Chaos War: X-Men #2

Issue Date: 
March 2011
Story Title: 
Dead X-Men

Louise Simonson & Chris Claremont (writers), Doug Braithwaite (artist), Rob Schwager & Ulises Arreola (colorists), Dave Sharpe (letterer), Michael Horwitz & John Denning (assistant editors), Mark Paniccia (senior editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive editor)

Brief Description: 

The dead X-Men arrive on Muir Isle, trying to make sense of the situation, they soon realize that Destiny has taken over Moira MacTaggert’s body. Destiny explains that the Chaos King has taken over, seeking to return the universe to an empty state, and that the Carrion Crow is seeking them to prevent them from stopping the Chaos King. Destiny tells Thunderbird that Muir Island is the nexus of Earth’s lay-lines, where the forgotten gods can be reached. Esme begins to transform into a part-bird part-girl like her sister, Sophie, and they battle, as the Carrion Crow and his army of ravens reach Muir Island through a tear in reality. Banshee and the Madrox dupes battle the ravens, while Thunderbird protects Destiny / Moira. Sophie and Esme continue to battle, with Sophie urging Esme to kill her, to take the chance to be the hero. Thunderbird summons his thunderbird avatar, and is consumed by the power. Esme is soon killed by the Carrion Crow, saving Sophie in the process, while Banshee keeps the Carrion Crow at bay, using his sonic scream. But when Banshee’s power runs out, the Carrion Crow kills both he and Moira, after Destiny fled Moira’s body. Thunderbird, using his avatar, slays the Carrion Crow. The power departs Thunderbird, who finds Sophie, before the two of them vanish in the nothingness.

Full Summary: 

In a burst of light, John “Thunderbird” Proudstar, Sean “Banshee” Cassidy, Dr Moira MacTaggert, Esme Cuckoo and three Madrox dupes are transported from the ruins of the Xavier Institute to the ruins of someplace else. John thinks to himself that sometimes he hates being a super hero, as things always happen, things he cannot explain. But what’s crazier is when the folks he is with take them all for granted - like teleporting. One moment they are all at the X-Mansion, 40 miles from Manhattan, and the next, after jumping through a hole in the iar above them, they are someplace different.

‘Where -’ Thunderbird begins, while Banshee holds the weakened Moira up and announces that they are at Muir Isle, off the north tip of Scotland - where Moira has her lab. ‘No offense, Johnny, but how’d you do that?’ one of the Multiple Man dupes asks. ‘No offense, big fella, but you’re a muscle guy’ another remarks, while the third asks him where he learned to teleport. Esme rubs her head and walks away from the others, presumably thinking about her sister, Sophie, who sacrificed herself so that the others could escape.

Thunderbird explains that he called out to the god of his people - the thunderbird, who answered his prayer and brought them all here. ‘I gotta figure that wasn’t any accident’ he adds, before turning to Moira: ‘Sean said this was your lab?’ he asks. ‘Aye - though it’s seen better days’ Moira replies. Thunderbird realizes that Moira seems to be changing before their eyes, into someone completely difference. ‘As I think I have’ Moira adds, before she collapses. ‘Moira, what’s happening?’ Sean calls out. Thunderbird realizes that Banshee and Moira were totally in love, and he knows that Sean died first.

‘What’s wrong?’ Banshee asks as he crouches beside Moira, holding her up. Thunderbird realizes that Sean will do anything to prevent death happening to Moira again. The only trouble is, when the time comes, Thunderbird is not sure they will have a choice. Moira looks at Sean and replies ‘A very great deal, I’m afraid. And none of it pleasant!’ But Sean exclaims ‘That voice - yuir face - Destiny!?’ Moira - or rather, Destiny - touches Banshee’s face and asks him to forgive her, declaring that the need is desperate, she explains that the diary Moira found was imprinted with her very soul, and that physical contact allowed their souls to merge and for her to utilize Moira’s body. ‘Why?’ Thunderbird asks.

‘If you’re Destiny, the seer who wrote these diaries…then you know what’s happening here, right? You can help us fight?’ Thunderbird calls out. Nearby, Esme walks alone, while a raven hovers overhead. ‘A crow. Sophie!’ she thinks to herself. Destiny sits up and replies that she is here to try, telling the heroes that the conflict is far greater than they can imagine. She announces that there is an entity known as the Chaos King, who seeks to return the universe to the empty void before time itself, and he is very close to achieving ultimate victory. ‘Should that happen, the future is no more - for all creation’ Destiny adds.

‘So what’s our part in this?’ John asks. Destiny opens her diary and explains that they need to unleash the most ancient and primal spirits of the Earth itself. Destiny points out that to prevent that happening, they are being hunted by the King’s most fierce lieutenant, the Carrion Crow. ‘The Eater of the Dead’ Thunderbird remarks, before asking Destiny if she knew all this ages ago why she did not warn people. ‘Knowledge, John - is not understand’ Destiny replies, telling him that she spent her entire life trying to decipher what she had written. Destiny hangs her head as she reveals that, unfortunately, the comprehension only came with her own death. She declares that the Chaos King has almost achieved his objective. ‘What we do here constitutes the last, desperately slim hope of creation’.

Nearby, Esme looks up as a large gathering of ravens hovers overhead, and the voice of her sister, Sophie, calls out ‘Did you truly think you could escape me, sister? Or my master?’ Thunderbird tells Destiny that this is out of their league, to which Destiny replies ‘So we yield?’ John tells her that he did not say that, and reminds her that she sees the future. ‘Don’t you have a clue?’ he asks. ‘A thousand-thousand possibilities, so many they drove me mad - coalesced at last down to one’ Destiny replies. She continues, explaining that the struggle returns to Earth because the Chaos King was born here, and it is his link to the infinite. ‘Here is where he becomes surprisingly vulnerable. We must awaken the forgotten gods…the primordial forces who form those world’s that sustain life’ Destiny explains.

Thunderbird points out that they are the embodiments of creation itself, so their manifestation should help tip the struggle against the Chaos King. Destiny explains that Muir Island is the nexus of Earth’s lay-lines, and the thunderbird is the anvil they use to unlock the gate. Banshee declares that it sounds like a proper “Hail Mary” pass to him. ‘Aren’t they the best kind?’ Destiny asks, before Sean asks what happens to Moira. Destiny tells him that they are all dead, but back to do this job and then, hope willing, creation goes on without them. ‘For that, my darling, is reality’.

Nearby, ‘I’ll fight you!’ Esme tells her sister, who replies that she will enjoy that, because Esme will lose. Esme projects her astral image, while the Madrox dupes begin discussing the situation. ‘What d’you think, is this a second chance?’ one of them asks. ‘To do what, get killed again?’ another remarks. The modern-looking Madrox dupe points out that they are stuck this way and cannot even reintegrate. ‘You want to give up? I’d rather fight’ one of the others exclaims. ‘Toldja. You were never a match for me, Esme’ Sophie exclaims as Esme falls to her knees. Thunderbird notices the ravens appearing in the sky and tells Destiny that whatever her plan is, they need to do it now.

One of the Madrox dupes notices something happening to Esme, as energy swirls around her, while Sophie declares that her sister is just a loser, while Esme exclaims that her sister was such a show-off, who had to stay behind and save her. Esme rises, her form resembling half-girl half-bird, and exclaims that Sophie could not even save herself. ‘Doomed herself, doomed us all!’ she exclaims, before announcing that Sophie is using their bond to make her just like she. Thunderbird calls out to Esme, telling her that she cannot let Sophie win, that she has to fight this.

Esme replies that she is trying, and fighting as hard as she can, but it is so difficult. She rises, and stretches her wings, admitting that Sophie was always stronger. ‘Not “stronger” sister - I’m the strongest!’ Sophie boasts as she, in her carrion form, enters the sky above through a portal. More birds fly in after her. ‘What’s Esme doing?’ Thunderbird asks. ‘Bless her soul, she’s refusing to give up’ Destiny points out. ‘You may have me hooked, Sophie. But I’m not beaten. I can still fight!’ Esme exclaims as she flies towards her sister. Thunderbird tells Banshee to go give her a hand, so Sean takes flight, unleashing his sonic scream, while telling John to look after Moira.

Thunderbird replies that he will do his best, while one of the dupes exclaims ‘There are so many crows!’ Thunderbird tells him to rustle up some duplicates to even the odds. ‘Would things were that easy. They will make a difference…but in the end, it won’t matter’ Destiny remarks. The Madrox dupes get to work at creating more duplicates. ‘Not sure if we’re souls, or copies of souls, or what - but sometimes quantity beats quality!’ they remark. The modern Madrox tells his brothers to double up and then do it again. ‘And then hammer these creeps!’ he declares.

But suddenly, the crows grab hold of one of the duplicates. ‘Guys, help me!’ he calls out. But the dupes cannot get to him, and the birds show him no mercy. He barely has time to scream before he is torn to pieces. And that is just the beginning. Thunderbird tells Destiny that they will buy her as much time as they can, but that the rest is up to her. ‘Don’t make our sacrifice be for nothing!’ John tells her, before he realizes that the Carrion Crow must have great ears, for what he said made the creature laugh.

‘What the devil is that?’ Sean asks energy pours from the portal above, striking Madrox dupes and ravens alike. Thunderbird protects Moira / Destiny while telling Banshee that whatever it is, the creep does not care if he hurts his own, so long as he nails them. Pretty much all of the Madrox dupes are down, before Banshee gets clipped by one of the energy bands. Thunderbird prays to the gods of his fathers for at least a little bit of help, while shielding Moira / Destiny.

On the ground, Banshee calls out ‘Moira are y’all right?’, to which the reply comes: ‘What a silly question, Sean - I’m dead. But that doesn’t mean we can’t fight back! Blast the Carrion Crow, Banshee! Smash his portal, do it now! I want to hear him scream!’ Thunderbird remembers that back in the day, he heard stories about Banshee, but figured they were exaggerations, as he never had the chance to see him really tear it up. Until now that is, as Sean unleashes his powerful sonic scream, in a fit of fury. Although he is not able to kill the Carrion Crow, the hit of the scream causes the demon to stagger big time. Best of all, Banshee managed to shatter the portal that the Carrion Crow used to follow them to Muir Island.

‘Maybe now we’ll have a chance’ Thunderbird thinks to himself, before seeing that the shock wave brought Esme and Sophie down to the ground as well, and Esme recovers first, making the most of it. Sophie announces that she is the vessel for much of the Carrion Crow’s power, to which Esme replies ‘Not for much longer’ as she strikes her sister. As their transformed physical forms battle each other, so to do their astral forms. ‘I’m going to beat you!’ Esme exclaims, but Sophie declares that it will not be enough. ‘Strike me down and his power will be broken’ she tells her sister.

Sophie reminds Esme that she always wanted to be stronger, and tells her that today, here, she can prove it. ‘I have to be destroyed’ Sophie exclaims, telling Esme that only she can do it. ‘I won’t! I can’t!’ Esme replies, but Sophie tells her that she must, that she cannot resist the Carrion Crow for much longer, that this is their only chance. ‘This is your chance to truly be the hero!’ she tells Esme, announcing that she is going to open her mind, to give Esme a clear shot. But Esme replies that she will not take it, that there has to be a better way. ‘You always hated me, this is the opportunity of a lifetime!’ Sophie tells her sister, as Esme replies that she loved her, too, that they are twins.

Destiny tells Thunderbird that this is their moment, that when all around them is in balance, unsure of which way to gall, he needs to call to the thunderbird, to let himself be filled with magic. ‘Let him guide you to your destiny’ she exclaims. Thunderbird stands strong, ‘Great one - hear me!’ he calls out. He remarks that he blew his first time as an X-Man, that he was full of pride and also anger. ‘I wanted to prove myself, to fulfil my dreams as the big-shot Apache warrior’ he adds. ‘I forgot you created the world as a whole. Our gods as a team. All of the elements of life work together, we depend on one another’.

