Hank McCoy (Before the Fur)

So you know who I think is an awesome X-Men villain? Spiral. The only thing is? She isn’t a mutant.

Yeah, I know, she has six arms and is constantly around mutants…but nope. Not a mutant.

Maybe part of why I’m fascinated with Spiral is because she’s part of this whole block of X-Men storytelling (courtesy of Chris Claremont and Ann Nocenti, two of the greatest comic scribes Marvel has ever had, in my opinion) involving Longshot and Mojo (and even Shatterstar from X-Force for those of you playing at home) that is very bizarre and outlandish, even by X-Men standards.

Spiral’s story stars with the Mojoverse, a very obscure pocket of the Marvel Universe. The Mojoverse might be an alternate dimension, or an alternate future, or maybe both (an alternate dimension that has been around for much longer than our own so, in a sense, is in the ‘future’ relative to our time).

The point is this: one of the dominant species of this dimension, the spineless ones, slowly began to go insane after years and years of being exposed to an unknown source of energy. The spineless ones can’t stand upright (because, you know, no spine) but use technology to navigate their obese, bloated bodies around their environment. In general, this race dominates others across a myriad number of worlds- this is, in part, due to their monopoly on technology and genetic splicing.

But more than that, it’s due to their lock on the entertainment business. Turns out the energy that the spineless ones were being exposed to were television broadcasts from the Marvel Earth (Earth 616), cut up and scattered across time and space. The spineless ones witnessed these broadcasts and interpreted them as near-prophetic visions. But what if your prophetic visions involved the A-Team? Or Michael Bay produced movies? You see what I’m saying?

Over-the-top movies and TV became a sort of religion in the Mojoverse. In fact, elaborate rituals involving the near recreation of the events of television and movies became entrenched in their culture. The spineless ones ordered their scientists and followers to genetically breed ‘slaves’ with features that paralleled the sights they were witnessing. Then, these slaves would act out ‘scenes’ that the spineless ones set into motion, and the inhabitants of the Mojoverse would watch. No one is quite sure why they do it, even- it’s sort of part entertainment, part religion, part ‘the way things are done’.

It drives the economy, purpose and culture of every citizen of the Mojoverse. When work (which mostly centers around the creation of reality-tv-ish scenarions) ends, watching television begins. Mojo is a particularly nasty monarch (or ‘director’) in the Mojoverse. One of Mojo’s scientists (not a spineless one himself) named Arize decided to rebel against Mojo.

Charged with the genetic creation of slaves, Arize began to infuse his work with free will and a conscience, hoping the slaves would one day rebel against Mojo. And they did rebel. War broke out as the slaves tried to escape from captivity and Mojo’s minions went about hunting them down. The slaves even went so far as to invoke a mystic ritual which gave them extraordinary ‘luck’. This luck altered probabilities, making the best outcome possible always occur. Now, maybe this type of ability warrants some explanation.

This ‘luck’ doesn’t alter free will; that is, mortal enemies don’t suddenly behave differently because such a turn of events would be ‘the best outcome possible’. It’s more like, within the range of what IS happening, the best outcome results. So, if you get hit on the head with a big rock and it knocks you unconscious, that happens, but maybe the rock ricochets off of you and hits some important switch on said supervillain's control panel or whatever.

The point is, YES, you can get hurt with this power, it's just a much harder trick to pull off.

Enter Longshot, a mullet-haired guy and one of the few slaves that, after years of warfare, has managed to stay alive and avoid Mojo’s forces. Eventually, he gets captured only to escape again, but not before Mojo wipes clean any memory of the rebellion or understanding of his nature. Regardless, overwhelmed with a sense of dread and need to escape, Longshot splits and jumps through an interdimensional portal that lands him right in the middle of New York (Earth 616) the present (er…1985…whatever.)

Without a complete memory of the conflict that created him, Longshot wanders a little bit aimlessly. Women, of course, fall for him left and right, probably because of his ridiculous luck…or maybe the mullet. Who knows. Longshot’s list of love interests include Dazzler, Rogue, and an up and coming action movie stuntwoman named Rita Wayward, a.k.a. Ricochet Rita.

For a time, Longshot makes her acquaintance and works with her as a stuntman. Obviously, this comes pretty natural to Longshot (he was genetically bred for the role, after all) and Rita starts falling for the guy. Now, here’s where things get tragic.

First of all, Rita and Longshot get attacked by Spiral, one of Mojo’s top trackers who seems to have a particularly brutal vendetta to reign Longshot in. Spiral is skilled in sorcery and can pull off some pretty insane, action-movie-ish stunts and, when she and Longshot fight, it’s like watching an over-the-top, swashbuckling, action movie. Anyway, Rita and Longshot escape, and Longshot begins to get a clear memory of the Mojoverse. He decides to go back to the ‘verse, in order to free his slaves. Rita, out of love, offers to go with Longshot. So what happens?

THEY LOSE, and Longshot gets captured and mindwiped, AGAIN. Only this time, it isn’t just the slaves he forgets about- it’s Rita too. Longshot then gets sent by Mojo back to Earth 616. While Longshot thinks he’s escaping, this time, Mojo is putting a complicated plan in motion to pick up new ‘actors’ and ‘ideas’ for television. The X-Men become huge, huge icons in the Mojoverse.

Meanwhile, Rita is tortured and enslaved for years (time might flow differently in the Mojoverse as opposed to our world- not sure). Rita gets extreme body modifications, including six arms and some unnaturally enhanced strength and gets mindwiped to believe that she has been, and always will be, a loyal servant of Mojo dedicated to finding and detaining Longshot. Rita is Sprial.

So when Rita first fought Spiral, in which she first learned about the Mojoverse, she was fighting herself (which is why I commented earlier that the Mojoverse might actually be a ‘future’ relative to ours…weird). Get it? It’s a spiral- there’s no clear start or end, cause and effect…the reason Rita went to the Mojoverse was because of herself.

What I’ve written here is just the tip of the iceberg for Spiral. She’s extremely dangerous and her motivations are often complex. What I love about her is the conflict in why she does what she does. Sometimes she’ll seem crazed and psychopathic; other times there’ll be this strange hint of sadness, like a kid who wants to be taken care of. It’s like there’s this faint memory of Rita in there, but it’s buried so deep it might never get out.

My favorite thing about Spiral? Somehow, mystically, she knows whenever you speak her name. So whenever someone in the Marvel U. says ‘Spiral’, somewhere, she’s aware of who said her name and where they are. Creepy…