BIOGRAPHY - Page 8
Weeks later, after the Decimation struck mutantkind, Mystique returned to claim her spot on the team. This time, she brought Pulse along to meet Rogue. Raven tried to convince Gambit that it was ultimately for the best, that he should step aside and let Rogue be with a man she could actually touch. The point became moot when Remy voluntarily allowed himself to be turned into a member of the new Horsemen of Apocalypse. His betrayal and departure left Rogue in no mood for romance, and she rejected Pulse who soon left the mansion. [X-Men (2nd series) #181-187]
As the X-Men reorganized after the Decimation, Rogue was placed in charge of her own strike team by Cyclops. She chose Mystique from the available members to join her squad. Raven was initially thrilled by this vote of trust by her daughter, but Rogue quickly made it crystal clear that her decision had nothing to do with trust – she was confident Mystique would betray the X-Men sooner rather than later and wanted to be in the position to put Mystique down when the inevitable happened. [X-Men (2nd series) #192]
Despite the venom she received from her daughter, Mystique did her best to work with the X-Men, particularly Iceman. Mystique saved his life during a battle with the Children of the Vault, and Bobby soon developed a soft spot for Raven. When Rogue was infected with the deadly Strain 88, Mystique was forced to stand by her bedside, watching the daughter who hated her die. She turned to Iceman for comfort and though he was frank about his opinion of her ruthlessness, Bobby still responded somewhat to this rare show of vulnerability. [X-Men (2nd series) #197]
Matters became even worse for Rogue when she absorbed the minds of eight billion aliens from the Hecatomb, throwing her psyche into greater chaos than it had ever experienced before. As the team retreated to Mystique and Rogue’s old home in Caldecott County, Mississippi, Raven turned to Bobby for a shoulder to lean on once again. The two made love while waiting for Cyclops’s team to arrive and provide scientific and psychic support for Rogue’s rapidly deteriorating condition. Only then did Mystique reveal her true colors. She had allied herself with Mister Sinister and the Marauders and infiltrated the X-Men in order to disable them from within. She deliberately passed a neuro-inhibitor to Iceman through skin-to-skin contact, leaving him nearly powerless as the rest of the Marauders arrived to take down the X-Men. Along with the other traitors among the X-Men, Lady Mastermind and Omega Sentinel (possessed by Malice), Mystique personally shot Rogue in the chest and took her captive before working towards Sinister’s ultimate goal – blinding the X-Men of what was to come. The Marauders had been systematically eliminating time travelers, precognitives, and any other evidence of the future to prevent the X-Men from learning what Sinister knew of critical events that were unfolding in the near future. In Michigan, Mystique’s Marauders fought the last remaining members of her X-Men, Iceman and Cannonball, for possession of Destiny’s diaries which mapped out the future of mutantkind. In the melee that followed, the diaries were destroyed and the X-Men managed their escape. Mystique located the battered and bruised Iceman but gave him a free pass to live and fight another day, out of respect for what little they had shared. [X-Men (2nd series) #200-203]
In Sinister’s Antarctic base, Mystique convinced him to keep Rogue stable and seek a cure for her condition. Now that the Destiny Diaries were destroyed, Rogue was one of the few people alive who had read them, making her a potentially valuable source of information. This was especially true since Raven refused to allow Sinister inside her own head. In the meantime, Mystique met with the Marauders’ latest recruit, Gambit and did her best to convince him that, despite appearances to the contrary, she still had Rogue’s best interests at heart. [X-Men (2nd series) #204]
The reason for the Marauders’ scheme to throw the X-Men off balance soon became apparent, as the first mutant birth since M-Day rocked the Cerebra chamber, sending the X-Men, Purifiers and Marauders to Cooperstown, Alaska in search of the baby. After several pitched skirmishes, the Marauders claimed the child and prepared to return her to Sinister at his new headquarters on Muir Island. Hearing that the child’s arrival was imminent and that Sinister could do little to keep Rogue alive much longer, Mystique carried out her own plans. She attacked Sinister from behind and wrestled him into direct contact with Rogue’s flesh before he could fight back. The augmentation to her powers by Strain 88 made Rogue’s touch instantly lethal and Sinister dropped dead as his mind was wiped clean.
