Entry 056 – Skullfire

Art by Ron Lim and Jimmy Palmiotti

  • Name: Timothy Fitzgerald
  • Code Names: Skullfire
  • First Appearance: X-Men 2099 #1 (Oct ’93)
  • Powers: Energy Absorption and Redirection
  • Teams Affiliation: X-Men 2099

About

In 1962 ABC aired The Jetsons, an animated sitcom about the family of the future. The show took the trappings of domestic life in the 60’s and transplanted it a century into the future. In retrospect, it is bizarre how the different ideas about the future have changed since then. People tend to be short-sighted when it comes to the future, both when it comes to technology and culture. In the same way, Her feels like the future filtered through the digital age, and Blade Runner through the grit of the 80’s, X-Men 2099 was the cynicism of generation X projected into the world of tomorrow. Corporate interests ruled the world, heroes were but myth, and criminals ran wild. It was a distillation of all the fears of the post-Cold War world, and those fear came through in a young mutant called Skullfire.

Timothy Fitzgerald was an average citizen in the future of 2099. He had a good, if boring life. He had steady employment as a mechanic and a caring girlfriend named Reiko. It wasn’t much, but it was a living. Tim began to notice something strange, lights would flicker around him, energy seemed to pulse through him. It soon became too much for him as his mutant abilities dramatically came to light. Tim couldn’t help but let a blast of energy explode from his body. He tried to get Reiko to stay away but it was too late. She was caught in the crossfire of a man becoming a mutant. Tim knew what he had become and he ran away from his old life. Tim was nomadic, living on street corners until he heard of a place in the Nevada desert for people like him and knew he had nothing to lose.

Art by Ron Lim, Jimmy Palmiotti, and Tom Smith

Weary and ragged, Tim stopped at the door in the desert marked with an X. When he walked in he saw that this desert wasteland was full of life. Mutants dancing, socializing, being free; it was a whole subculture he had never ever dreamt of. A girl named Serpentina showed him around the oasis and Tim thought to himself that this was somewhere he could fit in. As the music died down a man appeared on stage. The crowd chanted his name, “Xi’an, Xi’an, Xi’an!” Tim felt like the man was speaking into his soul as he talked about freeing themselves from an oppressive system. Xi’an preached of the unity they learned from Xavier, the fierceness from Magnus, the sacrifice of Del Ruiz, and the enlightenment of Zhao. For a moment Tim glanced away and saw the shimmer of a rifle scope. He darted into action, his body glowing so bright that only his skeleton showed, and he released a blast towards the sniper. Hell broke loose and soon the club was swarming with enforcement officials. Serpentina rushed Tim towards a secret exit where he saw Xi’an as the wise mentor welcomed him to the X-Men.

Art by Ron Lim, Andy Kubert, and Tom Smith

Tim helped the rest of the X-Men get Xi’an to safety. They were pursued by Junkpile, a member of the group who turned traitor, and the senior X-Man Cerebra helped Tim control and focus his powers. When Junkpile made it to his former friends, Serpentina leaped into action to protect her mentor but Junkpile was too quick and crushed the girl’s head. Enraged, Tim attacked looking for blood but he was still too green and Junkpile rebuffed his advances. Xi’an had healed enough to confront his former disciple and used his death touch to destroy Junkpile. From that moment forward, Tim knew his place was with the X-Men and embedded himself in the team.

Art by Ron Lim, Andy Kubert, and Tom Smith

The X-Men soon got captured by the psychic vampire La Lunitica and the Theatre of Pain, a group who recorded the pain of others and sold it. Luna went first to Tim and made him relive his killing of Reiko. The Theatre undersold the pain in Tim’s soul and stood shocked when Tim blasted his way out of his restraints. His destruction also released Luna from her control collar and she quickly turned against the Theater. After that moment, Tim was unhinged. He started acting erratically, jumping into problems without a plan and always looking for the next adrenaline fix. After a while, Tim was done being held back by the X-Men and struck out alongside Xi’an (who was having his own heel turn) where he found Luna again.

