Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #389

Issue Date: 
February 2001
Story Title: 
The Good Shepherd

Chris Claremont (Plot), Salvador Larroca (Art), Art Thibert (Inks), Hi-Fi Design (Colors), Richard Starkings & COMICRAFT’s Saida T! (Letters), Pete Franco (Assistant Editor), Mark Powers (Editor), Joe Quesada (Editor in Chief)

Brief Description: 

At the Xavier Institute, Charles Xavier exercises, while he takes in the events that have occurred in the last few days. While he recalls the events that led to him and Moira to fall in love, Nightcrawler and several others monitor Cecelia Reyes in the Danger Room, who is fighting her addiction to the performance-enhancing drug called rave, by going cold turkey. Wolverine and Rogue take a break from meditating to drop by Shadowcat’s room, where Rogue reveals that Kitty had been researching the seventh volume of Destiny’s diaries, before she disappeared. After learning that Shadowcat may have known about her disappearance before it occurred, the two flip through the diary and find a section depicting them in the present, as well as Gambit and Storm, confronting Mystique in the hospital. In the hospital, Mystique warns the X-Men of a dark future for mutant kind. She tried to decipher Destiny’s diaries but failed. That is why she has given her remaining diaries to Xavier. However, many are still missing. At the mansion, Xavier helps Cecelia overcome her fears and helps her begin her journey on the road to recovery.

Full Summary: 

In the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning, Professor Charles Xavier exercises in the school’s solarium. He hangs from two ropes with rings on their ends, suspended over the pool. He has been through much in the last few days and has much on his mind. He listens to the news report playing in the gym. In Atlanta, researchers at the Center for Disease Control believe that discoveries by the late Moira MacTaggart will provide the world with a cure for the Legacy Virus. In Chandler, Texas, the murder of the Montoya family is being called a hate crime, after it was learned that Serafina Montoya was suspended from school after being ousted as a mutant. In Washington, lawmakers are lobbying for a presidential commission to investigate mutant activities after the assassination of presidential candidate Robert Kelly.

Xavier pulls himself up so that his body forms the shape of the letter “t.” He thinks to himself how he has dedicated his adult life to the cause of peace between mutants and other humans. After so many years of struggling, that dream seems more distant now. Among the X-Men, there have been setbacks. Rogue’s absorption powers are mutating and becoming more uncontrollable. Cecelia Reyes has lost all control over her force field, thanks to her recent addiction to the performance enhancer, Rave. In her case, the addiction is physical and she is trying to purge it from her system by going cold turkey. Xavier wonders if she can survive it and also wonders if the X-Men can.

At that moment in the Danger Room, Nightcrawler tries to help Cecelia, who is in the standard blue and gold X-Men uniform, control her field, which is out of control. Nightcrawler is pinned against a wall behind Cecelia and, frantically, tells her to pull in her spikes. Cecelia cries and tells him that she cannot. It hurts so badly and all she wants to do is smash things with her force field.

Xavier lifts himself over the rings so he is upside down. He thinks to himself that, in his life, he has never known rage. It seems so easy and tempting to use his mental powers and exact revenge on the woman responsible: Mystique, who now lies on a bed in a high security hospital.

Xavier swings down from the rings and leaps over to a bar. Thinking about the line from the Old Testament, “An eye for an eye,” Xavier thinks to himself that death is a fate Mystique has earned many times in the past. Would anyone really condemn him for it? Mystique planned on releasing a new variant of the Legacy Virus to eliminate all Homo sapiens. The X-Men and Moira stopped him, which led to Moira paying the ultimate price for a selfless act. Moira and Senator Kelly were good people. Why do they die and evil beings like Mystique live to no doubt kill again?

Family and friends all gathered in Scotland for Moira’s funeral, remembers Xavier. Her funeral followed the traditions of her people. It was cold and bitter. In Arlington National Cemetery, the trees were filled with the brilliant color of autumn leaves. Robert Kelly was a veteran and was drawn by six horses. A seventh horse followed behind, riderless. The media said that over a million people lined up on the streets to watch the carriage go by. When the chaplain was done with Moira, Nightcrawler spoke a few words for her on behalf of the X-Men. For Kelly, a triple salvo of rifle fire and the playing of “Taps” ended the funeral. For Moira, the elderly piper, who played for her on the day she was born, played once again to send her on her way. Xavier swings on the bar and wonders if he will ever truly believe that Moira is gone.

