|First appearance||Uncanny X-Men #135 (July 1980)|
|Created by||Chris Claremont|
|Alter ego||Robert Edward Kelly|
|Team affiliations||United States Senate|
Robert Edward Kelly is a fictional character appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. He most often appears in Marvel's X-Men related comic books. He is a prominent United States Senator who began his career on an anti-mutant platform and tended to be an antagonist to the X-Men team. But towards the later days of his career, he began to change his views on mutants as a whole.
The character was created by Chris Claremont and John Byrne and makes his first appearance in Uncanny X-Men #135 (July 1980).
Senator Robert Kelly was first seen at a social gathering hosted by the Hellfire Club, where an illusion projected by the mutant villain Mastermind caused him to believe he had witnessed the X-Man Cyclops firing randomly into a crowd. He was the primary backer of the Mutant Control Act and Project Wideawake, a government program aimed at creating updated Sentinel robots that would help track down and, if necessary, detain or kill violent mutants.
He played a central role in the Days of Future Past storyline. The entire plot revolved around the X-Men stopping Mystique and her Brotherhood of Mutants from assassinating Senator Kelly and thus inadvertently causing a dystopian future where mutants and other heroes were hunted down by the Sentinels and nearly totally eliminated.
Senator Kelly was later married to Sharon, a former maid who worked in the Hellfire Club. Kelly, in a meeting with Sebastian Shaw, was shocked when his wife walked in wearing her old, servant garb as a bit of fun. She was genuinely apologetic, saying she would not have done such a thing if it hadn't been just him and Shaw. Sharon was killed in the next issue, in Uncanny X-Men #247 (August 1989), shot by the mutant-hunting robot known as Master Mold during a battle between Master Mold and Rogue. This further incited Robert's stance against mutantkind.
Kelly remained an active anti-mutant activist in the comics through the 1990s but slowly became more open-minded and tolerant towards the mutant population, promising the X-Men he would work for the rights of mutants during the early 2000s. After his life was saved by the mutant Pyro in an attack (this was when Pyro was infected with the Legacy Virus) from his old teammate Post, Kelly vowed to reconsider his standing on mutants and work towards improving human/mutant relations. Despite being guarded by the X-Man Cable, he was not long afterward assassinated at a college rally (where he was speaking at the time) by the anti-mutant activist Alan Lewis who felt that Senator Kelly betrayed their anti-mutant cause. He died in Cable's arms after Cable had been too occupied helping Jean Grey save Charles Xavier on the astral plane to realize the danger to Kelly before it was too late. With his dying breaths, he pleaded for Nathan not to give up on his dream. His failure to protect the reformed Senator Kelly, coupled with his devastating loss of Moira MacTaggert who was murdered by Mystique, led Cable to leave the X-Men not long afterward.
A prison for mutant criminals called the Box was also known as the Robert Kelly Correction Facility where it was named in honor of him.
The name of the character was chosen by Chris Claremont, in honor of his Bard College professor, the poet Robert Kelly. The latter has confirmed the connection between the two names in interviews among his students.
In the Age of Apocalypse, Robert Kelly was an activist for mutant-human peace who is eventually elected President of the United States. He named Magneto as Director of Mutant Affairs and enlisted the aid of the X-Men in the reconstruction of the broken country.
In the X-Men Noir reality, Robert Kelly was a Republican Senator of New York who strongly defended the controversial U.S. extraterritorial prison Genosha Bay. Kelly believed through eugenics that it is necessary for containing criminals who are more exceptionally dangerous and from "infecting" the public with their criminal ways. However, in reality, Kelly's true purpose of keeping Genosha Bay was because it was the proving grounds in recruiting the next generation of ideal soldiers and government operatives.
During the "Secret Wars" storyline, a version of Robert Kelly existed as the appointed Baron of the Battleworld domain known as Westchester. Robert Kelly survived an assassination attempt by the Shadow King whom possessed Cassandra Nova (revealed to be a clone of Charles Xavier, created by Apocalypse) and despite being a merely "human" and remaining publicly favorable to the X-Men, Baron Kelly was secretly one of the Horsemen of Apocalypse along with Bastion, Mystique, and Exodus. He was last seen meeting with Apocalypse to plan the future for Westchester.