Membership: Decimator (Lachlan Carroll), Dreadlox (Estelle Hawkins), Macabre (Maggie Langella), Stasis (Lester Selkirk), Tokamak (Willie Tamm)

Purpose: Feeding on humanity

Affiliations: Lilith, Mother of Demons (indirectly); a number of homeless people (pawns)

Enemies: The infant Bucky, Secret Defenders (Darkhawk, Dr. Strange, Nomad (Jack Monroe), Spider-Woman (Julia Carpenter), Wolverine), the previous inhabitants of its dimension, the same homeless people (Wilhelmina Canton, others)

Aliases: viral swarm

Base of Operations: Currently unknown;
    formerly the Second Chance Institute, Phoenix, Arizona;
    formerly the dimension Zusom

First Appearance: Secret Defenders#1 (March, 1993)







Powers/Abilities: The viral swarm can apparently consume all forms of matter and energy, including magical energy. It may be that it requires human hosts to exist in an Earth-like atmosphere/reality, or it may be that it just chose to do so. It can merge parts of itself with humans (and presumably other life forms), consuming those being's life forces, controlling their forms, and granting each host some degree of superhuman power. Apparently each host can only adapt one power.
    In addition to draining human life, the swarm can also rejuvenate life, restoring aged people to their youth. Such transformations appear to be only temporary.

Traits: The viral swarm will make every effort to consume anything with which it comes into contact. It may be that when they took human hosts, their hunger was tempered sufficiently by human personality to conceive of the Second Chance Institute.

("Rise of the Midnight Sons" storyline - BTS / Secret Defenders#3 (fb)) - The arrival of Lilith and the Lilin in the Earthly plane weakened the interdimensional barriers.

(Secret Defenders#3 (fb)) - One plane affected by the weakening of the barriers was composed of mostly empty space where a great viral swarm was the dominant life form. Operating with a single intelligence, it had long ago stripped that cosmos of other life. Desperate for new energy, the swarm smashed through the ruptured barrier, arriving on Earth-616. Accessing a point in space located in a basement populated by a group of homeless people in Phoenix, Arizona, choosing four human hosts at random (including Willie and Lester); a fifth host was Maggie, a younger female whose inner bitterness called out to the swarm, and Maggie and the swarm merged to become Macabre, while the other four merged with other aspects of the swarm to become Decimator, Dreadlox, Stasis, and Tokamak.
    After draining the life force from one of the homeless, Macabre came to the conclusion that they could use the others as minions to bring human victims to them in order to avoid directly exposing their own actions. Macabre made a deal with some of the elderly homeless, restoring their youth in exchange for their service, in which they would promise restored youth to others. To this end they created the Second Chance Institute.



(Secret Defenders#1) - Sensing a vague threat in Phoenix, but otherwise occupied, Strange summoned a group of his Secret Defenders to oppose the threat. In Phoenix, they quickly discovered the existence of younger people suddenly aging to adulthood and even dying. Investigating, Spider-Woman and Wolverine, they were attacked Decimator and Tokamak. After defeating those two they were confronted by Dreadlox.

(Secret Defenders#2) - Decimator and Tokamak revived while Dreadlox fought off the two heroes, but the three villains escaped as the police approached. Darkhawk, in his human form, infiltrated the Second Chance Institute, but was captured by the humanoid swarm members. Nomad, Spider-Woman, and Wolverine later broke into the Institute and knocked out Dreadlox, but they were forced to stand down when Macabre threatened the humans there.

(Secret Defenders#3) - Tokamak incapacitated the heroes as they debated their next move, and they were imprisoned within an energy field. While Macabre taunted the heroes with her origins and plans, Darkhawk broke free and attacked the villains, while Dr. Strange arrived and lent his aid (limited, due to having recently lost the power of his mystic benefactors). The other three heroes were freed, leading to a direct confrontation between the two groups. Macabre then transformed the swarm back into its pure and primal form, intending to destroy and absorb the Secret Defenders to increase its power. The other four heroes then joined their life forces with Strange, enabling Strange to banish the swarm back to its realm and seal the dimensional barrier behind it.

COMMENTS: Created by Roy Thomas, Andre Coates, and Don Hudson.

Tokamak is a type of nuclear reactor. You can Google it for more info if you want it.

Thanks to Brandon Nash for pointing out the real identities of the hosts and Wilhemina's last name from the Zusommin's profile in Defenders: Strange Heroes (2012).

Profile by Snood.

The viral swarm has no known connection to:

The Second Chance Institute has no known connection to:

Dreadlox has no known connection to:


(Lachlan Carroll)

    Alongside Tokamak, he assaulted Wolverine and Spider-Woman when they began investigating the Second Chance Institute, but was defeated by Wolverine, who dropped a brick wall on him.


    Decimator is large and strong (Superhuman Class 10-25), with some degree of superhuman durability.


--Secret Defenders#1 (3(fb), 1-3










(Estelle Hawkins)

    She held off Wolverine and Spider-Woman while Decimator and Tokamak recovered. Her powers were considered a potent threat by the Secret Defenders, who made every effort to incapacitate her at the start of any conflict.


    She can cause others to believe their worst nightmares are coming true. Her assaults are sufficient to incapacitate most foes.


--Secret Defenders#1 (3(fb), 1-3









(Maggie Langella)

    The leader of the group, she possessed the bitter young Maggie. When Wolverine began to tear her physical form to shreds, she transformed herself and her allies back into the viral swarm to consume their foes.


    She can drain the life of others on contact.


--Secret Defenders#2 (3(fb), 1 - BTS, 2, 3



(Lester Selkirk)

    He discovered Chris Powell (Darkhawk's host) when he attempted to infiltrate the Second Chance Institute; he surprised Powell by easily taking his strongest punch and then swatting him aside.


    Stasis represents the state of equilibrium at which two forces balance each other out, so that he can automatically absorb any force hurled against him and return that exact amount.


--Secret Defenders#2 (3(fb), 1 - BTS, 2, 3





(Willie Tamm)

    Alongside Decimator, he assaulted Wolverine and Spider-Woman when they began investigating the Second Chance Institute, but was defeated by Spider-Woman, who bound him in a psionic web.


    He could generate and release large amounts of energy, especially electricity, and he gives off a blinding light. One cannot touch him without risking electrocution.


--Secret Defenders#1 (3(fb), 1-3









Secret Defenders#1, p24, panel 1 (Decimator)
    p30, panel 1 (Dreadlox, body)
Secret Defenders#2, p6 (Dreadlox, face)
    p24, panel 3 (Macabre, face)
    p25, panel 1+3 (Stasis, body and face)
Secret Defenders#3, p3 (Decimator)
   p8, pan2 (vagrant hosts, left to right Tamm, Carroll, unidentified, Hawkins, Selkirk, unidentified, Langella)
    p10, panel 2 (viral swarm, true form)
    p12, panel 4 (swarm team)

Secret Defenders#1-3 (March-May, 1993) - Roy Thomas (writer), Andrew Coates (pencils), Don Hudson (inks), Mike Rockwitz (editor)

Last updated: 09/03/16.

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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