Raven

Last but definitely not least, there’s the one character who’ll apparently be the core of everything in the first season of Titans: Raven, the goth girl portrayed by Teagan Croft. She’ll be the one looking for Dick Grayson to warn him about an incoming threat, and whose pleads will eventually lead to the formation of the Teen Titans (minus the “teen”, apparently). Whoever reads the comics, knows far too well that most of the times the threat comes from within, when speaking of Raven. We’ll see immediately who she is originally, but after today I’ll take a little break: I’ll come back in a week or so to see together who the (many) characters surfaced at the SDCC are, and of course to continue Emy H‘s request. See you!

The story of Raven’s birth is indeed very, very dark. She was conceived when the demon overlord Trigon seduced a depressed human girl from Gotham City, Angela Roth. As Angela realized the true form and nature of the one who now she called “husband”, and realized also that she was pregnant with his child, she tried to kill herself, only to be instantly transported to Temple Azarath, where she was welcomed and greeted by a group of pacifist monks who filled her with hope once again. Raven was born in Azarath, and she was entrusted to the care of Azar, the leader and founder of Azarath. Fearing that violent emotions would have made the baby open to her father’s evil influence, Azar taught Raven to control her passions, and raised her as a pacifist and an empath, able to feel for every other living being. The girl came to consider Azar the only parental figure of her life, but when the man eventually died she was finally entrusted to her mother, who now went by the name Arella. The mother-daughter relationship was non-existent at best, but it was up to Arella to complete her daughter’s education, and so she did… one of the last trials Raven had to face, however, was to see her father face to face for the first time, peeking through the Great Door that opened on the space between dimensions ruled by Trigon. The experience was quite traumatizing, as not only Raven made her first confrontation with a deep, obscure evil with no hope of redemption, but she also realized she had a role in her father’s plans to expand his demonic realm, a role she didn’t want to play. Following that, she committed herself even more in learning how to control herself, especially because now she shared a bond with Trigon and had limited access to his thoughts. When she turned eighteen, Raven learnt that Trigon was planning to invade Azarath using her as a connection to break the veil between dimensions. Frightened, she asked for the temple priests’ help, but they refused: nobody trusted her on Azarath, as Azar was the only one who had accepted her “tainted” presence there. Without any option, she traveled to her mother’s home dimension, Earth.

Raven traveled to the United States of America, her mother’s place of birth, and it didn’t take much to her to realize who the most powerful heroes of that dimension were. She went to the Justice League of America looking for help, but as she told the heroes that Trigon was coming to expand his dominion, the sorceress Zatanna sensed her demonic nature, and warned the others not to trust her, believing it to be a trap. More and more desperate, Raven learnt of a now disbanded team of young heroes, the Teen Titans, who may believe her: she called for their help, and she contacted also some new ones. With Robin, Wonder Girl, Kid Flash, Cyborg, Beast Boy and Starfire answering to her call, she formed the New Teen Titans, a group that finally believed her and was ready to help her. If the Titans needed any other proof, however, Raven was soon kidnapped by Trigon, who had finally pierced the veil between dimensions and wanted his daughter by his side, to finally corrupt her and sum her magic power to his own. Following Robin’s leadership, the Titans reached the demon in his home dimension, and after a fierce battle, in which they were aided by a freed Raven and by Arella, they finally managed to imprison Trigon in an interdimensional prison. Since Trigon wasn’t dead, however, his influence still haunted Raven, so she had to be as far as she could from the Great Door, the one existing access to the demon’s prison. Raven had to bid farewell to her home dimension, while Arella stayed behind to be the guardian of the Great Door and to make sure nobody ever freed Trigon again. Raven followed her new friends (her new family) to Earth, where she created a new civilian identity for herself, Rachel Roth, to blend in. With Trigon alive and kicking, still plotting to break free and expand his dominion beyond the borders between dimensions, Raven was constantly on the verge of losing control and become her father’s avatar, the harbinger of destruction and a foe like nobody ever before. As long as she had her friends, she would always have been able to come back to her senses before it was too late… maybe.

