Of the many, many pics from 2017’s “Logan” film that have been shared on social media over the last few weeks, the caption to one pic in particular should have caught the attention of long time X-Men fans. The black and white image features a heavily-armored sharpshooter taking aim and includes the simple caption “Reaver.” That one word should sound an alarm for X-Men fans, as it confirms that the classic villain team is coming to the big screen for the very first time.
Debuting in 1988’s “Uncanny X-Men” #229, the Reavers terrorized the X-Men — and specifically Wolverine — for years. They’ve also proven to be one of the franchise’s most enduring villain teams, appearing as recently as this year. That might be because the Reavers are cyborgs and therefore fairly easily rebuilt. When it comes to their involvement in the third and final Wolverine film, though, we only know of one specific Reaver that will appear in “Logan,” and that’s Boyd Holbrook’s Donald Pierce. But the Reavers have an extensive history to pull from and more than a few memorable members. With a history that stretches back a considerable time before even their first official appearance, the Reavers are a group that need a little explaining.
9. The Reavers
Since the term “Reaver” is more of a generic term for a ton of cyborg bad guys (usually ones built by Donald Pierce), dozens of unnamed criminals with robot arms have lurked around in the background of X-Men comics and served as cannon fodder. Still, more than a few of these guys have stood out from the cyborg crowd.
8. The Original Lineup
- Donald Pierce: An industrialist that used his intellect to augment his own body with cybernetics, Pierce turned his attention to creating his own criminal empire of robotic madmen after being kicked out of the Hellfire Club. Pierce built Bonebreaker, Pretty Boy and some of the Skullbusters, as well as plenty more forgotten Reavers.
- Wade Cole, Murray Reese & Angelo Macon: These guys were originally guards for the Hellfire Club until Wolverine tore them to pieces. Their lives were saved thanks to cybernetics and eventually the inter-dimensional mercenary Spiral upgraded their tech. These three are inseparable and were originally paired with…
- Lady Deathstrike: The Reavers’ co-leader, Yuriko Oyama took her feud to Wolverine to the next level when she had Spiral graft adamantium and extensive cybernetics to her body. Unlike many of the Reavers, Deathstrike often operates independently of the group. She initially commanded Macon, Cole and Reese.
- Bonebreaker: The most recognizable Reaver, thanks to his lower body being a tank. Bonebreaker is the team’s quasi-tech guy (he’s still not that smart) and was responsible for building a little girl/bomb named Elsie Dee. He also appeared in the ’90s cartoon and arcade game and got his own action figure.
- Pretty Boy: Most of his enhancements were internal, allowing him to pass as totally human — except for his fiber optic eye snakes that allow him to rewrite brains. As his name implies, Pretty Boy is the most vain of the bunch
- Skullbuster: There have been three Skullbusters, the first being a generic strongman, the second being a former pilot named Cylla Markham and the third being, well, not seen all that often.
7. Evil Origins
The Reavers’ story actually began eight years before their official debut. Half of the core team actually debuted during the iconic “Dark Phoenix Saga.” Donald Pierce first fought Wolverine in April 1980’s “X-Men” #132, starting a rivalry that will apparently continue onto the big screen. And Cole, Macon and Reese were all cut up something fierce by Logan in the next chapter of the “Dark Phoenix Saga.” The trio of Hellfire guards returned in December 1981’s “Uncanny X-Men” #152 where it was revealed that they received cybernetic enhancements.
The ex-Hellfire guard trio crossed paths with Lady Deathstrike a few years later in 1986’s “Uncanny X-Men” #205. All four future Reavers were churned out by Spiral’s Body Shop, having been given an extensive cybernetic makeover and turned into killing machines. Deathstrike recruited Cole, Macon and Reese due to their mutual hatred of Wolverine. The foursome tracked down Wolvie and hunted him in a snowstorm through New York City. With the help of Power Pack’s Katie Power (a child superhero), Wolverine defeated them and escaped with his life.
6. Enter: The Reavers
The Reavers officially debuted in May 1988’s “Uncanny X-Men” #229. The original lineup of notable Reavers included three new characters: Bonebreaker, Pretty Boy and Skullbuster. These guys attacked the Hoan International Bank in Singapore and used the aboriginal teleporter Gateway as their getaway to their HQ in a remote location in the Australian Outback. Bonebreaker, Pretty Boy and Skullbuster — along with a dozen other unnamed cyborg mercenaries — had taken over a small town and made it their home. It would later be retconned that all of these specific Reavers were recruited and built by Donald Pierce off panel.
And then the X-Men showed up. The X-Men, who were believed by the world to be dead at the time, came to rescue the kidnapped Jessán Hoan, tearing through the nondescript Reavers with the trio of named Reavers barely escaping. This is where Skullbuster, Pretty Boy and Bonebreaker’s beef with Wolverine began. With Jessán Hoan returned home and the remaining Reavers defeated, the X-Men took over the villains’ Outback town and made it their new home.
5. Reavers United
A year and a half later in August 1989, Donald Pierce and Lady Deathstrike finally brought their two cyborg clans together to create the definitive Reaver lineup. 1989’s “Uncanny X-Men” #247 ended with Pierce and Deathstrike surmising that despite being invisible to electronics, the X-Men were alive and active in Australia. The group began practicing their skills on a robot Wolverine in the next issue, and finally made their way to Australia in 1989’s “Uncanny X-Men” #249. The Reavers — now lead by the very unhealthy romantic couple of Pierce and Deathstrike — staked out their former turf, waiting for Wolverine and the X-Men to return from a mission. Unfortunately for them, the X-Men (minus Wolverine) were whisked away to the Savage Land, thus delaying their return. But really, the Reavers just wanted to torture Wolverine — and they got that wish.
In “Uncanny X-Men” #251, the group ganged up on Wolverine, beat him to within an inch of his life, maxed out his healing factor and crucified him — leaving him to rot in the hot Australian sun. The Reavers’ threat loomed so large that the X-Men’s telepath Psylocke felt the danger all the way in the Savage Land. Upon returning, Psylocke mentally coerced her team to step through the mystical Siege Perilous portal, an Arthurian magical artifact that essentially rebooted everyone that stepped through it into a totally new life. Psylocke figured this was safer than the team fighting the Reavers.
But that still left Wolverine crucified and left for dead. But Jubilee, a teenage mutant that had been hiding out in the X-Men’s HQ, secretly came to Wolvie’s rescue and the pair made it out of Australia alive, thanks in part to Deathstrike’s refusal to snipe Logan from far away. No, Deathstrike wanted to kill him the honorable way: up close.
4. Battle of Muir Island
Livid after Wolverine’s escape, Pierce and Deathstrike narrow down the mutant’s possible safe havens to one: Muir Island. Since the X-Men had so many allies at the small island’s mutant research facility, the Reavers guessed that Logan might head there. They guessed wrong, but the bloodbath between Reavers and Muir Island X-Men began in “Uncanny X-Men” #254. The Reavers announced their arrival by sniping Banshee out of a boat and firing hundreds of bullets into the facility’s medical wing. The severity of the attack caught the attention of the United States government’s Freedom Force, leading them to intervene. A mutant with healing powers saved Banshee’s life, but failed to save any of the other mutants killed by the Reavers (like Sunder and Stonewall). Forge at least took out Skullbuster, leaving him dead for quite a long while, before the rest of the Reavers teleported out.
3. Rebirth & Death
The Reavers’ reign of terror didn’t end there, though. In 1990’s “Uncanny X-Men” #261, Pierce visited a pilot named Cylla Markham who was gravely injured while working for Banshee and Forge and offered to make her a cyborg. She accepted Pierce’s offer and became the new Skullbuster. The Reavers then took a break from their Wolverine hate-fest to terrorize Pierce’s old Hellfire Club pal Emma Frost by doing damage to Frost Technotics.
The next Reavers storyline occured in 1991’s “Wolverine” #35-39. There, the Reavers tracked down a living Wolverine and Lady Deathstrike started a twisting time travel fight with the X-Man. While Deathstrike fought Wolverine, Pierce concocted his next plan: the robot/bomb Elsie Dee and the Wolverine robot Albert. With the appearance of a cute little girl, Elsie Dee was created to lure Wolverine in close and explode while he tried to save her. Unbeknownst to Pierce, Bonebreaker built this robot to be a genius. This move backfired and the robots broke free of Pierce’s control before they could carry out the mission. And that would be the Reavers’ final mission for a while; the team was torn apart by Sentinels in “Uncanny X-Men” #281. Only Deathstrike and Cylla survived as they weren’t in the Reaver base at the time.
2. 21st Century Reavers
Surprisingly, the Reavers actually stayed dead for the rest of the ’90s. 2002’s “X-Treme X-Men Annual” resurrected Bonebreaker, Pretty Boy and an all-new Skullbuster (so, the third one) as minions of the Shadow King that were hired to kidnap Rogue. They of course failed; aside from crucifying Wolverine and turning the Muir Island research facility into swiss cheese, these guys rarely accomplished things.
After that, Pierce and Deathstrike went back to forming their own separate teams. 2003’s “New Mutants” #5 introduced Pierce’s low budget Reavers, which were angry humans with advanced weaponry. Deathstrike’s new Reavers, a bunch of unnamed and masked goons, appeared in the 2008 “Messiah Complex” crossover — a story that ended with Deathstrike’s apparent demise.
The Reaver band got back together in March 2011’s “Uncanny X-Force” #5.1, which saw Deathstrike and the classic six (Macon, Cole, Reese, Bonebreaker, Skullbuster and Pretty Boy) go up against Wolverine’s black ops team. After getting a tip that the Reavers were going to attack the mutant island of Utopia, Wolverine’s team took’em all out. A similar story would unfold in a 2013 storyarc of “Cable and X-Force,” with Cable and Hope instead tearing into the classic Reavers.
1. Old Man Logan
And that brings us to the present, a 2016 story told in “Old Man Logan” #5-7. This most recent story saw Old Man Logan — an elderly Wolverine from an alternate dimension’s future — protecting the woman that would one grow up to be his wife. The story paired Lady Deathstrike with Pretty Boy, Skullbuster and Bonebreaker — just in time for all of them to die. While Yuriko survived, the trio of original Reavers that debuted back in 1988 all died again. But just like true supervillains, death doesn’t keep these guys down; their many returns from the scrap pile have been explained away by saying that either Pierce rebuilt them or all Reavers upload their consciousness into new bodies upon death. Either way, it’s unlikely that this is the last we’ve seen of these guys — and it’s also unlikely that this is the last time we’ll see them die.
Directed by James Mangold, written by Michael Green, Scott Frank, James Mangold and David James Kelly, and starring Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Boyd Holbrook, Richard E. Grant, Dafne Keen and Stephen Merchant, “Logan” arrives in theaters on March 3, 2017.
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