Going into the Age of X-Man, who will be the toughest X-Man left standing?
During the next half-year, we will see the X-Men landscape forever change in shape. But what will most likely never change is the fact that the X-Men are a group of fighters. A large number of the X-Men hail from darker origins than most of the other Marvel heroes. They are persecuted by killer robots, refugees of deadly dystopian futures, and biological weapons, bred to kill. So, it’s not abnormal for entire teams of X-Men to be composed of hardened combat vets. Here are the top 10 best hand-to-hand fighters the X-Men have left going into Age of X-Man.
To make this fair, I had to handicap and take into the account the presence of super strength, and durability. I based this list off pure demonstrated hand-to-hand fighting prowess, and not so much what their physical advantages lend them in a scrap. Enjoy!
Probably the most unassuming entry on the list, Cypher’s mutant ability to decipher, mimic, and develop language allows him to do more than speak foreign languages. He can also read body language, in this case, break down a person’s fighting style just by watching them move. For Cypher, it’s all syntax. An opponent may be able to get their shots off on him in the beginning, but the longer the fight goes on, the more he’d be able to learn and eventually mimic them. Outside of most likely getting pummeled for a minute or so, his biggest drawback is his own body. He’s a trained X-Man, but his physique is far from that of even his fellow New Mutants, much less the next full-fledged X-Man on this list.
Before the onset of the ‘00s, Ororo may have scored higher on this list. I’m not taking away from her prowess as a fighter, or how powerful she is but lately, she’s been more goddess than head-buster. However, that ability to lay out just about anyone standing in front of her that doesn’t have superhuman durability doesn’t just evaporate. With or without her powers, Storm has been shown capable of taking on threats with just the use of her fists. In the 80’s she operated as a normal human for years, even beating Cyclops (while he used his powers) and once bested Callisto in ritual close-quarters combat to win leadership of the Morlocks. She’s also very experienced in the use of bladed weapons.
What do you get when you mix para-military training and a good ol’ brawler? Over the years, Rogue has developed a no-frills fighting style that has no function beyond busting people up. Using an array of elbows, knees, bloody knuckles, and vicious headbutts Rogue has been able to handle herself with and without her flying brick powers. Matter of fact, up until recently, she was without them for quite some years. In between that time, Rogue has handled herself just fine without receiving much more than a bloody nose. During that span of time, she’s led the X-Men into battle and stood alongside the likes of Thor, Captain America, and the rest of the Avengers. Heck, she even took them all out before she received her X-Men training.
James is the younger brother of the original Thunderbird, John Proudstar. He took on John’s codename for a while but later adopted his current one, Warpath- something more fitting to his fighting style. From a young age, he and his brother were trained to fight, ride, and hunt as part of their upbringing as Apache. Since leaving the Hellions, James has been a member of several versions of X-Force. None more famous than the ‘90s iteration led and personally trained by Cable, a master combatant in his own right. James’ powers basically make him a natural super-soldier. He can do everything better and faster than just about anyone else. He can also absorb lots of damage, so close-quarters combat is a specialty of his. Cable most likely noticed the same attributes and may have been the one that suggested he begin utilizing the giant bowie knives he keeps.
6. Kitty Pryde
A product of what I like to call ‘microwave development’, Kitty came to the X-Men fairly on the green side in terms of experience. Though she was initially marketed as the “girl next door,” she would eventually come to be mentored in the ways of ninjutsu and overall combat by none other than Wolverine. If you consider the way her powers work, the style makes sense. Her ability to phase herself and other objects through solid matter lends itself well to a fighting style that promotes evasiveness. These facts coupled with Kitty’s near genius level intelligence and ingenuity make her a very difficult opponent much less a target.
Betsy has had a more interesting journey than most. From the time of the British woman’s debut until the day her body was transformed, she had no more fighting prowess than any other X-woman of that era. However, with her new Japanese body came a wealth of knowledge and experience that turned Psylocke into one of the most fearsome fighters on Earth. Her skills included assassination techniques and knowledge of several forms of martial arts, both armed and unarmed. One could dare say, for a long time Psylocke was the best female combatant that the X-Men had. Following the events of Astonishing X-Men, Betsy regained her original, Caucasian-body. She’s readopted a more European-style of fighting using a broad sword and shield opposed to her knives and katana. Whether her long utilized skill set is still available to her has yet to be revealed.
