Samuel Guthrie was born in Cumberland County, Kentucky, the eldest of eleven children to Lucinda and Thomas Guthrie, a coal mine worker. After the death of his father, sixteen-year-old Samuel Guthrie became the man of the house to his large family, which included future X-Men charcters Husk and Icarus. To help support his family, Guthrie decided to work in his father's occupational field as a coal miner. The dangerous nature of the occupation caught up with him one day when Sam found himself trapped in a collapsing mine shaft. While trying to rescue his fellow worker, a friend of his father's who had introduced him to the job, Sam subconsciously activated his mutant ability to propel himself at superhuman speeds and used it to bring the pair to safety.
Cannonball was created by writer Chris Claremont and artist Bob McLeod and first appeared in Marvel Graphic Novel issue 4 (1982).
Major Story Arcs
The New Mutants
The coal mine incident brought Samuel to the attention Donald Pierce, who hired him as a mercenary for the Hellfire Club. Pierce intended to use him in a plot to attack the X-Men's fledgling junior team, the New Mutants. Sam's kind nature brought him to his senses and he eventually turned against Pierce. Professor Charles Xavier saw the good qualities inside Sam, citing Pierce's manipulation as the cause for his misdeeds, and asked him to join his New Mutants. Cannonball left his large farming family in Kentucky to join the team with his mother's blessings.
As part of the New Mutants, Sam formed close friendships with his fellow teammates Sunspot and Wolfsbane. Although initially a slow learner at using his mutant abilities, eventually Sam learnt to manoeuvre adeptly.Sam had an ongoing rivalry with Danielle Moonstar (then known as Psyche) as the two acted as the team co-leaders. He also supervised other teammates, including Magik, Karma, Cypher, and Magma, among others. Early on in his career with the team, Cannonball visited Nova Roma and encountered his future teammate Magma. With the team, he soon met the New Mutant rivals, the Hellions, a team structured as the future of the Hellfire Club (the Hellions were also the anti-thesis of the New Mutants, with Jetstream his supposed equivalent ).
With the New Mutants, Cannonball also encountered the Gladiator, the Shadow King, Loki, the Enchantress, and other major villains. Sam also met a young intergalactic rock star named Lila Cheney, with whom he eventually shared a romance. Guthrie also teamed up with Spider-Man and defeated the nefarious Incandescent Man.
The New Mutants eventually found themselves under the guidance of Magneto at the behest of Professor Xavier. Magneto's heavy handed leadership did not sit well with the team, and Cannonball began to display a measure of independence and rebellion against authority. These traits would grow stronger as he matured. In an encounter with the ancient entity, the Beyonder, he killed them out of curiosity. They were resurrected by the Beyonder soon after, but this trauma left the team deeply shaken, and for a time they went with Emma Frost, to her Massachusetts Academy to join the Hellions.
They eventually recover from the trauma, after a fight with the Avengers, in which they are forced to rescue Warlock and Magneto. Over time with the New Mutants, Sam develops a brotherly affection for Rahne although he remained oblivious for some time that Rahne harbored much deeper feelings for him. They worked with the Power Pack when the latter group needed help dealing with a team of minor demons. Sam leads the group in chasing the Impossible Man around the world, who had gotten into a potentially deadly one-upmanship competition with Warlock.
Sam even meets (and fights) his older self when an alternate future version of the team travels to his time. This adventure was erased out of his mind by the future version of his friend Karma. Sam meets with Lila again. A jealous admirer of Lila drugs Sam, intending to kill him. The resulting fight leads to the accidental release of the creature Bird-Brain who would join the team for a while. Unfortunately for the team, taking Bird-Brain back to his island home ends with the shooting death of Douglas Ramsey by the Ani-Mator, Bird Brain's creator. The team also battles Cameron Hodge and the Right. Defying Magneto, the team sneaks out to another Lila Cheney concert. They are swept up in a kidnapping of Lila and dealings with the powerful entity known as Gosamyr. In preventing Gosamyr's relatives from endangering innocent lives, Lila seemingly dies.
Returning to Earth, the team got caught in the events of Inferno. They team up with the X-Terminators who would eventually merge into their team. They help neutralize the demonic invasion plan by rescuing kidnapped infants high above New York City. One of the new members, Boom Boom, soon became a primary romantic interest. The New Mutants fight the Hellfire Club on the remains of the X-Mansion, formally rejecting Magneto's leadership.
Danielle's adventures in Asgard, most of which took place while Sam had been healing, involved her rescuing Brightwind, one of the horses ridden by the Valkyrie. Brightwind chose her as her new rider, granting her Valkyrie powers. This leads to the team being involved with the realm once again. The death goddess Hela managed to overwhelm all the Valkyries, including Danielle. With behind-the-scenes assistance from Doctor Strange, the team heads to Asgard yet again. Sam's feelings for Kindra get the team in trouble. When he sees her being threatened, he rashly rushes out to save her and all the New Mutants are captured by Hela's forces. The group is split up but Sam manages to lead his half safely through many dangers, later reuniting with his friends. They manage to save Odin, who was vulnerable, from a murder attempt.
Soon after returning to Earth, the team first encounters Cable. They then assist Cable in fighting the Mutant Liberation Front. Wolfsbane, Warlock, Rictor, and Tabitha are kidnapped from the grounds of the X-Mansion by Genoshan forces under the control of Cameron Hodge. Warlock soon perishes, murdered by Hodge in an attempt to get his powers. Sam joins the X-Men on a rescue mission and Genosha's government is toppled. Rahne stays behind to help the fellow victims of Genosha's regime.
Cannonball and the other New Mutants left the X-Men's supervision, and joined forces with the mysterious Cable to become the hard-edged X-Force. Cable named Cannonball Second-In-Command and field leader of the team. It was early during this time that Sam was impaled and killed by the mutant Sauron during a clash with an incarnation of the Brotherhood of Mutants. However, only a few minutes later, he had healed and returned to life. Cable revealed the he had chosen Sam to lead the New Mutants initially because he suspected Cannonball to be an External - a particularly rare type of mutant who is virtually immortal. Cable had come to train Sam to fight Apocalypse, another External who, in Cable's future time, had conquered the world. Many other Externals, such as Saul and Gideon, also came to believe Sam was one of them.
It was also around this time that Sam's sister, Husk, was revealed to have mutant powers. Cannonball's existence as an External was disputed by Selene, who once claimed that he was not an External. However, she is not a particularly trustworthy source and no alternate explanation has been given for his surviving the wounds Sauron had inflicted. His immortality was later brought up as the reason he survived 3 gunshot wounds to the chest. Sam's time in X-Force was not easy, as he was considered 'out of line' by the X-Men and X-Force were considered outright criminals by S.H.I.E.L.D. This even devolved into a fight between a S.H.I.E.L.D. team led by Nick Fury and supported by veteran superhero War Machine. Later, any rivalries were put aside, as Sam was instrumental in helping the other X-Men, particularly Forge and Wolfsbane, defeat the Phalanx.
In the mid 1990s, X-Force reestablished ties with the X-Men. Sam later officially accepts an invitation to join the X-Men. Initially, Sam is excited, this having been his dream since first arriving at Xavier's school. During this time, he was also a supporting character in Wolverine's own comic. During this time, Sam becomes unsure of himself and his abilities. He privately expresses doubts about his abilities to Iceman, causing the veteran X-Man much discomfort. Sam battles the head of the Shi'ar Imperial Guard, Gladiator to a standstill, despite being overpowered, thus facing his doubts about his abilities, only to be left behind as the rest of the X-Men were taken into space to save the Shi'ar empire. This led Sam to again question his place on the X-Men. During his time with X-Men, Cannonball found his relationship with Tabitha strained. It was so strained she turned to Sam's best friend, Sunspot, for "support". Sam returned to the X-Men, for a brief period until he left the team to help his ailing mother. During his time with the X-Men, he also infiltrated the presidential campaign of anti-mutant candidate Graydon Creed, using the alias "Samson Guthry". Despite the rather transparent alias, Sam was able to remain undetected until Creed was assassinated on the eve of the election.
Sam was there when the mutant entity Onslaught erupted from Xavier's mind. The entity, before attacking, had enjoyed several minutes of tearing apart Sam psychologically. Cannonball rejoined X-Force, now independent of Cable and operating in San Francisco. Cannonball eventually became team leader again, after the injuries sustained by Siryn. The team eventually found a new mentor, by the name of Pete Wisdom, who introduced the team to the world of espionage. During this time, Sam and Tabitha had gotten back together. After Wisdom's alleged death, Sam led the team again and attempted to continue Wisdom's crusade. Eventually, Sam and other members of X-Force have to fake their deaths.
