100 X-Men: How Do Polaris, Emma Frost, The M Twins, Boom-Boom and Professor X Rank 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.
This week our randomizer has thrown out two telepathic headmasters of the Westchester school; one an actual ex-villain, and the other just generally kind of awful. Plus, one of Magneto's kids, two very confusing twins, and a surprise bid for one of the more unlikely high-scoring X-Men characters we've seen thus far. But that's before we get to your votes!
POLARIS, LORNA DANE
Aaron: I’d like to state the obvious and say I especially adore Polaris’ costumes (with the exception of that magenta Shi’ar number). But I’d love to see Polaris as the central force of her own narratives, and as more than the daughter of Magneto. 7/10
Steve: I adore all of Polaris. She’s one of the most assertive characters in the X-Men --- if she’s in a story, you can guarantee she’s not just going to be a wallflower. She’s got stuff to do, and she’s going to get it done. 9/10
Andrew: Poor Lorna. I really struggle with how she’s often presented as the emotionally unhinged woman, because it’s never an attempt to offer a nuanced portrait of mental illness. It’s just "girls be crazy sometimes." Her sister Wanda gets put through a lot of similar abuse, and come to think of it, so does Pietro, so this family is not handled well. I want Lorna to either be afforded more strength or more empathy. Which I guess means I like her a lot. 8/10
Elle: Even though I’ve read lots of other comics with her in them, my immediate association with Polaris is always going to be that bonkers Arnold Drake/Jim Steranko “The Devil Had a Daughter” story. Fortunately that’s a positive association. 7/10
Katie: Okay yeah, I”m with Aaron on this with her costume; it’s pretty good (although I can see how her costume can get badly done by cheesecakey artists). I’ve only seen a few things with her in it and mostly it was when Malice possessed her, unfortunately. She seems okay. 6/10
OUR SCORE: 37/50
Aaron: Emma was a blood boiler as a villain. Cruel, vindictive and petty. (Stealing Storm’s body?! Screw you Emma!) But Emma as a teacher and an X-Men? Incredible. Emma’s dealt with a lot, and she’s by far the most human “Queen Bee” character in comics. In her cold isolation she remains relatable, vulnerable and unabashed in every way, willing to prove herself countless times. But by the goddess, can we get her a polished uniform?! She’s one of the chic-est women around and she’s constantly in bad latex lingerie and thigh high boots. 8/10
Steve: A great way to tell if you actually hate a character/writer is to see if they make a “slut” joke about Emma, who has only ever been totally into monogamy during her entire time in comics. It’s all about power with Emma Frost, and the ways in which you can wield it or forfeit. She’s been with the X-Men for far longer than she was a villainess at the Hellfire Club, and in fact I’ve only ever really known her from this time period. She’s barely ever boring, despite the fact that she’s spent a great many years stuck in the traditionally insipid “girlfriend” role. She’s snippy, sharp; a commanding teacher, presence, and leader --- and she’s still only 27, you ungrateful wretches! 9/10
Katie: I don’t dislike Emma, but I’m also not really attached to her (ducking my head to avoid the tomatoes). I know, I know... I’ve heard so much about her being really complex as she moved away from being a straight-up villain, but most of what I’ve seen of her is during her “very evil/kidnapping Kitty/murdering Angelica’s horse” phase. I do think she played the campy, super intimidating villain role well in the '80s, and I like that the books have given her time to explore what she’s like as a “good guy” (or at least her version of a “good guy”). 7/10
Elle: I love Emma Frost, as I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned before. She’s not good, she’s not nice, she’s just right. And (when written as a complex character in the post-Firestar miniseries era) she’s actually a good teacher who cares about her kids. I really enjoy that dynamic. And she’s stylish as hell when a decent artist (like Kris Anka) is in charge of her. 10/10
Andrew: Though I loved Emma as a villain, there’s been a tendency since she switched sides to always tease the possibility of her backsliding into baddie territory, and I find that exhausting. The fact that Emma doesn’t play by the angel rulebook doesn’t mean she’s perched on a knife’s edge between heroism and villainy. She knows who she is and what she needs to be, and it’s fabulous. Let Emma be Emma. 9/10
OUR SCORE: 43/50
THE M TWINS, CLAUDETTE AND NICOLE ST CROIX
Steve: Well, yes. So it turns out that Monet’s two youngest sisters merged their bodies together to create a perfect replica of their sister, while said sister was busy being trapped as the body of a razor-sharp mute creature called ‘Penance’. Once Monet escaped that situation, they stopped being her, and nobody knows quite why they decided to do it. Including, I’m going to guess, the creative team. Monet will get a high score: these two are just pretenders. 3/10
Andrew: The people who think superhero comics are too arcane and convoluted must never learn about the M Twins. Never. We must all swear to take this secret to our graves. 2/10
Aaron: Andrew, consider your oath sworn! 2/10
Katie: I’m with the rest of you - why have pretenders when you can have the real thing? Of if you must have pretenders, make them more interesting foils. 2/10.
