Age of X-Man: Prisoner X #2

Issue Date: 
June 2019
Story Title: 

Vita Ayala (writer), German Peralta (artist) Mike Spicer (colorist), Virtual Calligraphy's Joe Sabino (letterer), Patch Zircher & Brian Reber (cover artists), Dave Johnson (variant cover artist), Danny Khazem & Lauren Amaro (assistant editors), 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: 

Within his office in the Danger Room prison, Warden Forge observes his inmates and is visited by Department X clerk, Psylocke, who reminds him of the importance of the work that he does here. When Psylocke leaves, Forge makes some notes in Bishop's file. Bishop meanwhile goes about trying to find out who left the note in his cell warning him that the dream is reality and that he needs to get out. Most of the inmates are hostile towards him and offer him no help. Bishop finds Polaris in the common room and asks her if she knows anything, but Polaris isn't interested in helping him and walks away. Honey Badger tells Bishop that Polaris doesn't like him because the way the X-Men took her down and brought her here, and that she has been slightly crazy ever since. Bishop doesn't remember ever meeting Polaris before now though. He goes to the mess hall where the Beast is on cleaning duty and tries to talk to him, but they just get into another fight. They eventually stop fighting, with the Beast deciding it will be interesting to see how far Bishop is willing to go to find the answers he seeks. The Beast then warns Bishop to stop asking his questions so loudly. Bishop finds Dani Moonstar talking to some other inmates, who rush away when Bishop approaches them. Bishop talks to Dani and shows her the note. She doesn't know who wrote it, but reveals that sometimes she remembers other things, friendship and family, and Nate Grey. Bishop hears some more laughter, and the blonde woman he encountered previously appears. Moonstar runs away when the blonde woman arrives. Warden Forge receives some information from a guard, and gives the guard some instructions, while Bishop follows the blonde woman through the prison. The blonde woman tells him that whoever left him the note is right, before various alternate versions of Bishop appear and attack him. Bishop fights back against his other selves, before being taken back into his cell, in a shocked state.

Full Summary: 

Inside Warden Forge's office at the Danger Room Prison complex, where Forge and Betsy Braddock a.k.a. Psylocke of Department X watch several monitors that display various parts of the prison. Forge tells Psylocke that, despite some trouble adjusting, Lucas Bishop hasn't shown any aggression toward the staff, which makes him feel hopeful for his eventual rehabilitation. Psylocke reminds Forge that Bishops relationship with Jean Grey not only broke the rules, but could set a dangerous example and precendent – so he had to be removed, for the safety of everyone. Forge tells Psylocke that Bishop does not seem beyond redemption. 'Maybe so' Psylocke replies, before looking closely at one of the monitors and telling Forge that using times when the inmates are least on their guard to monitor for progress is brilliant. Psylocke adds that she is not completely opposed to discussing Forge's general observations with the rest of Department X, and suggests that it might do some good in terms of prevention.

Psylocke then turns to Forge and reminds him that is not why he is here – that is not what this institution is for. Forge remains silent, before agreeing 'No. No, it's not'. Psylocke tells Forge that he does important work here, and asks if he has forgotten that. 'Of course not. My work is my life' Forge replies, adding that to serve the needs of the whole by sheltering those unfit to partake of the great harmony of their way of life. He admits that he understands his ideas are an indulgence and assures Psylocke that he is grateful to be able to try to alleviate the suffering of his charges. Psylocke turns to leave the office as she reminds Forge that Lucas Bishop knew what he was doing, that he chose to live a life that was counter to everything their society stands for. She adds that Bishop is smart, and warns Forge that he will try to lure him into a false sense of security. 'Don't fall for his mind games, understood?' she asks. 'Understood' Forge replies, hanging his head.

Forge looks over at a large filing cabinet, with drawers labelled “intake”, “records”, “incident reports”, “re-education program” and “discharge”. He opens the records drawer and pulls out Bishop's file. He makes some notes in the file, and then returns it to the cabinet – into the re-education program drawer. Forge closes the cabinet, and looks at the monitors.

