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The Untold Truth Of Wolfsbane

First appearing in 1982's The New Mutants graphic novel, Wolfsbane remains one of Marvel's younger mutants, though you wouldn't know it to look at her life. The Scottish mutant born as Rahne Sinclair has died, been reborn, romanced princes from other worlds, and given birth to a child only to watch him come to a terrible end. She was a founding member of both the New Mutants and X-Force, a full-fledged member of the X-Men, a government employee in X-Factor, and even a private investigator in a later incarnation of X-Factor.

Wolfsbane's mutant abilities mimic the legendary powers of werewolves. She can change herself into an actual four-legged wolf who, unless you saw the transformation, you wouldn't necessarily distinguish from any other wolf. But she can also transform into a half-human/half-wolf form in which she enjoys enhanced senses, healing, strength, and speed, as well as potentially lethal claws and fangs.

Like many mutants, Rahne's gifts have often been more curse than blessing. As soon as she was introduced, her unintentional resemblance to werewolves of myth made her a target of fear and religious scorn, particularly from her own father. The combination of shame instilled in her at a young age, her tendency to repress her desires and emotions, and the beast waiting within her have led to some extremely volatile situations. For more, keep reading for the untold truth of Wolfsbane.

Wolfsbane was one of the founding New Mutants

Wolfsbane was not only one of the founding members of the New Mutants, she's the first one to show up in 1982's The New Mutants original graphic novel by Chris Claremont and Bob McLeod. The story opens with a splash page of a wolf scaring Moira MacTaggert as it leaps over her, and the following page shows us the beast transforming back to a wounded Rahne Sinclair. We soon learn that Moira knows the young girl and actually delivered her as a newborn. 

Shortly after the unconscious Rahne shifts to human form, her attackers appear — an angry mob of men carrying torches and shotguns led by Reverend Craig, who claims to want only to save the girl's soul. Moira kicks them off her land and brings her to someone who can actually help her: Charles Xavier, a.k.a. Professor X

We see some of the struggles that will help to define Rahne in her first appearance. When fellow New Mutant Karma demonstrates her psychic abilities by taking over Moira MacTaggert's mind, Rahne panics and immediately shifts into her transitional half-wolf form, threatening Karma and even growling at her. It's the first of many instances of the young girl losing control. We also see echoes of the shame Rahne's father drove into her. After Professor X tells her and Karma that he's impressed with how well they use their abilities, Rahne responds "Is tha' cause for rejoicin' — tha' we've mastered these gifts from Satan?!"

Wolfsbane was raised in shame

Wolfsbane never has the chance to meet her birth mother, who died during childbirth. She's raised by the fiery zealot Reverend Craig, right up until the moment Craig and his angry mob chase her into the gentler arms of Moira MacTaggert. Reverend Craig indoctrinates Rahne with his religious fanaticism, to the point where she refers to own powers as "gifts of Satan." The shame he forces upon her leave deep marks, and in most of his subsequent appearances he not only makes clear his disgust for Rahne and his hatred for mutants, but rarely misses an opportunity to insult the memory of Rahne's late mother. 

It isn't until 1996's Excalibur #93, at which point Rahne has learned to combat the emotional trauma she suffered at Craig's hands, that she reveals what she knows about Craig. The reverend isn't just the man who raised her — he is, in fact, her biological father. Confronting Craig about another mutant girl the reverend is infecting with shame and self-hatred, Rahne tells Craig that ever since she escaped him she's researched his life. Before he lived in Kinross, where Rahne was raised, Craig had a ministry in Ullapool where he made Rahne's mother — a local sex worker and his "special project." Craig collapses in tears as Wolfsbane reveals all she knows about his hypocrisy, though unfortunately it isn't the last we see of him.

She carried lots of torches

It's somewhat ironic that the first time we meet Wolfsbane she's being pursued by an angry mob carrying torches, considering Rahne's carried quite a few torches of her own over the years — albeit in a much different way. Rahne crushes and crushes hard, and often — largely due, in most likelihood, to the emotional trauma she suffered at Reverend Craig's hands — she doesn't deal with those crushes in the healthiest of ways. 

She harbored a crush for her fellow New Mutant Doug Ramsey, a.k.a. Cypher, until the latter was shot and killed by a bullet meant for Rahne. Later, she had a crush on Cannonball so intense that when she mistakenly thought Dani had teased her about it by creating an illusion of Cannonball returning her affections, she went wild and attacked Dani. When she first joined the new version of X-Factor, Rahne had an intense attraction toward team leader Havok and nothing but venom for his romantic partner Polaris. 

In one of the darker examples, Rahne lies to her ex-boyfriend Rictor about a pregnancy in 2010's X-Factor #208. After Rictor comes out as gay and Rahne discovers him and Shatterstar being intimate, she goes wild and attacks Shatterstar. During a lull in the fight she claims Rictor is the father in an attempt to keep him away from Shatterstar. In X-Factor #213, Rictor discovers the truth — that Rahne was impregnated by the wolf prince Hrimhari.  

