Jonathan Hickman is undoubtedly a nerd of the highest order. I say that with reverence, jealousy, and utter exaltation. During his two-book Summer event he hasn’t just made up an X-Men story to sell books (well, yeah, that’s the main reason behind all this)- he’s taken little chunks of seemingly useless lore and turned them into giant plot devices.
Side characters such as Moira MacTaggert, Krakoa, and Destiny, as well as treaded concepts like Sinister’s DNA banks, Cypher’s non-combatant abilities, and Sentinels, have been given new life and importance within the greater X-Men mythos. He’s done much the same with the likes of Eva Bell, Elixir, Proteus, Hope Summers, and Goldballs… Goldballs, ya’ll.
As of now, and at least until the end of this event, these five characters, only two of which had ever interacted before now are a big deal (both Eva and Goldballs were in Uncanny X-Men as students of Cyclops after Avengers Vs. X-Men).
At the beginning of the Summer, had anyone told me that Goldballs would become a driving force behind reviving the X-Men comic book franchise, I would have laughed and dismissed the thought immediately. Full stop.
Of course, I’d be wrong. He and the rest of ‘the Five’ may be the reason why mutants will again flourish on Marvel’s Earth. They are re-birthing the entire race, seemingly on pace to bring back all 16M+ mutant lives lost over the last couple of decades. Some of you might not be all that familiar with these fellows. I wouldn’t blame you, most of them are barely used or even seen as background art. So, let’s take a closer look at these all-of-a-sudden extremely important characters, starting with the Mutant Messiah herself…
First Appearance: X-Men #205, 2007
Mutant Class: Omega
Powers: Can jump start, copy, and amplify the powers of other mutants.
Function as part of the Five: Supercharges the powers of the Five and streamlines the life-giving process.
Hope Spalding was born into the world as the first mutant following the Decimation caused by Scarlet Witch’s “No more mutants” spell. Similar to Nightcrawler and Jamie Madrox (Multiple-Man), Hope was born with her powers already catalyzed and active, at least in part. As a baby just by making contact with Rogue, Hope was able to purge her mind of the Hexatomb and reset her powers. Her existence didn’t go unnoticed. She was immediately sought after by Human extremist groups (mostly Purifiers), Mister Sinister, and the X-Men. Matter of fact, by the time the X-Men arrived at the town in which she was born, the residents and the area itself had been decimated by factions fighting over her.
After changing hands several times, Cable, the time-displaced son of Cyclops’ and Madelyn Pryor took the child into his care and adopted her as his own. To protect her from the forces that meant her harm, he fled with her into the time stream. Hope, now having the surname of Summers, and Cable returned years later after she’d entered her teens. Having been combat trained by Cable himself, she was a capable, hardened soldier and also had a striking resemblance to Jean Grey/ Madelyn Pryor. Upon arriving, her powers immediately jump-started X-genes in five people around the globe (the Five Lights).
Her life wasn’t any easier in the present. Having helped to defeat the reincarnated Bastion and his army of Nimrods, her next challenge came in the form of the approaching Phoenix Force. Hope found herself at the center of the Avengers Vs. X-Men war, as one side saw her as a way of reigniting the whole mutant race (Cyclops and most of the X-Men), while the other only viewed her as a candidate for becoming the new Dark Phoenix. In the end, it was Hope and the Scarlet Witch that harnessed the Phoenix Force energy and used it to reawaken the X-Gene in all dormant mutants on the planet- including Eva Bell and Goldballs.
Eva Bell (Tempus)
First Appearance: All-New X-Men #1, 2013
Mutant Class: Alpha
Powers: The ability to manipulate time within a given radius by use of temporal bubbles/ fields.
Function as part of the Five: Matures subjects inside of fertilized eggs to their desired age.
As I stated before, Eva Bell is one of the lucky (or unlucky) few whom life turned upside down when Hope and the Scarlet Witch undid the “No more mutants” spell. Native to the land down under, Australia, Eva’s powers manifested while enjoying a night out with her peers. After going through a very high-school type of situation involving her overprotective brother and the guy she liked, she froze time around her for nearly a day. It wasn’t until Cyclops and company arrived on the scene was Eva able to release the field and flee before being apprehended by the authorities.
After receiving training and taking on the name Tempus, Eva accidentally thrust herself forward in time during a mission. Though she returned to her team a short time later, she was visibly different. For one, she looked a great deal older and had injuries she didn’t suffer. Though it was kept a secret from the others, Celeste, one of the Stepford Cuckoos, discovered Eva had traveled through time, not once, but several times before returning. After short stints in an Alien apocalypse-future and the Wild West, Eva finally arrived in the Marvel 2099 era. There, Eva met with Magik, the time’s Sorcerer Supreme, and was trained to use her powers correctly.
