Image by Ryan Bradford
I used to love X-Men. In the first grade, I got a beginners guide to X-Men from a Scholastic book order and carried it with me in my backpack until the cover fell off. In the second grade, my family travelled to Montana to attend my grandpa's funeral. The morning after, I woke up early to catch the premier of the animated series in my grandma's basement, strategically lowering the volume with my face nearly pressed against the screen (probably a radioactive safety hazard, given the age of my grandma's TV) so I didn't wake any of my cousins, sleeping on the floor around me.
And who knows, if I had saved any of the money that I spent on X-Men toys and comics between the years '92 and '96 and invested it wisely, maybe I wouldn't be the scrub that I am today.
But somewhere the magic died. Maybe it was when Marvel released the Generation X series in the mid '90s. Or maybe it was when Brett Ratner directed X-Men: The Last Stand . Or maybe it was the emergence of toxic online nerd/man-baby communities. Or maybe it was when Marvel Studios took away everything that made superhero comics seem special, inspiring and niche, and fed it to Mickey Mouse, who then shat out formulaic turds meant to resemble movies.
Or maybe it was when Marvel Studios gave the keys to the franchise to Bryan Singer, a man who's faced allegations of child rape, but whose ability to produce massive blockbusters in a business that's systematically designed to protect him has saved him from any real legal strife.
I could go on, but fuck it. The magic's dead. And to commemorate the death, here's a list of the worst characters that helped usher it into the grave.
1. Wolverine: Oh yeah, you like Wolverine? Are the Lakers or Yankees also your favorite sports teams? Is Green Day your favorite punk band? Perhaps the only thing more basic than being a Wolverine fan is being a Superman fan. Shame on Marvel for loading a character with so many badass attributes that all future heroes will pale in comparison. The only time he was interesting was when Magneto pulled all the adamantium off his bones in the "Fatal Attraction" series (his bone claws were figuratively way more metal than his adamantium claws).
2. Deadpool: The only thing worse than Wolverine is a Wolverine rip-off. The character's creator, Rob Liefeld, openly admits to creating Deadpool because Spider-Man and Wolverine already existed. Fans like this character because he has Wolvie's healing factor, but he's also, like, sassy. I'm guessing that the only reason the movie was such a hit was because it actually had a sense of humor instead of the self-important skid-marks that foul up our multiplexes every summer. Also, fuck everything that Rob Liefeld creates. For instance...
Get a load of this P.O.S.
3. Shatterstar: I bought this action figure when I was nine years old—the first X-Men toy I ever had. I didn't really know anything about the character, but his double-bladed swords and majestic ponytail exuded "coolness." And that pretty much sums up the career of Rob Liefeld: stylish and appealing to nine-year-olds. He (alongside Todd MacFarlane and the rest of the Image Comics crew) is largely credited with turning '90s comics into the violent, baby-man fantasy that endures today. His other offensive trademarks include unrealistically proportioned female characters that were probably penciled with his boner, and illogically designing all his costumes with an insane amount of utility pouches. Shatterstar is a garbage character whose actual power is the ability to learn things really fast, or something like that.
4. Juggernaut: Everybody had a friend that got a little into the "I'm the Juggernaut, bitch!" Internet clip when it came out 10 years ago. My Juggernaut-loving friend ended up stabbing a guy in a coke-fueled rage, but didn't do any jail time because he comes from money. Anyway, fuck Juggernaut. He's not even a mutant, just a guy who found a mystical ruby that gave him powers.
5. Psylocke: As my comic-expert friend Keith says: "[Psylocke's] awesome, but also, like, five shitty stereotypes. It's like: 'here's a half-naked Japanese ninja but inside she's a white person.'" There are so many problematic issues with Psylocke that there's an entire Tumblr dedicated to them: psylockeissues.tumblr.com.
6. Angel: I can't imagine there's a character that has caused as much regret and remorse in all X-Men writers and illustrators—including creators Stan Lee and Jack Kirby—as Angel. His power is, well, having huge-ass, cumbersome, feathery wings. It's like Lee and Kirby said, "Okay, so this guy can fly, but how do we make that explicitly, painfully obvious?" He's always sucked, but his status as one of the original team means that no artist or writer can really get rid of him. I guess if X-Men ever get into a tickle war, at least they have Angel.
7. X-Treme: This super heBRO is exactly what San Diego would create if it were tasked to invent an X-Man.
Dazzler (left) and Jubilee
8/9. Dazzler, Jubilee: Two characters whose powers are, uh, fireworks, just updated for different eras. Dazzler satisfied those who apparently felt there wasn't enough disco in comics, and Jubilee is basically the walking equivalent to a Hot Topic store.
10kknd: The entire Generation X team: I credit this team as the reason I stopped reading X titles. So many ridiculous characters (including Jubilee) on this team, including Skin—whose power is extra skin—and Chamber, who was perpetually destroying his face by shooting energy blasts from it. GTFO, Skin. GTFO, Chamber. GTFO, everyone.