Outside, in the yard, guards monitor the mutant prisoners, while several black birds fly overhead. A group of winged mutants are playing a game of volleyball against some other mutants, which Bishop suddenly interrupts, announcing that he needs their attention for just a second. 'Is he serious? As if we'd talk to one of them?' the mutant with black wings and tattoos on his face and arms remarks to another winged mutant, who replies 'Anything to break the monotony of this place'. Bishop assures the other prisoners that he won't bother them for long. 'Just wanted to know if -' he begins, before the mutant with the tattoos snatches a note from Bishop's hand. 'Hey!' Bishop exclaims. 'What's this garbage?' the mutant with the tattoos asks. 'Perhaps he wants us to throw it away  for him?' the other winged mutant suggests.

'Incoming!' the mutant with the tattoos shouts as he screws the note up and hurls it across the yard. He and his companions burst into laughter, while Bishop walks over to pick the note up, 'What the #$%#&%' he mutters, while a female prisoner with curly hair picks the note up and wipes her nose with it. 'Whoops, was that yours?' she asks as she tosses the note over her shoulder. Bishop walks on after the note, but another mutant with red hair has already picked it up and tossed it further away. 'Looking for something?' she asks. 'Seriously?' Bishop frowns as he continues on after the note. 'What is wrong with you people?' Bishop asks, while a blue-skinned mutant with large horns picks the note up and rips it in two. 'Only what you people did to us' the blue-skinned mutant replies. Bishop walks over to the blue-skinned mutant, but the mutant with red hair kicks him in the face, knocking him to the ground. 'We know who you are. You're one of them – the frickin' X-Men!' she exclaims. 'We don't wanna see you around again, big man. Buh-bye' the woman with curly hair warns Bishop, who lies on the ground, near the torn note, and tells himself to take a deep breath and let it go, to keep moving.

Bishop enters the common room, where other inmates are sitting around tables, watched over by several guards. Lorna Dane a.k.a. Polaris looks up as Bishop approaches her. He tells her that it has been a real long day, but he just wants to ask her a question. Lorna turns back to the book she is reading, 'Uh, are you flipping the pages with your nose?' Bishop asks. 'Don't take for granted all the abilities you have' Lorna replies, while hugging herself. 'What?' Bishop replies, before holding up the torn note and telling her that he is just trying to find out who slipped him this note. Lorna stands up and tells Bishop that it is good to see his fall from grace hasn't tempered his cruelty. 'What the hell is your problem?' the confused Bishop asks as Lorna, still hugging herself, walks past him, unresponsive. 'Could be the whole “you being responsible for her being here” thing' Gabby Kinney calls out. Bishop turns to her, 'Excuse me?' he asks. Gabby tells him that everyone knows the X-Men were the ones to bring Polaris down, and that whatever went down was so bad that Polaris lost half her marbles.

Bishop assures Gabby that he has never met Polaris before, that none of that is possible. Gabby makes the signal for crazy by rotating her finger around the side of her head, and informs Bishop that she remembers that day, and that is why Polaris walks around like she does, convinced she is in a  straightjacket because someone told her that when she woke up. 'May have been me, but to be fair, I didn't think she'd actually believe me' Gabby admits. Bishop turns and walks away from Gabby, who pulls a face at him. 'Keep walking, buddy' an elderly man  sitting at a table with Polaris tells Bishop, who leaves the common room.

Bishop enters the mess hall, where Hank McCoy the Beast is mopping the floors. Bishop tells Hank that he knows they started off on the wrong foot – but before he can say anything else, Beast turns to him and punches him in the stomach. 'Once again, I get wind of you irritating some of my people – and once again I feel I should be clear on my stance regarding that!' the Beast snarls as he attempts a second punch, but Bishop steps back, dodging the second attack, he shouts 'Relax!' as he grabs the Beast's arm and twists it backwards, assuring McCoy that he is not looking for any trouble. The Beast breaks free of Bishop's grasp and forces him to the floor, shoving his elbow into Bishop's stomach, 'Then you came to the absolute wrong place!' the Beast declares. He prepares to slam his fist into Bishop, but Bishop quickly moves to the side, evading the attack. 'Will. You. Stop?' Bishop asks as he attempts to kick the Beast, who leaps into the air, dodging Bishop's foot. The Beast tells Bishop that what he is failing to grasp is that they are no longer on the outside, so he has no authority in here. 'In fact... you are at the bottom of the food chain!' the Beast announces as he drops down onto Bishop, who grabs the Beast's foot and slams him into the ground, 'ENOUGH!' Bishop shouts.

