According to Twitter, today is X-Men Day. I’m game for that.
I’m a fairly serious comic book collector, and the majority of what I read and collect are Marvel comics (with a bunch of Star Trek stuff thrown in). The X-Men have always been one of my favorite superhero groups.
There are so many interesting mutant characters, and here are my ten favorites. It was a hard list to narrow down. You’ll notice that some of the big names (Wolverine, Professor Xavier, Jean Grey) are not here, because they are all a bit too obvious.
Let’s get started!
Real Name: Ororo Munroe
Power: Weather manipulation
Storm was originally from Kenya, where she was recruited by Professor Xavier to save the original X-Men team, who disappeared on a mission. She was brought into the team at the same time as Nightcrawler, Colossus, Banshee, and Wolverine.
As a child, her parents were killed when a plane crashed into their home. She was trapped for days under the rubble and her mother’s body, leading to a lifetime of severe claustrophobia.
As her name suggests, Storm has power over the elements. She can create wind and rain, control entire ecosystems, and even has a psychic bond with the Earth.
Fun Fact: For a brief time, Storm was married to T’Challa, the Black Panther.
Real Name: Piotr Rasputin
Power: Strength, Transforms into Steel
Until I met my boyfriend, I never gave Colossus much thought. I knew about him, sure, but I didn’t know much of his backstory. Once I read more about him though, he easily became one of my favorite characters.
Piotr and his little sister Illyana (who you’ll meet again in a minute) grew up in the Soviet Union on a collective farm. One day Illyana was playing when a run-away tractor started heading in her direction. Piotr rushed to save her, and when he did he transformed into his steel form and saved her.
After his power had manifested, Professor Xavier recruited him along with Storm to join the X-Men.
One of the reasons that Colossus is such a likable character is that he’s incredibly loyal to his friends and family, even when some of those people (ahem, Kitty Pryde) don’t deserve it.
Fun Fact: Colossus and his family are descendants of Grigori Rasputin, the crazy Russian mystic.
Real Name: Sean Cassidy
Power: Sonic Scream, Flight
Even though he’s number eight on this list, Banshee really is one of my favorite characters. I was first introduced to him while reading The Uncanny X-Men Omnibus a while back (I’m actually currently on a re-read of that), and I found him instantly likable.
Banshee grew up in his family’s castle in Ireland. While Sean was away working for Interpol, his wife died in a bombing. Sean blamed his cousin Tom for her death, as he was also staying at the castle and was meant to protect her. They become enemies, and eventually, Banshee agrees to join the X-Men.
Banshee died a hero, but like most X-Men characters (really, all Marvel characters), he can be resurrected. I hope it’s soon. I’d love to see Banshee make a return in the currently-running series.
Fun Fact: Banshee married Professor Xavier’s ex-girlfriend, Moira MacTaggert.
Real Name: Illyana Rasputina
Remember when we were talking about Colossus a moment ago, and we mentioned his little sister, Illyana? She ended up becoming pretty powerful herself.
When Illyana was a child, she was kidnapped by Belasco, an evil sorcerer. In order to bring forth the “Elder Gods” and take control of Earth, Belasco planned to break and corrupt Illyana’s souls to produce five bloodstones.
After Belasco had gathered three of the five bloodstones, things take a turn and Illyana created a Soulsword (literally a sword made out of a piece of her soul) and took control of the Limbo dimension. In this dimension, she ages at a much faster pace than she normally would. Using her newly-learned powers of teleportation, she teleports herself to the farm she and Piotr grew up on.
Later, she joined the X-Men and the New Mutants and was reunited with Colossus.
Fun Fact: While Illyana was in Belasco’s Limbo dimension, she was raised and comforted by an alternate version of Storm.
Real name: Nathan Summers
Powers: Telekinesis, Telepathy
Cable is one of the most interesting X-Men characters in my opinion. He’s the son of Cyclops (Scott Summers) and a clone of Jean Grey named Madelyne Pryor.
Born of two immensely powerful mutants, it was no surprise that Cable himself became incredibly powerful. Or, at least, he would be, if not for the techno-organic virus that’s taking over his body.
Due to that virus, Cable expends a large percentage of his powers keeping the virus from progressing.
During the “X-Men: Decimation” series, Scarlett Witch uses her powers to turn all mutants into regular humans. Hope Summers was adopted by Cable after her mother dies, and Cable raised her from that point on. Hope was the first mutant born after Decimation.
Fun Fact: Cable has both a clone and an alternate version of himself that show up in the Marvel universe.
After Nathan was infected with the techno-organic virus, a woman named Askani tells his parents that she can cure him. While she does manage to halt the progression of the virus, she also creates a clone of Cable, who turns into a mutant named Stryfe. Stryfe becomes an insane, murderous terrorist.
There’s also an alternate version of Cable named Nate Grey from the Earth-295 universe. In this alternate universe, his mother is the real Jean Grey and he was never affected by the techno-organic virus. As a result, Nate Grey is incredibly powerful.
Real Name: Kurt Wagner
Power: Teleportation, Camouflage
Kurt Wagner was from Germany and decided to join Professor Xavier’s new X-Men team after he was run out of his hometown by angry villagers for being different. Kurt’s mutant abilities manifest in blue skin along with a tail, which makes him a visible target for people prejudiced against mutants.
Although he didn’t know his origin growing up, it was discovered that he’s the offspring of Mystique, a mutant terrorist and the adoptive mother of another mutant named Rogue, and a demon named Azazel. Before this, however, he was part of a circus until he joined the X-Men.
Kurt is also one of the most deeply-religious Marvel characters, taking his Catholicism very seriously.
Fun Fact: Nightcrawler has a personal holographic device which allows him to project an image of himself as an ordinary human. Although not used much anymore, many of the earlier X-Men comics feature him using this.
4. Emma Frost
Real Name: Emma Frost
Powers: Telepathy, Turning into Diamond
A few of you might be wondering why Emma Frost is on this list, as she’s usually portrayed as a villain. I like morally gray characters, and you don’t get more morally gray than Emma Frost.
Her character first started as the “White Queen” of the elite Hellfire Club, whose mission was to exert power through politics. This club is also the reason Emma is often portrayed with very, very, little clothing on.
Emma has been on both sides of the battle between Mutants and humans. One of the things she is known for is her mutant school on the island of Genosha. She meets a group of telepathic quintuplets, who become known as Frost’s Stepford Cuckoos. The Cuckoos are more than a little creepy (although that might just be my opinion).
Fun Fact: Emma Frost’s diamond form has an adamantine luster, which prevents her from accessing her telepathic powers while in that form.
Real Name: Henry “Hank” McCoy
Power: Enhanced physical attributes, Genius
As someone who loves science, Beast has always been an easy favorite for me. He’s the resident genius of the X-Men and is often called in when some serious science-ing needs to be done.
Aside from the X-Men, Beast is also a member of the Avengers and the Defenders (a series that I love, as it contains an ABOSLUTELY AMAZING team: Beast, Doctor Strange, and Reed Richards).
Like Nightcrawler, Beast is unable to blend in with humans, as his mutation causes him to look like an animal, increasingly to a cat-like physique.
Beast has a Ph.D. in biophysics and genetics, which he put to use in defeating the Legacy Virus. This virus was essentially a plague which attacked mutants.
Fun Fact: This is what Beast looked like in the first X-Men issue:
Real Name: Laura Kinney
Power: Accelerated healing, adamantium claws
For those of you who have seen the film Logan, you’ll already be familiar with X-23. She’s a clone of Wolverine, and like him, has a super-quick healing factor and adamantium claws.
She escaped from the facility that created her, and went on the run, even becoming a prostitute at one point, with a special interest in people with sadomasochistic tendencies.
Laura kept her powers throughout the “House of M” and “Decimation” storylines, one of just a few mutants to do so.
The scientists who created Laura didn’t stop with her and made several clones of Laura herself. All of the clones save one was killed. Laura took in the surviving clone as her little sister, named Gabby.
Gabby really is one of the best new Marvel characters out there. She and Laura have a pet Wolverine called Johnathan, and I love all three of them. If you don’t believe how wonderful they are, pick up Tom Taylor’s All-New Wolverine series.
Fun Fact: The best single issue comic book in the world is All-New Wolverine #31, where X-23’s sister Gabby pairs up with Deadpool to take down an animal testing facility.
And yes, I know that wasn’t a fact about X-23, but I had to mention it. It really is the best.
Real Name: Remy LeBeau
Power: Kinetic conversion
Finally, we get to number one. Gambit has been my favorite X-Men/Marvel character since the X-Men cartoons I watched as a kid.
He’s another morally ambiguous character, working for whichever side benefits him at the time. Remy was raised in New Orleans by the Thieves’ Guild after he tried to pick-pocket the Guild’s patriarch. Since then he has become a master thief and takes on high-paying clients.
Gambit is best known for throwing kinetically-charged playing cards at his enemies, although he can charge any object. He also a long-term on-off relationship with Rogue.
Fun Fact: Gambit and Rogue recently got married (finally), and there’s a currently-running Mr and Mrs. X series that you should check out. I was so giddy when they finally tied the knot.