Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #328

Issue Date: 
January 1996
Story Title: 

Scott Lobdell (writes), Joe Madureira (pencils), Tim Townsend (inks), Steve Buccellato & Electric Crayon (colors), Richard Starkings and Comicraft (lettering), Bob Harras (editor)

Brief Description: 

Charles Xavier has finally admitted defeat in trying to ‘cure’ Sabretooth of his homicidal rages. Sabretooth taunts him about his failure but Charles insists that he must understand that they had to try and help. Jean shows Cyclops and Bishop why Charles reluctantly gave in. She displays Sabretooth’s thoughts onto a monitor, showing his perverted view of life. Bishop wants to kill Creed, but Scott persuades him that, once the killing starts, it’ll never stop. Bishop has to agree and informs them that he’s been having strange memories of a time that cannot have been. Scott and Jean realize he may have gone through a similar experience to theirs. Charles speaks with Val Cooper, who agrees to send a squad in to remove Creed from his hands. Creed laughs at Xavier as he leaves the room, taunting him that his dream is a sham. Once Charles is gone, Boomer talks with Creed about how he used her. Cleverly, he uses her youth and inexperience to make her so angry that she uses her time bombs on him, which has the expected result of releasing him from his shackles. With Sabretooth now free, Psylocke jumps in to defend Tabitha, who calls for back up, her power temporarily spent. The much larger Sabretooth manages to overcome Psylocke, who tries to stop him with her psionic blade. Unfortunately, this no longer has the desired effect and Creed guts her before fleeing the institute. Beast, Cyclops and Archangel arrive in the Danger Room to find Tabitha holding Psylocke in her arms, with blood everywhere.

Full Summary: 

Victor Creed is gone. Only Sabretooth remains. He has been heavily shackled in a retractable seat which comes through the wall of the Danger Room and foams at the mouth, as the man reflected in his eyes listens to him. They are in mid conversation. Sabretooth tells Charles Xavier that what he’s saying is that things don’t always turn out the way he wants. Charles is unaccustomed to failure and replies that it may be years before Creed is ready to understand what he is about to say, if indeed ever, but what he wants Creed to understand is that they tried. In the same way he once took in Rogue, Wolverine and Gambit and, despite the objections of almost everyone in the place, he took him in because he believed he could end his madness. First and foremost, he wanted to stop the killing spree, which resulted from his homicidal rages.

Creed snarls back at Xavier and asks if it ever occurred to him that he doesn’t want to be helped. Charles remains calm and says that what Creed wants is irrelevant. His desires take a back seat to society’s innocents, who must be protected. Creed just wants to rip off Xavier’s head and, in the next room, looking through the window at the conversation, is Bishop who cocks his weapon. All he needs is a reason to shoot. Cyclops tells him to take it easy; this is the professor’s hand to play.

Bishop wonders what finally persuaded Charles that Creed was ultimately beyond redemption. Jean taps away at the computer’s keyboard, bringing up the pleasant Danger Room scenario that helped keep Sabretooth sedated. She tells him that Charles already had his suspicions, but it wasn’t until yesterday until she did a standard psi-scan as part of his treatment. This allowed her to look through his eyes psionically. She puts on screen what she saw. “Dear god…” exclaims Scott.

On screen, instead of a small deer surrounded by wildlife in the tranquil woodland setting, Creed saw the deer as lying dead and being eaten by savage looking squirrels, twisted in Creed’s mind. Bishop once again cocks his weapon, saying that God had nothing to do with Sabretooth’s creation. He’s a mad dog that should be put to sleep before he hurts anyone else. Scott replies that this ‘mad dog’ is a human being. Do they kill him because they don’t want him around, because they fear him? Who’s next? Magneto? Sinister? The Toad maybe? He asks if they kill everyone who disagrees with the way they think mutants should live. If Bishop pulls the trigger, then the killing doesn’t stop; ever!

Bishop lays down his gun and admits Scott is right. He berates himself for still being unable to think that he can solve every problem with a gun. He tells Scott and Jean that they may or not know this but, lately, he has been distracted. His head has been overflowing with memories of a time and place that cannot be and, as Professor Xavier seems unable to help him at this time, he’s afraid it is something he will have to deal with on his own.

As he walks away, Scott and Jean know what that sounds like, having had similar problems to Bishops when they returned from the future raising Scott’s son, Nathan. Jean says that Bishop’s problems seem to have started since his return from Israel and they wonder if he has had a similar experience. Scott says it is conceivable that their unique psionic rapport spared them from the more damaging aspects of time-travel. They cuddle one another and Scott says that, while he’s not eager to pick at those particular emotional scars, they may have to, for the sake of Bishop’s sanity.

