Secret X-Men #1

Issue Date: 
April 2022
Story Title: 
The Secret X-Men

Tini Howard (writer), Francesco Mobili (artist), Jesus Aburtvov (colorist), Virtual Calligraphy's Clayton Cowles (letterer & production), Tom Muller (designer), Lenil Francis Yu & Sunny Gho (cover artists), Tony Daniel & Marcelo Maiolo (variant cover artist), Jonathan Hickman (Head of X), Lauren Amaro (assistant editor), Jordan D White (editor), CB Cebulski (editor-in-chief)

X-Men created by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

Brief Description: 

Sunspot is attending a party on Chandilar when his sort-of-lover Deathbird confronts him and informs him that she needs his X-Men team to help protect Xandra, the Empress of the Shi'ar. Sunspot meets up with Cannonball and starts to talk to him about who he would have on an X-Men team – and actually, he's already assembled them – Banshee, Forge, Boom-Boom, Strong Guy, Tempo, Marrow and Armor. Sunspot talks to them about the mission to protect Xandra, while Cannonball's wife, Smasher, and Gladiator arrive and report that Xandra is missing, along with two precogs Oracle and Delphos. The makeshift team of mutants are given new matching costumes as they head into deep space. En route, they deal with an attack by the Sidri, before arriving at a planet where they search for the location which will lead them to Xandra. Some of the mutants get annoyed with Sunspot, before the group eventually locates the cave, where they find a Krakoan gateway. After battling more Sidri, they travel through the gateway which takes them to a ship where Deathbird, Xandra, Oracle and Delphos are waiting, in a shuttle near a wormhole. A rogue Sidri arrives and snatches Deathbird, escaping with her through the wormhole. The precogs advise Xandra that Deathbird's absence poses a threat, and suggest Xandra wipe this mission from the “X-Men's” minds. She does so, and the mutants return to Krakoa, while Xandra worries what will happen with Deathbird, and promises to keep her X-Men a secret.

Full Summary: 

Chandilar, the jewel of the Shi'ar Empire, where the Great Ornithery Festival is underway. Hundreds of alien partygoers are dressed in extravagant feathered costumes, while robot drones pour glasses of green champagne as they dart about the festival. For some young Shi'ar warriors, it is a chance to prove their mettle against a foe. The ancient Shi'ar features are celebrated in an array of feathers and lights, drinking and dancing. For other heroes, like Roberto DaCosta a.k.a. Sunspot, it is just the best party on 75 planets. Currently, Roberto is making out with a woman, who falls backwards onto a bed. 'Come here' she beckons him. 'If she asks? I lead the X-Men' Sunspot thinks to himself. He moves towards her, when suddenly, a sharp weapon is placed between him and the woman. 'Are you kidding me?' Sunspot exclaims. 'I found him, Lady Deathbird' the woman smirks.

Deathbrid looks pleased as she leers at Sunspot. 'This mightbe about to be the best night of my life!' Sunspot grins, thinking he's getting lucky with both women. 'I assure you, it will not be, Sunspot!' Deathbird snaps. Deathbird declares that she needs the assistance of the X-Men, and that her scout here said that he is currently claiming to be the leader of the X-Men. 'It seems as though she was able to get you alone easily. But despite your low risk awareness, you are... my ally' Deathbird remarks. 'That's good. I was gonna ask, like, what are we?' Sunspot replies, confused over his relationship with Deathbird. He takes glass of champagne and tells Deathbird to sit down and relax, have drink. But as he takes the glass from the floating drone, Deathbird's scout suddenly shoots the drone, destroying it and shattering the wine glass. She apologizes to Deathbird, and assures her that any potential recording devices have now been neutralized. 'He just dispenses champagne...' Sunspot's voice trails off.

As the scout leaves the room, Deathbird informs Sunspot that she comes to him in need of an ally outside of the Shi'ar Imperial Guard. She reports that Delphos and Oracle, the Imperial Guard's precognitives, have seen a threat on the life of Xandra, the young empress, and as such, she has moved her to a secondary location far from Chandilar. Deathbird tells Sunspot that his X-Men are to meet there under the utmost secrecy, as Xandra is a high-priority target. 'I hope I make myself clear' Deathbird declares, before turning to leave the room, and tells Sunspot that she has made it difficult to reach this location by design, and adds that she did not know who the X-Men would choose as their leader. 'I thought it might be you, Roberto... I like to be right' Deathbird adds. Sunspot smiles and thinks to himself that Deathbird is crazy about him.

Shortly, at the Guthrie residence on Chandilar, where Sunspot's best friend, Sam Guthrie a.k.a. Cannonball, is busy in the kitchen. His son, Josiah, can be seen playing with some toys in the living room nearby. 'So she's like, “Sunspot, leader of the X-Men”... are you listening?' Sunspot exclaims. 'Oh, sure. Hypothetical X-Men team lineup is a favorite game of mine. At least till someone's feelings get hurt' Sam replies. 'Did you wanna hear about the team I picked or not?' Sunspot responds, before telling Sam that the two of them will be co-captains, and that they need Strong Guy for some muscle and Armor because she's adaptative. 'Then, you need some firepower. I like Boom-Boom, because she's sexy. And Banshee, because he's sexy' Sunspot jokes. Sam keeps watch over the food he is preparing, shaking a frying pan above the element, while he drinks from a beer bottle.

Sunspot continues, adding that then you need a wild card. 'And you want to ask them early on – they're impossible to manage if they get the idea that they're an afterthought'. Sam tells Roberto that is some “fine team leadering” and asks him who he would go with. 'Marrow' Sunspot quickly replies, before announcing that he then has a secret weapon, a reset button – Tempo. 'Tempo! Like, if you screw up, she can fix it!' Cannonball frowns at Sunspot as he asks if this isn't the group from the night of the Hellfire Gala. 'And I ain't sure that's how Tempo works, Beto' Sam adds. 'Well, let's ask her' Sunspot replies. 'Huh?' Sam responds. 'She's downstairs, dude. This wasn't a hypothetical' Sunspot reveals. 'Why'd you just let me make pasta like a bonehead if we got somewhere to be?' Sam exclaims. 'I wanted you to have your carbs before our mission' Sunspot replies. He tells his friend that he may be invulnerable when he is blasting, but that he is also mean when he is hungry.

'All right, ya blorks said ya needed us and we came' Guido Carosella a.k.a. Strong Guy remarks as Sunspot and Cannonball arrive downstairs, and find their associates waiting for them. Heather Tucker a.k.a. Tempo, Sean Cassidy a.k.a. Banshee, Tabby Smith a.k.a. Boom-Boom, Marrow, Forge and Hisako Ichiki a.k.a. Armor are wall waiting, hands on hips or arms folded. Sunspot quietly tells Cannonball that he really doesn't have time to waste. 'And you trust me, right?' he adds. 'You're always telling me “Beto, I trust ya”' 'Yeah, 'cause you're always saying “you trust me, right, Sam? Tell me you trust me”' Cannonball replies. 'And you say yes!' Sunspot exclaims.

Banshee points out that he hadn't heard from them since the night of the Hellfire Gala, when they were all drowning their sorrows after the vote. 'Hey, yeah. You were supposed to text me about plans!' Tabby tells her friends. Armor suggests that these are the plans, and asks what they are doing here. Sunspot smiles at everyone and tells them that ever since the Hellfire Gala, he couldn't think of anyone better to ask: 'It's a secret mission. We have to go meet Deathbird at a secondary location' he reveals. 'Deathbird? The psychotically violent vassal to the Shi'ar Empress? She called you?' Tempo asks, skeptically. 'Well, yeah, it's about the Empress... again -' Sunspot begins, when suddenly, Sam looks worried as a voice shouts out 'Saaaaaaaam?! Can you come up here, please?'

'Deathbird? The Empress? Beto, you shoulda told me right away -' Sam tells his friend as they return to the living quarters upstairs. Beto tells Sam that he is sorry, and asks him if he understands now – it's for love. 'Yeah...I get love. I have a wife, who I love, who used to love me but now is gonna just want me dead' Sam replies. 'Where the hell have you been? Why aren't you answering your comms?' Sam's wife, Izzy a.k.a. Smasher asks as she appears with Gladiator. 'The Empress Xandra is missing' Gladiator announces. 'Oh no! Uhh... again?' Sam replies. 'She is a high-priority target' Gladiator exclaims, raising his voice. He then clears his throat and states that it would seem Deathbird is missing along with her. Smasher reports that Oracle and Delphos are gone, too, so with two precogs nearby, she doesn't think Deathbird and Xandra were taken by surprise.

