The 1990s were known for a lot of things. CD players, Nintendo, grunge, bubblegum pop, the rise and fall of the comic industry, and more. It came in like a lion and left like a lamb. Of all the decades I’ve personally been a part of, none have been as instrumental in shaping who I am as the 1990s.
The 1990s also saw industry-wide change in the comic book community. From drastic reimaginings of popular characters to more variant covers than anybody wanted, nothing was off-limits to creators in the 1990s. Of the many changes at Marvel, none were as far-fetched as their 2099 Universe. The universe saw the company take some of its most popular characters and ideas and put a futuristic spin on them. Of them all, none of the creations were as “out there” as the X-Men.
The X-Men 2099 was made up of a hodge-podge of misfits who banded together for no other reason than to try and sell a comic book. Although the book was relatively popular, it wasn’t very memorable. This is mainly due to the characters. Who are they, you ask? Great question. Here are the most important X-Men 2099 members from the 1990s.
Skullfire (Timothy Fitzgerald) is one of the most integral and powerful X-Men 2099 members. Like many others on this list of X-Men 2099 members, Skullfire was created by John Francis Moore and Ron Lim. As a mutant, he’s able to absorb all forms of ambient energy. Once absorbed, he’s able to project the energy outwards in the form of destructive blasts. When he first appeared, he wasn’t able to control his power. That is, after absorbing energy, he wasn’t able to direct it.
Worse yet, his power was only triggered during moments of great stress. As a result of this, he inadvertently blew up his apartment and killed his girlfriend. Luckily, with the help of Cerebra, Skullfire learned to control his power. This happened only after she helped him confront the explosion that killed his girlfriend. As he aged, Skullfire learned that he was also able to absorb mystical energy.
9. Desert Ghost
Desert Ghost (Xi’an Chi Xan) was once an outlaw and a member of the criminal group known as the Lawless. After a trip to Viet Nam, he learned of the man that meant was meant to become. That man was very different from the man he was becoming. Rather than a criminal whose purpose in life was to kill and act in a violent manner, he was shown that if he desired, he was destined to lead a group of mutants and do good in the world.
To do this, he dedicated himself to the teachings of Professor Xavier and began to assemble his version of the X-Men. He quickly brought aboard Cerebra and used her to locate some of the most powerful mutants in existence. Once he had them, he turned his attention to recruiting Timothy Fitzgerald. Although it took some convincing, Timothy eventually agreed to join his X-Men. And the rest, as they say, was history.
Similar to Charles Xavier, Cerebra (Shakti Haddad) is a mutant capable of locating other mutants. She does this not through telepathic communication but instead through her ability to psionically read the nervous system of other beings. With this, she can also manipulate their nervous system and control their brain functions. There’s no better example of this than when she helped Skullfire learn to control his mutation.
Cerebra is also capable of unlocking latent mutant abilities and has a small implant on the side of her head that allows her to “plug” into computer systems and the Cybernet.
Although each version of the X-Men is different, most have one thing in common…they all have a mutant who moves at incredible speed. Of the many X-Men 2099 members, only one fits this description. That character is Meanstreak.
Like Quicksilver, Meanstreak is able to move at an accelerated rate. This means that if he wanted to, he could easily break the sound barrier. It also means that in addition to superhuman speed, he possesses superhuman stamina, and reflexes, and processes the world around him at a superhuman rate. Finally, Meanstreak heals at an accelerated rate and can flush toxins out of his body quicker than most.
Meanstreak remains one of the most loyal X-Men 2099 members not because he feels that the team is operating under the notion of a good cause. Instead, he remains loyal because of his love for Krystalin. Speaking of which…
Krystalin (Ruth Kristen Porter-Ogada) was born in Oakland, California. She is the daughter of one of the founding members of the Order of the Black Panther. This militant group worships and fights for the value of Wakandan traditions. When her brother was kidnapped and her father killed, she set off to find the perpetrators. After finding them, she successfully defeated them in battle and freed her brother.
Krystalin has a unique ability as far as mutants go. Her ability allows her to draw trace minerals from the air. Once drawn, she can turn them into any object she can think of, hard or soft. Most often, she creates weapons that she can use in battle and/or encases her enemies inside crystal-like pods. Krystalin is also a trained fighter. Although not as proficient in combat as some of her teammates, she is nonetheless a worthy combatant.
Metalhead (Edward Beethoven-Osako) has a past that’s not that well known. What we do know is that he’s a believer in the dream laid out by Charles Xavier. That is, the dream that one-day mutants and humans would live in harmony. In his original appearances, Metalhead could temporarily transform himself into any metal form that he touched. Along with the transformation, he also took on the inherent properties of the metal.
For instance, if he touched copper, he could conduct electricity and if he touched steel, he’d become hard. After a battle, however, his mutation became permanent and he was no longer able to revert back to his human form. This, however, didn’t affect whether or not he could gain the properties of other metals should he touch them.
As her name implies, Serpentina is as long and elastic as a serpent. Her mutation allows her to stretch her torso and limbs to an incredible length. Readers were first introduced to her after she was invited to a gathering by Xi’an Chi Xan. At the gathering, she befriended a confused Skullfire. To put him at ease, she introduced him to Metalhead.
She then told him that like her, he had been asked by Xi’an to the gathering in an effort to change both his life and the world. Unfortunately, before this happened, an assassin fired at Xi’an. Although Skullfire retaliated, the damage was done and the gathering was brought to a halt.
As is the case with many other mutants, Bloodhawk’s mutation causes him to undergo a physical transformation. When transformed, he takes the shape of a bat-like creature, grows wings, and becomes red. In addition, he also gains a number of abilities. These abilities, (regeneration, heightened sense, classes, flight, sharp teeth, and an immunity to radiation), make him one of the most formidable of all the X-Men 2099 members.
Bloodhawk’s past is primarily unknown. What we do know is that his mutation surfaced during a time when he was being experimented on. The purpose of the experiment was to learn about his pain tolerance.
2. La Lunatica
Initially not one of the X-Men 2099 members, La Lunatica is a mutant with vampiric abilities. Her mutation allows her to release traumatic and repressed memories in her victims. Once released, she feeds off their pain as a way to heighten her own physical abilities.
Before she was one of the X-Men 2099 members, she was an unwilling member of the Theater of Pain. As a member, she was tasked with bringing out painful memories in her victims. Once the memories were out, her direct report, Controller Thirteen, took the records of the pain and sold them to the highest bidder.
In one instance, she captured Bloodhawk. When the other X-Men 2099 members came to rescue him, she fed on Skullfire. What she didn’t expect was that the feeding caused a great deal of stress to him. As a result, it also caused his repressed powers to release. The powers came out in the form of an explosion and the explosion caused the restraining collars worn by the mutants to be damaged. More specifically, it causes La Lunatica’s collar to be damaged. Now free of her imprisonment, she took revenge on Controller Thirteen.
One of the former X-Men 2099 members, Junkpile left after a series of disagreements with their leader Xi’an Chi Xan. This happened mainly because while Xi’an hoped for peace between humans and mutants, Junkpile believed that mutants were superior. He also believed that because he was a mutant, he was destined for something more than being one of the X-Men 2099 members.
Junkpile has a very unique set of powers for a mutant. Rather than being able to fly, heal, read minds, or project energy, his power allowed him to construct his body out of metal…hence the name Junkpile. As a result of his techno-organic physiology, he’s also able to telepathically draw metal to him thereby expanding his size and making himself stronger and more durable.