Following up from my Favorites as of 1990 post, it's time to do another comprehensive "Favorites" post, this time as of 1995, right before Age of Apocalypse. I'll be revisiting my favorite characters, favorite issues, favorite moments, and of course putting together the Ultimate Team.
So here is the definitive list of my favorite X-Men characters as of publication in 1995.
# 10 - Apocalypse
Breaking into the top ten for the first time, we have Apocalypse, the sole villain representing this list. There honestly hasn't been any fantastic Apocalypse storylines, so perhaps my ranking here comes more from the animated series, but overall I just love his gravitas. We've started to see him in Cable's timeline as well as flashbacks from thousands of years ago with the other Externals. All I know is that whenever Apocalypse shows up, I get excited.
# 9 - Wolverine
Falling from the # 5 spot all the way down to #9, we have Wolverine! I still like Wolverine, but with the exception of a few flashes here or there, we no longer get the Philosopher Wolverine persona as depicted flawlessly by Claremont. Check out what I said back in 1990.
# 8 - Strong Guy
Strong Guy! Here we have a character who had only one appearance at the time of the 1990 ranking and he has now moved firmly into my top ten. I just have a strong fondness for Guido Carosella. He totally cracks me up, but there is also a sensitive side to him that I feel invested in. We know he's struggling, but none of the writer's hit you over the head with it. Speaking of writer's, Peter David did an excellent job setting the foundation and J.M. DeMatteis picked up the pieces and made him even more likable.
# 7 - Nightcrawler
I started my comics journey with Nightcrawler as my favorite character, then he fell out of favor in the Claremont era. However, we can thank Alan Davis and the Excalibur comic for him reaching # 7 on my favorite list this time around! He left the goofy antics aside and slowly took on the leadership role for the Excalibur team. It was fascinating to see him as the reluctant leader, at first deferring to Captain Britain but eventually realizing he needed to step up and be the adult in the room. His romance with Meggan, Cerise, and again with Amanda Sefton have all been captivating.
# 6 - Polaris
Wow, Another X-Factor character breaking into the top ten. Unlike Storm and Wolverine who took a step back when the Claremont era ended, Polaris was embraced by Peter David and I couldn't appreciate that choice any more. Typically, when a female superhero is in a long relationship, they are defined by the value they bring to their man. With Havok and Polaris, you can tell that she is actually the rock of this relationship. But it's in her small interaction with other characters that made me fall in love with her. Rahne is in love with Alex, but instead of getting jealous or catty, she takes her under her wing. She forms close friendships with Random, Guido, and Multiple Man, proving that she is really the backbone of this super hero team. Love this character.
# 5 - Storm
Storm falls from # 2 all the way down to # 5. She's still great, but Lobdell and Nicieza have been much less interested in her as a character compared to Claremont. Check out what I said back in 1990.
# 4 - Domino
A brand new character since last I published my favorites has managed to sneak into the top 4. Even with very few appearances, we have Domino! I don't even know why I like Domino so much, I just do. Maybe it's because of how much I like Cable. She's just such a badass with a cool look. She's currently Cable's girlfriend, but she's so much more than any man's property. Just a badass.
# 3 - Kitty
My beloved Kitty falls to # 3. I still love her, and she's great when I see that spark every now and again, but she's mostly been relegated to a second tier character in the pages of Excalibur. Check out what I said back in 1990.
# 2 - Cannonball
Woah! Sam Guthrie has been around since 1984, but it took Fabian Nicieza and X-Force to make me love the kid, bringing him all the way to the # 2 spot. When he was with the New Mutants, he was a dorky kid, always talking about being "invulnerable while blasting" and was clearly the lower half of the co-leadership with Dani.
In the past few years, while Cable was away, Sam has stepped into his own. He's a likable and respectable leader who I can't stop myself from admiring. I can't wait to see what the next five years has in store for Sam Guthrie.
# 1 - Cable
Mr. 1990's himself...Cable takes the top spot. I'm sorry but I just can't get enough of the Cable/Cyclops/Jean Grey/ Rachel Grey drama. I always liked Cable, but had never read the entire reveal until now, which I loved. As I mentioned, I love him and Domino together. I love watching him mentor Cannonball. I just can't get enough of this character. And luckily, that's not a problem because Marvel is happy to give me all I can handle.
Now a few words about the characters who dropped out of my top ten.
Illyana Rasputin (Magik) - She went from my # 3 spot to falling out of the list. I would definitely still consider her one of my favorite characters of all time, however she died in the comics and hasn't been featured at all for years, meaning that she isn't really my favorite as of 1995.
Dani Moonstar - Dani has also dropped out of the top ten, moving from my # 6 spot in 1990. Similar to Illyana, I still love this character, but she was written out of the New Mutants/ X -Force comic and I've barely seen her. However, she has popped back into the X-Force comic recently and Ive been hootin and hollering with excitement. If she sticks around, maybe she'll be back in here when I cover my favorite characters as of 2000.
Magneto - Claremont's Magneto is still amazing, but Lobdell and Nicieza have performed character suicide with his portrayal in Fatal Attractions. He's a general psycho again and I'm still pissed off about it!
Meggan - Meggan is another character who is still great in my opinion but even though she's still around, her relevance has been significantly reduced. Odd that she stopped being as important once she acquiesced to being Captain Britain's girlfriend.
Betsy Braddock (Psylocke) - She's still cool and all, but just not one of the best characters anymore.
Jamie Madrox (Multiple Man) - Another character who I still like, but he's dead and hasn't been featured as prominently of late.
I'm adding both a "favorite moments" section as well as a "favorite issue" section because sometimes you have small moments that are great without the entire issue being great. Here are the moments that most hit me in the feels!
# 10 - Xavier needs help walking from Jubilee after X-Cutioner’s Song (UXM # 297)
Xavier is briefly able to walk after the events of X-Cutioner's Song. In one of the best quiet issues I've ever read, Lobdell has Xavier spending the whole day having fun with Jubilee. As the day ends, he begins to lose the ability to walk. Jubilee is nervous about whether she should help or not and whether she should say anything. In a beautiful scene, she realizes she doesn't need to say anything (which is a big deal for Jubilee and instead just be there for him.
# 9 - Wolverine kissing Jean, signaling the first meeting of X-Factor and the X-Men (UXM # 242)
In 1990 I said:
"The scene was Inferno. Jean had been brought back to life and the original 5 X-Men had gotten back together to form X-Factor, but the two team's hadn't met yet. There had been a few teasers, like Wolverine smelling Jean and freaking out, but they hadn't seen each other face to face yet.
And what a way to meet! Wolverine grabs Jean and starts making out with her in front of Scott. I mean, that in itself was hilarious and awesome, but the fact that it kicked off this long awaited reunion between these two teams and friends, was certainly a moment to get excited about. "
# 8 - Rachel and Jean's relationship. (XF V1 Annual # 5, XM V2 # 30)
In 1990 I said:
"Rachel Summers is a time displaced daughter of Scott and Jean. She's been around forever, even meeting Scott a number of times, but she never revealed who she was. This moment takes place in the pages of an X-Factor Annual during the Days of Future Present event. Once again, this moment had a lot of weight because it had been teased for years before this finally happened. Jean had a hard time taking it after coming back to life, learning about Scott being married to Maddie, Maddie going nuts, killing Maddie, absorbing Maddie's consciousness, etc. "
*Special Mention...Jean took years to come around, but eventually invited Rachel to be one of her bridesmaids, making it the happiest day of Rachel's life.
# 7- Jean Grey bitch slapping Sabretooth (X-Men V2 # 28)
Sabretooth had been living in the X-Mansion for months, constantly antagonizing each person who came near his cell. He had been asking to meet Jean since he knew how Wolverine felt about her. After a long delay, she finally goes and sees him. He doesn't waste time trying to get under her skin, but instead she bitch slaps him. She essentially throws it right back in his face, makes him feel like shit, and refuses to give him the "psychic glow" he needs to push back the pain. Sabretooth admits that he's impressed and gets why Wolverine feels that way about her.
# 6 - Wolverine lecturing Colossus about Kitty (UXM # 183)
In 1990 I said: "THIS is Philosopher Logan at his peak. Colossus breaks up with Kitty after "falling in love" with an alien during Secret Wars. Wolverine is like "Colossus. We're going out to the bar. You're coming, bitch.
The Juggernaut ends up showing up at the bar, and Wolverine sits back and lets him take a beating without offering any help. This final quote is the cherry on top: "She's 14, Peter. But to save you, she agreed to marry Caliban and join the Morlocks. If he hadn't released her from that vow, she'd be there today. You never even said 'Thank You.'"
# 5 - Magneto collapsing over hurting Kitty (UXM # 150)
In 1990 I said "Magneto had his first crisis of conscience during UXM # 150. He was finishing with one of his his evil plans and had actually just sunk a Russian submarine, killing all on board. But when the X-Men tried to stop him and he accidentally hurt Kitty (he thought he killed her), he breaks down and abandons his plot. This sparked the beginning of a long redemption arc for the character, which only recently ended. "
4 - Storm pulls Kitty into the sky to have a little chat. (UXM # 183).
To read my full notes on this moment, I'll refer you to Favorites as of 1990.
#3: Wolverine saving Jean in the jet (Wolverine # 75)
I spend a lot of time bitching about the Wolverine solo comic but boy was this an amazing moment. A plane was crashing as the team was trying to get Wolverine to a hospital after having his Adamantium ripped out of him by Magneto. There is attention put into the fact that Wolverine was ready to die and not fighting for his life. In the plane, Jean realizes that she is the only one who can hold the plane together (yes, this is a callback to the birth of Phoenix), but she ends up getting pulled out the door. It looks as though Jean will die, but none other than Wolverine grabs her. He came back to life to save hers. Gives me the chills just thinking about it.
#2: Wolverine telling Kitty she's team leader (UXM # 195)
In 1990 I said:
"Storm had left the team for a while and Nightcrawler wasn't cutting it as a leader. This didn't last long, but in issue #195, Kitty was put in charge of the X-Men:
When this happened, I literally pumped my fist and "whooped" out loud. You all know I love Kitty, so to see the other team members being like "Yea you're only 14, but you're the best to lead us, so get on with it" was an amazing moment for me." While this is a Kitty moment, it's also very much a Wolverine moment as well. His mentorship is on full display here as he knows everyone looks up to him, but he puts his faith in Kitty. Throughout the issue he provides emotional support for her, clearly propping her up while also helping to guide the way.
#1 - Storm stabbing Callisto in the heart (UXM # 170)
In 1990 I said:
"It's going to be REAL hard for this to be knocked out of my #1 spot. Not only was this moment awesome and shocking, it was also the culmination of a long gestating plot, showing Storm's transformation.
For most of the early Claremont era, Storm was depicted as a gentle goddess who refused to take a life. In fact, there were numerous issues (Garrok from the Savage Land being a prime example) where she went out of her way to not let villains die, leaving her distraught if she failed. As she became team leader, she had a responsibility to keep the team safe and she was struggling with this contradiction.
In the Morlock tunnels, Kitty was going to die if Storm didn't act. And act she did. She challenges Callisto, saving Nightcrawler or Colossus from needing to challenge themselves. She steps in the ring and catches the knife like a badass. Then after a little jarring, she stabs the knife deep into Callisto's heart without hesitation, then walks away, again like a bad ass. I remember audibly gasping when this happened. Did she really just kill someone!? Did she really just do it without hesitating? What a badass? What about her moral code? OMG. This also paid off her being like a mother figure to Kitty. Her daughter was in trouble, so she dropped all pretenses and did what she had to to save her. Amazing scene!"
If I'm putting Cable as my favorite character at the moment, then you can't be surprised how much I enjoyed learning about his youth. I had never read this before, so I learned at the same pace as Cable that Scott and Jean were actually the "humans" who raised him in the future. The concept of Jean and Scott spending 11 years in the future while only a few hours passed to their body is similar to my favorite Star Trek episode of all time, the Inner Light.
# 9 - X-Force # 27 - 28 (Feral and Tempo)
I love seeing the slow progression of characters switching sides, so hats off to Fabian Nicieza for orchestrating two characters seamlessly building up to a switch and it happening at the exact same moment. Feral had been portrayed for 30 issues as a loose cannon while Tempo was slowly shown being less and less open to the terrorist approach of the MLF. It all came to a head when Feral officially turned and was about to kill a human (Peter Guyrich) and was saved by one other than the "villain" Tempo. Feral went on to stay with the MLF but I wish Tempo would have stayed with X-Force.
# 8: X-Men # 1 (through 3)
The culmination of my childhood. The issue that got me into comic books. The art that still gives me chills about how good it was. Claremont's swan song as the writer. Magneto done so so right. So much here to love.
# 7 - Excalibur # 42 - 50 (Alan Davis does Necrom)
After 41 issues of pure crap, Alan Davis takes over as both writer and artist and gives the entire comic new meaning. He took all the non-sensical plot threads and not only wrapped them up, but found a way to give them all deeper meaning looking back. It's clear the deeper meaning was never intentioned, but he made it believeable, which I appreciate. He also introduced MicroMax, Kylun, and Cerise who are all characters I was fond of (and can't believe they are written out already). And the cherry on top...this 8 issue arc was actually very good on it's own. Well done Mr. Davis, well done.
#6 - X-Factor # 87 (The Psychiatrist)
Don't let the cover fool you. There wasn't a single piece of action in this whole issue. And you know what? It was marvelous. This entire issue is set around a psychiatrist interviewing the individual team members. Not only did this issue make me care more about each character moving forward, but some of their backstory was really fantastic. Like Quicksilver, for instance, opens up about being a prick because he can't stand how slow the world moves. That's ingenious! And Multiple Man talking about his fear of being alone. We learn that Strong Guy is actually in pain every day because of his power and covers it all up with humor. It's just a great read!
# 5 - X-Force # 15 (Meet the Real Domino)
What a badass entrance for the real Domino! Great fight between Cable and Deadpool. Tolliver is mysterious. Vanessa, Domino's doppleganger is empathetic. I just loved this issue.
# 4 - UXM 141 -142 (Days of Future Past)
Do I need to explain this one?
# 3 - UXM # 273 (3 team's together)
I actually just read this a few days ago (haven't blogged on it yet) and I can't remember the last time I had so much fun reading a comic. You have Jim Lee drawing just absolutely beautiful art. And then it's just the first time that X-Factor, X-Men, and New Mutants (soon to be X-force) are all chilling together talking about their future. I just love seeing all of these characters together interacting, and was even more awesome after an extended period of time with the X-Men broken up, X-Factor off planet, and the New Mutants floundering around leaderless.
# 2 - UXM # 274 - 277 (Rogue and Magneto in the Savage Land)
This was one of Claremont's last stories while he and Jim Lee were still playing nice. Claremont was writing the hell out of Magneto. Just an amazing story about how Magneto isn't truly going evil, but he's incredibly misunderstood and gets more and more frustrated as everyone shits on him repeatedly. Also an amazing Rogue story as she gets rid of Carol Danvers and strikes up a romance with Magneto.
# 1 - UXM # 170 (Storm vs. Callisto)
Yeah, I know. This is both my favorite issue and my favorite moment. Not only was the moment of Storm striking Callisto fantastic, but the entire issue was great setting up this scene (Angel's capture, Kitty getting sick, X-men getting defeated, etc) and everything that came after (like Storm becoming the new Morlock leader).
Ultimate X-Men Roster
As you've probably noticed, I assign an RPG role to each team graphic. For this exercise, I am going to choose 8 roles and assign the best possible character, in my opinion of course.
Leader - Last year it was Storm. This year I'm torn between Storm, Cyclops, Havok, Cable, Nightcrawler and Cannonball. Storm is still the greatest of all time, but even though she's the leader of the "Gold team," she hasn't had much love from Lobdell and Nicieza. I'm still waiting to like Cyclops. Nightcrawler grew on me, but he's not first. Havok is a reluctant leader. He's..aiight. Cannonball is great but I'm obviously going with Cable so let's move along.
Omega - Last year it was Jean. This year I'm considering Jean, Rogue, Storm, Iceman, Havok, Polaris, and Rachel. This was actually an easy decision. It's Polaris because she was the most interesting character over the last 5 years by a mile.
Tank - I went with Warpath for some reason last time but I'm definitely not going with him this time because Nicieza hates him, lol. I'm considering Warpath, Strong Guy, Rogue, and Multiple Man. I'm once again going with the X-Force choice and Strong Guy.
Bruiser - This stays with Wolverine. I also considered Psylocke, Beast, Wolfsbane, Sunspot, Feral, Shatterstar, Brittanic, and Kylun. See why I stuck with Wolverine?
Air Support - Last time it was Archangel but this year I'm going with Cannonball!
Mage - Last time it was Magic, but this time I'm going with Psylocke. I also considered Emma, Jean, Forge, Cerise, Rachel, and Ferron.
Stealth - Kitty 4 life.
Ranged - Let's go with Bishop here instead of Iceman from last time.