X-Men villains mercifully returning to their old ways.
I don’t know what it is with X-Men writers and keeping their villains, villains. Yes, I understand that people can change, but sometimes, no amount of ‘good will’ should really make a difference. Sabretooth, for instance, has been welcomed to walk along the sides of angels for the past few years following the AXIS crossover. If you’re not familiar with the event, it basically resulted in some heroes becoming villainous (or really cranky, like Havok) and some villains turning ‘good,’ or at least adopting a conscience. Sabretooth currently being chief among them.
Now, this wasn’t the first time we saw Sabretooth working with the ‘good guys.’ In the 90s he was part of a government sanctioned X-Factor team as a part of a rehabilitation program (It didn’t work). Later, during the epic Age of Apocalypse storyline, he was a full-fledged X-Man, one of their most dependable, actually. Of course, neither stuck and he always returned to his natural blood-thirsty ways. To date, this has been the longest amount of time we’ve seen Sabretooth walk this side of the line.
AXIS was a 2015 storyline and I suspect Wolverine’s untimely death a year prior helped maintain his status. But now, that’s all over with, it seems. Since 2017, he’s been taking point with his own ‘X-Team’ in Weapon-X and before that he was under Magneto’s Uncanny X-Men team alongside his eventual love interest, M. Yep, I said it, love interest. After what he did to Birdy way back in the day, it’s kind of hard to imagine anyone short of Mystique taking him seriously. But yeah, that happened.
By this point, M had gone missing. In hopes of recovering her, Sabretooth and his Weapon-X team sniffed-out the super-classic mutant villain Mentallo (how did he survive M-day?!) in Aspen. Instead, what they received in return for their efforts was a date with a roboticized Reverend William Stryker. The team successfully dispatches the good Reverend but then have to do it again in hell (courtesy of Nightcrawler’s demonic father, Azazel) as recent dealings with the devil himself had given Stryker’s cohort Mentallo the option of resurrecting him. Oh, and they plan to revive Graydon Creed in his place. I’m sure that won’t cause anyone some grief. After receiving a satanic power buff from Stryker, Mentallo’s overpowering psychic attacks forced Sabretooth to rely on his baser instincts to continue to survive the ordeal.
Creed wins but still dies immediately afterward. Following a lifetime of evil, he is rightfully sent to hell. However, the devil believes he can get more out of Creed while he remains top-side, so he restores him to life. Funny, because that wasn’t even Sabretooth’s second trip to hell, heck it wasn’t even his first time dying! Either way, Sabretooth was sent back to us, but with his more classic villainous nature restored. Having spent so much time around do-gooders and being fully versed in Creed’s sadistic nature, I foresee some really bad times for Marvel’s Merry Band of Mutants. Luckily, Wolverine is also back to even the balances.
Sabretooth isn’t the only X-Man villain returning to form. He joins the likes of Magneto, Emma Frost, the Juggernaut, Mystique, and most interesting, Mojo (slated to appear in next month’s Mr. and Mrs. X #7). If you thought the MCU was the only franchise out there with a villain problem, you’re wrong. X-Men villains are the most unique and dynamic in comics. The majority of the time they are the way they are due to circumstances that most readers can relate to, or perhaps romanticize. Their motivations exceed the pursuit of wealth, power, and mustache twirling (most of the time… I believe Bendis had Mystique and Sabretooth robbing a bank or something? I try to block out that run as much as possible).
Just about all of their most dangerous foes are in some way connected to a specific X-Man, thus making whatever gripe they have personal. They get plenty of panel time and develop their own distinct personalities that manage to survive, despite the interpreter. It’s hard not to love them, and that’s what created the problem we have (or had) today. These bad-guys, these sociopathic, mass murderers are so great, they have fan followings. Those fans eventually became writers and those writers desperately wanted to use them on a more regular basis. Thus, they would eventually have to become X-Men (or I don’t know, someone can greenlight a villain book ala DV8), or in the case of Mister Sinister, kind of harmlessly whacky. I for one am glad to see the decision-makers at Marvel finally come to their senses. With the X-Men looking to be turned on their heads after Disassembled, I’m hoping to have my villains once again lurking in dark alleys, opposed to the mansion’s kitchen. Cheers.