Which X-Men character is the most extreme of them all?! Being a proud product of the 1990s comic book era, I’m an unapologetic fan of many characters and stories of the era. Exaggerated anatomy, explosions, and funny-looking feet. It’s the decade that birthed me into reading comics, and that’s in no small part thanks to the excellent X-Men animated series that paved the way for a dozen or more other shows like Spider-Man, WildC.A.T.S., Savage Dragon, and Ultraforce. Yes, those were the good old days.
To pay tribute to that awesome decade, we’ve decided to count down the most ‘90s X-Men ever. To qualify for this list, the character had to debut in the 90s in the form they are best known for. They also had to have at least one pouch. I kid. Not really, though. Without further ado, let’s have some fun.
If we were talking about “the best X-Men characters of the 90s,” Lucas Bishop would be closer to the top. But that’s not what we’re doing today. What makes Bishop so 90s? I’d assume being a walking mound of muscle and jerry-curl juice would be more than enough, but of course, there’s more. One thing that seemingly every X-Men character from the era could do is fire energy blasts. This guy eats those blasts and… turns them into more blasts. He also carries around a big gun which is another very 90s trope.
Only OG fans will recognize this guy. Cyber is one of those villains that only really dealt with Wolverine. Cyber is a mercenary-mutant who had adamantium skin implanted on his body. He also had claws laced with hallucinogens that can even put Wolverine down. His natural mutant powers gave him super strength (like sub-Spider-Man level strength) and allowed him to track people by tracing their brainwaves. He was a fun villain, but I have to emphasis the “was.” The most 90s part about this guy was how he died. Long story short, he was eaten alive by beetles and his adamantium carcass was utilized to restore Wolverine’s indestructible skeleton and claws!
Back in the early ’90s, there was a comic label called Image. It consisted of several of Marvel’s best artist, who one day up and quit the company. They formed Image Comics and began churning out some of the most nonsensical, dopiest artwork we’ve ever seen. Without the shackles of Marvel holding them back, they also told some pretty gruesome stories populated by nightmarish characters doing nightmarish things. It was a success. Marvel soon followed suit and began doing much of the same, thus stories like Age of Apocalypse were told and characters like Spyne were born. Just how ’90s is the member of the Dark Riders, Spyne? He’s a lizard-like cannibal whom would eat his foes just as quickly as he’d punch them in the face, or slash them with his tail. And he’d do it with a British accent.
Big guns were all the rage back in the 90s. Cable, Bishop, Gauntlet from the Dark Riders, and like every other villain- all had impossibly huge ones. And pouches. Lots of pouches. The trope had been done so much there was only one way to make someone worthy of the decade of extreme. Make it part of someone’s mutant power! Random’s mutant ability was to turn either or both of his arms into giant blasters! They sure gave him the right name. Outside of being a member of X-Factor for a while, he’s been used very sporadically, mostly as background art. As much of an X-Men expert that I consider myself, he was seen so sparingly, it’s hard for me to pin down his personality. But walking around with the shades, bandana, vest-no-shirt, Sons of Anarchy biker look, says a lot.
In a time when everything had to be “extreme,” he’s the guy that made things blow up by touching them. The only characters more extreme than Gambit were Adam X-Treme, Stryfe, and Vanilla Ice. We’ll get to a couple of those guys a little later on. Before comics got all soccer-mom on us, Gambit was a bar-hopping, chopper riding, chain smoker with a devil may care attitude. He also wore ripped, worn-out jeans before hipsters were willing to pay $500 for them. Gambit is one of the few characters of the era capable of not just fighting Wolverine, but beating him. Something he did more than a couple of times during the decade. Matter of fact, he’s so 90’s, he tried to take Rogue to Taco Bell for a date.
No one was more extreme in Marvel comics than Wolverine in the 90s. His book was basically a complete rip-off of everything that was happening in Image. Too bad he debuted about 15 years too early to make this list. But you know what can be here? His cyborg-clone-thingy Albert, that’s what! Albert was one of Donald Pierce’s creations in hopes of using it as bait which would allow another one of his creations to kill him. Yeah, it’s a bit convoluted, to say the least. But, yes, that’s the only way to top Wolverine. Killer-robot Wolverine. Albert survived the ordeal however and became much more zen than his creator intended him to be.
Ninjas were a big deal back in the day. But what makes a ninja even cooler? Guns, a healing factor, and wisecracks. Deadpool is one of the hallmark 90s characters that benefited the most from the decade’s freedom and envelope-pushing. Some would say, without the clichés that fueled the time, Deadpool would not have been possible. Funny enough, Deadpool’s look was more popular than the character itself for a long time. Because, you know, he looks dope while shooting a fully automatic weapon and swinging a katana around. Not unlike Snake from G.I. Joe or the character that he’s a parody of, DC Comic’s Slade Wilson, Deathstroke.
I mean. Do I have to explain what makes Stryfe the perfect 90s character? He’s not just the product of uber weird science-fiction being a combination of both time-travel and cloning, but his natural state is being covered in sharp spikes. Well, his giant shoulder-padded armor was covered in spikes, not him, himself. This guy is so extreme, his defense is offensive. Stryfe is the clone ‘brother’ of Cable. Like the X-Man, he was from a future some several thousand years away from the main universe we knew. He’s not just stunningly designed, he’s also monstrously powerful, as most threats of the 90s were.
Speaking of Sir king of the utility pouch, Cable singlehandedly heralded in the decade all by himself. He took a bunch of mild-mannered proto X-Men in the New Mutants and turned them into mini-hims, individually garnered with their very own pouches. Cable pioneered the ‘big-gun’ look. The Punisher may have been the first one, but he made it his own. Most people don’t even know he has psionic powers. Of course, you can’t be considered this extreme until there’s a big hunk of metal associated with you. Cable’s muscled metal arm is courtesy of a techno-organic virus that threatens to eat him alive every second of every day.
1. Adam X-Treme
We can’t possibly make a list about the most 90s X-Men characters without the man that has X-Treme in his name, can we? When the 90s was approaching its height of dude-bro, totally awesome, to the extremeness, there was a character that fought his way to the forefront upon his look alone. Hat turned to the back, a grungy hair-style, and a mutant power that involved the boiling of people’s blood. He has to first expose his opponent’s blood, normally by way of using blades (he had a lot of them). Once bleeding, he was able to rapidly raise the temperature of the fluid from the inside out. Pretty nuts, I know. He also possessed a host of superhuman abilities including agility, strength, reflexes, and healing. Oh, and he was also half-alien. Adam was truly to the extreme.
Did we miss any 90s characters worthy to have made the list? Let us know below.