The future became so very complicated in the early 1990s. Liefeld had success with Cable, so the X-Books decided to keep riding that train straight into the ground. Bishop appeared next and he was from a variance of the Days of Future Past timeline. His future had gotten over more of the bad DOFP stuff, but now there was a mutant police force dedicated to bringing mutant outlaws to justice. Trevor Fitzroy led these criminals into the past in a way befitting a child’s 1992 vision of the future. As a result, Bishop butted heads with the people considered deceased legends in his time. He spent years moaning about how he had to stop his future from happening by dealing with the X-Traitor. Meanwhile, everyone was dressed like Jim Lee’s B-Reel.
The X-Traitor carried Bishop through his five-year plan. Unfortunately, it ended on a plot point that reduced Bishop to nothingness. The X-Traitor turned out to be Professor Xavier after being possessed by the Onslaught entity. That whole 1996 event framed what Bishop had spent his adult life trying to fix and then it ended with the character losing a point. Lobdell and other writers threw him into different scenarios with very little success. Sure, it was great to see Bishop mack on Deathbird, but who really cares about either character? Honestly, both people were destined to be on the wrong end of Vulcan chucking a plane at them.
The next few years was spent, fleshing out Bishop’s origins. His parents were Aborigine mutant refugees who left Australia for America. Eventually, Bishop would discover that Gateway is his grandfather. Let’s stop for a moment and work out the details on that one. First, Gateway is dead. Second, Gateway seemed way too old to just start having children to produce children Bishop’s age in that far flung future. I don’t want to hear about the Marvel sliding timeline. Numbers are numbers, people.
But, Bishop ends up being born in New York City where he lives with his sister Shard. Shard and Bishop are branded as mutants and eventually fight their way into the ranks of the Xavier Security Enforcers. Bad things happen to Shard and she ends up becoming a hologram that spends most of her time being wasted in the later issues of the first X-Factor run. Shard and Bishop worked together and first encountered Trevor Fitzroy together. Cue bad mutant things happening and we’re back to how Bishop arrived in the present. It seems like the need for the character has been wrapped up, right?
Bishop has spent the recent era stalking Cable and trying to destroy Hope Summers. Eventually, that gets old and Bishop helps Hope defeat Stryfe. Why? Well, because useless characters spend a lot of time in the future doing things that border on 90s nostalgia porn. Bishop arrives back in the present, as he’s possessed by the Demon Bear. But, doesn’t being possessed by the Demon Bear turn people into Native Americans? Just ask Tom Corsi and Sharon Friedlander! Fortunately, that plot device has been dropped in the modern era and Bishop remained African American after his encounter. I might be running away from that point, but it’ll return twice before the Project is over.
Recently, Bishop has experience a bit of a fan revival. Omar Sy played him in “Days of Future Past” and the internet nerds have dug up that old picture of Gary Coleman dressed exactly Bishop, but from 11 years before the character’s creation. Google it, if you want to check it out. Honestly, I’m just trying to avoid a copyright claim on that front. That being said, why are fans returning to the character? Has recycled future junk become cool 20 years later? I know that everything is cyclical, but it wasn’t like fans were clamoring for The Mimic to return in the 1990s. Jeph Loeb just made it happen.
Ultimately, the character is the end result of the X Plot to keep the future in question for mutantdom. While it was fun and fresh for the Summers clan, it showed diminishing returns for Bishop. If the threat of “Days of Future Past” keeps getting reset, then there’s nothing to worry about. The X-Men got betrayed? Well, there’s a nationwide X-Men police force to deal with problems now. Sentinels are under control and mutants seem to be living their life as part of society again. Then, why come back?
It’s almost as though Bishop was a Truther that couldn’t rest until he knew every single detail about why this thing from the past ended. Bishop had no ties to the team, but he found a video in a ruined area and decided that it was time to head back! Sure, Trevor Fitzroy stealing a bunch of convicts influenced his decision, but what about his pals? Those two guys were along for the ride to die. Also, how cute was it that they got a few issues before dying? It’s not like one poorly thought out future bounty hunter was going to be a rough sale, they attempted to stretch it further. I miss those crazy days where Marvel had more money than God doing a bump of powder off Marilyn Monroe’s tits.
I can feel through the Force that there is a wave of fans ready to write in about his role in “Age of Apocalypse”. Hell, the AOA storyline made Bishop being irrelevant stand out even more. He remembered the original reality because he was such an afterthought, that the M’Krann Crystal didn’t even care to reset him. When one of the most powerful forces in the Multiverse can’t be bothered with you, then you must really suck. After all, it gave Strong Guy and Forge new jobs in the re-imagined reality. Hell, it created Nate Grey. Even with the new role as a temporary plot device, the AOA storyline did whatever it could to push him to the background outside of the bookend books. I’m sorry if some readers had a creative boner for the guy, but Bishop is terrible.