X15: Favorite Characters - Warpath

X15 is a series of blog posts celebrating the 15 years of x-fandom I have experienced. From the 15th anniversary of first seeing the X-Men in Fox's animated series (late October 1992) to the 15th anniversary of my first comic book purchase (January 1993), I will explore every facet of Professor Charles Xavier's gifted youngsters.

Unlike the other countdowns I'm doing as part of this blog series, I really can't assign rankings to my favorite characters. Multiple Man is my favorite, but Wolfsbane and Kitty Pryde have both caused me to tear up on occasions, and I probably relate to Cannonball more than any other X-Man. Seriously, the top ten all have a place in my heart. Limiting this to ten was hard enough (I know everyone out there really wants to read a couple hundred words about Maggott, but that will sadly not happen anytime soon).

So, here it goes...

James Proudstar
FORMER ALIASES: Thunderbird, Proudstar

FIRST APPEARANCE: New Mutants v.1 #16, June 1984
GROUP AFFILIATION: Currently X-Force, formerly Hellions, New Mutants, X-Force, X-Corporation, X-Men
APPEARANCE HISTORY: X-Force v.1 (1991-2001), Uncanny X-Men (2006-2008), X-Force v.3 (2008-Current)
CREATED BY: Chris Claremont & Sal Buscema

Warpath makes my top ten because his personality is so rich and complicated. Possibly without knowing it, every successive writer has placed a new personality on the character that, somehow, has managed to only enhance his previous characterizations. Now, looking back with a critical eye, I can see the evolution of what was initially a carbon copy of a dead X-Man into a truly unique individual who is finally coming into his own and earning some respect.

The X-Force kids live in my heart. Seriously. They have their own Camp Verde right there, next to a ventricle or something. I'm not sure why, but almost half of my top ten favorite characters called Cable a mentor at one point or another. Perhaps it's because I love underused characters. How else can I rationalize loving Boba Fett and Wedge Antilles, two characters that have, maybe, 10 lines between them throughout six Star Wars films. When I started reading comics, I could see the heroes in X-Men and Uncanny every Saturday at 10 AM on Fox. Heck, Cable appeared way more than he probably should have, a result of him being a character created with pretty much every Totally Awesome Gimmick of the early '90s. The X-Forcers were a mystery to me. They had their own book, they had a history, and in the last page of the first issue I bought (#24), it looked like Magneto was going to be appearing in the next issue. Magneto! Big time! In X-Force? Who were these kids?

As I started collecting X-Force, Warpath stood out to me. He was really witty during Rob Liefeld's run on the book, making quips in the heat of battle and not much else. The inner-dialogue Fabian Nicieza gave him, though, really piled on the angst. I mean, back in the day he did try to murder Professor X for "letting" his older brother, the X-Man Thunderbird, die on his second mission. With a start like that he's always going to have some emotional problems. But the way it was balanced with wise-cracks was unheard of to me back then. After Liefeld left, Nicieza introduced Warpath's undying and unrequited love for Siryn. Warpath nursed her when she was hungover and helped her with her alcoholism. As this happened, knowingly or not, Nicieza quieted Warpath's rage and his humor. He just became a really stand-up and mature guy, all through his interaction with probably the first woman he ever loved.

Jeph Loeb's run on X-Force took Warpath in a different direction, but one that needed to happen. Adam Pollina gave him a haircut, toned down his muscle mass, and gave him (and the rest of the team) cutting edge fashion. Warpath stopped moping about Siryn, quit the team, hooked up with the mysterious mutant Risque and shirked all responsibility. For a character so defined by rage and so hung up on a woman who just wouldn't return his love, it was great to see this relationship with Risque and even better to see it blow up in his face. He loved and learned, much like people do. In real life. Comics can be like real life!

When he returned to X-Force after a brief sabbatical, he was a much more whole person. He had accepted his relationship with Siryn and put the demons of his past behind him, leading him to ditch the name Warpath for his surname for a while. Warpath became a solid team player and a supportive friend. Then Warpath gained the ability to fly and I really stopped caring. The early 2000s weren't a good time for him. Grant Morrison banished him to the Mumbai X-Corporation alongside Feral, a character that...well...had ripped Siryn's vocal chords out in front of his face a couple months prior. For a continuity nut like me, that was unreasonable.

Thankfully Ed Brubaker came along, jettisoned the ridiculous flying power, gave him back the codename Warpath, and finally made him an X-Man. Brubaker's take on the character was once more cocky and battlesmart, but also respected by his peers (including Nightcrawler and Wolverine who joined the X-Men alongside his older brother). Warpath held his own. Brubaker even remembered Warpath's friendship with Caliban from their stint on X-Force together following Caliban's death. Warpath is back home in a title called X-Force that doesn't really star the X-Force I love, but he's still being written well and treated with respect. Honestly, it's this portrayal that put him in my top ten. Before this, I seriously thought Warpath would never be viable, exciting or treated well again. Thanks to one writer's interest and dedication to making him a great character, he's now a big part of the X-Men saga. Thanks, Ed.

When I asked Billy Tan, the artist who introduced Warpath to the X-Men alongside Brubaker, to draw James Proudstar for me, he was surprised to hear that he was one of my favorite characters of all time. He has the spirit of a warrior, a mouth full of quips, and supports his friends to the very end. Sounds like a great character to me.




I hate indie music.

Shock! Truth! Zounds! Scandal! The title of this blog would have been completely inaccurate and voted "Sentence I Will Never Type/Say" if we all hopped into the wayback machine and visited an 18 year old me as he first started college. "I love indie music," I would have said before telling you all about my love for The Strokes and Interpol.

Then something happened. Something...truly chilling. Indie music got way boring.

It was easy for me to keep up with the stuff in college. I DJed at the college radio station and had access to all the new releases. My show, both solo and the ones I co-hosted, were of the indie persuasion so I, well, I played indie music. And I knew about it, oh I knew about it.

Then I moved to New York.

One would think that moving to the busiest and most important city in the country (if not the world, people, the world) would have made me a hip-happening guy with all the latest jams on his iPod and the most obscure hits in his heart. Interning at "The Late Show" got me loads of new CDs by bands I otherwise would never have listened to (The Go! Team, Hot Chip, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah) but that didn't matter. A free box at a late night talk show is nowhere near as fast as the internet.

Before I, nay, the entire country knew it, bands were popping up left and right. Every one of these bands was important, every one of them were critical darlings, and every gosh darn one of them was absolutely the hottest-most-in-thing...until they release another album, that is. Bands and artists like Aesop Rock, Bat for Lashes, Battles, Beirut, Cool Kids, Dan Deacon, Deerhunter, Jans Lekman, LCD Soundsystem, Liars, Okkervil River, Man Man, Yeasayer, Black Lips, Cut Copy, Fleet Foxes, Foals....ugh, I could just go on and on. And that's the problem! Everyone has a blog and everyone reads blogs, so everyone who goes to a show writes about every show they see, and everyone else reads these blogs about other shows and then they all trade MP3s and send mix CDs and blah blah blah it never ends. There's no filter.

I know that as a young, "hip" New Yorker I should loathe major labels and all that but, honestly, I thank them for weeding out the crap. Let's look at the late '70s. Television. Talking Heads. The Ramones. Blondie. The B-52's. Major labels snatched them up and pressed their records and, hey, that's the only way people heard them. Instead of listening to every single band that sounded just like Talking Heads and having every single one of them be praised, we just got Talking Heads and never got to hear the second rate copies. Now, thanks to the blogs/the internet, we get EVERY. SINGLE. BAND. that sounds like the Talking Heads. Do we really need Grizzly Bear, Man Man and Yeasayer when only one will do? My Brightest Diamond when we have Regina Spektor? Hot Chip, Of Montreal, LCD Soundsystem? I know I'm treading on Andy Rooney territory (please stop reading if I go off on a tangent about people carrying bags), but it's all too much.

And it's all too boring.

The kids who listen to and write about this stuff live in their Brooklyns and wear their American Apparels and work at their hip record labels. They don't eat meat and are liberal as all get out. And the music they listen to? Well...it's...um, well it's quite boring. Whispered chants, guitars that will blow away with the slightest gust of air, sparse drums, it's the lightest of flower power folk dressed up like The Ramones. Back in my day, indie rock had some gusto, some flair, and lots of attitude. Hate on them all you want, but The Strokes are much more charismatic and rock and roll than anyone in Vampire Weekend. I guess I'm simple minded, but I need my songs loud, fast, and insanely catchy, three things that used to go hand in hand with indie rock.

I've been trying to find new bands lately by downloading anything on Stereogum and, well, it's made me quite depressed. I've listened to the songs, okay, and Deerhunter, Islands, Les Savy Fav and Dirty Projectors blow. And for all the hype, there is nothing fun or enjoyable about half of Arcade Fire's songs and nothing really exciting about LCD Soundsystem.

That's my opinion.

Suck on it, Pitchfork. Your Top 100 songs of 2007 was way lame.


It's never too soon.

I usually start thinking about Halloween in the summer. Not the candy, which I think about and consume daily (I had a whole big bag of Peanut Butter M&Ms for breakfast!). Not the dancing/partying, which is fun but done to celebrate things other than Halloween. Nope, I start thinking about my costume. Yeah, I could wear my costumes at other times during the year since most all of them are in the comic book realm. It's just, well, I work at comic conventions and approaching Peter David for an interview while dressed as Madrox the Multiple Man just...seems...odd. So yeah, Halloween is my one chance to go costume crazy.

Before I reveal my 2008 Halloween costume, here are some from years past. And yes, my Mom helped.

Nightcrawler (2000)

P. Diddy (2001)

Charles Nelson Reilly (2002)

Austin Powers (2003)

Fred Schneider of the B-52's (2004)

Tim Canterbury from the UK "Office" (2004)

Han Solo (2004)

Peter Parker (2005)

A member of The Hives (2006)

Multiple Man (2007)

I've decided to do another X-Men costume, of course. This time I'll be doing the original X-Men school uniform, as worn by the New Mutants. And since I'm not blond or Brazilian or, um, a lady...I will be myself as a member of the New Mutants.

This costume is going to be tight. Literally.