Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #443

Issue Date: 
June 2004
Story Title: 
Of Darkest Nights - part 2

Chuck Austen (Writer), Salvador Larroca (Penciler), Danny Miki (Inker), Udon (Colorist), Rus Wooton (Letterer), Cory Sedlmeier & Stephanie Moore (Assistant Editors), Mike Marts (Editor), Joe Quesada (Editor in Chief), Dan Buckley (Publisher)

Brief Description: 

In Genosha Polaris is declared the Queen of Genosha by Magneto’s followers, but she doesn’t care for that, and begins a debate with Charles about what is wrong and right when it comes to the dreams of he and Magneto. Polaris believes that Magneto was right in attacking New York, making the humans aware of what happened to the mutants on Genosha. But Charles does not believe the suffering of the mutants excuses them and enables them to cause pain to others. They continue to have a hefty debate, when Polaris casts Xavier into the sky, holding him in a metal prison she asks him if he is ready to die, or if he is prepared to fight back and kill her. Charles replies that he will die, which causes Lorna to cry, and she sets him free. Xavier declares that he would not have harmed or killed Lorna so that he could survive. Polaris then uses her powers to construct a new monument, replacing the one of Magneto that Wolverine tore down, this time it is of both Magneto and Xavier. She tells Charles that they love him, but not to let this be his memorial and she leaves. The Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver and Wolverine all follow, leaving Xavier alone on Genosha.

Full Summary: 

The Island Nation of Genosha, where mere moments ago, the powerful Lorna Dane, a.k.a. Polaris, who was recently revealed to be the daughter of Genosha’s dead ruler, Magneto, arrived with her brother and sister, Pietro Maximoff a.k.a. the speedster Quicksilver and Wanda Maximoff, the celebrated Scarlet Witch. The siblings have come to Genosha where Magneto’s opposition in the mutant rights “game”, Professor Charles Xavier and the X-Man Logan a.k.a. Wolverine are holding a “memorial” for Magneto.

One of Magneto’s followers announces to the others that the children of Magneto stand before them, and declares that Polaris is their Queen. They all kneel before the lavender-clad mutant, who quickly tells them not to do that and to get up. The mutant looks at Lorna and tells her that with Magneto gone she is Genosha’s ruler now, as Magneto named her as his heir. Quicksilver is annoyed at this and whispers to Wanda ‘Named her as his heir? What about us?’ Wanda tells her brother not to be quick tempered about this, and asks him if he really wants to be Magneto’s heir after what he did. ‘Oh, good point’ says Pietro sheepishly.

Wolverine steps forward and tells his teammate that Magneto must have seen has as a ‘chip off the old block’, to which Lorna tells him to ‘shut up’ and yells at the mutants kneeling before ‘I thought I told you people to get off the ground?’ Logan smiles and reminds Lorna that she has to admit that she has been wrestling with a darker, more “Magneto” side recently. Professor X tells Logan that there is more to this than just philosophy.

Polaris walks towards her former teacher and asks him if there is really, before telling him that she hopes he understands that these people are not wrong for how they feel towards Magneto, in spite of his recent destruction of New York. ‘Good and bad are not mutually exclusive’ she adds before asking everyone if they have heard of the “Stockholm Syndrome”. Xavier informs everyone that it is the term applied to hostages who develop attachments to their captors.

Lorna confirms this but announces that it is much more complex than that, and informs everyone that in the early Seventies, two ex-convicts held three women and a man hostage during a robbery in Stockholm, Sweden. The four people were held hostage for six days, and calmly, Lorna declares that when it was all over, the hostages actually defended the actions of their captors. She reveals that two of the women even became engaged to the men that held them and threatened their lives.

Wolverine, Xavier, the twins and Toad all listen intently as Lorna announces that there are many theories for this, such as emotional transference, or misidentification of kindness or emotional damage on the part of the captive. She suggests that perhaps on some level, all of the theories are true. ‘Would you like to hear my theory?’ Lorna asks, smiling wickedly.

No one dare say that they do not, and the listen still as she declares that everyone wants romance, love, tenderness and passion. That everyone wants the adrenaline rush of the bad and to still believe that good wins out over evil – that good people must be incapable of bad things. Hands on hips she tells everyone that they all know that is a ‘load of junk’. She declares that good and bad often come wrapped in the same package, but people just lean one direction or the other, depending on circumstances and personality.

Turning to her siblings, Lorna declares that sometimes, good people do bad things, but more importantly, in this case sometimes, bad people do good things. She reveals that when Alex “Havok” Summers died – or when she believed him to be dead – she was a bit “lost” for a while. She reminds everyone that Magneto took her in and trained her to use her powers.

