The Lost Legend of Louise Simonson

Matt Tuck Sep 18, 2017
The New Mutants #87

A lasting legacy.

That’s what matters in the comic book industry. Some creators, whether writers or artists, spend their entire careers without adding to the pantheon and enamoring readers for years to come or setting the stage for a new generation of creators.

Then there are those who put their own touches on a classic character that changes the direction for years to come or those who create their own new characters. Those are the creators we celebrate for years on end.

Someone whose name seems to slip through the cracks, however, is Louise Simonson. Over the years, she has created some of the most memorable and engaging characters that have lasted through the years and continue to awe readers. And so today, let’s give credit where credit is much overdue and examine the most memorable creations of Simonson’s career.

CABLE

Arguably, Simonson’s best-known creation is the time-travelling mutant, Cable. Writer Chris Claremont gets credit for the first story of baby Nathan Summers, the son of Scott and Rachel Summers (Jean Grey’s clone). But it was in “New Mutants” #87 that Simonson wrote the debut of one of the X-Men’s most popular heroes. In a matter of months, Josh Brolin will bring Cable to life on the big screen in “Deadpool 2,” and let’s hope that Simonson is on the credits list.

Let’s face it. When you think of Cable, does Louise Simonson’s name immediately come to mind? Probably not. But whose does? Rob Liefeld? I do not dispute that Liefeld’s pencil work - and even Todd McFarlane’s contribution to the cover art - deserve quite a bit of credit for the inception of Cable. In fact, Liefeld’s signature exaggerated art style is much of the character’s appeal. But it was Simonson’s script that gave Cable his first story, and so she should be included along with Liefeld when the character is mentioned.

APOCALYPSE

One of the most infamous and awe-inspiring villains to grace the pages of an X-Men since Magneto, you could argue that Apocalypse is second only to Magneto when it comes to imposing X-enemies. En Sabah Nur made his cinematic debut in the less-than-stellar “X-Men: Apocalypse.”

Apocalypse made his initial appearance in a cameo in the Bob Layton-drawn and scripted “X-Factor” #5. As the story goes, Layton left the series, and Simonson took over writing duties in the following issue. Then in “X-Factor” #6, the new, god-like villain was born and the rest, as the cliche goes, is comic history.

ARCHANGEL

During Louise Simonson’s X-Factor run, she and her husband, Walter Simonson, worked together on “X-Factor” #24. As part of the “Fall of the Mutants” X-Men crossover, founding member of the X-Men, Angel, underwent a radical transformation at the hands of Apocalypse. The ensuing result was the newest Horseman, Archangel. Since that 1988 debut, Archangel has undergone many changes, but he always comes back to that original fan-favorite costume and the same core traits given to him by the Simonson team.

That issue also contained the first origin story of Apocalypse.

DOOMSDAY

Upon researching Louise Simonson, I found Doomsday to be the most surprising creation. DC’s evil version of the Hulk, he was created as a character capable of killing Superman with brute strength. Hence, Doomsday was born.

After being teased for several issues with “Doomsday is coming for Superman,” the monster finally premiered in full in the pages of “Superman: the Man of Steel” #18 which was written by Simonson. As we all recall, Doomsday famously went on to kill Superman in “Superman” #75, although both characters would return in subsequent issues.

POWER PACK

While not having the impact of her other creations, there certainly is a place in the hearts of comic fans for Power Pack. The group of pre-teen superheroes made their collective first appearance in “Power Pack” #1. Although never the most popular of series, the team has since become a more-or-less cult classic among Marvel fans.

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