First story :
This story is a reprint of X-Men (1st series) #112. There are, however, three additional pages.
A two-page spread shows the thoughts of the eight assembled X-Men and also those of Magneto, as the protagonists face each other at the beginning of the issue. Magneto feels he is a fool to challenge the X-Men so soon after his resurrection. He defeated them in their previous encounter but only the five newest members and only by catching them by surprise. Now, he faces the full complement of Xavier’s accursed students. However, he wonders what use is a restoration to youth and vigor if he remains no match for his oldest, deadliest foes. He must avenge his previous defeats that eat away at his soul like a cancer. He wonders if he is a better man for all that he has endured. His answer must come from this throw of the dice.
Cyclops knows that, with the odds of eight to one in their favor, this probably makes it a fair fight against Magneto. He knows however that he wouldn’t challenge them so openly unless he was confident of victory. His arrogance has proven his undoing before, though. He calls to Phoenix and asks her to establish a psilink among the eight of them. If possible, he asks her to pick Magneto’s brains as well, so they can get an idea of his plans. Phoenix can hear Scott, but there is intense psychic interference blocking the thoughts of the others from her. She apologizes but she needs more time to gather her strength.
Beast can’t believe he skipped out on the avengers for this. His friends probably think they can handle this by themselves but he knows Magneto is formidable and, the first chance he gets, he’ll make a beeline for the hidden Quinjet. He’ll call in reinforcements. The X-Men’s pride will be hurt but it should also guarantee their survival.
Banshee thinks about how their lives seem to be a never-ending jump from one frying pan into another one and back. Magneto’s radiating such power; the only time he’s felt anything comparable was when Phoenix saved the universe. He wonders if she can do the same for them. Wolverine’s thoughts are more primal. He figures Magneto’s just a man and will bleed like anyone else. If the others keep him busy and draw the heavy fire, maybe he can finish him.
Nightcrawler offers a prayer to his Lord. This is no place for a glorified acrobat, even one who can teleport. Yet, Hank has no more power than he, yet he seems unafraid. His courage shames him. Colossus wonders exactly why they are enemies. Mutants have the power to reshape the Earth. There is so much good they might do, yet they spend all their energies battling amongst themselves. He knows that Magneto speaks of his desire to rule the world. But, what would he do if he succeeded? Is he truly a madman, truly evil?
Storm thinks back to the last time they fought Magneto. He tried his best to slay them and very nearly succeeded. His hatred for the X-Men forms a palpable presence within him; almost a living thing unto itself. He will offer no quarter and she fears to stand against him. They must do the same but how can they remain true to their calling as heroes?
The other extra page comes during the battle between Magneto and Phoenix. Magneto feels the power of Phoenix and has to defend himself against an onslaught. Jean feels that she is managing to force him back and, for the first time in any of their battles, Magneto actually looks scared. He uses large lumps of metal to try and stop her but she destroys them with ease. The two giants continue their fight. Jean feels that the power is a song within her, filling her with primal glory. The gloves are off. There’s no more fooling around, as he’s fighting back. She wonders if she could have risked a confrontation earlier in the wagon and kept the X-Men from falling to their deaths.
Her power fills her more and more with an inhuman joy as she uses it. Magneto is forced to kneel down on one knee, as Phoenix continues to pour energy at his Magnetic force field. Jean realizes that her abilities are unknown. People say she saved the universe but she did that mostly on instinct. It was Phoenix’s doing; Jean Grey was simply along for the ride. Magneto has strength, plus decades of experience. She is equal to the one but not the other. In too many ways, it’s as if she’s just been born. As her celestial song crescendos within her, she finds herself pushing herself too hard. She’s running before she’s learned how to walk. What choice does she have, though? Suddenly, she feels Magneto managing to draw even more power to himself, using the magnetic forces of the Earth itself. She needs more power but her energy finds itself expended abruptly and there is nothing more left to give.
Jean Grey sits alone in the woods, tending to a small fire. Nearby is her tent but also an unseen opponent, stalking her as she loses herself in her thoughts. She’s glad to be there, alone with nothing to be afraid of. The X-Men won’t know where she is, or be able to follow her. She’s pleased with herself for getting the fire started first time. If she can only make it on her own, just doing little things like this, then she thinks she’ll be past the danger point.
Her stalker pulls out a knife from its sheath as Jean sits back and relaxes, letting the warm fire comfort her. She thinks it’s time for a cup of coffee and stands. Her stalker makes his move, dashing stealthily towards her, making no sound as he approaches fast. Jean needs something to carry the water in and so bends down to pick up the coffee pot at her feet. Her attacker leaps at her but, because of the unexpected bending over, he misses and sails straight over her.
He lands well, spinning around and standing to face her, though by now the advantage of surprise is lost. Jean immediately switches to her Phoenix state and looks at her foe: Wolverine, dressed in his civvies. Too late, he thinks. “It was too late before you even started, little man,” replies Phoenix. She telekinetically removes the knife from his hand and keeps it hovering in mid-air. She asks him if he really thought he could come after Jean Grey and not have her turn into Phoenix at the first sign of trouble. As far as Wolverine is concerned, that first sign came when she took off. She left without a word to anyone where she was going, or why.
Phoenix asks just what he thought he was doing by hunting her. He replies that maybe he wanted to see if she’s really as good and as dangerous as they say she is. He is a killer and what he wants to know is, are they really two of a kind? Phoenix spins the knife and asks if he really thought he could find that out by coming after her with this, toy? Wolverine pops all his claws. He replies that after going to the trouble of keeping his thoughts on a primal level to mask himself from her, he’d have to a real amateur to let her hear him unsheathing his claws. The ‘snikt’ is a real giveaway.
She tells him he was smart to figure out how to outsmart a telekinetic, telepathic runaway. The trouble is, since he tripped himself up, his partner in this little crime has been so interested, he’s forgotten to shield his thoughts from her. She lifts a hand and Banshee comes floating out of the thicket, helpless in her telekinetic grasp. As she slowly lowers him to the ground, she presumes they wish to know exactly what she’s doing, out in the middle of nowhere. Wolverine says he thinks he knew that before she took off. She wanted to be alone and, right now, that’s the worst thing for her. Banshee finally makes the ground. He is accustomed to using his own sonic power to fly and having someone else in control of his flight will take some getting used to.
Phoenix asks them why they would think that they know what’s good for her. Wolverine replies that they’re friends and because that’s what being part of a team is all about. She hasn’t had the Phoenix power for long and it still scares her. That’s why she ran away, he adds. She raises the coffee pot and holds it a few feet away from her. It’s not the power that scares her exactly, she informs them, it’s herself. There’s so much power at her disposal, and she… she likes using it. She keeps doing bigger and bigger things with it. She’s so afraid sometimes of losing control and doing something destructive, when something little will do. Maybe, she’s here to practice her fine motor control. Sean says that they’re friends and they’re here to remind her that she isn’t wrestling with this problem alone. He reminds her that they startled her but she managed not to hurt either of them. “This time,” she replies.”
Wolverine says that this is the kind of thinking that’s gonna lead her right where she doesn’t want to go. She shouldn’t let her fear of herself isolate her or, in the end, she’ll find herself left alone with what she is. That means the power has won but he doesn’t think it will. It’s up against a pretty tough lady. “Maybe you’re right. Anyway, she’s a lady with very stubborn friends,” she replies. She adds that she was about to make herself a coffee when they arrived and offers them some. Banshee says sure and finds the coffee pot sliding into his hands. He doesn’t think he’ll ever get used to that.
She asks him to hold the pot while she gets some water. She asks them if this will be enough. The two X-Men look startled as they peer upwards and find the entire lake, thousands and thousands of gallons of water, floating above them. “Jeannie!” exclaims Wolverine. Don’t worry, she replies; she’ll put most of it back. She just wants to remind them what they’re up against here.
She lowers the lake so the water rests a few feet above her head. For her, the lifting of the lake from its bed and holding it intact is no more difficult than getting one quart of water, with or without the coffee pot. In some ways, she continues, the quart would be harder because is requires more judgment and self-control. Sean looks at a fish swimming in the water. Wolverine smiles and points out that, the thing is, she has plenty of self-control when she’s alone and planning every move. She has to practice her control when she meets up with distractions. At that moment, Jean turns to see Nightcrawler appear in the tree beside her. “Boo!” he says with a Cheshire Cat grin. His fellow teammates can see what’s coming. Wolverine calls for him not do it but he slides down the trunk and tells Jean to think fast.
Kurt’s face turns to one of horror, as the water engulfs him and he is thrown about amongst the marine life within. As the water crashes to the ground, he teleports and finds himself clinging to a tree branch, soaked to the skin. “Mein Gott,” he says, “She’ll be glad to see us, they said. It will be just like a game of tag, they said.” The equally bedraggled Phoenix says, “Now look what you made me do!” Wolverine, however, finds his adamantium skeleton is weighing him down. He isn’t the greatest swimmer and it takes a telekinetic life from Jean to pull him free of the current. He has a dig at Kurt for startling her when she was holding the entire lake. He points out that he teleported there from miles away so she couldn’t read his thoughts. He didn’t know about the lake. What a mess!
Jean says she sometimes wonders if that’s all the Phoenix Force ultimately is; a destroyer. Kurt apologizes for startling her, saying he would never have attacked if he had known. However, he says that what she has the power to do, then she must have the power to undo. Banshee agrees with his German friend. He asks if that isn’t just the kind of precision task she came out here to set herself. She admits it’s a little bigger than she had in mind but, when it comes down to it, every job is made up of a lot of little ones. She whisks the water back into the air and funnels it back gently into the hole it came from with assured precision.
The others congratulate her. Jean says, by rights, it should have been they who cleaned up the mess, as it was their fault. Kurt says that it was however a good test for her. Wolverine asks how they could have possibly undone it. Jean smiles and says that they couldn’t, but they still owe her a forfeit. So, she’s going to let one of them cook dinner and get the water for the coffee.