Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #326

Issue Date: 
November 1995
Story Title: 
The Nature of Evil

Scott Lobdell (writer), Joe Madureira (penciler), Tim Townsend (inker), Steve Buccellato & Electric Crayon (colors), Richard Starkings and Comicraft (lettering), Bob Harras (chief)

Brief Description: 

Gambit sits on the roof of the Institute, feeling chained to the past and fearful of the future. Storm joins him and her answers to Remy’s questions about the nature of a person go nowhere to allay his sense of pessimism. In San Francisco, Beast and Professor Xavier attempt to play down the possible threat that the Legacy Virus has brought with it. Audience member Renee Majcomb is sceptical and it falls to Dr. Valerie Cooper to put a government slant on the argument by insisting that, at this point, there is insufficient scientific information available to determine whether it is a threat. At the Institute, Boomer begins to doubt Sabretooth’s sincerity but Gambit has no doubts, and tries to torture him with holographic images of the people Creed has killed. When he goes too far, Storm steps in and warns him off. After the conference in San Francisco, Hank finds Professor Xavier in a contemplative mood and they discuss Sabretooth and his possible rehabilitation. Hank makes the point that Creed has committed many crimes and it is in his nature to kill. They couldn’t change him, and they shouldn’t let Sabretooth change them.

Full Summary: 

(The Xavier’s Institute)

Remy LeBeau sits alone on the Institute’s rooftop, brooding over recent events that threaten to change his life forever. Lightning strikes all around, but Remy appears oblivious to the danger. He believed he had left his past behind him; that his time with the X-Men had somehow exonerated him from his crime but, after meeting Mister Sinister, he knows this isn’t the case.

Storm appears from above, swooping down using the winds to deposit her gently besides her teammate. She asks if he’d like to talk about Rogue’s absence, as Bobby has told her she won’t be returning any time soon, but he replies that he actually came up to the roof to spend some time alone. Ororo doesn’t believe him and Remy tells her that, when he met her, she was trapped in a twelve-year old body and he thought ‘someday’ she would grow out of being stubborn. “No such luck,” says Ororo.

He asks how she’s doing following her run-in with Marrow and she replies that she did what she had to do to save the lives of innocent people. That wasn’t his question and he prompts her again, telling her that, as long as he’s known her, life and death have always been big issues with her. She says that Marrow apparently decided her fate years ago, and nothing she could have done would have changed that. Remy asks whether she really believes that a person can’t sometimes become something better, really searching for an answer for himself as much as for Marrow. Ororo replies that she would like to believe there’s always room for growth, for the evolution of a soul, but she thinks that there are some things, like the true nature of a soul, that cannot be changed. She asks what he believes. “Honestly,” he says, reaching out for her hand, “Not much o’ anything at dis moment chere, not much of anything.”

(San Francisco)

As Remy and Ororo sink into their thoughts, three thousand miles away in San Francisco, an exigency conference of the World Health Organization is being held in a convention center. The speaker is Dr. Hank McCoy, who is not only a brilliant bio-physicist, but a former Avenger, an X-man and a mutant. He stands in front of a large screen, displaying graphics relating to today’s topic, namely the legacy Virus, a virus that has been attacking the mutant community of late, but which has also affected a human, Dr. Moira MacTaggert.

He concludes his speech to the conference by telling the audience that they now know as much as them about the so-called Legacy Virus, but a voice from the audience says that, by all reasonable standards, this doesn’t appear to be very much at all. Everyone turns as Hank says, “My point exactly, Professor Xavier.” Xavier proceeds to point out that, with a world population of over three billion people, Dr. McCoy has only been able to present eight recorded cases, nine if one includes Dr. MacTaggert’s infection, which could arguably have been contracted by her intimate exposure to contaminated individuals at her Muir Island research facility. In short, he questions whether the condition even warrants a level four biohazard classification, let alone be thought of as the genetic time bomb it has been portrayed as so far.

Hank removes his glasses and says that, with all due respect, he is compelled to point out that it was the overzealous media that coined the term ‘potential epidemic.’ Charles replies by stating that, from what Hank has said, he cannot even say with any degree of certainty that the virus might not have been a pre-existing condition in those mutants who have succumbed to the disease. To stand here in front of the world community and incite panic and fear in the general public would appear to be the highest irresponsibility. The audience applaud Xavier’s argument as Hank telepathically communicates with Charles, saying he certainly knows how to go for the jugular vein. Charles apologizes but, as they had discussed earlier, it is all for the best and, furthermore, their strategy seems to be working.

Suddenly, Dr. Renee Majcomb stands up and slams her fist on the stage, saying that she begs to differ, but there are three hundred dead mutates buried in potter’s fields in Genosha that would argue otherwise. All the information they have indicates they died of a variant strain of this Legacy Virus. Hank acknowledges her studies of the Genoshan crisis and the risks she took in coming to San Francisco from her war-torn land, but introduces Dr. Valerie Cooper, former head of mutant affairs with the U.S. government to address Renee’s concerns.