Gladiator boasts that their recent defenses are impenetrable, which means Deathbird must have Xandra and be hiding with her. 'So...Deathbird is...bad again? Causing you trouble. We should...stop her?' Cannonball replies. 'Yeah. Same...uh, same question' Sunspot adds, scratching his head, confused. 'I see seven mutants on my front stoop so I'm guessing you got a team ready  already?' Smasher asks. 'Uh, affirmative, that's them' Sam responds. Gladiator takes Sam and Beto aside and tells them that he would not ordinarily trust such things to those outside the Imperial Guard, but that Cannonball is family to one of their own, so this way, the Imperial Guard can remain here in defense. '... Ah can't believe you, Beto' Sam frowns. 'I was gonna tell you! I just wanted to do it with a reveal. It was gonna be so good!' Betao exclaims. 'Izzy is gonna kill me -' Sam starts to say, to which Beto snaps 'So don't tell her! We're not psychics! You make your girl happy, I make my girl happpy, we call each other in a week when we pry them off our laps!' Beto exclaims. 'You're lucky Ah love you' Sam mutters. 'Yeah, I am' Beto agrees, before he calls out 'To meeee, my X-Men' and bursts into laughter.

Shortly, in the Imperial Guard hangar on Chandilar, Sunspot finds himself being stared down by “his” team of “X-Men”. 'Whoa, hold on, why all the frowns? Sam, did you explain to them what's  going on?' Sunspot asks. 'He tried. Here's how far he got: We showed up to help you with a secret rescue mission, and now we're in the middle of an Imperial Guard pickle?' Forge replies, while aiming a large gun at Sunspot. 'We've gotta hunt down Deathbird...but she's the one who gave you the mission?' Tabby asks. Forge tells Sunspot that he is not looking to mess around with these kinda stakes. 'We screw this up, and we muck up Krakoa's standing with the Shi'ar. Not to mention the Professor's daughter's on the line' Forge adds. 'All the more reason to trust me and take it seriously, old man' Sunspot declares.

Sunspot then asks the others to hear him out. He admits that he plays hard, and declares that he is a winner at heart. He assures his companions that he is not being sneaky, he is being smart. 'They both want the same thing - Deathbird and Xandra found alive. We don't know what the rest of the situation is, and the last thing we want to do is run our mouths and incite some sort of interpersonal war that quickly turns intergalactic' Sunspot exclaims, before asking his companions if they want to worry about giving the Professor indigestion, well, tht will do it. 'We can make everyone happy at once. You wanna know how I know?' he asks. No one says anything, so he tells them that it is because they are heroes, and would be an incredible X-Men team – not just because they all wanted it so badly, but because it's true – they are a kick-ass team. 'He has a point' Armor frowns. 'Heh, yeah, we rule' Marrow agrees. Armor calls Marrow by her only known name, Sarah, and tells her that this is pretty serious. 'Sunspot was the last person to talk to Deathbird, so we've got a head start on the Imperial Guard...even if they don't know that yet' and suggests that they should probably just try to find her as quickly as possible.


Forge turns to a computer console and tells Armor that she is smart, and announces that he is calling up a ship to borrow. 'Though if I'dd known we'd be pulling deep-space travel duty, I'd have brought us along something a little more heroic...'. Sunspot thanks Forge and tells him that he has don't plenty already when it comes to making them feel heroic. 'People? I got a little excited. I had Forge make us something special' Sunspot grins. He tells his companions to get on board and he will show them.

Shortly, hurtling through Shi'ar space is a vessel, where, onboard, the nine mutants have changed into their new matching black and gold costumes. They are relatively standard across all of the group, with each allowing for the individual aspects of the wearer – Banshee's has wings, Tempo's has her yellow helmet and Tabby covers her uniform up with her trenchcoat. Marrow declares that these fit great, to which Sunspot confesses to going into their Cerebro backups to get their sizes. Tempo admits that the uniforms look great, before asking Beto to next time ask her her dress size instead of creeping around her backups. Tabby tells Banshee that he looks “damn good” and Banshee replies by telling Tabby that she doesn't look so bad herself. 'We look damn good, team!' Sunspot exclaims. 'Hands in the center -' he begins to say, before something out of nowhere slams into the ship.

