Moon Knight Just Uncovered Marvel’s Forgotten Villain, Cactus

Devil’s Reign has revealed where Marvel’s strangest villain has been hiding for nearly thirty years, and they are well past due for a comeback.

WARNING: The following contains major spoilers for Devil’s Reign: Moon Knight # 1, available now from Marvel.

Over the course of Wilson Fisk’s crusade against his enemies, many of New York City’s greatest heroes have found themselves locked up alongside the very same villains they helped put away. Marc Spector has made the best of a bad situation by relying on his brutal reputation, but not all of his fellow prisoners are scared so easily. In fact, one of Marvel’s strangest villains has just made an unexpected comeback. As surprising as the Cactus’ appearance in the Myrmidon might be, it has been waiting thirty-five years for a rematch with Moon Knight.

Despite being largely feared by his fellow inmates within the Myrmidon, Marc Spector has quickly discovered ways to get himself into dangerous situations while incarcerated. Apart from otherwise random fights, Marc has become embroiled in the prison’s underground fighting league. There, in the pages of Devil’s Reign: Moon Knight # 1 (by Jed MacKay, Federico Sabbatini, Lee Loughridge, and VC’s Cory Petit), Moon Knight faces off against some of Marvel’s most lackluster villains, as well as its weirdest. After over three decades, Cactus has finally come face-to-face with Moon Knight once more. And, even though it does not appear to win the battle, there is really nothing anyone can do to keep this former Desert Dweller down.

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Cactus was first introduced back in 1987’s West Coast Avengers # 17 by Steve Englehart and Al Milgrom when the titular superhero team was searching for a potential new member. As one of the Desert Dwellers, Cactus was an artificial creation manufactured by the villain Dominus. Apart from the mysterious Sunstroke, each of the Desert Dwellers had been crafted by Dominus in the image of common desert icons. Though Butte, Gila, and Sunstroke all proved to be relatively capable enemies for the West Coast Avengers, Cactus was the only one to display a truly baffling nature, and their latest appearance only serves as a reminder of how unstoppable they are.

Apart from the obvious needles which cover its body, Cactus has the superhuman ability to regenerate its body at an impossible rate. Entire limbs have been seen replaced in an instant across various encounters, and no amount of damage has ever been enough to keep Cactus down for very long. That alone hardly makes Cactus an especially terrifying threat, yet it does call into question just why they haven’t seen more time in the limelight. The Desert Dwellers themselves have always been an obscure set of villains in the Marvel Universe, but Cactus’ abilities set it apart in a unique enough way that it could certainly stand on its own as the crux of an entirely new story. There is also the matter of how exactly Cactus came to end up in the Myrmidon after three decades away from the comic book page, not to mention where its fellow Desert Dwellers have ended up.

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In terms of underrated or underutilized characters that deserve a second chance, the Desert Dwellers probably do not carry a lot of weight for most Marvel fans. On the other hand, their origin and history are both established enough that they do not need an overhaul, while still being vague enough that they could be expanded on with relative ease. If nothing else, their reintroduction could be the perfect catalyst for a West Coast Avengers reunion at some point in the future. Even if the Desert Dwellers never become major players in the Marvel Universe, Cactus’ reappearance at least gives some hope that they will find their way out of absolute obscurity.

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