Publication Date: 30th Aug 2021
Written By: Gremlin.
Image Work: Gremlin.


When Armando Munoz was born, it was obvious straight away something was different about him. His eyes were larger than average, his arms were longer and he didn’t have any hair on his body. His parents were disgusted by him but they still attempted to raise him nonetheless, that was until his father walked out on the family when Armando was four. His mother blamed him for his father leaving, and the coldness she went on to show towards him caused him to try to earn her love even more from then on.

The only time Armando ever remembered his mother smiling was when he was eight and he excelled at an IQ test. His teacher informed Armando’s mother that he had the potential to be one of the brightest children in the country, but she only saw it as an opportunity to get rid of him. Unbeknownst to any of them, this would be the first likely display of Armando’s power, his desire to please his mother causing him to excel academically.

Unfortunately for Armando, this wasn’t enough to win her love and she sent him away to a boarding school so he could get a better education. He barely saw his mother over the next nine years, instead the Biltmore Academy became his home. It was not without its issues, though, as Armando’s unusual looks made him a target for bullies. He endured their taunts and violence, until one day he had his head thrust into a toilet and he suddenly developed gills, allowing him to breath underwater. In a fit of rage, he attacked his bullies and, as he punched them, his hands became coated in rock. His bullies were too afraid to target him after that but, even after his display of powers, Armando remained in denial about what had happened.

Armando continued his studies until one day a year later he went back home to see his mother. Whilst he was there, his mother accidentally set fire to the house after falling asleep and dropping a cigarette. When he came downstairs, he saw the fire and dragged his mother to safety. Due to the heat and smoke, his body adapted granting him fire-proof skin and an immunity to the smoke. After the medics checked him over, there was no doubt there was something special about Armando. When he went back to Biltmore Academy, he was subjected to secret tests to determine the cause of his abilities and for the first time he realized he was a mutant. The scientists nicknamed him “Darwin,” due to his mutant ability to evolve to a given situation. Despite the fact his powers saved her life, Armando’s mother was revolted with having a mutant for a son and rejected him outright. Distraught with everything that had happened, Armando attempted to commit suicide by jumping from the roof of the school, but his evolutionary powers kicked in and saved him from a deadly fall.

Afterwards, Armando spoke to the school psychologist who informed him that Dr. Moira MacTaggart had been trying to see him ever since his powers had been made public. She invited him to her research base where they could both learn about his powers. [X-Men: Deadly Genesis #2]

At the base, Armando met Petra, Susan Chen aka Sway and Gabriel Summers aka Vulcan, all mutants like himself who were learning about their powers. Moira was aided occasionally by Charles Xavier, who was in awe of Armando’s mutation and desired to see the boy gain the ability to control it further. One night, Xavier came to Moira in desperate need of help. His team of X-Men had been captured and, with their lives were hanging in the balance, he asked Armando and the others if they would help save them. Moira was apprehensive at letting her untrained students go into such a dangerous situation but, when they heard that they would be able to call themselves “X-Men,” they jumped at the chance.

Using his vast psychic powers, Xavier gave Armando, now officially calling himself Darwin, months’ worth of training in just a few hours.  The team were given uniforms and sent on their way to Krakoa, a sentient island that drained the life force of anyone who stepped foot on it. Once they landed, Darwin and the others immediately searched for Xavier’s X-Men but they could only find Cyclops. After taking him back to their jet, the team set off in search of the rest of the X-Men, but the island had grown angry with the new trespassers. Whilst Sway was killed first after being sliced in half, Darwin and the others were quickly engulfed by a fiery energy blast. As Petra died, she used her earth-manipulation powers to pull Darwin and Vulcan down into the caverns within the island. As the two men lay dying of their injuries, Darwin’s powers kicked in once more and he absorbed himself into Vulcan’s body, putting both of them into a stasis that allowed them to survive.

Cyclops had escaped the island and went back to Xavier, telling him of the fates of the team, unaware of Darwin and Vulcan’s survival. Ashamed of the fact he sent a group of children to their deaths, Xavier wiped the mind of everyone with knowledge of the team and destroyed all the physical evidence of their existence. Xavier gathered a second team to save the X-Men and this time they succeeded, but during the mission the whole island of Krakoa was launched into space, with Darwin and Vulcan as well. [X-Men: Deadly Genesis #4-6]

Many years passed and Darwin’s existence remained a secret, until M-Day when most of the world’s mutants were depowered. An energy wave pulsed from Earth when all the mutants lost their powers, and this was enough to wake Vulcan from his stasis in Krakoa. Not knowing that he had Darwin’s energy inside him, Vulcan went on a rampage against Xavier and the X-Men over the events that led to his “death.” In the showdown between the two, Xavier managed to accidentally purge the energy from Vulcan, allowing Darwin to regrow his own body. [X-Men: Deadly Genesis #1-6]

Darwin went back to the Xavier Institute and began training with Xavier in the use of his powers. In the meantime, Vulcan had taken his wrath into space, looking to exact revenge on the Shi’ar Empire for its role in his traumatic childhood. Knowing the damage Vulcan could do, Xavier assembled a team to try to stop him, to which Darwin was eager to join. Cyclops was against his inclusion, given he had only just come back to life and was still a relatively under-trained member. However, Xavier pointed out that Darwin had shared a body and mind with Vulcan and that knowledge might be the best way to stop the Omega-level mutant. After acquiring a spaceship, Darwin and the team headed off into space in search of Vulcan. They got off to a slow start, though, when they discovered that Vulcan had destroyed all the stargates that allowed spaceships to cover such long distances in an instant.

After a week of travelling, they reached a space station and split up looking for supplies. Darwin paired up with Nightcrawler and vented his frustration at the fact Xavier constantly watched over him as if he were a child. Whilst the two were talking, they were ambushed by Skrulls and Darwin was blasted through a window into space. His powers kicked in, allowing him to survive the experience as he made his way back to the station. The group found some Shi’ar soldiers who had been captured by the Skrulls, and so Xavier interrogated them for information. Deciding to take the soldiers along for the ride, Darwin and the team headed for Vulcan’s last known location, but on the way the soldiers escaped and captured Xavier. They managed to get him onto another ship and escape to their superiors but, unbeknownst to them, Darwin had stowed away on their ship as well.

On another space station, Xavier was tortured by the Shi’ar, but Darwin managed to beat up some guards and force one of them to help him free his mentor. As they were sneaking to the shuttle bay, Darwin was caught off guard when he saw Vulcan standing alongside Emperor D’ken in some kind of ceremony. Vulcan had sworn to kill D’Ken, who should have been in a coma after his altercation with the Dark Phoenix years before. Darwin was so distracted that he didn’t notice the guard he had coerced had called for help, and both he and Xavier were captured again.

When Darwin eventually spoke to Vulcan, he was shocked at how much destruction his friend had caused to the Shi’ar in the name of revenge. The two argued but Vulcan revealed he was to marry D’Ken’s sister Deathbird and asked Darwin to be his best man, as he was the closest thing Vulcan had to a friend. To make things worse, Xavier was to be executed after the ceremony. Despite Darwin’s best efforts, he wasn’t able to free Xavier and the ceremony went ahead, with Vulcan marrying Deathbird. Just as the vows were exchanged, the rest of the X-Men attacked and an vicious battle ensued. Vulcan grabbed Xavier and threw him into the nearby M’Kraan Crystal, but Darwin jumped in after him in a vain attempt to save him. Darwin’s powers allowed him to adapt to the immense cosmic energy within the crystal and he managed to pull Xavier out of it. Nightcrawler teleported Xavier and Darwin back to their ship, where Lilandra set it on course for Earth, leaving some of the X-Men in space to deal with Vulcan. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #475-486]

Back on Earth, Darwin recovered from his ordeal in the M’Kraan Crystal but stayed off any active X-teams. He did help out when the Hulk attacked the school, but his evolutionary powers teleported him away to save getting hit from the jade giant. [World War Hulk: X-Men #2-3] He also helped out then the first mutant after M-Day was born, and the X-Men, Marauders and Purifiers battled to get their hands on it. In the final battle for the fate of the child, Xavier was seemingly killed, and the X-Men were disbanded. [Messiah Complex crossover]