When he thinks of all the things he’s accomplished, Simon Trask cannot help but smile. He’s connected, of course, so that helped, but at the end of the day his achievements are a direct outgrowth of his will and his vision—this vision: “Protecting children, protecting our schools, our towns—protecting everything and everyone from grotesque catastrophe. People protecting people.” That’s it. That’s all he wants. After all, the last time a mutant was born, an entire town was razed by chaos and violence. All they need to do to make sure it never happens again is to gently and humanely legislate when and how mutants are allowed to breed. When Trask puts it that way… who could possibly be against him?
They started marching in Sacramento with that simple message. And today, finally, Simon Trask and his ‘Humanity Now!’ coalition march on. They cross the Bay Bridge and continue onward into the Market Street district of San Francisco, a city Trask deems the home of the hippie, the freak, the misfit, and now, the mutant. They are opposed by pro-mutant protestors, but ‘Humanity Now!’ continues unabated. Trask advises his followers to ignore the humans, whom he deems small fish. When he happens upon a counter-protest of mutants, however, Trask pauses, stands his grown and clasps his hands. “Here we go, children. Face front, true believers,” he tells his followers. “It’s showtime.”
Dr. Henry McCoy—the agile, vaguely feline and compassionate X-Man known as Beast—stands at the front of the pro-mutant counter-protesters, dressed in a dapper suit and vest. He informs Trask there are multiple routes Trask and ‘Humanity Now!’ can choose to get from Market Street to City Hall—all of which will require going around Beast and his allies. Trask argues that his coalition is exercising its first amendment rights to free speech and peaceful assembly. In other words, he doesn’t believe McCoy and the mutants have any legal grounds on which to prevent their passage. McCoy sees it differently. Neither he nor his allies have any interest in stifling the rights of Mr. Trask. In fact, they came to exercise their own.
Jean-Paul Beaubier—the strong, fast, Canadian mutant called Northstar—gets in Trask’s face and tells him he can spew all the hate he wants, but his cause will find no support in San Francisco. Behind Trask, several coalition members hurl anti-mutant slurs. Trask tells them to calm down; there’s no need to get the American Civil Liberties Union involved by invoking hate-speak. They’re all adults; surely cool heads will prevail.
Back behind Beast, Megan Gwynn—also called Pixie, the teleporting mutant who is like a thing unto a pixie—expresses her uncertainty about this situation while over the heads of her fellow counter-protesters. Her teammate Julian Keller tells her to shut up. Keller, the telekinetic mutant teenager with anger issues known as Hellion, thinks they can handle the racists. Dressed in his Jumbo Carnation-designed outfit once worn by Kid Omega, Hellion moves forward and pushes back the members of ‘Humanity Now!’ “Get back to your caves, apeman!” he says. “These streets belong to the future!” Two irate protestors call him a freak-show and an abomination and ask if he wants to start something. Although Beast and Dazzler try to keep the peace by asking those on their side to calm down, Trask fuels the fire when he suggests the mutants are in on this plan together. Worse, he announces to the people that the mutants have cut them off—effectively surrounding them!
The fight seemed inevitable. The mutants and the humans immediately begin trading blows, much to the delight of Trask—and the chagrin of Beast. A protestor breaks a bottle over Jonah Graymalkin’s head while Anole watches helplessly. Beast turns around and sees another coalition member pinning Pixie’s arms behind her back while another punches her in the face.
The San Francisco Police Department dispatches a horde of patrol cars to the corner of Market and Powell. The dispatcher informs them a riot is erupting, and advises them to be careful, as the X-Men are reportedly part of the riot.
Beast grows angry as he comforts the battered Pixie. Glob Herman, the mutant whose body is comprised largely of paraffin wax, dives into the fray. As the SWAT team arrives, a medic walks the Anole out of the fight as the young mutant puts pressure on his head wound. Three policemen surround Beast and fire their tasers at him. Hellion knocks Simon Trask off his feet with a telekinetic tremor, but as he prepares to smash his face in, a quartet of police officers tackles and subdues him.
The news report later that evening recounts the unfolding of the riot. The riot shut down street, cable car and Bay Area Rapid Transit traffic, while putting the emergency room at St. Francis on alert. The announcer reports several mutants—of unknown power levels and potential for damage—were at the scene as active participants. City Hall has not yet commented. The reporter states that Simon Trask and his ‘Humanity Now!’ coalition arrived in San Francisco to complete their so-called ‘March for Humanity’ that began earlier in the week in Sacramento. The group filed the proper permits and received permission from the city. Reports of the X-Men on the scene were unconfirmed.
On an opinionated news broadcast, two commentators argue their perspectives on the issue. One commentator considered the conflict inevitable because of the racist and species-ist hate Trask’s coalition spews. The other commentator objects to this; how can this riot be pinned on Trask? He had how many thousands of people with him? How many violent outbursts happened between the start of their march and their arrival in San Francisco? None! They marched in complete and total peace for hundreds of miles and met thousands of people. Not a punch was thrown. The second they crossed the bridge, however…
Different reports continue. One commentator asks where the hell the X-Men were. Another confirms that Trask received medical treatment at St. Francis. A reporter from Channel 5 says definitively that the X-Men have not reached out to the press in any way. No one has come in or out of Graymalkin Industries, their headquarters in Marin, California. “No one is answering the buzzer at the gate,” he reports. “For all intents and purposes, Graymalkin Industries has become a fortress.”
Inside, a large assembly of X-Men crowds around a large television and watches the reports in angst. Kurt Wagner—the teleporting elfish demon and holy man known as Nightcrawler— perches on an end table and asks Scott if they’re going to get out in front of this and figure out what happened. Similarly, Hisako Ichiki—the young veteran who goes by the codename Armor, due to the psionic armor she manifests—asks Mr. Summers what happens next. The first thing Scott Summers—also known as Cyclops, the mutant with optic force blasts considered a leader of people—tells them to do is call their folks, tell them they’re safe and that they’ll call back soon. “Then brace for all hell to break loose,” he adds.
San Francisco, California. City Hall…
Inside the mayor’s office, Sadie chews out Cyclops and Emma Frost for their non-presence earlier in the day. What the hell happened out there? Where was he? Why didn’t he control this? “Hank McCoy, Summers. In the streets,” she says for emphasis. Four or five of the kids in Scott’s care also showed up and stomped people. Live at Five has footage of Trask getting beaten up by one of Scott’s students!
“First off, I wasn’t out there because quite frankly I didn’t know, and second,” Scott says in his defense, “—I’m not president of mutantkind and I’m nobody’s king, and just because I ask ‘em to, not every mutant in the world will do what I say, Sadie!”
The mayor reminds him that when she’s yelling, she’s Mayor Sinclair—not Sadie. She tells Scott he has to get on top of this. He has to get his people—
“His people? How dare you,” Emma says. Scott asks his secret-filled, psychic powerhouse of a girlfriend to stay calm. While handing Scott a dossier, Sadie tells him to assume the responsibilities of his position. She knows he didn’t incite the day’s mess, but when night falls, he needs to be out there keeping people calm. Of course, Scott tells her. He adds they need their friend Hank back and asks if she can expedite the process. Before she can answer, however, an aide bursts into the office and informs the mayor that Trask has called a press conference.
San Francisco, California. St. Francis Hospital…
Simon Trask, wearing a brace around his neck while his bandaged arm hangs from a sling, addresses a crowd of reporters. ‘Humanity Now!’ will neither be intimidated nor stopped, he says. They have the right to assemble peacefully—the right to have their voices heard. The attacks they suffered are merely the price people like them must sometimes pay when they dare to stand up for freedom and safety and other inalienable human rights that make their nation the greatest on Earth. Trask declares they will march on City Hall as their constitutional right. Despite that every living mutant with powers is like a loaded gun pointed at their heads, they refuse to live in fear.
A breaking news broadcast reports on the sudden arrival of H.A.M.M.E.R. Director Norman Osborn at SFO, fueling the rumor that law enforcement in San Francisco may soon come under federal jurisdiction. Turning away from the television, Sadie tells Scott that things are about to get ugly. Scott reaches out and takes Emma’s hand.
Meanwhile, in Wakanda, Storm sits at the bedside of the comatose Black Panther and watches with worry the reports of the day’s events in San Francisco.
In New York City, Wolverine storms out of the Avengers lounge, unsheathing his claws as he goes. Spider-Man affably tells him that if he needs to go, he can go.
At that same time, in Transdimensional Warp Vessel Quadra orbiting Sol-909, Franklin Richards listens to the reports coming in from San Francisco and asks why people hate mutants so much. Does that mean they hate him too? His parents Reed and Susan don’t listen to him; they’re busy working in the lab.
In Latveria, Dr. Doom lifts his goblet for a toast—to things finally getting interesting. Loki concurs.
San Francisco. The Castro…
Night falls and tempers flare. People take to the streets. They’re not out as super heroes or super villains or super-anything. They’re out in the streets tonight because a million people showed up in their hometown demanding laws be passed that forbids them to have babies.
Pro-mutant demonstrators converge outside the Castro Theater, where they clash with several members of ‘Humanity Now!’ Karma and Bling! stand among the protesters carrying a large ‘Don’t Legislate Hate!’ banner. Some of them, however, are here to do more than just chant. Some of them are here to scream.
Joanna Cargill, the former Acolyte known as Frenzy, pushes her way through the crowd with the mutant woman Nekra in tow. Meanwhile, as Bling! trades blows with an anti-mutant protestor, a pickup truck screeches by with a man hanging out the passenger window. In his hand he holds a Molotov cocktail, which he hurls it the marquis of the Castro Theater after shouting for all muties to die. The truck, however careens out of control, hits a pedestrian and crashes headfirst into the theater’s box office.
In the end, fear is the watchword for the day. Terrified people, surrounded by the potential for violence, arm themselves in the name of protection—and then lash out as they succumb to fear. The madness of the crowd reigns supreme. The Castro Street Theater is merely the night’s first casualty.
At that moment, Angel descends from the sky and arrives on the scene, carrying the young mutant Match by the underarms. He tells Match to take care of the fires. “Y’think?” Match responds. Karma believes it’s too late; the entire city is going to erupt.
On Nob Hill, Nightcrawler and Ink quell rioters. Onyxx, Mercury and Loa struggle to achieve the same thing at Telegraph Hill, but with poor results. Where is Ms. Frost—or anyone, for that matter—to help them? In Hayes Valley, Piotr Rasputin—the colossal mutant made of organic metal, appropriately called Colossus—tries to get subdue Rockslide. Rockslide, however, refuses to submit. They’re going to be in camps next, he says!
Meanwhile, at the Embarcadero, Cyclops confronts Mortimer Toynbee, also known as Toad, the former servant of Magneto’s. Contrary to what Scott has been told his entire life, he isn’t a cop, Toad shouts. He demands he get out of his way. Cyclops doesn’t flinch; he has been beating Toad up since he was a teenager. He says he’ll only stop when Toad is ready to stop being the most useless cretin on the face of the Earth. The Stepford Cuckoos, speaking in sequence, compliment Mr. Summers on this insult.
Toad suddenly thrusts forth his tongue and wraps it around Scott’s waist. Instinctively, Cyclops fires back with an optic blast, knocking the sunglasses off Toad’s face as his head whips backward. Toad’s tongue recoils. Pointing his finger at him authoritatively, Cyclops tells Toad this is the real deal. It isn’t this stupid thing they always do. It’s the beginning of the end, yet Toad is out here throwing gasoline on the—
Cyclops is struck in the side of the head by a brick. “Shut up!” the thrower shouts. As Cyclops falls to the ground, the crowd of ‘Humanity Now!’ protesters begins to rush. The Stepford Cuckoos grow worried; they cannot keep the crowd under control.
As Cyclops picks himself up off the ground, he mutters that he always suspected that’s what people wanted to do when he started lecturing them. Fortunately, officers from the SFPD arrive and cuff the instigators. Another officer in riot gear helps Scott to his feet and asks if he’s okay; they have a medical station up the street if he needs it. Scott insists he’s fine. The officer in riot gear informs him everyone is heading to City Hall. However, there is action in almost every neighborhood, including a few outbreaks of violence, some fires and some looting. It’s not the violence they can’t handle, the officer adds; it’s the size. As he wipes the blood from his face, Cyclops—intending no disrespect—asks a pressing question: who will they bring in to restore law and order if it’s too much for the locals to handle?
San Francisco Bay: H.A.M.M.E.R. West…
“This city has lost its damn mind and Scott Summers can’t seem to yank the leash,” Norman Osborn tells his team of Avengers. It’s time for them to get to work. Hawkeye— who is actually Bullseye, the world’s deadliest assassin—asks Norman why he isn’t wearing his Iron Patriot suit. Is it too heavy for him out there? Does he not want to get his cornrows mussed? Osborn glares at him. “Is it just me, or are you turning into a bigger pain in the ass every day?” He demands Hawkeye show a modicum of respect or else he’ll double his meds—and then, the only thing he’ll be killing will be the time between his diaper changes.
Gesturing toward the screens in their meeting room, Osborn informs his team of Avengers that he is assigning each of them to different hot zones in the city dynamically, as the situation on the ground evolves. The San Francisco Police Department was the first wave, stands H.A.M.M.E.R. muscle squads were next, and the Avengers are the coup de grace The standard rules of engagement apply, he adds. If they see any costumed mutant breaking the law—any law—then they take them down and restrain them until arrest. Fatalities are not allowed. He reminds them that cameras will be everywhere.
“Psht,” Hawkeye sneers. Continuing, Osborn informs Bob—the nearly omnipotent, godlike and schizophrenic man called the Sentry—that he will remain in the base with him. Frowning, Bob agrees. Norman, however, just doesn’t see the need to lead with their human hydrogen-bomb. The mission tonight is about keeping civilians safe and stopping riots. He orders his Avengers to be precise and efficient before opening the floor to questions and comments.
While examining his fingernails, Daken Akihiro—the man of wealth and taste currently masquerading as his father, Wolverine—adds that in between all the carnage, he really must recommend everyone eat at Chez Panisse before they die. He had to kill three people just to get reservations; it’s that wonderful.
With Bling! and Armor backing her, Karma glares at Frenzy and Nekra while the Castro Theater burns in the background. Tonight, they’re not doing the cause any great favors, she says. Nekra can barely believe it; the cause?! What cause? Frenzy, meanwhile, returns Karma’s glare. The humans sold them out again, she says. Nekra adds that they were promised a Utopia. Instead, they have people telling them who can breed and when. They’ll be kicking down their doors before they know it. She doubts they’ll ever stop. Mutants will always be hunted and tormented and killed again and again! They have to rise up!
Suddenly, Nekra is hit a high-powered gravity blast and knocked off her feet. Armor, Karma and Bling! look upward and witness the arrival of Ms. Marvel, secretly Dr. Karla Sofen. “How desperately teenage you sound,” Ms. Marvel says as she descends. Nearby, Nekra struggles to her feet, restating her belief that humans will kill them all. Ms. Marvel moves in for another blast. Frenzy, however, refuses to let her friend get taken so easily, and rushes to her aid. Ms. Marvel blasts her unconscious as well.
Angel and Match arrive and check in with Karma and company. Warren says he’s been busy all night and has yet to hear a word from Graymalkin. Ignoring him, Karma asks with uncertainty if the Avengers came to save them. “Sure,” Ms. Marvel says. “Haven’t you heard? We’re the good guys.”
Cipher cannot believe Colossus beat up Rockslide like that. Colossus certainly can; the boy attacked him. Surge can’t believe Rockslide got so into the fight. Colossus promises to apologize to him when he regains consciousness.
As the three mutants look out toward the city, Colossus notices that the riots continue, despite their best efforts, which included patrolling the perimeter, isolating the ringleaders and helping with arrests. Suddenly, Colossus grows quiet and holds out his arms as a gesture for his female companions to halt. He asks for a moment; something’s there.
He turns around, only to see Mac Gargan—the crazy, symbiote-infected former criminal currently masquerading as Spider-Man—perched atop a nearby ledge. Gargan reads out their laundry list of supposed infractions: assault and battery, destruction of public property and probably even some child endangerment. Colossus orders the girls to run—and to not look back. Gargan, meanwhile, leaps off the roof, tackles Colossus and orders him to stop in the name of the law.
As a group of mutants and protestors boldly approaches a blockade of police officers in riot gear, the blockade leader urges his men to be ready—and stay cool. They don’t need to make this mess any bigger.
Adam-X, Lorelei, Litterbug, Leech and Erg, along with their fellow protestors, march up to the line. Leech shouts at the officers. Erg tells them they cannot impede their march, as it is their constitutional right! Adam-X calls them “@$@%in’ fascists” and “@#!@in’ pigs”. Unfortunately for the mutants, the blockade leader informs them the Embarcadero Center is on private property. They can take the surface streets and go around, but any further progress will qualify as trespassing. Someone throws a bottle at the ranking officer’s face. Although his facemask protects him from injury, the act instigates yet another riot.
Before the fight escalates to an uncontrollable level, a loud voice cuts through the crowd. “Go around, hippies,” Hawkeye tells them. They run away in terror as he pulls an arrow from his quiver. “So many dumbass punks. So little time,” he says as they flee. One of the riot officers approaches Hawkeye and thanks him; two more seconds and he was going to start tasering everything in a T-shirt and a dumb little goatee. “Nice work? You should see how good I am when they let me shoot. I dunno how you guys do it,” Hawkeye says as eyes widen. “Because not killing them sucks.”
“This sucks,” Mercury says. She leans against the headless statue of Christopher Columbus, at the base of which sits Onyxx with his hands clasped. Also with them is Loa, who examines the head of Columbus to sooth her boredom.
To their relief, Cyclops arrives on his motorcycle. In his excitement, Onyxx calls out to him, but refers to him as Mr. Summers. Cyclops corrects him; in the field, they use code-names. He asks the kids for a sit-rep. Mercury informs him they encountered people at this location a few hours earlier, but the people mainly just broke windows and screamed and stuff. Onyxx adds he heard a rumor that everyone was heading to City Hall. Loa asks why Ms. Frost isn’t there; isn’t she, like, their supervisor or something? Cyclops, letting a thin sliver of his optic blast eke from his visor, admits he doesn’t know where Emma is. However, if the action is at City Hall, then they’re going to City Hall.
Fires burn and picketers scream outside the mayor’s office. Sadie doesn’t like it—at all. Speaking on the phone to Norman Osborn, she tells him that, while there have been incidents, she thinks the SFPD is doing a tremendous job. Osborn hangs up on her. When Sadie’s aide asks what he had to say, she informs him that, aside from speaking as though he’s the final word on law and order in San Francisco, Osborn informed her that he would dispatch a H.A.M.M.E.R. agent to their location to keep it quiet. Her aide asks for clarification: an agent, or agents? “Agent,” Mayor Sinclair says. “Singular.”
Up above, a H.A.M.M.E.R. jet opens its door and lets the singular agent in question: Ares, the literal God of War. His impact on the street creates a small crater. Not wasting any time, Ares stands up, points his axe at the crowd and tells them that because he is not a man in the business of repeating himself, he suggests they pay attention. There is a line before him that demarcates where they stop being treated as citizens and start being treated as soldiers. It is a line only he can see and he swears unto all of them that once they cross it, they have declared war against their city, their government, and—most importantly—Ares himself. He advises them to make no mistake: he loves to fight wars.
Northstar, Dazzler, Graymalkin, Anole and Pixie stare at with apprehension. On a nearby hillside, Cyclops watches this scene unfold along with Loa, Trance, Mercury and Onyxx. “The terrifying thing?” Scott says. “Someday soon? Someone’ll have to figure out a way to bring that monster down.”
Norman stares out his window while wearing his Iron Patriot armor. His appointment arrives and reminds him she is not a fan of being kept waiting. With his back still turned, Norman greets Emma Frost and apologizes for the delay, but says the mayor needed to be put in her place. He adds that Emma looks fantastic. As he turns to face her, he hands her a dossier with a large X across its cover and mentions that it just isn’t Scott’s night, is it? “Scott doesn’t get to control all mutant behavior by mandate or fiat,” Emma replies. Norman tells her that’s too bad, because that’s the kind of leader mutants need. Emma asks about the dossier. Osborn tells her it’s the plan—the new plan.
Their deal, he reminds her, was that she would keep mutants quiet and he would stay out of their business. However, it seems Scott couldn’t manage that. Now, Osborne needs a team of mutants as the face of law and order, and that means Emma’s people—and he asks her to pardon his expression—need a leader who can actually lead. They need a leader not just with the skill, but with the will.
Emma opens the file. She doesn’t understand what it means. Sure she does, Osborn says. She just needs to use her imagination and think big—very big. Something dark in the corner of the room catches Emma’s eye. The ends of her lips curl upward into a smile. “Oh, my…” she says.
The Iron Patriot arrives on a dock for an impromptu press conference. He thanks the press for making it out, especially considering how difficult travel must have been for them tonight. He assures them he would not have summoned them were it not important. First things first, he informs them martial law has been declared in San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley. As of that moment, peacekeeping in the Bay Area falls under H.A.M.M.E.R. jurisdiction.
Elsewhere still, Cyclops and the Stepford Cuckoos watch HAMMER agents descend from a jet. Scott wants his people there as well to help cops keep tempers low.
Emma, meanwhile, undresses as she reads the dossier. She cannot help but smile.
Osborn continues, stating that mutant ringleaders are being detained and kept of the streets.
Beast sits in a prison cell. A voice in his head breaks the silence. Someone is calling out to him, so he calls back.
The Iron Patriot informs reporters that Scott Summers of the X-Men has been classified as a person of interest in the evening’s riots. HAMMER intends to bring him in, ask him a few questions, and most importantly, ask why he, as the self-appointed leader of the mutant race, let his people destroy San Francisco. The Iron Patriot reveals he has someone else with tonight who has the same questions.
Elsewhere, HAMMER agents arrest Cyclops and the Stepford Cuckoos.
Back in Osborn’s office, Emma, having shed her White Queen outfit, dons a new look.
In his prison cell, Beast presses his ear to the wall and tells the speaker in the adjacent cell he can barely hear him—unless he’s actually speaking inside his head…
On the dock, the Iron Patriot introduces the members of the media to Professor X. “My name is Professor Charles Xavier,” he says, “and I would like to publicly distance myself, and the work of my school, the Xavier Institute for Gifted Youngsters in any of its permutations, from this quite frankly insane course of action Mr. Summers has taken. And Scott—if you’re listening,” Xavier adds, “—turn yourself in. You’re only causing more harm to our kind by running.”
At that moment, Cyclops breaks free from his detainers and runs for it amidst a flurry of gunfire.
Emma Frost, meanwhile, assesses her new outfit: black leather pants, a revealing black top and a fur-lined black cape. It isn’t her usual color, she says, but it will have to do.
Somewhere else entirely, a battered, bloody Charles Xavier leans against the wall of his prison cell and continues communicating telepathically with Hank McCoy. He tells Hank it’s him, Professor X, and that they’ve done something to his mind. They’re doing something to all of them in this prison: they’re taking away their powers.