Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #362

Issue Date: 
December 1998
Story Title: 
The Hunt for Xavier! - part 1: Meltdown

Steve Seagle (story), Chris Bachalo (art), Thibert & Townsend (inker), Liquid & Graphics (colors), RS & Comicraft (letters), Powers (editor), Harras (editor in chief)

Brief Description: 

In Nebraska a frightened Pyro is running about, setting crops on fire, mumbling about Xavier. S.H.I.E.L.D. are called in, and Nick Fury calls the X-Men to deal with it, as they might be able to help more. The X-Men try to stop Pyro, but his powers are spiraling out of control due to the Legacy Virus, and he is running from something very, very bad. While this is happening Marrow is wondering what the point is in searching for Xavier, and clashes with Storm on the subject. But it is Gambit who brings it home for her; Xavier is just a man, a man who would risk anything to save their lives. When it looks as though stopping Pyro will be impossible something emerges from the flames trailing behind him; something metallic, and the reason he was fleeing, trying to warn Xavier. It attacks Pyro, taking him out, but not killing him. Kitty gets a glimpse of this thing. Later, S.H.I.E.L.D. take Pyro away.
Kitty uses the Cerebro sent over by Moira McTaggert, and discovers two mutant energy signatures belonging to Professor Xavier. Then some outside source shorts out the machine, ruining it. The X-Men decide to split up into two groups to investigate the mutant signatures. One group will head to Russia, and the other to San Francisco. Meanwhile, something crashes into San Francisco, and it is looking for Xavier...

Full Summary: 

Nebraska: Ricky, a young boy, runs to his father, a farmer who is currently trying to get his combine harvester running to harvest the crops. Ricky screams that the crops are on fire. They run to investigate, but find armed government soldiers telling them to go home until they're contacted. The S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier is hovering over the field; a massive city sized, floating fortress. Setting the fields on fire is an enraged Pyro, whose mutant powers are spiralling out of control. A S.H.I.E.L.D. soldier tells him to state his demands. Pyro mumbles "He's got control of you, like everyone else..." Then he mumbles the word "Xavier."

In a nearby barn the assembled X-Men (Colossus, Shadowcat, Wolverine, Marrow, Rogue, Storm and Gambit) are meeting with S.H.I.E.L.D. head honcho Colonel Nick Fury. Logan wants to know why Pyro was asking for Xavier. Fury doesn't know, which is why he's risking treason to talk to them. Gambit makes a comment about S.H.I.E.L.D. being afraid of their own shadows. Fury tells them that Pyro has been torching quite a few fields in the last 24 hours, working his way across Nebraska for the last day. There are concerns because of his fire abilities and because he might spread the Legacy Virus. There is even talk of martial law, and what with the Cape Citadel incident and his encounter with Cable… Rogue counters that they did save the world and Storm adds that Nathan saved thousands of lives aboard the heli-carrier. Fury's bosses don't know the X-Men aren't terrorists, and he is still trying to establish authority after months away, and in the end it all boils down to an inexplicable mutant-related phenomenon.

Suddenly Nightcrawler "bamfs" in, surprising Fury. His recon of the area has told him that the heat from Pyro's flames is becoming intense, and they better engage him quickly before the firestorm reaches the town. Fury and Gambit wonder who Pyro is running from. Logan thinks it must be something real scary for him to want Charles Xavier, as they have no history together. Why didn't he ask for someone from Freedom Force or the Brotherhood of Mutants?
Fury tells the X-Men they'll be saving his butt if they take down Pyro. He's told intelligence that the fire mutant will burn himself out naturally, so that leaves them 30 minutes. He wishes them good luck and exits.

Marrow asks Colossus why everyone goes holier-than-thou whenever Xavier is mentioned. "He's just a creepy old scalp job," she says. Peter tells her the Professor is a great and learned man; he plucked them out of their native lands and taught them how to control their powers and gain confidence in themselves. All Marrow can think about is the Morlocks; that if it weren't for Xavier she might still be with her people, happy. "Wherever Chucky X is," moans Marrow, "he can just stay missing. "

A dream:

Professor Xavier is having a dream; a dream of a paradise he thought he'd never see. A place where human and mutant peacefully coexist. In the dream Charles enjoys a paradise for mutantkind when Magneto appears. He tells Charles that there are two of him and points at a statue of Charles. He adds that he looks happy. He is happy, Charles tells him. His every dream has come true...
Professor Charles Xavier wakes from his dream, and back into the nightmare of reality. A mystery person with him pushes him along as they escape from something. "We stop any longer and we're dead, old man. Now get moving!" Charles is told.

