Tag Archives: whilce portacio

71 – X-MEN (Gold Strike Force)

8 Jul

Subject: X-Men (Gold Strike Force)
Roster: Storm (Team Leader), Jean Grey, Colossus, Iceman, Bishop, Archangel
First Appearance: Uncanny X-Men #1, September 1963

And now we move on from the Heroes and Villains to the Team cards, starting with X-Men’s Gold Strike Force. After the various X-Members were shuffled around in the 90’s relaunches, wherein the original founding members of X-Men, having since formed X-Factor, returned to their original team, there was a need to instead split the family up into two X-Men: gold and blue strike forces (it wasn’t until I did these blogs did I realized the gold and blue designations were representative of the original team colors).

The term strike force reflected the era’s more proactively aggressive mutants, though I can’t remember the teams actually jumping into action any more than they had been before (at the very least trouble had no difficulty finding them). The Gold Team depicted here was the team featured in Uncanny X-Men, at the time illustrated by Whilce Portacio.

I think it was a combination of less impressive art, the lack of Wolverine, and, ashamedly, the girl team leader (splitting into two teams made it easier to reconcile Storm and Cyclops‘ jostling for leadership), but I just wasn’t as into the Golds as much as the Blues (even Gold made it seem more feminine). Luckily a lack of editorial assertiveness meant the two teams appeared in their counterparts’ books frequently, which was good because I always liked Lee’s renditions of Jean, Ororo, and Piotr.


23 May

Subject: Apocalypse
Real Name: Unrevealed
Height: 7′ Weight: Unknown
Group Affiliation: None
First Appearance: X-Factor #5, July 1986

Power Ratings:

  • Energy Projection: 5/7
  • Mental Powers: 2/7
  • Strength: 6/7
  • Fighting Ability: 2/7
  • Intelligence: 5/7

Apocalypse didn’t come around until 1986, and honestly he was badass, but it wasn’t for another few years where his impact really started being felt. Sure, he was responsible for the traumatic mutilation and transformation of Angel to Archangel (thereby giving Warren something more to do than being a guy who could fly), but his meddling with Scott Summers and Madelyne Pryor’s kid Nathan Christopher was what really ensured his icon status, and would pave the way for Cable, Stryfe, and of course, Age of Apocalypse.

Given his mysterious nature, he was the kind of villain you could use for any and all plot devices. Unfortunately, the vague omnipotence ascribed to him also made him easy to convolute, but he was still a nice counterpoint to Magneto‘s anti-villain stature.

Lee didn’t actually get to spend TOO much time drawing Apocalypse despite the fact that Lee co-wrote the seminal “Endgame” storyline of Apocalypse versus baby Cable and Mother Askani (it was illustrated by Whilce Portacio). A shame, because Lee would be perfect to draw the massive form of Apocalypse. I say would because the art on this card is actually not that great. Apocalypse looks best when he looks hulking but stoic, arms crossed perhaps. Here he looks desperate and far too ready for action. Lee gets some points for trying to obscure the ridiculous A on Apocalypse’s belt with cross-hatching.

Power Ratings wise, I remember as a kid liking how the graph was symmetrical, looking like a crown, befitting Apocalypse’s “first mutant” status. Otherwise, his ratings are indeed powerful, but seriously we don’t know enough about what Apocalypse can do to adequately quantify his powers like this. Can we really say that his Mental Powers and Fighting Ability shouldn’t be as high as his Energy Projection, Strength, and Intelligence? Who knows? (or more specifically, who knew?)


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.