The world of the X-Men is sprawling. All comic book franchises have vast histories, but few have quite as many alternate realities as the X-Men. Between the reality-bouncing Exiles series and the spontaneous What If? issues, the X-Men never seem to be pleased with the “normal” Marvel world of Earth-616. In a lot of ways, that’s a good thing. Alternate realities allow readers and writers to explore outlandish scenarios without injuring the “integrity” (if you can call it that) of the 616. The X-Men can go from being superpowered heroes to depowered criminals without forcing fans into cataclysmic shock. In short, they’re useful.
Of course, they can also change things so radically that the characters we all know and love become practically unrecognizable. Appearances, personalities, and powers all have a tendency to shift dramatically in alternate realities. Things as basic as Gambit’s signature accent or Magneto’s helmet can disappear when the fabric of the Marvel Universe begins to wrinkle. Perhaps most importantly, mutants can go from being Omega-level to Toad-level (or vice versa) in a few short panels. It’s strange to see the physical and mental characteristics of our favorite heroes change, but it’s downright scary when writers start messing with their powers. X-Men fans know exactly how powerful each individual member is, so it can get a little confusing when alternate universes start changing that. In order to keep up with these capricious characters and their powers, CBR is counting down ten alternate reality X-Men who are stronger than their original version and ten who are weaker.
20 STRONGER: CHARLES XAVIER IN MUTANT X
In a lot of ways, the series Mutant X (and its corresponding alternate reality) represent the opposite of Earth-616. Havok leads the X-Men instead of Cyclops and Madelyne Pryor became Marvel Woman instead of Jean Grey. In this topsy-turvy reality, Marvel flips good and evil, as is the case of Charles Xavier and Magneto.
Traditionally, Magneto is the villain and Charles is the hero, but that isn’t so in Mutant X. In this reality, Charles became evil after absorbing a part of the Shadow King’s persona. The psychic absorption amplified Charles’ powers tenfold and radically changed him. With world domination in mind, Charles captured numerous telepaths and siphoned off their powers, using them like super-charged batteries. The effect was a nearly unstoppable version of Xavier.
19 WEAKER: OLD MAN LOGAN
The race between Old Man Logan and the original Wolverine is a close one, but we’re giving a young Wolverine in his prime the slight advantage over his older counterpart. Star of the Old Man Logan series, this aged version of Wolverine comes from a futuristic alternate reality where villains rule the country. Shortly before the villains overthrew the government, Mysterio brainwashed Wolverine into ending all of the X-Men. After that day, Wolverine threw away the “Wolverine” mantle, going by Logan instead.
Old Man Logan’s healing factor operates less effectively than the younger Wolverine’s, which heals wounds almost instantly. The aged Logan is also blind in one eye and deaf in one ear, which reduces the magnitude of his enhanced senses.
18 STRONGER: KITTY PRYDE IN AGE OF APOCALYPSE
The 1995 "Age of Apocalypse" storyline saw massive but artificial, changes to the X-Men. Legion, Charles Xavier’s son, accidentally created the radically different reality, where the classic X-Men villain Apocalypse reigns supreme.
Every X-Men character became completely new in this reality, including X-Men veteran Kitty Pryde. Wielding razor sharp wrist gauntlets and a perpetually bad attitude, the Age of Apocalypse version of Kitty Pryde is hardly recognizable for those familiar with her Earth-616 persona. She still has her same phasing abilities, but this version of Kitty brings a lot more to battle than just mutant gifts. Her hand-to-hand combat skills are incomparable thanks to a pair of wrist-mounted claws.
17 WEAKER: MAGNETO IN X-MEN NOIR
Everyone in the Noir Universe (an alternate reality that mimics the classic movie genre) is depowered, so we could have chosen any of them for our list. However, one Noir character proves to be especially useless when stripped of his mutant gifts: Magneto. This classic villain is known in X-Men Noir as Eric Magnus, a crooked cop with practically no positive traits.
