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Caliban (Joint Venture)
Caliban-JV
Real Name Caliban
Current Alias None
Alias(es) None
Relatives None known
Affiliation Morlocks
Base Of Operations Morlock Tunnels, New York City
Alignment Neutral
Universe Joint Venture Universe
Gender Male
Eyes Yellow sclera, black pupils, no visible iris
Hair None
Unusual Features Completely white skin, strangely-featured face, frail build
Caliban is a mutant, a sometimes-villain, sometimes-member of the X-Men and their associated satellite teams. This is the Joint Venture Universe version of the character.

History

The first Morlocks

Caliban's earliest memories are of rejection, of his father's face twisted in disgust as he turned his back on him, and of his mother's shadowed form receding rapidly as she hurled her infant son into the Hudson River. His unfortunate tale might have ended there, were it not for an old woman named Annalee.

Annalee, homeless and childless, took Caliban in, gave him his name, and did her best to give him an upbringing and an education in the sewers beneath Manhattan. The two of them stole and scrounged to survive, living off the refuse of New York City's teeming populace. To this day, Caliban is loathe to let food or clothing go to waste.

Caliban thought he was simply an ugly child when he was young, before something strange began to happen to him in his early teens: he became able to sense the presence of other outcasts, others like himself. At his impassioned behest and with his power, Annalee and Caliban gathered other children to them; a runaway teenage girl who called herself Callisto, a deformed, bitter man referring to himself only as Masque, and a behemothic child, huge and hideous, who called himself Sunder. A family of five now, these sewer-dwellers retreated from the world, going deeper and deeper into hiding under the feet of the ordinary citizens of Manhattan.

The Alley

Eventually, thanks to Callisto's superhuman senses, the five outcasts found a vast network of tunnels that ran for dozens of miles, not only beneath Manhattan, but underneath the entirety of New York City, and even beyond it, into the upstate region. It was ancient, sealed away from the world, but well-stocked enough to feed an entire city's populace for months. Caliban, Callisto, and Annalee conferred on this discovery, and reached a consensus: They would gather other outcasts, build a refuge down here, away from the hate and malice of the upper world. Annalee, ever a fan of the classics, came up with the name "Morlocks" for their new underdwelling society, and so they began to swell their ranks, using Caliban's powers to find and gather other outcasts and turn a small family into a whole city of underground refugees from all over New York. This underground network of tunnels eventually became referred to as 'the Alley', or more commonly, 'the Morlock Tunnels'.

An Offer Of Salvation, Rejected

Eventually, the Morlocks' safe haven was found out. When starting their school for mutants in Salem Center, Professor Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr discovered the Morlock Tunnels. After a lengthy debate, the two men, together with their friend Sean Cassidy, went to greet the Morlocks and offer them refuge at the school.

By this time, Annalee had grown old, and Callisto had become the leader of the Morlocks, while Caliban was content simply to continue to use his powers to find more prospective members. Xavier revealed the truth of Caliban's power -- that he was a mutant, as all the Morlocks were, and that his power to locate them might well extend into something far greater. Xavier's promise of a better future rang in Caliban's ears, giving the outcast hope that, indeed, the Morlocks might no longer need to live in darkness. Charles even bonded with Caliban psychically, showing the mutant the vast potential of his own powers, and the good he could do for the world with them.

Callisto remained distrustful, however, unable to accept the promise of change. Plague, an old woman who had come to the tunnels to serve as a sort of doctor thanks to her power over diseases, both causing and curing them, had become a trusted advisor to the Morlock leader, and she hated humanity with a passion. Between her hatred and Masque's bitterness, they had Callisto's ear, poisoning the woman who had already been badly abused as a girl against the upper world. The three of them hated everything "pretty", up to and including Xavier's promised utopia. Despite Caliban's best efforts, Callisto rallied the Morlocks, and they attacked Xavier, Magneto, and Banshee, forcing the three upworlder mutants to fight the people they had come to help just to survive.

Eventually, the battle reached a stalemate, as too many of the Morlocks had been injured to go on fighting, allowing the future founders of the X-Men to escape.

Kidnapping the Healer

Plague had come through unscathed, but all she could do was stave off infection; she could do nothing to treat the Morlocks' injuries themselves. Caliban, in desperate worry for his people, began to frantically search for another Morlock, a healer who could save them.

He found one, an old, retired doctor who had used his mutant healing powers along with modern medicine in his practice. However, the old man had no desire to go with Caliban to live as an sewer-dweller for the rest of his days. It took Annalee, and her power of hypnotic suggestion, to eventually pull the doctor out of his comfortable retired life and make him into the Morlock Healer. In the process, she erased the man's mind of everything he had been, convincing him that he had always been the Healer, and always been an outcast like the rest of the Morlocks. This decision initially incensed Caliban, but he relented when she convinced him that having a Healer among the Morlocks, saving so many lives, outweighed the importance of the doctor's own life. And he did save lives; not one of the Morlocks injured in the fight with Magneto, Banshee, and Xavier died, thanks to the Healer's power.

Today, Caliban continues to serve as the glue that holds the Morlocks together, using his powers not only to find new outcasts to bring into the Alley, but also to hide the Tunnels from prying psychic minds, not wanting a repeat of what happened with Xavier. He believes that someday Callisto will change her mind, but so long as Masque and Plague are filling her ears with hatred and bitterness, he does not see that day coming soon.

Powers

Caliban is a mutant with a variety of psychic and empathic powers.

Psychic X-Factor Detection: In a manner similar to Charles Xavier's Cerebro device, Caliban can psychically detect the presence of mutants in his immediate vicinity. This makes him an expert tracker, and a prime candidate for locating new members of the Morlocks. Typically, his range is 25 miles, but the more powerful a mutant is, the farther away he can detect their presence.

Psychic Masking: The flip side of his detection power, Caliban also has the power to mask mutants from psychic detection. After the mishap with the X-Men's founders in the Morlock Tunnels, Caliban is almost constantly projecting a psychic "dead zone" in the Alley beneath New York, hiding the sea of mutants from detection by telepathy or mutant detection devices. This is why, despite numerous attempts by Charles Xavier to locate the Morlocks again after their disastrous initial encounter, they remain undetected and hidden.

Empathy: Caliban has the ability to sense the emotions of other beings in his vicinity, mutant or otherwise.

Dark Empathic Shadow: Caliban can enhance the negative emotions of others -- fear, anger, sorrow, or grief -- turning a crowd into a panicking mob, a furious riot, or inducing mass depression. When he does this, his shadow often grows and expands to enormous levels.

Emotional Siphon: When faced with enough negative emotional energy, Caliban can also absorb it to enhance himself physically.

  • The fear of other beings gives Caliban superhuman strength and speed.
  • Other people's anger gives Caliban enhanced durability and resistance to harm.
  • Sorrow and despair make Caliban able to blend in with his surroundings, becoming virtually invisible.

Empathic Energy Blasts: Finally, Caliban can absorb negative emotional energy and convert it into powerful blasts of concussive energy that attack on a physical and psychic level.

Weaknesses

Frailty: Under normal circumstances, Caliban is physically weak and fragile. He prefers to avoid physical combat if at all possible due to this fragility.

Limited Intellect: Despite his perceptiveness and adaptability, Caliban's mental acuity is extremely limited. He possesses a roughly grade-school level of education, but he cannot articulate or express himself well, operating on a very childlike level most of the time.

Involuntary Powers: The nature of many of Caliban's powers being innately negative and harmful to others' emotional states runs directly counter to his peaceful, passive, ultimately gentle nature. Most of his empathic powers are involuntary, particularly the ones that deal in negativity; he will automatically enhance and feed off of the negative emotions of people he is around unless he is actively trying not to. This makes him something of an outcast even among his fellow Morlocks; of all the people he's met, only Annalee and Charles Xavier seem to be immune to his negative-emotional abilities, possibly due to their own psychic powers.

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