Marauders (2nd series) #6

Issue Date: 
November 2022
Story Title: 
Even Odds of Destruction

Steve Orlando (writer), Andrea Broccardo (artist), Matt Milla (colorist), Virtual Calligraphy's Ariana Maher (letterer & production), Tom Muller (designer), Kael Ngu (cover artist), Lauren Amaro (assistant editor), Jordan D White (editor), CB Cebulski (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

In Philadelphia, Lockheed watches from the rafters of a church while Scratch has performed surgery on a mutant, as followers of the Theater of Pain watch on. Lockheed is unaware that the mutant rat Dirtnap is following him. As a judgment war rages, Kate Pryde and Cassandra Nova work with Fabian Cortez to rescue mutants who are trapped within the Altar, which exists in Legion's head. The rest of the Marauders are meeting with the mutant counsellor, Birdy, who has been having sessions with Aurora. Aurora thought it might be useful for all of the Marauders to have some therapuetic time with Birdy, to work through how the Progenitor judged them all. Birdy links to the Marauders, where she learns that Bishop's encounter with the Progenitor was through his former XSE teammates Malcolm and Randall, while for Aurora, it was through the villain who kidnapped her many years ago, Headlok. Tempo's encounter was through her dead MLF teammate Sumo, during which she reveals to Birdy how the decision to use her powers to travel back in time to save X-Force and the rest of the MLF after being killed by Eugenix resulted in Sumo being killed soon after by Cable, and decides to put Sumo forward for resurrection. Kwannon's encounter was through both Mr Sinister and her dead child, which led Kwannon to threaten the Progenitor. Somnus' encounter was through Northstar, the first openly queer super hero, who Somnus looked up to, unable to live his own life the way he wanted. Finally, for Daken, the Progenitor appeared through himself, and Daken decided to take the name Fang and live his life for him, not for how others see him. The Marauders feel at peace following the session with Birdy, and after Kate and Cassandra free the mutants trapped in the Altar, they reunite with their teammates, unaware that a new danger looms – Judas Traveller has joined up with Orchis, and he is none too pleased with the actions of mutantkind.

Full Summary: 

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where followers of the Theater of Pain are gathered, and watch a man with a scar down one side of his face stand over an operating table, where a mutant with a strange green, scale-like body has been cut open, their insides sprawling out over the table and onto the ground. 'Another canvas complete!' the man with the scar exclaims as he holds up one of the mutant's organs. 'Do not look away. Gaze in, share your revulsion...and be welcomed by the Theater of Pain, as I once was!' he declares. He claims that for too long he wandered, lost in a constant state of murderous rage – but Brimstone Love gave that rage purpose. The man calls himself Scratch and announces that he embodies Brimstone Love's teachings, and that in for wishing to kill everyone, he judges no one. 'Human and mutant can coexist. Xavier's first dream was right... but his methods were hopelessly wrong'.

Scratch tells the Theater of Pain that it is not more rules, more laws and more civilization that bring more equality – but less. Up in the rafters, the purple dragon called Lockheed observes the goings on below, wide-eyed at what he sees and hears. 'Animals have no prejudice. In a world of total ferocity, all are equal' Scratch can be heard saying as a strange rat with a large red smiley-face on its back scuttles across the rafters towards Lockheed – a rat known as Dirtnap.

Inside Transit on Krakoa, where Captain Kate Pryde, her Marauders teammate Cassandra Nova and Fabian Cortez, operative of SWORD and member of the Legionnaires. Fabian asks Kaye Pryde what she is doing here, to which Kate replies 'Really, Fabian? The Eternals were killing mutants. They wanted new programming. So they build a new god to get it. The Progenitor. What could go wrong? We all found out. The Progenitor woke up and started visiting people. Judging them. Judging us. Makingus justify our own existence' Kate declares, adding that the Eternals had already scapegoated mutants in their war against excess deviation, attacked Krakoa and let loose their living extinction event on Arakko – Uranos all but got the job done. Kate points out that now the Temple Gate is in pieces, and the apocalypse is still in progress – and there are mutants trapped in the Altar, stranded in Legion's head. 'That sounds like a rescue to me!' Kate declares.

