In Defense of Adam-X

With the release of X-Men Legends #1 this week, I decided it is time to give the star of the story his due. That’s right I am going to talk about Adam-X the X-treme. He is the punchline of many comics blog circa 2005 and unjustly so. I have always wanted to mount a defense of the character back when I was writing articles focused on defending characters and such (check them out here, I guess. I may bring them into 2020’s but that\’s for another day). I never got around to doing so before I burnt out on that project. Many of my creative endeavors meet the inevitable end of my scatter brain trying to stay focused for long. Still, I do think Adam-X is kind of given the raw end by most of comic fandom.

Today, I want to offer up a defense for the most radical mutant of 1993, Adam-X the X-treme

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Backstory:

It is 1993 and the Image exodus has shaken the foundations of Marvel and DC comics. Creator-owned books began to become viable for many creators than ever before. The industry was changed for the better, but one of the weird side effects of this cataclysm was the creation of new characters. Creators would be less inclined to create a character under a freelance contract for them to not have control of the character’s publishing rights and only receive a portion of the royalties. The Big Two set to counter this problem by doing a big new character push. After all, first appearances were (and still) are the big money maker in the secondhand market and comic speculators tend to grab these comics in droves. Same logic behind the constant stream of “1st Issue!” glut that plagued comics over the past decade or more. 

In their 1993 annuals, the Big Two introduced a new character in each comic. DC comics published the Bloodlines event—a story about alien parasite creating a new generation of heroes. Marvel’s annuals didn’t have an overarching story but instead was polybagged with trading cards for the new character.  Most of these characters have been forgotten to the longboxes of the past, the quarter bins of comics yore, the flea markets that time forgot. However, there is one that remains, and that man is none other than ADAM-X THE X-TREME!

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Adam-X was developed as a character first and was designed second, according to his creator Fabian Nicieza. He was always intended to be the Third Summers Brother. The Third Summers brother was a notion introduced by Mr. Sinister in X-men #23. Nicieza has stated that he wasn’t intending to do something with that potential revelation. Instead leave it hanging as he felt that was something sinister to do.

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Well, Bob Harras (Then , X-Men Editor) thought it was a great idea and instructed Nicieza to push it. Nicieza created Adam-X to be half-human and half-Shi’ar. He was to be the product artificial breeding of Mad Emperor D’Ken and Katherine Summers (Scott and Havok’s mom). The plan was then to introduce him in the X-force 1993 Annual and reveal him to be the half-brother to Scott and Alex Summers in subsequent stories. The problem was that reveal was constantly pushed back and Nicieza would leave the X-books in 1995 before that could be cemented. Another case of a 90’s storyline thread being dropped because of the mercurial nature of Bob Harras.

Will The Real Third Summers Brother Please Stand Up?

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Instead, Ed Brubaker would go on to establish Gabriel Summers (Vulcan) as the Third Summers brother and the crowd went—meh. Vulcan was not well received but has seen a resurgence with Hickman’s Krakoa era. Adam-X could have easily slot into the role Vulcan played in the comics but there is a problem: Adam-X is largely seen as a joke character. His appearances after the mid-90’s have largely been played for laughs and his design does scream 90’s. So, Brubaker went with Vulcan—a new character with a blank slate who happens to have strong similarities to Adam-X, because after all the Third Summers brother must deal with the Shi’ar Empire given the window for their origin.

The X-treme Joke

Adam-X is an admittedly ridiculous looking character. His design is very much 90’s with the backwards cap and blades everywhere. He is totally radical and isn’t afraid to let you know that. What makes Adam-X stand out over say Bloodwraith or The Raptor is that he is iconic in his X-tremeness but also, he is/was tentatively connected to one of the greatest comic mysteries of all time—The Third Summers Brother.

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Adam-X is ridiculous, but he has untapped potential. Being a possible Summers Brother along with connections to the Shi’ar will always make him a character worth revisiting plus his powers are interesting enough to stand out. It is definitely unique compare to the other mutants out there. The issue is that he is definitely a product of this 90’s era and attempt to look cool to kids. It would take a lot of creative capital to push Adam-X to anything but joke tier.

Adam-X the Redeemed?

Adam-X is not the best character but could have easily been accepted if he was given time to evolve and adjust to the times. I mean, Shatterstar and Cable are still around, and beloved despite being cut from the same cloth as Adam-X. The difference was they were given time to grow and change directions. Adam-X was never afforded that luxury. Yet, he did try to grow. Just look at X-men #39 where we see Adam comforting an injured and near-death Phillip Summers.

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He manages to save Phillip’s life using his weird blood fire powers, but it showed growth for this loner character. He found a real connection with someone and it is a great character moment. Sadly, it isn’t expanded upon that much. He would largely disappear after this issue except as a gag character.

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That said, Adam has had some recent appearances on Krakoa and is getting his backstory resolved by Nicieza in X-men Legends. The first two issues aim to clarify Adam-X’s place in the Summer family tree. After all, Sinister hinted at there being more than 3 Summers Brothers and Fabian has been clearly on the record about this very topic for many years. One expects that Adam-X will take his rightful place on the moon with the rest of the Summers clan soon.

Adam-X may not be perfect but given the rehabilitation Vulcan has received as of late it isn’t too far-fetched for Adam-X to ascend beyond joke status to something more enduring with fans.

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Jordan Jennings

Jordan has written for wide array of comic review sites over the years including Comicosity, Comicon, and Comic Book Revolution. He has been reviewing and discussing comics for over 10 years. In addition to comics, Jordan enjoys various types of games be it video games or trading card games.

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