The X-Men are a team of superheroes in the Marvel comic book universe. They began as a group of teenagers with unusual powers trained by Professor Charles Xavier (Prof X) at the Xavier Institute for Gifted Youngsters. They are called the X-Men for both the X-Factor present in their genes, that gives them their mutant talents, and the name of their mentor, Professor X. Each was born with a genetic mutation that became apparent during puberty, exposing them as mutants.
Mutants are the next step in human evolution Homo superior. They have a variety of abilities, from fairly standard superhero-type powers like flying to more unusual abilities such as the power to absorb the life force of anyone who is touched. Every X-Man and X-Woman has a code name related to his/her powers such as Cyclops (real name, Scott Summers) who shoots powerful red beams of energy out of his eyes or Storm (real name, Ororo Munroe) who controls the weather.
In the various X-Men comic books (aka X-Books) - and there have been several over the many years since they were conceived - there are always some humans who fear and despise mutants and some 'bad guy' mutants that want to wipe out the human race, seeing themselves as the logical successors to Homo sapiens as rulers of the Earth. There are also Sentinels - robots designed and built by Dr Bolivar Trask - with the sole purpose of seeking out and destroying all mutants. The X-Men have sworn to protect humanity no matter what the cost or how the humans treat them in return. They always try to keep the evil mutants from hurting and/or killing people.
The X-Men comics have been extremely popular, spawning a Saturday morning cartoon in the 1990s and an X-Men movie in 2000.
Who Are the X-Men?
Below is a list of many of the people who are or were X-Men. Following that is a list of some of their adversaries.
Archangel - aka Angel, aka Death. Born Warren Worthington III, wings sprouted from his back when he hit puberty. One of the five original X-men, Warren lost his feathered wings saving the Morlocks during the mutant massacre. Apocalypse grafted techno-organic wings onto him and made Warren into Death, the fourth Horseman of Apocalypse. Warren rebelled and later rejoined X-Factor. Much later the metallic wings molted, revealing his original feathered ones underneath.
Banshee - Irish born Sean Cassidy, is blessed with a sonic scream he can use to fly, stun opponents or destroy. Once a student of Xavier, Sean is now headmaster to the next generation of heroes.
Beast, Henry (Hank) McCoy, started out as a man with a gorilla-like body. His mutation pushed further, making him blue and hairy, although it was temporarily reversed. Beast has been an X-Man, member of X-Factor and an Avenger - another notable and long-running superhero team.
Bishop, a mutant lost in time, is able to absorb energy and fire it at any target he chooses. Born almost a hundred years from now, Bishop went back in time to capture a criminal and joined the X-Men.
Cable, Nathan Christopher Summers, was born in our time but taken to the far future to save his life. One of the most powerful telepaths and telekinetics alive, his power is somewhat weakened by a need to keep the deadly techno-organic virus he is infected with in check.
Cannonball, Sam Guthrie, is able to surround his body with a chemical blasting shield enabling him to fly and making him near invulnerable in flight. As a rare immortal mutant, one of the Externals, Sam has died before, but to misquote someone, 'he got better'.
Colossus, Piotr (Peter) Rasputin, has the heart of a poet and the ability to transform his skin into near invulnerable organic steel.
Cyclops, Scott Summers, was one of the original X-men. Cursed with an uncontrollable optic blast, Cyclops is unable to ever relax with his power. It is suggested that a childhood accident may have damaged the part of his brain that would have allowed him to control his power.
Gambit, Remy Lebeau, is the mysterious Cajun, ex-member of the Thieves Guild, able to charge any object with explosive energy. He wants to be romantically involved with Rogue, but her own power (see below) makes that impossible.
Havok, Alex Summers, brother of Cyclops, is able to store cosmic energy and release it as an energy blast. Havok was the leader of the second X-Factor team before his death in the final issue. However, in a standard comic book twist, he did not in fact die, but was pushed into an alternate reality as chronicled in Mutant X.
Iceman, Bobby Drake, youngest of the five original X-men, is able to control and manipulate cold. A side effect of this is his ability to create any object he chooses out of ice using the moisture present in the air around us.
Nightcrawler, Kurt Wagner, is able to stick to walls, teleport at will (as long as he knows his destination, otherwise he could materialise inside something) and become virtually invisible in shadows. Kurt has been an X-Man, but came into his own more as the leader of the British mutant team, Excalibur.
