Celeste, Irma & Phoebe Cuckoo (Three-In-One)

When we meet Esme Cuckoo, in The Gifted, she mentions that Sentinel Services captured her family… and we already know three of her many sisters. One of the far too many cameos in X-Men: The Last Stand, in fact, sees the Stepford Cuckoos walking in the background, while Professor X is speaking with Storm about the future of the school. Interestingly enough, there are only three of them, the Three-In-One, while the other two sisters who originally formed the Five-In-One are missing. We didn’t get to know them better after that single apparition, and we can only assume they were originally killed by Sentinels in the first timeline, and maybe by a deranged Professor X in the second, but this is obviously unconfirmed. Maybe we’ll know more of them in the series: in the meanwhile, as usual, let’s meet their original comic version.

The Cuckoo sisters were born when Doctor John Sublime, working for the Weapon Plus program, harvested egg cells from a comatose Emma Frost, and used them to clone an army of powerful telepaths that, combining their powers, would have been able to kill the entire mutant population on Earth. The project, named Weapon XIV, gave birth to thousands of identical girls: Sublime at first activated only five of them, and sent them undercover in Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters to hone their abilities. The five sisters, Celeste, Esme, Irma (nicknamed “Mindee“), Phoebe and Sophie, pretended to be an orphaned quintuplet, and were admitted to the school as students thanks to powerful psychic blocks concealing their true identities. They soon earned the attention of the professors, especially of Emma Frost, who elected them to be her proteges, and Professor X, who took them into a special class for telepaths, along with the one who would have become their rival, Quentin “Kid Omega” Quire. It was apparently because of Quire that the Five-In-One became Four-In-One, as when Kid Omega, powered-up by the drug Kick, led a rebellion within the school, the sisters took the drug in turn, and used Cerebra to stop him: the plan succeeded, but Sophie died in the process. The four remaining sisters blamed their mentor, Emma Frost, for Sophie’s death, and both for exacting revenge on her and for testing their now maimed powers, they telepathically informed Jean Grey of Emma’s affair with her husband Scott Summers. What Celeste, Mindee and Phoebe didn’t know was that the true responsible of Sophie’s death was Esme, who had allied herself with the mysterious Xorn. This all came out when Esme tried to kill Emma Frost, and nearly succeeded: as Esme escaped from the school with Xorn, the Four-In-One became the Three-In-One.

After Esme resurfaced as a member of a new Brotherhood of Mutants, and was killed by her lover Xorn, the remaining Cuckoos were reassigned as all the students to specialized training squads, modeled on the students’ gifts and potentials; the Three-In-One joined the Corsairs Squad led by Cyclops, and they were appointed as co-leaders of the team. Their training with Cyclops definitely gave its results, as the trio managed to lead the team to the second place in the Field Day Events (specially designed missions in the Danger Room) after Emma Frost’s Hellions. The Three-In-One became telepaths so powerful that, when the Phoenix Force came back to Earth, it even considered using them as hosts, before resurrecting Jean Grey. Their talent was widely recognized by the teachers, and when the X-Men left to try and stop the Dark Phoenix, they were left at the mansion using Cerebra to coordinate the team, a task that just a couple of years before had killed Sophie, even if there were five of them instead of three, and they had been powered-up by Kick. After M-Day, when Scarlet Witch depowered the almost entirety mutant population, the Stepford Cuckoos were among the very few mutants who retained their powers, along with only other twenty-four students. Fearing weakness in number, Emma Frost gathered the remaining students and subjected them to quite an ordeal, ordering them to fight one with the other in an all-out brawl until the ones she would have deemed worthy would have been allowed to join the New X-Men; disgusted by this test, the Three-In-One promptly informed Cyclops of what was happening, and he stopped the “selections”. Just when the Stepford Cuckoos had won the trust of mentors and students alike, however, John Sublime resurfaced, ready to activate his dormant agents and to use them for their original purpose: to erase what little remained of the mutant population on the planet…

The Stepford Cuckoos are three sisters sharing a single mind and living as they were a single person, but they still retain individual characteristics: Phoebe is more ambitious and daring, Irma is romantic, brave and selfless, while Celeste is a pacifist, the most compassionate of them all, and the one who truly values their unique bond. As the Three-In-One, they are mediocre telepaths taken individually, but when their abilities are combined they become extremely powerful, able to rival in sheer strength with seasoned telepaths like Emma Frost or Jean Grey, accessing all the abilities connected with a potentially limitless mind power. A gestalt entity who struggles to keep united three different personalities (and to suppress a program that presses them into annihilating their own race), the Stepford Cuckoos are a unique group of sisters who share a hive mind and an impressive power, a trio with all the potential of being the greatest asset of the new generations of mutants, or their greatest threat…

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