The Magneto of Earth-616 is Superman when compared to his Noir equivalent. Detective Magnus is obsessed with violence but he doesn’t have the ability to think through his actions before committing them, like Xavier does. This is ultimately what gets him in offed.
16 STRONGER: DAZZLER THOR
How do you make an already awesome character even better? If we learned anything from Storm’s transformation via the Stormcaster, there’s only one answer: give them a magical Asgardian hammer. Although it’s supposedly really difficult to become the God (or Goddess) of Thunder, numerous heroes have achieved it in the Marvel Universe, including X-Men member Dazzler.
We don’t know much about Dazzler Thor’s history aside from the fact that at some point within her reality she was able to lift the “Lightbringer” hammer. The Asgardian hammer gave her all of Thor’s abilities while still allowing her to retain her mutant gifts. She features alongside her Earth-616 counterpart in the second volume of A-Force, where her powers far exceed those of the normal Alison Blaire.
15 WEAKER: CYCLOPS IN LITTLE MARVEL
If you’ve read Giant Size Little Marvel you’ll know that though small, these miniature versions of our favorite heroes can still pack a serious punch -- Cyclops included. Even though in the series Cyclops is a kid with a strangely large vendetta against the Avengers, he still has deadly optic blasts.
The reason Lil’ Cyclops is on our list as a weaker contender isn’t because he’s a depowered version of Cyclops. Rather, it’s because he isn’t yet smart enough to use his powers in well-thought-out ways, thus making him a weaker opponent. For a kid, he’s insanely powerful, but compared to the real Cyclops, he still needs a few years with Xavier.
14 STRONGER: ROGUE IN NEW EXILES
It’s hard to create a character more powerful than Rogue. On Earth-616, Rogue can absorb others powers, which gives her near limitless potential. However, her powers are dampened by control. Even though she trained under Charles Xavier for years, Rogue’s control over her absorption abilities has never been strong.
In Exiles #99, writer Chris Claremont imagines a version of Rogue where control isn’t a problem. The reality-hopping team known as the Exiles come across a young mutant named Anna Raven who, like her Earth-616 twin, has absorption powers. However, this version of Rogue only absorbs through her hands, as opposed to her entire body. This version can also “recall” the powers of every person she’s ever touched.
13 WEAKER: SABRETOOTH IN X-MEN FOREVER
The 2009 series X-Men Forever was set in a world much like Earth-616. The series allowed famed X-Men writer Chris Claremont to explore what he would have done with Uncanny X-Men had he had stayed on the creative team in the ‘90s. One character Claremont gave a fair amount of time to was Victor Creed, aka Sabretooth. In the series, the once vicious villain contracts “Burnout” -- a deadly disease that attacks mutants and their powers.
Without his healing factor, Storm permanently blinds Creed during a battle, rendering his enhanced sight useless. Throughout the rest of the series, Sabretooth is still powerful, but the loss of his healing factor and his sight keep him from being the fierce fighter he is on Earth-616.
12 STRONGER: CYCLOPS IN ULTIMATE X-MEN
The 2001 Ultimate X-Men series gave Marvel the chance to explore X-Men origins in a 21st century setting. Set in an alternate reality, the Ultimate X-Men universe is similar, but not identical, to Earth-616. The founding X-Men are younger and less experienced and although they carry the same names as, some of them have slightly different personalities.
Power-wise, most of the X-Men remained the same -- except for Cyclops. Ultimate Cyclops used the mutant growth hormone called “Banshee” to increase his powers. While in this heightened state, Cyclops could use the ambient energy his body collects to fly and deliver superpowered punches. Ordinarily, Cyclops expels energy bursts via his eyes, but while taking Banshee, Cyclops could manipulate his body’s energy in a plethora of ways.
