Dark Web: X-Men #2

Issue Date: 
December 2022
Story Title: 

Gerry Duggan (writer), Rod Reis (artist), VC’s Cory Petit (letterer and production), Tom Muller with Jay Bowen (design), Phil Noto (cover artist), Ryan Stegman, JP Meyer and Matthew Wilson (alternate cover), Laure Amaro (associate editor), Jordan D. White (editor), C.B. Cebulski (editor-in-chief),
Spider-Man created by Stan Lee & Steve Ditko

Brief Description: 

Madelyne Pryor is hell-bent on getting Jean Grey’s memories of raising Maddie’s son, Nathan. Since she cannot decipher the data in the Cerebro unit Venom stole for her, she traps Jean and Magik in a spell meant to accomplish that. She also visits her prisoners, Havok and Cyclops. Havok offers her help and wants to leave this X-Men team. Madelyne is somewhat interested but doesn’t trust him yet. When the brothers are alone, Havok tells Cyclops that he actually meant it. He wants to serve in a different away. In the spell, Jean and Illyana are amnesiac and much younger, before their powers developed. They make their way through a strange mansion, until they meet Maddie, who seems to be another prisoner. Maddie tries to manipulate Jean into using Cerebro to get the info from her. In the meantime, Cyclops telepathically reaches Jean and makes her remember. She confronts Madelyne as an adult and slaps her, starting a fight. In Manhattan, Synch and Forge evacuate people to the X-Men’s treehouse.

Full Summary: 

“The Summers are their own worst enemies. I’ll see to it that’s it’s true.”
Mr. Sinister

A dream:
Madelyne Pryor sits at the beach, watching her infant son Nathan play, but then the sand swallows Nathan. Panicked and horrified, she tries to find him, to no avail.

Madelyne, the Goblin Queen awakes and cries at her loss. It is no wonder she carries a grudge against Scott. Against Jean. Against the world. She was born to breed, and then be cast aside.

Meanwhile, near the X-Men’s Treehouse, Forge pulls a hot dog vendor out of his demonized stall that is trying to eat him. Forge fires Krakoacide at the stall and it vomits out several hot dogs. While he grabs himself a hotdog, he orders all bystander to move to the Treehouse, which is safe.

Synch welcomes the people inside. He warns them to stay in the common areas and informs them Krakoan healers will be by soon. A woman complains she hasn’t any insurance. Synch tells her they don’t charge. While grateful, she still calls them “hippie weirdoes.”

Madelyne tries to magically crack the Cerebro drive Venom stole for her and access Jean Grey’s back-up. However, the unit just spits out data, none of Jean’s feelings when she was living Madelyne’s life. She’ll need to unlock it all from inside her mind.

She enters a room where Jean and Illyana stand paralyzed.

The spell:
Jean and Illyana awake, both of them in nightclothes and younger. Jean is 12-13, Illyana is a little girl. They wake up on the ground in front of the mansion. Illyana kicks Jean. She demands who she is and how did Illyana get here. Jean doesn’t know and asks her not to kick her. Illyana apologizes. Does Jean promise she is not a gross kidnapper. Jean promises and the two girls introduce themselves.

Illyana asks if Jean knows Piotr. She doesn’t and asks if Illyana knows whose mansion this is. It’s not hers, Illyana replies and takes a stick.

They carefully enter the empty building. Illyana muses it seems familiar. She thinks her brother lived here. Jean has a sense of déjà vu too and she thinks they aren’t alone.

They don’t realize the house is a doll’s house and a giant Mr. Sinister is staring through a window.

Jean confides to Illyana that sometimes she can hear things without her ears. Maybe be she kinda accidentally did something she shouldn’t have done. Maybe she is visiting Illyana in her dream.

Sinister switches something on.

Suddenly, they see a staircase going downstairs, with an arrow pointing downwards. They decide to go into the basement and Illyana criticizes Jean for not bringing a stick as well.

It’s a long, winding staircase. Illyana shouts out if someone is down there. Jean shushes her. Illyana complains she doesn’t want to go down. She wants ice cream. Maybe later, Jean promises and tells her they need to stick together. Who made her boss? Illyana pouts. Jean suggests, if Illyana goes back up and Jean awakes, she will be left all alone. That’s enough to convince the younger girl to follow Jean.

Meanwhile, in a Limbo dungeon which holds the Summers brothers:

Cyclops’ visor is gone and he dares not open his eyes, as his head is surrounded by puppies hanging from a mobile. With his eyes closed, he asks Madelyne to return his visor. He promises not to try and escape again. Havok tells him he is magically paralyzed. Madelyne accuses Scott of thinking her stupid and goads him to open his eyes and kill the puppies. Scott assures her, he never thought her stupid. He doesn’t know what she wants, but this doesn’t seem like the best way to get it.

