Guest Author - Eugene Bradford
The X-Men have been a major force in comic books since their introduction in 1963. The franchise quickly grew to become one of Marvel Comics most beloved properties. They were mutants, people born with special powers which manifested in the early teenage years. They became outcasts but fought to co-exist with ordinary human beings.
The original roster consisted of Cyclops, Beast, Marvel Girl, Iceman, and Angel. Marvel Girl, or Jean Grey as she had been known as for most of her life, was the sole female on the team for quite some time. She was romantically linked with Cyclops for many years up until her “deaths.”
There came a point during which sales started to drop and several creators attempted to breathe new life into the book by altering the roster and introduce new characters from various backgrounds to present a multicultural image. Their fight would then parallel many of the real world fights with the equal rights and civil rights struggles.
It was not until this time that another female became an X-Man. She was an African mutant named Storm, and she would soon develop into one of the most popular X-Men. More time would pass before there were multiple females on the team; some of those earlier additions were Rogue, Shadowcat, and Dazzler.
At various points over the years, the women on the roster included: Psylocke, Jubilee, Rachel Summers, Polaris, Marrow, and many more. Emma Frost, former foe of the X-Men known as the villainess White Queen, has long since changed her evil ways and found a steady place among the X-Men as a leader and love interest of Cyclops. There was a point when even another evil mutant called Mystique joined their ranks, and she had typically been a thorn in the X-Men’s side.
While the word “men” is in their title, many of the women on the team have played major roles in their stories and shaping the team. Jean Grey later became inhabited by the Phoenix entity for one of the X-Men’s greatest stories, “The Dark Phoenix Saga.” Similar to the tale of the phoenix, Jean Grey has “died” only to be rise from the ashes. Currently, she is still among the dead and it appears she may stay that way. Storm had a very memorable stint as leader of the team, and would in time be referred to as second in command, behind Cyclops. Rogue, in recent years, became leader of a small group of X-Men in one of the X-Men’s main franchise books titled “X-Men.”
Seeing as how this group has been around for almost 50 years, there simply isn’t enough time nor space to give justice to all of the female characters that have been involved in that time. This article serves as a brief introduction for those who are interested in these characters, this team, or female comic book characters in general. Also, this piece attempts to entice some interest in these characters. If either of these was accomplished, then this work has been successful.