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Dark Riders (comics)

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Dark Riders
Publication information
PublisherMarvel Comics
First appearanceX-Factor Vol. 1 #65
(April 1991)
Created byChris Claremont
Jim Lee
Whilce Portacio
See: List of members

The Dark Riders, also known as the Riders of the Storm, are a team of fictional supervillains appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. Created by Chris Claremont, Jim Lee, and Whilce Portacio in X-Factor Volume 1 #65 (April 1991). The group is composed of mutants and Inhumans who are devoted to the philosophy of the survival of the fittest and serves the immortal mutant, Apocalypse.

Organization history[edit]

Apocalypse leadership[edit]


Apocalypse's first assembled team were known as "The Riders of the Dark", human soldiers and warriors, gathered from all over the Earth during the fifteenth century.[1] This army was so strong and powerful that some were led to believe that they were just a myth to scare soldiers before their first battle. They disbanded centuries ago when Cable first defeated Apocalypse. The most recent reincarnation of the Dark Riders is a group of mute, techno-organic or cybernetic warriors who guard Apocalypse's tomb. The creatures never speak and don't seem to have any personality beyond complete loyalty to the strongest.[2]

First modern incarnation[edit]

When Apocalypse conquered the city of Attilan, home of the Inhumans, he enslaved part of its population. He selected six Inhumans among them: Gauntlet, HardDrive, Tusk, Foxbat, Psynapse and Barrage.[3] They became the Riders of the Storm, rechristened after Apocalypse's earliest army.[4] Apocalypse sent them to Earth to battle his enemies X-Factor and infect the infant Nathan Christopher Summers and Ship with a techno-organic virus. Ship launched and self-destructed, but the AI that controlled Ship was saved.[5] X-Factor made it to the Moon, where Atillan was then located, and joined with the royal family of the Inhumans in their battle against Apocalypse. Apocalypse was defeated, seemingly killed, and the enslaved Inhumans were freed. Despite this loss, the Riders of the Storm remained loyal to Apocalypse, and took his body back to Earth to regenerate in his base.[6]

Stryfe's leadership[edit]

Several months later, the Horsemen, another team serving Apocalypse, kidnapped Cyclops and Jean Grey, two members of the X-Men who had been members of X-Factor during the battle for Attilan. This was done at the behest of Mister Sinister, who was using his shapeshifting powers to pose as Apocalypse. The Riders, now calling themselves the Dark Riders, raised Apocalypse from his regenerative sleep and told him that somebody was impersonating him.[7] Soon afterwards, Stryfe attacked Apocalypse and his Dark Riders, seeking revenge against Apocalypse.[8] He managed to defeat Apocalypse, but Apocalypse escaped. The Dark Riders, following Apocalypse's tenet of survival of the fittest, now followed Stryfe.[9]

Apocalypse allied himself with the X-Men, and they fought Stryfe and the Dark Riders.[10] While the X-Men pursued Stryfe, Apocalypse fought the Riders and was fatally wounded by them.[11] After their new leader Stryfe and Cable seem to die in a battle, the Dark Riders escape from the moon in a stolen spacecraft.[12]


Following Apocalypse's apparent demise,[13] the Dark Riders would still follow his teachings and try to 'test' mutants, eliminating all they considered unworthy. They targeted the mind-controlling Mesmero and seemingly killed him,[14] but in fact he used his hypnotic powers to escape.[15] For his weak performance during this fight, the Riders apparently killed one of their own, Psynapse. Their next target was Cyclops, who at the time was in discussion with Sinister. Sinister proved himself to be far more powerful than the Riders and warned them not to kill Cyclops, but added that he didn't object to them 'roughing Cyclops up.' Sinister teleported away and the Riders fought Cyclops, who managed to keep the fight to a draw. HardDrive appeared and told Cyclops that he was the first to pass their test. Cyclops tried to convince the Riders to stop with their useless actions, but they teleported away to continue their quest.[16]


Learning of Apocalypse’s apparent death in the present, Tyler set out to obtain Apocalypse's power for himself. Renaming himself Genesis and assembling a new incarnation of the Dark Riders in the form of the mutants known as Deadbolt, Hurricane, Lifeforce and Spyne, he sent them to test Apocalypse’s former servants. Foxbat was the first to be tested and unfortunately, was considered unworthy and apparently killed by Lifeforce. Soon afterwards Caliban, a former Horseman of Apocalypse, was also targeted and considered unworthy, but he was saved by Cable, Domino and Storm.[17] They captured one of Tusk's Underlings, who claimed that the Riders had killed Tusk Prime and the other Underlings. The Underling led them to the Dark Rider's base, but it turned out to be a trap. Genesis appeared and revealed himself as Cable's son, Tyler.[18] Genesis told them that he wanted to replace Apocalypse. Cable and his friends fought the Dark Riders and Cable tried to save his son, but Tyler and the Riders teleported away again, not having the slightest idea that the fortress that they eventually destroyed was actually the place where Apocalypse was regenerating.[19] Genesis and the Dark Riders later battled Mister Sinister, Jean Grey and the Beast after kidnapping Sinister's former lover, Faye Livingstone, in an attempt to crush Sinister's spirit. Although the Riders were defeated, Livingstone died.[20]

