Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #512

Issue Date: 
August 2009
Story Title: 

Matt Fraction (writer), Yanick Paquette (penciler), Karl Story (inker), Justin Ponsor (colorist), VC’s Cory Petit (lettering), Yanick Paquette (cover), Stephen Roux (variant cover), Daniel Ketchum (assistant editor), Nick Lowe (editor), Axel Alonso (executive editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)

Brief Description: 

Hank McCoy and his X-Club have decided to return to the early twentieth century to recover blood samples from the parents of James Bradley, known within their group as Dr. Nemesis. They use a time machine configured by Madison Jeffries and head back to San Francisco, 1906. Once there, they head to the Bradley’s house to speak with them, with the intention of getting a blood sample from each. James is reluctant to meet his parents and opts to stay hidden. The meeting doesn’t go well and the X-Men have to retreat. Nicola, James’s father, is unknowingly working on an energy creation device for the Hellfire Club, run by Lord Molyneux, but with the project under the auspices of Cornelius Shaw and his partner, Salome. Nicola is also unaware that his wife, Catherine, is pregnant. Nicola is having problems with the machine and just can’t quite get it to work properly. When Cornelius reports back to Lord Molyneux, and that his men failed to steal the device, this doesn’t go down well. He has seers and sensitives working for him who have seen the future, and he has been trying to prevent the birth of mutants, or Overmen as he calls them. However, there are so many that he now needs a Sentinel to help him. This is why he needs Nicola’s battery-generator. Soon, Nicola finally figures out what’s wrong and takes his machine to Cornelius. Now with energy to power their Sentinel, Molyneux activates the automaton, which spots the X-Men immediately. Meanwhile, James Bradley helps his mother, whose baby is almost on its way, and obtains a sample of blood from her in the process. Meanwhile, the X-Men overcome the Sentinel by targeting its weak points; namely its human operators. The Sentinel explodes, but fatally wounds Nicola as it does so. Catherine rushes to her husband who realizes who James is and asks him his name. When James provides it, Nicola tells his wife that James is a fine name for a boy. James asks his mother to bury both the vials containing their blood in Golden Gate Park. They cannot take it with them. The X-Men are forced to return to the present, and they soon go looking for the vials. They discover that Catherine has done her part, but they are buried underneath the Dreaming Sentinel which James Bradley doesn’t believe is a coincidence. James, meanwhile, returns to 1906 and acts as obstetrician for his mother, tragically delivering himself at the cost of his mother’s life.

Full Summary: 

(Graymalkin Industries, Marin Headland, California)

Hank McCoy is with his X-Club - Madison Jeffries, Dr. Kavita Rao, Dr. Yuriko Takiguchi and Dr. James Bradley a.k.a. Dr. Nemesis. Seated around a circular table with a holographic helix in the center, he explains that their mission brief is simple. Recently, the Scarlet Witch said, "No more mutants," and so it was. Birth rates flatlined and no more of their species were brought into the world.

He adds that they investigated, of course, but the greatest scientific minds either couldn't or wouldn't figure out what had happened. It was magic. They didn't think it possible for a new mutant to be born, until one was. The point is that they don't know what they're dealing with, which is why he has assembled them - the most brilliant unconventional thinkers of their age.

Hank motions to a holographic chart which shows a timeline stretching from 1800 to 2000. He explains that mutants have existed for thousands of years on Earth but, as a statistically significant evolutionary offshoot of Homo sapiens, they're really just a century old. They should consider this a mission to study the origin of the species. They will travel back a hundred and three years to investigate the birth of the modern mutant race.

Hank further explains that working from the time-travel technology which they have already acquired, they built a device capable of remaining fixed in space while rotating out of the time stream itself. In that case it was to send to wearer into the future. With some modifications, they can now travel to the past as well. Once they begin, they will remain in the same place but head to circa 1906. They will have thirty-two hours to do their work before... death, kicks in.

Warren Worthington and Betsy Braddock enter the room, with Warren joking for her to watch her step and not to slip in all the nerd. Newcomer Betsy asks Hank how they know that the mutant race kicked off in San Francisco, exactly. Why there and why 1906? Hank greets her warmly, and explains that there are a few reasons he's asked her along. From what he understands, her powerset has changed somewhat. Betsy replies that she's still primarily a telekinetic, but since her... travels abroad... she's regained a degree of psychic ability, though that may be overstating it. She's found that she can suggest what people do and see, ever so slightly. Hank quips that, as he is a seven-foot tall cat about to travel back in time, he'll be requiring her to suggest an awful lot so that he may move about.