'Look at that timing! Battle stations, everyone!' Sunspot orders. Cannonball surrounds himself with a forcefield as he announces that he is taking a crew outside. Armor offers to go with him, raising her psionic exo-armor around herself. 'Heh, Me too' Marrow alls out as she begins to form an armor of bone matter around her body. 'Hey, uhhh, Sarah. Ah'm not yer dad, but -' Sam starts to say, to which Armor looks at Marrow and tells her to put a spacesuit on. 'Naaah, I'll be good. 'Sides, Guido n' Forge took 'em all' Marrow responds. 'Fer what?' Cannonball asks, when suddenly, Strong Guy, wearing several spacesuits patched together to cover his large body, appears. 'I'm coming too! Hold on!' he calls out, explaining that hr had to make a special request to make one of his famous Strong Guy pots of Strong Coffee for the bridge crew, and get a spacesuit.

As Cannonball, Armor, Marrow and Strong Guy gather at the airlock, Cannonball looks at the spacesuit that Strong Guy wears – several extra sleeves sticking out from various parts of the suit, he asks if Forge just stitched that together now. 'Yeah. Such a handy fella. We all in?' Strong Guy replies. Armor starts to point out that Marrow doesn't have a spacesuit on, when Strong Guy presses the button which opens the airlock, and the four are shunted out into space. Sunspot's voice can be heard over the comms system as he tells Cannonball to speak up, and asks him what he sees out there. 'Was sorta hoping y'all could give us some insight there, over' Cannonball responds. Forge and Banshee take the helm, manning the ship, while Sunspot, Tempo and Tabby stand behind them. Forge reports that the radar is on the fritz, picking up nothing but black – but  that doesn't mean there's nothing out there. 'Yeah, like... we're surrounded' Tempo suggests.

'Hold on' Cannonball calls out, before asking Marrow if she is all right, as she can be seen floating nearby. Marrow's body is now entirely encased in bone armor and she turns to Cannonball, holding two long bone fragments like swords. She tells Cannonball that she has been wanting to try out a bone spacesuit ever since she learned that she can come back when she dies. 'But I can't do any damage to this swarm of darkness and I don't know what it is' Marrow adds. Cannonball tells his strike team that he has an idea. 'Power 'a cooperation, am I right?' Cannonball asks as his blasting field glows around him. 'On it!' Strong Guy replies as he begins punching at the darkness, striking it with powerful blows. This plan works, as the darkness separates, revealed to be the alien race known as the Sidri. 'Y'all we got Sidri bounty hunters! I shoulda known!' Cannonball calls out. Armor, Strong Guy and Marrow begin to battle the aliens as Cannonball blasts a path through them.

'Sidri! They're always involving themselves in Shi'ar crap!' Sunspot exclaims. 'Yeah? Who do they usually side with?' Tabby asks. 'Whoever's paying' Sunspot tells her. 'That's not so bad' Tabby decides. Cannonball complains about how difficult it is to fight the Sidri and asks his companions back on the ship to get ready and open the air lock and let them back in. 'I'm yer man' Banshee replies as he runs down towards the air lock. Forge informs Cannonball that Banshee is on his way. Banshee taps at the control panel and remarks that he is happy to blow off some steam. 'But I'll have to deploy the wings, hold my breath and hang on tight' Banshee remarks. He takes a deep breath then clings to the edge of the spaceship as the air lock opens. Cannonball, Strong Guy, Marrow and Armor make their way back towards the air lock, while Banshee releases a powerful sonic scream that blasts back the approaching Sidri.

