Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #418

Issue Date: 
March 2003
Story Title: 
Dominant Species - part 2

Chuck Austen (Writer), Kia Asamiya (Artist), JD Smith (Colorist), Paul Tutrone (Letterer), Mike Raicht & Nova Ren Suma (Assistant Editors), Mike Marts (Editor), Joe Quesada (Editor in Chief), Bill Jemas (President).

Brief Description: 

Annie Ghazikhanian and her son Carter talk about Havok, and the arrival of his girlfriend Polaris who is coming by later to see Alex who is still in a coma. Carter tries to use his psionic powers to reach into Havok's mind and pull him through, but somehow he gets caught in there. Annie tries to coax him out, until Polaris arrives and attacks Annie. Polaris physically injures Annie, who is only trying to help Carter. Meanwhile at LoboTech, Archangel and Husk ask Northstar to bring the injured Wolverine to safety and they fight for their lives against Maximus Lobo and his mutant werewolves, until they are both so badly injured Warren can barely fly them to safety. Upon reaching a forest, they both pass out... or die?
Northstar arrives at the mansion and interrupts an argument between Iceman and Juggernaut while he tries to tell them of the situation Archangel and Husk are in.

Full Summary: 

In the infirmary of the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning, Westchester, New York. Carter Ghazikhanian asks his mother, Annie, who serves as the school nurse, how the comatose former X-Man, Alex "Havok" Summers, whom Annie has been nursing is doing. Annie says he has been as "mouthy" as ever, and that he should know how much of a smart-"Alex" he could be, Annie's attempt at a joke. Carter tells his mother that it was pretty funny, "To a six-year-old" Annie mumbles.

She asks her son if he had come by to listen to her reading to Alex. Carter says that he has, and that he misses visiting with Alex, even though Alex is "mostly dead". Annie corrects her son: Alex is not dead, but just in a coma.

Carter asks his mother if she had any dreams about Alex again last night. None she could remember, Annie replies, and that those dreams she had were mostly during her "frustrated" phase. Carter pipes up, asking if she means the one when no one would date her? He innocently reminds his mom that no one is dating her now either. Annie "thanks" her son for being so sweet as to remind her, and tells him that they are going to keep those dreams to themselves. She does not need anymore gossip about her at this school, especially with "the dreaded Lorna" coming by to see Alex later in the day.

Carter asks if Lorna is Alex's girlfriend, but he is confused because everyone is saying Lorna broke up with Alex before the crash. He tells his mother that he doesn't like Lorna. Looking a little sad, Annie tells Carter that he doesn?t even know Lorna and that she is probably a very nice person, and bitterly adds, with huge breasts. Alex will probably wake up when Lorna arrives and then they will live happily ever after ... and Annie adds quietly that they will probably have constant, loud sex in the room next to theirs.

Looking into Alex's eyes, Carter, in part talking to his mother, in part to Havok, says that everyone around the school say Polaris is crazy, and that she took off her clothes and walked naked in "nuke-yular" mud. Annie tells Carter that it is pronounced "nuke-lee-ar", and asks him what it means that she walked in "nuclear mud". Carter tells his mother he is just a kid, and how should he know?

Narrowing her eyes, Annie says that whatever it was Lorna was walking in probably only made her better looking. Carter tells his mom that Lorna will still never be better looking than her, and touching the scar on Alex's right eye asks his mother if she thinks it still hurts him.
Annie says that she hopes not, because that would just be the worst thing in the world, if on top of everything Alex were still in pain.

Somewhat hesitantly, Carter tells his mother that she knows how he can sometime "see things", like lights around people. Annie looks worried, and knows her son is up to something. Carter puts his hand on Alex's forehead and tells his mom that there is this string of light coming from Alex's head, and it just goes back into a cloudy black thing in space. Carter says he can see Alex at the end of it. He thinks that if he can pull the string, really hard, then he can pull him out. Suddenly Carter begins to black out, Annie yells to her son, telling him to let go of Alex. Annie tries to pull Carter off Alex, and asks him to stop what he is doing. Annie begins to shout, and with a final yank, manages to pull Carter off Alex, and mother and son go flying across the room.

