Marvel's Finally Bringing Back The Best X-Men Villain They Forgot Existed

The X-Men comics are finally using the best villain they forgot existed. Madelyne Pryor was never meant to be a villain. She was introduced as a new love interest for Cyclops when the X-Men's greatest leader left the team. Writer Chris Claremont wanted Cyclops to get his much-deserved "Happily Ever After," one he had been denied by editorial fiat when he was forced to kill off Jean Grey at the end of the classic "Dark Phoenix Saga."

But plans changed. Jean Grey came back from the dead, and Marvel wanted to reunite her with the original X-Men as the original X-Factor team. That naturally meant Cyclops' retirement had to come to an end, and it also boded ill for his marriage to Madelyne Pryor. It led to some of the biggest retcons in X-Men history, as Madelyne discovered she had been a clone of Jean Grey all along and was driven insane by the knowledge. "Inferno" turned Madelyne Pryor into a fully-fledged supervillain, one who went so far as to consider sacrificing her baby boy Nathan in a demonic ritual that would bring the Hell Dimension of Limbo to Earth.


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Fast-forward to 2012, and writer Brian Wood launched an arc that brought Madelyne back from the dead. He clearly had major plans for the resurrected Madelyne Pryor, but unfortunately the latest Marvel X-event at the time - "Battle of the Atom" - intruded. Wood's story lost momentum, and soon he was off the book. Madelyne was literally forgotten until 2020, when Zeb Wells launched his Hellions series. This served as setup, and now Madelyne Pryor is back on Krakoa. Remarkably, she's becoming something of a power-player in the entire Marvel Universe - although, disturbingly, it seems she's settling into the role of villain once again.

Madelyne Pryor unleashing her mutant powers.

Madelyne Pryor has played a major role in the current New Mutants arc, with Illyana Rasputin offering her a shot at ruling Limbo at last. It may sound like a risky move, but Magik's logic is sound; Limbo is a twisted dimension, and it needs someone whose heart and soul have been twisted to truly rule it. Illyana is frankly tired of that responsibility, and she doesn't consider the title "Sorcerer Supreme of Limbo" worth the internal anguish. Her hope is that, for Madelyne, this will be a shot at redemption.

Unfortunately that clearly won't be the case. Marvel has officially announced an upcoming event called "Dark Web," in which Madelyne Pryor and Ben Reilly - Spider-Man's most infamous clone - will be teaming up to cause chaos. This marks a major change for Madelyne, because it suggests she's no longer considered purely an X-Men villain; now she's a wider Marvel foe, meaning she cans weep into events in completely different franchises. It's thrilling to see Marvel making use of Madelyne Pryor once again, even if it is rather amusing to note she'd basically been benched for years simply because X-Men writers seemed to have forgotten about her.