Marvels Comics: X-Men #1

Issue Date: 
July 2000
Story Title: 
Codename: X-Men - How I Learned to Love the Bomb

Mark Millar (scripter), Sean Phillipe (penciler), Duncan Fegredo (inker), Kevin Somers (colorist), Richard Starkings & Comicraft’s Troy Peteri (letterers), Tom Brevoort (editor), Bob Harras (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

In a world where mutants are despised and captured by the Sentinel program for execution, the Weapon X program is now using some of these mutants as part of “Codename: X-Men”, an operation run by Colonel America, which sends squads of mutants on covert operations that regular super teams won’t do. The first Codename: X-Men squad assembled consists of Cyclops, Wolverine, Iceman, Goblin Queen, Deathbird and Mastermind. They are sent to track down an Avengers’ Quinjet with an “eco-friendly” nuclear Nano-Bomb being transported onboard that has disappeared, along with Iron Man. Colonel America reveals that reports indicate the jet and bomb were stolen by renegade mutant Dr Strange and his Cult of the Splitting Atom members. The X-Men squad are teleported into the cult HQ in Louisiana, with orders to retrieve the bomb and kill as many mutants as possible. Upon arrival they are confronted by some of the cult members, and Deathbird is shot down. Inside the Church Dr Strange is eating with some of his followers, when a captive Mastermind is brought to him. It is revealed that the Church of the Splitting Atom members are eating Iron Man, so Mastermind drops his illusion - he wasn’t captured, he simply disguised Cyclops and the Goblin Queen as members of Strange’s followers, so they could get closer to him. Mastermind is then killed by Dr Strange as a battle ensues. Back in the swamp outside the Church’s grounds, Wolverine has slaughtered several opponents, and Iceman holds the Toad captive as he searches for the Quinjet. The Toad makes a getaway, and starts to escape inside the Quinjet. Iceman tries to stop him, but is incinerated in the jet thrusters. Cyclops and the Goblin Queen escape into the swamp but are pursued by Strange and some other mutants. They meet up with Wolverine as the Weapon X program sends in Sentinels to deal with the Church of the Splitting Atom. Wolverine is teleported onto a passenger plane, and drops out of the plane onto the Quinjet which the Toad is flying below. Wolverine takes control of the Quinjet, while Cyclops and the Goblin Queen are teleported back to Weapon X headquarters, where they watch Sentinel recordings with Colonel America, depicting the Sentinels cleaning up the bodies of the mutants who were killed. Wolverine comes in over the monitor, and they see him piloting the Quinjet, with the Nano-Bomb, back towards Dr Strange - atomizing every remaining mutant, and Colonel America decides that Wolverine may have been a mutant, but tonight he died like a man.

Full Summary: 

Weapon X headquarters, whereabouts unknown. A man wearing a blue costume with a white star on his chest and an “A” on his mask enters a darkened room, and switches on a monitor. Headshots of several dozen people light up on the monitor. He then calls out: ‘Wolverine. Mastermind. Goblin Queen. Cyclops. Deathbird. Iceman. Come to me, my X-Men!’ Beneath his mask, scars can be seen on his face as he solemnly turns to face his X-Men.
There is Wolverine, who has bestial characteristics and claws. He wears a blue and gold costume with a large mask and a red belt. Then there is Mastermind, who creates hypnotic illusions. He wears a black cloak with a large “X” on it. Goblin Queen is a telepath. She wears a dark blue costume with a long cape, a large “X” across her chest and at her groin. Cyclops is next. He has petrifying vision. A visor covers his face, while he wears a similar costume to Goblin Queen, with a large yellow “X” across his chest, and one on his abdomen. Deathbird has avian characteristics and flight. She wears a chrome body armor and has a large headpiece. Iceman generates sub-zero temperatures. His body is covered in ice, but has a belt with a large “X” on it.

The man in blue and white tells them that they are mutants, the enemy of mankind, that their only purpose in life was to destroy everything good, but the forces of justice brought a swift and sudden end to their reign of terror, and capture by the Sentinels meant they were forced to stand trial for their crimes against humanity, and the verdict was death. ‘But Weapon X exists to offer you an alternative. Do as we command and you will live a little longer. Disobey us and you will die’ the man announces, informing the X-Men that they no longer have rights like the ordinary men and women they pretended to be prior to their arrest. ‘You are now officially expendable. You are now ex-human beings’. The mutants listen, concern on some of their faces, before they are told, ‘You are - Codename: X-Men’.

‘The what?’ Iceman asks. ‘The X-Men. Six hundred and sixty-six death row mutants given a stay of execution… provided they take part in covert anti-terrorist operations regular super teams don’t have the guts for’ the man in blue responds. ‘Otherwise known as cannon fodder, kid’ Wolverine tells Iceman, who points out that he never signed up to be a freakin’ soldier. ‘You figure the rest of us look like volunteers?’ the Goblin Queen asks, while Cyclops suggests to him that unless he finds electric chairs unusually comfortable, he would do whatever Colonel America says. ‘Any relations to Captain America?’ Iceman asks. Several Sentinels can be seen standing behind Colonel America who replies ‘Let’s just say I’m where he’ll be in a few years if he salutes all the right people and steers clear of loose women, son’.
Iceman raises a weapon and ice shards are fired from it, ‘Well, Colonel… I guess you didn’t do your homework on me before I was shanghaied into your nasty little outfit. Because the Iceman doesn’t dance for anyone who hasn’t delivered a six-figure advance. In a brown manila envelope’ Iceman declares. ‘Big mistake, hot-head’ Wolverine remarks quietly, while lighting a cigar.

Colonel America remains calm and tells Wolverine to relax. The ice shards fly past him, as he explains that it is practically a tradition for the new recruits to take a shot at him here, not realizing X-Men briefing sessions always take place in virtual non-space. He adds that these little outbursts are an excellent opportunity to illustrate what happens when mutants misbehave. He presses a button on a controller, and a charge of energy surges from the “X” on Iceman’s belt, through the young mutant’s body. Goblin Queen tries to rush towards him, but Wolverine holds her back. Cyclops and Mastermind go over to Iceman to help him up, while Colonel America informs Iceman that Weapon X has carried out quite extensive homework on both him and his history as a hired assassin.

Colonel America continues, explaining that their profilers think that Iceman is going to fit right in with all the other former mutant-terrorists, murderers, robbers and rapists they are doing their best to turn into heroes. Colonel America holds the controller up and tells Iceman that if he thinks one more though that he did not place in his head, then the next electric shock bursts his heart like a balloon.
‘I trust this is a lesson we won’t have to repeat’ Colonel America tells the other X-Men, before the monitors behind him show an image of a jet, and Colonel America declares that for anyone living on Mars the last ten years, the plane pictured behind him is the Avengers Quinjet. He explains that it is perhaps the world’s most technologically advanced aircraft, and that it is employed by Uncle Sam from time to time for the safe transportation of various non-official materials.

Another image appears, of a bomb being loaded onto the Quinjet, and Iron Man standing nearby. Colonel America reveals that the proto-type “Nano-Bomb” was one such cargo, that it is an eco-friendly nuclear weapon developed by Stark Solutions which the Invincible Iron Man was personally flying to their military testing grounds. ‘An eco-friendly nuke? Are you serious?’ Mastermind asks. Colonel America replies that, it was a challenge from Bill Bailey, one hundred billions dollars’ worth of nuclear destruction, capable of lovingly reassembling every molecule it obliterates, minus the current population, naturally. ‘I’m sure you can imagine what color our pants turned when the pilot, plane and cargo disappeared mid-flight’ Colonel America remarks, another image on screen, depicting the Quinjet disappearing in some sort of portal.

‘And the suspects are?’ Wolverine frowns. Another image appears on the monitor and Colonel America tells Wolverine that it is an old colleague from his wild and reckless youth by the name of Doctor Strange. ‘Self-proclaimed mutant messiah and indestructible high-priest of the Church of the Splitting Atom’ Colonel America adds, stating that apparently Dr Strange stole the nuke using his mutant hex-powers, and plans to drop it on New York City at midnight, unless their commander-in-chief guts himself on tonight’s “60 Minutes” and surrenders all power to Homo-Superior. ‘Charming people you used to know, Wolverine’ Deathbird mutters, while Cyclops quietly remarks that, just once, he would like them to us the term “Hetero-Superior”. Colonel America informs the X-Men that their friends in SHIELD have pin-pointed the cult’s HQ to Houma, Louisiana. He explains that their mission is simple - they must teleport on, rescue the armoured Avenger, retrieve the Nano-Bomb, blow away as many of the irradiated freaks as they possible can, and try their best to stay alive, as Weapon X might want to use them again in the future.