On the floor of the infirmary, Annie asks her now non-responsive son if he is okay, and shouts at him to wake up. Annie prays to God, to not let Carter be dead. She picks her lifeless son up, and is relieved to feel his heart still beating. She asks Carter again to wake up, and cries out that this cannot be happening. She puts him on one of the beds, tells Carter to come back to her, pulling one of his eyelids back, to be looked back upon by a blank response. Annie screams over at Alex to let her son go. Now at Alex's bead, Annie raises her voice, and calls to Havok, telling him that wherever he is, please do not drag her son down with him. She demands that Alex give Carter back ... Annie looks up, just to see several scalpels fly towards her. They surround her body, one rests just a millimeter away from her left eye. Annie's eyes are full of fear. Fear for her son, fear of the scalpel, and as she whispers "No. No, not you," the fear of Lorna, as Polaris makes her dramatic entrance ...

Back at Lobo Technologies, White Plains, Archangel, Northstar and Husk are surrounded by Maximus Lobo and his associates, while Wolverine lays injured only meters away from them.

Archangel tells Northstar that while he has seen Wolverine heal from incredible damage, he needs time and safety. Understanding what Archangel is talking about, the mutant speedster is at Wolverine's side in an instant. Warren confirms with Paige that these people surrounding them are his employees. Paige says they are, and asks the men what they want. Warren begins to tell the men they can discuss the situation when they begin repeating various words and sentences in their eerie voices, the same voices of the mutant werewolves that killed Mandy's boyfriend and the bullies.

Sitting by Wolverine, Jean-Paul comments on how these "executives" are not very cooperative. Northstar sneers at the unconscious Wolverine that he is not going to be able to help him, is he, and as he lifts Wolverine up, commenting on how heavy he is, even with half of his blood gone. Jean-Paul tells Warren that reasoning with them seems pointless, and asks if he and Paige will be all right with out him. Warren hopes so. As Jean-Paul prepares to leave, he wishes his friends well, and Warren asks him to send some of the other X-Men when he gets back to the school. The innocent Paige adds that he should send lots of X-Men.

Archangel tells Husk to transform into her densest form. She tells him that steel is the densest she can do as far as she knows, and Warren just hopes it is enough. All the while the human executives keep repeating the X-Men's words, as they begin to transform into were-creatures.
Warren thinks that he is the team leader of the X-Men, and he has gotten the team into a bad situation. Paige thinks that her greatest dream is to become an X-Man, or more specifically an X-Woman. Though as the two heroes watch the transformation of the deadly werewolves, she fears she may not live to see that dream come true.

In her steel form, Paige reminds Archangel that the creatures took out Logan in under five minutes, and asks Warren what kind of chance the two of them have. He tells her that realistically, they have none.

At Saint Michael's Church in Brooklyn, a priest sits at his desk, writing. He is suddenly startled when someone says "Bless me Father for I have sinned". The priest looks around to see Kurt Wagner, a.k.a. the X-Man Nightcrawler. Kurt apologizes for startling Father Whitney. The priest tells Nightcrawler that confession is not for another three hours, though noticing how troubled Kurt looks, he offers to "step into the box". A solemn Kurt Wagner replies that he would appreciate that greatly, because he does not think he can face him with what he has to say.

Magnetic energy lights up the infirmary at the Xavier Institute, and a determined Annie tells Polaris that she is not moving, as Havok has the life of her son somewhere inside of him. Lorna smiles strangely and says "I can make you move Annie-girl". A somewhat desperate Annie tells Lorna that she will have to, and Lorna moves one of the scalpels, cutting Annie on the cheek. Lorna tells Annie to move, to which the nurse replies "No." Annie crouches beneath the deadly scalpels and pleads with the comatose Alex, telling him that if he has her son, to let go of him. Before she can continue though, Lorna moves another scalpel, giving Annie a matching cut on her other cheek.

