<i>by George Marston, Newsarama Contributor</i> <p>Given the soap opera style of the X-Men, it's not surprising that allegiances come and go, characters evolve and change sides, and surprise betrayals run rampant. When the number of active mutants was dramatically reduced with Marvel's <i>House of M</i> crossover, the lines between heroic and villainous mutants became even more blurry, with so many mutants changing sides so often that it would almost be impossible to list them all here. <p>It's a trend that's continuing with the very latest in Marvel releases, down to the perceived turn to the villainous side of the <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/comics/cable-and-x-force-hopeless-space.html><i>Cable and X-Force</i> squad</a>, to the time-displaced teen Angel <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/comics/spoiler-sport-uncanny-x-men-4.html>leaving his teammates to join Cyclops</a> at the new Xavier School last week in <i>Uncanny X-Men</i>. <p>In the history of the X-books, there have been turns that were especially shocking and impactful both for the other characters and for fans. Here, we'll take a look at 10 of the most surprising, significant, or otherwise important mutant turncoats in the history of the X-Men. <p><i>Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's <a href=http://www.facebook.com/Newsarama><b>FACEBOOK</b></a> and <a href=http://twitter.com/newsarama><b>TWITTER</b></a>!</i> <p>
Though the iron-skinned Russian mutant Colossus was the heart of the X-Men for years following their reformation in <b>Giant-Size X-Men #1</b>, after his sister Illyana died of the Legacy virus and his parents were murdered, the strain proved too much, and Colossus joined Magneto's Acolytes, turning his back on his fellow X-Men. <p>Colossus's stay with Magneto was short lived, as he eventually left to join his longtime paramour Kitty Pryde in <i>Excalibur</i>. Colossus would, however, choose to take on the power of the Juggernaut, turning him towards a dark path that culminated when he absorbed a portion of the Phoenix Force. With the Phoenix Force gone, Colossus has recently allied himself with Cable and his X-Force in the latest step on his path to find his place.
Sunfire's allegiances have changed several times over the years. Originally, the nuclear-powered mutant found himself at odds with the X-Men when he attacked the United States aiming to enact vengeance for the dropping of atomic bombs on Japan. Shortly thereafter, he joined the X-Men when the original team was taken hostage. Again, his initial stay with the X-Men was short-lived, though he remained a hero for many years afterwards. <p>After permanently losing his powers to Rogue, and having his legs severed by Lady Deathstrike, Apocalypse enticed Sunfire into becoming his Horseman of Famine with the promise of returning his legs and his full powers. Despite a change of heart, it was too late, and Apocalypse subsumed Sunfire alongside fellow former X-Men Gambit and Polaris. Gambit and Sunfire eventually joined the Marauders, clashing with the X-Men several times before both were converted back to normal. Sunfire has most recently joined the Avengers Unity Squad in <i>Uncanny Avengers</i> as an attempt to foster human/mutant relations and atone for his time as a villain.
Gambit had a troubled upbringing. Raised among thieves and manipulators in the New Orleans's famous French Quarter, Gambit was rarely out of trouble before, and even after joining the X-Men. In fact, in his younger days, he found himself indebted to the mad geneticist Mr. Sinister, a debt that Sinister collected by forcing Gambit to assemble a team of evil mutants who, unbeknownst to him, were given access to the Morlock tunnels, where these Marauders slaughtered hundreds of the malformed mutants. <p>Though he was able to conceal this fact and earn some redemption as an X-Man, after many years with the team, the energy-channeling Gambit, along with fellow former X-Man Sunfire, was seduced into becoming one of Apocalypse's horsemen (Gambit, specifically, was Death). Even after Sunfire helped Gambit break Apocalypse's control, Mr. Sinister once again called upon his former pawn, with Gambit joining the Marauders he once helped assemble. After battling the X-Men alongside the Marauders in pursuit of Hope, the "Mutant Messiah," Sinister was seemingly slain. With his hold on Gambit broken, Gambit began regretting his actions, and embarked on a path of discovery that has recently led him back to X-Men.
Bishop was an energy-manipulating mutant from a future where mutants were persecuted and hunted. Traveling back in time to prevent a traitor from destabilizing and disbanding the X-Men, Bishop spent years among the team as one of their most stalwart members, always on the lookout for the traitor who would endanger the team and cause the future from which he hailed. <p>When Hope, the so-called "Mutant Messiah" was born, Bishop realized that in order to prevent the future he dreaded, he had to kill her. In his first attempt, he almost killed Professor X. After chasing Cable, who was serving as Hope's mentor and guardian, through the timestream, Bishop finally caught up with the pair, killing Cable before being stranded in the far future by Hope. Bishop recently found his way back to the present to menace <i>Uncanny X-Force</i>.
Wolverine has had many roles and many affiliations in his long, varied life. Though he's best known as an X-Man, he's also been a secret weapon, an assassin, an operative of the Canadian government, and even a Horseman of Apocalypse many of these things while still technically with the X-Men. <p>After Magneto stripped the unbreakable adamantium from Wolverine's bones, he was without it for several years until Tyler Dayspring, the son of Cable and heir apparent to Apocalypse reapplied it, brainwashing him and forcing him to serve as the Horseman of Death. Though he eventually broke Dayspring's mind control, he was later brainwashed again by Hydra and the Hand, who used him as an assassin before their control, too, was broken.
