Heather McNeil (Vindicator)

Mav apparently has quite a taste for under-represented characters, as the next one in line is Heather Hudson, portrayed by Julia Blake in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Heather is a sweet old lady who nurtures Logan back to health after the Adamantium infusion, but who is killed along with her husband by Agent Zero for this. Believe it or not, in the comics Heather is a Canadian superhero, the on-and-off leader of Alpha Flight known as Vindicator…not exactly the aged lady you see in the movie. Let’s take a look at the much younger and active original.

Heather McNeil was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, the eldest daughter of Ramsey and Claire McNeil, good people and hard-workers, very religious. Heather grew up along with her little sister Becky and other five brothers, but her numerous family grew even more when her best friend Elizabeth Twoyoungmen‘s mother died, and her father left her. The McNeils adopted her, starting to struggle a bit to maintain this many children. For this reason, Heather found a job when she was just 17 years old, and she started to work as a secretary for Jerome Jaxon, an important executive of Am-Cam, a local petroleum company. On work she met James Hudson, a research scientist, and despite he was several years older than her, they fell in love. The McNeils didn’t approve this relation, both because of the age difference and the fact that James didn’t have a religious upbringing, but Heather didn’t care: she even followed James when he resigned from Am-Cam, as the suit he had built for geological exploration was to be sold as a weapon by Jaxon. Heather convinced James to ask the Canadian government for help, and they were sent to Department H to expose their case. Not only the Department agreed to help them, but they also acknowledged the potential of James’s suit, and asked him to wear it as a government-sponsored superhero. Heather supported James in becoming Guardian, and she kept working with him as he became the leader of Alpha Flight, the first Canadian super-team. The two finally got married, and during their honeymoon in a cabin in the woods they met a savage, a feral man later known as Wolverine. Heather managed to calm the brute, and to bring him back to a human state of mind. Wolverine was trained by Guardian to be a member of Alpha Flight, but he left the moment he realized there was a growing attraction between him and Heather. The government didn’t take this well.

Apparently, Department H wanted Wolverine to be Alpha Flight’s new leader, and when he left, the team was disbanded. Heather, however, still believed in the project, and when the giant Tundra, embodiment of decay, made his appearance, she secretly gathered Alpha Flight to fight him. When her ex-boss Jerome Jaxon founded a copycat team, Omega Flight, clearly villainous in intention, Heather reunited Alpha Flight once again to fight him, but during the battle Guardian was apparently killed. Instead of breaking her, being a widow just gave her more determination than ever, and she brought together all members of Alpha Flight in Vancouver, acting as a leader despite not having any powers or equipment. Heather’s leadership was skilled enough for the Canadian government to reconsider its position, and Alpha Flight was re-integrated in the original program and funded by the state. On the new base in Tamarind Island, Roger “Box” Bochs and Madison Jeffries dismantled MX39147, the Omega Flight robot known as Delphine Courtney, but salvaged some parts of it, particularly her suit, based on Guardian’s one. They insisted that Heather put it on, acting also as an on-field leader as well. Hoping to uphold her husband’s legacy, Heather became Vindicator, and she tested herself in a first mission alongside her old flame Wolverine against Lady Deathstrike. Under her lead, Alpha Flight faced and defeated many powerful foes, the mutant Mesmero, the Atlantean Attuma and the robotic Sentinels among others, and created many alliances and diplomatic bonds with teams from other states, mainly American ones, in particular with the X-Men. Then, after a number of impostors and illusions, the real James Hudson came back from his grave. For a time, Heather went by the name Guardian and James by Vindicator, but their original codenames eventually set. Now, Vindicator had many problems to solve: her relationship with her husband was difficult to say the least, and as she had become a skilled combatant and leader, she wouldn’t have give up her position so easily…

Heather McNeil Hudson is a self-made woman, who went with her own strength and determination from being a simple secretary to becoming the leader of her country’s most powerful team. As Vindicator, her battle suit grants her a superior strength, durability and speed, flight, the ability to absorb environmental heat and turn it into powerful energy blasts, and much more; she’s an expert leader and tactician, and she’s also a master martial artist thanks to Wolverine’s training. A woman larger than life, Vindicator is a brave heroine, who tries her best to balance her life as a government super-agent with the difficulties of being married to a man who, more often than not, dies and comes back, is replaced by androids or impostors, or even becomes a cyborg…not exactly the easiest marriage ever.

