Ultimate X-Men #23

Issue Date: 
December 2002
Story Title: 
Hellfire and Brimstone - part 3

Mark Millar (story), Kaare Andrews (art), Rusty Beach (assists), Dave McCaig & Chris Sotomayor (digital paints), Chris Eliopoulos (letters), C.B. Cebulski (associate editor), Brian Smith (associate editor), Ralf Macchio (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Bill Jemas (president)

Brief Description: 

Beast, who’s feeling extremely estranged from everyone else on the team is having an online romance with Naomi, who’s actually the Blob. As Blob/Naomi questions Xavier’s ideals and Beast’s place on the team, Beast lets her in on the secret that Magneto is still alive. Blob sets up a date with Beast.

In the meantime Cyclops and Wolverine are en route to the Savage Land as a favor to the government, as all the US Marines at Magneto’s former base went missing. Cyclops is having a psychic meeting with his girlfriend Jean on the Astral Plane. Her Phoenix hallucinations are worse than ever. She’s feeling certifiable and is just glad she has had Scott’s love in the last few months.

As the two men arrive, they find no trace of the missing soldiers. They do however find out that they have a stowaway – Kitty Pryde, who secretly sneaked on board. Angrily, they order her back to the plane.

In the meantime, the Drakes and anti-mutant lobbyist Senator Turk are preparing for the big press conference Iceman is supposed to hold, as he is supposed to sue Xavier over his injuries. Bobby doesn’t want to, but his parents make it clear to him, that if they don’t go through with this, they’ll be completely broke.

Full Summary: 

Kitty Pryde phases into Beast’s room, telling him there’ll be a Danger Room session in ten minutes. Beast claims he’ll be along, right after he’s finished his critique on Marx’s “Das Kapital”.

Once Kitty is gone, though, Beast returns to his actual activity – writing an e-mail to his online girlfriend: international mutant supermodel Naomi – actually the Blob.
Hank tells “Naomi” how much he’s missed their conversation while she was on a lingerie shoot, and how he wished they could break their rule and actually meet.
“Naomi” apologizes, but she’s only just discovered her mutation and is unable to talk face-to-face about it at the moment. Beast apologizes, she has so much more at stake than him after all.
Blob is having the time of his life, playing this prank on McCoy, while his team mate Prosimian wonders, if his cyber-transvestism is getting a mite out of hand… Anyway, it still has to be more interesting than the PG-13 missions Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch have been sending the Brotherhood on, he admits grudgingly. What would Magneto say if he knew the Brotherhood is looking for account irregularities in multinational companies these days?
Blob nastily suggests that Prosimian could take a break and watch the discovery channel. There’s a documentary on ape love-making rituals on…
In the meantime Marvel Girl and Cyclops seem to be sharing a tender moment in Westchester County Park. Jean tells Scott, she’s feeling certifiable: there’ve been three more hallucinations within twelve hours. She feels just the way she did before Xavier found her in the hospital.
Scott reminds her that it was much worse back then. She’d chewed her knuckles down to the bones.

But she’s feeling just the same now, Jean exclaims, except that this time, whatever’s trying to get through to her, isn’t being stopped by the painkillers or the Professor’s psychic barriers. She believes that she’s been chosen to be the host of an ultra-dimensional entity that wants to annihilate this reality like it has destroyed billions of worlds before. It calls itself the Phoenix Force and talks to her in Latin. As she said, certifiable, she tells Scott ironically.

Changing the subject, Jeans asks, when Scott will arrive in the Savage Land and whether he thinks any of the Marines who went missing in Magneto’s base are still alive. Scott wishes he could stay with Jean and he wishes that Colossus would be his partner on the mission, as originally intended, not Wolverine – who Xavier switched him with to get them to overcome their personality conflicts.

At this point it becomes clear that the two of them are meeting on the astral plane: Jean is actually in her room and Scott on the jet with Wolverine. Jean assures him that the last months as his girlfriend have been the best of her life.
In the meantime Beast is keeping “Naomi” up to speed over the ongoing soap-opera at Xavier’s. He describes how Scott and Wolverine almost killed each other over Wolverine’s jealousy and how Xavier then sent them together to find the missing US Marines in the Savage Land as a favor to the government. “Naomi” wonders why Xavier would risk the life of his people for the government, who’s clearly conspiring against mutants. Beast points out that not everyone’s against them. In fact their mystery sponsors – the Hellfire Club – sent a representative that afternoon to ask how much money they needed for their legal battle against Iceman’s parents. When Naomi asks what makes them think that Xavier isn’t controlling the minds of those sponsors, Beast points out that they can’t afford to have it open that they support mutants. Naomi gently makes fun of his naivety: does he really think those people spend bucks on them out of altruism?
The Drake’s place

Senator Turk is holding a press conference in front of the Drake home and explains that they will sue Xavier and the X-Men for a hundred million dollar instead of a fifty as originally planned. Bobby himself will be making a public statement on that matter the next day.
The Drakes inside watch the proceedings. Bobby doesn’t want to badmouth Xavier. His parents explain that Turk paid the medical bills the Drakes never could have afforded otherwise. Bobby would rather have his legs broken again: Turk isn’t fooling him: he just wants Xavier’s closed, because mutants are the biggest threat to all those religious groups that he represents.

His father reminds him that he was fired from his job at the car factory, when it became public that Boy was a mutant. Their friends aren’t talking to them anymore and their neighbours are treating them like pariahs. They need the money from that lawsuit or they’ll end up on the streets.
Back at Xavier’s Beast and “Naomi” are still conversing. Hank tells Naomi how estranged he feels from the others now, he doesn’t even understand why he dated Storm all the time. They have nothing in common. The only one he feels connected to right now is Naomi. “Naomi” asks, whether he ever wonders that he might have joined the wrong side. Maybe he’d be happier fighting humans. Beast answers that he believes that the Professor’s ideas are the best bet BOTH species have for surviving. But isn’t he a hypocrite Naomi asks. He promotes non-violent solutions, but he murdered Magneto after all.

Beast tells Naomi a secret, that Magneto’s death was an elaborately staged ruse…
Cyclops and Wolverine have arrived in the Savage Land. They follow the trail of the missing Marines northward. Cyclops is trying to make conversation, reminiscing about the time at Magneto’s base. Wolverine cuts him off; he shouldn’t try to find anything they have in common, because he’s never going to like him. They are surprised and startled as a dinosaur passes by, they and someone else, as their stowaway – a frightened Kitty Pryde – reveals herself. She hitched a ride on the Blackbird and since she stayed intangible the entire trip, Wolverine’s senses didn’t pick her up.

Cyclops and Wolverine have found something in common after all – as they both order her back to the Blackbird.
In the meantime Blob, Prosimian and the animal-mutants are speechless over the bombshell Beast just dropped. Blob/Naomi asks for details and Beast cheerfully explains that Magneto’s death was just a mass hallucination. Actually Xavier brainwashed Magneto and gave him a new life. They even meet for chess every Thursday afternoon. Prosimian orders Blob to arrange a date between “Naomi” and Beast. Beast happily agrees, having no idea what he’s letting himself in for.

Characters Involved: 

Beast, Cyclops, Iceman, Kitty Pryde, Marvel Girl, Professor X, Wolverine (all X-Men)

Blob, Prosimian and several unnamed animal mutants (all Brotherhood of Mutants)

Senator Andrew Border Turk (an anti-mutant activist)

Mr and Mrs Drake (Iceman’s parents)

Story Notes: 

Beast and Blob’s online relationship started as something of a joke in Ultimate X-Men #15. By now it’s obviously become a lot more serious.
Cyclops temporarily joined the Brotherhood under Magneto in Ultimate X-Men #4.
Wolverine was in the Savage Land in Ultimate X-men #1.
Iceman’s parents are suing Xavier for injuries their son sustained in the battle against Proteus in Ultimate X-Men #19.
Apparently Turk was one of the lobbyists who pressured the President into unleashing the Sentinels on mutants (ultimate X-Men #1-6).

Issue Information: 
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