Publication Date: 7th Apr 2022
Written By: Monolith.
Image Work: Douglas Mangum.

Biography - page 1

John Greycrow is a Native American, apparently born during the first quarter of the 20th century. A mutant whose abilities gave him a natural talent for hunting and killing, John found himself joining the U.S. Army during World War II. If he thought this would prove to be a positive outlet for his instincts, though, he was wrong. Greycrow's desire to hunt did not exclude his fellow soldiers, and he eventually killed and scalped at least eight men in his unit. Nick Fury himself oversaw John's execution by firing squad. Hours later, Greycrow's regenerative abilities allowed him to recover, and he expected to escape under the cover of night from the shallow grave his unit tossed him into after his "death." Instead, he was met by Nathaniel Essex, alias Mister Sinister, who anticipated Greycrow's rise. John became an agent for Essex in Nazi Germany, helping to divert prisoners from concentration camps towards perhaps an even worse fate in the experimental laboratory Essex maintained. [Weapon X (2nd series) #14]

Operating under the name Scalphunter, John served Sinister for decades afterwards, acting as his agent, retrieval specialist and assassin when necessary. Sinister was operating out of Vietnam in 1968 when the mercenary Sabretooth was hired to investigate his labs. Greycrow killed Sabretooth's client, but came to an understanding with Creed and paid him off to forget the job. [Weapon X (2nd series) #27] In the following years, John spent some time away from Sinister. Greycrow became a cook at a small diner in Millstone, Arizona, working with the owner Claire de Luc and a young Remy LeBeau. The three of them forged a strong bond during their time working together, which they all still felt years later. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #324, Gambit (3rd series) #8] Remy, as Gambit, would get involved with Mister Sinister himself, possibly through Greycrow's referral. After doing several jobs for Sinister and falling into his debt, Remy was hired to assemble a team of mercenaries for Sinister, and reached out to Greycrow. John returned to Sinister's employ, becoming the field leader for this team of Marauders.

Mister Sinister had learned of a tribe of mutants known as the Morlocks living in the tunnels under Manhattan, and sent Gambit to scout and investigate the group. Some Morlocks showed signs of genetic experimentation and alteration, which Sinister recognized as his unique signature of work. Mystified and infuriated, Sinister wanted the Morlocks eradicated to proect his professional secrets. He instructed Gambit to continue gathering information on the Morlocks (where they congregated in the Alley, what defenses they had), but didn't inform Remy of his ultimate intent for the mutant tribe. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #350, X-Men: Origins - Gambit #1] Meanwhile, Scalphunter and the Marauders began nipping at the corners of Morlock territory. They killed the four children of Annalee when they were caught up on the surface, as well as the Morlock Tommy and her boyfriend from the Hellfire Club. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #195, 210]

[Note: Scalphunter taunted Tommy that the Marauders found the Alley by following her home, putting responsibility for the massacre on her head. Later retcons introducing Gambit's involvement scouting the Alley refute this, and indicates it was just a cruel lie on Scalphunter's part.]

Sinister ordered Gambit to lead Scalphunter and the Marauders into the Alley, but Remy finally got wise to what was about to happen. He tried to object and steer Greycrow away from the massacre, but the Marauders lashed out at their guide and removed him once he was no longer of use. The Morlock massacre began in earnest in one of the Alley's larger tunnels as Scalphunter began gunning down his prey. He located Annalee and murdered her, but not before gleefully confessing to the murder of her children as well. The Morlocks sought sanctuary and aid from the X-Men, and other heroes who had found themselves in the Alley that night, such as Thor, Power Pack and X-Factor. The Marauders lost three of their own but dozens (perhaps hundreds) of Morlocks died over the course of the slaughter. [Mutant Massacre crossover]

Mister Sinister had other business in mind for the Marauders after that, and wanted to prepare them for their next struggle with the X-Men. Scalphunter and Arclight were sent to execute Madelyne Pryor, Cyclops's wife, mother of his child and an unwitting pawn of Sinister's. Scalphunter tagged her with his rifle, but ultimately Maddie only ended up comatose, not dead. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #215] The Marauders second leader, the ethereal body-snatcher Malice, targeted the magnetic mutant Polaris as a new permanent host. Scalphunter and the Marauders attacked Polaris in her New Mexico home, putting her through her paces while Malice worked on her psyche to integrate them together. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #219]

When Sinister discovered Madelyne was alive, he ordered Scalphunter and the Marauders back into the field to silence her. Maddie got out a call to the X-Men before the Marauders arrived, however, setting up another confrontation between the two teams. Scalphunter's execution of Madelyne was interrupted by Rogue and Dazzler. A simple assassination soon turned into a free-for-all in San Francisco, with the X-Men and Marauders battling it out. After Scrambler disrupted Wolverine's powers, Scalphunter got the X-Men's current leader to flee by unloading a magazine of explosive shells at Wolverine, whose healing factor could no longer protect him. Even with this back-and-forth, the Marauders failed again to kill Madelyne Pryor, and were forced to flee unfulfilled. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #221-222]