Phoenix, aka Marvel Girl, Jean Grey Summers was one of the original X-Men, with telekinetic and telepathic abilities. She has also been a member of X-Factor.
Polaris, once girlfriend of Iceman and then Havok, Lorna Dane is the mistress of magnetism. She spent some time as an X-Man before she was recruited to join the second generation of X-Factor.
Professor X, Charles Xavier, is the founder, leader, mentor, teacher, and father figure of the X-Men. He is one of the world's most powerful telepaths. He has the ability to read minds, sense the presence of mutants over a limited area, and control other peoples' minds. His abilities can be enhanced using an invention of his known as Cerebro. Prof X was paralyzed from the waist down by a metal rod thrust through his spine by Magneto. He requires the use of a wheelchair due to his disability.
Psylocke, Betsy Braddock, is a ninja-trained telepath who fights with the aid of her psychic knives. Interestingly, Psylocke has had her entire consciousness transferred from her original body to the one she presently inhabits.
Rogue, the mutant leech, was not born with the incredible strength and power of flight she now possesses. These abilities were stolen from Carol Danvers, Ms Marvel, when Rogue worked with the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Later she joined the X-Men in a desperate attempt to learn to control her power.
Shadowcat, aka Sprite, aka Katherine 'Kitty' Pryde, was just 13 and a half when she was recruited into the X-Men after Prof X located her with his Cerebro device. Able to phase her body to allow her to pass through solid objects or walk on air, Kitty left the X-Men with Nightcrawler in order to found the mutant team Excalibur.
Storm, Ororo Munroe, has spent her lifetime mastering her abilities of weather-control. One of the stalwarts of the X-Men, Storm is one of the few members Xavier has trusted enough to appoint Field Commander of the X-Men.
Wolverine, the seemingly ageless mutant, known only as Logan, possesses incredible mutant healing powers and retractable bone claws. Once upon a time an almost indestructible metal, Adamantium, was laced into Logan's skeleton; but that was later forcibly removed by Magneto.
Enemies of the X-Men
Magneto, Eric Magnus Lescher, spent part of his childhood in a Nazi death camp, where he was severely traumatized. His childhood may have been what embittered him towards humans. He was once an associate of Prof X, but they parted ways because of differences in opinion. Magneto is now the leader of the Brotherhood of Mutants, a gang of mutants seeking to destroy mankind and become the rulers of the world, and uses his incredible powers of magnetism to constantly trouble and taunt Prof X and his X-Men. He first appeared in the original X-Men #1 comic.
Mystique, Raven Darkholme, is a shape-shifter who can rearrange the atoms and molecules in her body to make her look like anyone that she chooses.
Sabretooth, Victor Creed, possesses extraordinary strength, superhuman senses, powerful claws and teeth, and has the ability to heal far faster than a human. It appears that Sabretooth worked with Wolverine as part of some special forces team in the past.
Toad, Mortimer Toynbee, can leap long distances and has a tongue that is 30ft (approximately 10m) long which he controls with pinpoint precision.
Juggernaut, Cain Marko, is Prof X's stepbrother. Accidental telepathic contact from the Professor, which Cain took to be a invasion of his private thoughts, has left him with a deep hatred of Xavier. Juggernaut was transformed by a mystical ruby that gave him near invulnerability and immense strength.
Understanding the Mutants
One reason that people identify with the X-Men is because of the issues that they face. Teenagers can relate to the changes undergone by the mutants as they are experiencing changes of their own. People who are members of a minority group - and even those that are not - can relate to the discrimination, hate, and fear that the X-Men have to deal with. They also come from a variety of backgrounds: rich, poor, mutant parents, regular parents, mutant-hating parents, American, British, German, Canadian, African, Siberian, white, black, etc. For these reasons, in addition to the superb writing, animation, and overall quality of the X-Books, the X-Men are today some of the most popular and influential comic book characters in the world.
To read some new Ultimate X-Men comic books online go to Marvel Dotcomics, then click on the Ultimate X-Men picture. After that, just pick an issue to read. When you read the comic books online you can click one of the pictures of the characters on the right side of the window to get more information about him/her. You can learn about the characters as you go along and enjoy some classic superhero action. Enjoy!