Marvel Database

Quote1.png The time has come! Caliban's transformation is now complete... now he is PESTILENCE -- First Horseman of the Apocalypse! Quote2.png
Pestilence (Caliban)[src]


Caliban was a mutant who was born with a clearly mutant appearance which caused his father to name him (or possibly only nickname him) after the grotesque being in William Shakespeare's The Tempest.[6][3] At some point, Caliban was recruited by Callisto, to use his superhuman ability to locate other mutants for her, whom she organized into the underground community known as the Morlocks. Caliban found Leech and took him to Annalee, who raised him and several other young mutant orphans as her children. Caliban lived beneath the Manhattan streets with them, in The Alley, but felt lonely, even among his fellow mutant outcasts. One evening Caliban sensed the presence of mutants in a New York City nightclub and entered, only to find himself in combat against Dazzler, Storm, Sprite, as well as against the original Spider-Woman. Caliban attempted to kidnap Sprite and the battle ended peacefully, with the four women allowing the pathetic Caliban, who only sought friendship, to return to his underground home.[6]

In Love With Sprite

Sometime later, the X-Men found themselves in conflict with the Morlocks, as Callisto had kidnapped Angel for marriage. In the midst of the confusion, Caliban held Sprite, who was deathly sick from Plague and he had fallen in love with. After Colossus' life was in danger, Sprite promised Caliban her hand in marriage, in exchange for aid in saving his and the X-Men's lives. Caliban agreed and carried out his part of the bargain, but Sprite did not keep her promise and returned to the X-Men.[7] Weeks later, the Morlocks kidnapped Ariel, on orders from the vengeful Callisto, and attempted to force her to marry Caliban, but Caliban, realizing that she did not truly wish to live with him, released her from her promise. Since then, Caliban and Ariel remained friends.[8]

Caliban as he first appeared

Mutant Massacre

Concerned about Rusty Collins' safety, Artie Maddicks followed him and Skids, into the Morlocks' Alley and met Caliban and Leech. The Morlocks were being massacred, by the Marauders, and Caliban, Artie, and Leech were terrorized by Sabretooth, but they were saved by X-Factor, even though Caliban had been injured. Caliban and Leech were separated from Artie and while many Morlocks were being killed, rescued by the Power Pack and the X-Terminators (X-Factor in their role of mutant hunters). Caliban and Leech were taken to the X-Factor Complex, by Beast and Iceman. Caliban swore vengeance on the killers of the Morlocks. After the massacre, Caliban and the remaining Morlocks decided that they should return to the Alley. After Beast tried to help them reconsider, Masque attacked him, horribly disfiguring his face, until Caliban beat him and made him change it back.[9]


After hearing of Angel's apparent suicide, Caliban and Leech attended the funeral and returned to the X-Factor Complex. Caliban accompanied X-Factor on a mission to battle The Right and rescue Rictor. Caliban was given an official uniform and membership in X-Factor's mutant "X-Terminators" team.[10] After searching for Boom-Boom, with Iceman and Beast, Caliban witnessed X-Factor battle three of Apocalypse's Horsemen. Later, the children of X-Factor were kidnapped, by The Right, and Caliban was tranquilized and left for dead, as they concluded he was useless. Caliban accompanied X-Factor to rescue the children and, after, they were all teleported aboard Apocalypse's Celestial Ship, where they battled the Horsemen and Angel, as Death. However, Apocalypse offered X-Factor to join him and Caliban asked Apocalypse to grant him enough superhuman power to wreak vengeance on his enemies and Apocalypse accepted. When Cyclops asked for Caliban to rescue X-Factor, after they were captured, Caliban simply apologized and agreed to become Apocalypse's Hellhound.[11]

Horseman of Apocalypse

Caliban as a Horseman

While operating under Apocalypse, Caliban sensed the mental anguish of the mutant Moloid, Val-Or and informed his master, alerting Apocalypse to the High Evolutionary's plans. Apocalypse used advanced genetic engineering methods to increase Caliban's size and strength. Apocalypse renamed Caliban "Hellhound", and he joined Apocalypse's cause.[12]

Still later, Caliban took the name "Death". Caliban and the other Horsemen were manipulated by Mister Sinister into serving him. Caliban attacked his former allies Cyclops and Jean Grey, and brought them to Sinister, who turned them over to the terrorist Stryfe. Alongside the other Horsemen, Caliban then battled the X-Men but was defeated by them.[13]

He kidnapped the young X-Man Jubilee, holding her hostage in exchange for Sabretooth, who was being rehabilitated by Xavier. Shadowcat accompanied Sabretooth into the Morlock tunnels. There, she was left to die after they encountered a giant subterranean squid. After rescuing Pryde, Caliban faced Sabretooth in a brief yet ferocious fight, which resulted in his face being scarred before he fled.[14]


Later, Caliban was hunted by the Dark Riders, Apocalypse's replacements for the Horsemen. Saved by Cable, Domino, and Storm, Caliban helped them to track the Riders back to their base in Egypt and confront their new leader, Genesis.[15] As his intelligence continued to degrade and he began reverting to his original, non-violent personality, Caliban was recruited by Cable back into X-Force.[16] With that team, Caliban faced opponents such as the Mimic, Barrachus the Kalinator, Sabretooth, Holocaust, the Externals, S.H.I.E.L.D., Mr. Sinister, an other-worldly foursome, the alien android Pulse, Mojo, and even Asgardian rock trolls and goblins. For a brief time, Caliban and X-Force fell under the control of Sebastian Shaw, Black King of the Hellfire Club, and were mentally coerced into attacking Cable himself.[17]

Caliban eventually began to suffer crippling seizures that seemingly had no cause. After aiding Cable against an assault on the Xavier Institute by Bastion's Operation: Zero Tolerance forces, Caliban was taken by Ozymandias, the immortal indentured servant of Apocalypse, who revealed that the seizures were a result of Caliban's past alteration. Ozymandias kidnapped Caliban, and altered Cable's memories so that Nathan believed Caliban was safe with friends.[18][19]

Returning to the Horsemen

Returned to Apocalypse, Caliban was reshaped into the Horseman Pestilence. At Apocalypse's behest, Caliban successfully captured both Cable and his alternate reality brother Nate Grey.[20][21] Caliban and the Horsemen were defeated during battle with the X-Men when they were teleported away by Mikhail Rasputin.[22] Subsequently, Caliban tracked down Cyclops, who had merged with Apocalypse and who was struggling to keep the eternal mutant's essence in check. Apocalypse's psyche became dominant, and released Caliban from his service. By that time, Caliban had once more begun reverting to his original naive self, and his intelligence faded until he possessed only a simple animal-like mind.[23]

Return to X-Force and Aftermath

Caliban was subsequently captured by the anti-mutant research facility the Watchtower, which sought to train him as a means to ferret out the mutant-devouring Skornn. Caliban was liberated by the combined efforts of Cable, X-Force, Wolverine, Deadpool, and the Mutant Liberation Front, and he subsequently rejoined X-Force to help oppose the Skornn.[24] After the advent of "M-Day", Caliban was one of the few mutants who retained his powers. Since then, he joined the mutant refugee camp that came to be known as the 198.

After a while he would grow tired of this arrangement forced upon him and would come to contact his old X-Force teammates Domino & Shatterstar to aid in the escape of the 198 by inciting a riot in an effort to cover up a mass jailbreak as his friends would slip in and trigger a detonation around the outer wall.[25] where the trio would guide the handful of mutants to an abandoned S.H.I.E.L.D. base deep in the desert of Nevada, only to find the facility to be lined with decommissioned WMD's locked within its basements that the disgruntled General Lazer would utilize in order to terminate the last of the remaining mutants. With the quick thinking of X-Force, X-Men Cyclops and Lucas Bishop, the 198 and various government operatives Caliban managed to save everyone by forcing open the base's blast doors freeing them all.[26]

With the presidential appeal to the O*N*E protocols allowing mutants more autonomy in their lives Caliban would eventually return to his home in the sewers, hoping to hook back up with the other Morlocks who either lost or retained their powers after the decimation event.[27] Eventually he and Leech came under assault by Masque and a band of acolytes who lost their mutant powers, the former having mobilized due to precogs in his group foretelling the catastrophic events of M-Day and the ensuing aftermath which followed.

The Cult leader then turned his flesh bending powers on the downed drifter ripping away the augmented muscle mass his time as a Hound had given him, leaving him deathly emaciated.[28] Weakened and alone Caliban strove to make it back to the Xavier Institute in his bereaved state, eventually being found by James Proudstar of his old X-Force team who helped him back to the institute nursing him back to health. It was after this Caliban and the X-Men would ready to preempt a terrorist act by the Extremists, in which they would placate the bombing of a crowded cathedral in an attempt to reassert the threat mutantkind posed to baseline Humans (Homo sapiens).[29]

The New X-Force

A new mutant baby was born, representing Hope in the eyes of the X-Men.[30] The X-Men sent a team, fought the Acolytes, the Marauders, the Purifiers, just to learn who had the child. It was Cable. He took the child and went on a trip.[31] After the Xavier Institute was destroyed by Sentinels, from the O*N*E*, Cyclops, leader of the X-men decided to up the stakes. He told Wolverine to assemble the X-Force.[32]

