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Real Name: Tobias Messenger

Identity/Class: Human mutant (1859, World War I, World War II, post-World War II, pre-modern to modern era)

Occupation: Would be savior of Homo Superior

Group Membership: The Promise (Gene Bitner, Tad Carter, Craig Farnsworth, Simon Lestron, Lucy Robinson, Ernest Scope, Gracie Smith)

Affiliations: Unrevealed

Enemies: X-Men (Angel/Warren Worthington III, Beast/Henry "Hank" McCoy, Cyclops/Scott Summers, Havok/Alex Summers, Iceman/Bobby Drake, Marvel Girl/Jean Grey, Polaris/Lorna Dane)

Known Relatives: None

Aliases: None

Base of Operations: Promise Headquarters (located underneath Messenger Mansion on the outskirts of New York)

First Appearance: Amazing Adult Fantasy#14 (July, 1962)

Powers/Abilities: Tobias Messenger was a powerful, self taught telepath who could seek out, monitor and contact other minds over great distances. He could project a mental image of himself and presumably use his telepathic abilities to influence others though he had little success with those trained to defend against such intrusions. Messenger was also a gifted inventor, using Deviant technology to build stasis pods he and other members of the Promise used. Born both deaf and mute, Messenger never learned to speak or adjust the volume of his telepathic "voice", shouting his thoughts at an uncomfortable level. Already advanced in years, Messenger used a cane and wasn't in the best of physical health.

Height: 6'5" (by approximation)
Weight: 140 lbs. (by approximation)
Eyes: Blue
Hair: White


(X-Men: The Hidden Years#19 (fb) - Born into a wealthy family in 1859, Tobias Messenger grew up deaf and mute. Because of his disabilties, the first 19 years of his life were spent in what he himself described as a "prison of silence". When he was 19, his telepathic abilities manifested themselves and Messenger learned to communicate by reaching out telepathically to those around him. Realizing he was different, Tobias grew determined to find others like himself. By the time he was thirty, he set off for a global search that lasted twenty years. When he turned 50, around 1909, he had gathered a small band of mutants whose abilities were modest but still potent enough to make a difference. Combining their powers, they took an active hand in World War I, years before the United States officially got involved. Messenger's mutants helped shorten what might have been a much longer conflict.

(X-Men: The Hidden Years#19 (fb) - BTS) - Between the end of the Great War and Messenger's 60th birthday in 1919, death and attrition had taken its toll and Tobias found himself without any of his former allies. He then stumbled across a vast network of tunnels containing left over advanced technology just outside of New York. Messenger built his estate over them and used the technology to create his first suspended animation chamber.

(X-Men: The Hidden Years#19 (fb) ) - Convinced a brutal, bloody confrontation between humans and mutants was just a matter of time, Messenger decided not to become a victim of circumstance and act. Coming up with the idea of going into suspended animation to wait out the inevitable destruction of civilization so he could help rebuild it afterwards, Tobias planned to come out of hibernation for a week every decade to check on the world and to seek out new mutants he could enlist in his cause. During these weeks of consciousness, he built extra stasis pods for potential new recruits, as well as circuitry that collected information about the outside world and transmitted it to the people inside the sleeper units.

(Yellow Claw#2 - BTS) - After the Yellow Claw hypnotized the powerful mutants Gene Bitner, Craig Farnsworth and Simon Lestron in a failed attempt to create chaos in the US back in 1956, Tobias Messenger contacted them in the aftermath to offer the trio membership in the Promise.

(Amazing Adult Fantasy#14) - Messenger sensed the growing mental abilities of the young mutant teen Tad Carter. He telepathically contacted Tad, even jumpstarting Carter's power of flight as he guided him towards the Promise headquarters where the young man joined up.

(X-Men: The Hidden Years#19 (fb) ) - After Tad joined the Promise, four other ten year cycles went by. During the few weeks the Promise members were awake, they recruited a number of new mutants. One of them was housewife Lucy Robinson, whose powers caused people to carry out even her slightest suggestion as if it was a direct order. Another was Gracie Smith, a telepath who could also drain people's life force with a touch.

(X-Men: The Hidden Years#21 (fb) - BTS) - While travelling the world looking for mutants following his involvement in a military conflict in Asia, Charles Xavier frequently heard Messenger's name mentioned, as well as his search for others with extraordinairy abilities.

(X-Men: The Hidden Years#15 - BTS) - Waking up in the modern era after the next ten year interval, Messenger learned of the existence of the X-Men, Professor Xavier and Magneto and his Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Displeased by this new status quo, he nonetheless located Polaris (Lorna Dane) and sent Tad Carter out to see if she was suited to be a potential recruit. Tad, with a little mental assistance from the others, managed to charm Lorna when they "accidentally" bumped into each other in Salem Center.

(X-Men: The Hidden Years#17) - A day after he made initial contact with Lorna, Tad Carter complained to Tobias and the other Promise members that they should really make their next move. Messenger told him to be patient, after all the plans they had for Polaris required very specific timing. Messenger later broke up an argument between Tad and Simon on whether or not Carter had fallen for their prospective new recruit. Messenger made it very clear that any such feeling should in no way affect what they had planned for her.

(X-Men: The Hidden Years#17 - BTS) - Using a telepathic summons, Messenger forced Polaris to fly off and join him and the other Promise members at his headquarters.

(X-Men: The Hidden Years#18 - BTS) - En route to Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters, Angel spotted the catatonic Polaris floating towards New York. Unable to stop her, Angel called in the other X-Men.

(X-Men: The Hidden Years#18) - Lorna regained control of her faculties in the underground headquarters of the Promise. Initially shocked to "hear" Messenger's uncomfortably loud voice, she soon listened to the group's history and pitch about surviving the imminent armageddon and helping rebuild the world for mutants.     

(X-Men: The Hidden Years#18 - BTS) - Aware of the X-Men's approach, Tobias secretly ordered Promise members Gracie and Craig Farnsworth to fight them off. Using their powers of telepathy, illusion casting and life force draining, they were able to beat the entire team.

(X-Men: The Hidden Years#18) - Leaving Lorna alone for a while to mull over her decision, Messenger and the other Promise members reviewed the captured X-Men. Using their telepathy, they tried to decide which one of Xavier's students was most worthy of joining. Judging that Beast was by far the smartest, Messenger briefly entertained picking Cyclops because of his enviable gift for tactics. Eventually, Lucy Robinson suggested they picked Angel, because of his beauty. Messenger silenced Simon's smart response, claiming Lucy was yet another Promise member to fall in love with the X-Men. He nevertheless agreed to have both Havok and Angel join them as the Promise's preparations to return to suspended animation commenced. The Promise planned to awaken "at the dawn of a new century."

(X-Men: The Hidden Years#19 - BTS) - After their defeat, Tobias had the remaining X-Men dropped off in a special chamber inside one of the tunnels underneath his house. The room was surrounded by a neutralizing field that made telepathic detection quite impossible. However, Messenger was unaware his activities inside the tunnels were being monitored by the Mole Man who spotted his old enemies the X-Men and decided to head out and face them before they could strike at him.

(X-Men: The Hidden Years#19) - Messenger appeared to the trapped X-Men in his telepathic form, briefly recounting his origins and the purpose of the Promise. He then told them the Promise had become aware of the X-Men and the Brotherhood. Before leaving them trapped with sufficient food and shelter, Messenger admitted he regretted not being able to add all of them as new Promise members, citing Charles' indoctrination as the reason they now were fearful and suspicious of any mutants who do not follow Xavier's own narrow precepts. Breaking off contact, Messenger informed the others that the X-Men were a lost cause. They all then entered their respective stasis tubes ready for another decade in suspended animation.

(X-Men: The Hidden Years#19 - BTS) - Secretly hating Messenger for having lured her away from her family close to 30 years ago, Lucy Robinson rigged her and Angel's stasis capsules to automatically release them briefly after all of them had been activated. She then forced the groggy Angel to escort her back to her family.

(X-Men: The Hidden Years#21 - BTS) - Angel eventually regained control of his own mind and dragged Lucy back to the Promise's headquarters to free Polaris and Havok. Unsure how to release them without killing everyone in the process, Angel was relieved to receive telepathic guidance from Professor Xavier. However, they were still unable to do anything but react when they realized the Promise had removed Havok's costume that helped control his solar plasma powers. Havok's mutant powers soon overloaded, resulting in an explosion that freed him from his pod, but also critically damaged Polaris' tube.

(X-Men: The Hidden Years#21 (fb) - BTS) - Without anyone noticing, Lucy used her mutant mind control powers to convince Messenger he was better off dead.

(X-Men: The Hidden Years#22) - After Polaris had been saved, the X-Men decided to wake up the remaining Promise members. They were all stunned to find Messenger died inside his tube, even though his most recent bio-stats showed he was in fine health. When asked if she noticed anything unusual, Lucy Robinson claimed she had seen no such thing. Following Messenger's death, the Promise disbanded. The individual members went their seperate ways, now convinced Messenger's approach didn't work. Before she left, Robinson went to see Messenger's body, berating him for not sufficiently having thought through his plans or the sacrifices he required of his recruits. As she left him, Lucy mentioned she might be able to use her powers to help nudge people in the right direction, saying right now he of all people should know how irresistible she can be when making a suggestion.

Comments: Created by Stan Lee (writer), Steve Ditko (pencils & inks), John Byrne (name giver)

As much as I love John Byrne's attempts to revitalize some of Marvel's dodgier pre-Silver Age concepts, the whole idea behind the Promise doesn't make that much sense. What's Messenger's sales pitch, really? "Hey, I'm pretty sure the world will end in a few decades... Do you want to leave everyone you know and love to join me in waiting out the apocalypse that would have occured tens of years after you'd have been dead anyway? No? What if I throw in this set of Ginsu knives?"

Also: Why does Messenger believe that post apocalypse the Promise would be welcomed as heroes? Consider what they are: Relics from bygone eras who refused to do their part in preventing the onslaught and contently snoozed away the years inside their comfy stasis tubes while the world above them went to pot. Are they supposed to lead the survivors into a *new* era? Come on now...

As for Messenger himself, it always tickled me the man was born in 1859, one of the first of his kind and unable to reconnect. Making him both deaf and a mute doesn't make too much sense however considering the times he lived in. How would the people around him have reacted when he suddenly started yelling inside their heads without moving his lips? They'd probably have thought him possessed, possibly even a witch or a demon and have dealt with him accordingly.

Profile by Norvo.

Tobias Messenger has no known connections to:

images: (without ads)
X-Men: The Hidden Years I#18, p5, pan1 (main image, white-haired man)
X-Men: The Hidden Years I#19, p9, pan2 (closeup)
X-Men: The Hidden Years I#19, p8, pan2 (as young man)
X-Men: The Hidden Years I#19, p8, pan5 (first suspended animation chamber)
Amazing Adult Fantasy I#14/2, p6, pan1 (contacts Tad Carter)
X-Men: The Hidden Years I#19, p7, pans 3&4 (contacts the X-Men telepathically)

Amazing Adult Fantasy#14 (July, 1962) -
Stan Lee (writer, editor), Steve Ditko (pencils & inks) 
X-Men: The Hidden Years I#17 (April 2001) - John Byrne (writer, pencils), Tom Palmer (inks), Jason Leibig (editor)
X-Men: The Hidden Years#18 (May, 2001) - John Byrne (writer, pencils), Tom Palmer (inks), Jason Leibig (editor)
X-Men: The Hidden Years#19 (June, 2001) - John Byrne (writer, pencils), Tom Palmer (inks), Jason Leibig (editor)
X-Men: The Hidden Years#22 (September, 2001) - John Byrne (writer, pencils), Tom Palmer (inks), Jason Leibig (editor)

First Posted: 06/11/2014
Last updated: 02/15/2022

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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