Proteus (Marvel Comics)
|First appearance||Uncanny X-Men #125 (September 1979)|
|Created by||Chris Claremont
|Alter ego||Kevin MacTaggert|
|Notable aliases||Mutant X|
Psionic energy composition
Kevin was the mutant son of Scottish genetic researcher Moira MacTaggert and politician Joseph MacTaggert. Kevin had reality warping and possession powers and lived most of his life in forced seclusion at his mother’s Muir Island research facility.
His attempt to break free and find his father made up a classic 1979–80 Uncanny X-Men storyline that was adapted in the 1990s X-Men animated series. In 2009, Proteus was ranked as IGN's 77th Greatest Villain of All Time.
Created by writer Chris Claremont and artist/co-writer John Byrne, Proteus first appeared in Uncanny X-Men #125 (September 1979), though hints to his character appeared in earlier issues. First, he appears off-panel in Uncanny X-Men #104. His voice is then revealed in Uncanny X-Men #119, as he took over the body of his first victim off-panel.
Fictional character biography
Proteus is written as one of the strongest and deadliest mutants ever to appear in Marvel Comics. Despite this, Proteus was not fortunate enough to have a happy life. Even his conception was under unpleasant circumstances. He was the son of Moira MacTaggert and her sinister husband, Joseph MacTaggert, who forced Moira into an unhappy marriage. Moira conceived Kevin after Joseph severely beat and raped her. After this traumatic experience, Moira left Joseph. She did not notify him that she was pregnant with his child.
Moira and Kevin lived at her Mutant Research Centre on Muir Island, off the coast of Scotland. Kevin eventually began manifesting his mutant abilities and became a danger to everyone around him. His abilities gave him an uncontrollable hunger for energy. To protect herself and others, Moira was forced to confine Kevin. To keep the truth about her son's secret, she began to describe him to others only as Mutant X.
For years, Kevin remained inside his cell, sustained by isoteric energy fields that kept his body from burning itself out, until one day, after a battle between Magneto and the X-Men, his cell was damaged and Kevin was able to escape when he took over the body of Angus MacWhirther. During his escape, Kevin came into contact with Phoenix, Polaris, and Multiple Man. While he was able to defeat Polaris and Multiple Man, he barely escaped with his life when he confronted Phoenix. Without the isosteric energy fields of his cell to sustain him, Kevin began to burn his body out. The only solution he could find was to possess human host bodies, one after another, including one of Multiple Man's duplicates, Ferdie Duncan, an unnamed policeman, and Jennie Banks. Kevin eventually encountered the X-Men and proceeded to rename himself "Proteus," after the Greek god. Proteus eventually went to Edinburgh, to possess his father, Joseph. After possessing his father, Proteus made a last stand against the X-Men. Joseph MacTaggert's body was destroyed in the battle. Before Proteus could take another host, Colossus (in his metallic form) punched Proteus in his energy form. Due to Proteus' intolerance for metal, he was unable to maintain his energy form. His energy was therefore dispersed across the world, and the X-Men and Moira assumed that he had been killed.
Several years later, A.I.M. attempted to recreate Proteus. The organization used a woman named Harness and her mutant son, Piecemeal, to absorb all of the dispersed energy of Proteus. Piecemeal and Harness encountered the New Mutants, but escaped them. As the boy went about absorbing the energy, his body grew too large for his system to handle. Eventually, what was left of Proteus' consciousness and Piecemeal merged as one being after Piecemeal absorbed all the extant Proteus energy.
The combined efforts of the New Warriors, the New Mutants, the Muir Islanders, and the original X-Factor wasn't enough against this new creature. When the amalgamated being decided that it would not find happiness, it decided to disperse once more, effectively committing "suicide".
It was later revealed that when Proteus had killed himself by dissipating his form, a fragment of him eventually entered inside Destiny's body when she was killed on Muir Island, which was brought back to life when the Black Queen of the Hellfire Club, Selene, began using the Technarch transmode virus to resurrect dead mutants, since one of the first to be resurrected was Destiny. When Destiny tried telepathically contacting her foster-daughter Rogue, she instead found Blindfold. There Proteus possessed the young girl and used her to send some of the X-Men to Muir Island, and turned her into a psychic magnet. This was done so that she could collect the remainder of his fragments. Getting the final piece from Destiny, Blindfold became Proteus' new host who revealed himself to Rogue. Proteus easily takes down the team, punching Colossus halfway across the island, turning Magneto's blood to lead and taking mental possession of Nightcrawler, Husk, Trance and Psylocke, pitting them against Rogue. Magneto uses the last of his strength to launch himself and Proteus into the upper atmosphere, buying himself some time to fully understand the energies that make up Proteus' form. When Magneto establishes he can manipulate the energies, he uses his powers to disrupt them, dispersing Proteus' form. He does confirm though it will only be a matter of time before Proteus can reintegrate himself.[volume & issue needed]
Powers and abilities
Proteus is a mutant that possesses a vast psionic ability to manipulate and alter reality. He existed in a state of pure psionic energy and could take possession of human bodies that his energies eventually "burned" out, killing them (including his own original body). Proteus also possessed telepathic abilities. His reality manipulation powers allow him to transmute matter and bend the laws of physics according to his imagination within a certain distance. Using this power he can easily turn a building into liquid, turn a vehicle into bees that attack at his mental command, transform energy into matter, manipulate weather, or strip a person of their mutant powers. He often reverses local gravity, opens fissures in the earth, and stretches people painfully into liquid shapes (they return to normal when he no longer concentrates on manipulating their bodies). Use of this ability tends to speed up the rate at which his body will burn out. Proteus' reality warping ability is contingent upon line of sight: if he shifts his sight to another object and warps it, the previous object he was warping will return to normal.
Proteus can enter and completely possess another living being. Only beings with metal in their bodies appear to be immune. The bodies of most beings burn out within hours or a few days, although a few have been known to last longer. Proteus can leave a body before it is destroyed, but he usually does not. No possessed person has been shown able to resist or break free of Proteus' domination. Proteus has access to all the memories of his host while he possesses them and after he has left the body. Proteus has occasionally exhibited some telepathy, perfect recall, and the ability to mentally download computer information. After his revival through Destiny during the events of Necrosha, Proteus is shown to be able, to his surprise, to possess multiple individuals simultaneously.
Proteus can become a being made of energy at will. He will also do this automatically whenever his body burns out so badly that it disintegrates. The ability to possess a new host and to manipulate reality is greater in this form. However, it is more vulnerable to the touch of metal. Contact with enough metal in this form can disrupt Proteus' energy and destroy his consciousness, dispersing it. It is possible for his consciousness to reform after such a disruption, but he has not shown the ability to do so without assistance. Proteus has at times exhibited the ability to transport himself inter-dimensionally, but it is not known whether he always could do this, or his resurrection by the Scarlet Witch enhanced his powers, or if he needed to use a connection to the Panoptichron in order to accomplish this.
Star Trek/X-Men crossover
In the Star Trek/X-Men crossover, the spirit of Proteus crosses over to the universe of Star Trek because of a rift created by classic Star Trek antagonist Gary Mitchell (who also had reality warping powers). Proteus is able to reanimate and inhabit Mitchell's corpse, which does not deteriorate like other hosts. While chasing Deathbird, the X-Men end up teaming up with the crew of the USS Enterprise to stop Proteus, who forms an alliance with Deathbird to escape the planet.
In the Ultimate Marvel universe, Proteus is named David Xavier and is the son of Moira MacTaggert and her ex-husband Professor X (Charles Xavier). Like in the mainstream version, he escapes his mother's keep on Muir Island, seeking his father in order to kill him. Proteus kills thousands of people all across the world in an attempt to discredit the X-Men. He also murders Dai Thomas, agent of S.T.R.I.K.E.. Before David can finish his deadly vendetta, he is found to be inside the Ultimate version of Psylocke. Colossus kills him by crushing him under a car, while he was possessing Psylocke.
House of M and Exiles
In the House of M reality, Proteus is the serial killer "Mutant X," who steals bodies across two continents and is hunted down by Moira MacTaggert, who is framed by the government for Proteus's murders. He encounters the Exiles and actually manages to escape the House of M by stealing data from the Panoptichron. Notably, when he leaves his home reality he inhabits bodies of superhumans from "approximation" realities or Exiles members only. He has inhabited the bodies of an unnamed mutant, of Blunderbuss, and of Angel Salvadore in House of M; Mimic and Morph in Exiles; Justice from the New Universe; and the Hulk from the Marvel 2099 universe. None of these bodies lasts for long, with the exception of Angel Salvadore. Other reality manipulators, such as Longshot may be immune to Proteus' manipulations. Mutant X's current body, Morph from Exiles, also does not seem to deteriorate while Proteus inhabits it.
Proteus states that he could not stop thinking about Blink. Whether it was because he still had some of Mimic's memories or because he actually felt something for her is not yet clear. He states he was tired of fighting and that he just wants to talk, but before he can say anything, Longshot shields Blink, allowing her to teleport to safety. It is revealed by Proteus himself that his mind is able to recall all memories and feelings of his previous hosts. Blink tricks Proteus into wearing a portable Behavior Modification System (from the Squadron Supreme's world), which she teleported into the crown he was wearing. The device brainwashes him into believing he is actually Morph and leaves him able to recall only Morph's memories prior to his possession. Unaware of his true identity, he begins behaving exactly like Morph and a member of the Exiles, much to the discomfort of the other Exiles. With Proteus trapped and believing he is Morph, he remained an Exile to continue fixing damaged realities. Considering Morph's body does not burn out like other hosts, Morph's consciousness is still active beneath Proteus. Also, Proteus is immune to metal while in Morph's body, since wearing a metal tiara during the "Heroes Reborn" world did not kill him. However, concerns about some discrepancies in "Morph's" behavior forced his teammates to plan regular brainwashings with the same device, and, eventually, put him in stasis whenever his behavior again became abnormal. However, that device was destroyed when Psylocke and Sabretooth fought so intensely that they shook the Crystal Palace, causing a bookcase to fall on Morph's head, shattering the device.
During a confrontation where Proteus reawakened, he found himself lacking in power to defeat the adversary. About to be crushed, Proteus shouted aloud his desire to stay alive. In a vision, he saw a figure, almost identical to his own true energy form, telling him to take its hand, and he would survive. Upon doing so, Proteus found himself full of even greater power, using it to defeat his god-like enemy. Afterwards, it was revealed that this being was the personality and soul of the true Morph, having been in limbo, gaining strength within Proteus and his own body, who had before only been able to speak a few sentences through Proteus' control. Revealing to Proteus that he had the ability to eject him from his body, Morph gave Proteus the chance to work together and share his body and their powers, in order to do more good, something which Morph had discovered Proteus desired deep inside. Proteus accepted, and the two now work in harmony, better than either could be alone. However, soon after, when the New Exiles became immersed within the Crystal Palace, Proteus was absorbed in Morph's place, freeing Morph.[volume & issue needed]
In other media
- Proteus appeared in a two-part animated X-Men series episode "Proteus" voiced by Stuart Stone. In the animated series, Kevin had his reality warping and possession powers, but he also had the ability to change himself back into his human form as well, a power he did not have in the comics. Also, when he took over people's bodies, it did not kill them like it did in the comics, it only weakened them. Proteus himself was somewhat humanized and much less evil; he was an unstable 17-year-old adolescent with a childlike mentality and little grasp on reality (Moira kept him practically locked in her center for years), and at a certain moment he even saved a young man from being beaten up by a gang of bullies. Kevin/Proteus took off in search for his father; not knowing the truth and craving for his father's love, he blamed his mother Moira for not giving his father a chance. He then attacked Professor X, Rogue, Moira, Wolverine, and Beast, defeating them and making Wolverine experience death, which causes Logan a great deal of psychological damage. Moira tells Professor X that Proteus' father, Joseph, did not want him because he was a mutant. Professor X and the X-Men confront Joseph himself, but he refuses to listen and is only bothered about people finding out he is Kevin's father because he is a mutant. Rogue is set to protect Joseph, and she hears his speech about loving children, thus triggering her to remember her past of when her father rejected her due to her own status as a mutant. Kevin arrives at the hall and attacks Rogue and Beast as Joseph leaves. Professor X tries to reason with Proteus and he blames the Professor for keeping Joseph away from him. Wolverine arrives in time to save Professor X and Beast. Professor X tries to contact Proteus mentally and tells him he can help him, but Proteus insists on seeing his father. Moira says they've tried to reason with him enough and tells them she needs to do something about it now. Kevin arrives at another speech of Joseph's, saying that he wants Joseph to love him but Joseph says that he's a trick and trying to ruin him. Joseph tells him to leave and Kevin gets so mad that he loses control. Professor X manages to stop him by using his psychic powers, calming Kevin down; he returns to his normal shape and gets a hug from Moira. Joseph arrives, apologizes to Kevin, and the two reconcile.
List of titles
- Uncanny X-Men #125–128
- Classic X-Men #32
- Classic X-Men #36
- Uncanny X-Men Annual #15
- New Mutants Annual #7
- X-Factor Annual #6
- New Warriors Annual #1
- Star Trek/X-Men
- Exiles #69–82
- X-Men Legacy #232-233
- Classic X-Men #36
- Proteus is number 77 IGN. Retrieved 10-05-09.
- Uncanny X-Men #125-126
- Uncanny X-Men #119
- Uncanny X-Men #125-128; Classic X-Men #32
- New Mutants Annual #7
- New Warriors Annual #1
- Uncanny X-Men Annual #15
- X-Factor Annual #6
- X-Men Legacy #231
- X-Men Legacy #232
- Star Trek/X-Men One-shot (1996)
- Ultimate X-Men #15-19 (2002)
- Exiles #74
- Exiles #80
- Exiles #76
- Exiles #82
- Exiles #91
- New Exiles Annual[volume & issue needed]