New X-Men (1st series) #150

Issue Date: 
February 2004
Story Title: 
Planet X - part 5: Phoenix Invictus

Grant Morrison (writer), Phil Jimenez (penciler & cover), Andy Lanning w/ Simon Coleby (inkers), Chris Chuckry (colorist), Chris Eliopoulos (letterer), Stephanie Moore & Cory Sedlmeier(assistant editor), Mike Marts (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Bill Jemas (president)

Brief Description: 

Having now officially claimed the powers of the Phoenix, Jean saves herself and Wolverine from the gravity well of the sun and returns to Earth, just in time to save the Beast and Emma, who have be stranded on the remains of an X-Plane in the Pacific for days. Back in Manhattan, Magneto continues his struggle to keep his new Brotherhood from fracturing until he is interrupted by the arrival of the Beak, Fantomex and Cyclops. Working in succession, the three are able to free Professor X and wound Magneto enough to keep him off balance. Realizing that his own lieutenants are disloyal in not defending him, Magneto kills the young Esme in revenge. Magneto manages to shrug off his attackers and return to his followers but finds himself attacked by the rest of the team, Beast, Phoenix and Wolverine. The most mortal blow of the assault, however, comes from Magneto’s followers, when they all proclaim that they no longer wish to follow him. Seemingly in despair, Magneto collapses until Phoenix gets close enough for him to strike. Using the energy he has spent up for days, he gives her a lethal electromagnetic pulse, the equivalent of a planetary-scale stroke. As Jean begins to die, Magneto asks for it all to end, to which the enraged Wolverine complies, decapitating the former leader of mutants. Having been likewise fatally injured, Jean dies as well, passing into the light. One hundred fifty years later, two explorers in an unorthodox craft make their way to the Blue Area of the Moon, where they discover to their horror the enigmatic Phoenix Egg.

Full Summary: 

Out of the blinding inferno that is the sun, a creature of legend takes flight on wings of flame. It is the form of the Phoenix, created by the woman who has taken the same name. In this cocoon of thought and cosmic energy, Jean calls out to her teammate, Wolverine, and asks if his eyes have grown back. Riding inside the Phoenix raptor, Wolverine’s flesh has begun to reform, including his eyes. Speaking through the unimaginably pain he must feel as his nerve-endings reform, Wolverine jests that he doesn’t know; what’s he supposed to be looking at?

Wolverine’s humor quickly turns to amazement as he finds himself no longer wrapped in soothing flame, but within an ethereal void, inhabited by himself, Jean and globes and tendrils of quicksilver. Jean herself, now garbed in the costume of Dark Phoenix, is aglow with energy, energy she wields with outstretched limbs. Trying to take this in, Wolverine asks her what did she just do… he was on fire…

Replying simply, Jean informs Wolverine that he did it. He released to Phoenix Consciousness. She used the disintegrating asteroid and the sun’s energy to build and power their transport. Total telekinetic control of matter on the molecular level. She had to die to come back, she tells him. But she doesn’t know how long they’ll let her stay. This said, Jean takes the quicksilver-like asteroid metal and forms in into a sleek, silver vessel, in which they will ride back to Earth.

In the middle of the Pacific Ocean, a small island, comprised of the remains of an X-Plane, drifts aimlessly on the deep waters. Speaking to the only other survivor of the crash, Emma Frost tells the Beast that he’d never have survived the explosion if it hadn’t been for her quick thinking. Perched on a high spot of the fuselage, the Beast retorts that he cannot believe she’s still going on about this three days later. She’d never have survived the crash, he tells her, if it hadn’t been for his quick thinking. Rubbish, Emma replies, sitting on a part near the water and lowering one of her legs until it almost touches the waters. She wouldn’t even have been on the aircraft if she hadn’t listen to him.

Trying his best to change the subject, Beast uses his claws to scratch calculations and formulae into the hull of the crashed aircraft. Something awful’s happened, he says to Emma. He knows it has. It’s all adding up… Sublime Pharmaceuticals, Feng Tu, the Kick drug, human aggression, the riots… and… and… Suddenly snarling in frustration, Beast looks at his claws; all dull from his hours of scratching. Speaking aloud, Beast states that he’s ruining his claws doing this. He has so many ideas he needs to get down… he needs a pen.

