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Friday, July 31, 2020

The Evolution of Mutant Force

Fans of the Defenders might recognize Burner, Lifter, Peeper, Shocker, and Slither as Mutant Force … but that wasn't the group's original name. When they first appeared in Captain America Annual #4 (1977), they were billed as Magneto's all-new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants!

It wasn't until they began working for Mandrill in Defenders #78 (Dec. 1979) that the five henchmen adopted the name Mutant Force. The team remained Mutant Force when they changed leaders once again, working next for Mad-Dog, who incidentally was not a mutant.

As of Captain America #342 (June 1988), Slither left Mutant Force and became a member of the Serpent Society, a group of super-villains unified by their reptilian powers rather than mutant status. Meanwhile, the rest of Mutant Force altered their code names and started wearing matching costumes to mask their previous identities. Calling themselves the Resistants in #343 (July 1988), they fought against the Mutant Registration Act, which now required mutants to register with the U.S. government.

  • Burner, sporting fire powers, changed his name to Crucible.
  • Lifter became Meteorite and used his power to negate gravity in a novel way, transporting the Resistants on a floating chunk of rock.
  • Peeper, who had telescopic vision and optic blasts, chose Occult as his new secret alias.
  • Shocker, with an electro-touch strong enough to render someone unconscious, became Paralyzer. With the new uniform, Paralyzer wore metal gloves and boots to hide that his hands and feet resembling pincers; these physical mutantation were visible in his previous costume as Shocker.

Several other mutants joined the Resistants by their next appearance in Captain America #346 (Oct. 1988). The Mutant Registration Act described in this story was a colloquial term for the proposed Mutant Affairs Control Act referenced in New Defenders #142.

The cover of Captain America #343 shows Burner, Meteorite, and Oracle using their powers, and incorrectly pictures Paralyzer with ordinary hands.
The cover of #346 depicts the unique gloves and boots covering the character's mutant pincers.

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