100 X-Men: How Do Beak, Broo, Fantomex, Northstar and Cannonball 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.
This week, we look at two of the more monstrous students of the last twenty years, one of the original New Mutants, a renegade from the Weapon X project, and a groundbreaking character who made his debut in Alpha Flight.
BEAK, BARNELL BOHUSK
Elle: It creeps me out the way his arms bend backwards. The Morrison/Quitely mutants are always the most disturbing. But in the future he basically just turns into Hawkman, right? In any case, Barnell Bohusk is one of the all-time great character names. 4/10
Katie: It’s hard for me to not compare him to Birdboy/Birdbrain (who I’m pretty sure did not make the top nominations for voting --- sorry, Birdboy fans), but at the very least he had a more human personality, which is easier to connect with and leads to more potential storytelling. He makes a point of saying his best skill is making friends, and I can appreciate a guy like that --- but I’m with Elle about his creepy bend back arms. 5/10.
Steve: Morrison’s students were my first insight into the school dynamic of the X-Men, which is the dynamic I hold most dear. And Beak is a true character, a real individual with unique standing amongst any X-Men character before or since. Along with Angel, who’ll show up later on the list to get a higher score, he made for a wonderfully off-putting addition to the roster. Barnell has a good heart, but he’s also a whiny, self-loathing reject. He’s Morrison’s attempt to repulse the reader into dislike of a character, and in some ways he was too successful in that. But he’s a mutant, through and through, and his relationship to the other characters added something new to a cyclical formula. 7/10
Andrew: I love all my freaks equally. But I don’t care for Beak. 3/10
Aaron: Beak is a quintessential Morison-era character, and therein lies part of the problem for me. Like Andrew, I have a soft spot for the X-freaks, but Beak isn't my cup of tea. 3/10
OUR SCORE: 22/50
Elle: Broo is great! He has huge teeth and wears sweater vests! He’s a mutant Brood whose mutation is that he has feelings and wants to be your friend! How can you not love that guy? 9/10
Andrew: Yeah, Broo is a solid little dude. All X-Men villains get to be X-Men at some point and in some form, but Broo’s compassion, intellect, and insecurity make him a great spin on that idea. 7/10
Aaron: I hate to use the term adorable here, but that he is! Broo’s more relatable than most humans I know. (And smarter too!) I’d love to see him appear in other X-titles. 7/10
Steve: Possibly the only one of the Wolverine & the X-Men characters to have any lasting impact, I’ll maybe unfairly say. Not my favourite series! ‘Solid’ is probably the word for him --- he’s fine, sure, but not that distinctive really. A character I don’t mind seeing, but I can’t get that excited for him showing up. 6/10
Katie: I checked out Wolverine & the X-men for this project and you know what, I’m with Elle on this --- Broo is great. He’s sweet and kind and only wants to make friends and be a good person, which is my favorite kind of teen hero. Why isn’t he in more stuff? I want to see Broo in more stuff. 9/10
OUR SCORE: 38/50
FANTOMEX, CHARLIE CLUSTER-7
Steve: I hate Fantomex. I loathe him. Created by Grant Morrison to be a sort of parody of the cool cloaked badass with a secret past and lots of guns, he murdered my beloved Darkstar, wears a plantpot on his head, is a fake Frenchman, and dated Psylocke for a bit. None of which impresses me, so I’m glad Si Spurrier made him a crazed wackjob and psybladed him into limbo. 0/10
Katie: Fantomex seems like if the Punisher and DC’s Prometheus had a dumb, pointless baby. 2/10.
Elle: I have nothing against Fantomex. He was forgettable in New X-Men, but pretty fun in Uncanny X-Force. Then he split into three bodies and that whole thing went nowhere. Whatever. 5/10
Andrew: I like the influences Fantomex draws on, but he never quite took root in the Marvel Universe, and if we’re talking about characters designed to be conspicuously cool, I was there for Gambit the first time, so… 5/10
Aaron: I didn’t mind him in Uncanny X-Force, but the body split and faux Parisian, Thomas Crowne Affair bit threw me off. Also, I’m not a fan of white trench coats. 5/10
OUR SCORE: 17/50
NORTHSTAR, JEAN-PAUL BEAUBIER
Steve: Is it fair to say the marriage really diluted Northstar? I mean, it made him different to Quicksilver, at least, but marrying that random boring guy with the cool surname was a big stunt move that didn’t pay off into any decent storylines. And now, for all the talk of diversity, Marvel hasn’t worked to keep him prominent anywhere. Best to remember Northstar at his best, when he was a fast-headed smarm who hung out with his totally rad sister and predicted years ahead of anyone else that Iceman was gay. Single Northstar, who sleeps with Hercules and yet always finds time to proudly represent Canada. Viva that Northstar! 7/10
Katie: Northstar seems like kind of a jerk to me, but it’s cool that he’s been confirmed as gay for so long, even if Marvel seems to not know what to do with him. Wish he was given more to do. 5/10.
Elle: Northstar’s obviously important, as one of the very first gay heroes to come out, so my score reflects that, but I’ve never cared much for him as a character. Maybe I just read the wrong comics, but he always seemed to me like a snooty French Canadian stereotype. And I also agree with Steve that marriage made him boring. 8/10
Aaron: As a reader I never felt like I actually knew Northstar. His banter with his sister was always interesting, but overall he just felt an aloof jerk. Though, the Ultimate universe has a pretty charismatic version of him that resonated with me as a queer reader. 5/10
Andrew: Back when there were no other gay superheroes to read about, Northstar meant a whole heck of a lot to me, and I identified a lot with his defensive shell of prissy disdain. He's never quite had the chance to be the character he could be --- and that albatross of a marriage means he might never get there --- but I can't undersell his significance, or how much it felt like a homecoming when he finally joined the X-Men. 8/10
OUR SCORE: 33/50
CANNONBALL, SAM GUTHRIE
Steve: Sam Guthrie is a decent man, and one of those characters I wish I could be more like. He’s just… good, although it’s a shame his fantastic Chris Bachalo-designed outfit has seemingly vanished, and that he’s been sent over to boost the Avengers, because they aren’t very interesting in general. He’s a rock-solid character, a great addition to any team, and I think more people should search Tumblr for “cannonball + iceman” because there’s a lot of ripe material there. 8/10
Katie: It’s easy to forget that Sam started out in his very first comic appearance as one of Sebastian Shaw’s henchmen, but he’s so nice he ends up wanting to join the good guys. I mean, this is the guy that, as a henchman, gets told to “take out” someone and he has to ask if that means bring them to the police. That’s how good a kid Sam Gunthrie is. So everything he does after that is in that spirit --- just a good-hearted, kind kid who’ll be everyone’s big brother on the team. 9/10.
Elle: I’m biased toward Cannonball because I’m from Southern Appalachia, and there aren’t many superheroes from around these parts. Actually it’s pretty much Sam, his siblings, and Hillbilly Marvel. As Steve and Katie have noted, he’s also just such a good sweet guy. 9/10
Andrew: I like Sam, but I realize that everyone else likes him more than I do. He’s wholly inoffensive, but he’s forever surrounded by characters that I find a lot more interesting. 6/10
Aaron: I never understood Sam’s appeal. I think he’s got an awesome power-set, but meh? 4/10
OUR SCORE: 36/50
The ranking continues next week with more of the best X-Men of all time, including one of the founding X-Men, and also Goldballs.
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