Having already six X-Men ongoings and still two more to come, there’s more than enough limelight to go around.
Every time the X-Men have a big franchise twisting relaunch the creators involved always try to steer the attention and love of the fans to new characters. They typically fail and then are forced to return to the waterfalls they’re used to, but that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. As long as they choose the right points of interest and don’t oversaturate the market with characters that have already run their course or no one cares about. What am I saying? Of course, they’ll do that. But for a moment, let’s pretend they won’t. What if they gave characters the development they needed and/or deserved in the Dawn of X relaunch? Insane thought, right? Don’t expect to see Wolverine or Cyclops on the list. While Wolverine always sells and Cyclops just not too long ago returned to the scene, I’m sure they’ll be getting more than enough panel time. I’d be shocked if one of the two yet to be announced books isn’t a Wolverine solo. So without further ado, here are 10 X-Men that need more attention in the coming months.
10. Gambit – Excalibur
Not saying this guy hasn’t had a decent amount of attention over the past year and a half. Mostly under the expert pen of one Kelly Thompson, Gambit has been a part of the mini-series Rogue & Gambit as well as Mr. and Mrs. X. Both of which saw arguably the most popular X-Men couple reconcile and ultimately marry though the nuptials occurred in X-Men: Gold, another book that Gambit cameoed in more than once or twice. While he was in every issue of R&G and MMX, I must admit, most of the character development save 2 or 3 issues (of 18, between the two runs), focused mainly on Rogue and her issue of controlling her powers.
Gambit, as of the final issue of MMX is still the “King of Thieves” and rules over both the International Thieves and Assassin’s guild. This should be a big deal, especially within the intelligence community. Having a known X-Man in control of a crime syndicate should be a useful advantage to people like Pete Wisdom, the director of the British intelligence/ paranormal Investigation agency, MI:13. Not to mention, Gambit and Wisdom have been great frenemies since the Asmus written Gambit (2013) ongoing. Fairly certain Tini Howard’s Excalibur is taking place mainly in the UK, so it’s on her to take advantage of these threads. I have my reservations. As of late, Marvel hasn’t been known to keep their continuity intact.
9. Storm – Marauders
Storm is one of those X-Men staples that is always around but doesn’t serve a huge function past being reliable. They tried to develop her via a solo written by Greg Pak, but I can’t tell you anything that happened there. It wasn’t memorable, and nothing that occurred within it stuck or mattered to the character going forward. Same goes for the ill-titled Black Panther and the Crew book she was also a part of. Which leads me to my next point… These days, Storm is mostly utilized to check off boxes. She’s a minority. She’s a woman. She’s powerful. She’s a leader. That’s about it.
Much to the contrary, her misuse is probably her greatest reason for being a focus. Storm’s voice hasn’t been used or found for that matter. Not really. More so after utterly failing to lead the mutant race in the wake of both Cyclops’ and Wolverine’s deaths. In their absence, after retreating to Limbo to avoid death at the hands of the Inhuman Terrigen Mist clouds, Storm led the X-Men through a one-sided cold war with the same sect of heroes. Her era of X-Men was an unmitigated, uncharacteristic disaster in every way imaginable.
With little to no progress forward during the conflict, it ended with Medusa saying, “you could have just asked for help.” It’s hard to blame this on Storm because it’s simply horrible writing, but it happened under her watch. It’s canon. Chock-full of forgettable characters and storylines, but canon nonetheless. Dozens or even hundreds of mutants died. The second Kitty Pryde returned to Earth, Storm surrendered leadership to her and just fell in line. Which is an insult to the character in of itself. She’ll be under Gerry Duggan’s pen this fall. His ability to write is awesome, but he tends to focus too much on the book’s lead character. Something tells me Storm isn’t going to get her due. Storm deserves to have a personality and emotions outside of crying in space after Wolverine’s death and marrying the Black Panther.
8. Rachel Summers – X-Men
Mother Askani? Phoenix? Marvel Girl? Prestige? Man, I’m glad no one calls her that last one. It’s like writers don’t understand what it means to have a catchy name anymore (see Honey Badger). The last time we saw Rachel, she had been transformed back into a blood-thirsty, mutant-hunting Hound by the villainous, time-traveling, pirate, Ahab. After he thought he’d succeeded in slaying the time-displaced teenage version of Cyclops (it was Mimic wearing Cyclops’ visor; Extermination), he and his Hounds, including Rachel, escaped back to his own native time in the future.
The Extermination mini-series spelled Rachel’s exit from the main timeline. Assuming she does return from the future during House of X/ Powers of X, then she should be duly traumatized by her experiences. Even if they handwave the whole incident (I don’t think they should) out of existence, Rachel still has a huge characterization issue. Is she more than one of the many Jean Grey stand-ins? Can she ever get away from being a Hound? You’d think that would have been addressed by one of the many telepathic psycho-therapists within the X-Men, but it often rears its head every few years when she needs to be a plot device. Can we get some closure on this, please? Just a little would be great.
7. Sage – X-Force
How many X-Men fans know who Sage is? There aren’t many. She was introduced to us as a mole inserted into the Hellfire Club by everyone’s favorite punching bag, Professor Charles Francis Xavier. Her mutant powers are… interesting to say the least. Essentially, her brain functions similar to a super-computer. To say she has a perfect memory and unmatched mathematical and probability calculating skills would be an understatement. In the past, she’s also shown some telepathic abilities. Her inclusion in the upcoming X-Force book is probably the best place for her, especially if she’s charged with information gathering and overwatch duties.
For reasons beyond my understanding, Sage can also tamper with DNA and the powers of other mutants. How? No effing clue. It happened on at least three occasions during Chris Claremont’s X-Treme X-Men with Gambit, Rogue, and Beast. Other than her powers, exaggerated chest (which surprises me that she still has because modern comics has decided only Emma Frost can have large breasts and be a superhero) and Borg-like personality, there’s not much to Sage. She’s been around longer than most characters but has little to no usage in recent years. Heck, on the cover of X-Force, she’s wearing her X-Treme X-Men costume from the early ‘00s! She’s part of a large cast, so I doubt we’ll get much, but hopefully, we can see Sage be more than a living McGuffin.
6. Jean Grey – X-Men & X-Force
It’s funny, right? Jean Grey had an entire mini-series dedicated to her return which was immediately followed up by a “limited” run team book in X-Men: Red. Yet, we don’t know what’s going on with her? Some might argue that she’s used to dying and being reborn, so coming back this time shouldn’t trip her up much. I answer that with a question of my own. How the heck do you know what it’s like to die and be reborn? I’ll tell you; you don’t. Also, that’s a straw man’s argument and a horrible way to explain away lack-luster writing practices.
In the Phoenix Resurrection mini-series, we were privileged enough to witness Jean’s consciousness journey back from death and even confront the Phoenix Force itself. The most emotional part was likely her interaction with Cyclops whom the Phoenix Force genuinely resurrected to bribe Jean. Unsuspectingly, after a loving embrace and exchange between the two, Jean still rejected the firebird and allowed her dead husband to wither away. And that’s it. That was the last time Jean brought it up outside of a small chat with Black Bolt, the man ultimately responsible for unleashing the Terrigen Mist clouds (one of which was responsible for Cyclops’ death).
I figured during the 12-issue run of X-Men: Red the book’s writer, Tom Taylor, would have taken the time to put Jean through her emotional paces. I was wrong and bored to death. Instead, the book turned into a soapbox for his own political and social views. At the height of the nonsense, Jean laughably used the term “internet trolls” during a three-page rant whilst she strained to rid the world of “weaponized hate.” That series was her window to have a spotlight pointed at what she thought of the new world she’d come into and how it affected her family. Instead, it was wasted by a 12-issue Tom Taylor political blog. Here’s hoping that Hickman and Percy at least give us the Jean & Emma showdown we haven’t gotten yet.
5. Cable – X-Men & Fallen Angels
For those that aren’t aware, the Cable we’ve come to know and love since his debut in New Mutants (as an adult) is dead and gone. Who killed him? A super-militant teenage version of himself from the future. Not the future he was from. The past of his future. Follow? Ok. This younger version of Cable came back from his future and assassinated his older-self for apparently “failing” to protect the timeline. When the original 5 X-Men were brought from the past to the present, Teen Cable blamed adult Cable for not immediately correcting the situation (read Extermination).
For that, Kid Cable decommissioned Cable prime. From that point on he took steps to fix the O5 X-Men and protect them from the time-traveling villain Ahab until he could install them back in their rightful place. That was his excuse, but I never bought that. If you read Extermination and the follow-up story in the Uncanny X-Men Annual you’d notice Kid Cable was prone to lashing out. Especially so when being compared to his adult self or being accused of murder.
In my opinion, Kid Cable suffers from severe daddy-issues and couldn’t handle that his father died for “no reason.” The timeline was altered enough to affect Cable’s upbringing and produced the angsty version that didn’t exist prior. This influenced him to travel back in time decades earlier than Cable prime. Being in two books, especially one written by Bryan Edward Hill presents an opportunity to delve into that… perhaps even lead to the return of Cable prime someday soon.
4. Psylocke (Kwannon) – Fallen Angels
The life of the beautiful femme fetale, Kwannon (also known as Revanche) before the X-Man, Betsy Braddock, and she switched bodies, is murky at best. We know she was an assassin for the Hand and by the time we met her, Kwannon was already in a comatose state. Something she suffered after falling from a cliff face following a conflict with her then-lover. From that point on, her life bounced from one tragedy to the next. From waking up in the body of Betsy Braddock (which now looked similar to her former Asian body thanks to the efforts of Spiral- acting under the orders of Mojo), to absorbing half of Psylocke’s psionic potential (Kwannon was a mutant empath, to begin with), to contracting the Legacy Virus and ultimately dying of the illness.
