A+X #14

Issue Date: 
November 2013
Story Title: 
(1st story) the Superior Spider-Man + Magneto: Baddies; (2nd story) Captain America + Cyclops

(1st story) Max Bemis (writer), David Lafuente (artist), Edgar Delgado (colorist), VC’s Clayton Cowles (letterer)
(2nd story) Gerry Dugan (writer), David Yardin (artist), Andres Mossa (colorist), VC’s Clayton Cowles (letterer)
Jordan D. White (editor), Axel Alonso (editor in chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)

Brief Description: 

(1st story)
The Superior Spider-Man is sent to an A.I.M. outpost to retrieve a kidnapped mutant, only to find that Magneto has already arrived. The two team up and, as they break through levels of A.I.M. defenses, Magneto shares his thoughts on the pathetic nature of “super-villains,” infuriating Spider-Man, who is actually Doctor Octopus. After defeating M.O.D.O.K., the kidnapped mutant says he despises mutants and swears his vengeance before taking off. The two “heroes” walk off, realizing that yet another super-villain has just been born.

(2nd story)
Forced to work together to undercover a Skrull operation, Captain America and Cyclops use S.H.I.E.L.D. resources to find out that a Skrull is being held captive in Latveria. They break into Doctor Doom’s castle and find the Skrull but are ultimately stopped by Doctor Doom himself. Realizing another Skrull invasion would be bad for him as well, Doom agrees to let them take his captive but kills the Skrull before allowing them to leave.

Full Summary: 

(1st story)
In an abandoned section of the boondocks of Nevada, the Superior Spider-Man walks into an empty, old-school saloon. Behind the bar is a secret door and keypad where Spider-Man quickly tries different combinations until the doors opens, leading to a staircase. As he walks down the dark staircase, he stretches, preparing for a fight. Making his way to the bottom of the stairs, the lights come on to reveal Magneto, surrounded by dozens of unconscious A.I.M. grunts. “Ah, insect boy,” Magneto says. “A bit late, aren’t you?

As Magneto walks further into the complex, with Spider-Man trailing behind, he makes a point to bring up the fact that the X-Men received intel before S.H.I.E.L.D. Spider-Man assures him that he already knows everything about the situation but Magneto reviews it out loud anyway, telling him that M.O.D.O.K. and A.I.M. abducted a teen boy from a suburb of Cleveland, murdering the boy’s parents as they kidnapped him.

Spider-Man tells him to stop talking, since he’s more than aware of the situation but is caught by surprise when Magneto tells him something he doesn’t know: the boy is a mutant. “Consider this your actual briefing,” Magneto says as he tells Spider-Man that M.O.D.O.K. wants to brainwash the boy and use him as a human WMD, serving A.I.M.’s agenda. Magneto also claims that the boy is quite powerful with barely any control of his powers. Continuing to boast, Magneto tells Spider-Man to follow his lead, since he already memorized a detail overview of the A.I.M. installation.

On level one, Magneto easily overcomes two A.I.M. agents with chainsaw arms, while Spider-Man fights off a handful of standard A.I.M. agents. While they fight, Magneto asks Spider-Man if he’s had any experience with M.O.D.O.K. Magneto is not surprised when Spider-Man tells him that he has and that he easily bested him because Magneto considers M.O.D.O.K. a standard super villain. “And why does this assure our victory?” Spider-Man asks. Magneto says that super villains are the most weak and pathetic creatures one can encounter who are “just a load of incompetent, garishly dressed monstrosities parading around their deepest insecurities.” Spider-Man says that he shouldn’t make such a broad generalization but Magneto disagrees.

On level two, Magneto’s powers allow the pair to avoid a retractable metal-spike trap and the two fight off dozens of A.I.M. grunts including ones with shark teeth and jetpacks. Magneto continues to insult M.O.D.O.K., calling him “a giant repugnant head scurrying around on mechanical T-Rex arms.” Spider-Man brings up the fact that Magneto himself was considered a terrorist at one point but Magneto claims he was a soldier, extreme or misguided, but he never robbed banks. Magneto says that, even though they will easily defeat M.O.D.O.K., the super villain will persist because he clearly loathes himself as all super villains do.

On level three, the room emits a stench that Spider-Man describes as “marijuana and liverwurst” and there’s a mutated, violent rhino. along with dozens of A.I.M. agents. Spider-Man tells Magneto that he’s being narrow-minded on his view of super villains and Magneto says that a man is defined by how he copes with what life places in his path. This angers Spider-Man, who yells about Magneto not knowing what it’s like to undergo a tragedy so devastating that it haunts your waking life, provoking you to even the scales of fate. “Actually, I was in the Holocaust,” Magneto says casually, as he smashes the rhino with some heavy machinery. Spider-Man, speechless, hangs his head in embarrassment.

On level five, the duo face cybernetic spheres covered with knives, as well dozens more A.I.M. agents, which Spider-Man easily webs up. Magneto takes a moment to admire the spherical drones and calls to mind another common super villain trope: sad gimmicks. He references things such as enhanced gauntlets, wings, and clones. “Don’t you dare say it,” Spider-Man says as he unsheathes his tentacles, ready for attack. “Metal tentacles?” Magneto asks. “What kind of fool would come up with metal tentacles?” He smashes the drone and says they should prepare themselves for the diatribe as doors open and M.O.D.O.K. enters.

M.O.D.O.K. screams furiously, calling Magneto a pathetic old man past his prime and Spider-Man a spandex-clad stand-up comedian. He makes numerous threats and promises to bathe the mutant boy in their blood. Magneto shushes him and uses his magnetic powers to pummel M.O.D.O.K. all over the room until his armor breaks, leaving M.O.D.O.K. naked and begging for mercy. Looking at the pathetic creature, Spider-Man admits that Magneto may have a point about super villains.

They enter a room where the young, dark haired teenage boy is being held on an operating table. Magneto undoes his restraints and tells the boy that he represents the X-Men and that he’d like to take the boy to a place where mutants are safe and accepted. “Mutants?” the boy yells as he pushes Magneto’s hands away. “My parents are dead because of I’m a mutant. I despise mutants.” He swears vengeance on the entire species before taking off, smashing through all the levels above to get outside. “It appears that the boy has some metal tentacles in his future,” Spider-Man says. “You win some, you lose some,” Magneto says as he puts his arm around Spider-Man and walks away.

(2nd story)
In Casino 94, just off the main strip of Las Vegas, Captain America walks down aisles of slot machines, looking for Cyclops. Seeing him through the reflection in the slots, Captain America asks him how he escaped. Cyclops, donning a hoodie to pass as a civilian, says that, like Captain America himself, he’s mastered the ricochet and also knows the churning curds position, which Steve mistakes for a yoga position. Captain America says that since he’s light on soldiers, Cyclops is free to help with the mission but is under arrest when it’s over.

“Nick had a hell of a sense of humor,” Captain America says as he leads Cyclops to a hidden S.H.I.E.L.D. facility in the back of the room, which he claims has lasted a particularly long time because no one questions strangers coming and going at odd hours in a casino. They enter a room filled with weaponry, computers and monitoring screens and are greeted by a handsome blond man whose uniform states LMD, marking him as a life model decoy. The LMD greets Captain America and informs him that, since Steve is accompanying a known fugitive, he’ll need certain challenge codes. Captain America and the LMD exchange pass codes and the LMD offers his assistance. “Is it a problem I’m here with Summers?” Captain America asks but the LMD says that at one point even Director Fury himself was a fugitive. Captain America requests access to all Skrull files and the LMD immediately begins retrieving information for him.

“Why do you keep calling me “Summers?” Cyclops asks. “Because you both can’t be Cyclops,” Captain America replies. “The kid is Cyclops. Not you.” Cyclops tells him to cut him some slack, seeing that he didn’t run off when he escaped but came back to help. He also claims that they’re wasting time since, if S.H.I.E.L.D. knew of any Skrulls, they would have deported them already. The LMD offers information on an illegal Skrull corpse trade that S.H.I.E.L.D. noticed after the failed invasion. Scientists from groups such as A.I.M. were trying to unravel the secrets of the Skrull’s shapeshifting physiology. Data recovered from A.I.M. indicates that Latverian scientists may still possess a living Skrull prisoner of war. The LMD gives Captain America a list of Latverian black ops sites, as well as a Skrull detector. He also tells them there’s a plane on standby at McCarron airport waiting for them.

As Captain America packs a duffel bag with food, Cyclops asks the LMD why he announces himself as a robot with his clothing. The LMD tells him that most visits to this safe house are injury-related and patients reported it was disturbing to wonder if their caretaker was a robot or not, particularly Clint Barton. Captain America thanks the LMD for his help and tells Cyclops they have a plane to catch.

Later that evening in Latveria, Captain America and Cyclops land the jet outside the last of the three sites that S.H.I.E.L.D. intel thought could house a Skrull a prisoner. Bundled in jackets, Cyclops and Captain America exit the jet, their breath visible in the cold night as they plan their next move. On the trip over, Cyclops took the time to study Skrull autopsy reports and notes that a few of them were digesting bison when they died, which Steve agrees is odd. “Speaking of beef,” Cyclops says. “Aren’t we committing an act of war here?” “Only if we get caught,” Captain America says as his Skrull detector lights up, pointing them in the direction of Doctor Doom’s castle, just outside of the forest they’re in.

As they climb the castle walls, Cyclops wonders out loud if Doom himself is the Skrull that’s detected. Captain America dismisses the idea, acknowledging that Doom is one of them, a pained but very human soul. Captain America easily takes out the guard on top of the wall and carries him into the building and down a stairwell, using the guard’s eye to open the door to one of Doom’s labs.

As the doors open, the two heroes are greeted by a handful of Doombots guarding a Skrull in a glass-door prison. “Hit them hard, Summers!” Captain America yells and Cyclops lets out a powerful but scattered optic blast that misses all its targets, leaving both the Doombots and Captain America confused. Captain America verbally reprimands Cyclops for walking into a dangerous situation without warning him that his mutant powers weren’t working properly. Captain America jumps into action, slicing a Doombot’s head in with his shield. One of the Doombots refers to Cyclops as “the terrorist murderer of Xavier.” “I didn’t deliberately kill Charles!” Cyclops says as he manages to hit the Doombot with an optic blast. As he destroys another Doombot, Captain America seems to take joy in the fact that Cyclops is even on Latveria’s no-fly list. The two work together to take out the remaining Doombots by pushing them together and free the captive Skrull, who promises not to shape shift since he hasn’t eaten enough calories to do so anyway.

As the Skrull is freed, Doctor Doom himself appears behind them. “Doom sees all!” he says as he blasts the pair from his gauntlets. Captain America protects both himself and Cyclops with his shield and acknowledges that they are fighting the actual Doctor Doom, not another Doombot. Captain America taunts Doom by saying that he’s been in and out of Latveria many times without him noticing. “You’re not helping,” Cyclops says. “Oh, you’d like to help?” Captain American snaps back. “Why don’t you turn on your disco lights again?”

“Silence!” Doom shouts but Captain America interrupts him before he announces their penalty for trespassing, saying that he needs the Skrull. Cyclops warns Doom that if another invasion is underway, he has much to lose as anyone else. Doom ponders for a moment and agrees to let them have the Skrull, saying that he has no further use for it and that another Skrull regrouping would just make the rest of the world even more unpredictable. “What’s the catch, Doom?” Captain America asks. “You may have it-” Doom says as he points a finger towards his former captive. “Dead!” The Skrull cries in pain as he’s shot dead in the chest from one of Doom’s finger blasts.

Captain America is shocked as the Skrull falls lifelessly into his arms. “Murderer!” Cyclops cries but Doom ignores them. “Take your prize and go,” Doom says as he waves his cape and turns his back towards them. “Unless you intend to push your already thin luck."

Characters Involved: 

(1st story)
Superior Spider-Man

A.I.M. Agents
Mutated Rhino

Young Mutant

(2nd story)
Captain America

Doctor Doom
Latervian Guards
Skrull Captive


Story Notes: 

(1st story)
Superior Spider-Man is, of course, Doctor Octopus inhabiting Peter Parker’s body.

This story marks the writing debut of Max Bemis, lead singer of the band, Say Anything.

(2nd story)
This is a continuation of the story that began in A+X #13.

The “kid” that Captain America says he considers to be Cyclops refers to the younger Cyclops of the original X-Men, who was brought to present day by Beast. [All-New X-Men]

Cyclops powers have been malfunctioning along with some other members of the X-Men as a result to their exposure to the Phoenix Force during AvX, or so they believe.