Cosmo Digital

Why Do I Love Victor?
Article originally written 9-1-2006.
Information in this article may be outdated.

One of the comic series which has contributed to my return to comic collecting is the title New X-Men, which was formerly the second series of New Mutants. This series, which began publishing in mid 2003, introduced many characters that rapidly became fan favorites.
Victor and his arm
Victor and his Freak Arm
Suprisingly, many of these popular characters were merely background characters, who only appeared a couple times and usually had little or no dialogue. One character in particular, and the focus of this essay, is that of Victor, also known as Anole.

Victor Borkowski is a green skinned, spikey-headed mutant with the powers of a lizard/chameleon. While still a background character, he has had a large amount of exposure, far more than other minor characters such as Match or Wolf Cub or Pixie. His appearances are still rather infrequent, however, and thus do not explain the popularity of his character. From the total number of issues of both New Mutants and its successor New X-Men (54 issues through New X-Men issue #41), Victor has appeared in only 26, often as merely a background figure. Additionally, he has appeared within other X-Men comics only six times. (Click Here for the complete statistics on Victor)

Looking through this website, it is quite clear that I am a devout Victor fan. All the evidence for this is on the main page, where a massive image of Victor serves as the site banner. Yet even I can not truely name one single reason why this character appeals to me. After some considerable study and thought into this character, I am proposing that Victor's popularity can be explained through a combination of five reasons:

Reason #1: The Cute Factor

One of the major reasons people like Victor is that he is visually appealing. A green character with spikes does tend to get attention. However, his physical appearance is only one facet of this discussion.
Victor playing
Victor seems rather small
Another area lies with the artistic renderings of his character. In many forums, fans talk about Victor as being "cute", or refer to him as "that cute little green kid". What exactly is it about his character that makes him "cute", as opposed to other mutant students? Looking at the early artwork of Victor within the New Mutants series, Victor is drawn as being rather diminutive in stature. This, combined with the somewhat baggy clothing he is seen wearing early on (as seen in the picture to the right), creates the impression that Victor is much smaller than he actually is (He was listed in X-Men: The 198 Files as being 5 foot 9 inches and weighing 121 pounds).

This physically small portrayal lends a youthfulness and even innocence to his character that other New Mutants characters lack, since Victor is seen as being more "childlike". This artistic portrayal is complimented by some of Victor's early dialogue with another character Julian (Hellion). When Julian tells his friends how he used his powers to lift up one of the teacher's skirts, Victor asks why he did that.

Reason #2: The Cool Factor / Character Potential

Another argument some fans give is that Victor's mutant powers are, in essence, too good to waste. This is combined with the fact that Victor is a visually interesting character, with a mutation that makes him stand out from many of the other normal-looking students. Many of Victor's powers have been shown only rarely, which makes sense as he is a background character. His main power, camouflage, has been shown in only one issue (NXM 13). With many of his powers underutilized, many fans theorize that they will be extremely cool when they are eventually shown.

Reason #3: The Gay Factor / Slashfiction Potential

One of the few things that is confirmed about Victor's character is that he is gay.
Victor is gay
Northstar was important to Victor
Since he is a background character, this was never explicitly mentioned within the comics themselves, but rather was discussed by the creators online or in Handbook-style biographic entries. The closest thing to a mention of Victor's homosexuality was within the comic New X-Men #13, in which he discusses how he was a lot like the character Northstar (who is also gay). This implied admission of Victor being gay nevertheless piqued the curiosity of many readers, and for good reason. A gay character is, even today, considered to be a rather taboo topic within comic books, and they are rarely in the spotlight. By making Victor gay, the authors are appealing to a demographic that is often ignored in superhero comic books, and this adds instant characterization to him.

This also enhances his popularity because it causes fans to talk about his character, specifically if he will ever have a boyfriend or not. In some online forums such as Comixfan or Comic Book Resources, these discussions can even include the authors. All of this participation creates an increased interest and even a greater empathy for Victor's character.

Reason #4: Near Death / Character Appreciation Factor

Most Victor fans are aware that his character was originally slated to be killed off within New Mutants #8. This plotline involving Victor's suicide was written and approved, but was pulled from publication at the last moment before the issue came out.
Victor is sad
Victor's suicide issue
Looking through the issue, it is clear from the artwork that the last few pages were subsituted in at the last minute, leaving Victor alive without a suicide attempt. Because Victor's life was, in essence, spared at the very last moment, fans may gain an appreciation of his character that they do not have for other background characters. Realizing just how close they came to losing Victor's character, fans develop a greater affinity for him than they would for other minor characters. This was confirmed when new authors took over the book New X-Men with issue #20 and proceeded to kill off many of the minor background characters. Victor survived the cut yet again, once more seeming to beat the odds and remain alive. Due to this, fans are now conditioned to read more into the small appearances that Victor makes and appreciate his appearances all the more.

Final Reason: Unknown Personality / Lack of Personal History

While this may seem to be contradictory, one of the primary reasons for Victor's popularity stems from him being nothing more than a background character. For lack of a better phrase, I am calling this the "fanfiction potential". When a visually interesting character such as Victor is introduced with little background information, it falls to the reader to fill in those blank areas of the character's personality, until the author gets around to it. When this happens, it would only make sense for the reader to imagine this undeveloped character as having mental or emotional traits close to themselves. As such, Victor is popular with readers not because of his own backstory, but rather because the readers are still able to create their own backstory as to what they think Victor's personality should be like. This is most readily apparant within fan fiction (and occasional slashfiction) stories featuring Victor as a main character.

Here, however, an interesting dynamic separates Victor from the other background characters. He has just enough history and just enough appearances and dialogue within the comics for readers to make some approximations regarding his character. This fact, although seemingly contradictory to my previous point about his fanfiction potential, in fact helps it. When selecting a character to write about for a fanfiction tale, someone like Victor is a perfect fit. Unexperienced or young writers will already have a basic framework of what he is like (due to his occasional appearances), but also will have the creative freedom to interpose their own ideal traits onto him.

Return to Critical Articles