Last Updated: 
7th August 2006

The main task of the Dark Riders was to test mutants if they are fit enough to survive (like Darwin's view of evolution). Those deemed unfit were killed. Later most of them died in battle against Wolverine. It seems that they were not fit enough themselves ...

X-Factor (1st series) #67 reveals the original Dark Riders to be Inhumans, but in X-Men (2nd series) #14 they are called mutants, and later members were always referred to as mutants.

Working for: Apocalypse > Stryfe > Genesis
Membership: Foxbat, Gauntlet, Tusk & the Underlings, Psynapse, Barrage, HardDrive, Lifeforce, Spyne, Hurricane, Deadbolt
Associates: Genesis, Dirt Nap

First appearance: X-Factor (1st series) #65 [as Riders of the Storm]

Name changed to Dark Riders: X-Men (2nd series) #14

Last appearance: X-Man #46 [besides Gauntlet all remaining members were killed]


  • None of the Dark Riders appeared before.


X-Factor (1st series) #65: The team debuts as The Riders of the Storm (HardDrive, Gauntlet, Barrage, Foxbat, Psynapse, Tusk & Underlings). They plan strategy for facing X-Factor. Crashing their craft into Ship, they infiltrate X-Factor's home. HardDrive remains behind to take control of Ship, while the others provide a diversion to keep X-Factor busy. Psynapse's attack accidentally causes Jean to regain her telepathy.
X-Factor (1st series) #66: HardDrive makes Ship go nuts. X-Factor and Askani (a woman from the future trying to help X-Factor) can't prevent Foxbat from kidnapping Nathan Summers. The Riders of the Storm escape as Ship heads into space to destroy itself.
X-Factor (1st series) #67: X-Factor is rescued from suffocating in outer space by the Inhumans. The Riders of the Storm are revealed to be of Inhuman origin, Psynapse is even a cousin of Crystal and Medusa. Foxbat and Gauntlet teleport into Attilan, and kidnap Crystal and Medusa. Meanwhile, Apocalypse's scientists work on baby Nathan.
X-Factor (1st series) #68: Several Riders of the Storm are amongst Apocalypse's defenders in his fortress. X-Factor defeat Barrage and the two Underlings, while Gauntlet is brought down by a mob of Inhumans surrounding him. Apocalypse infects the baby with the techno-organic virus. He is transported to the future with Askani to have a slim chance at survival. Apocalypse is then destroyed and the Riders escape behind the scenes.
X-Men (2nd series) #14: Now called the Dark Riders, the team is based in Apocalypse's pyramid lair. They awaken Apocalypse from his regenerative sleep to inform him that the Horsemen have been attacking the X-Men in his name (actually it was Sinister disguised as Apocalypse, who ordered the Horsemen).
X-Men (2nd series) #15, X-Force (1st series) #17: Stryfe attacks Apocalypse's pyramid and defeats the Dark Riders in no time. After winning a battle against the weakened Apocalypse, Stryfe makes the Dark Riders swear loyalty to him.
Uncanny X-Men #296: Stryfe allows Cyclops and Jean Grey to escape their prison. The Dark Riders chase them around his moonbase.
X-Factor #86, X-Men (2nd series) #16, X-Force (1st series) #18: Along with Stryfe's other forces, the Dark Riders battle the various X-team members arriving at Stryfe's moonbase. Barrage injures Wolverine. The Dark Riders later encounter Apocalypse and defeat him, leaving him for dead. The Dark Riders escape from the moon in a stolen spacecraft; their new leader Stryfe and Cable seem to die in a battle.
X-Men (2nd series) #21: The Dark Riders begin 'testing' mutants. Mesmero fails and is shot by Gauntlet (however, a flashback in Alpha Flight (2nd series) #4 reveals that Mesmero only made the Dark Riders believe they killed him). Psynapse is mentioned to have been coughing since they returned from the moon. Because he messed up during the fight with Mesmero, the others judge him as unworthy too, and he is also shot by Gauntlet.
X-Men (2nd series) #23: The Dark Riders confront Cyclops and Sinister. After a brief battle, they 'test' Cyclops, who passes.
Cable (1st series) #17: The Dark Riders with several new members (Lifeforce, Spyne, Hurricane, Deadbolt), hunt down former member Foxbat, who is also judged unworthy. Lifeforce drains him of (some of) his energies. They then hunt Caliban in the Morlock tunnels, only to encounter Cable, Domino and Storm as well. HardDrive orders to stop the battle against Cable. They teleport away leaving hints about having a new leader.
Cable (1st series) #18: Cable and his allies track the Dark Riders to Egypt, where they catch one of the Underlings who claims the Dark Riders have killed Tusk and the other Underlings. He agrees to lead them to the Dark Riders, only to lead them into a trap. When the trap fails, the Dark Riders teleport away. Cable catches up to them in Akkaba, finding the whole town slaughtered. The Dark Riders' new leader is revealed as Genesis - Cable's son Tyler.
Cable (1st series) #19: Cable surrenders to Genesis and the Dark Riders to spare his friends' lives. Genesis uses a machine to drain the powers of Cable and (possibly already dead) Foxbat into himself. Domino, Storm and Caliban break into Genesis' base and their battle with the Dark Riders destroys the machine before the transfer is completed. Genesis and the Dark Riders teleport away, the lab and the machines explode. (Note: If Foxbat wasn't already dead before, he most likely is now, since he was left unconscious/dead in a stasis tube in the exploding lab.)

In Between

  • Before the team’s next appearance, Barrage and Tusk disappeared from the roster and were not heard from again until after Genesis’ tenure.
  • In Wolverine (2nd series) #95 and 98; Dirt Nap absorbed a kid but claimed that he still carried his genetic code and could restore him.

Chronology continued

X-Men Annual '95: The Dark Riders capture Jean Grey so Genesis can use her in his plan to break Sinister. They briefly battle Jean Grey and the Beast.
Wolverine (2nd series) #93-95: The Dark Riders break Cyber out of jail. They take him to Genesis' base in Egypt to test the purity of his adamantium arm replacements.
Wolverine (2nd series) #96: Cyber questions the Dark Riders as to why they're interested in his adamantium. With Genesis' aid, they defeat Cyber and throw him into a chamber of mutant Death-watch beetles which devour him, leaving only his adamantium behind.
Wolverine (2nd series) #99: The Dark Riders take hundreds of prisoners into Genesis' base. Genesis captures Wolverine and they begin with their plans to give Wolverine Cyber's adamantium and brainwash him. Dirtnap is shown to be an ally to the Dark Riders.
Wolverine (2nd series) #100: Genesis continues with the plan to give Wolverine new adamantium, and brainwash him into becoming Death, a new Horseman. The prisoners are to have their energies drained in an attempt to revive Apocalypse. Cannonball tries to save Wolverine, only to be defeated by the Dark Riders. Wolverine's will rejects the adamantium, which is expelled from his body as shrapnel, killing Hurricane and Lifeforce. Wolverine becomes a feral, noseless savage, and hunts down and kills Spyne, Deadbolt and Genesis. Off-panel he also fights and beats Gauntlet. Dirt Nap is the only one to escape.

In Between

  • Stryfe returns behind the scenes and reunites the surviving Riders Gauntlet and HardDrive with the missing Barrage, Tusk and the Underlings, and a curiously returning Psynapse. (check his entry below for a theory how he could be still alive)

Chronology continued

X-Man #46: Stryfe's Pyramid has landed on Castle Doom, and Stryfe (last seen in X-Force #74, in an Underworld) sends the Dark Riders, who are inexplicably working for him again, to destroy the world's telepaths. HardDrive and Barrage teleport to Alaska to attack Jean Grey. Maddie Pryor follows them, she manipulates HardDrive into shooting Barrage, before she telekinetically dissects him. Gauntlet is lost in the shuffle, but the rest of the Riders attack X-Man. Psynapse accidentally reactivates X-Man's powers and is vaporized by those powers. X-Man defeats Tusk and the Underlings, discovering that Tusk is only a small wormlike creature inside the big body. Nate then is captured by Stryfe and put into a machine to steal his powers. (Note: On the machine sits a small figure - it looks like Psynapse, but he was just killed a few pages before. The figure does not move or speak, his face is not seen. It seems to be an art error.)


  • Dirtnap was later seen in the pages of Venom: Tooth and Claw #1-3 and Generation X #36-39, where he went into another dimension.
  • The only Dark Rider who is not incapacitated (Tusk) or dead is Gauntlet. In the confusion of X-Man #46 he is lost somewhere. Gauntlet later showed up as a mercenary hunting the merged being of Cyclops and Apocalypse in the pages of X-Men: The Search for Cyclops.



First appearance: X-Factor (1st series) #65
Last appearance . Cable (1st series) #17 [drained by Lifeforce] #19 [left unconscious/dead in a stasis tube in an exploding lab]

All appearances: X-Factor (1st series) #65-67, X-Men (2nd series) #14-15, X-Force (1st series) #17, Uncanny X-Men #296, X-Men (2nd series) #16, 21, 23, Cable (1st series) #17

Powers: Augmented strength, speed, agility, and reflexes, eyes adapted for nocturnal vision, clawed hooves, finger talons, and bone spears that extend themselves up past his shoulders or forward past his wrists.


First appearance: X-Factor (1st series) #65
All appearances: X-Factor (1st series) #65-68, X-Men (2nd series) #14-15, X-Force (1st series) #17, Uncanny X-Men #296, X-Men (2nd series) #16, 21, 23, Cable (1st series) #17-19, X-Men Annual '95, Wolverine (2nd series) #95, 99-100, X-Man #46

Powers: Enhanced strength, speed, endurance, and a highly acute sensory processing ability. He also has green skin and needle like teeth.

Equipment: Explosive-pellet-scattering rifle, laser rifle, laser pistols, knife, shoulder-mounted mini-rocket launchers, targeting eyepiece.

Tusk (and the Underlings)

First appearance: X-Factor (1st series) #65
Last appearance: X-Man #46 [true form revealed]

All appearances: X-Factor (1st series) #65-66, 68, X-Men (2nd series) #14-15, X-Force (1st series) #17, Uncanny X-Men #296, X-Factor #86, X-Men (2nd series) #16, 21, 23, Cable (1st series) #18-19, X-Man #46

Powers: Enormous size, strength, endurance, resistance to injury and two razor pointed tusks on his back that extend from a shell casing which can produce Underlings. These Underlings are half-sized duplicates of Tusk that possess enhanced strength, agility, and share a psychic link with the main Tusk.


First appearance: X-Factor (1st series) #65
Seemingly died: X-Men (2nd series) #21 [shot by Gauntlet]
Revealed alive: X-Man #46 [unexplained]
Last appearance: X-Man #46 [vaporized by X-Man's powers when he accidentally restored them]

All appearances: X-Factor (1st series) #65, X-Men (2nd series) #14-15, X-Force #17, Uncanny X-Men #296, X-Men (2nd series) #16, 21, X-Man #46

Powers: Taps into the ambient psionic energy of the planet to read and project thoughts, unleash bursts of stunning mental energy, and draw conscious minds into a small pocket of the astral plane completely subject to his will. In this pocket psi-plane he can manipulate them mentally and even reduce them to the state of a helpless child.

- Psynapse is a cousin of Crystal and Medusa of the Inhumans royal family.
- Psynapse' s coughing in X-Men (2nd series) #21 can be seen as a symptom of the legacy virus or the Inhumans' reaction to Earth's polluted atmosphere.

Psynapse was shot the same time as Mesmero was [X-Men (2nd series) #21]; what worked for him could work in Psynapse’s case too. Psynapse might have created an illusion that Gauntlet shot him; the minds of the Dark Riders were already weakened from Mesmero's attack anyway. When the group later learned of Psynapse’s ploy they might considered it as passing their test and he was allowed back into the Dark Riders.


First appearance: X-Factor (1st series) #65
Last appearance: X-Man #46 [accidentally shot by HardDrive]

All appearances: X-Factor (1st series) #65-66, 68, X-Men (2nd series) #14-15, X-Force (1st series) #17, Uncanny X-Men #296, X-Factor (1st series) #86, X-Men (2nd series) #16, 21, 23, Cable (1st series) #18, X-Man #46

Powers: His forearms have been transformed into organic weapons that can collect ambient energy from the environment and focus it into discharges of heat and explosive power. He can also hit people with the energy-charged arms for greater physical impact.

HardDrive / Mainframe

First appearance: X-Factor (1st series) #65
Last appearance: X-Man #46 [dissected by Madelyne Pryor]

All appearances: X-Factor (1st series) #65-66, X-Men (2nd series) #14-15, X-Force (1st series) #17, Uncanny X-Men #296, X-Men (2nd series) #16, Cable (1st series) #17-18, X-Men Annual '95, Wolverine (2nd series) #93, X-Man #46

Powers: Merges his molecular structure with technology, allowing him to instantaneously download information from computer systems and adapt bionic parts into his body. HardDrive has equipped himself with a cybernetic Mainframe A.I. program that can scan and analyze his environment, teleport over long distances, and is equipped with laser arrays, electro-jectors, and cryo-therm relays.

Fact: HardDrive rarely takes an active role in combat, yet the others all take their orders from him. He also judges if a mutant 'tested' by the team passes or fails.


First appearance: Cable (1st series) #17
Last appearance: Wolverine (2nd series) #100 [killed by shrapnel]

All appearances: Cable (1st series) #17-19, X-Men Annual '95, Wolverine (2nd series) #93-96, 99-100

Powers: Drain the life-energy from anyone she touches, revitalizing her personal life energies and converting the life-force into concussive bursts.


First appearance: Cable (1st series) #17
Last appearance: Wolverine (2nd series) #100 [killed off-panel by Wolverine, severed tail is

All appearances: Cable (1st series) #17-19, X-Men Annual '95, Wolverine (2nd series) #93-96, 100

Powers: Demonic reptilian physiology gives him heightened strength, agility, reflexes and leg power for leaping, hyper-keen senses, iridescent eyes, red scales, needle-like fangs, two clawed toes, three taloned fingers on each hand, bone ridges down his back and a prehensile tail.

Fact: In the Age of Apocalypse Spyne was a member of the Brotherhood.


First appearance: Cable (1st series) #17
Last appearance: Wolverine (2nd series) #100 [killed by shrapnel]

All appearances: Cable (1st series) #17-18, X-Men Annual '95, Wolverine (2nd series) #93-96, 99-100

Powers: Apply pressure and direction to the atmosphere around him, creating swirling vortexes and compressed gusts of wind that smash through barriers.


First appearance: Cable (1st series) #17
Last appearance: Wolverine (2nd series) #100 [killed off-panel by Wolverine, severed head
is shown]

All appearances: Cable (1st series) #17,19, X-Men Annual '95, Wolverine (2nd series) #99-100

Powers: Exists as a living skeleton contained within a bio-energy field, enabling him to remove pieces of bone and use them as sharpened knives or throwing weapons, while his bio-energy regenerates a new bone onto his skeleton within seconds.

Dark Riders associates

Genesis (Tyler Dayspring)

First appearance: X-Force (1st series) #5 [as Mr. Tolliver]
First Dark Riders appearance: Cable (1st series) #18
Last appearance: Wolverine (2nd series ) #100 [killed by Wolverine]

All Dark Riders appearances: Cable (1st series) #18-19, X-Men Annual '95, Wolverine (2nd series) #95-96, 99-100

Powers: Forge an empathic link with another person, allowing him to visually display that person's memories

Dirt Nap

First appearance: Wolverine (2nd series) #95
First Dark Riders appearance: Wolverine (2nd series) #99

All Dark Riders appearances: Wolverine (2nd series) #99-100

Powers: He is a parasitic lifeform that absorb the bodies of others into himself by manifesting an absurdly large mouth and “swallowing” them, allowing him to take on their appearance, memories, and special attributes while marking himself with a red, smiley face symbol.