Sage (comics)

Sage (comics)


caption=Sage by Salvador Larroca
real_name=Tessa (full name unrevealed)
species=Human Mutant
publisher=Marvel Comics
debut=" [Uncanny] X-Men" #132 (April 1980)
creators=Chris Claremont
John Byrne
New Excalibur X-Men X-Treme Sanctions Executive The Hellfire Club
aliases= Lady Tessa, Diana Fox, Britannia
powers=Jumpstarting mutant powers
Superhuman mental processing including perfect memory and data analysis
Telepathy |

Sage, also known as Tessa, is a fictional character in the Marvel Comics universe. She has most often been associated with the X-Men and the Hellfire Club, whom she spied upon for Professor Charles Xavier.

A mutant, Sage possesses a number of mental abilities and was originally presented as the personal assistant to the Hellfire Club’s Sebastian Shaw, but an extended retcon revealed that she had been one of the first mutants Professor Xavier discovered (Sage says that this was about the same time as he located Beast, but in other accounts he found Sage first). Instead of being chosen for the first X-Men class, she was sent to spy on the Hellfire Club, something that has haunted her in the years since.

She has been a member of the original X-Men teams, the X-Treme X-Men, and more recently a member of the latest incarnation of Excalibur and the Exiles.

Fictional character biography

Sage's exact country of origin remains unrevealed, but she claims to have come from a war-torn region. By the time she reaches young adulthood, she is living by herself in the Balkans. Although she tries to keep out of the conflicts between the rebels and the government, she is willing to use her guns and other weapons on any threat. One day, she feels herself called to a cave which was considered haunted by the locals. She hears a voice in her head that guides her deeper into the cavern, where she finds Charles Xavier, who is trapped underneath a pile of debris. His legs have been crushed during his battle with the alien Lucifer. Xavier senses that Sage is a mutant, and explains to her what her abilities mean.

Sage helps Xavier and tries to get him to a hospital, but during their journey down the mountains they come across a United Nations relief convoy under attack by robbers, who have raped and killed the UN workers. Sage exacts revenge on their behalf and kills the robbers, though she despises herself for being so brutal.

The Hellfire Club

Years later, Sage meets up again with Xavier, who at the time is recruiting the original X-Men. Instead of having her join them, he trains her in secret as a spy. He sends her to the Hellfire Club to keep watch on Sebastian Shaw. While working there, she encounters Psylocke and Jean Grey, as well as Emma Frost, who at this point is the White Queen. While she is able to successfully warn Psylocke away from the Hellfire Club, Sage is later remorseful that she is unable to similarly prevent the corruption of Phoenix into the Black Queen. This transformation is a key factor, ultimately, in the creation of Dark Phoenix.

Sometime during Sage's time with the Hellfire Club, Sebastian Shaw and Emma Frost dare the man known as Elias Bogan to wager in a game of poker. Though he holds no official rank in the Inner Circle, the telepathic Bogan is one of the Club’s most important and powerful members; his patronage guarantees success in the organization. By the terms of the wager, if Shaw loses, Frost would "belong" to Bogan, but if Bogan's agent loses, then his fortune would be turned over to Shaw. Mostly due to Sage’s advice and analytical skills, Bogan loses the game and is forced to honor the wager. Having never lost before, Bogan harbors a grudge against Sage.

During the X-Men's initial conflicts with the Hellfire Club, Sage maintains primarily a background role and is seen as only Shaw's unusually intelligent assistant. Hints of her more complex role are indicated when she and Xavier are kidnapped by Donald Pierce, a renegade member of the club, with grudges against both organizations. Based on the interactions between Xavier and Sage, it is unclear whether he is helping to maintain her cover or whether he feels as if he has lost his agent; the interaction between the two is cold and apparently antagonistic. The two are rescued by the nascent team of New Mutants, and Sage takes Pierce into custody on behalf of the Hellfire Club.

