For the third year running, Marvel Comics is offering fans a chance to elect one member of their flagship X-Men squad with their X-Men Vote campaign and polling site at marvel.com/xmenvote!
The electoral chaos of X-Men Vote began in 2021 with the announcement of the inaugural Hellfire Gala and, with it, the launch of a new flagship X-Men team penned by Gerry Duggan. It would be anchored by mainstays and fan favorites like Jean Grey, Cyclops, and Rogue, but fans could chose the final member in an expression of direct democracy.
(According to Duggan, the vote is totally unrigged by Marvel and he truly plans potential subplots for every character in the election)
There’s no superhero comics fanbase more obsessive than X-fans. X-Twitter immediately exploded with campaigning, trending X-Men around the world and driving up the votes. We wound up with Polaris on the team from that initial vote, pulling her out of Leah Williams’ X-Factor. Then, in 2022, Firestar topped the vote, pulling her out of… well, mostly out of disuse, if we’re being honest.
This year’s X-Men Vote has a list of six selections with a clear disparity between the media darlings, the fan faves, and the dark horses. Who are our six potential X-Men, and what are some of the best runs to catch up on their comics history?
Keep reading for a deep dive! And, let me know your favorite issues and runs with these characters in the comments below.
The 2023 X-Men Vote Candidates
Cannonball AKA Sam Guthrie
First Appearance: Marvel Graphic Novel (1982) #4 AKA The New Mutants Graphic Novel in September, 1982 [Marvel Unlimited]
Why You Should Vote: Cannonball has lead the New Mutants and X-Force, was one of the first students to be upgraded to the main X-Men squad in the 90s, and was a member of the Avengers World team and the USAvengers. He’s a reliable and experienced team player who brings a slice of intergalactic story potential thanks to his ex-girlfriend Lila Cheney and his current wife and co-parent, Smasher of the Shi’ar Imperial Guard.
Why You Shouldn’t Vote: Cannonball has a dull, repetitive power. How many times do we need to hear about how he’s nigh invulnerable when he’s blastin’? With him settled down with a family in the Shi’ar Empire it doesn’t feel like a positive move for his character to have him serving with the X-Men on Earth. We’ve got plenty of mutants who can fly – let’s leave this particular rocketman up in space.
Key Runs: Cannonball appears in nearly every issue of New Mutants (1983) as well as X-Force (1991) through #44 before making the jump to Uncanny X-Men with #323 (and, later, in Claremont’s X-Treme X-Men from the midway point). However, I feel like he’s equally as well-loved for a later stint with the X-Men before Messiah Complex in #188-204 and for the New Mutants relaunch in 2009 that brought Magik back into the fold. Plus, there’s also Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers and Al Ewing’s New Avengers and USAvengers!
The Reading Guides:
- New Mutants (1983) in Guide to New Mutants & Young X-Men
- X-Force (1991) in Guide to X-Force
- Uncanny X-Men (1963) #323-355 in Guide to Uncanny X-Men #281-393 – The Crossover Era
- X-Treme X-Men (2001) in Guide to X-Treme X-Men
- X-Men (1991) #188-204 in Guide to New X-Men
- New Mutants (2009) in Guide to New Mutants & Young X-Men
- Jonathan Hickman and Al Ewing’s Avengers in Guide to Avengers Flagships (2010 – present)
Dazzler AKA Alison Blaire
First Appearance: Uncanny X-Men (1963) #130 in November, 1979 [Marvel Unlimited]
Why You Should Vote: Dazzler puts a positive, popular, public relations face on the team, but she’s more than just a disco queen with dazzling light powers. Dazzler has seen it all, from fighting Doctor Doom and Galactus, to serving with the X-Men through their death and return in the Outback. She even lead her own inter-dimensional team to hunt rogue Xaviers in the wake of Avengers vs. X-Men, after which she went on to be an Agent of SHIELD! Plus, there’s a rumor that she can’t be killed (even without Krakoan resurrection)?
Why You Shouldn’t Vote: Dazzler is my favorite X-Man, but I think I can still make a case against her! Dazzler doesn’t tend to play with with the hardcore main X-Men – she’d rather be playing gigs! She’s more at home in a light-hearted book like the recent X-Terminators rather than in a full-time superhero team. Will she be willing to do what’s necessary to protect the mutant race? Also, from an in-universe angle, would Krakoans trust a former S.H.I.E.L.D. collaborator, given the current Orchis situation?
Key Runs: Dazzler’s introduction at the top of the Dark Phoenix Saga is one of my favorite single issues of X-Men, as is her later recruitment in Uncanny X-Men #214. Between the two, she has her own 42-issue series and accompanying graphic novel, which is a terrific slice of early-80s nostalgia for the entire Marvel Universe thanks to her many team-ups. Looking beyond the 80s, her run leading X-Treme X-Men by Greg Pak is a total delight that deep dives into her multi-faceted character.
The Reading Guides:
- Dazzler (1983), plus Dazzler’s complete reading order, in Guide to Dazzler
- Uncanny X-Men #130 & #214 through the outback era in Guide to Uncanny X-Men by Chris Claremont
- X-Treme X-Men (2012) in Guide to X-Treme X-Men
Frenzy AKA Joanna Cargill
First Appearance: X-Factor (1986) #4 in May, 1986 [Marvel Unlimited]
Why You Should Vote: Frenzy knows the villainous side of the mutant world well, first working as a henchman of Apocalypse and later joining Magneto as one of his Acolytes. She even served as Magneto’s ambassador for Genosha. That puts her in a unique position to understand what the X-Men are up against, as well as why mutants are hated and feared. She’s also been on side of the “good guys” on Rogue’s X-Men away team – which even lead her to become an instructor at the Jean Grey School. Recently, she is part of the command team of S.W.O.R.D. – Krakoa’s intergalactic defense agency.
Why You Shouldn’t Vote: Frenzy is an obscure character with a straight-forward power: she hits stuff. While every team needs a heavy, books have been better served when Frenzy can play a more strategic, cerebral role – which is why she fits so well with S.W.O.R.D.. From a mutant perspective, why put a reformed villain with a talent for wrestling with bureaucracy on your PR team?
Key Runs: It’s hard to isolate the best issues of Frenzy as an Acolyte, so I’d point to two runs in specific for her high points – her run in Mike Carey’s X-Men Legacy with Rogue and her recent stint in Al Ewing’s S.W.O.R.D. and X-Men Red. When a writer digs into using her for more than her strength she quickly becomes one of my favorite characters.
The Reading Guides:
- Frenzy’s debut in X-Factor (1986) #4 and time serving Apocalypse in Guide to X-Factor
- X-Men: Legacy (2008) in Guide to X-Men Legacy
- S.W.O.R.D. (2020) in Guide to X-Men – The Age of Krakoa
Jubilee AKA Jubilation Lee
First Appearance: Uncanny X-Men #244 in January, 1989 [Marvel Unlimited]
Why You Should Vote: Jubilee grew up alongside the X-Men and has been through many highs and lows with them. She was Logan’s unflinching sidekick, she got demoted from the X-Men onto a school squad, she lost her powers in M-Day, she became a vampire(!), she was a member of Storm’s tactical away team as one of the heavy-hitters, she adopted a child, and she adventured through Otherworld. Few other younger X-characters can match her resume or her humbling experiences. It feels like the right time for her to stand alongside a flagship X-team as an adult and peer.
Why You Shouldn’t Vote: Jubilee has had tons of exposure already – including anchoring two different titles in Krakoa. Does she add a unique perspective to a main squad of X-Men, or will it just turn into a lot of “hey, remember when…” nostalgia? From an in-universe perspective, Jubilee has had her chance at just about every team – including a recent run on Excalibur. Is she really the fresh perspective the X-Men need, or just a younger member of Xavier’s old guard?
Key Runs: Jubilee is in nearly every Wolverine-focused issue of the late Claremont period through Uncanny X-Men (1963) #280, including some memorable adventures with Psylocke in her new ninja body. However, I think the major read for any Jubilee fan is likely the first two years of Generation X, where she finally had time to shine by getting out of the sidekick role. Also, even though the vampire plot that begins X-Men (2010) still merits a major eyeroll, the various authors on that run and the follow-up 2013 team put her new powerset to good use. Plus, she was a credible mentor in the 2017 Generation X redux – a book that still deserves more readers.
The Reading Guides:
- Jubilee’s debut and early team-ups with Wolverine in Guide to Uncanny X-Men by Chris Claremont
- Generation X (1994) in Guide to New Mutants & Young X-Men
- X-Men (2013) in Guide t0 X-Men Flagships (2010 – 2019)
- Generation X (2017) in Guide to New Mutants & Young X-Men
Juggernaut AKA Cain Marko
First Appearance: Uncanny X-Men (1963) #12 in May, 1965 [Marvel Unlimited]
Why You Should Vote: What better advertisement for the uniting power of the X-Men than to have a flatscan… er, I mean, HUMAN on the team? Sure, Juggernaut has a checkered past full of criminal behavior and pounding on Spider-Man, but he’s also been proven to have a heart of gold when it comes to protecting young mutants. We love a dedicated ally who puts their body on the line for the cause
Why You Shouldn’t Vote: HE’S NOT A MUTANT. Yes, he’s welcome on Krakoa, but why should fans (and, ostensibly, the mutants we’re voting on behalf of) cast a ballot for a human? Unless his platonic life partner Black Tom is also on the team, I just don’t see the point. Also, do the X-Men really need Xavier’s step-brother keeping an eye on the team when they’re meant to be an independent body from the Quiet Council?
Key Runs: There are many great comics with Juggernaut, including the legendary leprechaun adventure in Uncanny X-Men (1963) #101-103. However, if you’re looking for Juggernaut in X-Men books you’ve got three main options – Chuck Austen’s Uncanny X-Men, Claremont’s New Excalibur, or his recent X-adjacent mini-series.
The Reading Guides:
- His Silver age debut in Guide to Silver Age X-Men
- His first arc with Black Tom in Guide to Uncanny X-Men by Chris Claremont
- Chuck Austen’s Uncanny X-Men in Guide to Uncanny X-Men (2000 – 2012)
- New Excalibur (2005) in Guide to Excalibur
- Juggernaut (2020) in Guide to X-Men – The Age of Krakoa
Prodigy AKA David Alleyne
First Appearance: New Mutants (2003) #4 in September, 2003 [Marvel Unlimited]
Why You Should Vote: Prodigy is a lot more than a know-it-all. His mutant ability to absorb and store knowledge makes him a double-threat when it comes to gathering intel and deploying highly-specialized skills. In the X-Men’s ongoing struggles against Orchis and the wider human world, adding a mutant whose power is intelligence is a major asset. Plus, Prodigy is relatively under-exposed as a character in the X-books even 20 years after his debut. It would be a delight to see him promoted to the big leagues.
Why You Shouldn’t Vote: Both Young Avengers and X-Factor have shown that Prodigy does a lot better on a smaller team with time to focus on human interactions rather than big action beats. The high-gloss, high-wire nature of the X-Men title just won’t put him to good use. And, from the perspective of Krakoa, he’s the nerd of the Academy X class. There are plenty of more-beloved classmates who many students would prefer to see on the team, and they are a massive voting bloc!
Key Runs: Prodigy is with Academy X at the start, and though he loses his mutant abilities on M-Day he still proves useful due to all of the know-how he accumulated already. To me, his key run is actually outside of the X-books in Young Avengers. I hesitate to recommend his recent run in X-Factor because it centered on a poorly-handled, scandalized story of him being a victim and not-quite saving himself.
The Reading Guides:
- New X-Men: Academy X (2004) in Guide to New Mutants & Young X-Men
- Young Avengers (2013) in Guide to Young Avengers
- X-Factor (2020) in Guide to X-Factor