Polaris turns away from everyone, and looking to the sky she declares that he was a teacher and mentor, and that he was very good to her. “The hostage perceives what she misidentifies as small kindnesses from her captor – despite the ongoing terror” she quotes. Lorna turns back to everyone and aiming the comment at Xavier she proclaims that there are people who believe that compulsory schools create this kind of environment.

Somewhat angry, Xavier tells Lorna that any school environment may feel that way at time, but that the overall benefits or harms are dependent entirely upon the vision of whoever is in charge. Lorna asks Charles who it is that determines which vision is the correct one and reminds him that mutants died on Genosha, because on some level, human beings are, at best, ignorant and at worst, racists. She declares that the leaders of the Homo-Sapiens call the attacks by the Brotherhood, the Big Brother Watchers of Asgard hovering above New York, the loss of innocents in Magneto’s rampage crimes against humanity, when the alternately sign legislation that funds the building and selling of weapons, including the Sentinels that destroyed Genosha, but they or someone they can blame will eventually be unleashed upon the mutants.

Lorna declares that the humans dead are inviolate, pure and sacrosanct, that to harm them is to invite war and destruction. However the dead mutants are “unfortunate”, “sad” and at worst, “collateral damage”, and must be worked out through diplomacy. ‘Magneto was right, Charles’ Lorna sneers, for on some level the humans want to see mutants either dead, or else they would see the hypocrisy in what they do. She adds that it is not really the “bad” people that they have to fear the most, is it?

Lorna reminds Charles that he teaches compassion and the sanctity of all life, that he fights for change and understanding, for mutants to be seen as equals in this world. She tells Charles to look around himself and to ask himself what if he is wrong, ‘what if the world cannot understand?’ She declares that Cassandra Nova destroyed Genosha, but the tools were provided by humans. ‘Who is to blame?’ ‘Who is to protect us from their hypocrisy and naiveté?’

Polaris continues, declaring that Magneto was a “bad” man, but did he deserve this? ‘Did any of those who lived here and followed him?’ She asks if Magneto was wrong to lash out at New York and to open the eyes of the world to the suffering that mutants have experienced. Charles looks at Lorna silently for a long time, until he finally says ‘Yes’. ‘Oh really? Are you sure?’ asks Lorna, to which Xavier replies that he has never been otherwise.

Xavier and Lorna stare each other down as Charles tells Lorna she asserts this because mutants have been hunted, hounded and murdered, that this somehow excuses mutants to cause pain and suffering to others. ‘It does not’ he says before asking Lorna if she wonders that because people are oblivious to the part they may have played in the grand scheme of horror, that somehow, in order to awaken the plight of mutants, the human’s lives are forfeit? ‘They are not’ he says angrily.

Charles tells Lorna he knows she wonders if he has missed something that Magneto picked up on, and that he is wrong to believe in peaceful solutions and coexistence. Nearly snarling, he declares that he is not. He tells Lorna that if she questions that determination she has only to look into the faces of the suffering survivors who have lost loved ones, to know unequivocally if it is right to inflict that kind of horror on another. Wolverine, Wanda and Quicksilver continue to listen intently to Xavier’s reply to Lorna’s speech when he begins to raise his voice. He declares that Magneto got the attention of the humans, but that they are too hurt and angry to listen.

Shouting now he says ‘it was wrong! It will always be wrong!’ Declaring that mutants should be above that and he believes in taking people who live lost in the gaps of reality, and guiding them towards the purity of truth with knowledge and understanding. Xavier begins to shake one of his fists in the air and proclaims that to eliminate those lost ‘in the gray’ is terrorism in the face of terrorism, evil in the face of evil, not to mention that it is immoral and will only lead to more and greater violence. ‘Right or wrong, I do not want to live in that kind of world’ he bellows.

Desperately he declares that be he right or wrong, he has made his choice and knows it to be the right one and that he will not condone…‘I will not condone…’ he looks at the body of Magneto which Wolverine knocked out of its coffin, and says nothing more, simply staring at Polaris. Wolverine smugly tells Lorna that she was ‘well
played’, to which Lorna tells her teammate she was not playing.

Logan is shocked and turns to her, asking her what she means. Lorna declares that the humans of New York were complicit, knowingly or otherwise, in the murder of the Genoshan population. Wolverine tells Polaris that she seems to be getting rather irrational now, to which Lorna smirks and asks him what he does if someone is trying to kill him. She doesn’t let him answer, and says ‘You want to make them aware’. She declares that Magneto made the humans aware, and that the world is certainly listening now.

