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The Unspoken Question–Where Are the Bad Guys?!

From the very beginning, the X-Men were defined as much by their solid stable of enemies as they were by themselves.

I mean, just look at the list of baddies, among them Magneto, the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, Apocalypse, the Right, Bastion, the Phalanx, Mr. Sinister and the Marauders, and that’s not even scratching the surface.

They’ve had more enemies than a Democrat in Texas, but in recent years, things have changed drastically.

Chuck Austen: The X-Men’s Greatest Enemy
See his Uncanny X-Men run for details…

Part of the issue is that a lot of their enemies have reformed.

Remember Magneto, their very first enemy who then became a teacher to the New Mutants only to go nutso again and try to take over the world?

Well that guy now takes orders from Cyclops.

Emma Frost, the wicked White Queen of the Hellfire Club, the one who all but singlehandedly screwed Jean Grey’s mind so badly so as to allow the Dark Phoenix persona to emerge?  She’s totally banging Cyclops.

I’m starting to sense a Cyclops theme going on here.

“All right, I’m here, but don’t even think about
taking off those pants, Mr. Summers.”

Apocalypse hasn’t been seen since Blood of Apocalypse, which is much better the less it’s discussed and Bastion is dead, the Phalanx are pretty much done since Annihilation: Conquest, the human hate groups are so 2008, Sebastian Shaw is running around half naked with amnesia, and only Sinister is still really making waves out of the old guard of villains.

Sure, there’s a new Hellfire Club, but it’s composed of a bunch of psychotic kids and barely worth mentioning, and the latest Brotherhood of Evil Mutants isn’t bad, but have only really factored into a few issues of Uncanny X-Force.

So, what’s the problem with the villain pool lately?

This kid totally peed in it, didn’t he?

Well, look at the state of the Marvel Universe these past few years, particularly the far reaching events.  In House of M, the heroes, including the X-Men, basically fought against reality and they followed it up in Civil War by fighting each other.  Secret Invasion came along and it was hero vs. alien and then Norman Osborn was the big bad for Siege, followed by a lost Asgardian god in Fear Itself.

And throughout, the X-Men’s villains basically spun their wheels.  Sure there was an assault by Bastion, but now he’s gone.  Madelyne Pryor made a comeback, but it was over in a few issues.  Same story for John Sublime.

You’d expect that with all of the infighting and world shattering threats the X-Men have been brought into these past few years their enemies would be taking advantage much more than they have.

Maybe this new Magic 8 Ball can predict when
I’ll be relevant again…

Instead, when the X-Men aren’t fighting each other—or the Avengers—they have standard fare, monster of the week type enemies.  Outside of the struggle with Sinister that was reignited with the relaunch of Uncanny X-Men last year, gone are the compelling villains that thrilled us for years, replaced instead by jobbers with no lasting power.

Sure, some are dead—like that’s ever really stopped anyone not named Uncle Ben in the Marvel Universe—and others have reformed but it’s getting harder to play up the champions against a world that fears and hates them riff when the only thing that seems to fear and hate them most these days is themselves.

We’re so oppressed…by each other.

So, come on, writers.  Once they stop getting all punchy and explodey with the Avengers, bring back some classic X-Men villains, not just for a single arc, but for a long con.  Give us our first good Apocalypse story since the Reagan administration.  Have it build up over months.  Give us an enemy to fear and be awed by, not little kids in the Hellfire Club playing at adult games, not the mad scientist du jour, and not more vampires.  Give us some more evil mutants, especially if the mutant gene winds up restored at the end of Avengers Vs. X-Men.

The X-Men represented so much in their inception and seeing them fight not only human bigots, but also those of their own kind, was a huge part of who they were, mirroring the fights for civil rights that go on still today in our own country.

But outside of a few stories where their endangered species status was being capitalized on by some villains, their focus has been lacking.

Maybe the villains are all sitting around plotting.  You know, like at Capitol Hill.  Or maybe there’s a killer sale going on somewhere.  You think capes and jetpacks are cheap?

Wherever they are, we need them back for more than six issues.  We need the classics.  We need one of the things that made the X-Men so very interesting—their adversaries.

Sigh.  Remember when this was true?

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