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Sage (comics)

Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
First appearance The X-Men #132 (April 1980)
Created by Chris Claremont
John Byrne
In-story information
Alter ego Tessa
Species Human Mutant
Team affiliations Multiverse X-Men
X-Treme X-Men
New Excalibur
X-Treme Sanctions Executive
The Hellfire Club
Notable aliases Tessa, Lady Tessa, Diana Fox, Britannia
Abilities Ability to jumpstart 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 discovered by Professor Xavier. She has been a member of the original X-Men teams, the X-Treme X-Men, Excalibur, the Exiles, and a cross-dimensional X-Men team similar to the Exiles known as the X-Treme X-Men.

Publication history

Tessa first appeared in The X-Men #132 (April 1980), and was created by Chris Claremont and John Byrne.

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 Afghanistan. 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 is 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 says that this was about the same time as he located Beast,[volume & issue needed] but in other accounts he found Sage first.[volume & issue needed]

Sage helps Xavier and tries to get him to a hospital, but during their journey down the mountain 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.[volume & issue needed]

The Hellfire Club

Years later, Sage meets up again with Xavier, who at the time is recruiting the original X-Men. 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. He sends her to the Hellfire Club as Tessa, to keep watch on Sebastian Shaw.[volume & issue needed]

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,[volume & issue needed] Tessa 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.[volume & issue needed]

Sometime during Tessa'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.[volume & issue needed] 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 Tessa'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 Tessa.[volume & issue needed]

During the X-Men's initial conflicts with the Hellfire Club, Tessa 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 Tessa, 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.[volume & issue needed] The two are rescued by the nascent team of New Mutants, and Tessa takes Pierce into custody on behalf of the Hellfire Club.[volume & issue needed]

Tessa'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.[volume & issue needed] 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. Tessa 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.[volume & issue needed]

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 Tessa 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. Tessa 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 Tessa prevents Shinobi from solidifying his hold on the Hellfire Club, however, the younger Shaw ceases working with her.[volume & issue needed]

Sebastian Shaw returns after a period of recuperation with the extradimensional Holocaust at his side. Seeking assistance in controlling this powerful mutant, Shaw calls Tessa 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, Tessa 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, Tessa is quickly overwhelmed and nearly killed. The only thing that stays Madelyne's hand is that Tessa's murder would have caused unnecessary complications. Instead, Pryor merely removes all memory of the conflict.[volume & issue needed]

Six-month gap

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

Out of gratitude, she stays with the X-Men, primarily in a support capacity, and resumes use of the name Sage. Fearful of mental domination by Bogan or another powerful telepath, 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.[volume & issue needed]

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.[volume & issue needed]

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 Sunspot (who has become the new Lord Imperial) to make sure he is not corrupted by power as Sebastian was.[volume & issue needed]

New Excalibur

Main article: New Excalibur

For reasons yet unknown, Sage leaves Sunspot's side and travels to England to join forces with the newly reformed New Excalibur.[volume & issue needed] She helps them on various missions such as battling the Shadow King,[volume & issue needed] and returning to ancient Camelot to prevent it from being prematurely destroyed.[volume & issue needed] In a more subtle use of her observation abilities, Sage is instrumental in her teammate Nocturne's recovery from a debilitating stroke.[1]

Sage as Diana Fox, after beheading an alternate Cyclops. Art by Pat Olliffe.

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.[2] 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.[3]

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 helps reassert Sage's original personality. Together with New Excalibur, Shadow-X, and now Lionheart, Sage defeats Albion and his Shadow Captains.[4]

X-Men: Die by the Sword and New Exiles

Immediately after the defeat of the Shadow Captains, a party is held in honor of Excalibur. While the team enjoys the party, Sage feels 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; she fears for her sanity. 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.[volume & issue needed]

While the other Exiles go on missions, Sage largely remains back at their base of operation, fighting the effects of Roma's memories and Diana Fox tenaciously every day until she drops from exhaustion. She refuses to lose possession of her mind, body, and soul. For a while she manages to calm down the phantoms, however, Diana Fox remains an aggressive presence in Sage's mind, fighting her for control.[5]

While diverting her focus to analyze Cat's uncontrolled ability to "cascade" through different alternate versions of herself, and Cat's empathic connection to the Crystal Palace, the phantoms in Sage's mind break free from their mental prison. Sage decides to confront them and Diana once and for all. During her struggle she bonds with Cat, who had been trying to find a way to heal the dying Multiverse. Sage tells Cat that she is probably too close to the situation and that it is time for a fresh mind and a new perspective. She sends Cat away to join the rest of the team and prepares to find answers, just as Diana Fox shows up, wanting to fight.[volume & issue needed]

Sage and Diana fight each other but neither is yielding; they are too evenly matched and equally stubborn. As long as they fight each other, they can't defeat the phantoms. The women decide to team up against a greater threat: the return of Merlin. During battles, Sage and Diana get a better understanding of each other and their motives.[volume & issue needed]

Merlin almost kills Sage. Knowing that she could never find answers the way Sage could to the collapsing of the Multiverse, Diana decides to sacrifice herself to revive Sage for the greater good. Sage reabsorbs Diana and destroys the evil version of Merlyn. Sage then follows her instincts and merges with the Crystal Palace, an act which stabilizes the Multiverse. This fate was intended for Cat, but she was too young and too scared; she couldn't handle it. From now on when the New Exiles communicate with the Crystal Palace, they are not addressing a computer, they're talking to a living being: Sage.[6] Sage was seen once more in the Crystal Palace. However she seems to have been permanently absorbed and rendered comatose along with her Exiles team.[7]

Return to X-Treme X-Men

Like Sabretooth, she was apparently rescued, revived, or separated, as she was later seen helping Dazzler and an alternative reality Wolverine rescue a kid version of Nightcrawler from the robots of yet another alternative reality.[8] As of the conclusion of the "X-Termination" storyline Sage returned to Earth-616.[9]

Powers, abilities, and equipment

Sage is a mutant with incredible advanced intellectual capabilities, her mind works in the same way as a computer with unlimited storage capacity, only much faster than it will be possible for generations and without losing the particular complex processing capabilities of the human brain. She is able to perform several mental functions at once without losing focus on any of them. Her mind allows her to instantly recall specific information with incredible speed and accuracy. She is able to store everything that she experiences in a photographic memory and retrieve it immediately without the typical human pause for thought. The speed of her thoughts augments her analytical ability so that she is able to make snap decisions about her surroundings and create complex scenarios at high speed. Sage is able to track the probability of an event by piecing together stored data, and is able to perform multiple tasks at once by allocating a portion of her brain to each task. Sage can use her mind to replay a movie she has seen, play a game of internet chess, and focus on battling an opponent simultaneously without any one task distracting her from another.

Sage is also able to 'see' a person's genetic code, reading complex DNA sequences for latent and manifested mutations, thereby allowing her to sense mutants and, in many cases, understand how their powers work more thoroughly than they themselves do. And after analyzing the DNA of another superhuman mutant, Sage is able to selectively evolve their existing genetic traits as well as catalyze the untapped genetic potential of latent mutants. Once begun, the procedure is irreversible and can often result in unpredictable side effects.

Sage possesses a degree of telepathic ability allowing her to communicate with others over short distances, project psionic energy blasts, create illusions, and release an astral form within a limited range. However, she shut down her own telepathy to protect herself from Elias Bogan. In Exiles her telepathy appears to resurface.

Sage is skilled in the martial arts, and is a formidable hand-to-hand combatant thanks to her having complete conscious control over her own body. Her analytical skills and facility with probability also extend to combat situations, allowing her to predict an opponent's attacks and initiate the optimal counter-attack. Sage is also self-taught in a wide range of firearms, which she can use with considerable skill and accuracy. She is intelligent. Her computer-like mind makes it easy for her to learn new skills.

Following her merge with the Exiles' home, the ancient Panoptichron (also known as the "Crystal Palace") Sage has gained access to all of its functions. She can project her image as a hologram, as well as a solid body. She possesses awareness to the Palace's environment, and can teleport objects and living beings from any Earth in the Multiverse.[10]


  • Sage uses a pair of cybernetic sunglasses 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.[volume & issue needed]

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.[volume & issue needed]

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. Since Xavier had Sage around to find other mutants for him, he never developed his mutant tracking computer, Cerebro.[volume & issue needed]

When Xavier finally began developing 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.[volume & issue needed]

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 in this alternate timeline.[volume & issue needed]

X-Men: The End

In the alternate future presented in the X-Men: The End series of books. X-23, M, and Iceman are sent to Hong Kong to locate and capture the renegade X.S.E. member, Sage. However, Sage uses her considerable espionage skills to ambush X-23, attaching Malice's Malice choker to her neck that temporarily overwhelms X-23. Sage has been using the choker to gather as much information from as many people as she can in hopes that she will eventually have access to all of the knowledge/information in the world. Sage removes the choker and attempts to flee just as Iceman arrives and freezes her in ice, allowing the group to safely take her into custody.[volume & issue needed]

In other media


In the novelization for the film X-Men: The Last Stand, Sage is a new student at the mansion being trained by Wolverine, along with Cannonball, Danielle Moonstar, and Gambit.


  1. ^ New Excalibur #16-17
  2. ^ New Excalibur #19
  3. ^ New Excalibur #20-21
  4. ^ New Excalibur #21-24
  5. ^ New Exiles #5-10
  6. ^ New Exiles #13-18
  7. ^ Exiles vol. 3 #6
  8. ^ X-Treme X-Men vol. 2 #6-7
  9. ^ X-Termination #2
  10. ^ New Exiles #18

External links