Lorna narrows her eyes and is about to say something, when Annie turns around and with a raised voice asks Polaris what the hell is wrong with her? She tells the Mistress of Magnetism that she is not hurting Alex, that she just wants her son back.
Blood begins to flow out of Annie's nose and mouth, and she cries out in agony. Polaris asks her if she liked that, and tells her that she just reversed Annie's blood flow for a second. Lorna says that she doesn't want to kill her. Annie, who is crouching on the floor, interrupts, and tells Polaris that she is a mother fighting for her son, and that if she wants to stop her, than she will have to kill her.

Back at LoboTech, Warren and Paige have begun hand-to-hand combat with the werewolves, and the heroes' thoughts move along similar lines, though with a different angle. Both think that the X-Men are supposed to represent the pinnacle of human evolution to date.
Warren thinks that the X-Men are supposed to be the best of Homo-Superior. Charles Xavier's dream as reality. In accordance with her dream of being an X-Woman Paige thinks that the closer you get to your dream, the more flaws about it you see. Paige appears to get trapped in between two of the creatures.

Warren knocks back some of the beasts, mad at himself for coming here without a strategy, and because of his stupidity... Paige thinks that no longer will the X-Men be the pinnacle of human evolution, because they are about to "dead-end" on the tree of life ?

One of the werewolves rips at Paige's steel form, and actually manages to cut her. Paige cries out in pain, and Warren flies over to her. As he holds her limp body the remaining wolves begin to surround them, and when he asks them why they are doing this, one of them simply says, it is because they can. Because nature demands it, and he tells Warren he will remove him from the gene pool as easily as Wolverine.
Archangel tells the werewolf that Logan has not been killed, and that he has a healing factor in his blood that will save him. Warren mentions that Wolverine's ability to heal makes him overconfident sometimes, and that he expected to beat the wolves easily, but they surprised him.

One of the werewolves approaches Archangel closer. In the same frightening tone that they all use, he tells Warren that his name is Maximus Lobo, and that they are the future of the world. The Dominant Species. Lobo tells Warren he surely could not have expected Wolverine to beat him. Warren tells Maximus that he knows he would have beaten him, had he not misjudged him.
Maximus Lobo replies that maybe Logan judged him correctly, but lost to his better. Lobo says that he is Logan's superior within their same family. Warren asks Lobo if he means Homo-Superior, and asks him that why this supposed superiority gives them the right to prey on others?
Maximus Lobo tells Archangel that they don?t claim it as a right, because then it would not have been as much fun. He continues, saying that they simply obey Darwin's laws - natural selection, survival of the fittest - they are just laws of nature that supersede the rights of fearful and soft Homo-Sapiens.
Lobo's eyes flare up and tell Warren that these rights, according to Warren, put them in competition.

Paige and Warren both understand now. Archangel thinks that they are not Homo-Superior but only part of it. Paige remembers Annie mentioning Darwin and Wallace in the infirmary, Darwin and Wallace had theorized and predicted gradual variations in all species. Stephen Jay Gould on the other hand believed in "punctuated equilibrium", rapid change in variation - mutations.

With Husk in his arms, Archangel takes flight. The werewolves try to slow him down, and he understands that no one is guaranteed this Earth. That while mutants have aspects of advancement like gifts and enhancements, they are still human - fallible, and imperfect. They must earn the world. Paige cries out some as they take flight with a werewolf clinging onto Warren's legs.

She continues to think about Darwin, Wallace's and Gould's theories, that every species may be granted a rapid change in variation, or mutations. All of them agreed that those who were not as well-equipped to survive would be left behind in the "struggle for existence". Warren manages to shake the werewolf of his legs, and it plunges to the streets below.

Warren and Paige come to a forest, and he begins to descend. Paige thinks that not every variation in a species will survive, as they are not all meant to. It is survival of the fittest. Natural selection. Warren's landing does not go according to plan, and they crash in some bushes. Lying next to each other, Warren apologizes to Paige, telling her he is too wounded to fly. He calls himself an idiot, and Paige tells him he is not. She thanks him for trying to save her. Warren moves over so that they can speak face to face. He asks her to change to another "husk", so she can repair herself. Husk tells him that she cannot because the wounds are too deep. Warren moans and falls unconscious on top of her.

