Leave it to Reaver: A Look at an Unsung X-Men Foe

You know, one thing that I love about X-Men is how many different and interesting bad guys they have to run into. I mean, consider this: at different times the X-Men have had to fight mutant terrorists looking to oppress humanity (the Brotherhood), cult-like human terrorists looking to oppress mutants (the Friends of Humanity/ Purifiers), scared mutants who lash out at undeserving humans (the Morlocks) and mutant assassins who KILL OTHER MUTANTS because they think it’ll make mutanity ‘purer’ (the Marauders).

It’s sort of like the X-Men are in the eye of the storm, holding the line on ALL sides. And that’s part of what makes their struggle so heroic and identifiable. Ultimately, the X-Men fight because they’re the champions of peace, not war. They’re trying to contain all of these other factions, stop them from instigating and perpetrating violence. But the threat they face, then, can come from any direction: humans attacking mutants, mutants attacking humans, mutants attacking mutants, big freaky alien things taking over mutant bodies and attacking everything in their way (the Brood)…you just never know!

I’ve written a bit about the Maurauders and how, back in the day, they were kind of the worst of the worst that the X-Men ran into. Who I haven’t written so much about? Is the Reavers.

Long-time Wolverine readers will know quite a bit about Donald Pierce, Lady Deathstrike and the Reavers. I remember when they first hit the pages of the X-Men book they were SCARY bad guys.

Essentially, you might think of the Reavers as the polar opposite of the Marauders. If the Marauders were the worst that Mutants had to offer, than the Reavers were the worst of humanity.

Barely human anymore, every member of the Reavers has been surgically altered to sport cybernetic limbs and bodies. This makes them incredibly dangerous. It also makes them incredibly freaky looking. Take for example Pretty Boy. Literally, only his head and ‘pretty face’ remain. The rest of his body is a clanking monstrosity. Bonebreaker had no legs. The bottom half of his body was a motorized track. Skullcrusher had legs; massive, cybernetic ones that he stomped on you with.

Originally a bunch of high-tech thieves who made their living plundering different parts of the world, eventually the Reavers became mutant bounty hunters employed by Donald Pierce, a mutant hating member of the Hellfire Club (also decked out with Cybernetics).

For a time, it really seemed like the Reavers were Wolverine and the X-Men’s worst nightmare. At one point Psylocke received a premonition literally witnessing the Reavers putting an end to the X-Men for good. Their only choice was to scatter and flee.

By a fluke chance, Woliverine was separated from the rest of the team. And man the Reavers made him suffer. They captured him, tortured him to find the other X-Men, then chased him half-way through Asia. These guys were B-A-D and, for a time, it really seemed as if the Reavers had sort of ‘destroyed’ the X-Men, or at least rooted them.

Eventually, the team reformed and nowadays newer incarnations of the X-Men have had some re-matches with these guys. They’re still among the worst enemies the X-Men could tangle with and yes, Wolverine-hating and surgically altered Lady Deathstrike tends to lead the Reaver charge these days.

What still hangs me up about the entire Reaver story was this. Originally, these guys were operating out of a high-tech Australian base called the Ghost Town. At one point, the X-Men even settled into this base, as the rest of the world believed they were deceased (Fall of the Mutants- LONG story).

I’m not sure if it was every really explained what Ghost Town was though. It definitely didn’t seem to me to be the Reavers’ HQ, originally. For a group of scavengers and mercenaries, it seemed more like just something that they happened to find and start using.

So the question is why was there this massive technological headquarters just sitting around in the Australian outback? Was this a reference to some other comic and I’m just not getting the connection? Bonus points to anyone who can shore this up for me…