Uncanny X-Men (4th series) #15

Issue Date: 
January 2017
Story Title: 

Cullen Bunn (writer), Greg Land & Ibrain Roberson (pencilers), Jay Leisten & Wade von Grawbadger (inkers), David Curiel & Jay David Ramos (colorists), Virtual Calligraphy's Joe Caramagna (letterer), Greg Land & David Curiel (cover artists), Chris Robinson (assistant editor), Daniel Ketchum (editor), Mark Paniccia (X-Men group editor), Axel Alonso (editor-in-chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)

X-Men created by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

Brief Description: 

Psylocke is on her own since splitting from Magneto and his X-Men team. She is using intel she gathered while on Magneto's team to take down threats that the X-Men haven't dealt with. Firstly, she takes out some Prime Sentinels, and once they have been defeated, she plots a course for her next quarry, seemingly unaware that she is being followed. In Cambodia, she defeats Sauron, who had a group of humans and mutants under his control, worshipping him. She defeats him with ease, and wonders if the intel Magneto had was because Sauron was a threat to be eliminated, or a pawn to be recruited? Psylocke arrives in San Francisco's Chinatown, and thinks that she could have joined Storms' X-Men, but that there is still too much work to be done. Psylocke locates a lab where Mutant Growth Hormone is being produced, linked to the Nasty Boys. She fights Gorgeous George, Hairbag and Slab and takes them out – another mission accomplished. But as Psylocke walks away, she is confronted by Mystique. They fight, and Psylocke is curious as to whether Magneto sent her to keep watch on, or assassinate her. Psylocke doesn't like Mystique, frustrated by how many times she has betrayed her teammates. Psylocke knows that Mystique's personality is worn down thanks to her constant shape-shifting, so she uses her telepathy to stabilize Mystique's psyche, making her trustworthy. Mystique is offended by Psylocke's manipulation, turning her into something she is not, and walks away, leaving Psylocke to wonder whether she sent Mystique back to Magneto as an even more valuable asset.

Full Summary: 

Baltimore, Maryland, where Betsy “Psylocke” Braddock moves with stealth through a run-down industrial area. She recalls that Magneto did not even try and stop her from leaving – that battle was already lost and he knew it, so he let her walk. She wonders if maybe that was his way of turning a “loss” to his advantage – maybe this is what he wanted all along. Betsy moves into one of the warehouses and tells herself that she is on her own, no longer one of Magneto's X-Men – but she still serves his purpose. 'At least the same dirt sticks to the skin... caked under the nails...' Betsy thinks to herself as she is suddenly confronted by a group of Omega Sentinels. She slices one of them with her sword, while her psi-knife is ready to protect herself from another. Betsy knows that the Omega Sentinels are human cyborgs infected with murder-tech and programmed to hate. The large Omega Sentinel identifies Psylocke as an intruder with maximum threat level, and states that core command demands her immediate termination. 'Kill her ass!' the Omega Sentinel orders.

Betsy continues to fight them as she remembers that the Omega Sentinels vanished but resurfaced recently – and violently, coming back when mutants were at their lowest. She recalls Magneto predicting as much for dozens of potential threats. The X-Men vanished, fleeing the Terrigen Mists, fleeing persecution. The X-Men were the antibodies that held back the hate and violence, and with them gone, even for a short time, their enemies started to thrive. 'The Omega Sentinels revere the Terrigen Mists that poison my people. Cyborg butchers with religion. Scary stuff'.

Betsy slices off the hand of one of the Omega Sentinels, slams another with psychic energy, and punches another right in the face, before shoving her sword through the chest of another. She stands over their bodies and tells herself that the Omega Sentinels haven't cornered the market of being the stuff of nightmares – they know fear, too.

The large Omega Sentinel confronts Psylocke and tells her to heed the will of the Mist. 'Your k-kind are finished!' the Omega Sentinel announces, suggesting she offer herself to central command, and then she will know peace. 'Not bloody likely' Betsy replies, before pointing out that she has never heard a Sentinel stutter before. She releases some psychic energy at the Sentinel, asking it if that is some sort of glitch in its system, some disconnect between its cybernetics and the big brain it carries around. 'Or are you afraid?' Betsy asks, unaware that an Omega Sentinel is nearby, watching her. 'Find the Sentinels. Destroy the Sentinels. It's a play right out of Magneto's manifesto' Betsy decides, getting into a small aircraft that is parked nearby, she thinks that at least in this instance the dirty work feels right.

'So. Who's next?' Betsy asks, touching a control panel that brings up several images on a screen – Mr Sinister, the X-Cutioner, a Reaver. Her jet takes to the sky as she reminds herself that during her time at War Room X, she gathered as much intel as she could, gleaned bits and pieces, potential targets from Magneto's naughty lisst. She wishes should could shake the feeling that Magneto only allowed her to find the information he wanted to divulge, and as her jet speeds through the air, she is followed by another small jet.