With Gambit and the baby by her side, Mystique explained that this had all been foreseen by Destiny years ago: Rogue’s illness, the coming of the child, and Mystique’s role in all of it. All of her actions in recent months had been to ensure Rogue’s survival as Destiny had seen it. It was Raven’s deepest wish that once she cured her daughter, they would be reunited as a family again. Before Gambit could stop her, Mystique placed the mutant baby in contact with Rogue. Surprisingly, the baby did not die – instead, its touch somehow cured Rogue of all her ills and awakened her from her coma. Despite her hopes, Mystique was not welcomed with open arms by her daughter. Rogue was horrified at all Mystique had done and her willingness to sacrifice the life of an innocent child in order to help her and win her back. Resolutely, Rogue placed her hand on Mystique’s face, intending to permanently wipe her mind and keep her from ever harming anyone else. Mystique only survived because the purifying effect of the baby was more complete than they realized – it had wiped Strain 88 from Rogue’s system along with all the accumulated memory imprints from the Hecatomb and her lifetime. Instead of killing her, Rogue’s touch only knocked Raven out. [Messiah CompleX]
Mystique soon awakened and escaped from Muir Island. Cyclops neither forgave nor forgot how she betrayed the team and sent Wolverine on a mission of vengeance to end Mystique once and for all. Logan chased her to the Middle East where they played a deadly game of cat-and-mouse for several days. During the chase, Raven located Senator Miles Brickman, her former “husband” who was meeting with the armed forces. She killed him and assumed his form to put the entire U.S. military between her and Logan. In the end, Mystique made her final stand out in the desert, but despite all the artillery she was able to bring against him, Wolverine still managed to get through her defenses and deliver a killing blow. Instead of finishing her off, though, Logan left Raven alone, bleeding to death in the desert, knowing there was no one she could call that would come to her aid. He left her a pistol, just in case she wanted to end her life quicker than the stab wounds in her chest would allow. Mystique somehow managed to survive on her own, but the experience created a deadly grudge between Raven and Wolverine, which she would nurse for many months to come. [Wolverine (3rd series) #62-65]
Seriously troubled by her recent experiences with Rogue and Wolverine, Mystique turned to Iceman for help in her own disturbed way. Raven had developed some genuine affection for Bobby Drake during their brief time together, despite the fact that she had only been using him. Mystique disguised herself as Drake’s old girlfriend Opal Tanaka and wormed her way back into his life. She then exposed him to the same neural inhibitor that disabled his powers before, drastically upsetting his metabolism before revealing herself and tossing him out of a Blackbird. Over the next few days, Raven continued to play with Bobby, claiming her goal was to “kill or cure” – to push the limits of his powers and survival skills. She also hoped to discover why she kept going easy on him. Their feud ended in San Francisco, where Mystique threatened to blow up the Bay Bridge while disguised as Iceman. Bobby called Raven on her nonsense and told her that this whole affair had been her throwing a tantrum because she had made a complete mess of her life. Enraged at being rejected once again, Raven swore to kill Iceman one day for dismissing her, before leaping out into the bay and vanishing. [X-Men: Manifest Destiny #1-5]
Still fuming from her recent setbacks, Mystique vented her fury in a small desert town by drawing the local police into a firefight that escalated into a federal manhunt. Towards the end, she began posing as Wolverine to drag his name through the mud with her antics. After taking hostages and hiding out at a highway biker bar, Raven was approached by Norman Osborn, who wanted to recruit her for his team of officially-sponsored X-Men. This was part of his larger plan to counter Scott Summers’ perceived leadership of the mutant community. Mystique accepted the job when Osborn mentioned she’d get to meet Logan’s son, Daken. [Dark X-Men: The Beginning #3] Instead of openly joining Osborn’s new team of X-Men, Mystique was used to manipulate public opinion by posing as Charles Xavier. “Xavier” claimed to fully support Norman and his martial law in San Francisco while denouncing Cyclops and his suspect actions on behalf of the mutant race. Mystique was outfitted with nano-chain inhibitors which gave Osborn the ability to electroshock her into submission, or even detonate her from the inside out should the need arise. [Utopia] Though she was fascinated by Osborn's obvious psychosis, Raven knew that she must do whatever it took to free herself from this servitude before his mind snapped. After half the “Dark X-Men” switched sides to Cyclops’s group, Mystique took over as field leader of the team for Osborn. To further annoy Wolverine, she began appearing regularly in public as Jean Grey, challenging him or any of the X-Men to step forward and stop her. [Dark X-Men #1]
When Norman Osborn fell from grace, his X-Men team fell apart. How Mystique managed to resolve the dilemma posed by her nano-chains is unknown. Mystique continued to pursue her own vendettas. She found a forgotten Skrull infiltrator who believed himself to be Captain Mar-Vell and manipulated him into attacking Carol Danvers simply for a laugh [Ms. Marvel (2nd series) #48-50] , and also took an ominous interest in Wolverine’s new girlfriend, Melita Garner. [Wolverine: Weapon X #10]
Following their time together in Osborn’s X-Men, Mystique developed an affectionate, if cautious, relationship with Wolverine’s son, Daken. Although they both expected the other to betray them at any moment, Raven actually enjoyed Daken’s company, as he could make her laugh. Through him, she became involved with a mysterious organization known as the Red Right Hand, who sought vengeance of the worst kind against Wolverine.
Their opening gambit was to literally send him to Hell, banishing his soul while allowing his body to be possessed by demons and walk the Earth as their vessel. Mystique acted as their bait, posing as Melita Garner to lure Logan into the ceremony that cast him down into the depths. [Wolverine (4th series) #5] Raven was more than satisfied to take part in this bit of revenge until Daken told her the full extent of the Red Right Hand’s plan. This knowledge caused her to turn against the group and actively try to restore Logan. [Daken: Dark Wolverine #1] She saved Melita from the Mongrels kill squad and summoned Daimon Hellstrom and the Ghost Riders to properly exorcise Wolverine’s body of the demons. Mystique succeeded in bringing Logan’s soul back to his body but was stabbed through the gut by the possessed Wolverine in the process. She fled the scene before Wolverine fully purged himself of the demons within his body. [Wolverine (4th series) #1-6]
After getting patched up by a criminal surgeon, Raven tried to contact Logan and warn him about the Red Right Hand. To prevent her from interfering any further, the Red Right Hand hired an assassin named Lord Deathstrike to execute Mystique. Raven was forced to run from both the assassin and from Wolverine, who was in no mood to sit and talk about why she helped kill him. A firefight in the streets of San Francisco only exacerbated Mystique’s existing wounds and she was barely able to stand after Wolverine drove off Lord Deathstrike and began to advance on her. Mystique admitted that she wasn’t sorry for sending Logan to Hell. She had only turned on the Red Right Hand because of what they had planned for him next, out of respect for the long friendship Logan had with her son Kurt. Wolverine had no forgiveness left in him and as Mystique made one last vain effort to draw her gun, he impaled her in the chest and left her dead in the streets.
Mystique remained a wanted woman even after her death. Her body was recovered and preserved by Lord Deathstrike, who arranged for it to be auctioned off to the highest bidder. Raven’s lifeless body was sold for $5 million to a mysterious clan of ninja, possibly representing the Hand. Their intentions remain unknown, but dead or not, it’s likely the world hasn’t seen the last of Raven Darkholme. [Wolverine (4th series) #9]