'I don't need a crone and a commodore to watch grass grow' Fabian replies, hands in his pocket. 'We've got a pear doing your job on our boat, Fabian. Read the room' Kate frowns. Fabian tells Kate that he can watch the Gate, and asks Kate if she shouldn't be crying into a pillow with her crew. From beneath the large silver helmet stolen from the Shi'ar, Cassandra tells Fabian 'Those of us who've faced judgment are each handling it in our own way. I choose to do so by emasculating born followers with a glance'. Calling Kate “Sprite”, Cassandra points out that she has also chosen to punish herself with Fabian's presence. Kate then remarks that Legion built the Altar for healing, and that when the gate forms, the people coming through will be scared. 'Fabian's not exactly a welcome mat' Kate adds. Fabian frowns, to which Cassandra asks 'Surely that's why I've come'. Kate turns to Cassandra and explains that she is here to antagonize him. 'Doing a great job by the way' she adds.

Hellfire Bay, where the New Marauder is docked. A woman wearing a pink and black costume with her blonde hair in a ponytail sits in a chair on the vessel. Her only known name is Birdy. 'So, obviously the circumstances aren't ideal. They never are. The world's still being judged. You're all reeling from your encounters. I'm sure you've all got questions. Who passed? Who failed? But that's irrelevant to me. I'm not here to judge. I'm here to help' Birdy remarks. 'You've heard of combat medics? I'm a combat psychologist' Birdy explains, revealing that she used to keep Sabretooth calm as a full-time job. 'That's my gift. The glow. Empathy. Telepathy. I collate thoughts, feelings and memories to help people'. Birdy announces that she and Aurora have been working together, and that Aurora thought maybe they could all use some glow. Birdy closes her eyes and speaks telepathically to those gathered before her: 'So if we're ready? I'm stepping in... who's first? Show me what the Progenitor showed you'.

(in Bishop's mind)

Birdy finds herself in Bishop's mind, where Bishop is back in his reality, at a bar with his old crew, Malcolm and Randall. He tells Birdy that he always knows where he is, the place and time – not a mutant talent, just a talent. 'And where were you?' Birdy asks. 'The last place I wanted to be' Bishop responds. 'With old friends? Why?' Birdy enquires. Bishop explains that it wasn't them – it was the Progenitor, and he knew why. 'Not happy to see us, Bishop?' Randall asks as he knocks back a drink at the bar. Randall wipes his mouth and remembers that they fought together, that there wasn't a foxhole they didn't fill. 'Now you're Captain Commander of Krakoa. Got the keys to resurrection... but not for us, right?' Randall exclaims.

Randall stands up and looms over Bishop, one of his eyes is missing, a red dome can be seen, one that the Progenitor has on his body. 'We were a team! We died fighting next to you! All this time... and you can't even save the friends who had your back?' Randall exclaims. Bishop turns to Malcolm, who is also missing an eye, as Malcolm asks if two grunts aren't good enough for this utopia. 'What makes you special? What makes you worth saving?' Malcolm asks.

Birdy puts a hand on Bishop's shoulder and asks him how he could possibly answer that. 'Easy. I told him I wasn't special. Told him the truth... I'm not waiting to resurrect Malcolm and Randall because this world's too good for them. I'm waiting because I haven't made it good enough for them' Bishop responds. Bishop starts to tell Birdy that nobody knew how he felt about the guys, and that the Progenitor threw it in his face, but Birdy tells Bishop to stop: 'I told you, Bishop. I'm not interested in the result. You spoke a painful truth... be proud of that'.

