Ultimate X-Men #27

Issue Date: 
March 2003
Story Title: 
Return of the King - part 1

Mark Millar (story), David Finch (pencils), Art Thibert (inks), 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: 

At the Louvre, Mastermind and Multiple Man scare the humans and steal several paintings on Magneto's behalf. In Washington, a special elite unit of SHIELD agents, dressed as Sentinels, are preparing themselves for Magneto's attack. Security chief Fury tries to calm the vice-president, stating that they have everything under control. Moira MacTaggert, in the meantime, has evacuated her mutant patients into a secret hideout under Glasgow Station. She is contacted by Nightcrawler, who is fleeing from German intelligence and badly needs to see Xavier. He and Moira agree to meet. At the Brotherhood's headquarters, the inventor, Forge, works on a device that will amplify Magneto's powers by a factor of five thousand. Sabretooth, in the meantime, notices that Magneto is getting strangely nostalgic. In Earth orbit, two astronauts are working on part of Stark's satellite mutant detector system. They are surprised by Magneto, who destroys all their electronics, thus disabling the satellite and sentencing the astronauts to death.

Full Summary: 

(the Louvre, Paris)

The setting is surreal: visitors are running in panic from imaginary, giant wasps while Brotherhood members, Mastermind and Multiple Man, are chatting and leisurely strolling through the museum halls. Multiple Man is holding a small video camera, filming the goings-on. So, what is Mastermind making them see, he asks. Spiders?

Wasps, Mastermind explains. Aren't spiders are delicacy in France? That's frogs, Multiple Man corrects him. Oh, and frogs are so much less disgusting than spiders, are they, Mastermind sneers. And besides, why is Multiple Man playing around with his video camera, when he is supposed to steal paintings for Magneto? Isn't that the whole point of this exercise? They are joined by a double of Multiple Man with a painting. He reminds Mastermind that he can do several things at once.

Curious, Mastermind wants to know what his upper limits in creating doubles is. About 27 to 28, he replies, before he starts to get real bad déjà vu. He cheerfully adds that last year he pulled off a protest march single-handed - split his consciousness over so many bodies that it took him a month just to write his name again. Changing the subject, he asks if Mastermind really managed to escape from a major SHIELD black ops assault by creating an illusion in which they'd thought they'd nicked him. After the Brooklyn Bridge thing, Mastermind verifies. By the time Captain America realized what was happening, Mastermind was already in a Greyhound bus halfway down to Florida.

So, Multiple Man wants to know, his powers can make people look different, right? Because there's this Aborigine mutant back at the base that has the hots for him. Could Mastermind make her look like the Scarlet Witch or Gwyneth Paltrow? Well, yes, Mastermind replies, but ethically speaking... Sabretooth who awaits them in their shuttle tells him to "screw ethics". What kind of anti-human terrorist is he anyway? And did they get all the painting on the list? Then they'd better return to the base.

(Washington D.C, the White House:)

Agents in Sentinel-looking armor are shooting at targets made to look like the original Brotherhood members, watched by Nick Fury and the vice-president. Cheney sarcastically states that the President won't have much to worry about, provided Magneto attacks them with an army of cardboard cut-outs.

Those new Sentinels are sixty of his best SHIELD agents, Fury defends the men. Each one has enough firepower in his armor to take out an entire fleet of the old Sentinel models. Plus, each of the weapons are made of a special non-conductive polymer, so Magneto won't be able to control them. This time they're going to hand him his purple ass. But is it really safe to bring the president back so soon, Cheney asks, after the way he was humiliated last time. With respect to the late General Ross, that happened before he was in charge of national security, Fury replies. This time, the White House is going to be a virtual fortress.

What about the satellites that will enable them to detect mutants, Cheney asks. Stark should have them ready in a matter of days, Fury calms him, but he also stresses that this mutant-locator will only be used to flush out mutant terror groups as opposed to mutants in general. They don't want to attack everyone with an X-gene, just Brotherhood affiliates. And the X-Men, of course, Cheney adds. If Xavier hadn't lied to them, they wouldn't be in this situation now. Did Fury hear about the raid at the Louvre? Four hundred and eight priceless works of art stolen. 62 thefts within four weeks, Fury replies. Is it possible that Magneto might be shifting his priorities away from world domination, Cheney wonders. Is he perhaps only out to make himself a fortune this time? Fury laughs mirthlessly. He hadn?t realized Cheney had such a keen sense of humor, he states.

(Glasgow Central Station, Scotland)

Moira MacTaggert walks through the station, enters a public restroom, a certain stall and activates a signal with her watch. As the secret door in the back of the stall opens, she mumbles angrily that she wonders if Charles could have possibly devised a more undignified way to get into this safehouse. She is greeted by a group of mutant children, begging for treats. Moira hands them sweets, fashion and scifi magazines. Her colleague, Dr. Knox, asks her if she also managed to steal any Temazapan at the university. No, the closest she could manage was some Prozac, Moira apologizes. They'll just have to think of something else, she concludes. Her priority is to look after sick mutants, but they need to get proactive before the satellite the US government is building will finish things for them.

One of the children addresses Moira. There's an emergency call from Germany on the scrambler-phone. It's Nightcrawler. He introduces himself to Moira and explains that Xavier had given him her number in case of an emergency. It is essential he speak to Xavier at the earliest opportunity. Moira wishes she could help, but the X-Men went offline a few days ago, and no one knows their status at the moment.

Are they dead, Kurt asks. They only know for certain that Cyclops seems to be dead, but as for the others - anything's possible. Kurt exclaims "My God!" in German. While phoning with Moira, he's, at the same time, leading the German police on a merry carchase. He tells Moira that the German intelligence wishes to question him on his past dealings with the X-Men. Nothing he wasn't trained to handle, though. Calmly driving through the blockage and evading the agents' shots he asks Moira if the contact address Xavier gave him is still valid. Glasgow is a three-days drive. He'll make it in two. Slightly appalled, Moira mumbles to herself that it's scary how quick you can learn English from television these days.

(the Citadel: the Brotherhood's secret Arctic headquarters)

Sabretooth asks Forge - an Indian mutant with a cybernetic leg and goth tattoos - who's tinkering on some kind of huge gadget, how the secret weapon is coming along. Forge tells him to take it easy. He so psyched about this project, he hasn't slept in almost two weeks. This is going to be his masterpiece, he enthuses.

What is he building anyway, Sabretooth wants to know. Some kind of death-ray? Forge scoffs at the thought. No, it's an amplifier to boost Magneto's innate powers by a factor of five thousand percent. If he pulls this off, Magneto promised to give him Canada. And that's supposed to be an incentive? Sabretoth states disgustedly and radios Blob: how did his rescue mission go? Did he get those five kids out?

Yes, though somewhat hurt, Blob admits. The next raids are a super-strong Down Syndrome kid in the Southern Ukraine and a solar powered girl in East Timor. Sabretooth answers that it ticks him off that they are wasting their time stealing paintings, while the US government locks up their brothers in Guantanamo Bay. What's the alternative? Blob asks. Attack Camp X-Factor without having the numbers and get captured? Sabretooth still harps on the art objects Magneto is having them steal: paintings, original movie prints, first editions of the sci-fi novels he loved as a kid - Magneto never struck him as nostalgic before. Maybe he just doesn't want to risk losing the few good things Homo Sapiens ever created in the coming war, Blob suggests.

Sabretooth is distracted by a teenager carrying the painting "le Chateau des Pyrénées" (the Pyrenean Castle) by René Magritte. The painting shows a castle on top of a flying egg-shaped rock. The kid explains that this was Magneto's favorite painting. Sabretooth replies that Magneto is more sentimental than they realized. Incidentally, did the kid see that chick Multiple Man is hanging out with? Doesn't she look exactly like Gwyneth Paltrow?
A view from the outside explains Sabretooth?s surprise. Magneto's citadel rests on a flying egg-shaped rock - like the castle in the Magritte painting.

(Earth orbit)

Two astronauts of the space shuttle Valiant are working on the construction of the mutant detection satellites on behalf of Stark International and the government. They are being hailed by the ground crew on Earth who are amused that the two astronauts currently refuse to speak with each other: one of them - Cunningham - got to speak to the president on the phone and now his colleague feels snubbed. Their colleagues on Earth good-naturedly suggest they make up - space can be awfully lonely if you're not speaking to fifty percent of the population...

The astronauts suddenly have other problems, as suddenly Magneto (without any visible means of life support) majestically floats above the shuttle. Broadcasting an electromagnetic frequency, he tells them not to be scared. He isn't here to hurt them - just to take apart this awful mutant tracker. He wonders what the people on the ground must be thinking of them: sending them to risk their lives and do their dirty work while they get rich of it. Why do they risk everything for a system that undervalues them so much?

While the scientists on Earth listen in with horror one of the astronauts begs Magneto to please let him send a last message home to his family. He has no illusions about Magneto sparing their lives. Magneto tells him they misunderstand. He is only here to close down the electronics and disable the satellite. He is not interested in their inconsequential lives. Realization dawns on the astronauts: if he closes down electronics - how will they get back to Earth - let alone into the shuttle? Like he said, Magneto answers, inconsequential. With that offhand death-sentence, he flies away, announcing that he has business to attend to.

Characters Involved: 

General Nick Fury, director of SHIELD

Dr. Moira MacTaggert



Blob, Forge, Mastermind, Multiple Man, Sabretooth (all Brotherhood of Mutants)

Vice-President Richard Cheney

Cunningham and other unnamed astronaut

Ground crew

Dr. Knox (Moira's colleague)

Several mutant children in Moira's care

Story Notes: 

René Magritte ( 1898-1967) was a Belgian surrealist artist. His work is deceptively simple but is actually full of visual puns and paradoxes, making the most commonplace things seem odd and out of place.

Perhaps the German police is actually after Nightcrawler because, in Germany, driving-licenses are only handed out at age 18 or older - and Kurt is 14-15 years old...

Mastermind was seemingly captured by the Ultimates (after he and several other Brotherhood members blew up the Brooklyn Bridge) in Ultimate War #1.

Magneto last attacked Washington in Ultimate X-Men #5-6. He humiliated and tried to murder the president in those issues.

Moira last spoke to Xavier and the X-Men in Ultimate War #2. There, she also learned of Cyclops apparent death in the Savage Land. What exactly happened to Cyclops is still unclear.

Nightcrawler befriended the X-Men in the "Return to Weapon X" arc in Ultimate X-Men #7-12. At that time, he only spoke German - hence Moira's TV remark.

The satellite mutant detection system is being built by Stark International, as revealed in Ultimate War #2.

Issue Information: 
Written By: