Graphic Novel Fridays: My Favorite X-Man
There is no shortage of cool in the X-Men roster. Wolverine is always cool, Cyclops is unflappable under pressure, and Emma Frost is cool with an evil twist. (I’ll refrain from the obligatory Iceman joke here.)
But in my opinion, Longshot has always been the The Fonz of the crew. Created in 1985, his look was entirely a product of the times: black leather jacket and matching pants, androgynous features, and of course a mullet. Yes, my favorite X-Man sported a mullet. In fact, I thought mullets were so cool that I may have worn one as well, although there are no pictures to support this statement.
But back to Longshot. On a team comprised of unique characters, Longshot is still an anomaly. For starters, he is not a mutant, but an alien. Hailing from the “Mojoverse,” a twisted dimension obsessed with celebrity and voyeurism, Longshot sought the help of the X-Men to lead a rebellion against grotesque overlords called The Spineless Ones. Suffice to say, as far as X-character backstories go, his tops the Weird List.
Longshot does not have flashy powers. No blades pop out his knuckles, no laser beams shoot from his eyes, and he cannot fly or teleport. Longshot’s powers are based on luck. When he acts with pure motives, fortune favors the mullet. Twenty years ago, comics had begun their descent into “dark and gritty” storytelling. With Watchmen, The Dark Knight Returns, and The Punisher rising in popularity, Longshot was once again the anomaly: a bright, happy and pure of heart hero who got all the girls. After discovering Longshot in the inexplicably now-out-of-print Inferno storyline, I searched the backissue bins for more Longshot-centered issues (there were few). In another year or so, he left the X-Men (after capturing the heart of teammate Dazzler), and would later appear sparingly whenever a writer came aboard with a taste for the strange.
Lately, though, Longshot fans have had much to celebrate. Believed dead for several years, he turned up in the Quantum Leap-inspired Exiles series. From there, Longshot appeared in the Marvel Universe mega event, Secret Invasion, and joined X-Factor, where he is now a regular team member.
To celebrate this resurgence in popularity, Marvel has rereleased the long out of print first appearance of Longshot. Created by Ann Nocenti and living legend artist Arthur Adams (who made his name on this series), this six issue miniseries is dusted off and given the Marvel Premiere Hardcover treatment. The B-list hero finally gets his due with plenty of bonus features, including a sketch gallery, original layouts and pencils, thumbnail sketches, and the Longshot bible (a breakdown of the character, his powers, etc.). The cult classic storyline never looked so good—the colors are vibrant and carefully attuned to Adams’ detailed designs—and I am happy to replace my well-read and muddy-colored trade paperback. B-list fans will note that both She-Hulk and Doctor Strange make appearances in the collection long before they were en vogue (your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man is also featured).
More bizarre but great Longshot stories can be found in the black & white newsprint collections, Essential Uncanny X-Men Vol. 7 & 8 (the latter reprints almost all of the aforementioned Inferno storyline). Longshot is proof of the cyclical nature of comics, but I hope we’re all lucky enough that he doesn’t portend a return to superhero mullets.