st transfFor this weekend’s escapist superhero post Balladeer’s Blog will take a look at the way the Marvel Comics writers became so enamored of the alien menace in the first Alien movie that they did their own imitation/ homage of it in the form of an insectoid alien race called the Brood.

The Brood could implant embryos inside captives and as those embryos matured, they would transform the host into another Brood creature. The X-Men eventually fought bunches of the Brood all at once but remember – as derivative as the Brood were that X-Men serial came BEFORE the movie Aliens in 1986.

First up, however, comes the earlier story in which the writers “paid homage” to Alien by way of a member of the Lovecraftian race of demons called the N’Garai (Marvel’s imitation of Cthulhu & company). They made this N’Garai resemble the xenormorph in Alien and used the single word title Demon. Kitty Pryde even made subtle references to Alien during the story.

xm 143X-MEN Vol 1 143 (March 1981)

Title: Demon

Villain: An unnamed demon of the N’Garai race

Synopsis: This odd Christmas story opened up with a flashback to the end of the X-Men’s very first encounter with the N’Garai back in X-Men #96 (December 1975). It skipped over Iron Fist’s clash with the N’Garai as well as Satana’s battle with them.

Somehow another N’Garai demon has gotten loose in upstate New York and is roaming the forest on Christmas Eve. A romantic couple show up to chop down a Christmas tree for themselves but fall victim to the demon.

brood picCut to Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, where Wolverine, Nightcrawler and Angel go off on dates with Mariko Yashida, Amanda Sefton and Candy Southern, respectively. Storm, Colossus and Professor X leave in the professor’s Rolls Royce to pursue their plans for the evening and this leaves the newest member of the team – Sprite (Kitty Pryde) – alone for a few hours.

Sprite winds up being attacked by the nameless N’Garai demon. It pursues her throughout the mansion and the creature’s resemblance to the menace in Alien reminds Sprite that the crew in that movie used flamethrowers against the monster. 

She then lured the demon into the underground hangar of X-Men HQ where she used the jets from their SR71 Blackbird to incinerate the creature, destroying it.

xm 156X-MEN Vol 1 #154-157 (February-May 1982)

NOTE: During these issues the X-Men had their first few battles with the Brood, but they were just secondary villains, allied with Sidrian Hunters and the supervillainess Deathbird against the X-Men, Starjammers and Empress Lilandra of the alien Shi’ar Empire.

NOTE: Empress Lilandra was Charles Xavier’s alien love interest at the time. The Starjammers were interstellar pirates led by Corsair aka Christopher Summers, who was really Scott Summers’ (Cyclops) long presumed-dead father.

A subplot begun during the above storyline was the way the Brood became impressed with the X-Men’s powers and felt they would be ideal specimens to bring to their homeworld so that their Queen could implant embryos in them.

xm 162X-MEN Vol 1 #162 (October 1982)

Title: Beyond the Farthest Star

Villains: The Brood

NOTE: In the cliffhanger ending to the previous issue, the X-Men (Cyclops, Wolverine, Storm, Nightcrawler, Colossus and Sprite) plus Empress Lilandra and the Earthling Carol Danvers were invited to a formal dinner on Lilandra’s Shi’ar starship in orbit around the Earth.

          Empress LilandraIt turned out to be a trap set by the Brood, in alliance with Shi’ar conspirators who wanted Lilandra (at right) removed from the throne. The X-Men, Lilandra and Carol Danvers (the former Ms. Marvel) were rendered unconscious and flown off in Lilandra’s hijacked spacecraft. The captives were kept in stasis as the vessel headed for the far-off Brood homeworld.

           This was during the period after Carol Danvers, the original Ms. Marvel, had had her Kree-spawned superpowers and all her memories drained by the mutant Rogue, who was a villainess back then.

Synopsis: After a journey of several months, the Brood in the hijacked vessel reach Broodworld, the home planet of our villains. The X-Men, Lilandra and Carol Danvers are brought out of stasis but are kept in a state of hallucination in which they think they are still at the Shi’ar formal celebration in orbit around Earth.

We readers can see, however, that they are really being presented individually to the Broodqueen so she can implant an embryo in each of their bodies.

NOTE: Again, I’m not accusing anybody of anything here, since pop culture sci-fi and comic books all draw from the same general collection of tropes, but this Broodqueen came years BEFORE the Queen Xenomorph in Aliens.

Wolverine’s healing factor causes him to come out of the hallucinogens before his fellow X-Men do, but he was already implanted with a Brood embryo. Confused and debilitated as he comes out of his stupor, Wolverine fights his way out of the Brood’s lair and winds up clashing with some of the even deadlier native life-forms of this hellish planet.

wolverine best there isIn the original “I’m the best there is at what I do” moment, Logan fights his way through all of the creatures, but then falls unconscious as his body’s healing factor resists the Brood embryo implanted in him. Wolverine’s healing factor wins out, killing the alien presence in his body.

Logan pieces together everything that has happened to him and the other X-Men on this planet. He assumes that the other X-Men plus Lilandra and Carol Danvers are doomed to become Broodlings since their bodies don’t have his healing factor. He passionately resolves to kill as many of the Brood as he can … and also kill his comrades before they can transform into Brood creatures themselves.

xm 163X-MEN Vol 1 #163 (November 1982)

Title: Rescue Mission

Villains: The Brood

Synopsis: Wolverine covertly reenters the Brood capital city. Soon, he picks up Carol Danvers’ scent. He follows it to a laboratory where Brood scientists are subjecting Carol to biological experiments. It turns out they did not trust the effect her combined Kree-Human DNA might have on one of their Queen’s embryos so she has not yet had one implanted.

Logan kills the Broodlings and frees Carol, who feels that her body has been altered in some way, but does not understand how yet. She grabs a raygun weapon and joins Wolverine in trying to find the other X-Men and Lilandra.

starjammers picElsewhere, we learn that Corsair and the other Starjammers (Chod, Raza, Ma’m’selle Hepzibah, Sikorski and Waldo) have informed Charles Xavier that the Brood abducted Lilandra and the X-Men so that Deathbird could enact her coup to seize the throne of the Shi’ar Empire. Now the Starjammers are on a quest to find the Brood homeworld to rescue our heroes.

Comment: In my opinion, if 20th Century Fox studios had realized how interesting the Starjammers were, they could have used them in a movie back when they had the X-Men movie rights to themselves. As characters introduced in the X-Men series they would have the Starjammers rights and maybe they would have enjoyed the same success on screen as the Guardians of the Galaxy did years later.

Back on Broodworld, Wolverine and Carol find the X-Men and Lilandra as their bodies are at last shaking off the effects of the hallucinogens. The Brood have just left them in holding cells pending their eventual transformation into Broodlings themselves.

hugh as wolverineWolverine leads them all in a violent raid to steal back Lilandra’s starship to escape in. Logan can’t yet bring himself to tell the others about the Brood embryos planted within them and focuses on killing as many Broodlings as he can during the ongoing battle.

Nightcrawler and Sprite retrieve Lilandra’s starship and take off in it. They use the ship’s transporters to teleport the X-Men, Lilandra and Carol aboard just as Wolverine was about to kill the Broodqueen in the chaotic battle between our heroes and several Broodlings (picture the battles against multiple Xenomorphs in the future movie Aliens).

On board that ship, the assembled heroes cannot understand why Logan was so insistent on killing the Broodqueen. He tries to work up the courage to tell them about the embryos that the Queen implanted them with, but we cut to some pursuing Brood ships which are about to open fire on Lilandra’s vessel, the Z’Reee Shar.

xm 164X-MEN Vol 1 #164 (December 1982)

Title: Binary Star

Villains: The Brood

Synopsis: The pursuing Brood starships open fire on the Z’Reee Shar, interrupting Wolverine’s pained attempts to tell his friends about the Brood embryos inside them. Cyclops, Wolverine, Storm, Nightcrawler, Colossus, Sprite, Carol Danvers and Lilandra spread out to try manning enough stations on Lilandra’s spaceship to keep it running AND fight back.

During this running battle in space, our heroes get confirmation of what they suspected about the Brood’s starships back during their first encounter with them back on Earth. The Brood ships – borrowing another concept from Alien – are organic creatures.

The interiors of the ships resembled ribs and and other biological features (like the ship explored in Alien) because the ships are enormous “space whales” called the Acanti. The Acanti are capable of flying at warp speed and can grow up to miles long.

acanti swallowing the starjammerThe vile Brood race capture the Acanti, deaden/ lobotomize their higher brain functions and enslave them to serve as starships for them. The Acanti are alive and aware of the way the Brood have converted their bodies by amputating and/ or “scooping out” parts of their innards and constructing weaponry, living quarters, laboratories and other technology inside them. Unfortunately, the Acanti are helpless to do anything about it.