Correcting her teammate, Emma retorts that he needs water. She’s immune to thirst in her lovely, shiny diamond form, she continues, but she’s afraid that she’s hearing delirium in his voice. Suddenly distracted, Emma looks at a point of light in the sky, noting that something is coming at last. Chiding his fellow castaway, Beast replies that that’s what she said before and it was a speck of dirt under her contact lens. Turning her head toward the Beast, Emma begs his pardon. This isn’t visual; these are telepathic emissions. Massive telepathic emissions… and all too horribly familiar.

Told by Emma to brace himself, Beast places his own spectacles above his snout and squints at the sky. Stating that there’s something there, he instructs Emma to tell them he needs another ten minutes. Half a moment later, the tiny spec in the sky becomes a thing of fire, wrapped around a silvery core. The core is seamless and smooth and resembles a flying vehicle, but lacks all features of being constructed. Looking up at this vision, Beast mockingly asks if they should be worried, followed by the rhetorical question of what it is. Almost pouting in her response, Emma asks Beast what does he think it is? It’s bloody Jean, showing off again.

In the Oval Office of the White House, the president of the United States receives an update on the situation in Manhattan. One aide reports that Magneto’s holding Manhattan hostage; he’s paralyzed their communications and threatened to use his magnetic powers to tilt the Earth’s axis. Pointing to an image of the master of magnetism, which is frozen in place on a screen, the aide instructs the president to look at the hate on his face… do they need any more proof that mutants are their natural enemies? This is why they destroyed their Weapon Plus Super-Sentinel Initiative. The human race, he continues, must not go gently into the night.

When the aide continues, reporting that they’ve deployed Y-23 experimental ceramic planes, the president interrupts, stating that he can’t ask him to drop bombs on American soil. Replying coldly, the aide states that theirs is a species fighting for its life. And these neutron warheads kills all known mutations stone dead, leaving architectural heritage intact. He has just to say the word.

On the island formerly known as Manhattan and now re-christened New Genosha, Magneto confers with his own aide, Toad. Bowing subserviently, Toad tells Magneto that he can yell at him all he likes but he’s only telling the truth, like he always does. If something doesn’t happen soon, they’ll lose any support he still has. They’ve gone days without food or water out there.

His back turned to his underling, Magneto scowls from beneath his helmet. They’re all too impatient, he declares. This is war. It takes time and sacrifice to accumulate the power, to probe the weak spots of the planetary Magnetosphere. To stand the Earth on its head is hardly the work of an afternoon!

Chiming in, Ernst, holding the chain to Martha Johansson’s anti-gravity vessel, reports that Martha says he’s waited too long. He should have stayed as Mister Xorn - now he’s going to die. Leering down at the diminutive form of Ernst, Magneto snarls, announcing that he always suspected that there was more to her than met the eye. Now enraged, Magneto begins to raise his arm, stating that, now, let them see what that might be.

Leaping between the two, Angel yells out, “No,” repeatedly. Spitting out the words, she asks Magneto what is it with him. Does he want to give Ernst a heart attack? Now giving an order, Angel tells Magneto to not dare lift a hand to one more of them or… or she’ll puke all over him! Her kids don’t want to see a murderin’ junkie in charge of the whole world. Taking this opportunity to speak her own mind, Esme states to Magneto that he should have listened to her. But, oh, no… she was just a “means to an end” for the great strategist. Nobody knows who’s in charge or what’s going on anymore!

To this latest verbal attack, Magneto coldly and simply replies that he is in charge. Yeah, another voice counters sarcastically, maybe if crazy on drugs is his idea of being in charge. Turning to the new voice, Magneto and the Brotherhood look upon the still very much alive Beak, patched up from his scrapes. Wielding a titanium bat, he gives the news to his previous allies: the X-Men are there to kick their butt big time. Calling out to Angel and his kids, Beak Barnell instructs them to get behind him.

Grinning devilishly, Magneto asks Beak if he is joking. With but a wave of his hand, Magneto summons Beak’s bat to his own hand, disarming him. Rather than pressing this new advantage, Magneto congratulates his former follower. He passed the test and returned a stronger man, he states. Standing at Magneto’s side, Esme laughs at the brilliant idea of using a titanium bat against the Master of Magnetism. To this, she asks Beak how he even got in there, anyway. Snarling in rage, Beak replies that maybe this key he forgot to take away when “he” was being sent to his death. Xavier’s school is the best school, he then states.

Hearing this useless but defiant statement, Magneto turns to Esme and orders her to pacify him. Replying in a defiance of her own, Esme tells him to pacify him if he’s so great. Wishing to end this cancer of disobedience, Magneto begins to apologize to Esme but is interrupted by a sight outside the window. It is a man, clad in all white, who stands with pistols crossed against his chest and standing on a floating flying saucer. Immediately recognizing the man, Esme identifies him as Weapon Thirteen, while Magneto names him as Fantomex.

With strength of body, Fantomex propels himself from the platform that is E.V.A. toward the window of Magneto’s sanctum. Calling out to his partner and ship, Fantomex instructs it to prepare of retrieve Professor X. Just moments before impacting the window, Fantomex raises his pistols and fires silver slugs, which seem to scream with fury as they are fired. Their force impacts upon the window, shattering it and making an entrance for the one who fired them. Two of these bullets then impact upon Magneto, forcing him to the floor in pain.

Struggling to get back to his feet, Magneto calls out to his Brotherhood, ordering them to destroy him. Rather than springing into action, however, the Brotherhood remain where they are. Almost declaring herself leader of the group, Esme asks why should they. And get themselves shot? Of the group, only the Toad leaps into the fray, shouting that Fantomex is his. Asking he and whose knees, Fantomex fires two bullets at Toad, shattering his kneecaps and causing him to fall, head over heels.

Pressing the attack, Fantomex fires two more bullets toward Magneto. Unflinching, Magneto raises his arms, generating a magnetic field and declares to his foe that he’s missed. Staring down his foe from beneath his cowl and mask, Fantomex asks Magneto if everything he says is a cliché. Behind Magneto and unseen by him, the tank which imprisons Xavier begins to drain, green liquid seeping from the two holes created by Fantomex’s bullets.

Finally moving to counterattack, Magneto causes the floor to come apart beneath Fantomex. As the building comes apart in the attack, Magneto commands with but a single word: “Die.” Rather than a swift death, Fantomex finds himself wrapped in metal, which begins to form a cross, upon which he will possibly find himself crucified.

The moment, however, is lost on Esme, who senses something telepathically. Unfortunately for Magneto, all she can announces is Here he comes. From underneath, Magneto finds himself under the full assault of Cyclops’ optic blast. Temporarily stunned, Magneto falls into the newly created hole and finds himself at the feet of the X-Man. Teeth gritted in fury, Cyclops informs his foe that, even after everything that happened to him, he still trusted him. He thought Xorn was a genuinely good man… he gave him hope… and it was he all along. Lies, Cyclops yells as he strikes Magneto over the head, followed by a right cross. You filled all our lives with lies!

Pressing his advantage, Cyclops picks up the terrified Magneto by his cloak with his left hand, drawing back right for another strike. Continuing his diatribe, Cyclops asks Magneto if he knows how stupid he’s been? Of course, he does, he’s been watching them for months! He kept running from all the rotten feelings En Sabah Nur brought out in him… running from this rage he’s repressed all his life. So, no more running. No more holding back. He’s decided to let the rage loose. He’s decided to let it loose on people like him.

Drawing his head close to Magneto’s, Cyclops rhetorically asks Magneto if the helmet keeps him safe from telepathy. To this, Cyclops follows with the opening of his visor, from which blinding scarlet erupts, filling Magneto’s helmet with a pulverizing force, which causes it to shatter. Having been able to use his powers to protect his head, unlike his helmet, Magneto remains alive but severely wounded from the ordeal. Trying his best to crawl away, Magneto talks to himself, announcing that he cannot see… his eyes are bleeding… eardrums burst…

Hearing these words, Cyclops begins to snap back to a calmer state, realizing what he just did. So distracted is he that he does not see the metal helmet of Xorn rise from the rubble behind him. Having recovered enough to enact this plan, Magneto sneers at Cyclops. You want Xorn he snipes, Have him, Mister Summers. With this, the heavy helmet hits Cyclops in the back of the head, with great force.

Across town, the three remaining Stepford Cuckoos coordinate the attack against Magneto. Calling out telepathically, they inform the forces that X-Men street team’s on Fifth Avenue. Telepathic crowd control is underway but the pilots overhead are preparing to drop their bombs. With a final but enthusiastic unison, the girls tells Professor X welcome back, from all of them.

Back in the rubble of his recent headquarters, Magneto struggles to return to his feet. Clutching the mask of Xorn in one hand, he cradles his own head in another. With sudden horror, he realized that the pain in his head could be one thing. Charles? Is that you prowling…. Suddenly, pain erupts through Magneto’s mind and he collapses once again to the floor.

Addressing Magneto’s concerns, Esme approaches her former master and asks if she looks like an old, bald man. Has he ever even noticed how she looks? How she dresses because he made her believe in herself? She thought he was special. The greatest mutant who ever lived. But he’s just a fossil. Reaching out with her powers, Esme enters Magneto’s mind. This is how Alzheimer’s feel in fast-forward, she tells Magneto.

Not surrendering, Magneto pleads with Esme to not do this… don’t make him… Esme’s attack comes to a sudden end, as Magneto’s powers rips apart the metal within and without her body. Most visually, her earrings erupt and liquefy, presumably followed by the minerals within her. Esme is unable to produce more than a gurgle as she collapses to the ground. Having risen to his feet, Magneto stands over the inert form of his former lieutenant and asks he to forgive him. May the future forgive him, he then says.

Calling out with his powers to Xorn’s helmet, Magneto summons it to him. Continuing his thoughts as he places his former disguise upon his head, Magneto asks that may history judge his actions, great and small. In the final reckoning… when he has given them paradise and the world is free… these poor dead will not seem so many. Now, he concludes, let the sky fall.

As they approach the war zone that is Manhattan, four stealth bombers break radio silence as, inexplicably, a second sun has appeared. Even more bizarre, one of them is telling them that they shouldn’t be engaging bomb release…

Elsewhere, the Beast adds his own voice to the airwaves, informing the pilots that the baritone voice of the sun is his. Introducing himself as Doctor Henry McCoy, PhD from the Xavier Institute, he informs those listening that the X-Men mutant rescue teams have the terrorist situation in Manhattan under control and they ask for a moment to confirm Magneto’s capture.

Responding to this, the president retorts that Magneto has declared war on the human race and their scientists tell them that they have nothing to lose. So… how can they trust a word they say? Responding directly to the president, the Beast replies that he’ll leave the details of that to him, but he may just have to accept that not all mutants are his enemies. See, there’s only one person in the world who’s figured out how to repair the gene that’s threatening humankind with extinction. Moi. Telling the president to check with his scientists, the Beast suggests that, surely, there’s some way they can all be friends.

In the tower, Esme continues to struggle for life, unwilling to give up. It is in this paralyzed state, blood tears dripping from her eyes, that she is discovered by Emma Frost. Picking up her former pupil, Emma states, in her own attempt at kindness, that she turned into such a wonderful little femme fatale in the end, didn’t she? She’s ever so proud of all her girls. Fighting with rage against her paralysis, Esme managed to utter a few words as she glares at Emma, stating haltingly that she’s nothing like her. Furrowing her brow in internal pain, Emma replies to this that she thinks she’s most especially proud of her. With this, Esme dies.

The arrival of Cyclops causes Emma to place Esme’s corpse back down. Regarding her teammate and former lover, Emma mockingly states that he finally decided to show his face. Getting right to the point, Cyclops informs Emma that he’s had a lot of thinking to do… He’s an introvert. He always runs away to think. He didn’t expect to get as far as space but… Getting back to a point, Cyclops states that Magneto did all of this.

They bloody shot me, Emma announces. And then Jean brought her back in some New Age nightmare of forgiveness… and now this! Look, Cyclops states, trying to get back to a point; When this is all over… He’s made his decision between she and Jean.

The conversation is halted by the arrival of the three remaining Stepford Cuckoos. Something strange is happening now that Esme is dead, one of them announces. To this, a second adds that Magneto thinks he can top the world over on its head. And he’s going to do something to gravity and time, finishes the third.

Floating over the streets of Manhattan, Magneto, clad in his Xorn helmet, announces to his followers below that the day he promised has now come. Magneto is there to shake the world’s foundations. However, clad as he is in the disguise of Xorn, they do not recognize their leader. In various voices, they all call out for Magneto, asking when they get to see him.

One of the voices below, however, is neither a follower nor mutant. Dressed in the remains of his officer’s uniform, Officer Foster tells Magneto that he is under arrest. If he’s got a spare day and a half, Foster adds, he’ll read him the charge sheet. Sniping back in disgust, Magneto replies to Foster that his race will be extinct by morning. Where will his laws be then? To this, Magneto states that he can’t help but notice that metal pin in his hip. Line of duty? Reaching out with his magnetic tendrils, Magneto uses the metal pins to lift Foster into the air. Calling out to his followers, Magneto tells them to look at the human, who is trying to threaten them. Kill it, he orders. Kill them all. All.

Not death but salvation comes to Officer Foster, dressed in the Phoenix powered craft. Seeing Jean’s current form, Foster tells her that she has nice timing! He was three seconds from messing himself.

Beckoned by the officer that he softened Magneto up for him, the Beast tackles Magneto and then injects two syringes into his collars. Magneto attempts to struggles but Beast’s grip is too tight and he finds himself beneath the weight of the X-Man. Narrating his actions, Beast informs Magneto that the syringe contents should help neutralize the Kick enhancer in his bloodstream. To this, Beast adds that he can’t believe he’s do this. He of all people, Xorn.

Angered at this name, Magneto summons enough of his power to force back Beast and to remove the syringes from his own body. Now propelled by magnetic forces, the two syringes impact themselves into Beast, injecting their remaining contents. Now recovered, Magneto stands once again to his feet and announces to the X-Men and the world of who he is. He is Magneto!

Despite Magneto’s protestations, Wolverine addresses him as Xorn and asks if he remembers him. He’s the guy he threw at the sun. And, telling him the truth, right now the only thing keeping him breathing’s a pacifist creed he doesn’t wholly subscribe to. Staring at Wolverine’s bared claws, Magneto is taken aback at Wolverine’s words. What’s this Xorn garbage, he demands. He knows who he is. Must he tear his adamantium skull form his head just to prove it? Yeah, yeah, Wolverine counters. Quit stalling.

Finally revealing herself in her flaming glory, Phoenix tells Magneto that Wolverine’s right. He shouldn’t let them stand in the way of his big moment. It’s hard to believe he went to such lengths this time… he should have been an actor. Looking up at the Jean’s Phoenix form and costume, Magneto informs her that his helmet is thought-proofed. This isn’t going to end… Interrupting her old foe, Jean replies that they’re too late to stop him making another destructive bid for attention, true. So go on, she tells him, seize his moment. Talk to the people he wants to rule. Make his pitch for world domination.

Having been witness to the events between Magneto and the X-Men, the mutant crowd objects, announcing that they don’t want this guy in charge of things. Who does this “skull-face” freak think he is? Take over the world? He couldn’t run a market stall! Enraged at these words, Magneto asks how dare they. Don’t they recognize who he is? What he is? The chaos, he tells them, is only the first stage! He is Magneto!

Egging on the sentiment, Jean repeats the name of Magneto inquisitively, pointing out that he doesn’t look anything like him. How can he be Magneto when Magneto is dead? Now addressing the crowd, Jean asks if this is the Magneto anyone knows. Is this what he looks like?

His thoughts as fluid as a cascading waterfall, Magneto stammers, nearly incoherently, announcing that he is suffocating. Magnetically, he levitates the Xorn mask from his head, freeing his face to the air. Now unmasked and thinking more clearly, he calls out of the crowd of followers, telling them to see. He… is … Magneto!

And the worst thing he ever did, a voice announces, was to come back. Turning to the voice, Magneto sees the rest of the X-Men, with Fantomex and the remaining Brotherhood. Continuing, Xavier tells Magneto that he had become a legend in death, an inspiration for change. Now look at him… just another foolish and self-important old man, with outdated thoughts in his head. He has nothing this new generation of mutants wants… except for his face on a T-shirt.

