June 22, 2024

Gabbing Geek

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Slightly Misplaced Comic Book Heroes Case File #35: Darwin

Evolved past the need for body hair!
Evolved past the need for body hair!

For many years, the X-Men had the backstory that the original team, minus Beast as he was with the Avengers at the time, went on a mission to the mysterious island of Krakoa and disappeared.  Cyclops escaped and he and Professor Xavier put together a new team of mutants who went back to Krakoa and rescued the captured X-Men, making a new team that would go on to become Marvel’s biggest book.

More recently, a retcon came in.  There had been for years talk of a third Summers brother after Cyclops and Havoc, and finally, that story was coming out.  The third went by the codename of Vulcan, and he was part of a brief X-team that attempted a rescue of the original X-Men from Krakoa.  That team appeared to die, and the distraught Cyclops was so upset that Professor X wiped his memory of this second X-Men team before sending out the familiar team that included Colossus, Wolverine, Storm, and Nightcrawler.  Vulcan had managed to survive and came back much later very powerful and evil, but how?

Well, we can thank Darwin for that.

Armando Munoz was his actual name, and he had the most…interesting mutant power possible.  Basically, Darwin can’t seem to die.  Oh, I am sure theoretically it could happen.  It happened in the movie X-Men:  First Class when he, I dunno, overestimated his powers against Sebastian Shaw.  He probably shouldn’t have, but that may be getting a bit ahead of myself.

See, Darwin’s mutant power was something called “reactive evolution”.  If Darwin was in a situation where something was maybe killing him, his body would instantly evolve into a higher form that, well, couldn’t die that way.  He’d grow gills if he was underwater.  His body would either let him survive in the vacuum of space or somehow get him out of it.  He’d be bulletproof if shot at.  Basically, Darwin’s body would adapt very quickly to keep him alive.

Except of course in that movie I mentioned above.

That was more or less how Darwin survived Krakoa, to say nothing of Vulcan.  When Krakoa the living island attacked that X-Men team, two of the four new members died, and Darwin’s body converted into energy that was absorbed by Vulcan, keeping both of them alive.  When Cyclops returned with another new X-Men team, none of them knew Darwin and future galactic despot Vulcan were still alive, so when the island got shot into space, it took them with it.

Vulcan would turn up later, and Beast would manage to extract Darwin and he’d live, because this wasn’t the movie version where the black guy dies first.

For a series with an anti-racism theme going on, they sure did screw that one up.
For a series with an anti-racism theme going on, they sure did screw that one up.

OK, let’s be fair:  Darwin was the only member of the X-Men to die in that movie.  The rest, even the ones who switched sides, all managed to walk away in the end…metaphorically in the case of Professor X, but you get the idea.

Now, just because Darwin will survive didn’t mean the power was predicable.  During the World War Hulk storyline, Darwin was among the mutants who attacked the Hulk to defend Professor X.  Darwin didn’t stay in the fight long…because his powers teleported him a couple miles away.  Apparently, his mutant power determined that the only way Darwin would survive that attack would be if he were no where near the Hulk.  Hulk was really, really mad that day.

Darwin was last seen joining the X-Factor team, a team of mutant private investigators under the leadership of Jamie Madrox.  That was something of a stroke of genius when you consider who joined at the same time, namely Longshot.  The two were basically opposites, and not because of Longshot’s glorious blonde mullet.

Longshot and Darwin
Longshot and Darwin

Longshot, of course, had powers based off the idea he was very lucky.  In order for Darwin’s powers to kick in, he had to be having bad luck.  That didn’t help Darwin’s self-esteem much.  Neither did his dad selling him to some genetics lab, but at least he was still alive.  And hey, he did get out of there and stayed with X-Factor for a while, so we can continue to say that Darwin survives.

That’s him in the shadows of Strong Guy. Yes, his hero name was Strong Guy. Oh man, I think I see a future column coming…

Well, he’ll survive outside the movies.