The Dark Riders, originally known as the Riders of the Storm, is the name of a group of fanatics devoted to the Darwinian ideals that the strong ("fit") should inherit the Earth and the weak ("unfit") should be culled.
The full origin of the individual members of the team remains unclear. Presumably, the Riders were members of the Inhuman society, a genetic offshoot of humanity who for many years lived in the Blue Area of the Moon. At some point they were contacted by the evil mutant Apocalypse and were persuaded to join his ideological view and form a team under his guidance.
For purposes of his own, Apocalypse wanted the son of the mutant hero Cyclops, who was then a member of the original team of mutant heroes known as X-Factor, alongside his life-long love, Phoenix. X-Factor was also then making their headquarters in the sentient spaceship called Ship, once owned by Apocalypse. Apocalypse ordered the Riders of the Storm (Hard-Drive, Gauntlet, Barrage, Foxbat, Psynapse, and Tusk) to invade Ship. During the invasion, Psynapse's attack jump-started Phoenix's dormant telepathy and Harddrive succeeded in mentally taking over Ship. X-Factor was aided in the battle by a woman from the future known as Askani, although they failed to prevent the apparent destruction of Ship by the Riders and the kidnapping of Nathan. X-Factor was rescued by the Inhumans, who revealed the nature of the Riders.
The Riders proceeded to attack the Inhumans while Apocalypse experimented on Nathan with a so-called Techno-organic Virus. Eventually, the heroes defeat the Riders and rescue Nathan, only to be forced to send him into the future with Askani in order to save his life from the virus.
Having escaped to Apocalypse's fortress in Egypt, the Riders were attacked by the villain Stryfe, who defeated Apocalypse. Claiming superiority, Stryfe demanded the Riders to work for him as he proved himself more fit, and they agreed. On Stryfe's behalf, the Dark Riders attacked various teams of mutant heroes, keeping the teams off-balance as Stryfe manipulated events around them in attempting revenge on his long-time enemy, Nathan Summers, now known as Cable. During these events, the Dark Riders battled Apocalypse, defeating him and leaving him for dead. However, when Stryfe apparently died in a final battle with Cable, the Dark Riders were no longer in direct service to anyone.
The Dark Riders soon began operating independently, testing the fitness of mutants in battle with them. One such mutant, Mesmero, was apparently killed by the group (although in reality he used his mutant powers of hallucinations to make the Riders believe him to be dead.) In a similar fashion, Psynapse was deemed unworthy by virtue of a mistake in battle and was shot, and later, Foxbat was hunted down and killed.
The Dark Riders (now including Deadbolt, Hurricane, Lifeforce, and Spyne) then targeted Caliban, which led them into conflict with Caliban's allies, Cable, Domino, and Storm. The heroes thwarted the Rider's assassination and attempted to track them down. The Riders allowed themselves to be followed in order to spring a trap, revealing a new leader of the Riders: Cable's son from the future, who now called himself Genesis. The Riders captured Cable, but he was freed by his allies and Genesis and the Riders were forced to retreat.
Under Genesis' leadership, the Dark Riders hoped to gain revenge against the mutant hero teams and even their enemy Mister Sinister, but their attacks were always repulsed.
Genesis soon embarked on a plan to capture the mutant hero Wolverine. Wolverine had previously been bonded to the metal adamantium, but at the time had the adamantium removed from his body by the villain Magneto. Genesis hoped to restore Wolverine's adamantium and brainwash him into being Genesis' so-called Horseman of Death, and had ordered the Dark Riders (including their newest member, Dirt Nap) to capture and remove the adamantium from the villain Cyber to accomplish this. When this proved successful, the Riders captured Wolverine. However, he rejected the process that would restore adamantium to his system, reverting to a feral state. Escaping, the berserk Wolverine slew the Dark Riders and Genesis, although many apparently survived the massacre.
Many of the Riders appeared again, namely Barrage, Gauntlet, Harddrive, and Psynapse. They were once again agents of the villain Stryfe, who reappeared to embark on a scheme to destroy all those who possessed telepathic powers. In so doing, the Riders attacked Phoenix, being confronted by a resurrected Madeline Pryor, Phoenix's clone. Pryor killed two of the Riders in the battle and was joined by her ally, Nate Grey, a.k.a. X-Man. Psynapse's attack on X-Man reinvigorated X-Man's telepathic powers that were believed to have burned out and was killed as well. X-Man also defeated Tusk by literally ripping him apart. In the midst of the battle, Gauntlet disappeared.
After mutants began falling ill and dying due to the effects of the Terrigen Mist spread out into the atmosphere, the Dark Riders returned. The Riders began murdering mutant healers, believing that their powers were a violation of the natural order, their reasoning being that mutants had had their chance at survival, and that delaying their extinction was counter to the natural order.
They attracted the attention of Magneto and his X-Men, who resolved to protect the mutant healers the Dark Riders might target. While the Riders managed to kill Elixir despite the interference of the X-Men, they managed to secure Triage before the Riders could get to him. While the X-Men attacked the Riders' lair in the hope of taking them out preemptively, the Riders set a trap for the X-Men and left to attack Genosha, where Magneto was protecting Triage alone.
They managed to critically injure Triage, despite heavy interference from Magneto, but when the rest of the X-Men arrived to back him up, Magneto was able to overpower the Riders. He left them dead or critically injured on the island, which he then detonated and sunk into the sea with a series of explosive charges, finishing off the Riders.
- 35 appearance(s) of Dark Riders (Earth-616)
- 1 minor appearance(s) of Dark Riders (Earth-616)
- 2 mention(s) of Dark Riders (Earth-616)
- 13 image(s) of Dark Riders (Earth-616)
- 15 member(s) of Dark Riders (Earth-616)
Links and References
- The Unofficial Handbook to the Marvel Universe