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James Arthur Madrox (Multiple Man)

On a lighter tone, the next character in Mav‘s list is Jamie Madrox, the Multiple Man portrayed by Eric Dane in X-Men: The Last Stand. A thief known for having robbed seven banks at the same time, Madrox is a mutant recruited by Magneto in his new Brotherhood, but he’s also the first one to be arrested as he’s left behind with his dozens dupes to act as a decoy for the entire team. It’s been quite a while that a Madrox movie starring James Franco has been rumored, but with the Disney-Fox deal going forward, it remains to be seen where that will fall. In the meanwhile, as usual, let’s take a look at the original one.

Unlike most mutants, James Madrox had his powers the moment he was born. During his birth, in fact, the son of scientists Daniel and Joan Madrox was smacked on the bottom, as usual, by the doctor, but quite unexpectedly the doctor found himself holding two babies instead of one immediately after. Every kinetic impact, in fact, created a perfect duplicate of little Jamie, who he could re-absorb in a second time, obtaining all his memories and experiences. Considering the unique condition of his son, Daniel Madrox asked his old friend Charles Xavier for advice, and he told him to raise the child in privacy, far from the Los Alamos Nuclear Research Center they were currently living in. The Madrox family moved to Lawrenceville, Kansas, in an isolated farm, where Jamie could grow up without gaining too much attention. He was even given a special suit that suppressed his powers, so that he could have been told about his nature when he was old enough to understand them. Unfortunately, he was targeted by Damien Tryp, a mysterious man who claimed him not to be a mutant, but a changeling, or Homo Killcrop, a genetic predecessor to mutants. Tryp wanted the Madroxs to give their son to him, so that he could grow with someone of his same species, but the two ex-scientists refused. Tryp didn’t take this lightly, and he used his powers to cause a tornado that killed Daniel and Joan Madrox, leaving Jamie an orphan by fifteen. He spent the following years in complete isolation as he had been told by his parents, never taking the special suit away, until it inevitably malfunctioned six years later. Scared and alone, Madrox fled to New York City, where he inadvertently started to wreak havoc. He was confronted by the Fantastic Four, who believed him to be a villain, but Xavier intervened just in time to calm everybody down. Mr. Fantastic repaired Madrox’s suit, and he followed Xavier to his mansion, in Westchester County, where he could finally be told and taught of his powers and nature.

Under the tutelage of Xavier, Jamie Madrox learnt to know and control his abilities, with enough mastership to be later invited to join the X-Men. Madrox, however, refused, but he accepted Xavier’s second offer: he followed him to Muir Island, in Scotland, where he became a lab assistant to Dr. Moira MacTaggert. Madrox proved to be a fundamental help for Moira, and finally found a place he could be useful for what he was. He also knew some negative moments, such as when Moira’s son, Proteus, possessed one of his duplicates and used him to escape, killing him in the process: for the first time, Madrox experienced the death of one of his dupes, something that left him clearly shaken. He helped the X-Men to defeat Proteus, and refused once again to join them, preferring to stay on Muir. Here, he grew close to Siryn, the sister of Banshee, and began a relationship with her. This was also the time that the Multiple Man’s powers, for the first time, started to show their frightening backlash: one of his duplicates, in fact, didn’t want to rejoin the original, and drugged him to replace him on a mission to the US with Moira and Siryn. While the duplicate was looking for the missing Sunspot and Warlock, and ended up being enthralled by the Vanisher in his Fallen Angels only to defeat them soon after from the inside, the original one was still on Muir. When the other came back, Madrox immediately reabsorbed him, but he didn’t know that he had absorbed just a duplicate of the other duplicate, who still refused to dissolve in the matrix. While the dupe secretly lived in America, the true Madrox suffered yet another trauma as he was possessed by the Shadow King, who used him and the other mutants on the island as his personal puppets until he got defeated once again. With this, he decided he had had enough with Muir, and he joined the government-sponsored X-Factor…only to face, on his first mission, “himself”, or rather his secret dupe who had joined Mr. Sinister‘s mercenaries Nasty Boys. Things were definitely becoming quite complicated for him…

