Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Better Know a Henchman: Mutant Henchmen Through the Ages

In my recent Apocalypse for beginners column, I pulled myself back from a tangent on the henchmen of the major X-villains. Not being one to let things go, I ventured further down the rabbit hole, a deep pit full of Marauders, Dark Riders and Aco’d Lytes, and came up with this listicle of quality cronies.

First appearance: X-Men (Vol. 2) #1, 1991

Created by: Jim Lee/Chris Claremont

Boss: Magneto

Original roster: Fabian Cortez, Annmarie Cortez, Delgado, Chrome and a SHIELD agent named Nance Winters. Only Fabian Cortez survives the team’s first outing, and he returns not long after with a new team consisting of Frenzy, Javitz, Katu, the Kleinstock brothers, Seamus Mellencamp, Milan, Neophyte, Scanner, Senyaka, Spoor, Carmela Unuscione and Amelia Voght.

Is there a strong guy? Frenzy, who previously served Apocalypse as a member of the Alliance of Evil.

Is there a psi? Scanner is able to psychically detect mutants as well as project an astral form of herself.

Most original powers: Spoor secretes pheromones that amplify violent urges in others. Warren Ellis uses this power to great effect in Excalibur during an arc in which Spoor is a prisoner of the team on Muir Island.

Most ’90s powers: Senyaka dresses like a ninja and uses energy coils as weapons. Magneto turned Senyaka’s own coils against him during the Fatal Attractions storyline as a demonstration of his power/crazy.

MVP: Fabian Cortez, because that turncoat ratfink came back again and again as a thorn in the side both of the X-Men and his supposed idol Magneto.

Brotherhood of Evil Mutants
First appearance: X-Men (Vol. 1) #4, 1964

Created by: Stan Lee/Jack Kirby

Boss: Magneto

Original roster: Toad, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Mastermind

First to refer to themselves in the third person: “Hah! You are spunky, my little witch! I like that in a female! Someday, I may even decide that you would be a worthy mate for Mastermind!” – Mastermind, to Scarlet Witch, X-Men #4

Is there a psi? Mastermind can cast illusions that fool the mind. Close enough.

Most original powers: Toad can leap high and spit acid, though originally he was just a leaper, but without Batroc’s mastery of Savate.

Most racist powers: The Scarlet Witch has “hex powers” and was raised by gypsies.

MVP: Tie between Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, who went on to become prominent Avengers with the occasional heel turn in which one of them would wipe out all the mutants or become a Terrigen Mist drug pusher.

Dark Riders
First appearance: X-Factor (Vol. 1) #65, 1991

Created by: Chris Claremont/Jim Lee/Whilce Portacio

Boss: Apocalypse

Original roster: Gauntlet, Barrage, Tusk, Foxbat, Psynapse, Harddrive (Note: The original Dark Riders were Inhumans, not mutants)

First to refer to themselves in the third person: “Sneaky little psi-witch … precious good your insights’ll do you tee hee … once Harddrive shuts you down … as permanently as I do your traitor ship!” – Harddrive, to Jean Grey, X-Factor #66

Is there a psi: Psynapse, whose attack on Jean Grey manages to jumpstart her dormant telepathy.

Most original powers: Tusk was a hulking brute of a monster capable of creating tiny, totes-adorbs versions of himself for maximum mayhem.

Most ’90s powers: Barrage has guns for hands. Nuff said.

MVP: See also Tusk, the only Dark Rider badass enough to be named after a Fleetwood Mac song.

Freedom Force
First appearance: Uncanny X-Men (Vol. 1) #199, 1985

Created by: Chris Claremont/John Romita Jr.

Boss: Mystique, answering in turn to Dr. Valerie Cooper

Original roster: Pyro, Avalanche, Blob, Destiny

First to refer to themselves in the third person: “Don’t need the new gal for that, boss. Let Pyro do it! His magnetic powers are of no use against my living flame!” Pyro, to Mystique, about Magneto, Uncanny X-Men #199

Is there a strong guy? No, but there’s an immovable morbidly obese person. That’s a kind of strength.