Increasingly frustrated, Xavier tells Lorna that the world is listening, but not hearing, boasting that the world can only be made to hear through peaceful means. Lorna raises her voice and tells Charles that this isn't “Civil Disobedience”, that it isn't Henry Thoreau sitting in a pasture or jail cell thinking he can figure out the world by isolating himself from it. She declares that Synch, Skin and Colossus are all dead because of humans – Charles gets mad and starts to cut her off – but Lorna takes control and uses her supreme control of her powers to lift Xavier up into the air in his wheelchair, reminding him that Skin was killed on the X-Men’s front lawn!

She uses her magnetism powers to stop Wolverine from taking her down by trapping him in some scrap metal and she asks Charles if he is ready to die. ‘Are you ready to give that much for your cause?’ she asks him. The Scarlet Witch whispers to her brother to ‘Go, now!’ as elevated in the air, Charles tells Lorna that there is peace in power, that a minority is only powerless when it conforms to the majority. ‘Racism didn’t end when your students died!’ Exclaims Lorna.

Charles declares that it may end one day, adding that even now, children grow up with cultural and ethnic diversity unheard of one hundred years ago. Crushing him in his metal restraints, Polaris tells Charles that he is dying now. Xavier tries to reason with her as Quicksilver tries to rush her, but she is too quick for him and raises a huge metal wall in front of him, which he crashes into. Wanda is about to cast a hex sphere when Lorna tells her to stop it or she will make her go away. Wanda frowns and looks at her sister before canceling the hex.

Polaris looks up at Charles and tells him that he is going to die, yet he can defend himself against her, simply by killing her. ‘What will you do?’ she asks. Lorna starts to encase him in more metal, when only his mouth is free, he says ‘I will die’. Lorna looks up at him and tears spring from her green eyes. She drops Charles out of the sky, he lands in front of her and she releases the metal that was crushing him. She stands before him as Wolverine is freed and Wanda helps Quicksilver up and she tells Charles that she does not want him to die.

Polaris continues to cry as she tells Charles she wants change for the better, not, after he is dead and martyred. She tells him that he is their mentor, teacher and father, that he means everything to all of them. ‘We love you. I love you. Cant you even fight for your own survival?’ Xavier looks at the solemn Lorna and tells her ‘Not if it means others must suffer or die. No’.

Lorna continues to cry and turns her back to the others. Walking towards the scrap heap of metal that once was a giant monument to Magneto she helped build, that Wolverine recently tore down, she says ‘Fine’ and begins to raise the metal up into the air. Xavier, Logan, Wanda and Pietro watch as the phenomenally powerful young woman begins to build, single handily, not one, but two monuments. Giant busts of Charles Xavier and Erik “Magneto” Lensherr are built, side by side they stand, smiling and looking over Genosha. ‘We love you, Charles, but don’t let this be your memorial’ Polaris shouts down before flying away.

The Scarlet Witch declares that she is going after her sister and Quicksilver begins to follow her, boasting that he has had enough of this island. Wolverine motions towards the three siblings and asks Xavier if he is coming with them. Charles tells Logan to go on without him. ‘Suit yourself. Stay and lay your pretty words on garbage’ Logan tells him. Catching up with Quicksilver, Logan asks him if he has any beer on that fancy plane of his. ‘I don’t know’ the cocky speedster replies, ‘but I intend to find out’.

Xavier watches the Children of the Atom leave before turning to Magneto’s body and saying ‘Well. I don’t know that there’s anything left to say, do you, Erik?’ Charles stays silent for a moment, before saying ‘No, I suppose not’ and he is alone on Genosha.

Characters Involved: 

Polaris & Wolverine (Both X-Men)

Professor X

Quicksilver & Scarlet Witch (Children of Magneto)


Shocker, Toad and other mutant followers of Magneto

Body of Magneto

Story Notes: 

Magneto’s attack on the X-Men and New York was seen in “Planet X” [New X-Men #146-150]

Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver learned that they were Magneto’s children in Vision & Scarlet Witch (first series) #4. Polaris was revealed to be his daughter in Uncanny X-Men #431. Magneto’s first daughter, Anya was killed in a fire while she was still young. Polaris has a different mother to the other three.

Austen seems to be unaware that when Havok seemingly died [X-Factor (first series) #149], Polaris was the only person that had hope Alex was still alive, contradicting what she said in this issue.

Polaris became a member of Magneto’s court during the Magneto: Dark Seduction limited series.

Genosha suffered a mutant massacre, of which Polaris was one of the few survivors, in New X-Men #115.

Synch was killed in a bomb explosion in Generation X #70.

Skin was crucified on the Mansion’s lawn in Uncanny X-Men #423.

Colossus died in Uncanny X-Men #390.
This issue sets the stage for the Excalibur series, where Xavier will try to rebuild Genosha.

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