Caliban (comics)

Caliban (comics)


caption= Caliban
real_name=August HofferFact|date=March 2008
species=Human Mutant
publisher=Marvel Comics
debut="Uncanny X-Men" #148 (August 1981)
creators=Chris Claremont
Dave Cockrum
alliances=X-Men X-Force Horsemen of Apocalypse X-Factor Morlocks
aliases=Pestilence; Hellhound; Hound; Death
powers=Ability to sense and track other mutants
Superhuman strength
Ability to sense and manipulate fears
Ability to generate a psychoactive virus that attacks mental functions|

Caliban is a mutant character in the Marvel Comics universe. The character's first appearance was in "Uncanny X-Men" #148.

Fictional character biography

He is born an albino mutant with a pale complexion and large yellow eyes. At some point in his life, he is banished from his home by his father, who called him Caliban, after a character from the play The Tempest by William Shakespeare.

Growing up, a still young Caliban, who speaks in the , is discovered by the mutant Callisto and taken under her wing. Learning of his mutant tracking ability, Callisto uses Caliban to locate other disenfranchised mutants and organizes them into the Morlocks, a band of homeless, rejected mutants. The founding Morlocks consist of Caliban, Callisto, Masque, Plague, and Sunder. The Morlocks live in the sewers and abandoned subway tunnels running underneath New York City, and, like Caliban, most of them had grotesque appearances.

Caliban's first costume is very similar in appearance to Scarecrow, a villain of Batman of rival DC Comics fame.

Caliban senses the presence of nearby mutants and enters a New York City nightclub seeking their friendship. He finds Storm, Dazzler, Sprite (Kitty Pryde), and the original Spider-Woman in the club, and has a misunderstood confrontation with them. Though the battle ends peacefully, Caliban returns to his home underground. ["Uncanny X-Men" #148]

Shortly thereafter, Morlock leader Callisto desires a consort and has the Morlocks abduct Warren Worthington, the Angel and member of the X-Men, to be her husband. The X-Men arrive in the sewers to rescue their ally, and Shadowcat is infected with a virus by Plague. Caliban takes her to his quarters to care for her. Shadowcat pleads with Caliban to allow her to assist her teammates. Caliban agrees, but only if she will return after the fight and stay with him. Though Kitty promised to stay with him forever, she left and returned home. ["Uncanny X-Men" #169-170] Weeks later, Callisto, vengeful after losing a one-on-one battle with X-Men leader Storm, orders the Morlocks to kidnap Shadowcat to force her to marry Caliban, knowing Storm would return. Caliban, however, realized Shadowcat did not truly love him and released her from her promise. Kitty then became Caliban's friend. ["Uncanny X-Men" #179]

Caliban was later temporarily magically merged with Professor X by Kulan Gath during a confrontation with the sorcerer. ["Uncanny X-Men" #190-191]


During the Morlock massacre, X-Factor rescues Caliban from the Marauders, and Caliban swore vengeance upon the Marauders. ["X-Factor" #11] With nowhere else to stay, he took up residence at X-Factor headquarters with several other surviving Morlocks. ["X-Factor" #12] Soon, he forced Masque to undo damage to the Beast's face, and then returned to the Alley. ["X-Factor" #15] However, shortly thereafter, Rictor went missing and Caliban volunteered to help X-Factor find him, officially joining the group at that point. ["X-Factor" #17] Alongside X-Factor, he next battles the Horsemen of Apocalypse. ["X-Factor" #19] Caliban voices his wish for increased power, so Iceman begins teaching Caliban unarmed combat. ["X-Factor" #21] He next fights the Right's soldiers and is nearly killed by them, ["X-Factor" #22] then aids X-Factor in rescuing the Right's mutant captives. ["X-Factor" #23]

Horseman of Apocalypse

Not long after that, X-Factor's immortal enemy Apocalypse kidnaps the entire team after changing Angel into Death. Caliban, intrigued by Apocalypse's transformation of the fallen Angel, betrays X-Factor and asks Apocalypse to do the same to him. Agreeing, Apocalypse promises to give Caliban enough power to gain revenge against the Marauders who killed his Morlock family. ["X-Factor" #24] Caliban agrees to become Apocalypse's servant and locator of mutants. Apocalypse renames him Hellhound. ["X-Factor" #25] Caliban senses the telepathic cry of Val-Or. ["X-Factor Annual" #3] Through genetic manipulation, Caliban becomes the second Horseman of Apocalypse known as Death. ["X-Factor" #50]

When Apocalypse had re-located to the moon in a confrontation with the original X-Factor and the Inhumans, Caliban returns to the Morlock tunnels. There, he locates Sabretooth, a ferocious mutant and member of the Marauders, who is stalking the sewers to find and kill more Morlocks. In combat, Caliban breaks Sabretooth's back and leaves him for dead, not realizing that he has a healing factor. ["X-Factor" #51] Caliban then attacks and defeats Archangel. ["X-Factor" #53] He later finds and defeats Sabretooth again. ["New Mutants" #90-91]

As Death, Caliban performs various tasks for his new master, serving as his warrior servant. During the X-Cutioner's Song, Caliban attacks former X-Factor members (and current X-Men) Jean Grey and Cyclops, under Apocalypse's (actually Mister Sinister posing as Apocalypse) orders. ["Uncanny X-Men" #294] Alongside War and Famine, Caliban kidnaps Cyclops and Jean Grey so Apocalypse can give the pair to the mad telepath Stryfe, who believes the couple to be his parents. ["X-Factor" #84] Famine, War, and Death then battle the X-Men and are defeated by them. ["X-Force" #16]

Caliban eventually returns to the Morlock sewers.


Eventually, the loner Caliban defeats Apocalypse's control at the cost of his mental faculties. At one point, when Sabretooth is a reluctant X-Men member, the mutant detector kidnaps X-Man Jubilee in exchange for the savage mutant, but he flees when Sabretooth mauls his face.

Though mentally unwell, he retains enormous physical power and is befriended by the mutant Cable. Oddly, Caliban's color shifts from white and monstrous to a semi-friendly Ogre-like form that is purple in coloration. Cable invites Caliban to join his team X-Force. Caliban has many adventures with the team, such as confronting Mojo and his forces, and when Apocalypse's enemy Mister Sinister infiltrates the X-Mansion, Apocalypse's mental leash causes him to savagely maul Sinister. He also has several confrontations with Sabretooth during this time.

During his time with the team, it is discovered Caliban could play the piano with great skill.

Return to Apocalypse

After some time, Apocalypse returns and takes Caliban away from X-Force. This time, Apocalypse makes him his new Horseman Pestilence (coincidentally, the former Pestilence was Caliban's Morlock ally Plague). This time, Apocalypse augments Caliban's physical power even more and gives him the ability to spread telepathic disease as well. This time, Apocalypse's horsemen include Ahab, Deathbird, and Wolverine. After Apocalypse is merged with Cyclops, Caliban tracks down the merged being, and is freed from his service shortly before Cable destroys Apocalypse's spirit.

Released from his servitude to Apocalypse, Caliban once more reverts to his child-like state although he retains the monstrous physique he attained through Apocalypse's machinations. Subsequently, Caliban is captured by an anti-mutant medical research facility called the Watchtower. The Watchtower wishes to use Caliban for their own purposes but he is freed by X-Force. Caliban has devolved into a feral mental state where he only grunts and snarls but he manages to help X-Force against a menace called the Skornn.

Post M-Day

After M-Day, Caliban turned up at the Xavier institute as a member of . He is seen carrying the 198 banner, created by Erg, during the confrontation with O*N*E* over the "tracking chips" and again during Mr. M's exodus from the institute. He later helps the 198 escape with Domino and Shatterstar to one of Nick Fury's secret bases in the Nevada desert. Caliban was able to sense the stockpile of weapons in the base, but they were activated and locked down by Johnny Dee, a mutant who had puppet-like control over a fraction of the team. The original X-Men team went to collect the 198 but Bishop's pro-registration team stopped them. After a short battle, the two sides teamed up and, thanks to a joint effort by Cyclops and Bishop, were able to free the 198.

eeking The X-Men

Caliban later aids the Uncanny X-Men team after he is seriously injured by Masque ["Uncanny X-Men" #487] , and crawls his way back to the Xavier Institute. Caliban enters the Morlock Tunnels with Warpath, Storm, and Hepzibah and find what Masque was talking about ["Uncanny X-Men" #488] .

and Death

Caliban becomes part of a strike-force, who are in search of the first newborn mutant since Decimation, along with Wolverine, Wolfsbane, X-23, Warpath, and Hepzibah (all forming the new incarnation of X-Force). During a battle with Lady Deathstrike and the Reavers, Caliban sacrifices himself to save Warpath by jumping into the path of a line of bullets meant for him. His death distracts Warpath making Wolverine the only X-Force member to chase down Cable. ["New X-Men" vol. 2 #45]

Powers and abilities

Caliban is a mutant with the ability to psionically sense other mutants out to several miles away and track their movements. He also has the ability to psionically sense, absorb, and turn the psionic energy of in the fear radiated by humans around them and to turn it against them, inducing more intense fear within their minds.

He is a formidable hand-to-hand combatant, having been trained by Iceman and later Apocalypse.

As Death, he attained superhuman strength, speed, agility, reflexes, coordination, balance, and endurance, as well as claws and fangs, through Apocalypse's genetic manipulation. He also has great skill at climbing and possesses superhuman leaping ability. He was also mentally conditioned to attack Apocalypse's former ally Mister Sinister on sight.

As Pestilence, Apocalypse gave him the ability to generate a mental plague, a virus that attacks from within on the highest planes of the psyche and breaks down the mental functions of the target.

After being reverted to his original form, he still appears to retain some superhuman strength affected by his adrenalin, as he was shown lifting rubble off of Skids that proved difficult for even Warpath to hoist.

Other versions

Age of Apocalypse

In the Age of Apocalypse, Caliban was a henchman of the bounty hunter Domino, using his powers to track down Nate Grey. In this incarnation he is an egotistical coward who is nonetheless well-learned in literature and a skilled swordsman. He is killed by Toad, a member of the Outcasts.

House of M

Caliban is seen as a member of the Genoshan Black Ops version of the Marauders.

Ultimate Caliban

Caliban was introduced to the Ultimate Marvel Universe in Ultimate X-Men #82 as a member of the Ultimate Morlocks. His look is somewhat different, as he is now portrayed with a darker grey color instead of chalk white. He is also a stronger physical combatant and has the ability to change into a hulking monster.

In other media


Caliban made a number of cameo appearances in the 1990s' "X-Men Animated Series", including the episode "Slave Island". He also appeared in the final season episode "The Fifth Horseman", in which Caliban had been transformed by Fabian Cortez into one of Apocalypse's Hounds (used in a similar role to the Horsemen), until Jubilee made Caliban turn against Cortez and the rest of the Hounds, who sought out a mutant to use as a new host body for Apocalypse's reincarnation. In this episode, Caliban was retconned into a member of the Morlocks, though he had never appeared in the episodes featuring the underground mutant community.

Caliban also appeared as a member of the Morlocks in "".

Action figures

Caliban, to date, has received one action figure for a defunct Toy Biz X-Force toy line. This figure was in his Death persona.


External links

* [ character bio on Caliban]
* [ feature on the 4 Horsemen of Apocalypse]
* [ Caliban at the Marvel Universe Character Bio Wiki]

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