Back in 1993, I was sitting on the couch at my great-aunt's apartment in Cicero, IL. It was close to Christmas and we were all trading presents with each other in the small apartment that was decorated like it came from another time. My youngest sister opened a present and got the Teddy Ruxpin phone, where you could call Teddy Ruxpin and he'd tell you a tall tale. My middle sister got some make-up because 9 year olds need make up. Before me, laid two packages shaped exactly like action figure packages. My great aunt Molly didn't know me very well, so I was leery about the presents. I opened the first one and got the Toy Biz Wolverine figure, which I already had, but opened up anyway because who doesn't need two Wolverine figures where his mask turns into a sweet ring? I opened the second figure and received something that made me freak out in a fit of joy: Toy Biz Mr. Sinister. The one with the sweet light-up chest.
Any time I think about growing up and reading comic books, my mind always wanders back to my favorite character during that time period: Mr. Sinister. As an adult, looking back, that was a pretty awful character to love. Sinister is a pretty awful person and is on par with infamous people from history like Doctor Mengele.
However, I loved X-Men: The Animated Series. I fact, I used a clip from the show in my junior high speech class about the merits of modern day animation and the broad appeal to people of all ages. Actually, the speech was a lot dumber sounding than that and said speech opened the door to bullies because they just don't understand Beast the way I do!
Here's the thing, at the age of 11, I was wowed by Sinister for a plethora of reasons. As an adolescent, more than anything else, the aesthetics of a character seems to be one of the more powerful motivators for my love of certain characters, and considering this story all takes place in the 90s, the era of aesthetically pleasing costumes, there was a lot of love.
His cape was made up of strands of cloth, something I had never seen before. He had a ridiculous collar around his neck. There was a red diamond on his torso and on his forehead. He simply looked cool and I became a huge fan of the character. I couldn't stop talking about how much I liked him, even though I knew little to nothing about him, aside from his appearances on the animated series. However, his appearances on the animated series were incredibly dark. Sure, X-Men dealt with items like racism, acceptance, and the fight for equal rights on a weekly basis, but every time Sinister was on, we got things like torture, murder, and genocide. Is your memory foggy? Here's a clip.
In a nutshell, the guy is creating a master race of mutants by experimenting on them and holding them captive. Again, this is the cartoon version of the character, and it's dealing with some pretty rough storytelling elements, and I saw all this and was like "Only Cyclops can hurt him with his optic blasts. He fizzes green. He's so cool." I'm not saying I was a giant moron at 11 years old, but I was a giant moron.
The comic book version of him wasn't much better. He and the Marauders massacred the Morlocks and later he spent his years stalking/torturing/yearning for Scott Summers. How deep did that get? Well, Sinister had this theory that the child of Jean Grey and Scott Summers could destroy Apocalypse, but since Jean was dead, Sinister cloned Jean and that lady became Madelyne Pryor. Summer and Pryor got married and had a child and Sinister mentally suggested they move to Alaska to raise said child, so he could keep an eye on them. Also, Sinister just carried around Cyclops' DNA with him. Of course, there's more murder and manipulation than you can shake a stick at with this character, but hey, I didn't know that. I was more impressed with hitting the switch on his back to make his chest light up.
The 11 year old version of me loved a murdering stalker, but it's cool because he has a diamond on his forehead and has complete control of his body, down to the cellular level. Don't get me wrong, he's a really cool character, involved with some fantastic stories that actually stood the test of time, even though he didn't and died during AvX (Don't worry. He cloned himself as a scantily clad Hellfire Club member named Miss Sinister, just in case he passed away). The problem is that's a really weird favorite character for a kid. There's nothing sympathetic or compelling about him. Sinister is a deluded sociopath, so does that make the 11 year old version of me the same way because I was attracted to those ideals?
Not really. I think my attraction to this character was purely aesthetic and a little bit of attraction to power. Most fans of comics growing up had to deal with getting picked on. It's just something that happens, so what attracts many fans to certain characters is power and maybe a dark side. That's really why I believe I gravitated towards Sinister. Luckily, he's not a complete throw away character. He's intriguing and involved in a lot of great stories.
Now, if Hate-Monger was my favorite character, growing up, then there'd be a huge problem. What was your favorite character when you first got into comics? Are there characters you feel weird about liking as a kid?