Brian Michael Bendis likes to do a thing where he posts a tease of an upcoming project to his tumblr. His latest one was the picture below, and a few of us at GRCT have not been able to stop talking about. Mostly, about how weird it is.
I mean, look at it. Fine, Pixie, Colossus, even Marrow. But then, BAM, Stacy X. Stacy fuckin’ X! Double entendre intentional. Spiral, Ink. Forge. ADAM X THE X-TREME, Shatterstar-but-the-old-dumb-Shatterstar, Callisto and Sage. It looks almost like a team deliberately built out of cast-offs and jokes.
Almost. Because if it was going to be that, there’s a few weird omissions. And so we at GRCT decided that as line-ups of the dumbest, lamest, most ill-considered X-Men go, this one just doesn’t have the purity of concept to really make it. So we’re going to make our own.
GIRLS READ COMICS TOO PRESENTS:
THE ALL-TRASH X-MEN
- 5-7 members, all of whom must be mutants featured on an X-Team at some point. One or two may be non-mutants, as non-mutants inexplicably serving on an X-Team is also traditional, but again they must have done so previously. Yes, there’s more in the image above, but most teams are about this, and since we’re going for basically X-WAVE, this is our number.
- As this is the ALL-TRASH X-MEN, you are allowed at most one A-Lister, whose status as trash you must be prepared to defend.
- They can be shitty but lovable or just plain shitty, dealer’s choice, but they must be recognized as (or an argument provided for them being) basically useless or terribly conceived or just terrible for whatever reason.
- I was going to say “616 only” but then realized that would exclude Nate Grey from all teams on a technicality, which would make the entire exercise pointless. So, instead:
- The team must be built from characters introduced by at list three different creators; no just grabbing a bunch of Morrisons and slapping them in a team.
And so, with much fanfare, HERE WE ARE:
First up, in honour of Brian Michael Bendis, the latest and greatest of the joke mutants: GOLDBALLS. His power is gold balls. The very definition of what this is about: He’s awful, I mean, he makes gold balls, but you can’t help but love him, partly because… gold balls. Gold balls.
Next up, we have Maggott, whose exclusion from the picture above served as the impetus for this article. What’s the point having a team of shitty cast-off X-Men if you don’t have Maggott? His power is he has a pair of slugs that crawl out of his chest and eat stuff for him. Slugs, man. Slugs. There’s even an Ultimate Maggott who was adorable! But is probably dead, like everyone in the Ultimate U. Also, because Ultimate Maggott is adorable he’s excluded. Original, hilariously bad Maggott only.
Now, while their powers are ridiculous, they can have some practical use, so let’s balance it up a little, by adding BEAK. Not non-mutant Beak or the one that was on the New Warriors somehow, for this team we need original Beak, brought to the future by time-travel chicanery like the OG X-Men. Dude with a giant beak and I guess a bug girl fetish? I forget. Man, Morrison was weird. Now, sure, the point of Beak was that he was useless and kind of off-putting, since that was the deal with the New X-Men, but there ain’t no rule against it, and I think the way his nose and uselessness got gradually smaller over time was an injustice that must be corrected by this random article.
The next addition might be considered too much use, which is why I’m adding them as a pair: Juggernaut and Sammy the Fish Boy. Remember them? If so you’re doing better than me, since I think his code name is actually Squid-Boy, now that I think about it? NONETHELESS. From Chuck Austen’s run, where Juggernaut banged She-Hulk* and had an adorable dynamic with a ten year old kid who looked like a goldfish squid person. Because that’s what everyone wants out of the Juggernaut.
(*’s twin from another dimension visiting 616 for tourism)
No, seriously, that’s what I want. I loved them, that’s why they’re here. So shitty, so lovable. Watered down kids’ movie Juggernaut qualifies for the team, along with a squid-looking kid who swims real good and died real bad.
That’s a lot of dudes, huh? So finally, to round them out, let’s have some throwaway semi-obscure lady characters: THE M-TWINS, Nicole and Claudette St. Croix, from Generation X. They have the power to merge together to look like Monet, I guess. No, really, for a fair portion of Generation X the person everyone thought was Monet was actually these two, it was a big reveal. I think having a power that is basically “being two kids hiding under a trenchcoat pretending to be an adult” definitely qualifies them for this team.
So, guys, what’re your line-ups?
Ah, shitty X-Men. Bane of some, delight of others, I think we all know what camp most of us fall into, right? I actually had a bit of trouble with this list, because it’s very easy to conflate the genuinely garbage characters with the ones who are total D-listers but are nonetheless kinda great? Also, I realized about halfway through writing this that a Birds of Prey-style title starring Ariel, Cerise, and Lifeguard would literally be my favourite comic ever and had to start over. Here we go.
Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with the idea of a mutant prostitute superhero, but Stacy X was just… ecch from the beginning. Terrible personality, terrible visual (mostly due to the terrible blandness of the X-Men costumes that came immediately following the first film, granted, but ‘snake lady’ only gets you so far on its own), super sketchy powers that made her about as useful as Cypher in a fight, idiotic codename… yep, she takes the cake. Hey, remember that time she was depowered and eventually killed off in New Warriors and then randomly showed up having a threesome with Chamber’s old pop tart girlfriend, inexplicably a mutant again? Stacy X, everybody!
Then, of course, there’s everyone’s favourite punchline, Maggott. RIP sweet prince, you were too stupid for this world, at least until someone randomly decides to bring you back with no explanation because the writer wanted someone obscure and didn’t realize you were dead. Did you know his digestive system slugs had names? Eeny and Meeny. You’re welcome.
I’ve been reading a lot of early 90s X-Men lately, and one character who made an immediate impression on me was Revanche. I’d always been vaguely aware of her and her complicated history with Psylocke, but I had always assumed it was just one of those standard comic book things where sure it’s convoluted as all get out, but it all makes sense if you pay attention. Having now read every one of her appearances in roughly the order in which they were meant to be read, I can honestly say that NOPE, she really was just as poorly conceived and executed a character/plot device as has ever graced the hallowed pages of Marvel’s Merry Mutants. One day she just showed up, said she was Psylocke, joined the X-Men with a new codename, and nobody really talked much about it until she died of something completely unrelated to any of it. What a waste of ink. Good for her.
And speaking of bland knockoffs of far better characters, who can ever forget that lovable scamp Joseph? Everyone. Everyone, that’s who. You know Joseph, right, Magneto’s doofy young clone-oh-but-maybe-he-isn’t-but-then-what-else-could-he-be-oh-this-is-so-compelling who mostly just hit on Rogue a lot and then died? You probably don’t remember him, on second thought, at least not nearly as well as you remember Madelyne Pryor, who had this exact same storyline less than ten years earlier. Yeop.
ADAM X, THE X-TREME. Get the hell out, Vulcan, we all know who the real third Summers brother is. HIS POWER IS THAT HE MAKES PEOPLE’S BLOOD BURN. HE IS THE MOST GLORIOUS PIECE OF 90s TRASH TO EVER SPORT A BACKWARDS BASEBALL CAP AND I WILL BROOK NO ARGUMENTS TO THE CONTRARY. Also, if his name is not written all in caps every time, head back to the drawing board, because lowercase letters are nowhere near X-TREME enough for ADAM X, THE X-TREME.
In more modern exercises in mediocrity, how about that Hope Summers, huh? Good lord, if a character was defined by how amazing and world-changing everyone is constantly saying they are, Hope would have been Mecha Batman by the time she was at the centre of her third massive crossover or so. And yet, at the end of the day, she’s still just Peter Petrelli with the added power of trolling Jean Grey fans for as long as humanly possible.
Finally, gonna go a little more mainstream and cap off my lineup with Bishop, a dude who is only as big a name as he is because someone high up said “We need another black X-Man. Make one. Also, he should be able to blast things.” Now, editorial mandate is certainly not the best way for a character to come into being, but a character’s origins aren’t the end-all, be-all when it comes to determining whether they’re trash or not. My dearest darling Dazzler was created via a similarly tone-deaf edict, and any attempt at increasing diversity in comics is a good thing, as far as I’m concerned. The problem with Bishop, however, is that literally no writer ever has known what the hell to do with him. He is a house built on sand, there’s just nothing to work with there. Is he a gritty future soldier learning to work alongside the legends of his time? Yeah, but that got old super fast. So maybe he can just be a generic cop or something? No, no, that’s not much better. Maybe he’s evil! And crazy! Well, whatever the hell he is, it is not and has never been anything remotely resembling interesting. But hey, at least he blasts things.
Confession time: my X-Men knowledge doesn’t run nearly as deep as my fellow contributors’. So when I heard of this project, my very first thought was, “I don’t know, pretty much any X-Factor line-up Peter David’s put together?”
Because if PAD had a superpower, it would be making “trash” characters into loveable scamps you can’t help but care about. Case in point, I once took an 8-hour road trip after school because there was a lone copy of the Madrox trade available at a comic book shop in a nearby city, and I didn’t know when I’d be able to find one again.
That’s a lot of dedication to a character whose only power is to create a bunch of regular guys by hitting himself. (Yes, I know it’s more nuanced than that, but… That’s what it boils down to. Let’s not get picky.)
So in honour of my beloved Madrox, my All-Trash X-Men team is… Well, a lot of Madrox.
- Original Flavour Madrox: I don’t mean regular Jamie Prime. I mean Madrox the Multiple Menace, first introduced by Len Wein, Chris Claremont, and John Buscema, all the way back in Giant Size Fantastic Four #4. (Coincidentally, the oldest single issue I own.) If the O5 X-Men can come back from the past, I see no reason why the socially awkward, Mr. Spock rip-off version of Jamie can’t make an appearance.
- The X-Factor Dupe: Also known as the dupe that once pushed Rictor off a building in X-Factor #1. (Sidebar: I’ve always sort of figured that this was the same dupe who temporarily absorbed Jamie Prime in PAD’s original X-Factor run, but that goes beyond the scope of this article.) He’s the perfect foil for Madrox the Multiple Menace, as he’s the polar opposite of socially awkward.
- Matt Rocks: The newest character on the team, spray-tanned entertainment lawyer, Matt Rocks, is a Charles Soule creation who only just debuted in a recent issue of She-Hulk. He’s also the dupe that’s funding Jamie Prime’s current retirement. I’m of the opinion that every superhero team should have a lawyer on standby, making Matt Rocks the best (and only) choice for my All-Madrox All-Trash X-Men.
- John Maddox: Of all Jamie’s dupes, John Maddox is probably the most normal of the bunch. Since every team needs an Everyman, he’s my pick for the slot.
- Jamie Prime: C’mon, like I’d forget about the original. How else are we going to contrast the character development he’s gone through since the ol’ condom head days? Plus, the All-Madrox Squad needs a leader, and who else was gonna get that job? I guess he’s stepping out of retirement for one last adventure.
Now, since Maggott is obviously not one of Madrox’s Dupes, he doesn’t qualify for membership on the All-Madrox All-Trash X-Men, but maybe he could be the team’s arch-nemesis. Stranger things have happened. A lot of them to Madrox.
(Case in point, The Baby Dupe Jamie Absorbed That One Time AKA Sean Madrox would clearly be the All-Madrox team’s equivalent to the Death of Professor X. Just think about it.)