Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #428

Issue Date: 
October 2003
Story Title: 
"How did I get here?"<BR>The Draco - prelude

Chuck Austen (writer) Sean Phillips (penciler), Dave McCaig (colorist), Rus Wooton (letterer), Philip Tan (cover artist), Warren Simons (assistant editor), Mike Raicht (associate editor), Mike Marts (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Bill Jemas (president)

Brief Description: 

After playing a deadly game of seduction with the hired help around the castle, Baroness Raven Wagner and her husband Christian Wagner discuss their situation of him being infertile, where Raven assures him that it does not matter, as he has already given her so much in life. At a banquet, Raven is introduced to the ruler of the island nation known as La Isla des Demonas, Herr Azazel, and the two are instantly taken with one another. Azazel woos Raven by making her realize there is more to her as a person than what she and others may think, and they later meet at a church, where at Azazel’s request, Raven reveals her true blue form to him, and they have sex. Raven proclaims she is in love with Azazel, who does not feel the same, and tells the pregnant Raven that she will raise the baby as if it were Christian’s. Months later, the heavily pregnant Raven kills Christian after he demands a paternity test done, and after Raven’s baby is born, very obviously different – blue skin and a tail Raven uncontrollably reveals herself to be blue as well. She is proclaimed a demoness and chased from the castle, where she decides to start life over with nothing. She curses Azazel and drops her baby from the top of a waterfall – it disappears mid-fall with a "bamf" noise.

Full Summary: 

Presumably twenty-seven to twenty-eight years ago, a castle near Winzeldorf, Germany, where the serene and beautiful backdrop of Baron Wagner’s home in truth holds many secrets, deceptions and lies.

An attractive man and a pretty young blonde are getting dressed after having sex, the man rather surprised that it happened at all, but he is certainly not complaining. He tells the girl, whose name is Katsche that it was incredible, but that he is just curious as to what bought it on, as ever since she was hired to be a maid here she has been completely shutting him out. Katsche cuts the handsome man off and just tells him that she changed her mind, and that he should just enjoy it without asking so many questions. The man pulls Katsche over to him and tells her he does enjoy it, and apologizes telling her they shouldn’t ruin it after such an incredible start.

Katsche tells him that they ‘couldn’t possibly’ before he asks her if it really was that incredible. As they kiss, Katsche asks him if he is fishing for compliments and the man smiles telling Katsche that she complemented him enough every step of the way… Turning away from him, Katsche tells him to come by her room tonight and she will compliment him even more. As she runs out the door, he shouts after her that it would be safer if she came to him, reminding her that he is not supposed to be in the house after hours. Katsche reminds him that he is not supposed to be sleeping with a maid either – ‘but if you want more…’ she teases. He smiles and tells Katsche that he will be there, but that she best be prepared to work tired tomorrow. Katsche turns to him and tells him he better be ready to work hard tonight. ‘Wow’ he says as Katsche enters the main castle.

Katsche hums as she walks through the kitchen, before she starts laughing cruelly and uncontrollably as she suddenly changes form. Her fair skin is replaced with a deep blue tone and her curly blond hair is gone, rich red sits in its place, and her eyes go from blue, to pupilless yellow, adding to the unusual appearance, a wicked smile. Suddenly, a blond-haired woman, who looks remarkably, like Katsche enters the ktichen! The woman is stunned as she walks in on the blue woman and apologizes quickly, but as she starts shouting, the blue woman is gone, replaced by a fairly attractive slightly older woman with brown hair.

The brown-haired woman asks the blonde – Katsche – what is wrong. Katsche, the real Katsche, looks nervously to one side as she tells the brunette, ‘milady Wagner’ that she thought she was blue. Raven Wagner tells Katsche that she was running and was slightly out of breath. Katsche thinks hard and suddenly realizes that Raven Wagner is wearing a maid uniform! Katsche is shocked, and Raven tries to cover up what she was doing, by telling the real Katsche that it is a surprise for her husband, ‘if you know what I mean?’ Katsche tells Raven that she supposes so, before Raven asks her if she is going to be in her room this evening? Katsche replies that she had planned to be, before asking Raven if she will need her? Raven smiles wickedly again and tells Katsche that she was just curious. ‘Enjoy your evening, Katsche’ Raven says to Katsche as she leaves the kitchen.

Later that evening, in the bedroom suite of Christian and Raven Wagner, Raven sits on the enormous four-poster bed as her husband stares out the window. Matter-of-factly he tells Raven that the doctor called him today with the test results. He announces to Raven that she is not barren, and can have children. ‘I can,’ Raven says. Christian turns to his wife and tells her that she is as surprised as he is, and frowning, he tells her the problem then, must lie with him.

