100 X-Men: How Do Gateway, Juggernaut, Moira, Jean & Genesis Rate As Great X-Men
Who are the greatest ever X-Men? Over the coming weeks, we’re going to try to answer that question, selecting five X-Men at a time from across the franchise’s long history, and pairing up your votes with the opinions of our own panel of highly opinionated X-Men fans. Your scores will be added to ours to determine the top 100 X-Men.
Today we're voting on Charles Xavier's favorite student, his wicked step-brother, and one of his oldest collaborators. We also offer our assessment on one of the stranger presences from the Australia years, and yet another former villain turned Westchester student.
Andrew: Gateway rarely speaks, even in Chris Claremont comics, so he’s become one of those frustratingly oblique characters that never gets any development, and his all-knowingness essentially makes him a magical aborigine. But the visual of him opening teleportation portals with his bullroarer is amazing, so I have to give him a decent score. 7/10
Steve: What Andrew said and also what Andrew scored. I like how he keeps getting dramatically killed off but then always merrily waltzes back in a random comic a few months later with no explanation. 7/10
Aaron: I’ve always hated the way Gateway is illustrated. He looks more of a brown Einstein figure, than truly aboriginal. Meh? 3/10
Katie: The overall writing of Gateway sort of makes me uncomfortable --- he’s one of the few aboriginal characters in mainstream comics, and he’s basically a macguffin. 3/10
Elle: Gateway was in the first X-Men comics I ever read, but he came off more as a device than a character, which is a particularly bad look for a rare indigenous character. 2/10
OUR SCORE: 22/50
JUGGERNAUT, CAIN MARKO
Steve: If Juggernaut ran around the world uninterrupted for one circuit, he’d have enough momentum to be able to jump high enough in the air to reach the Moon. And it’d be great if he’d just stay there, please. 3/10.
Andrew: I liked Juggernaut better before he became Vinnie Jones. Colossus deserves a cooler nemesis than Charles Xavier’s bully bro. 4/10.
Katie: I feel like Juggernaut as an antagonist only works when he shows up in one issue every few years to screw things up, causes a big, fun fight with a handful of X-Men, and then sulks away until a few years later. Any more than that is just too much. 3/10.
Aaron: He makes a great video game boss? 2/10
Elle: Theoretically there’s something interesting about a story of two brothers, where one of them is all mental and the other’s all physical, but that’s never really the story that gets told. Instead there’s mostly just one repeated story about putting obstacles in front of the big unstoppable guy until somebody can get his helmet off. Bleh. 3/10
OUR SCORE: 15/50
DR MOIRA MACTAGGERT
Katie: Moira is one of those many women in the X-books who get misused or underused in books (and movies) just enough to get a bad wrap about their character as a whole. And yet there she was, a non-mutant who was dedicated to supporting mutants in need. She’s the woman who saved Rahne Sinclair and put her on the path to the New Mutants. And Moira was one of the few people to ever scathingly call out Charles Xavier and get him to pull his head from his ass for even a few moments. 7/10.
Steve: The loss of Moira and Banshee was, in my opinion, what opened and then destroyed the floodgates for Xavier to become the worst of all. Both of them called him out and stood as better, more humane teachers of mutantkind, who showed compassion and heart. Moira was particularly great, bolstering each team she worked for and bringing out unexpected sides in characters you’d never suspect. 7/10
Andrew: How come, when Moira died, she stayed dead? That never happens to Charles Xavier. And while I think Chuck’s dubious ethics sometimes rubbed off on the Mac, I think she deserved better. 6/10
Elle: I have a Scottish friend who absolutely despises Moira MacTaggert, and I understand where he’s coming from, but she does have her good moments, particularly when she discourages Xavier from being terrible. I was never sure why she had a skintight superhero costume just for hanging out in labs and doing science, but whatever. She was a female scientist when that was even rarer in comics than it is now, so that’s definitely worth something. 6/10
Aaron: I agree with Steve here, Moira’s great when she’s keeping good ole’ Chuck in check, but like Katie mentioned she’s misued terribly more often than not. The Proteus arc still pisses me off. And how did we land on Rose Byrne for an on-screen portrayal? How?! 7/10
OUR SCORE: 33/50
Steve: I want to make a stand. It’s become de rigueur for people to assume Jean is boring, dull, a shell of a character who functioned originally as ‘the female one’ and never developed beyond that. It feels like everybody is convinced this is what Jean is. It’s not! Jean Grey is the heart and soul of the X-Men, as evidenced by the fact the X-Men haven’t had any heart or soul since she was killed off in New X-Men. When you have Jean in the books, the comics have a sense of pride and strength that flows straight from her to her teammates, her students, and everyone else around her. She’s a rock, a leader, a hand to help pick someone up when they get knocked down. She’s the electricity which gives the X-Men their magic, and the books and characters are weaker without her. 9/10.
Aaron: I love Jean. I love everything about her narratives. The evolution from timid Marvel Girl to destructive Dark Phoenix. Her relationship woes with Cyke and Wolverine. Jean has never been boring in my eyes. Dramatic, sure? But when you’re possessed by a cosmic goddess, what’s one to do? The X-Men doesn’t feel right without her. She’s reliable, powerful and transformative. She’s the catalyst for change, and where would the X-Men be without change? 9/10
Elle: Classic Jean can’t compete with the current teen Jean for me, but once she got out of the Silver Age she was a pretty great character. And let’s face it, the Dark Phoenix Saga is still the single best X-Men story of all time, and (retcons aside) she’s right at the center of it. Points for that for sure. 9/10
Katie: My feeling is that you need a grain of salt with any female character who was originally written by Stan Lee --- those heroines just always got off to a rough start. It’s easy to dismiss Jean Grey, but it’s easy to dismiss most female characters written during that time. Considering where she started, Jean Grey ends up being a way more interesting character than anyone expected her to be. Sure the Phoenix Saga (if you count Jean part of that, which I do because it was still her persona) is a big factor in my score, but so is a lot of her time during X-Factor. 8/10
Andrew: Jean’s all right, but she’s no Maddy Pryor. 6/10
OUR SCORE: 41/50
GENESIS, EVAN SABAHNUR
Steve: This’d be the cloned child version of Apocalypse, raised by a psychic projection of Fantomex, who currently features in All-New X-Men. One thing to keep in mind about Evan is that we're right on top of the storyline that may define him. I wonder if my score will change following “Apocalypse Wars”? 4/10
Katie: Wolverine & the X-Men is a favorite series of mine, so I have a soft spot for Evan. Like fellow Jean Grey School student Broo, with his blood-thirsty biology hanging over his head, Evan is a younger character whose fate seems to be carved into stone despite him being a good kid; so much of his story is struggling against what many see as his obvious endgame. That’s an archetype I like a lot, and I also really enjoy his friendship with Archangel for the bittersweet connection to their forgotten pasts. 8/10
Aaron: I’m curious to see what happens to him during the Apocalypse Wars... and not much else. To parrot Katie, I do see value in his friendship with Archangel. 4/10
Andrew: That motif of the insanely dangerous kid with the weight of the future on their shoulders got hit hard and often in Wolverine And The X-Men, and I’m not sure if my interest in it spreads that thin. I like Evan well enough, but the inevitability of his destiny (irresistible to writers) had a distancing effect for me. I don’t know this kid. 6/10
Elle: It is pretty astounding to consider how common “Am I destined to grow up into a monster?” has become as an X-Men character trope, but Evan wears it well. Apocalypse’s actual powerset seems a lot goofier on someone less intimidating than he was. Half the time Evan just seems like a kid with stretchy arms. My number one hope for him is that he never becomes a villain. That’s the unexpected path for him, and therefore the most interesting. 7/10
OUR SCORE: 29/50