Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Characters I Like: Havok

I was perusing Amazon.com earlier, beefing up my "Wish List" for the upcoming holidays.  And, unsurprisingly, I have more than a few Marvel Essentials and DC Showcase Presents volumes in there.  One volume I stumbled across was Essential Classic X-Men Vol. 3, complete with this cover, and I was immediately reminded of a Character I Like -- Havok, the X-Men's favorite younger brother!

I was first introduced to Alex Summers in an old issue of Classic X-Men, although I surely cannot remember which one.  (I want to say the team was on Muir Island fighting Proteus, maybe?)  His "man of the atom" costume appealed to me for some reason, and the revelation that he, like myself, was a younger brother really sealed the deal.  His powers being visually interesting didn't hurt, and neither did his molto cool codename.  He was not nearly as popular as Nightcrawler (for my money the greatest X-Man ever, of course!), but he was always a strong second in my mind, looking at the overall X-picture.

Right around this time (the early 90s, natch) was when the X-books were "relaunched" with their new formats, including X-Factor getting it's new lineup, including Havok as the leader and main focus.  Of course, this was a no-brainer for me, as X-Factor quickly became my favorite comic book series.  Havok was way cooler than his stodgy older brother Cyclops by that point, plus he had a killer new costume, a super-babe for a girlfriend, and an all-around more entertaining team to command.  Everything was doing great in the Havok department.

Eventually, I fell out of the X-books habit, with X-Factor being the last one to go.  I still really dug Havok, but the stories at that point (the Phalanx Covenant being a major offender) were just not interesting any more and I moved onto other things.  I'd peak in on the title now and again, including picking up #124, the final issue, which pushed Havok into the alternate dimension world of Mutant X -- a title which I have always wanted to hunt down but cannot find, oddly.  Then once he came back to the X-Men proper, I'd check him out from time to time, including fighting against the Shi'ar in that big epic space opera from a few years back.

Havok is one of those second-tier characters who is just pretty solidly created and can play a lot of roles.  This is an archetype I tend to like, as it demonstrates a versatility and well roundedness which I think a lot of characters (even substantially more popular ones) lack.  Alex represents the best type of X-Men character to me, in that they are portrayed as relatively "normal" folks who happen to have mutant powers -- something which I strongly feel is necessary to get the whole "hated and persecuted" aspect down.  Alex Summers was a pretty well-adjusted guy considering his traumatic history and the fact that he could shoot plasma energy from his hands.

Add to this trait the idea of the "younger brother makes good," and it becomes pretty clear where my interest comes from.  Growing up in my brother's shadow, much like Havok did (from a metatextual perspective), I latched onto that as someone to emulate, who could make a name for himself as someone other than such-and-such's brother.  And when you are a kid, reading comic books and having big dreams, this is important, and not to be dismissed.  Yeah, he's fictional, but in the world of a pre-teen (what we'd now call a "tween") dominated by the praise and attention heaped upon your older, smarter, more successful sibling, even a fictional hero to look up to not trivial.  

This is Havok, and he is a character I like.

(Be sure to check out UncannyX-Men.net's very awesome Spotlight on Havok, where I got the picture from!)  


Diabolu Frank said...

The whole Summers clan leaves me cold, except maybe Corsair, but I don't hate Havok like I do Cyclops. If you're a fan though, I highly recommend "Mutant X." It ran when I was a retailer, and I got a lot of positive feedback on that title. It was a good book for people who were sick of the anemia of then-modern X-titles, and played like an solid extended Elseworlds/What If...? In fact, thanks in part to the Tom Raney art on the early issues, the book had a disproportionately large number of non X-fans that ended up following it until its cancellation.

Mister Bones said...

I've always liked Havok, when I read X-Men he was one of my faves. Like Frank says, Mutant X was a really good read, and I wouldn't think the issues would be all that expensive to track down.