Friday, 10 June 2011

The 100 Greatest X-Men, #55 - #51

The Avril Lavigne of the X-Men has had it rough. She doesn’t know who her real father is (is it Magneto? Is it a gypsy?), she was one of the lone survivors of a mass genocide, and she’s continually getting paired off with Havok – the official worst X-Man. And for the past four years she’s been dumped out in space, ignored by writers and left in cosmic limbo. A pretty degrading fall for a character who once got jilted at the altar, melted all her cutlery into metal death weapons, and hunted down the absent groom. Yes, we’re talking about Polaris, the most reliably crazy member of the X-Men. She’s useful in battle, with her powers of magnetism, but she’s most well-known for being a fruitcake bat. After surviving the Genosha genocide during New X-Men she was picked up by Chuck Austen and turned into a manic, before Peter Milligan made her an avatar of death and gave her bubonic plague. And then she was tortured for months in a space prison to make her boyfriend feel guilty. And X-23 thinks SHE has it bad? Polaris is an amazing character, primarily because she’s never quite as crazy as you remember her being. She’s certainly had her moments, but when you consider everything that’s been hurled at the character? Startlingly sane. Strange fashion tastes, though.

54: Boom Boom

And speaking of fashion, here’s a slightly controversial entrant. Boom Boom is also known as Meltdown, or Boomer, or Tabby Smith. First a member of the Fallen Angels, she quickly joined various X-Men teams and hooked up with all the male members of the New Mutants who have any merit whatsoever. A budding fashion-designer when she first appeared, the character has transformed from a style-obsessed airhead to a high-end fashionista socialite, seized by Warren Ellis and forced into the ranks of NEXTWAVE. Whilst there she beat up a dinosaur. This characterisation of the character has been kept in place even after Nextwave ended, making her half a parody of ridiculous Marvel characters and half an awesome ridiculous Marvel character. She chews gum! She can’t spell! She blows things up for no reason! She is cooler than Duke Nukem, if that reference still has any currency with you. Tabby Smith is pure fun, unfiltered and liable to explode all over your face. Like, gross.

53: Gambit

A low entry for Gambit? Well, he does keep turning traitor, you guys! The Cajun has been MASSIVELY popular ever since he first debuted, making female readers swoon and male readers… well, swoon. He’s got this “sexy thief” dynamic going on which predates all dark fantasy novels. Some people like Colin Firth as Mr Darcy. Some people like Gambit. This chain smoking kinetic energy slinging southern mess of a character speaks in a bizarre twang of an accent and frequently pouts on-panel. And it’s that mixture of indecipherable madness and puppy-dog eyes which drives the ladies crazy! Well, it drives Rogue crazy. His only other fan appears to be Polaris, who is crazy anyway. Gambit wears pink and does care what you think. He’s also representative of all the excesses of comics, as his powers were ramped up once he became popular until he was given near-Godhood. Since then he’s been downgraded significantly, as well as turned into a villain several times. The X-Books like Gambit to be an anti-hero. Fans won’t really allow that to happen, so for the past fifty years or so he’s been turned into Rogue’s primary love interest. It’s not a very interesting storyline, but at least it makes narrative sense! MIKE CAREY WE’RE LOOKING AT YOU HERE.

52: Deathbird

One of several Queens to have worked alongside the X-Men, Deathbird has the distinction of not being her terrible relation Lilandra. Deathbird is the rightful heir of the Shi’ar Empire, an alien race who have tangled with the X-Men on several occasions. Each time they get involved with each other, Deathbird picks a new sprightly X-Male to mate with, ranging from Nightcrawler and Bishop through to Vulcan. She was also part of the most entertaining boss fight in Marvel Ultimate Alliance. Deathbird has an air of Joan Collins about her, which suits the characters regality perfectly. Regaility is not a word, however it is the best way to describe Deathbird. A woman who refuses to surrender unless it REALLY suits her, she is a fierce fighter. She rarely sides with the X-Men, but when she does they are better for it. She may currently be wounded after a bullshit story had a character cripple her, but she’s surely got the healing factor to see her recover. The X-Universe is filled with women who pretend to be Queens (hello Storm), but Deathbird is the Queenliest of all. And according to Microsoft word, Queenliest ACTUALLY IS A WORD. Suck it.

51: Omega Sentinel

We reach the halfway point in the list with Omega Sentinel. She first appeared in Chris Claremont’s ‘Excalibur’ series set on Genosha, as she helped Magneto and Xavier rebuild the country. After that went belly-up she was kidnapped and experimented upon, before she was saved by Rogue and placed on an X-Men team. A half-robot half-Indian woman, Omega Sentinel can turn her arms into giant guns and shoot people in the face. A little reserved, she became pretty popular with fans after Mike Carey’s highly regarded ‘Supernovas’ storyline, in which she played a crucial role. Karima (for this is her name) proved herself to be a great addition to the X-Men Universe. She has been brainwashed – haven’t they all – and is currently ‘dead’. But she’s a robot, she’ll be back eventually. Once Mike Carey stops his recent killing spree, perhaps she’ll take over X-Men Legacy and become the new focus character. We’d like that.


Anonymous said...

Boom Boom is the best out of this five. She should've been higher than Gambit.

David and Gina S. said...

Gambit is at his best when he's written by a writer who actually treats everyone in his or her book with equal respect, the latest example being Marjorie M. Liu instead of being used as a prop to build up the patron saints of hypocrites and d-bag(ettes) Rogue who we've always hated, but lately more so since she just appears to be her current writer's fantasy girlfriend, right down to the point where according to other comic book lovers we know said writer seems to throw verbal hissy fits ( paraphrasing here: but he tried to kill her when he was under Apocalypse's control... well so did she when she left him to die in Antarctica) when anyone dares to insult or call out his precious for her wishy-washiness. Gambit should just get as far away from the witch as possible. As far as the turning traitor thing, well seeing as how none of the other X-men are paragons of virtue themselves and are even letting psychopaths and former enemies who may possibly turn on them yet again for the 500th time into their ranks what right have they to judge?