Mutant X #27

Issue Date: 
January 2001
Story Title: 
The Challenge

Howard Mackie (writer), Tom Lyle (pencils), Andrew Pepoy (inks), Gina Going (colors), Chris Eliopoulos (letters), Lysa Hawkins (assistant editor), Jason Liebig (editor), Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

Bloodstorm remembers a time of her past, when she was young and riding the winds in Africa until the moment her parents died during a war. Bloodstorm also remembers what it was like to be claustrofobic, and how she overcame that fear by turning into a vampire. Bloodstorm remembers what happpened and goes to find Gambit, who’s no longer with her. Bloodstorm is confronted by Dagger and the Outcasts, who want to make Gambit pay for the crimes he commited to them. Gambit once led evil people to their tunnels and those people killed nearly every Outcast. Now, Gambit must die. Bloodstorm won’t allow that to happen and challenges Dagger for a duel. Should she win, Gambit is free. But, should Bloodstorm fail, he’ll die and Bloodstorm too. Bloodstorm accepts the rules and begins to fight. Meanwhile, in the Six’s castle, Jean and Havok have a romantic moment, which gets interupted by the rest of the Six. They want to find their missing teammates. Suddenly, a holographic projection of Henry McCoy appears, in human form. While still intelligent, the Brute took the liberaty to install some DNA from him into the computer and make a smart projection of himself. And, by this, he can reveal that he has found a way to cure Gambit and Bloodstorm. As the fight continues, Bloodstorm wins and defeats Dagger. She frees Gambit. Dagger gets up, refusing to loose, and Bloodstorm accidently stabs Dagger through her stomach! Dagger begs Bloodstorm to finish her off, but Bloodstorm doesn’t want to. Dagger doesn’t want to suffer anymore, to know that she can never walk into the sun. Gambit feels the same and believes that he and Bloodstorm are better off dead as well. The two vampires let the sun rays touch them, almost burning them up. The Six arrive just in time and Ice-Man blocks the sewertop, thereby stopping the sunrays from coming through. Havok gives the antidote Hank McCoy made. The vampires drink it up and are now able to walk into the sun. The Six return home, unknowing that a greater danger is upon them. From his tomb, Dracula awakes. He prepares himself, because now is finally the time to be reunited with his… Bloodstorm!

Full Summary: 

Bloodstorm remembers how, once, long time ago, she flew high up in the sky in Africa, trying to reach the sun. She was happy. She was worshipped as a goddess because of her mutant powers that made her control the weather. There was no flood, no drought, no scourching heat. Her people were content and bountiful.

She was trully happy. And Bloodstorm always had the nice open spaces. The blue sky. The warmth of the sun. She needed those things to live. Because… No! An unconcious Bloodstorm wakes burried alive when her childhood house collapsed during a war. A young Ororo runs to her mother and father, trying to warn them about the falling bombs and collapsing houses. Bloodstorm remembers being burried. How she desperatly tried to dig herself out, crying for help and not getting any.

Bloodstorm, lying on the floor of the sewers, wakes up, realizing it was all just a dream. She knows her mother and father were killed, but that was a long time ago. She was orphaned and had to live on the streets. It was at that moment she began hating enclosed spaces. Luckily, her mutant powers gave her the chance to fly high above them all! But Bloodstorm wonders why she left, to join the mutant cause. If she hadn’t, she would have never received Dracula’s dark kiss. Never would have to hide from the sun. Never would have turned into… a vampire! Bloodstorm gets herself up by manipulating nearby mists. She sees at least one small consulation in being a vampire: she’s no longer claustrofobic. Bloodstorm tries to figure out how she got here.

She remembers following the Marauders in search of Dracula’s body. She remembers the blood lust coming to her. She remembers how Gambit saved her and how suddenly they were surrounded. Accusations were made against Gambit and, then, a bright light appeared. Bloodstorm stops her thinking and yells that she knows where they are. She says she can feel them watching her and orders them to reveal themselves. A woman in a cape shows up, sadistically clapping in her hands, congratulating Bloodstorm. Black energy surrounds the woman. The woman says she will never make the mistake of underestimating Bloodstorm. The woman notices how much better Bloodstorm seems to be than Gambit. Bloodstorm asks where he is. The woman calls for her Outcasts and asks them if they think that Bloodstorm cares for Gambit.

The Outcasts anwer by asking how any could care for one who devoid of a soul long before he received a vampire’s kiss. The Outcasts reveal that the thief has told them much while Bloodstorm was asleep. The woman says that he didn’t have much of a choice. When Bloodstorm gets angry and asks again where Gambit is, the woman explains that, while Bloodstorm was buried, he stood for trial and lives… for now. Bloodstorm demands to see him now. The woman says that she will see him and that nobody down there believes that Bloodstorm is a goddess. The woman finds Bloodstorm to be just another mutant with an attitude. One of the pretty ones who does not have to shield her visage from the humans above. Who gets to walk during the day among them.

The woman reconsiders, realizing that Bloodstorm is a vampire, so also not able to walk in the sun. Nontheless, the woman continues, Gambit is going to die for his crimes he commited to her people. The woman explains that they too are mutants, who’s genetic “gift” came with a downside. Bloodstorm prepares to defend herself. The woman explains that humans can’t stand to look at them without unending nightmares. So they all decided to come live down in the sewers. They were happy down there and could show their faces to everyone. They were living in peace. At least they were until Gambit showed up. Gambit was working with the “evil one.” Helped others to find the Outcasts. Others who sought out their genetic material and took their lives. The woman promises that Gambit shall die tonight and there is nothing that Bloodstorm can do about it. The woman shows Gambit, who hangs unconcious on a huge cross.

Bloodstorm doesn’t know by what right the woman thinks she commits Gambit to a death sentence. The woman explains by her right as leader of the Outcasts. When Bloodstorm then challenges the woman’s authority, all the Outcasts are startled by this conclusion. The woman says that Bloodstorm has chosen the right words and a challenge must always be answered in kind. The woman asks if Bloodstorm is certain that the thief is worth the challenge. Bloodstorm’s mind can’t be changed. So the woman agrees. The woman introduces herself as Dagger and gladly accepts the challenge, which has been created by the Ancient One. No mutant or vampire powers are allowed. Just strength and agility. And they will fight until one of them dies. Dagger asks if Bloodstorm agrees. Bloodstorm agrees.

Meanwhile, Havok sits alone in the meeting room of the Six’ castle, wondering to himself and thinking about his homeworld and his previous team called X-Factor. Jean Grey walks into the room, asking if he’s okay because he looks so far away. Alex says he’s allright, wouldn’t be the first time he’s thinking so much. Havok says that he can’t sleep because he was wondering about Gambit and Bloodstorm. Jean says that she hasn’t been part of this team as long as Alex has, but asks if he minds if she waits with him. Alex tells her to take a chair and grab some coffee.

Alex stares at Jean for a while. Jean notices and asks why he’s doing that. She knows and tells Alex that she isn’t Madelyne. Alex says he knows, but it’s just that sometimes things look so alike how things were in his universe. And Jean does look a lot like Madelyne, the former Goblin Queen, Alex’s wife. And Jean does also look a lot like the Jean his brother Scott has married.

Jean’s a bit confused by all this, saying that she is just Jean Grey. Always has been. She says that she doesn’t know what her counterpart was like, but here, she’s just… a woman. Alex gently touches Jean’s hand. Ice-Man and Brute come walking into the room, and were wondering if there has been any word yet of Gambit and Bloodstorm. Ice-Man notices the hand touching and asks if they came in a difficult moment but Alex doesn’t know what Ice-Man’s talking about. When he sees his hand on top of Jean’s, he quickly draws his hand back, as does Jean.

Ice-Man quickly changes the subject, saying that the team’s almost present. Captain America comes walking in, saying he’s present. Ice-Man jokes that, with Jean there, they might as well change their group name into the Seven. Alex asks Jean if she want’s to join, but she isn’t sure yet. Suddenly, a weird computer voice opens, saying that, if they are going the change the group name, they might as just change the name into the Eight!

Brute happily looks up, and recognizes… himself! The man introduces himself as Henry Francis McCoy, or rather a computer generated holographic projection of himself in human form. The projeciton explains that, before his recent intellectual regretion, Hank took the liberty to download large chunks of himself into the computer system. He believes that he can help Gambit and Bloodstorm. And he can do more even. Much more. Brute steps up and says hi to himself. Hank says hi, too.

At that moment, the battle between Bloodstorm and Dagger is about to begin. The moon is going away and dawn is breaking. Bloodstorm realizes that, despite Dagger’s claimings, she is putting her at a disadvantage. Bloodstorm knows that she is fighting two enemies today: Dagger… and the sun. Bloodstorm puts her hand in the sunlight and almost burns her hand. Bloodstorm quickly withdraws, goes to Dagger and says “so be it.”

Meanwhile, the Marauders are still dwelling around the sewers. Husk is angry at Cannonball, saying that she’s going to rip his heart out because he made them get lost again. Cannonball defends himself saying it’s because of all Husk’s whining. Husk becomes even more angry and can’t believe that they are from the same family. Wolfsbane stups the arguing. She says that Jubilee is very hurt and Sunspot is weakening. Their boss is going to be mad at them because they lost the box. They are supposed to be a team. The Marauders, even. And they can’t waste their time arguing. And Wolfsbane wants to run and hide, some place their boss can’t find them. Wolfsbane feels sorry for herself, because she didn’t even want to be part of a super-villain team. Wolfsbane suddenly smells something. The Marauders all look up and realize that they aren’t alone anymore.

Bloodstorm and Dagger begin. Dagger again explains the rules: if Bloodstorm kills Dagger, Gambit can walk away free. If Bloodstorm fails, the sun rays will do the killing for Dagger. From the sewertop, the sunrays can fall in and almost touch Bloodstorm. Dagger gives Bloodstorm a battlesword and Dagger has one of her own as well. The fight begins. Dagger jumps high up and tries to kick Bloodstorm, who dodges the attack with her arm. Dagger warns Bloodstorm to be quick about it, because the sun is also almost touching the still unconcious Gambit, still hanging on the cross. Dagger kicks Bloodstorm down and she falls harshly down in the water. Bloodstorm finds a bigger sword and picks it up. Dagger tells her she uses the sword well, but she mocks Bloodstorm that she probably isn’t fast enough to use it. Bloodstorm quickly gets herself up, saying that she is fast.

Bloodstorm wants them to stop fighting, because they are all mutants there and should be working together. Dagger orders her to be quiet, because Bloodstorm has no idea what it means to be an Outcast. To live with a curse. Bloodstorm doesn’t know because she is a pretty mutant, unlike her. Bloodstorm says that they all have got bad things in their lives. She and Gambit are vampires, unable to walk in the sun. She hopes that Dagger would never suffer such a fate. Dagger says that this is what they’ve got in common. The Outcasts can’t walk in the sun either because mankind would kill them. Dagger believes that she will do both Bloodstorm and Gambit a favor killing them, puting them out of their misery.

The sunlight slighty touches Gambit, whose bounds begin to burn up. Bloodstorm gets angry and says that she won’t allow that to happen and kicks Dagger in her back, who falls down! Gambit wakes up, telling Bloodstorm to be quick if she wants to safe him. But Gambit has second thoughts, believing that there is no use for both of them to die. Gambit begs Bloodstorm to run away before the sun touches her. Bloodstorm tells him to be quiet, as she cuts his bounds with her sword. Gambit warns Bloodstorm, because Dagger is getting up again and attacking!

Bloodstorm quickly turns around and accidently stabs Dagger through her stomach. Bloodstorm asks Dagger why she would do that, because she defeated her. Dagger says she knows that but, without the Outcasts, her life has no meaning anymore and her dying would be the best. She wants to feel the sun again and doesn’t want to hide anymore. Bloodstorm gets Gambit down, who believes that it might be the best that they die as well. It wouldn’t be so bad. Dagger apologizes and begs Bloodstorm to finish her off. Gambit tells Bloodstorm that they don’t have to do anything. Just stand there and look at the sun for a last time. Both of them look at the sun, which begins to burn the two vampires up. But suddenly, the sun disappears and… turns into ice?!

The Six have arrived and Ice-Man has blocked the sewer top with his ice. Havok can’t believe that Gambit and Bloodstorm were actually thinking about killing themselves. Bloodstorm confirms that they were thinking about it, but weren’t sure if they were going to go through with it. And now they shall never know. Dagger becomes angry and gets up, saying that she will finish the job. Dagger tries to pull the sword out of her stomach, but Bloodstorm stops her. Dagger says that she refuses to continue to live like this.

Bloodstorm tells Dagger to not commit suicide, because the Outcasts need her. Dagger says that she wasn’t talking about the Outcasts, but about them! Dagger takes off her hood and Cloak shows up, looking like he’s dying. Dagger explains that they were partners once but, when their powers began to manifest and harm Dagger, Dagger absorbed Cloak and they became one. Cloak wanted to have it ended a long time ago, but Dagger would not allow that. This is no life, they both say.

Cloak and Dagger both see that now, and say that they won’t live like this anymore; they will be no more. When Cloak and Dagger disappear into the dark shadows, the Outcasts quickly follow them, saying that they won’t allow them to leave. Bloodstorm tells the team not to try to follow the Outcasts; they’ll look after their own.

Havok says they’ll do the same. He explains to them that Hank McCoy gave them an antidote that would cure both Bloodstorm and Gambit from their lust for blood and allow them to walk into the sun. They drink the potion, but don’t feel any different. A short time later, the team has made it out of the sewers and… Gambit and Bloodstorm are free! Bloodstorm doesn’t know what to say, but Gambit tells Bloodstorm to not put her stakes up too high just yet.

At that moment, in a nearby cemetary, Dracula awakens. He opens his coffin, saying that it’s time he is reunited with his Bloodstorm. It is long past time.

Characters Involved: 

Bloodstorm, Brute, Captain America, Gambit, Havok, Ice-Man (the Six)

Jean Grey

Cannonball, Husk, Jubilee, Sunspot, Wolfsbane (the Marauders)

Cloak/Dagger (merged together)

The Outcasts (multiple unnamed members)


Holographic projection of Henry McCoy (in human form)

in flash-back:

young Storm/Bloodstorm

Story Notes: 

This issue is made parallel to what occured in Uncanny X-Men #170, where Storm challenged Callisto, leader of the Morlocks, in return of the X-Men’s freedom and leadership of the Morlocks. The events in this issue are pretty much the same, but Callisto couldn’t be used because she was already introduced in Mutant X #9.

In the real universe, Gambit had led the murderous team called the Marauders through the Morlock Tunnels, unknowingly of their plans to kill the underground living Morlocks for their common master, Mister Sinister. [Uncanny X-Men #350]

This issue wrongly suggests that Havok was part of X-Force in his home reality. It’s just a mistake that should have been X-Factor, of course.

In the real universe, Scott Summers (Alex’ brother) and Jean Grey were married in X-Men (2nd series) #30.

In the real universe, Cloak and Dagger were two runaway street kids, whose mutant powers were awakened by a chemical experiment.

Cannonball and Husk are brother and sister.

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