Dave Cockrum's Outsiders


Left: The Outsiders: Typhoon, Quetzal, Nightcrawler, Reflecto, Power Boy and Trio. Right: The Strangers: (clockwise from top) Belladonna, Sidewinder, Manta, Tyr and Wolverine

In 1973, Legion artist Dave Cockrum created a group of heroes and villains that he proposed as additions to the Legion universe. Only two made it into the series. The first was Wildfire, whom he originally wanted to call Starfire. Wildfire debuted in Superboy & the Legion #195 (June 1973). Starfire's would-be companions were designed as an off-shoot called the Outsiders. The Outsiders included two characters from the ominous Adult Legion tales from Adventure #354 (1967): Reflecto (who'd been pictured) and Power Boy (who appeared in name only).

Soon Cockrum moved to Marvel Comics, and some of his rejected Outsiders characters found their way into the all-new X-Men: Nightcrawler was taken lock-stock-and-barrel, and Trio was refashioned into Storm. They debuted in Giant Sized X-Men #1 (May 1975).

Though his villain group was never named, Cockrum took to calling them the Strangers in a 2002 interview for TwoMorrows' Legion Companion (if not before). Only one of them appeared at DC; Tyr made the grade in Superboy #197 (Sept. 1973). The Stranger called Wolverine is interesting because it predated Marvel's own hero. Cockrum used his feral looks when redesigning Timber Wolf.

After moving to Marvel, Cockrum created a not-so-subtle Legion parody, the Imperial Guard. They first appeared in X-Men #107 (1977). His Wolverine character took root as the Guard's Fang.

Interview with Dave Cockrum by Peter Sanderson

Quetzal, original sketch, sold on ebay, 2008. Also view the character description.

Excerpted from the X-Men Companion (Fantagraphics, 1982)

Cockrum: "When I became a pro and I was doing Legion of Super-Heroes, I proposed four new Legionnaires and Nightcrawler was one of them. But Murray Boltinoff's response was that he was too weird looking."

Sanderson: "And we can't have weird looking people in this book about aliens."

Cockrum: "That's right, and the only one of the four that they used was the one I originally named Starfire, but who wound up being called Wildfire after being named Erg-1 for a while. But I also had a guy who was a weather handler called Typhoon who had a flowing cape with a dark cape with yellow trim. And I had a girl who had wings but not out of her back: they were from her arms like bird's. She was green and her name was Quetzal and she had long flowing hair. If you put Quetzal and Typhoon [he meant Trio, not Typhoon, ed.] together you got kind of a strange version of Storm."

Sanderson: "Len (Wein, New X-Men's original writer) told me that Storm was an amalgam of Typhoon and Black Cat."

Trio, original sketch, sold on ebay, 2008.

Cockrum: "Yeah, that was afterwards. When I did up the original X-Men designs, one of the characters was called the Black Cat. Take a look at Storm without the white hair and without the cape, and that's essentially the Black Cat. She had dark hair which was sort of like Wolverine's, tufted on top with the ear effect. And she could transform either into a cat—I preferred the idea of a house-cat and a panther—and she could also half-transform into a humanoid cat."

Later that same interview—

Sanderson: "How about Wolverine? Did you have anything to do with his creation?"

Cockrum: "No, but I resented his existence for a long time because I had come up with a Wolverine and shown it to Roy (Thomas, editor of the X-Men at that time) before this Wolverine. I had a series of characters I suggested could be X-Men… How should I put this? I did a montage piece of art with a lot of brand-new characters on it, none of whom was really identified as anything. One of them would up later being used as Tyr in the Legion of Super-Heroes, the guy with the gun on his hand. But anyhow, two of them were brother and sister. She was a vampire who, by one method or another, was going to try to keep it under control, possibly just bite people once and leave them alone, and not kill them off. He was a vulpine type: animalistic, bestial, feral, whom I called Wolverine."

Typhoon, original sketch, sold on ebay, 2008.

Sanderson: "Complete with claws?"

Cockrum: "No, he didn't have claws. But he had fangs and he was a nasty son of a bitch. He had almost the same haircut that Wolverine has now. In the interim, somewhere along the line, Roy suggested to Len, 'How about a Canadian mutant called Wolverine?' I assumed Roy just forgot that I showed him my Wolverine. I was kind of miffed about the whole thing, but it seemed kind of pointless to carry it on. I never did like Wolverine for a long time..."

» SEE ALSO: Dave Cockrum's Outsdiers & Devastators