Paige lifts her head slightly to look at the man she has a crush on. She thinks that it is commonly believed that evolution is moving forward, that each successive generation is an improvement upon the last. But this is not the case, as Natural Selection has nothing to do with evolutionary direction, or species progress or even intelligence and "superiority". Evolution simply means "to adapt". If you don?t adapt, then you die. Paige puts one of her hands on his back holding onto Warren.

Back at Xavier's, outside in one of the quads spotlights light up the area begin enclosed in the coming night. Samuel Pare tells Cain Marko that it is getting past his curfew. Tossing the ball, the man also known as the Juggernaut asks him if he wants to stop playing, and tells the boy that he doesn't. Iceman approaches the Juggernaut and asks him when he is leaving. Bobby tells Cain he thinks he has been taking advantage of the Professor long enough and that he should move on. Gritting his teeth, Juggernaut tells Bobby that Charles can come and tell him that himself if that is the way he is feeling, and reminds Bobby it was Xavier's idea for him to come and stay. Bobby tells Cain that he doesn't need to come and tell him, because as he is a founding member of this place - "Hey! Iceman! I need you now!" Northstar has arrived. He tells "big guy whatever-your-name-is" to get that thing he calls a costume and come with them because they have a mission. Bobby protest and tells Jean-Paul, who is clutching Wolverine still, that "Fat boy" doesn't do missions. Juggernaut mumbles that he does if it will annoy Iceman.
Iceman notices Logan, and asks why he is in such a mess?

The sun sets over the forest where Warren Worthington III and Paige Guthrie lie, possibly dying. Paige thinks that as humans, mutants in particular, we wish, and need to believe that there is something special about us. That we as humans, all races and kinds, are equal and each have their own special place in the world. Natural selection however, would argue this. That there is nothing special about any specific race of humans, that they are simply very good at differential reproductive success. Maggots begin to crawl over Paige's lifeless steelform's face without her reacting. Yet her thoughts continue. She thinks that humans are very good at differential reproductive success. At least until "punctuated equilibrium" spits out sudden unexpected variations. Variations that are meaner, faster and stronger - that will kill the rest ...

Characters Involved: 

Archangel, Iceman, Nightcrawler, Northstar, Wolverine (All X-Men)

Husk, Juggernaut (Residents at Xavier Institute)

Havok, Polaris (Former X-Men)

Nurse Annie Ghazikhanian

Carter Ghazikhanian


Father Whitney, a priest

Maximus Lobo

Werewolf mutants

Story Notes: 

Carter was revealed to have undefined psionic powers in Uncanny X-Men #413, however no one except Annie knows of this.

Polaris and Havok's rocky relationship seemed to be the road to recovery, until his apparent death. [X-Factor (first series) #149].

At the anniversary of the destruction of Genosha, a somewhat crazed Polaris was found there by a team of X-Men, including her long-time friend Jean Grey, indeed naked and walking in what can only be described literally as, "nuclear mud". [New X-Men #132]

The costume Lorna is seen wearing appears to be a cross between that of the one she was given by Shi'ar agent Erik the Red, and that of the Mutant X's universe's Madelyne Summers, the Goblyn Queen. Either way, not a good sign.

Paige's claim that steel is the "densest" form she can manage is at odds with prior adventures where she managed to change into diamond.

On page 18 a thought-caption appears to be miscolored, making it appear as though it were Warren"s caption, although logically it should be Paige"s.
Charles Darwin, author of the "Origin of the Species" originally formulated the idea of evolution. His contemporary Alfred Russell Wallace (1823-1913) is less known. Wallace was in correspondence with Darwin for years and discovered the principle of "natural selection."
Steven Jay Gould (1941-2002) was a contemporary American paleontologist and biologist who wrote some of the bestknown modern works on evolution. He has become closely identified with the influential idea of "punctuated equilibrium," that actually originated with paleontologist Niles Eldredge and was developed by them jointly.

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