Who Is the Villainous X-MEN ’97 Clone, Madelyne Pryor? The Marvel Comics History of the Goblin Queen, Explained

The hype is real for Marvel Studios’ animated series X-Men ’97, which continues where the classic show left off. And one major character from the ’80s era Uncanny X-Men comics just made her first appearance in the series’ third episode, “Fire Made Flesh.” That character is Madelyne Pryor, the Goblin Queen. But who is this X-Men ally turned villain? And why does she look just like Jean Grey? Here’s the complex history of one of X-Men lore’s most tragic figures.

Madelyne Pryor’s First Marvel Comics Appearance

Madelyne Pryor's first appearance as a pilot in Uncanny X-Men #168. Art by Paul Smith.
Marvel Comics

Madelyne Pryor first appeared in 1983’s Uncanny X-Men #168, as a cargo pilot that Scott Summers/Cyclops meets while visiting his grandparents in Alaska. This was when he was still mourning his lost love Jean Grey, who sacrificed herself after becoming Dark Phoenix. Maddie (sometimes spelled “Maddy”) bore a striking resemblance to Jean, looking almost like her identical twin. Scott fell head over heels instantly. Eventually, Maddie and Scott began a romantic relationship, and he took her home to meet the X-Men. Within a year, Scott and Maddie were married, and Cyclops left the X-Men, leaving Storm as leader. Writer Chris Claremont intended for Maddie to be Scott’s “happily ever after” after the death of Jean. Yet “Happily ever after” is not usually part of the X-Men game plan.

The wedding of Scott Summers and Maddie Pryor, art by John Romita Jr.
Marvel Comics

Madelyne Pryor, Jean Grey, and Cyclops

When Scott and Maddie left the X-Mansion in Uncanny X-Men #201, it was shortly after the birth of their son, Nathan Christopher Charles Summers. But domestic bliss did not last long for the new parents. Jean Grey was discovered to be alive. The Phoenix who had died was a cosmic entity that copied Jean’s consciousness and memories, leaving her real body to heal at the bottom of the ocean. When Cyclops got the call that Jean was alive, he ran to her side to confirm if it was true. Maddie said if he left to chase after the ghost of his old girlfriend, to not bother coming back. Cyclops then re-teamed with the other four original X-Men as the group X-Factor.

Scott Summers leave his wife Maddie to find out if his old girlfeiend Jean Grey is really alive in X-Factor #1.
Marvel Comics

Not long after, the Marauders, the villain Mister Sinister’s deadly soldiers, attack Madelyne and baby Nathan. When Scott Summers returns home to look for his family, all evidence of their existence has mysteriously been erased. Although the X-Men rescue Maddie, her child remains missing. When the X-Men suddenly die saving the world, the goddess Roma resurrected them. They chose to let the world think they died, and Maddie leaves with the team to a hidden base in the Australian Outback. She starts to grow close to her brother-in-law Alex, also called Havok. Maddie eventually learns Scott got back together with Jean, which she discovers via TV newscasts. This enrages Madelyne, and her rage becomes a beacon for the demon S’ym. He offers her power, and she takes it. She uses this dark demonic power to try to find her missing son, Nathan.

The Truth About Madelyne Pryor’s Origins

Madelyne Pryor learns the truth about her origins in Uncanny X-Men, with art my Marc Silvestri.
Marvel Comics

It is during this time that Madelyne finally learns the truth of her origins. The genetic manipulator Mister Sinister long had an interest in the Summers and Grey bloodlines. He believed that the offspring of mutants Scott Summers and Jean Grey would be an Omega-level mutant. When Jean became Phoenix, he feared that she was too erratic, and might depart the Earth, thwarting his plans. So he used a tissue sample of Jean to create a clone of her. But the clone didn’t show signs of any powers, and she remained in the incubation tube.

Madelyne Pryor learns the truth from Mister Sinister, her creator, in X-Men: Inferno. (Art by Marc Silvestri).
Marvel Comics

But when Dark Phoenix died, a spark of her power awakened the clone. Now alive and sentient, Sinister gave this clone fake memories and a fake identity as Madelyne Pryor, her name a joke about her “prior” life. He set her up working for Scott’s grandparents, knowing that once Cyclops met her, he’d fall in love with the spitting image of his dead lover. But once she gave birth to Nathan, and the real Jean returned, Sinister had no use for Maddie any longer. So he sent his Marauders to kill her, treating her as a “loose end.” Finding out her whole life was a lie drove Maddie further down a dark path.

Madelyne Pryor Becomes the Goblin Queen

Who Is the Villainous X-MEN Clone, Madelyne Pryor? The Marvel Comics History of the Goblin Queen, Explained_1
Marvel Comics

Losing her grip on sanity, she joins forces with the demon lord N’astirh, during the X-Men crossover event Inferno. Taking on the mantle of the Goblin Queen, Maddie unleashes demonic hell on New York. She very nearly sacrifices her son Nathan to demonic forces during this event. First, to get back at Cyclops, and then, as revenge on Sinister, who treated her as breeding stock. Ultimately, the X-Men and X-Factor stop her, and Maddie uses her newly discovered telepathic power to connect with her clone Jean Grey, believing that if she kills herself, she’ll take Jean with her. Maddie dies, but Jean survives, and the Phoenix Force returns. It implanted Maddie’s memories into Jean, transferring her love for Maddie’s son to her. And for a long time, that was the end of Madelyne Pryor.

Madelyne Pryor and Her Son, Cable

Madelyne Pryor confronts her adult son Cable in his own '90s era series.
Marvel Comics

Madelyne and Scott’s child, Nathan, was now being raised by Scott and Jean Grey. But this happy family was also short-lived. The immortal mutant Apocalypse infected the child with a techno-organic virus, which threatened to consume him. To save the child, they sent him to the distant future, hoping advanced science could save his life. It did, and we eventually learned that the cyborg mercenary Cable, who was the leader of X-Force, was actually an adult Nathan Summers who went back in time to the era of his birth.

The powerful Nate Grey, also called X-Man, resurrects Maddie Pryor, but realizes she must be let go.
Marvel Comics

Years later, the alternate version of Madelyne’s son Nathan from the Age of Apocalypse timeline known as X-Man came to the 616 reality. A powerful psychic unencumbered by his doppelgänger Cable’s techno virus, he used his powers to pluck Madelyne’s spirit from the astral plane and give it new life, looking for a mother figure. Weirdly, they start dating, a bizarre development given that genetically speaking, Madelyne is, at the very least, Nate’s aunt. (Editor’s Note: Fuckin’ ew.) This Madelyne joined the Hellfire Club as its Black Rook, and didn’t have most of Maddie’s original memories, probably because Jean Grey had absorbed them. She eventually gets her memories back, and finally forms some kind of understanding with her son Cable. Although he has a few conflicted feelings about his mom trying to sacrifice him to demons as an infant. (Hey, family can get complicated). Eventually, Maddie dissipates into the Astral Plane again.

Madelyne Pryor in the Modern X-Men Age

The Goblin Queen in the modern X-Men era.
Marvel Comics

A version of Madelyne later returned from the Astral Plane and formed the Sisterhood of Mutants. However, whether or not that was actually Maddie has come into question. Many believe it to be the Jean Grey of another universe posing as her. The true Madelyne recently came back to life once more, via the Resurrection Protocols on the mutant island of Krakoa. She finally made peace with Jean Grey, who granted her the memories of the years she raised Maddie’s son Nathan. Madelyne reclaimed her Goblin Queen throne, where she ruled the hellish Limbo dimension once again. She even formed her own “Dark X-Men” team.

The Goblin Queen’s Marvel Powers

Ad for the 1988 event comic Inferno, showing Cyclops between two clones, Jean Grey and Madelyne Pryor.
Marvel Comics

Although at first appearing as a baseline human, as Jean Grey’s clone, Madelyne has the same powers as her genetic template. Perhaps because of her forced growth in the lab, her powers didn’t activate at puberty. It took her far longer to manifest them. Eventually, not only does she have Jean’s telepathic and telekinetic powers, but she eventually absorbs the mutant Selene’s power of teleportation. However, since she developed them later in life and as an adult, her psychic abilities were never quite as strong as Jean’s. However, when she became the Goblin Queen, she was imbued with magics as well, making her powerful in a way Jean never was.

Madelyne Pryor in X-Men ’97

Spoiler Alert
The clone of Jean Grey becomes the Goblin Queen in the third episode of X-Men '97
Marvel Animation

In the third episode of X-Men ’97’s first season, “Fire Made Flesh,” we discover the Jean Grey we’ve seen since the first episode, who gave birth to a son in episode two, was not really Jean at all. She was a clone of Jean, created at some unknown point in the past, and swapped out for the real one. Her creator was none other than Mister Sinister. As in the comics, he wanted to create a mutant with the powerful DNA combo of Jean Grey and Scott Summers. But if he created a clone of Jean he could control, she would deliver that offspring to him. When the real Jean shows up, and the clone is revealed as the imposter, Sinister activates his mind control over the clone, unleashing her dark side.

The Goblin Queen protects her son Nathan and husband Cyclops from Mr. Sinister in X-Men '97.
Marvel Animation

Clone Jean then mentally taps into demonic energies, and becomes the Goblin Queen. She takes her infant son Nathan to Sinister, who performs experiments on him to make him stronger. But the real Jean mentally links with clone, and breaks Sinister’s hold over her. She helps the X-Men rescue baby Nathan, but Sinister has implanted a techno-organic virus in the child. He must be sent to the future with Bishop to be saved. Clone Jean makes a tearful goodbye to her genetic twin, now taking the name Madelyne Pryor for herself. She leaves the X-Mansion for parts unknown. Will we see her in the future? Unlike the comics, she was not killed off. We’re sure to see Maddie again on X-Men ’97.

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