Portrayed by John Hamm
|Birthdate:||March 15, 1934|
"I can work with anyone. The question is whether or not you'll survive it."
Practically immortal, shapeshifter Kevin Sydney is trying to understand the (much younger) members of his new team.
Character Journal: Kevin Sydney
Real Name: Kevin Sydney
Aliases: Too many to name
First Appearance: February 6, 2015
Date of Birth: March 15, 1934
Place of Birth: Chicago, IL
Citizenship: American (although legally dead)
Relatives: Chris Sydney - half nephew, Naomi Sydney - niece in law, Margot Sydney - great niece
Education: The Office of Training and Education - CIA
Relationship Status: Single
Occupation: Intelligence Operative
Team Affiliation: X-Force
Kevin Sydney was born in a quiet lower middle class home in Chicago. His father worked as a roundhouse mechanic before an injury forced him into working as a representative for the local union. It allowed the family a small but stable income. His mother was never healthy and died a few years after his birth, something that his father blamed on Kevin. Due to grief and his injury, his father descended into alcoholism and Kevin suffered regular physical abuse. His only other family was an uncle on his mother’s side who was a conman, and between his various scrapes and bouts in jail, ended up teaching Kevin a few skills that the younger man’s family did not entirely approve of. Sydney attempted to enlist at the age of 14 but was easily found out. After the onset of the war in Korea, he faked his age and enlisted at the age of 16 and was sent to the front as a raw infantry man.
In Korea, Sydney made a name for himself as a skilled sniper and excellent scout. He had an ear for the language and learned a remarkable amount of Korean and Mandarin, able to mimic a number of different regional accents to completely fool native speakers. He was recruited by the fledging CIA out of the field and was sent to train in a number of disciplines.
HOME AT THE AGENCY
Kevin Sydney was officially activated as an operative of the CIA in 1952. He began to work the field, first in Asia due to his language skills, but quickly found himself deployed all over the world. It was after eight years that his powers began to manifest. Because of the lack of public acknowledgement about mutants at the time, Sydney had no idea what was happening to him specifically. His powers remained at a very low level, restricted to power tricks such as mimicking fingerprints or expanding lungs to hold his breath longer. Most of the effects were instinctively used and Sydney didn’t think to challenge them further. While the CIA were leery of his abilities, they also recognized the asset that he represented and quietly kept any official record of his abilities secret.
Kevin quickly worked his way up the CIA ladder, earning multiple degrees while working in Operations and training for more senior positions. He took over the covert New York field office in his early 30s, the youngest in CIA history, which put him in a working relationship with Nora Brinson. Brinson, a brilliant women blocked from advancement due to her sex, was fundamental in creating a new, modern outlook on intelligence, field work and the Agency decades ahead of its time. Kevin also married an opera singer, Elizabeth Rhinelander, the daughter of an old, prominent New York society family. While her family didn't approve of Kevin, due to his poor Irish background and seemingly minor bureaucratic career. It wasn't until his posting to an publicly acknowledged CIA facility that his true status and rank was known. They provided an in into society at the time, including the Hellfire Club, of which they were members. Kevin and Beth divorced in 1980, largely due to the fact that having children would be impossible and Beth's need for a biological family.
Sydney worked into the late 90s, spanning the bulk of the Cold War. Over the years, he was involved in many of the CIA’s clandestine missions. Worrying to them was also the fact that Sydney didn’t appear to age, although he’d taken the precaution of dying his hair white and using make-up to simulate the effects. During this time, he became involved in a clandestine relationship with a CIA operative Mary Walker. Because Kevin was part of the chain of command, any kind of relationship was strictly against the rules, so they had to cover it up. When Mary went missing as part of a failed operations against a CIA target called Sugarman, Kevin falsified intel that Mary was alive in order to keep resources in the field. When Mary was rescued, his actions were justified, but it had brought undue suspicions about him, especially when Mary escaped from the recovery facility days later and disappeared. Alone, Kevin was forced into retirement in 1997. Months later, the Agency finally decided that the risk Sydney represented was too great; they didn’t understand his powers properly, there were suspicions that he had a hand in Mary's disappearance and might be operating outside of the scope of the CIA and his knowledge of the internal history of the Agency was too thorough to risk simply leave him retired. Instead, a black team killed him with a single rifle shot through the back of the head while he was fishing off his back dock. His body was encased in wire, weighted, and dumped in the deepest part of Chesapeake Bay.
