Who Is Deathbird in X-MEN ’97? The Alien Villain’s Marvel Comics History, Explained


The first moments of episode six of X-Men '97“Lifedeath Pt. II,” do not take place on Earth, but in the depths of outer space. It is in the galaxy ruled by the Shi'ar Empire, in fact. In this scene, we get a proper introduction to someone who will undoubtedly be a major thorn in the X-Men's side going forward: the Shi'ar warrior royal known as Deathbird.Although he appeared briefly in a handful of X-Men: The Animated Series episodes from the 90s, this is where we really get to know this deadly alien. But his comic book story does not begin in the pages of X Men comicsbut actually in the pages of Ms. Marvel. A series written by Uncanny X-Men's Chris Claremont, who along with artist Keith Pollard, created Deathbird in 1977.

The Marvel Comics Origins of Deathbird

Deathbird's first appearance in 1977, fighting Carol Danvers (Ms. Marvel).
Marvel Comics

Born as Princess Cal'syee Neramani of the Royal House of the Shi'ar on the world Chandilar, Cal'syee was third in line to the throne. From birth, he was under a cloud of suspicion due to prophecies that said he would bring great evil to the galaxy. She was exiled from the Shi'ar homeworld when she brutally murdered her mother and sister and also stripped her of her name. He eventually took the alias of Deathbird, reflecting his winged nature. Ending up on the world far from Earth, Deathbird became a working criminal villains like MODOK., and fought Carol Danvers, then called herself Ms. Marvel. This makes her similar to another well-known X-Men villain, Mystique, who also debuted as Ms. Marvel's adversary.

Deathbird becomes an X-Men villain

Deathbird taunts her sister Lilandra, empress of the Shi'ar and love of Charles Xavier.
Marvel Comics

Deathbird becomes a major X-Men villain when she attempts several takeovers of the Shi'ar throne, attempting to steal it from her sister Lilandra. At the time, Lilandra was the lover of Professor X, the leader of the X-Men. Eventually, with the help of the alien Brood race, he was able to steal the throne from his sister. For quite some time, Deathbird ruled the Shi'ar Empire with an iron fist, until Lilandra, with with the help of Charles Xavier, he was able to help her regain her rightful place on the throne. Deathbird actually ceded the Empire to him at a later point, hating the bureaucratic process of day-to-day governance.

Deathbird Mutant Romances

Deathbird and his mutant loves, Bishop and Vulcan.
Marvel Comics

Eventually, Deathbird made a sort of peace with Lilandra and helped her defeat the Kree in the Shi'ar/Kree War. When the Shia finally conquered the Kree, they elevated the Deathbird to viceroy and ruler of the Kree Empire in the name of the Shiites. When she helped the X-Men fight the alien Phalanx, she found herself in a brief romance with the time traveler Bishop. Her biggest romance, however, was with the Earth mutant Gabriel Summers, aka Vulcan, who is the younger brother of Cyclops and Havok.

When Cyclops' parents, Christopher and Katherine Summers, were abducted by the alien Shi'ar, Katherine was pregnant. Although Emperor D'Ken killed her, the unborn mutant child was spared. It then grew at an accelerated rate in the laboratories of the Shi'ar Empire. He lived most of his life off Earth and taking the name Vulcan, thanks to his energy control powers, became Deathbird's consort. He eventually takes the throne from the Shi'ar, becoming the Vulcan Emperor, with the Deathbird as his Empress. Together, they have a hybrid son, whose name, gender and current whereabouts are unknown.

Deathbird's mutant alien powers

Deathbird returns in Uncanny X-Men #275 in 1991.
Marvel Comics

Like his Earth enemies, Deathbird is a mutant. While all members of the Shi'ar race were descended from bird-like creatures, Deathbird had a genetic mutation at birth. Her mutation made her much more similar to the prehistoric Shi'ar, who had a much more avian appearance. This mutation gave him wings, allowing him the power to fly. Additionally, Deathbird has great strength, speed, and agility. Their nails are like claws and can tear through most substances. As if his innate mutant powers weren't enough, Deathbird is a very skilled warrior. She is a fighter almost unmatched in the entire Shi'ar Empire.

Deathbird's X-Men: The Animated Series cameos

Deathbird cameos in X-Men: The Animated Series.
Marvel animation

In the original X-Men: The Animated Series, Deathbird made two silent cameos in a couple of episodes. We see her with her older brother, the mad Emperor D'Ken, when he kidnaps the Summers family in a flashback. He also appears alongside Apocalypse at the end of the fourth season episode “Sanctuary, Part II”. In the episode “Beyond Good and Evil: Part II” we learn that she allied with Apocalypse to wrest the Shi'ar throne from her sister. But once Apocalypse captured the Shi'ar Psychic Oracle away from Lilandra for his own purposes, he betrayed the Deathbird, thus leaving her at the mercy of her sister.

Death bird inside X Men '97

Deathbird, as seen in X-Men '97.
Marvel animation

Deathbird must have begged her sister for a second chance after we last saw her. Because in X-Men '97 he serves Empress Lilandra in her war with the Kree and defeats Ronan the Accuser. She also used her sister's romance with Charles Xavier as a “weakness” to exploit, since he is a mere “Terrano”. She suggests that their union would taint the Shi'ar royal lineage. Like the iconic Chris Claremont and Jim Lee Uncanny X-Men #275, we might see Xavier's students take on the alien villain before the first season ends. It certainly looks like Deathbird is shaping up to earn his name in the eyes of Marvel's mutants.


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