It felt like they only just met. They both had won scholarships to Oxford and met during a tutorial by a geneticist. The work was groundbreaking and listening to him was like emerging from a poorly lit room to the sun. That which intrigued Xavier the most was that he could not read the man’s thoughts. This was a new experience for the arrogant man, who took for granted his telepathy. He did not want to pry into Moira Kinross’ mind, though. Only they understood the geneticist. They discussed them passionately and Xavier felt as if he met his soul mate…who had a boyfriend: Joe MacTaggart. Joe was in the Royal Marines and hated Xavier. He should have known better than to accompany the two on their weekend getaway. However, he enjoyed Moira’s company so much and causing Joe to become jealous was an irresistible challenge for Xavier. His stepbrother was a bully and Xavier swore never to be pushed around again.

They traveled all around the countryside that weekend and ended one night in a country pub. Xavier needed no telepathy to sense the anger in Joe. In the pub, while they were alone, Joe told Xavier that Moira needs a man who can keep her in a proper place. Xavier asked Joe if he was that man. The jealous lover told Xavier that he’d be a better man than Xavier ever would. Moira is his woman and, if Xavier would put himself in between, he should be ready to pay the price. Xavier always found it strange how crystal clear Joe’s smile in the pub remained in his memory.

Joe was ready to break Xavier into pieces, but lacked an excuse. Instead, he scandalously kissed Moira, which enraged the locals. Joe wanted to be alone with Moira, but she could not leave Xavier behind. She gave him the keys to her bike and told him that she would see him on Monday for classes. Moira always wanted to be a rebel and live dangerously. Is that why she was attracted to Joe and not to him? Xavier taught himself to control him emotions, which make other people think he is emotionless. However, they are headblind and Xavier could learn their secrets with no effort. Manipulation would be so easy but, when he tried it on the waitress, he felt as if someone slapped him. He laughed it off, as if he had just developed a conscience, but his amusement was quickly subsided by a sense of alarm and fear. He fled the restaurant he was in and drove through the rain, not knowing where he was going, like a madman.

Xavier found the wreck. Joe took a turn too fast, which was built up by too much arrogance. He hydroplaned and hit a stone wall. Joe was unconscious and bloody, but alive. Xavier did call out to Moira, because he knew that his voice would be drowned in the wind. When he reached out with his thoughts, however, she answered. He found her handing for dear life from a stone jutting from the side of a cliff, water pouring on top of her. Xavier pulled her up and the two of them were in love. She told Joe in the hospital that it was over. He never forgave her, for he always thought he was the better man. Xavier was just as foolish to think that Joe was never a credible threat.

Xavier dives into the pool and thinks of how Joe was a thug, while he was the most powerful telepath he knew, one of a growing species of humans. How could Joe possible harm him or Moira? Suddenly, the solarium trembles from a powerful force.

In the control room for the Danger Room, Psylocke asks Thunderbird who was the genius with the bright idea to lock Dr. Cecelia Reyes in the Danger Room. Thunderbird tells Psylocke and, considering the purpose of the Danger Room, to evaluate mutant powers, where else would they put her? They all thought the Danger Room’s defensive systems could cope with the damage from Reyes’ drug withdrawal.

In the Danger Room, Nightcrawler leaps up the wall and tells Thunderbird that the idea isn’t working. Rave is a drug configured to affect only mutants. It is hitting Cecelia harder than heroine would. She is in physical pain and is also suffering from hallucinations, which is making her lash out with her powers. She does not know how to break the cycle of drug abuse and, worse yet, it does not appear like she wants to. From below, Cecelia lashes out with her force field, shaping into spikes, which Nightcrawler barely avoids. He teleports into the control room, much the surprise of his colleagues. He tackles the two to the ground, just as Cecelia shatters the wall separating the two rooms.

Psylocke gets up and realizes that Cecelia would have killed them if Nightcrawler hadn’t saved them. Psylocke uses her telekinesis to hold back Cecelia’s field and tells the doctor that she will find telekinesis more than equal to the challenge of a test of will. Psylocke then shouts in her head to the Professor, who hears her and tells her that there is no need to shout, for he has been monitoring the situation with Cecelia. If things get worse, he shall intervene.

