John & Elaine Grey

Another long-awaited trailer released these days is the one for X-Men: Dark Phoenix… or rather, just Dark Phoenix, as it’s been renamed. It’s not half bad, especially considering the number or reshoots it’s been through, and the fact that its release date has been pushed forward over and over. In what’s arguably Fox‘s swan song with the X-Men, we take our first look at some of the new entries, starting with a couple of old acquaintances: John and Elaine Grey, with the first portrayed by Scott Shepherd, the latter by an actress not yet revealed. They already appeared in X-Men: The Last Stand portrayed by Adrian Hough and Desiree Zurowski, respectively, as they discussed with Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr of their daughter Jean moving to the duo’s school, but it looks like in the revised timeline they won’t live that long, as their daughter causes a car crash with her powers, seemingly killing them both. They’re not exactly lucky in the comics either, but they do live longer. Let’s see together.

Nothing is known of John Grey and Elaine (maiden name unknown) before they got married. He was a professor, and taught History at Bard College, while she was a housewife. Due to his assignment, John moved with his wife close to his workplace, Ananndale-on-Hudson, a small hamlet where a family could live in all tranquility. John and Elaine had five children together, two sons, Roger and Liam, and three daughters, Sara, Julia and Jean. They embodied the perfect American family, like the one saw in advertisements, a happy couple living in a small and happy neighborhood with a lot of happy kids. Then everything became complicated: when Jean was still a child, she was playing with Annie Richardson, her best friend from school, and the girl was accidentally killed by a passing car. The shock triggered Jean’s X-Gene, and she unwillingly used her newborn telepathy to perceive her friend’s emotions as she died. Needless to say, the experience left her deeply traumatized, and John and Elaine found themselves unable to help their beloved daughter through the depression she had fallen into. Through the university, John learnt of Professor Charles Xavier, a psychiatrist and an expert in telepathic phenomena, and he contacted him to see his daughter. After the two’s first meeting, Xavier made quite a miracle, as he managed to reach Jean in her head, where she was lost, and to bring her back to the world. They had several other meetings, and after a couple of years, John and Elaine were happy to entrust Xavier with Jean, letting her being one of the Professor’s first students in his School for Gifted Youngsters.

In the following years, things went on as they usually do, the kids grew up and left, Sara married a good man named Paul Bailey, and she had two kids of her own, twins Gailyn and Joey, making John and Elaine grandparents for the first time. Jean, however, had become a superhero as Marvel Girl, fighting for the peaceful cohabitation of humans and mutants with her fellow X-Men, and life couldn’t be simple, not even for her parents. John and Elaine knew an unbearable pain, as they had to bury their Jean twice, first when she sacrificed herself to prevent the Dark Phoenix from destroying the galaxy, then when, after her first resurrection and her long-awaited marriage with her historical fiance Scott Summers, she was killed by Xorn. If burying one daughter twice wasn’t enough, John and Elaine lost also Sara and her husband Paul, as they got killed by a mutant-haters group. The twins Joey and Gailyn went to live with their grandparents, and John and Elaine knew parenthood once again… until even the two youngsters manifested mutant powers and left home, joining yet another group, this time the Lost Boys and Girls. After a brief time as demons (they had been transformed by the Goblin Queen, an evil clone of Jean), John and Elaine came back worrying of their grandchildren, as they had been targeted by Prime Sentinels during Operation: Zero Tolerance. They were aided in saving the kids by X-Man, a grandson from an alternate reality. Years went by, and John and Elaine grew old, with quite their share of adventures… but things weren’t over yet: Majestrix Lilandra, an alien empress, had deemed the Grey Genome too dangerous to be left unchecked because of its connections to the deadly Phoenix Force, and she had sent her Shi’ar Death Commandos to erase it once and for all. Not even in old age, the two spouses could know some peace…

John and Elaine Grey are two perfectly normal people, who strengthened their love and bond through an unusual amount of pain, grief and loss, luckily accompanied by many joys and satisfactions. Their only fault is to be part of an extraordinary family, filled for some genetic jinx with several powerful mutants: two regular humans like them have few chances to survive the adventures and perils coming from such a legacy, but they do, and they remain a moral and emotional stronghold for all the other family members.

