Thursday, 4 September 2008

Twelve Vital X-Men Characters You Probably Don’t Know

The X-Men happen to be one of the most well-known rosters of comic-book characters in existence. Everybody seems to know who Cyclops, Wolverine, and Jean Grey are, and the series also gave prominence to characters who were less well-known – Colossus, Shadowcat, and so on. Of course, Professor X and Magneto were the two mainstays of the films, and also of the cartoons that run irregularly on children’s TV from time to time. They’re the two most iconic ones. There are other characters though, who barely ever get shown in the TV shows and never appeared in the movies (or, in one case, had such a small role you wouldn’t recognise her). And we’re all about celebrating the underdog here on Wilftonville, so we are, and we thought: hey, why not give these characters their due? Anyone who reads comics will know who they are, but those of you who only know of the X-Men from TV and film will hopefully come away from this experience having learnt something epic and powerful.

Here are the unsung heroes of the X-Men, one of the biggest comic franchises in the World, what don’t never get their due from anyone. Until now!

12. Cannonball

Who Is He?

Cannonball is the alias of Sam Guthrie, a mutant who can release thermo-chemical energy from his skin, in a manner similar to a jet rocket. He releases this energy primarily from his feet, which enables him to fly through the air at high speed and force. This power also gives him an impenetrable blast field which is, y’know, pretty useful. He looks like this:

Note the goggles he wears while he’s flying: Sam Guthrie is no stranger to fashion. He was introduced as part of the second generation of mutants, The New Mutants, whose function would be to eventually become the next set of X-Men once Cyclops hung up the visor. As such, he teamed up with a group of other lesser-known characters for a long time, but has recently come to the fore and has entered the world of the X-Men proper, taking his place amongst their roster and proving himself to be pretty useful in a fight.

Sam Guthrie is from Kentucky, so the lucky fellow gets lumbered with one of those accents that comic book writers love to write – ‘I’ becomes ‘ah’, etc. Recently he was fighting alongside Rogue, another character from the south, and the number of ah’s almost blotted out the sun. He’s typically portrayed as a sarcastic sort of guy, who wants what’s best for everyone, and is completely loyal to his friends. He also constantly chews a matchstick, for no discernable reason, and is a natural leader. Perhaps those two facts are interlinked?

Why Is He Important?

Cannonball is important because he symbolised the ‘legacy’ aspect of the X-Men comics. The idea was that the mutants appeared in sets, where the first set would be replaced by the next after time, and then the next – because the Mansion where they all live is a school for other mutants, the idea was that you’d see the students grow up to become teachers, and then join the X-Men for real. Cannonball, thus far, has been one of only two of them to have really achieved this, as he joined first the team on ‘Uncanny X-Men’ (the flagship title) and then most recently became a part of the adjectiveless X-Men title, as part of Rogue’s team. He’s been one quite a journey, but now he’s made it to the big leagues, and that makes him a very important figure indeed in the continuing legacy of the X-Men.

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