Elle: Yeah… I don’t care. 2/10
OUR SCORE: 11/50
BOOM-BOOM, TABITHA SMITH
Elle: People think I’m kidding when I say this, but Boom-Boom is literally my favorite superhero. She ran away from the trailer park and made herself over into the most city of city kids. She grew up right across the state line from Cannonball, but you’d never know it because she worked so hard to get far away from that culture. (Not that there’s anything wrong with Sam for not doing that, but as a boy with a loving family he had a less negative experience with it.) I love Boom-Boom because of where she’s from, because of who is, and because she’s always challenged conventional notions of what makes a superhero. She’s the best. 10/10
Katie: I’ll be frank here --- most of my affection for Boom-Boom comes from being friends with Elle, who adores this character to bits and is always up for talking about why Ms. Smith is so great. To add what Elle said above, I love a firecracker, gives-no-crap sort of girl, especially one who is surrounded by a makeshift family who does care about her… even if they’re all a little afraid she’ll decide to blow up their house on a whim. 9/10
Steve: Everybody loves Tabitha Smith. She’s fought for everything she’s got, and developed herself into a witty, silly, fun-loving person despite the world’s attempts to hold her backwards. Nextwave might have leant a little too much into making her seem stupid, but she’s not by any means. Boom-Boom is a ‘sploding delight. She’s seen it all, and spent every gleeful second running her mouth off. You can’t shut a good hero up! 8/10
Andrew: I don’t think I can add much here except to echo the chorus. Boom-Boom is great. Marvel tried to steer away from that codename by calling her Boomer or Meltdown, but that misses the point of the character. Boom-Boom doesn’t need to apologize for who she decided to be. 8/10
Aaron: Tabitha’s one of those characters that merits some fist fighting if a fellow X-Men isn’t “into” her. Joking... kinda. She takes no sh-- and her literal explosive personality has been consistently awesome, even in the animated X-Men: Evolution. 8/10
OUR SCORE: 43/50
PROFESSOR CHARLES XAVIER
Andrew: Oh, it’s this creepy skeez-ball. Professor X has a lot of problems, not the least of which is that his telepathic Id wanders off every few years and becomes a supervillain. How anyone signs up with this guy when Magneto is knocking about, I do not know. But he’s not the worst X-Man, and he did give the team its cool dorky name, so I’ll give him 2/10.
Katie: To quote a certain teenage mutant, “Professor Xavier is a jerk!” It’s hard not to be tough on one of the more patronizing white male characters in all of comics, but he’s just consistently written as the guy who doesn’t trust others (especially women) to know what they need or really want, and he’s all about violating others’ mental space. Occasionally he gets it through his head and eats humble pie, but not often enough for my taste, so I’m also giving him a 2/10.
Aaron: I struggle with Xavier. On one hand his ideals give him an air of compassion and fire. On the other, as Katie mentioned, he is by far one of the most patronizing white male characters in comics. His first encounter with adult Storm, immediately “correcting” her on her goddesshood, rubbed me the wrong way. (Y’all know I don’t play about Ororo!) Not to mention his creep factor is on omega levels. I’m gonna give him a 3/10.
Steve: Xavier is basically a dirtbag, but one who has tried to mend his ways even though subconsciously he’s never going to shake his need to stand ahead of everyone else. I don’t like the character, but I do think his presence can serve to twist up a narrative in particular style. 5/10
Elle: Yeah, Xavier is basically the worst. He sometimes seems to mean well, and even then he’s super-manipulative and causes all sorts of problems for everyone who trusts him, and sometimes the whole world. 2/10
OUR SCORE: 14/50
Next time, we rate two of the most fiery X-Men... and the one true queen.