Character Issues: Bishop


The Stats:

Name:  Lucas Bishop
Height: 6’6
Weight: 275 lbs
Powers: Energy Absorption
Type: Whimsical Warrior

Excels at: GUNS!  Shooting lots of GUNS!
Fails at:  Having a reason to exist.

The Character:

I really wanted to like Bishop.  He’s a Black Character who has had some significant impact on some major X-Men storylines.   He had the look, weapons and powers to be a fanatically interesting.  He’s just not.  He is arguably more 90’s than Cable.  Pouches. Guns. More Pouches.  Dystopian Futures without any discernible backgrounds. Scowls. Time Travel.


Bishop represented everything the X-Men were about in the mid 90’s.  Bishop’s backstory is a convoluted mess.  He is a member of XSE, another splinter group of the X-Men mythos.  I just found out that XSE had their own book, so I will be doing an X-Hausted feature on them once I read it.  Bishop is either a good guy or a misguided good guy doing villainous stuff depending on the storyline.  His first target was Gambit.  Then he moved on to Hope and Cable.  There was a ton of exposition related to why he keeps trying to kill his teammates…all of it was stupid.

The Issues:

You might notice that I didn’t include a ton of details regarding Bishop’s history, that’s because Bishop is an impressively dull character.  He is such a visually appealing character, that people overlook how uninspired he is.   He is a boilerplate 90’s antihero.   He really has no defining characteristics or traits to differentiate him from any other characters that were popular at the time.  You could drop into any 90’s Era team book from Image Comics or Marvel UK and he would fit in perfectly.  Even a blank slate has shape and form.   Bishop is formless.  He exists as archetype of an era.  He is a visual representation of the emphasis of style over substance.  He looks interesting but that is all he brings to the table.  The character is little more than a scowl and a bunch of improbably sized guns.


The Fix:

This one is so simple that it’s kind of depressing.  Develop this character.   Give him a personality.  Give him a distinct voice.   Decide if he is going to be a hero or villain.   Good heroes can have complex motivations but simple moral structures, the best villains have simple motivations and complex moral structure.   Even antiheroes are more heroically aligned than villainous.  Pick a side for this character and let him occupy a single space.  If anybody wants to what it looks like when an previously established character gets the attention and care of a writer who is interested in developing that character: see what the writers did with Dr. Nemesis. DrNemesis and Cyclops

He’s distinct.  He’s interesting.  He’s funny.  He has a history worth exploring.  All of these traits can be attributed to how he’s been handled in recent years.  Bishop has a unique backstory.  Focus on giving him a memorable personality.  He doesn’t have to be a humorous character but making him completely humorless is a mistake.  You can make him a field general, a combat instructor or security director for the Academy.  Retcon his history to make the times he tried to kill Gambit, Hope and Cable a result of being mind controlled by the Shadow King or Stryfe.  Have him seek out Emma Frost or Psyloke and have them put psychic shielding in place to prevent further mental manipulation at the cost of some of his memories.  That way he can show that he is willing to sacrifice for the team.  The X-Men are best when they are able to operate as a dysfunctional family, even Wolverine eventually dropped the gruff loner stuff long enough to form relationships with the team and eventually even take over the role as Headmaster.  Bishop needs to be able to care about the team before readers of the series will care about him.

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