Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #383

Issue Date: 
August 2000
Story Title: 
Moscow Knights

Chris Claremont and Adam Kubert (Plot), Tim Townsend with Dan Panosian (Inks), Richard Isanove (Colors), Richard Starkings and COMICRAFT’s Saida! (Letters), Mark Powers (Editor), Bob Harras (Editor in Chief)

Brief Description: 

In Russia, Storm kidnaps an old ally named Simyon Borisovitch Kurasov from his home and enlists him in helping her free the other X-Men, who have been captured. Storm tells Simyon her story, how the X-Men came to Russia to help Gambit pay off an old debt to Colonel Alexei Mikhailovitch Vazhin. Their goal was to sneak into a club named “the Slash!” and free Major Debra Levin, who went missing while investigating. The X-Men snuck in, but were ambushed by Manacle, Bludgeon, Cudgel, and Revenant, who were sent by the club owner, Ransome Sole. Sole had his slave, Sketch, encase the four captured X-Men in shells but Storm escaped. Simyon agrees to help. He takes a S.H.I.E.L.D. like model decoy, programmed to mimic Storm, and pretends to hand the real Storm to Sole. The real Storm sneaks in and frees Levin and attacks Bludgeon and Cudgel. Meanwhile, Sole is trying to sell the captured X-Men to his guests: some Shockwave Riders and the slaver known as Tullamore Voge. Sketch transforms the fake Storm into a machine gun to help out the X-Men. She frees the X-Men and they take down Ransome Sole, Big Casino and the other mutant guards. Some Shockwave Riders escape with Sole and his associates as Revenant teleports away. In the end, the X-Men free Levin, free a slave, and capture Voge, but realize more is going on that meets the eye and that their trip to Moscow will be prolonged.

Full Summary: 

Above the city of Moscow in the stormy skies, flies Ororo, whose name means beauty. As the X-Man named Storm, she commands the weather, which allows her to fly, using the wind. With a determined look on her face, she flies towards her destination, her hair and cape blowing with the wind. She streaks across the sky and brings thunderclouds with her. Below, on the streets, people hurriedly make their way home before the downpour starts.

Storm flies past the Kremlin, to a series of mansions along the Moscow River. The Imperial Tsars of Russia constructed these homes long ago. On Kulagin Prospect, stands one these mansions. Inside, lives Simyon Borisovitch Kurasov, who himself can be called a king. He is the self-made monarch of the Moscow underworld. It is said that he has more power than the elected officials of Moscow themselves. That is why Storm is after him.

Simyon opens to door to his bedroom and escorts the woman with him, Kara, into the room. The two lie on the bed and begin to kiss when, suddenly, the balcony doors are thrown open and a whirlwind rushes in. Terrified, Kara asks Simyon what is going on. Simyon pushes Kara out of the way and tells her to get out of the room and to call the guards. The whirlwind tosses Kara aside and, instead, heads for Simyon. The bed, which weighs half-a-ton, is easily swept from the ground with Simyon on it and out the window. He thinks to himself that someone is getting very crafty in the art of assassination, but wonders which person would have the audacity to attack him.

The bed reaches to top of the whirlwind and gently sits at the top of the sky. Simyon thinks to himself that he enjoyed the ride. “What a magnificent view!” he exclaims, “What a way to go!” This is the most fun he has had in ages. Storm calls his name to gain Simyon’s attention and he looks up. Storm is hovering above him with a stern face. She cracks a lightning bolt behind her to show that she means business.

Jokingly, in Russian, Simyon asks her why she could not have made a phone call or come during proper business hours. Storm, also speaking in Russian, tells him that time was of the essence and that she could not wait. Simyon whips out a gun and tells Storm that he does not like to be kidnapped. He tells her not to do anything rash, but Storm cuts him off and reminds him of his situation; a plane flies by, reminding him of his altitude. Simyon puts down his gun and tells Storm that she brought up a good point. He forgot how easily she could “sweep a man off his feet.” Storm smiles and sits on the bed. Simyon asks what he can do for her and also asks her to speak in English, since he could use the practice. Storm speaks in English and tells Simyon she needs his help.

She tells Simyon that he knows she is a mutant. Simyon pretends that he is shocked at the “revelation” and says he hadn’t noticed. Storm continues on and says she is affiliated with the X-Men. She tells him that, two days earlier, she and three other X-Men came to Moscow to aid a colleague. They traveled to Senskaya Square to the Research Annex of the 13th Directorate of what was the KGB. Simyon tells Storm that he knows the building is bigger than the Kremlin, but he has never known anyone who has been inside as it is not user-friendly.

Two days ago

Storm, Cable, Beast, Gambit, and Phoenix stand, in civilian clothes, inside the empty hallways of the Research Annex. Jean wonders where everyone is and if people work in the building. Gambit tells her that it seems no one is home. Cable explains that a telekinetic probe tells him that the structure is as impervious to harm as pure adamantium. If someone traps them inside, they are in trouble. Jean adds that there are so many psi-buffers that her telepathy is useless.

From behind, a man with an eye patch over his right eye asks the X-Men what the point is of the Research Annex if it isn’t secured against the beings it was created to monitor. He introduces himself as Alexei Mikhailovitch Vazhin. He is in charge and is the one who called them to Russia.

In his office, Vazhin sits at his desk. Jean and Gambit sit on the seats in front of the desk, while Storm stands by Jean. Cable leans against a filing cabinet, which Beast sits atop. Other than the desk, chairs, a light and the cabinet, the room is empty, aside for two windows. Vazhin pours himself a drink and gives himself a pop quiz on the X-Men’s names and powers, which he easily passes. Beast comments on how the colonel has a comprehensive file on them. Vazhin tells him that they like to keep up to date.
Beast also comments on the lack of décor in the building. Vazhin tells him if there seems to be nothing to steal, thieves won’t come. Cable interrupts and asks about the space. Moscow has a housing shortage, but the empty Research Annex could hold thousands. Vazhin tells Cable that the building is essential to the defense of Russia and, by extension, the entire world. The office, moreover, has a particular reputation. If, given the opportunity, most people would not like to live in the building.

Gambit asks the colonel if he has a haunted house. Vazhin says there is only one way to find out, but no one has dared to stay the night. He then turns the conversation to business. Vazhin tells them that, long ago, he did a favor for the New Orleans branch of the Thieves Guild. Gambit leads the Guild now and Vazhin is now calling in the marker. Storm immediately steps in and tells Vazhin that the X-Men are not bound by Guild obligations. Beast leans over to Cable and tells the man that this is what the X-Men feared. Gambit’s “other life” is complicating their lives.

Vazhin turns to Storm and tells her that everyone needs friends and especially allies. One day, the X-Men may need a favor from him. Beast asks why Vazhin cannot do the job himself, but the Russian tells the X-Man that the department is only suited for research. For operations, they are limited in options. He has other assets, but they are currently working with allies of the X-Men called X-Force. Cable thinks to himself that he hopes his former team knows what they are doing. He then asks Vazhin why he chose the X-Men as his new allies. Vazhin tells them that he trusts their judgment and knows their capabilities. He would never have contacted Gambit if the situation was not serious. Gambit tells Vazhin that he is in, but he does not speak for the others. “That’s a start,” says Vazhin.

That night, the X-Men gather at a warehouse in the industrial section of Moscow. Storm thinks to herself how none of them were pleased with Gambit as she looks out the warehouse window. Across the street is the newest and most exclusive nightclub in Moscow: “the Slash!” Vazhin had heard rumors about the club that were too numerous and unsavory to ignore, so he sent his top agent into the club to investigate. She never returned. The X-Men’s task is to bring her home.

At the warehouse, Beast and Storm look at the gatekeeper to the Slash! Storm tells Beast that according to Vazhin she is called Revenant. Beast says that is another name for ghost and Storm tells him that it also means demon. Beast senses something is wrong with Storm and asks her what is wrong. She tells him that everything with this case is wrong. If she led, she would have quit it and never returned. She used to be a thief and all her senses are telling her that this will be a disaster.

Below, Gambit and Phoenix discuss the case. Gambit asks the woman if she thinks what he is asking of the X-Men is wrong. Phoenix points out that he did not ask; he just assumed that the others would work with him. If he wants to lead the X-Men, he has to trust them. Gambit tells Jean that the world is changing. In the past, things were different. The world was simpler; good guys fought bad guys, bad guys were crooks. It was like a game. Now, people are treating the game like a war. Those with powers, like the X-Men, will come out fine. “But what about,” Gambit asks, “the rest of humanity?”

Gambit tells Phoenix that every story that he has heard of Vazhin describes the man as a hard case, more so than Wolverine. If he is scared, then something is wrong. Phoenix tells him that she is with him all the way as the others walk to them. Cable tells them that he scouted the perimeter, but the only way in is by the front door. He also informs them that it is well guarded to telepathy as Vazhin’s quarters. Jean comes up with an idea to get in. She tells Beast to go in as himself, as everyone will love a celebrity. As an ex-member of the Avengers, he will be accepted. He will have to draw everyone’s attention so she, Gambit, and Cable can walk through the building unnoticed.

Phoenix puts her hands on Cable and Gambit’s shoulders and then accesses Cable’s telekinesis to reshape their outward appearances. Storm watches the psychic Phoenix raptor surround the three, which always leaves Storm with the feelings of awe and terror. Jean uses her telepathy to mask their minds and hide any traces of their mutant powers. With Cable’s powers she is able to redesign them. When she is done Storm realizes that even though their faces remain the same, everything else about them changed. Not even their closest friends would give the three a second glance. Cable is now an army general of the Russian army. Phoenix is dressed as a typical modern pop culture youth and Gambit is dressed in casual clothing, with a hat.

Moments later, at the line in front of the club, Beast somersaults on top of a limousine and introduces himself, saying that he has heard that the Slash! is the hottest place to be in Moscow. When Beast lands on the limousine, however, he ends up smashing right through the top and apologizes for breaking the limo. Revenant corrects him and tells him that it was a Mercedes, which belongs to the club’s owner. Beast offers to make amends as Reverent allows him access into the club. Gambit, Phoenix, and Cable arrive and are admitted as well. Atop the warehouse, Storm begins to feel anxious. Storm is suddenly reminded of a time in Kenya when she hunted a “man-eater” in the forest, a place where her powers were useless. She wondered who really was the prey. The team decided they should not use devices to communicate or telepathy. Storm has no idea what is going on in the club.

The club itself is another abandoned factory. The inside was completely redone so now there are levels upon levels of entertainment. People dance everywhere. Beast has no trouble gaining attention and the others have no problem being ignored. Atop the roof top Storm tells herself the reason she was left behind was, because she was best suited for back up. However, she does not like it.

In the security room of the club, two guards realize something is wrong. On the monitors are shots of Phoenix, Cable, Gambit, and Beast. One of the guards turns to his boss and tells him that the blue one is Beast, who is affiliated with the Avengers and X-Men. The other three are not generating any response, but the blinkers keep on coming back to them. Behind the two men are the club owner Ransome Sole, his slave Sketch, and his bodyguard Big Casino. Ransome tells the guard that if the blinkers did not sense a connection they would not be interested. They must assume that the Beast is not just visiting.

Big Casino tells Ransome that Beast goes nowhere alone. The other three must be trouble. If the blinkers are troubled, then they must be heavy hitters. Ransome tells Sketch that they must tempt the four with a prize. Sketch begins to draw a picture of the missing agent strapped to a chair inside a room.

In a room somewhere in the club is the same woman in the same position as the one is Sketch’s picture. Outside the door, Gambit tells Major Debra Levin that Vazhin has sent the X-Men to save her. Cable asks Gambit if he can pick to lock. Jean is worried that the things are going to easy. Gambit says that the X-Men must be too good, but Cable tells him not to be cocky. The door lock is picked and the X-Men are about to step in when Gambit tells them the floor has pressure plates on it. Cable uses his telekinesis to unscrew the chair from the floor and then levitates the woman to him.

In the security room, Ransome tells Sketch to spring the trap. Sketch begins to draw a picture of the chair the Major is strapped to growing tentacles. In the actual room, the chair begins to grow tentacles and attacks the three X-Men. The tentacles whip around everywhere. Gambit tosses some cards at it, but realizes he has no room to maneuver.
In the security room, Ransome realizes that the red head must be Phoenix, so he tells Sketch to take her down. Sketch sketches a picture of Jean being encases in some sort of shell. At the same time, Jean is indeed encased in a shell. As her body takes the form of the shell, she tells herself that, if she had her telekinesis, they would be out in a minute. Now, she only has telepathy, but there is no mind to fight. In the security room, Ransome has Sketch capture Gambit and Cable the same way as Jean, which the young woman does.

Outside, Storm continues to watch the club, as some birds sit around her. The first inkling of disaster she gets is when light erupts from the roof around her. Storm begins to fly into the air as the light transforms into manacles. Shackles attach to her ankles and bring her back down to the roof as more manacles tie her up. She realizes that so much iron is holding her that no wind can lift her. Below, a figure tells two men, Bludgeon and Cudgel, to bring Storm down from the roof. The two men begin to swing their war hammers at a steel supporter for the ceiling.

On the roof, Storm wonders what the banging sounds are, as the roof around her collapses. She lands hard on the warehouse floor and wonders who is attacking her. She looks to the side and sees three men: Bludgeon, Cudgel, and Manacle. Next to them is the unconscious Beast. Manacle tells her that she and Beast made a big mistake when they decided to cross swords with his boss, Ransome Sole.

Though the chains stop Storm from moving, they do nothing to stop her powers. One lightning bolt blasts Bludgeon and Cudgel away. Manacle just stands there waiting. Storm realizes that he is probably immune to lightning so she decides to call her strongest winds. Manacle laughs at her futile attempt, but does not realize what the weather witch is trying to do. Storm uses the wind to draw cold from the Arctic to turn the floor underneath him into ice. The laws of physics finish the job. Manacle goes flying through the wall and into a limo across the street. He is left unconscious as the crowd outside the club stares in awe. “My turn,” says Revenant.

The manacles slip of Storm easily and she gets up. As an X-Man, she was trained to be alert, but Storm does not notice Revenant until the woman starts to speak. Her first response is to run. Revenant asks Storm if she knows what a revenant is. The club bouncer answers her own question and says that it is another term for ‘ghost.’ She asks Storm if there is anyone she has every killed or if she knows anyone who has died by violence. Revenant tells Storm that it is “time to meet them again!”

Revenant bursts out in a maniacal laughter as a man grabs Storm from behind. Once, Storm killed a man in self-defense when she was a little girl. That is the man who is now attacking her. As she escapes from the grip of the man, Storm runs towards Revenant, only to find her dead parents standing behind the woman. Terrified by the images before her, Storm summons lightning into the building to cover her escape.


Still on the bed, though lying back, Simyon listens to Storm’s story. The woman tells the Russian that she betrayed her friends’ trust by running away. Simyon tells Ororo that he knows her too well and that she plans on going back. Storm continues and says that she needs help. Evoking in the name of her mentor, Achmed El-Gibar, she asks Simyon for his help.

Simyon frowns and tells Ororo that Achmed was a legend in the Thieves Guild. He also made his share of enemies. If Storm asks in his name, then she must accept his debts and obligations; his enemies become her enemies. Storm tells him that the price is worth it. When Simyon reminds her that Achmed’s enemies will become his, Storm replies that they will fight together. Simyon tells Storm that it’s a deal.

That night, Moscow comes to a halt as a dense fog enshrouds the city. Simyon’s limousine pulls up to the door of “the Slash!” to the surprise of Revenant. As the valet opens the door to the limo, Revenant, who’s right arm is in a sling, asks the crime lord how he found his way to the club in the thick fog, which has paralyzed traffic. Simyon tells her that with the Global Positioning System, he can get anywhere as long as the roads have not changed and if there is no one in the way.

Revenant looks into the car and sees Simyon sitting next to an unconscious Storm, who is bound and gagged. Simyon tells Revenant that he has business with Ransome Sole that he felt could not wait. Simyon picks up Storm and carries her into the club. He tells Revenant that Storm came to him looking for help. He, however, found more profit in delivering her to Sole instead.

Above the club, the real Storm flies through the air in a new uniform, spreading the fog across Moscow. She thinks to herself how anything can be bought in modern Russia. However, she did not ask Simyon where he pilfered a S.H.I.E.L.D. life model decoy or the technology to have it mimic her perfectly. She is more worried about sending another friend into the lion’s den. Storm sends out a little electricity to make the sensors unreliable and waits some time so the guards become bored.