As Xavier swims across the pool, he thinks to himself about Cecelia. Like many other X-Men, Cecelia came to him for help and was not happy about it. She did not want to be a mutant. Xavier told her that she may as well decry her gender and ethnicity. The woman told him that she has been known to do that sometimes too. However, there is a difference between being a Puerto Rican woman and having a force field. He asked her why she wanted to become a trauma surgeon. Cecelia felt that since he was a telepath he should know, but Xavier taught her that having a skill means knowing when not to use it. Cecelia explained that she saw her father shot to death when she was a little girl. She refused to be so helpless ever again. Cecelia then turns the table on him and asks why he created the X-Men and if he really thinks the world needs a team of mutant heroes. Xavier could not speak for the world then, as he cannot now.

The need to create the X-Men came out of war. To Joe MacTaggart, he was nothing but an intellectual. To prove him wrong, Xavier enlisted. “Was there ever so great a fool?” After the first day of combat, he thought he would go mad. He had not mentor and his telepathic skills were self-taught. No training could prepare him from the reality in seeing his comrades dying horrible deaths. However, he coped with it. He would not kill or order others to kill. He could not run away either. He joined the search and rescue teams and became a small legend. Moira called him the “Good Shepherd.” When he was out, everyone came home. He always told him troops that he was ready, but he lied. He never knew how much a person truly cared for someone until they lost them.

Everything was fine when he saw Moira on his R&R. They did not talk about the future, because they did not want to jinx him. Then, a month before his return, she sent him a letter, calling it quits. Xavier never understood love until he met her. It was the foundation of his life. That was his mistake. When he was down in the jungle, he no longer cared if he lived or died. Telepathy allowed him to know when an enemy was nearby. His team was never ambushed. Of course, that did not work for mines. He welcomed oblivion, but realized that he did not die. If he lay there long enough then maybe he would die. It would serve Moira right for dumping him. It might have made the news. She may have cried. Or better yet, it may have broken her heart, like she did his. Then he thought of the patrol he came to rescue and their families. Then he thought of the future and was determined to make sure everyone had a hand at shaping it. That has not changed and Xavier prays it never will.

Elsewhere, Rogue and Wolverine take a break from meditating. Rogue goes to Shadowcat’s room and Wolverine asks her why they are there. He turns on the light to the normal looking room and tells Rogue that, out of all of them, Kitty was the last person he thought would go M.I.A. He then asks Rogue if she ever looked at the photos on Kitty’s corkboard. Rogue asks him what he is getting at. Wolverine points out that the photos are more than just friends. Doug Ramsey, Rachel Summers, Courtney Ross and Illyana Rasputin were all people whom she cared for and all were people who were taken from her or betrayed her. No wonder she was angry for the past few months.

Rogue tells Wolverine that she is tougher than he gives “the kid” credit for. Logan reminds Rogue that she is not that much older than Kitty. Rogue then reminds him that she is supposed to be an old soul. More accurately, she is a bunch of old souls, which are stuck in her skull. Wolverine tells her that they will find a way to get rid of them and Rogue tells Logan that they will find Kitty. That is partly why she brought him here. Logan asks her why she insisted on not letting Xavier know what they are doing.

Before they went into space, explains Rogue, Kitty gave her a letter to open only if something happened to her. Rogue did not have a chance to make much out of it, due to all the recent troubles. However, she recently read it and learned that Kitty seemed to know she was going to disappear. The restriction against Xavier is Kitty’s idea. The book she found at Mystique’s place is the center of all of this; Irene Adler’s Diary of Destiny, Volume Seven. Wolverine goes over to the book and tells Rogue that he thought there was only one. Rogue tells him that they all thought that and points out all the post-its on the book. Kitty was researching the book.

Rogue opens the book and finds a page marked for today’s date. The contents shock Rogue, as it is a picture of Wolverine and Rogue looking down at the book. Wolverine reminds Rogue that Destiny was a precog and knew that they would be there to read the book. Rogue looks at the next picture and recognizes the face as Mystique. The building is familiar also. Wolverine tells her that it is the Federal Correctional Facility, where Mystique is being held. They turn the page to see a picture of a man sneaking into the building. The man sneaks into the changing room for doctors and Rogue realizes that it is Gambit.

Wolverine sees that it shows Gambit walking down the hallway dressed like a doctor, as if he owns the place. He does not like it. Rogue asks him what he means. Logan explains that if the image of them is in real time, then the image of Gambit may be occurring at this moment. The two see Gambit go into Mystique’s room. Mystique is waiting for him as Gambit pulls out a knife. Gambit is ready to strike when Storm, dressed as a nurse, comes in and tells him to stop. Gambit asks her if he actually cares for this “piece o’ trash.” Storm tells him that she cares nothing for Mystique, but she cares for him. Remy argues that the woman killed Moira and nearly killed Rogue. She has no right to mercy. Storm asks Remy if he would also become a murderer like her.

From her bed, with a tube down her throat, which helps her to breathe, Mystique tells the two that it does not matter if they kill her. It is too late. The X-Men’s fate is sealed, as well as the fate of the world they are sworn to protect. Wolverine and Rogue read Mystique’s words in the diary and wonder what the woman means. Wolverine asks where Gambit and Storm are and Rogue tells him that they have been off campus all day.

In the hospital, Gambit tells Mystique that they have the cure for the Legacy Virus and that she can do no more harm. He has no conception of what they are dealing with, says Mystique, or the significance of Destiny’s diaries. Puzzled, Storm asks Mystique if there is more than one. Mystique confirms this and tells her that Destiny wrote down all her visions when her powers catalyzed. She did not understand what she “saw,” but she knew she should write it down. When she was finished, she was blind. Thirteen volumes were written and the two of them spent the best part of their lives researching them. It is not easy. Some entries are written in code, others in foreign languages. Over half the volumes have disappeared. However, everything they could interpret points to a future of darkness and death for mutantkind. Destiny foresaw her death and thought it was for the greater good. In the end, what did it accomplish? “Nothing,” gasps Mystique.

Mystique continues and tells the two that the future unfolds just as she foresaw, no matter what they do. Now it is Xavier’s turn. She made sure that he received every diary in her possession. He will now know how it feels the play Cassandra. Death is at the door and in the house. A planet of mutants might survive. Divided against each other and with humanity shunning them, mutant kind is doomed. Gambit asks her what the threat is. Mystique tells him that she does not know and that maybe Xavier can figure this all out. Remy then asks her why they should believe her. “Oh, that one’s easy!” says Mystique, “When the both of you get home, simply ask your teammates, Wolverine and the darling Rogue.”

At the mansion, Wolverine and Rogue read this last line and look at each other in shock. Suddenly, the mansion shakes as if an earthquake has it and the two are thrown off their feet. Books fall from the shelves. Rogue gets up and tells Wolverine that Cecelia needs their help. In the solarium, Xavier gets out of the pool and decides that now is the time to help Cecelia. He gets into his wheelchair and heads towards the Danger Room. He could have used his telepathy to purge the drug from Cecelia, but she would have been left shattered and unconfident in herself. He would then become her new drug. Rave makes the user want to use their power but, the more they use their power, the higher the collateral devastation. So far, the Danger Room has been able to contain Cecelia, but it is clear that both the room and Cecelia have reached the limit of endurance. Hopefully, Cecelia has exerted so much energy that she has burned most of the toxins from her system.

Xavier enters and immediately realizes that her survival may not be the issue here. Cecelia lashes out and knocks Xavier out of his wheelchair. She is then shocked to see the man here. Xavier tells Cecelia that, under normal circumstances, he would have commended her growing skill over her powers. Cecelia is horrified over hitting Xavier and apologizes. She did not mean to hit him. He scared her and she thought he was an enemy. Her hallucinations are making her see monsters all around. Xavier crawls back to his wheelchair and realizes that Cecelia is paranoid and delusional. She is on the edge and is living in the moment. Xavier creates a telepathic image of himself next to Cecelia. She freaks out and sends her force field spike right through the image.

In the remains of the control room, Psylocke wonders if everyone on the team has a death wish and also wonders how Xavier got inside. “Presumably,” replies Kurt, “He has a key.” Not pleased with Nightcrawler’s witty answer, Betsy jumps down into the Danger Room and tells Kurt that since he likes funerals so much he can officiate at another. Betsy uses her telekinesis to dodge Cecelia’s attacks and notices that Xavier is using his telepathy to project astral forms of himself for Cecelia to shoot at. However, there is still a chance that his real body can get clipped. Psylocke reaches the ground and uses her telekinesis to protect the real Xavier, all the while hoping to add the general distraction.

Nightcrawler, Thunderbird and Beast leap down into the Danger Room. Kurt asks Beast if he thinks there is a method to the madness. Beast tells him that, where Xavier is concerned, there probably is. Neal remarks that it is nice of Charles to clue them in. Beast explains that his intentions are obvious. For what Xavier has in mind, proximity matters. It is up to them to make sure he gets there safely. Xavier tells the four to keep moving and not to worry about him. They cannot stay in one spot for too long. It is too late, though, as Cecelia slams her force field against Nightcrawler and Beast.

Wolverine and Rogue reach the Danger Room. Logan holds Rogue back and tells him that Charles needs to run this until the end. Rogue asks him if they should stand by, even if it kills the Professor. The team is being massacred, according to her. Logan explains that Xavier has something to prove. With all that has happened, he needs to show himself, as well as the rest of them, that he is worthy of their trust. Death does not matter, compared to that.

The real Xavier reaches Cecelia, who is on her knees in a fetal position, holding her stomach. Her force field is active on her back and spikes protrude from it. She tells Charles to go away. Xavier explains that he is here to help her. She screams at him again, but Xavier refuses to leave. They are both doctors and they swore an oath. As a trauma surgeon, she knows that that means. She has lives in her hands. She needs to take her talent and put it in her control. Cecelia screams that she is scared of the monsters. Charles asks her if Cecelia Reyes is really scared of monsters and if she is a victim. Cecelia gets up, as her force field starts to diminish. She tells Xavier that he does not know how Rave makes her feel. Xavier tells her that he knows what she can do. The drug is just an excuse. Cecelia falls to her knees and hugs Xavier, who explains that they must overcome fear of being a mutant.

Cecelia asks Charles if the fear will ever go away. Rogue flies herself and Wolverine down. Logan tells her that she just ask the question that they ask every day of their lives. Rogue tells her that that is what being an X-Man is about: facing up to their fears. Cecelia tells them that she has caused so much damage. Beast jokingly tells her that she should consider it a rite of passage. She is not really part of the team until she has trashed the Danger Room. Confused, Thunderbird asks Nightcrawler if Hank is serious. Psylocke asks the Professor if Cecelia will be all right. Xavier smiles and tells his student that Cecelia has a long way to go, but she has made the first crucial step. She will be fine.

Xavier smiles in his mind and remembers that Moira was the one who called him the “Good Shepherd.” He cares for a wild flock and the wolves that threaten them are fierce. However, there is a strength and hope for a better tomorrow. That is his dream. For those who have died and for those still not born, he and his X-Men will make his dream a reality.

Characters Involved: 

Beast, Gambit, Nightcrawler, Professor Xavier, Psylocke, Rogue, Storm, Thunderbird III, Wolverine (all X-Men)

Cecelia Reyes (former X-Man)


Xavier’s Memories:

Charles Xavier

Joe MacTaggart

Moira Kinross/MacTaggart

Story Notes: 

Moira MacTaggart and Senator Robert Kelly both died at the end of Dream’s End in X-Men (2nd Series) #108. Moira was fatally wounded in an explosion on Muir Isle created by Mystique, while Senator Kelly was assassinated by a human for calling for mutant rights. Before her death, Moira produced a vaccine for the Legacy Virus, though her work won’t be properly deciphered until Uncanny X-Men #390.

Cecelia used Rave to save Nightcrawler from the Neo in X-Men (2nd Series) #101.

Rogue began to display powers she absorbed from people in the past after a freak accident with Z’cann, a telepathic skrull, in X-Men (2nd Series) #107.

Shadowcat discovered Destiny’s diary in X-Men (2nd Series) #94. She went missing in X-Men (2nd Series) #100.

Issue Information: 

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