Stars & Garters

A Short History of Trish Tilby (4891 bytes)

Trish Tilby is a television news reporter working first for W-ARC TV, now for CNBC (or CBNC, as it was called in X-Men Prime, anyway, it is a TV station that uses a peacock in its logo, so guess which one is meant!). Not much is known of her biography previous to her first appearance (X-Factor #7, written by Louise (Jones) Simonson and drawn by Jackson Guice) except that she used to be married to her colleague Paul Burton, last seen as the white-haired chief of W-ARC TV's News Department (X-Factor #59).

Physically, she is of slender build, with black hair and blue eyes (at least in most of her appearances. Eyes are subject to frequent coloring mistakes, and Trish's appeared brown e.g. in X-Men Prime). She wore her hair short-cropped during most of her career, but recently (since ca. X-Men (vol. 2) #57) she let it grow longer. It became wavy and about shoulder-length (Uncanny X-Men #342 onwards), but most recently it was cut back a bit again (X-Men (vol. 2) #87), and is now back to the original length (Magneto Rex #1).

Trish Tilby was first noticed when she reported on the controversy surrounding X-Factor, Inc., which at the time was ostensibly a mutant-hunting organization, but actually a front for the original five X-Men. X-Factor's hidden agenda was to let themselves be hired by mutant-haters to deal with newly-discovered mutants, and then actually save the mutants in question to train them to deal with their powers. To lend credibility to the 'mutant menace,' the members (Cyclops, Angel, Beast, Iceman and Marvel Girl) also appeared as the bogus mutant terrorist group, the X-Terminators. However, unbeknownst to them, Cameron Hodge, the public relations director who ran a lot of the day-to-day affairs, was secretly using it to further the agenda of his own anti-mutant group, The Right, by fueling the widespread fear of mutants through X-Factor, Inc.'s publicity.

It is not without irony that the members of X-Factor at first regarded Trish Tilby as a source of annoyance when all she did was try to be fair. The problem was that they had not really had given much thought to dealing with the media other than through X-Factor, Inc.'s ads and press releases, not reckoning on an investigative journalist who had what it took to penetrate through the smoke screen they had put up, or that someone might actually attack them for pretending to be mutant-hunters. Trish reported on demonstrations and a fight outside X-Factor's New York headquarters in a way that gave air-time to people not afraid of mutants (such as Vera Cantor) and did not reflect well on X-Factor, Inc., yet Hank McCoy (the Beast) at first had her pegged as "the kind who would feature that fight in the most sensational, inflammatory, anti-mutant way, just to up the ratings" (X-Factor #8). In the meantime, Trish became deeply immersed with the strange inconsistencies between some of Hank's answers to her insistent questions and X-Factor, Inc.'s public image and modus operandi.

Her drive to find out the truth was fueled when Mystique, the leader of Freedom Force who (predictably) had seen through X-Factor, Inc.'s and the X-Terminators' disguise, secretly sent her proof that Warren Worthington (Angel), who since his Champions and Defenders days was a well-known 'out of the closet' mutant, was secretly financing X-Factor, Inc. Trish Tilby broke the story at the time of the Mutant Massacre (X-Factor #10) and later confronted Worthington with the accusations and the news of a subpoena against him in the hospital room where he was lying awaiting the amputation of his wings (#14). (Another of her sources was the Angel's former girlfriend, Candy Southern.) After Warren Worthington's apparent suicide (actually faked by Cameron Hodge), she again confronted the members of X-Factor, Inc. about "Worthington's brutal advertising campaign [that] continues to fan the flames of bigotry and hatred," which of course did not exactly endear her to Warren's grief-stricken comrades, but at last made them begin to have suspicions about Cameron Hodge's PR activities and their effect on the general public (#17). Some time after that, Hodge finally shed his mask and began attacking mutants in open, but even then it took a while for the X-Factorites operatives to acknowledge that Trish (who was critically wounded in the Right's first attack, #21) was not their enemy. This happened when she met Beast and Iceman again in the hospital where she was staying (#26). Partly due to her efforts, X-Factor then received its due credit for saving New York City from Apocalypse. She and Hank McCoy then slowly began to feel attracted to each other. However, Hank at the time had been infected by the Horseman Pestilence with a disease that caused him to lose his intellect the more he used his superhuman strength, so it came as a shock to Trish when Hank, thanks to a touch from the villainess Infectia, reverted to his former intelligence and furry blue shape (#33). She had started to fall in love with him when he was gentle and insecure, now that the Beast again seemed cocky and self-sufficient, seemingly untouched by the fear she felt during the Inferno, she had second thoughts about where they stood. But in the end true love won out (X-Factor #36). The furry shape is no problem to her, quite the reverse; to her own mind Hank is "the best-looking of Earth's most misunderstood mutants" (Uncanny X-Men #348).

Relations between Trish Tilby and her friends and acquaintances in various mutant teams would become troubled on occasion, and the main reason seems to be the conflict between their different philosophies, even if they agree on the ultimate goal: a world where mutants and non-mutants can live together in peace. Trish's professional ethics basically require her to find out the truth and report it, even if it is uncomfortable. Trish's aim is to sway public opinion by reporting sympathetically but truthfully about mutants and their concerns. Many members of X-Factor and the X-Men, on the other hand, are obsessed with maintaining secrecy to the point of paranoia, without thinking too much whether it will be possible or even desirable to maintain a particular secret. They also tend to view members of the general public as afraid of mutants until proven otherwise and to see all publicity as bad publicity. Therefore even now some mutants (e.g. Wolverine in X-Men (vol. 2) #70) find it hard to resist the temptation to view Trish Tilby as a mercenary who would sell out her friends to boost her career and her station's ratings. However, it should be noted that Trish has on occasion tried to hold back news that reflected badly on X-Factor when it was possible. For instance, when she found out by herself that X-Factor's 'new' member Archangel was in fact Warren Worthington, she did not report it until he himself let it slip in front of several witnesses during a drug-affected rampage across New York (X-Factor #57). She also considered trying to hold back the pictures her camera crew had taken of Archangel dumping two reporters into the East River (which in her eyes did not deserve public attention), even though several print media reporters had been there. She feared that it would look like an assault no matter what she said in the voice-over, although in the end she came up with a different solution (X-Factor #59).

The Tilby/McCoy romance often had to sail through troubled waters, partly because of the reasons outlined above, partly because of Trish's and Hank's self-doubts (these last evident e.g. in X-Factor #59, where he happened to see Trish and her ex-husband together through a window).

The most serious falling out was because Trish broke the silence on the fact that Moira MacTaggert had in the course of her research on the Legacy Virus become infected herself, and that therefore the virus could affect not just mutants, but also 'normal' humans (X-Men Prime). Although it was bound in the short term to add to the already rising tide of mutant-hatred, Trish felt she had no right to withhold this information from the public. When the story was shown on TV, his friends declared it would have inevitably been brought to the public by someone, but Hank saw her report also (and primarily?) as an act of personal betrayal. He broke up with her (Uncanny X-Men #323) and they only reconciled after he had been imprisoned by his evil equivalent from another timeline (the so-called Dark Beast) and had had time to think about everything (X-Men (vol. 2) #57).

Trish then again divided her time between working as a nationally recognized anchorwoman and her private life with Hank and the other X-Men. Recently, a Yuletide date with Hank made her a participant in two stories on which she could not report, when she was taken along with the X-Men to help save the Shi'ar Empire from the Phalanx, and later was one of those forced to attend the so-called Trial of Gambit. As this happened, Hank and Trish occasionally found time to talk about the state of their relationship. Once, on a distant planet, it seemed Hank was suggesting that they should move in together (perhaps even marry?), but Trish said it was unwise to rush things, even though they both loved each other (Uncanny X-Men #345). The last time she and Hank were seen together, they were in a drawn-out kiss before Trish returned to Manhattan (X-Men (vol. 2) #71). Since then, Trish has been relegated to infrequent cameos.

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