Written by: Danny Lewis, Special to CC2K
They are feared and hated by a world they are sworn to protect, battling evil mutants, aliens, and giant robots. They are the X-Men, and they are blessed with amazing abilities: laser vision, telekinesis, an external digestive system in the form of a pair of sentient slugs, sonic screams, and –
Waitaminit. Go back one.
Possibly one of the strangest and most nauseating mutant powers ever belongs to Maggot, a short-lived member of the X-Men. Created by Scott Lobdell and Joe Madureira, Maggott, real name Japheth, not only wins the prize for grossest power but also for one of the most depressing character origins as well. Born in a small village in rural South Africa, Maggott grew up under Apartheid rule. So, after living out his childhood in poverty under a repressive and racist regime, young Japheth began to suffer terrible stomach pains and became unable to digest any kind of food. Told by a doctor that he was suffering not from a simple stomachache, but had cancer, Japheth decided to spare his family the financial trouble and wander off into the desert to die.
With me so far? Good! It gets better.
While attempting to commit suicide, Japheth was found and rescued by none other than Magneto, who revealed Maggott’s own mutant ability: an autonomous digestive system in the form of two slugs (nicknamed Eany and Meany) which could explode out of their host’s chest and eat any solid object while transmitting the energy back to Maggott. This gave him superhuman speed and strength and the ability to glean psychic “memories” from his surroundings, with the extra bonus of turning his skin blue. However, in order to actually eat, Maggott needed to absorb his…well, maggots…back into his body, bypassing the superpowers.
Disgusting, huh? Not only did his superslugs give Maggott membership in the prestigious Blue Mutant Club, but they also caused intense pain whenever he released or absorbed them, as three-foot long techno-organic worms are wont to do when they’re bursting from your gut. Remember Alien? Eany and Meany were like those guys, but with less of the death. Imagine having to go through all that to grab a midnight snack! Hardly seems worth the effort.
Anyway, after tooling around Westchester with the X-Men for a little while, Maggott was demoted to the kid’s team, Generation X due to his age before deciding that the X-life wasn’t for him and wandering off again into the desert of comic book limbo. He appeared once more in Frank Tieri’s Weapon X series as a prisoner of the Neverland mutant concentration camp, and sadly became one of its first victims.
Yet, despite the depressing events that defined his life and the short time he spent in print, Maggott is worth mentioning at the very least for the sheer originality of his powers. I mean, who really wants the power to have to eat through a couple of slugs? Maggott is a classic example of the weird-ass powers that gave everyday humans the heebie-jeebies when the thought of mutants came up, yet, for someone who grew up in a world of poverty and repression and was further set apart by the nature of his powers, Maggott displayed a level of compassion and common sense that is not generally found in the Merry Marvel community. While short, Maggott’s tenure as an X-Man was an eventful and memorable one. Although it doesn’t seem like he’s due to brought back from the dead anytime soon, you can always find Maggott, Eany and Meany in these books:
Uncanny X-Men #345 – 350
Generation X #49
Weapon X (second series) #5