Perhaps no Marvel franchise churns out more new heroes and villains every year than the X-Men. With Professor Xavier, for much of the team’s existence, operating a school for gifted youngsters, a new class of mutant would appear seemingly every generation.
Many have been able to graduate from bit players to major mutants on A-tier X-teams and endear themselves to fans, but not every mutant has been so lucky. Some mutants never got the shot they deserved, miring on obscure teams and going long stretches without a major appearance, while others overstayed their welcome and drew ire from fans as they continued to hog the spotlight. Today, we’ll take a look at both sides of that coin.
10 UNDERUSED: Quentin Quire
Hear me out. While Quentin Quire hasn’t exactly faded from the X-Men fan’s consciousness over the years, his “underused” status is more about squandered potential than it is about actual appearances. After an iconic introduction in Grant Morrison’s “Riot at Xavier’s” storyline, no writer has really been able to capture the same magic of his original incarnation. He was poised to take a greater role in the X-universe from the start, and has had a difficult time graduating from his X-kid status to a full fledged member of the team, even if he wielded the Phoenix Force briefly. Would letting him transcend beyond his bratty-teenager personality open up whole new stories for the Omega-level mutant?
9 OVERSTAYED: Jubilee
This one’s bound to cause some grumbles from certain corners of the X-Men fandom. Jubilee is one of those characters that was designed for a specific purpose, and stuck around for long after that purpose was fulfilled. She’s a product of the late 80s/early 90s in everything from design to personality and was one of the characters created to fill the “Wolverine’s teenage sidekick” role. Since those early years, she’s been a de-powered mutant, a tech-enhanced hero, a vampire, a mother, and a teacher. She seemed to be growing into something bigger than her design, as a teacher in the short lived second volume of Generation X, but didn’t quite stick the landing. Time to move on.
8 UNDERUSED: Siryn
One of the all-time greatest X-series, Peter David’s second run on X-Factor, featured a cast of oddball mutants led by Jamie Madrox including Wolfsbane, Strong Guy, Monet St. Clair, Rictor, Layla Miller and Siryn. Over the course of the series, Siryn established herself as the premiere sonic-powered hero in the X-Men stable.
Theresa Cassidy surpassed her brother, Banshee, in terms of complex character development after a few arcs of X-Factor, was the focus of several of the series’ tragedies, and added a little Irish flavor to the team. Towards the end of that series, she transformed into the Morrigan, a Celtic deity of legend, and has been used sparingly ever since.
7 OVERSTAYED: Xorn
Xorn is a weird one. The second of three original characters created by Grant Morrison on this list, much has been debating about Xorn’s place in X-lore. While Morrison’s plan for the character was always to reveal Magneto as Xorn’s true identity, the persona was such a hit that Marvel editorial decided to separate the two’s identities after Morrison left the title. Since then, writer’s have been searching for a place for Xorn in modern continuity, but he’s never quite stuck the landing. There is that really awesome alternate-future version of Xorn we saw in one of Moira X’s many lifetimes in House of X/Powers of X, but this is a character that was never meant to be in the first place. Just let him go already!
6 UNDERUSED: Dani Moonstar
Central to the classic New Mutants storyline “The Demon Bear Saga,” Dani Moonstar is mutant that should be a household name at this point. Unfortunately, as with many members of younger superhero teams in the Marvel Universe, Dani never quite graduated to A-list status with the X-Men in the way she was primed to. Armed with a varied arsenal of mutant abilities, Valkyrie training on Asgard, and her Native American heritage, Dani has all the makings of a character that should have had a major impact on the A-tier X-Men teams. She hasn’t quite taken center stage in Jonathan Hickman and Ed Brisson’s New Mutants series yet, but seems primed for a starring role in the New Mutants film… if it ever actually comes out.
5 OVERSTAYED: Old Man Logan
A great experiment that stuck around a lot longer than anybody expected. The original Old Man Logan series by Mark Millar is lauded by fans as one of the great Wolverine stories, and one of the Marvel multiverse’s best alternate realities. However, Marvel took a half-measure after killing 616 Wolverine in 2014’s Death of Wolverine mini-series by replacing him with the Old Man version after Secret Wars.
The question persisted, “why finally kill Wolverine just to substitute in another?” Even after the original Wolverine returned, Old Man Logan stuck around for a little while before returning to his own timeline to finally die. While alternate-reality stories are often incredibly compelling, you can’t just replace the original “best there is at what he does.”
4 UNDERUSED: Northstar
Northstar occupies a unique place not only in X-Men history, but in superhero comics history. Jean-Paul was the first superhero to come out as openly gay in a Marvel comic, and one of the parties involved in the first same-sex wedding depicted in mainstream comics. That said, Northstar’s identity has been mostly utilized as a marketing tactic for Marvel in the years since, and few comics have really explored his sexuality and how that defines his character on the page. With one of the laws of the new mutant nation of Krakoa being “make more mutants,” it will be interesting to see how the story of the original queer mutant will be explored in Leah Williams upcoming X-Factor series.
3 OVERSTAYED: Fantomex
Another Grant Morrison creation, another character that subsequent writers have failed to use effectively. At his best, Fantomex is the “gentleman thief” archetype, with “misdirection” powers that can be interpreted however the writer desires. At worst, Fantomex adopts a personality that doesn’t really differentiate him from the X-Men’s other Frenchman, Gambit. While getting a brief burst of development in Rick Remender’s Uncanny X-Force, later writers seemed to throw Fantomex into their books to add an element of “cool.” Last we saw of Fantomex, he sacrificed himself to be the new host body of Charles Xavier’s consciousness in Charles Soule’s Astonishing X-Men, finally putting that iteration of the character to rest.
2 UNDERUSED: Namor
Alright, this one’s also a bit of a cheat. However, Namor the Sub-Mariner is canonically Marvel’s first mutant, and writers have severely underutilized this aspect of his character. With his decades of experience and royal lineage, an X-affiliated Namor could lead to all sorts of new and engaging stories set in the X-universe, and a major rearranging of his status quo in the Marvel U.
Most recently, he found a place on the team during the Avengers vs. X-Men storyline, in which he was chosen as one of the five hosts of the Phoenix Force, and in the criminally under-appreciated, pre-Hickman series X-Men: Red. He recently rejected an invitation to join his mutant family on Krakoa, but one can only wonder what Hickman’s plans for the Atlantean prince are going forward.
1 OVERSTAYED: The Original Five
In the wake of AvX, the O5 X-Men (Cyclops, Jean Grey, Beast, Angel and Iceman) were displaced from their original timeline and brought to the future by modern day Beast. In concept and initial execution, having the youthful, idealistic versions of these characters confront their jaded, experienced counterparts was a treat. As the years passed, things got weird for the X-Men. Readers had two versions of each of these characters running around the MU, and the differences between the O5 versions and the modern day versions became less and less apparent. This was an idea that lasted a little too long, and as a result, alienated many X-fans from their favorite series.
No Marvel franchise churns out more new heroes and villains every year than the X-Men. Some were underused, some overstayed.