Rogue began her costumed career as a member of a version of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants led by Rogue's adoptive mother Mystique, a mutant whose allegiances have also changed numerous times. After Rogue used her energy-sapping powers to permanently absorb the abilities and memories of Carol Danvers (then known as Ms. Marvel), it was not long before Rogue abandoned her villainous ways to join the X-Men. <p>Though Rogue's allegiance to the X-Men has rarely faltered since joining the team, her willingness to abandon the Brotherhood has been one of the most significant turns in the history of the X-Men. Since joining the team, Rogue has grown from a junior member to one of the most powerful and respected X-Men, even leading numerous versions of the team over the years. Now, she's a member of the <i>Uncanny Avengers</i>, and will be a main character in Brian Wood and Olivier Coipel's upcoming <i>X-Men</i> series.
As the White Queen of the villainous Hellfire Club and the founder of a school that rivaled Xavier's including the formation of the Hellions, an ill-fated team of young mutants to take on the X-Men -the psychic Emma Frost spent years as one of the X-Men's most dangerous and manipulative enemies. Frost was later rendered comatose in battle, and, as per the stipulations in her living will, control of her Massachusetts based school was transferred to Professor X, who soon populated it with a new team of novice mutants. <p>Upon regaining consciousness, Frost realized that Xavier's methods were more beneficial and effective for young mutants, and she resumed her role as headmistress of her Academy. Eventually, Frost completed her reformation by joining the X-Men, though her behavior was no less manipulative than before. Seducing Cyclops, leader of the X-Men, Frost effectively lured him away from his longtime paramour Jean Grey. After Grey's death, Frost and Cyclops's relationship became the core of the X-Men's community, and when the Phoenix Force returned to Earth, Frost was among the mutants granted a portion of its power. Now, with the Phoenix Force gone, and her powers disrupted in its wake, Frost is no longer Cyclops' lover, though she remains a trusted member of his splinter group of X-Men.
As the first student of the Xavier School and the heir apparent to Professor X's legacy, the energy-wielding Cyclops was not just the heart, but the leader of the X-Men for nearly the team's entire history. Even in the periods where he was inactive or missing from the team's roster, Cyclops' example served as the guiding light of Xavier's philosophy. When Xavier was no longer able to lead the X-Men, Cyclops assumed his role as the patriarch of mutant society, moving the team to San Francisco, and eventually manufacturing a sovereign island, Utopia, to serve as a home for all mutants, and becoming a leader so compelling and competent that even Magneto, the former arch-enemy of the X-Men, vowed to follow him. <p>All of that changed when the Phoenix Force returned to Earth. Almost obsessed with possessing and controlling the cosmic entity that once inhabited his late lover, Jean Grey, Cyclops battled against the Avengers before becoming one of five mutants to be imbued with the power of the Phoenix Force. After subsuming the power of the other four mutant hosts and becoming nigh-omnipotent, Cyclops, not in control of his own actions, slew his former mentor Professor X. When the Phoenix Force was finally defeated, Cyclops became a fugitive, founding his own school to carry on his somewhat skewed version of Xavier's legacy.
Almost more than any other X-Man, the winged Angel has gone back and forth in allegiance. Angel was not only one of the five founding X-Men, but he was also the first to be captured and transformed by the villainous Apocalypse. After his wings were amputated and his private jet was sabotaged, Apocalypse offered Angel a new pair of metal wings, brainwashing him and transforming him into Archangel, the Horseman of Death. Even after Apocalypse's control was broken, Angel remained in his Archangel form with metal wings which often drove him towards murderous blood lust. <p>He returned to his original form when a previously latent healing factor kicked in, re-growing his original wings. This was not the end, however, as the Archangel entity lay dormant inside him, held at by with psychic therapy for many years until finally breaking free in a battle with the Shadow King. After this, Archangel ascended to replace the long dead Apocalypse in trying to remake the world. In expunging the Archangel, Angel's mind was wiped, erasing his history, his personality, and all his memories. <p>In a twist, the teenage Angel was recently brought to the future along with the other founding X-Men. Depressed and feeling lost upon discovering his future, the young Angel left his teammates to join the adult Cyclops's splinter group of X-Men.
For decades, Magneto was the archnemesis of the X-Men, standing against them not just physically, but ideologically as well. As the former friend and associate of Professor X, Magneto shared a twisted version of Xavier's dream, struggling not for equality with humankind, but superiority over them. With such deep-seated differences, it seems almost impossible that the scourge of the X-Men would change sides and join their ranks, but it's now happened several times. <p>The first time Magneto joined the X-Men, it was after he almost killed a young Kitty Pryde in battle. Joining his former enemies in battle against the anti-mutant hate group the Purifiers, Magneto gave up his world-conquering ways. <p>After several periods of alliance with the X-Men while Professor X was out of commission, Magneto eventually returned to his villainous behavior. Most recently, Magneto rejoined the X-Men when Cyclops became the leader small number of mutants who retained their powers after Magneto's daughter, the Scarlet Witch, used her reality altering powers to attempt to eliminate the X-Gene, rendering many mutants inert. Believing that Cyclops could strike the balance between mutants and humans, Magneto pledged himself to him. <p>Magneto continues to follow Cyclops's leadership among his new, splinter group of X-Men in <I>Uncanny X-Men</i>, though Cyclops' distant, proactive philosophy on protecting the newly re-burgeoning mutant population hews dangerously close to Magneto's own philosophy.