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Telford Porter (Vanisher)

Well, the role of X-Force in Deadpool 2 has been… surprising, to say the least. Anyway, many people had noticed in the trailer a completely invisible member of the team, whom we can “see” as a floating parachute sitting between Domino and Zeitgeist. Now we know who that is: the Vanisher, who’s unexpectedly portrayed (for the few instants he’s visible, at least) by Brad Pitt. This was hard to foresee, especially considering that the original has a very different set of powers. This is actually the second live action portrayal of the character, since he appeared in a cameo in X-Men: The Last Stand as one of the dozens of mutants attacking Alcatraz. Also here, he’s portrayed as a simple teleporter like Nightcrawler, while he’s much more powerful than that. Also, he’s not a hero, but rather one of the first villains ever faced by the X-Men, albeit he did worked with X-Force recently, but only because he was blackmailed. Let’s see together.

Much of the Vanisher’s life is still shrouded in mystery, especially considering that his real name, Telford Porter, is likely just an alias. Apparently he was born in Massachusetts, either in Boston or in Milton, and nothing is known about his family or profession, but it’s likely he had some notions of engineering. Whatever he was doing before making his public debut, it all changed the moment he found out he was a mutant, and a pretty powerful one: for a time, it was believed he was the most powerful teleporter on Earth, not having any limitations in the distance he could cover with his jumps or in the quantity of matter he could bring along with himself. Wanting to make easy money with his talent, he started committing a series of impossible crimes, appearing inside bank vaults or within closed museums, stealing what he wanted just to disappear in thin air once again. With his fortune increasing, and getting the fame of being uncatchable, the Vanisher attracted a number of low-level thugs who wanted a share of what he had, and they became his small private army, followers ready to eat the scarps that fell from his table. Growing cocky, the Vanisher stole top-secret defense plans from the Pentagon, and blackmailed the US Government by demanding 10 million dollars to have them back, otherwise he would have sold them to the Soviet Union. The X-Men tried to stop him, but they could do very little against him, and he vanquished them. Sure that nobody would have been able to stop him, the thief along with his many (human) followers appeared right before the White House, and demanded his payment. Unfortunately for him, this time waiting for him there was also Professor X, the world’s most powerful telepath and leader of the X-Men, who, while his pupils took care of the gangsters, used his powers to induce amnesia into the Vanisher: Telford Porter forgot everything about who he was, including his own powers, and thus was easily captured by the police.

Apparently this was just a temporary measure, as soon after the Vanisher regained his memories, and his powers along with them. He used them to escape from prison, then he joined Factor Three, a mutant terrorist organization preparing World War III. This adventure, oddly enough, ended with the Vanisher and his new teammates joining the X-Men against the Mutant Master, Factor Three’s leader, who turned out to be an alien who wanted to destroy mankind. After defeating the alien, the Vanisher tried to rebuild his empire, but this time he was captured by the Sentinels, and much to his shame he was rescued by the X-Men once again. This was quite a blow for his reputation, and after this episode he was forced to lay low for a while. In all this time, he successfully reprogrammed some of the Sentinels who had been hunting for him, planning to use them to regain respect. When he he came out of hiding, he joined the new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants with the intention of testing himself and his skills against the Champions, unleashing his Sentinels after them. Things didn’t go exactly as planned, as while Angel, Hercules, Iceman, Ghost Rider and Black Widow took care of the giant robots and the Brotherhood, Darkstar used her powers to trap the Vanisher in a suspended state, disrupting his powers in mid-teleportation. As a result, half of the Vanisher materialized on Earth, specifically in a town named Poughkeepsie, while the other half was in the Darkforce Dimension, the space between spaces the Vanisher unconsciously crossed while teleporting. The Vanisher remained in this suspended state for years, until Nightcrawler, who wanted to learn more about his own powers, started investigating on him, and found him in Poughkeepsie. The moment the blue X-Man touched what remained of the Vanisher, the latter’s powers were activated once again, and they both got stranded in the Darkforce Dimension. From there, helping each other, the two teleporters managed to come back to Earth, and parted ways: finally, the Vanisher was back, and he could resume what he was doing before being so rudely interrupted.

Telford Porter is a cunning and highly intelligent individual, an ambitious and greedy man who seeks to obtain as much wealth, power and fame as possible in the shortest time. As the Vanisher, he’s a remarkably powerful teleporter, able to cross intercontinental distances without the slightest effort, teleporting along with himself even other people and objects (once he threatened to “kidnap” an entire city with his powers, but whether he would have been actually able to do that is open to debate); while moving, he unconsciously crosses the Darkforce Dimension, but unlike other teleporters like Nightcrawler or Cloak, he can visit also places he cannot see or has never seen before, as he seems to be always aware of spacial conditions in the point of arrival, and thus he never materializes within a solid object. Clever and charismatic, the Vanisher is also quite lazy, and tends to let others to the dirty work for him. Despite this, he’s still a dangerous criminal, with enough power to do whatever he threats to, and enough resources to always find a way out of the direst of situations.

Robert Edward Kelly

Mav keeps us in the X-Men world, as the next character in his list is Senator Robert Kelly, one of the early nemesis of the heroes, later turned ally… at least in the comics. Bruce Davison portrays him in the first X-Men movie, an anti-mutant politician who fuels people’s fear of mutants with his hatred campaign. He’s later kidnapped by Magneto and turned into an artificial mutant, specifically an amphibious jelly-man, but he dies shortly after as the mutation is not stable. He however appears again in X2: X-Men United, as Mystique uses his appearance to spy on mutants’ enemies, and made him a mutant supporter in opposition to his original character. In the comics, both the “real Kelly” and the “fake Kelly” are the same Kelly, as he changes in mind with time. Let’s see together.

Robert Kelly was born in Farmingham, Massachusetts, the pupil of a traditional family, raised with traditional values. He studied law and got interested in politics, basing most of his positions on a threat that everyone seemed to ignore: the growing presence of mutants, people gifted with extraordinary abilities since birth, who were clearly a menace to national security. Kelly’s campaign in his home country was a success, and he became a US Senator for Massachusetts. Once he arrived in Washington, his policy and style didn’t change the least, quite the opposite: he became the promoter and supporter of the Mutant Registration Act, a law that would have forced all mutants to register in special governmental lists and denounce their powers. This position and proposal brought to him a lot of opponents, especially from the human rights defense side, but also a number of influential supporters, including the elitist Hellfire Club, that invited Kelly to a number of meetings. During one of these meetings, Kelly witnessed in person one of the so-called mutant heroes, Cyclops from the X-Men, shooting randomly in a crowd, thus strengthening his anti-mutant position; unbeknownst to him, what he saw was actually an illusion cast by Mastermind. The mysterious Black King of the Club offered Kelly a remarkable amount of funds for his campaign, and as a bonus Robert even fell in love with one of the maids, Sharon, who soon became his wife. With the King’s money, Kelly supported and brought to public attention Project: Wideawake, that would have introduced the Sentinels built by the Hellfire Club as public law enforcers specifically designed to hunt down and restrain mutants. This extreme proposition earned the enmity of just as extreme mutant groups, like the second Brotherhood of Evil Mutants led by Mystique.

Not exactly a diplomat, Mystique organized an assassination attempt against Kelly, but her attack was thwarted at the last second by the X-Men, who saved his life (and averted a dystopian future by doing so). Just as he was about to reconsider his positions, Kelly suffered a major trauma: when he and his wife were coming back from a meeting with Shaw, his limo was caught in the middle of a fight between the X-Man Rogue and the robot Master Mold, and in the battle Sharon got killed. This made Kelly’s hatred for mutantkind grow even more, and he ordered the production of even more Sentinels. Years later, he was approached by the mysterious Bastion, who convinced him to support his Operation: Zero Tolerance to solve the “mutant problem” at its roots. He changed his mind about this the moment he realized that Bastion was turning American citizens into Prime Sentinels against their will: as he retreated he became a target, but the X-Men once again saved him. He used his influence to direct S.H.I.E.L.D. against Bastion, had him arrested and his operation dismantled… but this didn’t change his political views, quite the opposite: he announced his candidacy for president, obviously starting from his usual anti-mutant positions. To avoid any other attempt on his life by the Brotherhood, Kelly even accepted the mutant Cable in his security detail, but even this didn’t make him reconsider his positions… until a fateful day in Boston, when he became the target of another mutant extremist, Post. The one who saved him this time wasn’t one of the X-Men as usual, but Pyro, a former member of the Brotherhood who had tried to kill him years before, and who was now dying for the Legacy Virus. With the last of his powers and his life, Pyro saved him, and in front of this selfless act of sacrifice, Senator Kelly couldn’t but reconsider his anti-mutant stance. Maybe it wasn’t too late to change his presidential campaign, after all…

Senator Robert Kelly is a man moved by a sincere, yet misdirected concern for his people and his nation, a politician who believes every mutant to be a potential threat for national security because of their very nature. Intelligent yet stubborn, Kelly accepts without problems the fact that “good mutants” exist, but he remains consistent in his anti-constitutional views of having them all registered and monitored with regards to the few “bad ones”. A man with power and influence, a charismatic speaker who enthralls thousands with his words, Kelly is a tremendous tool for spreading fear and hatred, but he can be just as well a formidable preacher for unity and mutual understanding.

James MacDonald Hudson (Guardian)

Back to Mav‘s request, we meet Travis Hudson, portrayed by Max Cullen in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. He’s the husband of Heather, and he takes care of Logan just after the operation that transformed him into Weapon X. Just as his wife, he’s been radically changed from the original comicbook character, who’s actually named James Hudson, and who’s remarkably younger than his live action counterpart. Also, if age and name weren’t enough, the original Hudson is also Canada‘s main superhero, Guardian, founder and leader of Alpha Flight. Let’s see together.

James MacDonald “Mac” Hudson was born in London, Ontario, Canada. He grew up to be a young man very gifted in science, and he decided to become an engineer. He specialized in petrochemical engineering, and was hired by Am-Can Oil Corporation, a multinational that operated on the territory. Hudson worked for them for some years, helping them in perfecting their excavating machines, and there he also met Heather McNeil, a secretary several years younger than him, who he fell in love with. Always trying to help workers excavate quicker and in a safer way, Mac Hudson developed a suit to locate and reach oil deposits underground, and showed the project to his boss, Jerome Jaxon. Thanks to Heather, however, James discovered that Jaxon had all the intention to build and use the suit, but not for its original purpose, as he wanted to sell it to the Americans as a weapon. Hudson resigned, and he left Am-Can taking the helmet along, making the suit useless for anyone, as it was the helmet that controlled it, and only he knew how to make another one. Heather followed him, and they went to the Canadian government to seek refuge and to expose their former employers. It was during this time that James and Heather confessed to each other the deep feelings they felt for each other, and eventually got married, despite the protests of Heather’s family. In the meanwhile, the Canadian Parliament had examined James’ claim, and they had agreed to protect him from Am-Can, on one condition: he would have helped the Minister of Defense with his skills and knowledge. Mac agreed, and he started working for the Department H, the Ministry’s research and development program. He rebuilt his suit, and upon hearing about the Fantastic Four in the US, James asked and obtained to found a Canadian super-team, which he would have called Alpha Flight.

James and Heather traveled the country in search of recruits for Alpha Flight, and the first one was Logan, a man they had befriended during their honeymoon. Logan was supposed to become the leader of the team, but as he started to fall in love with Heather he decided to leave, not wanting to ruin his friendship with James. Replacing Logan as an on-field leader, James redesigned his suit as a battle exoskeleton, and presented himself as Guardian, codename Weapon Alpha. His first mission was to forcibly take Logan back to Canadian soil, as he had joined the X-Men in the US. The mission was a failure, and James accidentally wounded Moira MacTaggert, Logan’s friend, in the process. As Logan made it clear he didn’t want to be a puppet of Department H anymore, James came back empty handed, refusing to ever try to bring his friend back home by force again. Alpha Flight protected the country for a while, until Department H went bankrupt and the team disbanded. Alpha Flight regrouped on Heather’s initiative as the giant Tundra appeared, and after successfully defeating him, they decided to stay together, even without the permission and the funds of the government. Then, James received a job offer he couldn’t refuse from Roxxon Oil, and moved along with Heather to New York. This employment, however, proved to be a trap set by Jerome Jaxon, who wanted the suit back, and planned to take it with the aid of his own, evil version of Alpha Flight, named Omega Flight. As Mac was captured, Heather called in the rest of the team, and Omega and Alpha Flight clashed on American soil. During the battle, Jaxon accidentally killed himself, but he overloaded Guardian’s suit in the process. As the exoskeleton exploded, everyone comprehensibly took James Hudson for dead. Mac, in reality, had fallen in a space rift, and had been teleported to Ganymede, where the peaceful aliens Quwrlln (or Q’wrlln) nurtured him back to health, repaired his suit and even integrated it in his organism. Now, all Guardian had to do was to find a way to come back home to his wife and friends.

James Hudson is a man of science, who had to learn to overcome his insecurities and become a man of action to lead his team against the threats menacing Canada. As Guardian, he has all the powers of his suit integrated into his now cybernetic body: he possesses superhuman strength and durability, he can fly at incredible speed, he can project and manipulate plasma, electromagnetic pulses, ultrasonic beams and a graviton beam he uses to lift objects too heavy for his strength, he can interface with computers directly with his brain, he can create force fields and much more. The greatest hero of his country, Guardian doesn’t quite feel so, and he has to win over his fear and his sense of inadequacy on every mission… thus turning out to be a very human and reliable leader, someone his teammates can relate to and count upon, who’s never too reckless and who knows the true meaning of courage. Despite what he thinks, a superhero born.

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.

James Arthur “Jamie” 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.

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…