RAVENS

Classification: Unrevealed

Location/Base of Operations: Earth

Known Members: Azure, Beryl, Cerise, Cobalt, Coral, Crimson, Ruby, 17 others unidentified

Enemies: Banshee, Colossus (Peter Rasputin), Forge, Charlotte Jones, X-Factor (Archangel/Warren Worthington, Beast/Hank McCoy, Cyclops/Scott Summers, Iceman/Bobby Drake, Marvel Girl/Jean Grey), Shana; numerous victim

Affiliations: None

Aliases: The Ravens refer to their collective as the Circle

First Appearance: X-Factor I#54 (May, 1990)

Powers/Abilities: Psychic vampires, the Ravens adopt human form, though their true forms are apparently a red mist-like substance. They feed off memory and distressed feelings, taking away horror and pain potentially until the victim has nothing left to give, in which case the victim perished, leaving behind only a skeleton. However, beings who had come to terms with past torments generally proved resistant if not immune to being fed upon by one of the Ravens. They can also just take memories non-lethally, such as stock market information they might use to maintain a wealthy life style; however, the feeding process can be very traumatic, causing a heart attack or something, particularly in unhealthy specimens. In addition to draining energy, they can also cause physical pain, or at least the sensation thereof. They can mentally control their victims, though beings with sufficient will can cast off their influence.

    In addition to their energy-vampire powers, they can levitate and/or fly, sometimes via generating energy wings. They can also teleport, transforming into mist or energy before vanishing and re-materializing elsewhere. Cobalt, at least, could make himself selectively tangible, physically assaulting one being while remaining immune to assaults (including telekinesis) from others.

    Like true vampires, they do not cast reflections in mirrors, nor can they be captured on film. They weaken in sunlight, but apparently can only be killed by decapitation at which point their killer must become their replacement. For whatever reason, the Ravens needed to maintain a membership of 24; if any members perished (breaking "the Circle"), they had to be replaced within 24 hours (by whoever slew them) or the rest of the group would die, as well, fading into nothing more than shadows and blowing away on the wind. A specific ritual was required to transform a human (or mutant) into a new Raven.

    The Ravens possess unspecified levels of superhuman strength - most victims cannot pull themselves away from a Raven's assault. They gain their victims' strength, adding it to their own. When Beast grabbed her around the neck from behind, Crimson swatted Beast away with a casual backhand slap.

    They often go out to bars and restaurants, though none of them ate food or drank liquids.

Traits: The Ravens were an ancient organization, living primarily for their own pleasure, usually derived by feeding off humanity's emotion. Six Ravens lived in New York -- knowing they courted discovery by flocking together thusly -- while the other 18 were scattered here and there, mostly in major cities. The Ravens all hated each other, but this hatred was part of what bound them together. Crimson was considered a flashy witch likely to bring trouble upon the group. Challenging each other to possess unique and/or powerful beings added excitement to their long and deadly lives. As a joke on their power, a plague on their house, and a reminder of what they are, the Ravens each keep elaborately framed photographs of themselves, which show nothing.

They considered themselves far above humanity, who they saw only as prey, entertainment, and sustenance.

Crimson noted their names being close to ravenous (very hungry) and ravening (predatory: living by preying on other animals especially by catching living prey), but whether either of these has anything to do with their names' origins.

History:
(X-Factor I#56 (fb) - BTS) - The circle of 24 Ravens remained complete for 200 years.

(X-Factor I#54 (fb) - BTS) - Crimson fed off of societies dregs -- "offal, runaways, bums, addicts. human refuse no one will miss."

(X-Factor I#54 (fb) - BTS) - As a snowstorm drove many homeless people into shelters and caused more police, Crimson found the pickings to be slim.