The cop from the future has always been portrayed as one of the best fighters in the X-Men stable. Bishop has been shown capable of easily contending with the likes of Gambit and Wolverine. Having received intensive training during his time in Xavier Security Enforcers (para-military law enforcement of the future), Bishop is an excellent detective and tracker. His biggest claim to fighting fame was his long-term feud with Cable between Messiah Complex and Second Coming storylines. The fact that he was able to survive dozens or hundreds of encounters with Cable says a lot about what he’s made of. Since his return to sanity, Bishop has lost a step or maybe two. Racked with guilt and second-guessing, I’m not sure if we’ll ever see him get that ‘90s edge back.
Trained to kill from the time she could walk, Laura Kinney is one of the most efficient assassins and brutal combatants on the planet. Developed by the same group of people that created the Weapon-X program (more or less), Laura is their first successful clone of Wolverine. The 23rd to be exact, thus the origin of the name ‘X-23’. Because she doesn’t have a body full of adamantium, like her genetic father, Laura’s healing factor is a couple times more effective than Wolverine’s and she’s also faster. On top of the two claws in her hands, she has a single talon that extends from either foot. Laura can go toe-to-toe with anyone on this, or any list. There’s something to be said about a fighting-style geared towards nothing else but killing your opponent. However, what keeps X-23 outside the top 2 is that very fact. Going for the kill can be predictable, and the top two here are all too familiar with that sort of tactic.
To the ill-informed haters out there, Gambit isn’t just a guy with a stick that throws cards and wears pinks and purples. The unassuming persona he projects is all part of his game. He wants his opponents to underestimate him. However, Gambit is, and always has been, among the top tier hand-to-hand fighters of the X-Men. Gambit’s fighting ability has been praised by the likes of seasoned vets like Col. Nick Fury who himself recognized the Cajun as one of the best he’d ever personally witnessed. It makes sense.
Gambit also known as Remy Lebeau was raised by the New Orleans Thief’s Guild as the headmaster’s son, which basically made him a prince of sorts. As the heir of the Lebeau clan, he received training from the best teachers available which eventually led to his mastery of Savate. His fighting style is complemented by his natural near-superhuman agility, reflexes, and stamina. He’s quick enough to deflect bullets with his bo-staff and has even out-paced Ironman’s targeting scanners at close range! Gambit sharpened his skills daily by combating members of the Assassin’s Guild who routinely made attempts on his life. His list of opponents is a variable “who’s who” of the best Marvel has to offer and includes: Blade, Daredevil, Gladiator, Wolverine (3 or 4 times, over 2 realities), Sabretooth, Spider-Man, and Moon Knight among many others. There’s also Captain America, but we don’t talk about that.
The best there is at what he does, it’s no wonder how he keeps landing at the top of lists. Wolverine’s lived so long he’s just about been every caste of warrior that the world has to offer. A soldier several times of several eras, a ninja, a samurai, an assassin, a spy, a Kung-Fu practitioner, and a black ops agent. Logan has been formally trained a dozen times over. I assume due to his healing factor, the need to rest is cut down significantly, thus he’s allowed to absorb whatever training he’s received at an incredible rate. He’s also been brainwashed and conditioned once or twice into a living weapon, so he carries those implanted skills as well.
Wolverine deserves to be at the top of the mound simply because, at one time or another, he’s either demolished everyone else on this list or someone that’s beaten them. He’s seen the best of them struggle to their feet after facing him. Captain America, the Punisher, Deadpool, Sabretooth, Omega Red, Cable, hordes of Brood and entire clans of ninja- basically the deadliest opponents the Marvel Universe has to offer have all failed to put Wolverine down for the count.
Hope you enjoyed the list! Let us know what you think, below! I’ll be tackling subjects like this until the new status quo is cemented with the X-Men. Hope you’ll join me in examing the Mutant State of the Union as it develops! See you next time!