Uncanny X-Men (3rd series) #14

Issue Date: 
January 2014
Story Title: 

Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Chris Bachalo (penciler & colorist), Tim Twonsend, Jaime Mendoza, Al Vey, Mark Irwin and Victor Olazaba (inkers), VC’s Joe Caramagna (letterer & production), Bachalo & Townsend (cover artists), Xander Jarowey (assistant editor), Jordan D. White (associate editor), Nick Lowe (editor), Axel Alonso (editor-in-chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)

Brief Description: 

During a training session, Cyclops gets into an argument with Benjamin Deeds, telling him he is useless in battle. Later, Emma Frost decides to give Benjamin’s power a thorough testing and realizes that part of his power is to make others trust him and feel good. Magik teleports them to a casino in Atlantic City for Benjamin to test his powers under real life conditions. After some weak starts, Benjamin gets the hang of it and proves Emma’s theory right. Cyclops tests him by having Benjamin deliver a package to a secret SHIELD office. He manages to charm his way inside without any problems, only getting into trouble when Dugan reads Cyclops’ message. However, Magik teleports Benjamin to safety. Cyclops accepts him as an X-Man but reminds him he still needs training.

Full Summary: 

A rocky, muddy hillside which the unfortunate students of the new Xavier school have to climb in the rain. How is this all going to work again? Fabio Medina gasps. Eva Bell, who is ahead of him, replies she doesn’t know. She’s not in charge. The original teenage Angel announces he’d like to know that as well. Triage addresses Cyclops, who is standing at the top with Emma Frost and Magik, asking how it’s going to work with the original X-Men staying with them at the school. Are they all going to train together? Less talk, more climb, Cyclops replies strictly, and no powers.

Emma Frost, beside him, is the only one with an umbrella. Emma agrees with the kids, how is it going to work with the original X-Men joining them? Illyana pipes up. Is she the only one who thinks having a teenage Jen Grey here is hilarious? Emma and Scott glare at her. Too soon? Illyana asks mildly.

They’ll deal with it, Cyclops replies curtly. That’s what they do. Really? Emma asks sarcastically and asks him not to handle her.

The exhausted students continue the climb. Benjamin Deeds is having the hardest time. This is impossible! he groans. Clearly it‘s not, Cyclops points out, as the others have already reached the top. Fabio protests he’s going to vomit and Angel complains about how long it will take to clean his wings. Eva offers a hand to Ben, but Cyclops slaps it aside. If he can’t do this simple task, he has no place on the X-Men.

Angrily, Benjamin forges ahead protesting about this ‘no powers’ nonsense. Cyclops uses them every time he leaves the school and they don’t even work! Cyclops retorts Benjamin needs this training more than anyone.

Having reached the top, Benjamin angrily asks what that’s supposed to mean. It means how would Ben’s powers help him today? His powerset is passive at best. And he can’t pull himself out of the simplest situations. What good is he? Cyclops throws him to the ground. What the #*%$ was that? Ben shouts. His turn, Cyclops replies. Like he isn’t dying to hit him. He’s Scott Summers, Benjamin points out. Everyone is dying to hit him. Good one, Emma comments. No powers, Cyclops replies, one shot. Come on. Show him.

Benjamin tries and ends up on the ground again. Are they done? Emma asks. That’s why he needs training, Cyclops announces. Why they all need to train. When they come for them they have to be ready. When they come for their fellow mutants they have to be ready. Benjamin is not.

A shower later, Christopher tries to comfort Benjamin, pointing out Cyclops respects him for trying. He’s sure, Benjamin replies. He appreciates it. He looks at Cyclops and Magneto discussing something below. He goes to his room to get a shock.

Emma Frost, in questionably youthful clothing, sits there waiting for him and notes he’s dropped his towel. She explains she’s been thinking about him. With all the drama, she fears, he is the student who got the short stick. His powers are not as demonstrative but a far more subtle set.

Holding his towel in front of him, Benjamin stutters that he knows. Emma continues, noting that he believes he doesn’t belong here. He admits he doesn’t know what he has to offer. She orders him to look at her. That thing he does where he vaguely becomes the person closest to him… She wonders if he can do more. As he begins to automatically copy her, he figures that’s wishful thinking. Emma moves closer and announces he doesn’t push himself enough because he doesn’t know what he should push for. Her closeness makes him uncomfortable.

Suddenly, she senses something. She figures his power has a chemical component. He just released something. Pleasant. Potent. His entire powerset seems to be to make someone feel very good. He may end up being the most useful person on the team. She orders him to get dressed; they are going out. He’s exhausted, Benjamin protests. She corrects him: he is mopey and confused. And he needs to learn to control his abilities. She tells him he can pick the place. He suggests Atlantic City.

One teleport later in a casino:
Emma groans that Galactus should eat this place. She orders Ben to follow her. She soon spots a girl engrossed in some reading at a bar and tells him to convince her to go out with him. Without changing shape completely, just enough to make her feel good. He protests she is an innocent bystander. He doesn’t want to and points out he is gay. What does that have to do with anything? Emma asks. Ben tries to do as instructed and the woman soon walks off, disgusted. This may take some time, Emma sighs.

The woman returns with a guard, who angrily asks if he was harassing this woman, who calls him a creep and a sicko. Panicked, Benjamin calls for Miss Frost before running away.

Standing at the bar, Illyana remarks he needs a lot of work. Emma reminds her they all needed practice. Magik criticizes he is not even trying to use his powers to get out of it. It hasn’t occurred to him yet, Emma points out. Give him a minute. She’s so patient all of a sudden, Magik observes. Emma informs her she is growing as a person. Wanna rob the place? Illyana asks. Maybe after, Emma decides.

Benjamin has gotten rid of his pursuers. He sees a girl reading some books about film directors and taking notes. Stanley Kubrick’s Napoleon, he addresses her. He keeps hoping someday someone will make the film the way Spielberg made A.I. Let’s hope they do a better job, she replies and tells him not to sit down. She’s on her break and-- She looks up. Benjamin has partially morphed into her. He apologizes. He just never gets to talk Kubrick with anyone. She introduces herself as Gemma. Jack he claims. Jack Torrance? she jokes and they begin to chat.

Illyana is impressed. Emma tells her this could be a good thing for them. What now? Magik asks. Tell Summers, Emma decides. But first… more practice.

And so he practices, morphing into and getting close to all kinds of people successfully.

A clothes change later, Emma leads him to a building in the financial district. She hands him a letter and tells him to deliver it to Timothy Dugan on the top floor. If he does this without so much as raising a suspicious eyebrow, she will buy him a car. What is she going to do? She is going to stand over here and wait for him to get arrested and pretend she doesn’t know him.

At the reception. Benjamin announces he has a package for Timothy Dugan. When he doesn’t even know the company Dugan works for, the man helps him and gives him the info.

In the elevator, he looks up to see a camera installed. He addresses the receptionist upstairs (while adopting her look) that he has a package for Mr. Dugan. He is told he can leave it here. He is supposed to deliver it personally, he insists. The receptionist, an elderly kindly looking lady, makes a phone call while Benjamin compliments her brooch.

He walks onward and interrupts Dugan in a phone call with his wife or girlfriend. Again he adapts his look. Ben hands him the letter and leaves.

Dugan opens it and reads:
Someone in your organization is creating mutant hunting Sentinels and trying to kill my people.
Stop them, or we are going to war.
Yours truly,

A moment later, the nice receptionist – as well as another SHIELD agent – surround Benjamin with guns. Is he alone? What is his name? Who does he work for? Dugan joins them and wonder how he knew they are here.

Suddenly, demons appear around them and disappear as quickly… but then so does, leaving the SHIELD agents to wonder what just happened.

Benjamin has been teleported away to headquarters by Magik. Understandably, he freaks out about Emma sending him into a SHIELD compound. How did they do? Cyclops asks Emma, who announces his chemicals scrambled the tech, made the agents dizzy and he walked right in. He also got caught, Illyana adds. Only because of the note, Emma defends him.

What the hell, lady, Ben shouts at Emma who replies, and that’s how a guy like him can become one of the X-Men. Well done. Cyclops agrees. He still can’t fight for /#%*, he adds. Training’s at eight a.m. Get some sleep, X-Man.

Does he get a cool X-Man name? Benjamin asks. Morph, Emma decides. Benjamin refuses. They’ll work on it, she replies. Too bad Goldballs is taken.

Characters Involved: 

Cyclops, Emma Frost, Magik (X-Men based at the New Xavier School)
Angel (original), Benjamin Deeds, Goldballs, Hijack, Stepford Cuckoos, Tempus, Triage (students)

‘Dum-Dum’ Dugan, India Bradley (agents of SHIELD)
Financial district employees

Casino staff & patrons

Story Notes: 

"Napoleon" was the great movie Stanley Kubrick had planned but was never made. A lot of the research for that film went into the production of his movie Barry Lyndon.

Jack Torrance is a character from Kubrick’s movie The Shining (based on Stephen King’s novel) who eventually goes on a murderous rampage.

The movie AI was finished by Stephen Spielberg after Kubrick’s death.

Benjamin signs the package as Scott Pilgrim, referring to Bryan Lee O’Malley’s comic character.

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