Dr. Bradley decides to answer Betsy's initial question. He explains that the reason they're going is because of him. He was born in San Francisco in 1906 to Nicola and Catherine Bradley. They are going back in time to gather genetic material from his parents and to determine just what about them came together to ignite homo superior. "Man, you're old says Madison. Dr. Rao asks why they're all going. Why not just one of them? Hank tells her that it's because they are scientists. Time travel should, at the very least, be considered one of the baseline perks to the profession. He holds his stopwatch up tantalizingly, and asks who wants to rescue the future by raiding the past.

(Telegraph Hill, San Francisco, 1906)

It's evening and Dr. Nicola Bradley sits in his laboratory looking at a very clever device he's been putting together. He doesn't sleep much these days. It's not that he's not tired, God know he is, but his work is never done and rest always remains elusive. The generator-battery that he's working on still doesn't work, and Bradley won't rest until it does. He knows the machine inside out, every screw. In his mind he traces the flow of power around it and sees the generator-battery working. He just can't make it work. The damn thing will be the death of him.

Approaching quietly are several Hellfire Club thugs. Just before they grab the doctor, one of them is blasted by his wife, Catherine Bradley. She's very impressive, and certainly her husband's better half. "Nic, let's go," she cries as another blast hits home. Nicola grabs the generator-battery and dashes in her direction. It seems that they aren't the only ones interested in his machine. It's the kind of thing that could change the world.

(later, the Mission District)

The Bradley's have retreated to their home which is filled with journals, industrial equipment and things to be tinkered with. Also there is Cornelius Shaw and his partner, Salome. Shaw asks what happened. They explain everything and how they ran back there to contact him. They didn't want to contact the authorities or attract any more attention. Cornelius asks where the device is now. Catherine begins to reply, but feels a little sick. Nicola thinks that she's just nervous and tells Cornelius that the machine is safe. Catherine recovers and says she is fine. The generator-battery is fine.

Cornelius tells her that as long as they are safe and the device is safe, that's all that matters. Nicola holds his head in his hands and informs Cornelius that the funding he's provided has been more than generous. He feels so close. It's like a thought on the tip of his tongue if that makes sense. He swears he can see it. Cornelius smiles and places a reassuring hand on Nicola's shoulder. He feels that it'll all be worth it when he's done. Nicola gives a sigh of relief. "Can you imagine?" he says. "Safe, wireless energy, free and unfettered to all that need it."

He apologizes for taking so long, but Cornelius asks him to say no more. They're talking about revolutionizing the way the entire world works. He understands these feats can't be put on a timetable. His organization is delighted to keep funding him. He asks him to breathe deep, collect himself and get the job done. The world has need of him... of that kind of power.

Catherine peers into what looks like a periscope and tells her husband that someone's coming. He wonders if they are more masked men. Do they need to run? Catherine isn't sure. She doesn't know who the hell it is.

Standing outside their house is Hank and his team. Dr. Nemesis tells them that it's the house in which he was born. Dr. Takiguchi asks if there's anything they should know about it. Nemesis replies that it's full of stuff. His grandparents are always setting off. There are little gimmicks everywhere, and pneumatic tubes. He'll already know that they are coming so they should be careful. Archangel is surprised that he doesn't want to meet his parents from the time when he was born, but Nemesis is content to sit this one out. Hank asks Psylocke to work her magic, and the team, in the minds of those they are about to meet, appears relatively normal, with Hank looking like a friendly academic.

Hank wishes Catherine good morning when she answers the door and apologizes for disturbing her so early in the morning. He tries to explain that they've traveled from Westchester to see her, but she cuts him off mid-patter by holding two pistols to his head. She informs him that she has no interest in where he came from but warns him to leave and never darken her doorstep with his presence again. Hank raises his hands in surrender and tells her that this might mean nothing at the moment, but she should know that her apple won't fall far from its tree.

Soon after, they catch up with Dr. Nemesis. He asks if the total strangers from a hundred years ago willingly gave him blood samples. Hank reminds him that they have twenty-six hours left and he could do without his sarcasm.

Back inside the house, Cornelius Shaw assures Nicola that the accounts will not run dry. He should keep working and contact them when he accomplishes his breakthrough. He should also be vigilant and brave and above all else, shoot first and let the Lord sort them out. "Visionaries are rarely understood, let alone tolerated in their own age.

Cornelius and Salome leave and head for their car. Shaw reckons that Bradley, for all his genius, is possibly the dumbest man he's ever met. Whatever goons botched last night's robbery, whoever they are, Salome should bring her most able crimps and shangahi them by sunset. He wants them on ships and halfway to China by the time his head hits the pillow. They cannot tolerate this level of failure. As they enter the grounds of the local Hellfire Club, he adds that all they had to do was to steal the damn thing so they could activate the automaton. Now, the whole thing's gone to hell!

Inside, they find Lord Molyneux standing there, surrounded by men and women wearing white, most of them quiet and attended to by ladies dressed in white lingerie. Lord Molyneux informs them that the hour is soon at hand. Their seers and sensitives have had some exquisite visions this morning. He bends down to one woman with dark eyes who is smoking from a hookah pipe. She tells Molyneux that there is power coming; men who are more than man of God. She sees so much. A power to pierce the very veil of time - a blue man with a white face who wants to rescue the future by raiding the past. The Overmen are coming and extinction will follow. There is nothingness and neverland. "Never enough power, never enough until the fire… o there will be all consuming fire."

Molyneux feels that the evidence is irrefutable. Nietzsche was right. The Overmen, these seers, are the first steps. What comes next they must destroy, lest man be driven into the sea. They need the power to fight it and time is of the essence. He asks where the device is. Salome informs him that it didn't go well. They failed. Molyneux grimaces. "You failed? Before he can continue, the seer sits up with a start and screams. Seers and sensitives all around the room cry out in unison, freaking out the lingerie-wearing attendants. Molyneux draws his sword and holds it to Shaw's throat. He shouts that Shaw's failure might mean the death of man! Their failure means the rise of the Overman! He warns Shaw that no one fails him twice. Contrary to what his breeding might tell him, he is utterly replaceable.


Nicola Bradley is once again left alone with his thoughts. He stares at the generator-battery that vexes him so much and blanks out every distraction that tries to permeate his thinking. His concentration soon pays off. He thinks of how every mechanism works in conjunction with every other mechanism and completes the missing piece to his jigsaw. He closes his eyes. "It's finished," he tells himself. "I did it."

He rushes upstairs to his wife, euphoric. He tells her that was that was missing was a ferrite rod. Can she believe it? The line output transformers needed ferrite rods. He stops talking when he sees her holding a pot in front of her, as if she is about to be sick. She tries to smile and replies that she's proud of him. He thanks her. He can't believe it was so simple. He stops once again and asks if she threw up. Catherine takes his hand and replies that it's morning sickness. She suspects that they have invented a child. Nicola's face light up. "A... a child?"


Nemesis remarks that they have fifteen hours left before space-time conspires to kill them all and forget about them. Any ideas? he asks. Hank reckons that short of breaking down the door and attacking his parents outright, what are their options? Dr. Takiguchi suggests they divide to conquer. Two groups, each that could approach one of the respective Bradley's independently. Dr. Rao concurs and Dr. Nemesis divides the teams. He asks old man, powerless girl and winged psycho to go for his mom, whilst giant cat, redneck and new girl go for his pop. He will ghost them as needed, but he prefers to stay out of it. He produces two vials which need to contain their blood - by hook or by crook... otherwise, they've abused the laws of physics for absolutely no reason. They have fourteen hours and fifty-five minutes.

(Telegraph Hill)

Nicola Bradley has brought Cornelius Shaw and Salome to his workshop. Shaw asks why he's asked them there. Nicola tinkers for a moment with the device before switching it on. Small white lights glow happily from inside the grey metal sphere. "There. Light," he smiles. Cornelius erupts. "Is that it?" he balks. He asks how many thousands of dollars and how many hours he has wasted. Nicola asks him to give it a moment. The machine kicks into life and glows brightly, lighting a second lamp housed on a rig. Nicola opens his arms wide and explains that he has created nearly infinite and wholly inexpensive wireless electricity. He predicts they can have the whole of San Francisco wirelessly electrified in less than a year. What does he think? Salome answers for him. "We'll take it.

(the mission District)

Several Hellfire Club goons enter the Bradley residence and surprise Catherine as she enters her bedroom carrying a pot. "Merciful Mary," she cries upon seeing the masked intruders. She instinctively smashes the pot against the head of the nearest goon and dashes for the door. Unfortunately, she misses her footing on the staircase and tumbles down hard. Waiting at the bottom is Archangel, no longer hidden by Psylocke's mental disguise. He is holding a goon who has three flechettes stuck in his back.

"Mrs. Bradley," he exclaims, "We are here to help." The others enter and she explains that there are six more upstairs. Warren takes flight and glides up the stairs, asking the others to get Catherine to safety. He'll be right back. Kavita and Yuriko take her and carry her outside, just in time to see one of the goons defenestrated. She asks if he really has wings made of knives. Dr. Takiguchi says yes, but adds that normally they are just wings.

As Archangel takes care of business, Catherine suddenly stumbles and tells the two doctors that she doesn't feel right. They put her down gently but Kavita realizes that she's bleeding. Dr. Takiguchi says that they need to get a doctor; a medical doctor. They need James Bradley.

Lord Molyneux joins Shaw, Salome and Nicola Bradley at the Hellfire Club. He explains that they need to protect their race. That's why they've gathered there. It's their raison d’être - the preservation of Homo sapiens. He understands that they will be familiar with the work of Charles Darwin and Friedrich Nietzsche. Man is something to be overcome, a laughing stock or painful embarrassment to the Overman. "From ape... to man... to Overman." Nicola doesn't quite understand where this is going. He made a battery-generator. What concern is his work to Lord Molyneux? Cornelius calls him a sad little man, a walking punch line. He and his inventions are the means to their end. Molyneux adds that the Overman must be stopped. The future of mankind depends on it. So, they made a weapon.

Molyneux motions to a very large human-shaped mechanism. He informs Bradley that they have a league of sensitives and psychics detecting possible evolutionary outbreaks. They've been able to snuff them out on their own, but now there are simply too many. So, they created a sentry to stand against the Overman: a Sentinel! Shaw adds that Bradley had visions of free and endless energy. Nothing is free, and nothing is endless. Bradley calls them insane, pauses and then asks the whereabouts of his wife. Salome smiles and tells him it is as Lord Molyneux told him. "Snuffed."

One of the female attendants pushes through the door and informs her lord to come quick. Something catastrophic is happening to the seers. "Not something," replies Molyneux, his eyes open wide. "The Overmen are here." Outside, the seers scream as their eyes bleed. The X-Club arrives on cue with Psylocke using her fighting skills to see off two guards. Beast charges through, informing those inside that they've come for Nicola Bradley.

Back in the Mission, Catherine wakes up and asks for her husband. He isn't there, but Dr. James Bradley is. He wears a white face mask and tells her that she is home and that he is a doctor. She was attacked but the intruders were dealt with. He adds that she fainted, and that she is pregnant. Catherine sits upright, but James says that rest is absolutely imperative. She has what is called placenta previa. He almost admits that in this day and age it is fatal but instead asks her to rest and confine herself to bed. Her life depends on it.

Bradley leaves his mother’s room and joins the others. He managed to get some of her blood. Takiguchi tells him that it’s good that she’s getting some rest. He believes such a serious condition was quite brutal in 1906. Bradley pauses and looks at him, before replying that it was. “She dies. Died,” he adds. “ She died. In childbirth.” The two doctors are shocked, but before they can say anything, Archangel appears informing them that they are in trouble.

They look out the window and see Hank, Madison, Betsy and Nicola Bradley being chased by Lord Molyneux’s giant battery-generator powered machine, piloted by two of Molyneux’s assistants. Hank shouts out for Warren as they evade the two huge pincers that try to grab them. Warren asks Rao and Takiguchi to stay with Catherine but asks Dr. Nemesis to go with him. “Like hell, pretty boy,” he replies, grabbing his pistol. “You’re with me.”

On board the machine, one of the pilots tells Cornelius Shaw that the Sentinel is moving at top speed. Salome wants more speed as the Overmen are fleeing. The Sentinel booms in a metallic voice, “Attention insidious Overman. The human race will never stop fighting you.” Warren and Nemesis join them and Hank informs them that they need to shut down the pilots. Warren grabs Betsy and takes to the air saying he’s well ahead of him on that score. He whisks her up to the bridge and drops her on one of the pilots. She uses her psychic knife to put him down, and tells the others that they are from the future, and they are there to beat their brains out.

Bullets fire from a gun mounted on the Sentinel’s shoulder, and Madison jumps on Nicola Bradley to shove him to safety. Madison knows that they have to shut the Sentinel down and Nicola reckons that shutting down the battery-generator is the only way. It can be overloaded by hitting it with as much electricity as possible. Madison reckons that he might be able to manage that. He raises he hands and begins to manipulates some electric cables and a motor vehicle, soon forming a kind of weapon. Nicola is amazed, but Madison asks him to stand back.

The machine spews out a stream of electricity which hits the Sentinel full on. Warren grabs Betsy and flies away as the Sentinel starts to build up an enormous amount of energy. Moments later, it explodes violently. Warren and Betsy are clear, but one of the sharp fragments shoots off the machine and goes right through Nicola Bradley’s chest. He falls in agony, and Nemesis quickly grabs him. Catherine, now up and running due to her room shaking, sees her husband fall and rushes towards him. Hank tells Dr. Nemesis that it was no ‘ordinary’ explosion and they need to go, now.

