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One Brief Shining Moment

What happened? Where did everything go wrong, Northstar?

It wasn't when he came out to his country and his team, believe it or not. The whole comic was rather seminal (despite being really badly drawn) and well accepted by the public, if a little forgotten as of late. He left the team and wrote a book, not the first in the Marvel Universe to do so (Rick Jones's Sidekick, Betty Banner's Fields of Green, and Kitty Pryde's ... I know she wrote something, didn't she?) and did a book tour to talk about his life as a mutant and homosexual. So, Northstar had to come out previously on his being a mutant and competing in the Olympics and then had to come out about his sexual preference. Man's got some serious courage.

Jean Grey shows up at a book signing and asks him to come help the X-Men out and save Xavier. Remeber when they used to do that? Yeah. End of the day, they ask him to stay and, seeing the opportunity to mentor awkward kids like he used to be and remembering all the help Raymonde Belmonde provided to him, he took a job as a teacher. This is great. He's an X-Man now, rubbing around in shades and an modified uniform (the original is rather stylish), and was a rather high profile guy.

Chuck Austen did a lot of things in his run that a bunch of people never really enjoyed (myself included as he tore down a lot of the building up of Lorna Dane that had come before), but he managed to treat Northstar fairly decently. He had a crush on Bobby Drake, leading to internet fangirl squeeing of epic proportions, but it didn't immediately make Bobby gay or Northstar something pervvy. He became a good friend to Austen's Single Mom of the Week, became a counselor over on New X-Men: Academy X and it seemed like an openly gay character was getting some good panel time in a Marvel Comic.

Then Wolverine went nuts thanks to HYDRA and went to the X-Mansion. While the team and teachers were out looking for him, the berserker attempted to stab Kitty Pryde who phased out of the way. Not so much for Northstar, who took the shot in the gut, impaling him on a tree, and died. A punk way to go, but the start of things to come for the New X-Men.

Boy do I wish it ended there. So, apparently Elixir managed to heal Northstar's wounds but could not revive him. Since I don't have the issue and am going on second hand info, I'm going to assume this means that he's not in a coma, but really dead without puncture wounds. Because, you have to understand, SHIELD wanted to decapitate him. SHIELD showed up because of the Wolverine Thing(tm) and I guess thought it their business to tell the X-Men what to do with their dead. The X-Men say no, we'd rather contact his family (so, what.... Aurora? Raymonde? I don't think he really talked to the Martins all that much...) and then Electra shows up and steals the body for HYDRA.

Man can not catch a break.

HYDRA does the same brainwashing technique they used on Wolverine (see previous stabbing) and make him one of their new assassins. And give him some Harajuku kids too; it worked for Gwen Stefani. He runs around and targets a bunch of close-minded homophobes for terrible death. He tells Wolverine that he had to take pills because he was so miserable teaching at Xavier's. Then he tells one of his new minions to put on some music to make him feel 'mad and nasty'. Thankfully, after an obscene amount of monologing villainy from Northstar, Wolverine punches him out.

From here, SHIELD comes back and probably does an I Told You So about that decapitating thing. Though Nick Fury himself tells Kitty Pryde he has no idea what happened to Northstar, they apparently had him in a deprogramming thingamabob in the last issue of Mike Carey's X-Men. Wolverine's mind is a CDR apparently, while Northstar is a little harder to deprogram, requiring complicated headsets and weird mental landscaping. A brand new Evil Group has sprung him out and are reprogramming him for more evil.

At least he has his sister back.

For one brief shining moment, Northstar was a prominent member of the X-Men, one of the most high-profile superteams in comics. He was openly gay, but it wasn't his entire personality. He came from a lot of heavy situations and was stronger for them. He was a good role model for kids.

And now he's being used..

Well, let's see where this goes.

Comments (4) Trackbacks (1)
  1. I was actually cool with Northstar as a member of Austen’s Uncanny X-Men. He was kind of a smart-ass, but an intelligent one, unlike Iceman, who played the brain-damaged Guy Gardner (which I also liked).

    As for his resistance to SHIELD reworking his brain, I figure there are two things. One, he had died and been brought back, Hand style, which I’d imagine screws with you a bit. Two, Wolverine didn’t actually finish being deprogrammed, and all he did after he was released was kill a bunch of people, which is what he did after HYDRA got him, and what he did before. Northstar doesn’t have that track record, so one might argue that he resisted the treament, feeling this was his punishment for killing for HYDRA. Which wouldn’t explain what’s going on in X-Men, but I’m coming up with this as I type, so it’s bound to have some holes.

  2. Yeah, I have to admit, ntohing screams in my brain when I think of Austen’s Northstar, so I’m figuring he was handled well and brought really into his own with a great idea to get him as a role model/teacher for young mutants. Like Spider-Man being a teacher, these are very easy jobs to look up to, kind of cementing them as heroes. At least, for me.

    And as for two, isn’t it funny how hard we work to try and resolve these things that the writer is paid good money to do for us? I’m nervous about this whole ‘and now he’s brainwashed! Again! Different this time!’ when I just want to see the guy pre-Wolverine-stabbing again. That guy was cool. That guy had some stories in him. Making an all new, all darker version just gets old after awhile.

  3. Noirthstar has apparently become the Marvel equivalent of Cassandra Cain.

  4. Northstar is not allowed to be happy. It’s a Rule. There are perhaps three panels in existence in which he is seen to smile non-ironically.

    He tells Wolverine that he had to take pills because he was so miserable teaching at Xavier’s.

    I liked this, because Northstar’s always had a depressive streak — so much so that during the second volume of Alpha Flight, he attempted suicide after being separated from Aurora. I had been toying with a fanfic idea in which he came to realise he was clinically depressed and left the X-men to look for Aurora for quite a while when the issue where he mentions pill-popping came out; it was uncanny, as if Mark Millar had been reading my mind. (Though his Jean-Paul is more bitter and less melancholy than mine.)

    Though Nick Fury himself tells Kitty Pryde he has no idea what happened to Northstar, they apparently had him in a deprogramming thingamabob in the last issue of Mike Carey’s X-Men.

    Yeah, we saw that in Wolverine as well. The difficulty in deprogramming him is interesting, and I can think of two possibilities: 1) Northstar was never a violent man, so to make him into a killer they needed to deconstruct his mind far more thoroughly than they did with Wolverine; or 2) he never had much of a sense of purpose, and HYDRA gave him one, which he has clung to for fear of going off the rails the way he did pre- and post- suicide attempt. Or possibly both.

    Then there is the issue of why Fury lied, but I don’t expect an answer to that any time soon.

    I actually really liked his appearance in X-Men #189: he’s being written better than he has been for ages. True, he’s playing the villain, but he’ll get over it. He gets to kick ass and make speeches about death! And he’s back with Aurora! (I do believe that those two are never, ever going to “work” in any way if they’re separated. Again and again they get split up and put into different stories, but too much of their personalities and identities are tied up with each other. They need to be together, both in-story and on a metafictional level.)

    (Sorry for the long comment, by the way — Northstar is a character I love with an unholy passion, so I felt the need to give my two cents. He’s a frustrating character to read about, because he’s difficult to write well, and that has nothing to do with his sexuality and everything to do with his personality. A good writer who cared enough and had done his/her homework could make him a very viable prominent hero. But it would take a lot of work.)

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