The Marauders' next move was to clear out the Alley, using it as a new base of operations at Sinister's command. They were located by the X-Men, however, and the heroes came loaded for bear and hungry for blood. The battle spilled out into the streets of Manhattan during Inferno, an invasion by the demons of Limbo where the entire island suffered under a corrupting black magical influence. Scalphunter and the Marauders found the X-Men willing to kill, and were driven into retreat before being utterly overwhelmed by their opponents. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #240-241] According to at least one source, Scalphunter and all the Marauders left on the scene were killed by the overly-aggressive X-Men before they moved on to deal with the Goblin Queen. [X-Men: The 198 Files] If true, it's unknown whether this was the first death of John Greycrow in Sinister's employ. Mister Sinister had the genetic material of all the Marauders on file, though, and in subsequent years he would frequently clone and replace the Marauders after they fell in battle, Scalphunter included. Only Sabretooth and the non-corporeal Malice were still treated as the originals after this point. Sinister was capable of fielding multiple copies of the Marauders alive at once if he chose, and he also incorporated genetic triggers and controls into his clones, such as killing them on command or blocking them from acting against him. [X-Men (2nd series) #34]

For a time, Sinister amused himself with new henchmen called the Nasty Boys, and the Marauders were nowhere to be seen. Scalphunter and his crew eventually resurfaced, however, tracking one of Sinister's latest recruits called Threnody. The little mutant death-song tried to escape Sinister's control, but she was pursued by the Marauders underneath the streets of Paris. Scalphunter and the Marauders failed to capture her the first time due to the intervention of Nate Grey, the Omega-class threat known as X-Man. [X-Man #13] Still, Threnody was recaptured by Sinister and the Marauders in New York when Grey's attention was turned towards the threat of Onslaught and away from her. Scalphunter and Arclight were guarding Threnody until Sinister gave new orders to kill her or return her to him. John and Arclight paused for an intimate moment long enough for Threnody to make a run for it, and the Marauders were beaten by her old acquaintance, the Abomination. [X-Man #18-19]

Later on, Sinister had Scalphunter and the Marauders pose as the "Emissaries of En Sabah Nur " to threaten Cable and convince him to accept Sinister as an ally in the fight against Apocalypse. Cable recognized Sinister's deception, however, and sent away him and the Marauders because they couldn't be trusted. [Cable Annual '99] As the threat of Apocalypse grew, Gambit also reached out to Sinister on related matters, contacting Greycrow through Claire de Luc. Here it was revealed the level of control Sinister exerted over the Marauders -- Scalphunter and the other clones had been imprinted with a gene sequence so that they couldn't betray Sinister without shutting down metabolically. Grey Crow seemed genuinely regretful about fighting against Remy, but his programming left him little choice but to obey Sinister. [Gambit (3rd series) #8-9]

Scalphunter's work with Sinister continued, acting as his personal lab assistant and agent as he did when they first met back during the war. [Weapon X (2nd series) #13-14] Essex's deception posing as the Weapon X scientist Robert Windsor netted him new assets and genetic material from the Neverland concentration camp populated by the Director's prisoners. He created Hans and the Children, artificially engineered mutants with a Chimera genetic profile of different mutant abilities. Sinister was so proud of his Children that he began to neglect Greycrow or give him menial assignments. Fearing what would happen if Sinister started considering him obsolete, Scalphunter reached out to Sabretooth after learning Creed had been hired by a third party to capture Sinister. He gave Sabretooth the means to infiltrate Sinister's base, and Creed found a flaw in the Children he could exploit. Sinister was turned over to Creed's employer, and Essex sold them the use of the Children (now inferior product in his eyes), leaving Scalphunter with some peace of mind about his position. [Weapon X (2nd series) #26-28]

The Decimation threw everybody's plans for a loop, however. Scalphunter and Arclight (or at least clones of them) wound up at the X-Mansion after M-Day, seeking sanctuary after over 90% of the mutant population lost their powers overnight. A reservation was formed on Xavier property for the remaining mutants, dubbed the 198. Scalphunter was not an ideal houseguest, though, and participated in most of the uprisings and riots that plagued the 198, including briefly siding with Apocalypse and fleeing the O*N*E Sentinels and their jurisdiction. The 198 eventually went their separate ways after a form of mutant registration from the 198 Files was incorporated into the 50-States Initiative. [X-Men (2nd series) #183-184, X-Men: The 198 #5, Civil War: X-Men #1-4]