Real Name: Unrevealed
Identity/Class: Human mutant
Occupation: Horseman of Pestilence;
formerly bag lady
Group Membership: Horsemen of Apocalypse (Death/Warren Worthington III, Famine/Autumn Rolfson, War/Abraham Kieros); formerly Morlocks (Annalee, Ape, Beautiful Dreamer, Berzeker, Blowhard, Caliban, Callisto, Cybelle, Erg, Healer, Leech, Masque, Piper, Scaleface, Sunder, Tar Baby, Tommy, Zeek and unrevealed others)
Affiliations: Apocalypse (En Sabah Nur)
Enemies: Marauders (Arclight/Philippa Sontag, Blockbuster/Michael Baer, Harpoon/Kodiak Noatak, Malice, Prism/Robbie, Riptide/Janos Questad, Sabretooth/Victor Creed, Scalphunter/John Greycrow, Scrambler/Kim Il Sung, Vertigo), Power Pack (Energizer/Katie Power, Gee/Alex Power, Lightspeed/Julie Power, Mass Master/Jack Power), X-Factor (Beast/Hank McCoy, Cyclops/Scott Summers, Iceman/Bobby Drake, Marvel Girl/Jean Grey), X-Men (Angel/Warren Worthington III, Ariel/Kitty Pride, Colossus/Piotr Rasputin, Nightcrawler/Kurt Wagner, Storm/Ororo Munroe)
Known Relatives: None
Aliases: Plague (former Morlock codename),
"Granny" (nickname used by Harpoon)
Base of Operations: Unrevealed;
formerly Apocalypse's Celestial Ship
formerly The Alley, Morlock tunnels, Manhattan, New York
First Appearance: Uncanny X-Men I#169 (May, 1983)
Powers/Abilities: The mutant known as Plague
originally had powers that allowed her to transform any disease, even
one as innocuous as the common cold, and turn it into a far more lethal
affliction she could spread by touch. Her powers were so potent, she
could even affect people who were intangible, claiming that a single
molecule was all it took for her powers to take hold. She could remove
the illnesses she had generated with a single touch. She was immune to
all known infections, viruses and other illnesses. As Pestilence, her
powers were enhanced by Apocalypse using Celestial technology. She was
now able to spread her contagions without any actual physical contact.
The exact limits of her abilities have never been revealed.
(Uncanny X-Men I#169 (fb) - BTS) - Through unrevealed circumstances, the mutant who became known as Plague was cast out of regular society. She eventually found and joined the Morlocks, an underground mutant community living in the sewer tunnels of New York City. She befriended most of the Morlocks' inner circle, regularly spending time with Callisto, Masque and Sunder.
(X-Factor I#19 (fb) - BTS) - Her fellow Morlocks feared
Plague's powers, and discouraged her to use them.
(Uncanny X-Men I#169 - BTS) - Plague remained in the sewers with Callisto when the Morlocks' leader sent out Sunder and some underlings to capture Angel (Warren Worthington III) who she planned to marry. Even though Sunder succeeded in retrieving the winged mutant, Warren's girlfriend Candy Southern called the X-Men for help. While Plague assisted Callisto with the preparations for the marriage, the X-Men (Ariel, Colossus, Nightcrawler and Storm) entered the sewers, equipped with a mini-Cerebro attuned to Angel's brainwaves. Using the device as a guide, the team eventually made their way into the Morlock tunnels where they were almost instantly besieged by hordes of sewer dwellers.
(Uncanny X-Men I#169) - Sunder, Callisto, Plague and
Masque looked on from a distance while the X-Men struggled to deal with
the Morlocks. They were discovered by Ariel (Kitty Pryde) who in turn
was spotted by Callisto who picked up the young girl's scent. Callisto
ordered Plague to deal with her, but the old woman's hand went right
through Kitty (though it did infect
her). Not wanting their enemy to get away, Sunder unthinkingly
ripped apart the wall she was phasing through. Kitty escaped anyway, but
Callisto assured her second-in-command that if only a single molecule of
Plague's disease remained by the time she turned solid, she'd be as good as
(Uncanny X-Men I#169 - BTS) - Kitty, seperated from the others and deadly ill due to Plague's touch, was found in the sewers by Caliban, who brought her to his place to recover. During her stay, Kitty pleaded with Caliban to help her and the X-Men, even promising to stay with him forever if he made sure her teammates would be safe. Storm, Colossus and Nightcrawler eventually beat back the Morlocks and made their way into the Alley, where they were surprised to find Angel half-naked and tied to a velvet cross, with Callisto sadistically having her way with him. When the three mutants threatened to intervene, Callisto sent Sunder and the other Morlocks under her command to deal with them. The X-Men were overwhelmed, defeated and bound before the altar Callisto planned to use for her wedding ceremony.
(Uncanny X-Men I#170) - Plague stood next to the captured X-Men when the wedding ceremony began. The mutants became furious when Callisto humiliated their teammate, with Nightcrawler and Colossus escaping their bonds and attacking, aided by Storm who summoned lightning in their defense. Plague intervened, touching the X-Men's leader and threatening to kill her with a second touch if they didn't stand down. Appropriately intimidated, Colossus and Nightcrawler backed down and were tied up again.
(Uncanny X-Men I#170 - BTS) - Kitty Pryde's illness increased to the point Caliban was forced to take her to Plague and force the old woman to restore the girl to health. Caliban carried the unconscious Kitty to the Alley.
(Uncanny X-Men I#170) - Arriving in time to interrupt the wedding ceremony, Caliban begged Callisto to save the sprite-child. Seeing their teammate caused Colossus and Nightcrawler to once again escape their bonds, with Colossus threatening the Morlocks he'd bring down the tunnel on their misbegotten heads if she died. When Callisto refused to let any of them go, Caliban revealed the only way to freedom was by challenging Callisto as leader of the Morlocks. Sunder and the other Morlocks looked on as Storm accepted the challenge and went forth to confront Callisto, eventually stabbing and overpowering her. Plague was forced to obey Storm's commands and cured Kitty of the illness.
(X-Factor I#10) - When the Marauders attacked the Morlocks in the Alley, Plague found herself cornered by Sabretooth and Harpoon. The feral Marauder ordered his Inuit teammate not to get involved, eager to have a solo kill. However, Plague was not intimidated by the supervillains and used her powers to take out Sabretooth with a single touch. Unaware of his healing factor, Plague figured he was dead. Harpoon was ready to jump in, preparing to strike Plague from a distance with his energy lances. She was saved by the arrival of Apocalypse, who knocked the Marauder out. He then approached Plague, announcing he felt she was worthy, inviting Plague to become Pestilence, the first Horseman of Apocalypse. Plague was a little wary, asking: "You sure you know what you're doin', sonny?". En Sabah Nur assured her that he knew, since he was ancient when she was young. They then teleported away, while Sabretooth recovered from Plague's touch, realizing she very nearly killed him.
(X-Factor I#15 - BTS) - Apocalypse used the technologies of the Celestials to transform Plague from a Morlock into his servant Pestilence. She also met two of his other recruits, paralyzed veteran Abraham Kieros who became War and the anorexic mutant teen Autumn Rolfson who adopted the Famine identity.
(X-Factor I#15) - Apocalypse's Celestial ship hovered over Manhattan, rendered invisible thanks to Space God technology. Apocalypse summoned Pestilence and the others, telling them the time was ripe to pluck their fourth member.
(X-Factor I#15 - BTS) - Apocalypse secretly abducted Warren Worthington, who had become traumatized in recent times after losing his wings following a fight with the Marauders.
(X-Factor I#17) - Pestilence and the other Horsemen watched Warren on board Apocalypse's Celestial Ship. Famine wasn't too impressed with this latest recruit, commenting that he looked like a drowned cat. Apocalypse shot back that appearances can be deceiving, after all not many would see an instrument of destruction in her when she was still a skinny teen. But Apocalypse did and he now saw similar potential in Worthington.
(X-Factor I#19) - Encouraged by Apocalypse, Pestilence broke up a petty fight between her fellow Horsemen War and Famine, using her powers to incapacitate them. Not eager to have half of his underlings die, Apocalypse injected them with the antidote. He then sent them to face off against X-Factor, while he continued work on the fourth Horseman, Death. The three Horsemen mounted their flying horses and attacked X-Factor. Marvel Girl found that her telekinesis couldn't affect their mounts, but Iceman's ice balls were able to disable the mechanical horse of War. However, Pestilence kept coming, proving as impervious to Cyclops' blasts as she was to Jean Grey's telekinesis. She swooped down and touched Beast, infecting him with a plague that took him out immediately. Pestilence readied herself for another pass, but was dismounted when Jean uprooted a tree and hit her with it. Pestilence hit the ground hard, but got up and attacked spectators foolish enough to approach her. Iceman was then ordered to freeze Pestilence and the other two Horsemen. He complied but moments after that, all the Horsemen were teleported back to Apocalypse, who figured this encounter had taught his underlings the benefits of teamwork far better than he'd ever could. Soon, with the fourth and final Horseman joining them, they'd try again.
