The nature of mutation in the pages of X-Men means there is a constant stream of new and interesting characters emerging with different powerful abilities. The basic premise of X-Men books hinges on powerful people who are feared for their otherness gathering together to combat evil and protect a world that’s afraid of them. With Marvel comics being around since the 1930s, it’s no surprise characters with strange and downright god-like powers have emerged throughout the ages.
It’s also no surprise that several characters have fallen to the wayside throughout the years. Whether killed off, victims of editorial mandates, or simply not popular or defined enough to write about, many characters have fallen into comic book limbo as time marched on. On the one hand, this frees up writers to pursue more established characters. On the other, it leaves the potential to refresh and redefine lesser-known characters for newer generations of readers. And with the long and storied history of X-Men, many powerful and interesting characters have simply been forgotten throughout the years.
Ariel is an alien from a planet called Coconut Grove. As strange as the name is, the planet itself is even stranger. It resembles a stereotypical nightclub for young adults. Ariel made her first appearance in Fallen Angels #2. Her people genetically stagnated from reaching their evolutionary peak and tasked Ariel with organizing a team of mutants with the hidden agenda of bringing them to her planet for experimentation. The team comprised various street thieves with mutant powers, including a Dupe of Jamie Madrox the Multiple Man. However, Ariel learned that she was a mutant herself and her people turned on her.
Ariel possesses two powerful abilities. Her first ability is teleportation, which is not related to her mutation but a genetic inheritance from her family-line. Her teleportation functions as a form of space bending. Rather than merely teleporting from one location to another, Ariel’s power is connected to doorways. By focusing her mental energies on a real door, Ariel can imagine a doorway anywhere else in the world and arrive through it after stepping into the real door. Ariel’s mutation also grants her superhuman persuasion abilities connected to her voice. By merely speaking, Ariel can convince someone to comply or agree with her regardless of what she says. On top of that Ariel demonstrates extraordinary control of her persuasion power, capable of targeting a single individual or an entire group.
After escaping her people, Ariel moved to San Francisco and joined the X-Men proper after assisting Gambit, Rogue, Onyx, Cyclops, and Trance against Norman Osborn’s Dark Avengers. During the Second Coming story arc, Ariel aided the X-Men against Bastion and the Human Council, which sought to kill Hope Summers. Ariel ended up in a car with Wolverine and X-23, targeted by a homing missile, and was seemingly killed in the explosion since she could not regenerate like Wolverine and X-23. X-Men Legacy #259 revealed that Ariel managed to survive by teleporting through the car door. However, this left her trapped in a state of limbo. The X-Men retrieved Ariel and she made a full recovery after undergoing medical treatment. According to the X of Swords Handbook, Ariel is still with the X-Men and presumably a resident of Krakoa.
Heather Cameron worked as an Australian lifeguard when her father was a criminal killed by Lady Mastermind, who then came for Heather and her brother Davis. Luckily, X-Men Storm and Thunderbird were nearby and rescued them. Heather learned she is a mutant with the power to adapt to whatever danger threatens herself or her loved ones. Heather took the amazingly original name of Lifeguard and joined an offshoot of the X-Men dubbed the X-Treme X-Men. Eventually, Heather’s appearance changed to one similar to the Shi’ar race of aliens, suggesting one of her parents was not human. Heather went on to join X-Corporation, a nonprofit organization formed to investigate violations of mutant rights, and even kept her powers after Decimation.
Lifeguard hasn’t done much of note since and last seen hanging out in a bar in X-Force #9. The magnitude of her power comes from its versatility. Heather’s body automatically “evolves” to stop or escape from whatever danger she faces, and she instinctively knows how to utilize whatever power she develops. Besides her reactive adaptation, Lifeguard also possesses the standard abilities of a Human-Shi’ar hybrid, as well as a danger sense that alerts her to threats in her vicinity, similar to Spider-Man’s spider-sense. Her brother Slipstream possesses a powerful Teleportation ability in his own right, but his power is less versatile and requires more intensive concentration to function.
Making his first official appearance in X-Men Legacy #300, ForgetMeNot’s mutation causes him to exist in a constant state of existential flux. Essentially this means no one can remember he exists. ForgetMeNot was likely a member of the X-Men’s roster for years but the team could never remember him due to his powers. Even Charles Xavier, one of the strongest telepaths on the planet, had to create a psychic note to remind him of ForgetMeNot’s existence every hour.
Eventually, ForgetMeNot is kidnapped by X-Force in an attempt to relieve the team of surveillance they’re under, but he escapes before they have a chance to explain their plan. The team spends all their time chasing after ForgetMeNot and reminding themselves of his existence until he finally agrees. ForgetMeNot suppresses his powers long enough for a surveillance drone to perceive him so the team can track it, but discovers the drone can still see him even while his powers are active. Fantomex seemingly kills him in an attempt to rid X-Force of the drone permanently, but he managed to survive and ally himself with Hope Summers. According to the X of Swords Handbook ForgetMeNot is active in Krakoa, so maybe he’s not forgotten just yet.
Brian Morrison is the newest character here in terms of publication dates, appearing in 2018’s X-Men Gold #36. He’s also likely the most powerful. Brian was a normal kid until his X-Gene suddenly activated and his powers manifested. Brian possesses not just any power, but the ability to manipulate Cosmic Energy itself. Cosmic Energy is one of the most powerful substances in the Marvel Universe, closely related and similar to the Power Cosmic wielded by Galactus and his Heralds. Brian was so terrified of the emerging power that he lost control and threatened to create destruction of an unparalleled magnitude. Cerebro immediately detected Brian and registered him as an Omega-Level Mutant. Kitty Pryde found Brian and managed to calm him down until he returned to his human form, but he was shot in the head by a frightened pedestrian. Brian was hospitalized and managed to recover, and Kitty gave him the choice of joining the X-Men. Brian hasn’t been heard from since, so maybe he was too powerful for his good.
Gaia (not to be confused with Gaea) made her debut in Generation X #37. Her true origins are unknown; all that’s known for certain is that she is thousands of years old and chained to a device called the Universal Amalgamator which could merge all sentient consciousness into a single being. Gaia acted as a ward for the device and deterred evil beings from using it. When M-Plate, the merger of Monet St. Crox and her brother Emplate, attempted to use Synch to active the device, Gaia refused them. Generation X arrived to rescue Synch, and in the ensuing chaos, destroyed the Amalgamator. Synch rescued Gaia and they fled through a secret portal.
Gaia possesses immense power including superhuman strength of an unknown limit, superhuman durability, telepathy, limited telekinesis, and even reality warping. Although Gaia’s nature is never truly revealed, Marvel Handbook writer Stuart Vandal stated she is “probably alien, probably not extradimensional, definitely mutant.” Now unburdened, Gaia wanted to live as freely as possible. She hung around with Generation X for a while and developed some romantic feelings for Synch before enrolling in Xavier’s school. Gaia ultimately decided to leave the school to experience the world for herself and hasn’t been seen since. It’s strange to imagine such a powerhouse of a character aimlessly wandering around in the Marvel Universe.
Due to the nature of Western comics, not all characters can be utilized, and a plethora of them are completely memory-holed. But one cannot deny the return of a character like Gaia or the exploration of Brian Morrison learning to control and utilize his powers wouldn’t make for an interesting story. Though the cinematic universe owes a lot to Marvel’s more popular source material, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that forgotten characters could return to prominence for the sake of the MCU. Superhero comics play into the same power fantasy tropes as Fantasy Fiction, and with Marvel expanding into television shows and entering Phase 4, many lesser-known X-Men characters may finally get their time to shine. There’s also the hope, that with titles like Dawn of X revitalizing the X-Men franchise, readers may see a welcomed return of several of the most powerful forgotten characters.
Next: X-Men: A Beloved Cult Mutant Returns to Marvel Comics
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