The Dream X-Men Team

Man, I love me some X-Men. I grabbed my first issue back in 1994 and was hooked from there: indulging myself in the world of X ever since. I’ve watched many teams break up, reform, or take turns becoming “Uncanny” in various ways. I’ve seen X-Men both die and come back to life, join other non-X-related teams like the Avengers, or became enemies against their friends. It’s been a wild ride.

Author Kelly Thompson recently retweeted a link from Comics Alliance which featured an X-Men Fantasy Draft. While some of the teams are great (like Katie’s and Aaron’s choices), I thought I should probably showcase my own.

While there’s well-over 300 X-Men to choose from, I’m going to limit myself to ten. I know the folks over at CA capped it at 8, but I’m making my own rules. And now, in no particular order:

moonstar1. Mirage (Danielle Moonstar)
Part of me hates that I have to explain why I’ve chosen Moonstar when I know she speaks for herself. Not only is she a quality leader, she’s still a complete bad ass even without her powers. On more than one occasion has Moonstar been the voice of reason, keeping her calm and head in the game when things get rough around her. She seems to always be there for someone even when her own life seems to be in shambles. Empathetic, compassionate, and yet still tough as nails, easily proven when she took on Hela herself. A natural, gifted, and talented member – an obvious choice to be on the team.

2. Archangel (Warren Worthington III)
For the record, I’m referring to the original Worthington, not the new one brought up through time travel (like I said, it’s been a wild ride). I’ve always had a soft spot for Worthington as he’s not only an emotional basketcase that I have sympathy for, but also still clear in mind to help his friends when needed. Despite turning against his friends time and time again, his heart (and fortune) is always in the right place.

warren_worthington_iii_earth-616_0033

One of the original five X-Men, Archangel has always been a background character of sorts. While his powers of flight aren’t as aggressive as Cyclops’ optic blasts or Wolverine’s claws, they keep him cautious and clear headed in action. That is, unless the Archangel takes over. . .

monet3. M (Monet St. Croix)
I’m always a big fan of confidence. M oozes it. Her confidence is backed by her mutant powers of strength, flight, healing powers, and telepathy – essentially “perfection.” She’s a super-smart one-woman show who, as I once reviewed, doesn’t take crap from anyone. Originally with the Generation X team, she later grouped with X-Factor to showcase her investigative side and how she works in more intimate, adult groups. My only beef with having her on the team is that a lot of the other members would have a hard time putting up with her attitude. While it’s not usually warranted, it makes for some great stories.

4. Chamber (Jonothon Starsmore)chamber

Another character originating from Generation X, Chamber has always struck me as a tortured soul – unable to eat, breathe, and speak like a normal human, Chamber’s lower jaw was destroyed by his mutant powers when they first manifested. The energy that flows within his jaw can be controlled, giving him immense power and making him a formidable X-Man.

I first really understood Chamber when picking up Uncanny X-Men #395 (which also features a great X-Men roster) and reading his development as a character. I grew attached to him from there and been a big fan of his ever since.

5. Multiple Man (Jamie Madrox)mm

If I am ever given the chance to write an X-book (Marvel, are you there?), I would NOT use Jamie Madrox. This is simply because I believe he is author Peter David’s character. David’s work on the Multiple Man over his long run of X-Factor showcases character development and dedication to both a story and character arc. Multiple Man always struck me as Joss Whedon’s Captain Malcolm Reynolds from Firefly before Firefly was even a thing. Madrox’s humour, strength, tenacity, and struggle with leadership makes him the most human person on the team. But, oh man, his powers would be so freakin’ useful. (And once upon a time I went as Multiple Man for Halloween).

6. Domino (Neena Thurman)

dominoFor the uninitiated, Domino may seem like the mutant version of Black Widow – but with a luck on her side. Quite literally. Domino’s powers of shifting the odds in her favour not only make her a terrifying force to be reckoned with, but a incredible asset to any team. Originating in X-Force, and then later in a new X-Force, only to be put into another X-Force after that, Domino knows a thing or two about sneaking around, combat, and making stealth a priority.

While some of her snarky attitude and over-confidence may mirror M’s, Domino knows when to duck out if things get too dicey. She’s experienced, tough, and yet will stick to her guns (literally, too) if something doesn’t seem right. It also helps that she’s also worked with my next pick!

7. Boom-Boom (Tabitha Smith)boomboom

If your idea of Jubilee comes from any of the X-Men cartoons or movies, think of her near-opposite and you have Boom-Boom. While Jubilee was the hip teenager who wanted to go to the arcade and chew bubblegum, Boom-Boom was out hunting for boys and blowing stuff up. Her mutant power – creating ticking time bombs made out of plasma energy – can explode with great force. While working with both X-Force and X-Factor, she has never really been written as a fully-matured character. While that may be a turn off for some folks putting together a team, Boom-Boom still has it where it counts and her light-hearted attitude and spirit would make for easing tension and energizing the group.

8. Fantomex (Jean-Phillipe/Charlie Cluster-7)

fantomexOne-part James Bond, one-part Wolverine. One-part three brains. What.

Fantomex is a creative secret agent out of the Weapon Plus program that uses his powers for confusion and escape more than anything. If there’s one thing that Fantomex does do, however, is make himself look good to others by getting the job done. Whether it be him single-handedly saving Uncanny X-Force from the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, or managing to make The World work in his favour, Fantomex’s bag of tricks seem to be limitless as he (and trusty E.V.A.) are a tag-team of terror. Fantomex’s only real challenge being on the team is my next choice. . .

9. Psylocke (Elizabeth Braddock)psylocke

Psylocke is a character which many authors struggled to understand (and even more artists struggle to draw properly). Explaining her origin would take longer than what you’ve read here so far, so let me leave you with who she is: a psychic ninja assassin with more baggage than most people. One would think that being on another team with two men she has dated (Archangel and Fantomex) would mean trouble – and you know, it probably would. But she doesn’t let things linger or bother her for long – pushing emotions aside to finish the mission. Psylocke has been a tremendous force in the X-Men for many years – her devotion to the team and making things right is part of her moral code. The soft-spoken ninja never needs to prove herself because she lets her actions do the talking.

10. Banshee (Sean Cassidy)

At the end of my list, we have the leader of Generation X and the only (currently?) dead X-Man. While the movies (or failed TV pilot) don’t give Cassidy any justice, he is totally on my list because he is probably one of – if not the most – experienced character in the roster. He’s seen his fair share of action as he’s been in the X-books since the 60’s. He’s lost his powers by damaging his vocal chords when saving Japan from tremendous waves (caused by a villain). He founded X-Corps: a short-lived mutant police force. He’s been a detective with Interpol. He’s a father. The list just goes on. Noble, honest, and self-sacrificial (I mentioned he’s dead, right?), Banshee would be the most likely to lead my fantasy group of X-Men.

My honorable mentions go to: Captain Britain, Juggernaut, Polaris, Rogue, and Nightcrawler.

So that’s my list! Do you agree? Disagree? Do you think there would be too much drama or that everyone would be mature enough to get over it all?

And what about you?! Who is on your X-Men dream team? Heck, who is your dream team of superheroes? Sound off below!

And keep on Space Truckin’!

X-Factor and Racism

Have I told you how much I love Peter David’s X-Factor? I don’t believe I have, given I’ve never reviewed the book on here before. Shame on me.

Seems like the best time to do it is now, given all of the racist hooplah ruining the world as of late.

X-Factor

X-Factor #217
Peter David (writer), Emanuela Lupacchino (pencils), Guillermo Ortego (inks), Matt Milla (colours), Cory Petit (letters), David Yardin and Sonia Oback (cover). $2.99

Hunting for a murdered friend of J. Jonah Jameson, the hired X-Factor team splits up into two groups. Longshot, along with Rictor, Shatterstar and Madrox work to unveil the face of the killer at the scene of the crime, while Monet, Banshee and Strong Guy act as Jameson’s bodyguards.

The story quickly pieces itself together, building up to a tremendous finale. With some brilliant dialogue from David, the reader is left to wonder about relations between Longshot and Shatterstar, while worrying how quickly X-Factor can stop the killer.

What stands out for some great reading is the battle of emotions and religion between Monet and a New York audience about both racism and mutantcy. Jameson gets himself into the brawl and puts the protesters in their place with his quick wit. Crafty words are one of David’s greatest highlights with X-Factor and they can always guaranteed you’ll be glued to the page.

I’ve always been fond of Lupacchino’s work as I feel she can generate any facial expression flawlessly. This holds true in the issue with a great moment with Jameson and his bodyguard after being entranced by Banshee’s speech. She’s just a fantastic, unfortunately over-looked artist. At a monumental, if not one of the most important endings in recent X-Factor stories, Lupacchino beautifully crafts what may be a terrible blow to the X-Factor family.

My little beef, if any at all, comes from Black Cat’s almost irrelevant appearance. Admittedly, I can see her purpose for the next issue, but it was so minuscule that it almost seemed unwarranted. I would have rather preferred more dialogue with Monet and the protesters, or hey! even the mystery behind Longshot and Shatterstar! But I guess beggar’s can’t be choosers.

As probably one of the most powerful X-Factor’s yet – for both message and storyline – David and gang make it clear why X-Factor is the best X-book on the market.

Grade: 8/10

One big difference between San Francisco and New York is that there is prejudice in New York towards Muslims for particular reasons. But the reason why I really wanted to write this piece is because of my Twitter. After the earthquake in Japan, trending topics became “Pearl Harbor” and “Katrina.” By all means, both were tragedies. But the problem I saw was few people stating “The earthquake was karma for Pearl Harbor.” I could not believe it.

So I’ll say it right now: in no way do I agree with intolerance. I hate racism and wish it was abolished. But my point is yet to come.

Now I would like you to see Dean Stell’s review of X-Men Legacy #245. This is entirely relevant because there, Dean touches upon something to which I completely agreed on in the comments below:

One of the problems the franchise has suffered from over the last few decades is that as a society, the United States has become MUCH more multicultural and accepting of differences. . . Now, in 2011, a lot of those nasty old bigots are dead, it seems like half of the high school kids I know either are multi-ethnic or are involved in a multi-ethnic relationship and outside of certain religious groups, homosexuality has become a non-issue. This has made our world a better place, but it has taken that cultural relevance away from the X-Men. Nowadays, I just don’t buy the average Joe in an X-Men comic yelling, “Them muties gotta die!”

I read this and realized that in recent years, Mutants have become greatly accepted in their world. The X-Men are heroes in San Francisco, and there seems to be little, if any bigotry. Dean is right – it just doesn’t work anymore. And when it happens, it’s either too forced or seems entirely unnatural.

Then came X-Factor #217, where it does work.

The funny thing (not really) is that it has the problem has always been there, but the X-comics seemed to forget about it. But suddenly in X-Factor, the X-Men social relevance reinforced itself.

A crowd shouts, “Keep the strangers out!” “We don’t need more Muslim terrorists getting in [New York]!” “Yeah! They’re as bad as mutants!”

Monet appears. “Oh, really? I’m a Muslim and a mutant. Care to take it up with me?”

And so the crowd argues with her, saying wherever her type goes, death with happen.

She replies, “Which ‘type’ is that? Mutants or Muslims?” She continues, “Bad enough to be condemned for what you are. Imagine being hated for what you’re not.”

Monet St. Croix

From there, Jameson jumps in and gives the crowd a quick history lesson on America.

But with Monet. Powerful words.

And the thing is, I don’t remember the last time this was a problem with the X-Men. It has always been vague underlying factor – their move to San Francisco; forced to live on Utopia – for sure the X-Men have had their fair share of prejudice against them. But from recent memory, when was it this bad? When was it a mindset of a society, rather than some bad guy wanting to attack mutants?

Currently in Uncanny X-Men, regular humans are paying to become mutants. In X-Men Legacy and New Mutants, there is prejudice against mutants in a futuristic world – but beyond that, they’re all accepted in San Francisco and asked to help out. Sure, mutants have been attacked by Bastion who hated mutants. But it would be harder to compare it to a social mindset. If anything, it was a comparison to how the military is ran or like religious extremists – if any at all.

What I’m trying to say is that in recent comic books, and most importantly in the X-Men books, I have not seen a blatant call-out against racism. Unless I look for it in the Bastion example above, I cannot just name it. For the X-Men to be the “benchmark” of social commentary in terms of acceptance of other people, I find that it has swayed away from it a lot for years. And even when it seemed “bad” post M-Day (people going up to Xaviers School and trying to get rid of the remaining mutants) it was really all fantasy and seemed forced rather than natural.

Now, it feels real. And when it does feel real again, we know there’s a problem.

Kudos to Peter David.