Age of X-Man: Prisoner X #1

Issue Date: 
May 2019
Story Title: 

Vita Ayala (writer), German Peralta (artist) Mike Spicer (colorist), Virtual Calligraphy's Joe Sabino (letterer), Patch Zircher & Brian Reber (cover artists), Will Sliney & Rachelle Rosenberg; Inhyuk Lee; Carlos Pacheco, Rafael Fonteriz & Mike Spicer (variant cover artists), Danny Khazem (assistant editor), Darren Shan (editor), Jordan D White (X-Men senior editor), C B Cebulski (editor-in-chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)
Recap art by Rahzzah

Brief Description: 

Bishop arrives as the attest prisoner at the Danger Room prison complex, where he begins to have visions of another reality. The prisoners are quite intrigued by him, and as he navigates himself around prison life, he meets a short-haired blonde woman who seems familiar to him, before becoming a punching bag for fellow prisoner the Beast and his gang, including Honey Badger. Dani Moonstar is also imprisoned here, and breaks up the fight before it gets too serious. During this encounter, Bishop hears a strange laughter within the prison. Outside, Bishop watches a basketball game in the yard, and starts to have visions – or memories – of other inmates, specifically Honey Badger and Polaris. He tries to talk to Honey Badger but she is hostile towards him and decides he is as crazy as Polaris. Bishop tries to talk to Polaris, but she offers nothing, and doesn't talk to him. Dani explains that Polaris is having a bad day, before giving Bishop some hints about the way things work in prison. Bishop has memories of Moonstar, before an alarm sounds, instructing the prisoners to return inside. In the mess hall once more, Beast and Bishop get into another altercation, during which Bishop remembers Beast a different way than he is now. Prison guards break up the fight and Bishop is taken back to his cell, where he hears the laughter again, and sees visions of the Shadow King, who appears to be manipulating matters within the prison. Bishop then finds a note under his pillow warning him that the dream is real, the reality is false, that he needs to get out!

Full Summary: 

An unknown location, where the prison complex known as the Danger Room is situated. A new prisoner has arrived. His ankles are cuffed together, causing him to shuffle down the corridor between cells, accompanied by two guards who wear blank helmets that cover their faces. The prisoner wears green overalls, his wrists chained together as well. His name is Lucas Bishop, and he has a raft of crimes against his name – possession of illegal weapons (firearms); conspiracy to disseminate anti-autonomy misinformation; initiating (romantic) relationship with another person.

'Mr Bishop. We've been expecting you' a voice calls out as the restraints around Bishop's cuffs are removed. Bishop turns to the man in a gray uniform that approaches him. He introduces himself as Forge, the Warden of this place. Forge announces that he will give Bishop a tour of his new home, and informs him that while he is here, he will be outfitted with a collar that inhibits his mutant abilities, explaining that once he has proven that he can control himself, and has done his mandated time, he will be released and the collar removed.

The guards follow Bishop and Forge as they make their way through the Danger Room prison facility, passing through a gymnasium where other inmates are working out or playing a game of basketball. Forge tells Bishop that his inability to conform has lost him the freedom to be out there. They enter the cafeteria, where Hank McCoy a.k.a. Beast, another prisoner, is on cleaning duty, moping the floor. Several prisoners look up at the new arrival, including Dani Moonstar and Lorna Dane a.k.a. Polaris, who folds her arms across herself. Bishop looks over at Dani and Polaris as Forge informs him that he is expected to be cooperative. 'To help us help you to learn to be a productive member of society' he adds. Some laughter can be heard resonating around the cells, as Forge comes to Bishop's cell, he tells the new prisoner that he will come to learn his place in things. Bishop enters the darkened cell and rubs his wrists as Forge welcomes him, and tells him that he hopes his stay will be short and productive.

in vision:
Bishop wears a blue and gold costume and runs through a ruined city, firing a weapon at a large Sentinel which looms over him. 'Halt. Mutant' the Sentinel calls out. 'Get it together' Bishop tells himself as he looks up at the Sentinel, who suddenly raises a hand above Bishop and informs him that he will be eliminated, as energy begins to glow from the Sentinel's hand.

'No!' Bishop utters, wide-eyed as he sits on the edge of the bed in his cell. He swears as he covers his face with his hands.

Later, Bishop enters the dining hall, where other prisoners sit at long tables with partitions separating them from the prisoners sitting opposite and next to them. Two mutants are communicating in morse code, indicating to each other that Bishop is the new guy, while Moonstar sits down next to Polaris, 'Is that him?' she asks quietly. 'What're you looking at, chump?' a mutant with large black wings and several tattoos on his face and arms asks, as the young mutant Gabby Kinney reclines in her chair, feet up on the table, she snorts, while a gray-skinned mutant sitting under her table exclaims 'Yo, Gabby. Looks like the X-Men are sending their own here now?'

Bishop joins the line to get some food, 'Excuse me. Mind passing me a tray?' he asks a woman with short blonde hair. 'You're awful close. Might wanna back up a step' the woman snaps, looking at Bishop, who appears slightly confused, and asks the woman, who also has a large “M” stamped over her right eye, if he knows her. 'You tell me' the woman smirks, folding her arms. Suddenly, 'Move it!' Gabby Kinney shouts as she pushes past Bishop, 'Some of us are still hungry!' she snarls. 'Patience is a virtue, kid' Bishop remarks. 'Says the new guy standing around talking to himself' Gabby mutters. 'What? No. I was talking to...' Bishop begins, going wide-eyed as he sees that there was no blonde woman in front of him. 'Where did she -' Bishop asks. 'Yeah, okay, gramps' Gabby remarks, while Bishop hears a loud laughter. 'You and Lorna know the same invisible people' Gabby suggests. Bishop looks around and realizes that no one else hears the laughter.

Bishop takes his tray to the counter, where a four-armed mutant serves some slop onto his tray. 'Day one. Get it together, Bishop' Bishop tells himself, before a large, blue, furry mutant – Hank McCoy a.k.a. Beast – comes up next to him, 'I couldn't help but notice that you had words with one of mine' the Beast remarks. Bishop tells him that he isn't seeing what the problem is here. The Beast tells Bishop that he knows who he was out there, but he needs to understand that amounts to nothing in here. 'You will learn respect, or you will not last very long' the Beast informs Bishop. Bishop tells the Beast that he seems real wound up for this early in the morning and asks him if his blood sugar is low, if he got enough breakfast. 'Now that you mention it, I could use another portion of meat!' the Beast snarls, moving in closer to Bishop, who readies a fist to punch the Beast – but the fight is broken up before it begins, as Moonstar puts a hand on the Beast and tells him 'Enough, please'.

The Beast moves back from Bishop as Dani assures him that it was innocent, that she heard them. 'I'll allow the contact Moonstar. This time' the Beast remarks, while suggesting to Dani that she make sure Bishop understands to keep his own counsel from now on. The Beast lumbers away, while Dani tells Bishop that the Beast's bite is as hard as his posturing, but that if you steer clear, he should be okay. 'Thanks... I think' Bishop replies, before following Dani to an empty booth as Dani tells him that he will learn his eay around soon, and until then it is best to keep his head down. 'Keep my head down. Right' Bishop replies, sitting down and looking at the food on his tray.

Shortly, in the yard, Bishop sits in the bleachers overlooking a court where a game of basketball is underway. Gabby Kinney currently has the ball. Sitting a few feet away from Bishop is Polaris, hunched over, she stares blankly ahead. Bishop has another memory, of a time where he handed a cloth to Gabby Kinney, whose face was covered in the food she was eagerly devouring. 'Fank you!' he remembers Gabby saying to him. He pinches his nose, and Lorna turns to him, as he has another memory of Gabby – this time of her in battle, armed with deadly claws. Bishop shrugs the memory off, and walks down onto the court, 'Enough of this' he remarks, before calling out to Gabby and asking if he can talk to her for a minute. 'What? Oh, you again. Whaddaya want?' Gabby asks. Bishop tells her that he thinks they got off on the wrong foot, that he might have scared her or something. 'Are you serious? You?' Gabby retorts. 'I could kick your $#%&!' she grins. Bishop pinches his nose again and tells Gabby that he is trying to say he is sorry. He explains that he has been having these flashes, like memories, but possibly not. He then asks Gabby if they knew each other before she got here.

'Look, buddy. I would remember someone as annoying as you and... oh. Oh. You are like Lorna, huh?' Gabby replies, before assuring him that she won't tell Hank to come around again, and that he should take it easy now, try napping, as that helps her when she gets the brain fuzzies. Gabby catches the basketball and shoves it into Bishop's hands. 'No, I meant -' Bishop begins, but Gabby tells him 'Bye now' as she starts to walk away. '... right' Bishop mutters, before throwing the ball to a blond mutant with wings, then heading back to the bleachers. 'Polaris?' he calls out to the green-haired mutant. 'Or Pestilence?' Bishop wonders as he has a memory of Lorna wearing a terrifying armor. Bishop stands over Lorna and tells her that this may sound out there, but that kid said they might be alike. ' you see other things? Do you know me?' Bishop asks. Polaris doesn't answer, and glances to the side. 'I'd leave it for now. She's having a bad day today' Dani calls out as she approaches Bishop, who thanks her. 'Come with me?' Dani asks. 'Yeah. Yeah, okay' Bishop replies.

Dani and Bishop walk past other mutants who are working out with gym equipment, and Dani asks Bishop if he has questions about the people here, and the rules. 'That's just the start of it' Bishop replies, before introducing himself as Lucas Bishop. 'We all know who you are' Dani tells him. She informs him that the powers that be don't encourage affiliation, same as on the outside – but it still happens here. 'Like gravitates to like. For protection, but more for understanding' she explains. They walk past another group of winged mutants who are playing volleyball, and Dani tells Bishop that their powers may have been taken away, but what makes them special remains. 'This seems wrong, somehow' Bishop replies, rubbing the back of his head. 'We're in prison, Bishop' Dani smiles, but Bishop tells her that it's something else, something more. He reveals to Dani that he is seeing things wrong, remembering things about people that he just met – and his memories feel more real than all of this.

Dani looks at her hands and tells Bishop that she knows what he means. She then hugs herself and declares that she does not belong here. Bishop puts a hand on Dani's shoulder and admits that he hasn't been here for long, but that, aside from a few, he doesn't think anyone belongs here. Dani turns to Bishop and tells him that isn't what she means. 'I don't know why I'm here' she adds, explaining that she has memories of being out there, but they are wrong, they can't be true. Images flash through Dani's mind, of wearing a black and yellow costume and firing using a bow and arrow as flames washed over her, and of riding a dark, winged steed as lightning crackled behind them. 'Wait, you too?' Bishop asks. But before they can discuss further, a siren sounds, and a voice announces that yard time is complete, and that prisoners need to make their way inside for the evening meal. 'Wait, I -' Bishop calls out as Dani starts to head inside. Dani tells him that he has to be careful, and to only speak when he is sure they aren't paying attention. 'But -' Bishop protests. 'Time's up. For now' Dani replies.

Soon, at dinner, Bishop stands in the line to get his food, and thanks the mutant who serves it to him. But as he starts to leave the line, he finds himself shoved forwards, and lands on the ground. 'What the -' Bishop begins, turning, he starts to get up, only for the Beast to pin him to the ground by standing on his head. 'I distinctly remember telling you to leave the girl alone' the Beast snarls. 'Sorry. I lied about not telling on you' Gabby grins as she stands on the bars that separate the line from the rest of the dining hall. 'Coward, attacking a man from behind' Bishop remarks as he shoves the Beast off of him andd gets to his feet. 'Let's see how things go when I'm ready for you' Bishop suggests as he readies himself for a fight. The Beast leers at Bishop, who narrows his eyes, and has a vision of being in a lab with the Beast, only they both look slightly different. In his vision, he thanks the Beast for helping him with his gun, and tells him that it means a lot. The Beast is friendly and tells Bishop that it was his pleasure, that he always enjoyed a puzzle – and what could be more of a challenge than an energy transformation system that hasn't been invented yet!

Bishop glances sideways as he hears that strange laughter again. 'We...we shouldn't be fighting' he begins, before the Beast punches him hard in the stomach. 'Enough talk! You will learn your place!' the Beast roars as he continues to punch Bishop. 'Hands in the air, now!' a prison guard calls out, while Gabby hands the Beast a chair. Several guards surround Bishop, who has fallen to the floor again. Bishop tells them that this is all a big misunderstanding. 'Ain't that right, Hank?' he asks the Beast, who roars as several guards lunge at him and try to restrain him. 'Stand down!' one of them shouts, before they fire weapons at him which appear to be some sort of stun guns.

Shortly, the Beast is led back to his cell, along with the other mutant prisoners as a voice over the intercom announces that the facility will be on lockdown until further notice, and that the prisoners should use their time to reorient themselves to their environment. 'Think on what is expected of you. Ask yourself how you can be a better version of yourself. Remember: This is for your own good' the announcer suggests. Bishop sits on his bed in his cell, as Dani stands at his door briefly. Bishop lies down and closes his eyes, as he hears that strange laughter once more.

Suddenly, 'Well, well, well. What do we have here. Step into my parlor, won't you?' the Shadow King grins as he appears in Bishop's mind, sitting his lower body resembling that of a spider, with eight legs extending out over a large web. The Shadow King appears as Apocalypse, standing over Bishop's fallen teammates – Jean Grey, Storm, Colossus and X-23. 'Even without context, your mind still knows to be afraid. How interesting' the Shadow King remarks, switching his appearance once more to that of Shard, crushed in the hand of a Sentinel, 'You don't remember, but the fear still rules you. We're going to have a lot of fun' the Shadow King snarls, as his laughter ripples through Bishop's mind.

Bishop opens his eyes and sits on the edge of his bed. He glances to the floor and sees a note, which he picks up. He looks out through the cell bars, but can't see anyone. Bishop opens the note and reads it:

The dream is real.

The realty false!


Characters Involved: 

Beast, Bishop, Honey Badger, Dani Moonstar, Polaris (all prisoners in the Danger Room)

Warden Forge

Legion (unseen)
Shadow King (also posing as Shard)

Unnamed prisoners

in flashback images:

Honey Badger

Pestilence V


in hallucinations:
Colossus, Jean Grey, Storm, X-23 (all X-Men)
Apocalypse/Shadow King
Shard/Shadow King

Story Notes: 

This issue follows Age of X-Man Alpha #1.

Bishop was arrested by Department X in Age of X-Man Alpha #1.

Polaris was transformed into the Horseman known as Pestilence during X-Men (2nd series) #182-187.

Dani Moonstar's appearance in this series is an oddity considering that the characters in the Age of X-Man are the 616 X-Men (save for a few new characters), but Dani herself was back on Earth, and starring in Uncanny X-Men (5th series) #12-22. Her inclusion in this series was apparently an editorial oversight, and in Age of X-Man Omega #1, it is revealed that this version of Moonstar is now supposed to be a unique alternate version of the 616 Moonstar.

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