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Cover art for Ms. Marvel (vol. 2) #2.
Art by Frank Cho.
|First appearance||Uncanny X-Men #155 (March 1982)|
|Created by||Chris Claremont
|Part of the collection on|
The Brood are a race of insectoid, parasitic, extraterrestrial beings that appear in the comic books published by Marvel Comics, especially Uncanny X-Men. Created by writer Chris Claremont and artist Dave Cockrum, they first appeared in Uncanny X-Men #155 (March 1982).
- 1 Concept and creation
- 2 Brood species
- 3 History
- 4 Other versions
- 5 In other media
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Concept and creation
According to Dave Cockrum, the Brood were originally conceived to serve as generic subordinates for the main villain of Uncanny X-Men #155: "We had Deathbird in this particular story and Chris [Claremont] had written into the plot 'miscellaneous alien henchmen.' So I had drawn Deathbird standing in this building under construction and I just drew the most horrible looking thing I could think of next to her."
Despite their resemblance to insects, the Brood have endoskeletons as well as exoskeletons. Also unlike insects, they have fanged jaws instead of mandibles. Their skulls are triangular and flat, with a birthmark (such as the battle axe which is most common in broodlings but are different for each Brood) between their large eyes. Their two front legs are actually long tentacles they can use to manipulate objects.
Due to their natural body armor and teeth, the Brood are very dangerous in combat. In addition, they have stingers that can deliver either paralyzing or killing poison.
The Brood is governed by a supreme matriarchy, at the top of which sits the Brood Empress. The Brood reproduces asexually and therefore has no clear divisions of gender. Although the Brood lives by a caste system, some of the roles have proven to be flexible.
- Empress - The Empress is the top tier of the Brood caste system and exercises almost total control over her progeny, including determining which Brood become Queen and which remain Warrior-Prime. There is only one Brood Empress at a time, and she is massive. She shares several physical characteristics with her offspring. She has large yellow eyes, a scaly brown hide, and a mouth full of razor-sharp teeth. However, she possesses several physical traits that distinguish her from all other Brood. While Warriors-Prime have forked skulls, the Brood Empress has two scarlet horns protruding from the top of her head, with an armor plate at their base. She also has eight whiskers, seemingly unique to her physiology. Jagged spikes protrude from every part of her body. In addition to being larger than her offspring, she also has a large ovipositor through which she lays eggs. Her relative size and degree of mobility are unknown. However, she possesses vast telepathic powers, through which she shares a mind-link with the entire Brood hive, although she cannot completely control the actions of her subordinates. When individual Brood rebel, she cannot telepathically force them to assimilate. In these scenarios, she has the renegade offspring destroyed with the help of her assassins/personal guard, the Firstborn. It can be assumed that when the Empress dies, a Brood Queen will be selected to become the new Empress of the Brood as seen during the Infinity event, a Brood Queen is seen among the Galactic Council.
- Firstborn - Considered themselves as the "pure" Brood, they are the most trusted agents of the Empress, existing solely to attack and destroy. The Empress births them herself and dispatches them to quell rebellious Brood Queens and other conflicts that require only fighters. Because they are not born of hosts, they do not possess the Warrior-Prime ability of concealing their appearance by shifting into their host-forms. For this reason, they are used not to subvert and infect, but merely to destroy. The transportation they use to travel to other planets dissolves upon reaching its destination, but this poses no problem, as the Firstborn are ordered to execute themselves upon completing their missions. The Firstborn are larger than common Brood Warriors-Prime, and green instead of brown. They have six limbs: two sets of arms and one set of legs. They have a spear-tipped, prehensile tail, but unlike their Warrior-Prime sisters, they have no tentacles. They also have durable, spiked armor plating on their shoulders, fingertips, tails, elbows, forearms, knees, and, most prominently, on the crowns of their heads. They are extremely durable, disproportionately agile, and immensely strong. Unlike the Warriors-Prime, they do not have wings. However, through some other means, possibly technological, the Firstborn have the ability to teleport. Their teleportation abilities are likely restricted to relatively short distances, as the Firstborn travel over interstellar distances using other methods.
- Brood Queens - Also known as Great Mothers, Mother-Queens and Brood Imperiatrix, the Queens fulfill the mental command of the Empress, a unique alien who houses the hive mind. Queens can communicate with their spawn by telepathy, even across interstellar distances. They look like the Broodlings but slightly larger. Their heads and thoraxes are relatively the same size, and they have the same amount of limbs as their offspring, but their abdomens are much larger, presumably because they require the capacity to carry eggs. The Queen’s tail does not function as an ovipositor, but a venom-filled stinger. The Queens are much rarer and are capable of implanting eggs, of both the Warrior-Prime and Queen variety, into hosts for the Brood Hive. The Brood Queens lead individual Brood colonies, which usually encompass entire planets, they also control which of their offspring become Warriors-Prime, and which become new Queens. For example, the Great Mother from Sleazeworld implanted the Shi’ar warrior Fang with a Warrior-Prime embryo, but implanted the rest of the X-Men with Queen embryos, a discrepancy that suggests a certain amount of control on the Queen’s end.
- Broodlings - As the bottom level of the Brood caste system, the Broodlings were nicknamed "sleazoids" by Kitty Pryde but also known as Warriors-Prime and Drones, they are the most common of the Brood. They do all the labor and most of the fighting, and are organized into several different roles, among them Weaponeer, Clan-Master, Hunt-Master, Huntsmen, Tech Handlers, and Scholars. They resemble large insects and can vary in size. They generally retain the size of their hosts. Their hides are brown and covered in armored scales. Their bodies consist of three sections: a head, a thorax, and an abdomen. The forked crowns of their heads extend backward, well over the length of the thorax. Each Brood has a unique black figure on its forehead, almost like a birthmark or a fingerprint. They have large, yellow eyes on both sides of their heads, large mouths, and one row of spiky teeth on the top and bottom of the jaw. Each Brood has six limbs; two tentacles that function as forearms and two rear sets of jointed limbs. Their tentacles are dexterous enough to fire weapons and pilot ships. The Brood Warriors-Prime also have wings, and fly as a primary means of travel. Their abdomens taper into a two-pronged, functional stinger. brown, nearly the size of a human, and have transparent wings. Broodlings have flexible abdomens that they need to coil most of the time. They have an image on their forehead crest, though no meaning is known from symbol to symbol. The most common method of creating a Brood is through infection of a host, and this is how all Warriors-Prime are birthed. The Brood lays its eggs at the back of the necks of its victims since everything the eggs need to gestate, including all 31 nerve segments and access to the carotid and vertebral arteries, rests at the top of the spinal column. After a Queen implants her eggs into a host, the egg splices itself to the host’s nervous system and rewrites its DNA into that of Brood. Upon the egg’s hatching, the host undergoes transformation into a Brood Warrior-Prime. The Warrior-Prime retains the genetic memory of its host, enabling it to access the host’s personality, access any of the abilities contained in the host’s genetic code, and even revert to its host body when it needs to conceal itself. It can also use a transitional form between the Brood and the host, giving it access to the best abilities from each form.
Note: Surprisingly, the ability of an individual Brood to lay eggs does not necessarily make it a Queen. Several Warriors-Prime have been known to implant eggs in other hosts. This fluidity in the Brood caste system suggests the hierarchy is not as rigid as it initially appears.
The parasitic Brood have the ability to impregnate a host (of any lifeform) with an egg, making them somewhat similar to Aliens from the Fox franchise. Each host can only support one egg. When the embryo is grown, the host becomes a Brood, and is effectively dead.
They use a hive mind to pass memory to their hosts, which also passes an individual's knowledge, given to a broodling, to the hive and back to the queen, meaning newborn brood know what any member of a race knows. Until the embryo gains the host's body the embryo can only gain temporary control of the host, often without the host noticing as the host is unaware when it loses control.
If the host possesses any genetic powers, the resultant Brood will inherit them. The persona of the host once the Brood is "born" appears to be extinguished, but in some cases the host's will may be strong enough to survive and coexist with the Brood's.
Brood also have the ability to morph into their host's original form and a hybrid form with characteristics of both the host and the Brood body.
The Brood are sadistic creatures that enjoy the suffering they intentionally cause others, especially the terror their infection causes their hosts. They have been compared to "demons".
The Brood have a civilization based on the typical communal insect societies, such as those of the bees and ants. The Queens are the absolute rulers, while the "sleazoids" do all the work; despite their evil, they never rebel against their Queens, perhaps due to the latter's telepathic abilities. However, the Queens have no allegiance to each other. They also have developed, or stolen, advanced technology.
Their true planet of origin is unknown. They arrived in the Shi'ar galaxy long ago, and began infesting many worlds, becoming deadly enemies to the Sh'iar. In this galaxy they found certain large space-dwelling creatures that they decided to use as living starships. These include the whale-like Acanti, and the shark-like Starsharks. The Brood use a virus that effectively lobotomizes the creatures, then they use bionics to control them. The Brood hollow out part of the creatures (by eating them) and use the space created to live in, like termites eating a tree. This eventually kills the living ships, requiring them to capture new ones.
One of the Acanti they captured was of unusual size (its rib cage alone was the size of a mountain range.) They used it as their main base, and, when it died and crashed onto a planet, used it as their main city. The corpse was so large, it took centuries just to rot halfway. However, predators from the planet they landed on infested the area of the dead Acanti's brain, so the Brood avoided it.
The first Marvel hero to encounter the Brood was the Kree warrior Mar-Vell, who had been ordered to make contact with the stranded Grand Admiral Devros on a planet in the Absolom Sector, a region known to be infested with Brood. Mar-Vell's team, which includes the medic Una and Colonel Yon-Rogg, is ambushed by Brood warriors after landing on the planet and taken prisoner by the Brood-infected Devros. The colony's Brood Queen impregnates each captive with Brood embryos, but Mar-Vell and Una manage to escape, destroy both leaders of the Brood colony, and ridding themselves of their infections using Una's modified omni-wave projector which had been designed to eliminate Brood embryos. After rescuing Colonel Yon-Rogg, the trio escape the planet and are rescued by the Shi'ar royal Deathbird.
Deathbird later allies with The Brood to gain their help deposing her sister Lilandra as ruler of their empire. As a reward for their help, Deathbird gives the Brood Lilandra, the X-Men, and the powerless Carol Danvers, along with Fang of the Imperial Guard, to use as hosts. The Brood infect the entire party, except for Danvers, who they perform experiments on because of her half-human/half-Kree genes. Wolverine's adamantium skeleton allowed his healing ability to purge him of the embryo, and he helps the others escape. Unfortunately, he is unable to save Fang, who becomes a Brood warrior before they leave.
The Brood Queen orders her forces to find them, until she is contacted by the Queen embryo that is implanted in Cyclops. It explains that the X-Men are returning to Broodworld. Resigned to their dooms, the heroes help the Acanti race recover the racial Soul, a supernatural force that must be passed from one Acanti leader ("The Prophet-Singer") to the next. The Soul is located in a crystalline part of the dead Acanti Prophet-Singer's brain.
The Queen goes with her minions, and battles the X-Men, turning them into Brood warriors. The Prophet-Singer Soul is almost infected by the evil of the aliens, and Wolverine tries to mercy-kill his friends and the Queen but they are saved when Danvers, now a mighty being called Binary (due to experimentation), arrives and releases the Soul. Before it goes to its next host, the racial Soul cures the X-Men and Lilandra, and turns the Queen into a crystal statue. It also causes the Broodworld to explode, but the X-Men and their allies, escape. Some of the Brood also manage to escape before the planet explodes. The new Prophet-Singer then leads the Acanti to safety in deep space.
A Brood-filled starshark later crashes on Earth, leading to the infection of several nearby humans by the Brood. One of the victims is allowed to live as a human assistant, but when he leads the aliens to some mutants, the Brood infect him and the mutants as well. This is the first Earth-based confrontation with the Brood and it is revealed that the Brood can morph into the host's form, or a hybrid of the two forms. In the course of the battle, an Earth woman named Hannah Connover is infected with a queen, though this problem would not develop until later.
Another branch of the Brood manage to land on Earth and infect more mutants, along with the Louisiana Assassins Guild of which X-Man Gambit is a member. The X-Men kill most of the infected people. Fortunately they, along with Ghost Rider, manage to rescue many of the Brood's other uninfected prisoners, only to have the "Spirit of Vengeance" become infected himself. Psylocke manages to separate Ghost Rider from the Brood host before it could kill Danny Ketch, the current host of the Ghost Rider, and he and the X-Men saved New Orleans.
Hannah Connover, previously infected with a Queen, soon begins to demonstrate attributes of Brood. She uses her new-found "healing" powers to become a faith healer and cure many people with her reverend husband, but secretly her Brood nature causes her to infect many people with embryos. Across the Galaxy, on the "true" Brood Homeworld, the Brood Empress sends her "firstborn" Imperial Assassins to kill Hannah for going against the Empress' wishes. Unable to stop future waves of Assassins from coming, the X-Man, Iceman, freezes Connover, putting her in suspended animation and causing the current firstborn to kill themselves, as in their minds the mission was accomplished. Connover is assumed to still be in suspended animation with her Queen host in the custody of the X-Men.
During the Contest of Champions II, the Brood abduct several heroes and pose as a benevolent species willing to give the heroes access to advanced technology after competing against each other in a series of contests. However, in reality, the Brood intend to use Rogue, infested with a Brood Queen, to absorb the powers of the contest winners and become unstoppable. Fortunately, Iron Man realizes that the Brood are drugging food to amplify aggression- relying on his armor's own life-support systems to prevent him succumbing to the 'infection'- and is able to uncover the plot.
Although the Queen had already absorbed the powers and skills of the various contest winners- in the form of Captain America, Thor, the Hulk, Spider-Man, Jean Grey and the Scarlet Witch-, the remaining heroes managed to defeat her. The Brood Queen was extracted from Rogue with the aid of Carol Danvers, who forced the Brood Queen to flee by threatening to kill Rogue. After confirming that Rogue was cured, the heroes returned home.
The Brood return to Earth in the Ms. Marvel series and battle Carol Danvers, who as Binary played a key role in their earlier defeat. Strangely enough, none of the Brood present recognize who she is, possibly because of her inability to fully access her cosmic powers, which also changed her physical appearance.[original research?] The Brood are also stalked and summarily exterminated by the alien hunter called Cru, with whom Ms. Marvel also came into violent contact.
During the invasion of Annihilus and his Annihilation Wave, the Brood were almost decimated and the species is now on the brink of extinction. Some Brood appear in the arena of planet Saakar in the Planet Hulk storyline of The Incredible Hulk, one of them even becoming a main character. A Brood referred to as "No-Name", who becomes a genetic queen because their race is becoming rarer, becomes the lover of insect king Miek and also appears in World War Hulk. When it is discovered that Miek was the one who let the Hulk's shuttle explode, No-Name and Hulk attack Miek. Near the end of the War the "Earth Hive", the shared consciousness of every insect on Earth, use Humbug as a Trojan Horse to deal a crippling blow to No-Name, rendering her infertile and poisoning the last generation of hivelings, growing in Humbug's body. No-Name is a rarity among the Brood, as she learned to feel compassion for other living beings.
The Brood reappeared once again in the pages of Astonishing X-Men, however these Brood are revealed to be actual genetically-grown hybrids created by a geneticist known only as Kaga who started growing and redesigning them with missing data about post M-Day work on Henry McCoy's research computers.
In the 2011 "Meanwhile" storyline Astonishing X-Men, S.W.O.R.D. scientists successfully find a way to remove a Brood embryo from a human host, but not before the Brood they are studying escape and attack, prompting a botched rescue mission led by Abigail Brand and another rescue mission led by the X-Men.
Given the chance to lower the Brood's numbers further, they discovered that the Annihilation event had caused the interstellar ecosystem to destabilize, since the Brood, dangerous as they are, served as natural predators for even worse species. These remaining species are now breeding out of control and present a greater threat than the Brood ever did. With no other choice, the X-Men act to prevent the Brood extinction. According to Bishop, there would be a race of benevolent Brood in the future, prompting the X-Men to willingly serve as Brood hosts, so that they could instill them with the same compassion felt by No-Name. After being connected with the hive-mind, the X-Men learned of a nearby Brood who was born with ability to feel compassion, making him the Brood equivalent of a mutant. While such Brood are typically destroyed upon birth, this one was permitted to live, given the Brood's dwindling numbers. After rescuing the Brood mutant and defeating the Brood in battle and allowing them to escape, the X-Men had their Brood embryos removed, to be raised aboard the Peak, with the Brood mutant acting as their mentor.
The 2012 X-Men subseries Wolverine and the X-Men featured a Broodling as a student at Wolverine's Jean Grey School for Higher Learning. Nicknamed "Broo" by Oya, the Broodling was a mutant, and both intelligent and non-violent able to wear clothing and glasses (which he felt made him look less frightening). Broo expressed a desire to join the Nova Corps. In a possible future timeline seen by Deathlok, Broo was a member of the X-Men alongside Oya, Quentin Quire, and Kid Gladiator.
During the Age of Ultron storyline, it is revealed that while in a hidden S.H.I.E.L.D. substation decades in the past, the future-Wolverine released and was infected by a less menacing Brood. When he cut the embryo out of his body, the Brood Collective responded to the attack by altering the physical structure of all future Brood to the form it is now known for.
Age of Apocalypse
In the Age of Apocalypse timeline, without the X-Men to aid them, part of the Shi'ar Imperium was consumed by the Brood, who infected its populace with Brood implants, including the still-captive Christopher Summers. Escaping to Earth, Summers fought to control his Brood implant, but was captured by Mister Sinister. Sinister turned him over to the Dark Beast, who would then proceeded to experiment upon him for years. Summers eventually escaped, and began infecting other humans (Including the AoA version of Joseph "Robbie" Robertson, as well as friends of Misty Knight and Colleen Wing). Ultimately Corsair was killed by his son Cyclops after he transformed into a Brood Queen and almost killed Alex, the Summers brothers cremating their father (And thus indirectly depriving Sinister of the chance to carry out further tests on Brood DNA).
In Amalgam Comics, the Brood is combined with Brother Blood to form Brother Brood, and with the Cult of Blood to form the Cult of Brood. The Brood appear alongside Brother Brood, but are presented as supernatural rather than extraterrestrial.
X-Men: The End
In X-Men: The End, taking place in a possible future, the Brood hatch a plan with Lilandra (possessed by Cassandra Nova). Nova plans to solidify her rule over Shi'ar space by smuggling an other-dimensional pure-Brood queen from an alternate universe. This realm is one where the X-Men failed to ever fight the Brood, they are described as 'pure'. This Brood Queen is implanted in Lilandra's sister, Deathbird.
In other media
- A heavily altered version of the Brood (called The Colony) appears in the X-Men animated series episode "Love in Vain". These aliens looked more reptilian than insectoid and were equipped with metallic tentacled armors instead of having organic tentacles. In addition, instead of laying their eggs in other people, they infect other races and transform them into their own kind. The classic Brood appear in the episode "Mojovision", as generic aliens that fight Beast and Rogue in one of Mojo's shows as well as the Japanese intro for the X-Men Series. A classic Brood Queen also appears in the episode "Cold Comfort" as an illusion projected by Professor X to scare away the soldiers attacking Iceman.
- The Brood are also briefly mentioned in the anime series Marvel Anime: X-Men. In the eighth episode, the X-Men battle monsters and Wolverine mistakes them for being the Brood, joking "Have the Brood landed again"?
- The title of one of the tracks in X-Men 2: Clone Wars is "The Brood Queen & Her Claws", and phalanx clones are enemies in the later levels.
- In X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse, the Cerci are a race of insect enemies which are based on the Brood from the comics; they are referred to as such in the game's viewable concept art, and one type of Cerci is called a "Brood Queen". However, while the Brood are highly intelligent aliens, the Cerci are genetically engineered creatures with animal-like intelligence. As you fight the Cerci, some have a name with "Brood" in the title, as well.
- The Brood appear as enemies in Marvel Heroes.
- In Lego Marvel Super Heroes, the Brood are mentioned on the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier's intercom where it's possible that their eggs were in the tapioca pudding.
- One of the Marvel Milestone statues features Marc Silvestri's Brood-infected Wolverine cover for Uncanny X-Men #234.
- Brood Queen is one of the "build a figure" toys in the Marvel Legends series.
- Broodling toys have been produced by Toy Biz (winged, for their X-Men line) and Marvel Select Toys (unwinged and based on Fang's transformation, in a two pack with a Skrull warrior).
- Meth, Clifford (August 1993). "How a Typhoon Blew in Success". Wizard: X-Men Turn Thirty. pp. 50–52.
- Claremont, Chris. Uncanny X-Men #234
- The Untold Legend of Captain Marvel #1-3
- Uncanny X-Men #155-157, #161-166
- Uncanny X-Men #232-234
- Ghost Rider vol. 2 #26-27, X-Men vol. 2 #9
- X-Men Vs. Brood: Day of Wrath #1-2
- Contest of Champions II #1-5
- Ms. Marvel vol. 2 #1-3
- The Incredible Hulk vol. 3 #92-105
- World War Hulk #5
- Heroes for Hire vol. 2 #11-15
- Astonishing X-Men vol. 3 #38
- Astonishing X-Men vol. 3 #40
- Astonishing X-Men vol. 3 #42
- Wolverine and the X-Men #27AU
- Infinity #3
- The Exciting X-Patrol #1