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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

To Better Know A Hero: Professor X

In memory of Isaac Hayes...

Who's the bald dick
That's a sex machine to all the chicks?

(Prof!)

You're damn right


Who's the mutant

That risks his legs for his brother mutant?

(Prof!)

Can ya dig it?

Who's the teach that won't cop out
Unless there's alien tail about

(Prof!)
Right on


You see this cat Prof is a bald mother--

(Shut your mouth)
But I'm talkin' about Prof

(Then we can dig it)

He's a complicated man
But no one understands him but Cyclops
(Prof X)


Real Name:
Charles Francis Xavier

First Appearance: X-Men #1 (September 1963)

Nicknames and Aliases: Chuck, Baldy, Onslaught

Powers and Abilities: Telepathy, including the ability to read minds and projects thoughts, even at great distances, take control of other minds, wipe or implant memories and thoughts, and enter the Astral Plane; (occasionally) low level telekinesis.

Weaknesses and Achilles’ Heels: Stairs.

Gadgets and Accessories: Cerebro (and more recently, Cerebra) a high tech computer capable of detecting mutants and amplifying the telepathic powers of the user; for a time, Xavier supplanted his more traditional wheel chair for a hover chair that utilized advanced alien Shi’Ar technology. He also owns a sweet mansion in upstate New York that serves as the X-Men’s headquarters and is fitted out with all kinds of high tech and alien upgrades (but it’s currently a pile of rubble).

Friends and Allies: The X-Men, Lilandra (his long time girlfriend, Empress of the Shi’Ar Empire) Legion (Daniel Haller, his son), Gabrielle Haller (his Baby Momma), Moira MacTaggert (his long time colleague, one-time love, acclaimed geneticist)

Foes and Antagonists: Magneto (Erik “Magnus” Lensherr, his friend and adversary), Juggernaut (Cain Marko, his step-brother), Cassandra Nova (his evil twin sister), the Shadow King, prejudice and intolerance.

Movies and Appearances: Professor X was played by Captain Picard in all three X-Men films. He was also a featured character on Fox’s animated series in the 90s and shows up just about anywhere else the X-Men appear in the media.

One-Sentence Origin: Born a mutant with vast telepathic powers, Professor X dedicates his life to bringing about peaceful co-existence between humans and mutants, and to that end, founded a school to serve as a haven for and teach young mutants, and formed the X-Men to defend humanity from those mutants who would rule over them.

Memorable Moment: X-Men (vol. 2) #25 (October 1993). After Magneto devastates Earth with a planet-wide electro- magnetic pulse, Professor X leads a small strike team of X-Men against Magneto abroad his orbital headquarters. During the battle, Magneto rips the adamantium from Wolverine’s bones, and Xavier, pushed to the limit, destroys Magneto’s mind, leaving him a mental vegetable and preventing him from doing any more harm (and inadvertently setting in motion Xavier’s later pseudo-transformation into the villainous Onslaught).

Fun Fact: In his lifetime, Professor X has managed to cripple two different bodies.

He originally lost the use of his legs when injured in battle with an advanced scout for an alien invasion (but not the same alien invasion he later went underground and lied to the X-Men in order to prevent).

After being implanted with a Brood embryo and transformed into a Brood Queen, Xavier's consciousness was transferred into a body cloned by the Starjammers. After overcoming a psychosomatic inability to walk, Xavier two-stepped his way through life until a battle with the Shadow King on the Astral Plane shattered the spine of his clone body, once again costing him the ability to walk.

Recently, in the wake of the Scarlet Witch’s alteration of reality which eliminated 90% of the world’s mutant population, Xavier lost his powers but regained the ability to walk. Apparently, as far as the Scarlet Witch is concerned “no more mutants” also means “no more paraplegics.” He has since regained his powers, but thus far, as managed to maintain his ability to walk. Third time’s the charm?

Teebore’s Take: For a writer, I can imagine Professor X is a tough nut to crack. He’s arguably one of the three or four most powerful mutants on the planet (alongside Magneto, the Scarlet Witch, and Franklin Richards (the son of the Fantastic Four’s Mr. Fantastic and Invisible Woman)) which means he should be able to do just about anything to solve the X-Men’s problems. Of course, when Chuck is solving all their problems, the fun of reading about the X-Men's adventures kind of goes away.

So to keep Xavier and his abilities around without creating incredibly dull X-Men stories, the solution has always been twofold: Xavier’s iconic (and thematically strong) circumstance of being a paraplegic, the greatest mind trapped in a weak, flawed body and a moral fortitude that prevents him from using his power to just change everyone’s mind about mutants. This keeps Xavier effectively sidelined from the main action of the X-Men where he can serve best as a mentor, teacher and inspirational figure, Martin Luther King Jr. to Magento’s Malcolm X. Even when this status quo is changed (as it is from time to time) and Xavier finds himself able to walk, other limitations are created to prevent Xavier from contributing too much to the X-Men’s adventures: he’s missing, he’s dead, he recognizes he’s not a field leader, he suffers injuries that inhibit his powers, he’s off in space with his girlfriend.

But the X-Men can never stray too far from Xavier. He may not be the most interesting character, or the easiest to write, but in the end, he and his dream for peaceful coexistence represent everything that separates the X-Men from other teams: they fight to bring about the vision of this idealist who dares to dream of a better world. Whether there as a character or as a symbol, Xavier is critical to the success of the X-Men. So no matter how long the detour, eventually Professor X makes his way back to the book, physically limited in some way to keep him out of the action, or unable to wield his power in such a manner as it renders the actions of the other characters moot, but he always makes it back. After all, there'd be no X-Men without Professor X.

5 comments:

Opalnan said...

I understand that storytelling wise you have to severely limit what Professor X does in action. Like you said it would make for pretty boring comics if all that happened was him steping out and saying "Stop!" and the crisis was averted.

But really what would be stopping him , even when crippled, to just drive by say the Purifiers HQ and just mentally convince everybody in there that they don't want to kill or cause harm to other people? He wouldn't have to change their mind about how they feel about mutants just change their violent actions towards them. Sure it probably isn't the most moral thing to do, but when you are talking about a group that has a sole purpose of killing any mutants they come across I think you can let the morality of it go.

This is assuming of course that you don't have somebody like Mr. Sinister in your ranks that can shield your people from such a thing.

Just a little food for thought.

Anonymous said...

i dunno - i think he might be kinda easy to write.
For example "What should Xavier be doing right now? Oh wait, i remember! Being a dick!"
Voila! Writer's block solved!

-S

Anonymous said...

i dunno - i think he might be kinda easy to write.
For example "What should Xavier be doing right now? Oh wait, i remember! Being a dick!"
Voila! Writer's block solved!

-S

Anonymous said...

WTF is up with the double post?!
Sigh. My Bad i guess...

-S

boots~ said...

A life a song parody is yours to grasp, teebore. Weird AL won't live forever and it's much more lucrative than punning!