Raven is kind of a Debbie Downer wherever she goes, a broody and tormented young woman who must stay constantly focused in order to maintain control over her darker emotions, thus letting no space for her demonic father’s influence to corrupt her. At first, Raven was “simply” an empath, able to feel and alter other people’s emotions, but with time she learnt to master a number of other mystic abilities: with her Soul-Self (her astral form, projected in the form of an ethereal black bird) she can travel long distances in a very short amount of time, and she can mind-control at least one person at the time by enveloping them in the shadow of the Soul-Self; she also learnt to fly, to use telepathy and telekinesis, to teleport, to cast illusions and even to see the future in limited capacity; she also possesses a fraction of Trigon’s essence, and she becomes more and more powerful the more she lets her father corrupt her… but that means she also becomes increasingly evil. Torn between two dimensions and two loyalties, Raven is fighting a neverending battle for her own soul… as well as for the safety of every known dimension.

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Koriand’r (Starfire)

The award for the most controversial look in Titans certainly goes to Starfire, portrayed by Anna Diop, seen in the trailer as she roasts some guy with her pyrokinesis. For once, the problem is not race-swapping (ok, she’s not African American in the comics, but she’s not even Caucasian: she’s orange. And not Donald Trump-orange, but alien-orange), but rather her dresses, as with that fur especially she’s light-years away from her usual appearance. Anyway, there are few chances that she’ll keep the same cloths on for the entire series, so the polemic is quite useless this time, I think. Anyway, we can take a good look at one of the most iconic members of the Teen Titans, even if apparently she too has embraced a darker, more murderous way of being a hero. Let’s see the original one together, instead.

Koriand’r was born in the Vegan System, on planet Tamaran, a world inhabited by a race naturally able to convert ultraviolet light into energy for flight. She was a princess, the second of the three children of King Myand’r and Queen Luand’r, and her older sister Komand’r was the heir to the throne… but when she was a kid, a disease robbed her of her people’s abilities, and tradition wanted her excluded from the succession as a result. For this, it was Koriand’r the one who would have inherited the crown, and her sister, having nobody to blame but her, started a bitter rivalry with her. Koriand’r underestimated her sister’s grudge against her, but she had to realize the seriousness of it when the two sisters were sent to the Warlords of Okaara to be trained in the art of combat: during their stay on Okaara, Komand’r tried to kill her sister during a sparring, and she was expelled… but instead of coming back home, she reached the Citadel, a cruel and fascist space empire that had been at war with Tamaran for years. Thanks to the information Komand’r gave the Citadel, the attackers managed to successfully conquer Tamaran. Much to King Myand’r’s surprise, one of the condition for his kingdom’s surrender was that his daughter Koriand’r was delivered as a slave to the Citadel, a condition that Koriand’r herself willingly paid, as she didn’t want to be responsible for her people’s suffering. With this, she forever renounced to coming back home, as her presence on Tamaran would have been seen as an abrogation of the treaty. It was with horror that Koriand’r found out that the mistress who was waiting for her behind enemy lines was her lost sister Komand’r, who in the following years subjected her to a number of unspeakable tortures, sexual abuses and humiliations. Finally, the princess managed to kill one of her torturers, but by doing this she unleashed her sister’s wrath, and Komand’r sentenced her to be executed immediately. Luck, or something similar, was with the princess though, as the hostile Psions chose to attack the Citadel right before the execution, and took both sisters prisoners for their sadistic experiments.

The Psions wanted to know how much energy a Tamaran body was able to store before exploding, so they subjected both princesses to cruel experiments, bringing their abilities to their limit. The forces at Komand’r’s orders, however, had tracked down the ship, and engaged the Psions in battle: exploiting her captors’ distraction, Koriand’r used some new abilities the experiments had given her, powerful energy bolts, to break free… but before escaping, she freed her sister too. This didn’t turn out to be a great idea, as the ungrateful Komand’r hit her in turn with the same power, and imprisoned her once again to bring her back to the Citadel for the planned execution. Now too powerful to be restrained, Koriand’r managed to escape her captors, but this time she headed for an alien planet, Earth, where she sought help against her pursuers. It was as a refugee that she met the Teen Titans, young heroes from Earth who would have become her new family for a long, long time. The Titans helped her repel her sister’s minions, and offered her shelter for as much time as she needed. Of course, she had to blend in with the new world’s uses and costumes, something that she found quite difficult, considering that on Earth people were much more sensitive about intimacy, nudity and sexuality than they were on Tamaran, a characteristic that led Koriand’r into a number of misunderstandings and incidents. She was helped in understanding Earth’s way by the Titans’ leader, Robin, who taught her and followed her in her progresses… and who even became her first romantic interest on the new planet, as the two began a relation soon after the girl’s arrival. During her time with the Titans, she created a human identity, Kory Anders, and got hired as a professional model, something that wasn’t hard at all for someone with her physique. She also wanted to help and repay her saviors, though, so she became the fiery superheroine known as Starfire, a core member of nearly every following formation of the Teen Titans. As strange and (literally) alien this new world could be for her, however, Princess Koriand’r could be sure now that she had found a place she could call home… waiting for the moment she would have been able to come back to her real one.