Tim and Luna dove into a romance. Still working towards the same goals as the X-Men, but their own way. To best reflect his new outlook on life, Tim got a skull visage tattooed on his face. They faced off against the Theatre of Pain again, giving Luna a chance for her revenge, but Xi’an betrayed the two and took control of the Theatre. This was the shock Tim needed to wake himself back up and he pledged that he would take up Xi’an’s responsibilities as leader of the X-Men. Surprisingly, everyone was pretty alright with him just coming back and declaring himself the leader. Tim lead the X-Men against Xi’an’s Theatre and Luna was able to bring Xi’an back to his senses.

Art by Ron Lim, Mark McKeena, and Tom Smith

President Doom (who, to be clear, was the mind of 616 Doctor Doom sent into the future) wielded his considerable power to create a city for mutants and enlisted the X-Men to be its protectors. Like Magnus’ Genosha before it, Halo City would be a new mutant utopia. However, Doom had no love for the corporate interest that ruled the world of 2099 and was soon ousted, leaving Tim’s city in flux. The city was attacked by zombie mutants known as the Undead, including a resurrected Serpentina. Tim was shocked to see his friend again but had little time to react as Tina killed him. In the ether, Tim saw Reiko again and tried to join her, but Graverobber, leader of the Undead, pulled him back.

Art by Ron Lim, Harry Candelario, and Tom Smith

The Undead wanted to use Tim’s considerable power in a plot to capture a citizen in the City. The X-Men were able to stop the plot but there was a side-effect that destroyed all the Undead. Tim was overjoyed to see Reiko again but she told him that he wasn’t ready to join her in death yet. He came back to the land of the living and his body was supercharged. A villain known as Vulcann attacked Tim and ripped his body apart. The resurrection seemed short lived.

Art by Ron Lim, Harry Candelario, and Tom Smith

In a surprising turn of events, Tim was able to live on as a being of pure energy and protected his city from Vulcann. Rising tides forced the citizens of Halo City out of their homes and Tim led his people to the Savage Land. Luna was afraid that her lover, now ascended from the physical world, would leave her, but he swore to stay by her side. The X-Men of 2099 have rarely been seen since, mere cameos only, but their memory lives on as a dream of the 90’s.

Must Read

There were 35 issues and 2 specials of X-Men 2099 and Skullfire was the star of almost all of them. They aren’t amazing and if you don’t have a tolerance for the 90’s you won’t enjoy it. They are, however, one of the most inserting books to ever have an X on them. It plays with a lot of ideas about mutants as a subculture that wouldn’t get touched again for years. It is a deep cut but it is totally worth a read. The first nine issues are on Marvel Unlimited and if you like those, well, let’s just say any dollar box worth its salt will have a few issues of this to catch you up on the cheap.

Art by Ron Lim, Adam Kubert, and Tom Smith

Ranking

So Skullfire, who was never actually called that in anything but promo’s and covers, isn’t a great character even if he goes through an interesting arc. Part of the problem of 2099 as a whole was the hyper-focus on some of the less desirable elements of 90’s comics. He is an interesting enough character though and I don’t actively dislike him. Luckily there is already a very distinct dividing line between active dislike and meh. That line is right above Northstar as the new 43 in the Xavier Files.

Skullfire was requested by /u/dmull387 from Reddit and Burashi from Tumblr. Thanks for the request. If you have a request just submit it at the bottom of this article and I will add it to the list that currently stretches into June 2018! If you want to cut to the front of the line, we have a Patreon if you want to support it and get a line cutting reward for just a $1 pledge. We just hit our first goal and just need $7 for me to start reviewing every X-Book each week. Oh and we also have exclusive physical items so check those out!

Click here if you want to see the full ranked list, with links to every entry in the Xavier Files so far.

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Next week I am taking a Christmas break! See you in two!

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