Welcome to the D-List: Mortis

There are plenty of popular super-powered siblings in the Marvel Universe – Thor and Loki, Cyclops and Havok, and Colossus and Magik are all well-known characters. However, the popularity of one sibling does not guarantee the fame of other siblings. This month’s D-Lister existed in the shadow of her sister, and over many years, that grew into a deadly resentment.

Lois London is a mutant who can disintegrate inorganic matter and kill living beings with just a touch. The half-sister of Dazzler, Lois didn’t quite have an attractive power or the strong will to succeed like Alison. A series of unfortunate circumstances allowed anger to flourish within London. This month, family is a very touchy subject as we welcome Mortis to the D-List.

Maybe she just needs some Miralax. (Art by Frank Springer)

Lois London’s first full appearance was in Dazzler vol. 1 #22 in 1982. Created by Danny Fingeroth and Frank Springer, Lois and Alison shared the same mother, Katherine, who left Alison’s emotionally abusive father for Nick Brown, a drug addict. Katherine hoped that a baby would cause Nick to change, but unfortunately, it didn’t work. Realizing she had bad taste in men, Katherine fled from Nick after she gave birth to Lois. Alison was raised by her father and had no contact with her mother, so Ali was unaware she had a half-sister. In the then-present, Dazzler was becoming a famous musician and Katherine saw her on television, so the woman decided to tell Lois that the two were sisters. Lois surprised Alison at her apartment and the two became fast friends. Lois thought Ali and her mutant powers were wonderful, but was about to find out that she, too, was a mutant.

London was terrified of her recurring dizzy spells, but Alison argued that it could simply be anemia (that argument sounds anemic, lady). Lois left one of Alison’s performances early, and while walking home, a man grabbed the young woman and tried to pull her into an alley. Lois’s hands began to glow, and when she hit the man in the face, he stopped breathing and collapsed on the ground, dead. Terrified, Lois fled.

Alison had plenty of family problems – an absent mother and a strict father who disowned her when she decided to become an entertainer, so it was nice to see her get along so well with her younger sister. Unfortunately, Lois’s mutant power didn’t have the practical application of her sister’s power, and Lois was rightfully terrified. Obviously, London tried to find help and support from Alison, but the older sibling only made the situation worse (to be fair, plenty of bad decisions were made in the 80s…like mullets).

Because of national anti-mutant sentiment, Alison did not want Lois to turn herself over to the authorities. Instead, the siblings fled to a motel. A cat arrived at the door, and Lois was delighted to be visited by the small animal until it scratched her. Enraged, she grabbed the cat, her hand once again glowed, and the cat was dead (sounds like a mortal case of cat-scratch fever).

It is absurd that Alison did not contact the X-Men regarding her sister, because at the very least, Lois would have been kept from harming herself or others. It was apparent that London had no control over her powers, and Dazzler’s attempt at running from the situation was only making matters worse. At this point, Rogue was still a villain, so Lois’s introduction to the X-Men wouldn’t have conflicted with a teammate’s similar power. Even when Rogue eventually joined the X-Men, perhaps she and Lois would have become friends because of their similar issues. Unfortunately, we’ll never know.

The sisters eventually arrived in California where Nick Brown was able to track his daughter, and he and Lois were reunited. However, the man wanted to take advantage of Dazzler’s fame and offered her cars and drugs – whatever she wanted in order to garner media attention. Ali and Nick argued, but Lois defended her father and refused to leave with Alison. Sadly, Alison left her sister with the abusive man, and then Marvel forgot about Lois for over two decades.

And killer bags under her eyes. (Art by Clayton Crain)

I really would have liked to see Lois appear in Dazzler more than she did, because her tenure lasted a mere handful of issues. She was a sweet, naïve young woman who needed direction from a positive influence, so Alison’s decision to leave her with Nick was obviously terrible. Even if Lois had decided to reject Alison’s help and began to use her powers for nefarious purposes, it would have at least created interesting conflict. Although I do have complaints about Lois’s underuse and absence, her disappearance from Marvel Comics proved to be the perfect setup for the person she would eventually become.

Lois appeared as a part of Selene’s core team during “Necrosha,” when the villain planned to gain power and resurrect an army of undead mutants to kill the X-Men. As they entered the Hellfire Club, Lois, taking the codename, Mortis, killed a Hellion by grabbing his neck. It made sense for Wither and Senyaka to work with Selene, but why would Lois join the villains? (her reasons were less than dazzling)

A flashback showed Lois still traumatized from the murder she committed, watching Dazzler on television, and alone with her resentful thoughts. It had been years since the sisters had any contact, and Lois’s dad had not been a good influence on the young girl. Nick called Lois to his office, and while drunk, he berated her. Enraged, Lois grabbed his chest and killed him. Sadly, she instantly regretted what she had done and tried to kill herself with her own power. Selene appeared at Lois’s side, and the villain encouraged Lois’s anger toward Dazzler. Selene wanted to strengthen Lois’s killer instinct, so the two were shown outside of a fancy restaurant after London had just killed all of the patrons (apparently, the food was to die for).

Although Mortis did not play a huge role during “Necrosha,” it was nonetheless awesome to see her in action and attack the X-Men. She killed former Alpha Flight member, Diamond Lil, and disabled, but couldn’t kill, Wolverine (if only Mortis could have transformed into liquid adamantium. Calm down, calm down…he’s already coming back). Lois was forced to flee, however, after Wolfsbane slashed her throat, and of course, the X-Men defeated Selene.

It was clearly never Marvel’s intention to purposely neglect Lois for so long just to bring her back as a villain, but the circumstances worked out perfectly. I’m never happy when a mutant dies, but it would have been great to see Mortis cause more death and destruction during this storyline (I mean…death and mortis do kind of go together). Thankfully, however, Mortis was not completely forgotten immediately after “Necrosha” concluded.

Lois was determined to kill her sister and expressed all of her accumulated rage to Alison. During her absence, Lois felt abandoned, alone, fearful of her father, and it was clear that somehow Alison should have taken care of her sister. The two fought, but Dazzler knocked Mortis unconscious. Alison took Lois to Utopia, and Psylocke promised to conduct psychic therapy with London and undo Selene’s influence. That was 8 years ago, and London has not appeared since (so it was here that Mortis was completely forgotten).

I had this EXACT outfit in high school. (Art by Kalman Andrasofzky)

Lois London was a very interesting, conflicted character with an awesome mutant power and perfect motivation for villainy. She had once seemed so innocent, so it was a stark contrast to see her full of anger years later, but the circumstances made it a believable and natural transformation. Although I do think it’s ridiculous that Alison didn’t immediately take Lois to the X-Men, it set up a perfect role for London to play in the future.

Mortis has not appeared outside of the Marvel 616 Universe – no trading cards, action figures, or cartoon appearances. While that may be understandable, writers have left her future in limbo for years; a lot has happened since the conclusion of “Necrosha,” and I would love to see Mortis appear again, whether as an ally or an enemy of the X-Men. Lois London definitely has the potential to be more than just a stiff body in Marvel Comics.

Jonathan Robert

Jonathan loves comic books and he loves coffee. Jonathan’s mother gave him his first taste of coffee at the tender age of 3 and it was love at first sip. He now needs to wheel around an IV drip of caffeine at all times or else he turns into a dark, monstrous creature that feeds on despair and makes babies cry. The local village-folk have kept him locked away ever since the “decaf catastrophe of ‘06.” When allowed out of his dungeon, he writes various articles for Geekade, including the monthly column, “Welcome to the D-List,” and records the "Mutant Musings" podcast with his geek-tastic girlfriend, Patti.

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