'Like I said, that's en-' Bishop begins, but the Beast reaches up with his legs, wraps them around Bishop's neck and flips him to the ground. 'Impressive, for an elite' the Beast remarks, before declaring that he says when it is enough. 'Is this all there is? Is this really who you are, McCoy? Who we are?' Bishop asks, his torn note falling to the floor. The Beast stands up and rubs the back of his neck, 'What else do you think there is in here, Mr Bishop?' he asks. Bishop sits up and rubs his head, telling the Beast that there has to be more – otherwise, what is the point of it all? The Beast sits down opposite Bishop and tells him that if he looks for meaning in the world he will be sorely disappointed, and that meaning may better be likened to intentions – personal, driven by internal operations others cannot ever see. 'You arrived here in Hades, your road paved with your grandest of intentions'.

The Beast tells Bishop that they all know who he is, and what he represents. The Beast picks up the torn note and looks at it, while informing Bishop that the person he seeks is not him – and he doesn't know this handwriting. The Beast hands the note to Bishop, who asks him why he is suddenly helping him. The Beast explains that this place is built on a foundation of struggle, and it is quicksand – greedy and heavy. He adds that the rule of strength and dominance is what they want to see, so he gives it to them to survive. The Beast turns back to his mop and bucket and tells Bishop that they both know he could tear him apart like cheap paper if he wanted, and adds that it costs him nothing to find out how far Bishop is willing to go to survive or to win. Beast suggests to Bishop that he stop asking his questions so loudly – or the wrong people will answer them. 'Right. Thanks for the concern, I guess' Bishop replies as he gets to his feet, while Beast kicks the door open and leaves the mess hall.

In one of the hallway areas outside the cells, Dani Moonstar leans against a stairwell, while two other mutants are nearby, talking. 'What did the fish sat when it bumped its head?' a guy with short hair and glasses asks. 'Uh -' a woman with blue hair begins to reply, but the guy cuts her off, 'Dam! Haha, get it?' he asks. 'I need new friends' the woman with blue hair mutters, before Bishop approaches them. 'We don't want any trouble, right, Julia?' the guy with glasses asks. Bishop tells them to relax, that he isn't going to hurt them. The woman with blue hair addresses her companion as Leo and tells him that they are going. Dani looks at Bishop and he tells her that it has been a very long day.

Dani asks Bishop if he wants to talk about it, so he leans against the stairwell next to her, images of Beast, Polaris and Gabby flood his mind – of how they look as he remembers them. He tells Dani that his memories are inconsistent all the time, that he remembers things that never happened. He adds that he has nightmares and waking dreams of these other places and people who are familiar, but also strangers. 'Even I'm different in them' he explains, as he sees himself.

Bishop then pulls the note out of his pocket and shows it to Dani. He reads the note out loud: “The dream is real, the reality false! GET OUT!” and asks her what it even means. Dani looks at the note and apologizes to Bishop – she doesn't know who wrote it, and even looking at it gives her the chills. Dani hands the note back to Bishop and tells him that the world he speaks about, she thinks she remembers it, and that this is the one that feels like a dream or a sick fairy tale. 'There is something here, filling our minds with all this. I can feel it'. Dani adds that sometimes she looks away and she starts to remember the truth.

Wicked laughter fills the corridor, and Dani hangs her head as she tells Bishop that things were different – they were different – she remembers a world where family and friendship, where love, was the goal and not the enemy. Memories of herself alongside several other young mutants – Cannonball, Sunspot, Magik, Karma and Wolfsbane appear, before Dani looks up at Bishop and reveals that she remembers Nate Grey – but not the way everyone else seems to.

Bishop puts a hand on Dani's shoulder as Dani tells him that she remembers a life that was so different – and then this. 'Sometimes I wonder if this isn't a final judgment for the life we led' Dani adds. Bishop tells Dani that this isn't of much comfort, but he doubts that, as there is too much of a narrative to be anything but real life. A woman with short blonde hair appears on the steps above Bishop and Dani as Bishop tells Dani that she is right, that something is off about this place – and he is going to find out what. The laughter fills the corridor again, and Bishop asks Dani if she hears it, adding that it seems like he can't get away from this damn laughing. The blonde woman approaches them, 'Fancy seeing you here, Lucas. Moonstar? Interesting' she remarks. 'You again. Who are you?' Bishop asks, while Dani utters that she has to go, that she can't be here. The laughter ripples around, as Dani turns and begins to run away, despite Bishop calling out after her. 'Was it something I said?' the woman with the short hair and a large “M” over her right eye smirks.

Back in his office, Forge is writing in a file, when a masked guard enters. Forge looks up at the guard. There is silence, before Forge narrows his eyes and tells the guard 'Do it'. The guard then leaves the office, and Forge returns to writing in the file.

Bishop follows the mystery blonde woman into the common room and tells her that he doesn't know what history she has with Dani, but she is going to leave her alone. 'Really? That's how it is?' the mystery woman responds. 'Yeah.  That's how it is' Bishop tells her. The blonde woman stops walking and puts a hand on Bishop's face, 'You don't even know where you are, and you're making decrees?' she points out, suggesting that, at least he is consistent that way. She then holds the note up, after removing it from Bishop's pocket, much to Bishops surprise. 'How did you -' he begins. The mysterious woman tells Bishop that, in an unexpected twist of events, she doesn't know who left this for him – and considering she knows everything about this place, that is impressive. 'One of the rare instances that my attention is elsewhere' she supposes. She then tells Bishop that whoever left this is right – not that it makes a difference to him. 'We've got our eye on you, and there is no hiding from that' she remarks.

'Who the hell is “we”?' Bishop asks. He then asks the woman who she is, and why they have the same mark on their faces. 'Not the time for questions, Lucas' the woman replies, as suddenly, a double of Bishop appears from the shadows. This Bishop wears the Xavier Security Enforcers costume, and strides over and punches Bishop in the face. 'You look like you could use some you time to think on things' the mystery woman suggests. The Bishop double readies a punch, but Bishop drops down and forces his other self to the ground. Bishop realizes that he is fighting himself, 'What is this – who are you?' he asks, his hand around his other self's throat. 'All those possibilities in your shiny head, and you can't take a guess?' the other Bishop smirks. 'Yo, my head ain't shiny, Jheri Curl' a voice calls out. Bishop turns to find another version of himself wearing black pants and a silver chest plate moving towards him. 'Shiny is better than ashy, cueball' the third Bishop remarks, while Bishop blocks his kick.

Bishop trips the third Bishop up, and elbows the second Bishop in the face, 'Getting tired of this!' he exclaims, before smashing the third Bishop's face into the floor. 'Who are you people? What is happening here?' bishop asks, before he is punched in the face by a fourth Bishop, this one is bald and wears a black costume with a large white M on the chest, and has one arm covered in armor, while a fourth Bishop in a blue and yellow costume with large gloves and shoulder pads stands nearby. 'This is getting out of hand!' Bishop calls out as he falls back through the prison. 'You trying to be funny?' one of the Bishops asks. Reality around them appears to warp, as Bishop looks up, he finds himself surrounded by five versions of himself. 'This can't be real' he remarks. 'Real enough' one of them calls back as the five Bishops close in. The ground around them breaks off into an asteroid that floats through a strange realm, 'Lights out for you, big man' one of the other Bishops declares.

And shortly, a speechless, disorientated Bishop is taken into his cell by two of the Danger Room prison guards, while the torn note can be seen sticking out from under Bishop's pillow.

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)

Julia, Leo and other unnamed prisoners

in Bishop's memory
Beast, Bishop, Honey Badger, Polaris

in Moonstar's memory
Cannonball, Karma, Magik, Mirage, Sunspot, Wolfsbane (all New Mutants)

in hallucination
Bishop at various stages

Story Notes: 

Bishop's relationship with Jean Grey was explored in Age of X-Man Alpha #1.


Written By: