Thursday, May 26, 2011

X-Men [Indeterminate Amount of Time] Day 4: Beta's Top Ten X-Men Part Two

Yes, I learned what "Uncanny" meant by reading comics.  What of it?
After a brief hiatus its time to finish my Top Ten X-Men.  If you haven’t seen number 10 through 6 you should really go back to X-Men [Month/Year/Forever?] Day 2 and check it out.   But in case you are so extraordinarily lazy that you can’t be bothered with links or scrolling down I’ll give you the recap:

#10: Havok
#9: Colossus
#8: Emma Frost
#7: Shadowcat
#6: Jean Grey

So let’s warm things up with another Honorable Mention.

Honorable Mention #2

Storm: I admit that I used dislike Ororo Munroe, and have even said as much in this blog in the past, but after Black History Month and all the research I did for her profile I find myself more appreciative of her character.  However she doesn’t make the list because I stand by the idea that she hasn’t really done all that much the last twenty years aside from marrying Black Panther, and I’m not convinced that was a good idea. Raise her stock, Marvel, then we’ll talk.

Final Five after the jump.

#5: Blink (AoA Version)
She's an elf person..lady.  I think
Okay, okay, I’m cheating with this one. Technically Blink, aka Clarice Ferguson, has never been a member of the X-Men proper. However this alternate reality version of Blink, originally from the Age of Apocalypse universe, was a member of that world’s X-Men and later joined the Exiles, a team usually made up of reality displaced former X-Men, so I’m going to count it.

Blink was raised in a nightmarish reality where Professor X was killed before he could form the X-Men and subsequently the super villain Apocalypse conquers America and commits acts of genocide worldwide.   Despite growing up in that hell Clarice has emerged a shockingly well adjusted adult.   Originally portrayed as a timid young girl who relayed too heavily on her adoptive father Sabertooth (Who’s a surprisingly noble hero in that reality) she becomes a fearless warrior who can face down beings of pure evil and pretty much whip their asses.  She gains even further development in Exiles where she becomes a team leader.

I’ve always liked Blink; her look is unique and her character development from frightened teenager to badass adult is exactly the type of thing I like to see in superhero comics.  I want to be clear though: I couldn’t care less about Blink from the normal Marvel universe, who died almost immediately after being introduced in 1994.  If I’m talking about a comic book superhero named “Blink” then I’m talking about this one.

As far s I know Blink has never appeared in the X-Men films, nor is she likely to appear in one anytime soon.

#4: Rogue
Pictured: Southern Hospitality gone horribly wrong
Rogue is possibly the best example of a super villain turned X-Man in the comic’s long history.  Originally a junior member of the Mystique’s Brotherhood of Evil Mutants she wound up seeking Professor X for help in controlling her powers and the rest, as they say, is history.  Like with Blink I really like how far Rogue has come over the course of the character’s existence, starting out as an angry and bitter villain, becoming a self conscious loner who constantly questioned her place on the X-Men and eventually a strong willed and respected leader.   Of all the X-Men there are few as well developed as her.  For the record I prefer Rogue having the Ms. Marvel power set (Flight, and super strength) but for I’m intrigued with the idea that she finally hs full control over her powers and I hope Marvel doesn’t back track on it anytime soon.

Also since his debut Rogue has been involved in a romantic “Will They or Won’t They” tip toeing with Gambit, but where Gambt has greatly suffered as a character over the past twenty-years over Rogue has not, probably because her relationship with him isn’t her main trait.   A strong female who isn’t defined by the man she loves?  WHAT A NOVEL IDEA!!!

Anna “Once You Go Vampire…You Eventually Realize You’ve Made a Terrible Mistake” Paquin plays Rogue in all three X-Men films in a smaller capcity each time.

(Welcome to Beta’s Top Ten X-Men, Rogue! Hope you survive the experience!)

#3: Jubilee
I really want those glasses...
Even though she was awfully annoying in X-Men: The Animated Series and her codename is really just a cute nickname for Jubilation Lee (Ugh) I still love Jubilee.  If the point of her, like the point of Kitty Pryde may have been, was to trick younger folk into getting into X-Men by having her there as someone they could relate to it may be argued that it worked on an eight year Beta.  Well, maybe only that’s half true.  Really it wasn’t until I was in college and checking out classic issues that I really decided that this lady was awesome.  She starts out as this giant smart mouthed brat who is nothing like the girl in the cartoon (Professor X is a “bald geek” and Pyslocke is a “cow”, is what she loudly explained to her teammates) but thanks to her time in the book Generation X (Which Marvel sometimes act like they forgot about) using her experience as a former X-Man to stand out among her peers.  Later still she proved to possess the makings of a leader when she became the field commander of the latest version of the New Warriors, easily the most (Maybe second most) experienced crime fighter in the group.

Maybe it’s because she’ so sarcastic, or maybe it’s because I like character development, but I’ve always enjoyed seeing Jubilee get exposure.  Annoyingly Marvel seems to constantly write her as being a young teenager, which probably shouldn’t be the case based on example ages of her former Generation X teammates (Such as Husk and Chamber), and sometimes go years without properly using her.  They de-powered her in the House of M crossover, but then she became Wondra and continued to fight evil without powers (Awesome). Then they recently turned her into a …vampire?   Presumably the writers at Marvel couldn’t think of a single way to write her back into the X-Men books so they just hoped on the vampire bandwagon and went with that.  Fantastic.
What.  The.  F**k.
And yes I realized the irony of being so high on a character who has traditionally been Wolverine’s sidekick. What are ya gonna do?

Jubilee appears in all three X-Men films in what are basically glorified cameos and deleted scenes since they don’t really bother establishing who the hell she is.  She was played by Katrina Florence in X-Men and Kea Wong in X2: X-Men United and X-Men: The Last Stand.

#2: Beast
"According to my calculations it's time to procure milkshakes"
Oh my stars and garters; who doesn’t like good old Hank McCoy?   Despite his frightening appearance and the fact that he may be constantly mutating into worse things can you think of an X-Man more Happy-Go-Lucky?   I feel like growing up when I watched cartoons featuring teams I was always attracted to the leader or the smart guy and they don’t come much smarter than Beast.

One of the original X-Men his high intellect didn’t make itself known for the first few issues but from very early on it was pretty much a given that there wasn’t an X-Man smarter than Beast.  I really like the fact that he’s a blend of friendliness/level headedness and angst.  He’s certainly not happy about his furry nature (Probably because HE DID IT TO HIMSELF WITH A POTION) and is sometimes prone to become depressed over it. But he never stays that way for long and is usually the first member of the team to whistle a tune and mention how lovely the day is.

With his quips, his positive attitude and his incredible ability to do anything with science (Except heal a bullet wound, I guess) Beast is one of my favorite comic book characters.  If I’m reading an issue of X-Men and he’s not a member of the team I get pretty mad.

Beast has a cameo in X2: X-Men United being played by Steve Bacic and has a much, much larger role in X-Men: The Last Stand by Sideshow Bob Kelsey Grammer.

#1: Squirrel Girl
Best.  Mutant.  Ever.
The most powerful member of the X-Men, and probably the most powerful mutant on Earth, Squirrel Girl served faithfully on the Great Lakes X-Men for years.  A modern beacon of optimism in an otherwise cynical age of comics-

What’s that?  The X-Men never actually authorized the GLX?  Oh.  Well then in that case…

The Real #1: Cyclops
"BEHOLD! Optic Blast!"
If you didn’t see this coming then you must be new to this blog because I love me some Scott Summers!  As I’ve said in the past those of us who hate Wolverine tend to like Cyclops.  I think the thing that always made me relate to the character was his loner and outsider status tempered with his absolute dedication to being leader of the X-Men.   He’s solemn and grim but he’s that way because someone has to take this shit seriously. Not all of us can just take off on a motorcycle and do their own thing in three different solo series; some of us have real work to do, goddamn it!  Aside from his optic blasts, which are shocking powerful at full tilt, he’s a strong hand to hand fighter, incredible spatial awareness, is an expert pilot, and an expert tactician.  Honestly speaking I’m not sure how many of Marvels other heroes could take him in a fair fight if writers remembered how capable Cyclops is.  Which they won't.

I recall as a kid I was reading a collection of Uncanny X-Men immediately following Giant Size X-Men. With thirteen X-Men suddenly on the roster the original team decide its time they left Xavier’s care, feeling that they had outgrown the X-Men.  His girlfriend Jean Grey asked him to come with them but, after a night of monologues, he decided to stay since because of his uncontrollable powers he believes the X-Men is the only place where he feels he belongs and throws himself 110% into training the new team. Was this the most heroic reasoning behind doing it?   No, but it was a very human reaction and reading that as a young kid made me think extremely highly of him and to this day I still do.

Now I’ve noticed a lot of writers don’t write Cyclops to be that great of a human being.  Ignoring all the times when he’s stiff, humorless, and just flat-out dickish, he’s done some pretty horrifying things over his long existence such as abandoning his wife and newborn baby to be with Jean after she is revealed to be alive or cheating on her (Now his second wife) with Emma Frost and then claiming it didn’t count because it was merly a “psychic affair”.  Goddamn it, Scott, what are you doing to me?!

I earnestly believe that these are hiccups on the writer’s part, not what the character of Scott Summers ultimately boils down to.  If you want to see Cyclops at his best check out Joss Whedon’s run on Astonishing X-Men.  Bottom line is that I love the guy and I will always rise to his defense if I can in the great comic book debate.  If you too share my appreciation of “Slim” Summers why not join Cyclops Lovers Against Wolverine, or C.L.A.W.?  It’s real easy; you just declare out loud “I’m a member of C.L.A.W.” and roll your eyes at new issues of Wolverine while you’re at the comic book shop.

That’s it for the Top Ten X-Men.  We still have a few more days of this X-Men stuff so make sure you come back for my review of X2: X-Men United.

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