Ultimate War #3

Issue Date: 
March 2003
Story Title: 
Ultimates vs. Ultimate X-Men

Mark Millar (story), Chris Bachalo (penciler), Tim Townsend & Andy Owens (inks), Paul Mounts (colors), Chris Eliopoulos (letters), Stephanie Moore (assistant editor), C.B. Cebulski (associate editor), Brian Smith (associate editor), Ralf Macchio (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Bill Jemas (president)

Brief Description: 

President Bush is evacuated to L.I.N.C.O.L.N., a secret base that looks like an innocent small town. At the Triskelion, the Ultimates learn that the Hulk managed to escape during Magneto's attack and Captain America tells the Wasp that they all know about her being a mutant and that it doesn't matter. Elsewhere, while Jean is harbouring suspicions that Wolverine might have had a hand in Cyclops' death, Xavier arranges a meeting with Magneto's agents - seemingly to arrange for a compromise between their two groups but actually to track the agents back to their homebase. Two can, however, play at that game. Magneto does the same and then anonymously tips SHIELD off... and the Ultimates attack...

Full Summary: 

L.I.N.C.O.L.N., USA: A deceptively ordinary, calm, American small town. A nice place, President Bush, munching on a pretzel, tells General Nick Fury. However, he doesn't see how Lincoln can possibly be the safest place in America. First off, it's not "Lincoln," but an acronym meaning "Leaders In Need Christian-Only Lockdown Network," Fury explains. And secondly, this little town has served as a safe haven for every US-president in danger ever since John Wilkes Booth bought a theatre ticket. He couldn't be anywhere safer. The president still wonders if a simple army base wouldn't offer more protection against the likes of Magneto and Fury asks the Black Widow to demonstrate. The former KGB super-spy draws a gun and aims it at the president, while telling him he needn't worry. She'll be down and pumped full of Acetylpromazine, before she's even pulled the trigger. And indeed, she is struck down by the nice citizens of L.I.N.C.O.L.N. - highly trained SHIELD agents, all of them.

President Bush admits he's impressed and asks how things are progressing on the outside. Well, they managed to keep Magneto's attack on the Triskelion out of the newspapers but the average American is still getting more and more frightened. Record numbers of people are refusing to go to work in major cities. If this keeps up, the economy is going to take quite a nosedive. So, they have to find Magneto and cut him down soon. What about the X-Men, the president inquires. Is he actually starting to feel sympathy for them, Fury asks sharply. While he had commended them for saving the president's daughter some time ago, that was before he learned that the X-Men were responsible for keeping Magneto alive. For that alone, he holds them responsible for every human being Magneto kills. Bush urges him to at least try and bring Xavier in alive. He owes him that much. Fury bluntly replies that he is not in the habit of making promises he isn't sure he can keep.

At the Triskelion, the Ultimates' HQ, Captain America, the Wasp and several agents survey the damage done by Magneto and - as it turns out - one of their own. During the black-out Magneto caused, Bruce Banner turned into the Hulk, managed to escape from the holding bay and ate all six members of the nursing staff. Cap asks the sickened Wasp if he can speak to her alone for a moment. He tells her that he knows why she is so upset about this case with the Brotherhood and Magneto. They all know she is a mutant. Fury's known since the day she signed up - in spite of the false DNA sample she gave. It really doesn't matter, that's why Fury never brought the topic up. Cap just wants to remind her that they are waging a war on terror, not on mutants.

Cleveland, Ohio: The Drakes are watching a news report that describes how captured members of the Brotherhood are being flown to Cuba into the controversial Camp X-Factor, which has both Human Right Groups and church leaders up in arms. On a talk show, Ultimates' member Hawkeye stresses that they are not waging a war on mutants but on the Brotherhood and the X-Men. An anchorwoman announces that Professor Xavier has pledged that the X-Men will capture Magneto.

Mr Drake sharply tells his son to not even think about getting in contact with the X-Men again. Friends or not, the X-Men have completely screwed up the Drakes' lives. No more jobs, no more home, on the run, forced to hide with an old friend... He loves his son but if he returns to that cult of his, that's going to kill his mother. He makes the X-Men sound like the Brotherhood, Bobby sullenly replies. As far as he is concerned, the only difference between Xavier and Magneto is about three pounds of hair, his father states.

At the lower East Side of Manhattan, in the X-Men's temporary headquarters: Storm and Colossus admit to still being shocked from the news about Cyclops' death. Sure, X-Men were injured before but nobody has died yet. Now they can't help wondering who's next.

Inside Xavier's study, Jean incredulously takes in Xavier's announcement that they will no longer chase the Brotherhood. Trying to seek a compromise with Magneto would be more helpful, Xavier states. But, going soft on Magneto the last time is the reason the X-Men are in this mess Jean points out. They have nothing else to lose, hence they must think the unthinkable, Xavier announces cryptically. Opening a dialogue with one's enemy is not the same as surrendering, he states and asks her to trust him. He will make Magneto an offer even he cannot refuse.

They are joined by Wolverine, who announces that the Porsche's back in shape. Does Chuck need anything else fixed up before he heads into town to get the vegetarian food for Jean? Xavier thanks him and asks if he'll take Kitty along. She looks busy with helping Hank iron out the kinks in the virtual reality fight program, Wolverine replies and leaves.

Xavier notes the amazing development in Wolverine: he's really trying to be there for Jean. For him to open up to his feelings after a lifetime of violence and betrayal is quite remarkable. Jean seems less convinced. She confides that it's quite possible that she's having some sort of paranoid aftershock from the Phoenix experience but she's been getting flashes into his mind.
Impossible, Xavier interjects. Weapon X designed him to be impervious to telepaths. She knows that, she replies, so it's probably nothing. But every time their skin touches, she gets flashes and she suspects that Wolverine let Cyclops die so he'd have another chance with her.

Later at the Metropolitan Museum of Arts, Xavier and his X-Men meet with Magneto or - to be more exact - his proxy: Magneto speaks to them through a psychic mutant. One can never be too careful when engaging with the enemy after all. Xavier assures him of his earnest motives. He's not here to trap him but to offer a compromise to end this madness. "A deal," Magneto mocks but is nevertheless curious. What kind of deal? Xavier suggests that their groups join forces. The interests of his students would be better served within the Brotherhood. They have to stand together or be eliminated. Is he really ready to kill every human, Erik asks, incredulously. No, just America, Charles answers. That's the compromise: he'll consent to Magneto executing theses fifty American states, if he swears that they'll take the rest of the world peacefully. And why would the other nations give in peacefully, Magneto demands. Because they'll see how quickly and perfectly their mutant manifesto will change the USA, Xavier explains. Their fight was always about the means of acquiring utopia. Once they agree on an appropriate body count, the argument will be over.

And what does she think of this, Magneto asks the silent horrified Kitty. She doesn't look too happy about this "compromise." Xavier interjects: her hesitation is understandable. But what are her options, realistically speaking? Magneto admits that Charles surprises him but he appreciates that he tries to look out for his students. He'll discuss the offer with his inner circle. The offer only extends for 48 hours, Xavier warns as they all get ready to leave.

Outside, Wolverine lies in wait and watches Magneto's agents leave the building. Did they swallow the bait, he asks. Xavier tells him "yes" and Wolverine jumps on his motorbike and begins tracking them.

Storm, in the meantime, starts to protest. She has no interest in siding with the Brotherhood. What was that all about? A ruse, Xavier explains, to give Wolverine the chance to track them to their address. Once he's found them, the X-Men will join him. Kitty wonders why he didn't confide in them before. Because, that way, the telepaths couldn't see the plan in their minds Jean deduces correctly.

At the Brotherhood's HQ, Magneto discusses Charles' offer with one of his inner circle. Unus wonders aloud if the offer is on the level. Of course not, Magneto scoffs, it's an obvious trap. Clearly Wolverine is secretly following their little expedition party. No, Charles is too far gone to join them but the children might be saved. Unus admits that Xavier is a lot craftier than anyone would have imagined. So is he, Magneto states. Charles wasn't the only one who arranged for his opponents to be followed back to their secret base...

The Ultimate have received an anonymous tip-off, informing them on the X-Men's whereabouts. Floating in the air, Iron Man validates that claim. SHIELD agents secretly move into the area and evacuate the crowd. Fury tells Captain America, from the Triskelion, to hold tight for another ten minutes until they neutralize the telepaths. Agents inform Fury that the neuron scramblers are active now: the team has a twenty-five minute window to act. With those words, Iron Man flies in, causing maximum damage to the base while Captain America orders the rest of the team to get ready to go kick the X-Men's heads in.

Characters Involved: 

Beast, Colossus, Kitty Pryde, Marvel Girl, Professor X, Storm, Wolverine (all X-Men)
Black Widow, Captain America, Hawkeye, Iron Man, Thor, Wasp (all Ultimates)
General Nick Fury, director of SHIELD
Iceman (former X-Man)

Unus and unnamed Brotherhood members

Mr. Drake (Iceman's father)
President George W. Bush
SHIELD agents

Story Notes: 

Bush's choice of snack food, a pretzel, is likely a joke at the reported incident where the real president temporarily lost consciousness and collapsed after choking on a pretzel on January 13th, 2002.

John Wilkes Booth assassinated President Abraham Lincoln in Ford's Theatre on April 14, 1865.

Written By: