Mystique is such a loaded character. For the longest time, she was presented as the evil foster mother figure until the 90s spent so much time showing how she slept her way around the Marvel Universe. What got left in the dust was the fact that she was a polyglot who had lived for more than 100 years while experimenting with her sexuality. The sexuality angle is hard to pin down on Mystique, as it’s hard to assume that her base form is the true representation of the shape-shifter. Mystique identifies as female, but could easily grow external genitals and bang half of Madripoor. I want to get all of this out of the way, as it has little impact on my views of the character.
Mystique first appeared as a Ms. Marvel villain, who brutally killed that killer’s lover and infiltrated her government workplace. What’s so amusing about that infiltration is that Mystique kept that government job for more than a decade. That would be like if Lex Luthor put on a pair of glasses to work at the Daily Planet. Then, he spent every waking hour abusing the power of the press and starting memes about Superman being a dick. But, what did Mystique do before all of this? I hate to say it, but you can easily trace her back story via her children and other hangers-on.
Before Mystique infiltrated DARPA, she was a young mutant at the dawn of the 20th Century. While struggling to survive, she met a young Irene Adler (Destiny), whose age will continue to be a sticking point for many years to come. They had an off-panel romantic relationship that lasted for many decades. FUN FACT: Mystique and Destiny were originally intended to be Nightcrawler’s parents. Mystique would’ve shifted into a dude form and knocked up Destiny to create the world’s greatest Fuzzy Elf. Being as that was a Jim Shooter era story, Jim Shooter went into one of his patented giant rages over a brilliant story idea. Nightcrawler would later be revealed to have been the son of a mutant demon from Hell, who Mystique banged while cheating on her German baron husband. While this would eventually introduce the world to the Bamfs, there is so much garbage to shovel around in regards to that story.
Graydon Creed was the result of Sabretooth and Mystique having sex while the duo was on assignment in Berlin. Apparently, shape shifting makes your womb super fertile. When Mystique found out that Graydon wouldn’t be a mutant, she abandoned the kid to the Marvel grade orphanage system. She would later take part in a time shifted manipulated assassination attempt that allowed her to shoot Graydon in the face…to death. People tend to forget about that, as I feel like I’m one of 10 people that actually read the X-Men Forever mini-series. Now, let’s move onto her favorite kid.
Destiny and Mystique adopted Rogue, after they found her as a runway in Mississippi. Mystique bonded with the powerful little girl who had no idea how to control herself. She would groom the young woman into the perfect mutant soldier, but she went too far. Rogue would take off across the country to fight Ms. Marvel to the death for insulting/injuring her foster mother. That’s when Rogue went super crazy absorby and stole Ms. Marvel’s powers on a permanent basis. Mystique did her best to try and control Rogue’s new power surge, but Rogue quickly became a liability that others exposed. Mastermind would manipulate the Hellfire Club and other factions to destroy Rogue’s grip on the Ms. Marvel persona. The result would shatter Rogue’s mind and send her away from Mystique and to the X-Men.
During this time, Mystique would first assemble her Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. She tried to killed Senator Robert Kelly, but she was stopped by a future version of Kitty Pryde. Dystopian futures were prevent and Mystique would spent the next few years between two roles. Constant revenge on the X-Men for stealing Rogue away from her and using her government position to create a legal task force to hunt the X-Men. Freedom Force was formed right when I discovered Mystique and I dug the genius move. She was a government employee who used her secret identity to manipulate efforts to protect her friends and hunt her enemies. The idea would run its course by the end of Claremont’s legendary run, but it work well for what it was.
The Muir Isle Saga would see Mystique hide out as Val Cooper to mess with The Shadow King. Ultimately, she reconciles with Rogue and makes peace with the death of Destiny. Destiny’s death will be covered at a later time, but rest assured it impacted Mystique. Things were going for Raven Darkholme until the constant shifting caused her mind to start to break down. Mystique would spent most of the 1990s in Forge’s care, as he tried to treat her burgeoning mental illness. Forge would later recruit Mystique into his X-Factor team, while she wanted to use the position to avenge Destiny’s death by murdering Legion. Legion was Professor Xavier’s crazy mentally powered son that he had with a Holocaust survivor that he telepathically manipulated. For those that want a little more in-depth coverage on that ethical violation, I recommend checking out the latest episode of Rachel and Miles X-Plain the X-Men.
Legion would go on to cause the Age of Apocalypse which is getting an entry so large that I started writing it last October and it’ll be done by the end of March/early April. Let’s do the 00s in one big swoop. Mystique would learn that Destiny was behind the anti-mutant conspiracy that she dedicated her life to fighting. Destiny foresaw the need for a cause to unite mutants around, but Mystique went bonkers and lashed out at the world. She reformed her Brotherhood, destroyed the Muir Isle research center, caused Dr. Moira MacTaggert’s death, depowered Wolfsbane temporarily and contributed to the successful assassination of Senator Robert Kelly. She also slits Banshee’s throat and stops the spread of the X-Corps. The X-Corps weren’t the worst idea, just poorly executed.
Mystique would become a double agent for Xavier in Vaughn’s underrated solo series. This would lead Mystique to join the team and work with Rogue’s squad to defeat Apocalypse and his newly assembled Horsemen. Mystique would later betray the X-Men, help usher in the first new mutant birth and then cure Rogue of her mental issues and retained power absorption. While Rogue recovered, Wolverine hunted Mystique down and gutted her within an inch of her life. Wolvie left Mystique to bleed to death and die, but she recovered.
Mystique gets sent to Hell, comes back with new powers and proceeds to take her wrath out on the X-Men. She aids Norman Osborn’s Dark X-Men project, she helps to create the Hellfire Academy and eventually purchased the island of Madripoor from Hydra. Mystique in the All-New Bendis era has become the de-facto villain of the X-Men, as she messes with the new students, the time displaced Original Five and the main team equally. Mystique’s loyalty to Rogue or anyone else is at an all-time low, but it doesn’t matter. She’s finally become the villain that her early Ms. Marvel days hinted that she would become. The blue lady came out on top.