Jamie Madrox is quite a conundrum of a man, who possesses as many personality traits as many dupes he has (that means quite a lot), and who constantly risks to lose his “true self” in the midst of the choir of memories and voices in his head. As the Multiple Man, he creates a perfect duplicate of himself upon every kinetic impact, an autonomous dupe with his own personality and will; when the dupe is re-absorbed, the original one retains the duplicate’s memories, skills and experiences, thus being able to learn a lot in little to no time; there’s apparently no limit to the number of dupes he can create by himself. Madrox the Multiple Man is an adventurer, a private investigator, a reluctant hero, an unwilling terrorist, a womanizer, a faithful companion, a farmer and many other things, a man who has the unique chance to live as many lives as he can desire or imagine…less he forgets which one of them is the real one.

Veranke

In these days we also received news regarding the next (the last?) movie in the X-Men series: Dark Phoenix. Everybody believed Jessica Chastain would have portrayed Majestrix Lilandra, but she surprisingly turned out to be playing Skrull Queen Veranke, something even more unexpected considering that the Skrulls will make their MCU debut in Captain Marvel. As for now, we only know that the shape-shifting alien will be the main villain of the movie, and that she’ll be after the Phoenix Force…something she never had to deal with in the comics. Let’s see together.

Veranke was a Skrull princess born on the Throneworld, aka Tarnax IV, home to the Skrull nobility. Raised in the Tyeranx 7 province, Veranke was a member of a particular religious sect, the Dard’van, zealots who believed in the prophecies held in the Book of Worlds. Among the many prophecies reported in the book, there was one about a group of aliens that would have challenged and defeated the mighty emperor. When the Illuminati, a group from Earth led by Tony Stark and Reed Richards, arrived on Tarnax and threatened the entire Skrull Empire, and then managed to escape the obvious punishment, Veranke saw it as the fulfillment of said prophecy: she traveled to the capital, where she publicly accused Emperor Dorrek VII of ignorance, as he didn’t know nor believed the prophecies. She warned him that other three remained to be fulfilled: the coming of a devourer who would have destroyed the Throneworld, a wave that would have decimated the Empire, and last a sign of salvation, a “world of blue” that would have been the Skrulls’ new home. Dorrek couldn’t allow someone to question his authority unpunished, but neither he could kill Veranke and make her a martyr for her cult: he rather exiled her on a deserted planet, where she would have spent her entire life. Veranke spent years in her prison, her voice unheard and her prophecies forgotten…until Galactus elected Tarnax IV as his next meal, and consumed it. Just as she had foretold. With Dorrek dead, the Skrulls elected Veranke as their new ruler, and she came back to her people as a queen.

Now respected and listened by all the Empire, opposed only by a tiny minority who had in the original Super Skrull Kl’rt and in Prince Xavin its champions, Veranke could start her religious crusade: interpreting the texts, she identified Earth as the “world of blue” that was her people’s promised land, and she started planning a slow but detailed invasion. Some agents, herself included, would have gone to Earth, replacing some key figures and absorbing their memories and skills with the ancient Skrull Infiltration Ritual. First, some of Veranke’s agents replaced agents of Hydra, then, when Spider-Woman came to a Hydra facility to regain her lost powers, she was sedated and imprisoned by them, while Veranke took her place. She successfully deceived Hydra, and she even deceived Nick Fury, whom the original Spider-Woman was working as a double agent for. Even more, she even came back to S.H.I.E.L.D. after the “mission” and she joined the New Avengers, with nobody ever suspecting she wasn’t the real deal. She participated to many missions with the Avengers, collecting the prisoners escaped from the Raft, teaming up with the Thunderbolts to arrest Cloak and Dagger, repelling an attack from Ultron and battling The Hand. Only once she had her cover almost blow up, when the Scarlet Witch created an alternate reality: fearing this would have foiled her plan, “Spider-Woman” tried to kill Scarlet along with Criti Noll, who had replaced Yellow Jacket, but they failed. Scarlet was later forced to restore reality as it was, just as Veranke was reached by the news that the Annihilation Wave, led by the warlord Annihilus, had invaded Skrull Empire, and billions had died. With the last prophecy fulfilled, Queen Veranke had now to win a new world to her people, as she was destined to…

Queen Veranke is a true believer and a committed ruler, an empress who deeply cares for her people and who sincerely believes that serving them means to follow with them the path revealed by the Book of Worlds. As all Skrulls, she’s a skilled shape-shifter, but the Ritual also granted her all of Spider-Woman powers: superhuman strength, speed, agility, durability and stamina, wall-crawling, immunity to any known poison, venom or toxin, pheromone control and secretion, flight and bioelectric blasts. A warrior queen led by an iron-strong faith, Veranke unites the inspiration of a leader born to the determination of a religious zealot, a charismatic and dangerous figure who moves one of the greatest empires in the universe…

Celeste, Irma & Phoebe Cuckoo (Three-In-One)

When we meet Esme Cuckoo, in The Gifted, she mentions that Sentinel Services captured her family…and we already know three of her many sisters. One of the far too many cameos in X-Men: The Last Stand, in fact, sees the Stepford Cuckoos walking in the background, while Professor X is speaking with Storm about the future of the school. Interestingly enough, there are only three of them, the Three-In-One, while the other two sisters who originally formed the Five-In-One are missing. We didn’t get to know them better after that single apparition, and we can only assume they were originally killed by Sentinels in the first timeline, and maybe by a deranged Professor X in the second, but this is obviously unconfirmed. Maybe we’ll know more of them in the series: in the meanwhile, as usual, let’s meet their original comic version.

The Cuckoo sisters were born when Doctor John Sublime, working for the Weapon Plus program, harvested egg cells from a comatose Emma Frost, and used them to clone an army of powerful telepaths that, combining their powers, would have been able to kill the entire mutant population on Earth. The project, named Weapon XIV, gave birth to thousands of identical girls: Sublime at first activated only five of them, and sent them undercover in Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters to hone their abilities. The five sisters, Celeste, Esme, Irma (nicknamed “Mindee“), Phoebe and Sophie, pretended to be an orphaned quintuplet, and were admitted to the school as students thanks to powerful psychic blocks concealing their true identities. They soon earned the attention of the professors, especially of Emma Frost, who elected them to be her proteges, and Professor X, who took them into a special class for telepaths, along with the one who would have become their rival, Quentin “Kid Omega” Quire. It was apparently because of Quire that the Five-In-One became Four-In-One, as when Kid Omega, powered-up by the drug Kick, led a rebellion within the school, the sisters took the drug in turn, and used Cerebra to stop him: the plan succeeded, but Sophie died in the process. The four remaining sisters blamed their mentor, Emma Frost, for Sophie’s death, and both for exacting revenge on her and for testing their now maimed powers, they telepathically informed Jean Grey of Emma’s affair with her husband Scott Summers. What Celeste, Mindee and Phoebe didn’t know was that the true responsible of Sophie’s death was Esme, who had allied herself with the mysterious Xorn. This all came out when Esme tried to kill Emma Frost, and nearly succeeded: as Esme escaped from the school with Xorn, the Four-In-One became the Three-In-One.

After Esme resurfaced as a member of a new Brotherhood of Mutants, and was killed by her lover Xorn, the remaining Cuckoos were reassigned as all the students to specialized training squads, modeled on the students’ gifts and potentials; the Three-In-One joined the Corsairs Squad led by Cyclops, and they were appointed as co-leaders of the team. Their training with Cyclops definitely gave its results, as the trio managed to lead the team to the second place in the Field Day Events (specially designed missions in the Danger Room) after Emma Frost’s Hellions. The Three-In-One became telepaths so powerful that, when the Phoenix Force came back to Earth, it even considered using them as hosts, before resurrecting Jean Grey. Their talent was widely recognized by the teachers, and when the X-Men left to try and stop the Dark Phoenix, they were left at the mansion using Cerebra to coordinate the team, a task that just a couple of years before had killed Sophie, even if there were five of them instead of three, and they had been powered-up by Kick. After M-Day, when Scarlet Witch depowered the almost entirety mutant population, the Stepford Cuckoos were among the very few mutants who retained their powers, along with only other twenty-four students. Fearing weakness in number, Emma Frost gathered the remaining students and subjected them to quite an ordeal, ordering them to fight one with the other in an all-out brawl until the ones she would have deemed worthy would have been allowed to join the New X-Men; disgusted by this test, the Three-In-One promptly informed Cyclops of what was happening, and he stopped the “selections”. Just when the Stepford Cuckoos had won the trust of mentors and students alike, however, John Sublime resurfaced, ready to activate his dormant agents and to use them for their original purpose: to erase what little remained of the mutant population on the planet…

The Stepford Cuckoos are three sisters sharing a single mind and living as they were a single person, but they still retain individual characteristics: Phoebe is more ambitious and daring, Irma is romantic, brave and selfless, while Celeste is a pacifist, the most compassionate of them all, and the one who truly values their unique bond. As the Three-In-One, they are mediocre telepaths taken individually, but when their abilities are combined they become extremely powerful, able to rival in sheer strength with seasoned telepaths like Emma Frost or Jean Grey, accessing all the abilities connected with a potentially limitless mind power. A gestalt entity who struggles to keep united three different personalities (and to suppress a program that presses them into annihilating their own race), the Stepford Cuckoos are a unique group of sisters who share a hive mind and an impressive power, a trio with all the potential of being the greatest asset of the new generations of mutants, or their greatest threat…

Christopher Bradley (Bolt)

boltfilmSpeaking of Logan, there’s a couple of name-drops worth noticing, and one of them refers to a character we previously met in the franchise. When we see all the children developed by Alkali, some of them are the artificial children of mutants we know, with their DNA allegedly taken from the old Weapon X archives and labs: there’s also a chubby African-American boy with the power to generate electricity, and his files tells us he’s the biological son of Christopher Bradley. We already met Bradley in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, portrayed by Dominic Monaghan (how Monaghan can have a black child from a Mexican mother is beyond my comprehension). In the movie, he is a member of Team X with the ability to remotely control electronics; after the team disbands, he starts working in a carnival, using his powers to make money…until Sabretooth finds him and kills him, so that his powers are later added to Deadpool‘s arsenal. The comics version is totally different, starting from his powers. Let’s see together.

Christopher Bradley was born in Duchess CountyNew York, a perfectly normal boy from a perfectly normal family. He had a normal childhood, and grew up to become a high school student. He had a best friend he spent most of his time with, Jeff, and he had quite a crush on Donna Funaro, a girl from his class. Again, nothing strange here…until he started suffering from headaches. At first it was nothing, but then the pain started to be stronger and more frequent, to the point that Chris was sincerely worried he was seriously ill…until one day, at school, the headaches were revealed for what they really were: the first symptoms of an emerging mutation. Chris was a mutant, and he discovered it in one of the worst ways possible: by losing control in public. His first chrisis happened in his boltcomics1house, but he merely noticed any difference with the ordinary headaches (albeit, if he paid any attention to it, he would have noticed that all the electrical devices in his house had been fried). After a day at home, he came back to school, starting in the best way imaginable, finally finding the courage to ask Donna Funaro out. While in class, however, he started to unconsciously absorb static electricity from the surroundings, generating electric bolts as a result; unable to control himself, first he tried to hide in the bathroom, but as the phenomenon kept growing, he warned everybody to step away from him…until he lost his senses. When he woke up, he was with two people he had never seen before: they were Phoenix and Gambit of the X-Men, mutant superheroes and teachers in a school specialised in young mutants. The two mutants brought Chris back home, and had a chat with his parents, explaining to them that their son was a mutant, and that they offered them the opportunity to enroll him in the Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, where he would have been trained in the control of his powers, and where he would have completed his education. Chris overheard their conversation…and panicked, running away from home, not wanting to abandon his old life. Of course, he ran to the only place he was always welcome, Jeff’s house.