The X-Force was made out of (besides Caliban), Hepzibah, Warpath, Wolfsbane, Wolverine, and X-23. They went on a search for Cable and the Mutant baby.[32]

The best fighters, the best trackers the X-Teams had to offer. In Cooperstown Alaska, the X-Force took their first step, and whatever it was that stopped the X-Team from sensing Cable was stopped. Then the X-Force caught up with Cable-and the new Reavers, led by Lady Deathstrike. While Hepzibah, Wolfsbane, and X-23 were taking on the Reavers, Caliban, Warpath, and Wolverine went for Cable. The Caliban saw one of the Reavers aiming for Warpath. He blocked the bullet and he died an X-Man.[33] Warpath had trouble dealing with his death saying "It should have been me that died."


Caliban was later reanimated via the techno-organic virus by the Selene-worshiping Eli Bard. Selene used Caliban to locate the largest concentration of dead mutants, Genosha. She resurrected all the deceased and planned to make it her home base, but her schemes were interrupted after she was killed by the X-Men. After her death Caliban and the other deceased mutants resurrected by the techno-organic virus once again returned to their graves.


Caliban was later resurrected in Krakoa, he was present when a group of anti-mutant criminals attacked the island being shot in the chest by one of them.[34]


Power Grid[41]
:Category:Power Grid/Fighting Skills/Some Training:Category:Power Grid/Energy Projection/Single Type: Short Range:Category:Power Grid/Durability/Enhanced:Category:Power Grid/Durability/Weak:Category:Power Grid/Speed/Superhuman:Category:Power Grid/Speed/Normal:Category:Power Grid/Strength/Superhuman (800 lbs-25 ton):Category:Power Grid/Strength/Weak:Category:Power Grid/Intelligence/Normal:Category:Power Grid/Intelligence/Slow or Impaired


  • X-Factor Detection: Caliban is able to psionically sense the presence of other mutants within a 25-mile radius of himself. He once proved to be able to catch mutants presence far more away that those 25 miles when he detected the powerful Moloid mutant Val-Or's psychic scream, at the other side of the planet (This mutant was powerful but his powers could only have been sensed by more sensitive people).[35]
  • Fight or Flight Response: When stressed, Caliban's adrenaline kicked in, causing him to temporarily manifest two additional powers. These powers subsided when his stress level returned to normal.
    • Superhuman Strength: Caliban's panic response increased his physical strength, the upper limits of which topped that of Jessica Drew, Spider Woman.
    • Fear Absorption: Caliban was able to absorb the psionic energy in the fear from others and amplify it back into his environment. This effect could quickly turn nearby people into a panicking mob. Caliban occasionally manifested an enlarged, menacing shadow when his fear power was in effect.[6]

As Death:

  • Hound Process: Apocalypse used Celestial technology to augment Caliban's abilities, giving him permanent access to his temporary powers. The transformation increased Caliban's overall height and muscle mass permanently, boosting his strength and physical attributes to much higher than they were before.[36]
    • Enhanced Superhuman Strength
    • Superhuman Speed
    • Superhuman Stamina
    • Superhuman Durability
    • Superhuman Reflexes
    • Superhuman Agility
    • Superhuman Leaping Ability
    • Claws & Fangs
    • Climbing
  • Shadow Power: Caliban was able to use his fear abilities with greater control than before. He could absorb fear-energy to turn it against those around him, inducing more intense fear within their minds by directing his "shadow force" at them. His targets would be paralyzed with fear.[37] Caliban could also convert the fear energy into even greater levels of superhuman strength, making him emotionally-charged as he fed off people's fears.[3]
  • Specific Enhancement: A subset of this ability was specifically designed to harm Mister Sinister. Apocalypse apparently intended Caliban to be used as a weapon against Sinister.[38]

As Pestilence:

  • Psychoactive Virus: After becoming Pestilence, Caliban's fear-inducing ability changed again to become a mental plague. Caliban soaked up negative emotion from his environment and convert it into a psychic attack that struck from within on the highest planes of the mindscape and broke down the physical/mental functions of the target. Victims would experience bodily symptoms such as fever, delirium and weakness while being psychically subjected to their personal fears or worst memories.[5][25]


  • Caliban was intended to be a member of an X-Men "in-training" secondary team, alongside a newly created Kitty Pryde and Willie Evans, Jr. Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter nixed the idea, however, saying it sounded too much like the Legion of Substitute X-Men. The Caliban we know today was later created, but was entirely different than the original intention for the character.[39]
  • Caliban is the only character to take up the mantles of two different Horsemen of Apocalypse: first Death and later Pestilence.

See Also

Links and References


Like this? Let us know!