…Callisto’s origin?

While the mutant Callisto, created by Chris Claremont and Paul Smith, was introduced in Uncanny X-Men #169 as leader of the Morlocks, a large group of mutants that had fled from human persecution into the tunnels beneath New York City where they had formed their own community, her history prior to her founding of the Morlocks remained shrouded in mystery for the ensuing hundred issues.

However, while this appears to be the case on the surface, a plot regarded as one of the most disturbing – and obscure – of Claremont’s entire run on the title, appears to provide some valuable clues upon a second viewing.

Consider that the scenes in Uncanny X-Men #259 showing Callisto transformed into a beautiful supermodel [by Masque]…

Figure 01_UXM259_Masque tormentFigure 02_UXM259_Billboard modelFigure 03_UXM259_Model in trouble

…were actually intended by Chris Claremont to hint at the founder of the Morlocks’ original appearance.

This would finally explain the scene in Uncanny X-Men #191, when new mutant, Dani Moonstar, shows Callisto her greatest fear by projecting an image of the attractive woman she once was…

Figure 04_UXM191_Callisto before mutant powers

…and the cryptic scene in #260 with the gang of thugs pursuing her down a dark alley…

Figure 05_UXM260_Model fight back

…was hinting at the event which brought about her mutant abilities.

I’d therefore suggest that when still a supermodel, prior to her mutant powers manifesting, the young woman that became Callisto was pursued by a gang of thugs on the streets at night.  She tries to struggle against their attack but, while she had learned a number of self-defence moves, she was just not built for physical combat.

However, given Claremont’s penchant for revealing mutants’ powers primarily manifesting in life-threatening situations (e.g. Sam Guthrie), I’d further suggest the assault caused her body to transform into that of a hardened warrior…

Figure 06_UXM170_Callisto's powers

…which enabled her to fight off her attackers… but at the price of losing her looks, and modelling career in the process.

This would appear to explain why Claremont named her Callisto.  That is, Callisto, meaning “most beautiful”, was the lovely nymph in Greek mythology that was raped by Zeus and subsequently transformed into a bestial form.

However, the myth goes a step further, and Callisto becomes pregnant as a result of the sexual assault.

So did Claremont intend to reveal that, in addition to manifesting her mutant abilities, Callisto became pregnant as a result of the attack?  If so, where is that child now?

I have some ideas…

Given the bestial form Callisto was transformed into in the myth was a bear, does this provide some clue as to the identity of her child?

It is worth noting that the original version of the name Cheney, Cheynne, means “little Cree” (French) à “little Cris” (Canadian French) à “little Bear” (Greek).  A long way to go about it, but it is there:)

We know Callisto spoke with a British argot (e.g. Uncanny X-Men #211 when she calls the dying Morlock, Annalee, a “dear old duffer”).

Figure 06_UXM211_Callisto's argot

We also know Lila Cheney similarly used British slang.

Figure 07_NMA01_Lila Cheney's accent

So given Cheney’s name means “Little Bear”, it would seem she was intended by Claremont to be the child resulting from Callisto’s assault.

I kind of like the idea that Callisto is Lila Cheney’s mother.  It ties two Claremont characters without origins together.  And they never met during his run.

The only further detail Claremont provided for Lila Cheney’s origins during his run was that someone on Earth had sold her…

Figure 08_NMA01_Earth sold Lila CheneyFigure 09_NM29_Lila stolen and sold

…to an alien who had forced her to participate in intergalactic gladiator tournaments!

Figure 10_NM29_Lila reveals was gladiator

The most logical villain from Claremont’s run to have orchestrated the abduction of Lila as a baby would seem to be Mister Sinister, what with his modus operandi of having mutant children kidnapped (Nanny not having been created at this point).

Figure 11_UXM215_Madelyne Pryor pursued by Marauders

As to the alien, with Lila’s powers working on the basis that she must have previously been to a particular location in order to teleport there later, and given that we find her teleporting across the Imperium in Uncanny X-Men #269…

Figure 12a_UXM269_Lila teleporting across Shi'ar Imperium_a

…and Uncanny X-Men #274-277…

Figure 12b_UXM276_Lila teleporting across Shi'ar ImperiumFigure 12c_UXM276_Lila teleporting across Shi'ar ImperiumFigure 12d_UXM277_Lila teleporting across Shi'ar Imperium

…I’d propose Shi’ar “Big Bad,” the Emperor D’Ken!

Figure 13_UXM156_D'Ken most likely alien Sinister sold Lila to

As to why Mister Sinister would sell Lila to D’Ken, I’d suggest he did so in order to gain Shi’ar technology, specifically an incubation-accelerator… similar to the one Davan Shakari/ Eric the Red had used to age Magneto in X-Men #104…

Figure 14_UXM104_Shi'ar age accelerator

…which he could use to accelerate his clones to adulthood, like he had with Madelyne Pryor.