A true daughter of Tamaran, Princess Koriand’r is the perfect example of that world’s sensual culture and warrior heritage, a no-nonsense fighter with a strong sense of duty and the spirit of a war hero, but with an extremely open-minded view on personal relations and contacts. As Starfire, she is able to absorb ultraviolet energy from both stars and other beings (such as Kryptonians, with the effect of weakening them), and to use it to fly, even out of the atmosphere, to increase her strength, speed, stamina and durability, and to shoot her trademark Starbolts, extremely powerful solar blasts that can reach the power and the temperature of a small nova; she is also a superb armed and unarmed combatant, trained by the legendary Warlords of Okaara. A princess exiled from her kingdom and an alien forced to live on a world she still struggles to call home, Starfire is a fierce warrior with the soul of a romantic poet, a living paradox who’s committed to protect both her home planet, and the planet that offered her shelter when she was one of the most wanted people in the universe.

Garfield Mark Logan (Beast Boy/Changeling)

One of the most shocking reveals at the SDCC this year (so far, at least) has surely been the Titans trailer, that shows a very gritty, very dark take on the usually easy-going heroes. We have, at least, seen the missing three members of the core formation in the show: first coming is Beast Boy, portrayed by Ryan Potter. In the trailer, he seems to be on the run from someone, and we see him jumping from a roof. His skin looks definitely green, differently from the official banners, but it’s likely that he’ll change skin color just before he’s about to transform (turning into a bird while jumping from a roof would be a good idea, for instance). In the comics, he’s definitely the less dark and tormented of the team, but you never know what they manage to do with this adaptation. Waiting to know more, let’s take a look at the original.

Garfield “Gar” Logan was the son of two medical researchers, Mark and Marie Logan. When he was still a little child, he followed them to Africa, along with their colleague Samuel Register, as they wanted to study Sakutia, an extremely rare disease also known as Green Fever, caused by a virus that attacked a subject’s very genetic code. Only a handful of cases had been registered of the disease that far, so the Logans wanted to be the first ones to describe, study and possibly cure it. Unfortunately, during their work, little Garfield got sick with Sakutia, and was given 48 hours to live at best. One thing the researchers had found for sure was that a particular animal, the West African green monkey, was immune to the disease, and to save his son Mark Logan decided to use an experimental serum that momentarily rewrote a being’s DNA to change it into another creature (part of a parallel research on “reverse evolution” he was conducting to bring back to life extinct creatures). The plan was to transform Garfield into a green monkey for 24 hours, enough time to kill the virus in his system, and then turn him back to normal. Needless to say, the bold experiment didn’t go exactly as planned, and the serum fused with the virus with unexpected results: albeit human again, Garfield kept the monkey’s green skin and hair, and the Sakutia left his genetic code highly unstable, so that he could rewrite it at will, changing into any animal of his choice, both living and extinct. This was of course a breakthrough discovery for both Mark’s and Marie’s researches… but they couldn’t enjoy it for long, as they died soon after in an accident. The young boy was entrusted to a guardian appointed by the court, Nicholas Galtry, an abusive and despicable man who didn’t even bother to learn his true name, and called him “Craig” instead. As the guardian of Garfield, Galtry embezzled the boy’s inheritance and estate, a maneuver that would have been exposed as soon as “Craig” would have reached maturity. For this reason the man, who was secretly the villainous Arsenal, planned to kill Garfield Logan.

Nicholas Galtry hired some assassins to take out Garfield and make it look like a home invasion, but the boy proved to be quite lucky, as the heroic Doom Patrol stopped the criminals, and even exposed Galtry’s involvement and embezzlement. Two members of the team, Rita “Elasti-Girl” Farr and Steve “Mento” Dayton, became particularly fond of Garfield, and decided to adopt him. This was a new beginning for Garfield, who had known just abuses and loss for all his life. As he grew up and he learnt to control his incredible abilities, Garfield joined his adoptive parents in Doom Patrol as Beast Boy, proving to be a terrific asset. Even his private life started to turn better, as he started a romantic relation with a high school companion, Jillian Jackson, the first one who managed to see beyond his green skin. Even this little joy was taken away from him by Galtry, who kidnapped the girl to hurt him: even if Beast Boy managed to save Jillian, she got so scared that she preferred to break up with him. Even with Doom Patrol things started to go awry, as several members of the team died in action: haunted by grief, Beast Boy decided to leave, and moved to the West Coast where he became an actor in the sci-fi tv series Space Trek: 2020, an environment in which his weird appearance was an asset rather than a shame. The adventure didn’t last long, as the show was cancelled after lawsuits from Star Trek and Space: 1999. Beast Boy, however, happened to be in the right side of the country as the Titans West (a local branch of the Teen Titans) were looking for new members, a position he gladly filled, missing a group he could call family. From there, he obtained a position in the New Teen Titans assembled by Raven, and here he found the family he was so desperately looking for, meeting also his best friend, Cyborg, and a new romantic interest, Terra. For a time, mocked by Arsenal during a battle, he changed his codename to Changeling, but he came back to Beast Boy after building some self-confidence. With a name or the other, however, Gar had become a little brother for his teammates, someone they simply didn’t want to be without.

Gar Logan is apparently an easy-going and carefree young man, a wise cracking jester without a worry in the world, but this is most time just a facade to hide a very sensitive nature and a past of abuses and loss, which he still has to come to terms with. As Beast Boy, he’s an extremely powerful shapeshifter, able to transform into any animal he knows of, from existent to extinct ones, and even to alien and mythological ones; he gains all the characteristics of the animal in question, including strength, claws, flight or water-breathing skills, apart from their colors, as he always remains green; he can also vary some aspects of the animal he turns into, changing for example its size (he can become a giant insect, for instance), and he can even turn into a hybrid with characteristics of several animals altogether, but this usually makes him lose control, so he uses it as a last resort. One of the most powerful members of the Titans, Beast Boy is also one of the most kind-hearted and gentle, a young man hurt and molded by loss after lose, who learnt to react to pain hiding it behind a laughter, counting on the support of his family of election.

Nereus

Same Empire cover, always directly from Aquaman: right besides Vulko, on the far right of the cover, we see Dolph Lundgren‘s sweet mug in a war helmet. That’s King Nereus for you, the rightful ruler of Xebel, rival of Atlantis. In the movie, he’ll be the father of Mera, and a strong opponent of her relationship with Orin. In the comics, however, he’s not Mera’s father, but rather her husband (sort of)… so he has all the more reason not to like Mera’s and Orin’s love story! Unlike most of the other characters, King Nereus is a character created specifically for Prime Earth, a “young” one (first appearance 2013) who had the chance to make his presence felt nevertheless. Let’s see together.

Nereus wasn’t born a king, he was a warrior: he was born in Xebel, one of the original seven kingdoms of Atlantis, splintered during the sinking of the continent. Xebel had fought with Atlantis for centuries, always trying to become the first and most powerful kingdom of all, but eventually Xebel was defeated, and if this wasn’t enough, Atlantean sorcerers put a psychic barrier around it, preventing anyone from ever escaping the city. The barrier could be crossed one way only, and even on the surface world the area became legendary with the name Bermuda Triangle, a place where ships entered and never came back: the sunken ships served to Xebel to survive. Nereus was raised with stories of the injustice perpetrated by Atlantis, and this hatred for his historical enemies led him to become one of the fiercest and most proficient warriors of the kingdom. Finally, he was rewarded with the title of Military Chief, traditionally a way to the throne in Xebel: now, the daughter of King Ryus, Princess Mera, was his betrothed. Before the marriage could be celebrated, however, Mera was tasked with a mission of utmost importance: to find and kill the king of Atlantis. Nereus volunteered for the task, but Ryus was immovable: only a member of the Royal Family, the sole to know the secret of Hydrokinesis to cross the barrier, was able to escape the prison Xebel had become to reach Atlantis, and Nereus would have been taught that secret only after his marriage with Mera. Being things so, Mera left to reach Atlantis, with her people waiting for news of her victory. Time passed, but the princess never returned. Eventually, old King Ryus died, and since Nereus was Mera’s betrothed, he was crowned king. Finally, even the ambitious soldier was taught the secret of Hydrokinesis, but he didn’t use it to cross the barrier: with or without Mera, he had obtained the throne, and he had to take care of his people, first and foremost.

