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Robert Kelly (comics)

Robert Kelly
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
First appearance Uncanny X-Men #135 (July 1980)
Created by Chris Claremont
John Byrne
In-story information
Alter ego Robert Edward Kelly
Team affiliations United States Senate
Project: Wideawake
United States Republican Party

Robert Edward Kelly is a fictional character in the Marvel Comics universe. He most often appears in Marvel's X-Men and X-Men-related comic books. He is a prominent United States Senator who began his career on an anti-mutant platform, and as the X-Men team is made up entirely of mutants, his role tends to be that of an antagonist. However, towards the latter days of his career, he began to change his views on mutants as a whole. The character was created by Chris Claremont and John Byrne and makes his first appearance in Uncanny X-Men #135 (July 1980).

Fictional character biography

Senator Robert Kelly was first seen at a social gathering hosted by the Hellfire Club, where an illusion projected by the mutant villain Mastermind caused him to believe he had witnessed the X-Man Cyclops firing randomly into a crowd. He was the primary backer of the Mutant Control Act and Project: Wideawake, a government program aimed at creating updated Sentinel robots that would help track down and, if necessary, detain or kill violent mutants.

He played a central role in the Days of Future Past storyline that took place in Uncanny X-Men #141-142 (January–February 1981). The entire plot revolved around the X-Men stopping Mystique and her Brotherhood of Mutants from assassinating Senator Kelly and thus inadvertently causing a dystopian future where mutants and other heroes were hunted down by the Sentinels and nearly totally eliminated.[1]

When he appeared in Uncanny X-Men #246 (July 1989), he was married to Sharon, a former maid who worked in the Hellfire Club.[2] Kelly, in a meeting with Sebastian Shaw, was shocked when his wife walked in wearing her old, servant garb as a bit of fun. She was genuinely apologetic, saying she would not have done such a thing if it hadn't been just him and Shaw. Sharon was killed the next issue, in Uncanny X-Men #247 (August 1989), shot by the mutant-hunting robot known as Master Mold during a battle between Master Mold and Rogue. This further incited Robert's stance against mutantkind.[3]

Kelly remained an active anti-mutant activist in the comics through the 1990s, but slowly became more open-minded and tolerant towards the mutant population, promising the X-Men he would work for the rights of mutants during the early 2000s. After his life was saved by the mutant Pyro in an attack (this was when Pyro was infected with the Legacy Virus) from his old teammate Post, Kelly vowed to reconsider his standing on mutants and work towards improving human/mutant relations. Despite being guarded by the X-Man Cable, he was not long afterwards assassinated at a college rally (where he was speaking at the time) by the anti-mutant activist Alan Lewis who felt that Senator Kelly betrayed their anti-mutant cause. He died in Cable's arms where Cable had been too occupied with a "meeting" on the astral plane to realize the danger to Kelly before it was too late.[4]


The name of the character was chosen by Chris Claremont, in honour of his Bard College professor, the poet Robert Kelly. The latter has confirmed the connection between the two names in interviews among his students.[citation needed] Senator Kelly has been likened to real-life U.S. senator and anti-Communist crusader Joseph McCarthy.[5][6]

Other versions

Age of Apocalypse

In the Age of Apocalypse, Robert Kelly was an activist for mutant-human peace. He had succeeded in making the Human High Council and Apocalypse's empire sign the Kelly Pact, a treaty meant to prevent the Cullings and the experimentation on humans and mutants alike, though Apocalypse's forces did little to respect the Pact.[volume & issue needed]

Due to his advocacy of pacifism, Kelly was arrested and placed on a prisoners camp in Mexico, which was under the watch of Diablo and the Absorbing Man, two magic-based mutates that had aligned with Apocalypse. However, Kelly was rescued by Magneto, Nightcrawler and Rogue.[volume & issue needed]

Following the defeat of Apocalypse, Kelly was elected President of the United States. He named Magneto as Director of Mutant Affairs and enlisted the aid of the X-Men in the reconstruction of the broken country.[7]

House of M

In the House of M reality, Robert Kelly was a United States Senator and also the head of the Council of Mutant Affairs around the time of the Mutant-Human War. He was later killed by Sabretooth.[volume & issue needed]

X-Men: Noir

In the X-Men Noir reality, Robert Kelly was a Republican Senator of New York who strongly defended the controversial U.S. extraterritorial prison Genosha Bay. Kelly believed through eugenics that it is necessary for containing criminals who are more exceptionally dangerous and from "infecting" the public with their criminal ways. However, in reality Kelly's true purpose of keeping Genosha Bay was because it was the proving grounds in recruiting a next generation of ideal soldiers and government operatives.[8]

In other media


Senator Kelly in the X-Men animated series
  • In the X-Men animated series, which ran on Fox from 1992–1997, Robert Jefferson Kelly (voiced by Len Carlson) ran for president on an anti-mutant campaign during the beginning of the show's first season. Kelly came to befriend the X-Men and support mutants shortly after his election as President of the United States, in the season's final episode, after the X-Men had rescued him from both an assassination attempt by Mystique (who was posing as Gambit to make it look like the X-Men did it) and an attempted brainwashing by Master Mold. In the first episode of season two, Kelly took office as president, spoke out in support of mutants, and made his first presidential act an official pardoning of Beast, who had been unfairly arrested early in season one. These actions led Kelly's former anti-mutant supporters to feel betrayed by him and create the public anti-mutant backlash that pervaded the entire second season of the show. In the third through fifth seasons of the animated series, President Kelly had a low profile. He remained friendly with the X-Men through the show's end, working with them to confront global mutant threats such as Magneto's building an armed, inhabitable, mutants-only asteroid in space during the fourth season.
Principal Kelly in X-Men: Evolution
  • In X-Men Evolution, Kelly (renamed Edward Kelly and voiced by Dale Wilson) was the principal of Bayville High, the school that several X-Men attended following the disappearance of his predecessor Raven Darkholme. After Professor X had erased everyone's memories of the Brotherhood of Mutants exposing the identities of the X-Men, he tried to do the same thing to Principal Edward Kelly (who was watching from afar) only to collapse. Professor X suspected that Magneto might've interfered with this. When the X-Men's identities became public knowledge, he was voting for keeping mutants out of school. The school board changed their minds after the X-Men saved their lives from the rampaging Toad, Avalanche and Blob, and their contractor Duncan Matthews, the school's football hero (who all were trying to get the X-Men expelled at Kelly's behest). After the Brotherhood of Mutants' failure, Principal Edward Kelly told Avalanche that he and the other members of the Brotherhood of Mutants are expelled. In the series' final season, Kelly was pursuing a career as the city's Mayor.
Senator Kelly in Wolverine and the X-Men
  • Senator Robert Kelly appears in Wolverine and the X-Men, voiced by Richard Doyle. He is beginning his project for the Sentinels and previews the Sentinel Prowler at an anti-mutant rally. The Prowler targets Rogue in the rally group and attacks the crowd. Afterwards, Kelly decides to shutdown the project to focus on the Brotherhood of Mutants. He also had his agents retrieve a mutant dampening collar that could neutralized their powers but it was retrieved by Wolverine. In "Battle Lines," it was revealed that he arranged for Genosha to be given to Magneto when they discuss about the MRD holding some the powerful mutants. When Senator Kelly asks what he's going to do about it, Magneto says that he's already doing it as it cuts to his Acolytes breaking into the MRD Facilities. In "Backlash," Senator Kelly is shown with Bolivar Trask, Sybil Zane, and Warren Worthington II when seeing the Sentinels fight the X-Men and the Brotherhood of Mutants. In "Guardian Angel," Warren Worthington II has a chat with Senator Kelly about making Warren Worthington III's status as a mutant public. Following an attack by Archangel, Warren Worthington II cuts off his alliance with Senator Kelly. In "Aces and Eights", when Genosha closes its borders, Kelly sent Gambit to take Magneto's helmet and cripple Genosha. However, though Gambit succeeded in his latter task, he loses the helmet. Magneto was ready to pummel the Senator when the X-Men intervene and Charles Xavier himself showed them the apocalyptic future as the result of their war. Shocked by this revelation, Kelly shuts down Sentinel production. However, Magneto desired the war and replaced Kelly with Mystique after Magneto has Quicksilver capture him. When last seen, he was being held in a Genoshan holding cell. If there was a Season Two, he would've been released.
  • Senator Robert Kelly appears in the Iron Man: Armored Adventures episode "The X-Factor", voiced again by Dale Wilson. A rabid anti-mutant politician, he is shown giving an televised anti-mutant speech following Magneto's attack on Simon Trask. When Kelly gives his speech in New York about his plan to have mutants registered, Magneto intends to have "Annie" execute a telekinetic attack on him to make it look like a natural death instead of an assassination. During Magneto's attack on Iron Man, Annie uses her mental powers to save Senator Kelly who still remains antagonistic to her. Iron Man subsequently admonishes Senator Kelly for his lack of gratitude and the humiliated Senator Kelly ends up leaving under a storm of protests from his former supporters.