Genesis then decided to recruit Wolverine to his cause. To further this goal, the Dark Riders broke Wolverine's adamantium-skinned foe Cyber out of prison.[21] Although Genesis led Cyber to believe that he was being recruited to Genesis's cause, Tyler instead fed Cyber to mutated flesh-eating beetles and melted down Cyber's adamantium carapace.[22] Genesis tried to turn Wolverine into one of his soldiers by using this adamantium to replace Wolverine's adamantium skeleton, which had been forcibly removed by Magneto some months earlier. Dirtnap, 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, is revealed to be the new inclusion to the Dark Riders.[23] Wolverine's body forcibly rejected both Genesis's brainwashing and the adamantium which is expelled from his body in the form of shrapnel, killing Lifeforce and Hurricane. Wolverine becomes a feral, noseless savage and hunts down and kills Spyne, Deadbolt and Genesis himself. Gauntlet was also hunted down but managed to survive, while Dirtnap was able to escaped before Wolverine could find him.[24]

Stryfe again[edit]

Several months later, the surviving Dark Riders, joined by a very alive Psynapse (his apparent death was in reality an illusion created by him as the minds of the Dark Riders were already weakened from Mesmero's attack), worked again for Stryfe, who returned from death without any explanation. Stryfe ordered them to kill all other telepaths but when Gauntlet, Barrage and HardDrive attacked Jean Grey, Madelyne Pryor showed up and used her powers to defeat Barrage and HardDrive, leaving them for dead, although their status remains unconfirmed. The other Dark Riders attacked Nate Grey, but Psynapse's attack only reactivated Nate's lost psychic powers, apparently killing Psynapse in the feedback, although he would soon reappear without explanation once more. Nate also discovered that Tusk is really a small, wormlike creature within Tusk Prime's large shell, although whether this was the true Tusk remains unknown.[25]

Solo Work[edit]

With the apparent demise of the team, the only two Dark Riders who are not incapacitated or dead are Dirtnap and Gauntlet. Dirtnap is later seen fighting both Wolverine and the anti-hero Venom.[26] In a later battle with the X-Men's mutants-in-training, Generation X, Dirtnap apparently reformed, and seemingly sacrificed himself to save the young heroes.[27]

Gauntlet showed up as a mercenary, secretly contracted by Blaquesmith to hunt down the merged being of Cyclops and Apocalypse, only to find Apocalypse killed when Phoenix rescued Cyclops from the merger. Gauntlet did not reveal to Cable the identity of his client.[28]


Three of the mutant members of the Dark Riders, Spyne, Deadbolt, Hurricane, were resurrected by Selene during the Necrosha storyline.[29]

All New, All Different Marvel[edit]

The mutant members of the Dark Riders (minus Lifeforce and Dirtnap) remained alive after the events of Necrosha when the entire team, composed of both they and the original Inhuman members (minus Foxbat), who were also apparently resurrected in the interim since their last appearance, recently resurfaced again in the aftermath of the Terrigen Mists being released across the Earth. Seeing this as a sign of natural selection, the Dark Riders have been targeting mutant healers around the world for execution so they do not interfere with natural selection. According to Gauntlet, mutants have had their chance at survival and delaying the end of mutantkind would be an affront to nature. They succeeded in killing Josh Foley, also known as Elixir and have also targeted Triage and Shen Xorn for death. However, Triage is currently under the protection of Magneto and his team of X-Men, while Xorn fended off an assassination attempt made on him by several of the Dark Riders, killing Barrage.[30] Deadbolt, HardDrive, Hurricane, Psynapse, Spyne, and all three Tuskettes were later killed in battle by Magneto's team of X-Men on Genosha. It is assumed that Gauntlet and Tusk are dead, since Magneto tied them up in steel, along with the corpses of their fellow Dark Riders, and then set off a bomb that blew them up and what Magneto claimed was "the entire island of Genosha. [31]. Gauntlet was later confirmed to have indeed been killed by the explosion and temporarily resurrected as a mindless zombie by a self-resurrecting Elixir when Magneto's team of X-Men return to inspect a still-wholly intact Genosha [32].

