Caliban (comics)

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For other uses, see Caliban (disambiguation).
Caliban Comics.jpg
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
First appearance Uncanny X-Men #148 (August 1981)
Created by Chris Claremont
Dave Cockrum
In-story information
Species Human Mutant
Team affiliations X-Force
The 198
Horsemen of Apocalypse
Notable aliases Pestilence; Hellhound; Hound; Death
Abilities 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.

Publication history[edit]

Caliban's first appearance was in Uncanny X-Men #148 (August 1981), written by Chris Claremont and illustrated by Dave Cockrum.

Fictional character biography[edit]

Caliban, in his original form, with Kitty Pryde. Art from Uncanny X-Men #169.

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 third person, 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 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.[1]

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.[2] 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.[3]

Caliban was later temporarily magically merged with Professor X by Kulan Gath during a confrontation with the sorcerer.[4]


During the Morlock massacre, X-Factor rescued Caliban from the Marauders, and Caliban swore vengeance upon the Marauders.[5] With nowhere else to stay, he took up residence at X-Factor headquarters with several other surviving Morlocks.[6] Soon, he forced Masque to undo damage to the Beast's face, and then returned to the Alley.[7] However, shortly thereafter, Rictor went missing and Caliban volunteered to help X-Factor find him, officially joining the group at that point.[8] Alongside X-Factor, he next battled the Horsemen of Apocalypse.[9] Caliban voiced his wish for increased power, so Iceman began teaching Caliban unarmed combat.[10] He next fought the Right's soldiers and was nearly killed by them;[11] then he aided X-Factor in rescuing the Right's mutant captives.[12]

Horseman of Apocalypse[edit]

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.[13] Caliban agrees to become Apocalypse's servant and locator of mutants. Apocalypse renames him Hellhound.[14] Caliban senses the telepathic cry of Val-Or.[15] Through genetic manipulation, Caliban becomes the second Horseman of Apocalypse known as Death.[16]

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.[17] Caliban then attacks and defeats Archangel.[18] He later finds and defeats Sabretooth again.[19]

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.[20] 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.[21] Famine, War, and Death then battle the X-Men and are defeated by them.[22]

Caliban eventually returns to the Morlock sewers.[volume & issue needed]


Eventually, the loner Caliban defeats Apocalypse's control at the cost of his mental faculties.[volume & issue needed] 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.[23]

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.[volume & issue needed]

During his time with the team, it is discovered Caliban could play the piano with great skill.[volume & issue needed]

Return to Apocalypse[edit]

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.[volume & issue needed]

Released from his servitude to Apocalypse, Caliban once more reverts to his childlike 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.[volume & issue needed]

Post M-Day[edit]

After M-Day, Caliban turned up at the Xavier institute as a member of the 198. 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.[volume & issue needed]

Seeking The X-Men[edit]

Caliban later aids the Uncanny X-Men team after he is seriously injured by Masque,[24] 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.[25]

Messiah Complex and Death[edit]

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 of whom, except Hepzibah, form 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.[26]


Caliban is revived through the Technarch transmode virus by Eli Bard and presented to Selene for the purpose of finding other dead mutants and resurrecting them by the same means, so Bard can sacrifice them and their powers to her.[27] Caliban is later seen next to the grave of long time deceased New Mutants member Cypher and began reviving him.[28] Through him Selene resurrected many deceased mutants,[volume & issue needed] and as she faced X-Force, she digested their powerful life-force energies that would help extend her life.[volume & issue needed]

Powers and abilities[edit]

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 fear radiated by humans against them, inducing more intense fear within their minds. He could also utilize fear from others to boost his strength to a level sufficient to easily overpower the original Spider Woman (Jessica Drew).[1]

He is a formidable hand-to-hand combatant, having been trained by Iceman and later Apocalypse.[volume & issue needed]

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.[volume & issue needed]

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.[volume & issue needed]

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.[volume & issue needed]

After being resurrected through the Technarch transmode virus, his ability changed to psionically sense not living mutants but dead mutants.[volume & issue needed]

Other versions[edit]

Age of Apocalypse[edit]

In the Age of Apocalypse, Caliban was a henchman of the bounty hunter Domino, using his powers to track down Nate Grey.[volume & issue needed] 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.[volume & issue needed]

House of M[edit]

Caliban is seen as a member of the Genoshan Black Ops version of the Marauders.[volume & issue needed]

Ultimate Caliban[edit]

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.[29]

X-Factor Forever[edit]

Caliban appeared as a henchman and Horseman of Apocalypse.[30]

In other media[edit]


  • Caliban made a number of cameo appearances in the 1990s X-Men: The 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.


Video games[edit]


  • To date Caliban has received one action figure in a now defunct Toy Biz X-Force toy line. This figure was in his Death persona.


  1. ^ a b Uncanny X-Men #148
  2. ^ Uncanny X-Men #169-170
  3. ^ Uncanny X-Men #179
  4. ^ Uncanny X-Men #190-191
  5. ^ X-Factor #11
  6. ^ X-Factor #12
  7. ^ X-Factor #15
  8. ^ X-Factor #17
  9. ^ X-Factor #19
  10. ^ X-Factor #21
  11. ^ X-Factor #22
  12. ^ X-Factor #23
  13. ^ X-Factor #24
  14. ^ X-Factor #25
  15. ^ X-Factor Annual #3
  16. ^ X-Factor #50
  17. ^ X-Factor #51
  18. ^ X-Factor #53
  19. ^ New Mutants #90-91
  20. ^ Uncanny X-Men #294
  21. ^ X-Factor #84
  22. ^ X-Force #16
  23. ^ Uncanny X-Men Annual #18
  24. ^ Uncanny X-Men #487
  25. ^ Uncanny X-Men #488
  26. ^ New X-Men vol. 2 #45
  27. ^ X-Force #11
  28. ^ Necrosha X one-shot
  29. ^ Ultimate X-Men #82
  30. ^ X-Factor Forever #3 (2010)
  31. ^ "X-Men: Apocalypse will feature Marvel mutant Caliban". BBC. May 27, 2015. Retrieved May 28, 2015. 
  32. ^ Jamie, Lovett (May 26, 2015). "New X-Men: Apocalypse Official Set Photo Confirms Caliban". Retrieved May 28, 2015. 
  33. ^ "Inside 'Logan': Wolverine 3 Plot Details Revealed (Exclusive)". The Wrap. October 5, 2016. Retrieved October 5, 2016. 

External links[edit]