When Professor X sent the original X-Men to investigate a strange mutant energy source in the Pacific, he had no idea what he was sending his students to that day. It turns out that the energy signature was a bizarre mutant dubbed Krakoa. Basically, it was a living land mass that decided to eat fellow mutants and drain them of their essence. After Xavier fed his first class of mutants to them, he teamed up with Dr. MacTaggert to feed the island monster some fresh young meat. That’s when he went around Muir Isle and other Marvel Universe hot spots to find new talent. Everyone he found seemed to have been plucked out of Brubaker’s need to quickly tie up a plot point for his Deadly Genesis mini-series.
Petra is an elemental similar to Terra over in the Teen Titans at DC. She can manipulate rock and do all sorts of cool stuff that serve as a later plot device. She was initially pretty useful against Krakoa, but was hampered by flashbacks about how her powers failed to save her parents. Due to a few glitches, her powers would end up helping to save Vulcan and Darwin’s lives. Unfortunately, it left Sway and Petra exposed to the wiles of an angry Krakoa. Naturally, they were both brutally murdered and Xavier played cover up with the facts. Pretty sad, really.
Sway was an Asian orphan left in the care of Dr. Moira MacTaggert. While at Muir Isle, Dr. MacTaggert discovered that Sway was a mutant who could mess with the perception of time. While she screwed around with how Krakoa could respond to the team, her actions allowed Cyclops to escape and inform what we know as the opening of Giant-Size X-Men #1. When her power effect subsided, it left her open to Krakoa. The mutant island snapped Sway in half and presumably consumed her corpse. Petra also died during this time, but nobody cared about her.
A mutant that could evolve to environmental conditions was a long time coming. Unfortunately, he was also another walking plot device. When Petra’s power effect went wonky due to Krakoa going insane, Darwin and Vulcan were pretty much buried alive within the island mass. When the new team of X-Men showed up to fight Krakoa and expel the island into space, Darwin and Vulcan were still buried inside of Krakoa. Darwin saved Vulcan by using his powers to fuse with Vulcan’s body to form a hibernation cocoon. Eventually, they were rescued and fell back to Earth. That’s when the two separated and Vulcan went on the warpath.
Darwin in the Modern Era
Darwin was quickly adopted into the X-Men. Rachel Summers had to help rebuild his mind after he merged with Vulcan to save his life. Unfortunately, Vulcan left Darwin to rot as he declared war on Charles Xavier and the X-Men. Darwin was depressed over his inability to stop Vulcan and helped team up to go into Shiar space after the young man. After the space adventures, Darwin would later find help with X-Factor and a few other mutant outfits. For the most part, he’s been forgotten in most corners of the Marvel Universe. It doesn’t help that he went out like a bitch in “X-Men: First Class”.
Gabriel Summers was still in his mother’s womb, after his parents were kidnapped by the Shiar. Gabriel’s older brothers had narrowly escaped capture by jumping out of the plane with a single parachute. When the Shiar party that captured the Summers presented them to Emperor D’Ken, D’Ken chose to have his way with Katherine Summers. Due to machinations outside of his control, Gabriel was torn from his mother and raised in a cloning vat. Aged beyond his years, Gabriel was removed as a teenager and sent to work in the labor camps of the Shiar Empire. Gabriel was sent to Earth as an accessory to Erik the Red, but he broke away from the alien spy and escaped to Muir Isle. Dr. Moira MacTaggert introduced him to Professor X who deduced that Gabriel was the brother of Cyclops and Havok. Feeling that he had a third leader in his midst, he appointed Vulcan the leader of this little suicide mission to Krakoa.
Vulcan in the Modern Era
Vulcan is now more connected to the Shiar aspects of the Cosmic Marvel storylines than the X-Books. Before Vulcan took his revenge on the Shiar, he began attacking the X-Men. His first attack was a successful hit upon Banshee. Slamming a fully fueled Blackbird into a man can do that sort of thing. Banshee was killed and Xavier knew that his secret team survived somehow. All the while, Cyclops learns how he survived Krakoa and what Xavier did to cover up the fact that there was a third Summers brother. Due to the events on Krakoa and his subsequent hibernation, Vulcan has taken on the powers of his teammates while having his own psionic energy manipulation powers amplified. Vulcan quickly denounces Cyclops and the Summers bloodline before using a Shiar stargate to begin his attack on the Shiar Empire.
Vulcan destroyed most of the frontier armada before turning his attention to the Imperial Guard. Shredding several classic members of the Imperial Guard apart, Vulcan was eventually put down by an angry Gladiator. Gladiator dumps Vulcan on a prison planet where he begins to repair himself with his new found powers. Meanwhile, Deathbird (third in line to the Shiar throne) falls in love with Vulcan. They hook up and start to destroy most of the Shiar homeworlds until Vulcan is talked into restoring Emperor D’Ken to his normal abilities. Back in the 1970s, the X-Men overthrew D’Ken by exposing him to the true power of the M’Krann Crystal via Phoenix’s manipulation of the reality altering gem. Vulcan restores D’Ken’s mind and D’Ken asks his former enemy to marry his sister Deathbird.
Now, Vulcan is part of the Royal Family and happy. That’s when he murders D’Ken for what he did to his mother and decides to take over the Shiar empire. Vulcan quickly becomes Emperor and Deathbird his Empress. Lilandra was killed during some cosmic shenanigans at the same time, but that noise is for the Guardians of the Galaxy and Nova books. Vulcan spent the next few years fighting all of the Galactic Empires and killing his father Corsair (Christopher Summers). Havok and a few other Marvel Cosmic bigwigs take fault with that and set Vulcan up for a fall. Eventually, Black Bolt of the Inhumans tricks Vulcan into falling into a black hole singularity known as the Fault. An explosion later and Vulcan is dead.
Gladiator becomes the new Emperor of the Shiar Empire and I stop to catch my breath. COMICS, PEOPLE!