- Name: Heather & Davis Cameron
- Code Names: Lifeguard & Slipstream
- First Appearance: X-Treme X-Men #5 (November ‘01)
- Powers: Adaptive protective biology & the ability to surf the Warp Wave
- Team Affiliation: X-Men
In 1966, Jack Kirby began working off a Stan Lee Fantastic Four pitch, “Have them fight God”. Working in the Marvel Method, Stan looked over Jack’s pencils and was confused by this shimmering nut on a flying surfboard. He tried challenging Jack on this addition, but Kirby began explaining his thoughts. This god was so massive that he would have his own John the Baptist, his own herald, and considering Jack was tired of drawing spaceships, he gave him a surfboard. Something clicked about that with Lee and the greatest duo began to develop the Silver Surfer, a character that Stan has claimed to be his favorite character ever since. It is a silly idea that absolutely shouldn’t have worked if it wasn’t for the greatest creators in comics history. If Stan and Jack weren’t Stan and Jack it could have given us an abomination, it could have given us Slipstream and Lifeguard.
Miles Warbeck was the head of the Australian mafia, it was a dangerous life, but it was his. After the birth of his son, Miles realized that this baby, and his older sister, could be targeted by his enemies. He decided to send them to an adoptive family and hid them under the last name Cameron in beautiful Surfer’s Paradise, Australia (which as God as my witness is a real place). His children, Heather and her younger brother Davis, grew up in a life of carefree luxury. Heather became a lifeguard and Davis spent his days surfing. The remained unaware of their true parentage, that is until the day Miles Warbeck was killed.
The X-Man Gambit was the prime suspect in Miles death and Storm’s team of X-Men journeyed out to investigate. Storm and Thunderbird (Neal Shaara) decided that if Gambit was framed for this by some rival of Warbeck’s, the children could be additional targets. They traveled to Surfer’s Paradise and decided to flirt with the Cameron’s in order to stay close to them. Davis really thought he was hitting it off with Storm, but Heather and Neal had a legitimate connection. The ate, drank, and danced the night away, but ninja assassins quickly ruined that.
The X-Men sprang into action but surprisingly so did Heather. Her skin turned hard and golden, bullets bounced off her. After making quick work of the assassins all parties came clean. The X-Men revealed the Cameron’s true parentage and Heather told them she was a mutant. Her body adapted to what was needed to guard a life, wings if she needed to fly, gills if she needed to swim, and she was unwilling to let this gang war she was in the middle of harm anyone else. She decided to join the X-Men as Lifeguard and tracked down the source of this bloodshed. Davey came too because he had nothing better to do.
They visited Sage who had been investigating another part of this attack. However, the X-Men’s living computer was catatonic thanks to Lady Mastermind and Sebastian Shaw. Sage reached out to Heather and pulled her into her mind. Lifeguard traveled the recesses of Sage’s memories only to confront Lady Mastermind, who had a deep connection than anyone could have dreamed. She had convinced Miles Warbeck that he was drowning in a room of fresh air, killing him and kicking off this whole escapade. Lifeguard tried the hold her own but she had only been an X-Man for a few hours, she wasn’t ready to battle real super villains. Sage anticipated this and hid part of herself deep in Heather’s mind in order to take over her body when the moment struck. They beat Lady Mastermind but Heather was deeply disturbed by the betrayal of trust.
Soon the X-Men were attacked by soldiers of the interdimensional conqueror known as Kahn, and Lifeguard was captured in the fray. Sage told Davis that she had a plan to save his sister, but it would require him to make an irreversible decision. She could jumpstart the latent X-Gene in him, giving him abilities they could use to save Heather. Thunderbird warned him that he was committing himself to a life of being hated and feared, but Davis chose to go through with it. Sage awakened the mutation inside him and the X-Men saw his gift. He could ride the “warp-wave” a trans-dimensional field that let him teleport wherever he wanted to go. He did this by surfing through space-time with a surfboard. This was actually published and not a joke.
Davis took the mutant name Slipstream and led the X-Men on a rescue mission to save his sister. He saw the destruction Khan was causing in Madripoor and something cracked inside Davis. He couldn’t believe the horror he was seeing and realized that he wasn’t cut out for a life of super heroics. Heather, for her part, was enraged that Sage would even consider manipulating her brother’s genes like she did. They continued to battle Kahn, but cracks were forming in the X-Men’s newest recruits.
Slipstream stayed on the ground level battling foot soldiers and rescuing civilians but Lifeguard was sent with a team to confront Kahn directly. However, something changed when she reached space. Her wings became more pronounced, her hair more avian. She grew to a massive size and gained raptor-like talons. Most importantly, markings appeared on her face, the marking of the Shi’ar royal family. This gave the X-Men the edge they needed to take down Kahn and save the Earth from certain doom.
When she returned, Davis didn’t even recognize his sister anymore. He feared that if she mutated this much, he could be next. He ran away from the X-Men, and Heather soon followed to go after him with Thunderbird. We don’t know what happened next. We know Heather and Neal ended up in Singapore working for X-Corporation but Slipstream was nowhere to be seen. Heather was said to be on Utopia after M-Day but we never saw it. We never got closure on if the Cameron’s were actually Shi’ar royalty or if Deathbirth was their mom (which she totally was). The thing is, with all the dangling threads to pick up with X-Men, no one cared about the alien surfer dude and his weird bird sister.
Look, I’m gonna level with you, these guys were in 2 arcs of Claremont and Larocca’s X-Treme X-Men and it just wasn’t very good. They read like all the worst elements of Claremont’s later years mixed with some uneven artwork by Sal. I guess you can check this title out but you might be better off not tainting your memories of Claremont.
So we are going to get this out of the way quickly, Lifeguard & Slipstream suck. They have nearly no redeeming qualities and added little to the few stories they were a part of. Their design and powers are boring and banal. They are a self-serious Adam-X, Vulcan without having some decent stories, Shark-Girl without any redeeming qualities. They are at the very bottom of this list and as the new number 99 they are the worst characters to ever grace the Xavier Files.
Lifeguard & Slipstream were requested by amax13. 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 18 is up and we got a chance to talk with X-Men Gold Annual writer Leah Williams about Excalibur, #BringBackMaggott, and the whole CB Cebulski thing. Make sure you subscribe to any of the following platforms (or others, I’m not picky) Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Stitcher | RSS.
Next week we celebrate the 100th entry into the Xavier Files with the site’s namesake! See you then!