First Story :
This is a reprint of X-Men (1st series) #122.
A trio of party guests, each in macabre costumes, appears at the doorway to great the most recent arrival, Nightcrawler. Kurt is dressed as the devil himself and he thanks them by asking if they would like to sell him their souls. He will give them all they desire. One of them laughs, apologizing for selling his soul years ago; cheap. Kurt shakes his host’s hand and tells him he looks well. His host, sporting a sling and a variety of bandages over covering his head, jokingly replies that he has a bit of a headache and leads him into the room.
The host places his arm around Kurt’s shoulder and says he looks great. If the other guests knew that the devilish face was real, they’d scream! However, he’s glad Kurt has come, as he has a slight problem. He asks Kurt to help himself to some food and then to meet him under the balloon.
Kurt wanders around the room in the hopes of mingling. He wonders who the X-Men might be in a room full of costumed people. He thinks it was a clever idea of Jean’s to have them come separately, and see if they could recognize each other. He pours himself some punch but declines to eat from the assortment of candy fingers and eyeballs that sit on the table. Now, he thinks, it’s time for some fun. It should be easy picking out the X-Men. They may be great heroes but they sure are stiffs at parties.
He checks out the room and reckons the tall guy chatting to a masked woman could be Colossus. Then again, maybe not. He’d be too shy talking to a girl. His eyes focus on a guy dressed as a pirate, surrounded by three giggling girls. He reckons that must be Wolverine; only he knows how to have fun like that. He downs his punch and gulps when he sees a couple of bloodshot eyeballs at the base of the cup. Suddenly, his attention is pleasantly diverted.
“Here’s looking at you kid.” A slender young woman wearing an all-in-one leopard-skin outfit places her hand on his shoulder, and Kurt turns. “Well, meeeeow!” he replies. She smiles and glances at the food next to them. She tells him not to be squeamish; it’s all edible and she takes a finger to prove her point. She compliments Kurt on his make-up, saying it’s quite satanic, and makes her want to sin. She grabs his tail and can’t believe it’s so lifelike. It’s even warm! Kurt tells the pussycat that he’s in heaven and that’s why he must be going. He turns and says it was nice meeting her, before swishing his prehensile tail away from her. She gasps at the effect.
He finds his host once more and tells him that his party is a blast. The anonymity of a mask allows one to act in ways one normally wouldn’t dare to. Shameless, he replies as he cracks open a can of beer. He and Kurt are seated and he informs him of the problem he mentioned earlier. His dear friend, Tiffany, has this absolute monster of an ex-husband. He is an unstable man with violent passions. He used to beat her. Now, he has scared her by calling to say he’d see her tonight. Unfortunately, she wouldn’t see him but, with all these costumes, he could be anyone. Tiffany’s dressed as a ghost. Kurt replies that he’ll keep an eye out for trouble and wishes he could warn the other X-Men. If only he could figure out who they are!
Elsewhere at the party, Scott Summers is dressed as a medieval jester, his visor hidden by a white mask. He takes a drink, but notices a beautiful woman looking at him. He’s never even seen come-hither eyes before. She is dressed in a semi-transparent pair of loose pants, a purple top and with a veil covering her face, leaving only her beautiful eyes peering out towards Scott. She looks like she comes from a middle-eastern harem. She turns away from him but offers a knowing look, almost daring Scott to follow her down the hallway. Scott is torn. He already has a beautiful woman, but he finds her allure irresistible.
Kurt, meanwhile, tries to attract Logan’s attention. He leans over and interrupts his conversation. He needs to use Logan’s senses to track Jean, as he has need of her telepathy. The guy turns and asks what he’s babbling about. “Get lost and find our own girls” Clearly, this isn’t Logan.
Scott, meanwhile, has caught up with the mystery woman at the end of the hallway. In the shadows, he leans over and moves her veil enough to allow himself to kiss her. He realizes that the lower half of her face is simply a mask, which she removes to reveal a badly scarred chin. Scott is taken aback and she asks what the matter is. She thought he liked her…
Before Scott can respond, their attention is caught by a scream emanating from the main room. Kurt runs in, thinking he’s too late. He closes the door behind him and warns everyone that no one is to leave the room. In the corner is a ghost with a dagger sticking into its neck. A witch holds her chest from the shock this caused her. It looked so real, she remarks. It frightened her, but it’s just a dummy…right? Another man lifts the bottom of the ghost outfit to reveal a woman’s leg wearing pink shoes. “I don’t know about that,” he adds.
A clown rushes past Kurt in a hurry, pushing him out of the way as he heads for the doorway. He opens it but finds a mummy standing before him, blocking the exit. He warns him to move it but, as he pulls on the bandages, the giant metallic form of Colossus suddenly stares back at him. The clown turns but a heavily disguised Wolverine tells him, “Not this way either, bub.” The clown aggressively asks who’s gonna stop him; this pile o’ dirty laundry? With a snikt, Wolverine replies that it’s clean laundry and his claws give the clown cause for concern.
Kurt commands him to give up but the clown quickly grabs the witch and removes the dagger from the ghost, threatening to harm the witch with it. He’s killed once, he cries, and he’ll kill again. What’s the difference? He backs them both into a corner. He tells them that they’re all dressed like ghouls and demons, but asks rhetorically if they can play the parts? No. Next time they’ll know to put on a mask and be prepared to play the role.
“My wife dressed as a ghost! Hahahah! Now she is one,” he cackles. He’s a clown and he’ll make them laugh. He asks them to think back to when they were little. Did anyone ever really find clowns funny? He is clearly deranged and prepares to kill the witch, but a voice calls an abrupt halt to his actions. “Johnny, don’t!” His face drops, as he sees another ghost approaching him. You’re dead, he says. I killed you. Tiffany removes her cowl and replies that he only stabbed a dummy, asking him to stop before anyone gets hurt. Johnny smiles maniacally but then finds his dagger lifted free of his hand by an unseen force. Colossus then takes the opportunity to grab him; he won’t be wriggling free from those arms.
The dagger floats across the room, past Scott Summers and into the hands of the mystery woman. Scott turns and looks not only surprised but also a little anxious. The mystery woman, it turns out, is Jean after all. She takes the knife and looks right back at Scott. He quickly apologizes to her and asks her not to hate him. In this costume and behind this mask, he feels like another person. It wasn’t him. “Wasn’t it?” she replies. She removes her veil and slowly peels away a layer of prosthetic scars, revealing her true face underneath. She says he doesn’t recognize his own girl. He doesn’t know her very well at all. Scott asks that she leave the scars on, so that he may kiss her, scars and all.
As they kiss, Nightcrawler comforts the witch. He says she was very brave and she thanks him. She double-takes for an instant and tells Kurt that, looking at him, she finally knows what the phrase, ‘handsome devil,’ means. “Why thank you. You truly are brave,” he replies with a smile. Eyeball punch? She asks. Let’s, replies Kurt.