Wednesday, February 6, 2013
X-Men: Portrait of Strong Leadership
It is amazing that the X-Men are about to turn 50 years old and Marvel is working on making them beat out Avengers for the top spot again. Charles Xavier is now dead (for good from the looks of everything ... his brain was ripped from his own body and is currently being used by the Red Skull) for good. Yet, Charles has truly fostered some wonderful people to carry on his dream. The following are the "official" leaders of the X-Men over the course of the last 50 years. I am not counting any other X-team and I am only going with the 616 Continuity cause this list would be Ridiculously large if I added the leaders of all the other X-teams.
Here are the official torch bearers of the dream over the last 50 years.
Scott Summers, for decades, was the first and favorite torchbearer of the dream. He lived and breathed Charles Xavier's ideals. He worked hard to fight for Charles' dream, going about it different ways over the course of the last 50 years. He commands respect from every mutant he comes across. This can be clearly seen when he first brought up Utopia after dealing with the then top cop Norman Osborn ... beating Osborn by creating a mutant nation of his own and most mutants following him. Scott was the favorite son.
Yet, after being absorbed by Apocalypse ... Scott came back a different man. When he came back, he seemed colder ... crueller. More of a dick. And the decimation, death of Jean Grey (for good it seems), slaughter of the majority of the Grey bloodline and his psychic affair with Emma Frost, Scott REALLY changed. He was willing to have blood on his hands. He was willing to protect mutant kind by sending out kill squads. He even decided that having Idie save people by killing Hellfire Club was okay.
Scott went from being the ultimate leader of Xavier's dream to becoming the new face of mutantkind while turning his back on what Xavier taught him. Yet, Scott moved many X-Men over the course of the last 5 decades. He even made Magneto & Namor respect him ... at the same time. Scott Summers is, as Darryll B Carter would say, that cannon that would show you how to fight for survival and for a dream. It just changed from Charles' dream to his own.
If Scott Summers was the favorite son of Xavier, Storm has more than made her impression as the favorite daughter. Storm, with or without powers, is a formidable commander in her own right. Regal in her own way since she was first worshiped in Africa, Storm learned to get down and dirty too as a thief in the streets of Cairo (and part of the reason why she & Gambit have been close friends up till this day).
Storm even beat Cyclops ... when she had NO powers. Being one of the first African American women in comics to hold a leadership position to such a popular team, Ororo Monroe paved the way for both creators and heroines alike. Most of her early tenure as leader of the X-Men really focused on a family like atmosphere amongst her, Kitty, Colossus (remember when she used to call him Little Brother) & Kurt. Since then, she lead the X-Men alongside Cyclops, then she was leader on her own again. Then she shared leadership of the X-Men with Emma Frost and Cyclops as heads while her running her own show.
Storm became one of Charles' shining examples of his dream when she married Black Panther and was Queen of Wakanda. During her time as Queen, she was a member of both the Fantastic Four and the Avengers. Yet, those ended quickly as (according to some that no one could write Storm & Black Panther's marriage correctly since the late, great Dwayne McDuffie) their marriage was annulled (which is still bullshit, in my opinion). Now, after standing behind Cyclops to make sure he doesn't cross the line, and kinda failing at that, Storm returns to the Jean Grey School and go from wife to back to the Wind Rider we know and love ... with Mohawk included. Welcome back Storm.
EMMA FROST -
Her relationship with Charles was adversarial at first but Emma warmed up to Xavier's dream. She ran Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters during her time with Generation X but then , after falling in love with Cyclops, ended up co-leading the X-Men alongside him. During the time the X-Men moved to San Francisco then Utopia, Emma Frost had become the undisputed Queen of Mutant kind. Even with her villianous ways behind her, Emma loved helping mutant kind and being a teacher.
While she still has her air of superiority, Emma and Scott were strong leaders of the X-Men. Yet, she knew the dark road that Scott was going down. And many blame her as the catalyst as to why Scott Summers is now the way he is now. Yet, when you look at all the decisions, she made some of them but Scott proved himself behind his actions. Her love for Scott changed her ... wanting to make sure her being an X-Man and helping mutants very important to her. Yet, she is still a strong leader in her own right that should be celebrated for going to Charles' enemy to one of his biggest advocates. Yet, while she embraced the dream, she had no problem pointing out the holes in it and many things. Still, Emma Frost definitely earned her spot among the leaders of the X-Men.
The younger Summers brother has come a very long way since he first appeared as a tool for the Living Monolith. Alex Summers first showed his leadership skills when he was brainwashed to be a Magistrate for Genosha. Then, at the request of both Charles and Scott, Alex took the job leading the new government sponsored X-Factor. After a jaunt into an alternate reality leading a team called the Six, Alex returned and actually ended up taking leadership of an X-Men team from our next X-Men leader.
