Ultimate X #3

Issue Date: 
August 2010
Story Title: 
Ultimate X: Origins – Chapter Three: Who or What is Derek Morgan?

Jeph Loeb (writer), Arthur Adams (pencils), Aspen MLT’s Mark Roslan (digital inks), Aspen MLT’s Peter Steigerwald (colorist), Adams, Steigerwald & Roslan (cover), Richard Starkings & Comicraft’s Albert Deschesne (letterer),Randall L. Miller & Taylor Esposito (production), Sana Amanat (assistant editor), Mark Paniccia (senior editor), Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (Exec. Publisher)

Brief Description: 

Chicago is protected by a mysterious, winged vigilante nicknamed the “Guardian,” much to the police’s displeasure. The Guardian is Derek Morgan, a young mutant who lives with his cop brother Joe and his pregnant wife, who consider him something of a lay about. When the cops want to do something permanent about the Guardian, Derek reveals himself as a mutant to Joe, who wants to take him in. They struggle over the river and fall down. Enter Jean Grey and Jimmy Hudson, who save Derek and give him the option of coming with them and having his brother’s memory erased or forgetting them. While Joe and Lynn continue their lives, believing Derek has found a job somewhere and is getting his life together, Derek opts to go with Jean and Jimmy.

Full Summary: 

My dad used to say: “Joe, no good deed goes unpunished.” Funny thing for a twenty-four year veteran of the Chicago police department to say… but my dad always was a funny guy. I was six days out of the police academy. On the seventh day, he used his push so we could ride together. He wanted to show me the streets through his eyes. That was his way. We rolled up at the projects. He looked this way and that and then, almost like he had a gift for it, he pointed his fat, stubby thumb toward an alley. He was halfway out of the car when I heard him say, “call it in:” It was a drug thing that had gone down wrong. Two crack addicts tried to rip off this deal. We identified ourselves as police officers. But it didn’t matter. The guns came out. My father was shot three times in the chest.

A rainy night in Chicago. A young blonde chased by a thug desperately cries for help. From the rooftops red eyes watch and a winged figure springs into action and grabs the thugs and flies away with him.

A police car stops next to the woman. Officers Morgan and Jaurez. Joe Morgan tries to calm the blonde. Jaurez looks up and sees something and runs to give chase.

Up in the air, the winged figure, a young African-American man, holds the screaming thug, threatening to drop him if he keeps flip-flopping around, and neither of them wants that!

I held my dad in my arms and prayed to God to give him the strength he’d need to hold on until the ambulance got there. It was the last time I would ever ask God for anything.

The man lands on a rooftop while still dangling the thug over the edge. He tells him to stay out of the neighborhood… And give him his wallet. Reluctantly, the man hands it over.

That moment, Jaurez is on the rooftop and demands he let go of that man. Is she sure she wants him to do that from way up here? he asks. Oh God, he’s one of them! Jaurez exclaims. People talk ‘bout how there’s a Guardian looking out for these streets…. But turns out all he is a-- The young man suggests she put down the gun and he put down the guy. He’s under arrest! she states. Wrong call, he remarks and the tops of his sharp wings hit her.

At his funeral the pastor called us cops “the angels of Chicago.”
I almost laughed. My father was a good man, but he wasn’t any angel. Everybody wonders why I didn’t quit after a day like that. To be honest, it’s because of a day like that that I’d never quit. This city will always need looking after, all cities do. But not by any “angels. It’s on us to look out for ourselves.

In the meantime, Joe Morgan has called an ambulance and suggests the girl be listed as Jane Doe. His colleagues ask if he’s sure. Everyone knows she’s the mayor’s--

He hears a gunshot and worries about his partner. He and his colleagues run up the stairs to find her bruised but okay. She whispers to Joe she knows what the Guardian is. He sighs, he can’t wait to see how they write this up.

He returns home to his pregnant wife, Lynn, who is watching the news about the girl that was saved, the mayor’s daughter. From outside and above the young Guardian watches them. He lands on the fire escape, climbs into an empty room and takes off his jacket. He can eavesdrop on his brother and sister-in-law talking about the “Guardian.”

I agreed to be legal guardian for my kid brother. Our mom took off after he was born. For a guy who prides himself on thinking things through, maybe I hadn’t thought this one all the way.

Lynn states he’s a hero. He saved the mayor’s daughter. That’s not how things work, he replies. This guy is either incredibly lucky or just plain stupid. This is the kind of thing that makes cops look bad. If they can’t handle the job… every badge in the city is going to be gunning for him!

If our dad were alive, my brother never would have dropped out of high school. And now this, the baby… the apartment is small enough as it is.

The boy concentrates and is clearly in pain as his wings retract into his back.

I don’t have the heart to ask him to leave…

Lynn and Joe hear a moan. They rush into his brother’s room and find Derek lying on the floor. What happened? Joe demands. He must have fallen out of bed, Derek replies. Joe points out he’s soaked to the bone. Where has he been? Got his share of the rent, Derek replies and holds out a bundle of notes. No job, out all night…. How did he get it? Joe wants to know. He got it, okay? Derek snaps back, no big deal! When is he going to do something with his life? Joe demands. When is he going to stop pretending he’s dad? the boy shouts back. Joe steps out. Lynn offers to dry Derek’s clothes.

…and I’m not sure I have the strength to put up with him if he stays… I didn’t tell Lynn what was really worrying me. With the baby coming she had enough on her mind. Truth is Jaurez got up close to that “guardian”. He was a mutant. Mutants have to turn themselves in or they will be shot on sight.

In the meantime, a train heads to Chicago. On it is Jean Grey, still disguised as Karen Grant, who is reading the article about the Guardian. Sleeping, his head resting on her shoulder, is Jimmy Hudson. When he wakes up, he automatically peeks at her décolleté. Jean telepathically orders him to get up in a not too friendly way. What the hell is wrong with her ? he demands. Coldly she informs him she is not his girlfriend. She is not even his friend. When he looks at her she is just someone he works with on a very dangerous job and that’s it.

He’s a sixteen year old guy, he whispers. If she doesn’t like what’s going on in his head, which he wasn’t ever going to do anything about, stay out of his head! Why did she even agree to do this with him anyway?

Because she knows now she can’t run forever, she whispers back. They’re going to find them, SHIELD. The FBI. The Brotherhood. Enough of them have already been hurt
A week after the incident with the mayor’s daughter word came down from the tops. The use of deadly force had been approved in the apprehension of the “winged vigilante”.

In the apartment, Derk helps Lynn with the laundry, telling her she shouldn’t be carrying heavy stuff like that. Lynn admits that sometimes he is the sweetest young man… and other times he’s that jerk who is always fighting with her husband, he finishes. Maybe it’s because he doesn’t like cops. Lynn tells him she knows he’s going to think she’s taking Joe’s side, but Derek dropped out of school and still hasn’t got a job. He sleeps all day and is out all night and somehow like magic he has the rent. She’s totally taken his side, he tells her. What if she has? Lynn demands, Joe’s a good man. He never said he wasn’t Derek admits.

Lynn points out when she put his things in the dryer she looked at his coat. The seams in the back… they’re all open. He must have caught on something, ripped it, Derek claims. Lynn states the stitching is gone, removed. Back in highschool before she started dating his brother… They used to cut open the seam in the jacket. So when they went shoplifting they’d slip whatever they took down in between the lining. Even if they got caught, the store would look in their pockets and come up empty.

Smiling Derek tries to picture Lynn stealing. They were young and stupid, she points out. Brother or not, he lives with a cop. If he has a secret it’s only a matter of time before Joe finds out the truth. He’ll do his own laundry from now on, he announces and walks away.

They didn’t want the guy caught. Big expensive trial where he could be played up as a hero. They wanted him dead. And I was pretty sure they didn’t even know he was a mutant… yet. We stationed sharpshooter on the tops of the buildings around the city. And waited.

Suddenly, Joe is swept away into the air by the Guardian The cops dare not shoot for fear of hitting Joe. Derek reveals himself to his brother, explaining he just wants to talk. Joe never listens to him at home and he didn’t know what else to do. This is why he dropped out of school. The wings, when they grow, hurt so much… He’s trying to help people, be more like him and dad…

I think about the baby. Lynn, my life. I can’t let Derek…

Joe aims his gun at Derek and orders him to take them down. They’ll do it his way and everything will be all right. He’s gonna arrest him?! Derek asks, incredulous. It’s the law! Joe shouts. &%$& the law! Derek shouts back and they grapple for the gun which goes off.

From below, Jean and Jimmy see them both fall. Jean orders him to go. Can’t she catch him with that thing she does? Jimmy asks Telekinetically, she corrects him. Only if she warned the dozen or so SWAT guys to see it. She’ll guide him where to meet up. Derek and Joe land in the water. Now fetch! Jimmy jumps. He dives in and gets the bleeding Derek.

Joe, in the meantime, is saved by a police boat and dragged aboard. Jean addresses him telepathically, searching for some answers.

After I hit the water… a lot of what happened was just a blur….

Derek wakes up after Jean and Jimmy have treated his arm. Jimmy explains he got shot, she sewed him up. He suggests he listen to Karen. They are mutants like him. Jean sternly announces they haven’t got much time. Derek’s brother knows who he is now. She can fix it… so he doesn’t, but that should be Derek’s call.

His brother won’t give him up, Derek exclaims. She read his mind, Jean replies. He wants to turn Derek over to SHIELD and let them sort it out. Those wings. Through no fault of his own, they’ve determined what he is in life but he gets to choose how he wants to live it. Starting now! Either Joe forgets about Derek or Derek forgets about them

We trolled the river for days but came up with nothing. Conventional thinking was the wings weighed him down. At least that’s what I put in my report. I got lucky surviving at all. Made me appreciate everything I have even more. Even Derek got it together. He’s in Cincinnati of all places working construction. I miss my Dad. But given how life’s turned out… maybe I do have an angel looking out for me after all.

The three stand on a rooftop opposite the Morgans’ apartment. What does Joe think happened? Derek asks. He never saw the winged man’s face, Jean explains. Two months ago, a friend from high school got Derek a job in Cincinnati. They had a good last night together before he left.

Seeing his brother and Lynn happy together, Derek figures he made the right choice. One thing still bothers him. How did they even find him? They have help, Jean reveals cryptically. When the time is right she will let them know. Where to now? Derek asks. Now… they’re going to Disneyland, Jean whimsically announces.

Characters Involved: 

Jean Grey / Marvel Girl

Jimmy Hudson

Derek Morgan / “Guardian”

Joe Morgan, a cop

Lynn Morgan, his wife

Maurez, his partner

Other cops

Mayor’s daughter

Story Notes: 

The story is narrated by Joe Morgan.

Jean’s whimsical announcement that they’re going to Disneyland is a reference to a long used commercial campaign by Disney, whereupon someone encountering a success (most usually a sports figure having just won a game) is asked what they are going to do now, to which they reply “I’m going to Disneyland!”

Issue Information: 
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