torsdag den 26. januar 2012

Storm’s untold stories

From an unrevealed lineage over Lifedeath 3 to secret adventures in World.

“When I became a pro and I was doing Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes I proposed four new legionnaires,” artist Dave Cockrum recalled in The X-Men Companion. “I had a guy who was a weather handler called Typhoon who had a flowing dark cape with yellow trim.”

“When I did up the original X-Men designs, one of the characters was called the Black Cat. Take a look at Storm without the white hair and without the cape, and that’s essentially the Black Cat. She had dark hair, which was sort of like Wolverine’s, tufted on top with the ear effect. And she could transform either into a cat – I preferred the idea of a house-cat and I think we were talking about both a house-cat and a panther – and she could also half-transform into a humanoid cat.”

“She was a very striking-looking character. This was before the project got shelved. It got shelved, time passed, and in the interim there must have been two dozen female cat characters. You had Tigra and the Cat. It seemed kind of stupid to go on and do another cat character with all the other ones running around, and so we dropped the whole shtick. We were hassling and arguing and trying to figure out how we could work her in, and we had already planned to use Typhoon from the Legion of Super-Heroes proposal. But we couldn’t figure out what to do with the black girl. We really liked her. We wanted to use her, and (Editor-in-Chief) Roy Thomas just threw out, “Why don’t you make her Typhoon?” And everybody’s mouths were hanging open. I ran out of the room and drew her with long white hair and a cape on and came back in and that was it. Everybody said, “Yeah! Yeah!” and her working name was Typhoon for awhile.”

Storm and the Furies

“She was called Typhoon originally, and none of us liked it,” recalled writer Len Wein in The X-Men Companion. “It didn’t sound feminine enough, it sounded like something you spat rather than said, and we talked to Roy about it as he was going out the door. “Well, she’s a mistress of the storm, she’s got all these powers, what do we call her?” And he said, “Why don’t you simply call her Storm?” And we all went, “Jesus, Johnny Storm…” And he went, “So what?” and we said, “Okay, you’re the boss,” and we called her Storm.”

It became up to subsequent writer Chris Claremont to define Storm’s personality and history. “This is something that will be expanded on in the Lady Daemon/X-Men story that Michael Golden and I are planning,” Claremont told The X-Men Companion. “The idea is that Storm’s mother comes from a line of, for want of a better term, witch-women that to a very real extent can be traced back to the dawn of humanity. They have been in this part of Africa since the beginning of humanity. There is a lot more to Storm than just the ability to create winds. There’s a sensitivity, a power, and this is not to say that she has magical abilities, but she is heir to a tradition, to a lineage that is incredibly old and incredibly in tune with life.”

Unfortunately, the Lady Daemon/X-Men story never appeared, but in 2006, Claremont wrote Uncanny X-Men Annual vol.2 #1 in which it was revealed that Storm descended from a royal lineage that reached back to the dawn of humanity.

In 1976, there was another story that didn’t see print. “When the team went to Muir Island (in X-Men #104, 1976), Wolverine notices that the insect girl from Count Nefaria’s Ani-Men, Dragonfly, had escpaped from confinement, and that was because I had worked up an idea for a spin-off book that I was going to call The Furies,” Cockrum revealed in Comics Creators On X-Men. “It was going to feature Storm, Clea from Doctor Strange, Tigra, Namorita, Dragonfly and an alien girl that I had come up with called Moon Fang, who rode a giant bat. I had gotten a tentative okay to do the book, but I just never got around to finishing the first plot, so it never happened. That escape was left hanging. They never cleared it up.”

Worthy of Storm’s love

For years, Storm remained single. “There is no man, really, in the Marvel universe who’s good enough for her, who is her equal,” Claremont thought in The X-Men Companion. “She would not be taking a step down by falling in love with the Black Panther, perhaps. John Byrne and I toyed with the idea of having her get into a relationship with Scott Summers or start to, but unfortunately I’ve really kind of done that with Misty Knight and Danny Rand (Iron Fist). (…) Part of my antipathy toward the Black Panther is that I don’t have any control over him as a character, and I don’t want Storm suddenly showing up in other books, waltzing out with the Black Panther.”

“There were relationships that I felt transcended gender,” Claremont told “Storm and Yukio is something that I never really got into. I mean, I had my own thoughts, but I never really got into it.”

When Storm finally did fall in love, it was with Forge, a mutant inventor who had designed a gun that was used to neutralize Storm’s mutant powers, possibly permanently, in Uncanny X-Men #185, 1984. In Uncanny X-Men #201, 1986, Cyclops and Storm were duelling for leadership of the X-Men. Cyclops’ wife, Madelyne Pryor, was anxiously awaiting the outcome when she noticed a sudden thunderstorm. This was presumably a sign that the effect of the gun used on Storm was only temporary, and that her mutant powers were returning. During the duel, she was subconsciously affecting the elements. However, Storm’s victory was retroactively rendered invalid in X-Factor #38, 1989. Supposedly, it was Madelyne Pryor, using powers she didn’t know she had, that decided the outcome of the duel.

Storms shall pass
In Classic X-Men #22, 1988, Storm journeyed from the Savage Land to World, where she befriended M’rin and C’jime. In X-Men Annual #12, 1988, she met them again and it was revealed that she had had several adventures with them in between. However, those adventures were never told.

In 1991, Storm was supposed to have had a third “Lifedeath” solo story, this one both written and drawn by Barry Windsor-Smith. ““Lifedeath 3,” is the final story of the “Lifedeath” trilogy,” Windsor-Smith revealed in Amazing Heroes #188. “In “Lifedeath 2” (in Uncanny X-Men #198, 1985) she was in Africa and dealing with famine to a degree, and in “Lifedeath 3” she’s back in Africa and dealing with famine in a more heads-on way.”

“It was going to be just a 22-page story. I started it a couple of years ago because they needed a fill-in on X-Men, and so I said I’d do Lifedeath 3 because I had an idea anyway. And I started this 22-page fill-in myself, and then I had this accident and everything was put on hold, and by the time I was back working again they no longer needed a fill-in because Chris was caught up with his schedule. So Lifedeath 3 developed from a 22 pager into what is now going to be a bookshelf-format thing. 48 pages, yeah.”

The story ended up getting rejected by Marvel Comics, however. The editor felt it advocated suicide because an elder of an African tribe went out into the forest to die. Windsor-Smith then redrew Storm into Adastra of the Young Gods and published the story as Adastra In Africa from Fantagraphics.

In Uncanny X-Men #255, 1989, written by Chris Claremont, the precognitive mutant Destiny told Forge that storms pass and that he should love Mystique with all his heart. Subsequent writer Scott Lobdell had Forge break up with Storm in Uncanny X-Men #290, 1992, but Forge never really got together with Mystique despite some flirtation between them during their stint together as members of X-Factor in X-Factor #112-139, 1995-1997.

Years later, in 2006, Storm married the Black Panther in Black Panther vol.4 #18.

Amazing Heroes #188, February 1991
Tom Defalco: Comics Creators On X-Men, April 2006
Peter Sanderson: The X-Men Companion I, March 1982
Peter Sanderson: The X-Men Companion II, September 1982.
Tue Sørensen and Ulrik Kristiansen: Chris Claremont Interview,, 1995

torsdag den 19. januar 2012

Nightcrawler’s forbidden origin

The editor and subsequent writers rejected X-Men writer Chris Claremont’s ideas for Nightcrawler.

Artist Dave Cockrum created Nightcrawler, one of the most popular X-Men characters. “In 1974, writer Len Wein and I were invited to revive X-Men,” Cockrum recalled in Wizard #33. “For months, I’d been badgering Roy Thomas, then Marvel’s Editor-in-Chief, for my own series, and he finally came through for me. One day, he walked into the area that I worked in, and he literally told me to go home and come back with some X-Men. I was really excited about this.”

The first new X-Man that Cockrum introduced was Nightcrawler, a personal favorite that he had created years earlier. “I was still in the Navy when Nightcrawler popped into my head,” Cockrum recalled. “I was stationed on Guam at the time, and I sat up one night in the middle of this crazy typhoon because it was just too noisy to sleep. I don’t know how my mind went down this path, but suddenly I found myself thinking about this Nightcrawler character, this demon from Hell who had flubbed a mission and, fearing what would happen to him if he went back – what kind of punishment he’d have to face – had decided to stay above ground, so to speak, in the world of humans.”

A very malevolent demon

Cockrum’s first wife Andrea was with him that fateful night in Guam. “We decided wouldn’t it be fun if he was a demon and he could teleport and run up walls and he howled like an animal… and all kinds of weird stuff,” Cockrum recalled in The X-Men Companion. “He was a nasty son of a bitch. The only thing that made him any kind of a good guy at all was just that he chose to help the good guys.”

“When I became a pro and I was doing Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes (at DC Comics) I proposed four new legionnaires and Nightcrawler was one of them. But (editor) Murray Boltinoff’s response was that he was too weird looking.”

DC’s loss was Marvel Comics’ gain. Instead of a demon escapee from Hell, Nightcrawler became a mutant from Germany where he had been a carnival freak at Der Jahrmarkt before joining the X-Men. His real name was Kurt Wagner.

Cockrum also created the African Storm, the Russian Colossus and the Native American Thunderbird for the revamped X-Men team, but Nightcrawler remained closest to his heart during his run as X-Men artist. In The X-Men Companion, subsequent artist John Byrne remembered: “I came to the X-Men being very down on Nightcrawler because I felt that Cockrum had given him far too much of the spotlight. I felt in those early days it was Nightcrawler Comics co-starring the X-Men.”

No image-inducer allowed

When Chris Claremont took over as the writer of X-Men with issue #94 in 1975, it became up to him to define Nightcrawler’s character and establish his past history. “When we first started using him, I think we intended to go with that dark, malevolent side,” Cockrum recalled in The X-Men Companion. “Personally, I now prefer him the way he is, the swashbuckler. Every goddamn Marvel weird-looking person (is brooding), so why not have one who doesn’t?”

“I think it was just because he was my favorite character, and he started reflecting my attitudes and I’m a frustrated swashbuckler and I’m a movie buff. So, it just came about naturally.”

Initially, Chris Claremont had Nightcrawler use an image-inducer to hide his true appearance from the public, so they wouldn’t chase him down like an angry mob as had happened in his first appearance in Giant-Size X-Men #1 in 1975.

“There were a lot of readers out there who actually thought it was something he could do, not a gizmo he carried, but a super-power,” Cockrum recalled. “It wasn’t something he could do and we were trying to point that out.”

“I would never have given him the image-inducer,” Len Wein told The X-Men Companion. “I think it was one of my original orders as an editor to get rid of the thing, because so what? You’ve got a character whom, if he could look like anybody else, denied what he was all about. He should have to wear the trenchcoat and slouch hat and his hands in his pockets and his tail tucked into his pants so people wouldn’t climb the walls as he walked past them.”

Nightcrawler’s father revealed

Early in his run as X-Men writer, Chris Claremont got the idea that the ruler of the dimension of dreams, Nightmare, who had pointy ears just like Nightcrawler’s, should be revealed as Nightcrawler’s father. Unfortunately, Nightmare was an ancient foe of Doctor Strange and Roger Stern, who was writing Doctor Strange at the time, did not like the idea.

“Chris had come up with the latest of several crazy ideas and declared that Nightcrawler’s father was Nightmare,” Stern recalled in Back Issue #29. “And I replied with something like, “No, he’s not. I’m not going to let you appropriate one of my character’s major villains.” As I recall, Len Wein crossed the room and shook my hand. And not too long after that, I did become the X-Men editor and was able to make sure that didn’t happen for long enough that Chris eventually changed his mind.”

Many years later, in Uncanny X-Men #428-434, 2003-2004, writer Chuck Austen revealed Nightcrawler’s father to be Azazel, a mutant from biblical times also known as Satan. He was trapped in the dimension through which Nightcrawler teleports and had sired mutant offspring capable of opening gateways to Earth. The mutants Kiwi Black and Nils Steiger (Abyss) were Nightcrawler’s half-brothers. Azazel had entrusted the gypsy witch Margali Szardos to raise Nightcrawler. In X-Men Annual #4, 1980, she had told Nightcrawler that she had found him next to his dying mother when he was barely an hour old.

In Uncanny X-Men #142, 1981, Nightcrawler met the shape-shifting mutant Mystique, who had a physical resemblance to him. She told him that his adoptive mother Margali Szardos could answer his question about who she was. But Nightcrawler never asked Margali.

Last of the Elfburgs

In Uncanny X-Men #204, 1986, Nightcrawler rescued a new character, Judith Rassendyll, from the hitman Arcade. Afterwards, Judith learned that she was the last of the Elfburgs and heir to the throne of the European country Ruritania.

Uncanny X-Men #204 had been advertised in Marvel Age #36: “It’s the start of an epic adventure that will take Nightcrawler from the wilds of Central Park to the back woods of Europe.”

“Nightcrawler deals with his fears about the Beyonder, a love-life that’s falling apart, and the truth about himself and his origin.”

“We started to do his origin and the story died on us,” Claremont told Comics Focus #1. “We set up, we started it rolling, tried to hammer it into something of value, and it died. This happens. Once in a while you’ll run into a story that’s a major dud, it just will not fly, no matter how much air you pipe into the wings. So, we rewrote the ending of the story and instead did one with Rachel Summers, Wolverine and the Hellfire Club, which led up to the “Mutant Massacre”, which turned out to be a much more powerful and effective storyline.”

Nightcrawler’s origin story was cut short in Uncanny X-Men #206, 1986, with Nightcrawler not accompanying Judith Rassendyll to Ruritania. It was never revealed who had hired Arcade to kill Judith, but it was probably someone who didn’t want her to ascend to the throne of Ruritania.

Judith reappeared in the Excalibur: Mojo Mayhem special edition in 1989 where she was now Princess of Ruritania and about to enter into an arranged marriage. Despite romantic attraction between Nightcrawler and Judith, she has never appeared again.


Nightcrawler’s mother revealed

When Nightcrawler joined Excalibur in 1988, Claremont announced in Amazing Heroes #134: “One of the storylines we will seriously try to play with is Nightcrawler’s origin. We would’ve done that in X-Men, but the story was such a dud, I decided not to do it. Hopefully now we’ll try again and do it right. Everyone has been wondering why Nightcrawler and Mystique look alike.”

However, his origin didn’t happen in the pages of Excalibur either, but a 64 pages Excalibur hardcover graphic novel was announced in Marvel Age Preview #1 to ship in December 1990: “Chris Claremont and Alan Davis continue their Excalibur collaboration with the biography of Kurt Wagner – Nightcrawler, from his birth to his rescue at the hands of Charles Xavier. We will finally learn more of the mysterious connection between Nightcrawler and Mystique!”

However, the graphic novel never appeared either, and Nightcrawler’s origin ended up being written by Scott Lobdell in X-Men Unlimited #4, 1994, instead. Lobdell did not follow Claremont’s ideas, but he knew about them. He explained his reason for going in another direction to “It was always Chris’ plan that Mystique and Irene Adler (Destiny) were lovers, and that Mystique at one point had transformed into a man and impregnated Destiny and she gave birth to Nightcrawler. So Mystique and Destiny were actually Nightcrawler’s father and mother.”

“The likelyhood of either A, Mystique growing genitals with sperm that had a DNA-code, or B, Mystique being a guy who was perpetually in the body of a woman, I thought was pretty slim.”

Instead, Lobdell had Mystique be Nightcrawler’s mother with Destiny playing no part in the equation.

Mystique freaked out

Claremont told about his choice for Nightcrawler’s parents in his online Cordially Chris forum: “As for when Mystique and Irene got together, look at the back-story established in X-Treme X-Men # 1 and 2 (2001); check out the fashions and the social culture in the visuals.”

“Regarding Mystique, I always considered her default form to be blue-skinned and female. However, being a full-spectrum metamorph, gender for her is a matter of choice, convenience and necessity. Her assumption of the male gender during this particular period of her life relates more to the prejudices of the time. A male consulting detective is likely to be taken a tad more seriously in official circles than a woman.”

Claremont also told why Mystique had left the infant Nightcrawler: “Mystique abandoned him because she was totally freaked by this indigo-furred creature with “deformed” appendages and a forked tail! At that point, Mystique had no idea (s)he was a mutant, or a metamorph; (s)he simply reacted as many normal folks would in similar circumstances. And in the process had something of a nervous breakdown, mental collapse. Which of course was a whole other story that will never see print. (I do seem to have a lot of them.)”

Roger Stern commented on the matter in Back Issue #29: “Too many people in the Marvel Universe are secretly related to one another, and it’s much more interesting when mutants have normal parents.”

Timothy Callahan: Nightcrawler’s Two Dads, Back Issue #29, August 2008
Comics Focus #1, June 1996
Cordially Chris,, 16 and 24 June 2003
Marvel Age #36, March 1986
Marvel Age Preview #1, June 1990
Clifford Meth: Ex-X-Man, Wizard #33, May 1994
Peter Sanderson: High Caliber, Amazing Heroes #134, February 1988
Peter Sanderson: The X-Men Companion I, March 1982
Peter Sanderson: The X-Men Companion II, September 1982
Tue Sørensen and Ulrik Kristiansen: Interview with Scott Lobdell,, 1995

torsdag den 12. januar 2012

Wolverine's secret origin

With Sabretooth as his father, how could he become anything but a bad boy?

“(In 1974) I suggested to (writer) Len Wein, over lunch, that I thought it was time we had a Canadian hero,” recalled then Editor-in-Chief at Marvel Comics, Roy Thomas, in The X-Men Companion. “There was talk about names like Captain Canuck, Captain Canada, things of that sort, and I suggested that since we had a Canadian market and I felt guilty about not having more Canadian characters in the comics, the X-Men should have a character that I suggested be called the Wolverine because that animal inhabits Canada as well as the Northern United States and would be familiar to both. He could be a Canadian and be very fierce. I was thinking of someone much like what evolved, a very fierce character worth his weight in wildcats, that kind of thing.”

“And he should be short, because wolverine’s are small, and they’re very fierce,” Thomas added in Comics Creators On X-Men. “After that, Wolverine was all Len working with John Romita, who designed the character.”

“Roy suggested, “Do a character called Wolverine,” gave him to me to create for the Hulk, and most of the rest of the details as to who and what he was were my own,” Len Wein recalled in The X-Men Companion. “So I decided to make him a teenage mutant, to be one of the new X-Men if it came to pass.”

“He was a mutant only in terms of his ferocity and his animal senses. He was a hunter and a tracker and incredibly resilient. He was able to get the stuff kicked out of him by the Hulk and still be able to get back on his feet.”

A mutated wolverine

Len Wein described Wolverine’s personality in The X-Men Companion: “Like the personality of a wolverine, snapping, nasty, aggressive, not a nice person. Heroic, because that’s his bent, that’s what he’s after, but not a nice guy. He’s tough, savage and a fighter.”

“He has to fight to control himself, but what would make him a hero in my vision of him was that he would be able to overcome his natural instincts to slit your throat. That was what really would make him a hero, not his abilities to beat you up. The fighting was what he lived for.”

“As far as his origin goes, originally we had intended to have him be a mutated wolverine,” artist Dave Cockrum revealed in The X-Men Companion.

“There were remarks in the storyline at one point where somebody was assessing Wolverine and saying, “I’m not even sure if he’s human,” or something like that (in X-Men #98, 1976), which would have led up to it,” Cockrum added in Wizard Tribute To Wolverine. “But Stan Lee found the concept disgusting.”

“The claws were retractable, but into the gloves,” Wein noted in Back Issue #4. “I guess it was Dave and (subsequent writer) Chris Claremont’s idea to make them part of his body.”

“Dave said Len thought the claws were in the gloves and he and I both agreed, “Why?” If they’re in the gloves, then anybody could wear the gloves,” Claremont told Back Issue #4. “We needed something that made him a mutant, something that made him unique. The claws were obviously artificial, and if the claws were part of the glove, what made him a mutant? The reductium of the equation was what makes him a mutant is the healing factor. But if he has a healing factor, what about the claws? Well, let us make the claws part of him. The healing factor enables him to survive with the claws. Dave and I thought, “This is cool, we’ll run with it.””

The first unresolved plot

“Len thought Wolverine was 19 years old,” Claremont told Back Issue #4. “Dave is the one that came up with the look, the hairline. (…) The way Dave drew him, he looked older. As I wrote him more and more, he felt older.”

“It just seemed in my mind to fit the character, the notion that he’s been around a long time,” subsequent artist John Byrne noted in Back Issue #4. “I got to thinking he looks pretty rough and tumble for a guy who has a healing factor. Maybe he’s been around a long time.”

“The over a century old was something that was decided later on,” Claremont added in Back Issue #4. “You gradually build the structure of the character.”

“(Writer) Roger (Stern) and I have a Captain America story we’d like to do, guest-starring the X-Men, where Cap will be talking to a couple of them, and Wolverine is real quiet at first,” Byrne revealed in The Comics Journal #57. “And when he finally speaks, Cap will do a take and say, “Corporal Logan?” Because, you see, Cap met him during the war. And that might be the first time in one of the books we come out and say just how old this guy is.”

Stern and Byrne left Captain America before getting around to doing this story, though, so it wasn’t until Uncanny X-Men #268 in 1990 that Claremont wrote a similar story revealing Captain America and Wolverine’s history.

The first unresolved X-Men plot arose in X-Men #103, 1977. At Cassidy Keep in Ireland, a leprechaun that knew his real name was Logan surprised Wolverine. Wolverine asked how the leprechaun knew his name, but the question remained unanswered.

Claremont told Back Issue #4 that the name Logan was inspired by Mount Logan, a mountain in Canada. “The idea was the tallest mountain being the name of the shortest character.”

“Chris and Dave had said quite openly they could never figure out what to do with Wolverine,” Byrne revealed in Back Issue #4. “Dave’s favorite character clearly was Nightcrawler. When I started, Chris was still conferring with Dave on the plot, and I was really just the art robot for the first two or three issues, until finally I just protested and said, “Excuse me, it’s not Dave’s anymore. And Chris told me at one point, “We’re going to write Wolverine out because we don’t know what to do with him. And I stamped my little foot and said there is no way you’re writing out the only Canadian character. And so I made him mine. Whenever I do a group book I make one character mine and sort of focus on that character so I have a focus for the book.”

“Even though I didn’t like him and I didn’t know exactly what to do with him, I don’t think we were ever thinking about actually removing him from the book,” Cockrum contradicted in Comics Creators On X-Men.

Wolverine’s father

“When I did Iron Fist #14 (1977), I had done a design for what I thought Wolverine looked like without his mask on, which I sent to Chris,” Byrne recalled in Back Issue #4. “And Dave had already done one, which I didn’t know about. And I ended up using that design for Sabretooth.”

“And that sort of planted little things in my head, and then I got to thinking about that storyline, that typically Chris throwaway line in that Sentinels story (in X-Men #98, 1976) in which the Sentinels said Wolverine was a mutant and a technician said he wasn’t. And I suggested that Sabretooth was his father and that Sabretooth was the mutant and that the mutation had bred true. So Wolverine was actually the first of a new species, and that’s why it confused the technician. Then we got to playing about how Wolverine is 50 years old and Sabretooth is 100 years old.”

“His mother was a Native Canadian and he’d lived up in the mountains for most of his life, feral, until he was found by James Hudson,” Byrne added in Comics Creators On X-Men.

“I was never entirely sure whether Wolverine would ever learn for himself that Sabretooth was his father,” Byrne said in Back Issue #4. “I thought that perhaps Sabretooth would know, but that Wolverine himself might not ever know.”

Although the confusion on the technician’s side was probably just caused by the claws hidden inside Wolverine, the idea of Sabretooth being his father stuck around. “John Byrne and I had a storyline that would have established Sabretooth as Wolverine’s father,” Claremont confirmed in Wizard Tribute To Wolverine. “And that was a thread that I ran through the series for my entire tenure. The whole point of the birthday party story in Wolverine vol.2 #10 (1989), my last issue, was to establish that pretty much every year on his birthday he gets hunted. And every year he has lost. I also did it in a back-up story in Classic X-Men #10 (1987).”



Sabretooth’s employer

“What I ultimately was going to establish was that all the Sabretooths we had seen heretofore, with the possible exception of the one in Iron Fist #14, were clones made by Mr. Sinister. They were Xeroxes,” Claremont revealed in Wizard Tribute To Wolverine.

However, in Iron Fist #14, 1977, Sabretooth had an employer whose identity has never been revealed. Sabretooth had been hired to stop lawyer Jeryn Hogarth’s investigation into who was draining Rand-Meachum of funds. With Mr. Sinister having a retroactive influence in the Marvel universe, it is possible that he could have been Sabretooth’s employer, stealing money from Rand-Meachum to finance his clone experiments.

“Sinister’s modus operandi was to capture an operative, stick him in a stasis chamber, clone a copy and send that person out to do battle,” Claremont revealed in Wizard Tribute To Wolverine. “So you have an inexhaustible supply of Marauders from his clutch of villains.”

That explained how Vertigo could be both a Marauder and a Savage Land Mutate at the same time. The Marauder Vertigo was a clone of the Savage Land Vertigo who had escaped Mr. Sinister like the original Sabretooth had.

”In the case of Sabretooth, you had a Xerox of a Xerox,” Claremont explained in Wizard Tribute To Wolverine. “That’s why the Sabretooth that has always appeared working for Sinister has been so flawed and so easily beaten. We’ve never seen the real thing. The real thing is quite happy lurking around the fringes of the X-Men universe without any interest whatsoever in the X-Men, but an abiding interest in Wolverine. And Wolverine knows it. But that’s one of those unknown stories that’ll probably forever remain untold.”

In New Mutants #75 from 1989, written by Louise Simonson, it was hinted at that it wasn’t the real Sabretooth who had died, but although a clone of Sabretooth appeared in X-Men vol.2 #34 in 1994, subsequent writers never figured that Sabretooth was ever anything but the real deal. In X-Men vol.2  #34, writer Fabian Nicieza used the idea that the Marauders were clones, but not that Mr. Sinister kept the originals in storage, only samples of their DNA. In Gambit vol.3 #8-9 from 1999, Nicieza further stated that, with the exception of Sabretooth, all of the Marauders had been cloned so many times that their original bodies no longer existed.

Created to die

In X-Men #118, 1979, Wolverine met Sunfire’s cousin, Mariko Yashida. “Everyone has a vision of Wolverine. What kind of girlfriend would he have?” Claremont asked in Back Issue #4. “You run down a list of possibilities, and with Mariko we basically wanted to trump all those preconceptions and just say, “Ha, ha! This is the girl he chooses to fall in love with: The absolutely, impossibly unattainable vision of purity.” It’s doomed from the start.”

“It was a typical yin-yang, rough and soft thing,” Byrne told Back Issue #4. “She was so exactly not right for him that it had to be. And I know she got quite a bit tougher after I left. But she was supposed to be the delicate flower, the porcelain doll that he just instantly falls totally in love with because she’s everything that he’s not.”

”And that’s essentially Beauty and the Beast,” Claremont added in Back Issue #4.

”Chris suggested she become the housekeeper,” Cockrum revealed in The X-Men Companion. “I said, “Chris! She’s got housekeepers! She wouldn’t become one!””

”Mariko was mine,” Byrne claimed in Back Issue #4. “I had just read Shogun, which Chris had not read at that point. I just absolutely wanted to steal that character, just shamelessly steal the character. And as you probably know, she was created to die.”

”We kicked around the idea that we’d get into a wedding, they’d say, ”I do,” Sabretooth would jump out and kill Mariko on the altar and leave, and that would be that,” Claremont revealed in Backissue #4.

“Sabretooth was going to attack her, but she wasn’t going to die at his hands,” Byrne said to Back Issue #4. “She was going to end up basically brain dead and in a hospital and Wolverine just doesn’t believe that she’s gone, and Jean links their minds, and he sees that there’s nobody there and he pulls the plug on her.”

Wolverine would then seek revenge on Sabretooth. “There will be a big fight and (Wolverine) will kill him on camera, and there will be no doubt about it,” Byrne told The Comics Journal #57. “And that will be the one instance where because of the way the story is set up I don’t think even (Editor-In-Chief Jim) Shooter would be able to object to a good guy killing somebody.”

Lethal weapon

”The idea was Wolverine’s not like the other X-Men,” Claremont told Back Issue #4. “He is, when necessity arises, a stone killer. Nightcrawler is not. Storm is not – she has killed, and it’s haunted her ever since. Wolverine, if the need requires it, will go out and kill somebody. End of story. Won’t think twice about it. This was a bone of contention with (Editor-In-Chief) Jim Shooter.”

“Evidently, John went to a convention and Jim was appalled to hear John saying, “Yeah, Wolverine killed the guard in X-Men #116 (in 1978); yes, Wolverine’s a crazy guy; yes, Wolverine will cut people to pieces without a second thought,”” Claremont recalled in The X-Men Companion. “Jim came back to the office and said we must either present Wolverine’s victims alive and hale and repaired and unhurt, or Wolverine must pay for his crimes, stand trial and be punished.”

“His feeling was, X-Men don’t kill, and he wanted us to establish that all the Hellfire guards and the Savage Land guys were still alive somewhere, they were banged up really bad, but he hadn’t killed them,” Claremont told Back Issue #4. “Whereas I think both John and I felt that it was very important to establish that Wolverine had this inner lethality about him that marked him as different from the rest of the X-Men.”

“Shooter was the one who insisted that everyone that Wolverine had ever killed should turn up alive, possibly with bionic parts (which they did in Uncanny X-Men #152, 1981),” Byrne told Back Issue #4. ““Heroes shouldn’t kill.” I said, “Well, Wolverine isn’t really a super-hero, is he? Not in the classic sense, anyway. That was sort of the whole point.””

