The '90s was a magical time for comics. Comics were changing, and everything was bigger, better, and more foil-wrapped, holographic, and glow-in-the-dark than ever before. There is no '90s comic phenomenon more iconic than the X-Men. They truly are their own genre of comics, and Marvel knew that, and never failed to capitalize on it. The X-Men were mutants, which meant that any rules and expectations for comics were thrown out the window. In the X-Men, anything goes. Mutants could be absolutely anything, so of course, they were everything at once. The X-Men of the '90s were super-muscular, super-rad, and usually really good at karate. The only thing more ridiculous than the actual X-Men team members were their adversaries.
The X-Men villains of the '90s are some of the strangest, most eccentric characters Marvel Comics has ever produced. As the number of X-Men titles on the shelves increased every month, new villains were created all the time, and sometimes things got really, really weird. They had to be weird to combat the ever-changing powers of their mutant foes, who were embracing powers like eye lasers, super-stretchy skin, blood-boiling and sweet mullets. Here are 15 of the wackiest and worst X-Men villains of the '90s.
Stryfe, The Chaos Bringer, embodies everything hilarious and awful about the X-Men villains of the '90s. He is the son of Cable, sort of, and he inherited his over the top style and over the top weirdness. Stryfe is actually the clone of Cable's son, Nathan Summers, raised in an alternate reality future where he was adopted by Apocalypse. If that convoluted mess doesn't scream '90s enough, his giant metal armored nipples are enough to cement him on this list forever.
He did do some truly awful things in his comics heyday, including trying to assassinate Charles Xavier, ordering a massacre on a Native American reservation, and releasing the Legacy virus. This culminated in a giant fight against Cable...on the moon. Stryfe tried his best to be bad, but trying to take this giant chrome clone seriously was just too much to ask.
Wildside was created by Louise Simonson and Robert Liefeld and made his first appearance in New Mutants #86 in 1990, the very beginning of the most confusing decade of X-Men comics in history. Wildside is a disturbing mix of Wolverine and an electrocuted lion, wrapped up in the signature too-tight spandex of the '90s and finished off with a useless cape. Wildisde had the power to alter other people's realities, forcing them to perceive hallucinations. He was not smart enough to rely on his powers, though, even though his ability to impact reality and perception was the best part of his character.
Instead, he preferred to run around in his fancy cape and punch his enemies, who were undoubtedly threatened by his pointy hair and creepy hand-claws. Finally, he suffered the only death appropriate for a mutant this weird: he was declared brain dead when Cable tried to probe his brain for intel.
13 SUGAR MAN
Sugar Man is too dark, strange, and confusing to be a product of the '90s alone. Something much more sinister was at work when Marvel decided that this wacky villain was a good idea. There is absolutely nothing that makes sense about Sugar Man, from his oddball name to his absolutely disturbing design. Sugar Man is physically deformed, which gains him access to the exclusive "ugly squishy ball-shaped" villain club run by MODOK and Mojo.
He has arms where his ears should be, or maybe the opposite, because his body is mostly face. He never gets much done, because the X-Men consistently foil his evil plans. His hobbies include time-traveling and genetic testing and experimentation, which seems ironic considering it was likely genetic experiments that made him into a mutant blob monster.
Dirtnap is part of a team of '90s villains created using random mobster catchphrases. He is joined by "Sleepin with Fishes" and "Bada-Bing". Ok, not really, but you have to admit this is a ridiculous name for a villain. Unfortunately for Dirtnap, his powers aren't any better than his name. Dirtnap was a body-stealing mutant, which could have been great for him if he had used it for anything cool.
Instead, he stole the body of a young boy named Algernon (foreshadowing much?) and tried to trick Wolverine. He attempted to body-snatch Wolverine...but it turns out healing factors are indigestible. Instead of getting cool Wolverine powers via Kirby-inspired absorption, Dirtnap had to steal a rat's body, and he got stuck. Dirtnap went from bad to worse, and it's probably best that not many people remember him at all.
11 NASTY BOYS
The Nasty Boys are not a forgotten '90s boy band, despite their name. The Nasty Boys were a ragtag team of mutants united by one thing: they were all terrible. Gorgeous George is a very non-gorgeous tar-based mutant who can change shape, and once he got so drunk he forgot what his arms were supposed to look like. Hairbag has super-strength, agility, and...flexible hair follicles. Hairbag was almost close to being a cool mutant.
Ramrod could control wood and plants, which you can tell by the weird staff he insists on carrying everywhere. Ruckus legitimately has the power to cause a ruckus. He absorbs sounds and screams them back really, really loud. Slab is the real powerhouse of the team, and he can change his body mass. He might have made it big on his own. Overall, this entire team was a joke.
Dragoness is a confusing character. She was born a mutant, after her parents were exposed to nuclear blasts at Hiroshima. She does not often display powers of her own, though she can produce flares and blasts from stored bio-electric energy. Most of the time she relies on a pair of bionic wings. In "House of M", though, her wings appear to be organic.
Dragoness seems like a mutant who didn't get a lot of thought put into her execution. She's causing trouble in Utopia now. Apart from her sometimes-useful powers and her wings of unknown origin, she's just a random woman in a lizard outfit and a welding mask. She never accomplishes much villainy, and is remembered as a member of the Mutant Liberation Force, which it seems is where bad X-Men villains congregate.
9 BRIMSTONE LOVE
Brimstone Love sounds like a dollar store cologne, not a villain readers are expected to fear and take seriously, but an awful name is the least of this villain's problems. He is primarily an enemy of X-Men 2099, so it makes sense that he would have a little extra helping of weird, but this is overboard even for the cheesiest X-Men books. Brimstone Love is a demonic villain, which means of course that he is a hulking mass of shiny purple muscle with giant horns.
Brimstone Love is the guardian of the Theatre of Pain, which is a legitimately terrifying idea, unlike Brimstone himself. He employs La Lunatica, a mutant who can force others to relive painful memories, and creates an arena that turns suffering into art. The Theatre of Pain was a cool idea, but Brimstone Love is a hilarious sociopath at best, not a terrifying villain.
Yeah, Beef. Beef's real name is Buford Wilson, so Beef is actually a considerable improvement. He was a super-strong, super-beefy (obviously) member of the Hellions. The Hellions were a team of adolescent mutants with bad names and bad attitudes, put together by The White Queen, Emma Frost. Beef is famous for being strong, punching things, and having an amazing outfit. Seriously, not many people can pull off the full-body purple jumpsuit headband combo, especially when it's coupled with a rad '90s pseudo-mullet.
Beef was a weak idea for a mutant and didn't do much overall. He was one of the mutants killed by the time-traveling Trevor Fitzroy, who throws Beef out the window on his way to kill Emma Frost. He was revived with a techno-virus after a while, but it didn't do much to improve his image.
Tusk is named for the two giant tusks that come out of his shoulders. Very original. He was a member of the Dark Riders, a team that served the villain Apocalypse. Tusk was involved in enacting the "Survival of the Fittest" program, with the goal of eliminating weaker mutants, with the belief that it would purify and strengthen the mutant race.
Tusk's main power was mutant strength, and presumably ramming things with his shoulder horns. What's worse than one Tusk though? A bunch of mini-Tusks running wild. His other power was creating smaller duplicates of himself to do his bidding. This spurned one of the creepiest action figures ever: a little Tusk with an even smaller Tusk tucked away in its back. Tusk suffered a sad ending, when he was tied to a bomb by Magneto.
Gamesmaster has the unfortunate ailment of being an omnipath, a very powerful telepath. It is a great power, on the surface, but hearing billions of voices all the time eventually drove him insane, until he could not even remember his own name. Why Gamesmaster seemed like the best name to choose at that point is probably another layer of his overall insanity.
He has very strong psychic powers, and can essentially hear the thoughts of everyone on the planet at the same time Gamesmaster can also control thoughts, and sometimes actions, though a few mutants are immune to his powers. He teams up with the Black Queen and the Hellfire Club to create the Upstarts, who enjoyed killing other mutants for fun and games. Gamesmaster could have been fun, because he was powerful, but his name and his actions don't live up to his psychic abilities.
Tempo has the power of Chronokinesis, which is the lackluster ability to control time, but only in her immediate vicinity. She can also levitate herself. Neither one of these abilities makes it necessary to dress like a sexy gold-plated bullet, but she does that anyway. Tempo is one of the worst X-Men villains of the '90s, primarily because she doesn't really want to be one. She is a member of the Mutant Liberation Front, but when her team wants to blow up a genetic testing facility for infants, she tips off the good guys.
Cable offers her a spot on his team, but she declines to attend college. She goes back to villainy anyway, joining the Acolytes. Eventually she moved into Utopia and started helping the X-Men. She went back and forth so many times, not succeeding on either side, that she is not very memorable at all.
4 ALBERT AND ELSIE DEE
Albert and Elsie Dee are quite the odd couple. They are a pair of androids built to kill Wolverine. Albert impersonated Wolverine (including a signature shredded tank top over bulging '90s muscles) to draw him out, and Elsie was packed with explosives. Their makers made a mistake, though, and gave Elsie a genius IQ, which she used to override Albert's programming. She was saved from a burning building by Wolverine, and decided she couldn't kill him.
She and Albert retreated into the sewers, where she sacrificed her explosive-laden body to save Cable. Albert saved her head and rebuilt her body, and they traveled time and space together in a jet. Albert and Elsie Dee are an interesting pair, but androids programmed to kill only last so long after they develop their own system of ethics and become best friends.
Forearm has muscular forearms on all four of his arms. He is one of the most confusing '90s X-Men villains, and also one of the weirdest Marvel characters of all-time. Apparently, when you run out of room for believable giant muscles on a regular human-shaped body, the only solution is to create space for more biceps, no matter how weird it turns out. He is a recurring member of the Mutant Liberation Front, which houses all sorts of strange mutant villain castoffs.
He tries to get his hands on the Legacy Virus a few times, but ultimately leaves his team because he feels betrayed by undercover S.H.I.E.L.D. Agents. Forearm not only has an extra set of arms, but the increased strength and stamina to match. Both Cable and Warpath mention that Forearm gets stronger between battles. Who knows, maybe he has a third pair of arms on the way.
Bliss is one of the strangest characters produced in the '90s, and she has changed a lot over time. This is partially due to a few redesigns, but also because she has been re-shaped into other X-Men a few times, rendering her almost obsolete as her own character. She was molded to represent Jean Grey, and later Storm, in order to infiltrate the X-Men. What Bliss did have of her won was not impressive either.
She could unhinge her jaw and extend a gross prehensile tongue, which was capped by either a disgusting worm mouth or a tiny, rabid version of her own face, depending on the artistic interpretation. Bliss never accomplished much besides being disgusting and confusing. The best thing she experienced was probably being Storm, because anything is better than being Bliss.
Onslaught was created by an "onslaught of negative feelings" that created a psionic being. Magneto ripped Wolverine's Adamantium skeleton out of his body (ouch) which made Professor X so mad he lashed out and shut down Magneto's mind. Magneto's anger and rage entered Xavier's consciousness, and combined with all of his negative feelings, to create the being known as Onslaught.
We guess the lesson here is don't bottle up your feelings, because they might accidentally form an evil villain. Onslaught did some weird things, like remind Jean Grey that the Professor used to have a crush on her, and brand her forehead with his own name (creepy). He also created a little psionic kid named Charles to gain the trust of Franklin Richards. Onslaught came back a few times in bigger and weirder forms, but no matter how big and strange he gets, his place on this list is well-earned.
Which of these '90s X-Men villains is the worst to you? Let us know in the comments!