Mystique: how a shapeshifter fights

Before we get into Wolverine’s revenge on Mystique (who sent him to Hell a few articles ago), we should have her take a starring role first.  Mystique collected quite a resume in her time, including membership in the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, being the mother of X-Men Nightcrawler and Rogue, and a confirmed birth date sometime in the 1800s.  Past stories have shown her hanging out with Wolverine in the 1920s, fighting in World War II, and participating in all sorts of historical events far after that.

More importantly, her mutant ability lets her shapeshift into whatever person she wants.  Certainly not as combat effective as say, claws and a healing factor, but it’s important to understand that Mystique may be one of the more formidable opponents in the Marvel universe.

She’s even Ms. Marvel’s arch-nemesis.  Her first appearance was actually in 1978 in Ms. Marvel #16, written by Chris Claremont and drawn by Jim Mooney.  Proof from her premiere arc:

Yup, that’s her real name.  Being named Raven Darkhölme pretty much guarantees a life of crime.

In 2003, Mystique received her own solo series, where she served as a secret agent for Professor X. It’s fantastic and you should check it out.  Anyway, right in Mystique #1-2, written by Brian K. Vaughan and drawn by Jorge Lucas, this happens:

Nasty situation.  Yes, she’s a talented martial artist and hand-to-hand fighter, but that’s practically a requirement to be a superhero or villain nowadays.  Powers don’t cut it in the business anymore — you also have to have decades of punching and kicking experience from the finest fighters before you’re let into the field.  Though all the brawling Mystique’s done isn’t quite enough for her to take down an entire highly armed special forces team.

This is where shapeshifting comes into handy.

Unfortunately, henchmen — both the good and bad guys — tend to be fairly dumb.  Though I guess even Captain America won’t backhand a young child.  Wolverine would.  Anyway, the second rule of shapeshifting combat?  Build confusion.

By the way, how do writers justify her clothing changes?  Turns out Mystique’s always naked. She can shapeshift clothing as a part of her body.  I agree, I don’t know if that’s an attractive quality in a woman either.

Some supervillains don’t have to be smart.  Juggernaut, for instance.  His superpower involves running into dudes at full speed.  But for poor Raven, her survival depends on her brains.  I mean, Ms. Marvel can fly, shoot energy beams, is completely bulletproof, and capable of lifting upwards of 50 to 100 tons.  And she considers Mystique her biggest threat.  Trust me, when Mystique’s strength level is somewhere around a young woman who dabbles in pilates, scaring Ms. Marvel says a lot for Mystique’s intelligence and strategic ability.

Oh, so Mystique’s plan?

Okay, so sometimes she has an off-day.  Still, points for creativity.

Next article, Wolverine gets his vengeance on our lucky lady.  Get ready for blood.

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7 Comments on “Mystique: how a shapeshifter fights”

  1. Dan Legue says:

    Mystique x Spider-Man would make a great team. Especially if she was Carlie Cooper the whole time. Don’t you agree?

    • Jason Levine says:

      I like that Carlie Cooper got to fight in the Spider-Island event. Spider-Man always dates badasses. And really, everyone is good teamed up with Spider-Man, though I’m incredibly biased.

  2. sftheory1 says:

    Interesting article. Can’t wait for the “Get Mystique” post!

  3. Dan Legue says:

    Could you also imagine Mystique being responsible for the breakup of Peter Parker x Felicia Hardy’s relationship, and might have been responsible for Debra Whitman’s mental breakdown when she learned that Peter was Spider-Man?


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