List of members[edit]

Character Real Name Joined in Notes
Gauntlet Unknown X-Factor #65 (April 1991)
(First appearance)
Inhuman, field leader, enhanced physical abilities, expert marksman, has an arsenal of advanced weaponry
Foxbat Unknown X-Factor #65 (April 1991)
(First appearance)
Batlike, winged, fanged, taloned, horned Inhuman, though mentioned as a mutant in Cable #17 and killed by Lifeforce in the same issue.
Barrage Unknown X-Factor #65 (April 1991)
(First appearance)
Inhuman, has energy cannons for arms. Left for dead in X-Man #46, but revealed to be alive in Uncanny X-Men #2.
Psynapse Unknown X-Factor #65 (April 1991)
(First appearance)
Inhuman telepath, cousin to Medusa and Crystal, somehow managed to reactivate the telepathic powers of Jean Grey and later of Nate Grey when trying to kill them. He was supposedly killed by his fellow Dark Riders in X-Men #21, later appeared alive again in X-Man #46 but died again in the same issue. He has since re-appeared in Uncanny X-Men #2.
Tusk Unknown X-Factor #65 (April 1991)
(First appearance)
Inhuman, with superhuman strength and durability, and able to create many smaller versions of himself known as Underlings or Tuskettes. The original version was sometimes referred to as Tusk Prime. Re-appeared in Uncanny X-Men #2.
(sometimes spelled "Hardrive"; once referred to as Mainframe)
Unknown X-Factor #65 (April 1991)
(First appearance)
Inhuman, technopath/technokine who merged with technology, allowing him to teleport others, control machinery, and transform his body. Leader, left for dead in X-Man #46, but re-appeared in Uncanny X-Men #2.
Spyne Unknown Cable #17 (November 1994)
(First appearance)
Mutant, reptilian monstrous body, with fangs, claws and tail. Was killed by Wolverine in Wolverine #100, resurrected by Selene via the Technarch transmode virus in X-Force Vol.3 #21. Re-appeared in Uncanny X-Men #2.
Lifeforce Unknown Cable #17 (November 1994)
(First appearance)
Mutant, drained life energies by touch to amplify her own physical abilities and to fire energy blasts, killed Foxbat, was killed in Wolverine #100, resurrected by Selene via the Technarch transmode virus in X-Force Vol.3 #21. Current status unknown.
Hurricane Unknown Cable #17 (November 1994)
(First appearance)
Mutant, wind-generating/controlling powers, was killed in Wolverine #100, resurrected by Selene via the Technarch transmode virus in X-Force Vol.3 #21. Re-appeared in Uncanny X-Men #2.
Deadbolt Unknown Cable #17 (November 1994)
(First appearance)
Mutant, skeletal body, threw bones as weapons, telepathy, was killed in Wolverine #100, resurrected by Selene via the Technarch transmode virus in X-Force Vol.3 #21. Re-appeared in Uncanny X-Men #2.
Genesis Tyler Dayspring Cable #18 (December 1994) Mutant, telepath and illusionist, leader, son of Cable, was killed in Wolverine #100
Dirtnap Unknown Wolverine #99 (March 1996)
First appeared in Wolverine #95 (November 1995)
Mutant, bodysnatcher, was killed in Generation X #39.

Other Versions[edit]

Ultimate Marvel[edit]

Hard Drive was a member of Magneto's Brotherhood. He was tortured and killed in the Savage Land.[33]


  1. X-Men: Apocalypse vs Dracula #1
  2. Cable & Deadpool #26-27
  3. X-Factor (1st series) #67
  4. X-Factor (1st series) #65
  5. X-Factor (1st series) #66
  6. X-Factor (1st series) #68
  7. X-Men (2nd series) #14
  8. X-Men (2nd series) #15
  9. X-Force (1st series) #17
  10. X-Factor #86
  11. X-Men (2nd series) #16
  12. X-Force (1st series) #18
  13. X-Force (1st series) #18
  14. X-Men (2nd series) #21
  15. Alpha Flight (2nd series) #4
  16. X-Men (2nd series) #23
  17. Cable (1st series) #17
  18. Cable (1st series) #18
  19. Cable (1st series) #19
  20. X-Men Annual '95
  21. Wolverine (2nd series) #93
  22. Wolverine (2nd series) #96
  23. Wolverine (2nd series) #99
  24. Wolverine (2nd series) #100
  25. X-Man #46
  26. Venom: Tooth and Claw #1-3
  27. Generation X #39
  28. X-Men: The Search for Cyclops #1-4
  29. X-Force Vol.3 #21
  30. Uncanny X-Men #1-4
  31. Uncanny X-Men Volume 4, Issue #5
  32. Uncanny Xmen Volume 4, Annual, Issue #1
  33. Ultimatum #3

External links[edit]

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