Publication Date: 5th Aug 2011
Written By: Ruth and Lia Brown.


The woman who would one day be known as Mystique was born approximately 120 years ago (circa 1890) near Salzburg, Austria. [Mystique #15] Although little is clear about her childhood, her relationship with her father is known to have been less than pristine. According to Mystique's own account, the veracity of which must always be questioned given her propensity for deception, her blue skin and shape-changing abilities first manifested when she was 12 years old. [X-Men (2nd series) #174]

Mystique’s largely unknown early history began with her meeting of Irene Adler, who would later be known as Destiny. Irene hired the “detective” Raven Darkholme to help decipher her precognitive diaries and, as stated later, they became partners. This partnership included becoming lovers at some point, although exactly when is unclear. The time period in which they met isn’t clear either, though it seems to have been at the turn of the 20th century. [X-Treme X-Men (1st series) #1] This was the first known instance of Mystique using the name “Raven Darkholme”. Sources vary as to whether this is Mystique’s given name or not. In recent years, she has occasionally claimed to have “abandoned the name”, but whether that is because it was merely an alias or because she has metaphorically embraced “Mystique” as her true identity is unclear.

In 1921, Mystique first met the mutant named Logan when they found themselves before a firing squad in Mexico. Their mutant abilities enabled them to escape. Impressed by Logan's skills, Raven recruited him into her gang of small-time grifters in Kansas City, Missouri. During this period, Raven and Irene were not together. Raven seduced Logan, apparently as a means of convincing him to remain part of her group. He served as her enforcer and was key to broadening her criminal plans beyond mere pick-pocketing. In the midst of the bank heist she had orchestrated, Raven abandoned her gang to the local police who she was supposed to have paid off. She had learned that Logan had betrayed her crew and revealed their plans to the police himself. Though she admired his moxie, this bout of double-crossing led to mutual distrust between Logan and Raven that would last for decades. [Wolverine (3rd series) #62-65]

By 1936, Raven had reunited with Destiny and the pair met a time-traveling Kitty Pryde during an encounter with Logan. Destiny and Raven attempted to dissuade Kitty from assassinating Hitler and other important Nazis. [X-Men: True Friends #3]

Mystique was active during the Cold War, impersonating a German spy known as Leni Zauber in East Berlin. After assassinating a scientist, “Leni” was pulled out of the situation by her partner, Victor Creed, later known as Sabretooth. The two struck up a sexual relationship while spending time together at a safe house. With their assignment at an end, Mystique faked her own death by leaving behind the dead body of the real Leni Zauber. It was only a short time afterwards that she learned that she was pregnant with Sabretooth’s son, a child she would name Graydon Creed.

The accounts of Graydon’s early childhood are inconsistent. Apparently, Mystique did not care much for the child. The boy was placed in a boarding school and Mystique followed his exploits only long enough to know for sure that he wasn’t a mutant, at which point she abandoned him. Actually, she left him to die, as Graydon had witnessed one of her transformations and knew her secret identity. Still, the boy survived. [Sabretooth (1st series) #3-4, X-Men Unlimited (1st series) #4]

[NOTE : X-Men Forever (1st series) #2 claims that Mystique gave up Graydon for adoption very early, however this doesn’t add up with earlier released stories. The same can be said for X-Men Unlimited #40, which offers a totally different account of Mystique and Sabretooth’s first meeting and affair. Writer Chuck Austen later explained that he was unaware of the story already having been told.]

Years later, Mystique gave birth to another son. While in the guise of a German noblewoman, the shapeshifter married Baron Christian Wagner. Mystique tried to give her husband a child, without success, as he apparently had fertility problems. Mystique slept around in other guises but to no avail. One day, her husband introduced her to his guest, Azazel, the mysterious ruler of a small island nation called La Isla des Demonas. Mystique was instantly attracted to the mysterious stranger. Knowing that the Baroness Wagner was a mutant, Azazel wooed her urged her to reveal her true form. Azazel was a mutant himself. He looked similar to a classic devil in his true form and possessed teleportation powers. Azazel was responsible for Raven’s codename, ‘Mystique,’ as he used the word to describe her. While Raven had actually fallen in love with Azazel, he seemed only to be interested in impregnating her as part of his plot to sire powerful mutants. When his “mission” was accomplished, he told Raven to raise their child as Wagner’s and abandoned her.

Learning of his wife’s pregnancy, Baron Wagner was suspicious about the child’s parentage and demanded a paternity test. In response, Mystique killed him and buried the body. A few months later, Mystique gave birth. However, the baby was born visibly mutated with blue fur, iridescent eyes, and a prehensile tail. In fact, apart from the blue skin he inherited from his mother, the boy looked just like Azazel. Due to the shock and the strain of the boy’s difficult delivery, Mystique lost her concentration and inadvertently revealed her true form. Considered a demon, Mystique was chased away by an angry mob. Raven barely escaped with her life. She managed this by assuming the form of a villager and tossing the newborn down a ravine. The child was teleported away, apparently by Azazel, and entrusted to Margali Szardos’ care. [X-Men Unlimited (1st series) #4, Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #428]

Later, Mystique again worked with Sabretooth in the guise of an Israeli Mossad agent named Amichai Benvenisti. They were to rendezvous with Destiny, but were caught in a trap set by a HYDRA scientist named Catalyst (she had had run-ins with HYDRA before, though it’s not known if the incidents were related). They were all imprisoned, tortured, and beaten, but Destiny predicted her face would be the last thing Catalyst would see. Indeed, they managed to escape after they seemingly killed their captor. [Sabretooth and Mystique #1-3]

It was sometime during this period that Mystique and Destiny adopted Rogue. Again, the accounts of this are inconsistent, but the more accepted version is that the women took in the girl while she was very young, before her powers had manifested. They lived in a secluded house near Rogue’s birthplace, Caldecott County, Mississippi. Raven and Irene acted as loving parents to Rogue, comforting her fears and giving her a materially rich childhood. Rogue’s childhood seems to have been very happy until her powers manifested. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #178, X-Men (2nd series) #93, X-Men Unlimited (1st series) #4]

[NOTE: In X-Men Unlimited (1st series) #4 Rogue is said to have run away and was adopted by Mystique because of the incident with Cody. The majority of stories establish that Rogue already lived with Mystique before her powers manifested. In Uncanny X-Men #178, Rogue says that Mystique used to comfort her when she had bad nightmares and X-Men #93 shows a photograph of Mystique embracing Rogue and their bare skins in contact. Additionally, Scott Lobdell, the writer of the story in X-Men Unlimited, admitted that the issue is full of errors and plot holes.]

After Rogue’s powers had manifested and she had several traumatic incidents of absorbing boys, Mystique tried to encourage her to join her new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Rogue alternated between enthusiasm and distaste for these missions, but ultimately agreed to participate, sometimes with disastrous effects. Mystique had difficulty controlling her daughter’s wild behavior and Rogue nearly ruined an early Brotherhood mission. However, after she was left out of several missions she seemingly matured somewhat. Despite her youth, she became a regular part of Mystique’s team. [Classic X-Men #44, Marvel Fanfare (1st series) #60]

By this time, Mystique’s ‘human’ identity of Raven Darkholme was working out of the office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Development in the Pentagon. She earned this position and the trust of her superiors through years of hard work. Mystique maintained this useful identity for quite some time, as it gave her access to valuable information and weaponry. One of Mystique’s plans was to kill the heroine known as Ms. Marvel (Carol Danvers), lest the woman interfere in her plans. Mystique and an associate infiltrated the SHIELD Helicarrier and stole some advanced weaponry. However, her subordinate failed to kill Ms. Marvel. In one of the most unusual aspects of Mystique’s history, she then spoke with a mysterious man she called “Lord,” who ordered her to leave Ms. Marvel alone. Though she agreed, she clearly intended to disobey. It is not known who this “Lord” was and, apparently, Mystique stopped working under him soon after. [Ms. Marvel (1st series) #16-18]