Alex tells her it is clear she is in pain, lashing out by throwing him in his old “goblin gown,” and angry, probably rightfully so, at them. His therapist has wondered how anyone puts up with a Summers, especially their significant others.

Surprised, Madelyne asks, he is in therapy? Maybe save that for another time, Scott suggests. What is happening in New York right now?

Alex humbly asks if she would allow him to help her. She drops the visor and snaps she doesn’t need his help to get what she wants. Plus, it’s some X-Men trick! Alex replies he is quitting the X-Men. It’s not where he should be. Forge put him on the team, so he’d be a headache for Scott. That’s all he ever wanted, Madelyne remarks unimpressed. Maybe, he agrees, but getting what you wish for can suck. He thinks maybe he is supposed to be on the X-Men… just not this team of X-Men!

Before she leaves, Madelyne tells him she will consider his offer. Now her spell is ready. And time is of the essence…

The spell:
Young Jean and younger Illyana walk through a hallway, flanked by Egyptian statues. Illyana pouts, this house sucks! Suddenly, Apocalypse smashes through the wall, about to attack them. Jean pleads with him to stay back. Illyana screams that he will pay for kidnapping them and attacks with her stick. However, when her stick hits him, he turns into a swarm of scarabs.

Jean muses it’s like being in a nightmare but not her nightmare. Not hers either, Illyana agrees. Jean commends her for bringing the stick and Illyana preens. That moment, they hear a cry for help and Illyana runs towards its source. They find a door with a glass window, through which they see Madelyne in a place looking like the Danger Room being attacked by several Bamfs.

Illyana swats them away with her stick. Jean helps Madelyne up and asks if she is okay. Madelyne thanks them and claims she just woke up here and was attacked. She’s not sure how long she has been here. She shows them a small Cerebro unit and claims the answers they need are in there, but she doesn’t know how to open it.

Illyana wants to give it a try, but Madelyne suggests they let her friend try first. Jean takes the unit and senses it is familiar. Does she need a key? Maddie smirks and suggests she imagine it opening.

In the prison, one puppy has broken free from the mobile. Cyclops urges it to bring him the visor. It smells like him. Is he close? he asks hopefully. Alex sees the puppy falling asleep next to the visor and says nothing. Scott sighs that he hates magic. He commends Alex for surprising her by claiming he wanted off the team. Maddie seemed unbalanced. Alex shoots back he wasn’t lying. He deserves to be somewhere he is needed. The public X-Men team has Scott. It doesn’t need Alex. Maybe he can serve in a different way. And if he can’t, he’ll keep looking.

Scott replies that he sympathizes with her, but can they discuss it when they are not chained like chumps in her sky dungeon? He apologizes for his sarcasm, then explains that Forge didn’t nominate Alex to embarrass Scott. He wanted to see Scott fix something. Fix them. Maybe he failed. Nah, Alex decides. He’s been an X-Man, he’s been an Avenger. He’s done good and bad. He’s ready to use all that for good. They need to get out. Anything from Jean?

Scott tries to reach Jean via their rapport. He’s been waiting for a rescue. But Havok made him see that maybe she needs help.

The spell:
Madelyne has led Jean and Illyana to a Cerebro chamber. She urges Jean to put on the helmet, then she can get the information out of the orb. Once Madelyne has that, everything will be okay.

Scott continues sending that Maddie mentioned a spell. If she can hear him, in case she is confused about the world right now: they are in Limbo!

The spell:
Jean holds up the helmet and hesitates. Madelyne senses something going on as Scott tells Jean she is the most powerful X-Man. She looks at the helmet and her mirror image is that of her adult self. Jean remembers and turns into her adult self, her memory restored.

Making them think they were knocked back to before they had their powers. Very unsporting, Jean states coolly. How rich to be lectured on what is fair by Jean Grey! Madelyne snaps back.

Illyana asks Jean how did she got so big and why do they look the same? She turns to the important question whether there is any ice cream in this place.

Jean tells her to hold that thought, then orders Madelyne to end this. Not until she gets what she wants! Madelyne retorts. Jean snaps that people are getting hurt at home because of some problem Madelyne has with her! Then let’s deal with this! She slaps Madelyne in the face.

Characters Involved: 

Cyclops, Forge, Havok, Jean Grey, Magik, Synch (all X-Men)
Goblin Queen

Story Notes: 

The Krakoan Cerebro drive was stolen in Venom #14.

Written By: