New Avengers #20

Issue Date: 
August 2006
Story Title: 
The Collective, part four
Staff: 

Brian Michael Bendis (Writer), Mike Deodata, Jr. (Penciler), Joe Pimentel (Inker) Dave Stewart and Richard Isanove (Colorist), Richard Starkings & Comicraft’s Albert Deschesne (Letterer), Brad Johansen (Production), Molly Lazer and Aubrey Sitterson (Assistant Editors), Tom Brevoort (Editor), Joe Quesada (Editor in Chief), Dan Buckley (Publisher)

Brief Description: 

Director Hill speaks with the president of the United States, who gives her the authority to nuke Genosha. However, Hill does not want to do this, as she has agents on the way, but more importantly the Avengers are already on Genosha. The president, however, is more worried about the lives of millions of civilians, and puts pressure on Hill to nuke Genosha with the Avengers on it. On Genosha, the energy seething from Michael seems to take on a life of its own and searches the island, leaving Michael motionless in the air. The energy finds Magneto, the last person on the island and is currently writing a book about his life, and a mysterious voice from the energy confronts him about its recent conspiracy to have someone pose as him in New York City. The mysterious being realized that the war against man can only be won by the true Magneto, and no imposter. Magneto then realizes that the sentient energy is the recently de-powered Shen Xorn! Shen begins to transfer the energy of the de-powered mutants into Magneto, but Sentry intervenes. Much to Sentry’s surprise, Magneto does not want the power and begs Robert to kill him. Meanwhile, Xorn animates many corpses in the area to attack the other Avengers. S.H.I.E.L.D. agents arrive with Daisy Johnson, as Hill hangs up on the president and tells him that she is sticking to her original plan. Captain America and Iron Man formulate a plan, which involves Daisy creating a pinpoint earthquake in Magneto’s head, severing his connection to Xorn. Ms. Marvel absorbs all the released mutant energy, which Iron Man contains in a field. Sentry then flies it out to space, destroying it. With the threat over, Daisy is proud to now be an Avenger, but learns in an embarrassing way that Cap does not want her on the team, but only for this one mission. The freed Michael is in disbelief that he is actually an energy-absorbing mutant, but is in more disbelief to find that he has retained some of the mutant energy fields. S.H.I.E.L.D. takes him into custody for training, though Wolverine blames Michael for the deaths of Alpha Flight, even though Xorn had possessed his body. A barely living, comatose Magneto is taken away in S.H.I.E.L.D. custody, but his helicopter explodes once it lifts off, and no body is found. Iron Man thanks Hill for not nuking them and allowing him to eavesdrop on her conversation with the president, making Tony realize Hill is not an enemy of the Avengers – she has a tough job. However, Hill’s troubles with the Avengers are far from over, as the idea of a Superhuman Registration Act looms closer over Capital Hill.

Full Summary: 

Genosha:
The name the Homo sapiens gave me is Eric Magnus Lehnsherr. My mutant name is Magneto. Though I am no longer a mutant. My mutant genealogy has been destroyed and I no longer control the magnetic fields of the Earth. I no longer have the power to help lead mutantkind to its place as the dominant species of the planet. Mutants are no longer the rising population. They are now just a few hundred. To rebuild our numbers will take generations. It will not happen in my lifetime. My children saw to that.

Among the ruins of Genosha, the despondent man once known to the world as Magneto, master of magnetism, sits alone in the ruins of a building, with only the sunlight illuminating the area. Dressed in his rags, the man writes at his desk.

I don’t know what I am writing. A manifesto? A biography? A suicide note? I haven’t decided. My life as I knew it, for all its success and failure, is over. I am stuck here in a desolated graveyard that –

Suddenly, the pen in Magneto’s hand suddenly pulls away from him and hangs in the air by its own power, much to his amazement. He gets up as a large gust of wind blows in and sends his papers flying off the table. It is then that he notices streaks of energy streaking all over the ruins of Genosha.

Outside, up in the air, the being known as Michael Pointer hangs in the sky, though he seems to be no longer in control of the powers he wields. Instead, he helplessly hangs there as the energy seemingly acts on its own accord, stretching is mighty power across the island.

S.H.I.E.L.D.:
An agent tells Director Hill that there is a massive energy surge on Genosha. Hill looks at the readings and tells her agent that this is more than just a surge. A bit annoyed at her arguing over semantics, the agent tells her this.

Hill calls the president and tells him that Michael is a collection of mutant energies he carries. Right now he seems to be birthing it out – meaning he is expelling it out of his corporeal form all over Genosha. Does the president understand her? The president asks Hill why Michael is doing this. What is going on there right now? Hill explains that the energy fields are still traveling over Genosha. They believe this is an immediate and hostile threat.

The president tells Director Hill that she has the authority to proceed as she sees fit. If she is asking him if she can vaporize the island, then he is telling her that he sure has hell will. I can’t do that, says Hill. I’m saying you can, replies the president. No, says Hill. She has agents en route, and the Avengers are already there!

Genosha:
The Avengers exit the Quinjet and step foot on the desolate ruins of Genosha. The team looks around at the cascading energy, and Captain America asks Iron Man to explain this. Iron Man tells Cap that this is a massive energy transference. What’s it transferring to, asks Spider-Man. Iron Man isn’t sure. He is still analyzing the data, which is a lot even for him. As Cage and Ms. Marvel look around, Cage asks the team what they should do. Cap tells him to stay with the group. Iron Man tells the team that they have to time this right. He has a plan but it’s a one-shot deal.

Spider-Man jokes that he loves one-shot deals. Cage, however, asks why they are, assuming that this is bad. “Well,” says Spider-Man, “There’s the whole thousands of mutant-controlled energy fields inside a mystery man in a place where millions of mutants died.” Sounds bad to him. When you put it that way, says Cage. Ms. Marvel, however, points out that this place is a tomb. Millions died here. There is nobody left here. “There’s somebody here,” says Wolverine.

Elsewhere, Magneto finds himself hanging in the air himself, thanks to the sentient energy that is attacking him. A sinister voice calls out to him, though not from Michael, telling him that he is the one. He is the only one mutants will rise up and follow. He is the only one who can avenge them now. Eric should not fight him. He should accept this gift. He should allow himself to be used to make this right. It is Magneto’s face that they have to see.

As energy cascades from Michael Pointer to Magnus, the voice tells Magneto that they tried to do it without Magneto. They tried using his face, and his name. However, it did not work. Even before this latest catastrophe against mutants, they learned that it had to be Magneto that brings the mutants their world. It only works with Magnus’ perfect mind. Now the mysterious duo has been given a second chance. It is meant to be.

Who are you, calls out the confused Magnus.

This body, replies the mysterious voice, is just a vessel that they came in. Michael Pointer absorbed all of their essence, because that is what his powers do. However, Michael has been fighting them at every step. It is barely holding together what they have brought Magneto. They needed Michael to get here. Without a body, the collective is useless.

Magneto looks down at his hands, which are seething with energy, much to his surprise. Once again, he demands to know who is attacker is.

You know who we are, yells the aggressor as all the metal in the vicinity begins to fly up into the air. They killed five thousand in Magneto’s name. Can Magnus feel the connection now? Can he feel it inside of him? No, screams Magneto, as he is suddenly dressed in his old red and purple uniform. You know who we are, screams the mysterious voice. Say it! Say our name!

“XORN!” screams the master of magnetism, as his helmet is restructured onto his head.

The Avengers, who have arrived on scene, hear Magneto scream the name. As in the yutz who trashed New York, asks Spider-Man. Oh great, says Cage, Magneto is back. Spider-Man jokingly thanks Iron Man for the new metal suit. Cage wonders what they shall do now, but Sentry asks the others if they heard that voice in the air. Yes, replies Spider-Woman. You heard the “Xorn?” asks Sentry. We all heard it, replies Spider-Woman. Just checking, says Sentry.

At that moment, the still body of Michael Pointer falls from the sky. As the Avengers charge Magneto, who is still receiving energy from Michael, Captain America tells Sentry that Magneto does not leave this island, no matter what. It has to stay contained. Spider-Woman, however, feels that they should leave and let S.H.I.E.L.D. take care of this. Take care of it, questions Cage. Wipe it off the map, explains Spider-Woman.

Above, Shen Xorn explains to his idol that Magneto needs an army. He will need an army to remind humanity of what they’ve done.

Below, Sentry offers to sink the island, but Cap tells him no. However, Spider-Woman says yes. They know the threat and it must be dealt with. There is a solution and they may be standing in the way. Iron Man interrupts and announces that he has lost contact with S.H.I.E.L.D. - something is blocking the signal. Ms. Marvel begins to agree with Spider-Woman, but suddenly the ground beneath the Avengers begins to crack and rip open.

Rise up, yells Shen as an army of corpses, including the Acolytes, rise from the ruins of Genosha, and surround the team. The Avengers find themselves surrounded by many horribly disfigured corpses that march towards them. Most are burnt beyond recognition, though some are identifiable, such as Rem-Ram and Senyaka of the Acolytes.

As the Avengers engage the zombies in combat, Vision tells the team that his files on Xorn are incomplete. Xorn’s files on Xorn are incomplete, says Wolverine, as he slashes up some corpses. Cage tells his teammates to quiet down as he is concentrating on the smell. Anyone else hears whispers, asks the creeped out Spider-Woman. Wolverine tells the group that the X-Men had serious trouble with him – or them – a while back.

Above, Xorn tells Magneto to look down. Humanity is already here to fight him. An example shall be made.

Iron Man flies by Sentry and tells him it is his turn. He should take off his metal belt and go engage Magneto. He stays on the island, reiterates Cap to Sentry. I can throw him into the sun, says Sentry as Cap rips off his belt. He stays on the island, Cap says one final time. Sentry then flies at top speed to Magneto, but is blasted away by all the cascading energy.

Sentry slams down into the ground nearby. He looks up to see a naked man, and asks him if he is Michael. A confused, naked, Michael Pointer asks what is going on.

S.H.I.E.L.D.:
The president continues to urge Director hill to use her opportunity to end this threat. He strongly urges her to take it. Hill explains to the president that the Avengers are on the island dealing with the threat – the Avengers he requested. The president tells Hill that his people in the Situation Room have advised him that there is no way the Avengers could handle the level of power being tossed around. Hill needs to take charge. Sir, you’re ordering me to kill the Avengers, asks Hill, shocked.

Sacrifice, corrects the president. There is a difference, he explains. Their memories will be honored. Hill has to think about the millions of lives she is saving. Hill walks over to a small case and opens it to reveal a red button. Sweat drips off her forehead as she puts her finger on the button and a look of fear and nervousness overcoming her. Suddenly, she composes herself and pulls away her headpiece. She apologizes to the president, but she already has a plan in motion.

Hill contacts Iron Man and tells him to get that plan in motion now. We are almost there, replies Tony. He then contacts Agent Carter and asks if her team is on the island.

Genosha:
We are, replies Agent Carter. Agent Daisy Johnson is with her. As a rather large group of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents march in Genosha, Carter asks Iron Man what he wants Johnson to do.

Cap, asks Hill over the comm.

Iron Man tells Cap, as they fight zombies, that Daisy Johnson is there. Cap tells Iron Man to tell Daisy to do to Magneto what she did to Wolverine that one time. However, she should aim for the brain.

Agent Carter gets the order and tells Daisy what Cap says. What did you do to Wolverine, asks another agent. Daisy replies that she started a pinpoint earthquake tremor in Wolverine’s chest and his heart exploded. Won’t that kill Magneto, asks Sharon. I don’t know, admits Daisy. She has never done this before.

Iron Man tells Carol to get into position. She will have to absorb whatever energy she can. She needs to absorb it and then spread it out. You know it hurts, replies Ms. Marvel. That’s why you’re a hero. Is she ready?

Iron Man flies up to Sentry, who has successfully reached Magneto and has him by the neck, ready to punch him. Magneto, however, tells the hesitant Sentry to do it. Kill him – do not let this happen to him. Sentry is surprised that Magneto would say this.

Nearby, Iron Man calls Director Hill and tells her that he needs a lot of power. Take what you need, says Hill. Iron Man then calls out to Agent Johnson.

Daisy’s eyes glow with power as she supposes that she is ready. She then begins to focus and construct a pinpoint earthquake. Iron Man calls Carol, who is in position. Ms. Marvel tells Iron Man she is ready, and then adds to herself that this is going to hurt.

Above, Magneto pleads one last time to Sentry to kill him. Do it, says Iron Man, to his other teammates.

Daisy releases her earthquake in Magneto’s brain, which successfully disconnects his connection to Xorn, thus ending the energy transference. The wild energy, which whips Sentry away, cascades wildly, but Ms. Marvel takes the brunt of the wild power and absorbs it, though not painlessly. Iron Man uses his armor to capture the energy Carol absorbs and then shapes the energy into a radiating ball of energy, as Magneto’s body falls down by Michael Pointer.

Iron Man tells Sentry that the energy is trapped in an energy field. It won’t hold forever. Does Sentry still want to fly something to the sun? He will be right behind him.

As the zombies return back to motionlessness, Sentry takes the ball of energy and flies it off of the Earth, with Iron Man right behind him. Eventually, Sentry makes it to the sun, where he shoves the energy towards it before he is blasted away by the raw power. As the energy is seemingly destroyed by the superior power of the sun, Sentry sees the horrific face of Shen Xorn, which dies out.

Genosha:
A rescue helicopter touches down. No more Xorn, says Wolverine. And Magneto, asks Cage. The team heads over to where Agent Daisy Johnson is, and Captain America praises her work. Quake, says Johnson. It is her Avengers name. She wants to be called Quake.

I’m sorry, says Captain America, but they aren’t looking to add any members. Oh, says the confused Daisy. She thought he was recruiting her. No, I’m sorry, says Cap. We just needed your help for this one thing. “Well, this is embarrassing,” says the blushing Daisy Johnson.

Iron Man approaches Michael Pointer, who is being taken care of by S.H.I.E.L.D. Michael, in a blanket now, is confused on how the mighty Iron Man knows his name. What happened to him? Iron Man explains that it seems that he is an energy-absorbing mutant. I am, asks the bewildered Michael. Iron Man continues to explain that Michael was used as a vessel to transport a large living collective of mutant energy here to Genosha. Since when was I a mutant, asks Michael. I guess, since forever, replies Iron Man.

Michael holds his head and thinks hard. He remembers snow. He was walking in snow. He then has an image of Alpha Flight in his mind, and then realizes he has killed people. Angered, Wolverine gets in Michael’s face and yells at him. Heroes! He killed heroes!

Iron Man steps in-between the two and assures Michael that it wasn’t him. He was being controlled. He is not to blame. Tell that to Alpha Flight, says the angered Wolverine.

Suddenly, Michael’s hands begin to seethe with energy, shocking him. Iron Man realizes that Michael has kept a portion of the energy fields for himself. Michael is astounded, and asks if he has powers. Cap approaches Michael and tells him that he question is what he is going to do with his powers. Wolverine adds that Michael should think about what he will do to make up for Canada and Alaska. Michael looks at his hands, and Director Hill tells the team that they will start his training immediately. Maybe we got a new hero out of this deal, says Cage. Maybe, says Hill. Can we go, asks Spider-Man. He does believe that he hates this place.

S.H.I.E.L.D. agents put Magneto onto a gurney and begin to take him to the rescue helicopter. Director walks up to Magnus and tells him that he is under arrest for terrorist crimes against mankind. He can’t hear you, says one agent. Is he going to live, asks Hill. We’ll do what we can, says the other agent, as they take the motionless Magneto away. Why, asks Spider-Woman.

Hill bends over to speak into Magneto’s ear, and tells the man that, when he wakes up, he will be under arrest for terrorist crimes against humanity.

Iron Man and Hill watch as Magneto is taken aboard the helicopter. Iron Man then thanks Hill for not nuking them. Hill pretends that she doesn’t know what he is talking about, but Iron Man tells her it was nice of her to let him eavesdrop on the conversation. Did I do that, says Hill. Seems I’ve misjudged your going-ons, says Iron Man. As the helicopter flies away, Hill tells Iron Man that she now sees the situation she is in.

Suddenly, the helicopter carrying Magneto blows up!

S.H.I.E.L.D. Hellicarrier – Sometime Later:
Director Hill sits in her office when an agent comes into report that there is no sign of Magneto – not even his foot. The body could have incinerated in the blast.

Wanna make a bet, asks Hill.

The agent then hands Hill a book. They found it on the island. Magneto was writing a book. Hill flips through the pages, and then looks at the computer monitor behind her, with a report on the Superhuman Registration Act.

Hill thinks hard to herself, and then begins to read the book.

The name the Homo Sapiens gave me is Eric Magnus Lehnsherr.

Characters Involved: 

Luke Cage, Captain America, Iron Man I, Sentry, Spider-Man I, Spider-Woman I, Wolverine (Avengers)

Ms. Marvel I (former Avenger)
Vision II (Young Avenger)

Magneto
Michael Pointer

Xorn II

Director Maria Hill
Agent Sharon Carter, Agent Daisy Johnson
Various S.H.I.E.L.D. Agents

Animated corpses of Rem-Ram, Senyaka, other Genoshans

Michael’s Memories:
Guardian, Major Mapleleaf II, Puck, Puck II, Sasquatch I, Shaman, Vindicator II (all Alpha Flight)

Story Notes: 

This issue finally puts to the rest the mystery surrounding Xorn. Cassandra Nova sent her giant wild Sentinels to demolish Genosha and kill almost 16 million people in New X-Men (1st Series) #115. Magneto was confirmed to have been among the dead in X-Men (1st Series) #132. In New X-Men (1st Series) #146-150, Magneto, impersonating Xavier Institute teacher Kuan-Yin Xorn (Xorn I) since the man joined the staff, took New York City by siege and killed scores of humans in the name of mutant kind. In the end, Wolverine killed Magneto. Xavier took the body to Genosha for burial in Excalibur (2nd Series) #1-2, where it was revealed to readers that Magneto was alive, though only known to Xavier, and that the “Magneto” in New York City was also an imposter. Soon, in X-Men (2nd Series) #157-160, Havok’s squad responded to an emergency in China, where they discovered a man looking exactly like Kuan-Yin Xorn being held prisoner. The team took him home and in X-Men (2nd Series) #161-164, they learned that this man was Shen Xorn (Xorn II), brother to Kuan-Yin Xorn (Xorn I), the man an imposter posing as Magneto posed as (this mystery man posing as Xorn I posing as Magneto is dubbed by fans as “Xorneto”). Shen made cryptic comments about the person being responsible for the New York attack still being in the mansion, but after an altercation with the Brotherhood of Mutants V that led the passive man to use violence as an answer, Shen left the mansion. However, many questions remained. What happened to Kuan-Yin Xorn? Who really was “Xorneto?” Who was Shen Xorn referring to as the traitor still in the X-Men’s midst? How did the real Magneto survive the attack on Genosha?

Shen Xorn’s apparent inability to use proper names and constant vague uses of the words “we,” “they” and “them” to refer to various groups and individuals have made understanding this issue slightly tricky. However, Editor-in-chief Joe Quesada explained the issue shortly after its release in an interview: Kuan-Yin and Shen Xorn were brothers who believed in the goals of Magneto. Upon learning of Magneto’s apparent death the two devised a plan, with Kuan-Yin posing as Magneto (and then “posing” as himself to get inside the mansion) organizing the attack at New York City. Thus, “Xorneto” is Kuan-Yin Xorn (Xorn I). Havok’s squad then found Shen Xorn, who was referring to himself as the traitor still in the midst of the X-Men, for whatever weird villainous reason. Shen then left to continue his schemes, but was de-powered thanks to, ironically, the Scarlet Witch, on M-Day, as revealed in New Avengers #18. Shen, having a black hole for a head, then was absorbed into the collective mutant energy forms, acting as the dominant force. The rest is clear-cut history. Though there are still several oddities and minor plot-holes, love it or hate it, this is the resolution to the infamous “Xorneto” dangler.

One question still remains, though: How did Magneto survive the Genoshan attack in New X-Men (1st Series) #115? Dr. Strange questioned Wanda in House of M #7 if she had a hand in resurrecting Magneto in any of his recent deaths. At the time it was unclear if Strange was referring to the New York City death or the Genosha death, but now that it is set that Xorneto was not Magneto, the only possible chance Wanda could have resurrected Magneto would be after his Genoshan death. However, Wanda did not seem to know what Strange was talking about (though she was a bit insane at the time), so for now the mystery of Magneto’s Genoshan survival is, well – a mystery.

Hopefully, the Avengers were in earshot for the entire Shen Xorn dialogue, or else they will continue to live in confusion over the Xorneto mystery.

Magneto was one of the many mutants discovered to have been de-powered in House of M #7-8.

Though most corpses were unidentifiable, those of Rem-Ram and Senyaka of the Acolytes were distinguishable by uniform.

Daisy Johnson had her altercation with Wolverine in Secret War #1-5.

Michael apparently killed Alpha Flight in New Avengers #16.

The story of the New Avengers continues next into New Avengers Annual #1, and then into Civil War #1, before returning to New Avengers #21.

Magneto is all alone on Genosha, as all the known surviving residents were taken to hospitals off the island in Son of M #6. Karima Shapander’s exit from the island is currently unknown, but she next appeared in X-Men (2nd Series) #188 under odd circumstances. The fate of Dark Beast and several pirates is unknown.

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