(in Aurora's mind)

Jeanne-Marie Beaubier a.k.a. Aurora looks around at several of her other personalities as she informs Birdy that her judgment started in Birdy's office, much like their regular sessions, until... 'You're not my usual doctor' one of the other personalities calls out as they look ahead at the strange man sitting behind a desk, several cards scattered on the desk in front of him. 'No, Jeanne-Marie. But I am here to evaluate your progress. All of you' Headlok responds, before explaining that the cards before him are Inner Active Cards – a human creation. He reveals that this set is by Nemesio Pietri, a prophetic mutant painter, and asks Aurora to choose seven cards that she currently relates to.

'Those are my cards. Who is this clown?' Birdy asks. One of Aurora's personalities informs her that his name is Headlok, a brainwasher who took over her mind years ago. 'Fun as it was, he didn't last long against us. But suddenly, he was back'. Headlok then tells Auora based on the seven cards she chose, to justify her existence. 'What?' Aurora asks, surprised. 'After all the work you've done... you should be able to, right?' Headlok remarks, one of his eyes suddenly appearing red. 'Prove... I deserve to live?' the Jeanne-Marie personality of Aurora asks solemnly. The heroic Aurora personality tells her that she doesn't have to do that. 'Not while we're here' she exclaims as she blasts Headlok with a beam of light, and he vanishes.

'Damn. This withered old sack thought he could replace me?' Birdy asks. 'He couldn't fool me. Of course, who knows if he even wanted to?' one of the Aurora personalities asks. 'Our answer was clear. His was not. But thanks to you... we didn't care' another remarks. Jeanne-Marie looks at one of the cards in shock and utters 'Exactly. I know it hasn't been long, Birdy... but you've always believed in us'.

(in Tempo's mind)

'Step into the circle, Tempo. Come on... what's stopping you?' Sumo calls out as he sits in a sumo wrestling arena. Lights shine down on him, although the arena is otherwise empty, save for Tempo who stands on the edge of the arena, and Birdy who sits in the stalls nearby. 'And what was stopping you?' Birdy asks Heather Tucker a.k.a. Tempo, who explains that she didn't think she belonged there, and that somehow, Sumo knew it. 'Why? Who was Sumo to you?' Birdy asks. 'He always hated that name... but this wasn't Jun Tenta. He had Jun's face, but the real Jun never knew how I felt. The Progenitor did. And he dug the knife in' Tempo replies. Indeed, Sumo appears with that strange red eye, and asks 'Could it be guilt? This is a place of honor, after all. You hid my truth from me and let me die. Why should you get your happily ever after?' he snarls.

'Good or not. Celestial. Eternal. I don't care. No one mocks my friends' Tempo exclaims, adding that Jun made his own choices, but had no idea what it cost him. 'I do, Birdy. Only I do. That's how my gift works. Like I told the Progenitor... there's a reason I don't just change the past. If you're successful? Most don't even know. But I always remember' Tempo utters. She hangs her head as she explains that back in the Mutant Liberation Front she and Jun were not close – until they were. She recalls X-Force hitting an MLF raid, which is when Eugenix saw their chance and nuked everyone – everyone except her and Jun. She reveals that she tried to warn Jun, but that he demanded they change it – so they went back in time. Jun then killed the Eugenix freaks, saved both the MLF and X-Force – even Cable, and the timeline revised as if the mission never happened.


'Get it, big man? Only I knew. Jun was a hero. And the next time we saw X-Force... Cable shot him in the head' Tempo snaps at the representation of Sumo, who stands up, and declares 'A poetic tragedy. Perhaps he should've lived instead of you'.

'How could anyone -' Birdy begins, 'Justify my life?' Tempo asks. 'What a load. I've got a right to live. And so does Jun' Tempo exclaims, adding that the Progenitor could judge how he wanted, but she wasn't justifying a damn thing. 'That's very brave' Birdy points out as the representation of Sumo begins to disappear. 'It is what it is. If we live? I'm putting my friend in for resurrection... then I'm telling him everything' Tempo announces.