BACK FROM THE DEAD
Kevin spent a decade under the water, his body rotting and his flesh scored by fish and crabs. Finally, a large enough piece of flesh broke away to rise to the surface of the water. The cells contact with sun and oxygen immediately woke Sydney to his horrible state. He spent a week drowning and waking a few moments later to drown again before he finally was able to calm down enough to focus on freeing himself. When he emerged from the water, he resembled a movie zombie; flesh rotten and bloated, falling away, bones clearly visible through the mangled flesh, unable to see or hear or smell as all his sensory organs had long since rotted away. He stumbled for an indeterminable before passing out. His comatose was found by a pair of hikers under a drift of leaves. One of them, a young woman, braved touching him long enough to look for any identification. The pair left to get reception to call the police, unaware that behind them, Sydney’s body was rapidly changing. Putrid flesh sloughed away, replaced with healthy, firm muscles and skin. From the rotten pile, a young woman stood shakily, wiping the vile mixture of fluids from her body.
The trauma of the death and the awakening had badly scarred Sydney’s mind. Beyond the sheer psychological damage, the actual physical reconstruction of his brain had scattered his memories and personality. He couldn’t remember his name, couldn’t speak, and could barely figure out how to stand upright. He staggered away, eventually being picked up from the side of the road by a police cruiser. Without any identification, match to missing persons and obvious mental damage, Sydney was sent to a state mental facility. For over a year he was there in his female form, slowly putting together the damaged suite of basic motor skills. He slowly regained his ability to read, do sums and to talk, although he maintained his silence out of an instinctive sense for potential danger. One day, in the laundry, he picked up a set of maintenance coveralls and by the time he put them on, he was a twin of the middle aged Italian man who served as a caretaker. Sydney simply walked out of the institution under the guise.
For the next several years, Kevin would go from body to body, every few months switching unconsciously into a new form and keeping it for several months. What he didn’t realize was that his powers were operating on instinct trying to rebuild and repair his mind. Each new body forced different experiences which rebuilt damaged sections of his brain. Those sections restored their neural function which would unlock more memories and skills from his former life. Finally, one morning, Sydney rolled over as a black woman in her early sixties and sat up himself.
A BRAND NEW WORLD
Fortunately, training as an operative served invaluable as Sydney adapted to a world changed in the fifteen years he’d lost. He was able to reach some of his assets and began to search for some answers. Finally, one of his inquiries put him in touch with an old friend; Christian Kane. Kane helped Sydney determine what had been done to him and put him in touch with Charles Xavier. Xavier was able to provide real answers about Kevin’s mutation, and used his powers to secure a psionic neural net in his mind so that his transformations would not cause the same memory loss or psychological trauma. Eventually, Sydney took Kane’s offer of a job; operating as a freelance intelligence agent, working with Kane’s old networks. Sydney completed a professional circle by returning primarily to work through Asian. He also began to work on his powers, exploring the limitations of his abilities.
The next chapter of his life started unexpectedly when Christian introduced him to Domino. A former NSA agent, she was a well-trained and deadly opponent, which Kane wanted to balance by improving her analysis and intelligence gathering skills. Their personalities clashed immediately, but professionally, they made a devastatingly effective team. They would still be independent save for M-Day, as Christian described it; destruction that soured humans on mutants and fueled intolerance and fear. Knowing the future Xavier would face, Kane asked the two to join with Xavier’s own intelligence group; to provide additional capabilities and expertise in order to keep everyone safe.
While his early meetings with X-Force were undercut by his extremely dim view of their experience and methods, he's slowly warmed to their abilities. After the first year, he began to push a new direction for the group, focusing their limited resources towards an offensively minded approach to intelligence. In the heightening security and mistrust of the world, he's pushed for a more aggressive early intervention.
WELCOME THE NEW FIRM
While Kevin's age and experience created barriers with his new co-workers, he showed his use in multiple missions, including a Genoshian slave cruise, a Morlock revolt and the increasing threat of the anti-mutant terrorists 'The Purifiers'. During one of those missions, he was shot twice directly in the head and his seemingly lifeless corpse recovered to the mansion. It slowly reverted back to his default shape, something none of his co-workers had seen before. Emma Frost detected brain activity and created a bridge into his shattered memories to send multiple X-Force members. It turned out to be a link between an old mission from the 60s and a current threat regarding a nuclear device hidden in Brooklyn. During the mission, Domino and Gabe discovered that Kevin was secretly monitoring the only family he had left - a half nephew who'd inherited his old home in Maryland. Kevin disappeared for months, only returning after a discussion with Gabe.
The returning Kevin had changed as a result of his experiences. He asked for a different role, working more closely with the team members, providing his experience and leadership understanding built from five decades of intelligence work. He began to make an effort to develop deeper relationships with the others, not just on a professional level, but also opening up a bit more personally and trying to act as a friend. However, his disappearance had alienated Domino, who would leave X-Force soon after, and Gabe, who felt he'd been abandoned by Kevin. Their relationship began to repair after Kevin was key in saving Warren Worthington from an ill-advised deal with a succubus named Satanna. Over the next several years, Kevin would become the defacto trainer for the team, especially introducing new members into field work to evaluate their skills, and pushing existing members to more advanced responsibilities.
In 2020, Kevin's ex Mary Walker made a re-appearance as a mercenary known as Typhoid Mary. Mary trounced the whole team and took Kevin hostage in order to find the Sugarman and fix the damage he'd done to her. Fortunately, Kevin had anticipated it and X-Force was able to find and eliminate Sugarman shortly after, although Mary escaped. During the events of Siege Perilous, Kevin found himself largely unchanged compared to many of his co-workers, but the questions it raised shattered the secrecy about the dimensional divide following the events of the Dark Phoenix Saga. With the full information and history in hand, Kevin began a major shake-up and re-organization of X-Force, working through Marie-Ange in order to fix the gaps that he hadn't the information before to understand why they existed.
Kevin’s base physical look is that of a dark haired white male in his late thirties. He is just under six feet in height and his weight is a decently fit 175lbs. His hair is kept short and conservative and he wears no jewelry. He has no tattoos or piercings and his only accessory is an expensive but old self-winding Rolex. He typically wear dark, simply cut but finely tailored Seville Row suits, collared shirts and a tie. He wears a long grey trenchcoat and often wears a hat outdoors. While his overall style may seem a touch old-fashioned, the clothes are all modern cuts. This look is close to his original features, if slightly more symmetrical and touched up to improve his looks slightly.
That being said, due to his powers and his training, Sydney can switch his appearances in moments through either powers or conventional disguises. His true natural form is that of a grey skinned slim hairless androgynous figure with no nose and merely a slit for a mouth. If badly hurt or suffering great trauma, his body will revert to this form. Sydney does not unless absolutely necessary.
Kevin’s powers, in potentia, allow him control over each individual cell in his body and allow him to reconfigure them in any way possible. The reality is that the potential of the power is far too complex for a normal mind to control, stopping him from adopting inhuman shapes. Instead, the main facet of his power is the ability to change his physical form into a wide range of human shapes.
In his natural form, Sydney is a grey skinned body with a hardened thin internal frame and no organs. He has no heart, lungs or digestive system; all replaced by a bacterial stack which creates the fuel for his cells. In this form, he doesn’t need to breathe and is immune to gases, toxins, and disease. This ‘default’ form is what Sydney’s body will change into when he’s badly hurt, comatose or shocked. Otherwise, Sydney tries to avoid this form as much as possible.
In order to replicate a person, Sydney needs to have at least a visual. Optimally, touch or an article of clothing will provide a DNA print to build from. Visual changes will look the same but will not mimic DNA, fingerprints, voice, retinal prints, and other granular features. From a DNA print, the form is completely identical in all ways and can pass anything but a psionic scan. Sydney also can replicate a number of stock ‘characters’ at will; bodies that he’s worked on for years. During the change and in his base form, Sydney shows up as a mutant to scanning equipment but once changed, he only registers as a mutant if his subject is as well.
Past that, Sydney has developed a number of power tricks through selective control over his body. He can grow elongated claws or teeth, create ‘pockets’ in his flesh to hide small items or to store liquids like poison to use later. He can counteract fatigue or pain through ramping up his body’s chemical balance. He can also alter his body to improve his senses. However, that requires a physical change; for example, to increase his sense of smell, he grows a snout like feature in which the sensory organs can be stored. Enhanced sight gets him obviously inhuman looking eyes when used. Finally, his body has the ability to purge any foreign substance. So to sober up, he can quite literally sweat out pure alcohol. Rapid acting poisons and gases will still affect him, especially if caught unawares, but any slower acting agents are worthless as his body will naturally purge them.
Currently, it is unknown whether or not Kevin can actually die. When hurt badly enough, his body goes into a coma like state as the cells begin to replicate and repair the damage. If he’s without access to because building blocks like light and oxygen, the torpor state can continue indefinitely. However, because of the interconnectivity of all his cells, even parts of his body getting free are enough to revive the whole. However, he still feels pain and the traumatic shock of injury, which makes him as risk adverse as any normal person.
Player Icon Base: John Hamm