Most original powers: Destiny’s powers of precognition have helped drive plots forward for 30 years. And an entire X-series (Chris Claremont’s X-Treme X-Men) was conceived on the idea of having a bunch of mutants chase down her journals.

MVP: Tie between Pyro and Blob, if only for their inclusion in the 1992 X-Men arcade game, which made use of their infamous catchphrases that they always said: “Pyro will turn you into toast” and “Nothing moves the Blob.” The game also gave the Blob a mace for some reason.

Hellfire Club

First appearance: X-Men (Vol. 1) #129, 1980

Created by: Chris Claremont/John Byrne

Boss: Sebastian Shaw

Original roster: Emma Frost, Donald Pierce, Harry Leland, Jason Wyngarde (aka Mastermind), Black
Queen (aka Jean Grey)

First to refer to themselves in the third person: “Worry not, Jason. Had the Black Queen struck to kill, there would be nothing left of the lad but ashes.” Black Queen, to Wyngarde, X-Men #132

Is there a strong guy? Not so much an unstoppable force as an immovable object. Specifically Leland, who was able to alter the mass of an object or person, one of those fellas who can’t be moved if he doesn’t want to be moved, a la the Blob.

MVP: Emma Frost, who would spend only one decade as a villainess before getting her own junior X-team and later becoming a leader of the X-Men.

Horsemen of Apocalypse
First appearance: X-Factor (Vol. 1) #15, 1987

Created by: Louise and Walt Simonson

Boss: Apocalypse

Original roster: War (Abraham Kieros), Famine (Autumn Rolfson), Pestilence (the Morlock Plague), Death (Archangel)

First to refer to themselves in the third person: “Here, sonny, let ole granny stroke your cheek! Pestilence’s touch’ll quiet ya down – forever!” Pestilence, to Beast, X-Factor #19

Most original powers: The new-and-improved Archangel had metal wings that could fire blades capable of stabbing, poisoning and brain-frying their targets.

First appearance: Uncanny X-Men (Vol. 1) #210, 1986

Created by: Chris Claremont/John Romita Jr.

Boss: Mr. Sinister

Original roster: Arclight, Blockbuster, Harpoon, Malice, Prism, Riptide, Sabretooth, Scalphunter, Scrambler, Vertigo

First to refer to themselves in the third person: “You are fast, Beastman, but not fast enough to best Harpoon!” – Harpoon, to Beast, X-Factor #10

Is there a psi? Kindasorta. Malice is a being of psychic energy who gets her jollies by possessing other mutants, such as Dazzler and Polaris.

Most original powers: Riptide spins like a tornado and hurls shurikens made up of a resin secreted by his own body. Pretty gross/badass.

Most racist powers: Harpoon is an Inuit mutant who chucks energy-charged “slayspears” at his victims.

MVP: Sabretooth, who made his debut as an X-villain alongside the Marauders after originally fighting Iron Fist.

Mutant Liberation Front
First appearance: New Mutants (Vol. 1) #87

Created by: Rob Liefeld/Louise Simonson

Boss: Stryfe

Original roster: Rusty Collins, Dragoness, Forearm, Kamikaze, Reaper, Skids, Strobe, Sumo, Tempo, Thumbelina, Wildside, Zero

Most original powers: Tempo is able to control the flow of time around her.

Most ’90s powers: Forearm is a bare-chested, four-armed brawler, much like Goro from Mortal Kombat.

MVP: After Marvel took over Malibu comics, Reaper appeared in a hybrid Marvel/Malibu team book called Exiles, a name later given to a book starring a team of reality-hopping mutants.

Matt here, saying to come back for a second installment where we get to know some even more obscure mutant villain groups. You thought they didn't get more obscure than the Mutant Liberation Front? Oh, just wait until you meet.. The Nasty Boys. What? Yes, that's a real thing. You'll just have to come back to find out.

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