal cast of homo-superior. Husk can transmute her body from flesh and blood to stone, diamond, metal – almost anything. Prior to M-Day, Aero shared traits with her brother Cannonball, where she was able to fly by generating a passive energy field around her. Icarus had several abilities similar to those of Angel (Warren Worthington), plus some physical superhuman attributes and vocal powers. The Guthrie family by far have the most potential for genetic mutation.
Though they are legion, unlike the Summers family, only one member of the Guthrie family has had any kind of lasting effect on the X-Men franchise. Husk was a key member of Generation-X, of course, but none of the stories told in the book really affected anything outside of it. Without having to say, she (and her whole family for that matter) is a mere footnote in the greater X-Men mythos.
Family Size – 4
Ability Diversity – 5
Class – 3
Legacy – 3
Our very scientific scale says they deserve 3.6 out of 5 creepies.
4. The Rasputin Family
Anytime more than one member of your family is a ruler of an alternate dimension or reality, you’ve probably got a little something-something going on in your gene-pool. While the second born and most famous child of the Rasputin’s, Peter, better known as Colossus, has titan-like strength and can transform his skin into an organic-steel, his siblings, Mikhail and Illyana are special cases. Looking at Colossus’ impressive abilities, one wouldn’t think he got the short end of the stick in the powers department.
If you compare them to those of the other two, you may start to believe differently. Mikhail, the eldest of the three, has the rare god-like ability to manipulate matter and energy (that means everything around you), which brings with it a host of powers. He can teleport, project energy blasts, and open dimensional rifts, something he’s done on at least two occasions.
Illyana (aka Magik, aka Darkchyld), Mikhail and Peter’s baby sister, can teleport across great distances and through dimensions and time by using what she calls “stepping discs.” Like Nightcrawler, she has to use a hell-dimension as a way-station before arriving at her destination. Her sensitivity to the hell-dimension (Limbo) has afforded her many other abilities based in sorcery, so I guess, kind of related to her mutant powers? I mean, she is the Sorceress Supreme there…
The family is small, but two out of three can create world-ending situations if they really put their minds to it. Colossus’ power may seem paltry by comparison to his siblings, but his organic-steel skin has provided him protection against mystical influences. So, that might be something worth considering as well. Should I also mention that both he and Illyana have been inhabited by the Phoenix Force? That a big deal?
Colossus has been a fan-favorite X-Man for decades but his sister, Magik, has been something of a walking plot-device since her inception. I’m not sure whether she’s more important than what she’s been involved in. Mikhail is so out of the picture, even hardcore fans might draw a blank on him. Colossus, on the other hand, sacrificed himself to cure the Legacy Virus.
Family Size – 3
Ability Diversity – 5
Potency – 4
Class – 4
Legacy – 4
That’ll be 4 out of 5 big ones.
3. The Braddocks
The Braddocks are a proud and illustrious UK family with at least three known mutant members within it, not including spouses. Those three are siblings James Braddock Jr., Brian Braddock, and Betsy Braddock. The latter two are twins and better known as Captain Britain and Psylocke of Excalibur and X-Men fame. While they all share common parentage, their powers are wildly different. They range from reality warping, energy channeling and a vast array of psionic abilities. And that’s not counting what the super-heroic twins picked up along the way. Each child has shown to be inexplicably adept in the supernatural. Whether this is a family trait or just a coincidence hasn’t been explained.
James, the eldest of the three, is quite possibly the most powerful. Other than being something of a sorcerer, by way of Otherworld (a pocket dimension that shares its space with Great Britain), James is a bonafide reality warper. He observes the world via string-theory and can “pull” on these to manipulate matter in a plethora of ways.
Brian can’t manipulate the world around him like his big brother, but he’s no slouch. He channels interdimensional energy through his body. That dimension being Otherworld. These energies grant him several superhuman abilities which include super stamina, durability, strength, agility, reflexes, senses, and flight. Though there is a drawback. The further he is from Britain (and Otherworld, subsequently), the less effective his abilities become. Hence the name ‘Captain Britain.’
The most famous of the three is, of course, Betsy ‘Psylocke’ Braddock. Originally, she was a psionic with telepathic abilities. But over her years of adventuring, having her powers reset by the High Evolutionary, dying, being reborn, and ultimately altered by a version of Jean from the Age of Apocalypse- Psylocke possesses a range of omega-level psionic abilities which now include telekinesis. Following a mauling at the hands of Sabretooth, Psylocke came into contact with the Crimson Dawn and gained additional abilities. For a time she was able to teleport herself and others through shadows. However, since being revived to life (she died fighting the villain Vargas) she has lost those skills.
While most X-Men fans may go their entire reading careers without knowing who James or Brian Braddock are, Psylocke has been a key member of the X-Men since her debut. Over the years, her form, function, and role may have changed several times, but her actions in X-Men stories have been memorable.
Family Size– 3
Ability Diversity– 5
I’ll give the Brits 4.2 out of 5 Nasty Boys.
2. The House of M
Yes, I know. Due to recent retcons, ‘The House of M’ shouldn’t qualify. However, we aren’t just going to close our eyes and pretend that made any sense. Or that it wasn’t created to further distance Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch from the X-Men franchise because of a licensing dispute. With that said, Magneto is the father of at least three mutant children in Polaris, Quicksilver, and Scarlet Witch, and the grandfather of Wiccan, Speed and half-Inhuman, Luna. Like the Guthrie Clan, The House of M’s strongest attributes may be diversity and prevalence, with more emphasis on the latter.
Magneto and Polaris share a similar power-set, as do Speed and his uncle, Quicksilver. Wiccan and “mother” Scarlet Witch have in common an affinity for the mystic arts, but that may not be something genetically passed down, because her original powers are rooted in probability manipulation. Luna, with her interesting genetic make-up, was thought to have been born a human, but after being exposed to Terrigen Mist by her father, Quicksilver, developed several abilities as an Inhuman. Whether if she will eventually develop a mutant ability is unknown. Despite this drawback and some ability inheritance, The House of M is one of the stronger families in the X-Men world and the only one with three living generations of proof.
It’d be hard to argue the importance of Magneto. Label him a villain, hero, or anti-hero if you want, Magneto’s legacy matters and in this so have his children. Probably none more than the Scarlet Witch. They’ve had two, count’em, TWO alternate realities directly or indirectly created due to or around them. That’s pretty darn important.
Family Size – 5
Ability Diversity – 3
Potency – 4
Class – 4
Legacy – 5
The House of M may believe themselves perfect, but 4.2 out of 5 is all Sinister believes they deserve.
1. The Summers
Most definitely the Summer-Grey clan has been given the largest amount of attention and development by the X-Men writers. The patriarch and matriarch being two of the five original X-Men, Scott “Cyclops” Summers, and Jean “Phoenix” Grey are the parents of several adult X-Men, via time-travel, alternate realities and/or cloning shenanigans. These children are; Rachel Grey-Summers aka too many aliases (future child of Scott and Jean), Nate Grey aka X-Man (the result of cloning using Scott and Jean’s genetic material from the AoA timeline), and Nathaniel Dayspring-Summers aka Cable.
Both Nates are alternate-reality doppelgangers of each other, although, Cable is not actually the offspring of Jean. Cable is the son of her Sinister-created clone, Madelyn Pryor, the Goblin Queen, and Cyclops. There are also a couple of extended family members in Stryfe, Cable’s clone, and Tyler Dayspring (may, or may not be the biological son of Cable, or possibly even Stryfe).
Sinister obsessed about this family mainly due to its raw potential – the Summers clan’s ability to store and wield vast amounts of energy, and the Grey’s impressive mental capabilities, with two being able to inhabit the Phoenix Force. The combination of these two gene-pools has resulted in at least three of the most powerful mutants to date. Not to be left out, there are two other mutant members of the Summers family to speak of, that being Cyclops’ little brothers; Alex Summers aka Havok, and half-Shi’ar, Gabriel Summers aka Vulcan. Both powerhouses in their own rights, but at this point, they’re just running up the score. On a side note; Havok produced a child with the Avenger, Wasp in a possible near future.
The Summers family has been to the X-Men what the Skywalkers are to Star Wars. If for some reason, they’d all disappeared or never existed, the X-Men landscape would be drastically different. By drastically different, I mean unrecognizable. Their influence and importance are undeniable and beyond contestation.
Family Size– 5
Ability Diversity– 2
It’s only natural that prime genetic material receives top scores. 4.4 out of 5 for Slim and Red’s brood.
There we go, the greatest X-Men families as Mr. Essex and I see it. Got a favorite? Let us know!