Sabretooth, meanwhile, continues his moral debate with Charles. He asks Charles to just admit that this has never been about right and wrong; it’s about freedom. He has it and Charles doesn’t. “Not from where I’m sitting,” Charles replies. Exactly, says Creed. He’s crippled by his mutant power, tied to some moral sense of responsibility the same way he’s trapped in his chair. Creed admits that he likes being a mutant. He likes the power; it sets him free and that’s what’s killing Xavier; because, just like Magneto, he’s doing exactly what he wants to do.

Charles loses his usual calm and retorts, quite animatedly, that all that was evil about Magneto was forged during his hellish youth as a prisoner in the death camps, helpless as his family was murdered simply for who they were. He doesn’t agree with Magneto’s methods, but he understands why he’s done what he’s done. “But you? You’re an…” Sabretooth finishes his sentence for him. “But me what? I’m an animal? Say it, professor, c’mon.” Charles sits back in his seat and replies that Creed only wishes that were true; then he might somehow be absolved of his crimes against humanity.

Charles flicks a lever on his hoverchair and the front section displays a holo-optic line to Dr. Val Cooper, his close ally in the federal government. Creed laughs as Val asks Charles if he’s finally made a decision about him. He has. He tells her he has done everything he can, but now it is a matter for the law to decide. Val replies that she realizes how hard this is for him but Sabretooth interjects, saying failure is never easy. “No, it isn’t is it, Creed?” Charles replies. Sabretooth laughs heartily, as Charles informs Val that Sabretooth will be remanded into her custody upon her arrival. She assures him that he won’t regret this and she will have a team scrambled within the hour.

She signs off and Charles begins to head for the exit. Sabretooth taunts him as he departs, asking if that’s it then. The great Professor X finally fesses up to being wrong. He asks Charles if he realizes that the dream he’s always going on about is just that, a dream. He’s just going to toss poor helpless Creed on the front stoop and let the government haul his big mistake off to prison. He asks if that’s how he solves his problems; outta sight, outta mind? Charles looks back without a word before Creed delivers his parting shot. “It ain’t that easy, Chuck! Cuz when ya finally wake up from yer ‘dream,’ I’m still gonna be here.” He laughs again, a laugh which haunts Charles as the Danger Room doors slam shut.

Scott and Jean appear, and Charles asks how much they saw. Jean kneels beside him and says that they saw enough to know that it may have been the hardest thing he’s ever had to do. Charles says Sabretooth wasn’t the first mutant he took a risk on and, rest assured, he won’t be the last. He turns away and somewhat harshly tells Jean that if she’s looking for someone to pity, then save it for Sabretooth. He excuses himself, saying he has work to do.

Inside the Danger Room, Sabretooth is woken from his thoughts by the flick of the light switch. He asks who turned out the lights, but a quick sniff answers his own question and he welcomes Tabitha. She’s angry and stands before him, lit only by three circling time bombs of her own creation and light coming from the observation booth. “You lied to me!” she says.

Several feet away in the booth, Psylocke spots Tabitha talking with Creed and knows she should call her out of there. Tabitha’s spent a lot of time nursing Sabretooth back to health and she knows this must be devastating for her. In the Danger Room, Creed puts on his placid face, the one he’s been using to fool Tabitha and the rest and says, “Who, me? Lie to you? Golly, why would I go an’ do such a mean ol’ thing like that?” Tabitha slaps him hard across the face and scolds him, telling him that she trusted him; believed his brains were all whacked out. She was there for him when everybody else had written him off. For god’s sake, she adds, she even brought him a bowl of milk every night for three weeks.

Sabretooth slips back into his more recognizable scowl and tells her that that makes her an idiot. Tabitha begins to walks away, taking her circling time bombs with her. Creed asks where she’s going and she replies she going away from him. Psylocke allows herself a smile. She’s pleased that Tabitha hasn’t let him under her skin and not allowed him to use her more than he already has. Sabretooth, however, is nothing if not manipulative. He calls to her as she walks and tells her he knows that she’s just running home to her low-life, trailer-park living, falling down drunk of an old man, so she can tell him she failed Creed the same way she failed him. Tabitha stops in her tracks and slowly turns, anger written all over her face. “What did you say?”

In the control booth, Psylocke senses the imminent danger, as Sabretooth continues to harangue Tabitha. He calls her a little snot, a failure, a nobody; a nothing who thinks that by hanging out with the X-Men, this makes her somehow better than the white trash that she is. Tabitha crosses her arms defensively and tells him to shut up.
Psylocke calls to Tabitha telepathically to get out of the Danger Room, “this moment!” Boomer tells Betsy to stay out of the way; she can handle this on her own. Sabretooth says she can’t even handle the truth and should admit it; that they’re two of a kind, and that’s why they’re always going to be alone. They’re both losers. She replies that she isn’t alone.

Psylocke is already up and running for the Danger Room entrance. Sabretooth says he ain’t got nobody, but at least she has Cannonball to pity her. But, he asks, would he if he knew what she used to be. With a tear edging its way down her cheek, Tabitha counts down. Three. Two. Psylocke enters the Danger Room and screams Tabitha’s name, just as a huge explosion from her time bombs knock Tabitha clear into the air.

There was a time when she was growing up in a trailer park in Pennsylvania that Tabitha Smith used to believe that, if she could just get out, just escape, that she would magically become a better person. The sound that impacts against the far wall of the Danger Room is not necessarily of flesh on metal, as much as it is the sound of a young girl’s dream shattered, forever.

As she picks herself up and rubs her head, she is confronted by the hulking, intimidating figure of Sabretooth. His burnt flesh smokes from the fire but, even more scarily, he is now unshackled. He leans towards her and informs her that she shouldn’t worry, as it looks worse than it feels and his healing factor’s already kicked in. Before he forgets, he thanks her as he could never have done it without her. She looks back at him, her eyes widened in fear and hurt. “Y-you set me up, didn’t you?” Sabretooth takes a swipe at her with his claws but, fortunately for Boomer, Psylocke intervenes and delivers a crunching kick to Sabretooth’s face. She orders Tabitha to go and alert the others, now!

Creed, while grabbing Betsy’s ankle, says that what rots about this place is that it’s saturated with X-Men. He swings her, using her own momentum against a nearby wall, and adds that this is the problem. They’ve already done this dance once before and, if he remembers, she lost. Psylocke replies that he recalls incorrectly and, as she turns to position herself against the wall, she informs Creed that she has grown much more formidable since those days. She asks him to be a gentleman and allow her to escort him back to the holding cell, before someone gets hurt. She delivers another blow, this time an elbow to the face, which puts him to the ground.

He snarls at her that he’d sooner die than be locked up again. “Very well,” replies Psylocke, seemingly confident of her ability to fight Creed one on one. He tells her she does a lot of talking for a ninja and leaps at her, attacking with his left arm, claws extended, which she manages to stop. However, his other arm connects with her face, drawing blood. She catches him in the stomach with a stern kick and follows up with a wrist punch to the face. In reply, Sabretooth punches Psylocke in the stomach, which winds her. Nearby, Boomer presses an intercom switch and calls for Cyclops, anybody, for help.

With Betsy temporarily out of breath, Sabretooth manages to clasp his hand over her face and thrust her against the wall. She had hoped it hadn’t come to this but one look in Sabretooth’s insane eyes and she knows she has no choice. She summons her psionic blade, the sum of her telepathic abilities, and plunges it directly into Sabretooth’s consciousness. In the past, this has provided him with what he calls ‘the glow,’ a temporary satiation of his homicidal urges, but, in an instant, Betsy realizes something is wrong, dreadfully, fatefully wrong.

“It’s like this lady,” Creed tells her as he grabs her wrists, “Since the runt popped his claw through my head, the glow don’t work no more.” He is simply too powerful at close quarters for Psylocke to tackle and she cowers beneath his frame. Tabitha begins to panic, pressing the intercom and calling for people to hurry. Sabretooth grabs
Betsy’s hair and pulls it backwards. All this time, he tells her, they finally managed to ‘cure’ him without even knowing it; “ain’t that a hoot!” Betsy looks up at him, spitting blood and tells him that, no matter where he goes, they’ll find him. He says he’s counting on it. Then, as Boomer watches, frozen and helpless, she sees Sabretooth’s arm reach back, claws ready for the strike.

With her powers temporarily expended, Boomer is unable to do anything but bear
silent witness to a betrayal of one misguided person’s unshakeable faith in redemption; a betrayal which is paid for with the blood of another; Psylocke’s, which splatters over Tabitha’s face as she looks on horrified as Sabretooth strikes.

Cyclops, Beast and Archangel all answer the emergency call but the mansion is a large building. They move as quickly as they can. Hank tells Scott that he was unable to hail Boomer from the lab and without another word, the trio head to the Danger Room. The sight that greets them, as the Danger Room doors whisper open in front of them, is as horrifying a sight as they’ve ever seen visited upon one of their own. Psylocke lies eviscerated in Boomer’s arms; the room is in shambles and Sabretooth is nowhere to be seen. Tabitha cradles her blood-soaked body and cries, “Oh Betsy. I’m sorry, please live, please?”

Characters Involved: 

Professor Charles Xavier

Archangel, Beast, Bishop, Cyclops, Jean Grey, Psylocke (all X-Men)

Boomer (of X-Force)


(as hologram)

Dr. Valerie Cooper

Story Notes: 

The vague memories Bishop is having trouble with are those of his time spent prior to this story in the Age of Apocalypse . Scott and Jean spent many years in the future bringing up Nathan, as shown in the Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix limited series.

Psylocke and Sabretooth fought before in Uncanny X-Men #213.

Wolverine popped his claw up through Sabretooth’s skull in Wolverine (2nd series) #90.

Issue Information: 
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