Marvel Comics Presents (1st series) #20

Issue Date: 
May 1989
Story Title: 
<BR>The Retribution Affair - part 4: Conscience of the King (1st story)

First story: Bob Harras (writer), Ron Lim (penciler), Bruce D. Patterson (inker), Agustin Mas (letters), Andy Yanchus (colors), Terry Kavanagh (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor in chief)

Brief Description: 

First story: Sean Cassidy and Mary Campbell are brought to Master Mold’s base but the giant robot is not pleased, for Moira MacTaggert has been freed from its control. Another artificial cyborg-like being by the name of Conscience, based on Stephen Lang’s engrams and apparently created by Master Mold out of loneliness, thinks of it only as a minor setback, though, and prepares to get Moira back. On Muir Island, Scott Summers unsuccessfully tries to reach X-Factor before discussion the situation with Callisto and Moira, who explains that by now Scott and Callisto have contracted the Retribution Virus too and will die within a couple of days, unless she can design a cure. However, she doesn’t even get to try, as the Muir Island is invaded by Conscience and the Servitors. The trio does their best to fight off the overwhelming forces but, when Scott experiences the first signs of his infection, his power cancels out and he falls unconscious. The two ladies are easily subdued by Conscience and his troops, who then prepare to take all of them back to Master Mold and make especially Scott Summers pay for all the misery he caused Stephen Lang.

Full Summary: 

First story:

The artificial creatures called Servitors march in hundreds through a narrow corridor of their master’s base, carrying precious cargo – two stasis tubes containing the virus-ridden forms of the mutants Sean Cassidy and Mary Campbell. Near death, the stasis cylinders currently might be all that’s keeping them alive.

Elsewhere in the base, Master Mold watches his servants return on a monitor, but it is not pleased. While the Servitors have retrieved the two patients, they are of no use, not without Moira MacTaggert, who had wanted to study the Retribution virus’ final stages on its first victims. This setback is only one more thing to blame on the single mutant that cost Master Mold so much: Scott Summers, for it was he who stolen Moira back from it. A voice answers Master Mold’s complaints, telling his “alter ego” not to fear for this is only a minor setback.

Startled, Master Mold turns; it didn’t hear Conscience enter. Conscience is a human-sized, red robed figure, evidentially artificially created as his entire body is made of gold metallic circuitry. Only his ever-grinning face has a somewhat human appearance – it’s the face of Stephen Lang, the founder of the second Sentinel Program. Replying to Master Mold not hearing him, Conscience says that silence is essential for eavesdropping, just as eavesdropping is key to testing the mood of one’s master. He goes on, stating that Master Mold’s fears are justified, for Moira MacTaggert is free of their control and no doubt are she and Summers searching for an antidote to the virus. Possibly, they might even be seeking help from the rest of X-Factor or the X-Men.

Master Mold doesn’t like Conscience’s games and tells him not to try its patience. It is well aware of everything he said. Scott Summers has ever been the bare of his existence. Then, the red robed figure answers, “let Conscience be your guide,” for isn’t that the reason it originally created him from the engrams in its data core? “To ease your loneliness, to help shoulder your burden?” Conscience continues, reminding Master Mold that this is only a temporary setback and that he will take care of Summers and the good doctor.

A short while later, on Muir Island, Scott is trying to reach X-Factor’s ship but it’s no use, something is blocking his transmission. He thinks that they’ll have to go to the mainland and try from there, but Callisto, former Morlock leader and currently Moira’s bodyguard, tells him that that’s not an option with the storm outside - only a madman would try to cross the channel in such bad weather. Scott gets annoyed, saying that he just can’t sit around and do nothing, but Callisto reminds him to think about how Moira must feel, her working like a woman possessed in her lab, trying to overcome her guilt by finding a cure. Scott thinks that it is too much for her to do alone and, as his teammate the Beast is a geneticist too, ...

