Art by Mike Perkins.
|First appearance||Uncanny X-Men #305 (April 1994)|
|Created by||Chris Claremont
|Inherent abilities||Transforms sentient beings into techno-organic lifeforms and assimilates them into its collective. Superhumanly strong, also possess ability to teleport and shapeshift - molding their limbs into weapons or mimicking the appearance of others.|
The Phalanx are a fictional cybernetic species in the Marvel Comics universe. They have come in conflict with the X-Men and related groups on several occasions. They form a hive mind, linking each member by a telepathy-like system.
The Phalanx were created by writer Scott Lobdell and given definitive design by artist Joe Madureira. They owe much in concept and appearance to the original Technarchy (by writer Chris Claremont and artist Bill Sienkiewicz). Although appearing in prototype variations in earlier issues, the Phalanx first appeared in their full form in Uncanny X-Men #312 (May 1994).
The term phalanx (Greek: φάλλαγξ, phālangx) (plural phalanxes or phalanges (Greek: φάλλαγγες, phālanges)) is a rectangular military formation, usually composed entirely of heavy infantry armed with spears, pikes, or similar weapons, particularly in Ancient Greek warfare. The term can also refer more generally to a wall of separate parts which forms a whole unit, and it is in this sense that it fits the fictional alien race.
Phalanx are formed when organic lifeforms are infected with the Technarchy's techno-organic transmode virus. They pass through a lifecycle attempting to infect others before reaching critical mass. At that time, by hard-wired instruction, they build a "Babel Spire" to contact the Technarchy. The Technarchy, however, consider Phalanx to be abominations. They invariably destroy the Phalanx "nest", usually by converting the entire planet into techno-organic matter and draining its energy.
The Phalanx on Earth were initially formed by a group of human mutant-haters who voluntarily infected themselves with the transmode virus, taken from the ashes of Warlock, a renegade Technarch who had joined the New Mutants, in an attempt to turn themselves into "living Sentinels". Steven Lang, the man who had used the Sentinels against the X-Men many years before, was recruited from a mental hospital to become an "interface" - not actually infected with the transmode virus himself, he was intended as a buffer to keep the Phalanx "on track" for their intended purpose. He was assisted by Cameron Hodge, a traitorous former friend of Archangel who had obtained immortality from the demon N'astirh, who did infect himself, and who had been the one to kill Warlock some years before in a prior attempt to infect himself with the virus.[volume & issue needed]
Initially, the aim of these Phalanx was to simply assimilate mutants into their collective. When this proved impossible, as mutants possessed a resistance to the virus, they organized an attack on the X-Mansion, kidnapping most of the X-Men and replacing them with Phalanx members in disguise, in an attempt to use the X-Men's knowledge base on the mutant genome to solve the problem. Banshee, absent during the kidnapping, returned and suspected something. Discovering the ruse when the impostors failed to realize Professor X was currently unable to walk, Banshee recruited Sabretooth from a cell in the complex. He then aided Banshee in saving Emma Frost and Jubilee from the beings. Banshee, after discovering that the Phalanx had accessed the location of several young mutants for use in further study, then destroyed the knowledge base in an attempt to prevent the Phalanx accessing any further information.[volume & issue needed]
While Banshee and his group scrambled to save the young mutants, he sent messages to Wolverine and Cable on the location of the X-Men, and who in turn recruited Cyclops and Jean Grey to aid them in recovering the X-Men; and to Professor X, Excalibur, X-Factor and X-Force on the location of a third, unknown, group of Phalanx.[volume & issue needed]
Banshee's group were followed closely by the Phalanx, who impersonated several beings, notably police officers. The group was joined by the mutant Synch, who could copy powers which proved helpful as Banshee's screams easily subdued many Phalanx entities. The rest of the targeted mutants were being held in an old, decommissioned battleship. One of the Phalanx disguised itself as an imprisoned mutant, a farm-boy type. This disguise was suspected by some of the prisoners. Eventually, the group saved all the targeted new mutants but one - Blink, who sacrificed herself to save the rest. One of the original Phalanx entities was destroyed in this attempt, parts of his physical body detached from the rest. He was unable to survive the trauma.[volume & issue needed]
The rest of these young mutants went on to become the core of Generation X, tutored by Banshee and Frost. Meanwhile, the other mutant teams found a group of Phalanx attempting to follow their genetic instruction to construct a Babel Spire to contact the Technarchy. Douglock, a resurrected Warlock with Cypher's memories, led a small team, Forge, Wolfsbane and Cannonball in destroying the spire. Cyclops' group assaulted the core Phalanx base on Mount Everest, where the X-Men were held. They were covertly assisted by Lang, who realised the Phalanx had grown beyond his ability to manipulate and were threatening the general human population. The smaller Phalanx nests around the world were destroyed as a result of this confrontation.[volume & issue needed]
The Phalanx returned for a special one-shot issue of UNCANNY X-MEN. Its revealed that before the Phalanx Covenant happened, Mister Sinister managed to capture one member of this techno-organic race and experimented upon it in order to clone himself into the single-minded collective. As Sinister experimented on it, the Phalanx member lost the mental link to his brethren. When Sinister eventually succeeded, he destroyed the lab and everything inside, including most of this being. However, a tiny scrap of him remained and combined with earthworms, which didn’t have minds, so they simply added to his physical makeup, growing and growing slowly. Upon surfacing, he attempted to link up with the Phalanx, but was too weak.[volume & issue needed]
Left alone, it eventually discovered that when it attempted to assimilate humans to form a new collective mind, their minds are wiped out and the humans essentially die, adding just their physical mass. Desperate to locate the rest of the Phalanx, to once more feel the sense of unity and togetherness they shared, it absorbed more and more people, hopping to gain the strength needed to signal them.[volume & issue needed]
However its energy signature is detected by Agent Abigail Brand of S.W.O.R.D., who alerts the X-Men, who are horrified to find this Phalanx member had absorbed an entire town. As the X-Men face it they can't prevent this Phalanx from turning into a Babel Spire so it could contact the Technarchy, yet, things do not go as it hoped, and the X-Men eventually destroyed the techno-organic virus as Storm wonders, “It said we didn’t understand. Could we have understood one another? Is there anything we shared?” Cyclops’ response, “I doubt we’ll ever know.”[volume & issue needed]
Another group of Phalanx later decimated the Shi'ar throneworld in the absence of the Imperial Guard. These Phalanx considered themselves as the pure Phalanx and hadn't any reservations about infecting mutants with the transmode virus and almost transformed Rogue. However Beast, with the assistance of other X-Men and Trish Tilby, devised a way to discorporate many of them. The rest of this group later conquered another planet, but were destroyed by the Magus after the construction of a Babel Spire.
Given the powerful nature of the Phalanx, different individuals and governments attempted to experiment with the alien race.
- British intelligence group Black Air acquired several Phalanx specimens, and determined how to control them. They used at least one Phalanx (which had a Brood as its template) as a guardian "warliquid" at their London headquarters, the Blackwall. They kidnapped and manipulated Douglock as part of a plot to gain outright dominion over the earth by the channeling of demonic energy.
- Another such attempt was conducted by the Chinese government on a young boy who had technokinesis—the manipulation of and communication with technological devices. The government scientists purposefully implanted the young boy with the Techno-Organic Virus to see what would happen and the T-O virus had an interesting reaction with the young boy. Both the boy and the part of the Phalanx became transformed into a new being calling himself Paradigm, who not only had the Phalanx's penchant for shapeshifting but was able to control the minds of people that he covered with his techno-matter. Somehow Paradigm found himself allied with King Bedlam's group of Hellions only with the purpose of discovering himself. After the Hellions were defeated by X-Force, Paradigm was not seen for years, until he, or rather his head re-emerged recently. He was killed and his abilities used to control a new fleet of 'bio-sentinels" by Simon Trask.
- After a battle with the Silver Surfer, Cable was partially lobotomized in order to save his life from the angry herald of Galactus. Now trying to save him, Deadpool tracked down the Fixer to save Cable. Deadpool was in possession of a Phalanx fetus, having taken it from an AIM facility, which Fixer surgically grafted onto his body. After a brief scuffle for control, Cable's mind overwhelmed that of the fetal alien and made it subservient to him so that it would not try to "assimilate" him into the collective.
In Annihilation: Conquest, the sequel to the Annihilation crossover, a new breed of Phalanx serves as the primary villain. They tried to begin where Annihilus left off. When the Kree began the test of their new defensive network, the Phalanx managed to corrupt the system directly through the Kree homeworld of Hala, surrounding the entire Kree Empire in an inescapable energy barrier. They also spread their Transmode Virus, turning all organic life forms into Phalanx, fully under their control and members of their single minded matrix. High powered beings such as Ronan the Accuser were made into their group Select, used to cut off any attempts to stop the spread and control of the Phalanx.
The Kree who didn't fell under control fought back against their oppressors, as well as Quasar (Phyla Vell), Moondragon, Adam Warlock, and Starlord and his Dirty Half Dozen only to discover that the Phalanx were under Ultron’s guidance.
Unlike the savagely individualistic Technarchy, Phalanx form an insect-like hive mind. While each member retains his/her/its memories from prior to assimilation and a degree of their personality, generally each member cannot perform actions against the wishes of the group mind without first being severed from the collective consciousness, as Douglock was.
Phalanx, like the Technarchy, can infect other organisms with the transmode virus with any physical contact - the only known exception being Earth mutants, who possess a degree of immunity to the transmode virus. This seems to be a limitation of the Phalanx which their Technarchy progenitors do not have, as Warlock had no problems infecting his future teammate Magik (accidentally) when they first met and repeatedly infecting Cypher to form the Douglock entity on multiple occasions (In Cypher's case the effect was reversed without apparent incident, though Warlock was constantly worried that a time would come when the reversal would not take).
Any organism infected by the Phalanx is automatically inducted into the group mind. Recently, however, through Ultron's guidance, they have allowed certain individuals with exceptional powers and/or abilities to become the "Selects"; beings who are connected to the Phalanx hive mind, but retain their individual identities.
Phalanx also possess the Technarchs' abilities to shapeshift and teleport, but, unlike the Technarchs, cannot grow in size and mass without absorbing external matter. Over time, they can adapt to attack from inherent biological powers, but only to the specific frequencies/levels/etc already used against them.
In the possible future known as 2099, the Phalanx tried to invade a second time the planet Earth. To prevent Earth from being converted by the Transmode Virus, Spider-Man (Miguel O'Hara) forms an uneasy alliance with Dr. Doom, who had encountered the Phalanx in their first attempt to invade Earth in the 20th century. Doom knew that the Phalanx would have a "scout program" so he added his own subroutine to the coding called subroutine Cynthia which would erase the scout program. When Doom jumped to the future he lost track of the scout program and therefore created the Mutant Messiah myth to track the carrier down again.
When during a mission the mutant Nostromo, becomes sheathed in a strange cocoon, he reveals to be the carrier when he "hatches" as a fully Phalanx. Doom sends some operatives to bring the boy to him, however, some of the operatives turn out to be Phalanx themselves and begin attacking the group.
Nostromo is eventually delivered to Doom, who then activates the subroutine within Nostromo and, bidding Spider-Man to take him to safety, blows up his castle, while Twilight brings reinforcements of aboriginal Martians to destroy the Phalanx in orbit.
In the Exiles series, the dimension-hopping team visited a world infested by a mutated version of the Phalanx. On this world, Cypher fell ill with the Legacy Virus and in an act of desperation Warlock infected him with the transmode virus to try and save his life. Unfortunately the two diseases combined and mutated into something far worse. Within the year, almost all of the world's population were transformed into Phalanx drones, calling themselves the Vi-Locks. The group was led by Forge whose innate understanding of machinery made him a prime candidate for leadership. In the course of the team's mission, Blink was infected and slowly started succumbing to the virus. On a hunch, Morph was able to contact the Asgardians whose divine blood was able to heal the victims after they received a transfusion.
In yet another alternate reality, the Phalanx has overrun Earth, assimilating every lifeform. The mutant Cable serves as its central consciousness.
In other media
- The Phalanx appeared in the opening two-part X-Men episode "Phalanx Covenant". They serve as the main antagonists in the fifth season. The series Phalanx is an amalgamation of the comics Phalanx and the Technarchy; they are a voracious alien life-form that can assume the guise of anything or anyone. Before long, the X-Men are all captured, except for Beast, who must find a way to stop the alien horror from assimilating every single lifeform on Earth. Cameron Hodge is allied with the Phalanx, while Warlock seeks to stop it.
- The Phalanx appear in the Ultimate Spider-Man episode "Home Sick Hulk" with their vocal effects provided by Fred Tatasciore. When Spider-Man finds a downed space pod, the Hulk emerges from it with a Phalanx droid attached to it. Spider-Man sends the picture of the Phalanx droid to Nick Fury who tells Spider-Man not to let it touch him. Spider-Man webs off the Phalanx droid after it placed some strange barb device on Hulk. Before the Phalanx droid can attack Spider-Man, it is crushed by Hulk. The barb device the Phalanx droid placed on Hulk made him sick causing Spider-Man to help him without letting Nick Fury know about this and keep him at his house without Aunt May finding out. Hulk mentioned to Spider-Man that the Phalanx had attacked him while he was sleeping and he escaped from their ship when there was too many of them. After Spider-Man gets the device off of Hulk, he discovers that the device that was on Hulk is composed of living metal and it sends a signal to the Phalanx alerting them where they can find Hulk. Hulk recovers and Spider-Man tells him that they have get the Phalanx away from the suburbs without touching them. Spider-Man and Hulk follow a Phalanx to a warehouse where they find the Phalanx had been using Hulk's tissue to make stronger Phalanx. Spider-Man and Hulk had to attack the Phalanx with non-organic stuff. Hulk then attacks the Phalanx while heading towards the device that was making the Phalanx just as Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. arrive.
- The Phalanx was the major villain in the Sega Genesis video game X-Men 2: Clone Wars.
- The Phalanx is mentioned in Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2. In a discussion between Deadpool and a nanite-infected Nick Fury in Wakanda, Deadpool mentions the Phalanx as a possible rename for The Fold only to remember that the name was already taken.
- Uncanny X-men (2011) #04