11 WEAKER: TIME DISPLACED JEAN GREY
Because of the time displacement in All-New X-Men that brought the '60s versions of the X-Men into the present timeline, the younger Jean found out about her telepathy skills earlier than her older counterpart did. This gave her more time to hone her abilities, boosting her to Omega-level status.
For a while, the younger Jean’s impressive powers seemed to eclipse the “real” version of Jean, who passed in New X-Men. And then the Phoenix came. In the Jean Grey series, the younger version of Jean cannot handle the force of the Phoenix and falls when she comes into contact with it. The younger Jean is powerful, especially for a teenager, but she can’t compete with the first Phoenix host: the “real” Jean Grey.
10 STRONGER: BLOODSTORM
As strange as it may sound, vampires are a pretty prevalent part of X-Men history. The “Curse of the Mutants” arc turned numerous characters into vampires, including X-Men fan-favorite Jubilee. Vampires also emerge during the alternate reality Mutant X series, where Storm finds herself Dracula’s victim.
After Dracula bites her, Storm becomes a vampire and begins going by a new name: Bloodstorm. Her vampiric transformation gives her heightened powers, such as immortality, super strength, and shapeshifting abilities. Her vampire gifts combined with her ability to manipulate the weather make Bloodstorm considerably more dangerous than her Earth-616 parallel.
9 WEAKER: EMMELINE FROST
Emmeline Frost (aka Emma Frost) lives in what might be the strangest alternate reality on our list. Earth-889, or Pre-Digital Marvel, is a dramatically different version of Earth-616’s early 20th century. In this reality, the X-Men are called the “X-Society” and act as police aids in mutant related crimes.
Emmeline is still a telepath and still a bit of a pampered mean girl. However, this version of Emma isn’t half as powerful (or half as stubborn) as her Earth-616 counterpart. At the end of the arc, the government places Emmeline under house arrest and she does nothing. Whether or not that’s by choice or because of her weaker telepathic powers is unknown, but we’re pretty sure it’s the latter. Our Emma doesn’t get told what to do.
8 STRONGER: NIGHTCRAWLER IN AGE OF APOCALYPSE
The alternate Age of Apocalypse reality may have given Kitty claws, but it gave Nightcrawler a completely different personality. The lovable and devoutly religious “elf” from Earth-616 is replaced with a sword swinging, bloodthirsty warrior in Age of Apocalypse. This version of Nightcrawler goes by Kurt Darkholme instead of Kurt Wagner, since his relationship with his mother Mystique (aka Raven Darkholme) is stronger than on Earth-616.
Kurt Darkholme retains the same mutant power of teleportation as Kurt Wagner, but he also has heightened combat skills, particularly in the realm of sword fighting. Morally, Darkholme lacks some of the qualms Wagner has against violence, which adds up to equal a much more ruthless fighter.
7 WEAKER: 1602 ROGUE
Rogue is ordinarily one of the most powerful mutants in the 616 world. Her ability to absorb other people’s powers makes her almost unbeatable in battle. The key word there is, of course, almost. In 1602 Witch Hunter Angela, a 17th-century version of Rogue discovers that her absorption powers are useless against the Enchantress, who uses magic to possess “Witchbreeds”, aka Homo Superior.
This version of Rogue doesn’t have a whole lot of time to demonstrate her powers since most of her appearances focus on her possession. But, the parts that we do see aren’t very promising. Without a teacher, Rogue’s powers are completely untamed. The fact that the Enchantress was able to possess her (and ultimately kill her) so easily shows just how weak this version of Rogue was.
6 STRONGER: ULTIMATE MADROX
Jamie Madrox, aka Multiple Mana can create “dupes” or replicas of himself in the normal Earth-616 reality. It’s a cool trick that frequently gets him into embarrassing romantic conundrums. While useful on occasion, Multiple Man’s powers aren’t anywhere near Omega level. In most storylines, his powers offer surface level entertainment.
The Ultimate version of Jamie is a completely different story. Like a lot of characters in the alternate Ultimate Marvel Universe, this Jamie’s story is a lot darker. At a young age, The Brotherhood of Mutants brainwashed Ultimate Jamie and forced him to become their personal army generator. At one point, Ultimate Jamie creates more than ten thousand dupes in order to take out some of the X-Men’s biggest players.
5 WEAKER: BAMF
Technically speaking, the “Bamf” race of tiny blue creatures isn’t an alternate version of X-Men member Nightcrawler. They’re a magical race of tiny critters who were first introduced in Uncanny X-Men #153, during one of Kitty Pryde’s famous fairy tale stories.
The Bamfs look like mini versions of Nightcrawler and even have his unique gift of brimstone-powered teleportation. Because of this, many fans view these adorable creatures as alternate versions of Nightcrawler, though Marvel has never confirmed this. As cute as they are, Bamfs are poor fighters, have low intellect, and aren’t very strong. Come to think of it, it’s a good thing they have the X-Men wrapped around their tiny fingers or they’d be in trouble.
4 STRONGER: JEAN GREY IN X-MEN: THE END
X-Men: The End details the events leading up to (not surprisingly) the end of the X-Men. Since the series came out way back in 2004, we can safely assume the series forecasts an alternative future. The number one reason it can’t come true is (you guessed it) Jean Grey.
As in so many X-Men arcs, Jean Grey is the driving force in X-Men: The End. After resurrecting herself using the Phoenix Force, Jean demonstrates complete control over the powerful astral being. Unlike on 616, this version of Jean loves using her powers and immerses herself in celestial studies. Near the end of the series, after a strange string of events, Jean’s clone Madelyne Pryor fuses with Jean. With Madelyne’s powers combined with her own, this Jean is practically a goddess.
3 WEAKER: BEAST IN MUTANT X
We covered Charles Xavier’s Mutant X persona earlier and talked about how he represents the opposite of his Earth-616 self. Unfortunately, the same can be said for X-Men original Beast or, as he’s called in Mutant X, Brute. Dangerous experiments severely reduced Beast’s high intelligence, giving him the smarts of your average kindergartner.
Those same experiments gave him green scales, gills, and fins but without his super intelligence, he isn’t very helpful on or off the battlefield. While most readers probably recognize Beast by his furry blue appearance, his real mutant gift lies in his brain. Without it, he’s practically powerless.
2 STRONGER: NEW SUN GAMBIT
Most X-Men fans would probably sum up Earth-616 Gambit in a few words: funny, attractive, and handy with a deck of cards. In terms of powers, his ability to charge objects with kinetic energy is a mid-level ability when compared to other X-Men. Like Multiple Man, Gambit is more witty than powerful.
Of course, that doesn’t mean Gambit is always like that. In alternate realities, Gambit has been many different people. Most memorably, Gambit was the character New Sun” on Earth-9921. From a young age, scientists taught this version of Gambit how to unlock his mutant power’s fullest potential. When he got older, New Sun could manipulate kinetic energy on a molecular level, enabling him to open interdimensional portals. He even ended his reality’s version of the Phoenix -- a feat reserved for only the most powerful of Marvel characters.
1 WEAKER: WOLVIE FROM ADORABLE X-BABIES
The word “cute” probably doesn’t come to mind when you think of the famous clawed mutant Wolverine. However, it does extend to his scarily-adorable, ultra-cute, mini-sized cartoon-counterpart Wolvie. You may know him from the new Exiles series but his history extends a bit further back. Mojo’s rival, Veech, created him and the other "Adorable X-Babies" in an effort to create something even more sickeningly cute than Mojo’s X-Babies.
Surprisingly, Wolvie still has a healing factor and retractable metal claws like Wolverine. But, the similarities stop there. Wolvie isn’t one for violence and although he probably could do some damage with those cute lil’ claws, his “let’s be friends” demeanor kind of inhibits that.