‘Thank you - for not abandoning me - for offering me…for offering me…this second chance…to set things right. To life - and die - with honor!’ Thunderbird calls out as he is engulfed by energies, which he then channels and sends outward. ‘Bless my soul - what’s the lad doing?’ Sean asks as he lands near Moira / Destiny, who replies that Proudstar has linked with the elemental power of the thunderbird, and he reaches out to embrace Earth’s lay-lines, the primal force of the planet itself. She adds that he will use that energy to awaken the most ancient entities of creation itself, to take up arms against their adversary.

Esme tells Sophie to hold onto her, as they cannot withstand the wind, as it is too fierce. ‘What happened to us being enemies?’ Sophie asks as the sisters hold each other. Esme tells her to stop being so flip, as they are sisters, and adds that their only hope is if they stand together. Destiny explains that the girls are caught between the darkness and John’s light. ‘With them, as with us, the battle can go either way’ she remarks. Banshee exclaims that he feels so helpless, that there must be something he can do. ‘It is not yet time’ Destiny tells him. Banshee asks her what she is talking about, pointing out that it looks like they are wining.

Suddenly, ‘Sophie - d’you see?’ Esme calls out when she sees something. Sophie replies that, for them, nothing ever comes easy, as standing before them, is the Carrion Crow. ‘You mortals are such silly creatures’ the Carrion Crow begins, asking the girls if neither of them telepathic enough to know that this was his plan all along. ‘Why else do you think you were resurrected? Thinking that you were doing good, you have instead opened the path to my master’s ultimate victory’ the Carrion Crow declares, explaining that his link, through them, has given him entry to Earth’s heart. ‘And through that, to the heart of creation itself!’

‘I am the rot that eats at both life and hope. As I return you to the shadows from whence you came…so too shall I shatter the elemental bonds of life itself!’ the creature declares. Esme tells the Carrion Crow that will not happen, that she will not allow it. ‘I swear - I’ll find a way to bring you down!’ she boasts as she flies to the Carrion Crow - who bats her away with ease, calling her a fool, he tells her that she already had her chance, but threw it all away by refusing to take her sister’s life, she has guaranteed the annihilation of everything.

‘Esme!’ Sophie calls out as she rushes over to her sister, who has transformed back to her human form. Sophie’s form begins to change back also, as she holds her sister, and exclaims that Esme killed her once, and wouldn’t do it again. ‘Even as you tortured her body, she regained her soul - she sacrificed herself…to set me free!’ Sophie exclaims. ‘She’s my sister. I love her, I forgive her - and I am so very proud of her!’ Sophie cries. Carrion Crow tells her to enjoy the feeling, for the moments of her existence that she has left.

Carrion Crow approaches Destiny and Banshee and declares that there are no more games to play. ‘Your books of the future have reached their end!’ The Carrion Crow unleashes a burst of energy, ‘Moira - look out!’ Sean shouts as he leaps and pushes Moira / Destiny out of the way, while unleashing his sonic scream at the Carrion Crow, telling Moira that he will keep the enemy back as long as he can. ‘Most impressive - for a mortal’ Carrion Crow remarks as he is held back by the power of Banshee’s sonic scream, adding that, sooner or later, Banshee will run out of breath. ‘And then you’re mine’ he warns him.

But Destiny tells the Carrion Crow that he forgets that the future is hers to see. ‘What seems obvious is not always what is true. We led you here - on purpose’ she exclaims, before calling out to John, telling him to merge with his avatar, to become one with him. Thunderbird stands and calls out to the spirits of land and sky, of water and growing and living things. ‘Hear me! The Earth is in peril. I call on you to sustain your mother world - come to her aid - against the powers of annihilation!’ he exclaims.

‘Powerful words - but they will not be enough to save you’ the Carrion Crow declares as he approaches Banshee and Moira - who has reverted back to her true form. ‘Behold - your Destiny has fled. She knows the end is at hand’ the Carrion Crow exclaims as Sean helps Moira up, telling her that he is sorry, but his sonic scream is done. ‘That horror’s right, though - you’ve become yourself again’ Sean points out. Moira looks longingly at Sean and tells him that they have done all they could. ‘I wish I could do more. Seeing you, holding you. I wish -’ Sean begins, as Moira tells him ‘Perhaps another time, another place’, before asking Sean to hold her close. The Carrion Crow unleashes a burst of energy that engulfs Sean and Moira. ‘Aye, lass - whatever comes, we face it together’ Banshee exclaims. ‘I’ve never been more proud…’ Moira tells him, before they vanish.

Thunderbird closes his eyes and declares ‘It’s up to me now’. He opens his eyes and announces that he won’t be found wanting, as his thunderbird avatar has merged with him. He glows as the avatar hovers around him, and he declares ‘I am Proudstar, son of the people you call the Apache. My soul is bound to the most honored, most fierce of our sprits - the thunderbird! We do not fear crows - or their masters…we hunt them - to their DEATH!’ John booms as his avatar reaches out - and slices through the Carrion Crow.

The Carrion Crow calls Thunderbird a fool and remarks that this means nothing to him, as he is but a servant of a far greater power. ‘What ravages me will do him not the slightest harm!’ the Carrion Crow boasts. ‘Maybe. Maybe not. But this sure looks like a righteous start’ Thunderbird remarks as the Carrion Crow explodes before him.

Thunderbird reaches up and calls out ‘One above all, and Earth below - hear my words. Take back all this power that is yours. Let your healing magic flow forth through the world’s lay-lines. Bind up the wounds of the world. Keep all her children safe. Hold them safe in this time of peril!’ and as he does, the avatar returns to the sky, and energy flows all around.

Thunderbird approaches Sophie, who holds Esme, and asks how Esme is doing. Sophie replies that she didn’t’ make it, but that she died at peace with herself. ‘John - does this mean we won?’ Sophie asks. John tells her that they held up their end, that they have bought the world another moment to fight, and other folks will have to make the most of it. Thunderbird kneels down beside Sophie and puts an arm around her, while Sophie exclaims that she guesses it is over, their second chance, but they made it count. ‘Didn’t we? We did our best. I hope whoever comes next does the same’ she tells John.

Thunderbird replies that it is funny, he knows what is coming, but he feels more alive than ever - as if his life finally counts for something. ‘Who knows, Sophie, if there’s a next time, maybe you and me’ John tells Sophie, who replies ‘I’d like that, John’, before they are engulfed by nothingness, and vanish.

Characters Involved: 



Dr Moira MacTaggert

Destiny (in Moira’s body)

Esme & Sophie Cuckoo

Multiple Man dupes

Carrion Crow

Story Notes: 

The Chaos War crossover ties into several one-shots and mini-series: Chaos War: Thor, Chaos War: Chaos King, Chaos War: Dead Avengers, Chaos War: Alpha Flight, Chaos War: God Squad, Chaos War: Ares, Chaos War: X-Men, as well as Incredible Hulks #618-620.

Thunderbird was killed in action in X-Men (1st series) #95. He was briefly resurrected during “Necrosha”.

Banshee died in X-Men: Deadly Genesis #2. He was briefly resurrected during “Necrosha”.

Dr Moira MacTaggert was murdered by Mystique, sadly passing away in X-Men (2nd series) #108. However she has appeared sporadically in flashbacks and in Xavier’s mind since then.

Then believed to have been the real Multiple Man, one Madrox dupe died in the classic X-Factor (1st series) #100. Another was killed by Proteus in X-Men (1st series) #126. The third might be from the Fallen Angels limited series, where another dupe was killed.

Sophie Cuckoo died, with a little help from Esme and an overdose of Kick, in New X-Men (1st series) #137.

Esme Cuckoo was killed by Xorn-Magneto in New X-Men (1st series) #150.

This issue is narrated by Thunderbird.

Destiny was murdered by Legion in the classic Uncanny X-Men #255.

Several of Destiny’s diaries were the initial subject of the X-Treme X-Men series.

Muir Isle has been the focus of many adventures for the X-Men, the Muir Island X-Men, and later Excalibur, who made Muir Island their base for the later half of Excalibur (1st series). Muir Isle was pretty much destroyed during “Dreams End”, and has not seen a lot of action since then.
Regarding the status of the characters post-Chaos War: according to the Chaos War writers all the resurrections with the exceptions of the Alpha Flight members were just temporary.

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