A First Time For Everything: Cannonball

19522-3144-21793-1-marvel-graphic-novel_superMarvel Graphic Novel #4. 1982. New Mutants. It was the first time any of us saw Cannonball, and I was included in that group. Man, I remember reading that book when it came out and being so amazed.

See I grew up reading Lee/Kirby X-Men and then suddenly shifted, thanks to time and my father, to Claremont X-Men. I was upset at characters like Storm and Wolverine because they weren’t “The X-Men” they were these upstart figures in costumes that didn’t even match! It took a while to get over it. But just as I was, the New Mutants came along. It changed everything, mutant-wise, for me. Suddenly these were the characters for me. They were young, like the X-Men I loved most, and awkward and learning and wore team uniforms. They were, more than Banshee, Wolverine and so on, the heirs to the X-Men for me.

So there were a bunch of new characters to get into but two really stood out to my eye. One was Dani Moonstar. Always dug her character. The other was Sam Guthrie. Sam was all at once Peter Parker and Scott Summers. But he wasn’t Cyclops or Spider-Man. That was the draw, for me.

Here was an awkward teen who didn’t yet have a front to hide behind, or the sureness in himself to take charge. But he had all the potential to get there. He was almost a proto-Marvel character. We normally only saw them a bit later on, a bit fuller formed, but here was Sam, needing to grow into the character he would become.

He was gangly and shy and his powers… oh his powers.cannonballNM

See, he could turn on this “blasting field” and fly. Except he made a really loud racket and couldn’t turn while using his power. I adored it. Such great downsides to his powers and so perfect for this shy teen to cope with. He uses his powers he can’t be a wall flower, he has to be in your face with that huge rumble. He can’t change direction or slink back into shadow. If he comes at you – he comes at you.

And he sees the other kids in his class, Roberto, say, who is all charm and sleek powers (with their own great drawback but hey) and Sam just wants to be somewhere else. He has, to him, the worst powers and worst everything and doesn’t belong and…

And he has no “other self” to hide behind. There is no switch. He’s just horribly awkward. And yet he keeps on. He works to get better, and to be more comfortable. But at first look, man I loved the crap out of it. It had an honestly and accessibility to it that sticks with me to today.

I spent most of the 80s wanting Cyclops and Cannonball on a team together. Bro-ing out. I would still love to write that book, though I would revert Sam to the old days when he had no way to fly silent and couldn’t turn. But that’s me.

I would still, by the way, write BLASTERS – The Cannonball/Cyke road trip comic.

This is a post in “A First Time For Everything” wherein I look at my first reactions to comic book characters that have been suggested by YOU. You can go here to suggest characters for me to discuss, and to see the master list of who I’ve talked about so far.

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