(X-Factor I#54) - Feeding on a painful memory of a homeless crackhead, Crimson consumed him fully, "healing him to death and burning with him," leaving behind a skeleton. Knowing about a party planned for the following night, she planned to feast on stronger souls then.
    The next night, at some sort of sculpture exhibit party (by Gerhard), Crimson attended, both attracting and frightening the other party-goers; X-Factor's Beast and Iceman attended as well, as did Colossus, then trapped in the Peter Nicholas persona following a trip through the Siege Perilous. Gerhard's agent, Frederik Spense, approached Crimson, claiming to have more of a tortured and refined soul than Gerhard and inviting her to examine it. When she noted herself to be a vampire (feeding on souls), much like him (feeding on talent), he decided it best to avoid her (she briefly sampled his spirit/emotions before his departure). She next touched Beast, calling up the memory of when he first grew fangs and fur; however, as he had faced the memory and its pain, it was too weak for her to use. When Beast realized what she had done and questioned her, she claimed it to have been a mistake, and then abruptly departed, realizing his intellect allowed him to suspect her true nature; nonetheless, she noted his mutant nature and hoped to feed on another. Seeing mutants as shining like beacons, she approached "Peter Nicholas," noting his currently lost, amnesiac state that made him a suitable target, she briefly touched his mind, influencing him to follow her to the roof. There she began feeding on him, but Beast, having observed their departure, followed them and interrupted the drain before Crimson could permanently drain Peter. Crimson swatted Beast away, noting how she was hungrier now than she had been in years, as contact with mutants had awakened a hunger she never knew existed. When Beast noted she wasn't human, she agreed and departed abruptly, teleporting away.
    Re-materializing a few buildings away, Crimson decided she was tired of being safe; bored with derelicts and their inane and repetitious miseries, she decided real and gallant misery, a warrior's soul, losses that twist the gut to remember, losses too terrible to forget. As if in response, she sensed Archangel flying above, delusional due to some cumulative hallucinogen exposure (during a recent battle with Sabretooth).

(X-Factor I#56) - At Manson's bar in lower Manhattan, a quintet of Ravens, including Azure and Coral, tasted the pain of a bar-goer named Shana, but after seeing her greatest pain was standing over her father's grave as a young child, they let her go, deciding she was worthless to and safe from them. Crimson then confronted the others, telling them of her encounter with mutants and how she planned to dominate Archangel; she further goaded Azure to feel Archangel's aura and pain, knowing he would try to take Archangel from her. Coral cautioned Crimson, noting that a taste for warriors gets into their blood and could mean be the death or her, or all of them. Azure countered that while warriors were a treat, they don't pay the bills; to illustrate his point, he fed on memories of a stock broker, but the trauma of the feeding (combined with the realization of what was happening to him) caused the man to have a heart attack and collapse. The man still lived, and while everyone else was distracted by his collapse, the Ravens teleported away, but Coral instructed Azure to follow the stockbroker to the hospital and finish him.
    Later, at Saint Vincent's hospital, Azure materialized in the stockbroker's room and began consuming his, taking delight in feeding on the man's anguish, but the man awakened and began screaming. The yells attracted the delusional Archangel, flying overhead, and he flew into the room and confronted Azure. Attempting to take Archangel for himself, Azure briefly enthralled him and began feeding on his memories, but Archangel's wings, reveling in the madness and acting out Archangel's subconscious (unconscious?) thoughts, suddenly slashed out, decapitating Azure. Separate flaming mist body and head collapsed to the ground, leaving scorch marks on the linoleum before fading away.


    Across the world, the 23 remaining Ravens felt Azure's ending in a rush of memories and rising lassitude. Some were pleased by Azure's departure and others distraught, but all were weakened and knew they had 24 hours to find Archangel and make him Azure's replacement. Crimson, however, planned to find and devour Archangel, using his strength to compensate for what she lost in the circle's shattering; she believed as the others faded away to nothingness, she would remain, alone and powerful.
    Soon after, as the still-delusional Archangel stopped some muggers, Crimson confronted him, airborne via energy wings and establishing a connection (via an energy hand) and leading him to follow her into the air. He recognized her as similar to but different from Azure, and she told him that while Azure was all hate and bitter anger, seeing only Archangel's power, she reveled in his beauty and pain. As she told him their souls cried out to each other, she stripped his memories from him, learning of his wings' history and the madness that came with them. She asked him to give her his pain and she would set him free of it forever.

(X-Factor I#56 (fb) - BTS) - Archangel apparently gave himself up to Crimson and fell under her influence.

(X-Factor I#56) - As Crimson flew Archangel's limp form over lower Manhattan, Officer Charlotte Jones saw them, pulled her gun, and ordered Crimson to drop him. Tasting Jones' aura, Crimson appreciated her strength; the rising sun weakened Crimson too much to permanently take Archangel or Jones, and so she teleported away. Within moments of Crimson's departure, Archangel shook off her influence, though he still remained delusional.

(X-Factor I#57 (fb) - BTS) - Crimson's contact awakened old memories within Archangel, causing him to relive the "good" days, before he lost his feathered wings.

(X-Factor I#56) - Returning to her Upper East Side apartment, Crimson planned to retake Archangel in the night, but six other Ravens then materialized in her apartment, noting how Archangel had earned his place among them by killing Azure. Crimson seemed to agree, telling them she would lead them to Archangel come sundown, but she secretly plotted to use both Archangel and Jones to kill the other Ravens.

 

 

 

 

 

(X-Factor I#57) - During the day, Crimson watched on TV as Archangel fought off an ambush by Right soldiers, though she was the only one who understood his current mental state. Shattering a mirror out of frustration at its inability to capture her reflection, she instead reflected on how she would lead the other Ravens to Archangel, and how they would capture him, but he would destroy them all.
    Still living in the past due to Crimson's influence, Archangel saw himself as the normally appearing Warren Worthington and attempted to go about his business, making bank withdrawals, etc.; confused by his appearance, most people thought he was making threats for money, robbing the banks, leading to conflicts with bank security. When the rest of X-Factor, joined by Banshee and Forge, tried to stop him, he sliced off Forge's bionic leg, though they slapped Forge's inhibitor device on Archangel before his departure.
    Weakened by the inhibitor, Archangel was easily captured by the Ravens when they confronted him en masse. Crimson allowed the others to believe that it was her power, not the inhibitor, that allowed them to overcome him. The Ravens rendered Archangel down to his essence and transported him away with them; Crimson made certain the inhibitor went with him/them. As observing police fired on the vanishing Ravens, the Ravens' energies gathered the bullets and dropped them back in front of the police (joined by the helpless X-Factor), telling them to hope the fate that awaited Archangel would never threaten one of them.

(X-Factor I#58 (fb) - BTS) - Jean Grey, despite being seemingly bereft of telepathic power at the time, linked with the Ravens telepathically and/or empathically and was overwhelmed by the terror of what they were. The Ravens were unaware of the contact and its implications.

(X-Factor I#58 (fb) - BTS) - The Ravens brought Archangel to an abandoned theater.

 

 

 

 

(X-Factor I#58) - Impressed with Archangel's energies, the other Ravens wondered why he allowed himself to be captured so easily. Crimson tried to take credit, as if it were her charms that held him in thrall, though Cobalt realized Archangel was addled. When a homeless man living in the theater applauded their performance, a group of Ravens consumed him, leaving only dust and skeleton, and they  noted how weak and boring he was...hardly worth the effort.
    As Banshee, Forge, and the rest of X-Factor tracked down Archangel (via Jean's psychic imprint), the Ravens bound him upside down to an inverted ankh in preparation for the ritual to make him one of them. Cobalt realized the inhibitor belt was not part of his costume, and Crimson offered to remove it, but Cobalt stopped her, realizing that its removal might pose a threat to him; Crimson secretly noted Cobalt's inability to see that a Raven with Archangel's power would be able to dominate the Circle. Cobalt instead sent Crimson to take Cerise and Beryl to find someone for Archangel to feast as part of their ritual, a person of spirit and mettle. Crimson led them to abduct Charlotte Jones from her apartment.
    With Charlotte trussed up before Archangel, the ceremony began: the Ravens chanted words in language so ancient they no longer had clear meaning; phrases of enchantment; invocations of power. Suspended by tendrils of light and darkness, Archangel's soul was permeated by the sounds and he began to chant along with them. The Ravens felt their powers rising as the hole in the Circle healed. Wielding the Ravens' power, Archangel was released from the ankh, intended to devour Charlotte to set the seal on the ritual. Archangel began to pull Charlotte's memories from her, but then Banshee, Forge, and the rest of X-Factor arrived; Iceman reminded the others that the Ravens were not human, and that Archangel had killed one via decapitation. The assaults distracted the other Ravens, while Crimson approached Archangel, intending to drain his power. As she began to do so, however, Charlotte Jones attempted to strangle Crimson (despite Charlotte's hands still being bound). Already strengthened by Archangel's power, Crimson easily stopped Charlotte, choking her instead. Struggling to remain conscious, Charlotte stretched to reach and pull the power inhibitor off Archangel. Crimson continued to drain both Charlotte and Archangel, Crimson claimed the maddened Archangel would not find his life worth fighting for, but Charlotte inspired him, telling him she couldn't die and leave her son alone. Unwilling to allow this, Archangel recovered his wits and decapitated Crimson with a slash of his wings, and she disintegrated.
    Cerise, Coral, and Ruby perished in battle at some point.
    Archangel collapsed, and the remaining Ravens began to take the advantage, draining the various mutants. Cobalt incapacitated Cyclops and cornered Marvel Girl, but she telekinetically snared the immense ankh and used it to crush Cobalt's head as she dove to the side. With Cobalt's destruction, the Circle of Power was shattered beyond repair; the Ravens imploded, dissolving into their true form of shrieking, noxious, living mist, which rose, trembling and twisting into the sky, shaken by a mighty gust of wind.
    Forge dug the poison pellet out of Archangel, facilitating his recovery.

Comments: Created by Louise Simonson, Marc Silvestri, and Al Milgrom.

    The Ravens had 24 members, and Crimson twice quoted "Four and twenty blackbirds" from the nursery rhyme.

Profile by Snood.

CLARIFICATIONS:
The Ravens have no known connections to:

 


 

Azure

    One of the New York based Ravens, Azure was present at Manson's bar in lower Manhattan alongside Coral and four others sampling the torments of other bar-goers when Crimson came in, bragging about her plans to possess Archangel; she further goaded Azure to feel Archangel's aura and pain, knowing he would try to take Archangel from her. Coral cautioned Crimson, noting that a taste for warriors gets into their blood and could mean be the death or her, or all of them. Azure countered that while warriors were a treat, they don't pay the bills; to illustrate his point, he fed on memories of a stock broker, but the trauma of the feeding (combined with the realization of what was happening to him) caused the man to have a heart attack and collapse. The man still lived, and while everyone else was distracted by his collapse, the Ravens teleported away, but Coral instructed Azure to follow the stockbroker to the hospital and finish him.
    Later, at Saint Vincent's hospital, Azure materialized in the stockbroker's room and began consuming his, taking delight in feeding on the man's anguish, but the man awakened and began screaming. The yells attracted the delusional Archangel, flying overhead, and he flew into the room and confronted Azure. Attempting to take Archangel for himself, Azure briefly enthralled him and began feeding on his memories, but Archangel's wings, reveling in the madness and acting out Archangel's subconscious (unconscious?) thoughts, suddenly slashed out, decapitating Azure. Separate flaming mist body and head collapsed to the ground, leaving scorch marks on the linoleum before fading away.

--X-Factor I#56

 

 


Beryl & Cerise

 

    Present during Archangel's capture, they accompanied Crimson in abducting Charlotte Jones. When X-Factor attacked, Cerise perished sometime before Cobalt, while Beryl apparently perished alongside all the others upon Cobalt's death.

 

--X-Factor I#57, (identified) #58

 

 


Cobalt

 

    He appeared to the Ravens' leader, and he led the process of transforming Archangel into a new Raven. He realized the inhibitor band wasn't part of Archangel's costume and refused to allow Crimson to remove it. When X-Factor attacked, he incapacitated Cyclops and then cornered Jean Grey, but she telekinetically snared the immense ankh and used it to crush Cobalt's head as she dove to the side. With Cobalt's destruction, the Circle of Power was shattered beyond repair; the remaining Ravens imploded.

 

--X-Factor I#57, (identified) #58; possibly seen in #56

 

    It's not clear to me whether Cobalt is one of those present at Manson's bar at the start of #56, and/or whether he's the last one seen in the "Ravens around the world" images after Azure's death.

 

 


Coral

    One of the New York based Ravens, Coral was present at Manson's bar in lower Manhattan alongside Azure and four others sampling the torments of other bar-goers when Crimson came in, bragging about her plans to possess Archangel. Coral cautioned Crimson, noting that a taste for warriors gets into their blood and could mean be the death or her, or all of them. After Azure fed on a stockbroker, who had a heart attack, Coral warned Azure that he needed to follow the broker to the hospital and finish him to eliminate him as a witness. Sensing Azure's subsequent death against at Archangel, Coral joined with the others in plotting to transform Archangel into a new Raven to complete their broken Circle of Power. She perished in the battle against the X-Men sometime prior to Cobalt's death.

--X-Factor I#56 (57-58

    It's not clear to me whether Coral was in either or both of the first two panels of the "Ravens around the world" images after Azure's death in #56. She also appeared to be one of the ones of confronting Crimson at her apartment at the end of #56, though it's not certain, either. The changing art in each of the 4 issues of this storyline made it had to be sure.

 

 


Crimson

    Residing in an apartment in Manhattan's Upper East Side, Crimson preyed on society's dregs. She was considered a flashy witch likely to bring trouble upon the group. While attending an art exhibit party, she encountered and tasted the essences of Beast (Hank McCoy) and Colossus (Peter Rasputin, who was then amnesiac and believed himself to be the non-powered Peter Nicholas); she attempted to drain the latter, but fled following being confronted by the former. Having acquired a taste for mutants and wishing to feast on a warrior in torment, she then sensed Archangel, at the time maddened by drugs implanted by Sabretooth in an earlier battle.

    Crimson's bragging to other Ravens about planning to acquire Archangel led to Azure attempting to do so and perishing. Crimson subsequently confronted the delusional Archangel and convinced him to surrender to her, but as daylight approached, she was confronted at gunpoint by Officer Charlotte Jones, and so she fled rather risk destruction. Returning to her apartment, she was confronted by Coral (?) and several other Ravens, and she agreed to lead them to Archangel; however, she intended to drain Archangel herself, hoping to gain the power to survive the other Ravens' demise (due to the breaking of the Circle of Power).

    Later, after Archangel's X-Factor teammates and a few allies used an inhibitor belt in a failed effort to capture and help Archangel, Crimson led the Ravens to capture Archangel, allowing the other Ravens to believe it was her influence, rather than the inhibitor, that allowed them to capture him so easily. Cobalt eventually realized the belt's involvement, and Crimson, with Cobalt's approval, led Beryl and Cerise to capture Jones for Archangel for him to feast upon to become a new Raven. When X-Factor and allies arrived, Crimson began to drain Archangel. Jones tried to stop her, and she caught Jones and began to choke her, but Jones tore off Archangel's inhibitor belt, and pleas for him to fight so her son wouldn't be left alone drove Archangel to fight off Crimson's will; he decapitated her with a wing, killing her.

--X-Factor I#54 ([54 (fb) - BTS], 54-57

 

 

 

 

 

 


Ruby

 

Not pictured. Just prior to Cobalt's death, she was one of the Ravens listed as having perished in battle with X-Factor.

--Possibly unidentified in X-Factor I#56; if not appearing there, she(?) should have been one of the unidentified Ravens seen en masse in X-Factor I#57;
X-Factor I#58 (name given, but not identified as any particular Raven)


images: (without ads)
X-Factor I#54, pg. 11, panel 2 & 3 (Crimson)
    #55, pg.1, panel 1 (Azure, Coral, three others)
        pg. 3, panel 6 (Coral, face)
    #57, 2nd to last page (Ravens en masse)
    #58, pg. 4, panel 1 (Cobalt),
        pg.8, panel 4 (Beryl, Crimson, Cerise


Other Appearances:
X-Factor I#54 (May, 1990) - Louise Simonson (writer), Marc Silvestri (penciler), Al Milgrom (inker), Bob Harras (editor)
X-Factor I#56 (July, 1990) - Louise Simonson (writer), Steve Carr (penciler), Al Milgrom (inker), Bob Harras (editor)
X-Factor I#57 (August, 1990) - Louise Simonson (writer), Andy Kubert (penciler), Al Milgrom (inker), Bob Harras (editor)
X-Factor I#58 (September, 1990) - Louise Simonson (writer), Jon Bogdanove (penciler), Al Milgrom (inker), Bob Harras (editor)


Last updated: 10/20/10

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