Soon, however, Chris Bradley had to realise that much of his world had been lost already: as soon as he saw him, Jeff panicked, still scared for what had happened at school that morning. When Chris tried to explain himself to him, things didn’t get any better: not wanting to have anything to do with a “mutie”, Jeff rejected him. Chris came back home and followed Phoenix and Gambit to their school, where he continued his studies and learnt how to control his powers. He was still just a student when he learned that he had contracted the Legacy Virus, the plague that was decimating the mutant population. Knowing he would have eventually died, but not knowing how much time he still had, Chris cut ties with the X-Men and left the school, coming back home. Something good came out from all of that, as he finally started dating Donna, who still wanted despite him to be a (dying) mutant. His parents insisted him to visit several clinics in the desperate search for a cure…and it was in one of these that he was attacked by the Friends boltcomics2of Humanity, an extremist anti-mutant group. Chris was saved by Maverick, another Legacy-infected mutant, who told him to look for him if he ever needed help. The time came sooner than expected, as the Friends burnt the Bradleys’ house to the ground: Chris left to look for Maverick…thus leading his enemies right to him. Chris fought alongside Maverick against the Friends of humanity, and the two won the battle thanks to the intervention of two other X-Men, Iceman and Wolverine; after that, Maverick helped the Bradleys to start a new life in Florida, with a false identity. Known as Brian Johnson, Chris resumed a normal life…until the Legacy Virus made him lose control of his powers. Back to New York, he ran into Maverick again, and the hero encouraged him to value what remained of his life, making him chose a nickname and fight groups like the Friends of Humanity. Chris listened to the one he now considered his mentor, and joined the New Warriors as Bolt: he didn’t know how much time he still had to live, but he would have made his best to make it count.

Christopher “Chris” Bradley is a young man haunted by bad luck; despite losing and suffering much, he managed to turn his scars into strength, and he’s now a brave and selfless hero. As Bolt, he’s able to absorb, generate and control electricity, and he can use it in a variety of ways, from shooting shocking lightning bolts to generating energy shields, from damaging electrical devices to creating a distorted aura around himself to hide his features. Not afraid to die since the Legacy Virus is killing him nevertheless, Bolt always puts himself on the first line, in a reckless yet heroic way to use the time he has left to make something meaningful with his life.

St. John Allerdyce (Pyro)

pyrofilmThis week several tv series are starting the new season, but waiting for them, let’s see another character from Brick89‘s list, another mutant, another villain: Pyro. Pyro first appeared in the very first X-Men movie as one of the Xavier Institute‘s students, portrayed by Alex Burton: he tries to flirt with the newcomer Rogue by creating a fire ball, but Iceman freezes it ruining his effort. In X2: X-Men United he’s portrayed by Aaron Stanford, and he’s one of the few students who manages to avoid being captured by William Stryker and his men; he follows the remaining X-Men in the rescue mission, but he ends up being seduced by Magneto‘s philosophy, and joins him by the end. In X-Men: The Last Stand he’s become Magneto’s right hand man, and follows him everywhere, committing terrorist attacks under his orders. During the battle of Alcatraz he’s defeated by Iceman, and flees when the Dark Phoenix unleashes her power. His trademark zippo on a memorial in X-Men: Days of Future Past informs us that he’s been killed by the Sentinels, but it remains to be seen if he’ll ever return in the new timeline. In the meanwhile, let’s take a look at the original one.

St. John Allerdyce was born in SydneyAustralia, from an unknown family. Growing up, he found out he was a mutant with the power of controlling and manipulating fire (but not of creating it): since he couldn’t think of any useful way to use his ability, he preferred to keep it secret for most of his early life, and soon became a journalist, living for some years in Southeast Asia (especially Vietnam and Indonesia). His travels gave him enough material to start working on his true dream, becoming a writer, and he actually managed to do it, first writing novels based on his experiences in Asia, then Gothic romance novels: in both cases, the critics hated his books just as much as other novelists did, but he had quite a success with the wide public that encouraged him in continuining his work. St. John met many readers and fans every day, but once the woman who approached him turned out to be something else entirely: she was a mutant as well, the shapeshifter known as Mystique, and she offered him a different kind of pyrocomics1contract. Mystique was recruiting mutants to form a second Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, following the disapperance of Magneto and the disbandment of the previous one, and she needed someone with John’s…talents. Allerdyce didn’t know how she had learnt he was a mutant, since he only used his powers for emergencies and it had been a while since the last time, but he was intrigued by the woman’s offer, and by the perspective of doing something more with his life than writing Gothic romance for old dreaming women. Convinced, he joined Mystique and the other mutants she had already recruited: the precog Destiny, the immovable Blob and the destructive Avalanche (the last one soon became his best friend). Mystique helped him develop his power, so that he could manipulate fire to higher levels; since he wasn’t fireproof, however, he was given a special isolating suit that protected him from the flames, and to compensate his inability to create fire, he was also equipped with a portable flamethrower he mounted on his wrists. Pyro was born.

The first mission for the new Brotherhood was to kill Senator Robert Kelly, a strong anti-mutant activist. A time-traveling mutant, Kate Pryde, arrived from the future to thwart the assassination, as Kelly’s murder would have started a chain reaction that eventually brought the robotic Sentinels to annihilate mutants and superumans, taking over the world. Pyro and the others didn’t care much for this warnings (they had their own future teller, after all), but the X-Men did: the two teams clashed, and eventually the Brotherhood was defeated and the Senator saved. Pyro was arrested, but the authorities made the mistake of putting all the mutant terrorists together in the same prison: as soon as they realised this, they put together their efforts to break out…or at least to try to, as the Avengers were called to face the emergency, and in the ensuing fight the Brotherhood was defeated once again. Pyro stayed imprisoned for months, until the US Government offered the members of the Brotherhood a deal: they would have served under them, in exchange of pardon for their past crimes (this was a chance for the Government to have a “public face” to their newly signed Mutant Registration Act, in the effort of making the law pyrocomics2more popular). The Brotherhood accepted the offer, and they became Freedom Force, a law-abiding team used as an obedient puppet by the Government agents. During their first mission, Freedom Force faced the Avengers again, with the order of arresting America’s most popular (and powerful) heroes. Pyro accomplished several missions with Freedom Force, and proved pivotal in the arrest of Rusty Collins, a sailor with pyrokinetic powers: every time they battled, usually with groups like X-FactorX-Terminators, the New Mutants or even the Mutant Liberation Front, Pyro used his powers to manipulate the fire created by Collins, turning it against him and his allies. He was fundumental even during the massive breakout in the Vault, where his pyrokinesis was the only thing able to keep at bay Venom. Eventually, FF was disbanded, and Pyro and Blob were abandoned in Kuwait after a disastrous mission: being betrayed like this wasn’t exactly what John had signed for, and after being a war prisoner, his feelings towards the Government were so friendly that he immediately decided to come back to the new Brotherhood, this time led by Toad.

St. John Allerdyce is a pragmatic man, not evil, but surely ready to do pretty much everything for some profit. Despite being usually one of the “bad guys”, John has also acted heroically in his life, proving to be selfless and brave if situation required it. As Pyro, he has the power to control and manipulate fire, giving it any shape he desires (usually animal shapes) and moving it as he likes it; he’s not able to create fire, but he can increase the dimension of existing ones, so he carries a flamethrower on his wrists to light a fire that he later controls. Both a hero and a villain depending on the circumstances (or simply the mood), Pyro is a mutant mercenary who will always take care of one person in the world: himself.

Jason Wyngarde (Mastermind)

mastermindfilmAnother villain from Brick89‘s list, this time from the mutants‘ world: Mastermind. His movie adaptation is an amalgam of different characters, the first being him, following the unnamed son killed by William Stryker (a recent retcon resurrected him) and Mutant 146: all three together form Jason Stryker, a lobotomized mutant able to cast illusions so powerful that they can trick even the world’s most powerful telepath, Professor X. Jason first appears in X2: X-Men United, portrayed by Michael Reid McKay: in here, he’s Stryker’s son, who as a child was so resentful towards his mutant-hating parents that he tortured them with his powers, leading his mother to suicide. As Stryker started working on Weapon X, he used his son as his first guinea pig, and transformed him into a mindless drone in his total control, and he unleashed him against Professor X to force him to kill all mutants on the planet. He then briefly appeared in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, portrayed by an unnamed kid, frozen by his father in a cryogenic stasis. Now, let’s see who Jason (Wyngarde, not Stryker) is in the comics.

Little or nothing is known about Jason Wyngarde’s early life. He was born somewhere in the South of the United States of America, and he was a mutant in a moment in which most people didn’t even know mutants existed. He had the remarkable advantage of not suffering a physical mutation, as he was capable of projecting extremely accurate and complex illusions in the mind of anybody. As an adult, he trained in the use of his powers bringing them to perfection, so that they could influence every single sense of his target; he used this talent in quite an underwhelming way, however, as he joined a carnival and started working as a mentalist. His show was extremely popular, but nobody could see behind the “trick” Wyngarde used…nobody but a stranger passing by, who immediately recognised him as a mutant. The man turned out to be Magneto, the mutant terrorist, who was mastermindcomics1gathering other mutants from all around the country to form a team able to face the X-Men, the mutant superheroes who had stopped him from taking over Cape Citadel. Jason Wyngarde was exactly the kind of man Magneto was looking for, and the mentalist liked the terrorist’s idea of protecting mutankind from an inevitable racist uprise of humanity: Jason joined the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants as Mastermind, and along with his teammates ToadQuicksilver and Scarlet Witch battled the X-Men more than once. Mastermind proved to be more ambitious than his idealistic leader, and aimed to conquer the world to form a mutant utopia…one in which he would have been much more than the carnival trickster he had always been. Along with his ambition, he also developed a strong desire towards his teammate Scarlet Witch, but her overprotective brother Quicksilver always kept him away from her. Mastermind was kept in high consideration by Magneto, and he was also sent to recruit other mutants to the cause in his stead (even if he failed in convincing Unus the Untouchable). His cooperation with the Brotherhood ended when the cosmic being The Stranger, enraged at Magneto, transformed Mastermind into a statue and brought the Master of Magnetism and Toad on another planet.

Luckily enough, The Stranger’s spell wasn’t permanent, and after a while Mastermind returned to his old fleshy self. Without Magneto around, with his ambition not the least quelled, Wyngarde joined Factor Three, another mutant-based organization with similar aims and ideals to the Brotherhood, but much more pragmatical: they aimed to create a mutant nation capable of rivaling USA and URSS for world supremacy. Factor Three’s plan nearly worked, especially thanks to the forced “help” of Banshee, until the X-Men intervened once again, exposing the team’s leader, Mutant Master, as an alien who sought to conquer Earth. Factor Three and X-Men teamed up to defeat the Mutant Master, and managed to save the planet from an invasion…but the battle attracted the attention of the mutant hunting robots Sentinels, against whom Mastermind’s psychic powers were pretty much useless. Wyngarde was saved by his sworn enemies, the X-Men, and apparently abandoned his criminal ways as a result…but he was the mastermindcomics2master of illusions, and even his “conversion” was nothing but a trick to take time and decide what to do next. He joined the reborn Brotherhood along with fellow Factor Three members Blob and Unus, and finally Magneto came back on Earth and claimed back his leadership. He even created the first artificial mutant, the extremely powerful Alpha…but that proved to be not much of a good idea, as during a fight against the Defenders Alpha rebelled to his creators, and turned them all into children, thus annihilating their powers (mutant powers developed through puberty). At least, Mastermind had learnt to bring his powers to a whole other level, as with Magneto’s help he had casted a powerful illusion on an entire nation (Santo Marco, in South America), helping the Brotherhood to conquer it. As a result, as soon as he came back to his adult age he was contacted by the powerful Hellfire Club, who had become interested in the illusionist. As a test for admission, he managed to manipulate the powerful X-Woman Jean Grey into becoming the new Black Queen in the Club. Finally, Mastermind had found someone who could fully apreciate his talent, someone who could also reward his personal ambition just the way he wanted it…

Jason Wyngarde is an ambitious man, frustrated by the lack of recognition his talent suffered through all his life. As Mastermind, he has the mutant power to cast powerful illusions on his targets, able to affect every sense; his illusions are so complex and realistic that he’s actually able to kill someone with them (once he made someone believe he was drowning, and even if there wasn’t any actual water the man ceased to breath and died), and he can envelop in his power more than one person per time, once even an entire country. Manipulative and clever, he’s one of the most dangerous mutants around, mostly because he’s constantly, and wrongfully, underestimated…a thing he obviously uses at his own advantage.