Salem Centre, offices of Dr. Cecilia Reyes: A young girl, Patty, screams "OW!". Dr Reyes tells her she hasn't even given her the shot yet, and to never be afraid of something just because you don't know much about it. As Cecilia keeps her young patient talking she delivers the shot, and Patty doesn't even notice. The door chime goes, and Cecilia leaves her young patient to answer the door. It is two delivery men with a huge crate sent by Moira MacTaggert. The crate came to her because nobody was in at the Xavier Institute and Cecilia was the signature release alternate. Cecilia wonders what it could be.

Nebraska: As the fire brigade charge in to help with the fires Storm is thinking about the time when Cecilia told her about treating Pyro in her emergency room. Apparently the Legacy Virus that Pyro carries is in the final stages, sending his mutant powers haywire. A fireman identifies the X-Men as "those muties." Storm tells him that they will end this crisis; but only if the fire brigade stays out of their way.
The X-Men are ready for action! Storm splits them into two groups. Group 1 (Wolverine, Gambit and Colossus) are to lead Pyro out of town and into the fields where he can do less damage. Group 2 (Storm, Marrow, Nightcrawler, Kitty and Rogue) are to put the fires out and remove citizens from harm's way. Then they will all rejoin and attempt to capture Pyro. As they head off Kurt thinks that he might've thought he’d be a better leader after his stint leading Excalibur. But after seeing Ororo in action he's realized that she deserves her position.

Wolverine tells Gambit and Colossus to route him in his direction, as being too close to the inferno is overwhelming his hyper-senses. Logan goes charging off in the opposite direction, slashing apart a fence that gets in his way in the process. The two of them go off to confront Pyro, as Peter muses on how happy he is to be back with the X-Men; but still, he thinks it will be some time before he becomes re-accustomed to Logan's unpredictable ways. Gambit points out Pyro, who is screaming "Stay away from me!" as the Legacy Virus causes his mind and powers to turn against him. "It almost seems that that the Earth is looking for ways to rid itself of our parasitical presence. Can't say I blame it. Ain’t nothing worse than a parasite," says Gambit. Then Gambit's own female wraith berates him for inferring that she is a parasite; and she is very angry with him. He cools her down, but promises himself that one day he will be rid of her presence.

In the town children are trapped in an overturned bus, which has a power line post crashed into it and a priest trapped in the burning bell tower of the church. Rogue and Nightcrawler head to rescue the priest, using a new move she calls "Deathstar Drop." Nighcrawler teleports through the smoke, grabs the priest (who thinks he's a demon) and teleports out into the air, where Rogue is ready to catch them. Nighcrawler tells her they should develop a maneuver at the school that is a little less extreme. Nightcrawler is also worried about how powerful Rogue has become; would her being not exactly in tune with her powers cause problems for the X-Men?

Marrow uses one of her bone daggers to neuter the power line. Storm prepares to remove the post as Marrow asks why they aren't after Pyro instead of saving townies; surely that way they can stop him from hurting more innocents? Storm tells her that Professor Xavier has instilled in them a balance between power and protection. Marrow brings up Onslaught. Storm tells her that incident was a tragedy, and a warning that they must control their powers. Marrow asks why her great Xavier wasn't there to help her Morlock friends; Storm counters with that Charles was willing to risk everything to save her people. Nightcrawler intervenes, and Marrow calls them both fanatics. Kurt claims he is not a fanatic; merely appreciative of a man who convinced him that his appearance is not a mark of worth in this world, and that his dream can improve a world he often feels he is not welcome in.

Meanwhile Storm has delivered a soothing rain to put out the field fires. But Pyro's powers are building immensely, and he's frightened, sending out a huge, monstrous, three headed fire demon out of his head. He is frightened of Xavier, claiming that he wants his death. Colossus tells him that Xavier would never want that. Pyro attacks them. Peter feels the heat, even through his armored form. He tells Gambit that should not happen. Gambit says it is the Legacy Virus, making his powers jump off scale. They also conclude that Pyro is fighting so ferociously because he is fighting for his life. Gambit turns around to see a woman, made of flame. She kisses him, and he screams in agony. Wolverine can smell the burning flesh and hair from far away. The other X-Men continue to herd Pyro towards Wolverine. Storm creates a collapsing air mass to starve the flames of oxygen, and orders Marrow to help Peter. She argues about it, so Rogue helps him instead. Nightcrawler tries to bait Pyro with words of a challenge as he rages down the street in a ball of fire, but he is too busy screaming about Xavier to notice. Kurt teleports next to Pyro, telling him that he knows where Xavier is, and all he has to do is follow him. "Liar!" Pyro yells.

Marrow asks Gambit what he thinks of Xavier. He tells her that Xavier is just a man; but a man who's done him nothing wrong, and who helped him in his search for redemption. A man who would risk his life to save theirs. "That's worth some respect, non?" Gambit asks her.

Storm yells at Pyro to stop in his tracks. He tells her they have no idea what they're up against. "Then help us Pyro! Stop this senseless destruction!" Nightcrawler shouts, as they chase after him. Kitty surprises him, drenching him in water from a hose. But this angers him even more, as he claims that that they can't reduce the heat.

Meanwhile, Wolverine is waiting of the X-Men to bait Pyro into the firebreak he's made in the field. He smells a set up, and it's coming from Pyro's direction.

Kitty reckons she saw something metallic in Pyro's flame wall. Nightcrawler guesses that he is not fighting them, but turning away from whatever was in the flames. As Pyro is now headed for Wolverine's direction it is up to him now.

Wolverine punches Pyro as he reaches him. "It can't end like this!" Pyro screams, as his flames almost go out. But behind them, the thing that Kitty saw in the flames, identitfies Pyro for capture and cataloguing. Pyro screams in terror, and blasts all the fire he can manage at the thing as it takes off. Pyro falls unconscious as the X-Men arrive. He's barely breathing. Nick Fury arrives and tells the X-Men to clear out before the rest of S.H.I.E.L.D. arrives. Storm thinks that they have failed. Fury begs to differ; they have saved a lot of lives today, and put out the fires. That's worth something. Fury asks whether they got any information out of Pyro before he went out. "Not enough, Nicholas," Storm answers, as the X-Men make a quick exit. "Not enough by far."

The Xavier Institute: Dr. Cecilia Reyes is mad that the X-Men never bothered to tell her that they were having Moira McTaggert's Cerebro machine sent to her. Kitty apologizes, but they need it, due to them not having their original Cerebro anymore. This one isn't as good as the old one, but it should get the job done. Cecilia is still mad though. Kitty, using Moira's Cerebro, finds the Professor's signature. One in Tajikistan, and another in San Francisco. She tries checking it for a fifth time, just to see if the thing is working, when the power goes out, breaking the machine. Kitty is suspicious; it felt like an outside force supercharged it until it overloaded. Wolverine takes this to mean someone is one step ahead of them. Storm decides to split the X-Men into two groups. One will head to Russia, and the other to San Francisco. She hopes they can get to Professor Xavier before the things that Pyro was fleeing from catch up to him first.

Meanwhile a fireball crashes by the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. It emerges from the water, revealing itself to be some robotic entity. It states-"Objective: Xavier...Bio-signature acquired..."

Characters Involved: 

Colossus, Gambit, Marrow, Nightcrawler, Professor Charles Xavier, Rogue, Shadowcat, Storm, Wolverine (all X-Men)

Doctor Cecilia Reyes (former X-Man)

Colonel Nick Fury


Cerebrite Beta
Patty, Patty's mother (patients of Dr. Reyes)

Ricky, Ricky's father

In Xavier’s dream:

Charles Xavier

Story Notes: 

Cecilia treated Pyro in Uncanny X-Men #351.
The Cape Citadel incident Fury refers to took place in X-Men (2nd series) #80.
Fury ran into Cable in Cable (2nd series) #62.
Fury’s having troubled reestablishing his authority as he was believed to be dead for months. [Fury/Agent 13 #1-2]
Gambit has been having trouble with a green energy being within him which he picked up in Antarctica (as explained and resolved in Gambit Annual ’99).

Bastion confiscated the X-Men's original Cerebro during Operation: Zero Tolerance.
The Hunt for Xavier is continued in X-Men (2nd series) #82.

Issue Information: 
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