The X-Men ruled the ’90s. Don’t let the current merch-free aisles of your local retail stores and the Inhumans-filled Marvel Universe trick you into forgetting that an entire generation of comic book fans and creators were introduced to the medium because of these mutants and their ’90s omnipresence. Full disclosure: I was one of those kids. A Saturday morning cartoon on Fox; an expansive line of action figures from Toy Biz; a dozen monthly comic book series; hundreds of trading cards; promotional tie-ins with everything from Pizza Hut to Chef Boyardee and pogs — don’t forget all the pogs — kept the X-Men popular even as the market crashed and Marvel declared bankruptcy.
In the previous installment of “Mutants of the ’90s,” we focused on the characters created during the decade that somehow made it out alive — or, as in a few cases, made it out dead and then lived again. This time around, though, things are going to get dark as I focus on the characters whose tragic deaths have yet to be undone. There are a lot of them; just over half of the 150 X-Characters featured in this two-parter are currently six feet under, just waiting for influential writers with strong ’90s nostalgia to dig them up. In true convoluted X-Men fashion, most of these characters were resurrected via Selene’s magic and the Transmode virus during the “Necrosha” storyline in 2009. So if any writers want to use Shinobi Shaw or Risque again, there’s your in!
With that caveat out of the way, here are the 78 ’90s characters currently crowding the Xavier Institute’s graveyard.
New additions to the main X-Teams have fared far better than their supervillain counterparts. Thanks to a few very recent resurrections, only a half dozen members of ’90s X-Men, X-Force, X-Factor and Generation X are currently deceased. Revanche has the honor of being the only ’90s X-Man to still be dead. She died of the legacy virus back in 1994’s “X-Men” #31, just a year after her initial debut. Her corpse was briefly reanimated by the Sisterhood of Mutants in 2009, but the quasi-resurrection didn’t stick.
Feral made a big splash as the most ferocious member of Cable’s X-Force. She defected to the Mutant Liberation Front a few years after her debut and never again held down a regular role in any ongoing series. She lost her powers at the end “House of M” and was eventually murdered by Sabretooth in 2007’s “Wolverine” #54. In 2011, Peter David briefly brought Feral back as a ghost in “X-Factor” but stopped short of resurrecting her. Strictly speaking, Shard was never really alive to begin with. She was a holographic projection of the essence of Bishop’s dead sister given sentience and membership with X-Factor. She turned over her photonic energy to Bishop so that he could permanently defeat Fitzroy in 2000’s “Bishop: The Last X-Men” #14.
The Generation X generation has been through a lot since their 1994 debut. First, the Mondo that joined the team was revealed to be a clone and a mole for Black Tom Cassidy — and then he was killed in “Generation X” #25. Then Synch, the most well-adjusted and well-liked member of the team, was blown up off panel right before “Generation X” #63. Lastly, fellow original Gen X-er Skin was crucified on the Xavier School lawn in “Uncanny X-Men” #423. He did get a whole issue dedicated to his burial — although they incorrectly called him Angelo Torres instead of Angelo Espinosa for the entire issue.
Life has not treated friends of the X-Men well, specifically half of Cable’s mercenary squad, the Six Pack. G.W. Bridge died to resurrect Frank Castle in 2009’s “Punisher” #10, Garrison Kane bit the dust eleven years ago in “Weapon X” #12 and Grizzly didn’t even make it out of the ’90s alive; Domino had to put him down in 1995’s “Cable” #24 after he was brainwashed into becoming a serial killer.
Bolt — Chris Bradley, who debuted in “X-Men Unlimited” #8 as a teen with the terminal Legacy Virus — lived longer than expected, but died at the end of the “Weapon X” ongoing in 2004. Warpath’s quasi-girlfriend Risque was a supporting player in “X-Force” before Grant Morrison killed her off-panel in 2001’s “New X-Men Annual.” The first time-traveling member of the Askani we ever met — later given the first name “Jen” — died just two issues after debuting in “X-Factor” #66 — but she died so that baby Cable could travel to the future, so she’s kinda worth mentioning. Another time traveler, Greystone, was the only member of his X.U.E. squad to die when “X-Factor” concluded in 1998.
Thanks to his many cartoon appearances and the fact that he’s a genuine Jim Lee creation, Omega Red might just be the most prominent X-Villain to debut in the ’90s. The guy’s dead, though; he bought the pointy end of a Muramasa blade in 2009’s “Wolverine: Origins” #39. As the head of Operation: Zero Tolerance, Bastion caused a lot of trouble for the X-Men in the late ’90s. He tried to pick up where he left off a decade later in the “Second Coming” storyline and ended up getting killed by Hope Summers. The Age of Apocalypse’s Dark Beast became a major behind the scenes mover and shaker after transporting himself into the main Marvel Universe. He made regular appearances for over a decade and even replaced the real Beast on the X-Men for a time. He met a quick and unceremonious end last summer in “Uncanny X-Men” #23. Dark Beast’s AOA buddy Holocaust — or Nemesis — also made his way into the main Marvel U; he’s even responsible for putting a few names on this list. He eventually got traded to the reality-hopping Exiles crew, which is where a rogue Hyperion ultimately killed him.
Wolverine villain Cyber has died twice now, with the one in “Wolverine: Origins” #3 having stuck. Hazard and Sinsear barely made an impression while they were alive and have been dead since 2008 and 1997, respectively. Deadpool foe Slayback did get the honor of having an action figure, but he has suffered the indignity of dying multiple times. He was recently resurrected again and killed again in “Death of Wolverine: The Weapon X Program” #1. X-Factor villain Haven died after giving birth to the Adversary, Piecemeal died at the end of 1991’s “Kings of Pain” crossover and Charon came and went in “X-Factor Annual” #8. Peter David spent his early ’90s run on “X-Factor” tormenting the Chalkers — Rick, Vic and Dick — and killed all three of them in that same “X-Factor” annual. If you think that’s embarrassing, check out Empyrean. The guy debuted as a mutant motivational speaker with a villainous side in “X-Men Annual” #2 before being lost in the time stream in 1995’s “X-Men: Time Gliders” #4 — which was a promotional tie-in comic with the fast food chain Hardee’s.
MUTANT LIBERATION FRONT & DARK RIDERS
Now that we’ve arrived at the six big super villain teams of the ’90s, the body count is going to rise fast. Villains have a higher mortality rate than heroes to begin with, but being a member of a super villain team places you just one rung higher than unnamed henchman on the mortality ladder. Starting with the Mutant Liberation Front, Sumo wasn’t long for this world; Cable shot him in the head just two years after his debut. Archangel accidentally beheaded Kamikaze during “X-Cutioner’s Song” and the primary Zero android sacrificed itself to save Excalibur in 1994. Reignfire — whose origin cannot be explained in a sentence — was crushed in a Celestial ship in 1999’s “X-Force” #97. A few years later, Reignfire’s prized recruit, Locus, was murdered by Sabretooth in “Weapon X” #1. Original MLF member Tempo survived for a very long time and even received proper characterization thanks to Peter David and Fabian Nicieza; she died during 2011’s “Age of X” event and didn’t come back to life when the timeline was corrected.
The Dark Riders have a ridiculously high mortality rate. Foxbat died in an explosion in “Cable” #19. The rest of the riders all died in two issues. Tyler Dayspring — AKA Genesis — and his Dark Riders (Deadbolt, Hurricane, Lifeforce and Spyne) all died in “Wolverine” #100. Two years later in “X-Man” #46, three original Dark Riders — Barrage, Hard-Drive and Psynapse — all met their end at the hands of Madelyne Pryor.
ACOLYTES & UPSTARTS
Because of their close ties to Magneto, the Acolytes amassed a lot of appearances and members in the ’90s. Writers could barely keep straight who was and wasn’t dead, which led to a lot of accidental resurrections for these guys. Still, as far as I can tell, all of these villains are straight up dead. Original Acolytes Anne Marie Cortez, Chrome, Delgado and Nance Winters all died when Asteroid M went kaboom in 1991’s “X-Men” #3. Eric Kleinstock, of the Kleinstock gestalt, died during his debut in 1993’s “Uncanny X-Men” #298. Fellow second generation Acolytes Milan and Javitz were murdered by Holocaust in 1995’s “X-Men” #42-43. Three other second gen Acolytes — Mellencamp, Katu and Spoor — died during Cassandra Nova’s attack on Genosha in 2001’s “New X-Men” #115. That same attack has also been used to explain the deaths of lesser-known members Barnacle, Rem-Ram and Static. Latter day recruit Decay died three months after his debut in an annual, while his cohort Gargouille survived for years until she became Predator X chow in “Uncanny X-Men” #518. Senyaka, another minor character most remembered for having a pretty cool toy, was resurrected as part of the “Necrosha” storyline but died again in 2010’s “X-Force” #25.
The Acolytes’ two leaders, Fabian Cortez and Exodus, are both dead as well. Cortez was first killed by Magneto in 2000’s “Magneto: Dark Seduction” limited series — and then an undead version of him was killed by Deadpool and Loa during “Necrosha.” And Exodus, a 900 year-old mutant touted as being ridiculously powerful, was killed when he came into contact with an even more ridiculously powerful mutant — Matthew Malloy — in last year’s “Uncanny X-Men” #26.
The Upstarts were created to be the X-Men’s big foes of the ’90s. They did not live up to that promise, to say the least. Fitzroy died in the final issue of “Bishop: The Last X-Man” and Shinobi Shaw was killed off-panel by his father Sebastian. Graydon Creed has died twice: he was first assassinated by Mystique in 1997’s “X-Factor” #130 and then killed again at the end of the “Second Coming” storyline. Siena Blaze took on Cyclops, Storm and Professor X all by herself in “X-Men Unlimited” #1 and never reached that level of menace again. She was later transported to the Ultraverse and then killed in the background of “Weapon X” #5.
EXTERNALS & GENE NATION
For a group of characters defined by their immortality, the Externals really did not stick around for long after their creator Rob Liefeld left “X-Force.” Nicodemus died in “X-Force” #20 and Burke followed in #37. Just two years after that, four more Externals — Gideon, Saul, Absalom and Crule — were killed by Selene starting in “X-Force” #52. Peripheral External Candra, most known for messing “wit’ de T’ieves Guild,” somehow survived until 2013’s “Scarlet Spider” #19.
Unlike the rest of these villain teams, Gene Nation debuted in the mid-’90s and thus missed out on the spectator boom. The team never gained any momentum and most of their members never gained notoriety. What I’m trying to say is that aside from Marrow, none of them got action figures. Reverb and Wynter didn’t make it out of their first appearances alive. Hemingway, who almost had an action figure, died in “Weapon X” #21 alongside his teammate Vessel. Fever Pitch benefitted from having a unique, naked Ghost Rider appeal to him; he popped up a bunch independent of his teammates before dying in 2009’s “X-Force” #13. Lastly, Sack — yes, a villain named Sack that looked like a snot-covered skeleton — died during 2010’s “Second Coming” crossover.
And that’s it. If there’s one thing this article has taught me, its that not even having an action figure can save a character from certain doom — and, also, that Toy Biz was up for making an action figure for anyone. Oh, the ’90s!
If you missed Part 1 of Mutants of the ’90s, be sure to give it a read to find out what the surviving ’90s mutants and affiliates are up to.
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