During his tenure as a X-Men leader, Havok displayed confidence in leadership that was akin to his brother but seemed to surpass him with dealing with more volatile personalities ... considering he had Juggernaut, Wolverine, pre-Kyle Northstar & a bratty Iceman on his team ... that is certainly a feat. He made the unit work extremely well together.
Now, Alex has become the positive face of Mutant kind with him as leader of the Uncanny Avengers.
Rogue has come a VERY long way from the days where she was a member of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants alongside her Mom, Mystique. She was one of the most unpredictable X-Men, with her multiple personas in her head from all the people she absorbed, Rogue always seemed to be a wild card. Yet, little by little, Rogue worked hard to become a better person and X-Man. She grew in confidence to the point where she ended up taking leadership during a trip to the Shi'ar alongside Bishop, Gambit, Joseph, Cannonball, Beast & Deathbird (there was a truce and she was banging Bishop).
She later ended up leading a team of X-Men officially at least 3 times, her first with Thunderbird, Archangel, Psylocke, Nightcrawler & Colossus, 2nd time with Cannonball, Iceman, Cable, Mystique, Sabertooth, & lady Mastermind on it and that didn't turn out well but ...I digress. Rogue's team disbanded but she end up getting her multiple personalities from people she absorbed out of her head then learned to control her powers. She was then given the charge of looking after the Students. She grew to love the job and taking a strong command position in Utopia then again in the Jean Grey School, only having Kitty and Logan be ahead of her. This southern belle has come a very long way. From being very alone and stand offish with no control to her power to a confident, strong leader with full control of her abilities.
Ah. Yes. This was definitely one of the most unpredictable leaders in X-Men history. Yes. Officially, Gambit lead the X-Men. He lead a team with him, Jean Grey, Beast, Cable, Storm and Bishop. Yeah. Gambit was leading a team over Storm, Jean & Cable. But under the very prolific pen of Chris Claremont, it worked. Jean was in mourning for the loss of Scott and was spending time with her 'son', Cable. Storm was getting a bit more free spirited after things went wrong during The Twelve storyline. So, Gambit stepped up. Stopping the Neo was important but the X-Men had been scattered.
Gambit was an interesting leader but not a bad leader. He had a strong line-up with this group with Brains & power.Plus, this group was more than willing to go on the wild side a bit more than others. And while Gambit was not leader very long ... he proved himself capable.
Kurt Wagner is one of the most beloved X-Men. He was always friendly to any other person that ever wore an X ... till you gave him a reason not to be. Nightcrawler first temporary took over the X-men for Storm when she was getting over losing her powers. He then stepped up as the leader of Excalibur. When he came back to the X-Men, Kurt allowed his experience to work alongside Storm.
Kurt was a team player till he got his chance to lead again as he lead a team of X-Men alongside Archangel, Iceman, Stacy X, Wolverine & Chamber. Yet, after he was manipulated by an organization to thinking he became an ordained priest and was being used in order to fulfill some prophecy about the Devil in the Vatican (Chuck Asten wrote it.). That shook Kurt so much that he stepped down as leader and his team was then given over to the command of Havok. Still, Kurt proved himself a strong leader.
Bishop was first in charge of the XSE. When he came to the present day, Bishop had to learn to be an X-Man. And slowly but surely, Bishop grew into his role and into being an X-Man. He was no longer shoot first ... unless he found it was warranted. Bishop went from an angry man to seemingly a great investigator and model X-Man, warning the X-Men of a traitor.
Well, the traitor first ended up being Xavier himself. Yet, after Onslaught, Bishop roamed a bit till he made his way back to the X-Men. After Storm left her team, Bishop stepped up to lead it. Leading the team for a short time, Bishop led Nightcrawler, Rachel Grey, Psylocke & Cannonball ... he proved himself a leader and earned his command tags left. Unfortunately, this was short lived after Hope Summers was born and Bishop betrayed the X-Men in order to stop his future from happening. Bishop reemerged recently in Uncanny X-Force # 1 (Volume 2).
Ever since Schism, Wolverine has stopped up. He has become the premiere student of Charles Xavier and the headmaster and over all leader of the X-Men (even though Storm seems to be working on getting back), Wolverine went from a feral, killing machine to a man who is dealing with his past by being a teacher and stopping these new mutants from making the same mistakes he did.
Wolverine decided that he needed to be a better man after Cyclops was going "too far" in his opinion. The straw that broke the camel's back was Cyclops pretty much being okay with Idie, a 14 year old girl, killing a bunch of Hellfire Club members in order to save everyone else. Wolverine was the last person we all thought would become the champion of the dream but he opened the school again, renaming it the Jean Grey School and get
Bis And there you have it. The official leaders of the X-Men in the 616 universe. I know some of you will say but Jean Grey was headmistress ... yet Cyclops was still overall field leader and she still listened to him.