It took several years and during that time she married and even had a daughter. During an attack on the sanctum, Eva again accidentally slid through time. However, by the time she was able to make her way back to 2099, she was mortified to discover things had changed. Magik wasn’t Sorcerer Supreme, Tony Stark was, and due to the shifting of time, or her inability to return to hers, her family no longer existed. Or never did. After consoling Eva and helping her understand that she couldn’t and shouldn’t try to return to that period, he helped her get back to the present.
First Appearance: Uncanny X-Men Vol 3 #1, 2013
Mutant Class: Alpha
Powers: Using his own bio-mass, he can generate a seemingly unending amount of unviable egg-like orbs.
Function as part of the Five: Produces raw bio-material in the form of unviable eggs (gold balls).
When Fabio Medina debuted as part of Brian Michael Bendis’ era of X-Men, I found him utterly contemptible, goofy, unnecessary, and is possibly one of the many reasons I quit reading the run. Fabio was one of the mutants gathered following Avengers Vs. X-Men who’d ultimately become part of Cyclops, Emma, and Magneto’s new branch of X-Men away from Wolverine’s faction.
Originally from San Diego, California, his powers activated after he was accosted by would-be robbers. When his body would produce a “ball” it’d be accompanied with a “poink” sound effect and would bounce upon impact. Being very much a type of comic-relief, throwaway character, there isn’t much to him. He’s so well cemented in the role, the only place he’s been able to find a home is with the Miles Morales version of Spider-Man.
First Appearance: New Mutants Vol 2 #5, 2003
Mutant Class: Omega
Powers: Mutant healer of the highest caliber. Elixir can manipulate all bodily process not limited to the restoration of lost mutant powers and cellular division. Can also degrade the condition of cells causing death.
Function as part of the Five: Jump-starts cellular growth within fertilized viable eggs.
Joshua Foley, codenamed Elixir, was introduced as a member of the New X-Men title alongside others such as Hellion, Wallflower, Serge, Wind Dancer, Prodigy, Tag, Rockslide, Wither, Dust, and more.
After his powers initially activated, Elixir was driven from his home, and essentially adopted by Dani Moonstar. As a student of the newly expanded Xavier Institute, he was an X-Man in training. Because of his useful and potent power set, he was utilized quite a bit across the X-Men line for years after his debut. Though rarely in the thick of things, despite his stint as a member of one of the more brutal X-Force teams.
After the Decimation, Elixir was one of the few mutants on Earth to retain his powers. He discovers his ability to kill with his after the death of his friend Lori. He used the other side of his ability for the first time on her assailant, William Stryker. When this occurs, his golden skin turns pitch black. A form he used against his former classmate Wither during the Necrosha story. After battling the other young man, Elixir left him little more than dust in the wind.
Later, Elixir is killed by the Dark Riders, who had been hunting and murdering any mutant-healers they came across. While in the grave, he regenerated from his wounds and returned to life. As long as Josh’s body is still mostly whole, he may be able to survive any mortal wound. Before joining the Five on Krakoa, the last time he was seen, Josh was a member of Emma Frost’s Hell Fire Club.
First Appearance: Uncanny X-Men #125, 1979
Mutant Class: Omega
Powers: Ability to manipulate reality, especially matter.
Function as part of the Five: Transforms unviable eggs, into viable
Unlike the other members of the Five, Kevin ‘Proteus’ MacTaggert has never been a member of the X-Men. He’s never even been remotely friendly with them. Kevin is the mutant son of Dr. Moira MacTaggert and is widely regarded as one of the most powerful beings on Earth. While he started life as anyone else, flesh and blood, when Kevin’s powers emerged, he lost the need to maintain his mortal shell. He became a being of pure psionic energy. He can only regain a normal body by taking over another person’s, essentially possessing them. However, after a few days or so that host body ‘burns out’. As witnessed during Necrosha and Astonishing X-Men, Proteus can possess more than one person at a time.
He’s not all-powerful. His body can be disrupted by metals as seen done by Colossus and Wolverine. Those that have the same material in their body are also resistant to being possessed by him. Up until recently, the majority of Proteus’ psionic energy (his body) has been spread across the globe (thanks to a conflict with Magneto) and even the Astral Plane. For a time, he was being used by the Shadow King to fuel his attack on the physical world and in his battles against Professor X (utilizing Fantomex’s body). How or when he was able to reconstitute his body has yet to be revealed. Though I’m sure his maternal connection to Moira will have played a part in it.
With how events are progressing within the House of X/ Powers of X story, it’s hard to tell if any of this will stick. What I mean by that is; when Dawn of X comes around will it all go back to normal? Will Elixir go back to being a plot device? Will Proteus return to being an energy field floating in the wind? Is Goldballs going back to Spider-Man? Will Eva return to limbo and Hope continue to be passed around by the writers? Time will only tell. But one can only admire the imagination and utter freedom Hickman has been utilizing since the start of this. With only three or so issues left in the summer event, I’m sure there are more surprises to come.