By Saren 35 Comments
This is my first attempt at a blog of this kind, so if there are errors or gaps in continuity, please forgive me. Thanks.
Comic books really run the gamut as far as superhuman abilities go. Superman has his strength, Flash has his speed, Thor has his lightning and thunder. Even the lack of powers isn't a detriment to being a superhero: Batman is the pinnacle of human perfection and Iron Man's cutting-edge tech makes him one of the most invaluable members of the Avengers. But there's one power that reigns over all the others: the power to bend the fabric of reality itself to your will, to defy the laws of nature, to create worlds that are only limited by your imagination. Reality warpers reign supreme in the comic book world, there's no single ability that beats them. But the majority of reality warpers aren't nigh-omnipotent gods and goddesses living out their fantasies in a world of their making. Quite a few of them struggle to keep their very sanity intact, and are mistrusted and vilified by the people around them. Let's take a look at some of them:
Wanda Maximoff/"Scarlet Witch"
The daughter of Magneto and sister of Quicksilver and Polaris, Wanda was born a mutant with the power to twist probabilities in her favor. The circumstances of her birth led to the development of an additional power: the ability to wield Chaos Magic. The combination of these two abilities, along with the presence of a mysterious entity called the Life Force, resulted in Wanda being able to warp reality on a massive scale, damaging the structure of the omniverse itself.
When she believed her children to be lost to her, Wanda sank into a deep depression. An unfortunate quip on her ambitions of motherhood from a drunken Janet Van Dyne led to Wanda seeking out her mentor Agatha Harkness, demanding to know the truth about her missing children. When Harkness proved unwilling to help her, Wanda snapped, killing her on the spot. She then waged war on the Avengers, which resulted in the deaths of both Vision and Hawkeye. She was eventually defeated by Dr. Strange.
Still, the problem remained. What to do with the unstable, unbelievably powerful young mutant? As Charles Xavier stated "If word got out that a mutant with the power to alter reality had gone insane, it would send human-mutant relations back to the stone age." After heated debates, the Avengers arrived at the only possible conclusion: Wanda's existence was a danger to the world. She had to die.
Her brother Pietro, overhearing this, rushed to Wanda's side and persuaded her to prevent her execution with one last warp: creating the "House of M" reality, where mutants were the dominant species on Earth, ruled by Magneto. Eventually a small group of heroes, led by Wolverine, saw through the fake reality and came face to face with the now completely unstable Wanda. After seeing her brother nearly die at her father's hands, the enraged and grief-stricken Wanda uttered three words that changed the Marvel Universe for ever: "no more mutants".
In one fell swoop, over 90% of the mutant population lost their abilities, an event that the media dubbed "M-Day". A species that once numbered into the millions was reduced to near-extinction. It would not be a stretch to say that the X-Men's history can be divided into two periods: pre M-Day and post M-Day. Wanda has since made her return in the miniseries "The Children's Crusade", seeking to atone for her sins by restoring powers to the mutant victims of M-Day. But her road to redemption is far from smooth: Cyclops, along with most of the world's remaining mutants, considers her actions to be nothing short of genocide, and Wolverine has sworn to kill her the first chance he gets. Only time will tell what lies ahead for Wanda.
"Even when you get what you want, you're still this horrible man. We're not the next step. We're not gods. We're freaks! Look at us, daddy! We're freaks! Mutants! You chose this over us and you ruined us! Daddy... No more mutants."
-Wanda Maximoff, House of M #7
Sir James Jaspers/"Mad Jim Jaspers"
The name really says it all. When he was first encountered in the Earth-238 reality, Jaspers was doing what all good politicians in search of power do: eliminating the competition. In his case, a successful campaign to outlaw all superhuman activities. Once there was no one left to stand in his path, the madman unleashed the Jasper's Warp, that ripped apart and rewove the fabric of reality in the entire universe over and over again, seeking to rebuild reality in his own insane image. These actions resulted in the infection and deterioration of the universe. To stop the Jasper's Warp from spreading out of the Earth-238 reality, that entire universe was destroyed, along with Jaspers himself.
But in a cruel twist, it was revealed that the mainstream 616 reality's Mad Jim Jaspers was even more powerful than his Earth-238 counterpart. This Jaspers was powerful enough to wreak havoc on the omniverse itself, and his insanity seemed to match his might. He unleashed a deadlier version of the Jasper's Wave on reality, and the battle to end his madness took off. He was eventually killed when the Fury teleported him to an inter-universal void, where he was powerless since there was no reality to warp.
Unfortunately for the omniverse, he was resurrected by the Scarlet Witch's House of M warp, though it remains to be seen if he is still as deadly as he once was.
"Hello, I'm Jaspers. Jim Jaspers. Mad Jim Jaspers. Actually, you can call me 'Mad'. Ha ha ha ha ha ha! I made you. I made everything, actually. I made the sky. I made the tiger and the lamb... I put the bop in the bop shebop shebop and the ram in the rama lama dingdong! I made the stars and the cockroaches...the trees, the winklepicker shoe... Well, I don't remember making that!"
-Mad Jim Jaspers
The eldest brother of Psylocke, everyone's favorite telekinetic/telepathic ninja, Jamie is unique among mutants in that his special abilities didn't manifest at puberty, but much later as an adult. His sister and brother both wield considerable power, but they're both utterly dwarfed by Jamie's powers: he perceives reality as a web of infinite strings, and by tugging on those strings he can bend all of time and space to his will. He was tortured by Doctor Crocodile, which caused his psyche to shatter. Thus, he believes that the reality he perceives is nothing more than a dream.