Storm lands silently on the club’s roof, which is patrolled by many guards. Bludgeon and Cudgel are there as back up. Storm silently sneaks towards the covering of an airshaft and she remembers that she has spent more time as a thief than an X-Man, which is why Gambit left her behind. Storm silently uncovers the shaft and heads in as she thinks of how she misses the days of thieving and sneaking.

Storm slowly makes her way down a vertical shaft. Her back supports her on one end while her legs are pushed against the other wall. The intelligence she received from Simyon and from her own experience made her realize that Ransome Sole has the building alarmed to track down any super-powered enemies. Storm assumes they are now targeted to her powers, which is why she does not use them to climb down the shaft. It is also fun for her.

In Ransome’s office, Sketch bends down next to the body of the fake Storm, as Ransome and Simyon talk. Ransome tells the other man that he was told by his mother to always be wary of thieves bearing gifts. Simyon says that he will take her back then, but the truth is that, with the moves Ransome is making, he should accept the deal. Ransome accepts and orders Sketch to give Storm the same treatment as the other X-Men.

Thinking to herself, Sketch discovers that Storm has no true life in her. Annoyed at the irreverence, Ransome yanks Sketch’s chain and asks if she is listening. Sketch immediately says “yes” to her master and begins to sketch a picture of Storm encased in the silver shell, as the other X-Men. As she draws, she thinks to herself and asks Storm to forgive her.

Moments later, a large group is assembled in Ransome’s office. In the middle stand the statue’s that contain the five X-Men. Ransome, Sketch, Simyon, and Big Casino stand to the side. Members of the Shockwave Riders stand across from them. A short, blue man, named Tullamore Voge, examines the statue of Phoenix with several of his slave Hounds around him. Ransome announces to the Riders and to Voge that he will sell them the five X-Men. As individuals or as a collection, they are a formidable force.

Sole turns to the Rider leader, named Farahd, and tells him that he understands that the Riders already tried to capture Phoenix. Since they failed then, they can buy her now. Farahd tells Sole that he would rather bring his head back to Sole’s sister, Domina. Ransome tells him that he would not be the first to try.

Voge interrupts the conversation, as he continues to examine Phoenix. Voge reminds Sole that their agreement states that he gets first pick on the merchandise. He tells Sole that Phoenix has good genes and would make a fine Hound. Sole comes up to Voge and tells him that his vision is limited. The X-Men sale is a special offering; so all exiting agreements are nullified. When Voge gets angry that Sole has decided to change the rules, Sole turns Voge to the window of the office and the two look down at the club attendees below. Sole tells Voge that the partiers are the best and brightest in the world, they will make excellent slaves.

In a small room underneath the club, Major Levin sleeps in her prison bed. Storm reaches the room and wakes Levin up and tells her to keep quiet. Storm tells her that she is a friend here to rescue her. Suddenly, Levin looks behind Storm real quick to give the X-Man a warning. Storm smiles and sends a lightning bolt at Bludgeon and Cudgel, who tried to sneak on the two women.

The two mutants are sent flying out of the room, though a wall and into the main part of the club, past Ransome’s office. Irked, Ransome tells Big Casino to deal with the situation. Voge asks if there are uninvited guests, but Sole tells him it is nothing to worry about. Sketch takes advantage of the situation to help the X-Men and her. Since Storm is not real, Sketch figures she can change the woman’s body into whatever she pleases. Sketch shapes the fake Storm’s arms into Gatling guns and starts to shoot at Voge and Sole, who barely get out of the way. Voge screams that Storm cannot do that. Farahd makes a psionic sword and cuts the fake Storm in half, saying that she was not real.
Sole grabs Simyon by his shirt collar and lifts the man into the air. Sole tells him that his mom was right all along and that he shouldn’t accept gifts from thieves. He asks Simyon if his life is so boring that he would dare make Sole his enemy. However, says Sole, Simyon won’t live to regret his decision.

Sketch takes out her eraser and begins to erase the picture of the X-Men in their shells. Farahd sees what the young girl is doing and heads towards here, when the freed Cable turns around and hits the Rider with his Psimitar. Phoenix immediately assesses the situation; realizing that the club is full of civilians. Phoenix uses her telepathy to make the people go towards the exit and, at the same time, suppress any panic so no one is hurt.

In Sole’s office, Cable tells his fellow X-Men that Sole appears to be the leader. If they take him down, the fight will be over. Sole, who still holds Simyon, tells Cable that he made a correct assumption, but defeating him will prove harder than he expected. Big Casino steps in front of Sole and tells Cable that, if he wants his boss, Cable will have to go through him first. Underestimating the shorter man, Cable goes to punch him, but finds that Big Casino catches his fist. Casino then flips Cable over his shoulder.

Cable lands by the two Riders and realizes his mistake in misjudging Big Casino. With his telekinesis, Cable rips the pipes and cabling from the floor and restrains his foe. The two Neo behind Cable realize that these are the X-Men their companion, Gethrin, fought in Venice. They immediately begin to download the files from the man’s brain so they can finish what Gethrin started.

Beast realizes that he cannot just stand there, but also realizes there is little he can do against the Neo. So, instead, he leaps towards Sole who is ready to bash Simyon’s head open with his fist. Beast grabs Sole’s head and then uses it to spin himself around. He then uses his knowledge of anatomy to find the proper nerve junctions that will make Sole release Simyon when squeezed. Simyon is free and Beast grabs onto a steel support beam above him. He grabs Simyon with his feet and tells the stranger not to worry, as he knows what he is doing. When Simyon says he is going to be sick, Beast jokes and says that, since they are over the bad guys, he has no problem if the bald Russian pukes below.
Sketch, whose chain is still wrapped around Sole’s arm, thinks to herself that, while the other man holds her chain, she is limited to help. She wonders if her attempt to save the day was futile and begins to worry about what will happen when Sole discovers her disloyalty to him. Sole begins to yell that he wants both Beast and Simyon dead.

“Boss, that’ll be a pleasure,” says Manacle, who walks in. Barbed wire begins to appear all around Manacle. Sole tells the man to make the X-Men scream. As the barbed wire chases Beast and Simyon, the blue mutant leaps from steel supporter to steel supporter, all the while Simyon is shooting at the wire with his guns. Beast wonders if Manacle’s wire can follow them through a maze of girders. Simyon realizes that the wire is still chasing them.

Beast takes the time to tell Simyon that he does not speak like a Russian. Simyon attributes this to CNN and MTV and then tells Beast that the wire is gaining. Beast says he knows, but that is the advantage of being part of a team, someone always has your back. Right on cue, a couple of kinetically charged playing cards strike the wire. Below, Gambit tells Beast that the problem is solved. However, Manacle then directs his wire towards Gambit.

Gambit jumps off a ledge and onto Storm’s back. He calls her Stormy and tells her that they have to stop meeting like this, as people will talk. Storm tells him that if he calls her Stormy one more time, she will give people something to talk about. As she and Beast pass one another, they make a switch. Beast jumps off with Gambit and Storm carries Simyon.

Simyon asks Storm what she and Beast are doing. Storm tells him that they are weaving a cat’s cradle, one that Manacle will find to be harder to break than the Gordian Knot. Manacle stops chasing the X-Men with his wire and realizes what has just happened. Behind him, crouches Beast, to his left is Simyon with guns out, to his right is Storm ready to call the weather, in front of him is Gambit, who has several charged cards, and above him is an impenetrable wall of barbed wire. Manacle has trapped himself.

Nearby, Sketch, who is no longer wearing her chain, sketches a picture of Voge and his Hounds encased in a blue cube. Revenant comes up from behind and tells Sketch that she is being naughty. Phoenix approached Revenant and tells her that like any slave who has a chance for something better, Sketch is making a bid for freedom. She is making a good start by rounding up the loose ends. Revenant says that she will teach both women a lesson.

Phoenix only smirks and tells Revenant that she makes avatars of dead people from her victim’s past. As a psionic Phoenix raptor appears around Phoenix, Jean tells the woman that there is nothing in her past that she has not come to terms with. She tells Revenant that she can try to walk the same road to see how tough she really is. Terrified by Phoenix, Revenant teleports herself away.

A chain wraps itself around Phoenix’s neck and Sole pulls to woman towards him. He tells Jean that Revenant has never fled from battle before. He tells Jean that it is a shame he has to snap her neck especially since she is worth a lot. Jean tells him not to worry, as she won’t be the one to die today. The Phoenix raptor erupts from Jean and sends both of them flying in opposite directions.

As Storm catches Phoenix, she ponders what she has just seen. When the Phoenix-raptor manifests itself, it represents Jean’s telepathic abilities, honed to their sharpest edge. Storm thinks. She says no shields – natural or artificial – can withstand the assault, and I believe her. When she strikes, it is like the mind of her target is being torn by real claws. A shock for her, physical as well as psychic. Devastating for her adversary. Having caught her teammate, Storm thinks to herself how her old mentor El-Gibar told her no good deed goes unpunished. Below, Sole goes flying past the Neo and right into Cable, knocking both men out.

Farahd takes advantage of the situation and attacks the X-Men with an energy blast. The other Rider, Galadriel, tells Farahd that the place and time is unsuitable for battle and that they should leave. Farahd is unwilling, but Galadriel opens a portal to their home, as they are ignorant to the number of adversaries they must face, as well as their true capabilities. Farahd sends out more energy from his hand, except, this time, he uses it to tie up Ransome Sole, Big Casino, Manacle, Bludgeon, and Cudgel and levitates them into the portal. When the two Neo cross the portal, the X-Men try to follow, but the gateway closes.

With the combat over and time to think, Storm ponders what has happened; We tried to follow, but neither Beast’s technological devices nor the combined efforts of Jean and Cable’s telepathy could reconstruct the energies of the Neo transmat field or trace it to its source. Debra Levin takes charge of the scene, and within the hour it is as though nothing untoward had happened here. The fight is blamed on rival gangs, of which there are plenty in this city. As far as the public and official Moscow are concerned, the X-Men were never present. But from the way Major Levin glares at Tullamore Voge – who she brands as a slaver – it is clear there is more going on than meets the eye. And that our “favor” to her commander, Colonel Vazhin, may not quite be finished. I do not mind, when I look at Voge, something stirs within me – an ancient animus, the way a lion will reflexively greet a scavenging hyena with a snarl. The man is evil. He represents everything the X-Men were formed to oppose. Whatever tomorrow might bring, we freed a slave and caught a slaver. All in all, a night’s work worth a smile.

Outside the club, the X-Men stand and smile, Beast sitting atop a sign. Sketch smiles and puts her pencil to her chin. As she basks in the sun’s glory, she relishes her newfound freedom.

Characters Involved: 

Beast, Cable, Gambit, Phoenix, Storm (all X-Men)

Simyon Borisovitch Kurasov

Colonel Alexei Mikhailovitch Vazhin

Major Debra Levin

Big Casino, Bludgeon, Cudgel, Manacle, Revenant (Sole’s guards)


Tullamore Voge and his Hounds

Ransome Sole, Farahd, and Galadriel (all Neo)


Various unnamed “the Slash!” attendees

Various unnamed “the Slash!” Guards

Revenant’s Ghosts

Mr. And Mrs. Munroe

Unnamed man Storm murdered

Story Notes: 

This issue was a special giant-sized issue.

Gambit called the X-Men to Venice to recruit them for this caper in Uncanny X-Men #381. The Shockwave Riders, led by Gethrin, attacked them in that issue.

A Cat’s Cradle is a children’s game, where a string is looped on the fingers to form an intricate pattern between a player’s hands. This pattern can then be successively transferred to another player’s hands.

The Gordian knot; According to legend, King Gordius of Phrygia tied an intricate knot in the thong that connected the pole of a chariot with its yoke. Subsequently, an oracle declared that whomever untied it would be master all of all of Asia. Upon visiting the city and hearing of the legend, passing conquerer Alexander of Macedonia, later known as Alexander the Great, decided to solve the problem in a unique way; he used his sword to severing the knot in two with his sword. Since then, then phrase “to cut the Gordian knot” is to remove a difficulty by bold and energetic measures.

Domina, who was revealed to be the brother of Sole in this issue, is the leader of another sect of Neo, who at the time were establishing a small fort in Brooklyn for their attack in X-Men (2nd Series) #100-102.

Vazhin’s other assets can be found fighting alongside X-Force in X-Force (1st Series) #102.

Issue Information: