The Demon Bear is quite possibly one of the strangest adversaries the X-Men have had to face. Created from malevolent forces inflicted on the spirit and psychic worlds, the numerous Demon Bears the mutants have faced have always had a tragic history at their core. This article aims to examine each of the Demon Bears the various X-teams have faced and attempts to identify the similarities and differences between each.
Appearance and abilities
First Appearance: New Mutant (1st series) #3 (as a dream), #18 (in physical form)
All Appearances: New Mutant (1st series) #3, 18-20, X-Force (1st series) #99
Standing over 30 feet tall, the first Demon Bear encountered was a terrifyingly, imposing figure with large, razor-sharp claws and almost hypnotic blood-red eyes. It possessed an enhanced durability, able to sustain damage from arrows as well as numerous attacks from Magma, Sunspot and Wolfsbane. It did show a slight weakness to Magma’s fire, but its true downfall was Magik’s soul sword, which was able to destroy it completely.
The Demon Bear wasn’t really a bear at all; it was more of a prison for William and Peg Lonestar. Once their bodies and souls were trapped in the bear form, they were forced to do the bidding of an unseen master. Possessing magic of its own, the bear was able to pull people inside its own body, transporting them to its home dimension, which looked a lot like a pre-settler America. Once there, it was noted to be stronger, indicating a possible mystical link to the place. When it was injured, the bear was able to draw energies from the world around it to heal itself.
The Demon Bear was able to twist the bodies and souls of people to act as mindless servants. As well as having magical abilities bestowed upon them, the bear turned their bodies from Caucasian to Native American, a transformation which was never reversed, even after the bear was destroyed.
Even the bear’s shadow was supernatural, as wherever it fell was blanketed in absolute darkness and became as cold as winter. The effects was so severe that, when Sunspot fell into the shadow, he saw stars above him and his solar-based powers stopped working.
The second Demon Bear that Dani encountered was completely different in nature, as it was more of a memory given form. Aside from the physical similarity, this second Bear seemingly possessed none of the magical abilities that the first did. This was most likely due to it being created by a reality warp, as opposed to sorcery.
Many years before, when Danielle Moonstar was a child, her parents were seemingly attacked and killed by a mysterious demonic bear. Unbeknownst to Dani, who was probably too young to understand at the time, her parents were actually trapped in the form of the Demon Bear by an unknown adversary. It was the intention that Dani herself would also be consumed by the entity, but her grandfather William used his own sorcery to protect her. Whilst William was alive, the Demon Bear could not harm her directly, instead it was forced to stalk her dreams, menacingly. When Dani was a teenager William passed away, dropping the mystical blocks that were placed on the bear. By this time, Dani herself had manifested mutant powers and was enrolled in Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, far away from her homeland.
A few months after joining the school, Dani started experiencing vivid dreams and hallucinations of the Demon Bear. Instinctively, she knew that the thing that supposedly killed her parents was after her now. Reluctant to tell her classmates about it, she set off into the snowy night to confront the bear once and for all. Lying in wait for her on the school grounds, the bear attacked and, whilst Dani thought she had defeated it with an arrow in the mouth, the bear managed to brutally injure her. When Dani’s teammates, the New Mutants, found her, the bear fled and the girl was rushed to the nearest hospital. Wanting to finish the job, the Demon Bear followed and stalked the halls of the hospital as Dani lay on the emergency room table. Coming across Nurse Sharon Friedlander and policeman Tom Corsi, the bear attacked them, pulling their bodies inside itself.
The rest of the New Mutants soon became aware of the Demon Bear’s presence and quickly attacked, forcing the entity outside. Magik placed wards around Dani’s operating room to protect her, as the others took the bear on themselves. Realizing that the team was more than a match for it, the bear cast a spell and transported them to its home realm. Once there it was stronger, as it was able to use the energies from the land to power it further. Revealing that it had captured Sharon and Tom, the bear twisted their bodies and minds, forcing them to attack the New Mutants on its behalf.
The teenagers had their work cut out for them and they soon started taking casualties, as the bear and its minions grew stronger. The Demon Bear was finally destroyed when Magik attacked it with her soul sword, splitting the beast in two. The group was instantly transported back to the hospital, where they were shocked to discover that Dani’s parents were alive and well, having been freed from their prison. Whilst William and Peg knew who had imprisoned them all those years ago, they never told anyone else, adding more mystery to the whole situation. [New Mutants (1st series) #3, 18-20]
With the Demon Bear destroyed and her family back, Dani continued her studies at Xavier’s and eventually joined X-Force. It was here that she crossed paths with a reality warping woman named Arcadia, who accidentally used her powers on Dani. Whilst the situation was sorted out quickly, the two women became strangely linked, sharing each other’s memories and powers. Whilst Dani struggled with a new powerset, Arcadia started to have vivid, terrifying dreams of a bear. Even Dani herself thought she saw the Demon Bear for a moment whilst in the park but dismissed the notion, as she simply wanted to forget the saga.
