• drbickham

Five Compelling Members of the X-Men

As a child of the nineties, the X-Men were always the coolest superhero team out there. They regularly outsold Avengers (imagine that) and had several off-shoot teams such as X-Force and X-Factor that had best-selling comics of their own.

When I wrote my first book, I cited the X-Men as being a big influence on my writing. I talked in depth about feeling the characters and their struggles and being able to understand their agonies and sorrows even as a teenager.

What follows is a list of five X-Men whose stories have left a lasting impression on me over the years. This is not a definitive list, nor is it a list of all of my favorites as that would take entirely too long to write (trust me, I tried). But here are a few who had characterizations so compelling that they still stick with me to this day.

1. Kitty Pryde

Although she never was one of my favorite X-Men, I was still drawn to the characterization of Kitty Pryde because she was the one member of the team who I identified with the most. While her power set is pretty interesting (she can make her body intangible for as long as she can hold her breath, an ability called “phasing”) it’s not the most dynamic power on a team that features people who can control weather, shoot eye beams, and turn flesh into steel. What made Kitty interesting was the fact that she was an inexperienced teenager brought into this world and served as the everyday man’s guide into what was oftentimes insanity. And she had a pet dragon years before it was done on "Game of Thrones". It really doesn’t get much cooler than that.

2. Rogue

Rogue has what is one of the coolest but also one of the most tragic powers a superhero has ever had. Whenever her skin comes in contact with the skin of another person, she automatically absorbs that person’s powers (if they have any) talents, and psyche, most of the time knocking out the victim in the process. If she touches a person for too long, Rogue runs the risk of permanently absorbing the victim's abilities, leaving them in a comatose state (this most notoriously occurred when Rogue grabbed and held onto Avenger Ms. Marvel, permanently stealing her powers of flight, super strength, and near invulnerability). While Rogue is a powerhouse member of the X-Men, she must cover herself head to toe and physically alienate herself from the other members of her team in order to avoid inadvertently hurting them with her power. Rogue's powers make her simultaneously one of the most powerful and fearsome members of the team.

3. Bishop

"I'm just going to stand here looking incredibly hard for a while."

Bishop is the definition of badass. Hailing from an alternative future timeline, Bishop has the uncanny (see what I did there?) ability to absorb energy based attacks, store them in his body, and redirect them as he sees fit – a great power to have in a world where people routinely shoot energy beams from their eyes and hands. And in his original timeline, Bishop is a member of the X.S.E., which is basically a militarized version of the X-Men. And he carries a big ass gun from the future. And he has a tattoo over his eye that marks him as a mutant. Seriously, what is there not to love about this guy?

4. Archangel

Angel had no business being on any X-Men list of any kind unless it was one about the worse members ever. He was basically a rich kid with wings who did nothing but fly. That’s it. In a world of claws that can cut through damn near anything and people who can incapacitate with the power of their minds, there’s this dork flying above it all.

But then Apocalypse got to that ass.

Now, Apocalypse has never been an incredibly entertaining X-Men villain. But in the case of Angel he actually did something right. He took this sorry x-cuse of a character, cut off those moronic wings of his, and replaced them with some razor sharp wings that are capable of cutting through trees like butter. On top of that, the wings are composed of feathers dripping with a neurotoxin that the renamed "Archangel" can shoot at enemies, paralyzing them on the spot.

So now, instead of being a flying bystander, Archangel rains down with great vengeance and furious anger death and destruction on his enemies. Plus, in addition to leveling him up, Apocalypse shaved his head and turned his skin blue to make him resemble Death personified, a bonus to any character in the world of the X-Men.

5. Emma Frost

Come on, Emma, I'm trying to work here...

As a member of the X-Men, Emma Frost is far from likable. She flaunts a holier-than-thou attitude and her power set allows her to get into your head without you even knowing it (damn those psychics!). To make matters worse, Emma Frost was originally a villainous member of the Hellfire club, a secret society that the X-Men have clashed with numerous times over the years. And her outfit looks like something more fitting for a Fifty Shades of Gray book than a superhero team.

So what makes Emma so damn compelling (other than her “I want sex” look)?

For starters, any member of the team who has been around for any amount of time still remembers Emma as being a villain. The aforementioned Kitty Pryde has made no qualms about repeatedly bringing up the fact that the first time she met Emma was while she and her club were on the business end of torturing the X-Men.

To make things even more complicated, Emma is now in a relationship with Cyclops, the long-standing leader of the team. This relationship has been looked down upon by several X-Men as it comes on the heels of the death of Jean Grey, a fellow team member and the wife of Cyclops.

The speculation of the team (and many fans as well) is whether or not Cyclops is being manipulated into trusting Emma. So even though Emma stands by the team day after day, she also has to deal with side eyes and distrust from her teammates, a kind of allegory for the X-Men team in general who constantly risk their lives for a world that distrusts them.

Are you as big a fan of the X-Men as I am? If so, be sure to leave a comment about which members have made the biggest impression on you!


© 2019 D. R. Bickham