The life Kwannon inherited wasn’t any she asked for but also nothing that would have naturally occurred had it not been intruded upon by Braddock, Spiral, Mojo, and the Legacy Virus. Years later, Psylocke had an encounter with Sapphire Styx in Madripoor (Hunt For Wolverine). Her soul was drawn out of her body by the villain, but she was able to reassemble herself. Using Sapphire’s powers Psylocke reemerged but with her original Caucasian body. Still being mystically connected to her former body, Kwannon’s mind and soul were able to be reborn inside the husk Betsy left behind. Though she had reclaimed her body, Kwannon’s memories were fragmented. She eventually journeyed to America and reconnected with Cyclops and Wolverine’s team of X-Men.
Other than some typical X-Men adventuring, and ignoring what may occur this summer with the character during the House of X/ Powers of X mini-series, that is where Kwannon is. She’s something of a woman out of time. With her memories fragmented she is looking for her place in the world. Without having to say, Fallen Angels is most likely going to be heavily character-driven and intimate. I don’t think they could have found a better fit than they did with Bryan Hill for the project. He writes great street-level characters and with a blank slate like Kwannon, there’s a lot of upside to be had.
3. Bishop – Marauders
Bishop has a lot to answer for. I don’t think any X-Man, short of character assassination of Professor Charles Xavier himself, has been subjected to such a sudden and devastating fall from grace. From his debut in 1992 all the way up to 2007’s Messiah Complex, Bishop was a paragon of what it meant to be an X-Man. He was brave, determined, loyal and utterly self-sacrificing. All that got thrown out of the window when writers of the time needed a plot device/ antagonist to push a story.
Unbeknownst to everyone, including droves of top-level telepaths, inside of Bishop was a sadistic, mass-murdering, infanticide capable, obsessive, psychopath. Who would have thought, huh? After losing an arm to Predator-X and accidentally shooting Professor-X in the face, Bishop took it upon himself to chase Cable and his adoptive daughter, Hope, throughout time, all in an attempt to murder the child he blamed for all the heartache he experienced in his childhood. See how that worked? Hope was supposedly the source of pain in his life, so he became her boogeyman.
Bishop would descend into complete villainy going as far as teaming up with Stryfe and razing an entire future of Earth’s population. Bishop was eventually stranded in the future but would return to the present in the pages of Sam Humphries’ Uncanny X-Force. There it was revealed that Bishop was at some point possessed by the New Mutant villainous force, the Demon Bear. It’s basically the only way they could redeem Bishop. They said he was possessed the entire time. Since Storm and X-Force rid him of the evil spirit, not much has been addressed. After the death of Cable prime, he attempted to console Hope, but she understandably thwarted his efforts. That’s all well and good but Bishop has a lot of soul searching for himself, more than anyone else.
2. Jubilee – Excalibur
Think about it. How much has Jubilee evolved since we first met her back in 1989’s Uncanny X-Men #244? Unlike the rest of her surviving Generation-X classmates, Jubilee still acts and looks much the same as she did at her debut. And, no, you can’t blame that on the fact that she just recently got de-vampified. Thanks to the way Marvel manages their comic-to-real time, Jubilee may have been a vampire for close to a decade in real-time (2010 to 2018) but that wasn’t probably more than a year and a half. Maybe two years, if you take into a couple of the time jumps during the era.
So, let’s say she was physically stuck at 22 for a couple of years. The girl is still wearing that dang yellow slicker! While she hasn’t evolved much, it’s not like the character hasn’t had its fair share of opportunities. Since leaving Generation-X Jubilee was depowered (M-Day), rediscovered lost family, worked in Hollywood, been kidnapped by the Purifiers, crucified, died, revived, lost her best friend (and possible lover, Skin), joined the New Warriors using a super-suit, transformed into a Vampire, adopted a son, and most recently was restored to human and regained her mutant powers.
There’s no reason for Jubilee not to have grown since her time with and away from the X-Men. Since it hasn’t been done, yet Ms. Tini Howard has one helluva opportunity to capitalize on this unfortunate misstep.
1. Magik – New Mutants
Magik has more backstory than most X-Men combined. It’s dark, interesting, and super confusing if you try to ingest it too quickly. There’s a lot to cover so I’m not going to try to do it all here. Besides, I think I’ve talked about it a couple of times already. Feel free to check it out or do your own deep dive into the lore. With that said, I’m not saying she’s underdeveloped like many of the X-Men are due to the sheer volume of characters within the catalog.
The reason she’s number one of this list is that the character needs – no, deserves the attention. Magik’s construction, visual design, and overall appeal have created a large following of both fans and creators. Especially since she began wearing that halter-top and leather hot pants. Actually, she deserves more than just more shine in the team books. The character needs her own solo ongoing series. Yeah, she’s had one in the past, but since then she’s been possessed by the Phoenix Force and been tapped as a potential replacement for Doctor Strange as the next Sorcerer Supreme. Besides, unlike Wolverine, she can teleport, meaning Magik can actually be in multiple places relatively at the same time.
So what characters are you interested in seeing more of this fall? Let us know below!