The ’90s are back. If you’re an X-Men fan that came of age in the (original) Clinton administration, then Marvel’s recent “ResurrXion” announcements probably struck a major chord with you. “Cable,” “Generation X,” “X-Men Blue” and “X-Men Gold” — everything ’90s is suddenly new again. Considering just how massively popular the X-Men were in the ’90s, this definitely comes as good news for fans that have hung around for the past few decades.
But “Cable,” “Gen X” and the “Blue” and “Gold” books could just be the tip of a pouch-berg. When it comes to the X-Men’s massively popular decade, there are plenty of comics, characters and concepts that could be brought out of retirement and pushed to the forefront of another “ResurrXion” wave. With that in mind, here’s a list of 15 such ’90s characters and comics that could use a fresh start in 2017.
This one’s a no-brainer. Nothing says ’90s X-Men like Cable’s well-armed, pouch-covered mutant militia. This series originally launched in 1991 and ran for the rest of the decade, becoming one of the longest-running X-spinoffs ever. The concept’s been reborn a number of times over the past few decades, returning as Wolverine’s black ops hit squad, the brutally high concept “Uncanny X-Force” team, and the back to basics approach in “Cable and X-Force.” The most recent volume of this series just ended in early 2015, so the X-Force brand hasn’t really been away that long. But even with all the returns, no series has reunited members of the initial lineup. What about a series featuring Cable, Domino, Cannonball, Warpath, Shatterstar, Boom Boom, Rictor, Sunspot, Siryn — heck, Marvel could even resurrect Feral and get the whole band back together. After all, nothing says ’90s like a good old-fashioned X-Force “in your face jam.”
“X-Factor” is a concept that has survived many different iterations and a number of decades. The title actually started in the ’80s as a reunion book starring the estranged original members of the X-Men. In the ’00s, “X-Factor” was restarted as a noir drama with the detectives of X-Factor Investigations at its heart. But what about the ’90s version of “X-Factor,” the one that launched in 1991’s issue #71?
Peter David and Larry Stroman transformed the book into a cutting edge satire, filled with hilarious gags and topical insight — a book perfect for the early ’90s political climate. The series took ex-X-Men Polaris and Havok and paired them with a band of misfits (Multiple Man, Wolfsbane, Strong Guy and Quicksilver) as they held press conferences, fought government corruption and struggled with a prank mayo jar. Fast-forward 25 years and the time feels right again for a politically aware X-book, one crouched in the weeds of Washington D.C. The X-Men are an inherently political concept, and it would be great to see the original mutant political book resurrXted.
13. Age of Apocalypse
Of all of the X-Men’s ’90s canon, no story still resonates with fans today like “Age of Apocalypse.” The franchise-wide crossover event took over the X-Men line in 1995, replacing every series with a gritty and glam alternate reality counterpart book. In this new reality, heroes were villains, villains were heroes, and everyone had awesome hair. This radical reinvention of the X-Men sparked plenty of imaginations, leading to a number of follow-up series and stories in the following 20 years.
Most recently, an “Age of Apocalypse” series appeared as part of Marvel’s “Secret Wars” event. It’s barely been a year since that limited series concluded, but you just know there are still plenty of stories to be told in this apocalyptic alternate reality. Marvel could easily launch a prequel series exploring the alternate histories of the event’s most popular characters. And there’ve been plenty of new mutants created since the event took place in1995; howsabout a series starring those characters, like “AoA” X-23 and Quentin Quire?
12. White Queen
While Emma Frost debuted in the ’80s, the ’90s is when her transformation from X-Men adversary to mainstay do-gooder took place. After a fight with Fitzroy and a fleet of Sentinels in 1991’s “Uncanny X-Men” #281, Emma was knocked into a coma. She remained in the X-Men’s basement lab for a few years’ worth of story as the team kept her on life support. She woke up in 1994’s “Uncanny X-Men” #314 — just in time to begrudgingly ally herself with Banshee, Jubilee and Sabretooth against the invading alien race known as the Phalanx. From there, Emma became headmistress of the Massachusetts Academy and a quasi-role model for a whole new generation of potential X-Men.
For the last 15 or so years, Emma’s been a stalwart X-Man. But what if Marvel took inspiration from the ’90s and gave Emma, who’s currently M.I.A. in the X-books, a new series with the “White Queen” moniker. This series could focus on the moral grey area that the character existed in during the ’90s as she struggles with whether or not she’s the icy White Queen or the heroic Emma Frost.
Maverick is about as ’90s as it comes. He’s a German super soldier and ex-CIA agent with awesome weapons and even awesomer armor. He even has multiple codenames (is he Maverick or Agent Zero), ties to Wolverine (he’s a Weapon X grad!) and was created by none other than legendary X-artist Jim Lee. He made his debut on a trading card, for crying out loud. If Marvel wants to revive the ’90s then Maverick’s the guy to turn to.
This guy hasn’t held down an ongoing series since the late ’90s and he hasn’t been seen in the comics in around four years, so he’s overdue for a return. Marvel should go all out and give Maverick a new series in the vein of a spy thriller, one that will put him in situations that put his ability to absorb kinetic energy to the test. As a Wolverine ally from way back, it’d be interesting to see how he interacts with the current Wolverines, Laura Kinney and Old Man Logan.
10. Mutant Liberation Front
Since anti-heroes are incredibly popular — a trend doesn’t look like it’s going away any time soon — then some of the X-Men’s classic ’90s villains should get the spotlight in a new series. The X-Men fought a number of villain teams in the decade, and the Mutant Liberation Front is the one that is definitely worthy of their own series. Initially founded by Stryfe (you know, Cable’s psychotic spike-covered clone), the M.L.F. featured a ragtag group of radically political mutant extremists — and many of them were surprisingly relatable.
Forearm grew too attached to his teammates, Tempo often struggled with her desires for a totally normal life, and Thumbelina worried about her brother Slab and his exploits as a member of Mister Sinister’s Nasty Boys. Yes, these weirdo villains had internal lives — even if they only popped up for a panel or two every few years. It’s time to reinvent the M.L.F. and give them their own series, one that gets into the minds of mutants that take the law into their own hands, ostensibly for the “betterment” of mutantkind. Plus, we all want to know if Tempo ever did go back to school.
This is another no-brainer. If we can’t get a Gambit feature film, no matter how hard Channing Tatum tries, then the least we can get is another action-packed adventure comic series starring the Ragin’ Cajun. Gambit is thoroughly ’90s; he debuted in 1990’s “Uncanny X-Men” #266 and, within a handful of years, was an A-List X-Man solely because of the FOX animated series and his roguish attitude.
Yes, everything about Gambit’s look is ridiculous and dated — but that’s what makes him great. He’s also one of the few male characters that’s inherently sexy, and sexy in a way that — if done right — is empowering to everyone, rather than objectifying anyone. Gambit’s a hard character to get right, but the most recent ongoing by James Asmus and Clay Mann (which was like a steamier “Indiana Jones”) sure got a lot right. It would be fantastic to see Marvel give Gambit another ongoing, one with an all-female creative team that could up Gambit’s specific… appeal. Don’t just leave Remy LeBeau in limbo playing solitaire, get him back out in the field.
Domino is basically the X-Men’s Black Widow, except she’s even more irreverent and caustic. Domino is a founding member of X-Force, who has an extensive history with Cable and a luck manipulation power that makes things fall into place for her. She’s an expert fighter (her original OverPower card gave her an “8” in fighting, you know) and strategist, and her power makes the impossible pretty much possible when she gets involved.
Marvel’s found great success with its “Black Widow” series, with artists like Phil Noto and Chris Samnee orchestrating some of the most daring action scenes seen in superhero comics. It’s time for Domino to take the lead again, either as a mercenary or a solo superhero. Just put Domino in plenty of situations where she can cut someone down while blowing stuff up and fans will be happy.
7. Mutant X
This late ’90s series stranded the X-Man Havok in an alternate reality, one where pretty much every single superhero had one bad day and things never got better. Storm was a vampire, Beast experimented on himself way too much, Iceman’s powers went out of control — just a lot of really sad turns of events all around. But the “Mutant X” reality, dubbed Earth-1298 in official handbooks, hasn’t been seen since the series ended in 2001.
“Mutant X” really established that reality, too; after all, the series ran for 32 issues and three annuals. There was a lot of groundwork done to this reality, building it up and out over the course of three years. It seems like a waste to leave this twisted alternate X-reality (albeit not one as twisted as the “Age of Apocalypse”) sitting on the metaphorical shelf. Marvel’s not doing anything with Havok right now, so stranding him in the Mutant X reality one more time could work.
Debuting in 1991’s “Uncanny X-Men” #281, Bishop was designed to be the X-Man of the ’90s. Not only did he sport a cool mullet and goatee, he also had a classic early ’90s backstory: he’s another soldier from the future that’s stuck in the past and determined to make sure his hellish future doesn’t come to be. His main mission was preventing the assassination of the X-Men by one of their own. When Bishop more or less succeeded in this in 1996’s “X-Men: Onslaught” #1, the character lost a lot of his purpose.
The last decade hasn’t been kind to Bishop, either. He was turned into a robot-armed red-eyed maniacal murderer in the most recent “Cable” series as he hopped through time trying to murder a baby. The most recent “Uncanny X-Force” series rehabilitated the character somewhat… only to leave him unused for the last few years. As one of the few black X-Men, Bishop deserves a much higher profile — and a lot more respect — than he’s been given lately. “ResurrXion” could do a lot of good by giving this energy-rechanneling future cop his own series to headline.
True to the ’90s, Blink’s a little bit hard to explain. See, there’s the original Blink that debuted in 1994’s “Phalanx Covenant” event and immediately died. Then there’s the “Age of Apocalypse” Blink that basically stole the 1995 event and became a fan favorite character. That Blink was rewarded with a lead role in the long-running “Exiles” series — but that version of the character hasn’t been seen since 2009. But that was okay because the main Marvel Universe Blink came back from the dead and became a cast member of “New Mutants” — but even she hasn’t been seen in four years. Clarice Ferguson is an incredibly popular character, as evidenced by her decade as the lead of a team book. She deserves to return to the forefront again. Heck, why not bring both Blinks together and have them co-lead a new series? Do that and please all the fans.
Similar to Maverick, Shatterstar is also inextricably tied to the ’90s. This is a character that was described as a multi-dimensional warrior pulled from a Duran Duran music video back when he first debuted; he sported a ponytail, braids, a jaunty scarf, massive shoulderpads and swords with not one, but two blades on each hilt. Shatterstar’s only grown more delightfully distinctive over the last decade, with his stint in Peter David‘s “X-Factor” canonically establishing the character as both polyamorous and pansexual. This is a swashbuckler who’s up for buckling all the swashes, and he deserves his own series.
Unfortunately, Shatterstar’s been missing in action since the end of “X-Factor” a few years ago. But really, it shouldn’t be hard to find a place for Shatterstar. If DC Comics has Midnighter, then Marvel Comics has Shatterstar — and that means that Shatterstar needs to lead his own hyper-violent yet surprisingly sensual series. Shatterstar deserves this, fans deserve this, we all deserve this.
3. X-Men 2099
Back in the ’90s, Marvel launched a line of comics set in the extremely cyberpunk year of 2099. Spider-Man, Punisher, Doom and Hulk all got futuristic counterparts — and so did the X-Men. But unlike those other characters, the X-Men of 2099 weren’t mere carbon copies of their 20th century counterparts. Instead, the series from John Francis Moore and Ron Lim featured original characters with compound word names like Skullfire, Junkpile, Meanstreak, Metalhead and Bloodhawk. These guys recently resurfaced for a quick cameo in “X-Men ’92,” which only made us hungry for more from the mutant quasi-heroes, who were more prone to fight each other than actual villains. Marvel relaunched “Spider-Man 2099” and managed to integrate it into their line; maybe the time’s right to try that trick with Cerebra, Krystalin, Xi’an and the rest? Whether they’re in the present day or in the cyber-wasteland of 2099, it would be great to see these guys again.
Even if it only lasted for around four months, the effects of “Age of Apocalypse” were felt long after 1995. Not only did Blink go on to star in “Exiles,” but Nate Grey managed to survive the destruction of his timeline and crash landed in the main Marvel Universe. His series, “X-Man,” continued out of “Age of Apocalypse” and charted this alternate-timeline-Cable as he searched for his place in the world.
The series actually lasted 75 issues — quite an impressive feat for any character — but Nate struggled to find footing in the 21st century. He joined the cast of “New Mutants” a few years ago, teaming up with other heroes close to his age. But this powerful telekinetic/telepath disappeared once that series ended, leaving arguably one of the most powerful characters unseen for years. Just like in the ’90s, it’s time for Marvel to have both a “Cable” and “X-Man” series on the stands simultaneously.
1. Adam X: The X-Treme
You cannot talk about a ’90s revival and not talk about Adam X, the X-Treme. True to his name, Adam X was quite X-Treme; he had a grunge bass guitarist’s facial hair, wore a backwards baseball cap and covered himself in blades. His powers involved making people’s blood explode. But for all that, Adam X actually had a comparatively stoic personality; his few appearances in the mid ’90s depicted him as a somewhat noble warrior searching Earth for clues to his origins. And what were those origins?
Well, Adam X was canonically revealed as half-Shi’ar, which was the first step towards him being established as the long lost third Summers brother. Unfortunately for fans of the X-Treme, Fabian Nicieza left the X-books before he could solidify Adam’s parentage, leaving all of those threads noticeably dangling. If the ’90s truly are back in style, then let’s get an “Adam X: The X-Treme” monthly going and finally reveal this guy’s origin. To make this series even more fun, keep Adam X aggressively ’90s in a world that has moved on, thus making him a walking time capsule. That’s how you resurrect the ’90s.
Which X-Men (or X-Men-adjacent) characters, books or trading cards would you bring back today? Let us know in the comments!
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