First Appearance: Uncanny X-Force (1st series) #15
All Appearances: Uncanny X-Force (1st series) #15, Uncanny X-Men (2nd series) #5-8, 12, Avengers vs. X-Men #4, Uncanny X-Men (3rd series) #17, Wolverine and the X-Men (1st series) #11
The Latin phrase Tabula Rasa loosely translates into "blank slate" in English. While the location known by this name did indeed start off as a blank slate - it was anything but a clean one. Built on the ashes of a destroyed town, this artificially-created ecosystem marked a particularly dark time for X-Force and created secrets that would haunt the various members for a long time after.
Tabula Rasa is found near Beaver Lake in Montana, in the former location of the town of Tucker Creek, which was destroyed to pave way for its creation. In the real world, Beaver Lake, Montana is an actual location, although there is no such town as Tucker Creek.
Tabula Rasa is 10 miles in diameter and the processes that created it extended into the air above it and into the ground below. A time manipulation device known as The World encapsulated Tabula Rasa during its 130 million years of evolution. However, it was eventually deactivated. To protect the ecosystem afterwards, SWORD helped build a dome that would prevent anything from getting in or out, as well as provide artificial light to the environment within it.
Much of Tabula Rasa is lush, exotic forests that provide a habitat for much of the area’s strange creatures. When The World was originally deployed, it covered a small section of the local river. When the time engines started, the water inside what would become Tabula Rasa stopped flowing, creating an artificial lake. This calm lake became its own center for the evolution of aquatic evolution and provided a habitat for a number of creatures, the most notable being the sentient tapeworms. They built themselves small, brightly colored, dome-like structures to live in at the bottom of the lake. When The World was deactivated, the water was able to flow again, endangering the creatures that had come to rely on the still waters. The dome erected by SWORD cut off the river once more and calmed the waters of the lake down, saving all those that lived within it.
On the surface, a number of civilizations rose and fell during the millenia that passed and they all left their mark on the surrounding environment. The species known as the Apex were the most evoled and built enormous stone buildings that lasted millions of years after most of them died out.
The longest-lasting of the Apex's many buildings was known as the Palace of Slumber and was a technologically advanced structure designed to allow the Apex to sleep in stasis during the prolonged night time. Though the Apex inside still died, the building survived to the modern day. When the X-Men investigated Tabula Rasa, they found examples of the Apex's complex technology as well as sophisticated works of art housed inside.
Aside from the Apex, another primitive amphibian race evolved and survived across the millenia that passed within Tabula Rasa. This amphibious race survies to this day and its simple people are the primary land-based inhabitants, living in small villages consisting of wooden huts.
Limited in its understanding of the events that transpired within the accelerated timeframe that created Tabula Rasa, this race attributed much of the developments they witnessed to their gods. Believing some of the Apex to be gods, they erected a giant stone wall and created a mural of Tabula Rasa’s history. When Archangel and members of X-Foirce initially arrived to survey Tabula Rasa, they left such an impression on this species that they too were commemorated on this mural.
After the full revelation of Tabula Rasa's existence and origins were revealed, the authorities quickly realized Tucker Creek had been destroyed and thousands of lives lost. After SHIELD and SWORD erected the protective dome and established a security detail to protect Tabula Rasa, a monument to the fallen was erected in the middle of the area, reminding anyone who sees it of those that died so that Tabula Rasa could be born.
Archangel, a member of X-Force, had been struggling with his newly re-emerged Death persona that was inflicted on him by Apocalypse many years before. With the recent death of Apocalypse, Archangel had finally succumbed to the persona and rose to take his former master’s mantle. Looking at the world around him, he decided he wanted to wipe it clean and start anew, but first he needed a testing stage for his plan. Using Apocalypse’s son Genocide, the two travelled to the quiet town of Tucker Creek in Montana. Genocide used his explosive powers to obliterate the town in mere moments, giving Archangel a place to enact the next stage of his plan. A Celestial Life Seed was planted into the ground and an advanced time-manipulating device called The World was used to contain the energies. The World had time manipulation engines within it that could allow time to be sped up within it but allow time to flow normally outside it. The World grew to approximately 10 miles in diameter, allowing Archangel and his team to enter and watch the experiment from a safe place inside.
Dark Beast initiated the time engines and over the course of 24 hours in the regular world, 130 million years passed within Tabula Rasa. As the Life Seed’s energies seeped into the soil, plants started to grow and soon simple animals developed. By the 15 million-year mark, mammals had risen to become the dominant species, but by 30 million years the amphibians that they once hunted had developed stone tools to fight back with. Over time, the amphibians developed a culture and built primitive towns and cities, even calling themselves the Apex.
The cycle of the Sun was limited to that of the outside world, and so for the first few dozen million years the Sun as always in the sky. The Apex knew that once the Sun went down they would lose their source of energy and would need to find another. One member of the Apex used technology he developed to build himself a suit in a bid to escape the temporal boundaries trapping them. He failed, though, instead becoming trapped within the boundary and his suit’s power signature was looked upon like a star in the sky. Another member of the Apex chose to use a stasis tube to keep himself alive until the Sun would eventually rise again. The rest of the Apex decided that stasis was a good idea too and they built a large pyramid to house them all in as they slept.
As nighttime came to the outside world, so did darkness descend within Tabula Rasa. This allowed the creatures that had grown underground to come to the surface and take over. Soon these invaders also fell to sentient tapeworms that had evolved within the waters of the ecosystem. Unfortunately for the Apex, with the main source of energy now gone, the ecosystem started to leech energy off their stasis pyramid, dooming everyone inside. Eventually, the Sun arose once more and a new species of amphibians retook their world to become the dominant species once more.
After 24 hours in the real world, the time engines were shut down and Archangel could see the new world he had created. He wasn’t the only one interested in looking around, though, as X-Force had tracked him down and were already surveying the area. Archangel attacked them and went head-to-head with Fantomex, with the fight spilling out into a village of primitive locals. The locals could only run as these strangers with amazing powers fought each other. Archangel was soon forced to flee, although he remained happy with the test and began making preparations to enact the plan on the whole planet. [Uncanny X-Force (1st series) #14-15, Uncanny X-Men (2nd series) #6]
Archangel was eventually stopped before he could go through with his plan, but Tabula Rasa remained and soon the outside world started investigating. Only a few hours after Tucker Creek was destroyed, local law enforcement arrived to investigate. Once they were able to gain access, they began to enter the area to see if there were any survivors from the town; however no one who went in came back out. One of the X-Force members, Psylocke, alerted the X-Men to the Tabula Rasa situation, although she kept X-Force’s and Archangel’s part in its creation a secret. The team arrived in the middle of a battle between the police and a flock of giant bats, which had lost their ability to navigate due to The World’s de-activation. After sorting that situation out, they split into teams to investigate the area. Magneto and Psylocke came across the village where Archangel and Fantomex had fought and discovered the villagers had built a monument to the two adversaries. They believed the invaders to be gods and, when they saw the two X-Men, they immediately bowed down, as they also believed them gods too. They were disturbed by the armor-clad member of the Apex who had returned after being stuck in the temporal border of Tabula Rasa for millions of years. He attacked the two X-Men but they managed to scare him off once re-enforcements arrived.
Meanwhile, Cyclops was kidnapped by the other member of the Apex, the one who had put himself in stasis before the Sun went out. He found some survivors from the nearby police who had been sent into Tabula Rasa and realized that this Apex wasn’t dangerous. The Apex revealed himself to be incredibly smart and had already learned English. Dubbed “Good Apex,” he explained about his race’s past and the fact the other survivor of his race, “Bad Apex,” would try and resurrect the other members of his race. The team met up at the Palace of Slumber and discovered Bad Apex was going to use some gathered Life Seed energy to restore the bodies of his race, despite the fact is would decimate the environment nearby. Good Apex managed to expel the energy safely across Tabula Rasa and the team made Bad Apex see that he was destroying what little of his race’s legacy there was. Bad Apex flew away but Good Apex revealed that Tabula Rasa was still doomed because of the Sun. When The World was being used, the temporal effect lessened the effects of the Earth’s Sun on the area. Now the barrier was down the full force of the Sun was destroying the ecosystem and inundating the citizens with doses of radiation they couldn’t handle.
The X-Men and SWORD came up with a solution by erecting a dome over the area that would protect those inside and sustain their ecosystem. Whilst all this was transpiring, Namor met with some giant sentient tapeworms underwater and started diplomatic relations with them. When he discovered their habitat was in danger because of the river that flowed through Tabula Rasa, he had it diverted when the dome was erected by SWORD.
Tabula Rasa was place under protection and guards stood by to ensure no one went in and nothing else got out. A monument to the people that lost their lives in its formation was erected in the center of the area, although most people, the X-Men included, are still oblivious as to who really created it. In fact, most of the general population doesn’t even know it exists, as the dome contains camouflage technology to hide it from sight. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #5-8]
When the Phoenix Force was returning to Earth, Hope Summers was predicted to be its new host and so she had gone into hiding. She used dummy tracking devices to make the X-Men and Avengers think she was in a number of different locations, one of them being Tabula Rasa. Namor arrived and asked the Queen of the sentient tapeworms for help in tracking Hope down. As they were travelling through the jungle, they spotted a squad of Avengers and the two teams started fighting. In the end, it came down to The Thing and Namor, but they were disturbed by Good Apex, who had been watching the whole situation unfold from afar, believing it to be a mating ritual. Hope was soon found somewhere else and the teams quickly dispersed to continue their conflict elsewhere. [Uncanny X-Men (2nd series) #12, Avengers vs. X-Men #4, Wolverine and the X-Men (1st series) #11]
Notable Races of Tabula Rasa
During its 130 million years of development, Tabula Rasa has given rise to a number of sentient species, some of which still currently survive. All of the species within Tabula Rasa are so dependent on the conditions ion which they evolved that, when The World was deactivated, their lives were put in danger. Over a period of time, the Sun’s radiation, as well as numerous other environmental factors from the outside, would prove fatal to them. A dome was erected over the area to contain the various species and maintain the conditions they needed to live.
Appearance and abilities
The Apex are humanoid in design but they have dark, tan skin and larger brains that extend from the back of their heads. Their faces are covered by two flaps of skin that can be unfolded at will to reveal a mouth, nose and two large black eyes. The larger brain seems to have increased their intelligence, as both Good Apex and Bad Apex were able to learn English in a matter of hours, purely by listening to others speak it. The species is genderless until they pair up and one of the couple will assume the male role and the other the female.
- Examples of Apex facial armor in both full defensive and passive mode -
Developing in the first part of Tabula Rasa’s creation, the Apex seem to have evolved from an amphibian ancestor. They became advanced enough to harness the Celestial energies that resided within the area and used it to build a city. However, the smartest of the Apex predicted that the Sun, which had been constantly in the sky for their entire span, was going to disappear. One of the Apex, later named Bad Apex, managed to build a suit to carry himself through the temporal barrier of The World. Unfortunately, it did not work as he had hoped and he became stuck in the barrier. The rest of the Apex chose to put themselves in stasis using the Celestial energies, hoping to ride the darkness out. When the Sun eventually went down, the other plants and animals of Tabula Rasa leeched the energy from the Apex’s stasis chambers to survive. Almost all of the Apex died in their sleep, except for Bad Apex and another called Good Apex, who had chosen to go into stasis in a separate place. Good Apex eventually woke when the Sun rose 65 million years later and Bad Apex was freed when the World was deactivated shortly after. Bad Apex set out trying to resurrect the rest of his species but was eventually stopped by the X-Men and Good Apex. Afterwards, Good Apex chose to look after some of the more primitive species of Tabula Rasa, by acting a doctor to them.
Also known as Savage
First Appearance – Uncanny X-Men (2nd series) #5 (as a silhouette), #6 (fully seen)
All Appearances – Uncanny X-Men (2nd series) #5-8, 12
Also known as the Immortal Man
First Appearance - Uncanny X-Men (2nd series) #5
All Appearances - Uncanny X-Men (2nd series) #5-8
Appearance and abilities
Larger in size and bulk than a human, these water-dwelling creatures likely evolved from much smaller worms. Whilst they have a vague humanoid appearance, their limbs are more like flippers and their faces only contain a mouth and two very small eyes. They seem to move with greater ease in water, but do have the ability to travel on land too for extensive periods of time. Their social structure is much like that of a bee or ant, with a Queen ruling over them and many soldiers and workers around her.
Their language is incomprehensible to most humans, although Namor and the alien Hepzibah both managed to communicate with the Queen.
When the Sun was in the sky during the early part of Tabula Rasa’s cycle, the sentient tapeworms were confined to the dark cold waters of their lake. However, once the sun went down, they were able to venture out of the water and dominate the land. This wasn’t to last, though, as the Sun eventually rose again and the tapeworms were forced back to the water.
When The World was deactivated, the X-Men ventured into Tabula Rasa on a scouting mission to find out what happened there. Namor and Hope Summers dove into the lake to investigate what was in there and were attacked by the tapeworms. They were taken to the underwater lair of the Queen, where she and Namor privately started diplomatic relations between the two species. Namor discovered that, when the temporal barrier was dropped, the once peaceful lake that the tapeworms had been living in turned into a river. With their homes under threat, things were looking bad for them until a new dome was put up and the river’s flow was stopped again. Later on, Hope was on the run from the Avengers and X-Men and Tabula Rasa was one of the locations they searched. Namor contacted the tapeworm Queen and she agreed to help look for Hope.
First Appearance - Uncanny X-Men (2nd series) #8
All Appearances - Uncanny X-Men (2nd series) #8, 12
Appearance and abilities
Another humanoid species evolving from Amphibians, this race did not progress as much as the Apex. They are green-skinned, with a large mouth and black eyes, but they seem to lack a nose. Their culture is similar to Iron Age humans with stone tools and spears being used to hunt and simple skins to act as clothes. They do not appear to understand much about the Apex and they attribute much of the recent changes in Tabula Rasa to gods. When they saw X-Force and the X-Men for the first time, they believed them gods and immediately worshipped them as such.
Apparently they developed in the early part of Tabula Rasa’s cycle and, given their similar physiology to the Apex, probably shared a common ancestor. Whilst the Apex went into stasis when the Sun went down, this other species seemed to survive through the darkness. However, when the Sun rose, their culture hadn’t changed much in all that time and they still appear to be as primitive as they were millions of years earlier.