Friday, August 14, 2015

X-men Supreme Reflections: James Proudstar PREVIEW!

Throughout the history of X-men, there have been characters that have had the potential to be awesome, but not the opportunity. Oftentimes, those characters are stuck in the shadows of others. It used to be that characters like Jubilee and X-23 were indelibly linked to Wolverine’s story. Over time, they managed to branch out and thrive on their own accord. X-23 has just started that process in the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. In Marvel’s ongoing X-men comics, she’s taking it a step further by taking on Wolverine’s mantel. Characters like X-23 are proof that it is possible for one character to emerge from the shadow of another.

One character in particular has been stuck time and again, both in Marvel’s X-men comics and in X-men Supreme. Back in X-men Supreme Issue 31: Memory Musings, I established a place for Thunderbird in this fanfiction series. His story unfolded in new directions that he never got a chance to in the comics. He was the one who trained the X-men. He helped them become what they are. However, he was unable to do this for his younger brother, Warpath. Now, like it or not, Warpath must carry on Thunderbird’s legacy in X-men Supreme.

In the comics, Warpath is one of those characters who only occasionally shows up and never gets a chance to develop. He hasn’t had a lot of chances in the X-men Supreme fanfiction series either. He first showed up in X-men Supreme Issue 71: Election Day as a less-than-willing ally of Emma Frost. Since then, I’ve hinted at bits and pieces of his persona. He’s not quite as honorable or as dutiful as his older brother. He got into his share of trouble, which put him at odds with the X-men. They have good reasons not to trust him. I haven’t had time to explore those reasons. After the death of Thunderbird in X-men Supreme Issue 124: Dark Legacy Part 4, I think it’s important to reveal just who James Proudstar is.

As such, he will be the next focus of X-men Supreme Reflections Volume 5. With the death of his brother, Warpath’s life will never be the same. Even for those who have lost their way, the death of a loved one has a way of putting things back into perspective. This is what Warpath will have to deal with as X-men Supreme continues into Volume 6. However, the burdens of his past will still follow him. I’ll be revealing some of those burdens and explore how they affect him as this fanfiction series unfolds. As always, I’ve prepared a preview that should offer some insight into what we can expect from the world of James Proudstar.

Damn it, John. Why did you have to die? Why did you have to be the good brother who did the right thing while I made an ass of myself? We’ve both screwed up plenty in our time, but at least you always did the right thing. It didn’t matter if you messed up or failed. You could always go home with a clear conscious. That’s just how you were. That’s how you always were. Since I was three years older, I always felt ahead. You had to work harder to measure up. It made you a better man and it made me a total prick.

We were both born under some pretty rough circumstances. We grew up on the Apache reservation at Cape Verde, Arizona. It’s not a hot vacation spot to say the least. It’s a desolate patch of the American Southwest that our people call home. It’s a land of poor ranchers, poor farmers, and poor everything else. Native American reservations aren’t known for being cosmopolitan and that always wore heavily on our father.

In a ways our dad had the heaviest burden of all. He was a pretty important figure in the tribe. The Proudstar family can trace its linage back to a warrior class that used to fight for the Apache people. Our grandparents were warriors. Their grandparents were warriors. As a boy I heard all sorts of stories about my ancestor’s exploits. It was said that they could tap the strength of the Great Spirit in a way no other warrior could. I wonder now if that meant they were mutants as well. Whatever the case, we were expected to follow in their footsteps.

Fate wasn’t going to make it easy. Because of my father’s high standing in the tribe, he was expected to be an effective leader. Life wasn’t getting much better for our people and a big part of that was because the chiefs everyone had placed their trust in before had found a way to mess things up. They were unable to get any aid from the government. They botched a few land deals that could have really helped us. My father was the guy everyone turned to and he wasn’t equipped to handle it. I guess that was the first sign that luck wasn’t on our side.

John and I spent must most of our early childhood on a ranch, wrestling cattle and learning the warrior traditions of our people. It was a rough life, but it got rougher the more time my dad spent trying to live up to the tribe’s expectations. He wasn’t nearly as effective as everyone wanted. Our family had a tradition of warriors, not chiefs. He started drinking to deal with his frustration. It made him pretty mean. There were a few times he slapped us around. My mother got a taste of it as well. She was the only lucky one. She died when I was seven.

That was my first taste of death and it messed me up in ways I wouldn’t understand until now. My father took it as a personal failing. What happened is my mother had been pushing herself to run the ranch on her own with limited help from the neighbors. All this time out in the hot sun wasn’t good for her skin. She developed skin cancer and it went undiagnosed. One of the many problems we had at the reservation was lousy health care. My dad had been working to improve it, but he didn’t improve it fast enough. By the time my mom was diagnosed, it was too late.

Her death marked the first conflict between me and John. Him being younger, he was closer to her. He let himself mourn. I found it easier to just swallow my sorrow and move on. That’s not a healthy way to deal with death. I would call him a sissy. We were supposed to be warriors and warriors had to be strong in the face of death. To him, sorrow was a strength. I didn’t agree. From there, it all went downhill.

I know characters like Warpath don’t have the same following as Wolverine or Storm. However, I want as many characters as possible to shine in the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. A big part of what makes the X-men great is its ability to help characters shine. It’s what allows characters like X-23, Jubilee, and Gambit to become the icons they are now. And I want to give as many characters as I can a chance to capture that spirit. As always, I strongly urge everybody to provide feedback so I can know that I’m sufficiently capturing that spirit. Either contact me directly or post your feedback right in each issue. Either way is fine and I’m always happy to chat. Until next time, take care and best wishes. Excelsior!



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