Externals: Gideon, Saul, Nicodemus, Burke, Absolom, Crule, Candra, Selene
Believed to be Externals at one time: Cannonball, Apocalypse
First appearance: X-Force (1st series) #8 [mentioned], #10 [gathering of most members]
Last appearance: Cable (1st series) #154
The rules regarding the Externals (or High Lords as they're sometimes called) are somewhat vague. Externals are mutants who possess a gift of immortality separate from their primary mutation. Each External's immortality is activated by their first death -- when they die a normal death, they are resurrected by their External power, and they will remain at the age they were when they first died forever.
Externals typically cannot die, but seem to possess an immortal healing factor rather than invulnerability. They suffer injuries just like any other person, and can even appear dead if mortally wounded, but will eventually restore themselves to life and health. Reports have indicated Externals can only truly die if their heart is removed, or if one severs "the five branches" (presumably meaning removing their limbs, followed by decapitation). These may have been misdirections, however, for the only rule that seems to truly matter is that an External can only be killed by another External.
Even when an External is killed this way, they can eventually come back in some manner. Some Externals have eventually restored their original bodies (although it might take longer if killed by another External). Meanwhile, Burke was reincarnated in an infant, and Candra resurrected as a ghostly entity, only able to assume physical form by draining lifeforce from others. Supposedly, the only way to permanently kill the Externals is for one External to kill every other External, seizing their power in order to become the final High Lord. If an External is successful in becoming the last surviving Externals, the others will reportedly remain dead forever.
- Selene is the oldest known External (and mutant), born over 25,000 years ago. Crule is implicitly nearly as old -- he was prone to cursing with the names of gods worshipped during the era of Conan, after the fall of Atlantis 12,000 years ago. Saul was also revered as one of the oldest Externals, considered several millennia old. By contrast, Gideon was little more than 500 years old and Absolom perhaps 150 years old. The relative ages of Candra, Burke and Nicodemus are unknown, but each is more than a century old.
Over a hundred years in the past, Candra infiltrated Apocalypse's base in Egypt and defeated his guardian and documenter Ozymandias. She was in pursuit of Celestial technology and other secrets En Sabah Nur had spirited away during his long life. With the help of a time-travelling Gambit, Sinister stopped her and handed her over to her fellow Externals. The High Lords had made a pact some time earlier to avoid En Sabah Nur at all cost, and they apparently planned to punish Candra for trying to violate that pact and risking them all. [Gambit (3rd series) #14]
- Gideon ordered one of his operatives to poison Emmanuel DaCosta. He then told Dacosta's son Roberto (aka Sunspot of the New Mutants) that his father died of a heart attack and offered to help him with the financial empire of his father. Gideon and Roberto were previously acquainted with each other, but Roberto was unaware that Gideon was immortal. [New Mutants (1st series) #98-99]
- Gideon courted Sunspot because he believed him to be the next External. Known as a High Lord Ascension, the rise of a new External was a major turning point in history. From the 39th century, Cable independently came to the conclusion that the New Mutants' Cannonball was the next High Lord, not Sunspot. He therefore allowed Gideon to recruit Sunspot in order to obfuscate his own conclusions. [X-Force (1st series) #8,10]
- During a battle between X-Force and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, Cannonball was impaled and seemingly killed by Sauron. Cable brought the body to the infirmary and left to join the fight outside. After the battle ended, Sam suddenly stepped out of the infirmary, alive. The deep hole in his chest was fully healed. Cable then filled Cannonball in on his conclusions about Gideon, Sunspot, and the High Lords. [X-Force (1st series) #7-10]
Calling themselves High Lords, the Externals (Gideon, Saul, Nicodemus, Burke and Absolom) gathered at Nicodemus' place. They all felt the resurrection of Cannonball, signifying a new member of their clan. The others condemned Gideon for having recruited the wrong New Mutant, Sunspot. They also feared that Xavier's students would learn about their existence. Gideon came up with a plan to retrieve the new High Lord while keeping their hands relatively clean and their identities obscured. Gideon intended to assign the prodigal External named Crule to the task. [X-Force (1st series) #10]
Gideon traveled to Madripoor and contacted Crule. Crule started a fight and Gideon proved to be Crule's match. Crule remarked that usually the other Externals avoided him, and only made contact if they wanted somebody killed. Gideon acknowledged that this time it was Cable they wanted dead. The Externals hoped to get to Cannonball once Cable was out of the way. When Gideon returned with Crule, Sunspot began asking questions. Gideon mimicked Crule's abilities to brutally beat Sunspot, taking out his frustration at having picked the wrong future High Lord on Roberto. [X-Force (1st series) #12]
Crule observed X-Force from afar as they were separated from their leaders and ran afoul of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Weapon P.R.I.M.E. With Cable gone, Crule believed he could easily retrieve or kill Cannonball and attacked X-Force in their shuttle. At a pause in the violence, Crule revealed that the Externals held Sunspot hostage, and Cannonball had Rictor blast Crule out of the ship. Gideon made contact with X-Force before they could hunt him down. In exchange for Sunspot's life, Cannonball had to promise to Gideon that he'd never interfere in matters concerning the Externals. Once the promise was made, Gideon directed X-Force to the research facility where Sunspot was being experimented on. [X-Force (1st series) #14-15]
Nicodemus fell ill with a strange illness, almost unprecedented among the Externals. In his final moments of convalescence, Nicodemus's plasma power exploded outwards and the ancient mutant died. Gideon was on hand for Nicodemus's death, and shaken by the implications. [X-Force (1st series) #20]
Saul captured three members of X-Force at their new base, rendering them unconscious with a single blast. He and Gideon threatened to kill them if Cannonball did not produce himself in exchange. The Externals believed that Cannonball's genetic structure might contain information explaining the death of Nicodemus. X-Force abducted Crule from a hospital where he was put after the fall from the IPAC shuttle, his whole body in a fiberglass cast. From him they learned the location of Saul's villa, then tossed him into the ocean (since his fiberglass cast would float). Saul and Gideon did not expect an attack and were caught completely off-guard by X-Force's strike team. Led by Sunspot, X-Force freed their teammates and left, dismissing the Externals as not worth their time. Cannonball stayed back at the headquarters and thus abided by the letter of his promise not to interfere. [X-Force (1st series) #21-24]
- Crule was eventually retrieved by Gideon and recovered from his injuries. [Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2nd series) #46-47]
Candra resurfaced in the modern age. She was in contact with Gideon and also revealed to have been responsible for the formation of the Thieves and Assassins Guildes in New Orleans. Otherwise, though, she stayed out of direct interaction with the High Lords and their "boys' club." [Gambit (1st series) #1-4]
Saul, Absolom and Gideon approached Cannonball, not to fight but for help. In fact, they were scared of dying - Nicodemus and now Burke died of the Legacy virus and Absolom had already contracted it. They revealed that, just before dying, Burke foresaw that Cannonball would be involved in finding a cure. The Externals each stand for something in the "eternal puzzle." Nicodemus was wisdom, Burke fortitude, Saul provides patience, Crule ferocity, Absolom despair, Gideon opportunity, Candra and Selene add guile and corruption, and now Cannonball stands for hope. Cannonball was unable to provide the Externals with any direct assistance, but his optimism and fighting spirit helped quell the panic Gideon and the others were feeling. They parted peacefully, with a renewed determination not to succumb to Legacy. [X-Force (1st series) #36-37]
Months later, Sunspot and Caliban answered a distress call from Gideon's offices, but his dead body fell out of the building as they arrived. Absolom and Crule thought them responsible for the murder and started a fight. When the rest of X-Force came to the rescue, Warpath examined the apartment from which Gideon fell. There he discovered a crucified and drained Saul and the true culprit - Selene! After defeating Warpath easily, she joined the fight outside and killed Crule and Absolom. Selene laughed at X-Force for believing Cannonball to be an External, and suggested it was just a ploy by Cable. [X-Force (1st series) #52-54]
- Candra was the only confirmed External to survive Selene's massacre. She died by separate means not long after, however. Candra had concentrated the power of her External heart into a separate vessel, a ruby crystal. When that ruby was destroyed, Candra's essence was dispersed and she seemingly died as well. [X-Men (2nd series) #60-61]
- Selene returned to the Hellfire Club (see Hellfire Club III) much stronger, possessing the lifeforces of four Externals. Since that incarnation of the Club fell slowly apart, Selene created a new, truly hellish Hellfire Club around herself, (see Hellfire Club IV) although that version too didn’t last for long. For reasons unknown, she found herself virtually confined to the grounds of the Hellfire Club, existing in a shadow wraith-like state. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #452-454]
- During Cannonball's time with the X-Men, they were tracing down rumors about a cure for the Legacy virus to Hong Kong. This might be the vision Burke foresaw about Cannonball helping to find a cure, as Sam had actually no part in actually finding the Legacy cure years later. [X-Men (2nd series) #62-64, Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #390]
- Cannonball's status as an External has been thoroughly debunked in the intervening years. Cable and others dismissed it as a red herring. However, Sam was shot three times through the chest by Reverend Stryker’s Purifiers, and was back up and around in a matter of hours. When asked about it, Hank McCoy mentioned Sam’s status as an immortal again, though it’s not sure if he was joking or not. [New X-Men (2nd series) #28] If Sam is not an External, it remains unexplained how he survived Sauron's attack and why the other Externals sensed it.
- Because Selene did not complete her murder and consumption of the other Externals, the High Lord Ascension was not complete and the others eventually returned to life. Saul, Absolom, Crule, Burke, Nicodemus and Candra all returned behind the scenes.
- For some reason, Gideon did not return to life as easily as the other Externals. His near-lifeless body remained in stasis for over 3000 years until he emerged in 5348. As he recovered in that post-apocalyptic future, Gideon discovered a time machine and decided to return to the present and take up Selene's quest for himself. [Cable (1st series) #153]
When Candra was killed by an unknown assailant, the other Externals telepathically felt her demise. Seeking safety in numbers, Nicodemus, Crule and Absolom sought out Selene and joined forces for mutual defense. When Cable and his X-Men allies came looking for Selene, they initially assumed he was responsible and attacked. The X-Men were not the killers, however, and so the two groups parted ways. The Externals were unable to stop further attacks from happening, and soon discovered the dead and discarded bodies of Saul in Tibet and Burke in Washington.
Gideon was revealed as the real killer, having returned from the far future to finish what Selene had started years earlier. Burke had been his secret ally, having grown tired of immortality and wanting Gideon to fulfill the prophecy and kill him for the final time. Burke's precognition had helped Gideon stay a step ahead of his pursuers and prey before he submitted to being killed himself. Absolom had also sided with Gideon, and surprised his fellow Externals by turning against them when Gideon arrived to attack the group as a whole. Selene escaped with her puppet Blink, but Nicodemus and Crule were killed and their powers consumed by Gideon.
Selene and Cable consolidated their forces as the endgame approached. Gideon was now incredibly powerful, filled with the strength of the murdered Externals. Selene warned Gideon that the power of the Externals was meant to be spread between them. It was too much power for any one being to contain, and that's why she stopped in her quest years earlier. Gideon rejected the idea, but Cable doubled down on Selene's statements, claiming his knowledge as a time traveler had shown this was not a major moment in history, meaning whatever Gideon achieved would be brief and a failure. Gideon was distracted long enough for Blink to form a teleportation portal around his head and close it, decapitating him. [Cable (1st series) #150-154]
- Gideon's headless body and the unconscious Absolom were taken into custody by the X-Men. Cable mentioned he intended to take Gideon to a super-max prison in the future, strong enough to contain him.
- Selene escaped and went forward with her own schemes, leading to the events of Necrosha, during which she resurrected dead mutants around the world for her own purposes.
- Because Gideon did not finish his crusade, the deaths of the Externals were not permanent. Burke was reincarnated as an infant shortly after Gideon's fall. Candra also returned in time as an insubstantial being, requiring lifeforce from others to restore her body to full life.
First appearance: New Mutants (1st series) #98
First Externals appearance: X-Force (1st series) #10
All Externals relevant appearances: Gambit (3rd series) #14, X-Force (1st series) #10, 12, 15, 20, 22-23, Gambit (1st series) #1-2, X-Force (1st series) #36-37, 52, Cable (1st series) #150-154
Powers: Matrix-absorbing ability allowed him to adapt his genetic code to whatever foe he faced, duplicating the special abilities of mutants, metahumans, cybernetics, and armored adversaries.
First appearance: X-Force (1st series) #10
Last appearance: Cable (1st series) #151
All Externals appearances: Gambit (3rd series) #14, X-Force (1st series) #10, 21-23, 36-37, 53, Cable (1st series) #151
Powers: Unspecified; Saul was both a mutant and a sorcerer, he showed himself capable of levitation and firing a stream of highly explosive laser fire and, theoretically, could transform into a giant dragon.
Fact: The temples and sons of Garbha-hsien played a role in Gambit (3rd series) #1, during a series of archeological digs.
First appearance: X-Force (1st series) #10
Last appearance: Cable (1st series) #153
All Externals appearances: Gambit (3rd series) #14, X-Force (1st series) #10, 20, Cable (1st series) #150-153
Powers: Generate energy flares of unstable pyroplasma that carried incredible explosive force upon impact.
First appearance: X-Force (1st series) #10
Last appearance: Cable (1st series) #152
All Externals appearances: Gambit (3rd series) #14, X-Force (1st series) #10, Cable (1st series) #152
Powers: Experienced precognitive flashes that allowed him to anticipate his opponent’s actions and filled his dreams with visions of future events or possibilities.
First appearance: X-Force (1st series) #10
All Externals appearances: Gambit (3rd series) #14, X-Force (1st series) #10, 36-37, 53-54, Cable (1st series) #150-154
Powers: Superhuman strength, stamina, durability, and could extend shards of bone out through his flesh in the form of razor pointed spikes that could stretch to incredible lengths.
First appearance: X-Force (1st series) #10 [mentioned], 12 [seen]
Last appearance: Cable (1st series) #153
All Externals appearances: X-Force (1st series) #12, 14-15, 23-24, 53-54, Cable (1st series) #150-153
Powers: Superhuman strength, agility, stamina, resistance to physical harm, and heightened sensory perceptions – he also had purple skin.
Weapons: clawed gloves; hair plaited into a whip, mace attached to the hair-whip
First appearance: Gambit (1st series) #1
Last appearance: Scarlet Spider (2nd series) #19
All Externals relevant appearances: Gambit (3rd series) #14, Gambit (1st series) #1-2, Cable (1st series) #150
Powers: Telekinesis allowed her to levitate and propel objects, fire concussive bursts of mental energy, generate protective or constraining force fields, and manipulate individual synapses to unleash latent mutant powers or temporarily disable existing ones
First appearance: New Mutants (1st series) #9
First External appearance: X-Force (1st series) #37 [mentioned as an External]
All Externals appearances: X-Force (1st series) #53-54, Cable (1st series) #150-154
Powers: Superhuman strength, speed, endurance and reaction time, telepathy, telekinetic powers allowing her to create fire and manipulate the molecules of inanimate objects, can induce a momentary hypnotic trance in the minds of others, retains her youth and beauty consistently by draining the life energy from others; a partial absorption gives her a level of hypnotic control over her victims.
Cannonball (Samuel Zachary Guthrie)
First appearance: Marvel Graphic Novel #4
First Externals appearance: X-Force (1st series) #7
All Externals relevant appearances: X-Force (1st series) #7-10, 14-15, 22-23, 36-37
Powers: Releases thermochemical energy as a highly durable blast field around his body, using it for personal or group protection, focusing it into rocket thrust or bio-kinetic blasts, shaping the field around another person to imprison them, or absorb outside kinetic impact into his own field and discharge it as hyperforce punches or explosive shock waves upon impact
Note: Selene states that he is not an External in X-Force (1st series) #54, though the concept is still referred to in New X-Men (2nd series) #28. Cable confirmed Sam being an External was only a rumor in Cable (1st series) #151.
Apocalypse (En Sabah Nur)
First appearance: X-Factor (1st series) #5
First Externals appearance: none [The Externals appearing in X-Force (1st series) #37 mention him as a possible External, but he never joined their gatherings.]
All Externals appearances: none
Powers: Metahuman strength, speed, endurance, reflexes, durability, can absorb outside sources of energy to increase his strength, teleport himself over vast distances, discharge massive amounts of raw plasma, omnimorphic molecular structure that allows him to assume any physical form, shape his limbs into weapons or devices, and alter his size and mass, and a techno-organic factor in his bloodstream, enabling vast regenerative potential.
Note: Selene mentioned only two Externals still alive in X-Force (1st series) #54, by then that would be herself and Candra. It seems that even though Apocalypse was always rumored to be an External, he was not. Looking through his history, (acquiring alien technology, usage of hibernation chambers, need of new host body at the end of the Twelve Saga) it seems pretty clear that he wasn't an External, because by definition they didn't die, and almost did not age.