Some content in this article is derived from information featured in The X-Adults: Endgame: The Latest Threat, and, as such, spoilers will be present.
In 1995, after graduating from Superhero School, Roger disappeared for ten years. He slipped deeper into the dark side, travelled extensively, consorted with disreputable people, and began to become distorted in appearance due to immersing so far in the dark side, and began to use the alias “the Gladiator” openly. Ten years after his disappearance, the Gladiator befriended a wealthy, elderly woman named Harriet Swenson, who doted upon him. Harriet showed the Gladiator her home, Swenson Quarters. Just then, she caught a glimpse of the greedy red gleam in his eyes, causing her admiration of the man to momentarily falter. Upon seeing the place, the Gladiator desired to live there, because he saw the building to be rightfully his after Harriet’s ancestors stole the mansion from his own. In order to steal this building for himself, the Gladiator killed Harriet. After scouting his new home, which he had renamed Transylvania Quarters, he realized there was only one room even he could not access by any means - the Hall of Domination. Roger was never suspected; he covered his tracks by framing an innocent bystander — Harriet’s butler, Eli. Eli confessed mistaking the poison for sugar and mixing it in the cocoa, for whose fate is not revealed.
By the summer of 2041, George and many other mutant criminals had escaped from Beta Prison, and returned to service with the Dark Lord. They became known as the Knights of Plague. The Gladiator had made his retaken home their headquarters.
The Orb of PowerEdit
- Rudolph: "I heard differently, my Lord. A trap lies in the Hall to kill us all should we try to enter. I heavily advise against this."
- Becca: "This is a false statement. No doubt you have fell for their ploy. Rudolph, you are no longer part of this. I suggest you remain silent."
- — Excerpt from the meeting at Transylvania Quarters[src]
About a month before the Battle of Transylvania, Becca Smith entered Transylvania Quarters and found the Gladiator sitting at a table with gathered Knights of Plague. Becca then informed the Gladiator that the Orb of Power was in the Hall of Domination. Becca reported that the information comes, “from the source [they] discussed.” This contradicted the information that Rudolph Lestange obtained from Molly, a police officer, but that is determined to be unreliable; Becca suspected the government was feeding them false information.
John Webb reported that Fredrick Powell, the head of the government’s military forces, had been possessed by his own hand, a major step in taking the Orb of Power. However, the Gladiator said that Fredrick is only one man, but the right one for the job.
- The Gladiator: "The energizers are both space rock. If I am to kill him, I will need another’s sword. Come. Surely one of you would like the honor... No volunteers? Let’s see... you, Monroe. I see no need for you to carry a sword anymore."
- Monroe: "My Lord?"
- The Gladiator: "I require your sword."
- — The Gladiator taking Monroe’s sword[src]
After the Pitial Defilatelum effect happened during his first encounter with Master Intelligence, the Gladiator knew that he would need a different sword to use against Master Intelligence as his sword and Intelligence’s shared the same energizer material, space rock. Because of this, the Gladiator was unable to fatally harm Master Intelligence. He told the gathered Knights of Plague that if he was to kill Master Intelligence he would have to do it with someone else’s sword, and asked if anyone would volunteer their sword for the honor.
No one did, as a mutant rarely would want to part with his or her weapon. However, the Gladiator eventually decided to take Monroe’s sword, to further humiliate him after Monroe’s failure during the Invasion of the Town Hall to capture Alicia. After that battle, Monroe was arrested and sent to Beta Prison, but when he broke out again, he attended the meeting of subject. Monroe reluctantly obliged, and the sword later fell into the abyss.
- "To those of you who are not yet aware, we are joined by Alicia, who, until just recently, led a Fobble revolution. It is her belief that we are not so different from the townspeople. Given her way, she would make the Fobbles our partners. She has also passed an order to have our base torn down... NYEEAAH! Nagatha? Dinner."
- ―The Gladiator speaking before murdering Alicia[src]
Above the table the Gladiator and his followers were seated at, a bound, unconscious figure was suspended upside down, slowly rotating. After Monroe was humiliated by the Gladiator taking his sword, the captive awoke and began sobbing. She immediately pleaded for help from an impassive Becca. The Gladiator cast high-voltage lightning upon the woman, Alicia, the leader of the Muggle revolution, for convincing the government to take over Transylvania Quarters and tear it down (which failed) and for publishing an opinion suggesting that the declining mutant population is actually beneficial and that having powers does not make mutants better than Muggles. Her body was given to Nagatha as the snake’s dinner.
Impact of the MeetingEdit
The Knights’ actions at the meetings give much insight into how the Gladiator’s ranks are assembled. Despite the Gladiator having gathered key supporters around him, there is little solidarity among them, showing a major difference between Knights of Plague and S.M.S.B. members. The Knights of Plague constantly compete with one another to ascend in the Dark Lord’s eyes. It quickly became clear how far and how quickly Monroe has fallen from favor, whose arrogance and wealth have, until now, shielded his rather weak character. Now Monroe must endure this latest humiliation, though he apparently still retains hope to somehow redeem himself to the Dark Lord.
This will likely prove difficult, as the Gladiator has shown that he demands absolute loyalty and servitude while offering his followers little in return. It is creating an atmosphere where disharmony can quickly set in, prompting the Gladiator’s followers to seek their own reward any way they can, even by turning against another. Even his most ardent follower, Becca Smith, was taunted by the Gladiator, who likely considers her “tainted” for having Muggle parents, marrying a Muggle, and constantly arriving late at meetings. In the S.M.S.B., however, the organization rallies around Master Intelligence in a unified goal to protect the weak and defeat criminals; this is far more important than material gains or an individual’s status within their group, and it serves to strengthen, rather than divide them.
The murder of Alicia serves to demonstrate just how bloodthirsty Knights of Plague are, which makes murdering a helpless victim logical to the plot. That she is a Hogwarts professor re-enforces that the school is not as sacrosanct as it once seemed, and there is no one better to kill than the woman who tried to form a resistance movement against them. Despite Alicia acting on this since 2032, this is the first time we hear about her. Killing Alicia may also have been a means for the Gladiator to test Becca’s loyalty by gauging her reaction to it, seeing if she registers any emotion or attempts to intervene in any way, for any reason, to spare Alicia’s life. As it happens, Becca had moved on and was entirely impassive, not only as she witnesses her best friend from childhood being so horribly murdered, but also helplessly listening to her desperate pleas for her life.
The known people who attended the meeting were the following:
- The Gladiator
- Becca Smith
- Augustus Salt
- Sebastian Lestange
- Rudolph Lestange
- John Webb
- Wallace Blanks
- Nolan Giles
- Eve Higgins
- Alicia (as a prisoner/victim of the Gladiator)
Behind the ScenesEdit
Fredrick Powell is among those in attendance at this meeting in The X-Adults: Endgame: The Latest Threat. The book does not specify whether he has already been possessed or if he has allied with the Knights of Plague under his own free will, though his actions seem to suggest the latter.
- The X-Adults: Endgame: The Latest Threat (first appearance)