I was born in the 1980s and grew up primarily in the 1990s (although “grew up” is debatable). The decade that brought us Goosebumps, Pogs, and Pepsi Max was a wonderful time to be alive. There was a unique type of in-your-face marketing targeted at kids that, for some reason, seemed to sell us on all kinds of crap (I was convinced Frosted Mini Wheats were exciting). As a reader of X-Men titles at the time, one character personified that sentiment.
Adam Neramani is a Shi’ar/mutant hybrid who can burn oxygenated blood. To access a victim’s blood, he has typically wielded and even worn metal blades. This character was originally intended to have an important place in X-Men history, but that plot line was abandoned, and the character has unfortunately become nothing more than a joke. The D-List is getting X-TREME this month as we welcome Adam-X to the D-List.
Adam first appeared in X-Force Annual vol. 1 #2 in 1993. Created by Fabian Nicieza and Tony Daniel, Neramani first appeared trying to capture a woman, but X-Force intervened. Adam, who revealed his “X-Treme” nickname, moved incredibly fast, used his blades to lacerate the members of X-Force, and they all screamed in pain because he “flash-fried” their blood. Not long after this brief altercation, Adam temporarily joined the heroic team. Neramani had been working for a villainous man who had promised to tell him about his past, but Adam decided to help X-Force retrieve their captured members from the villain instead (so Adam doesn’t ruin everything…someone will get that joke).
Although Cable invited X-Treme to join the team, Adam stated that he wanted to find out more about his past first. He later found Philip Summers, grandfather of Cyclops and Havok, after the man’s plane crashed. Adam saved Philip by constructing shelter and keeping the older man warm. Summers commented that Neramani reminded him of someone, which was a hint at Adam’s past. Certainly, if you’re reading this, you know that Adam-X was intended to be the third Summers brother – confirming a cryptic statement made by Mr. Sinister to Cyclops that Scott had “brothers,” more than just Alex (but wouldn’t this wreak havok with continuity?!).
When Fabian Nicieza, the man who created Adam and wrote all of his appearances in the 90s, was fired from writing duties on X-Men titles, no one at Marvel continued utilizing Adam-X, effectively abandoning the resolution to an intriguing and potentially important plotline. Sure, there are characters who have large roles in comics for a period of time only to be forgotten into obscurity, but this was a major plot point which included Cyclops and Havok – two characters who are obviously very important (TO THE MAX). Finally, nearly a decade after Adam X’s final appearance in the 90s, X-Men: Deadly Genesis cemented a different resolution.
Deadly Genesis revealed the existence of Gabriel Summers, the third son of Christopher and Katherine Summers. Gabriel was taken from Katherine’s lifeless body, aged in the Shi’ar Empire without Christopher’s knowledge, and later dropped on Earth. I’m not going to focus any further on Gabriel’s history, but this explicitly confirmed a third Summers brother, whereas Adam’s relation amounted to nothing more than cryptic hints. It is a fact that Adam’s parents are D’Ken, the former Shi’ar dictator, and a human woman, but Nicieza never canonically connected Adam to his intended mother – Katherine Summers. However, it is still possible for Adam to be related to the Summers. Perhaps D’Ken could have combined his own genetic material with Katherine’s to grow Adam. Regardless, it is still possible that there are more than 3 Summers brothers, including a half-brother, because Mr. Sinister never mentioned an exact amount, he just used the word, “brothers,” when talking to Cyclops. I doubt any story will tie Adam to the Summers, however, because Neramani has become a joke (stop being a Nera-meanie to him). Multiple websites include him on “Worst X-Men” lists, so there has to be some merit to the negative sentiment, right?
Well, opinions are subjective, but the lists seem to focus on Adam’s appearance – the backwards hat, braids, etc. – and while that is understandable to a degree, Adam-X never had a chance to naturally grow out of a 90s, in-your-face aesthetic. Neramani, to my knowledge, stopped appearing in 1996, and when he returned to small appearances starting in 2009, he was nothing more than a loud, 90s attitude. He was never given the chance to develop and become more than a silly stereotype the way some other characters from the 90s did – Cable, Deadpool, and Domino were regularly featured over the years and have become more than the embodiment of the time in which they were created; they are all more than super-sized muscles and guns (…mostly). Adam-X had essentially become frozen in time, representing nothing more than an intense and colorful decade that did not produce mainstream comics which the general public remembers fondly (…also mostly). I’m not trying to diminish others’ opinions, but simply trying to give the character context.
His power, I admit, is a bit silly. I assume that the idea of a hero who wears blades seemed appealing and marketable at the time of his creation, so I suppose igniting electrolytes makes sense to a degree. Unfortunately, it is not a power that appears intensely practical, nor traditionally “cool” like teleportation or shape-shifting. Still, Adam is an extremely quick, agile and experienced fighter. I believe that his powers would work well alongside Wolverine, Deadpool, Shatterstar, and a litany of other similarly likable characters (I vote for a Darkhawk, Sleepwalker, Adam-X team-up).
The X-Treme’s last appearance in the 616 Universe was in 2011, and it contributed nothing to the story. Since then, he appeared in an Age of Apocalypse miniseries that took place during “Secret Wars” in 2015, and in X-Men ’92 in 2016, both in alternate universes. The latter showed him as, once again, little more than a joke. But the former was written by Nicieza, and the writer finally revealed that Adam was the third Summers brother…but only in that universe. Still, the character’s design was completely overhauled and very interesting. His body was scarred, so he wore a mask and armor, but flames protruded from the openings (he sounds too hot to handle). As such, his codename was “Burner.” Although this was only a 5-issue miniseries, it was still a legitimate blast to watch the 3 Summers brothers fight alongside each other.
I wish Adam’s appearance, story, and characterization had been allowed to develop beyond the time in which he was created. Sadly, writers at Marvel have also written jabs at the character in X-Men comics, and that certainly doesn’t help other writers, or fans, take Adam-X seriously. As it stands, X-Treme is viewed like disco and hair metal – embarrassing products of a bygone era that the general public would either like to forget, or ridicule when brought up in conversation. Regardless, there is nothing inherently wrong with the character, nor is he unusable in future stories.
Adam X is a character still full of potential to be his own person and rise above the silly stereotypes. I’m sure this would upset some fans (which literally happens all the time anyway) but if Marvel editorial wanted, someone could reveal that Adam is either the full or half-brother of Scott and Alex. If not that extreme, writers could at least slowly bring Adam back into X-Men titles in order to give readers time to adjust before the character is further explored. I don’t think it would be too difficult to begin writing him as less of a joke and earnestly utilize him, but Marvel staff would have to be willing to make the investment. As much hate as I’ve seen and heard over the years, there are at least fans of Adam-X on Twitter (or my limited corner of it). He could be an X-Tremely cool character, so I hope someone at Marvel Comics does something more with him in the future.