Entry 078 – Skin

Art by Chris Bachalo, Mark Buckingham, and Steve Buccellato

  • Name: Angelo Espinosa
  • Code Names: Skin
  • First Appearance: Uncanny X-Men #317 (Oct ‘94)
  • Powers: Six feet of extra skin
  • Teams Affiliation: Generation X

About

One of the things the original Generation X, as well as the recent relaunch, got right was that not every mutant fits in. Not everyone gifted with an X-Gene turns into an Adonis with Jim Lee abs and Alan Davis hair, some end up sucking. Because the comics didn’t understand this until after the majority of the X-Men cast had been established as beautiful, WASP-y young adults, most of the characters who have these issues get relegated to the third string. That doesn’t make them bad, it just means writers have to try even harder to make characters like Skin resonate with audiences.

Portrayed by Agustin Rodriguez in Generation X

Angelo Espinosa was an LA runaway. As a Hispanic kid living in a bad part of town during early 90’s, he felt fated to be a gangbanger. It isn’t that he wanted to, he just didn’t see much of an option. He fell for a girl named Tores, whose cousin Lupo was involved in the gang life. He got closer to the gang and was caught in the crossfire that came with the lifestyle. The stress of his first shootout caused his mutant powers to activate and Angelo grew six feet of extra skin. Angelo was knocked out in the firefight and awoke to see a pickpocket running off with his wallet. Because of the fighting, a car exploded and killed the vagrant. Angelo realized that the man had his ID and decided to use that to his advantage by letting the world think that he was dead.

Art by Ale Garza and Mike Rockwitz

He managed to avoid detection until the alien race known as the Phalanx kidnapped him as part of their next generation of mutants. He kept much calmer than his captives Husk and Blink, he had been through worse. A ragtag group of X-Men associates saved the youths and took them back to Westchester with a plan. Xavier’s had long evolved beyond being just a school, something Emma Frost and Banshee wanted to change. They began the new Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters on the site of the old Massachusetts Academy. And though it took some coaxing, Skin decided to continue training there.

Art by Rodger Cruz, Tim Townsend, and Steve Buccellato

For the most part, Angelo got along with his teammates. He kept them at a distance, a habit he developed over his year on the street, and tried to keep a low profile. When an old friend ran into him in NYC, Skin made him swear to tell no one he was alive. As he spent more time with his new classmates, his rough demeanor began melting away. It got to a point that Skin helped Synch build a treehouse for buddies Artie & Leech just because he was a big old softie.

Art by Chris Bachalo, Mark Buckingham, and Steve Buccellato

Skin’s past soon came back to haunt him in a big way. The X-Cutioner blamed Skin for the death of regular, everyday human Angelo Espinosa and hunted Skin for his punishment. Skin and Chamber were able to outsmart the hunter (which, face it, wasn’t that hard) but Skin was left to confront the sins of his past. He and Chamber went on a road trip back to LA and Angelo visited his own grave. He saw Tores again, she seemed to be surviving but his mother wasn’t doing as well. Skin disguised himself and sat on a bench next to his mother. He tried comforting her but it was clear that he could never go back to his old life. He returned to the Xavier School, ready to face this new chapter in his life.

Art by Chris Bachalo

During Operation: Zero Tolerance, the students of Generation x were stranded and Los Angeles and needed help. Skin went to Tores and revealed his deception to her, but Tores had a secret of her own. The night Angelo’s mutant abilities manifested, Tores did as well. She discovered that she could generate explosive blasts and had spent the last few years living with the secret. At the same time, Angelo’s mother heard rumors that her son was still alive and went to confront Tores about it. She discovered that Tores was a mutant and Angelo listened while hiding. His mother was disgusted that Tores was a genefreak and Angelo had to hear about his mother’s hate of mutant kind. He knew he could never come out to her and reveal the truth.

Art by Ale Garza and Mike Rockwitz

As time went on, Generation X disbanded. Their school had been destroyed, their friends had been killed, and their mentors had fallen into depression. Skin and Jubilee decided to return to LA where Jubez pursued a career in acting. The two drew the attention of Church of Humanity who kidnapped them for a vulgar display of hate. They crucified the two mutants, alongside others, on the lawn of the Xavier Institute. The X-Men rushed them to their medical center and were able to save most of them thanks to Angel’s healing blood. Angelo, however, was too far gone. He became the latest casualty in an unholy war against people who are hated and feared simply because they are different.

Art by Ron Garney, Mark Morles, and JD Smith

Must Read

I am a big fan of the original run on Generation X. It established strong characters quickly while never dwelling too long on their history. One of the few times it goes back is during Generation X #17-21, where Skin, Chamber, and Howard the Duck go on a road trip back to LA to confront Skin’s past. The friendship that is built between Jono and Angelo feels real and helps build depth for both characters. You’ll have to dig into back issue bins for this one, but it will be worth it.

Art by Chris Bachalo

Ranking

Skin isn’t the worst member of Generation X, but he sure isn’t the best. M is the lowest ranked member of the main team, and she is miles ahead of Skin. Ancillary members Artie & Leech are further down the list but real talk, I like them more. Skin is just a character that I don’t care if I ever see again. His death was pointless and wasteful but it was also unimportant. No one had anything for him to do, he wasn’t a fan favorite, he was just a guy that stuck around for the life of a title. I like him more than Shatterstar, but less than Cypher, which just leaves Surge. Surge is another team member who never connected with me, but I tend to like Gen X more than the New X-Men kids. Because of that, Skin enters the list at number 57 in the Xavier Files.

Skin was requested by /u/Nemesiskismet. Thank you for the request. If you have a request for how about you send it below? If you want to cut to the front of the two-year long line, we have a Patreon you can support Xavier Files for just $1 to get a line cutting reward.

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Next week I test my luck with Domino! See you then!

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