Posted on June 11, 2011 by Nathan Masters
Well, shock horror, I’ve returned to my ongoing obsession to address the abandoned plots of Chris Claremont, this time through a 3 part series that will look back in time some thirty-five years when the walls between his world-building on Uncanny X-Men and Ms. Marvel were extremely thin.
The mystery of who Claremont originally intended ERIC THE RED to be has existed for 35 years now, but I believe evidence to promote MY theory that he was Mystique in disguise was recently provided by Claremont in the flashback scene in Chaos War: X-Men #1 he wrote where Moira MacTaggert reveals that Destiny’s quest to protect humanity led her to cross paths with a man of mystery named ERIC RAVEN.
It’s previously been a mystery why Davan Shakari more often spelled it ERIC when the original identity used by Cyclops was spelled ERIK.
Figure 2: Cyclops spells it as Eric the Red while Davan Shakari spells it as Eric the Red, from X-Men 51 and 97 respectively.
However, if Eric was Mystique’s original Christian name, did Claremont choose the latter spelling to provide readers with an extremely veiled clue? I think so!!!
During Chris’s X-Men: True Friends limited series, set in Edinburgh, Scotland in the year 1936, Mystique is portrayed working alongside Logan and Irene Adler as a MAN called “Mr. Raven” (obviously ERIC Raven).
Figure 3: Mr. Raven working alongside Irene Adler and Logan in 1936 from X-Men: True Friends #3
Since you’ll recall Claremont later revealed Rogue’s official name as Anna Raven in X-Treme X-Men, (s)he must have been using this surname to imply that “Raven” was Mystique’s official surname if (s)he was Anna’s adoptive parent.
Figure 4: Rogue adopts the surname of her adoptive parent, Mystique, from X-Treme X-Men #43
Now getting back to Mystique as being the true identity of Eric the Red…
Recall how the panel of Davan Shakari in shadow has a human male profile in Uncanny X-Men 107 and not the plumage shown when he is later unmasked.
Figure 5: Davan Shakari’s human (not Shi’ar) profile from Uncanny X-Men #107
This makes me believe Claremont and Cockrum originally planned for Eric the Red to be a human agent of D’Ken, with Claremont perhaps changing his mind after he received the illustrated pages back from Dave, writing the dialogue to reflect this change.
Hence, I would posit that by suggesting Eric the RED was a Shi’ar was Claremont’s sly attempt at a RED HERRING to put us off the truth (as Mystique of all characters could have easily metamorphed into a Shi’ar).
Given the screen showing a possible Shi’ar watching Steven Lang watching Eric the Red in Uncanny X-Men 97…
Figure 6: Shi’ar character watching Steven Lang watching Eric the Red’s battle with the X-Men from Uncanny X-Men #97
…and Claremont’s own reveal that Mike Rossi was planted to keep an eye on Lang…
Figure 7: Colonel Michael Rossi sent from Washington D.C. to interview Lang before giving the Council of the Chosen (the Hellfire Club) a final recommendation on his Sentinel project from Unanny X-Men #96
…was Eric the Red further intended as Rossi, who, while working for the government as a middle-man between Lang and the Council of the Chosen, was secretly a human agent of the Shi’ar?!
A further clue Claremont possibly provides to hint readers into this intention is the fact that ROSSI is a renowned surname in Italy which means “RED”.
Given Claremont’s later introduction of Mystique secretly working with the Council of the Chosen to rip SHIELD off by infiltrating a SHIELD Helicarrier as Nick Fury, compare this with the next time we see Rossi after his supposed death “infiltrating a SHIELD Helicarrier” in UXM 182 where he uncovered details of Hellfire Club agents operating inside the spy agency.
Figure 8: Colonel Mike Rossi infiltrates the SHIELD Helicarrier to discover Hellfire Club agents operating inside SHIELD from Uncanny X-Men #182
Did Claremont intend to reveal that Mike Rossi, and for that matter, Eric the Red, were really Mystique in disguise? I always thought it was rather interesting that Mike Rossi, a government agent, was so interested in protecting mutant rights. But if he was Mystique, then it makes perfect sense.
But if Rossi was really Mystique this wouldn’t be that much of a stretch when you consider she also masqueraded as government agent, Raven Darkholme!
Figure 9: Mystique’s identity of Raven Darkholme, Assistant Secretary of DARPA in Washington D.C. from Ms. Marvel #18
Recall that Carol Danvers had first met Mike Rossi JUST AFTER she joined the Air Force.
Figure 10: Rogue’s Carol Danvers personality confirming first meeting Mike Rossi just after she joined the Air Force from Uncanny X-Men #182
Now further recall that Mystique was made aware by Destiny that Danvers would be important to their mission, a so-called “lady of the clouds”. Did Mystique therefore adopt the identity of Mike Rossi to get close to Danvers to keep an eye on her, like she later would with Rogue? At this stage assume that Destiny hadn’t quite predicted that Danvers would cost Rogue her soul and possibly her life, due to the Shadow King’s manipulation of her visions in X-Treme X-Men Annual 1.
Figure 11: Shadow King’s manipulation of Irene Adler’s visions from X-Treme X-Men Annual 2001
Now further recall the mission Logan and Mike Rossi were on to free Danvers from a Lubyanka prison where the KGB was holding her.
Figure 12: Rogue’s Carol Danvers personality further recalls Logan and Colonel Rossi working together on a mission to free her from the Lubyanka prison the KGB were holding her in from Uncanny X-Men #182
For some odd reason this draws parallels to Logan’s earlier mission in True Friends where he was working with Mr. Raven & Irene Adler. Did Rossi/ Raven seek Logan out for this mission due to (s)he earlier knowledge?
If Rossi was Mystique this would better explain how he survived the plane crash outside Red Hook (I further wonder if Claremont intended a little Lovecraftian connection there;) How interesting that the reading of “his” mind by Emma Frost then leads to the Hellfire Club’s anti-mutant agenda being overthrown, the organisation going on to be lead my mutants.
Figure 13: Emma Frost’s reading of Mike Rossi’s mind leads to Ned Buckman’s Council of the Chosen being overthrown by Sebastian Shaw from Classic X-Men #7
Even more interesting is how, after his recovery, Rossi goes underground as Raven Darkholme is introduced as Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and is believed dead for some years.
When Rossi shows up again he is firstly seen investigating Henry Peter Gyrich’s involvement in Project: Wideawake, an equivalent of the project he’d firstly been investigating Steven Lang and the Hellfire Club for…
Figure 14: The first time Michael Rossi is seen since his supposed death, investigating the National Security Council’s involvement in Project: Wideawake from New Mutants #2
…and is next seen infiltrating a SHIELD Helicarrier to uncover information on the Hellfire Club and Sebastian Shaw (see Figure 8 above). Given Shaw is later revealed to be funding Project: Wideawake…
Figure 15: Mark IV Sentinels built by Sebastian Shaw for the U.S. Government’s Project: Wideawake from New Mutants #2
…this could explain Mystique’s earlier mission for the Hellfire Club on the SHIELD Helicarrier.
Figure 16: Mystique’s infiltration of a SHIELD Helicarrier as Nick Fury from Ms. Marvel #17
Had Raven infiltrated the Hellfire Club when first introduced in an effort to uncover SHIELD’s involvement in the manufacture of Sentinels?
Then consider Claremont’s recent revelation that SHIELD has been infiltrated by the Consortium who are revealed to have been the ones behind the Sentinels throughout Marvel’s history.
Figure 17: The manufacturing of Sentinels is revealed as a pet project of the Consortium from X-Men Forever #9
Don’t you just love the idea of Mystique masquerading as these other major supporting characters, Eric the Red, Mike Rossi, etc.?
To be continued in Part 2
Filed under: Claremont's X-Men