Uncanny X-Men (2nd series) #5

Issue Date: 
March 2012
Story Title: 

Kieron Gillen (writer), Greg Land (penciler), Jay Leisten (inker), Justin Ponsor & Laura Martin & Guru eFX (colors), VC’s Joe Caramagna (letterer), Land & Ponsor (cover), Jordan D. White (assistant editor), Daniel Ketchum (associate editor), Nick Lowe (editor), Axel Alonso (editor-in-chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (Exec. Publisher)

Brief Description: 

Psylocke informs the Extinction team of the temporal anomaly Tabula Rasa, which has sprung up overnight in Montana in the place of a town and the rescue forces that got lost in there. The X-Men decide to help with Psylocke subbing for the injured White Queen. They rescue some workers at the outset, then split in teams of two. Namor and Hope examine the river, where they are attacked by some creatures. Cyclops and Storm take another section, where Cyclops is separated from Storm and lands several miles away. Moments later, he is attacked and taken prisoner. In another part, Magik tries to help her brother strengthen his tenuous hold on his humanity. Magneto, who is aware of Psylocke’s involvement in X-Force, demands more information and she confides that Angel was possessed by Apocalypse and is responsible for Tabula Rasa. She feels guilty because she could have prevented this by killing him. And worse, it’s all for nothing as Angel is now an amnesiac, his personality in effect dead. They stumble on some sentient primitive beings who have made murals of X-Force’s battle with the Final Horsemen, and of some other being they worship called the Immortal Man, a being that suddenly reruns in the skies.

Full Summary: 

Yesterday there was a nuclear detonation in Montana, Betsy Braddock aka Psylocke informs Scott Summers and the Extinction team. An isolated town of 5000 ceased to be. Immediately afterwards, a temporal anomaly materialized, manifesting as a sphere ten miles in diameter isolating the interior from the rest of the world. The anomaly collapsed five hours ago, revealing what appears to be an entirely new habitat. It’s believed that for the day that passed outside 130 million years passed inside.

Between the isolated locale and (presumed) actions of those responsible, there has been an almost complete lack of official response. It’s been limited to nearby relatives and local law enforcement. Understandably, they entered the habitat, hoping to find survivors. Half an hour ago, their signals stopped.

Has the place got a name? Cyclops asks, and does she know who’s responsible? Her sources call it Tabula Rasa, as in “blank slate.” And no, she doesn’t. She’s been tracking threats to Utopia. This turned up. Sadly, it turned up too late. She knows she couldn’t have done more… but she feels she’s failed that town. She cannot make amends. But she can make sure it doesn’t get worse.

Cyclops thanks her and announces they insert by teleportation in five minutes. Prep for rescue and quarantine!

As the others walk ahead, Cyclops informs Betsy that, with Emma recovering from her injuries, they are down a psychic. He can see she’s exhausted, but if she’s able… She is, she assures him, smiling slyly. She’ll be on as many teams as it takes! Logan made it look so easy! she sighs. He always did, Scott admits. Best he is, and all that.

He asks Danger to put him through to Captain America. A holographic image of Cap appears and Cyclops asks him if he is aware of the Montana situation. Only just, he is told. It is insane. The infrastructural damage from the Serpent War is still hurting them.

Scott informs him his team’s in transit to the situation. Cap appreciates it. If the X-Men can deal with that, he can concentrate on finding whoever’s responsible. Conventional support and security personnel will be there soon, but if it escalates, he’ll have their back.

Captain America adds that the press is trying to make it a thing between the Avengers and X-Men, but he wanted to say, as far as he is concerned, nothing has changed. The X-Men are fighting the good fight. If all private citizens were as public-minded, the world would be a better place.

A few minutes later, the X-Men arrive in Montana via Magik’s teleportation disks. The local citizens try to hold themselves against giant attacking bat-spiders.

The X-Men immediately attack the creatures and Magik evacuates the citizens. Psylocke senses that the creatures are crazed and confused. Cyclops orders Danger to gather data and send it to the lab. Are the creatures sentient? Storm asks. No, primarily instinct-driven, no higher level intelligence, Psylocke replies. Storm is relieved. Then this slaughter is merely cruel rather than obscene.

On Utopia, Dr. Rao suggests something is wrong with the bats’ navigation. Inside the temporal anomaly, the heavens would be virtually stationary. If they navigated by them… Enormous fiery ball! Floats across the sky! Driving them insane to the power of crazy time! Dr. Nemesis shouts.

Cyclops asks Storm to hide the sun. Doable, she decides as dark clouds cover the sky. “Doable?” Betsy asks. She’s been told some find her haughty. She is attempting to mitigate.

Foes defeated by the mere shade? Namor muses. He suspects this will be an unusual journey. Sharp, Hope agrees, he is not just a pretty face, is he? Somberly, Namor agrees that a complete compilation of his virtues would be a far lengthier list. Would it include great abs? Hope flirts. Yes, they would be documented, he announces sternly.

Cyclops orders them to can it and asks Danger what the X-Club has found out. Danger announces that primary analysis shows widespread traces of Celestial energies.

Cyclops figures it’s Sinister again and suggests they split up the team. Psylocke quickly points out she can sense nothing of Sinister here. If there is a Celestial involvement, it’s from another source. She is completely sure.

Cyclops believes her and suggests the next step. He asks Magik, who is just returning, if the civilians are clear. They are, and understanding staying clear is of importance in a way that only being attacked by a ravenous swarm can teach. Scott announces they are going in. He wants Danger above Tabula Rasa as a proxy for the science support. This is an alien environment. He wants moment by moment consultation on anything they find. Reluctantly, she agrees to being their satellite. Again.

Scott tells everyone else to take the scanning equipment. They go in teams of two. Before he can break them up, Colossus announces he is with his sister. Namor senses sentient life in the waters. He is the only suitable emissary. Hope has scuba and a harpoon. She’s coming with him. Magneto wishes Ms. Braddock’s company, leaving Storm and Cyclops.

Walking towards the jungle, Illyana tells her brother to consider this place. Destruction and creation, life and death, all tied together… they are not merely opposites. They are not alien to one another. It’s all part of life. Is she trying to make him feel better? he asks. Not particularly, Illyana replies. She’s trying to make him feel, period. Emotions can destroy us, but emotions are what makes and keeps us human. Being human is not a matter of your origins, it is a state of being. A choice. Trust her on this.

While he assures her he is in control of the Juggernaut, she teleports them. Oh my, he sighs when they arrive in a part of the jungle of indescribable beauty. That’s beautiful, he admits with a smile. Relieved, she hugs him.

Elsewhere in Tabula Rasa, Storm marvels at the lovely sounds made by vibrating crystal growths. Cyclops figures the crystals generate the sound which make other crystals vibrate and disintegrate and the particles grow. Music acting as pollination, Ororo muses. Hank would have loved it here. She repeats it when Scott doesn’t react. He knows and he didn’t make her his second just so she could guilt-trip him. No, but she likes to think of that as a perk.

Walking ahead ,Scott stresses he doesn’t enjoy the schism with the school. They were his friends. They meant everything to him. But it’s necessary. She agrees she thinks that’s true but, one day, goddess willing, it won’t be. And when that day arrives, she wants to make sure he recognizes it.

Suddenly, Cyclops falls down a hole and is gone. Soon, he arrives 3 miles away, falling into the mud. Note to self, he mutters, get Betsy to delete the memory of the last forty seconds. Suddenly, someone hits him and gathers the unconscious hero up.

In the Tabula Rasa river, Hope notes with all those weeds it’s like swimming in a rug. Is that it? she asks. The ecosystem is that developed that sentient life must be down here? Nothing like that, Namor replies. Then how can he tell someone’s down here? Namor knows these things! A moment later, a huge snake like being with giant teeth appears in front of them. There are times he wishes he was a touch less ineffable, Namor sighs.

On the north bank of Tabula Rasa, Psylocke tries to cut a swath through the jungle with her katana. Magneto muses that the chlorophyll analogue gathers exotic particles of the cosmic energy spectrum. Very interesting. Though he dare say she has equally fascinating things to share… She orders him to leave it be. He could, Magneto agrees. Or he could tell Scott everything about X-Force’s continued existence and her involvement. It all depends on her.

Beaten, she explains what happened. Warren… had problems. He was possessed by Apocalypse. He did this. It was a test bed for the whole planet. He wanted to jump-start evolution. She could have stopped him. She just had to put her blade an inch to the right. She didn’t, she let him live, and then Tabula Rasa happened. Her fault.

She continues cutting while Magneto muses that she thought she could save Angel. Did she? They saved his life, she spits bitterly, just not him. He’s a blank. There’s irony. This whole mess left two tabula rasas!

Magneto summarizes that she swapped 5000 human lives for one mutant one. Regrettable. But with less than 200 mutants on the planet, he can live with that. She begins to call him a monster. Please, he scoffs, she is on a secret assassination squad. She long lost the right to judge him. But his lips are sealed as long as she wasn’t foolish enough to leave a smoking gun. Her dark little secret is perfectly safe…

Or not. They find as they discover primitive humanoid beings working on a rock wall adorned with murals which depict among other things paintings of several X-Force members. The beings kneel down in front of them.

Magneto tries to decipher the murals. The sun races across the sky. It is the end of the world. When the world ended, the new gods (in this case Fantomex and Archangel) came and fought.

He goes back to older murals. A being in an astronaut suit, apparently an old god who lived in the sky and disappeared when the sun started to race across the sky.

Trying to sense their thoughts, Betsy agrees. She gets the phrase “The Immortal Man left the Heavens.” Then the new gods came. She finds another snippet about “the Savage.” She wonders what inspired this.

Magneto can hazard a guess and also speculate what the next panel in their little history is going to be... “The Immortal Man returns!” he announces as they look up to find said being hovering in the sky. And if he’s any judge of character, “gods old and new war!”

Characters Involved: 

Colossus, Cyclops, Danger, Hope, Magik, Magneto, Namor, Psylocke, Storm (all X-Men)

Dr. Nemesis, Dr. Kavita Rao (X-Club)

Captain America (Avenger)
Rescue workers
Immortal Man
Natives of Tabula Rasa

Story Notes: 

Tabula Rasa was created by Archangel and the Dark Beast. More of its creation can be seen in Uncanny X-Force #14-15.

Betsy, who is a member of the clandestine X-Force that Cyclops and his people don’t know about, had the chance to kill Archangel before that in Uncanny X-Force #14 and didn’t take it – hence her guilt.
Magneto knows about X-Force

The amnesiac Angel can be seen in Wolverine and the X-Men starting with issue #4.

Wolverine has for years impossibly managed to be a member of several teams at the same time (X-Men, X-Force, two Avengers Squads) while still having solo adventures as well.

Emma Frost was injured in issue # 1 in battle with Mr. Sinister where she lost her arm in diamond form.

The Serpent war took place in the Fear Itself limited series.

The fight between Fantomex and Archangel occurred in Uncanny X-Force #15.

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