Protecting humanity from Wolverine

“So we began toning Wolverine down, making him more rational, the rationale for this being that he could not have loved Jean, could not have experienced X-Men #137 (1980) and not be changed,” Claremont explained in The X-Men Companion. “Wolverine’s response was to grow up.”

“Then, after we set this process in motion, Jim came in and demanded to know why Wolverine was being turned into a sissy. Evidently, what he wanted was for Wolverine to have the capacity to go crazy and kill but never be allowed to kill. He wanted Wolverine to be as much of a potential danger to the X-Men as to other people. So we turned right around and had Wolverine try and cut Nightcrawler’s head off over Mariko (in X-Men #143, 1981), which made no sense whatsoever.”

“That’s what Shooter wanted, this sense of a time bomb ticking away in the midst of the X-Men,” Byrne told The X-Men Companion. “This guy, at any moment, for any reason, could go off, and he wouldn’t necessarily kill a villain. He could turn around and deck Nightcrawler just for something to do.”

“When he attacked Nightcrawler for kissing Mariko under the mistletoe (in X-Men #143)… Come on, he knows these people are friends; he’s not going to do that,” Cockrum opinionated in The X-Men Companion. “I mean, that was no menace. That was apparently done on Shooter’s orders, “Make Wolverine do something crazy.” Personally, I think that was a bad choice. That’s all inconsistent with what they’ve done with him.”

“The whole notion of Wolverine in my head was that the only reason he was in the X-Men was so he could be controlled,” Byrne said in Back Issue #4. “Xavier had brought him in more or less to keep an eye on him.”

“The X-Men are taking the role of the Wolverine’s guardian,” Byrne added in The X-Men Companion. “Their role is not only to protect the X-Men from humanity; it is also to protect humanity from the X-Men.”

Dark Wolverine

“Wolverine is surrounded by a very specific set of parameters, stay within those parameters, you’re fine,” Claremont stated in The X-Men Companion. “But if you cross the line, you have to be prepared to take the consequences, like a rude word, or a punch in the nose, or you can have your guts cut out. It depends on the gravity of the transgression.”

“The definitive Wolverine sequence is he’s sitting at the breakfast table, eating a bowl of cereal, and Kitty comes in and says, “Hi!” in exactly the wrong tone of voice, and Cyclops comes in, and there’s Wolverine eating his breakfast cereal, and Kitty lying on the floor disembowelled,” Byrne told Back Issue #4.

“So everyone around him had to be on their best behaviour and on their toes because you never know when you might end up with Dark Wolverine,” Claremont added in Back Issue #4.

“I think a lot of that comes from his upbringing, from having Sabretooth as his father,” John Byrne told The X-Men Companion. “I would think that this is an abused child like nobody’s been before. I think that along came World War II and he was told, “Go out and kill,” and he discovered that he could send a great deal of his angst that way.”

Byrne’s unused adamantium theory

“Early on, Chris said that Wolverine had mutated these claws, which were biological adamantium,” Byrne revealed in The X-Men Companion. “When I got up off the floor, I said, “No, this is what happened.” And what I conceived of was that his power is total regeneration, except it didn’t work on his bones. One day he was in a tremendous accident and every bone in his body got broken, and everything regenerated except that when he got up out of bed, his weight broke his legs. And they realised that whatever it was he had didn’t work on the calcium-based bones or whatever excuse you want to use.”

“This happened a long time ago – well, just after the war – and it was some twenty odd years, or longer, as Marvel time goes, before James Hudson (Vindicator) found him. So I figured that Wolverine was a basket case, basically. Terribly crippled, in a wheelchair, body brace, the whole thing, living out in the woods as much by himself as he could and just becoming more and more bitter over the years.”

“Then Vindicator came along and said, “Listen, the way your body heals, we can do something we can’t do with any other human being. That is, we can remove each of your bones individually, cast them in adamantium and replace them,” and that’s what they did - a very long and probably painful process. They removed every one of his bones, except the spinal column and the skull, which they reinforced. And as for the question, “Where do the red blood cells come from?” which everybody hits me with, his power is total regeneration and his red blood cells don’t wear out, so he doesn’t need new ones.”

Tom DeFalco: Comics Creators On X-Men, April 2006
Michael Eury: I Was A Teenage Wolverine!, Back Issue #4, June 2004
Mitch Itkowitz and others: John Byrne, The Comics Journal #57, 1980
Peter Sanderson: The X-Men Companion I, March 1982
Peter Sanderson: The X-Men Companion II, September 1982
Peter Sanderson: Pro 2 Pro – Claremont And Byrne: Wolverine At 30, Back Issue #4, June 2004
Wizard Tribute To Wolverine, 1996

torsdag den 5. januar 2012

Banshee: Reserve X-Man

The first all-new, all-different X-Man to appear was close to having been created as a woman.

Banshee was created by writer Roy Thomas and artist Werner Roth and was introduced in X-Men #28, 1967. “For some reason, I kept having these ideas for mutants from other countries,” Thomas recalled in Comics Creators On X-Men, “but Stan (Lee) wouldn’t let me add a sixth X-Man at that time, right after I’d started scripting the book.”

