The ’90s were great for the X-Men, if not for the comics industry. Sales were booming and the possibilities for creating new mutants were endless, because anything is possible in the X-Men. The ’90s introduced a bunch of new comics, teams and new mutants to the franchise. The X-Men rosters grew bigger than ever before, and sometimes it seems like the rapid expansion had writer’s scrambling for ideas. Super-powered mutants were perfect for new #1’s, crossovers, and those sweet foil variant covers. Sometimes, this was great. Other times, it was very, very bad.
Whether X-Men were plagued by weird powers, boring storylines, or just tons of unnecessary pockets, there are definitely some new mutants from the ’90s that were not built to stand the test of time. ’90s X-Men are usually identifiable by their body design (65% chest, for men and women alike) and their insane hair. Now that Marvel has kept the X-Men going and transformed the teams, there are some mutants they would love to have us forget. Frankly, some of the ’90s X-Men are so awful, it’s probably best their memories are buried forever. For every Magneto and Wolverine, there are crowds of abandoned X-Men ideas and awful mutant mistakes Marvel (and everyone else) wants to forget.
If you have to add an extra “T” to your name in a last, desperate attempt to seem cool, you should probably just give up. Maggott is probably trying to make up for the fact that he basically has no power at all. His “power” is a mutation that stuck him with two ravenous worms in his body that can eat through anything. That’s cool for the worms, but doesn’t really do anything for Maggott.
He can’t even control his parasitic pals — they just bust out and eat whenever they feel like it. As a weird side effect, Maggott gains strength and turns blue when the worms eat, but they also have to eat though his skin to get back into his digestive system. Maggott could probably eat through any jail cell, but he can’t escape from his awful mutation and weird, gross powers.
Is there a worse X-name than X-Man? Apparently, writers had completely run out of ideas by the time Nate Grey came along in comics. You might also know him as “Nate the Great” which is definitely not an improvement. He was designed using the genetic templates of Cyclops and Jean Grey, and was tutored by Sinister. A better recipe for being a huge jerk has never existed.
Seriously, one of his abilities is just “charisma”. If a ’90s boy band gained psionic powers, it would be Nate Grey. His storyline is convoluted and disturbing, too. He’s basically Cable, which renders him irrelevant — the world can’t handle two Cables. He also has a thing with Madelyne Pryor — you know, the clone of Jean Grey? His mom? Gross. X-Man was an X-Mistake.
Marrow made her first appearance in an issue of Cable, one of the most over the top comics of the decade, so she is already weird by association. She was originally a member of the Morlocks, but she had a soft spot for Angel and was not treated well by the leaders of her team. Marrow has accelerated bone growth, two hearts to sustain her powers and can grow pieces of bone that she rips off and uses as weapons.
Marrow stuck around for a long time, but Marvel has worked to eviscerate all memory of this original, evil, ugly version of Marrow. After being injured in another dimension, she learns to control her powers and is a “new”, prettier version of her former self, which is a character more suited for a continuing spot in X-Men comics. The original, scary form is a thing of the past.
Skin was Angelo Espinosa, a former gang member in Los Angeles. Skin had a strange, fairly non-threatening mutant power for a self-proclaimed hero: he had a lot of skin. He could manipulate his epidermal layer to stretch, contract, deform and even wrap around his victims like a boa constrictor (if a boa were just a terrifying empty bag of flesh).
Skin’s abilities made him look weird. His extra skin took on a grayish color and, despite his normal skeletal structure, made him look like he was melting. He ended up dying while his friends were resurrected, but that wasn’t the end of his sad story. His X-Men friends found his body being exonerated because the cemetery didn’t believe in burying mutants, but they had him cremated. Skin isn’t a Mutant Marvel wants us to remember, but he still deserved a better death than that.
Shatterstar is the quintessential ’90s X-Men fantasy man. He was co-created by Rob Liefeld, who we assume is solely responsible for Shatterstar’s obnoxious utility pocket fanny pack. Shatterstar is the X-Men a bunch of 12-year old boys would build if they threw together all their pre-pubescent “cool” power fantasies to create one beautiful, ponytailed, champion of Mutant-kind.
Shatterstar’s powers include being really cool, really fast, really good at fighting people, and also being shaped like a lumpy rectangle. He can regenerate and move his organs around, which seems kind of cool, but more on the gross side. Shatterstar tries to make up the difference with his sweet double-bladed sword of ’90s awesomeness, but nothing can save him from a complete lack of taste. He should probably have stayed in Mojoworld forever.
What kind of mutant is named Joseph? Aren’t they supposed to have cool names like Dazzler and Toad? Well, Joseph is a special mutant — he’s a clone of Magneto. A younger, prettier, amnesiac version of Magneto. Well, that’s what everyone thinks, anyway. The nuns who rescued him thought he was Magneto, the X-Men he ran to when his magnetic powers killed a bunch of kids thought he was Magneto, but everyone gave him a second chance.
Maybe they were mesmerized by his flowing silver hair, or his 12 abs. Unfortunately, fake Magneto didn’t deserve all those second chances. He resurfaced years later, trying to convince everyone Magneto was evil. Luckily we have the real Magneto in today’s comics, and Joseph is just a sad ’90s memory.
9. CECILIA REYES
Dr. Cecilia Reyes isn’t the worst of the X-Men, but she never wanted to be in the X-Men, which brings the entire point of her character into question. She witnessed her father’s murder as a child, and that inspired her to become an ER doctor — but it also activated her mutant powers, which are actually really kind of cool.
She can create a shield that encompasses her entire body, which increases her durability. She uses her combined skills to remove a bomb from Cyclops’s chest, and joins the X-Men. She doesn’t want to join the team, but when she is fired from her job, she had nowhere else to go. She’s not around much anymore. In “Utopia”, Marvel let her go back to being a doctor like she wanted to be the whole time.
Maverick somehow survived nearly a decade in comics on the dry fumes of having a really cool outfit and really big guns. He has the ability to absorb and convert energy into blasts from his hands, but his real power is being a super-soldier, aided by a few visits to Weapon X. He has a vibranium suit, which refracts light and renders him invisible in the dark.
He also has a healing factor, and he later could shoot a corrosive chemical from his fingers that hinders his enemy’s healing factor, and he had all smell removed from his body (if that even counts as a power). Maverick was more of an X-Mercenary than an X-Men, so he’s not much of a loss. He did appeared briefly as “Agent Zero” in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which many of us would also like to forget.
7. ADAM X
Adam X, the most X-Treme of the X-Men was originally intended to be the third Summers brother, which explains why everything about him just screams ’90s. He has everything a 12-year old boy could possibly dream of: a sweet backwards hat, awesome bleach blonde braids and at least 10 abs. When he’s feeling casual, he wars an oversized hoodie. When he’s ready for battle he wears a full-body armored suit with huge razorblades coming out of his shoulders.
Those aren’t just a fashion statement, though. X-Treme uses his shoulder-weapons to slice open his enemies, and employ his real power: he can boil oxygenated blood. He also has a random handful of generic powers and abilities to fill in the gaps, including super strength and swordfighting, of course. X-Treme embodies every mistake made in ’90s mutant creation. Thankfully, Marvel has all but abandoned the character.
Skullfire was the leader of the 2099 version of the X-Men, and a pretty solid Cyclops knockoff. His powers allowed him to absorb energy and transform it into deadly blasts, but unfortunately he can’t actually control his powers. His blasts surface with strong emotion, and that often has disastrous results. Skullfire got wrapped up with La Lunatica, who is about as bad as she sounds.
At one time he donned some strange skull face paint and went a little nuts, but ultimately he came around. It was too late, though, for everything to return to normal. Skullfire was killed, but his energy was sentient outside of his body. He went on to join the X-Men with Luna, but he basically disappeared after that and no one cared why. He might have been a team leader, but he was a throwaway character and Marvel doesn’t seem to miss him at all.
Synch was a member of Generation X and he was meant, along with his friends, to be the next generation of X-Men. Unfortunately for Synch, he was one of the few X-Men that didn’t last, and he was killed off in the comics before his five year run was up. His power involved creating a “synch” link with the nearest mutant and emulating their powers. He never fully developed his own powers or his own characteristics, even though he was integral to many of Generation X’s plans.
He was often portrayed as a love interest involved with many of his female allies, so it always seemed that he was more of a prop than a team member. He died saving his human friends from a bomb, but he couldn’t save himself (because he had no powers of his own). Marvel has not bothered with him much since his untimely death.
When Jesse Aaronson was young, his brother Christopher used his mutant powers to drive his father insane and caused their parents to crash their car, killing them both. Christopher went on to become King Bedlam, a powerful mutant villain. Jesse was transferred into foster care, and later to a mental institution, where his mutant genes activated. He developed the power to disrupt mechanical and electrical systems, including controlling the functions of the human brain.
Though he was an interesting mutant with a compelling story and powerful abilities, his name is outdated. Stigmatizing mental illness with name like Bedlam, a nod to the famous mental institution and to his mentally ill, abusive brother, is reason enough to retire the character. He didn’t need to be crucified at the mansion, but it’s for the best that he doesn’t show up much anymore.
You might not even remember Bolt, because he made a point of changing his name so often. “Christopher Chris Bradley Brian Bulk Bolt Johnson, later Maverick” doesn’t really roll off the tongue. He is pretty recognizable, though, by his ridiculous costume. He has bright orange shoulder pads, like a post-apocalyptic hockey player, and a half-mask that looks like a mop bucket. He has electrical powers, which explains the lightning rods on his shoulders, but there is no excuse for his plethora of bright orange pockets.
He contracted the mutant-killing Legacy virus, and lost control of his powers, which forced him into retirement. When he learned of the violent death of his friend, Maverick, he took over his legacy and became the new Maverick, with training from Cable. Bolt isn’t the worst of the X-Men, but as far as comics are concerned, he’s just another Maverick.
Chamber had a hard time fitting in, which is understandable considering his powers had caused an explosion in his chest and blew his mouth off. Consequently, he couldn’t speak, which made him a boring character for a long time. The only thing he had going was a silent, unrequited love story with Husk that never went anywhere. Even when Chamber was blasted with a power that let him communicate telepathically (how convenient), his character didn’t improve much.
Marvel tried again to make him more interesting by transforming him into Decibel, a mutant with ironic sound-related powers, but that didn’t work, either. Most recently, Chamber was teaching “Coping With Physical Changes”, so…X-Men Sex Ed. Chamber is forgettable, and is also a remnant of an outdated narrative on disability. Luckily, the Chamber of the past is long gone, he’s just a boring teacher now.
Cable is the X-Man Marvel won’t let us forget. They just can’t let him go, even though he is completely ridiculous. Cable is a super-muscled, multi-pocketed holdover from the days of ’90s past. When Cable was created, no one could have possibly suspected that the whiny jerk son of Scott Summers and Madeline Pryor would have stuck around in comics for so long.
The draw of a techno-organic, time-traveling super warrior though is undeniable. Marvel has come a long way in developing new, updated mutants. Cable is a ’90s power trip that needed to be laid to rest. He died in 2010, but that didn’t last long (as most X-deaths tend to not) leaving us with the perfect example of the overpowered X-Men that overflowed in ’90s comics. He was the perfect candidate for all those foil covers, though.
Are there any other ’90s mutants you wish never existed? Let us know in the comments!
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