Back Issues — ‘Gifted:’ All in the X-Family

Series draws on characters familiar, obscure

The world of the X-Men returned to the small screen Monday with the premiere of “The Gifted” on Fox.

Neither the X-Men, nor their adversaries, the Brotherhood of (Evil) Mutants, are expected to appear — at least early on — but the show will feature multiple characters from the comics.

Perhaps the biggest name is Polaris, aka Lorna Dane. This green-haired mutant was one of the earliest recruits to the X-Men after the original five (Cyclops, Angel, Beast, Iceman and Jean Grey, aka Marvel Girl).

With her magnetic powers, it was believed early on she was the daughter of Magneto, the X-Men’s arch-nemesis. That turned out to be false — until it was later revealed she actually was Magneto’s offspring and he had hidden the connection and erased her memories of the manifestation of her powers, which resulted in the plane crash that killed her parents.

Polaris was romantically linked for years with Cyclops’ brother Havok, who has appeared in some of the X-Men movies and, based on that timeline, died before this version of Polaris was born. The new character Eclipse may be taking Havok’s place on “The Gifted.”

In addition to the X-Men, Polaris served alongside Havok on the government-sponsored mutant team, X-Factor, and later led a new iteration of that group when it was relaunched by the private Serval Industries. She’s also struggled with mental illness, something that will likely be explored in the TV series.

On the show, Polaris is part of an underground network trying to keep mutants safe from an overzealous government agency.

Working with her is Thunderbird, who in comics joined the X-Men at the same time as Wolverine, Storm, Colossus and Nightcrawler. The super-strong Apache didn’t make it through the team’s second mission, however, dying while trying to prevent the villainous Count Nefaria from escaping.

Thunderbird’s mantle was later picked up by his younger brother, James, who joined X-Force and later the X-Men as Warpath.

Warpath appeared in the “Days of Future Past” movie, alongside Blink, another mutant on “The Gifted.” In the comics, Clarice Ferguson sacrificed herself to save a group of young mutants from the Phalanx, alien hybrid mutant-hunters gone out of control. It was later revealed she survived the encounter and was manipulated into attacking the X-Men.

In the time-travel-mishap-spawned “Age of Apocalypse” storyline, Blink was a full-fledged X-Man, having honed her teleportational powers while trying to protect the world against the titular villain. She later led the dimension-hopping Exiles team.

The centerpiece of “The Gifted” is the Strucker family, whose children, Lauren and Andy, are mutants. At first, it seemed they were new characters, but that surname has a history.

Andrea and Andreas von Strucker were the twin children of Nazi/Hydra higher-up Baron Strucker, who had a brief appearance in “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” They have been low-level villains popping up in the Marvel Universe whenever some generic bad guys were needed.

Their powers include flight and firing plasma blasts, but only when they are in physical contact. That isn’t reflected on the show, where the kids each have telekinesis-like powers.

In the comics, the twins operate under the name Fenris. In his first appearance on the show, Andy is seen sketching a large, black wolf, apparently the Fenrir wolf (sometimes referred to, especially in Marvel Comics, as Fenris) of Norse mythology.


Recommended Reading

* Giant-Size X-Men #1, X-Men #94-95 – Thunderbird joins the X-Men, but doesn’t survive the experience, falling in his second mission with the team.

* All-New X-Factor Vol. 1: Not Brand X – Polaris leads a new- corporate-sponsored iteration of the X-Factor team.

* Exiles Vol. 1: Down the Rabbit Hole – Blink leads a team of inter-dimensional troubleshooters, most of whom are alternate versions of well-known X-Men.