The Brood’s Acanti “spaceships” are not firing to kill the X-Men and company, they’re just trying to disable Lilandra’s vessel. The Broodqueen reveals that the embryos she implanted in our heroes are all Queens themselves, so she wants the X-Men and Lilandra taken alive.

During the running battle, the Brood weapons knock out the warp drive on the Z’Reee Shar, so Sprite and Carol Danvers don spacesuits and go outside to effect repairs. At a moment of maximum danger, Carol Danvers feels her body finalizing its mutation from what the Brood experiments did to her.

binary starCarol transforms into a cosmically powerful entity called Binary Star and blasts the pursuing Brood ships apart. In addition, she is able to not just repair the warp drive but power the vessel enough to get it into hyperspace AND save Sprite’s life at the same time.

Back inside the Z’Reee Shar, after our heroes adjust to Carol’s metamorphosis, Wolverine at last forces himself to tell them about the Brood embryos inside them all. They are devastated by the news. Storm is so shocked she steals a shuttle craft and flies off in it, unwilling to face the others knowing what they now know.

Carol Danvers, dealing with this sad news for her friends on top of adjusting to her own transformation into Binary Star, throws a Wolverine-sized temper tantrum and flies off to avenge her friends on the vile Brood. Still not in full control of her new powers, she accidentally damages the hull of the Z’Reee Shar, causing decompression which the X-Men and Lilandra will need to deal with immediately or die in the vacuum of space.   

xm 165X-MEN Vol 1 #165 (January 1983)

Title: Transfigurations

Villains: The Brood

Synopsis: Wolverine, Cyclops, Nightcrawler, Colossus, Sprite and Lilandra manage to repair the hull of the Z’Reee Shar before any of them are swept out. Back on Earth, Charles Xavier and Moira MacTaggert are accepting that the X-Men – gone for months now – may well be dead, and Moira convinces a reluctant Charles to begin recruiting new mutants.

We return to outer space and join Storm on board the shuttle craft she stole last issue. She is still contemplating what is happening to her. At length she decides to kill herself before she can transform into a Broodling because of the embryo inside her. She attempts this, but a huge, unenslaved member of the Acanti (the space whales) race arrives on the scene.

Back on board the Z’Reee Shar, Lilandra, knowing that she and the X-Men (except Wolverine) will soon transform into Broodlings, vows to spend her remaining time alive killing as many of the Brood as she can. Cyclops is loath to admit it, but he feels the same way. Naturally, Wolverine agrees.

wolverine and nightcrawlerWe get more character bits as Nightcrawler turns to prayer in keeping with his personality. Wolverine arrives and the pair discuss the fate facing the German mutant. Nightcrawler ventures the opinion that since Logan does not believe in God he must feel terribly alone at times. In a touching moment reflecting the deep friendship established between the pair, Wolverine counters that “I ain’t alone. I got you.”

NOTE: Thankfully this was back before unhinged people insisted on forcing gayness into every single moment of friendship between comic book characters of the same sex. The moment was allowed to stand as a tribute to Kurt and Logan’s friendship and a reminder that when Kurt DOES transform into a Broodling, Logan will truly feel more alone than ever.

colossus and spriteCut to Sprite, who is asleep and having a nightmare about transforming into a Broodling. She cries out and Colossus wakes her up and comforts her. They again discuss the love that had been forming between them.

Given what is hanging over them, Sprite wonders fearfully if some of their own minds will live on after their transformations, forcing them to be aware of their vile, malevolent existence as members of the Brood.

We now move on to what I like to call “the Docetic Storm” portion of this issue. An image of Storm as she was in her teenage years in Africa appears to Sprite and Colossus, then disappears. Next, an image of Storm as a child appears to Nightcrawler and Wolverine as they drink beer. The child image of Storm sighs that “This isn’t right, either.”

Cyclops and Lilandra arrive on the scene, when suddenly, the free Acanti that approached the suicidal Storm earlier SWALLOWS Lilandra’s spaceship, and swallows it easily given how enormous it is. At last, Storm, who has finally succeeded in properly forming a mental image of her CURRENT self, tells her friends not to be afraid because … she and the enormous Acanti are ONE.

xm 166X-MEN Vol 1 #166 (February 1983)

Title: Live Free or Die

Villains: The Brood

Synopsis: This issue picks up at the frozen planet called Madrizar, a world colonized by the Brood. The Broodlings there have freshly caught another member of the Acanti race to enslave as one of their living starships. The Brood have just injected the Acanti with their drugs which paralyze the higher brain functions of the immense beast when Binary Star arrives on the scene.

Binary Star/ Carol Danvers has been searching for Brood forces to prey upon since leaving the Z’Reee Shar two issues ago. (Remember, the Starjammers have been scouring space, too, looking for traces of the missing X-Men and Lilandra.)

Carol is grimly happy to kill all the Broodlings staffing this colonial outpost in space. When they are all dead, the drugged Acanti telepathically tells her that there is no antidote for the drugs and that the best thing Binary Star can do for it is give it the release of death. Shedding tears, she does so and flies off to continue her revenge quest against the Brood.

binary and storm's mental imageBefore long, the Acanti which has Lilandra’s spaceship inside it intercepts Binary Star and uses Storm’s mental image to invite her inside to help the X-Men on their planned strike on the Brood. Once inside the Acanti’s mouth, Carol sees the remains of Storm’s physical form adhered to the insides of the creature’s throat.

The body is being preserved by the Acanti so that Storm’s mind can reinhabit her body after it heals from the way her suicide attempt killed the Brood embryo inside her. Meanwhile, Binary Star apologizes to the X-Men and Lilandra for nearly killing them with her angry departure two issues back.

Storm’s mental image now informs Carol and the others about the background of the Acanti. They truly are like whales in space, but are telepathic and even more intelligent than whales.

Normally the Acanti species would flee to another galaxy to escape a vile race like the Brood, but to do so they must be led by their race’s Prophet Singer. Unfortunately, that Prophet Singer – a hereditary role – is dead and her massive, miles-long corpse is the “living” construct being used as the capital city on Broodworld.

The enormous Acanti who is carrying Lilandra’s starship inside it is the new generation’s Prophet Singer, but the others of its race will not follow it in an exodus away from the Brood’s galaxy until the soul of the prior Prophet-Singer is released from its corpse on Broodworld so that its successor can absorb it.

brood attackThat soul has a physical location in Acanti bodies, and the dead Prophet-Singer’s soul is still within its corpse, near one of the locations where Wolverine fought solo against other horrific life-forms on Broodworld several issues back.

The plan is to use the Z’Reee Shar‘s transporter to teleport or “beam down” the X-Men and Lilandra as near to the soul’s location as estimates permit, and from there our heroes will fight their way past the Brood and any other of the dangerous alien species in their way. Meanwhile, Binary Star will occupy as many of the Brood forces as she can to minimize the number of Broodlings that the others will have to face.

However many of the X-Men are still alive when they find the Prophet-Singer’s soul, they will free it and enable the soul to pass onto its successor, who will then lead the entire Acanti species/ race to freedom far away from the Brood. That way, the X-Men and Lilandra can die fighting for a noble cause like the liberation of an entire race/ species in this presumed suicide mission.

xmen fighting broodThe attack is launched and our heroes fight their way toward the Prophet-Singer’s soul in battle scenes that are like the Colonial Troopers vs Xenomorph fights in movies and video games of the future. (Again, I’m not accusing anybody of stealing ideas in either direction.)

At one point during the running battle, Sprite is saved and befriended by the dog-sized alien “dragon” that she will eventually name Lockheed, making his FIRST appearance. Just when it seems like the Brood’s superior numbers will doom our heroes and their mission, the Starjammers arrive on the scene, having at last tracked down the Brood homeworld.

brood in actionWhile fighting, the Broodqueen can tell the tide is turning against her side and she defiantly brags about a Queen embryo already implanted off-planet, so even if she is killed the Brood race will live on.

Cyclops, Nightcrawler, Colossus, Sprite and Lilandra abruptly start to transform into Broodlings because of the embryos inside THEM, so Wolverine and Binary Star prepare to kill them to spare them that ugly fate.

However, just in time the Prophet Singer’s soul is at last released, and its purifying essence cleanses the X-Men and Lilandra of all traces of the embryos they carried within them. That essence also changes the Broodqueen and the surviving Broodlings in the vicinity into pure, petrified gems.

The soul then rises and is absorbed by the new Acanti Prophet Singer (the one with Lilandra’s spaceship inside it). The Prophet Singer can now lead the rest of its kind to freedom. Before that can happen, the after-effects of the soul’s release cause tremors all over Broodworld.

The Starjammers teleport the X-Men, Binary Star and Lilandra on board their ship just before Broodworld explodes in its entirety. Scattered Brood fleets and colonies still exist, however, so the Acanti will still need to stay away from them.

storm healedA day or so later, the X-Men, Starjammers, Binary Star and Lilandra are recovering from their injuries and physical ordeals. Storm’s body has healed completely and her mind has now reinhabited it, so she joins the celebration.

Wolverine adds a sour note by reminding the others of the Broodqueen’s boast that a Broodqueen embryo has already been implanted elsewhere. Recalling Charles Xavier’s brief imprisonment at the Brood’s hands when they fought our heroes back on Earth, Logan says the Broodqueen embryo must have been implanted in Charles himself.

NOTE: No, we get no explanation for how Charles was implanted with an embryo back on Earth given how the X-Men and Lilandra had to be brought to Broodworld to have their embryos implanted by the Broodqueen. You know the many plotholes in comic book writing.

           On top of that, considering Charles Xavier was implanted with an embryo MONTHS earlier, it looks like the gestation period of the Brood embryos varies wildly. Comically enough, varying times before the chest-bursters would emerge from the victims of the Xenomorphs would also be criticized in the Alien franchise in the years ahead.

xm 167X-MEN Vol 1 #167 (March 1983)

Title: The Goldilocks Syndrome

Villain: The New Broodqueen

NOTE: In the months that the Starjammers, the X-Men and Lilandra were flying back to Earth, Professor X – STILL untransformed – has rounded up a group of new mutants that he has christened the New Mutants instead of X-Men. After thinking the X-Men had been killed he decided to just teach any new students to use their powers to defend themselves, not to undertake missions against supervillains.

           Those New Mutants were introduced in the Graphic Novel titled The New Mutants, in which Professor X rounded them up and helped save them from death at the hands of the X-Men’s old foe from the Hellfire Club – Donald Pierce.

new mutantsSynopsis: Months after the end of the previous issue, the New Mutants – Sunspot, Karma, Wolfsbane, Cannonball and Psyche – are relaxing one night watching Magnum P.I. on television at Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters.

The X-Men are teleported down from Earth orbit by either the Starjammer or the Z’Reee Shar, and wind up battling the New Mutants because neither team knows what the other may be up to.

new mutantsThe X-Men easily defeat the inexperienced New Mutants and reach Professor X. Conveniently, now is the time when Xavier at last transforms into a Broodqueen and does battle with the X-Men.

As the fight rages, the Xavier-Broodqueen boasts that it will implant embryos in Earthlings and, eventually, everyone on Earth will become Broodlings and our planet will be the new Broodworld.

Eventually, with Binary Star helping them, the X-Men subdue this new Broodqueen and it lies helplessly before them.

Charles Xavier, struggling to let his consciousness control his hideous new body, begs the X-Men to kill him. Wolverine never has to be asked twice and he steps forward to put Charles out of his misery. Cyclops and the others persuade him not to until they see if the Starjammers’ Medical Officer Sikorsky can save him.

moira macCut to later. Sikorsky, with Moira MacTaggert teleported onboard the Starjammer to help him, succeeds in cloning a new body for Charles from cell samples left over from the medical treatments that Sikorsky gave him when they fought the Brood on Earth several issues back.

Using Shi’ar technology from Lilandra’s starship, Sikorsky accelerates the aging of the clone to age it into its 30s. Then, Moira and Sikorsky remove Charles’ consciousness from the Broodqueen he turned into and implant it in Charles’ new, younger body.

There were assorted other subplots dealt with in this issue but none of them involved the Brood. That alien race next fought the X-Men in the late 1980s and multiple times thereafter.




Filed under Superheroes

30 responses to “X-MEN vs XENOMORPHS (THE BROOD)

  1. This arc was before I started reading the X-Men, but I did read one of their later run-ins with the Brood when the aliens made it to earth and started sticking embryos in people. Wolverine once again was always ready with the claws to immediately off the infected! 😁

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