WARNING: This article contains spoilers for “Logan,” in theaters now.
Unlike plenty of other X-Men films, “Logan” doesn’t really have room for cameos, Easter eggs and big reveals. The other mutant movies pack in shout-outs to the comics and lesser-known heroes, and films like “X-Men: Days of Future Past” and “X-Men: Apocalypse” usually feature a cast of a dozen or more characters. “Logan” isn’t like that; it focuses mainly on Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), Professor X (Patrick Stewart) and X-23 (Dafne Keen). Stephen Merchant’s Caliban has a decent amount of screentime, and there’s also a group of lab-grown mutant children with fairly generic powers and few-to-no lines. Except one: Rictor.
“Logan” does manage to squeeze in one more fairly major mutant into its cast, and Rictor’s inclusion — played by “The Get Down’s” Jason Genao — will come as a pleasant surprise for fans of the comics. After all, Rictor’s been around for almost 30 years and “Logan” marks his first appearance in an X-Men film.
As with pretty much every other X-character that’s appeared in an X-Men movie, Fox’s take on Rictor differs from the comic book version in a few significant ways. Rictor’s inclusion in the film makes sense; the Alkali/Transigen lab where all the mutant kids were created is in Mexico, and Rictor — born in Guadalajara — is one of Marvel’s most prominent Mexican superheroes. Like in “Logan,” Rictor was also a teenager when he debuted in 1987’s “X-Factor” #17 — although he wasn’t quite as young as his movie counterpart.
The biggest difference, though, stems from the change in Rictor’s origin. In the comics, Rictor wasn’t created in a lab to be a killer. Instead, he’s a standard mutant born to human parents. In “Logan,” Dr. Zander Rice used genetic samples from mutants to create new embryos that were then carried to term by captured women. After going on the run with the escaped child/weapon X-23, Logan discovers some files in her bag containing information on some of the mutant kinds. Laura’s lists James Howlett (a.k.a. Wolverine) as her genetic template. Another file, briefly seen, lists Dominic Petros as the genetic template for another kid. That kid is Rictor.
This is a big change. Dominic Petros is better known by his supervillain codename Avalanche. As a member of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and Freedom Force, Avalanche became a recurring foe for the X-Men in the ’80s. He made frequent appearances in the ’90s “X-Men” animated series and was a lead character in the “X-Men: Evolution” cartoon. Still, Avalanche has never appeared in an X-Men feature film — but now his name has.
The fact that Dr. Rice used Avalanche’s DNA to create “Logan’s” version of Rictor also explains the subtle difference in Rictor’s powers. In the comics, both Avalanche and Rictor have similar, although sometimes subtly different, powers. Avalanche can shoot seismic waves from his hands, manipulating the earth and causing earthquakes. Rictor usually shoots vibratory waves from his hands, which cause whatever they hit to rattle and shake. Basically, Avalanche is usually shown manipulating the ground while Rictor usually only able to create the force that then manipulates the ground. It’s a very subtle difference, and “Logan’s” Rictor is shown manipulating the earth and even cement blocks (like Avalanche) rather than just shooting vibratory blasts (like in the comics).
As previously stated, Rictor’s appearance in “Logan” is noteworthy because the character has been around for quite some time. Created by Louise and Walt Simonson during their definitive run on the early X-Men spinoff book “X-Factor,” Julio Esteban Richter was initially just another young mutant rescued by the team (comprised of the original five X-Men that started the entire mutant franchise). The anti-mutant organization known as the Right kidnapped Rictor, hooked him up to a big machine and planned to aim his vibratory powers at San Francisco. X-Factor rescued him and Rictor became one of their wards, alongside other young mutants Rusty Collins, Skids and Boom Boom.
X-Factor’s trainees formed a close bond as they often relied on each other for support while X-Factor was out battling major villains. This camaraderie manifested itself fully when the teens formed their own subgroup, the X-Terminators. This team was mostly active during 1988’s “Inferno” crossover, which saw the team go up against a horde of demons invading Manhattan. In the fallout of “Inferno,” the X-Terminators (including Rictor) made a big change to their status quo: they joined another team.
Rictor, Boom Boom, Rusty and Skids filled out the somewhat depleted ranks of the New Mutants, the original teen mutant team of the ’80s. This decision proved to be a major one for Rictor and his fellow X-Terminators, as they went from being supporting players in “X-Factor” to lead characters in Louise Simonson’s “New Mutants.” Rictor became close with his new teammates Cannonball, Sunspot, Wolfsbane, Warlock and Dani Moonstar; he grew particularly close with Wolfsbane, a repressed and shy young girl from Scotland with werewolf powers. The two even became somewhat of an item following the New Mutants’ lengthy mission in Asgard, but their romance was cut short when the teens got a new mentor.
The aggressive and militaristic Cable took over as the leader of the New Mutants in 1990’s issue #89, a move that did not please Rictor. The usually hotheaded mutant reacted aversely to Cable taking over, but Rictor refused to tell anyone why. It was later revealed that Rictor believed that his father was killed by Cable. 1993’s “X-Force” #25, however, established that Rictor’s father was in fact killed by Cable’s evil clone Stryfe. Still, Rictor didn’t bring any of this up at first and instead held a massive grudge against his new leader.
But Rictor’s days with the New Mutants were already numbered; as part of 1990’s “X-Tinction Agenda” crossover, Rictor, Boom Boom and Wolfsbane were captured by X-Factor’s archenemy Cameron Hodge and sold into mutant slavery on the island of Genosha. Wolfsbane underwent a genetic manipulation process that removed her personality, fully turning her into a mutate slave. Even after the combined efforts of the X-Men, X-Factor and New Mutants stopped Hodge’s plan, Wolfsbane was still seemingly irrevocably altered. Rictor ditched the New Mutants, opting instead to go and rescue Rahne.
Unbeknownst to Rictor, there were other plans in motion for Wolfsbane. Before he could return to Genosha to find her, Wolfsbane had imprinted on the ex-X-Man Havok and was recruited by the U.S. government into a new government sponsored mutant team alongside him. With Wolfsbane now a member of an all-new and all-different X-Factor, Rictor’s search for her (which took place entirely off-panel and wasn’t really acknowledged) came up empty. By this point, Cable and an influx of new members had fully turned the New Mutants into X-Force, a militaristic fighting unit with the goal of taking the fight to bad guys. With the New Mutants fully under Cable’s influence, the impulsive Rictor was easily convinced to join a new team, one comprised almost solely of people with grudges against Cable: Weapon P.R.I.M.E.
As part of P.R.I.M.E., Rictor launched an assault on X-Force’s mountain headquarters, putting him in conflict with his former teammates Cannonball and Boom Boom. Things escalated quickly from there, as the fight ended abruptly in an explosion that separated Cable from his team and X-Force from their antagonists. Rictor was closer to X-Force during the blast, so he emerged from the rubble alongside the very people he just fought. But with Cable suddenly out of the picture, Rictor eagerly joined X-Force and immediately helped them with their first post-Cable mission: rescue their old New Mutants teammate Sunspot from the evil mutant Gideon.
With his increasingly macho attitude and impressive head of hair, Rictor fit in perfectly with the aggressively ’90s X-Force. He quickly bonded with Sunspot and Shatterstar, with the three of them often going on missions together. He grew particularly close with Shatterstar, a warrior from an entertainment-obsessed alternate dimension. Rictor often took ‘Star under his wing, giving him frequent lessons about Earth life and human culture.
Rictor even stayed with the team when Cable returned and cleared up the misunderstanding about the death of Rictor’s father. Cable also accompanied Rictor on a trip back to Mexico to check on his family in “X-Force” #34; that’s when it was revealed that Rictor’s family business was smuggling guns. Ric drew the line, though, when Cable later told the team that he wanted to work more intimately with them by utilizing his telepathy. The thought of having Cable in his head threw Rictor, and he abruptly quit the team. This move put Shatterstar in a panic, as Rictor was his first and only true close friend. Rictor only rejoined X-Force one more time, briefly, and only because Shatterstar’s well-being was in jeopardy. The two were then written out of the series, as ‘Star and Ric left to go confront the Richter family’s illegal business.
Rictor disappeared from comics for several years following his departure from “X-Force” in 1997. The next major phase of his publication history kicked off in late 2005 with the launch of a new “X-Factor” series. In the interim, Rictor had been affected by the reality-altering Scarlet Witch, who removed the powers from the majority of the planet’s mutant population in 2005’s “House of M” event. Now powerless, a suicidal Rictor was rescued by Jamie Madrox and his expanding group of mutant detectives. Rictor, now a human, joined the agency, reuniting him with Wolfsbane and his former X-Force teammate Siryn.
Shatterstar later returned and joined X-Factor Investigations, confirming what fans had been speculating about ‘Star and Ric’s relationship for a decade. The two had, in fact, become a couple following their departure from “X-Force” in the late ’90s, and they picked up where they left off in the pages of “X-Factor.” Rictor came to terms with his sexual orientation and became one of Marvel’s most prominent gay superheroes. Of course Wolfsbane, Rictor’s ex, was also on the team — and that led to some tense interactions.
Rictor even got his vibratory powers back, years after they were stolen from him by the Scarlet Witch. In 2011’s “Avengers: The Children’s Crusade” #6, Rictor volunteered to be Scarlet Witch’s test subject. The gamble paid off, and the Witch was able to give Ric his powers back once again.
Unfortunately, Rictor’s second stint as a super-powered superhero was short lived. After an almost eight-year run as a member of “X-Factor,” by far Rictor’s longest association with any one team, the series came to an end in 2013. Rictor’s last appearance in a comic was in 2013’s “X-Factor” #259, an issue that finally set the record straight regarding Shatterstar’s origin (short version: Shatterstar is his own grandfather).
Rictor is, once again, in the middle of a publication drought, similar to the one he fell into in the late ’90s in-between his stints in “X-Force” and “X-Factor.” It’s been over three years since he popped up in a comic, which is another reason why the character’s appearance — even in a drastically altered form — is such a welcome one in “Logan.” Fans of the character haven’t seen him (or his partner Shatterstar) since “X-Factor” #259. After so many years away, “Logan” is at least something. Fingers crossed his appearance in the movie will shake some new life into the comic book version of the character.
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