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40 – CERISE

27 Apr

Subject: Cerise
Real Name: Cerise
Height: 5’11” Weight: 125 lbs.
Group Affiliation: Excalibur
First Appearance: Excalibur #47, January 1992

Power Ratings:

  • Energy Projection: 3/7
  • Mental Powers: 1/7
  • Strength: 3/7
  • Fighting Ability: 6/7
  • Intelligence: 2/7

Unlike the other Excalibur characters whose existence annoyed the hell out of me, Cerise is a character who doesn’t even ring a bell for me to resent having to review her card. At most I thought she was a villain, which she apparently was not, though she seemed plenty anti-heroic. Doesn’t help that she’s actually the last character in the “Heroes” category (you can guess who the first villain will be).

Anyway, Cerise seems like a nice enough lady, so to cut her a little bit more slack than the others, I’m gonna do something special for her and just transcribe her character bio:

A daughter of the Subruki, Zarstok, and Kuli Ka tribes and warrior of the Ghrand Jhar, cerise is one of the many extradimensional visitors that have arrived on Earth via the dimensional nexus point that exists in the lighthouse headquarters of Excalibur. Able to wield crimson energy fields in a variety of shapes, from a powerful blast to defensive walls, Cerise has become one of the mightiest new members of that British super hero group!

X-Tra Fact: Cerise travels between dimensions in insect-like battle armor!

Oh, and just as a matter of decorum: art looks fine*, Power Ratings would be commented on if I actually knew the character.

*The front of the card is not only signed by Jim Lee, but also by (what quick googling revealed to be) Paul Mounts, the colorist (?). This is the only card I can recall so far that had more than just Lee’s signature in it.

39 – MAVERICK

25 Apr

Subject: Maverick
Real Name: Unrevealed
Height: 6’3″ Weight: 230 lbs.
Group Affiliation: None
First Appearance: X-Men #5, February 1992

Power Ratings:

  • Energy Projection: 1/7
  • Mental Powers: 2/7
  • Strength: 2/7
  • Fighting Ability: 7/7
  • Intelligence: 2/7

The Weapon-X/Omega Red storyline that comprised X-Men vol.2 #’s 4-7 hit me at the absolute perfect time, and was about as perfect as far as sugar to a 9-year old: Wolverine, Sabretooth, guns, a Russian Wolverine, hyperviolence, and low on the schmaltz.Also X-Men #5 had what was probably the sexiest rendering of Psylocke ever:

Maverick, introduced in this storyline, was pretty badass too (as recalled in the awesome blog Not Blog X, he shows off in his first appearance by sadistically shooting a random goon seven times in the face).

Again, as one of the last characters Lee created before his departure from Marvel, his rendering of Maverick plays to his strength: mainly, idealized human bodies obscured by lots of technical details. Incidentally, Maverick is one of the only characters whose Side-B portrait doesn’t show the character without the mask (mainly because at the time his true identity was unknown, though really how mysterious could a guy look under a mask that doesn’t obscure his hair or chin…).

I’ll quickly gloss by his otherwise unremarkable Power Ratings (identical to Wolverine, by the way) to point out that his card refers to his powers as “the amazing ability to see into all the various immediate futures of his foes, so he is able to choose the course of action that allows him to come out on top!” Pretty interesting, if in the same vague ballpark as the powers of Domino and Longshot. But the really interesting detail is… that’s not his power at all! As I always knew it (and Wikipedia backs me up), his unique power is being impervious to kinetic impact, and X-Men #5 even has a scene where he and Wolverine fall from a building several stories up (and also, as a member of the Weapon X program, he also had a healing factor).

I’m not sure about when the X-Men issues Maverick appeared in were actually written (it was in 1992, same as the trading cards), but it’s an oversight that’s both astoundingly pathetic, and also symptomatic of the editorial flustercuck of the period.

38 – BISHOP

22 Apr

Subject: Bishop
Real Name: Unrevealed
Height: 6′ Weight: 210 lbs.
Group Affiliation: X-Men (Gold Strike Force)
First Appearance: Uncanny X-Men #282, November 1991

Power Ratings:

  • Energy Projection: 2/7
  • Mental Powers: 1/7
  • Strength: 3/7
  • Fighting Ability: 6/7
  • Intelligence: 2/7

Uncanny X-Men #283 (the issue after Bishop’s first appearance) was one of my first X-comics (as a kid in the Philippines real imported comics were prized commodities), and the cover (specifically of Bishop over the shoulder) struck me so much I cribbed it. Then I brought the drawing to my 2nd grade class, and it got such a strong reaction kids offered to buy photocopies of it. It might’ve been the first time I ever made money as an artist (albeit as a copycat; and little did I know at the time that the artist I copied, Whilce Portacio, was a Filipino himself).

Bishop was a quintissentially 90’s X-character: an ethnic, hulking, gun-wielding time traveler… basically an urban Cable. He even has a decidedly post-modern power (he absorbs energy attacks and releases it back). He made arguably as big of a splash as Cable did when he debuted, but his storyline was pretty flimsy (as a member of the future Xavier Security Forces, he chased the evil mutant Trevor Fitzroy as he hopped to the present) and otherwise inconsequential to the overall X-continuity. He’s since found himself a niche among the sea of mutants, and was a pivotal character in recent X-Men crossover storyline Messiah Complex.

Visually, Bishop’s got a lot of texture, from his energy powers, to his hulking gun, to his costume, to his bandana, to the tattooed “M” on his face, to his jeri-curl mullet. Lee nails all these details well, probably because Bishop was co-created by Lee himself (along with Whilce Portacio and John Byrne), right before Lee and Portacio ditched Marvel to form Image, so it was probably fresh in his mind.

His Power Ratings justifiably present him as a strong and formidable fighter, but a 2/7 for Energy Projection seems paltry… sure, he doesn’t generate his own Energy blasts, but that’s the same rating as Kylun and Shatterstar, neither of whom have any Energy Powers at all.