They have ideas of their own now, Xavier continues. Perhaps it’s time they put away the old dreams, the old manifestos… and just listened for a while. His way, Xavier tells Magneto, will never work. This can’t go on. He’s had enough. He thinks they’ve all had enough. Hearing these words, Magneto once again collapses.

Tenderly, Jean kneels next to their fallen foe, who seems to babble about having had enough. However, as she approaches, Magneto’s hand grasps her arm. Reeling in pain, Jean asks in horror what he has just done. Grinning, Magneto returns to his feet, his last task accomplished. It was a lethal electromagnetic pulse, he tells her. She’s having a planetary-scale stroke. All that power he stored, he continues, had to go somewhere. Placing the Xorn helmet upon his head once again, Magneto announces that he will not be judged. Give him death. Make him immortal.

In one swift stroke, accompanied by a roar generated by pain, anguish and sorrow, Wolverine severs the head of Magneto, which bounces on the ground several times before coming to a rest.

Rushing to his wife’s side, Cyclops call out to Jean to hold on. Wracked with pain, Jean cannot even hold herself up but managed to tell her husband no… no… Nearby, the three Stepford Cuckoos watch the demise of Jean and tells everyone in unison to look; something’s wrong with the whole universe now. Cyclops, however, is unable to regard anything but his wife and the life that is leaving her. But a short distance away, Beast tries his best to subdue Wolverine, telling the rest of the group that he’ gone feral.

Cradling his wife, Cyclops tells her that he’s so sorry about everything. He never meant to hurt her. Replying in an otherworldly voice, Jean states that the Phoenix understands. This is followed by Jean’s regular, fading voice, which informs her husband that she hasn’t seen him so alive for a long time. Scott… her best friend… she has to go now… In her final breath, Jean tells her husband to live. All she ever did was die on him.

As Cyclops voice gets louder and louder in their attempt to call out to his wife, the words he speaks fades further and further away into the white light of the beyond, until there is only light left.

(150 years later)
A small spacecraft, constructed from the remains of a terrestrial automobile, skims over the barren wasteland that is the lunar surface. The wasteland, however, is soon left behind, as the vehicle enters the ancient city that is known as the Blue Area of the Moon.

Exiting the vehicle in a space suit, one of the craft’s two passengers makes his way to a crevice. The other passenger calls out to the explorer, reminding him that Corona said she saw it; but does he think it’s true? Aye, the first replies, seeing the object in question. In the bottom of the crevice, surrounded by graffiti on the ancient walls, is a glowing oval orb. “God help us all,” he states, eyeing the horrible prize, “I think we found the Phoenix Egg.”

Characters Involved: 

Beast, Cyclops, Emma Frost, Phoenix IV, Professor X, Wolverine (all X-Men)
Beak, Dust, Stepford Cuckoos & unnamed mutants (all X-Men allies)
Officer Foster, NYPD mutant liaison

Angel, Angel & Beak’s children, Ernst, Martha Johansson, Toad (all Brotherhood inner circle)
Unnamed mutant followers

President of the United States
President’s advisors
Stealth bomber pilots

In the future
Lunar explorers

On screen

Story Notes: 

Invictus is Latin for “unconquerable” or “undefeated,” making a possible translation for the issue’s title to “Phoenix Undefeated” or “invincible Phoenix.”

The Beast and Emma Frost were stranded after their X-Plane was sabotaged in New X-Men #146.

When the president’s aide declares that the human race should not go gently into the night, he is para-quoting the poem “Do Not Go Gently Into That Good Night” by Dylan Thomas, which speaks about the final days of an old man, nearing death after a long life.

Alzheimer’s is a disease similar to dementia where the victim’s cognitive functions degrade over a period of years.

The neutron bomb is a theoretical nuclear warhead that would produce minimal blast and heat but large amounts of lethal radiation. The effect of this would be large human casualties, but little to no affect on infrastructure.

Emma was shattered into thousands of pieces by a diamond bullet in New X-Men #139. She was subsequently put back together thanks to Jean and the Phoenix Force in New X-Men #141.

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