Forgotten Characters: Rhapsody

Whatever happened to Rhapsody?

No, seriously, how is it that this total babe of a mutant has only ever appeared in one comic book story nearly 20 years ago? She was a villain/love interest for my favorite comic book character, Multiple Man, in one of the earliest comic books I ever owned: X-Factor #79. The comic was written by Peter David, who is once again currently writing a new X-Factor series, starring Multiple Man.

So I want to know why Peter David hasn’t brought her back for a cameo or a reappearance or anything? Marvel Comics went to the trouble of making sure that Rhapsody did not lose her mutant powers on M-Day, but why bother if they weren’t going to use her again someday? She’s hot, she’s blue and she’s crazy. She’s everything that comic book fans are looking for!

Comic book fans are easy to please

Join me for more after the jump!

Who is she? 

X-Factor #79 was a monumental comic book for me personally, arriving at a very impressionable time for the wee Sean. I was just starting to get into comic books on my own, and I was just starting to figure out which characters I liked. I don’t know if this comic introduced me to Multiple Man, but I can easily see how he became my all-time favorite character with comics such as this one.

At the time, X-Factor was a superhero team of mutants who were working for the U.S. Government, which in and of itself was a pretty new concept for me. Back then, I only knew superheroes to be these colorful, costumed heroes who fought the bad guys. They had teams, but those teams were always self-contained and kind of like a clubhouse. Not X-Factor, they had an official government mandate. And their costumes were not so much traditional, colorful superhero costumes so much as leather uniforms. The costumes were unique to each character, but they had more of a real-world look to them.

Which brings me to this issue, in which Multiple Man and Quicksilver are dispatched to Two Forks, Maine to deal with a young mutant woman who has been arrested on suspicion of murder. Enter Rachel Argosy, also known as Rhapsody. She has power over music.

And music has power over all of us

This issue opened my eyes to many new possibilities when it came to superheroes: They weren’t fighting a super-villain in a big, traditional brawl. The heroes were dealing with things like bureaucracy and other real-world matters. And Multiple Man wasn’t a guy in a superhero costume, he was just Jamie Madrox, dressed in normal clothes and coat using his super-powers to solve this mystery.

Solving mysteries or beating himself up

In hindsight, I believe this was a revolution to a young mind like mine. This wasn’t the Super Friends or The Batman TV show from the 60s, nor was it the Spider-Man and X-Men cartoons that I watched in the 90s. This wasn’t superheroics like usual. This was a grounded, real world take on the lives of superheroes. This was Watchmen before I even knew Watchmen existed. This was the Ultimates long before they would become one of my favorite comic books of all time. So basically X-Factor #79 was everything I love most about comics before I even knew I loved it.

So already my opinion of this issue is pretty damn high.

But Rhapsody made such a fun antagonist for our heroes. Rachel Argosy is a young woman whose mutant powers didn’t manifest until she was in her early 20s, due to a childhood illness. She was a music teacher at the local school, and she suddenly developed blue skin and the ability to manipulate minds whenever music is played – so definite bonus that she was already a music teacher. The students loved her, but the idea of mutant bigotry came up. A lot of parents weren’t happy that the school was letting a mutant teach their children. So she was fired.

A few days later, Argosy was spotted outside the home of Harry Sharp, her lead detractor on the school board. Sharp’s wife found him dead in his chair, and spotted Argosy outside the window. She used her powers on the police to help her escape, which is when Quicksilver and Madrox were called to help apprehend the rogue mutant.

It didn’t go so well.

Superhero 101: Make sure there are always boxes to break your fall

The heroes and the police have a hard time catching Rhapsody as she uses her music to fly and bewitch their minds. When Madrox catches up to her, Rhapsody immediately and spontaneously falls in love with him. She then uses her powers to induce Madrox into a hallucination in which they make sweet, sweet love in a wheat field.

I think it’s safe to say the following imagery had a fairly big impact on the mind of a growing boy:

I told you that comic book fans are easy to please

Rhapsody is finally taken into custody, and Madrox wants to bust her out. But in the end, Argosy lets it slip to Madrox that she had indeed visited Sharp that night. She was using her powers to make Sharp hallucinate in an effort to convince him that he was wrong to have her fired. So while she didn’t intend to kill him, she had been using her powers on him to try and change his mind. She’d been lying to Madrox.

Dejected, our hero leaves Rhapsody to her fate in the criminal justice system.

And that’s the last we ever saw of her.

Why should you care?

That’s the last we ever saw of her, but not the last we ever heard of her. Several years ago, Marvel Comics told a story in which about 90% of all mutants on Earth lost their powers. This was a huge change, and it has stuck ever since. There are only roughly 200 mutants left in the world, chief among them are the X-Men. Marvel helpfully also told fans which of the several hundred mutant characters had kept their powers and which had lost their powers. Most of the X-Men kept their powers, while a lot of the minor mutants lost their powers. It was a safe way to clean out the cobwebs after hundreds of mutants had been created for a single issue or a single story over the years.

But for some reason, Rhapsody was on the list of mutants who kept their powers.

VIOLINS DO NOT WORK THAT WAY!!

Why bother? She hadn’t been used as a character since that single story in the 90s, and she hasn’t been used since. Rhapsody hasn’t even been just an extra in the large mutant scenes. At least once a blue-skinned woman was seen in a crowd of mutants in some random issue, but we had no clarification if that was Rhapsody. So why let her keep her mutant powers? Why not just shuffle her off into obscurity with the hundreds of other minor mutant characters who lost their powers. Why keep her a viable mutant?

Because I think she’d be perfect for a re-appearance in Peter David’s current X-Factor book!

Madrox is the main character in the book, and title has been going strong for years now. They’re getting close to 100 issues! It’s a very grounded series, telling mostly street-level stories about Madrox and his team solving mysteries and fighting bad guys.

So I think Rhapsody would be perfect in that regard. She’s a very grounded character, who is more just a regular person than a super-villain. And she has a personal history with Madrox! She’d be absolutely perfect as maybe a romantic interest, or maybe a crazy ex-girlfriend come back to cause trouble for Madrox. Or maybe she could be a client for X-Factor Investigations. She could do anything!

It’s simply a matter of convincing Peter David, the writer who created her all those years ago, to use her again. That shouldn’t be too hard.

She is hot, after all

About Sean Ian Mills

Hello, this is Sean, the Henchman-4-Hire! By day I am a mild-mannered newspaper reporter in Central New York, and by the rest of the day I'm a pretty big geek when it comes to video games, comic books, movies, cartoons and more.

Posted on April 21, 2012, in Comics, Forgotten Characters, Marvel, Multiple Man, X-Men and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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