The Top 10 Most Underrated X-Men

Of all the comics I’m reading or have read in my lifetime, X-Men is the one constant that I do not falter from. It has been a faithful friend since even before I was a teenager, and as I went through my puberty driven angst I happily related to the outcast feelings of the mutants, celebrated the camaraderie of the team and the students of the academy, and developed burning crushes on several fictional characters within the universe. I spent a lot of time on X-Men centric message board roleplaying websites, pretending I was a mutant with some strange power and working my way up in the ranks of player politics until I was a REAL member of the X-Men team.

At this point they are all like old friends, comfortable like your favorite pair of shoes – the ones that have holes in them but you still wear to go check the mailbox.

I have tried to keep up with X-Men through every run, through every bout of “I have no money”, and through every move (even when I lived in a small town where the only comic book shop closed and I had to drive two hours every Wednesday). Though recently due to a hectic life and lack of funds I haven’t been frolicking down the comics shop every week, I’m still picking up the trades and I’m still greeting those familiar faces again and again.

Due to my complete and obvious obsession with X-Men, I spend a lot of time fixating upon the characters I feel are underrated, oftentimes overlooked. These are the characters I feel deserve their own spinoffs, major appearances, and while I don’t expect non comics readers to recognize them the way they would recognize say, Batman, I become disappointed when fellow geeks give me a blank stare when I start prattling off obscure characters from the X-Men universe.

If you were a hipster, these X-Men would be the bands you would listen to before they get cool.


Upon first review, Marrow’s power is a little lame. Basically, she can grow her skeleton superfast and make stuff out of it. Like bone spurs that she yanks from her legs and throws at people, or boney knuckle guards. But if you think about it, her power is pretty hardcore. That has to HURT, and considering that at first she cannot control the growth of her bones (until Weapon X gets involved) she probably had a harder time growing up as a mutant than most others.

She has a bit of a convoluted past, being raised by the Morlocks in the New York City underground. Eventually she joins the X-men but she’s not really a team player and has a hard time getting along with most people. I love her fiery personality, weird mutation, and she has PINK HAIR which is an obvious bonus.




Maggott. Is. Awesome.

He made this list because he has by far the strangest mutation in X-men history and I LOVE strange.

Basically, his digestive system can turn into two giant slugs, exit his body, eat through anything in their path and then RE-ENTER his body… granting him EPIC POWER. Like something from a Marilyn Manson video, Maggott is a true eyebrow raiser, and a character I would like to see more of just for the pure “WTF” factor. Come on, there are so many hilarious one liners that could be directed towards him.



The Stepford Cuckoos

Crazy Emma Frost clones, anyone?

Why yes, I’ll take a helping of five, myself!

In a story arc that only Grant Morrison could create, the Stepford Cuckoos burst upon the scene as five identical quintuplets all attending the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning. But they’re not just five hot blonde teenage girls, oh no – they’re psychically linked and are actually clones of Emma Frost, created from her ova that was harvested while she was in a coma. SCANDALOUS.

Now only three of the original five sisters remain (due to crazy dramatic deaths, whoa!), but they’re still weird and wild and wonderful and I’d love to see more of them.



So Nocturne is actually an alternate reality character, but that didn’t stop her from qualifying for my list. Because I like her. And she’s blue. Also, she just so happens to be the daughter of Nightcrawler and the Scarlet Witch.


Nocturne is pretty awesome in the fact that she has basically been a part of the X-men team her entire life as she is second generation, so she knows what she is doing. She fights some pretty epic battles and wins, and her relationship with her “aunt” Kitty Pryde is really adorable and well written.

Did I mention she’s blue?


There’s a bit of a tangled storyline with Penance, but the basics are this: Penance is actually a hollow body with sisters trapped inside. She’s made of red stone and is incredibly powerful, cannot really understand language, and can hardly speak. She is the result of some crazy dimensional mutation and she has housed a rotation of three sisters (sometimes one, sometimes two, depending on when you’re reading).

I really enjoy the more “feral” mutants and Penance does not disappoint. When she first appears at the academy they put her into the infirmary, and when she wakes she rips the entire place apart as she escapes.



Cannonball can go fast – REALLY fast. Like jet engine plane fast. With a forcefield!

While that’s cool, that’s not the reason I chose to add him to my list. He’s a very well written and unique character, offering colour and interest to the team. Hailing from a rural town in the deep south, he’s a bit of a redneck and comes from a HUGE family, of which most of his siblings are also mutants. He’s incredibly polite, “salt of the earth”, and a giant science fiction fan (which I especially like). He has the sort of unique characteristics and easy charm that allow him to fit in with the team well, and I really enjoy reading any scene he’s in.



An entitled upper class California kid, Hellion is a little snot nosed brat and naturally that makes him very entertaining. He’s telekenetic and cocky and has a superiority complex which leads him to be flirtatious and a bit of a ladykiller. One of my all time favourite scenes with Hellion is when he gets mad at another girl and ends up dating all three of the Stepford Cuckoos. All three sisters – now THAT’S an accomplishment.



Lifeguard’s mutation is pretty interesting, and one that did not manifest itself until later in her life. Basically she can adapt to survive in any situation, developing many different mutations and powers in quick succession in order to stay alive. For example, if she is thrown into water she will grow gills, or if bullets are flying at her teammates she can generate a forcefield.

I feel as if this mutation could be really overpowered, but if handled correctly with the right storyline I see Lifeguard having a lot of potential.


Jamie Madrox

Madrox has gotten a little more love than most of the other characters on this list as he actually made it to one of the X-Men movies! Shock and awe etc. However I still think he needs to see more page time, especially since he has been on the outskirts of most major X-Men storylines since the late 80s.

Able to make multiple copies of himself, Madrox is notable for having one weird but awesome mutation. Add to that a rich and interesting character history and he has potential for some great storylines.



I operate under the belief that X-men should be all about Polaris, all the time. Maybe it’s because she has green hair or it’s because she’s a complete badass, but from the moment I first learned of Polaris’ existence I became incredibly attached. I will even confess as to writing this list mostly for her benefit so I can go on and on about what a wonderful and overlooked character she is.

As the daughter of Magneto (and therefore the half sister of Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver!), Polaris possesses her father’s mutation to manipulate metals. Despite who her father is, Polaris has almost primarily been a good guy.

She also has a relationship with Havok that is like watching an episode of a reality TV show – it’s some sort of trainwreck that you can’t look away from. At one point he leaves her at the altar on their wedding day. CLASSY!


So there are my top ten picks for the Most Underrated X-Men. Agree? Disagree? Want to make babies with Polaris? Comment below!


Molly McIsaac is really sleepy right now. She likes to sleep. She doesn’t tweet when she sleeps, but she will when she wakes up! So you should follow her on twitter.


  1. I pretty much agree with all of these choices, very cool article. I do have to point out that Cannonball’s from Kentucky, which isn’t the deep south. I’m from NC and even we’re not considered to be in that club. You gotta go way down there to claim that distinction. I wouldn’t really call him a redneck either. I do really dig Cannonball, and he’s one of my favorite X-men (and kind of incredibly powerful if one thinks about it), though if you go back and look at some of those earliest issues he’s drawn/written pretty much as a racist/classist cartoon of a southern person. Sorry about that little detour, and thank you for the fun article.

  2. good list, i would add iceman he is hardly used.

  3. Na.. If you want Weird and Not ued. then This Guy is the MAN!

    • I love me some Warlock, but I gotta disagree about him never being used. While he was absent for a few years, he has had a solid presence in the original New Mutants, then Excalibur, then his own series, then Nova, and now back to the New Mutants. I mean sure there were a few years between New Mutants and Excalibur and then between his own series and his reappearance in Nova, but I still feel Warlock fans have gotten to see more of him than most of the characters on this list, except maybe Cannonball and Madrox

  4. Cannonball is awesome. It’s kind of a shame that he got shunted off to the New Mutants again. He ought to be on the A-Team.

    • Cannonball has always been one of my favorites, mainly because he hails from KY like me and that he has a powerful mutation. I loved reading him in the 90s when he was on X-Force and then the X-Men. I was hoping since he was featured somewhat in Age of X he would have a more prominent roll afterward.

  5. I agree that Iceman isn’t used enough. Considering he’s one of the originals and supposedly an omega-level mutant, he’s rarely more than a background character.

    Definitely agree with Penance. I would like to see her used more. But Madrox has become more prominent, with his own team and everything.

  6. NIce, hope someone tries to make some single shot issues with some of this characters. wouldn’t mind seeing a Nocturne or Hollow titles

  7. Never heard of Lifeguard, but she sounds exactly like Darwin.

    • Lifeguard was introduced when Chris Claremont had his big comeback to the X-Men in like 2000 or somewhere around there. She was a pretty horrible character. Like pretty much everything introduced during that horrid run. It was like 2 years in the future, and Rogue was a lawyer with no powers, and there were new characters on the team who were seemingly created by using a “super power and ethnicity” dart board. It was a dark, dark time. In fact, it drove me away from the X-Men screaming.

      Lifeguard basically got whatever power she needed to save somebody in a dangerous situation.

    • @JohnVFerrigno: You need to do some brushing up dude. Lifeguard was introduced during Claremont’s X-Treme X-Men series and as far as I know never used again. Rogue definitely had powers while Lifeguard was on the team, though she did lose them at the conclusion of the story arc that Lifeguard was used in after Vargas impaled her and Gambit on his sword.

      Lifeguard’s power is pretty much exactly the same as Darwin at first, though she’s also a Shi’ar/human hybrid so by the end of her time on the team she just likes like a golden metal half bird half woman creature.

    • Except Peter David writes Darwin, so… win.

    • @Wacokid

      I know it was X-treme X-Men. It was still an X-Men book written by claremont, which was a spin-off of another X-men book written by Claremont.

  8. ya.. i dunno about Maggott. there’s a reason we haven’t seen him since the ninties. he’s god awful

  9. I’m not an X-Men expert, but now I kind of want to be. I didn’t know some of these. What’s a good Maggot story?

    Isn’t Lifeguard’s power exactly like Darwin’s?

  10. Two words: Doug Ramsey. Cypher is the shizz.

  11. Lifeguard was introduced in EXTREME!! so it stands to reason that she is EXTREME!! but nobody has used her since EXTREME X-men ended in an EXTREME fashion.

    I always liked Marrow just because she grew up hard and in a lot of ways is like Wolverine even more so than X-23. Great issue BTW when Wolverine decides to teach her to stop whining and being a little bitch.

    Where’s the love for Thunderbird (the Indian One) and Sage?? I actually liked her.

  12. A friend of mine keeps telling me about Angel and how he’s pretty amazing. I just find it hard to see him other than just a guy with wings.

  13. Where is Nocturne from?

  14. Love this list, Molly! Great job!

    I’m glad someone commented about the “deep south.” I’m in GA, which can’t get any deeper. You may say Florida, but we all know that when you cross the border into Florida, you hit a portal that sends you up north. LOL.

    I could be wrong, but wasn’t Penance/Hollow’s skin made of red diamond? No one could touch her because she was sharp…everywhere. I remember Banshee punching her and his fist getting cut pretty badly.

    Also, Lifeguard’s power wasn’t really like Darwin’s. She basically was a Shi’ar crossbreed who’s powers developed as she found herself in tricky situations. She developed wings, metal skin, gills to escape danger, but that’s all. She later turned into a metal bird thing, if I remember correctly.

    Nocturne is from a separate dimension called Professor W’s X-Men. In it, Wolverine became the Professor. She was chosen to be on the first team of Exiles and was one of the few who lasted throughout the series mostly, until she landed in the 616 universe, helped out the X-Men, then joined the New Excalibur, until she had a stroke (yep) and fell into obscurity.

    Gotta go polish my pocket protector…

    • Ha! Georgians unite! I’m in Atlanta though, the little bastion of “north” in the south…sort of. BUT I will say that while they may not be geographically deeper Mississippi, Alabama, etc. definitely have just as much South in them…maybe even a little more than GA. Also West Virginia is somewhat terrifyingly rural, but that’s neither here nor there.

    • Aren’t we Georgians pretty under represented when it comes to superheroes?? We have Damage, and um….uh….I got nothin’. Walking Dead doesn’t count.

      I’m at the last exit with some semblance of civilization till you get to Columbu…well…ok, that doesn’t count either.

  15. Madrox love! What about Domino?

    Great list

  16. Why is Madrox on this list? He is the “leader” of X-Factor. So, how is he not used enough?

    I know Madrox is no longer the focal point of the past couple X-Factor arcs, but he was the main piece for years.

    I always say it, but X-Factor is still the best X-book, month in and month out. And uses these types of characters to tell an awesome long story.

    • It’s not “Underused X-Men”.

    • That will teach me to read these things sitting on a beach. Opps.


    • Rub it in why don’t you! 🙂

    • Well, I think under-rated at least implies that in the hands of a good writer and some decent exposure that character would shine and end up “higher rated”. Madrox is clearly the star of X-Factor, written by Peter David in a monthly occurring title. I guess you could make him the head of the X-Men, but besides that he is getting as much “due” as he is likely going to get. Since he is the character that makes me buy X-Factor regularly, despite having way too may mutant titles, I think he is probably well rated at the moment. Polaris (and Havok who is not on it) clearly fit this list, great characters with lots of X-connections, lost in space for years.

  17. I love me some Cannonball. And Polaris. Mmmmm… Polaris… But that just makes me feel like Havok should be on here too, even with his ridiculous original costume.

  18. Whoa whoa whoa! An X-Men post written by someone other than Ron? 1. What have you done with him? and 2. What does he think of this list?

  19. I would put Darwin in there someplace, his mutation provides almost as much possibilities for storytelling as Wolverine’s does and yet the most recent appearance, and best one, in my opinion, is in the X-Men First Class movie.

  20. I don’t care what anyone says, I like Marrow and I want her to come back. Some other underrated X-men I would put on this list are Husk, Domino, Blink, Chamber, and Karima Shapandar (not a mutant, I know, but still an X-man!)

  21. I actually really liked blink from age of apocalypse, and don’t worry that’s about the only thing I liked about it. But Wasn’t maggot just on a worst xmen list not too long ago.

  22. Cannonball and Madrox are, I think at this point, at least B-Level X-Men (or X-Whatevers). I don’t know how underrated they are. They may just be exactly the right type of rated. Arguable, though.

    I’d put Boom-Boom on this list, but that’s probably just me. And Strong Guy.

  23. To all you inspiring mutants take note to Penance. Even if you have long, dangerous fingernails and also dangerous hair; you can still be a cheesecake model.

  24. Finally Marrow and Maggot get some love. They were in the xmen comic that got me into comics in the first place. Sadly, that comic was Operation: Zero Tolerance which in retrospect was not good but they were awesome!

    Great list.

  25. I always liked Cannonball. Though I wonder why he has a lame uniform. In around the late 90s he wore the traditional X-Men uniform and it looked good on him.

    He has to be good if he was able to take down Gladiator.

  26. I really love this list, there are some great highlights of characters I LOVE. You saved the best for last with Polaris. She is one of the characters I just really loved from the get-go. Even though she had a brief stint on X-Men:TAS which was like a mutant soap-opera, I still thought she was awesome. And I was glad to see she appeared in Wolverine and The X-Men.

    Awesome List!!

  27. I really love this list, there are some great highlights of characters I LOVE. You saved the best for last with Polaris. She is one of the characters I just really loved from the get-go. Even though she had a brief stint on X-Men:TAS which was like a mutant soap-opera, I still thought she was awesome. And I was glad to see she appeared in Wolverine and The X-Men.

    You did an awesome job on this list!