These past couple weeks I have had X-Men on the brain. I’m still coasting on seeing Logan on opening night (damn, that was only like 2 weeks ago?). I was also inspired by My Comic Relief’s post last week where he recalled his past with Marvel’s Merry Mutants. And of course my own failed post about some of the X-Men’s more bizarre power explanations (I swear I read that about Colossus back in the day, I swear!).
So in honor of feeling all mutant-y, I thought I would do a list of five of my favorite X-Men of the ’80s. I do have to say that my time with the X-Men and all of their spin-offs is rooted mostly in the ’80s and ’90s. I started reading Uncanny X-Men in 1985 and wrapped up all of my mutant hijinks in 2001 before Origin was released. Origin was my tipping point where I truly learned (at the age of 25) that nothing is sacred in the world of comics.Honestly, I did jump back in for a time with Joss Whedon’s amazing Astonishing X-men because it felt like a return to basics.
There a ton of other X-Men and mutants in the Marvel Universe I love but this list is just a jump off point from where a 9 year old boy started back in 1985.
5. Wolverine (Logan)
I’ll begin with the WORLD’S most famous mutant, Wolverine. To me there is only one Wolverine and his name is Logan, not James Howlett. A man shrouded in mystery who along with his healing factor, adamantium laced skeleton, and claws had perseverance. Like the animal that was his name sake, Wolverine would NEVER give up in a fight. Once he sunk his teeth into something it was either kill or be killed. He would do anything to save his teammates and put their safety above his own constantly. He is a warrior but he is a hero through and trough. He weighed the stakes of a mission and acted accordingly with his level of violence and vitriol attitude. At the same time when it was downtime Wolverine seemed like that cool uncle that would show up to a kids pool party in cut off jeans and a 6-pack…which happened quite often in the ’80s and ’90s at Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters.
We knew nothing of his past back in the day and it made Wolverine a stronger character in the eyes of fans. Little hints were dropped here and there with comments, background pictures and paintings, and figures from his past roaring into his “new” life. Logan’s past was up for discussion and debate and it was awesome. I have struggled for awhile with the changes to Wolverine in the pages of Marvel Comics and on the silver screen. But after a few years I have found peace with it because I know I can always crack open a long box and return to a more simpler time in my past and the past of comic books.
For almost as long as I’ve been a comic book fan, I’ve been a fan of the awesome artist Art Adams. Before I collected super hero comics I “collected” and read G.I. Joe and Transformer comics published by Marvel Comics. The only reason I bring that up is because I sold a huge chunk of my G.I. Joe comics to fund my purchase of the Longshot mini-series. Back in the day it was a sought after series and I thought I was the cat’s pajamas for finally have a “big” book to add to my fledgling collection. Art Adams was my gateway into the Mojoverse that spawned Longshot and once he was included in the X-Men’s roster in 1986 I was over cloud 9.
I think the thing that attracted me to Longshot (other than his good looks) was that he was one of the first comic characters at the time (1985) that embraced the “new wave” style that I saw on MTV. He was young and daring and that was something that was easily emulated while I pretended to be cool in my backyard. On top of that he had the awesome power of luck manipulation. As long as he was innocent in his motivations, Luck would be on his side. His luck coupled with enhanced dexterity and marksmen level accuracy with his throwing blades made him so rad in my eyes. He was swashbuckling, fun, and a ladies man…everything the X-Men needed in their dark time and everything a 10 year old boy wanted to be.
3. Storm (Ororo Munroe)
Another character that embraced the “New Wave” and punk style of the ’80s was Storm. Once a stuffy yet caring mother figure type character on the X-Men, Ororo Munroe lost her powers for a short period of time. In a real “Pull Yourself Up By Your Bootstraps” moment, Storm became the leader of the X-Men and the Morlocks by simply kickass and taking names. My first exposer to this version of Storm was in the first X-Men comic I bought. In issue 215 in 1987. Before this issue I constantly checked out whatever X-Men graphic novels were at my local library which were mostly from the epic John Byrne years. Storm was great then but she really came into her own during her Mohawk phase.
She just exuded coolness and in my first purchased X-Men comic she also displayed her killer instant while fighting for her life against the WWII heroes-turned human hunting villains Crimson Commando, Stone Wall, and Super Sabre. This was a comic that turned my 9 year old brain inside out. It was violent, adult, and morally gray. The X-Men came a long way from the John Byrne era I was used to. It was a hell of a first comic and cemented Storm as much of a force to be reckoned with as Wolverine – even without powers.
2. Colossus (Peter Rasputin)
My first real exposer to Colossus (and most of the other X-Men) came from reading the graphic novels my local library had. The brut of their very small collection came from the magical Chris Claremont and John Byrne run on Uncanny X-Men. In those tombs and in that era Colossus was the pure definition of “Gentle Giant”. He was portrayed as being much younger than the other members of the team and because of this he was plagued with self-doubt and inexperience. Even though he stumbled on occasion he was still an important member of the team and was selfless and heroic in all of his actions.On top of that he courted Kitty Pryde, who I had a crush on at the time.
Throughout his early adventures, Colossus was a calm and collected force that could easily blush at the advances of women. Was one of the strongest people on Earth but could become the weakest because of insecurities. He was unassuming until he put his own life on the line to save others. To a young boy these were traits I could sympathize with and also aspire too.
1. Nightcrawler (Kurt Wagner)
Like most of the cast of the X-Men, Nightcrawler has seen his fair share of ups and downs. To me he will always be the fun loving, swashbuckling, adventurer that he was in the Nightcrawler mini-series that came out in 1985. The mini-series felt like a hold-over of titles from the ’70s that blended fantasy into the super hero realm like Howard the Duck and Man Thing. Not truly knowing yet the ins-and-outs of the X-Men, the Nightcrawler mini-series was set apart from the continuity of the monthly Uncanny X-Men. Because of this I felt like Nightcrawler was mine.
On top of this I really love the way Nightcrawler looks, his personality, and his powers. I think if I could pick any power EVER I would choose teleportation. Simple reason is the money you would save on owning a car, plane tickets, or vacations in general. Sorry those reasons aren’t too heroic, but hey, I’m being practical. I have always modeled a lot of my characters in the role-playing world on Nightcrawler as well. Someone or something scary looking that has a pure and kind heart. When times were their darkest for the X-Men you could always count on Nightcrawler bring a gentle kindness and understanding to the situation.