Unfortunately for Dani, Arcadia’s incontrollable warping powers had created the Demon Bear in the middle of downtown San Francisco. Horrified by the appearance of her nemesis, Dani immediately attacked but quickly realized that something was amiss, as this version did not seem to have the same abilities and consciousness as the previous one. Both she and Arcadia were devoured by the bear but, once inside, they joined forces to try and destroy it. Finding the core of the Demon Bear, they discovered that it was made up of the energies that had been used to create it. By concentrating hard, the two women were able to reabsorb the energy back into themselves, causing the Demon Bear to dissipate once more. [X-Force (1st series) #99]
Appearance and abilities
First Appearance: X-Force (3rd series) #8
All Appearances: X-Force (3rd series) #8-10
The Demon Bear that Warpath encountered looked strikingly similar to the one Moonstar fought many years before. Standing approximately 50+ foot tall, this one was also armed with razor sharp claws that were able to slice a car in half. Also like Moonstar’s bear, this one acted as a prison of sorts, only this time it was the ancient spirit guides of Warpath’s Apache tribe that were locked inside.
Unlike Moonstar’s bear, this one did not show any magical abilities, only attacking those around it with its physical form. Nevertheless, it did seem to possess the ability to become invisible and intangible at will, allowing Warpath to pass right through it when the Apache attacked.
When the vampiric mutant Selene set her sights on becoming a true goddess, she needed the life-force of many mutants to do it. One of her followers, Eli Bard, decided to use a modified version of the techno-organic virus to resurrect the recently deceased Caliban, so he could use his powers to hunt out other mutants. Bard travelled to the graveyard of Warpath’s Apache tribe, where Caliban was buried, and used the virus to bring the mutant back to life, along with the rest of Warpath’s deceased family. The Apache spirit guides watching over the burial ground deemed the desecration of the bodies unholy and were furious, so Bard used sorcery to lock them away on the form of a Demon Bear. For some reason, a demonic dagger used in the ritual became stuck in the shoulder of the bear, causing it to go into a feral rage due to the pain.
Warpath himself was reeling from Caliban’s recent death and, after a traumatic mission with X-Force, decided to visit the grave of his friend. As he grew closer to the Apache reservation, Warpath’s car was destroyed by a mysterious force that sliced it in three. After recovering from the accident, Warpath continued and was shocked to see the Demon Bear, standing over the empty graves of his family. He immediately attacked but the bear was immensely powerful, able to withstand Warpath’s super-strength. Warpath would have been killed had the Ghost Rider not shown up and rescued him, having been nearby and sensed the Bear’s presence. After taking some time to understand what they were up against, the two men went back to the reservation and attacked the bear head on. Once again, brute strength did not work, as the bear was able to shrug off most attacks. It was Ghost Rider who realized the dagger in the bear’s shoulder was causing it pain, and so Warpath pulled it out, causing the Demon Bear to explode in a bright light. The Apache spirit guides erupted from the bear, free of the dark magic that had bound them within. [X-Force (3rd series) #8-10]
Appearance and abilities
First Appearance: Uncanny X-Force (2nd series) #5
All Appearances: Uncanny X-Force (2nd series) #5-6, 9-11, 13-15,
Unlike the previous two Demon Bears, the one Bishop encountered did not seem routed in magic at all, but was more of a psychic entity. Described as a Bull Revenant, the X-Men would know it by its more common name of a Mummundrai. According to Shi’ar belief, every being has a mirror counterpart that lives on another plane of existence and the Shi’ar gave these psychic creatures the name Mummundrai. It was never revealed of whom or what the Demon Bear was a counterpart or what differentiated it from regular Revenants.
When Bishop first encountered it, the Demon Bear looked very similar to the other ones, standing at over 30+ foot tall, with razor sharp claws, piercing red eyes and incredible strength. Later, as an ally of Psylocke, the bear shrunk down to the size of a regular grizzly bear, in which form it was also able to breath fire.
Unlike the others, it didn’t appear to be a prison for anything and conversely was able to be absorbed into the mind of others, such as Bishop and Psylocke. Once inside someone’s mind, it was able to act on its own accord, hiding within or attacking the host’s mindscape. When it entered Psylocke’s mind, it was able to leave it at will and enter the physical plane once more. Whilst the other bears seemingly possessed a consciousness, able to make decisions for their own, this bear seemed far more advanced. When it was first encountered, it was in a feral rage, but later it showed clear decision-making abilities with knowledge of consequences.
The former X-Man Bishop had been abandoned in the 68th century after betraying the X-Men. It was here he learned that an event called the Great Corruption had unleashed psychic-beings known as Revenants onto the physical plane. Most of humanity fell and those that remained fought against the Revenants in a deadly war. The Revenants were led by a woman called the White Owl, who just so happened to be Cassandra Nova, Professor Xavier’s revenant. Nova somehow got hold of a Demon Bear, known as a Bull Revenant, and co-opted it to her side. Bishop had joined up with the remaining humans and became a great hunter of Revenants but, when Nova learned of this, she saw it as her chance to wipe out humanity once and for all. Using the Demon Bear, she tricked Bishop out into the open and attacked him. As psychic entities, both she and the bear entered Bishop’s mind and took it over.
Using him to travel back in time, they arrived in the present-day but immediately came across Storm’s X-Force team. Nova escaped from Bishop’s mind, but the Demon Bear stayed behind, driving him mad and forcing him to attack X-Force. Psylocke entered Bishop’s mind to try and figure out what was going on but was attacked by the bear. Spotting a spear sticking out of its head, she realized that Nova had injured the bear to force it to do her will. Removing the spear, the bear was instantly calmed and Psylocke was able to remove it from Bishop’s mind and into hers. The bear was afraid and it spent a long time hiding in Psylocke’s mindscape, but eventually she managed to convince it to show itself and the two bonded. [Uncanny X-Force (2nd series) #5-6]
The Demon Bear laid low for a while but, when Psylocke was kidnapped by a crazed Fantomex, she managed to summon the bear to help her. [Uncanny X-Force (2nd series) #9]
Cassandra Nova was still working to unleash the Great Corruption earlier than planned, but X-Force were hot on her trail. Though they were captured by their own Revenants, Psylocke managed to save Bishop by getting the Demon Bear to protect him. Entering the physical world again, the bear acted as Bishop’s bodyguard whilst he came up with a plan to break X-Force free. With help from the Demon Bear, Bishop managed to destroy X-Force’s Revenants and break the team free. Taking the fight to Nova, they interrupted the ceremony in which she would unleash the Great Corruption. The Demon Bear took on Nova but, when she used her psychic abilities to sway it on to her side once more, it was forced to attack Psylocke. Under Nova’s control, the bear knocked Psylocke out and kidnapped her, escaping from the fight with Nova.
The bear acted as Psylocke’s jailer, keeping her psychic abilities in check as Nova continued her ritual to open a portal to the Revenant’s dimension. When the ritual was completed, the portal began to open and the Revenants started to enter the physical plane. The rest of X-Force attacked and Puck managed to throw a dagger in the Demon Bear’s eye, breaking his hold over Psylocke long enough for her to try to escape. Psylocke ended up being sent through the portal to the Revenant’s world, where it seemed she would be stranded. Even as the Demon Bear stood alongside Nova as her unwilling slave as her plan came to fruition, Psylocke was constantly trying to free him of Nova’s influence. When Storm hit the bear with a bolt of lightning, it was enough of a distraction to let Psylocke in and break it free of Nova’s conditioning. The bear left Nova’s side and entered the portal to help Psylocke fight the hordes of Revenants on the other side. Ultimately, X-Force prevailed and the portal was closed, but in the ensuing chaos the Demon Bear was trapped in the Revenant’s world. [Uncanny X-Force (2nd series) #13-15]
Theories and conclusion
The three Demon Bears that have been encountered so far all have some significant similarities, as well as differences between them. Some were routed in magic, whilst others were psychic in natures. Some acted as prisons for people or spirits, whilst others were more the prisoners to other entities’ schemes. The true nature of the Demon Bear is probably a mixture of them all, each encounter showing a different facet of the overall being.
It could be theorized that a Demon Bear is a psychic entity as described in the pages of Uncanny X-Force (2nd series), one that can enter the physical world when summoned. The magical nature of the first bears encountered could be a result of the spells used upon them to corrupt them and twist their minds. The fact that the first bear could enter Moonstar’s dreams would lend support to the theory that it was a psychic being.
It is only with each encounter of the Demon Bear that we fill in a little more about its overall nature, though we may never know what it truly is.