After X-Force’s dissolution, Cannonball joined several of his former teammates and former members of X-Force and Generation X, in the Paris, France branch, of Professor X's international mutant task force X-Corporation. His time with the X-Corporation wasn't a pleasant one. En route to a mission, later found to involve the Weapon Plus program, his teammate Darkstar poked fun at him for eating a sandwich that would have rather distasteful consequences for "everybody who went out without an umbrella in downtown Beauvais." This moment of levity at Cannonball's expense did not last, as on that same mission, Darkstar died. At the funeral of Darkstar, Xavier gave Cannonball a note, with the whereabouts of Lila Cheney. Sam decided to take time away from the X-Corporation, as the strain of his life began to get to him. He worked for a time cleaning up damages to the France-England tunnel, AKA the Chunnel, which was partially destroyed in the very same mission which killed Darkstar.
While away, Sam rekindled his romantic relationship with Lila Cheney for a time. Sam couldn't find peace with his life so he was asked by Storm to join her X-Treme X-Men, a group of X-Men operating outside of Professor X's leadership. For a time, he even was partnered with his old friend Wolverine during an adventure where they pursued long time X-Man foe William Stryker. Sam also found himself having a reunion of sorts with former teammates, Sunspot and Magma. He and his teammates rejoined the central X-Men, after the events of Planet X. Sam is injured on a mission and once again decided to break for some peace. He uses the time to work on his own farm, which he had bought with his X-Corporation paychecks. While on the farm, Sam found himself teaming up again with Cable and reformed X-Force against the threat of the Skornn. Sam and former X-Force teammate, Siryn, went in search of Cable with the mercenary Deadpool, who could track the missing man via a unique teleportation bond the two shared. Deadpool derisively refers to Sam as "Cannonballs".
Sam has once more joined the active roster of the X-Men, whose team is co-led by Nightcrawler and Bishop. For a while he literally and figuratively watches over the younger, more carefree students at the X-Mansion. He also functions as a member of the XSE. He has already participated in helping the 198 and fighting the Shi'ar Death Commandos. He soon suffers the death of his brother Jay, who is killed by William Stryker. In the first part of The First Foursaken story arc, Cannonball went with the X-Men to Central Park, where they fight the Foursaken, who then capture the X-Men and sent them elsewhere. After escaping, Cannonball accompanies the X-Men to Africa to help Storm assist mutant refugees.
Cannonball later served on Rogue's team of X-Men. The team was formed as a rapid response unit, sent to sudden and emergent threats. The team's unorthodox lineup, which included ex-villains like Mystique and Lady Mastermind, brought Samuel closer to fellow veteran X-Men Rogue and Iceman, both of whom he had been teamed with previously. After defeating the Children of the Vault, Rogue announced the departure of her team from the mansion. Sam explained his personal feelings about leaving to Cyclops, saying that he felt he needed to leave the mansion as his former home had become a grave site for his brother Jay and the constant reminder became too much.
Following the defeat of a villain named Pandemic, the team then fought the alien mummudrai called Hecatomb. Coupled with injuries sustained against Pandemic, Rogue suffered a huge mental injury from Hetacomb, leading the team to rest in Rogue's childhood home in Mississippi. During this time, Mystique and Lady Mastermind betray the X-Men and join the Marauders in an attack and retrieval mission to acquire Destiny 's Diaries.