Three years passed, before Mera finally returned to Xebel. She asked to be received by the king, and much to her surprise she faced Nereus instead of her father. Surprised as well, Nereus learnt that his traitorous “wife”, as he called her, had found the king of Atlantis, Orin, but had fallen in love with him instead of killing him. He tried to execute his (ex) fiancĂ©e on the spot, but the two were reached by the enemy Mera was escaping from: King Atlan, the original king of the Seven Kingdoms, a legendary warlord who had been asleep for millennia. Not only Atlan was terrifyingly powerful, he was also the rightful heir to the throne: Nereus didn’t want to fight him, so he pledged his allegiance to him, putting the power of Xebel at the king’s disposal. As a sign of loyalty, Nereus attacked Mera and Aquaman, who had arrived to retrieve his beloved, and nearly killed them. Atlan removed the barrier around Xebel, and Nereus accompanied him in the invasion of Atlantis, now made possible by Atlan’s power and Xebel’s military might. In the battle, Mera was captured, and kept alive since she was the last remaining member of Xebel royal family, while Aquaman disappeared, dead or flown. In the following months, Nereus helped King Atlan in studying the Atlantean maps and history books to try and locate the four lost kingdoms… until Aquaman brought one of them directly to Atlantis, as he had forged an alliance with the monstrous Trench, who inhabited one of said kingdoms. The Trench were far too powerful even for Atlan to face, and the ancient king was killed in battle. As Orin claimed the throne back, Nereus managed to escape with his army… but this wasn’t the end for the proud king. As the enemy of your enemy is always your friend, he traveled to the surface world, and tracked down Orm, Orin’s vengeful half-brother. Nereus offered him the location of the lost kingdoms and the crown of all of them, in exchange of Aquaman’s head… an offer that Orm was even too eager to accept.

Nereus is a proud and stubborn warrior, a man raised in hatred and grudge who devoted his entire life to avenge an ancient stain on his people’s honor. As an Atlantean, he possesses superhuman strength, speed, stamina, durability, reflexes and agility, he has enhanced senses and accelerated healing abilities, and of course he can breathe underwater and sustain the depths’ pressure; as the King of Xebel, he also masters Hydrokinesis, an ancient power that allows him to manipulate water at will; he’s also a superb warrior, unbeatable with his spear, as well as a charismatic leader and a skilled tactician. A king with the heart and the pride of a soldier, Nereus acts on instinct more than on wisdom, and lets ancient history and old traditions guide his actions more than his own good sense would: this is, however, the only way he has to keep his hatred alive, and he surely doesn’t want to lose that one thing that kept him alive and focused for all the years of his imprisonment…

Nuidis Vulko

The latest cover of Empire provided a good look at (almost) the entire cast of the upcoming Aquaman, so we got our first look at two of the remaining main characters. On the right we can see Willem Dafoe wielding a sword: that’s Nuidis Vulko, the chief counselor to the throne of Atlantis, and Aquaman‘s secret mentor. Vulko was supposed to appear last year in Justice League, but just as Iris West all his scenes were ultimately cut from the movie (and, unlike Iris’ one, they have not been seen yet). It appears that the movie’s version will embrace the new warrior nature of the character seen on Prime Earth, but the original Vulko is a man of science, not of sword, and for that exactly he can help his king in ways nobody else can. Let’s see together.

Nuidis Vulko was born in the submerged kingdom of Atlantis, a keen intellect who soon became the most prominent scientist in the entire city, preferring to study science rather than magic as most wise men in the continent. His knowledge and intelligence became so requested that he rose to become the chief scientific adviser of Atlantis, always at disposal of the throne for any matters his judgement was required for. He befriended Queen Atlanna, who was intrigued by Vulko’s field of expertise, and even King Trevis trusted him, albeit he preferred to rely on the advises of his sorcerers. This became blatant the moment the Queen became pregnant (despite Trevis was allegedly sterile) and gave birth to Orin, a boy with blonde hair. According to Atlantean legends, blonde hair were the mark of Kordax, an ancient warlord who had brought Tritonians and Poseidonians to a bloody civil war, and all babies born with his “curse” were to be exposed and left to die. The Queen opposed her husband, and Vulko sided with her, declaring that the Curse of Kordax was but a silly superstition. The King didn’t listen to such words, and ordered the baby to be abandoned… an order that the Queen didn’t obey to, as she escaped with the infant, covered by Vulko. Trevis unleashed his anger and frustration on his adviser, and Vulko was imprisoned for his betrayal. He spent years in the royal prison, and some time later he was joined by Atlanna herself, how had tried to come back home after entrusting her baby to a surface dweller. Years passed before Vulko had the company of another prisoner… Orin himself, who had arrived to Atlantis investigating his origins. Vulko was happy to see the prince he had witnessed the birth of alive and well, and befriended him, telling him about his parents and his roots. When Orin freed himself and claimed the throne, his first royal act was to free Vulko as well, naming him his regent, a trusted replacement for all the times he would have left Atlantis to defend the surface world as the hero Aquaman.

With a new King who connected in himself the surface world and the underwater one, even Vulko had finally the chance of expanding his own knowledge and skills, learning much of the surface science. The first time he met a friend of Aquaman’s from the Justice League of America, it was Atom, one of the greatest scientists of the surface: Vulko helped Aquaman and Atom repel and invasion from the microscopic army of Galg the Destroyer, extremely destructive but tiny enough to fill just a drop of water, and learnt much from the cooperation. He embraced Aquaman’s vision of a peaceful cohabitation with the surface dwellers, and helped him investigate the theft of the Royal Seal, attributed to a surface diplomat; thanks to Vulko, Aquaman and Nuada Silverhand managed to find the real culprit, not the ambassador but rather Ocean Master. This made Orin trust Vulko even more, enough to make him King during an extended period of absence. He ruled with wisdom and skill, until Aquaman came back, missing a hand, lost in a vicious battle with Charybdis. Vulko resumed his role as scientific adviser, watched over the king’s convalescence, and later replaced his left hand with a harpoon. He then spent the following years assisting Aquaman with high-tech devices to help him in his task of guarding the Seven Seas, such as a futuristic stealth suit and several weapons, but the greater task arrived when the entire ocean came under attack, and in a moment of desperation, the king decided that all the Atlanteans had to take refuge in the surface world. It was up to Vulko to find a way to make everyone able to survive out of the water, and with respirators and special suits he proved to be up to the task, allowing his people to survive yet another crisis. Something, however, was changing in Vulko’s soul: he wasn’t so enthusiast anymore in following Orin, seeing how much time he spent outside his kingdom, nor in embracing his policies, considering how much they had endangered Atlantis in the previous years. Maybe it was the right time for a change…

Nuidis Vulko is a man of science, devoted to knowledge just as much as he is devoted to his home country, Atlantis. As all Atlanteans, he’s much stronger and more durable than any human, and he can breathe underwater (staying too much on the surface, on the opposite, weakens and eventually kills him), but he rarely uses force to solve problems, preferring to trust his remarkable skills as a scientist and as an inventor. An atheist living in a deeply religious and devoted to magic country, Vulko is like a fish out of water in his own environment, but his superb intellect and his loyalty to the throne make him one of the most reliable and trusted allies King Orin will ever have by his side… until he too becomes disillusioned with the king’s rule, of course.

Arkady Gregorivich Rossovich (Omega Red)

The Icebox prison in Deadpool 2 was definitely full of mutants, and it’s no surprise that many of them turned out to be cameos from the comics… but this one is definitely one we didn’t see coming: Omega Red, one of the most popular and notorious among Wolverine‘s enemies. The Russian super-soldier was supposed to appear in X-Men: The Last Stand portrayed by kick-boxer Vince Murdocco, but the character was later cut from the script. In Deadpool 2 he only appeared as a background character, portrayed by Dakoda Shapley, but since one of the scenes of the new uncut version is titled Chess with Omega Red, we can expect to see more of him. Waiting to see what the new version of the film will bring to us (and who are the other mutants revealed to be in the prison by makeup artist Bill Corso (I have a couple of ideas for at least three of them, but let’s wait for the official confirmation), let’s meet together one of the baddest and toughest mutants ever.

Arkady Gregorivich Rossovich was born in the Soviet Union, an albino who became an agent of Spetnaz somewhere in the 1960s. Arkady, however, was also a serial killer, with the disturbing hobby of raping and killing young girls whenever the occasion presented itself. He couldn’t go on forever without being caught, and he eventually got arrested by Sean Cassidy, an agent of Interpol, who turned him over to the KGB. Back in Russia, Arkady was trialed and sentenced to death… but at the moment of the execution, his X-Gene activated, and he escaped death by releasing lethal spores. KGB saw in this a sign of destiny, and forcefully recruited Rossovich in their own version of the Super Soldier Project, a program aimed to create the Soviet counterpart to Captain America. For years, Arkady Rossovich was kept in a secret lab, tortured and experimented on, provided with cybernetic implants and also with an experimental alloy created by Russian scientist, named Carbonadium, an attempt to recreate the Adamantium that the Canadian Department H had used on their Weapon X. Carbonadium was only slightly less durable than Adamantium, but it was also much more malleable, a characteristic that allowed the scientists to create a couple of retractable whips to be equipped to Rossovich’s armor… unfortunately, the alloy was also radioactive, and it poisoned its user. Arkady’s powers, however, could come in handy, as they allowed him to siphon other people’s life force to replenish his own, healing from potentially lethal wounds and even from the radiation poisoning he was continuously exposed to. There was a way to stabilize his condition, though: the Carbonadium Synthesizer, the same device that had forged his tentacles… and that had been stolen by Team X, during their attempt to save double agent Janice Hollenbeck. At the end of the process, the criminal Arkady Rossovich had been transformed into the Soviet super-soldier Omega Red, and his first mission was simple: to retrieve the Synthesizer from the three agents who had stolen it, Wolverine, Maverick and Sabretooth.

The mission didn’t exactly turned out as planned, as the three mutant super-agents were seasoned and experienced enough to match Omega Red, and eventually hid the Synthesizer where he would have never found it. The test in itself, however, was a success, so Omega was deployed by the KGB as an operative. In Berlin, Omega fought another Canadian super-spy, John Wraith, and nearly killed him. Then, the USSR sent him against some Interpol agents who were interfering with the intelligence’s work, and he killed one of them, Magrite Deveraux. Doing this, however, made Omega Red become the target of Deveraux’s partner, Sean Cassidy (the same one who had arrested him years before), and of Erik Lensherr. Being all three of them mutants, the battle that followed was unlike anything the KGB could have possibly foreseen, and Omega Red released such an amount of deadly spores that he killed dozens of civilian bystanders. He was eventually shot and subdued by Cassidy, and later returned to the USSR authorities, who played coy about their involvement with what they pretended to be a rogue agent. Deemed too dangerous and unpredictable, Omega Red was put in suspended animation for the time being, hibernated until the scientists found a way to effectively control him. This took longer than expected, and actually never came to fruition. The Soviet Union fell, and the secret lab Omega Red was kept in was abandoned and eventually forgotten. The super-soldier was found by The Hand, the ninja cult at the time led by Matsu’o Tsurayaba. The Hand reanimated Omega Red, and recruited him as a new assassin for their cult: their interest aligned as they both shared a grudge against Wolverine, who was now a member of the X-Men. Omega Red did join the Hand to get a chance at slicing the throat of his old enemy and learn the location of the lost Carbonadium Synthesizer, but his loyalty to the group wasn’t greater than his one to the fallen Soviet Union, something that the Hand would have soon learnt the hard way…

Arkady Rossovich is a brutal and sadistic man, a predator born with a taste for killing, who has no loyalty but to himself (certainly not to some scientists and spies who took a serial killer, empowered him and then pretended he was a soldier). As Omega Red, his mutant powers, renamed Death Factor, allow him to create and release lethal pheromones and spores capable of killing anyone in the immediate vicinity, spores that he’s forced to expel or otherwise they’ll consume his own body; he’s superhumanly strong, agile, durable and fast, and he’s a superb hand-to-hand combatant; his Death Factor summed to his nearly indestructible Carbonadium tentacles allow him to siphon the energy of other living beings, using it to heal himself even from lethal damage, with his constant self-poisoning forcing him to a vampiric existence. A super-assassin designed to kill in the most effective way possible, Omega Red is a masterpiece of the Cold War, the perfect death-bringer who’s extremely professional in his task… unfortunately, he enjoys it a little bit too much for being anywhere near controllable.

Angel of Death

There’s been a little gender-swap in Preacher this week, and quite ironically is exactly the same one we saw in Lucifer. In The Tombs, the Saint of Killers obtains the meeting with Satan he’s been asking for, but he’s greeted with a harsh punishment for his latest escape, as the Devil orders the Angel of Death to whip him good… and she does, by ripping away the flesh from his back until the spine is visible. Yes, “she”, as the Angel of Death is portrayed by Erinn Ruth, while in the comics she’s a very muscular and manly “he”. Strangely enough, she’s portrayed as some sort of secretary to the Devil, while there’s no reason for it: even in the comics, the two are just old pals, sharing an eternity of boredom. Let’s see together.

We often hear phrases like “My life was perfect, until…” Well, in the case of the Angel of Death, this is to be taken literally, as he indeed knew perfection in his life, until everything transformed into a neverending routine that he deeply loathed. At the beginning, he was one of millions angels part of the Angelic Host, and his life was as close as it could be to the very source of perfection, God. Then, God got bored of being worshiped and adored by angels only, and created humankind, with the purpose of making someone born with free will to love Him. Humans, however, were mortals, so death entered the universe… and the universe now needed someone taking care of it. With humans, the angels were given tasks and roles, and one of many angels suddenly became the Angel of Death, the one tasked with collecting the souls of mortals and to bring them either to Heaven or to Hell, depending on their behavior on Earth. This was an exhausting task per se, but it became unbearable, as not only humans were very good in dying of natural causes, but they became increasingly more and more creative in inventing new methods of killing each other: with the proceeding of centuries, the Angel of Death ran from battlefield to battlefield, from execution chamber to execution chamber, from bar to bar, collecting the souls of the fallen ones, and every day was worse than the previous one. During centuries, he became friends with the only other creature in the universe who shared his frustrated view on the task he’d been assigned with, the Devil, and he often went down to Hell to have a chat or play cards with “Nick“, as he called him. When the Angel of Death saw God’s plans for the XX Century and realized the amount of extra work he was about to be forced to, he lost all hopes, and started questioning even the sanity of his master and creator. Then, he found hope in the least probable place of all.

While he was in Hell, beating the Devil at poker as usual, something appeared to be amiss. At first believing that his adversary was just trying to avoid paying him what he had to, the Angel of Death had to agree that something was clearly wrong as he realized it was unnaturally cold, especially considering he was in Hell. The source of the temperature drop was a mortal soul, one he had recently brought to Hell, and who was still feeling all the hatred he felt when he was alive. The Devil tried to purge the hatred from him with torture, but everything was useless, and even Satan got depressed, believing his reputation and his kingdom to be ruined forever (with the ice blocking the doors, the souls couldn’t enter Hell anymore). The Angel of Death, however, had the perfect solution for all parties: the Devil wanted to reignite the fires, he wanted to leave his job to someone else, and the mortal only wanted to kill. The Angel of Death offered his position to the mortal, telling him that he would have been allowed to exact his vengeance on the people who had wronged him in the town of Ratwater, Texas, and then would have become the new collector of souls, answering directly to God. The mortal accepted. The Devil proceeded to mend his flesh, and the Angel of Death had his mystic sword melted into a pair of guns, to be better usable by their new master. Finally, the newly appointed Saint of Killers left Hell, that returned to its original status, and the Angel of Death was finally free from his burden… but then Satan had the bad idea to offend the Saint, who used his new guns to kill him on the spot. Terrified for his life for the first time in his immortal existence, the (former) Angel of Death started weeping and begging for his life… and he was spared, unexpectedly. Left alone in Hell, the angel now faced an unprecedented chaos, with the Devil dead and his realm without a leader for the first time in eons. Maybe, his idea wasn’t so brilliant after all…

The Angel of Death, real name unknown, is a deeply wise, intelligent and thoughtful creature… but also a deeply depressed one, crushed by an unbearable burden that will never end until the end of times itself. As all angels he’s immortal, and his wings allow him to fly and to cross dimensions, but he’s much stronger and more durable than any other angel, and his divine sword can kill anything and anyone, even angels, demons and, potentially, God Himself. One of the most powerful beings in existence, the Angel of Death is also one of the saddest ones, doomed for all eternity to babysit a species that has nothing better to do than to conceive new methods to kill itself. Quite a waste of time and resources.