(in Kwannon's mind)

Kwannon a.k.a. Psylocke looks furious as she shoves her psi-blade through the skull of the diabolical Mr Sinister, one of his eyes is that strange red that the other representations of the Progenitor have had. Kwannon stands over his body while Birdy looks on and points out that as responses go, seems like hers was pretty abrupt. 'If the Progenitor wanted a conversation, he shouldn't have come as Sinister. But even so, he got one...' Kwannon replies. 'Really, Psylocke... you're supposed to convince me to spare this world?' Sinister asks. 'You couldn't even spare your daughter the wrath of a becaped necromancer' Sinister grins. 'I see what you mean. What a total ass' Birdy remarks. 'You want to know why I deserve to live?' Kwannon asks as she shoves her psi-blades into Sinister once more – then pulls back from him, holding her infant child in her arms.

'Sounds like you had an answer ready' Birdy points out. Kwannon smiles as she kisses her daughter. 'To live this life, in this something I was long denied. And every day...I think of those still denied that. Those I've lost. Those I love... and I fight in their name, Matsu'o. John. Especially her' Kwannon declares, adding that is what the Progenitor's next move was quite the dagger – as the Progenitor appears as Kwannon's child, looking up and asking 'Which of you should I be judging, mom? “The enemy of peace” or the “love that transcended body and soul?”' Kwannon and Birdy look down at the child in shock, as she asks 'Are you the Kwannon you were born as? Or the one you died as?' Birdy tells Psylocke that she is sorry, to which Psylocke scowls and asks 'Why? I am a War Captain. I lead through pain. This was no different. I could not falter'. She explains that she made it very clear – the Progenitor would find her justification on the battlefield – where she would stand against him until she could stand no more. 'You threatened a god?' Birdy asks. 'I spoke the truth. His actions were an intrusion. One I would repay in blood. He glared in anger... then nodded with approval' Kwannon utters.

(in Somnus' mind)

Carl Valentino a.k.a. Somnus sits up in bed, naked, he sees Jean-Paul Beaubier a.k.a. Northstar standing over him, wearing his red and white Alpha Flight team costume. 'I must be dreaming!' Carl exclaims, adding that he can still see the headlines... “Northstar as you've never known him before” Carl recalls, adding that he personally hoping for “biblically”. 'There you were. Screaming your truth on the news. And there was I. Over the hill, in the closet. Brother. Uncle. Confirmed bachelor. Living my days with half-truths and my nights... one guy and one dream at a time. Seeing you be so public. I never thought we'd get that far. You were my hero' Carl smiles, looking up at Northstar, who suddenly, appears as a manifestation of the Progenitor, one of his eyes is red, and he asks 'If you admired me so much, Somnus... why not come out? Why not stand up for yourself and join me?'

'You think I don't constantly ask myself that?' Cal responds. He remarks that back then they were fed lies by their families and the government – lies about what strong is, and what sin is – and he was scared. He was scared of losing the siblings he raised, the family they had built – and just as he thought maybe the risk was worth it, a virus attacks one part of who he is – just as they start to understand that, another comes for the other part of him. 'So yeah. I was afraid. Me... the man of every guy's dreams'. Birdy can be heard telling Somnus that it must have been hard to talk about that, to answer that. 'When I'm someone else's dreams, I'm a guest. An explorer. But in mine, I might as well be god. In control of it all' Somnus replies. The representation of the Progenitor, Northstar, hovers above Somnus now as Somnus remarks that the Progenitor came into his head, asked why he deserved to live – when he wasn't brave enough to live it the first time.

'Usually I'd be nothing to him... but in my dream, I had all the power I needed to show him the door. I didn't owe him an answer. But I'll tell you' Somnus replies as he casts energy which knocks Northstar back through the bedroom window. Birdy appears at the window: 'You don't have to' she replies. Somnus hangs his head and tells her that he wants to – and that he knows he can't change the past, but that he is living now – and won't spend a single second of that as anyone but himself.