Sage's next notable interaction with Xavier's students happens months later when the X-Men and Hellfire Club are hunting down Rachel Summers after her attempted murder of Selene, the newly installed Black Queen. In the middle of their fight, both teams are taken by surprise by Nimrod, a mutant-hunting robot from the future. Recognizing the more immediate threat, the two groups join forces and are able to severely damage Nimrod. The X-Men and Hellfire Club each sustain heavy losses and are forced to flee the scene quickly. Sage offers Storm and the X-Men temporary sanctuary with the Club, which later results in Magneto and Storm jointly accepting the role of White King in the Inner Circle.

After the Hellfire Club

Magneto becomes more actively involved with the Hellfire Club after the X-Men's supposed death in Dallas at the climax of the Fall of the Mutants. Tensions between Magneto and Sebastian Shaw grow until, finally, Magneto ousts Shaw from the group. Although Sage remains with the Hellfire Club after his departure, her role diminishes. Shortly thereafter, the Upstarts begin hunting down mutant leaders, starting with former and current leaders of the Inner Circle. Shinobi Shaw seemingly murders his father, Sebastian; Emma Frost is put into a coma. Sage continues to serve as Shinobi's assistant, much as she had with his father and she also begins using her telepathic skills more openly. After Sage prevents Shinobi from solidifying his hold on the Hellfire Club, however, the younger Shaw ceases working with her.

Sebastian Shaw returns after a period of recuperation with the extradimensional Holocaust at his side. Seeking assistance in controlling this powerful mutant, Shaw calls Sage back into his service. Her minor telepathic abilities are able to keep him in check since most telepaths in his native reality had been killed and he had not developed psychic defenses. The two lose Holocaust, though, when Onslaught decides he needs that mutant for his own purposes. Selene and her new amnesiac thrall Madelyne Pryor join with Shaw to regain their roles in the Hellfire Club. Suspicious of Pryor, Sage attempts to telepathically probe her while she is sleeping. Unwittingly reawakening Madelyne's memories of her tragic life and first death with the X-Men, Sage is quickly overwhelmed and nearly killed. The only thing that stays Madelyne's hand is that Sage's murder would have caused unnecessary complications. Instead, Pryor merely removes all memory of the conflict.

ix-Month Gap

Although it has been years since Sage had outwitted him, Bogan kidnaps Sage and mentally dominates her. This possession permanently scars her below the eyes. Bogan offers Sage back to Shaw for everything he has. Shaw refuses and cuts his ties with Sage. However, the X-Men become aware of Sage's predicament, and Storm is able to rescue her.

Out of gratitude, Sage stays with the X-Men, primarily in a support capacity. Jealous of her privacy, Sage relinquished the use of her telepathic power, and focused her force of will to maintain her mental shields. With the X-Men, Sage acts as a living computer, able to remember everything she sees and hears, and provide analysis.

X-Treme X-Men

After the X-Men learn of Destiny's prophetic diaries, the "Books of Truth", Storm forms a splinter group that leaves the X-Mansion to hunt down the missing volumes. Sage is one of her first recruits. While the X-Treme team primarily makes use of her analytical skills, her mutant power to "jump-start" other mutants' abilities is used in a few critical junctures: saving the Beast's life by mutating him into a more animalistic, feline form; allowing Rogue temporary access and control of all powers she had ever absorbed; restoring Gambit's powers after injuries had overloaded them, and unlocking Slipstream's latent teleportation powers. During this period she forms a strong working relationship with Bishop in solving cases, most notably when the two briefly return to the X-Mansion to help investigate the attempted murder of Emma Frost.

After the prophecies of the diaries are determined to be (apparently) invalid, the group still remains separate from the main team of X-Men due to differences in philosophy with Xavier. Storm petitions various world governments for official recognition as a mutant unit for policing mutant activity. Granted this authority, her unit is dubbed the X-Treme Sanctions Executive,and Sage becomes an officer of the X.S.E. Although initially more mobile, the X.S.E. eventually returns to the X-Mansion as its base of operations. Sage's tenure with the team is abruptly ended when she rejoins the Hellfire Club to keep an eye on Roberto da Costa (who has become the new Lord Imperial) to make sure he is not corrupted by power as Sebastian was.