The spaceship continues on through space, with the remains of the dead Sidri floating behind it. 'Sean. That was amazing' someone calls out. Banshee sniffs, and pulling Strong Guy's discarded spacesuit around himself for warmth, he also holds a cup of coffee and remarks that it worked, and got the Sidri off their backs. He then asks his companions if they figured out where they are going here. 'I did, actually' Sunspot smiles smugly. Tabby and Tempo look over at him as Sunspot announces that Forge was able to run an algorithmic request to all surveillance AI for potential flight paths matching Deathbird's ship's description, and they were able to run it back and again about fifteen thousand times in the few minutes they have been sitting here. 'You mean I was able to. I did that' Tempo exclaims. Tabby then asks where they are headed. 'Somewhere fun? Exciting?' she enquires. 'One of those Shi'ar party planets Beto talks about? We'll have to stop for cloths first. I can't go in this -' she begins, to which someone announces that the planet below has breathable air. 'So...let's count out blessings and hit the mall later, Boom-Boom' they suggest. 'Tch' Tabby mutters.

The spaceship descends onto the ice-covered terrain of the planet below. The group exit the spaceship and begin examining their new surroundings. 'Not to be rude? I know the air is breathable, but it smells like farts' Armor complains. 'That aside...this place looks like it's half space junk and half frozen rock' Tempo remarks. 'You think we're gonna find Xandra here?' she asks. 'I don't know. Deathbird said to find her at a secondary location, maybe they came here first. We gotta be on the right track, you saw the data' Sunspot responds. Cannonball points out that the Imperial Guard could have mopped through tose Sidri no problem, and suggests that there has to be more to this. 'No way, Sam – they wouldn't have found their way to her' Forge replies, reminding him that they only did it with his rigging and Tempo's ability to run it so fast. 'Banshee saved out asses -' he starts to say, before Sunspot interrupts him, announcing that he doesn't like all the disagreeing, and suggesting that they are all just punchy after the run in with the Sidri.

'Yeah? Backseat driving test your limits up there, Captain?' Banshee frowns, hands on hips. 'Tch' Sunspot frowns, before he throws his arms in the air and starts to walk away, suggesting that they split up and look around. He tells everyone to stay within hollering distance, and to yell if they see anything. 'Or don't. Get eaten by something, whatever' he mutters quietly. 'You'll know when I give a shout' Banshee retorts. Sunspot looks annoyed, and quietly tells himself 'Roberto, you are a winner, you are handsome, he is jealous because you are younger and prettier'. Nearby, Marrow starts smashing her way through one of the ice-rock compounds. 'Nice job, Marrow. I'll head, uh, this way...' Armor remarks. Strong Guy punches at another formation and agrees that Marrow had the right idea, as it looks like something is frozen under the ice. 'I'm gonna break it!' he calls out. But Forge tells Guido to be careful, and not to break it – too late though, and a strange gas seeps around the mutants. Tabby gasps and complains 'More of that fart gas'. Tempo covers her mouth and tells everyone that she is about to turn them all back before they suffocate. 'Hey, buddy!' Cannonball calls out as he wraps an arm around Sunspot. Sunspot is surprised to see Cannonball, and asks him if he didn't go looking. 'Guido found something. So I came to find you!' Cannonball smiles.

Shortly, the group gathers around a large door built into the rock formation. 'Oh my. Wow. Okay. Uh. Anyyyyy...anyone a space wizard? Anyone been wizardy!' Sunspot asks. Forge reports that it is not magic, and that if he had to guess, it looks technopsionic in nature. 'Can I hit it' Marrow asks as she approaches with two bone fragments. Forge tells Marrow not to, suggesting that now the door is exposed, it is probably real sensitive to tampering. 'Technopsionic?' Armor asks. 'Like we should have brought a psychic?' Tempo suggests. 'I knew I forgot something' Sunspot mutters. 'Ah was gonna say something...' Cannonball tells his friend. 'What? Were you too involved with your pasta? What's wrong with you? Why didn't you say something?' Sunspot suddenly shouts at Cannonball, who looks taken aback.

Soon, the door slides open. 'Finally! Between now and the next mission? Action item? We find a psychic. You can't throw a rock without hitting one on Krakoa...' Sunspot mutters. The group walk into a cave, and towards a certain object in the center of the cave. 'That's it? Just a Krakoan gate?' Marrow asks, unimpressed. But Sunspot thinks it is kind of brilliant – if you want to make sure only your strongest mutant alies get through, put the mutant doorway at the end. 'I just hope it doesn't implicate us' Cannonball remarks, adding that he doesn't know if he likes how this mission is going. 'Seems more n' more like we're walking into something' he adds. Beto rubs the back of his neck and tells Sam that he is sorry for panicking earlier, and that he didn't mean to get saucy. 'Aw, it ain't no thing' Sam replies, adding again that he is worried they are walking into something. 'Well, sure, but the literally only have Delphos and Oracle with them to see the future! They would know how to make sure we got to them, right?' Beto asks. 'Think how useful that would be, to see $#%& coming -' Sunspot begins, before Boom-Boom shouts 'Sunspot! The sidri followed us!' as she turns around to see hundreds of the aliens moving towards the group. Boom-Boom offers to hold off the Sidri with Guido, enabling everyone else to get through the gate.

But Cannonball suggests to Sunspot that they mop this floor. 'Attaboy! Lemme have this dance with Sam and I'll meet you all on the other side!' Sunspot calls out. Boom-Boom blasts one of the Sidri that gets near her, while Strong Guy carries Tempo and Marrow into the Krakoan gateway. 'Enh! I wanna see!' Marrow complains. Armor and Boom-Boom turn as they step into the gate, and see Cannonball blasting through the Sidri, while Sunspot blasts them with powerful flaming energy. 'See. See? Aren't we having fun?' Beto asks. 'Yeah, we're pretty great co-captains...this was a good idea' Sam replies.

Later, inside another spaceship that orbits the Great Kythri Wormhole. Deathbird stands before the group of mutants, with Empress Xandra sitting on a chair, nearby, and Oracle and Delphos standing to one side. Deathbird announces that their shuttle won't last longer than two standard days before it is sucked into the wormhole and shattered in exo-space. 'You were wise to hurry' she remarks. 'Excuse me? You, Xandra and both seers would have been killed if we hadn't turned up on time?' Sunspot asks. 'Geez, yuck. Maybe I'm not ready for this X-Men job...' Armor mutters. But Deathbird declares that she would havve removed them before being sucked into the wormhole, but that she would have led the X-Men to believe that as punishment for their failure, she would have wanted them to bear that shame. 'Cal'syee, please be kind to my friends...' Xandra calls out to her aunt. Deathbird then tells the X-Men that they did not fail. 'You succeeded quite handily' she tells Sunspot. 'Thank you' Beto replies. 'Suspiciously so' Deathbird adds, narrowing her eyes as she looks into Sunspot's eyes. 'Huh? What?' Sunspot asks. Deathbird queries as to whether Sunspot has anything else to tell her. 'No trouble with the guard?' she enquires. 'Trouble? Uh,no, no trouble...' Sunspot replies.

'Beto -' Cannonball calls out, before Deathbird warns him not to toy with her, and grabs him by his throat, lifting him off the ground. Cannonball, Boom-Boom, Strong Guy and Marrow get ready to intervene, while Deathbird calls Sunspot a fool and tells him that she has eyes and ears everywhere, and that she knows he was sent here by Gladiator and the rest. 'You lie to my face! After being trusted with the Empress' life?' Deathbird exclaims, before telling Sunspot that he is no ally to her, and that she should kill him and his entire team for this. 'Can explain -' Sunspot begins, struggling for breath as Deathbird grips his neck tightly. 'Put him down, Deathbird!' Cannonball calls out. 'Or don't – let's trash this place! I wanny try my bone spacesuit again!' Marrow exclaims. 'Marrow, again with the brilliant ideas' Tempo mumbles, before telling Banshee that when she gives the word, he should bust the glass on this space shuttle – and to hold his breath, as he is about to get another nosebleed.

But, before Tempo can  carry out her plan, 'Please! Stop!' a telepathic voice calls out. It's Xandra, who tells everyone that they don't have time to fight like this. Xandra then tells Deathbird that she can see their thoughts, and that they aren't lying – they came here as X-Men, as their allies. 'When I really do go missing...that's who we count on' Xandra adds. Deathbird releases Sunspot, while Xandra points out that they didn't come here with Gladiator, and yet they could have. She tells Deathbird that what is important is the truth – they don't know who in the Guard they can trust, and it seems their cautious secrecy has bred distrust among important alliances. 'Even when those alliances are tentative. Such as yours and Gladiators – they are vital!' Xandra exclaims. Deathbird scowls, while Guido steps forward, he announces that he doesn't want to butt in, before revealing that they faced some resistance on the way in – a bunch of those Sidri, the creep alien bounty hunters. 'They were all over our asses' Guido adds. 'Oh, well I hired those' Deathbird admits, explaining that Xandra needed allies who can handle themselves in combat, of course – a simple test of mettle.

'And I picked the best team. I mean that. Ask Sam!' Sunspot exclaims, punching Guido's arm as Sunspot adds 'He heard the whole heist team rundown. Flawless victory!' Xandra then apologizes to Sunspot, telling him that he was slightly influenced by her there. 'Deathbird says I must make hard decisions myself. If I wanted allies from among you, I had to choose them. The night your X-Men were chosen, you all who wanted it the most, did not fight among each toasted together. As friends' Xandra explains, suggesting that seemed more important than who had what power. 'Yeah, well, you coulda thought to include a psychic' Forge remarks. Xandra smiles and tells him that she supposes he is right. Xandra then confesses to helping a little there, too, as when she sended their distress from afar, she couldn't help herself, and her allies. 'The precogs told me we'd be in danger, so Deathbird insisted they come along' she adds. Xandra remarks that they feel safer with the precogs around, and adds that she doesn't know what dhe would do if anything happened to Deathbird.

At that moment, a Sidri flies close to the shuttle, and breaks through a glass screen with a cable, which latches onto Deathbird's back. Death bird screams, and Xandra leaps up from her chair, 'X-Men, help!' she calls out. 'I'll seal the breach!' Forge exclaims as he goes over to the shattered window, and uses a knife to  slice through the cable connecting to Deathbird. He tells Oracle and Delphos that they have to move, and Delphos calls out 'Deathbird's been hit with something! It's stuck to her!' Forge looks at the window and tells everyone that they have to get out of this room and air lock it off. He reports that he can patch is long enough to get them all out of here safely, but that it won't hold for a lightspeed journey. 'Damned Sidri! Get this off of me, Sunspot!' Deathbird shrieks. 'Everyone out!' Sunspot shouts at his teammates, who leave the room along with Xandra, Delphos and Oracle. 'They follow whoever's paying – they must have gotten a better offer!' Deathbird exclaims. The part of the cable stuck in Deathbird's back begins to beep, and Deathbird reaches around to grab it, despite Sunspot telling her not to, as it is a teleport mine. Too late, and Deathbird vanishes.

Sunspot looks out the shuttle and sees that the Sidri is headed for the wormhole, and supposes that it is trying to escape. He calls out to Tempo, and asks her if she is willing to help him out. Tempo places a spacesuit helmet on over her own yellow helmet, and tells Sunspot that she is way ahead of him. 'You look mad, my friend. Let's get your girl back' Tempo declares. A moment later, Sunspot and Tempo are flying through space, and Tempo laughs as the Sidri looks behind himself. 'They always do that...when I've already jumped way ahead' she exclaims. 'That sounds like it never gets old' Sunspot replies. 'It doesn't' Tempo tells him, while Sunspot announces that he is into righteous anger – and about a billion joules of unfiltered solar energy, which he releases against the Sidri, destroying it before it escapes through the wormhole.

Back inside the space shuttle, 'Everybody in?' Tabby asks. Xandra announces that she has contacted the Imperial Guard, and that the ship is damaged, but they should be able to make the lightspeed journey safely thaks to Forge's help, and they are expected on Chandilar shortly. 'Hey, I got a question. And I'm a big dumb fella so it's probably nothing. How come y'all didn't see it coming? The precogs?' Guido asks. Oracle and Delphos stare at Guido, as Oracle announces that the future is a complex thing, and to tell him the answer to that, would change things too drastically. 'Huh. Maybe I am a dummy. That make sense to you, Princess?' Gudio asks, turning to Xandra. 'Empress' Xandra corrects him, before she states that it does, and that her advisors know she has access to the truth within their minds at all times. She looks over to Oracle and Delphos and acknowledges that it would change the future drastically if they told them. 'They believe that. And perhaps Deathbird's a necessary component of a brighter future...but I pray not' Xandra adds.

Sunspot sits next to Cannonball and asks 'What am I gonna do?' Sam tells his friend that he is going to rescue her, that he is going to get back home, apply a few noes about psychics and get back on that horse. 'But you won't be ablel to come. Izzy will be mad' Sam smiles at Beto and tells him that he is pretty sure Izzy will be working with them, as this seems like her department. 'Yeah? So you'll come with?' Beto smiles. 'Of course' Sam tells his friend. Sunspot approaches Forge and tells him that this battered ship doesn't need nine mmutants weighing it down, and asks how long he thinks they can safely use the gate in the other room to get back to Krakoa, and let Xandra carry on to Chandilar. 'Before that room becomes entirely unsafe to enter? Uhhh...five minutes ago' Forge responds. Tempo announces that she can do five minutes. 'Say bye to the Empress now. Just because I have time does not mean we need to waste time. Ready?' Tempo exclaims.

But, before farewells can be said, 'Now, please, Xandra' one of the precogs calls out. 'Like this?' Xandra asks as she puts the mutants under her telepathic control. 'Yes, quickly, before they go through their gate' one of the precogs says. Delphos remarks that they canot know why Deathbird has been rtaken from them yet, but that her absence is a very dangerous hole in their defenses. Oracle tells Xandra that she understands these mutants are her friends, and they have proven themselves to be capable, but that they cannot trust them with Shi'ar secrets. 'The more folks who know what went on here today...even our trusted allies...' her voice trails off, as Delphos explains 'The more ill will befall us' and states that these X-Men cannot know of Deathbird's absence – it is a tactical failing they can't have exposed, and that Xandra must alter their memories and take that part away.

'Alter their memories? I thought this was only a training exercise, I didn't think it would be serious. They are my friends...and they wanted it so badly! More than anyone, these ones wanted to be X-Men...' Xandra replies. Delphos points out that Empresses do not always get to have friends. She acknowledges that Xandra is the Empress and they are merely advisors, but urges her to choose quickly. Xandra states that she understands, and announces that the X-Men will remember the rest of it, the chase and the fun of it, but not all of it – they cannot know Deathbird is gone. She releases her control over the “X-Men”, and Tabby smiles: 'Don't forget to hold your breath when you go through the gate!' she calls out. 'Aye, it's good luck' Banshee agrees. 'Who said that? Do people thing that? We're gonna be talking about this the whole walk to Sam's place' Armor mutters.

The nine mutants steps through the gate, and Sam announces that he holds his breath past graveyards, but never dont a gate. 'Ooh, like that big one by LaGuardia? I held me breath so long I almost passed out one time' Guido exclaims. 'Buddy, what did you think was gonna happen if you breathed?' Beto asks. Guido tells him that he doesn't know, but his Aunt Gina did it, and he never questions her. 'I had an Aunt Gina! She was a car model!' Tabby calls out. 'You got pictures?' Forge asks. Marrow then points out that Banshee is smiling – and not because he is going to yell.

Back on the space shuttle, tears fall down Xandra's face. Delphos and Oracle each put a hand on her shoulders, as she remarks that Roberto cares for Deathbird, but she believes her advisors. 'But I want them to think of tonight and feel proud. And though I accept I must change their memories...of that, I am not proud. My X-Men must be my secret!'


Characters Involved: 

Armor, Banshee, Boom-Boom, Cannonball, Forge, Marrow, Strong Guy, Sunspot, Tempo


Majestrix Xandra Neramani


Delphos, Gladiator, Oracle, Smasher IX (all Imperial Guard)




Story Notes: 

The nine characters featured this issue are the nine who Marvel fans could vote for to join the X-Men during the 2021 Hellfire Gala. The tenth and winning character was Polaris.

This issue includes an email from Sunspot to the other rejected X-Men candidates. He mentions their lack of success at the Hellfire Gala vote, and suggests they work together as a team. Possibly an oversight by the creative team, but the email is not sent to Marrow.

This issue includes a page six words can be unscrambled to work out the password for the door.

Delphos has appeared in Inhumans (3rd series) #3-4, her only appearances prior to this issue. She returns in Marauders (2nd series) #1.

Sunspot’s nickname has changed from “Berto” to “Beto” without explanation.

Written By: