Top 10 X-Statix Characters
Last month, Marvel released X-Statix Omnibus, a whopping 1200-page hardcover, reprinting the entirety of Peter Milligan and Mike Allred's run on X-Force and its subsequent relaunch as X-Statix, as well as various mini-series and one-shots that heavily featured the X-Statix characters (such as Wolverine/Doop and X-Statix Presents Dead Girl). The X-Force/X-Statix run, which began with X-Force #116 in 2001, is one of my favourite comic book runs of all time, and played a huge role in my development from a comic book fan to a full-fledged fanatic.
X-Statix was a bold re-imagining of the X-Men line, a story more about the cult of celebrity than what it means to be a super-hero. The stories were often a mixture of traditional comic fare and ripped-from-headline real world problems and heroes were usually more preoccupied with boosting their Q ratings than saving the day.
One other unique feature of the series was the insanely high rate of attrition among X-Statix members. Members would be killed off on an almost issue-by-issue basis. In fact, in some cases practically the entire lineup would be killed off in a single issue, only to be replaced by the following month. Because of this, X-Statix boasted quite a large cast of characters during the span of its run. So, in celebration of the release of X-Statix Omnibus, I've decided to look at the top 10 characters in X-Statix. Keep in mind, there will be spoilers.
10) El Guapo
During the filming of X-Statix: The Movie, the film's director decided that he needed to inject a Latino presence to widen the film's potential fan base. As a result, El Guapo was added to the film's cast, which eventually led to him becoming a member of the team proper.
At first, his presence seemed to be little more than a parody of attempts for franchises to re-brand themselves as “hip” (his power, after all, was his ability to soar through the air on his sentient skateboard). However, like many Milligan characters, there was some oddly dark depth to El Guapo besides a one-note joke. After tasting fame for the first time and cheating on his longtime girlfriend, he is seen being beaten by his sentient skateboard, while constantly screaming “Not the face! Please, not the face!”
9) Gin Genie
A mutant with the power to control seismic activity, her abilities were dependent on the amount of alcohol she consumed. As such, she was often inebriated, which meant that she came to represent everything you associate with drunken celebrities: volatile, unreliable, and prone to violent outbursts. While none of the original team seemed to get along at all, she often appeared at the centre of most disputes. This may have been one of the many factors that led to the demise of Gin Genie and most of the original team while trying to save boy band Boyz R' Us from a hostage situation. Gin Genie didn't last too long, although she did a good job setting the tone so that readers knew what to expect from the title.
8) The Anarchist
When Tike Alicar (aka The Anarchist) first joined the team, he displayed a belligerence that shocked even his team mates, blowing the roof off of his penthouse because he didn't like the air conditioning. The Anarchist raged against his team mates and his own persecution as a black mutant, which he explained was “like being black with a little more black added.” However, a lot of this posturing was done in order to cover for his deep insecurities as a black man who was raised in a white home (and had developed an obsessive compulsive need to constantly wash his hands).
Over the course of the series, though, his true nature emerged, and he became one of the most important and integral members of the team, developing close bonds with his team mates, particularly Dead Girl and Mr. Sensitive.
Also, bonus points for being Canadian, if you care about that kind of thing.
Billy Bob Reilly grew up in the streets, where he had to struggle to survive. Well, actually, his family life was pretty normal, but that wasn't the image he projected to the world. Like many X-Statix members, Phat was mostly concerned about his own image, which maybe came at odds with his power – the ability to control his body fat, swelling up to huge sizes in moments.
His preoccupation with his image came to the forefront in the later issues of X-Force, when he and Vivisector were informed that they were the two least popular members of the team, and had to come up with a way to change that. They decided to pretend to be a gay couple to get people talking. This ploy eventually came undone, but not before they both realized that they were in fact gay, just not with each other.
Although he often came across as shallow and narrow minded, Phat ultimately proved to be a true team mate when he sacrificed his life to save the team from...
6) Mr. Code
A villain who appeared only briefly in the series, Mr. Code sought to change America by spreading fear. He organized several terrorist attacks, such as a sniper attack paralleling the Washington sniper attacks that occurred at about this time. He was eventually defeated, but cost the team both Henrietta Hunter and Phat.
X-Force and X-Statix, besides being a great read, are also notable for their role in eliminating the Comics Code. When Milligan and Allred's first issue of X-Force debuted, it was not approved by the Comics Code Authority. Rather than censor the work, Marvel Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada decided to publish it anyway, and severed its ties with the Comics Code, which was a huge milestone for mainstream comics.
Mr. Code was a living embodiment of the Comics Code, and it should be no surprise that he appeared in the “Back from the Dead” arc, a story that was notoriously originally supposed to feature a revived Princess Diana joining the team before it was censored.
Perhaps the most recognizable member of the team, Doop was the X-Statix cameraman and their unofficial mascot. Originally believed to be an extradimensional being, it was later suggested that Doop was actually a weapon created during the Cold War. He spoke in a seemingly unintelligible Doop Speak, though in fact everything he says can be decoded.
Of all the characters, Doop will likely be the one most remembered in the future. Though he apparently died along with the rest of the team in the X-Statix finale, he has since made several appearances in other titles, most recently appearing on the adjunct staff at the Jean Grey School of Higher Learning in Jason Aaron's excellent Wolverine and the X-Men.
4) U-Go Girl
For a team that loses about one member per issue, you would think that readers would know better than to get too attached to any one character. With Edie Sawyer, fans just couldn't help themselves. Although when we first meet her she appears to be a drug-addled prima donna (one who's not above the attempted murder of a fellow team mate), we soon see her for the conflicted heroine she is. Her story is that of an impressionable young girl who was constantly taken advantage of until she decided that she was going to dictate her own terms.
Throughout her tenure on the team, she developed very strong bonds with many of the key team members, so that when she eventually died on a space shuttle, her death was perhaps one of the most impactful ones of the whole run.
A running theme among the past characters I've mentioned has been the fact that, while they may appear to be shallow, horrible people, at their core they turn out to be truly decent people trying to do the right thing. Well, with Zeitgeist this isn't the case. Or maybe it is – he didn't last very long. Though he was the team leader and central character in the first issue of the run, he and most of his team were killed by the end of the issue.
If anything, later issues only showed his character to be much worse than the shallow hero he was initially presented to be. It's later revealed that he was involved in the conspiracy to kill the original team mates in order to further his own status.
Despite the fact that he was a bad, bad person, Zeitgeist's death was the first big shock to come from the series, and really sold the fact that readers would have no idea what to expect from this title.
2) Dead Girl
Dead Girl probably had the most useful power one could hope for as a member of X-Statix: the power to get right back up after being killed. Needless to say, she fared better than most of her team mates.
In a series known for its very unusual and irreverent stories, Dead Girl's adventures ranked among some of the oddest ones. In one standalone issue, she has to deal with the message sent by her popularity, as fans envy her and want to be dead themselves. Oh, and she has to stop a necrophiliac coroner from making love to his dead daughter.
While Doop may be the most popular character, Dead Girl is probably a close second. She got her own mini series following the end of X-Statix, and even made a cameo appearance in the infamous Spider-Man: One More Day. Well, they can't all be winners.
Note: Do not Google image search “Dead Girl” with safe search turned off. Gah.
Miles Alfred, much like the X-Men's Hank McCoy (aka Beast), was a dichotomy between mild-mannered book smarts and ferocious animal, only this contrast was amped up to a higher degree. If the Beast was Kelsey Grammer, Miles was David Hyde Pierce. Effeminate, soft spoken, and fairly pretentious, this was all contrasted once he changed into Vivisector, one of the more violent members on the team.
This contrast was likely the result of his pent-up hostility towards his cold and cutting father, a rich intellectual who found Miles to be a constant disappointment, especially after Miles came out as gay. This led to Miles attempting to cure his lycanthropy, which worked for a time. However, he learned the hard way that once he abandoned the part of himself that made him “special,” people quickly stopped caring about him. His boyfriend left him and he got kicked off the team. It wasn't until he was able to become Vivisector again that he could continue to be a famous super-hero.
While these are my ten favourite X-Statix characters, there are dozens of fantastic members (Mr. Sensitive? Spike Freeman?). I suggest anyone who enjoyed this list check out the series, and give the X-Statix Omnibus a shot.