Val stands and informs the conference that, after the unsealing of records regarding her briefing of a recent X-Factor excursion to Genosha, opened under the Freedom of Information Act, she testified that she did not believe that the country’s current medical crisis posed a threat to world health or security concerns. She still believes this to be the case. Every life lost in Genosha is a tragedy, but the infectees are made up of genetically-engineered mutates, a population that no one can reasonably argue exists anywhere else in the world. There’s no way of telling if this same engineering contributed to their destruction and that is why she must agree with Professor Xavier’s assessment of the situation. Should they be concerned? Yes. A doomsday virus which threatens every man, woman and child on the planet? She doesn’t believe there is adequate scientific information at this point to make that argument.

(Muir Island)

Moira MacTaggert sits alongside Nightcrawler, Meggan and Douglock, watching the events on television. Moira can’t believe Charles is doing this and, what’s more, she can’t believe he is actually pulling it off. Kurt says he thought they agreed that this risky strategy would help allay the masses’ fear regarding the Legacy Virus, but Moira says they did, but adds, “The more we know about the virus, and our knowledge seems to increase every day, the more it appears to function less like a virus and more like, a…” “Designer gene?” interjects Meggan. Moira agrees. Kurt wonders whether that might not be its purpose in the long run; the panic has already started and perhaps Stryfe has accomplished what he set out to do when he released the virus, and the damage is already done.

(The Xavier Institute)

Tabitha Smith, a.k.a. Boomer, a member of current institute residents X-Force, watches Sabretooth in the Danger Room, wishing he would move. It’s almost as if he is stalking something, she thinks. Unseen by Tabitha, Sabretooth is indeed stalking a small, white rabbit, which bounds away to safety when Tabitha bangs on the window. She wonders why he’s acting like a caged animal, when the entire holographic Danger Room scenario was created to keep him mellow. As he arrives at the window, he puts on his placid expression but, as she stares into his eyes for the first time since he was placed in there, she doubts. She presses a switch and a blind closes across the window, leaving her to sit alone with her thoughts.

Inside the Danger Room, the scenario disappears as Gambit smashes through another window high above. Creed looks up to see Gambit holding his bo-staff, ready for action. Remy’s finished thinking and is about to get on with doing. He asks Creed if he remembers him and Creed appears to struggle with his name. Gambit leaps down into the Danger Room and says it’s a start. Now he wants to see how much else he remembers before Wolverine poked him in the head.

(San Francisco)

Hank drives alongside the Golden Gate Bridge after the conference has ended, thinking about how, according to the melody of yore, he was supposed to leave his heart in San Francisco. So why does it feel like he left his soul there? He isn’t entirely comfortable with the ethics regarding their actions but, then again, if you can’t trust Charles, whom can you trust?

He rounds a sharp bend and screeches his sports car to a halt. In front of him, lit up by his car’s headlights, is Professor Xavier’s empty hoverchair. He leaps from the vehicle and heads towards the cliff face. Noone else knew they were to rendezvous here, which means, if Charles left his hoverchair, he left of his own accord. He peers over the edge and finds Charles sitting on a rock, jutting out towards the sea. He calls out but Charles tells him there’s no need to shout. He pulled himself out here to enjoy a moment of tranquillity and some peace of mind. Hank asks if he is feeling well, but Charles replies that, for the first time in his life, he felt powerless.

He asks rhetorically whether he is playing with fire with the legacy Virus, with everything, with Creed? From the first moment he accidentally absorbed another person’s thoughts and felt their most private feelings in his mind, he knew that being a mutant bore a heavy responsibility. He always believed that they couldn’t just let the accidents of their birth define them as simply good or evil. They were more, they had to be more. He took Creed into their home, against the better judgement of most of the X-Men, first and foremost because he thought he could stop the killing. What’s more, a part of him wanted to cure his homicidal lust, but he is afraid he failed on both counts. “Sir, with all due respect; balderdash!” replies Hank.

(The Xavier Institute Danger Room)

Creed looks up at Gambit and says that he’s an X-man. He came to the X-Men for help. “Are you going to help me?” So to speak, replies Remy, adding that, for a guy with a hole in his brain, he’s remembering a whole lot. He clicks on a gadget in his hand and an image of a man appears. Remy asks him if he remembers the man, Doctor Eiger Harnerst. Creed asks if he should. The hologram speaks to Creed, saying that, according to Xavier’s files, he was his first official kill. At the time of his murder, he was Creed’s paediatrician. He was nine years old and the doctor died trying to help him. “I… am sorry,” says Creed.

Remy clicks his gadget again and the holograms of three policemen appear, officers Jenson, Peirot and Campagnizzi of the Saskatchewan provincial police. They were all killed in the line of duty stopping Creed’s killer rampage across three provinces. He was thirteen years old at the time. Another click and a woman appears, holding a small child. “Do you remember us, Victor?” she asks, “Millie and Liza Upjohn. You said you were lost, hungry. I opened my house to you. She was never the same after she found my body on the kitchen floor.”

Remy doesn’t let up and the next victim to appear is Alexis Conklin. She was asleep in the middle of the night. Her mistake was leaving the window open. More victims appear, all asking Creed questions about why he did what he did. The hologram of Father Devon then appears. He tells Creed he was hearing confessions at Saint Alamander’s but doesn’t finish his sentence, as Sabretooth lashes out with his claws, his arms passing straight through the hologram. He asks Gambit why he’s doing this and Remy replies that he wants him to remember, everyone. When he goes to sleep at night, he wants him to see every face in every dream. He wants Creed to wake up, retching from the taste of blood on his tongue. Eyes open or closed, he wants Creed to recall every life he shattered, the ones he killed, and the ones that dies because of him.

Suddenly, the image of Birdy appears and says, “Hi boss, how’s it going?” Creed actually shows a little tenderness as he tries cradling Birdy’s chin with his palm, but Gambit interrupts him, shouting that she’s gone; dead! She was murdered, lost to him forever just like every other soul unfortunate enough to cross his path. That doesn’t even count the Morlocks that he and his friends slaughtered. Sabretooth leaps at Gambit from behind, but Remy stops him with a charged card, which explodes against Creed’s chest.

Another hologram appears, this time of Sabretooth holding Henri and Genevieve upside down, just before he made Remy make a choice over which one of them to save. Gambit tells Creed his memory seems to be getting better by the minute, asking if this seems familiar. As the couple fall, the holographic Sabretooth says, “Oops,” as the real Sabretooth asks what he is doing; and Remy angrily replies, “Not he! You! Dat was you Creed.” He tells the computer to loop the program and start again. Sabretooth asks why he did it, because they were helpless, but Remy replies that they were all helpless. Creed turns away and asks him not to make him remember but Gambit grabs him around the neck with his staff and tells him not to dare turning away. His victims were unable to turn away when he was pulling their insides out. “People like us ain’t allowed to forget!”

Storm arrives and tells the computer to end the program and she asks Remy what he’s trying to accomplish by this. Remy says it doesn’t concern her but Ororo replies that it concerns all of them, telling him to leave now or she’ll remove him from the room. Gambit turns one last time to Creed and says he will remember because, if he doesn’t, he’ll be there to remind him. Remy then departs, brushing past Ororo without a word. Ororo presses a switch and a small cage appears around Sabretooth. She leaves him crouching in the darkness. “Oops,” says Creed.

(San Francisco)

Hank and Charles discuss Sabretooth. Hank makes the point that it would be much easier to write Creed off as evil, as if he were somehow possessed or some mutated force of nature; that in some way his mutation excused his behavior. That probably isn’t true, and ultimately, Creed chose to maim and kill, yet he is no more pure evil than they are pure good. The same choice he exerted in committing those acts is the same choice they made to combat them. Simply put, they couldn’t change Sabretooth and they shouldn’t let Sabretooth change them. Charles says he won’t and thanks Hank for reminding him that in the final analysis, they are still only human. Hank says that Victor Creed committed many horrible acts, crimes against humanity. Charles adds that it’s the same humanity the X-Men have all sworn their lives to protect. Hank heads back to his car, telling Charles that he doesn’t think the problem with Sabretooth is as complicated as he thinks.

Characters Involved: 

Beast, Gambit, Storm (all X-Men)

Professor Xavier

WHO conference audience and press

Dr. Renee Majcomb

Dr. Valerie Cooper

Douglock, Meggan, Nightcrawler (all Excaliber)

Dr. Moira MacTaggert

(on television)

Professor Xavier



(Danger Room holograms)

Dr. Eiger Harnerst

Officers Campagnizzi, Jenson and Peirot

Millie and Liza Upjohn

Alexis Conklin

Father Devon


Henri and Genevieve

Various other victims

Story Notes: 

Gambit met Mister Sinister in X-Men (2nd series) #45.

Storm seemingly killed Marrow in Uncanny X-Men #325.

Renee Majcomb mentions that the burial grounds in Genosha are called potter’s fields. This is a term normally given to burial grounds for the nameless; graves paid for using public money. In the Bible, the potter’s field was bought using the thirty pieces of silver Judas received for betraying Jesus.

Father Devon was killed by Sabretooth in X-Men Unlimited #3. Birdy was killed by Graydon Creed in Sabretooth: Death Hunt #4. Genevieve was killed by Sabretooth in X-Men (2nd series) #33.

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