  • In X-Men, Senator Kelly (played by Bruce Davison) is staunchly anti-mutant, arguing that they are a danger to "normal" people and should be forced to register and locked away. He is kidnapped by Magneto's minion Mystique and is subjected to a process that transforms him into a mutant. Unbeknownst to Magneto, the process is ultimately fatal, with his body rejecting the process, and Kelly (now in a malleable jellyfish-like form who has power to stretch and be easily squished if pressure is applied) melts in the custody of the X-Men. Prior to his death, Kelly learns to accept, at the very least that some mutants are not against humanity and is comforted by Storm. He is subsequently impersonated by Mystique at the end of the film and in X2. He is described as a Senator from Kansas, specifically, in a making-of featurette, screenplay, and the Mutant Watch featurette he is referenced as a Republican. Also in the Mutant Watch special feature on the X-Men DVD, his young daughter is revealed as a mutant on "live TV" after a Senate hearing on mutant regulation. No mention of this is made in the film.

Video games

  • Senator Kelly is also briefly mentioned in X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse: if the player is controlling a member of the X-Men at the end of a mission to protect a Sentinel fleet (since they are being used to evacuate New York), the selected character expresses his befuddlement by saying "First joining up with the Brotherhood, now helping Sentinels? Next thing you know, Senator Robert Kelly is going to invite us for lunch!"
  • Senator Kelly appears in Marvel: Ultimate Alliance voiced by Peter Renaday. In the game, he is captured by Arcade and is imprisoned somewhere in Murderworld (he is located in the cart to the left when exiting the fake Castle Doom). A side-mission involves searching for him in Murderworld. If he is found, he will support the Mutant Aid Bill which will allow government funds for schools (similar to Professor X's) which will be successful in training young mutants in how to control their powers. If he is not found, he achieves freedom on his own and successfully sponsors a bill where all mutants are sent to re-education camps where they will be brutally educated to not use their powers. Interestingly, this version of Senator Kelly seems to harbor not only an anti-mutant sentiment, but a general distrust of superheroes (somewhat in the same vein of J. Jonah Jameson). When freed, the player will tell Senator Kelly to find a safe place to hide until they can send some S.H.I.E.L.D. agents to get him out of Murderworld. He has special dialogue with Storm.


  1. ^ Uncanny X-Men #141-142
  2. ^ Uncanny X-Men #246
  3. ^ Uncanny X-Men #247
  4. ^ X-Men vol. 2 #108 (2001)
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ Tales from the Age of Apocalype #1
  8. ^ X-Men Noir: Mark of Cain #1

External links