She has the tendency to lose her cool

One of the unpleasant side effects of sharing a body with more bestial forms is that Rahne can often turn a bad situation worse by going wild, in some cases attacking her best friends. We see signs of this as early as her first appearance in The New Mutants original graphic novel. Towards the beginning of the story, Karma demonstrates her psychic abilities by briefly taking over Moira MacTaggert's body, and Rahne responds by instantly going into her half-wolf transitional form and threatening her fellow New Mutant. 

Moments of extreme emotional stress have proven either fatal or near deadly for anyone near Wolfsbane, whether they're friend or foe. When the New Mutants are manipulated by an alien named Gosamyr in 1988's New Mutants #68, Rahne brutally attacks Dani, a.k.a. Mirage. When Rahne is fooled into thinking Cannonball has romantic feelings for her, she mistakenly believes it's Dani who's using her illusion powers to trick her and attacks her close friend viciously. In 1992's X-Factor #76, during a time when Rahne is stuck in her transitional half-wolf form, Wolfsbane goes wild and kills a man after that man murders his own sister. Likewise in 2010's X-Factor #208, after learning that her old boyfriend Rictor and Shatterstar have become lovers, she changes into her half-wolf form and charges Shatterstar, crashing through a second-story window with her victim in tow.  

Wolfsbane helped usher in a new era for X-Factor

Marvel's X-Factor is one of the rare gems which prove sometimes the reinvention can be more successful than the original. When the comic premiered in 1986, it featured the original X-Men — Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Angel, Iceman, and Beast — hatching a strange plan. The team disguises themselves as a mutant-hunting business. Their goal is to use the calls they receive to — instead of hunting mutants — finding mutants who need help, and do their best to give them that help. Ultimately, the concept is discarded and the team members eventually rejoin the X-Men, but the name isn't lost. 

In part to replace Freedom Force — a team comprised of mutant villains – a new government-sponsored version of X-Factor is formed to help foster trust between mutants and humans in 1991's X-Factor #71. Wolfsbane joins Havok, Polaris, Madrox the Multiple Man, Quicksilver, and Strong Guy for this new version of the team brought to comics by Peter David and Larry Stroman. 

The team's first volume ended with 1998's X-Factor #149, but it's enjoyed a number of revivals as a private investigation service, most recently in a run that concluded in 2013. Wolfsbane has been on board for those revivals, as has fan-favorite writer Peter David. 

She eventually killed her own father

Rahne's hateful bio dad Reverend Craig eventually makes the bad choice of being more than just a part of Wolfsbane's past and involves himself with an anti-mutant group calling themselves the Purifiers, a decision that leads to his violent death at Wolfsbane's hands. Ironically — in spite of Rahne's tendency to lose control and the fact that Craig's treatment of Rahne would lead some to argue she had every reason to kill him — even though it's Wolfsbane's body that does the killing, the choice is taken out of her hands. 

In 2008's X-Force #1, Wolfsbane is captured by the Purifiers and while she's their hostage, she's brainwashed as part of a plot to kill the mutant Warren Worthington, a.k.a. Angel. The team doesn't know this when they rescue her; when she wakes up and sees Angel a few issues later, she goes wild and attacks him, ripping off his wings during the assault.

In X-Force #6, Craig shoots Wolfsbane and corners her in the same room where Angel's severed wings hang from the ceiling. As he advances upon his unwanted daughter, meaning to murder her, he briefly stands in front of the severed wings and looks like an angel. Rahne's brainwashing kicks in, she transforms into her half-wolf form, and Reverend Craig goes to meet his maker.  

Wolfsbane and the Wolf Prince

In a classic two-part tale by longtime X-Men writer Chris Claremont and artist Arthur Adams, the New Mutants are caught up in the Asgardian god Loki's plans of revenge against the X-Men for their hand in his defeat in the miniseries X-Men/Alpha Flight. In 1985's New Mutants Special Edition #1 and the follow-up Uncanny X-Men Annual #9, the New Mutants are transported away from Earth to Asgard and related lands. Wolfsbane finds herself in Jotunheim where she has a brief and passionate affair with Hrimhari, the Wolf Prince of Asgard. When the heroes finally prevail over Loki, Hrimhari clearly wants Rahne to stay with him but she returns with her friends, seemingly ashamed of indulging her passions. 

It takes a couple of decades and change, but eventually Hrimhari returns to Rahne, and their union brings fateful consequences. As part of the 2004 line-wide event Avengers Disassembled, Ragnarok arrives and Asgard is destroyed (don't worry — it comes back). During those events Hrimhari is snuffed out along with the Asgardian gods. Like the gods, Hrimhari is reborn on Earth — though unlike them, he retains his memory of his life before Ragnarok. In 2008's X-Force #10, Hrimhari finds Wolfsbane and they resume their affair. Rahne conceives a child as a result of their union, and in 2010's X-Force #23, Hrimhari is forced to sacrifice himself to save Rahne and their unborn child. 

Wolfsbane's tragic son

From the very beginning, things don't go well for Wolfsbane's son Tier — and the end of his short life is even more explosive and tragic than its beginning.

Tier is the son of Rahne and the Wolf Prince of Asgard Hrimhari. Hrimhari is sadly forced to sacrifice himself to save Wolfsbane and their unborn child, but he leaves his mark on Tier before his passing. When Tier is born in 2011's X-Factor #224, the mystical nature of the child causes him to exit Wolfsbane's body from her mouth rather than the traditional manner. Immediately upon his birth, Tier's instincts kick in and he kills the mystical Agamemnon who helps Rahne during her delivery, and the death scares Rahne enough that she abandons her newborn. He's eventually taken in and raised by Jack Russell, better known as Werewolf-By-Night. 

Rahne is reunited with her son, who ages more quickly than a human child. Tier is eventually revealed to be a central prophesied figure in the Hell on Earth War — a conflict between different Hell Lords like Pluto, Satannish, and Mephisto. Whoever kills Tier is said to win the throne of Hell. In 2013's X-Factor #256, Tier almost defeats the devilish Mephisto. Before Tier can finish him off, the mutant Strong Guy — who is resurrected without a soul in a previous story — runs Tier through from behind with a trident, killing him and winning the throne of Hell for himself.

Wolfsbane is a whole pack on her own

As part of the 2017 line-wide event Secret Empire in which Hydra — supported by an evil version of Captain America — takes over the United States, the organization deals with mutants by granting them a homeland called New Tian in the western part of America. In the tie-in issue X-Men: Blue #7, a team of X-Men confronts New Tian agents, including Wolfsbane; during the melee, Rahne demonstrates a new power — the ability to not only turn into a wolf, but to actually become an entire pack of wolves. 

As the X-Men and New Tian agents face off, Wolfsbane locks horns with Hank McCoy, a.k.a. the Beast. It seems Beast has Wolfsbane restrained until she suddenly dissipates into what appears to be vapor and reforms as a pack of five wolves who surround McCoy. Beast theorizes this is a secondary mutation — an ability that manifested itself later in Rahne's development. 

Since Secret Empire, Wolfsbane has died and been reborn in the 2019-20 event Dawn of X. Since her rebirth, Rahne hasn't used this particular power, so it's unclear whether or not she's still capable of it. 

Wolfsbane died in 2019, and fans weren't happy about it

The volume of Uncanny X-Men that ran from 2018-19 had a high body count, but among all the deaths depicted in the series, none caused as much of a stir or upset fans quite as much as Rahne Sinclair's violent demise in Uncanny X-Men #17. We actually see her funeral before her death, which is told in flashback as Wolverine and Kwannon hunt down her killers, and Kwannon uses her psychic abilities to show Logan what happened to Rahne. 

A group of young men approaches Rahne on a park bench and flirts with her. When she rebuffs their advances, the men get physical, and Rahne briefly loses control and transforms into her half-wolf form. Once the men realize she's a mutant, their attitude towards her changes and they feel Rahne has somehow tricked them into being attracted to her. They savagely beat her to death. 

Readers picked up on the scene meaning to reflect transmisogyny violence, and many weren't happy about it. For example, there's Women Write About Comics' Nola Pfau, who felt Uncanny X-Men writer Matthew Rosenberg "means well," but still emphasized that when writers depict "violence that occurs against us [trans people] without bothering to depict us, we are not helped. We are not aided by this choice; the violence against us becomes normalized, but our presence does not.Rosenberg publicly apologized for the hurt caused by storyand urged his followers consider donating to TransLifeLine.

Wolfsbane returns with the New Mutants in Dawn of X

In spite of being brutally murdered in 2019's Uncanny X-Men #17, by the end of the year the game-changing event Dawn of X opened the doors for Wolfsbane's return. 

The event sees almost all of Marvel's mutants — good guy, bad guy, and almost everyone in between — forming a sovereign nation on the sentient, mutant island Krakoa. Among other advances made possible by the mutants' abilities, a group is formed called the Five, capable of bringing just about any mutant back to life as long as they have access to the fallen mutant's DNA. 

In late 2019, New Mutants was revived and the first two pages of New Mutants #1 portray the resurrection of Wolfsbane. She is brought back by the efforts of the Five and greeted by Professor X and Storm. She's reunited with her old teammates, including mutants like Sunspot and Chamber who likewise were killed in 2019 comics but also brought back by the Five. Considering the darkness and violence she's seen, she certainly deserves another chance at a better life.