The Icebreaker: My Ideal X-Men Team?
My ideal X-Men team, what?
Imagine, if you will, a group of people sitting around in a circle at some sort of orientation. The group leader is going on and on about this and that, and you start spacing out a bit. Okay, you’re spacing out a lot. But then you hear those dreaded words: “we’re going to have an icebreaker to get to know one another!”
You freeze, you sweat, you lose your breath. Ugh. But then it gets a bit better: “give us your name and who you’d list as your ideal X-Men team. Tell us why.”
Before you can even give a thought, a tall guy in need of a haircut raises his hand and says, “My name is Alex and I’d happily tell you my ideal X-Men team. But first I have to say, that’s a loaded question. But anyway…”
X-Men Teams: Gold & Blue
With the announcement of X-MEN: GOLD and X-MEN: BLUE, fans can look forward to a proper relaunch in the X-Men flagship titles. X-MEN: GOLD will host a cast that is almost identical to Chris Claremont’s classic roster, while X-MEN BLUE hosts the young X-Men that have been floating about since Bendis’ run of ALL-NEW X-MEN in 2012. Having multiple books to represent different factions within X-Men community is nothing new, but it is the fact these two titles are being launched at the same time that has me excited. Having a fresh ‘relaunch’ like this allows creators to properly plan and outline a story and utilize the continuity of the Marvel Universe. Even if, say, the Blue Team doesn’t appear directly within the pages of X-MEN GOLD, I strongly believe their influence will be felt. I even foresee crossover events occurring amongst the new X-titles, further building an interconnecting narrative. This type of storytelling has the ability to create larger and deeper plot lines that a single book coming out once a month lacks. And, because this is a team book, having multiple titles allows more characters to come to life.
And that’s what got me thinking: what characters would I love to see? What is my ideal X-Men team? With so many sources and eras to choose from, it can be difficult to really pinpoint who would make the most powerful team. But perhaps that’s not what I want in an X-Men book; I want chemistry, I want to see my team get along like the family they are. I don’t necessarily want to see the greatest battles, but rather the strongest storytelling and character development that blossoms when all the right elements are presented and set in motion. X-MEN: GOLD has a lineup of characters who have been on classic, well-functioning lineups (UNCANNY X-MEN, EXCALIBUR) and I truly believe the X-Men function best when personalities, as well as powers, are put into the equation. So, based on that major criteria, here are the X-Men I would love to see on the same team living under the same roof.
Blink: Hailing from Earth-295 (Age of Apocalypse), Blink is one of my personal favorites in the mutant community. A teleporter with a knack for leading a team, Blink has proven herself time and again since debuting in AGE OF APOCALYPSE. Her ability to dictate battles simply by throwing her energized javelins (these teleport a target on contact) at opponents and allies makes her nearly invaluable in field missions. She’s extremely tactical, and her skills in the EXILES series made her one of the most exciting X-Men characters to read about during the 2000’s. Blink’s ability to teleport would be quite valuable both on and off the battlefield, as seen in AGE OF APOCALYPSE and EXILES. Being the leader of this particular team, I imagine her ‘blinking’ allies in and out of skirmishes for the most advantageous of attacks and retreats. She is also a rather lonely character in the universe, and that’s why she’s such a solid candidate for an X-Men team, where familial bonds are formed amongst the strangest of groupings.
Young Jean Grey: It wouldn’t feel right having my ideal X-Men team lack a proper psychic. Perhaps it’s because my favorite runs (NEW X-MEN, ALL-NEW X-MEN, ASTONISHING X-MEN) feature Emma Frost or a version of Jean Grey. Or perhaps it’s simply because a psychic is so useful on a team that has a vast array of powers working within it. Whatever it is, I’d like to see Young Jean Grey on the team for two reasons. The first reason is that she’s growing and developing into an extremely powerful psychic. Ignoring the confusing explanation for time travel that Brian Michael Bendis presented when bringing the Young X-Men back in ALL-NEW X-MEN, Jean is rapidly gaining skill in her abilities as a psychic by practicing with experts and going on more intense missions in the field. The second reason is that she carries all the charm of Jean Grey without the baggage. There’s no death in her past: she has no retcons to be angry about. And, because of that, she’s able to explore herself more and develop as a character. Socially, she’s more of a team player than, say, 616 Jean Grey who was an emotional wreck (for good reasons!). Young Jean Grey’s youthful naivety alongside her relatively mature behavior make her like the quirky younger sister in the family. Everyone knows she’s meant for greatness, but she’s still acquiring the skills to get there. She’s still not great at controlling her mind reading abilities, and this will cause great drama on the team as secrets are accidentally (and purposefully) discovered.
Wolverine: The book has to sell, right? But in all seriousness, what I’ve always liked about Wolverine on the X-Men is his role as the character that has a much different moral code than most heroes. He isn’t afraid to use his claws, and that to me adds a whole other dynamic to a team that consists of characters who more-or-less don’t wish to kill. Questions of morality are intriguing, and in the heat of the moment they can prove (literally) fatal. But what I also enjoy about Wolverine on an X-Men team is his wisdom: the guy may still have the young good looks of Hugh Jackman, but his useful experience predates World War II. He not only adds the element of morality but also presents life lessons he’s learned through his hard and semi-tortuous life. For this team, I wouldn’t want Logan being the leader, but rather being the man who can scout an area and assess the situation for the rest. Imagine Blink teleporting Logan into the center of wherever they were heading to further enhance his element of surprise. But really, for times at the mansion, I want him to provide advice for the younger X-Men who live around him.
Colossus: As I thought about this list, I found myself trying to be too obscure. I was thinking of alternate Earths and timelines, when in reality some characters are classics for a reason. Colossus is this team’s hard hitter. Like Wolverine, he can run straight into battle without much thought. However, unlike Wolverine, Colossus can break down some walls and make pocket space for his teammates (and I’m not talking about his roaring power from the arcade game). His strength has been an asset in aiding Wolverine during combat, but I’d love to see what he could do with the likes of Blink. It occurs to me that I’m thinking of the movie, X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST, where Blink and Colossus are in fact on the same team. With his massive build and weight, the idea of dropping him from above a group of enemies via Blink’s teleportation would be amazingly cool to see. But let’s not leave out his golden heart. This is the guy who sacrificed himself to protect the world from the Legacy Virus. He uses his strength not because he enjoys a good battle, but because he sees it as his duty to help those in need, such as the members on this ideal X-Men team.
The Stepford Cuckoos: I mentioned earlier that an X-Men team needs a proper psychic. Well, as Morrison and Bendis’ X-Men runs showed, having more is even better. The three current cuckoos (Mindee, Celeste, and Esme) are genuinely fun characters. After diversifying a bit in UNCANNY X-MEN, I feel they have a strong potential to be big players in the Marvel Universe. Their individual personalities and tastes are continuously evolving, showcasing that they are more than just a hive mind. My hope for them in this team would be to stray from Emma Frost so they can further develop their identities. Their usefulness out in the field, alongside Jean Grey (who is their age), has me giddy with excitement. They have such sass due to their Emma Frost influence. They’re not afraid to hide their ego, and their opinions are often brutally honest. This occurred often in Bendis’ UNCANNY X-MEN, and it often made for snappy dialogue. This is why I’d like to see with characters like Wolverine, who also doesn’t know when to keep his mouth shut.
Storm: I know, I know. Another Claremont classic. But hear me out: she’s too good and valuable not to have on an X-Men team. Storm is a spectacular character with rich history. While I look to Wolverine and Colossus for battlefield purposes, I look to Storm as the glue that would keep this team together. She is often depicted as the peacekeeper, the one with the soothing and motherly voice. While of course her powers make her one of the most powerful X-Men, I often think Storm is the reason the X-Men are the family they are. The relationship she has had with Kitty Pryde in her early days is one I would love to see her have with the likes of Young Jean Grey or one of Stepford sisters.
Formation & Family
I sort of imagine Blink (who hasn’t been around since EXILES ended) appearing in the courtyard of the X-Mansion, or even in an area like X-Haven. She would come across a young Jean Grey, and this would all sit fine with her: it’s just another alternate reality that needs saving, one where the X-Men are young. But then, of course, minds would be linked and Jean would have an exasperated expression on her face from what she sees in Blink’s brain. And perhaps then an older Storm and Colossus would walk out, and the age difference would click a few times in Blink’s thoughts.
Then I foresee their first mission involving just the four of them: Blink, Jean Grey, Storm, and Colossus. They would travel somewhere to help Blink out, and for whatever reason Jean would realize they need more psychic power: enter the Stepford Cuckoos. They then travel abroad, and cliches being cliches, they stumble upon Wolverine who is investigating his own business. With a time-displaced character like Blink (and even a young Jean Grey), an overarching storyline of attempting to fix the timeline is always present. This gives the team purpose and a drive. And, if I’m really thinking out there and recalling Claremont’s run, I can see this team exiting the world often to assist Blink in some fashion, similar to her time in EXILES. The X-Men are at their peak when off world and embarking on bizarre adventures.
The age of these characters is also important to me. Jean, Mindee, Celeste, and Esme are all about the same age, and I imagine Blink being just a bit older. Storm, Colossus, and Wolverine are the clear adults of the group, and I like how the team would be split like this. It provides a parents-children dynamic that leads to the opportunity of growth. The young ones (four being mind readers, the other not even being from this world) will consistently have a reason to rebel against the standards established from the older three. The more seasoned X-Men, assuming the status of teachers, will always juggle with enforcing rules and giving freedom to the younger generation of mutants. And, honestly, when different groups of people (whether it be sex, age, race, etc.) live under the same roof, diversity blossoms and character development is the beautiful result.
X-MEN: BLUE and X-MEN: GOLD has me ecstatic. My excitement is on par to when Bendis’ run was announced over five years ago, and a lot of that has to do with giving the X-Men a purpose, giving them a team that means something. That’s what’s happening here: X-MEN: BLUE is getting our time displaced X-Men back together, and X-MEN: GOLD is recreating one of the most legendary X-Men teams. These teams have a bond, and it’s important Marvel is further pursuing that connection.
Still, it’s enjoyable to think of other teams that would click as well. Like the Avengers, there have been so many incarnations of X-Men teams that we as readers are able to imagine almost any possible combination. However, unlike the Avengers, we get to think further and deeper into what these teams would entail. With comic books — especially comics dealing with such a diverse cast — many of us fans don’t come for the action sequences: we want to read about the personal struggles and intersectional turmoil experienced amongst our heroes. We want to read about what makes them happy and what makes them cry. The X-Men aren’t only saving the world or fighting off the Legacy Virus: they’re beginning and ending relationships while maintaining bonds that have been strong for decades. They’re living in a cohesive environment and sharing memories together. You know, like a family.