Shortly, Wolverine, Iceman, Cyclops, the Goblin Queen, Deathbird and Mastermind arrive in Houma, a swamp-like landscape around them, they see the cult’s HQ - several small buildings - located nearby. The Goblin Queen asks Cyclops how many mutants he reckons Strange has guarding the compound, to which Cyclops replies that judging by the living quarters, he says there would be anywhere between fifty and sixty. Wolverine announces that he has ten to one odds on that they are hiding the Avengers’ plane in the big grain house over by the river. Through his optic visor, Cyclops sees close ups of the complex, and asks if they should flip to see who recovers the Nano-Bomb and who gets to thumb-press Strange’s eyeballs.

The X-Men carry on through the swamp, as Iceman asks Wolverine what the story is between him and Dr Strange. ‘I heard you were one of the chief lieutenants in that anti-human shadow cult he used to run a few years back’ Iceman then adds. ‘Weren’t you one of the Secret Offenders?’ to which Wolverine tells him that it was a long time ago. ‘Doesn’t it feel weird risking your life to save six billion bigots who reckon you’re about as welcome in their communities as the average cancer cell?’ Iceman inquires. Deathbird announces that one thing they have learned during all these years in Weapon X is that the bigots are right. ‘A human being is worth a thousand mutants. Save the world a few times and you’ll understand why’ she adds.

Suddenly, a blast of energy cuts through the swamp - and cuts through Deathbird, sending her falling to the ground, her wound smoldering from the energy. Cyclops calls out to her, before four beings appear: ‘Human loving-pigs!’ a savage young woman screams as she lunges towards Wolverine. A large robotic armor houses a shadowy figure at the back of the group, while a young man with a black costume with white stars on it, and a woman with long claws rounds out the group.

Inside the Church of the Splitting Atom, Dr Strange sits at a table with some unsavory looking men as they eat a meal. Others are seated at additional tables in the large all. ‘Okay, so we’re all agreed that once we take the White House… we declare Home-Sapiens extinct and start gassing those dogs in our new death camps, right?’ Dr Strange announces. ‘It still sounds crazy to me, Dr Strange. I mean, who’s left to do the menial jobs if we obliterate the working classes?’ a bald man asks. ‘Are you saying we should think more in terms of half the human race? Does that sound reasonable to everyone?’ Strange suggests. ‘I don’t know about half. That’s still three billion people sucking air that rightfully belongs to Homo-Superior’ a man with a star on his blue mask points out. ‘Couldn’t we just start by nuking Europe and seeing how things for from there?’ a young man with a blue costume and white hair suggests.

Suddenly, two men approach the table. ‘Dr Strange! We found a gang of intruders up in the hills!’ a menacing man with white skin and a red diamond on his chest announces, while a man in a trench coat, with a green mask reports that he and Sinister managed to kill some of them, but they lost a few of their own people too, unfortunately. They hold Mastermind as their prisoner, while Dr Strange replies ‘Really? That’s too bad’. Dr Strange stands up and asks Mastermind what he was doing snooping around the Bayous. ‘Tell me you aren’t the latest idiot who’s been roped into Weapon X’s mutant rehabilitation program!’ Dr Strange exclaims, asking Sinister if he is one of those tragic little X-Men now forced to laugh at Colonel America’s rotten old jokes?

Mastermind declares that they came here to find Iron Man and the Nano-Bomb, and boasts that he is not leaving here without them. ‘Sorry, friend, but I’m afraid Ton Stark’s going to have to find himself another wage-slave to fill that armor’ Strange replies. The other mutants start to laugh, and Mastermind asks them what they are laughing at. Dr Strange holds up his fork, some meat attached to it, he grins and declares that they are lucky they had a good can-opener, implying that they are eating Iron Man. ‘You diseased maniacs!’ Mastermind gasps, while Dr Strange orders him to be held down and for the stoves to be heated up again. ‘I’ve got room left for dessert!’ he exclaims. But Sinister and the other mutant don’t move. ‘Are you deaf? We can’t cook him vertically!’ Strange calls out, before suddenly he realizes: ‘What? You’re not -’ he begins, as Mastermind’s illusion fades, and Cyclops and the Goblin Queen are revealed.

‘Sorry, Dr Strange - but Mastermind’s off tonight’s menu!’ Cyclops shouts as he readies a blast from his eyes, firing it, he strikes the man in the blue costume with the star on his mask, turning him to stone, while Strange is safe behind a force field. ‘Three guesses who’s invulnerable to your death-gaze, Cyclops!’ Goblin Queen calls out. ‘Do I even need to ask?’ Cyclops replies. ‘Traitors… traitors!’ Dr Strange shouts, casting a bolt of energy at Mastermind. Goblin Queen telepathically contacts Wolverine while Cyclops continues to fire his death gaze. Goblin Queen informs Wolverine that they are now missing a master of illusion down here, and that they could use his unique brand of mega-violence that he has pretty much trademarked over the years.

Back in the swamp, Wolverine stands over several motionless mutants, including one in a red and purple costume, while another, a feral mutant with an orange and brown costume and sharp claws he holds overhead, his claws shoved through the mutant’s head. Wolverine tells the Goblin Queen that he wishes he could oblige, but that he has his hands full at this moment himself. Goblin Queen asks about Iceman and whether he has located the Avengers’ plane, to which Iceman calls out ‘Negative, people!’ and announces that he has just had the Toad open the grain-house, and there is no plane. ‘The place is filled with -’ he begins, before Goblin Queen asks ‘Dead Cajun locals hanging up on meat-hooks?’, and as Iceman stares at that exact scene before him, he asks Goblin Queen how she knew that.

‘Just an educated guess’ Goblin Queen replies, when suddenly, Iceman loses grip of the Toad. ‘Hey! Where’s that little sleaze disappear to?’ he calls out, before he joins up with Wolverine, and they see the Toad running ahead of them towards the river. ‘Don’t let him get away!’ Wolverine exclaims. Iceman mutters that this is a disaster - three men down, Iron Man eaten and now they can’t even find a hundred-and-twenty-foot plane. ‘Scratch that last complaint anyway, kid’ Wolverine tells Iceman, as they river before them starts to shake violently, and the Quinjet rises. ‘Eat my dust you freakin’ turn-coats!’ Toad calls down from where he sits at the controls of the Quinjet. Iceman creates an ice-sled and quickly slides up to the Quinjet, ‘Get back here, you little runt! You deliver that Nano-Bomb to a Times Square address and my friends and I are worm-food!’ Iceman exclaims. ‘Worms need to eat too, loser!’ Toad retorts.

Suddenly, the jet thrusters flare up, ‘Iceman - look out!’ Wolverine shouts, but too late, as the young mutant is caught in the flames and incinerated. By this time, Cyclops and the Goblin Queen have retreated to the swamp, chased by Dr Strange and other mutants. ‘The plane!’ Cyclops shouts, pointing up to the sky. The Goblin Queen replies ‘Who cares?’ and informs him that there are three dozen mutants chasing them. She telepathically contacts Colonel America, and asks him if those Sentinels they requested are here and ready to start killing things? ‘The Sentinels you requested are here and ready to start killing things, Goblin Queen’ comes the reply, as two robot behemoths appear above the tree line.

Dr Strange looks up at the Sentinels and boasts that Weapon X can send as many of their death toys as they like, as it makes no difference to him. He fires a blast of energy at one of the Sentinels and claims that he is bullet-proof and fire-proof. ‘Dr Strange has never been captured - and I won’t be captured now!’ he adds. Mutants start to surround Wolverine as Goblin Queen telepathically tells him to think of something incredibly clever, incredibly fast, and get them out of this godforsaken hellhole. Wolverine tells Goblin Queen to grab anyone who might be useful in the future and return to base, adding that he has already requested Weapon X teleport him to an airplane on the Nano-Bomb’s flight path. He states that if this works, he is going to go down in history as the craziest mother who ever lived.

An instant later, ‘Good Lord!’ a passenger gasp as Wolverine, cigar in his mouth, appears in the first class cabin on the aforementioned airplane. ‘This non-smoking?’ he asks the flight attendant, holding his claws out towards her. She steps back, before Wolverine smiles, ‘Excuse me, ma’am’ he tells her, as he stubs his cigarette out into an ashtray. As he opens one of the exit doors, Logan tells everyone in the cabin to get the plane down to a safe altitude and strap themselves into their seats. He perches on the edge of the door, land can be seen below, and he starts to count. ‘What are you doing?’ the flight attendant asks as she moves closer. ‘Just figuring out the math, baby’ Logan replies, as he drops out of the plane - and soon after, lands on the Avengers’ Quinjet, speeding down below.

‘Judas H Priest! Did he make it?’ one of the passengers asks, staring out the window. ‘You saw the badge on his chest, right? What do you think’ another replies. But, Wolverine is still alive, and his claws cut into the hull of the Quinjet, keeping him safe as he edges closer to the front of the jet. He continues on, further and further, the force of the velocity pushing him back - until finally, the Toad looks up from the controls, and is shocked to see Wolverine staring down at him through the windscreen. Logan drops down so he is in front of the windscreen, then shatters it when he shoves his claws through, he snarls and tells the Toad to never make a funny face at him again, as he grabs the mutant by his throat.

Back at Weapon X, Goblin Queen and Cyclops have been teleported to safety, while a recording on the monitor shows the Sentinels collecting the bodies of the fallen Church of the Splitting Atom members. Goblin Queen tells Colonel America that they failed, that they found his plane, killed a few guys and even brought home replacements for the X-Men who died -but they bailed before they were able to kill Strange. ‘Does this mean you’re going to execute us?’ Goblin Queen enquires. ‘Very possibly’ Colonel America tells her, before suggesting they see what agent Wolverine has to say before they book a burial plot for she and agent Cyclops. An elderly man standing nearby informs the Colonel that Wolverine’s distress call is coming from the Quinjet.

Inside the Quinjet, Wolverine is at the controls, ‘That’s right, boys and girls, so listen up - because I’m only going to say this once’ Wolverine announces, before admitting that he can’t think of anything funny or clever to say at all. ‘I guess I’ll just have to leave the famous last words to my old pal with the disregard for human life’ Wolverine states, while, Dr Strange looks up in shock, as the Quinjet is descending straight towards him - an instant later, the Nano-Bomb explodes, and nuclear energy radiates upwards.

Goblin Queen, Cyclops and Colonel America watch the recording on screen, ‘Unbelievable! In a single action, Wolverine just atomized an apparently-unbeatable army of mutants…’ Cyclops utters. ‘And tested Tony Stark’s prototype Nano-Bomb for Uncle Sam at the same time!’ another man in the room remarks. Colonel America frowns and announces that Wolverine might have been born a worthless, stinking mutant, but few would doubt that he died like a man tonight. Goblin Queen looks at Cyclops, who sternly replies ‘What more can anyone ask?’

Characters Involved: 

Cyclops, Deathbird, Goblin Queen, Iceman, Mastermind, Wolverine (all Codename: X-Men)

Colonel America

Dr Strange, Holocaust, Lady Deathstrike, Magneto, Northstar, Quicksilver, Sabretooth, Toad, Wolfsbane and others (all Church of the Splitting Atom)


Flight attendant


On Recording

Iron Man

Dr Strange

Story Notes: 

This one-shot and several others released at the same time, were billed as “Comics from within the Marvel Universe”. In effect these are the comics published in the Marvel Universe

Other titles in this series include Marvels Comics: Captain America #1, Marvels Comics: Fantastic Four #1, Marvels Comics: The Spider-Man #1, Marvels Comics: Thor #1 and Marvels Comics: Daredevil #1.

In the real 616 universe, Dr Strange is not a mutant.

Iceman mentions the “Secret Offenders” - clearly a play on Secret Defenders.

The “Church of the Splitting Atom” is a reference to Children of the Atom.
The title is a reference to the movie “Dr Strangelove – or how I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb”

Apart from Dr Strange and Toad, no other members of the Church of the Splitting Atom are named, but some are identifiable by their costumes.

Issue Information: 
Written By: