If there is a theme to the X-Men and their powers, it is this: they don’t often work right. Some are basically uncontrollable as seen with Cyclops or Rogue. Others take years to master like with Storm or any telepath. And for many, it’s a nasty side effect, like Wolverine’s berzerker rages. But for many, that mutant power just makes them, in a word, ugly. Sure, it may just be a layer of fur and some weird fingers and toes like Nightcrawler, but many mutants got hit by the ugly stick when their powers manifested for the first time.
And that’s where we find Chamber. He lost half his face.
Chamber was one Jonothon “Jono” Starsmore, a young British teen whose mutant powers were the ability to expel large amounts of psychic energy from his body in explosive pulses. The ability also made him telepathic. That’s a good thing, because the initial expulsion of this energy ripped a hole through the lower portion of his face and the top of his chest. Effectively, he had no mouth and was missing a few other vital organs as a result. The telepathy thing meant he could still talk. I am hoping the whole “living psychic energy furnace” thing meant he also didn’t need to eat because I can’t figure that one out.
Jono was introduced as a member of the Generation X team, a group of younger mutants designed to not get into superhero brawls and simply learn how to use his powers much like the New Mutants before them. And just like the New Mutants before them, they got into superhero brawls. As written by longtime 90s X-Men scribe Scott Lobdell, Jono–codenamed Chamber–was probably meant to be the moody one with the tragic backstory. He was the token ugly mutant in the group. The rest of his teammates did include the not-at-all-human-looking likes of Skin and Penance, but at least those two had a full face. Skin just looked a decade or six older than he actually was, and Penance was the token attractive that all comic book females have aside from the fact she had bright red skin that was very sharp and spiky in the hair and fingers. Rounding out the team were normal-looking types going by the names of M, Jubilee, Synch, Husk, and Mondo. To be fair, both Husk and Mondo had powers that made them look creepy and weird, and Mondo was sort of a traitor or not (hard to say, really), but even then they all had all of their faces.
As it is, that lack of a face didn’t stop Jono from romancing his teammate Husk. Paige Gutherie could gain new abilities by ripping off her outer layer of skin to whatever was underneath as needed. So, I guess that makes them close. Or she just likes tortured bad boys. Either works.
As it is, Jono lucked out when the Scarlet Witch took away the powers of the majority of the mutant population following the House of M storyline. Or, he didn’t because then he suddenly had to survive missing his face and a few vital organs. Fortunately, he had a long-lost relative willing to give him a blood transfusion to save his life!
Unfortunately, that long lost relative wasn’t Wolverine or someone like that. Nah, that would have been nice.
Nope, it was longtime immortal X-Men foe Apocalypse. And the blood transfusion did restore Jono’s face and organs…with one little side effect.
Of course, this is comics, so when Professor X’s son Legion warped reality to give a bunch of X-Men their powers back in an alternate timeline, Chamber was back to his original appearance, and because there doesn’t need to be a reason beyond “Why not?” when that reality was reverted back to the right one, Chamber was one of the “lucky” mutants to have his powers back…and that hole where his lower face used to be.
Of course, the thing is that Chamber doesn’t need to have that hole for his powers to work. A smaller one works just fine, as seen in the Age of Apocalypse storyline where he just had a small hole in his chest and still had his entire face.
What does it say when your powers are only messing you up really badly if you don’t happen to be in one of those darkest possible time lines?
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Noteworthy Issues: The Amazing Spider-Man #62 (July, 1968)
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