How Did Mystique Get Scaly in the Comics?

In Follow the Path, we spotlight changes made to comic book characters that are based on outside media, as well as characters who entirely came from outside media. I'm sure you can think of other examples, so feel free to e-mail me at brianc@cbr.com if you want to suggest some other examples for future installments.

Today, based on a suggestion by reader Ross, we look at how Marvel Comics found a way to work Mystique's distinct scaly appearance in the original "X-Men" movie into the comic books.

After appearing both behind the scenes and as other people in her first two appearances in 1978's "Ms. Marvel" #16 and 17, the villain known as Mystique made her first appearance in her "real" form in "Ms. Marvel" #18 (by Chris Claremont, Jim Mooney and Ricardo Villamonte).

This was the same look that she rocked when Claremont moved her over to the pages of "X-Men", where she became a key nemesis of the team as the new leader of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants in "X-Men" #141 (by Claremont, John Byrne and Terry Austin).

She was a thorn in the side of the X-Men for many years, while also having a complicated relationship due to her foster daughter, Rogue, breaking away and joining the X-Men.

Mystique was a popular enough character that when the filmmakers behind the original X-Men film in 2000 were looking for members of Magneto's Brotherhood of Mutants, Mystique was one of the members of the team. However, they decided to do a re-design on her (she was played by Rebecca Romijn in the film). She was covered in scales.

Also, by the way, in the same film, Ray Park played another member of the Brotherhood of Mutants, the Toad...

Park's Toad was a lot different than the traditional depiction of the Toad, like this scene from "X-Force" #5 by Rob Liefeld and Fabian Niceza...

I bring the Toad up because he ties in with how Mystique was transformed into her movie version.

In 2001, Fabian Nicieza, Kevin Maguire and Andrew Pepoy put out a fascinating mini-series called "X-Men Forever", which seemed to have, at its heart, the intent to explain away some unresolved plots and tie in characters with the then-recent "X-Men" film (one of the unresolved plots it solved was who killed Mystique and Sabretooth's son, the ill-fated 1996 presidential candidate, Graydon Creed).

The plot of the series is that Prosh, the sentient Celestial ship that X-Factor used to live in (and Cable did, as well, when Prosh took control of Cable's space station, Graymalkin), enlisted the help of a disparate group of mutant characters to help stop the Stranger. The characters chosen were Jean Grey, Iceman, Juggernaut, Mystique and Toad. Towards the end of the six-issue series, the Toad was badly injured during battle. Prosh used some heavy-duty cellular regeneration tools to save Toad's life, but it did a lot more than that. However, while his cells were being re-written, an attack from the Stranger broke a power cord apart. Mystique had to decide to use herself as a conduit between the two power cables to continue charging Toad's regeneration. It succeeded in making the Toad look like the Toad from the film and, surprisingly enough, exposing herself to all of that energy ALSO transformed Mystique, making her look like Rebcca Romijn from the "X-Men" movie...

The change didn't last long. In a story that came out before "X-Men Forever" but was set after it, "Uncanny X-Men" #388 (by Chris Claremont and Salvador Larroca), Mystique is sans scales as she kills Moira MacTaggert...

Her next appearance after "X-Men Forever" was released was in an "Uncanny X-Men" storyline. Here she is on the cover of "Uncanny X-Men" #406, san scales...

What's interesting is that even now that the very popular Jennifer Lawrence is playing Mystique as more of an anti-hero in the current "X-Men" films, the comics have not yet again adapted her scaly appearance...

Okay, that's it for this installment! Thanks for your suggestion, Ross! If anyone else has a suggestion for a future Follow the Path, drop me a line at brianc@cbr.com!

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