(X-Factor I#21) - Apocalypse and his Horsemen, including Death, watched from the undetectable Celestial ship how X-Factor's former public relations manager Cameron Hodge openly denounced mutants on live television. Apocalypse was delighted, calling Hodge a human of rare conviction, narrow passions and poisonous hatred... all in all an adversary worthy to test the strength of mutantkind.
(X-Factor I#22) - Pestilence, Famine and War attended the first full test of Death's capabilities since the construction of his new wings had been completed. Pestilence and the others weren't too impressed at first, figuring that wings merely meant he could fly, which is what they all could do on their beasts in addition to their actual powers. Just then, Death took wing and destroyed the obstacle course Apocalypse had set out for him within seconds. En Sabah Nur was more than satisfied, though the other horsemen were visibly taken aback by Death's destructive potential.
(X-Factor I#23) - Apocalypse monitored X-Factor's struggle against Cameron Hodge and the Right, realizing that while the anti-mutant group was indirectly serving his goals by testing the mutants' mettle, they might inadvertently end up killing them. He then turned his attention to another matter: in order to determine who of his four horsemen would be allowed to lead the group, he had them fight each other. Within moments, Pestilence, War and Famine were overcome and defeated by Death who used his strength, speed and techno-organic wings to achieve victory. Death fired a barrage of razor sharp knives from his wings that nailed Pestilence to a wall, making it impossible for her to touch him. Pleased, Apocalypse announced Death was the horsemen's new leader. Not too long after that match, Apocalypse decided it was time to make his move: he ordered his horsemen to stand ready for X-Factor's true testing. He then used Celestial technology to kidnap the mutants, including Caliban, teleporting them to his Celestial Ship.
(X-Factor I#24) - The members of X-Factor were surprised to suddenly find themselves in unfamiliar surroundings. Apocalypse showed himself to offer insights on their present location, as well as a brief account of his origin, before attacking X-Factor. Following a brief, violent battle Apocalypse ended the confrontation by officially introducing Pestilence, War and Famine who donned their golden masks and attacked. X-Factor first managed to beat War, while Apocalypse observed and commented that it was a natural cycle. Then, Famine tried to defeat Iceman only to wind up flash frozen. Pestilence finally faced Beast, surprised he had survived their previous encounter. Beast managed to knock out Pestilence from a distance, using a piece of pillar he had broken off. But the team was ill prepared for the arrival of Death, who they almost immediately recognized as their old teammate Warren. Death knocked X-Factor out with considerable ease. And, while the mutants were put in restraints aboard Apocalypse's ship, War and the other Horsemen readied themselves to begin the Apocalypse mandated culling of Manhattan.
(X-Factor I#25) - The helpless X-Factor team was forced to watch how Pestilence and the other Horsemen rained death and destruction on an unsuspecting Manhattan. Pestilence joyfully infected everyone she encountered as she made her way to the nearest subway entrance, eager to return to her previous home.
(X-Factor I#25 - BTS) - Beast managed to free X-Factor by disabling the belt buckle that kept Iceman's powers in check. Bobby instantly and rather inadvertently produced enough ice to free himself. After briefly fighting off Apocalypse, X-Factor escaped and started to pursue the Horsemen.
(Daredevil I#252) - The arrival of the Horsemen in Manhattan was noticed by a great number of New Yorkers. In Hell's Kitchen, Pestilence whizzed by and dealt a little death.
(X-Factor I#25) - Cyclops and Jean Grey followed the trail of disease ridden people that led to a subway station. However, they were unable to catch up with Pestilence who thanks to her mechanical beast had already gone too far underground.
(Power Pack I#35) - Pestilence cheerfully infected all the passengers stuck in the subway trains. She was spotted by Julie Power who tried to use her powers as Lightspeed to distract Pestilence. Even though the young girl managed to get Pestilence to crash headlong into a wall, she was still infected by her poisons.
(Power Pack I#35 - BTS) - Though considerably ill, Lightspeed eventually met up with the other Power Pack members who were trying to keep Manhattan safe. They used their shared powers to rid Julie of Pestilence's influence, they were soon forced to face her again when they aided X-Factor in opposing Apocalypse.
(X-Factor I#25 ~ Power Pack I#35) - Pestilence rejoined the fight after recovering from her subway tunnel crash. Riding her flying mount, she was ready to kill Cyclops and Jean Grey with her death touch. However, Power Pack member Molecula (Julie Power) came to their rescue and knocked Pestilence off her steed. Julie Power tried to save her, but the old woman's disease powers infected her again as soon as she touched Pestilence. Her concentration faltered, and she let go which meant Pestilence hit the ground hard and died soon afterwards. Jean Grey tried to console the Power Pack members who were mortified over having accidentally killed an old lady. Offering scant comfort, Jean mentioned that maybe, just maybe, Pestilence wanted to die and manipulated the pre-teens into making it happen.
Comments: Created by Chris Claremont (writer), Paul Smith (pencils), Bob Wiacek (inks).
Plague was in one of the first Dutch X-Men comics I ever
got my hands on as a child, so I've always had a bit of a soft spot for
the old lady even if I thought her name was pronounced 'Plaque', as in
She became Apocalypse's first modern era Horseman, starting the trend of En Sabah Nur picking the least likely candidates to serve as his tools of destruction. Speaking of destruction, did that fall really kill her? Surely, Horsemen are made from sterner stuff... I'd love to see her return someday.
Pestilence received profiles in Official Handbook of the
Marvel Universe I#7 & 9, Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe
II#9 and Marvel Encyclopedia: X-Men.
Profile by Norvo.
Pestilence should not be confused with
images: (without ads)
X-Factor I#25, p10, pan3 (main image)
Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe II#9, Morlocks entry (Plague)
Uncanny X-Men I#169, p19, pan4 (Plague touches Kitty)
X-Factor I#10, p18, pan6 (recruited by Apocalypse)
X-Factor I#15 p17, pan2 (Pestilence first outfit)
X-Factor I#19, p20, pan4 (Pestilence does crowd control)
X-Factor I#24 p8, pans9&10 (Pestilence transformed from Plague to Horseman)
Power Pack I#35 p16, pan6 (Pestilence death)
Uncanny X-Men I#169 (May, 1983) - Chris Claremont (writer), Paul Smith (pencils), Bob Wiacek (inks), Louise Jones (editor)
Uncanny X-Men I#170 (June, 1983) - Chris Claremont (writer), Paul Smith (pencils), Bob Wiacek (inks), Louise Jones (editor)
X-Factor I#10 (November, 1986) - Louise Simonson (writer), Walter Simonson (pencils), Bob Wiacek (inks), Bob Harras (editor)
X-Factor I#15 (April, 1987) - Louise Simonson (writer), Walter Simonson (pencils), Bob Wiacek (inks), Bob Harras (editor)
X-Factor I#17 (June, 1987) - Louise Simonson (writer), Walter Simonson (pencils), Bob Wiacek (inks), Bob Harras (editor)
X-Factor I#19 (August, 1987) - Louise Simonson (writer), Walter Simonson (pencils), Bob Wiacek (inks), Bob Harras (editor)
X-Factor I#21 (October, 1987) - Louise Simonson (writer), Walter Simonson (pencils), Bob Wiacek (inks), Bob Harras (editor)
X-Factor I#22 (November, 1987) - Louise Simonson (writer), Sal Buscema (pencils), Bob Wiacek (inks), Bob Harras (editor)
X-Factor I#23 (December, 1987) - Louise Simonson (writer), Walter Simonson (pencils), Bob Wiacek (inks), Bob Harras (editor)
X-Factor I#24 (January, 1988) - Louise Simonson (writer), Walter Simonson (pencils), Bob Wiacek (inks), Bob Harras (editor)
X-Factor I#25 (February, 1988) - Louise Simonson (writer), Walter Simonson (pencils), Bob Wiacek (inks), Bob Harras (editor)
Power Pack I#35 (February, 1988) - Louise Simonson (writer), Jon Bogdanova (pencils), Hilary Barta (inks), Carl Potts (editor)
Daredevil I#252 (March, 1988) - Ann Nocenti (writer), John Romita Jr. (pencils), Al Williamson (inks), Ralph Macchio (editor)
Last updated: 09/22/13
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
Non-Marvel Copyright info
All other characters mentioned or pictured are ™ and
© 1941-2099 Marvel Characters, Inc. All Rights Reserved. If you like
this stuff, you should check out the real thing!
Please visit The Marvel Official Site at: http://www.marvel.com
Special Thanks to www.g-mart.com for hosting the Appendix, Master List, etc.!
Back to Characters