“One thing I felt bad about after (Banshee’s) first issue was that I thought he should have been a woman,” Thomas told The X-Men Companion. “But Stan felt it wouldn’t look good for five X-Men to be fighting a supervillainess,” he added in Comics Creators On X-Men.

“I think I must have wanted to create an adult, leprechaunish character, which Werner and I did, and I think I let that overrule the fact that of course I knew that a Banshee was really a female,” Thomas confessed in The X-Men Companion. “I think I made a mistake there – one of a number I’ve made in my life. But the character seemed pretty popular from the beginning even among the people who knew it was supposed to be a woman.”

When writer Len Wein added Banshee to the all-new, all-different X-Men in 1975, he decided to de-age the character. “I acknowledged that he was probably in his late 30s or so, but I had Dave Cockrum draw him so he looked younger – tried to fudge it as best I could to make him seem about 29,” Wein revealed to The X-Men Companion. “He was the old one of the group. I only put him in there because I happen to love writing an Irish accent, so it was as simple as that.”

“I thought that to make Professor X an effective mentor, you wanted that mentor to be older than everybody else,” Wein added in Back Issue #4. “I wanted a guy who was a father figure. When you have other characters who are as old as that character, you undercut that aspect of the mentor. So there had to be a considerable age difference between Professor X and the rest of the X-Men.”

“It was Len’s feeling that Banshee as a heroic character had to stop being funny looking,” Cockrum recalled in The X-Men companion about the decision to lose the leprechaun-looking pointed ears and pug-nose. “So, we somewhat gradually, but probably not as gradually as all that, changed him from a caricature Irishman into a nice-looking man.”

Unnecessary X-Man

“I like Banshee, I always have,” Cockrum told The X-Men Companion. “We talked about getting rid of him once before when I was on the book – I guess it was in X-Men #104 (1977). I suddenly realized I was doing a panel here and the only normal face in the whole group was Banshee, and it was such a relief to have a normal face to draw that, on the basis of that, I suggested we keep him and not get rid of him after all. (…) We talked about having his castle be kind of X-Men East.”

“Banshee I always thought didn’t really belong,” subsequent artist John Byrne revealed in The X-Men Companion, “which is why I did what I could to get rid of him and finally succeeded in getting rid of him. He was the older, wiser head who was unnecessary because there was Xavier. His power was a long-distance zap, which is unnecessary because of Cyclops. His costume lost any outstanding points it had as soon as we had Phoenix, because he was the redhead with the green-and-yellow costume. So I liked Banshee a lot in terms of his personality but I could never really think of him as belonging in the group and I remember after we wrote him out with X-Men #129 (1980) – the issue that introduced Kitty Pryde – some five or six issues later I realized he hadn’t been in the book for five or six issues and that I hadn’t missed him.”

In Spider-Woman #37-38, 1981, writer Chris Claremont introduced the mutant Siryn who turned out to be the daughter of Banshee. “Siryn will stay in Ireland,” Claremont told The X-Men Companion. “What I plan to do is have a core group of X-Men and then have a number of characters on the periphery – Polaris, Banshee, Beast, etcetera – who can come in. It will be a Mission: Impossible format: As the story requires, we will use what members we need, and run it like that.”

The idea of having a team of reserve X-Men was only used once, however, in Uncanny X-Men #146, 1981.

Like daughter, like father

 “(A) thing that always bothered me about Banshee was that I was never able to exploit his powers to the fullest extent, in the same way I did with Siryn,” Claremont explained to The X-Men Companion. “All he could do was scream, and the scream would burn through things, or cut through things, and he could stun people, and he could fly and that was it. I was thinking, first of all, you could use the sound as a hypnotic agent, you could use the sound to affect the chemical balance of the brain, you could use ultra-low frequency sound for disintegration or stunning. You could create sonic holgrams, or use ultra-high frequency to transmit messages. The potential is limitless, but because Banshee is an established character with established powers, to change any of that would have given him “new powers,” and that was considered verboten.”

“So my way around it is to take them all away (in X-Men #119, 1979), and my plan is then, through Siryn we give him back his powers. The rough idea I have now is that she uses her own abilities to knit his vocal chords back together by sonic surgery – he will then have these enhanced abilities that his daughter has.”

However, that plan never amounted to anything. When Banshee finally rejoined the X-Men in Uncanny X-Men #253, 1989, it was after his power had healed naturally, following his adventures in Marvel Comics Presents #17-24, 1989.

After Banshee’s death in X-Men: Deadly Genesis #2-3 in 2006, his daughter Theresa changed her codename from Siryn to Banshee to honor her father’s memory in X-Factor #200, 2010. After all these years, Roy Thomas’ “mistake” on the Banshee’s gender has finally been corrected.

Tom DeFalco: Comics Creators On X-Men, April 2006
Michael Eury: I Was A Teenage Wolverine!, Backissue #4, June 2004
Peter Sanderson: The X-Men Companion I, March 1982
Peter Sanderson: The X-Men Companion II, September 1982