(in Daken's mind)

'Where are we?' Birdy asks as she sits on the edge of a river nestled in a snow-covered mountain range, while snow monkeys swim in the river nearby. 'Shiga Highlands. Always liked it here. Still visit in meditation. To be truly alone... so it wasn't hard to realize I wasn't' Daken responds as he approaches Birdy wearing his new costume. 'This is where you're at peace, Daken? Where you're comfortable? With your kind? In your mind...among the beasts?' Birdy asks. One of the monkeys looks over at Birdy as she asks Daken if he wasn't surprised to be arguing with himself. 'It's one of my favorite sports. And that's the catch, Birdy. The Progenitor tried to be the voice in my head. As impersonations go, it wasn't bad...but it wasn't good enough' Daken responds as he pops one of his claws then shoves it into his eye. 'Woof. What then?' Birdy asks as she looks on.

Daken appears as the manifestation of the Progenitor, one of his eyes red, as he tells Birdy that he has come to others as a lover, an enemy, a friend, whatever face cuts deepest – but Daken, the face that cuts him deepest is his own. 'How could such a dog possibly justify its existence?' he asks. 'And you said?' Birdy queries. 'Said I've been a dog. A hunter. A killer... just living out the names others put on me. Akihiro? Got that for being born. Daken? A weapon they used against me. I'm not looking to justify. But I'm done living those names...Fang? I earned that name. Sure, I've killed. I'll kill again...but it'll be for me and mine' Fang trudges through the snow, and Birdy walks at his side as he adds 'I told him he was too late for me to say I deserved to die. He judged accordingly. I'm sure I failed. I don't care. I know I owe blood. And if he or anyone else wants to collect... they're welcome to try'.


'Gah!' Somnus exclaims as he opens his eyes and finds himself back on the New Marauder, with his teammates sitting nearby, and Birdy in front of them. 'We're out...the dream's over' Somnus utters. Kwannon remarks that she feels better – and that Birdy's ability was almost like telepathy, but more ethereal, like sense memory. Bishop adds that he has been through plenty of dreams but never felt this good after one. 'You've been dreaming with the wrong people, boss' Somnus remarks. 'That'll be the glow' Birdy tells the Marauders. She explains that once she felt what the Progenitor showed them, she could soften it, defuse it. 'We broke new ground today. Hyperbolic Time Theory. Months of work in minutes, thanks to Somnus'. Aurora thanks Birdy and tells her that whatever happens after judgment is done, she has prepared them for it. 'I've got my talents, Aurora. But I just drew the blueprints. You did the hard part' Birdt smiles, when suddenly, there is a loud thunderous noise.

'Done! Finally! I've never suffered such an agonizing wait!' Fabian Cortez exclaims as he stands beside the portal. 'You were quite free to commit ritual suicide, young man' Cassandra tells him. 'If Fabian offed himself, how could he take the credit for evacuating the Altar?' Kate asks. 'Someday... I'll force-feed both of you those words' Fabian mutters. 'Oh my. Will you make me wear Magneto's helmet while you do so?' Cassandra replies.

Aurora contacts Captain Pryde after hearing the loud noise, which Kate has just heard, too. 'You felt that, right?' Kate asks 'We all did, Captain 'Aurora responds. 'You wanted ten minutes, you got them. Cassandra and I will meet you' Kate adds, before telling Fabian the good news is that the Gate is about to open, and the credit is his – assuming any of them survive.

Shortly, the Marauders have regrouped, and Bishop informs Captain Pryde that the intel is how – they are moving on the Progenitor. 'Good, Bishop. It's about time' Kate replies. Birdy glances at Cassandra and tells her that it is too bad she bailed, as she would have loved a peek inside her leathered head. 'How unprecedented. A canary that begs for the coal mine' Cassandra responds. Captain Pryde then starts to lead her team to the impending battle.