Christian Wagner gets down on one knee and kneeling before his wife he takes her hands in his, telling her he knows this must be disappointing to her, and that he must seem only half a man to her now that he cannot have the children they both want. Raven says ‘no’ over and over again, trying to reassure her husband she tells him that he could never be half a man to her, that he is worth ten men – a hundred men – a thousand men – Staring up at his wife, Christian tells her he loves her, then hugging her, he tells Raven that he will find other ways to bring her joy. Raven tells Christian that he has bought her so much joy already…before she smiles that wicked smile and her eyes flash yellow.

Raven and Christian lay in bed together, not touching, and Raven stares at the ceiling, eyes wide open. She hears a "thump, thump" and then she smiles at the sound of a woman’s scream. Christian leaps up out of bed and wonders what the noise was before Katsche can be heard, asking someone what they are doing in her room. The man tells her that she told him – Katsche cuts the handsome man off and cries for help after another crash. With Christian gone to help her, he tells the man to get out, as Katsche says that he tried to climb into bed with her and grab her, all the while, Raven Wagner howls with laughter.

Raven lies on a bed wearing a green medical gown, as the doctor prepares a needle injection and tells her that he knows in-vitro-fertilization has not worked before, but that it can be done several times – Raven tells him not to talk as she remembers another time, as a woman called "Helga" she slept with a handsome blond man, the doctor rubs Raven’s shoulders and tells her that the egg seems to have taken. Raven is thinking about that blond man and how he reminded her to take precautions for fear that they would have another child, again she says for him not to say anything. The doctor tells Raven that it is in God’s hands now, and she smiles her wicked smile.

Another day, Raven sits on a chair, Christian stares out the window and tells her that they can try again. Raven tells him that they will never stop trying. Later that night, a party is being held at the Wagner castle, a glamorous and formal event, everyone looking their best. As Raven walks down the stairs in an elegant black and yellow gown, Christian beckons her over to where he is standing with a handsome man. Wagner introduces him as Herr Azazel, and Wagner asks him if his wife is lovely. Azazel tells Christian that ‘Lovely is a woefully inadequate word’.

Azazel kisses Raven’s hand as Christian announces he is the ruler of the Island nation off the coast of Bermuda called La Isla des Demonas. He goes on to talk about the politics they were speaking of when Azazel cuts him off, asking him if he thinks his wife is interested in a business transaction that can barely hold his attention? Wagner proclaims that his wife is interested in the machinations of all kinds of business, and that she is a woman who will constantly surprise you. ‘Lord knows I love surprises’ says Azazel smirking.

Another day still, and Raven and Azazel are horseback riding, when Raven mentions to Azazel that her and Christian are trying for a child, that they have been for some time. Bluntly, Azazel tells Raven that it will not happen for her, and taken aback she replies that it was a cruel thing to say. Azazel smiles and tells her that the truth is often cruel, which is why so many lies are told to keep the truth hidden. He proclaims that the Baron cannot give her a child and that the Baron is the past, while she is the future. Raven narrows her eyes suspiciously and tells Azazel that he speaks about her as if she were something she cannot quite place. ‘Something never seen before on this world’ Azazel says, telling Raven that she has an air about her, magnificence and power and beauty beyond anything he has ever seen. ‘Such is your mystique’ he adds ‘in fact, you personify the term – you are mystique – in every sense of the word’. Raven Wagner stares at him, half-scared, half free.

The sun sets as Raven walks through a graveyard and up to the church. Opening the door she calls for Azazel who standing in front of the church altar tells Raven that there is no need for such formality between them, before telling her he is glad she came. Slowly, Raven walks up to him and proclaims that she couldn’t stay away from him, even though she tried. Taking her hand, Azazel asks Raven why, and she tells him that he scares her.

Hugging close to Azazel, Raven tells him that she has never felt so ‘much’. Looking deep into her eyes, Azazel asks Raven if she wants to be with him, her reply is that she does so much she aches from it. She announces she does not want to wait, but wonders where they could go. Azazel smiles and tells her they don’t have to wait, and tells her to undress. Raven pulls away from Azazel astonished at his suggestion of having sex in a church, she tells him that even she could not be that bold.

Azazel tells Raven that she is already that bold, and that she knows the sanctimonious morals and religious hypocrisies of the world are beneath her, and alludes her to a space-traveler among monkeys, a winged angel among pigs. Azazel continues, telling Raven that her mind, spirit and body are more magnificent that any totemic icon in this room, before asking her to again remove her clothes ‘and let me worship you’. Raven’s eyes all this while have been staring at Azazel intensely, wide-eyed with the realization of what he tells her.

She takes off her dress and Azazel smiles as Raven walks over to him. He takes her in his arms and asks her to remove ‘the other "garment"’ the false Raven. Suspiciously, Raven asks Azazel what he is talking about, and he answers that he can see around her, a haze which is the less real, less attractive façade she wears. He asks her to stand naked before him, in all ways. Raven looks to the left and her form changes, the blue eyes, brown hair and fair skin, are replaced by pure yellow eyes, striking red hair and blue skin. Azazel stares at her again, ‘Unique, unequaled, extraordinary, magnificent’. And so in the church, Raven Wagner and Azazel make love at the altar.
An unspcified amount of time later Raven, in her blue form, stands at the top of a waterfall, where she smiles and calls out that she is in love. A bamf startles her and she turns around, seeing Azazel she tells him he startled her. ‘Fortunately you didn’t fall’ he replies. Raven looks at him, somewhat nervous she tells him she is pregnant. From under the tree, Azazel’s skin can be seen as red, and he has a tail too. He tells Raven that it is wonderful for her, before asking what the Baron thinks.

Raven’s happy mood becomes solemn as she tells Azazel that it doesn’t matter as she does not want the Baron and has never loved him anyway. She tells Azazel that it is he whom she wants. Azazel tells Raven this is fascinating as he thought her incapable of such emotion. Raven walks over to Azazel and asks him why he is being so cold before telling him she would have thought – hoped – he would be pleased. Azazel tells Raven that he is, but not for the reasons she might want him to be.

Azazel tells a disheartened Raven that "it" was just simple science, and worked as he hoped it to, before adding that it is hardly an excuse for such an outpouring of emotion. Raven looks sad and brings up all the things Azazel said to her, before reminding him he told her he loved her. ‘Never confuse physical passion for a condition of the heart’ Azazel tells her, before stating that since the dawn of mankind the two have rarely gone hand in hand. Azazel tells Raven to go back to the Baron, to stay safe in the comfortable and protected world she married into and raise his child, as the Baron’s. Azazel disappears the same way he arrived, and Mystique stands, holding her hands to her broken heart.

Several months later.

Laying in bed, Christian Wagner holds the sheets close up to his neck, looking slightly scared at his wife, who lay with one hand on her stomach and another under her pillow, Raven tells her husband that it hurts her he had to ask such a thing, but to press it over and over again – Christian cuts Raven off and tells her he is ashamed of himself for doing so, and reminds Raven that there was such chemistry between her and Herr Azazel, then becoming pregnant and Azazel leaving very abruptly. Christian’s voice trails off as he tells Raven that his father is suggesting a blood test to verify „you know", before adding that he feels horrible for agreeing – Raven switches to her blue form as her husband tells her he will make it up to her for the rest of their lives if he is wrong. Raven draws a knife from beneath her pillow, and ‘But if I am right’ are the last words Christian Wagner ever spoke.

A very pregnant Raven drags her husband in the bloody bed sheets out of the castle, and out into the rain, where she digs him a grave. Raven scrubs the bloodstained floors of the castle before returning to bed, and crying.

A painful scream echoes around the castle, as Raven Wagner is in labor, the doctor tells her to keep pushing as the baby is almost out. Katsche is also present, assisting the doctor, she proclaims that the baby is blue. Raven screams out asking what is wrong with her baby, before the doctor gives Katsche a stern look and reassures Raven that the baby will be fine, but it just needs air. He smiles as the baby is out of Raven, and Katsche screams in shock at the sight of a demonic looking blue baby boy with a tail and pure yellow eyes - apart from the blue skin inherited from his mother, he is the spitting image of Azazel.

Katsche cries ‘Child of Satan’ over and over again as the doctor tells her to calm herself. Holding the newborn child an arm length away, he tells it that that will be a typical reaction in his life, if he survives it, before adding that the humane thing to do would be to suffocate it now and send it back to God. Raven calls out to the doctor and asks him what is wrong with her baby. Raven looks desperate as the doctor and Katsche look at her – ‘She is blue! Like the child’! Cries Katsche, before the doctor proclaims her as a demoness.

At nighttime, Raven, holding her baby in her arms, rushes from the castle, as a group of people carrying fire on sticks rush after her. Raven damns Azazel as she approaches the waterfall where she proclaims she had everything in life she could want until he came into her life, ‘happy, rich, powerful’. Raven wonders how she could have been so stupid to let him do this to her. Raven holds her baby away from her and decides that she will change her appearance and escape, though with nothing, no money, clothes or anything of value.

‘Nothing. Why couldn’t you love me Azazel? Why?’ Raven lets the baby go, and it plunges from the top of the waterfall down below, but as Raven looks up, she doesn’t see the bamf below.

Characters Involved: 

Mystique/Raven Wagner (Darkholme)

Nightcrawler, as a baby

Baron Christian Wagner

Azazel, ruler of La Isla des Demonas

Unnamed man Raven (as Katsche) sleeps with

Second unnamed man Raven (as "Helga") sleeps with

Katsche, a maid


People at the party

Story Notes: 

The editors mistakenly added a line that this issue was set 20 years ago, that is seriously impossible taking into account the known ages of Nightcrawler (he turned 21 in Uncanny X-Men Annual #4) and Shadowcat who is several years younger than Kurt, but if he were 20 it would mean that she is still about 15 – which, being at College and all and having recently been hinted to be 18-19, we know she certainly isn’t. Writer Chuck Austen hadn’t meant for any date to be mentioned at all, but as far as he is concerned Nightcrawler is roughly twenty-six.

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