Ultimate X-Men #26

Issue Date: 
February 2003
Story Title: 
Return of the King - prelude

Mark Millar (story), Ben & Ray Lai (art), Dave Stewart (colors), 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: 

Eight years ago, Xavier leaves his family to follow his dream with Erik Lensherr. 7 years ago, they save a young mutant named Ricky with explosive powers from the men who try to murder him. Six years ago, they show a reporter the school for mutants they have established. One year later, they plan to relocate to the Savage Land to spare their students humanity's hatred. Another year later, Erik, now calling himself "Magneto," and Xavier are already at odds with each other, as Erik believes that Xavier is reading his mind and that his pacifist ideas are going to hurt their species in the long run. Three years ago, Xavier and his followers try to flee. In response, Magneto cripples Charles. While Charles is recovering, Magneto agitates his followers and sends Ricky on a terrorist attack against the Pentagon. In the present Magneto and the Brotherhood intend to erect a new headquarters n the Artic Circle and Magneto swears that humanity will suffer.

Full Summary: 

(Scotland, 8 years ago)

Charles Xavier, in the process of leaving his family, steps outside his mansion, where he finds Erik Lensherr waiting for him. Erik inquires about how Moira took his walking out on her. Xavier shrugs. He's not even sure they discussed it, to be honest. It's been awhile since they communicated verbally, but she'd been thinking about a separation for quite some time now. What about his son David, Erik asks, while he puts Xavier's luggage into the car's trunk. He'll be fine, Xavier assures him. David likes football, video games, wrestling and similar things. Realistically speaking, what's he going to miss about his father? Well, they're both history now, Erik states as they drive away. Only the future beckons. Neither of them notices or cares that Moira and David look after them from the windows.

(San Antonio, 7 Years ago)

A group of "good old boys" have taken a young, black teenager prisoner, tied his hands and now intend to kill him somewhere away from the houses. The boy, Ricky, begs them to let him go. He's only sixteen. The men are unimpressed. One of them saw how he exploded behind his house last week. Another one, Jim-Bob, witnessed the same thing too and then there was the damage Ricky did at the gas station. What if, next time, he'll explode inside a shopping mall or in church? Somewhere near small kids? They couldn't live with themselves if that happened.

He'll get medicine or something, Ricky begs. One of the men, Nadolsky, aims a gun at him and tells him, he's got his medicine right here. He pulls the trigger but the gun doesn't go off. Instead, they are joined by Erik who calmly leans against a tree and explains that the bullet never left the gun. Charles turns up too, mentally ensuring that the men now realize how much they love their families and how little time they spend with them. They'd very much like to spend time with them right now. And off they go. The two men free Ricky, who explains his problem: he involuntarily explodes two or three times a day. He simply cannot control his power. Not yet, Charles says kindly and offers the boy his hand.

(San Francisco, 6 years ago)

Charles and Erik lead Mr Eisenstein, a reporter from Rolling Stone, through their mansion. Eisenstein admires the place. Did they pay for this with church donations? Erik corrects him: the Brotherhood of Mutants isn't a church - it's more like a school. A sanctuary for persecuted mutants. Besides, they do not ask for or even need donations. All this has been paid for with the money Erik inherited from his late father. Eisenstein interjects, he heard about his family connections. Is it true that one of his family are in some kind of business partnership with the Bush brothers down in Texas?

He has no longer any relationship with the surviving members of his family with the exception of his children, Erik informs the journalist coolly, just as Wanda and Pietro are happily running pas them. So he'd appreciate it, if his family weren't mentioned during this interview.

So he isn't allowed to talk about money or the Lensherr family's oil interest? Why did they invite him here anyway, Eisenstein wonders. Rolling Stone doesn't exactly do house-and-garden features. They asked him here, Charles explains, to tell him about their mutant manifesto to make the world a better place. Stepping onto the balcony and showing the reporter the mutant children lounging at the swimming pool, Charles enthusiastically explains that they have children, within these walls, with the power to solve an energy crisis, to rewrite the laws of physics, to end world hunger! They'd offered their services to the government and industry but neither seems interested in upsetting their fragile status quo. Instead, they pretend that mutants don't exist, although their numbers are growing daily. They already know of two hundred post-human beings worldwide.

Eisenstein points out that maybe people are afraid of them. Two hundred superpowered teenagers? That's quite a security risk. Xavier assures him that they are here to educate, not dominate. Nevertheless, the journalist insists, it's not easy for people to realize that they've been knocked off the top of the food chain.

(the Savage Land, 5 years ago)

Here, seven hundred miles from Australia and seven thousand miles from the USA, Charles and Erik are looking for a new refuge for their students after they were met by hatred and mobs in the USA. They are not running away, Erik states, just thinking ahead and building a home for a brand new kind of population that is thriving. By the end of the year, there are going to be five hundred of them living here. By the end of the decade, it might well be ten times as many. Nobody will find them behind the three-dimensional image Erik is putting together. Erik shows Charles the plan for the city: the parliament, the opera house... Within ten years, he muses, every government will be taking orders from this insignificant little island. Within twenty, the human race will speak the mutant language they invented. Voluntarily, of course, Xavier insists. But of course, Erik replies.

(4 Years ago)

The futuristic city in the Savage Land stands tall and proudly. Young Ricky asks Erik if he wanted to see him. Erik, now already wearing his "Magneto" costume, calls Ricky Detonator and asks him, in turn, to call him Magneto, now that they've washed away the last remains of their human origin.

Ricky admits he feels stupid, saying "Magneto," let alone be called "Detonator". Magneto explains that the name "Ricky Gibson" pays respect to his homo sapiens forefathers. "Detonator" honors nothing but the gifts he was born with. He's not starting to regret his rebaptism as a post-human being, is he? Of course not, Ricky quickly assures him.

Magneto asks him how the others reacted to his proactive proposal. Ten-to-one in favor, Ricky replies. While Professor X might still pull a lot of weight, especially among the telepaths, even they are getting shirty about being cooped up in the Savage Land. Considering how fast they built paradise here, they don't understand what's keeping them from cleaning up the rest of the world. Precisely, Magneto agrees. Charles always considered this a place of learning, whereas he has simply been building an army.

(Five months later)

Magneto has now taken to wearing his helmet and Xavier tells him, over a chess game, how ridiculous he's looking. Coolly, Magneto informs him that he is beyond caring what Charles does and doesn't approve of. All that matters is that the helmet blocks out "nosy, telepathic minds." Charles angrily defends himself against this implicit accusation: he's never been anywhere near Erik's mind. They are supposed to be friends, for God's sake!

"Friends" don't use their powers to shift a vote their way, Magneto spits out. "Friends" don't have secret telepathic rendezvous with the "genetic deadwood"out there. He's quite aware of Charles' chats with the Americans and the British, he rants. Charles' psychic friends may know how to keep their mouths shut but the boys in radio communication picked up an unusual amount of feedback. How dare Charles call him immoral? "Immoral" is standing back and watching an entire species annihilate everything. "Immoral" is doing nothing when you can create perfection. Oh, and he's noticed that Charles stopped mentioning him in interviews, even though it was Erik who started this enterprise. Charles flips him the bird and tells him he is growing paranoid. "We'll see," Magneto states somberly.

(Three Years ago)

Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch enter their father's study to find him lying on the floor. Angrily, he tells them that Xavier and his band of "human appeasers" attacked him and are now making their way to the beach to get picked up by their friends.

Some distance away, Xavier and three mutant teenagers are indeed fleeing. Pietro angrily swears that he will reach them and break their necks before they can make another step. No, Magneto replies. If they haven't got the stomach to take what's theirs by right, they should go, but they need a permanent reminder of what happens when they fight the course of evolution. Bleakly, he adds that he is leaving Charles the option of coming back here to apologize and concentrates hard. One of Charles' companion shouts at him to look out, as a sharp piece of metal flies towards him and impales him.

(One week later, in the Savage Land)

Magneto holds a speech before an agitated crowd of mutants, telling them that, as of tonight, the Brotherhood of Mutants is going to take the war to homo sapiens!

(Two weeks later in New York)

Charles awakes in a hospital, where a doctor coolly informs him that the injury shattered his fifth and sixth vertebrae. As an educated man, he should know what that means.

(Three weeks later at the Pentagon)

Detonator finds himself surrounded by armed military personnel, ordering him to lay down his weapon. Removing his sunglasses, he tells them "I am the weapon, stupid."

(present, the Arctic Circle)

Sabretooth, Magneto and a crowd of mutants are present. Sabretooth asks Magneto if he thinks this is a good place for the headquarters of the new Brotherhood. He hasn't really decided yet, Magneto replies. It's better than the desert or space. Plus, there's a pleasing amount of iron ore for an entire mile beneath their feet. But he needs to soak up the atmosphere for a moment and read the magnetic fields to see whether they are healthy. This isn't a ridiculous little hideout, like Xavier's school after all. This is going to be the future parliament from which they'll command an entire species.

Sabretooth grins and states that Toad was worried that the six months of having Xavier in his head may have changed him, taken away his fire. He needn't have worried, Magneto replies. Six months of "cleaning up after spastics, sharing a bed with an idiot and tolerating those gangsters in the White House" merely strengthened his resolve. "Words can't do justice to what lies ahead for man," he swears.

Characters Involved: 



Several unnamed members of the Brotherhood of Mutants


Charles Xavier

Erik Lensherr/ Magneto

Moira MacTaggert

David Xavier

Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver (both as children and teenagers)

Ricky Gibson/ Detonator

Eisenstein, a Rolling Stones reporter

Several unnamed mutant teenagers.

Jim-Bob, Cletus, Nadolsky and other unnamed mutant-haters.

Story Notes: 

It's unclear what happened to the mutants who supported Xavier and fled with him.

The people Magneto is referring to so nastily in the present are the class of disabled children he taught and the neighbor with whom he had an affair, as seen, for example, in issues #15 and #21.

Issue Information: 
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