Elsewhere, 'Penetrating scans decrypting. The mutants are preparing for war. Of course, even as the world suffers Celestial judgment... mutant hubris all but demands an escalation of tensions' a man with long white hair utters while the Progenitor prepares to give the thumbs up or thumbs down sign. 'Another gift to Orchis. Get all the footage you can. If Earth goes on, it must be clear who brought us to the brink. Thunderbird's police assault. Brimstone Love's torture cult. Nature Girl's murder spree...and so another petal opens'. The man with long white hair sits on a chair while several Orchis operatives man various consoles around him, as he looks at various screens displayed before him. 'And with it, hearts and minds bloom to our cause. Mutants threaten us all with their struggle for so-called freedom. That is the Judas Traveller wills it!'

Characters Involved: 

Aurora, Bishop, Daken/Fang VI, Kwannon, Cassandra Nova, Kate Pryde, Somnus, Tempo (all Marauders)



Fabian Cortez





Theater of Pain followers

Unidentified mutant


Judas Traveller

Orchis operatives




(in illustrative flashback images)




(in Bishop's mind)

Malcolm & Randall (both X.S.E.)


(in Aurora's mind)

Various personalities of Aurora



(in Tempo's mind)



(in Kwannon's mind)

Mr Sinister

Kwannon's daughter


(in Somnus' mind)



(in Daken's mind)

Snow monkeys

Story Notes: 

This issue is part of the A.X.E. Judgment Day event. This issue takes place after A.X.E. Judgment Day #3.

The Theater of Pain was last seen in Marauders Annual #1.

Scratch is a mutant from Earth-998. He previously appeared in X-Man #63 and #67-70.

Dirtnap is a mutant rat with a complicated history. He has previously appeared in Wolverine (2nd series) #95, 98-99, Venom: Tooth & Claw #1-3 and Generation X (1st series) #33 and #36-39.

This issue includes a note from Aurora to Kate Pryde in which she reveals that she has been having counselling sessions with Birdy as of late, and suggests that it might be helpful for Birdy to meet with the other members of the Marauders, too.

Birdy is a telepath who assisted Sabretooth on occasion by using her powers to keep him calm. She first appeared in X-Men (2nd series) #6, and then in Sabretooth (1st series) #1-4, where she was murdered by Sabretooth's son, Graydon Creed.  She returned to life in the digital comic X-Men Unlimited Infinity Comic #44, before appearing in Legion of X #3-4.

Bishop's X.S.E. Teammates Malcolm and Randall first appeared in Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #282 and were killed in #287. They appeared in various flashback scenes and memories, and as starring characters in Bishop: X.S.E. #1-3 set when they were still alive.

Birdy's telepathic speech bubbles are indicated with a yellow colour effect, her “glow” power manifested.

Headlok is a psychic enslaver who uses his mental powers to imprison people and hold them prisoner in an illusion.

Aurora found herself the prisoner of Headlok after she mysteriously vanished in Alpha Flight (1st series) #98. She was tortured by him over the course of Alpha Flight (1st series) #102-104 until she was discovered in the depths of Department H and rescued.


Tempo refers to an MLF raid involving Eugenix. Eugenix were a terrorist group who sought to kill those deemed unworthy of populating the human race. The raid that Tempo refers to has never been chronicled on panel.

Sumo was shot in the head and killed by Cable in Cable: Blood & Metal #1.

The saga of Kwannon's dead daughter took place across Fallen Angels (2nd series) #1-6 and Hellions #1-18, culminating in the destruction of her daughter's DNA.

Northstar announced to the public that he was gay in the landmark Alpha Flight (1st series) #106.

Somnus refers to two viruses one which could attack either side of who he was – the AIDS virus which was predominantly seen as a “gay” disease and the Legacy Virus which could only be contracted by mutants.

Daken was given the Fang costume in Marauders (2nd series) #5, and becomes the 6th person to use the Fang name.

Thunderbird's police assault took place in Giant-Size X-Men: Thunderbird #1, while Nature Girl's murder spree can be seen in X-Men Green #1-2.

Judas Traveller is an enemy of Spider-Man who debuted in Web of Spider-Man (1st series) #117. 

This issue includes a letter from Cerebra to Captain Pryde in which she declines the offer to join the Marauders and tells Captain Pryde that she can help her in another way.

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