He doesn’t get to finish the sentence, as he suddenly becomes nauseous and topples. Callisto catches him before he falls, asking him what’s wrong. Scott claims that he is just dizzy and that it’s really nothing but, coming out of her lab, Moira disagrees with him. She knows that this can mean only one thing – he must have contracted the virus too and, just like Sean and Mary, he is dying from it. Moira tends to Scott, explaining how Master Mold warped her purpose as a scientist and perverted every ideal she holds sacred, by making her create a lethal, incredibly infectious disease, designed solely to kill mutants. Scott was exposed to it and, obviously, contracted it by now.

Callisto realizes that she then must have it too and asks her employer how long they have. A few days, perhaps less, is the answer Moira provides. Scott doesn’t find it within him to understand any of this, while Stephen Lang was always a madman he didn’t think anyone would kill an entire people just because they were born different. Callisto, however, knows better; there’s not just Stephen Lang, but and endless number of foes that would do the same. Angrily smashing her fist on a control panel of the lab equipment, she says that she should have stopped this. As Moira’s bodyguard, she failed. Moira tries to get her to calm down, explaining that there was nothing she could have done, for, just like Sean, she was rendered unconscious every time Moira was abducted.

An alarm goes off, alerting the trio to someone having landed on the island. Moira knows that Master Mold wants her back; she is a loose end after all. Scott sees the encounter as an option, though. As this time they haven’t come like thieves in the night, maybe they can fight back this time. Indeed, it’s the Conscience and numerous Servitors, no longer naked but wearing battle armor, flight packs and carrying heavy weaponry. Conscience orders the Servitors into attack, while, from afar, Master Mold watches everything on a computer display. It tells Conscience to control the servitors, for no harm shall be done to Moira MacTaggert. Scott Summers, though, him they may tear to pieces.

Conscience leads the Servitors into battle, somewhat overwhelmed by the new task at hand. “Onward, Christian soldiers!” he shouts, “Or would “The Halls of Montezuma” be more appropriate? I’ve never led an invasion before. Decisions, decisions!” As one of the Servitors is taken out of the sky with an optic beam, Conscience is happy – they mean to fight.

At the entrance to the lab complex, Moira, Callisto and Scott Summers stand close by each other, the female firing energy weapons, while Summers uses his optic blasts. He recognizes the Servitors as the same artificial lifeforms that attacked him at the hospital and knows that they are impervious to pain. He tells the others that the only way to get rid of them is to destroy them and Callisto says it will be her pleasure, once more shooting an incoming Servitor. However, she also sees that Scott’s optic beams are doing the most damage against the dozens of creatures that attack them.

Scott intends to keep pouring on but, suddenly, he starts to sweat and his optic beam gets weaker. Callisto asks him what’s wrong but Scott can’t answer anymore, his optic beam further weakens and he blacks out. Without him, the two females are easily overwhelmed, dozens of Servitors crushing them between their sheer numbers. Conscience arrives, the Servitors making way for him, and he asks whether they will come along quietly or if they Servitors need to get rough. Both ladies are startled by his appearance and wonder who, or what, he is. Conscience doesn’t bother to address either of them. Picking up Scott from the ground, he says that he only knows about hate and revenge against mutants and against this one, Scott Summers, in particular, for he killed him both as a man and a Sentinel, and he’ll make him pay for that.

Characters Involved: 

First story:



Moira MacTaggert


Mary Campbell

Master Mold



Story Notes: 

The other features in the issue are:

2nd story: Black Panther “Panther’s Quest“ – part 8 of 25

3rd story: Dr. Strange “Nightmare in Suburbia“ – part 2 of 2

4th story: a stand alone story starring Clea

First story:

Callisto has been staying on Muir Island ever since she and several other Morlocks that survived the Mutant Massacre were transported there in Uncanny X-Men #215. Kind of to repay Moira for helping keep her people alive, Callisto has started to act as her bodyguard.

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