With a physical mutation that gave him white skin, no hair and bulging large yellow eyes, Caliban was unable to live among the rest of society. His name comes from a character in William Shakespeare's "The Tempest." During the height of anti-mutant sentiment in America, Caliban was one of many outcast mutants who resorted to living in the deserted underground tunnels of New York. As a Morlock, Caliban was an essential asset and was often used by their leader, Callisto, because of his tracking abilities to help locate more mutants to join their underground community. His personality was almost child-like, and Caliban would always talk in the third-person, referring to himself as 'Caliban' instead of 'me' or 'I'.
Caliban was created by Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum and first appeared in Uncanny X-Men issue 148 (1981).
He began as a weak and submissive mutant. After being bullied by various factions, Caliban gave himself over to Apocalypse to be genetically altered to be a stronger, more dominant version of himself. He moved in and out of the control of Apocalypse and eventually regressed to a more animalistic nature before finally regaining his faculties. He would die sacrificing himself for a friend, only to be reanimated for evil purposes.
Major Story Arcs
With the Morlocks
After the Morlocks' initial confrontation with the X-Men, Storm had become their leader and a tenuous association was made between the two teams. Caliban's powers were used to locate and kidnap their newest member, Kitty Pryde. Callisto wanted a second confrontation with the X-Men in order to take back leadership of the Morlocks from Storm, and Kitty was the bait. Young Shadowcat was then to be kept as a Morlock, married to Caliban, but the plan failed when he realized that she would never be in love with him and that she belonged on the surface with the X-Men.
During the Mutant Massacre, Caliban and Leech were attacked by Sabretooth. They managed to escape his attacks by hiding inside locked tunnels and were later rescued and taken in by the original X-Factor. Caliban enjoyed living above the streets for a change, and became an essential part of X-Factor when he could locate mutants in danger, such as Rictor who had been taken prisoner by The Right. However, he was emotionally affected by the Marauders' attack, as well as being easily defeated and taunted by the Right's foot soldiers. Therefore, after Apocalypse had transformed Angel into Archangel, the horseman of Death, Caliban betrayed his friends and offered himself to Apocalypse.
For a while Caliban was known as Hellhound, but was later officially announced as Death, Archangel's replacement in Apocalypse's Horsemen. He would use his enhanced senses and strength to locate more mutants for Apocalypse, and his personal anger and rage to punish his enemies. However, after Apocalypse was defeated on the Moon by the combined forces of X-Factor and the Inhumans, Caliban returned to Earth and began his hunt for Sabretooth, who had returned to the Morlock tunnels to kill any remaining Morlocks. As Sabretooth hunted the remaining Morlocks, Caliban hunted him. Caliban was unaware of Sabretooth's healing factor, so when he broke Sabretooth's back and left him for dead, he had unwittingly spared him his life.
Soon afterwards, Caliban confronted Archangel, who had rejoined his teammates in X-Factor. As they had both been genetically altered by Apocalypse, Caliban saw it as an opportunity to prove his superiority over his predecessor. He defeated Archangel and then Sabretooth for a second time.
At the start of the X-Cutioner's Song, Caliban ambushed Jean Grey and Cyclops as they sat discussing their relationship in Harry's Hideaway. Although they were both incredibly powerful mutants, neither could stop Caliban's emotionally charged attack. By the time Iceman and Colossus had defeated the Horsemen War and Famine (diversions), Caliban had kidnapped by Scott and Jean. However, instead of returning them to Apocalypse, they were eventually delivered to Mr. Sinister.
After a few years Caliban broke free from Apocalypse's control and he no longer went by the name of Death. His mental state appeared to regress to a childlike and simplistic state. He kidnapped Jubilee and offered to return her to the X-Men safely in exchange for Sabretooth. The transaction was initially smooth, but the fight between Caliban and Sabretooth was savage and Caliban was forced to let Sabretooth flee after his face had been mauled.
Without Apocalypse's control, Caliban returned to being an ally of the X-Men. When X-Force returned to the Mansion to strengthen their connection with the X-Men, Cable invited Caliban to join the team. He quickly became an accepted member of the team and developed strong friendships with Sunspot and Warpath. His simplistic observations were often accurate, although sometimes over-looked by his teammates, but he enjoyed the banter with his new friends.
Despite Caliban's childlike state of mind, he was still prone to savage ferocity. At that time Sabretooth was also living in the mansion after Wolverine had pierced his brain with one of his Adamantium claws. Also appearing to be childlike, Sabretooth was imprisoned in the Danger Room with holographic projections of fields and jungles to keep him amused. One morning Caliban was discovered severely mauling Sabretooth, who was unable to fight back. Cable managed to confuse Caliban long enough to stop fighting by changing the holographic environment to reproduce the Morlock tunnels. Later, when the rest of the team tried to prevent Boomer from visiting Sabretooth any more, it was Caliban who reasoned with her that Sabretooth had murdered many of his Morlock friends. He implored her by saying Sabretooth was by his nature a savage monster, not to be trusted and would ultimately hurt her. However, with his simple mind, Caliban could not argue his case when Boomer turned the tables on him by reminding him of how he had also been a savage killing monster who had been redeemed.
While the rest of the world's heroes were battling Onslaught, Caliban and X-Force remained in hiding to protect the Age of Apocalypse survivor X-Man. Caliban's mutant powers told him that this man was both the same as Cable, yet different, but his mind could not comprehend why. They intended to keep Nate Grey safe from Onslaught; however, it was Mr. Sinister who found them. Sinister claimed Nate Grey as his property, as he had lost Nathan Christopher Summers, who had been tainted as a baby by Apocalypse's Techno-Organic Virus. The combined forces of X-Force and X-Man failed against Mr. Sinister and Caliban alone remained strong enough to confront Sinister. During his physical augmentation, Apocalypse had programmed Caliban to attack Sinister. Although Sinister recognized Apocalypse's handiwork, Caliban's ferocity and raw power were unstoppable. Singlehandedly, he defeated Mr. Sinister and saved Nate Grey.
During a psychic attack from Onslaught, a child who represented Charles Xavier's innocence sought to save the team by psychically moving them in and out of each other's unconscious minds. Caliban was found enjoying life as an alien boy growing up on the farm with Cable and Domino as his parents, in a reflection of the 1978 Superman film. Another surprise discovery the team made was that Caliban was exceptionally gifted at playing the piano, but during moments of heightened intellect like this Caliban would experience crippling seizures. His beautiful performance was cut short when he screamed out in pain and collapsed unconscious. Though worried for their friend, no-one was aware of the fact that Apocalypse was tightening his grip on Caliban once more and had sent Ozymandias out to collect him. While the rest of the team were fighting Operation: Zero Tolerance's Prime Sentinels and the Mutant Liberation Front, Ozymandias telepathically brainwashed Cable into thinking that he had left Caliban in safe hands.
Caliban's time with X-Force ended and Apocalypse transformed him yet again. By installing him with the telepathic ability to spread disease, Apocalypse recreated Caliban as Pestilence. This time, the other three Horsemen were not weak mutants to augment. Instead Apocalypse had transformed Ahab , Deathbird and Wolverine, who was the new horseman of Death. Caliban was bitter and angry, and when he fought with his former allies he dismissed his friendship with those in X-Force. Apocalypse merged himself with Cyclops, but Caliban was able to track down the combined creature. Cable was finally able to defeat Apocalypse, and subsequently Caliban was once more set free, and yet again returned to his childlike personality.
Despite his physical augmentations Caliban was kidnapped by the Watchtower. The anti-mutant facility had hoped to use Caliban's mutant tracking powers for their own cause. Ultimately, their scheme was stopped by X-Force and Caliban was freed once again. However, his mental state had further regressed and he could barely speak save for snarling and grunting. X-Force took him in, and Caliban aided them in defeating the alien monster known as Skornn.
Gradually regaining his ability to think and speak for himself, Caliban resided at the Xavier Institute as one of the 198. While there, he helped the 198 escape to a secret military base in Nevada. There he found a large stockpile of explosives inside that had been set to detonate. Locked inside the base, the 198 faced death and were saved by the combined powers of Cyclops and Bishop.
When the 198 were released from the grounds of the Xavier Institute, Caliban returned to the sewers with Leech. The remnants of the Morlocks were attacked by Masque and his new team. When Caliban tried to protect those weaker than himself, Masque used his powers to severely disfigure Caliban. Removed of most of his strength and body mass, Caliban managed to crawl back to the Xavier Institute. There, the sentinel guards identified Caliban and were given orders to take him into custody so the ONE could use his mutant tracking abilities. However, thanks to Storm's intervention he was taken into the care of the X-Men. He returned to the Morlock tunnels with Hepzibah, Storm, and Warpath in order to help them defeat Masque.
Death and Enslaved Resurrection
Caliban began to work with his allies and became a founding member of the new X-Force. Together with Hepzibah, Warpath, Wolfsbane, Wolverine and X-23, Caliban went on the search for the first Baby Mutant to have been born since the Decimation of several thousand mutants' powers. The team confronted Lady Deathstrike and her Reavers in battle. A stray soldier had taken aim at Warpath and was ready to shoot him in the back. However, Caliban saved Warpath's life by jumping in the line of fire. His self-sacrifice deeply affected his old teammate. Warpath buried his old friend back with the rest of his tribe on the Camp Verde Reservation and swore to avenge his friend by killing the Purifiers.
However, Caliban's body has since been exhumed and re-animated. Using the transmode virus obtained from the technarch Magus, Eli Bard essentially resurrected Caliban to use his mutant tracking powers. Even after death, Caliban's original mutant powers were a valuable tool for X-Force's enemy, Selene, so she could hunt down more mutants and digest their powerful life-force energies that would help extend her life.
Caliban was originally a mutant with the ability to sense other mutants within a 25 mile radius of himself. This could be specific enough to locate individual mutants, what their abilities were and often identify mutants he had already encountered. He also suffered from a physical mutation which forced him to flee human society. He was bald, with alabaster white skin and large round yellow eyes.
After Apocalypse's transformation, Caliban was physically larger and stronger with savage claws. His strength would increase to superhuman levels as his adrenaline increased. He could also absorb fear-generated psionic energy from others and redirect that energy back at them.
Age of Apocalypse (Earth-295)
Working with Domino, as Apocalypse´s assassins, Caliban was assigned to track down X-Man. Although he did not have the muscular strength-enhancing augmentations of Apocalypse, it is highly likely that he had undergone other forms of enhancements from Dark Beast or Mr. Sinister. Unlike his mainstream counterpart, this version of Caliban is not childlike. He is well read, and often quotes from literature. Despite being a bounty-hunter, he is essentially a coward, leaving his associates to perform any violent deeds. He was later killed by Toad in a sword duel.
House of M (Earth-58163)
Caliban was the member of the Marauders, the Genoshan Black Ops.
Ultimate Universe (Earth-1610)
Still a member of the Morlocks, Caliban is able to grow into a large monster who is physically adept in combat.
- Caliban makes a minor appearance in X-Men: Apocalypse, played by Tómas Lemarquis. This version of the character is an underground broker who employs Psylocke as his bodyguard.
- Caliban plays a major role in Logan, portrayed by British actor Stephen Merchant. In the near future, mutantkind has been nearly wiped out by the Transigen Corporation, and Caliban is one of the last remaining mutants. He and Logan are hiding out near the border between the United States and Mexico, where they take care of an aging Charles Xavier. It is implied that Caliban stays out of a sense of guilty, as he previously helped Transigen hunt down mutants in the past. When the Reavers arrive in search of Laura, Logan's escaped child clone, Caliban is captured by Donald Pierce. Pierce uses Caliban's sunlight sensitivity to torture him, eventually forcing him to use his powers to track down Logan, Laura and Xavier. When Pierce and the Reavers eventually ambush Logan and the others, Caliban sacrifices himself by setting off a round of grenades, which distracts the villains long enough for the mutants to escape.
- Caliban made non-speaking appearances in X-Men: The Animated Series. Originally appearing as a slave on Genosha in the episode "Slave Island," Caliban later returned as one of Fabian Cortez's Hounds in the episode "The Fifth Horsemen." The plan to resurrect Apocalypse's spirit in a new host body was thwarted when Caliban turned on Cortez and the other Hounds. It was stated that he was a Morlock, although he did not appear with the rest of the underground community.
- Caliban has a small role as one of the Morlocks in X-Men: Evolution. After the Xavier Institute was assaulted by police forces, the New Mutants fled to the sewers and encountered Caliban, who offered them temporary asylum from the pursuing authorities. Later, when Wanda was attempting to track down Magneto, she enlisted Caliban's aide to find him. Though Caliban could not use his powers to locate her father, he was able to track Quicksilver, whom Wanda knew would be nearby Magneto. Some time after this, when Spyke's powers began to mutate further, he was aided by Callisto and other Morlocks and brought to the sewers. Caliban was uneasy about Spyke's presence with them and voiced his doubts to Callisto. He was voiced by Michael Dobson.
- Caliban was featured in ToyBiz's X-Force action figure line back in the 1990s.
- Caliban was featured in the HeroClix figure game.
- Caliban was featured as a Build-a-Figure in Hasbro's Marvel Legends line.