His powers were originally limited: he could only affect dense forms, and needed to be in their proximity to do so. However, his powers eventually developed to the point where all such limitations were removed. His reality warping was massive in scale, limited only by his intelligence and level of insanity at the time. There are few things Jamie Braddock hasn't done: he's resurrected the dead, given people superpowers, transformed himself into shapes and sizes that allowed him to survive great damage, teleported across dimensions and universes. You name it. He died sacrificing his own life to save Psylocke's, which would indicate a happier fate than most of the other people on this list.
""Power runs deep in our family. He got the full measure. The ability to pull the quantum strings that define causality.
He got himself so tangled, he'll never twist free.'"
-Psylocke, Uncanny X-Men #464
There's a bitter irony in noting that the son of the X-Men's closest ally would become one of their deadliest enemies. Kevin MacTaggart did not have a happy beginning. He was conceived when his father Joseph savagely beat and raped his mother, Moira MacTaggart. Moira left Joseph and took Kevin with her to the Muir Island Mutant Research Center in Scotland. When he hit puberty, his mysterious mutant ability manifested, causing his body to start rapidly decaying at an alarming rate. He was filled with an uncontrollable hunger for the life-force of others. To protect the people she worked with, Moira was forced to confine Kevin in a cell with energy generators that kept her son's body from burning out.
A battle between Magneto and the X-Men resulted in damage to the cell, and Kevin was able to escape by possessing the body of another man. An encounter with the X-Men revealed Kevin's true power: he could exude massive amounts of psionic energy that allowed him to restructure his surrounding reality in any manner. The man's body began to start decaying slowly, since Kevin's energies corroded living flesh. The only solution the body-hopping psychopath could find was to possess human host bodies, one after another, including one of Multiple Man's duplicates, Ferdie Duncan, an unnamed policeman, and Jennie Banks. This process was effectively a death sentence for those possessed.
After making his way to Edinburgh and possessing the body of his father, Kevin began to call himself "Proteus", after the shape-shifting Greek god. In a final confrontation with the X-Men, it was revealed that Proteus' fragile energy structure could not withstand prolonged exposure to metal. A punch from Colossus resulted in his form being disintegrated and scattered across the world, and it was assumed that he was dead.
However, MacTaggart resurfaced once more in the "Necrosha" story arc, having possessed the X-Man Blindfold. He easily defeated a team of mutants consisting of Psylocke, Rogue, Nightcrawler, Husk and Colossus, but made the mistake of underestimating Magneto. While Kevin was taunting Magnus and showing off his incredible power, Magneto was able to destabilize Proteus' energy lattice, causing him to shatter into countless pieces.
Magnus warned that Proteus would eventually reform, which means that this isn't the last the X-Men have seen of this powerful foe.
"Possession isn't my power. It's just how I feed. My power is to shove my fist into the ribs of reality and tear out it's smoking heart."
-Proteus, X-Men Legacy #233
"And He (Jesus) asked him (the man), "What is thy name?" And he answered, saying, "My name is Legion: for we are many."
- Mark 5:9
The son of X-Men founder Charles Xavier and an Israeli diplomat named Gabrielle Haller, David suffers from a form of multiple personality disorder, where each personality has access to a different power. It's important to note that in real life, multiple personality disorder is a condition so exceedingly rare that most psychiatrists aren't in agreement on whether it even exists.
David possesses thousands of personalities with powers ranging from telekinesis to reality warping. He struggles to control them all, and if one or more of them gain control of his body they tend to embark on sprees of destruction. His initial encounters with the X-Men were turbulent: his personalities often got the better of him and wreaked havoc on the mutants. Legion is perhaps most famous for his misguided quest to redeem himself in his father's eyes by travelling back in time to kill Magneto; his actions resulted in the accidental death of Xavier and the beginning of the Age of Apocalypse. This event was averted by Bishop, who was able to travel back in time and stop David from accidentally killing his father. It seemed that David himself had died as a result of his encounter with Bishop.
He later resurfaced during the first arc of the third volume of "New Mutants", where a newly formed team was tasked with subduing him after his personalities had shoved him aside and taken control of his body. Once he was brought back under the care of the X-Men, his father gathered some of the finest minds on Marvel Earth to seek a solution to David's problem. Even so, earlier this year one of David's errant personalities pulled the entire 616 universe into a colossal warp, creating the Age of X. David took responsibility for the personality's actions, and restored reality to normal after reabsorbing her into his psyche. He's still viewed with suspicion and distrust, and understandably so. But his future seems brighter than most of the others on this list. He's regained some level of control over his powers, and has been reunited with his father.
"Oh god....this wasn't supposed to happen. I just wanted someone to fix me!"
-Legion, New Mutants #4
Why do so many reality warpers suffer from mental conditions or sociopathic tendencies? Is it because the very concept of turning reality on its head is so unthinkable that it's relegated to monsters and lunatics? Is there a perception that bending reality could only be done by people who see their surroundings through a different lens? Or am I just reading into this way too much? There are more stable warpers like Franklin Richards, but although we have seen a possible future version of him, we have yet to see what kind of man he will truly grow up to be.
Which begs the question, will we ever see a powerful reality warper who's relatively stable and well adjusted?