Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Better Know a Henchman, Part 2: Will Hench for Food

When I submitted my last listicle on the disposable underlings of your favorite X-Villains, Matt had just one question for me: “Hey, what about the Nasty Boys, and the Upstarts, and …” It was one very long question.
Clearly, a part 2 was in order, because if I don’t talk about the Nasty Boys, who will? Well, I guess Janet Jackson, but besides her?

Brotherhood of Evil Mutants (Toad’s team)
First appearance: X-Force (Vol. 1) #5, 1991

Created by: Rob Lielfeld/Fabian Nicieza

Boss: Toad, formerly Magneto’s original whipping boy

Roster: Pyro, Blob, Phantazia, Sauron

First to refer to themselves in the third person: “But … but … in order for Sauron to emerge, someone’s life essence has to be drained into me!” – Karl Lykos, to Toad, about himself, because he’s Sauron, X-Force #5. And, a few pages later: “Karl Lykos is no more, you pedantic, misshapen pustule. … I have returned. … Do you hear me, you soft, pink bags of rice paper flesh? SAURON IS BACK!” That’s some dialogue right there, y’all.

Is there a strong guy? Just an immovable fat guy.

Most original powers? Phantazia was able to disrupt electronic systems as well as her opponents’ powers.

The Externals
First appearance: X-Force (Vol. 1) #10, 1992

Created by: Rob Liefeld, Fabian Nicieza, Mark Pacella

Boss: No boss, per se, just a random assortment of immortal mutants ripping off the Highlander franchise.

Roster: Apocalypse, Saul, Gideon, Crule, Candra, Selene, Absolom, Nicodemus, Burke, Cannonball (or maybe not)

First to refer to themselves in the third person: “I finish a few more transactions, then put away the façade of Gideon, the business tycoon, allowing the reality to filter through me with the rush of the crisp mountain air.” – Gideon, to and about himself, X-Force #10

Most ’90s powers: Gideon, not so much for his powers as for his ability to be completely bald except for his long, flowing ponytail.

MVP: Apocalypse, because he’s just better at being an immortal mutant.

The Genoshan Press Gang
First appearance: Uncanny X-Men (Vol. 1) #235, 1988

Created by: Chris Claremont

Boss: The Genoshan government

Roster: Hawkshaw, Punchout, Pipeline, Wipeout

Is there a strong guy? Punchout

Most original powers? Pipeline teleports himself and others by “downloading” them and transmitting them as bits of information. Not bad for a character created before the Internet was a common thing.

The Hellions
First appearance: New Mutants (Vol. 1) #16, 1984

Created by: Chris Claremont/Sal Buscema

Boss: Emma Frost

Roster: Catseye, Empath, Jetstream, Roulette, Tarot, Thunderbird

First to refer to themselves in the third person: “I hope I do well – Manuel’s counting on Firestar, he told me – and I so want to make him and especially Miss Frost proud of me.” – Firestar (in her first appearance in the comics, fresh off her creation as a cartoon character on Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends), Uncanny X-Men #193

Most original powers: Tarot has the ability to psionically manifest the images on her tarot cards as physical constructs.

Powers most locally relevant to me: Roulette is originally from Atlantic City and has the power to affect probabilities based on the kinds of discs she throws at her enemies.

MVP: Thunderbird, who eventually reformed, changed his code name to Warpath and joined Cable’s first X-Force squad alongside Cannonball, Boom-Boom, Shatterstar and Feral.

The Nasty Boys
First appearance: X-Factor (Vol. 1) #75

Created by: Peter David

Boss: Mr. Sinister

Roster: Gorgeous George, Hairbag, Ramrod, Ruckus, Slab

First to refer to themselves in the third person: “I got your ‘no comment’ right here, Strong Guy. Ol’ Slab messed you up real good, didn’t he? Didn’t he?” – Slab, to a TV, X-Factor #75. “Slab, dear chap, you know how worried I get when you start talking in the third person.” – Gorgeous George, next panel, commenting on what Slab just said.

Is there a strong guy? Hairbag and Slab

Most original powers? Ruckus is able to absorb ambient sounds, amplify them and scream them back.

Question: Seriously, though, how did these guys make the ’90s X-Men cartoon and not the Marauders?

Fun-ish fact: Slab is the brother of Mutant Liberation Front member Thumbelina.

The Reavers
First appearance: Uncanny X-Men (Vol. 1) #229, 1988

Created by: Chris Claremont/Marc Silvestri

Boss: Donald Pierce

Roster: Bonebreaker, Skullbuster, Pretty Boy, Cole, Macon, Reese, Lady Deathstryke

Most original powers? Pretty Boy has cybernetic tendrils that allow for mind control, because if Chris Claremont loves any kind of power-as-plot-device, it’s mind control. That and power dampening. Otherwise, they’re all cyborgs, so they all kinda do cyborg-y things.

MVP: Lady Deathstryke, who also wins the award for Most Hungry for Revenge on Wolverine for Whatever Reason.

The Savage Land Mutates

First appearance: X-Men (Vol. 1) #62, 1969

Created by: Roy Thomas, Neal Adams, Tom Palmer

Boss: Zaladane (originally Magneto, because ’60s Magneto was cah-razy)

Roster: Amphibius, Barbarous, Brainchild, Equilibrius, Gaza, Leash, Lorelei, Lupo, Lupa, Piper, Sauron, Vertigo, Whiteout, Worm

First to refer to themselves in the third person: “Amphibius has the mindwitch!” – Amphibius, about Psylocke. Uncanny X-Men #249. And then later, ON THE SAME PAGE, “Friends can’t help you, pretty. You’re all alone … for Amphibius to play with!”

MVP: Brainchild somehow was deemed important enough to make it into the opening credits of the ’90s X-Men cartoon.

The Upstarts
First appearance: Uncanny X-Men (Vol. 1) #281, 1991

Created by: Jim Lee/Whilce Portacio

Boss: The Gamesmaster

Roster: Fabian Cortez, Shinobi Shaw, Trevor Fitzroy, Sienna Blaze, Graydon Creed, the Fenris twins

First to refer to themselves in the third person: “But, as you can see from these transmissions from ‘Down Under’ … Trevor Fitzroy has Sentinels of his own!” – Trevor Fitzroy, to Shinobi Shaw, Uncanny X-Men #281

Is there a strong guy? No, but there’s a great scene in Uncanny X-Men #301 in which Gamesmaster puts all the Upstarts on a psilink conference call and Creed is in the middle of lifting weights, presumably to impress Veronica Corningstone when he summons her to his office at the Friends of Humanity.

Is there a psi? Gamesmaster, whose mind is constantly linked to every other on the planet. He formed the Upstarts and refereed their murder-for-points game as a way to focus himself a bit. Everyone needs a hobby, even if it’s directing people to kill former members of the Hellfire Club.

Most original powers? Sienna Blaze’s electromagnetic blasts have the power to cause localized ecological disasters. In her first meeting with the X-Men, in X-Men Unlimited #1, she almost took out Professor X, Cyclops and Storm. And then never did anything important again.

MVP: Creed, who turned out to be the son of Sabretooth and Mystique and went on to run for president only to be killed by his own mother. Also he was a big part of the second season of X-Men: The Animated Series.

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