- Name: Rita Wayword
- Code Names: Spiral, Ricochet Rita
- First Appearance: Longshot #1 (Sept ‘85)
- Powers: Teleportation, magic
- Team Affiliation: Freedom Force, X-Force
The poet Ocean Vuong had an insight about something an Italian philosopher observed. “Vico had this theory that time moves more in a spiral than it does in a line. He believes that’s why we repeat ourselves, including our tragedies, and that if we are more faithful to this movement, we can move away from the epicenter through distance and time, but we have to confront it every time. I’ve been thinking about trauma—how it’s repetitive, and how we recreate it, and how memory is fashioned by creation. Every time we remember, we create new neurons, which is why memory is so unreliable.” Life can repeat itself, the good and the bad, but we don’t always learn from it. We just build off it until it becomes something very different from what we started with.
“Ricochet” Rita Wayword was a lovely and well-regarded stuntwoman in Hollywood when she met the man named Longshot. Longshot was gorgeous, funny, and charming and became a fast friend to Rita. That friendship blossomed into something more but Rita recoiled when she discovered that Longshot wasn’t from this world. They still had to work together and the duo attempted the most dangerous stunt in Hollywood history. Rita performed perfectly, but something went wrong with Longshot’s stunt. Rita saw a man she could have loved near death on the ground.
Rita tried moving on with her life but that short time with Longshot would come back to haunt her. The tyrant king of the realm Longshot escaped from, a monster called Mojo, came to her home with his right-hand woman, the six-armed Spiral. They captured Rita and tortured her until she revealed everything she knew about Longshot, then they left her catatonic in her home. Longshot eventually found her and nursed her back to health with the help of Dr. Strange. Rita went with Longshot in his final assault against Mojo and Spiral and pushed the Spineless One back to his home dimension. Longshot knew he had to continue to fight to free the Mojoverse and asked Rita to come with him. She said yes, but Spiral was left in the 616.
Longshot’s resistance failed, and his mind was wiped. Rita was made a captive of Mojo and forced to watch over the X-Babies. The rambunctious tykes tried to escape and Rita helped them. As punishment, Mojo transformed Rita into a mindwiped bounty hunter known as The Agent and tasked her with getting the X-Babies back. With Excalibur’s help, the X-Babies defeat The Agent and signed a great contract with Mojo. Rita regained her memories and rushed after the X-Babies, hoping to guide them on their new journey. As punishment, Mojo tortured Rita, broke her mind, and reformed her as his own weapon, Spiral. Worst of all, he forced her to close the loop. He sent her back to capture Rita and left his Spiral in the 616.
Spiral found a home with Val Cooper and her government-sponsored mutant team called Freedom Force. Freedom Forced battled the X-Men and X-Factor several times and Spiral’s magic was an asset against the mutants. More importantly, Spiral ran the Body Shoppe where she led the cybernetic enhancement of willing, and unwilling, participants. She abducted Rachel Summers and used the Body Shoppe to make her a willing participant in Mojo’s schemes. She replaced Psylocke’s eyes with cameras that sent a live stream direct to Mojo. She assisted in the creation of Lady Deathstrike and the Reavers. But the vilest of these actions was swapping the minds of Psylocke and Kwannon. The trauma Mojo inflicted on her would be returned tenfold to those in her path.
Years passed and Sprial was content to stay in the shadows, but Madelyne Pryor came with a proposition that was hard to refuse. She gave Spiral the ability to resurrect one of her loved ones if she would join Pryor’s new Sisterhood. Spiral helped rebuild Lady Deathstrike and was essential in the manipulation of Psylocke, but the X-Men proved too strong. The Sisterhood fell apart and Spiral returned to Mojo’s service
For one reason or another, he was always fickle like that, Mojo abandoned Sprial on Earth without her reality warping powers. She met a young girl named Ginny, a telepath with the ability to send targets into an ecstasy filled state. Spiral began to sell hits of Ginny’s power under the street name TAO. She didn’t expect to grow so close to the child and became defensive when a new X-Force came to retrieve her. When the crazed Bishop came after the child, Spiral joined X-Force against him, unaware of what Ginny had become. Ginny was possessed by the Great Revenant, Cassandra Nova, and Spiral was desperate to save her. Spiral and X-Force put their differences aside to save Ginny. Spiral soon left with Ginny, content that she had finally found someone who thought she was more than the monster Mojo made her into.
To get the full view of Spiral there is a singular required reading, Ann Nocenti and Art Adams Longshot. It presents both the fun-loving Rita and the tortured Spiral all in one. The real selling point is Art Adam’s gorgeous, detailed art. I got a chance to talk to Nocenti this weekend and she said about the book “80% of Longshot is incoherent and Art [Adams] is the only reason it was a hit.” A fun story totally worth checking out.
My absolute least favorite thing to do is rank a character that a lot of people love poorly. Spiral however, just never resonated with me in a meaningful way. Adams gave her a cool design but the character as a whole gets overshadowed by the cooler parts of the Mojoverse. She isn’t as good as fellow Mojoverse denizens Longshot or Shatterstar but I probably like her better than Toad. That makes Spiral the new number 69 in the Xavier Files.
Spiral was requested by Luz Bianca among others. 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.
Make sure you check out my podcast BATTLE OF THE ATOM. It’s where Bish & Jubez creator Adam Reck and I talk about every single X-Men story that ever existed and rank them from best to worst. Episode 9 is up and talk and we talk about Ultimate X-Men and bad 90’s jokes. Make sure you subscribe on any of the following platforms (or others, I’m not picky) Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Stitcher | RSS.
Next week we talk mutant registration with Senator Robert Kelly! See you then!