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Benjamin Deeds (Morph)

Benjamin Deeds is a student attending the University of Texas when the character is first introduced. Deeds’ personality might be considered serious and somewhat jaded based on his first scene in which an anonymous female friend tries unsuccessfully to persuade him to participate in a mutant rights demonstration. Deeds asks her what good a demonstration does and Deeds subconsciously changes to look and sound like his friend after sensing her displeasure and then promptly faints. Later that night the demonstration has taken on a party atmosphere and Deeds is seen happily and thoughtlessly taking selfies with strangers while mimicking another man’s appearance and then a minute later expressing uncertainty of the idea that he could be a mutant. As if on cue, Cyclops and Magneto appear (thanks to Illyana’s abilities) and their attempt to talk Deeds into accompanying them is interrupted when the original X-Men group (you can Google that info if you don’t know why they’re in the present) suddenly appears to intervene and a fight ensues and forces both teams to withdraw.

Things are different a day or two later as Deeds angrily informs his anonymous friend that the university expelled him. “And you people. One minute you’re protesting for mutant freedom, but when an actual mutant shows up on campus…” Deeds says accusingly to his friend, who replies with a crushed “That’s not fair”. Storming off, Deeds is confronted again by Cyclops. Being expelled and disowned by his parents understandably weighs heavily on him and this time Deeds relents to go with Scott despite making misgivings about Scott pointedly clear.

In Deeds’ next several appearances he’s shown trying to fit into the mutant school culture; freaking about along with the other three newbies about their first Danger Room experience; talking with Eva Bell about their feelings about Cyclops; and going with the other newbies and members of Cyclops’ team to Eva Bell’s home in Australia where they’re ambushed by Avengers though it’s hardly a fight since Eva uses her deus ex machina power to create a bubble of slowed time to envelop the Avengers.

The spotlight shines on Deeds in Uncanny X-Men #14. The distrust Deeds has for Cyclops comes to the surface during a outdoor training exercise over rough terrain during a rainstorm. The tension explodes into a showdown with Cyclops punching Deeds and making a point out of Deeds physical weakness as a reason for extreme training. The incident provides a reason for Emma Frost to take him under her tutelage. It’s her keen insight that sees Deeds’ subtle power is the ability to make another person feel completely good about themselves, and isn’t just the ability to mimic their appearance. Despite Frost’s attention making Deeds nervous, he agrees to follow her lead to test his power on an anonymous women in an Atlantic City bar and fails spectacularly, in part because he can’t conceive of using this woman on whom to practice his power nor can he perceive himself as a gay man, and not role-playing as a straight man asking out a woman. After much more practice to hone his power, Frost and Cyclops create a new challenge: deliver a sealed envelope to man working in his high rise building office. Deeds isn’t aware that the building is a secret SHIELD office and the man receiving the letter is Timothy (Dum Dum) Dugan. Nor does he know the envelope contains a warning message from Cyclops that war will happen if SHIELD continues to build Sentinels. Deeds delivers the letter successfully, but moments later is surprised to be accosted by Dugan and other SHIELD agents. After extraction courtesy of Illyana, Deeds confronts Frost for the deliberate secrecy and calms down after both Frost and Cyclops offer praise.

In the wake of Cyclops disbanding the New Xavier School, Morph and several other students form their own group. Deeds and the group faced several villains and enjoyed relative fame from the public who seemed to be unaware they were mutants. Attitudes changed once the public learned. In the aftermath of a fight with a villain, an onlooker proved some humans still feared and hated mutants by severely injuring Goldballs with a broken bottle. Morph and another mutant with healing powers helped to stabilize Goldballs so they could retreat without further violence or harm. The altercation was taken as a sign to segregate from humans and Deeds and the others joined their fellow mutants at the Jean Grey School.

An interesting idea about Deeds’ power. LGBT people, whether they’ve come out or not, often rely on blending in and doing what they can to make other people feel comfortable around themselves. It’s a survival tool. Deeds is nervous around Cyclops and later Frost once their attention is focused on him. Based on the limited scenes at college, Deeds appears not to fit in and immediately regrets the one time he does after his first unintentional and public transformation when he’s expelled – a situation that often mirrors the coming out process and misgivings that may arise when circumstances don’t go like they’re imagined. Parallels can be easily made between Deeds’ situation after expulsion and disowned by family and real life LGBT youth who after being kicked out by parents find themselves living on the street and in shelters.

Deeds can closely mimic the appearance and voice of another person within his proximity. This shape changing power seems to differ from Mystique who can transform into any person at will. In addition, Deeds is able to subtly exude two chemicals. One creates a feeling of amiability and trust in people while the other inexplicably disrupts tech and electronics.

This profile is based on the appearances in Yesterday’s X-Men (collects All New X-Men #1 -5), Here To Stay (collects All New X-Men #6 – 10), Revolution (collects Uncanny X-Men #1 – 5) and Uncanny X-Men #14.

Deeds first appears in All New X-Men #3 and his sexuality is confirmed in Uncanny X-Men #14. Created by Brian Michael Bendis and Chris Bachalo. Art by Chris Bachalo and Tim Townshend.

All rights reserved Marvel Comics. Used without permission.

July 1, 2021
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