They want him pissed because they think he’s cooler and more interesting that way.
But first, a quick recap to get you up to speed. Last week, in Uncanny X-Men #11, Colossus fought the Red Hulk underwater in Utopia. It was your obligatory two-strong-guys-trading-blows kind of affair, but writer Kieron Gillen took us inside Colossus’ head to show us his bloodlust. Colossus has been wearing the Juggernaut’s helmet of Cyttorak for a little while, and it’s given power to his darker, brutal desires.
See the panel below.
That’s the artist formerly known as gentle giant Peter Rasputin. You longtime X-Men fans may remember him from his earlier days.
When Colossus joined the team in the 70s, in the second major wave of X-Men, he was the most innocent and sensitive member. Members included Storm, the tough-as-nails alpha female who’d been a thief in her childhood; Nightcrawler, the swashbuckling ladies’ man; Wolverine, the experienced stone cold killer; Thunderbird, the disruptive wild card; and…
Little ‘ole Petey Rasputin. He was the youngest new X-Man and an interesting paradox. He was a sensitive, peace-loving artist who was 6’4″ (or 5″) with the power of superstrength when he turned his skin into invulnerable steel. He became Colossus, the X-Men’s most famous bruiser with a power set that seemed the complete opposite of who he was by nature. If Peter hadn’t been born with mutant powers, he may have lived his life as a gentle painter, perfectly happy with his artistic creations.
Over the years, Colossus was interesting because, unlike lots of other Marvel superhero strong guys, he wasn’t necessarily defined by his rage, checkered past, or his readiness to smash opponents’ faces in, not usually. Namor was the arrogant king with something to prove, often with his fists; Hercules seemed perfectly willing and happy to settle disputes, major or minor, by busting knee caps; the Thing had been a streetwise scrapper in his youth; Wonder Man was a supervillain and kidnapper before he became a good guy; and the Hulk has become a pop culture icon for his violent rage.
But for years, Colossus was just a big guy with the soul of a poet who happened to be able to bench press trucks. Writer Len Wein likely thought it was interesting making the X-Men’s tough guy a sensitive dude at heart. It would have been easy, and expected, to make the bulletproof, weight-lifting mutant a person who’d been a soldier or a killer in his past (or present), but nope, they made him painter who’d never really experienced anything major or shady until after he became a superhero, not before.
This was Colossus’ basic characterization for decades in X-Men storylines. Sure, he had moments of rage when a loved one or teammate was in danger, but for the most part, Colossus stayed the same mentally and emerged as one of the most emotionally consistent characters in the team.
But, in my opinion, that also made him kinda boring in the eyes of some Marvel creative types, so they decided to change him up and give him rage issues because they figured that he’d seem “cooler” that way.
Now let me clarify, I didn’t say that I thought he was boring or in need of some shaking up. I’m saying that I think Marvel thought that way about him, which is why they wrote him as having the Juggernaut’s helmet of Cyttorak, so he could have all of this struggling-with-my-dark-side kind of of angst going on. They probably figured it was more inherently dramatic that way.
And if that was their goal, they certainly achieved it. His most famous love, Kitty Pryde, broke up with him right after he made the pact with the god Cyttorak and gained the helmet, and in current X-Men storylines, Colossus seems more willing to tear adversaries apart. These days, he enjoys brawling just for the sake of brawling, and, consequently, he’s now more “interesting,” perhaps, in the eyes of those who think that superheroes should have scary personal problems or inner darkness.
An angry Colossus with bloodlust, so to speak, is better dramatic material than a peace-loving Colossus who’d rather paint nature scenes than fight bad guys. And that’s why we have the scary, I’ll-kill-you-for-looking-at-me-funny Colossus of today.
But now that I’ve brought it up folks, I have to ask… what do you prefer, an angry, battle-crazed Colossus, or the original, sensitive Colossus?
This article’s original version was published on Superheroes are Awesome on April 29, 2012.