of the Tokyo Art Scene,
The Final Light,
yellow and black,
originally dark brown
Generation Hope #1
X-Men: Mutant Emergence Rescue Unit
Undulating organo-techno mass naturally produces both biological and mechanical materials shaped by his imagination, possessing extraordinary regenerative capacity and no vital internal structure, able to rapidly increase bio-production in order to develop mass, shape the inherently raw material of his body into simple shapes, artistic sculptings, or functional machinery, and utilize his unique mental patterns to shield himself from telepathic intrusion, deliver thought messages to others, and shield or influence the minds of others as well
Born in Japan, Kenji Uedo developed his trademark nihilistic attitude after his father was caught having an affair with another man and killed himself out of shame. This tragic suicide had a profound effect on Kenji, who focused the anger he felt into art. [Generation Hope #9] Expressing his cynical views of society in grotesque installations, Kenji became the darling of the Tokyo art scene and by age 19 was a world-renowned artist. Coincidentally, he once did a piece on super-heroine sexuality that featured none other than his future teacher, Emma Frost.
Kenji’s already unconventional life became even stranger when he began to manifest his mutant abilities. One of five new mutants who emerged when Hope Summers returned from her trip through time, the first since M-Day, these young mutants became known as the Five Lights. Different from past mutants, their powers were half-formed and would behave chaotically until Hope herself made physical contact with them. Kenji was the last "Light" that Hope and the X-Men went to see and, by the time they arrived in Tokyo, Kenji’s new powers had accidentally caused death and destruction. His body had transformed into a techno-organic substance that he was able to control and manipulate freely. As a result, Kenji felt that his body had become a new art medium and he lost his grip on reality. His powers were now subject to the whim of all his dark thoughts and therefore Kenji transformed into a massive being and wrought havoc throughout the city. Hope attempted to stabilize him by making contact but Kenji used his powers to keep her back and subjected her to his favorite fantasy, the end of the world, which he hoped to bring about himself. Kenji’s rampage proved unstoppable and, fearing the worst, Cyclops ordered Hope to stand down while Wolverine executed him.
Refusing to give up on a Light, Hope mimicked Kenji’s powers and used them to overpower him. Seeing Hope copying his new “artform” infuriated Kenji, as did her stubborn optimism about his future. Matching him in size, Hope eventually defeated him and made physical contact, knocking him unconscious. Before the authorities could arrive, Cyclops and the X-Men collected Kenji and brought him back to their home on Utopia, their sovereign island off the coast of San Francisco.
Cyclops and Emma Frost immediately tried to determine if Kenji was responsible for his actions. Shown footage of the destruction he caused in Tokyo, Kenji expressed remorse and admitted that, although he had fantasies of killing people, he expresses them through his art, never reality, and the lines between the two blurred when his new mutation manifested. Emma Frost vouched for his innocence and Cyclops promised him sanctuary. Now in better control of his powers, Kenji embraced himself as a new art form and, although he gained the X-Men’s trust, he secretly began to prepare for his next masterpiece: the end of Hope and all she stood for. [Generation Hope #1-4]
Kenji and the other Lights would gradually learn that Hope saving them marked only the beginning of their connection with her. They found themselves drawn to her and unable to refuse her commands. Hope organized her new followers into a mutant rescue team, tasked with locating and stabilizing emerging mutants who required Hope’s saving touch. To ensure her team was ready for any situation, Hope would go as far as making them skip class to undergo her extensive training routines. Kenji took on the codename “Zero” and, despite his lack of team spirit, his ability to link the team and protect them from telepathic attacks proved invaluable on their first mission. Behind closed doors, Kenji’s frustration only grew as he found himself unable to paint anything but a beautiful portrait of Hope. Even his art was being controlled by this unwanted muse. Kenji wasn’t the only Light who was concerned with their recent behavior. Laurie, also known as Transonic, didn’t enjoy the dangerous situations she was now forced to take part in and the two formed an alliance, vowing to find a way to sever the bizarre influence Hope had on them. [Generation Hope #5-8]
The team’s next mission ended in tragedy and took a personal toll on Kenji. Before they could arrive, a new mutant in the United Kingdom committed suicide out of shame after his friend posted a video of his grotesque transformation on the Internet. Weeks later, Kenji returned to the United Kingdom and set out to murder the friend responsible but was stopped by Wolverine, who convinced him that the young man didn’t deserve to die. Kenji confided in Wolverine about his father’s suicide, also done out of shame for being different. Wolverine tried to convince him that the world isn’t as bad as it always seems and invited him out for a drink. [Generation Hope #9]
Still, the suicide continued to haunt Kenji and he began to develop a stronger stance on mutant politics. After a mutant attack on an international conference, many countries reactivated Sentinel programs, causing Kenji to take a new interest in mutant rights and history. He attended the opening night of the Mutant History Museum in San Francisco and was appalled to learn about past Sentinel programs, as well as the dark futures for mutants that the X-Men frequently came across in their time-traveling adventures. As the X-Men were spread across the globe battling new Sentinel programs, a gigantic new Sentinel was unleashed on Utopia, leaving only the younger generation to protect it. Kenji was vocal about he and his peers staying to defend the island rather than flee, claiming that mutantkind couldn’t simply run from their oppressors if they wanted to avoid death camps. Kenji, the Lights and other X-Men students joined Cyclops and were successful in defending the island, but the event had a huge impact on the X-Men.
Feeling that students shouldn’t be used as soldiers, Wolverine returned to Westchester to reopen a mutant school and many X-Men and students followed him. Hope and the Lights were obviously staying but Laurie convinced Hope that Idie, the youngest of the Lights, belonged at a school. Hope reluctantly agreed and sent Idie with Wolverine, leaving Laurie optimistic that Hope could change her controlling ways. However, Kenji wasn’t convinced and assured Laurie that nothing had changed and Hope would still need to be taken down. [X-Men: Schism #1-5, Generation Hope #10-12]
Kenji was constantly learning new things about his abilities. He had secretly implanted parts of himself in all the Lights back on their first mission to see if he could influence their thoughts the way Hope did and even served pieces of his own body as hamburger meat at a student barbecue. During a training session, he came face to face with Magneto and provoked him into brutally attacking him. Surviving being split in half by Magneto made Kenji realize that his powers were in every inch of his body, even when separated. He began to put a plan in motion and recruited X-Men student Martha Johansson, a disembodied mutant brain with powerful telepathic abilities, to Hope’s mutant rescue team. He feigned an interest in her but secretly allowed her capsule to be destroyed on a mission, leaving her helpless. Using his powers, Kenji crafted a new body for her, something she was more than grateful for after spending years trapped in a jar. Since Martha was always connected to him, Kenji now had access to her telepathic abilities, namely mind control.
Shortly after, Kenji and the Lights were attacked by a band of former mutant criminals, now living on Utopia, who were fed up with the special treatment Hope recieved. During the battle, Hope took complete control of Kenji, forcing him to grow to a massive size and ending the fight. Kenji was furious and this violation of his free will proved to be the final straw; Kenji was ready to enact his plan to destroy Hope.
Before starting, Kenji once again tried to recruit Laurie by making her realize that with the way new mutants were manifesting, Hope would eventually have an entire mutant army at her disposal. Knowing that Hope could not be trusted with such power and seeing a kindred spirit in Kenji since they both underwent drastic physical changes when becoming mutants, Laurie agreed to join him.
Over the course of time, Kenji had successfully planted pieces of himself into every inhabitant on Utopia. Now with full access to Martha’s telepathy, Kenji was able to be the artist he always dreamed of being, someone who could change others' perception, and it was time to unleash his masterpiece. Kenji began by placing Martha and the remaining Lights in various illusions or distractions so that they wouldn’t interfere. Knowing that Cyclops would be impossible to turn against Hope, Kenji was able to psychically sway Emma to get rid of him, as Emma had taken a particular liking to Kenji due to their mutual disgust with Hope. As he began to infiltrate minds across Utopia, Kenji discovered that many of them needed very little convincing to turn against Hope and before long, Hope found herself confronted by a vicious mob of X-Men and mutants, seeking to literally crucify her. When Laurie realized that Kenji sought to kill Hope, she turned against him and the rest of the team, including Martha, began to break free of their illusions. As the Lights tried desperately to subdue the mob, Kenji ranted about how he was meant to save mutantkind from a false savior. As the battle raged, Kenji pulled Hope into his mind to personally taunt her by revealing the details of his plan, including his manipulation of Martha. Mimicking his powers, Hope pulled Martha into their shared mindscape and, after learning the truth, Martha used her powers to turn off Kenji’s mutant ability, causing his body to completely collapse. Kenji was presumed dead and, although his ultimate plan failed, Hope promised to change her ways and assured the Lights that she would no longer use them as soldiers. [Generation Hope #13-17]
The X-Men were eventually forced to abandon Utopia and most of it sunk to the ocean floor. When Davis Harmon, cyborg and CEO of Eaglestar Industries, searched the ruins of Utopia to salvage its technology, he discovered Kenji and used his unique body structure to make repairs on his own body. Being held captive and tortured shattered Kenji’s already fragile psyche and he began to blame the X-Men for his demise. Storm eventually took Harmon down and, unbeknownst to her, allowed Kenji to escape his underwater lab.
Kenji was consumed with revenge and directed it at the X-Men’s current leader, Storm. Storm had recently begun a personal journey and had been using her gifts to make changes across the globe, including helping Forge supply water to a drought-striken Kenyan village and providing aid to runaway teens who were living in the Morlock tunnels. Kenji was disgusted that Storm was spreading hope and fellowship everywhere but had rejected him and let him die when he showed his true colors during his attack on Hope. He arrived at the Jean Grey School and once again claimed to have forgotten his murderous actions. Storm believed him and allowed him to stay, keeping him under close watch, but it didn’t take long for Kenji to shatter his innocent facade. He began to attack the school and simultaneously unleashed armies of his techno-organic “meat puppets” on the places around the world that Storm had recently helped. He connected himself to Storm so that she could watch her friends die but this only allowed Storm to use her powers on a global scale and she destroyed his armies.
Defeated, Kenji tried to goad Storm into killing him, which would prove that her inclusive dream was a lie, because it could never include him. Storm refused and, still connected to his mind, showed Kenji that many of her friends, like Callisto and Forge, were once monsters, but still decided to fight for a better world. She also knew that, deep down, Kenji hoped the same could eventually be true of him. Kenji vanished, telling Storm that he’d see her around. Rachel Grey confirmed that his psionic presence was still in the area and was, surprisingly, at peace. [Storm (3rd series) #10-11]
Despite his troubled history, the X-Men hope that Kenji will return to them when he feels ready but, although it seems that Kenji has put his grievances with them behind him, it’s hard to imagine his twisted worldview ever aligning itself with the X-Men’s values.
In the Ultimate Universe, the X-Men, led by Kitty Pryde, freed Kenji from a mutant detention camp. He was one of the few mutants who refused the U.S. government’s mutant cure and followed Kitty to Utopia, a mutant reservation in Nevada. Kenji proved vital to mutant kind’s survival by using his techno-organic powers to make Utopia’s dry and irradiated land fertile.