New Excalibur

For reasons yet unknown, Sage leaves Sunspot's side and travels to England to join forces with the newly reformed New Excalibur. She helps them on various missions such as battling the Shadow King and returning to ancient Camelot to prevent it from being prematurely destroyed. In a more subtle use of her observation abilities, Sage is instrumental in her teammate Nocturne's recovery from a debilitating stroke. ["New Excalibur" #16-17] In order to learn more about a mysterious new foe, Albion, and thwart his attempt to conquer Britain, Sage creates the new cover identity and persona of Diana Fox. This persona appears to be fully devoted to Albion and his goals. However, this bothers her teammate Wisdom as he fears she might fail the mission similar to her time with the Hellfire Club. ["New Excalibur" #19] Her Diana Fox persona climbs up the rank of Albion's Shadow Captains as Britannia and develops a rivalry with Lionheart. Like the rest of Albion's army, Sage is given a suit that emphasizes loyalty to him, as well as equips her with flight and super-human physical strength. Although she has the opportunity to kill Albion, one purpose of her infiltration, she is struck by an errant pulse from an ancient item used by Albion to extinguish power in England. Though Lionheart suspects her betrayal, Albion believes she was only trying to protect him. ["New Excalibur" #20-21]

Wisdom's fears are realized after this when the Diana Fox persona takes complete control and Sage becomes fully committed to Albion's side. During this time, she slays two of New Excalibur's erstwhile allies in Shadow-X, Dark Cyclops and Dark Beast. A direct confrontation with her teammates in New Excalibur help reassert Sage's original personality. Together with New Excalibur, Shadow-X, and now heroic Lionheart, Sage defeats Albion and his Shadow Captains. ["New Excalibur" #21-24]

X-Men: Die By the Sword and the Exiles

Immediately after the defeat of the Shadow Captains, a massive party is held in honor of Excalibur. While the team enjoys the party, Sage feels immense guilt for her actions. The party is suddenly crashed by Psylocke and an alternate universe Thunderbird, members of the Exiles. They are then attacked by Rouge-Mort and drawn into a battle for the safety of the Multiverse from a psychotic Merlin and The Fury. They join forces with the rest of the Exiles, Roma and the Captain Britain Corps. The team defeats Merlin, but not before he manages to kill Roma. Prior to her death, Roma manages to transfer all of her knowledge about the Multiverse into Sage's mind, causing her to become overwhelmed and might quite possibly drive her mad. Fearful of what would happen if someone on Earth ever gained the knowledge in her mind, Sage joins the Exiles. She currently suffers from hallucinations mixing her own memories with the information passed to her by Roma; furthermore, the Diana Fox persona has re-emerged and is attempting to take control once again.

Sage has been fighting the effects of Roma's memories and Diana Fox tenaciously every day, until she drops down from exhaustion. She refuses to lose possession of her mind, body, and soul. Sage has managed to calm down the phantoms, however, Diana Fox remains an aggressive presence in Sage's mind, fighting her for control. [New Exiles #5-10]

Power and abilities


* Sage's main mutant power is the ability to sense the mutant potential in others, activate it under the proper circumstances, and to advance existing mutants into the next level of their power.

* Her mutation also grants a computer mind -- in addition to possessing a perfect memory, she can process data much faster than even the fastest of computers -- whatever she sees, she remembers. Whatever she remembers, can be recalled in an instant, with perfect clarity, and analyzed with greater speed and accuracy than computers. She uses these "computer-like" abilities in order to analyze and catalogue a latent mutant's or mutant's DNA, necessary for concluding the proper modifications before she jumpstarts them. She also uses this ability to analyze combat situations, her general environment and the behavior of others.

*Sage multitasks on a superhuman level and it is implied she is constantly tackling many mental obstacles at once. In "X-Men Unlimited" vol. 2 #1 (April 2004), Sage battles an opponent, reviews previous battle footage from memory, and plays an Internet game of chess simultaneously, with little or no effort at all.

* It is unknown how Sage acquired her telepathic abilities, however for a long period of time she had shut them down because the thoughts and emotions she had received telepathically from the people surrounding her had distracted her concentration. [New Exiles #5-7] Given that Sage's mental shields require that concentration and focus of mind, she made the decision to forfeit the use of her telepathy. [X-Treme X-Men #41] Following her joining the Exiles, Sage's telepathic abilities have emerged due to her struggle with Roma's memories and Diana Fox. [New Exiles #5] Sage's telepathy allows her to read minds, broadcast thoughts, fire mind-blasts, and other similar abilities.


* Due to her power, as well as her experiences growing up in wartime, Sage is a formidable fighter. In-comic narration has explicitly established that her combat skills and experience are as deadly as Wolverine's. [X-Treme X-Men #41] . Sage observes all the elements of her adversary's fighting style (physical cues, ability, etc.), she analyzes his/her/their fighting style, and predicts probabilities of attack and angles of motion. At the same time she can control her own body completely, allowing her to adapt her movements virtually instantaneously and appropriately to the data.

* Sage was trained by Professor Xavier to resist mind-control and block telepaths. Her extensive training at the hands of Xavier allowed her to render herself invisible to the mental scans of highly powerful psychics, and even turn their attacks back at them. Sage can reflect attacks based on mind-links, and even use an attacker's mental powers to attack more minds, until the mental link between them is broken. For example, she was once the target of one of Psylocke's devastating psi-bolts [X-Treme X-Men #3] and with apparent minimal effort, turned the full force of the attack back at her attacker. In the "X-Treme X-Men: Savage Land" mini-series, the mutant Leash tries to use her power to mentally enslave others on Sage; this results in Sage, again demonstrating no effort, reflecting the attack and mentally enslaving Leash instead. This ability to reflect mental attacks requires conscious effort from Sage and therefore cannot be accomplished if she is caught by surprise or is somehow incapacitated.


* Sage uses a pair of cybernetic sun-glasses that allow her to access and interface with computers and data networks.
* She frequently carries and uses firearms and edged weapons, and is highly skilled in their use. Her firearms are sometimes loaded with stun ammunition.

Other versions


In "X-Men Ronin" Tessa is part of the Hellfire Club, the daughter of Professor X, and Emma Frost's sister.

What If?

In the What If special, "What if.. Magneto and Professor X had formed the X-Men together?" an alternate version of Sage was depicted.

In an alternative world where Professor Xavier and Magneto's roads did not separate, Sage was found by both men, and was never sent to spy on Sebastian Shaw in the Hellfire Club. As a result, Sage never helped that world's Shaw win his bet with Bogan, and Shaw lost Emma Frost to Bogan. And since Xavier had Sage around to find other mutants for him, he never developed his mutant tracking computer, Cerebro, which would have had a wider range.

When Xavier finally began developing a Cerebro, he used Sage to beta test it, comparing the readings of the device to the readings achieved with Sage's own mutant power. In this timeline, Sage served as Professor Xavier's Executive Assistant.

New X-Men

In the second volume of New X-Men, an alternate future is shown where Prodigy retains the knowledge he telepathically absorbs, Sage is shown to be Prodigy's secretary. She is responsible for convincing Jeffrey Garrett to destroy China and the death of Jay Guthrie is this alternate timeline.

In other media


In the "" novelization, Sage is a new student at the mansion being trained by Wolverine, along with Cannonball, Danielle Moonstar, and Gambit.


There is often a misconception that Sage is able to control computers with her mind (cyberpathy), or that she is a cyborg. Neither is the case.

Sage must interact with computers in a normal fashion, or through her virtual-reality glasses. Though she has been referred to as a cyberpath at times, this refers to her mental processing abilities and not control of computers.

Though she possesses computer or machine like attributes, these abilities are all functions of her mutant powers. Sage is fully human (or mutant) without any cybernetic enhancements.


External links

* [ Spotlight on Sage] - detailed biography on Sage
* [ Sage the living computer] - Sage fansite
* [ Cyberpaths] - Sage forums

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