After the surprise blitz, Emma Frost, disabled by a neuro-toxin, uploaded everything she picked out of what was at the edges of the Marauders' psi-shielding into Sam's mind and takes limited possession over his body, causing him to unwillingly flee (along with Iceman) from the battle. Aboard the Blackbird, the two are engaged in midair by Sunfire, who cripples the jet. Cannonball manages to escape and battle Shiro, who reveals that he killed Cable. Cannonball shakes it off, explaining that it "wouldn't matter who told me that, ah'd still be sayin' 'show me the body.'" Sam and Iceman, telepathically prompted by Emma Frost, attempted to recover the Destiny Diaries which are hidden in a dilapidated brewery. The Marauder's master, Mister Sinister, used a reverse engineered version of Xavier's Cerebro to track the pair of X-Men to the brewery. The Marauders attacked Sam and Iceman and overtook them. After the battle, Sinister attempted to telepathically erase Sam's mind so that the X-Men would find him as an empty shell. This would serve as a lesson to them and to the Marauders as well. However, Sinister was distracted by Iceman, allowing Sam to activate his power to rocket his way out of the brewery and escape. Iceman was also able to escape, but it was revealed that Sam, who crashed through one of the brewery's walls, was seriously injured. It was discovered that his blast field, which protects him from concussive impact when he uses his power, was not working properly. As a result, Sam received compound fractures of the upper and lower legs, a broken collar bone, and other injuries. Sam lies unconscious in the X-Mansion's infirmary. Dr. Henry McCoy attends to his injuries and evaluates his condition. He notes that Sam's brain scan indicates sluggish and non-continuous activity. However, at the end of the issue, Sam is shown conscious, alert, and speaking clearly to Iceman. He quickly recovers and is capable of taking part in the final fight against the Marauders. It has yet to be seen if he has suffered any lingering mental effects from his ordeal at the hands of Mr. Sinister.
After Cyclops disbands the X-Men, Cannonball goes home. His sister Paige picks him up at the airport, extremely happy to have him back with the family. Sam is moody and withdrawn following the tragic and traumatic events of Messiah Complex and the disbanding of the X-Men. As they drive, he asks Paige to stop at a local bar. As soon as he walks in, the local men begin to glare at him, and the bartender asks him not to start anything. Paige knows that Sam came to the bar for a fight, as it's filled with members of the Cabot family (rival family whose daughter had a Romeo & Juliet-esque romance with Sam's brother Jay). Soon the Cabots confront Sam, and he pushes them to attack him, which they happily do. Paige refuses to participate, and Sam defeats all four men alone, trying to prove something to himself after he was helpless and hospitalized during the X-Men's last big battle. Paige demands to know what's wrong with him, and he angrily blasts off into the sky, saying he should have never come home.
Sam is soon called by Cyclops, informing him that the X-Men are reforming and establishing themselves now in San Francisco. Sam agrees to join this new team. He arrives in San Francisco just as Magneto is attacking the city with a group of antique Sentinels. Sam manages to plow into Magneto, disarming his artificial magnetism suit, and allowing the X-Men the upper hand in the battle. Unfortunately, Magneto still manages to escape.
After Messiah Complex, the X-Men were disassembled, including the New X-Men. A new comic book, Young X-Men finds the newly formed Young X-Men team faced with a new incarnation of the Brotherhood of Mutants. An ominous clue as to the identity of the new Brotherhood of Mutants suggests that the new Brotherhood may not be "new" and that they are led by the new Lord Imperial of the Hellfire Club. In the first issue of Young X-Men, the last page reveals Sunspot, Magma, Moonstar, and Cannonball as members. The hint alludes to the fact that the New Brotherhood were also once New Mutants. However this was only a ruse of Donald Pierce who had disguised himself as Cyclops and gathered the Young X-Men for his own ends. During the Secret Invasion, Sam is seen working alongside Armor and Colossus when the Skrulls invade San Francisco.
A New Mutant Again
Recently Cannonball brought back the New Mutants to save Karma and later Moonstar, who had both found Legion. The team consisted of himself, Magma, Sunspot and Magik. The team was able to save both of their former teammates and took Legion to Utopia under Danger's care. Though Moonstar and Cannonball had a fight about leadership of the team, everything turn out for the better and the team was formed.
After the new mutants went their separate ways Sam and Bobby retired from "hero-ing" and went on vacation until Captain America contacted them inviting them to join the Avengers; because he had been having problems with the 'Superior Spider-man'.
Time Runs Out
Eight months in the future, Sam is seen with Izzy Kane, aka Smasher, on Chandilar, the Shi'ar Throne World. Izzy has given birth to Sam's child. They had named their child Josiah Guthrie in honor of Sam's departed brother. Bobby Da Costa and Eden Fesi come to visit and to recruit Sam and Izzy. The two are taken back to Earth, to the Kane Farm. It is revealed that Izzy and Sam's infant son is a mutant with certain special abilities.
Powers and Abilities
Cannonball is a mutant with abilities that allow him to become like a human rocket. He is able to discharge thermo-kinetic energy from his body, thus thrusting himself forward in high-speed flight. When he flies, a very durable force field surrounds his body and any passengers he may be carrying, making him and/or them virtually invulnerable to harm. Originally, Sam was unable to stop himself once he had begun flying. He would have to have to either find an object strong enough to force him to stop, or keep flying until his powers ran out of energy. But, with practice, Cannonball has learned to stop himself without having to resort to either of those options. It should be noted that, even when flying at top speed, Cannonball still has rather impressive maneuverability. He has also started to learn to project his thermo-kinetic energy into powerful concussive blasts. Sam is also a capable hand to hand combatant, having been trained by Cable.
Cannonball is a member of Emma Frost's Academy of Tomorrow. When Lorna Dane ( Polaris) was framed for murder and sent into prison, Alex Summers Havok, Lorna's boyfriend, begin to recruit a team that will free Lorna. With Sam, Sunspot, Cypher and Northstar. They fought the X-Men but lost.
Earth-295: Age of Apocalypse
The Guthrie Family was abducted while the cullings and Sinister offered children the chance to join Apocalypse´s forces. Sam and Elizabeth accepted. Cannonball was a member of Mr. Sinister's Elite Mutant Force. He was first a rookie mutant guard at the breeding pens, keeping the prisoners under control. He usually worked with his sister Elizabeth (Amazon). They were faithful servants of Apocalypse and follow his commands every time, using their powers to torture the prisoners. Almost at the end of Apocalypse´s empire, they were ascended and got their prelate status after Cyclops´ decommission. When Cyclops and Jean Grey started the riots on the breeding pens, the Guthries were after them but were stopped by the Bedlam Brothers.
Later was revealed that both survive and joined forces with their siblings Husk and Icarus to destroy the X-Men, which abandoned her on the Seattle Core. Eventually they were killed by the X-Men. They were henchmen of Sinister until death.
Sam is one of the infected by the zombie plague and is now a zombie.
Earth-1298: Mutant X
Sam's appearance in this reality is he is morbidly obese while her sister, Paige has an ugly appearance of her own. The siblings would always insult each other because of what they look like. Because of his immense weight, Sam cannot stay in Cannonball mode for a long time.
In this reality, Sam is still a member of the New Mutants, and is also a good friend of Morph.
In what if the X-Men had remained in Asgard? Sam married the daughter of Eitri, Kindra. When she died, Sam became the king of the dwarves.
New Mutants Forever
In this re-imagining of the New Mutants, Sam and Illyana team up with Selene to save their teammates from the Red Skull. After Selene is poisoned, spearheading her transformation into one of the Red Skull's minions, Illyana proposes that they kill her. Sam, as an X-Man, is vehemently against this, and censures Illyana accordingly. Luckily, it does not come to this, as Selene is able to absorb enough life force to fend off the infection. With Illyana, Sam, and Selene at full strength, they prepare to infiltrate the Red Skull's base of operations, free their friends, and liberate Nova Roma.
X-Men: The Animated Series
During an explosion in a mine, Sam used his powers to save the miners inside. The miners thanked him. His family then contacted the Xavier Institute for a proper guidance regarding his mutant powers. Rogue (who introduced herself as Mrs. Lebeau) also went to their house to teach Sam how to deal with his powers. As the news about Sam became the talk of the town, some difficulties sooner came as he was mistaken to be dating with someone's girlfriend. They confronted Sam and bullied her. For being insulted, Sam taught them a lesson using his powers. The townsfolk believed that Sam was bad. Meanwhile,as the townsfolk protests against him, an anti-mutant army forced him to join them for a weapon project and control his mind, as it was revealed by Professor X. Sam was able to escape from them and use his powers to stop that army. Afterward, he has to say goodbye to his family and live at the Institute.
Cannonball is a member of the New Mutants who undergoes trainings with the X-Men. He is a close friend to Magma. He also bonds with Wolverine in a racing contest between the two of them. Like others, he also experienced discrimination for being a mutant. As he and Magma were bullied by a gang, they were saved by Spyke. During the final battle with Apocalypse, Sam carried Rogue to let her in Apocalypse's base with the help of his flying abilities.
X2: X-Men United
Cannonball's name is listed in William Stryker's files on Lady Deathstrike's computer.