Figure 15_UXM240_Mister Sinister's age accelerator

And don’t panic, I’m not avoiding addressing the perpetrators of Callisto’s original assault which led to the manifestation of her mutant abilities (and Lila;).  So let us return to the first hint of such an event, Uncanny X-Men #260.  Most fans will agree with me here that there is something extremely disturbing about the scene in this issue when it becomes clear that the group of attackers are wearing X-Men masks.

Figure 16_UXM260_Peter Nicholas fighting off Callisto's attackers

When viewed on the surface, nothing about the sequence makes any sense.  With the previous issue launching this particular storyline with Masque torturing Callisto, one could argue it was him who sent the attackers.  However, if he did, why did they need to wear masks when Masque could have easily changed their faces with his powers?  Also, Masque certainly couldn’t have known what Psylocke’s new helmeted mask looked like since Betsy had only been wearing her armoured costume since the X-Men had become invisible to electronic scanners and he’d not encountered them since before this time.

Figure 17_UXM232_Psylocke's armour

It’s worth noting here that Masque’s behaviour in this story arc is so much more psychologically sophisticated in its cruelty than anything we’ve previously seen from him – and his use of limousines and organising for Callisto to appear on billboards – such a high-class, highly-financed operation would be out of the league of an outcast who lives in the sewers. Such a scheme is more in keeping with the modus operandi of a villain like Farouk who was previously shown to run various legitimate nightclubs, etc. (e.g. the Fat Karma storyline).

As for the attackers wearing masks, while it could be argued this was Peter Nicholas’ subconscious trying to remind him of his identity as the X-Man, Colossus, the “vision” is also noted by Phillip Moreau.

Figure 18_UXM260_Phillip Moreau sees X-Men masks

I’d therefore alternatively suggest Peter seeing X-Men masks on the faces of Callisto’s attackers was not his subconscious but instead the mutant Aborigine, Gateway, contacting him via the Dreamtime.  The hallucinatory effect of the scene echoes back to Psylocke’s experience in Uncanny X-Men #250, and Madelyne Pryor’s in the lead-up to Inferno. Recall at this point Gateway was imprisoned by the Shadow King (cf. Uncanny X-Men #250 and 253) in his efforts to control the Dreamtime.

Figure 19_UXM250-253_Shadow King controlling DreamtimeGateway’s “Dreamtime” contact to Peter was dual-purposed, firstly as suggested above his effort to speed up the recovery from his amnesia after passing through the Siege Perilous (so he could be restored as Colossus in preparation for the coming battle with the Shadow King), but also revealing subtle clues from the nightmares of characters’ past, in this instance Callisto’s.  That is, what with Gateway being cursed to the service of the Reavers…

Figure 20_UXM269_Gateway bound to Reavers' service

…who were revealed as the Shadow King’s pawns in X-Treme X-Men Annual 2001…

Figure 21_XXMA2001_Donald Pierce as host to Shadow King

…was Claremont using the character as a plot device to subtly reveal their involvement in the past events of his characters?

What’s interesting about the scene with Callisto’s attackers in Uncanny X-Men #260 is that they’re wearing masks of the “Outback Team” of X-Men, Colossus, Havok, Wolverine, Storm, Psylocke, etc.

Figure 22_UXM260_Thugs wearing masks out Outback X-Men

At this time there were only two groups of X-Men villains who were aware of their survival from Dallas, the Reavers and Marauders.

With my having established Gateway’s “Dreamtime” contact, it would seem to make sense his influence was revealing villains mutual to both himself and the X-Men (sadly, Peter is still too Siege-lagged to interpret Gateway’s “vision”, and goes on to fall under the thrall of the Shadow King).

So when the attack on Callisto in Uncanny X-Men #260 is viewed from my above outlined perspective, things start falling into place, don’t they!

Now before I dive in, I’d suggest a much earlier scene written by Claremont in Callisto’s history provides us with further clues.

Recall in Callisto’s first appearance – Uncanny X-Men #169 – she has Angel kidnapped, stripped of his clothing and his primary feathers cut away in an effort to cripple him.

Figure 23_UXM169_Callisto's kidnapping of Angel

While this scene is explained as her wanting Warren as a “trophy husband”, there always seemed to be more behind her actions than she claimed.  So what if Callisto actually came to knowledge that the gang of her original attackers worked for a rich, blonde male member of the Hellfire Club who had gone on to become member of some super outlaw team?

Now recall in Uncanny X-Men #132 had Angel reveal that he was a member of the Hellfire Club, having inherited the membership from his parents.

Figure 24_UXM132_Angel reveals Hellfire Club membershipSo did Callisto learn of Warren’s Hellfire Club membership and jump to the wrong conclusion, ordering his kidnapping due to a case of mistaken identity?  And the rich, blonde she should really have kidnapped was CEO of Pierce-Consolidated Mining and White King of the Hellfire Club’s Inner Circle!

So let’s explore this a little further.  We know Pierce had a mad-on for mutants…

Figure 25a_UXM134_Donald Pierce hatred mutantsFigure 25b_UXM253_Donald Pierce hatred mutants

…most likely because he ended up an amputee through a less than positive “interaction” with one!  While this was somewhat revealed in Cable #49 by James Robinson…

Figure 26_CBL49_Donald Pierce reveals the mutant responsible for his condition

…the storyline and characters revealed as responsible were obviously not those intended by Claremont.

So what circumstances did Claremont intend to have caused Donald Pierce’s disablement, and his subsequent hatred of mutants?

Before I begin addressing this apparent abandoned plot, let me first turn my investigation to an interesting statement made by the Pierce from around our period in discussion, Uncanny X-Men #251, where he claims to have created the original Reavers; and that Pretty Boy, Skullbuster and Bonebreaker were the last of this original group.

Figure 27a_UXM251_Donald Pierce responsible for original Reavers

It is worth noting that the original Reavers did not just consist of the abovementioned three.  That is, Uncanny X-Men #229 earlier shows them as part of a much larger group of super-powered cyborgs.

Figure 27b_UXM229_Original Reavers

That same issue Claremont has Longshot express outrage toward the group about giving up their “birthright flesh” and replacing it with machinery, which I’d suggest was his way of indicating that the entire commando-style team of thieves started out as human.

Figure 27c_UXM229_original Reavers had been human

Given their cybernetic enhancements enabled them to become this super-commando team, I’d further suggest that when still purely human they were just a team of thieves.

So what were the circumstances of their own disablement that made them candidates for Pierce’s cybernetic enhancements?  I’m assuming by now you’ve deduced where I’m going with this.

That is, was Pierce and this gang of thieves that went on to become his original Reavers the same group of thugs hinted by Gateway to have been responsible for the attack on the supermodel that became the mutant Callisto?

I would suggest yes, and that the fractures, amputations and internal injuries, that required them to subject themselves to cybernetic enhancement, were sustained as a result of the supermodel’s mutant abilities manifesting during their sexual assault of her.

But, you ask, were members of the Reavers’ really capable of rape?

I’d answer that question by directing you to their very first appearance in Uncanny X-Men #229.  Pretty Boy especially had a penchant for making female victims more “pliable” to his suggestions, including the captured Jessan Hoan (his fibre-optic filaments burrowing into her brain and altering her sense of morality such that she went on to become Tyger Tiger, the new crime lord of Madripoor)…

Figure 28a_UXM229_Pretty Boy mind rape of Jessan Hoan

…Dazzler…

Figure 28b_UXM229_Pretty Boy attempted mind-rape of Dazzler

…Lady Deathstrike…

Figure 28c_UXM252_Pretty Boy attempted mind-rape of Lady Deathstrike

…Polaris…

Figure 28d_UXM255_Pretty Boy attempted mind-rape of Polaris

…Rogue…

Figure 28e_UXM269_Pretty Boy intending to mind-rape Rogue

…and Sage.

Figure 28f_XXMA2001_Pretty Boy about to mind-rape Sage

This would seem to suggest that Pretty Boy’s predatory behaviour towards females existed long before Pierce surgically provided him with the fibre-optic filaments that enabled him to burrow into a victim’s brain and alter their sense of morality, and that Donald in fact outfitted him with this enhancement as it played to his previous strengths.

In addition, Donald Pierce exhibited similarly creepy behaviour towards Lady Deathstrike, who acknowledged his control over her.

Figure 29a_UXM252_Donald Pierce controlling Lady DeathstrikeFigure 29b_UXM253_Donald Pierce with Lady Deathstrike

It’s worth noting that his first name, Donald, means “ruler of the world” and his surname Pierce is derived from the Greek Petros, the ammonite shila form by which Zeus was worshipped.

So there you have it, Donald Pierce and his gang of thieves, stumbling across the supermodel that went on to become Callisto while they were taking down one of their scores, decided to “sate their appetites” when her powers kicked in and she cut through them like a knife through butter, becoming the mutant responsible for the original Reavers!

Now while this resolves the circumstances of Callisto’s assault and subsequent transformation, Lila Cheney’s conception and eventual sale to D’Ken (and later escape from her intergalactic enslavement*), if this was Claremont’s plan, I’ve not yet addressed why Callisto didn’t attempt to track down her daughter after the abduction.  Well, while her mutant powers manifested during her sexual assault and she ended up permanently disabling her attackers, they’d be no match against the Marauders when those assassins came to abduct baby Lila from her for their employer, Mister Sinister.  While she’d have been able to put up a fight, recall during Claremont’s run these were the deadliest group of mutants the X-Men had ever faced and Callisto would have been alone against them.  While she survived the encounter, there’s no way she wouldn’t have walked away unscathed, so I’d suggest that it was this battle that was responsible for her missing right eye and the scars on her cheeks, most likely meted out by Sabretooth.

I’d even go a further step to suggest that, as it is unlikely for a sole fighter to survive an encounter with the Marauders, Callisto, despite sustaining her injuries, managed to flee from them into the sewers beneath Manhattan and kept running until she stumbled across one of the series of abandoned military tunnels constructed during the Cold War; the Marauders unable to track her and finish their job due to the Alley blocking psionic scanning.

Figure 30a_UXM169 212_Morlock tunnels psychic interference

Having now experienced two near-death attacks upon her person, by humans AND mutants, I’d posit that Callisto lost any sense of safety and so, like Harvey Elder, upon finding the security of the Alley, decided to create a makeshift home there. And after encountering Caliban, Sunder, Masque and Plague who similarly fled there to avoid human persecution, with their help went on to form the community of mutant outcasts called the Morlocks.

So could this be the reason for the later Morlock Massacre?  That is, Callisto is perhaps the first one (i.e. mutant) that got away from an assassination ordered by Mister Sinister.  So when he eventually heard rumours of her established community of mutant outcasts, he ordered it wiped out from existence.

Post-script: As to the circumstances of Lila Cheney’s eventual escape from her enslavement as a human gladiator in the Shi’ar Imperium, I’d suggest Claremont also provides the answer to that plot thread in Uncanny X-Men #276, in particular the scene where upon her hesitation to teleport away after Deathbird commands her to, thereby abandoning Gambit and Jubilee to defend themselves against Gladiator and War-Skrull Xavier (despite the two X-Men having freed them from imprisonment), the Majestrix guilts her into action by reminding Lila of her pledge of loyalty and service to her.

Figure 30_UXM276_Lila's pledge to Deathbird

While leaving behind these two new members of the X-Men might be able to be overlooked once, given she has never met them before, Lila bails out on team members she has previously worked alongside again when they are under attack by Warskrull agents on a further occasion in this issue.  Twice when they are in desperate need of assistance seems entirely out of character for the Lila we have previously known.  That is, unless Deathbird was the one who helped her escape from her original intergalactic enslavement!  And if D’Ken as I posit was the one who placed Lila into gladiatorial enslavement in the first place, releasing a victim of the brother who unseated her from the Shi’ar throne and procuring them as an ally would seem entirely ‘in character’ for the Deathbird we know, and love.  In fact Deathbird’s behaviour as written by Claremont during the entire War-Skrull storyline (officially titled “Crossroads”) makes me believe that D’Ken was behind the murder of his mother and unnamed sister, and he orchestrated events so that Deathbird, next in line to the Shi’ar throne, would take the blame and he could take her place as Emperor.  After all, it is rather interesting that she ends up exiled to the planet her brother had a Shi’ar agent running agendas for him!  But that, I’m afraid, will have to be a FIX for another time;)

Post-postscript: As for Masque’s transformation of Callisto into her former supermodel self, I’d suggest he didn’t just do this so he could take leadership of the Morlocks from her, but also at the Shadow King’s behest so that Peter would fall in love with her thus enabling them to manipulate him to provide them with access codes to the X-Mansion’s underground basement.  Despite Masque’s defeat in Uncanny X-Men #263…

Figure 31_UXM263_Masque's defeat

…and what would appear to be a happy ending for Peter and Callisto in Uncanny X-Men #264…

Figure 32_UXM264_Callisto and Colossus's happy ending

…when next we see him it becomes clear that Masque’s scheme has worked despite Gateway’s efforts, and Colossus has indeed fallen under the Shadow King’s thrall:(

Figure 33_UXM279_Colossus under the Shadow King's thrall

 

 

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…why Mr. Sinister had the Marauders kill the Morlocks?

Figure 00_OHOTMU18v2_Morlocks2

During the Mutant Massacre, the first X-Crossover (1986), without warning or apparent reason the Morlocks living in the abandoned subway tunnels below New York are slaughtered by the Marauders.  For the remainder of Chris Claremont’s run we never learned the actual motivations for the massacre, the closest to answers readers obtain is during the actual crossover when Storm suggests that it is nothing less than a planned, deliberate attempt to wipe out Callisto’s people…

Figure 1: Storm suggests the Marauders attack was nothing less than a planned deliberate attempt to wipe out the Morlocks (New Mutants #46, p.8)

Figure 1: Storm suggests the Marauders attack was nothing less than a planned deliberate attempt to wipe out the Morlocks (New Mutants #46, p.8)

Figure 2: …and Sabretooth further tells Wolverine that Mr. Sinister is playing a game that doesn't allow for "wild cards" like the Morlocks (Uncanny X-Men #212, p.?)

Figure 2: …and Sabretooth further tells Wolverine that Mr. Sinister is playing a game that doesn’t allow for “wild cards” like the Morlocks (Uncanny X-Men #212, p.15)

When Claremont was forced from the X-titles in the early 90s it became another of his many “dangling plots”.  When later writers revealed Mr. Sinister as a former servant of Apocalypse, theories arose that his master had deemed the Morlocks as not strong enough to survive and previously programmed him to do it.

Figure 3: Apocalypse reminds Caliban that the weak, like the Morlocks, need to be culled so the strong can grow and prosper (X-Factor #51, p.4)

Figure 3: Apocalypse reminds Caliban that the weak, like the Morlocks, need to be culled so the strong can grow and prosper (X-Factor #51, p.4)

In the 10 years following Claremont’s original storyline, the Morlocks had been retconned into having been created by the Dark Beast, a refugee from the Age of Apocalypse crossover.

Figure 4: Marrow meets the Dark Beast, who recognises her as "his creation, one or two generations removed" (X-Men Prime, p.41)

Figure 4: Marrow meets the Dark Beast, who recognises her as “his creation, one or two generations removed” (X-Men Prime, p.41)

In Cable #28 it is inferred Mr. Sinister recognised the Morlocks as being based on his own genetically manipulative style, given Dark Beast learned genetics from his AoA counterpart, and annoyed by the unauthorised use of his theories, sends the Marauders to wipe them out.

Figure 5: Sinister claims the Morlocks are the first such perversion of his work, which were retconned into being genetically manipulated by the Dark Beast (Cable #28, p.8)

Figure 5: Sinister claims the Morlocks are the first such perversion of his work, which were retconned into being genetically manipulated by the Dark Beast (Cable #28, p.8)

However, wasn’t it a bit of a coincidence that the Morlock’s system led from their tunnels beneath Manhattan to Professor Xavier’s estate as stated by Colossus in Uncanny X-Men #243, p.19, and shown in New Mutants #90-91!?

Figure 6: Colossus tells his teammates that the Morlock tunnel network leads from Manhattan to those directly beneath the hangar complex below Professor Xavier’s estate (Uncanny X-Men #243, p. 19).  Coincidence!?

Figure 6: Colossus tells his teammates that the Morlock tunnel network leads from Manhattan to those directly beneath the hangar complex below Professor Xavier’s estate (Uncanny X-Men #243, p. 19). Coincidence!?

Figure 7: Who originally built these tunnels to cover nearly forty miles from Manhattan to Graymalkin Lane in Westchester? (Uncanny X-Men #193, p.4)

Figure 7: Who originally built these tunnels to cover nearly forty miles from Manhattan to Graymalkin Lane in Westchester? (Uncanny X-Men #193, p.4)

Now flash forward to X-Men Forever (v1) #4, written by Fabian Nicieza that hints Mr. Sinister is responsible for muties!!… Threads picked up in this issue were seeded earlier by Nicieza in X-Men (v2) #12 where Professor X explains to Wolverine that his father, Brian Xavier, worked at Almagordo Nuclear Research Facility a front for mutant research (the later revealed government-backed Black Womb Program)…

Figure 08_X12_Almagordo

Figure 8: A file explains that Xavier's father’s work facility at Almagordo Nuclear Research Facility was really a front for mutant research (X-Men v2 #12, p.18-19)

Figure 8: A file explains that Xavier’s father’s work facility at Almagordo Nuclear Research Facility was really a front for mutant research (X-Men v2 #12, p.18-19)

…along with fellow scientist Kurt Marko, father of the Juggernaut who went on to marry Sharon Xavier after Charles’s father died in a supposed accident at Almagordo.

Figure 9: When Charles was still a child, his father Dr. Brian Xavier had been killed during an atomic blast at the research facility he and his colleague Dr. Kurt Marko worked at. While Marko comforts Xavier's widow Sharon, young Charles never trusted him (and months later he knew why, when Marko proposed to Sharon Xavier from Uncanny X-Men #12, p.4)

Figure 9: When Charles was still a child, his father Dr. Brian Xavier had been killed during an atomic blast at the research facility he and his colleague Dr. Kurt Marko worked at. While Marko comforts Xavier’s widow Sharon, young Charles never trusted him (and months later he knew why, when Marko proposed to Sharon Xavier from Uncanny X-Men #12, p.4)

So there’s the thread to start my fix.