Later, Betsy is in Cambodia, where she is battling Dr Karl Lykos who is in his Sauron form. The winged villain holds Betsy over an old structure, where worshippers look up at the battle. Sauron tells Psylocke that she should not have come here, as this is a holy place and that the mutants here are under his protection – and control! Betsy reminds herself that Sauron is a energy vampire, a hypnotist, a Jekyll and reptile Hyde – a mouthy dinosaur with a god complex. Sauron drops Psylocke, warning her that to try and strike at him here is to stir his wrath! Betsy gathers herself, and flips to the ground, while telling Sauron that he has a nice set up here – gathered a flock of humans and mutants, using his mesmerism to keep them docile while he feeds. Betsy leaps towards Sauron's followers and tells her foe 'That's some feat, you know... being so foul that your transformation into a monster is the least creepy thing about you'. Sword ready, Betsy warns Sauron that the beating she is about to give him, he deserves it.

Sauron hovers above Psylocke and tells her: 'You will not harm me! You – will serve!' Betsy remembers how she used to like telling people about her psychic knife – she would get on about how it was the focused totality of her telepathic might. She wonders if it is because she spent so much time with Magneto, but sometimes she has to stop herself from grandstanding like that. She doesn't need to tell Sauron about the knife's power – she lets him feel it as he dives down towards her, mouth open wide. Betsy shoves her psi-knife into his mouth and through his head, causing him to scream. 'Another name crossed off the hit list' Betsy thinks to herself, unsure why Sauron's name was on the list in the first place. She look around at his followers, who appear confused and disorientated, and wonders if Sauron was a threat to be eliminated, or another pawn to be recruited? 'Is there really a difference in Magneto's eyes?' Betsy asks herself.

San Francisco's Chinatown: Betsy walks down a busy street where people are going about their business. She thinks that she could have joined Storm's X-Men, but knows that there is still too much that needs to be done – and she still gets a perverse thrill from the idea of preemptive strikes, but she is no longer willing to dance across the minefield of Magneto's secrets. 'Stopping the enemies of mutant kind was not enough for him' Betsy thinks to herself, recalling how, in order to bolster his forces, Magneto has made deals with the likes of the Hellfire Club, Fantomex, and God knows who else. He is putting together a network of allies – but that network is full of “friends” who might be more dangerous than the enemies they face.

Betsy approaches an alleyway and starts to walk down it, where two men are standing outside a door. One of them tells her to turn around, that she doesn't want to be here. Betsy tosses the trench coat she was wearing aside, and walks towards the men. 'I'm not messing around with you. Go back to wherever you came from, before I have to -' one of the men begins, but Betsy gets past him and forces the door open – revealing a warehouse where Mutant Growth Hormone is being produced.

The gang members inside turn to Betsy, who reminds herself that MGH gives non-mutants powers, and gives mutants power boosts. The MGH is harvested from mutant cells – living and dead, and Betsy recalls that Magneto has used it before. Some of the men in the warehouse look scared, while Betsy decides that it isn't too hard to imagine Magneto wanting to control this lab as an asset, rather than destroy it. She wonders if she should give him the benefit of the doubt, but decides she would rather take away that option.

Betsy leaps down into the warehouse, where three of the Nasty Boys rush towards her. Gorgeous George extends his arm to try and grab her: 'Not nice! Not nice! Do we come into your place of business and start breaking #$%&?' he asks, while Betsy kicks Hairbag in the face. 'I've got her!' Slab declares as he tries to punch Betsy, who recalls that the Nasty Boys used to run for Mr Sinister. She wonders if they still do.

Gorgeous George cries out in pain as Betsy uses a psychic attack to keep him back, deciding that perhaps they work for someone else. She hates thinking that way, and hates Magneto for making her think that way. A brief mental connection formed when Betsy psi-blasted George, and she realizes she is just being paranoid. 'Breathe deep, pretty lady!' Hairbag calls out as he rushes towards Betsy, a toxic gas flowing from his mouth. Betsy is relieved that the Nasty Boys are not working for Magneto – not knowingly, at least. It doesn't make her any less angry, though, and she takes it out on them in spades – slamming her psi-knife through Hairbag, and telekinetically moving his gas towards Slab. 'Toxic breath!' Slab gasps, as he breathes it in and he falls backwards, slamming his head into a table.

The lab is wrecked, and the supply is ruined. The gang members rush to the door to escape – they have had enough. A bald man looks back at Betsy, unimpressed. Betsy is still not satisfied and turns to Hairbag, who snarls 'All right, witch! You and me! Gonna gut you – and good!' 'God bless the Nasty Boys' Betsy smiles.

Soon, Betsy walks down the alleyway, dragging the tip of her sword along the ground. She hangs her head, then suddenly looks up as the bald man from the lab appears behind her. 'No. I don't think I'm going to let you follow me anymore' Betsy announces, turning around, she holds the tip of her sword to the bald man's face. 'Oh, that's rich. Gonna pretend you knew I've been tailing you all along?' the bald man asks. 'That make you feel better, Psylocke? That give your confidence a little boost?' the man asks, when suddenly, his form begins to shift: 'I bet you think that'll throw me off my game, yeah? Well, that won't work, honey. You've had this coming for too long... and I'm just so damned excited that I get to put you in your place!' Mystique declares as she spins around and kicks the sword from Betsy's hand, and knocks Betsy back with the same kick.

'Older than the hills, but she moves more quickly than I ever have' Betsy thinks to herself about Mystique, who has decades of experience never dulled by age. 'No you don't' Mystique exclaims as Betsy reaches for the sword, but Mystique grows some tendrils which flow out and grab the  sword. Betsy looks up at Mystique and knows that her shape-changing physiology makes her agile, strong and completely mad. 'Let's go, ninja-girl! Let's see what you've got!' Mystique grins, raising the sword to Betsy, who decides that Mystique is unpredictable – weaponized schizophrenia. 'But we all have our tricks' Betsy tells herself as she releases her psi-knife, extending it longer than usual, she raises it to Mystique, who uses Betsy's sword against the psi-knife. 'Not bad. I can see why Magneto thinks so highly of you' Mystique remarks, before kicking Betsy in her stomach, and telling her that she bet's she is curious, and would love to know whether she was sent to watch her, or watch out for her – or to kill her.

'What I want to know... is why Magneto's so willing to surround himself with people he can't trust!' Psylocke replies, shoving her knee into Mystique's stomach, causing Mystique to fall to the ground. Betsy stands over her, psi-knife at the ready and declares 'Every time he brings someone like you into the fold... he puts himself at risk... he endangers the people working with him... and he jeopardizes the cause!'

Mystique asks Psylocke what she is going to do, and suggests that perhaps Magneto just has a thing for wild cards. 'That's just it, Mystique. You're not a wild card at all. You always betray your teammates' Psylocke points out, adding 'The only thing about you that can be trusted... is that you can't be trusted'. 'And yet... you're the one who turned on him!' Mystique reminds Psylocke, shifting her form into a monster, she roars and leaps up at Psylocke, her large mouth, full of sharp teeth clamping down just inches away from Psylocke's face.

Betsy knows that Mystique is resistant to telepathy, something to do with constant, subtle shifts in her brain tissue. But Betsy is able to pick up traces of her thoughts, chaotic, random, changing along with her physical form. Mystique slams her monstrous arm into Betsy, who falls backwards. Betsy knows that her defenses are weakened, and recent psychic trauma has left her exposed. Betsy can feel Mystique's volatility at work, her physical changes twisting her personality. And, what Betsy never expected – she feels how much it torments Mystique. Mystique reverts to her default form, 'What... what are you...?' she calls out in anguish, as Betsy telepathically pulls thoughts from Mystique's mind, discovering that Mystique wasn't sent her to assassinate her – it was her own decision to try, Magneto just wanted her to follow and not engage. 'But it hurts, doesn't it? Your personality... always shifting... changing... it would drive a sane person mad... never knowing who you are... what you stand for... what you want' Psylocke declares to a wide-eyed Mystique.

'But I can fix it. I can stabilize your ID, ego, and super-ego. I can forge pathways to help make you... whole' Psylocke announces. Mystique looks calm, then asks 'Whu... what did you do to me?' Betsy informs Mystique that she made her trustworthy, at least, as trustworthy as she can be. 'Consider those radical mood swings of yours officially curbed' Betsy adds. Mystique frowns at Betsy and tells her that she had no right, no right to turn her into something she is not. 'You're still the same loathsome piece of trash you always were, Mystique... only you're in a little more control of just how repugnant you choose to be' Betsy explains.

Betsy watches as Mystique walks down the alleyway. She can sense that Mystique still wants to kill her, and decides that if she wants to chase that feeling, she will indulge her. 'Next time' Mystique calls back over her shoulder. Betsy believes her and watches as Mystique shifts form into an elderly woman. 'She won't change her mind, at least not due to shapeshifting' Betsy thinks to herself, and is left to ponder the question Mystique posed – why did Magneto Mystique to follow her? Was she a spy? An assassin? Betsy wonders if she just sent Mystique back to Magneto – as an even more valuable asset?


Characters Involved: 


Gorgeous George, Hairbag, Slab (all Nasty Boys)
Omega Sentinels
Sauron's followers

MGH gang

Images on Monitors:
Mr. Sinister
Unidentifed Reaver

Story Notes: 

Gorgeous George, Hairbag and Slab last appeared in X-Factor (1st series) #104-105.

Written By: