A hero published by Marvel Comics
. Cannonball first appeared in 1982 in the New Mutants
Samuel Guthrie was the eldest child of a poor, coal-mining family from Kentucky. Employed at a young age in the mines, Sam and some of his fellow miners were trapped during a cave-in. The stress of the situation triggered Guthrie's latent mutation, the ability to produce energy to propel him through the air like a rocket. This mutation protects Guthrie from harm by producing an energy field around him while his power is in use, making him effectively immune to all forms of physical injury. Guthrie used his power to free himself and his fellow miners.
Guthrie was soon approached by Donald Pierce, a member of the Inner Circle of the Hellfire Club. Pierce recruited Guthrie, giving him the name Cannonball, and sought to use him to gain power. Pierce's first assignment for Cannonball sent him against Charles Xavier and a group of young mutants that he had gathered to teach. During the insuing battle, Pierce ordered Guthrie to kill one of his opponents, but Guthrie refused. Cannonball switched sides, joining Xavier's group, which became known as the New Mutants.
Guthrie and his fellow students worked with Xavier, learning to use and control their powers. Because Guthrie was older when his powers manifested, he struggled more with learning his powers than some of the others, but is age also caused the other students to look to him as a leader. The team worked together for many years, weathering a number of changes in membership and leadership. One of the most significant changes came when leadership of the team fell into the hands of Nathan Summers, the man known as Cable. Cable began to train the team in a more military fashion, preparing them for what he saw as the coming conflict that mutants would face and changed the team name to X-Force, reflecting this new philosphy. Cannonball found a mentor in Cable and learned many new uses for his abilities both defensive and offensive. He learned to use his protective field to protect others and to expand it outward as a weapon. He also learned to control the amount of noise he emitted as he flew, allowing him to fly more stealthily.
It was during this time that writer Fabian Nicieza introduced along with artist Rob Liefeld one of the most convoluted and pointless sub-plots of all time. It was revealed that a sub-group of mutants called the X-Ternals, whose mutations gave them extremely long life. It was believed that a member of the New Mutants was an X-Ternal and though some believed it to be Sunspot, Cable revealed that it was Cannonball after he recovered from a fatal wounding at the hands of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. This whole story line circled the drain for a time, seemingly with no direction and purpose other than to introduce a group of weird, poorly drawn, Liefeld designed characters with stilted dialogue and no real motivation. Eventually, the whole plot point was dropped when it was decided that Cannonball was not actually an X-ternal. This however leaves his miraculous healing a huge continuity hole that has never been cleaned up.
Eventually, Cable's methods proved too extreme for Cannonball so when Professor Xavier extended an offer to become one of the X-Men, Guthrie accepted. Guthrie served well during his time with the team, but never felt like he fit in. Eventually, he left the team to help his ailing mother in Kentucky, eventually returning to action as a member of X-Force, who were wandering without direction or leadership at that point. This changed when the team came under the leadership of Peter Wisdom, a former agent of the British intelligence agency Black Air. Wisdom turned the team into a black ops group, dealing with the shadowy threats to humans and mutants alike. After Wisdom faked his own death, the group continued, eventually taking a page from their former leader's book and allowing the world to believe that they were dead as well.
Cannonball returned as an agent of X-Corporation, a new group organized by Professor X to deal with the issues of mutant and human relations. Eventually, he joined a group lead by Storm that broke off from Xavier and seeks to deal with the burgeoning issues of the rising mutant population.