Figure 10: The investigators labeled the death of Brian Xavier while working at the research station at Almagordo, New Mexico as an accident (X-Men v2 #13, p.4)

Figure 10: The investigators labeled the death of Brian Xavier while working at the research station at Almagordo, New Mexico as an accident (X-Men v2 #13, p.4)

Figure 11: But while Kurt Marko double-crossed and murdered Charles’s father (Uncanny X-Men #12, p.7)...

Figure 11: But while Kurt Marko double-crossed and murdered Charles’s father (Uncanny X-Men #12, p.7)…

Figure 12: ...was there more behind his reason for doing so other than to marry Sharon and gain access to Brian’s fortune? (X-Men v2 #13, p.4)

Figure 12: …was there more behind his reason for doing so other than to marry Sharon and gain access to Brian’s fortune? (X-Men v2 #13, p.4)

That is, I would reveal that Brian Xavier’s death during his work at the research station, Almagordo, was not only an accident and connected with his smuggling some of Sinister’s REJECTS (i.e. the first Morlocks) out of there in order to prevent their deaths.

But where would he safely hide them from Sinister?

What if the network of tunnels beneath NYC revealed to have been constructed in the 1950s by the United States government for it and the military’s use, but later abandoned, was a cover story?  Did Brian Xavier use his government and military connections to construct these tunnels, extending to beneath his mansion, thus providing Sinister’s REJECTS with a community where their distorted physical appearances would be hidden away from humankind’s prejudice?

It also perhaps provided Xavier with a surreptitious means to get food, water, shelter and medicine to them.

Did the Xavier legacy for mutant rights therefore not begin with Charles, but instead with his father Brian?

I would posit that Brian’s efforts are eventually discovered by Kurt Marko who, fearing he would go to jail for his part in the Black Womb Program, kills him and makes it look like an accident.

Brian’s untimely death prevents him from ever revealing the truth to Charles, and so the community is left to fend for itself and goes on to fall under the leadership of Callisto.

I would posit though that just prior to his death, however, Xavier manages to get word to people within the U.S. government sympathetic to the rights of mutants about Sinister’s experiments within the Black Womb Program.

In the meantime, Marko reports what he has done to Sinister. Not wanting the full extent of his activities made public until his plans were fully formulated, Sinister moved his base off American soil.

He reopens shop in Genosha, a nation sympathetic with his eugenic goals.  They give him a free hand to continue his research, as long as the fruits of his labour provide their nation with significant economic benefit.

Sinister exceeds even his wildest expectations, achieving both goals in the one action.

You ask why I reveal Sinister as the mastermind behind the slave nation!  While any true X-Fan shouldn’t even be asking why I would retcon the grotesque oaf Sugar Man as the mysterious force behind Genosha, they should recall how X-Men: Prime, refers to Mister Edgerton (Genosha’s oldest and first recorded mutate) as the original Morlock (so yes I’m retconning AoA refugees Sugar Man and Dark Beast as the masterminds behind Genosha and the Morlocks respectively, and would instead reveal that McCoy only tampered with the Morlocks who became Gene Nation and took credit for their wider creation to establish his reputation as a villainous manipulator on par with the sinister vivisector).

Figure 11_XPRIME_OrigMutate

Figure 11: (X-Men: Prime, p.34-35)

Figure 13: (X-Men: Prime, p.34-35)

And so Sinister was, at first, tasked with finding the illegitimate daughter of one Lord Kelly (another recurring name) who was living in the “white ghettoes”… but even in the cesspool that was Victorian-era London too many missing people tended to draw unwanted attention, as became the case with those Whitechapel prostitutes.  That is after subjecting four of them to Sinister’s tests, the Club and the aristocracy, fearing not only that this would lead back to them, but also fearful of what would occur had certain physical powers gotten into the genetic code of society’s lowest members, the prostitutes were executed.

The Club, still desperate for genetically gifted bloodlines, facilitate a process whereby Sinister can continue to satisfy his need for genetically anomalous test subjects, and reward him with the position of doctor for London’s upper class.

And so he finds a surprisingly flourishing trade as an obstetrician, and one patient in particular proves to be most helpful – the young woman by the name of Amanda Mueller.

Figure 14: Amanda Mueller was coerced into being a birthing factory for the genetic experiments of Dr. Nathan Milbury, an alias for Mr. Sinister(Gambit v3 #20, p.12)

Figure 14: Amanda Mueller was coerced into being a birthing factory for the genetic experiments of Dr. Nathan Milbury, an alias for Mr. Sinister(Gambit v3 #20, p.12)

In exchange for helping her deal with the unwanted products of her… extramarital activities, she allows Sinister to keep her… unwanted offspring.  Unfortunately, the arrangement is outed by a London gossip columnist, and becomes known as the “Black Womb murders.”

Figure 15_Black Womb Murders

Figure 15: Amanda was accused of murdering her in utero children, and was given the name Black Womb. In 1891 she was acquitted of the child murder charges against her due to the testimony of obstetrician Dr. Nathan Milbury (Gambit v3 #13)

He helps Amanda vanish, and she becomes his most productive source of genetic material in the coming decades.

After he helps Amanda hide from the London authorities, the Club decides it is time for them to take their show on the road, so to speak.

It was a time of great scientific curiosity on the other side of the pond, so the Club decide that the land of opportunity will be a wonderful place for Sinister to continue his work. The melting pot will not let them down…

During this time he founds his Nebraska base, among others.

He decides that he should try and gather widespread information on the genetic diversity of American mutants.  But how to do so without causing a stir?  And then he realises the perfect means: The US government is looking for anything that might help them advance their power on a global scale.

World War One is a terrible time, but it also provides him an opportunity to approach certain fellow members of the scientific community.  It also allows him an opening into their uppermost circles of power.

He uses this persona as he accesses the American branch of the Hellfire Club to seek government funding for what he claims is eugenics work.  It isn’t that far off the mark, and is actually welcomed by the foolishly bigoted WASP power structure. What he is able to found is no less than Operation: Black Womb.

The project is simple: He will give the US government tidbits of the promise of genetic engineering, and they will give him near-unlimited funding and access to less-than-desirable castoffs of society…

They are eager to do so!  The mentally ill, racially-undesirable prisoners – prisoners of all kinds, actually – the disabled … Black Womb hardly discriminates.  He also is able to channel genetic data taken from socially acceptable people, culled from doctors’ offices across the country.

The program begins in 1927, or at least the first phase.  Brian Xavier is assigned to work with him to examine the effects of radiation on successive generations of humans.  Sinister, of course, already knows the potential such mutagenic energy could have … but when Brian volunteers Charles’ pregnant mother for an ‘accidental’ exposure, Sinister is willing to oblige.

Charles and Cassandra are the first product of Black Womb research.  Sharon evidently miscarries Cassandra, but Sinister takes the still-living sister and places her with one of the foster families in his network – people he had indebted to himself through various means.

Brian is initially terrified of the potential of mutants.  That was part of the reason he wanted his children to be mutants – he hopes that Charles will be defence against rogue mutations.  The irony really is delicious.

Around the same time, Sinister is asked to make his initial findings of mutagenetic advancement available to certain doctors involved in a very hush-hush project.  When Captain America first appears, he knows that his work has finally borne fruit.

So Sinister is tangentially involved in the Super-Soldier Program.  The doctors involved take mere theory and make it living, breathing flesh. I wonder if the good Captain would see it that way … but again, I get off the track.

Black Womb funding becomes scarce as the war effort ramps up.  Sinister is reassigned to OSS work.  The Americans are worried that the Germans will use concentration camp prisoners in genetic testing, and possibly have breakthroughs on the scale of the Super-Soldier Program.  So, with the cooperation that always existed between the secret government of the United States and the Nazi government of Germany (lead by sympathetic secret societies via such aristocrats as Zemo and Strucker), he becomes a scientist in the camps, conducting his own highly secret scientific experiments … and making his own breakthroughs.

He is far more merciful to his… subjects … than many of the so-called ‘doctors’ in those hellholes.  He is the one who kills and replaces a certain German officer in Poland, and he transfers a young Jewish lad who was demonstrating unusual control over metals.

You see, he could tell that Magnus was something special.  If he could have, Sinister would have gotten him out of Auschwitz far sooner, but those damned Nazis were too attentive.  To him, the entire Holocaust was a sickening waste of potential.

Figure 16: (Excalibur v3 #7, p. 9)

Figure 16: (Excalibur v3 #7, p. 9)

After he leaves Germany, just as Berlin is falling, he loses track of Magnus… still wondering what might have been.  In any case, he returns to America in late 1945, and finds Kurt Marko and Amanda Mueller still running Black Womb.

The government has become quite aware of the potential of superhuman mutation, after witnessing the Invaders in action.  The Super-Soldier Program becomes its own project, spinning off into the hands of eventually-deranged madmen, but Black Womb is permitted a certain degree of autonomy.

Thanks to the precognitive advice of a certain British emigre’ whom Sinister had targeted as a “genetic aberration,” they are able to isolate the foundations of several remarkable bloodlines.  Part of that, of course, is for his own pet projects – he never took his eye off of Scott’s family – but he is gratified to be able to trace the Grey, Drake, McCoy, Worthington, and even Munroe bloodlines…

Only Storm’s father, that is.  Sinister regrets that he does not have time to diversify his analysis systems to a global reach.  This would not come until after a series of catastrophes begin to spell death-knells for Black Womb.

The first is the passing of Kurt Marko.  Amanda and Sinister, being British emigres, are considered to be risky, at best, by their “black-budget” overseers.  Also, they have a lack of tangible achievements following World War Two.  The occasional breeding success, masked as a “miscarriage,” tends to be a low-powered mutant here or there, with a couple of exceptions – who have to be given to foster families because of security concerns.

The second is, sadly, Watson and Crick.  When their independent work into the genome becomes public, it becomes fashionable for government moneys to go towards “legitimate” genetic research – never mind the fact that Sinister is already 50 years ahead of those showboats.

The third is the Red Scare. It’s difficult to recruit top scientific researchers when they’re being terrorised by obsessive right-wing paranoiacs.  Also, military funding, which had been the foundation of Black Womb’s financial support, is being shifted towards other biological research programmes.

Postscript: Did Apocalypse, perhaps onto Sinister’s scheme to betray him, secretly manipulate Brian Xavier at the Black Womb project, to smuggle its “Rejects” into the tunnels beneath Manhattan (?another of his abandoned bases?)?

But to what end?

To answer this question I cast my mind back to how, after the Great Cataclysm, the Deviant priesthood was determined to destroy the Celestials for obliterating so much of their race and civilisation.  Hence, the priesthood assumed a new function.  At times designated as “Purity Time,” the priests would attempt to weed out those Deviants who were born with the most extreme and grotesque genetic differences from the others by publicly condemning them to death in the fire pits.

Figure 17: Karygmax ordering Cataphrax to submit to Purity Time (Eternals v2 #1, p.30)

Figure 17: Karygmax ordering Cataphrax to submit to Purity Time (Eternals v2 #1, p.30)

Through this measure the priests asserted that they hoped to keep variation within the Deviant race’s genetic makeup within certain limits.

Figure 18: (Eternals v2 #1, p.31)

Figure 18: (Eternals v2 #1, p.31)

However, in actuality, the priests did not kill the Deviants they supposedly condemned to death at Purity Time.

Figure 19: Kro exposes "Purity Time" as a falsehood (Eternals v2 #7, 19)

Figure 19: Kro exposes “Purity Time” as a falsehood (Eternals v2 #7, 19)

Instead, the priests secretly placed them in a form of suspended animation called “cold-sleep.”  Moreover, the priests used technological means to wipe the sleepers’ brains clean of their original personalities and to indoctrinate them to obey the priests unquestioningly when they finally awoke.  Through this means the priests built what they hoped would be an army, loyal to them alone, with which they would one day challenge the Celestials.  Over the millennia the priests’ sleeping army grew to number in the thousands.

Could this not, in effect, be what Apocalypse was up to!

Recall how Caliban the Morlock became his “First Hound” (from Rob Liefeld interview by Cliff Biggers, Comic Shop News #142, 13th of April 1990) and would usher in the bleak apocalyptic future shown in the iconic Days of Future Past!?

Figure 20: X-Factor #51, p. 22

Figure 20: X-Factor #51, p. 22

Did Apocalypse use Brian to supposedly condemn Sinister’s Rejects, whilst in reality he manipulated Xavier to move them to a safe place where he could use them later to shape his “Hounds” from and build a mutant army?  This is even more chilling, when one thinks that Apocalypse intended, like the Deviant priesthood, to challenge the Space Gods themselves, so was this the purpose of his planned mutant army?  Had the technology he had pillaged in the Celestial Ship been left behind by the Dreaming Celestial, and this is where Apocalypse stole his idea from?  I wonder if Cerebro’s failure to detect the existence of hundreds of mutants underneath New York City for so many years, yet being able to detect a single mutant presence half a world away, was intentional in its design!  Did Brian have a hand in its initial design, and accounted for this as directed by Apocalypse?

Did Sinister then discover Apocalypse’s plan to use these Rejects to recruit his Hounds from, and upon doing so ordered the Massacre enacted by the Marauders.  Perhaps Sinister also found out about Brian’s treachery, and convinced Marko to punish him for his betrayal.  But Marko performed his assigned task too well, and killed Brian before managing to extract the information of where Xavier had hidden the Rejects.  Is this why it took so long for Sinister to initiate the Massacre?

To read more of my theories about his long-term plans check out …Apocalypse’s Twelve plot?

A very big thank you goes out to fnord12 for his invaluable assistance compiling the obscure scans for this post. Fnord has taken on the nightmarish project of trying to physically assemble every Marvel comic and then write reviews/ breakdowns of them in chronological order at the Marvel Comics Chronology, and is a far far better man than I to wade into such murky waters.