FABIAN CORTEZ: Page 2 of 3

Publication Date: 5th Sep 2019
Written By: Monolith.
Image Work: Douglas Mangum.

BIOGRAPHY - page 2

In fact, Fabian Cortez was member of a group known as the Upstarts, young and ambitious mutants competing against one another for the ultimate prize. An arbiter known as the Gamesmaster was an omnipath who governed their competition to kill other mutants and earn points in the process. The "prize" itself was somewhat vague, with descriptions ranging from control of the other Upstarts' organizations, immortality or ultimate power itself. In the initial round to eliminate members of the Hellfire Club, however, Fabian Cortez was the clear front runner after the death of the Grey King Magneto, leaping over even Shinobi Shaw's murder of his father Sebastian, the Black King.

Cortez also saw fit to reform the Acolytes, gathering an entirely new group of sheep willing to follow him. Fabian wove a heroic tale of Magneto's death at the hands of the X-Men and human betrayers, and positioned himself as keeper of the word of Magneto. The martyrdom of Magnus only made it that much easier for him to lure in other mutants as cannon fodder for his personal schemes of glory. By writing and editing the gospel of Magneto himself, Cortez ensured he could manipulate his Acolytes appropriately. Cortez and the Acolytes moved into a deserted monastery in France nicknamed "Haven," a location with a natural interference that prevented them from being discovered by mutant-detecting technology. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #298-300]

Fabian Cortez was aware his hold over the Acolytes was tenuous and would last only as long as they believed he was Magneto's personal prophet and chosen one. He set in motion several long term schemes that he hoped would ensure his power base. Cortez kidnapped Valerie Cooper, liaison to the government-sponsored team of mutant heroes called X-Factor, and implanted her with an organic parasite allowing him to control her actions. Val served as a spy for Cortez to monitor the scion of Magneto, X-Factor's Quicksilver. Through Val, Cortez helped arrange and then sabotage a reconciliation weekend for Pietro and his non-mutant wife, the Inhuman Crystal. Cortez had dreams of bringing Quicksilver back to his father's cause and under Fabian's thumb. [X-Factor (1st series) #87-89] He also sent out the Acolyte Scanner to Avengers Mansion, testing Pietro's daughter Luna to confirm she was a mere human, a stain on Magneto's legacy that may be in need of cleansing. [Avengers (1st series) #357]

For some reason, Cortez took the incredibly risky step of kidnapping Moira MacTaggert. He had the Acolyte Milan probe Moira's memories of their Lord Magneto, hoping to extract the secret of the brainwashing process she used to temporarily bring the X-Men to the Acolytes' cause. While Cortez may have wanted greater control over the Acolytes and other potential mutant recruits to his cause, he also had to deal with Moira being one of the few eyewitnesses to his betrayal of Magneto. Cortez's second, Amelia Voght, would have rather killed MacTaggert for what she did to Magneto than allow her to go on living, an act Cortez was forced to sanction when the weak and tortured Moira started to let slip Cortez's own secrets.

Feeling his grip on the Acolytes beginning to slip, Fabian demanded an audience with Gamesmaster. As point-leader of the Upstarts, Cortez hoped to preemptively call upon the resources of his fellow Upstarts for protection, should the Acolytes learn of his treachery. Gamesmaster instead rebuked Cortez that the game wasn't over yet and that the other Upstarts owed him nothing at this juncture. To keep the game interesting, Gamesmaster also provoked Cortez into detailing how he killed Magneto, knowing the young Acolyte Neophyte was eavesdropping at the moment. Using his mutant power to travel distances through mass, the Neophyte began to merge again with the architecture of the castle to go warn his fellow Acolytes. Fearing imminent discovery, Fabian Cortez instead supercharged Neophyte's power, launching him out of the castle's molecular structure with the force of a cannon shell.

Unfortunately for Fabian Cortez, the X-Men were already in the area. They had triangulated Acolyte activity to that area of France and the Neophyte's sudden appearance outside the castle's interference field only confirmed their suspicions. Cortez managed to quickly spread the word that the Neophyte was an apostate and not to be trusted, a lie made easier to swallow when the Neophyte did help the X-Men infiltrate the castle and rescue Moira. In the melee that followed, Fabian attempted to abandon his Acolytes and seek safety, but Bishop of the X-Men tracked him down. Although Cortez managed to overload Bishop's energy channeling power, the X-Man from the future delayed him long enough for Wolverine to catch up. Cortez was slashed open by Wolverine's Adamantium claws and taken into custody by the local authorities.

Because of his injuries, Fabian Cortez spent days convalescing in a prison hospital until he was strong enough to survive Voght's teleportation effect, whisking him to safety. Amelia's less than deferential attitude upon his unceremonious return made Fabian even more insecure over his rule of the Acolytes. Worse than that by far, however, was the Gamesmaster's telepathic intrusion. The Upstarts' arbiter informed Cortez that, due to unforeseen circumstances, the points he received from Magneto's death would be held in abeyance for the foreseeable future. Gamesmaster left Fabian without further explanation, leaving him to reach his own conclusions about why Magneto's death was no longer on his tally sheet. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #300]

Still, Cortez maintained leadership of the Acolytes for the time being and began an ambitious series of attacks on human facilities in an act of genetic cleansing. One of the Acolytes, Spoor, allowed himself to be captured during an attack on a hospital. When Spoor pretended to show religious deference to Quicksilver as The Son of Magneto, this allowed Cortez's pawn Valerie Cooper to orchestrate bringing Pietro virtually alone to the Acolytes' next alleged target, Camp Hayden. There they uncovered Project: Wideawake, a government program mass-producing mutant-hunting Sentinels, "just in case" America's mutant population turned on them. Cortez apparently hoped the revelation of Wideawake and his previous efforts to make Quicksilver feel isolated would bring the scion of Magnus over to the Acolytes, netting him a victory in the eyes of his followers and a powerful political tool. The rest of X-Factor pursued Pietro and Val, however, preventing the Acolytes from claiming Quicksilver as their own. Val's parasite was purged and Fabian left empty-handed. [X-Factor (1st series) #92]

The time came when Gamesmaster's ominous ruling became clear: Magneto was alive and more powerful than ever. His new vassal, the immensely powerful Exodus, appeared before the Acolytes with news of their lord's survival and revealing Fabian Cortez's deception. The Acolytes tore at Cortez briefly before Exodus waved them off, for Magneto had apparently decreed that Cortez was to live long enough to suffer at his own hands, given time. As Exodus teleported the other Acolytes to unite with their dread lord, however, he made it very clear to Cortez that he wished Magneto had ordered him otherwise, and their next meeting would be a very different, and much less pleasant one. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #304]

[Note: As seen in the above panels, Exodus' original dismissal of Cortez was because he was going to suffer at the "legacy" of another. This strongly implied Cortez had or would contract the Legacy virus of Stryfe. This plot point was not followed up on.]

Fabian Cortez was running scared after that, desperately searching for some kind of power base and support structure to defend himself should Magneto and Exodus come for him. He returned to the south African island nation of Genosha, still in the grips of a delicate social and political reformation after the X-Men ended the Mutate slave caste system overseen by the previous government. Fabian became a rabble-rouser among the Mutate population, stirring the originally meek and passive Mutates into striking back against the still mostly human government, instead of waiting for social change. He once again used the rhetoric and aura of Magneto to rally Mutates to his cause, building their aggression and resentment in the name of mutant solidarity.

Several events happened in short order. Magneto unleashed an electromagnetic pulse in the upper atmosphere of the planet, disrupting technology and communications around the globe. Cortez shaped the natural panic the Genoshans were experiencing in the aftermath to make the Mutates and Magistrates alike believe they had to strike now to prevent the other faction from attacking them. Thus, Fabian Cortez started a Genoshan Civil War as nothing but a smokescreen for his own agenda. He also braved the halls of Avengers Mansion itself, risking their security to teleport in and kidnap Luna Maximoff, granddaughter of Magneto. Cortez left behind a Mutate zealot in her place, a shape-changer who covered for Luna's absence at first before revealing herself and her secondary mutation as an organic suicide bomber, exploding inside the mansion in protest to the Avengers inaction over the Genoshan crisis. Cortez's big move came when he attacked the Genoshan government directly with his rebels, killing the President, Genegineer and chief Magistrates. In a public broadcast, Fabian Cortez declared himself leader and savior of the Genoshan mutant population, all the while holding up Luna as a human shield to deter any response by the Avengers, X-Men, X-Factor or Magneto himself.

Many factions converged on Genosha anyway, despite Fabian's explicit and implicit threats. Quicksilver and the X-Men infiltrated Genosha at the behest of Charles Xavier, while Crystal and Scarlet Witch commandeered a team of Avengers to defy the United Nations and respond to Luna's kidnapping and the Genoshan crisis. Cortez forged an elite class of Mutate enforcers known as the Unforgiven and sent them out to intercept the X-Men. Through them, Cortez confirmed his suspicions that Magneto was incapacitated after his last encounter with Xavier and the X-Men, leaving him unable to respond to Cortez's provocations. Exodus, however, was no longer leashed by Magneto's explicit orders, and arrived in Genosha to eliminate the blasphemer Fabian Cortez.

The street fighting in Genosha descended into utter chaos. Surviving Magistrate Elite were holding weak and placid Mutates in veritable concentration camps, while the Unforgiven were slaughtering innocent humans as collaborators. The X-Men worked to free the camps while the most powerful Avengers stalemated against the lone Exodus. All the while, Luna's family (Quicksilver, Crystal, and the Scarlet Witch) along with Jean Grey searched for the innocent child caught up in this madness. They located Cortez and Luna hiding in the sewers under the Genoshan capital while hundreds of people killed each other at his command.

Despite his initial bravado, Fabian Cortez was deathly afraid of Exodus. He believed Magneto had unleashed a genie that couldn't possibly be contained. When Luna's family found him, Cortez threatened to kill the girl unless Quicksilver and the others fought Exodus in his name. Exodus didn't give them a chance when he arrived moments later. The first among the Acolytes proved to be a psi-talent of the highest order, able to psionically force Fabian into handing over Luna while he cornered his prey. Exodus took his time taunting Cortez and reminded him of their last meeting before utterly annihilating his enemy, scorching the flesh from Fabian Cortez's bones in the name of fulfilling "Magneto's will." [Bloodties crossover]