FABIAN CORTEZ: Page 3 of 3

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

BIOGRAPHY - page 3

And then, one day, Fabian Cortez came back. Offering little explanation for his survival other than "mutants are harder to kill than flatscans," Fabian claimed to have achieved enlightenment due to his near-death experience. After the fall of Avalon, the comatose body of Magneto went missing, leaving Exodus the undisputed master of the Acolytes. Cortez therefore fell at his feet, begging forgiveness and the opportunity to redeem himself. Exodus was disturbed by Cortez's fawning and boot-licking, and allowed him to remain in the Arctic base of New Avalon to await his final decision on the matter.

Cortez would always be working an angle, however, and so he also met with Amelia Voght. Amelia had been imprisoned by Exodus for disapproving of his oncoming plan to kill millions with the power of New Avalon, believing Lord Magneto would never have approved. Voght had also been spying on the X-Men, and learned of the existence of Joseph, a man who was seemingly an amnesiac version of Magneto reverted to his twenties. Cortez had pled for Voght's life when he first appeared before Exodus, and so Amelia took the risk of telling Cortez about Joseph, hoping this young Magneto could be recruited to stop Exodus' rising of New Avalon.

Cortez traveled to South America where he found Joseph searching for answers about his past among another congregation of Acolytes. Fabian was as untrustworthy as ever and decided to manipulate Joseph into a confrontation with Exodus in order to reap the spoils for himself. He told Joseph about Exodus' plans and Voght's interest in stopping the rise of New Avalon, convincing Joseph to play the part of a returned Magneto. Joseph and Cortez rallied the Acolytes in the name of Lord Magneto and transported them to New Avalon for a confrontation with Exodus.

Fabian played a delicate game of pumping up Joseph for his deception when necessary, while also subtly undermining his confidence in playing "Magneto" so that he didn't fully take to the role and become even more dangerous than Exodus. Cortez ensured Exodus would not accept Joseph as Magneto by feeding the young man false information about Magneto and Amelia Voght sharing a relationship, leading Joseph to slip up in Exodus' presence. As Joseph and Exodus battled in the skies above New Avalon, Cortez let his mask drop and bragged in front of Voght how he would seize the reins of power after the two men killed each other and claim her as one of his concubines. Joseph and Exodus put aside their differences momentarily, however, to deal with an attack from Humanity's Last Stand. Fearing reprisal, Cortez fled from New Avalon rather than face justice for his actions. [Magneto (1st series) #1-4]

Fabian Cortez eventually returned and Exodus accepted him back into the Acolytes, making use of his abilities while watching for the next inevitable treachery. Exodus led the Acolytes on a crusade to purge the Earth of artificial or impure mutations that didn't fit with his narrow views on acceptable, benevolent mutation. One of his targets was the High Evolutionary and his artificially-evolved New Men of Wundagore Mountain. Cortez still had the loyalty of some more militant Genoshan Mutates, adding them to the Acolytes' army in attacking Wundagore on Exodus' command.

Cortez led a strike team of Acolytes in the siege of Wundagore, hoping to seize the High Evolutionary and victory for their cause (the better to improve his standing with the group and one day supplant Exodus). They found the Evolutionary in retreat and Fabian overloaded the geneticist's force field with his own power. Learning of the existence of a powerful new mutagenic agent called Isotope E, Cortez was eager to claim it from its creator. However, in his impatience, he ripped open the doors to the laboratory without realizing the New Men's Lord Delphos kept his lab submerged, and the Acolytes were swept away by the sudden wave. The flood carried Fabian Cortez through the citadel to the path of Quicksilver and Luna, the High Evolutionary's guests who were trying to flee. Cortez tried to kill Luna again, but was stopped by her father. The Acolytes drove Quicksilver, the High Evolutionary and their allies into retreat and claimed the citadel of Wundagore, but Fabian failed to distinguish himself in battle as he planned. [Quicksilver #1]

On his next mission for Exodus, Fabian Cortez was dispatched to New Attilan, home of the Inhumans, another group of artificial mutates whom Exodus despised. In a two-fold plan to eliminate the mutagenic Terrigen Mists and Quicksilver (who had married into the Inhumans), Exodus had Cortez seek out the usurper, Maximus the Mad, in his prison cell. Cortez augmented Maximus' weakened mind control powers, prodding Quicksilver into a failed attempt to steal the mists. Another dose of Cortez's power allowed Maximus to start riots throughout New Attilan and seize the mind of his powerful brother, Black Bolt. The Acolytes wanted the Terrigen Mists destroyed in exchange for putting Maximus back on the throne, but Maximus tricked Fabian into fully restoring his powers and betrayed him. In the end, Fabian was forced to work with Quicksilver and the Inhumans when Maximus tried to release the Terrigen Mists throughout the entire world. Cortez augmented Quicksilver's speed so Pietro could create a whirlwind to contain the mists, and then teleported away, his mission a failure. [Quicksilver #4-6]

Cortez found himself unable to gain any advantage over Exodus. The genetic purist had Cortez's Mutates dispatched for being tainted, and Fabian was unable or unwilling to raise a hand in their defense. The occupation of Wundagore quickly became a complicated mix of agendas, as the High Evolutionary and his Knights sought to reclaim it, while contending with the return of the Evolutionary's self-interested creation, the Man-Beast. Exodus allied the Acolytes with the Man-Beast for control of the powerful Isotope E, opposing the Knights, Quicksilver and his allies in the Heroes for Hire. Quicksilver augmented himself with Isotope E, defeating Exodus in battle and claiming the mantle of leader of the Acolytes. Cortez and many of the Acolytes chose not to follow Quicksilver anyway when he tried to lead them against the crazed High Evolutionary and Man-Beast. With Exodus imprisoned back in his tomb and Quicksilver unwilling to continue dealing with the Acolytes, they became sheep without a shepherd. [Quicksilver #11-12]

As the rift in the Acolytes continued to grow, Fabian Cortez received word that Magneto had resurfaced. Recognizing he would not be able to control the Acolytes if Magneto returned, and doubting Magnus would accept him as Exodus did, Cortez made his move and claimed the loyalty of as many Acolytes as he could manage, splitting their forces. Cortez led his Acolyte renegades to the Xavier Institute, hoping to finally confirm one way or another if Joseph was Magneto. Joseph was no longer in residence, however, and the X-Men responded to the Acolytes' infiltration. Cortez hypercharged his psychic Rem-Ram in an attempt to forcibly strip information from Charles Xavier's mind, but nearly killed Rem-Ram in the process. Realizing he had overreached again, Cortez abandoned his followers before they could abandon him. [X-Men: The Magneto War #1]

Fabian Cortez went into hiding after that, trying to stay off the radar in fear of Magneto's reprisal. Fate cast its dice in his favor for once. When he reclaimed the Acolytes, Magneto held the whole world hostage by threatening to upend the entire electromagnetic field of the planet. In response, the United Nations gave him Genosha as a mutant homeland, legally recognizing him as its ruler. Although victorious, Magneto found his magnetic powers were exhausted to the point of being nearly unusable. Magnus was forced to seek out Cortez and offer him a place in the Genoshan Cabinet in order to gain access to Fabian's powers for a regular hypercharge to fuel his magnetism. Magneto was very clear, however, that any betrayal by Cortez this time would lead to a swift and merciless reprisal. Cortez agreed. And smiled. [Magneto Rex #1-3]

Cortez established himself as a member of the Genoshan Cabinet and, as an Acolyte, acted as a mutant hardliner with little tolerance for the flatscans that still lived under Magneto's rule. Fabian was unable to curry any real favor with Magneto, and was barely tolerated by the other Cabinet members and former Acolytes. [X-Men Unlimited (1st series) #24, Uncanny X-Men Annual '99, X-Men (2nd series) #96] Fabian made a vain attempt to seize power when Magneto was absent during the Gathering of the Twelve, but Magneto quickly struck him down upon his return. Since his only value to Magneto was his hypercharge, Cortez's standing fell even further when the High Evolutionary unleashed a devolution wave over the planet, neutralizing all mutant powers. Genosha's remaining human forces tried to rise up against the suddenly powerless mutants, rekindling the civil war. Cortez barely survived the new outbreak of violence, especially since Magneto no longer saw any use for him except as cannon fodder. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #379-380]

Although the High Evolutionary's wave was reversed, Fabian Cortez still wound up on the outs with Magneto. During the Gathering, Magneto had recruited Polaris to the Acolytes. Her magnetic powers could be harnessed by Magneto in place of his own, giving him a power source independent of his need for Cortez. Over the next six months, Magneto went a long way towards establishing peace in Genosha, well above and beyond the expectations the United Nations had when they saddled him with the role. Those who expected Magneto would be contained indefinitely by the Genoshan civil war now feared they had provided him a firm staging ground to attack the rest of the human world.

The last holdout in Magneto's control of Genosha was Carrion Cove, a seaside town whose human mayor and local militia refused to lay down arms. The secret of Carrion Cove was a treasure trove of genetics technology in Fenyick Caves, the building blocks for the Genegineer and Mutate processes of old. The Genoshans wanted to keep this technology from Magneto at any costs. Cortez realized Magneto could use the equipment to restore his powers fully and remove his need for Cortez. Therefore, Cortez played the serpent and agreed to work with the Mutant Affairs Committee in the United Nations to sabotage Magneto's forces in Carrion Cove.

Reconnecting with the Acolytes renegades he led earlier, Cortez manipulated them into serving as mercenaries in the defense of Carrion Cove. Using equipment provided by his allies, Fabian was able to use his powers remotely, hypercharging his mercenaries on the battlefield while remaining safely back in Hammer Bay. His treachery was uncovered by Alda Huxley, Genosha's U.N. ambassador, and he was placed under arrest. Cortez offered to deal with Huxley, providing her blackmail information on the corporations and United Nations officials who were his contacts. By deliberately undermining the rule of a member nation and supporting a rebel faction, they were operating in violation of international law.

Huxley was a pragmatist willing to play the long game. With Cortez's hypercharge cut off from the Acolytes, she knew Magneto was an eyeblink away from successfully claiming Carrion Cove and restoring his powers. She agreed to take Cortez's information and release him so he could flee Genosha and escape Magneto's wrath, leaving him as a wild card she could use again in the future if need be. Cortez and Huxley underestimated how eager Magneto was to eliminate Cortez once his powers were restored, however. Huxley's guards were escorting Fabian Cortez to a rowboat on a private dock when he was suddenly magnetically lifted skyward. From over fifty miles away, Magneto forcibly drew Cortez to his side. And he did nothing to slow his arrival. Cortez struck the ground at a speed exceeding Mach 10, splattered on the ground at Magneto's feet, revenge finally served by the Master of Magnetism against his treacherous lieutenant. [Magneto: Dark Seduction #1-4]

[Note: Briefly before his death, the image of Mister Sinister appeared unexplained over Cortez's head. This implied a connection to the geneticist and Cortez's return after Bloodties, perhaps through Sinister's cloning banks. This could explain certain outstanding questions about Cortez such as why Wolverine thought his scent was familiar when they first met (Cortez smelled like the cloned Marauders) and how Cortez was overly familiar with Exodus' threat just after he emerged in the modern era (Exodus was empowered by Apocalypse, Sinister's ancient rival). All this is merely speculation, however.]

When Selene, the Black Queen, acquired use of a techno-organic virus, she used its power to resurrect mutants by the score as puppets under her control. Fabian Cortez was among her pawns and he attacked the X-Men's base on Utopia, along with his fellow Acolytes Delgado and Mellancamp. Selene had ordered the death of Magneto, and Cortez was all too happy to oblige. The reconstructive power of the T-O zombies made them incredibly hard to disable, much less kill. Still, the fallen Acolytes were opposed by Deadpool and Loa, the latter of whom had a molecular deconstructive power that proved highly effective against Cortez and his men. [X-Force (3rd series) Annual #1] Despite the mutilation he suffered thanks to Deadpool and Loa, Fabian Cortez was apparently one of the reanimated mutants who survived Selene's final defeat and went into hiding. Cortez remained off the grid for some time, avoiding the spotlight. [X-Force (3rd series) #25]

After nearly the entire roster of the X-Men were seemingly killed in battle with Nathaniel Grey, however, mutantkind entered one of its worst periods in modern history. A cure was being distributed to the public to prevent mutants from manifesting, and the Office of National Emergency was actively hunting mutants in the streets. Cyclops and Wolverine had gathered a small band of surviving X-Men to put out fires, but they were hopelessly outmatched by the forces against them. Fabian Cortez renewed his association with Trevor Fitzroy, Shinobi Shaw and Siena Blaze, bringing the Upstarts competition back. The Upstarts decided these were the final days of mutantkind and wanted to go out fighting. They located and killed the Nasty Boys, using those thugs as a lure to draw out Cyclops' X-Men for a final battle. The Upstarts were uncoordinated and unprepared for a real fight, though, and Fabian Cortez was defeated and captured by the X-Men. [Uncanny X-Men (5th series) #20]

Cortez and the Upstarts were imprisoned beneath Harry's Hideaway along with other prisoners of the X-Men. The increasingly hostile sentiment against mutants led by General Callahan and the O*N*E cracked down hard on the X-Men and others. The X-Men united with Emma Frost and the Hellfire Club, as Emma had a plan to deal with the situation once and for all. At her request, they went to retrieve Fabian from Harry's Hideaway, only to run into O*N*E strike forces. The other Upstarts were killed getting Cortez to the Hellfire Club. With the assistance of Cortez, Mr. Sinister, Dr. Nemesis and Cerebro itself, Emma Frost dramatically amplified her telepathic powers. She reached into the thoughts of every person on Earth and tweaked their memories and perceptions, removing the very concept of "mutants" from their minds. [Uncanny X-Men (5th series) #21]

In the days that followed, it was clear that the mutant population was effectively hidden from human perception. No one remembered mutants in general, much less their hatred for them. Even blatant displays of mutant ability in public didn't even draw a raised eyebrow. Fabian retained a position with Emma at the Hellfire Club, occasionally lending his power to boost hers again and fine tune the perceptual manipulation. Unfortunately, General Callahan had seen fit to shield his mind from telepathic assault, and retained control of his Sentinels.  They came to the Hellfire Club to kill Emma and restore the world's memories. Fabian Cortez was the first to fall, and didn't even get a word out before being atomized by a Sentinel blast. [Uncanny X-Men (5th series) #22]