Catherine asks them not to go yet. She kneels down with her husband who tells her he is sorry. She tells him that his machine worked. It was a success. She notices James Bradley taking a blood sample from Nicola and asks what the hell he is doing. James apologizes for the bad timing but says that he needs them. He tells her that there is something remarkable about them that requires study, and that is why they are there. Nicola, struggling in pain, realizes what’s going on and pulls Dr. Nemesis’ face mask down a little. “I think I understand,” he remarks. “What’s your name, son? James tells him, and Nicola informs Catherine that James is a fine name for a boy.

James then thrusts the two vials of their blood into Catherine’s hand, asking her to listen very carefully. He needs her to bury them for him; bury them in Golden Gate Park. Hank once again says that they need to leave. James again repeats his request, adding that the future depends on it. The team then disappears into a time portal and leaves Catherine alone with her dead husband, surrounded by the devastation of a destroyed Sentinel. The great San Francisco earthquake destroyed Catherine’s city. The Hellfire Club destroyed her life. Catherine Bradley stares at the future as it vanishes before her eyes.

(present, Graymalkin, Marin Headlands)

The team is seated at the round table, their job done. Warren asks if they’re actually to blame for the 1906 earthquake. Nemesis replies that it might something to do with his father’s generator-battery exploding. Wherever he was drawing all the power from might have somehow affected the San Andreas Fault and triggered the earthquake. Or, it was all just a coincidence. Dr. Rao asks why they couldn’t bring the blood samples back with them. Hank explains that the time warp devices were fixed on their unique biological signatures. Foreign genetic materials wouldn’t have made the leap. Madison says that the vials they made would keep milk fresh for a hundred years if they wanted them to, let alone blood. He holds up a machine he has made and asks them to go see if Catherine did her part.

He uses the machine to hunt for the vials. He tracks them into Golden Gate Park, all the way to where the Dreaming Celestial is currently standing. “X marks the spot,” quips Dr. Nemesis. Hank can’t believe it. Of all the places Catherine could have buried the blood samples… she chose the place a one hundred ton God statue would appear. Bradley thinks otherwise. He reckons that the Celestial chose to stand there because of what is underneath. The past and the future of mankind’s evolution. He takes his leave, informing them that they can have dinner without him. He has somewhere to be.

(December 1st 1906, the Mission District, San Francisco)

Catherine Bradley goes into labor. Her parents, John and Mary Price from Lemon Grove, California sit outside the bedroom anxiously awaiting news. They’ve been looking after Catherine since her husband passed away. The doctor arrived before they even called him, and for hours they have waited and prayed for good news.

They hear their daughter, and then they hear nothing. Then they hear the close-throated cries of a newborn baby. James Bradley appears through the door holding the baby. His own mother’s blood stains his doctor’s whites. “It’s a boy,” he exclaims. James Nicola Bradley was born the day his mother died.

Characters Involved: 

Archangel, Beast and Psylocke (all X-Men)

Madison Jeffries, Dr. Nemesis (James Bradley), Dr. Kavita Rao, Dr. Yuriko Takiguchi (all X-Club)

Dreaming Celestial

(in 1906)

Dr. Nicola Bradley

Catherine Bradley

Cornelius Shaw


Lord Molyneux

Hellfire Club goons

San Franciscans

Sentinel pilots

John and Mary Price


Story Notes: 

This is a 38 page issue. The story is untitled but Marvel’s website gave the title as ‘The Origin of the Species’ in their solicitations.

The seer's mention of all-consuming fire refers to the upcoming earthquake. The great California earthquake of 1906 had its epicenter near San Francisco, and destroyed large sections of the city, predominantly through the subsequent fires that raged. Many people died and thousands of buildings were destroyed. It struck at 5.12 a.m.

Cornelius Shaw is the grandfather of the recurring X-Men villain, Sebastian Shaw. This is his first appearance. Salome shouldn’t be confused with the Salome who appeared in Marvel Comics Presents (1st series) #146. This is also her first appearance, as well as Lord Molyneux’s.

Shanghaiing was the practice of acquiring sailors against their will through a variety of means such as coercion and force. Crimps were the people who carried out the shanghaiing.

Friedrich Nietzsche was a German philosopher in the late eighteen-hundreds who expounded the theory that man would, at some point, become more than man, thus the Overman or ‘Übermensch.’

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