Uncanny X-Men (5th series) #20

Issue Date: 
August 2019
Story Title: 
We Have Always Been, part 4

Matthew Rosenberg (writer), Salvador Larroca (artist), GURU-eFX (colorist), Virtual Calligraphy's Joe Caramagna (letterer), Whilce Portacio & Erick Arciniega (cover artists), Jeff Powell (title page designer), Chris Robinson (assistant editor), Jordan D White (editor), CB Cebulski (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: 

Three days ago, the X-Men are inspecting the Cloisters in Washington Heights, where they find the dead bodies of the Nasty Boys. The X-Men are then confronted by the Upstarts, who it seems had killed the Nasty Boys as part of a game in the last days of the mutants. A fight then ensues, during which Shinobi Shaw cryptically references Emma Frost, before he commits suicide. Two days ago, at Hatchi Towers where the Dark Beast informs the X-Men that he has “fixed” the mutant vaccine by rendering it obsolete. Havok and Cyclops argue about the Dark Beast once again, with Havok vowing that the X-Men will not carry out whatever diabolical plan the Dark Beast has come up with. Moonstar reminds Havok that the X-Men now vote on plans, and the Dark Beast explains that his is for the vaccine to be made airborne, which will attach itself to the “cure” that Callahan is using on mutants around the world, and disable its ability to bond, leaving the x-gene free to activate. The X-Men vote in favor of using the vaccine, and Magik and Banshee proceed to travel the world to release it into the air. Somewhere, a young boy is injected with the mutant cure, his mutation suddenly materializes. Now, Wolverine and Kwannon are in the Hellfire Club garage, confronting Emma, Mystique, Sinister, Elixir and Marrow. A battle ensues, with Hellfire Club soldiers keeping Wolverine busy, while Kwannon battles Mystique. Marrow lunges at Wolverine, forcing him out into the open, where dozens of O*N*E soldiers are waiting for him, and blast him with a flame-thrower. Cyclops, Havok, Moonstar and Magik are in Washington Square Park discussing how they have not been able to locate anyone else on their list since the incident with the Upstarts. Captain America and Dr Nemesis appear and confront Cyclops about the vaccine, informing him that give children have fallen into comas after being vaccinated, and tests have determined that something in the air is causing the reaction. Moonstar assures Captain America that that was not what they intended. She tells Cap that his assistance over the last few weeks has been invaluable, and hopes that he can continue to trust them. But Captain America is confused – he hasn't seen Cyclops since the Empire State incident. The X-Men realize someone has been impersonating Captain America, and Cyclops instructs Magik to grab Dr Nemesis and teleport them away, which she does. Outside the Hellfire Club, Callahan has arrived to supervise the clean up. Sinister is taken away by the O*N*E, while the injured Wolverine is taken away by a medical team. Emma tells Callahan that she doesn't know where Kwannon or Mystique have vanished to. Callahan orders the Hellfire Club to be secured and claims it as property of the O*N*E. The X-Men confront the Dark Beast about what he did, to which the Dark Beast tells the X-Men he did what they asked – made it so that parents will never subject their children to the horrible “solution” of a mutant cure ever again. The X-Men are shocked by what the Dark Beast has done and Magik teleports him into the ceiling, killing him. Havok argues with Magik, while Dr Nemesis looks through the Dark Beast's research and informs the X-Men that he can help the children who have fallen into comas, but they need to move quickly. Cyclops tells Nemesis to proceed, before he receives a telepathic message from Emma, announcing that she needs the X-Men!


Full Summary: 

I'm sorry I used you. You always did what you thought was right and so did I. And if I am right none of this will matter. The world will no longer need the X-Men. I don't know what happens if I'm wrong.

At a clinic, 'You're sure it's safe?' a woman asks a murse, who starts to inject her son with something from a needle. The nurse tells the woman that a very small percentage of people experience a slight allergic reaction around the injection site, some swelling and redness, but it usually passes within a day or two. 'It feels hot' the boy remarks. The nurse explains to the boy that that is just the vaccine entering his bloodstream, but the boy touches his arm and tells his mother that it really hurts. Suddenly, large blisters begin to form on the boy's arms, 'Oh my God! What is happening?' his mother gasps, as the boy suddenly vomits. 'What's happening to him?' his mother asks, while the nurse rushes to the door and calls out for Doctor Howard, 'Something's gone wrong!' she exclaims.

three days ago:

The moon glows over The Cloisters, in Washington Heights, New York. The X-Men search the historic buildings, and Jamie Madrox the Multiple Man tells his teammates that nobody has heard from the Nasty Boys in years, and asks why they would reappear now – and do it so clumsily. Dani Moonstar touches the ground and points out that there is no limit to what desperate measures people will consider when their backs are to the wall – so if these really are the last days of mutants, they can't fault the Nasty Boys for wanting to suit up and fight back. 'We're doing the same thing' Dani adds. 'I think things are going worse for the Nasty Boys...' someone calls out, as Hope Summers and Scott Summers a.k.a. Cyclops stand over the motionless bodies of Gorgeous George, Ramrod, Hairbag and Ruckus. 'Well, that's one more off our list...' Hope points out, as Cyclops tells his team to take defensive formations, as whatever killed the Nasty Boys might still be here.

'We are still here, yes' Fabian Cortez announces as he steps out from the shadows. 'Cortez! Why'd you kill them? They didn't deserve that!' Madrox exclaims. 'Honestly? They were nothing more than bait' Cortez smiles. 'And they outlived their purpose' Shinobi Shaw adds. 'I knew I smelled a rat' Alex Summers a.k.a. Havok mutters, to which Shinobi tells Havok that he wounds him. 'I knew you'd all come running if you thought the Nasty Boys were back. And surprise! They aren't!' Shinobi jokes. 'And that's when the gun begins' Siena Blaze calls out as she walks up behind Cyclops, Cain Marko a.k.a. Juggernaut and Illyana Rasputin a.k.a. Magik. Cyclops frowns at Siena and asks if the Upstarts have decided to play their ridiculous games again. 'Seems like a poor time to attack mutants for sport' he adds. Trevor Fitzroy makes himself known as he tells Cyclops that Ms Moonstar was right – these are the last days of mutants – so what better game is there than hunting the most endangered and most dangerous mutants of all – the X-Men?

The X-Men are now completely surrounded by the four Upstarts, and Cyclops tells Fitzroy that if they want a fight, then the X-Men are happy to oblige. 'What kind of monsters hunt their own kind?' Hope Summers asks as she clings to Juggernaut's back, while Fabian Cortez leaps towards them: 'I could ask you the same question, girl. Isn't that what you X-Men have been doing this whole time?' he asks. Madrox confronts Shinobi Shaw, while Siena Blaze kicks Havok in the face. Moonstar readies a psychic arrow, and Cyclops fires an optic blast. Magik leaps into the air with her Soulsword, and Sean Cassidy a.k.a. Banshee stands near her. 'You're in over your head, demon girl!' Siena exclaims as she blasts some energy towards Magik, who blocks the attack with a spell, and asks Siena why she is backing away. 'Did you idiots even have a plan here?' Juggernaut asks as he knocks Cortez aside with ease, while Madrox and two dupes find themselves drained of energy by Fitzroy.

Moonstar defends herself nearby, but Fitzroy tells her that she will find psychic shields will render her useless in this fight. 'What about me?' Havok asks as he blasts Fitzroy backwards with a surge of energy. Moonstar goes over to Havok and reminds him that he is still not recovered from his powers almost tearing him apart. 'So far so good' Havok replies. Siena stands over Magik and tells her that she is such a young girl, and so powerful, yet she wastes it – but with training, she could be theire equal. 'But instead, what do  you do?' Siena asks. 'I made friends' Magik replies as Cyclops knocks Siena over with an optic blast. Shinobi Shaw remarks that evolution is a funny thing and that the X-Men never think about what it means. 'Our genes have changed – adapted to to help us survive. But did you ever consider what we are trying to survive?' he asks as Banshee unleashes a sonic scream against him, and Hope moves in closer, before the other X-Men close in, and Cyclops tells Shinobi that he is surrounded.

'Humanity. We were built to survive humanity, and we failed' Shinobi declares, adding that there is no adaptation that will stop them from being crushed under boots. 'And now that they use us as weapons, there is no hope'. Cyclops asks Shinobi if that is his excuse for attacking fellow mutants – that humanity is coming for them anyway? Shinobi raises one of his hands and remarks that he is sure Cyclops won't understand, but that he was trying to protect the ones who are left from the bastard Hellfire Club, from the X-Men. 'We're all her chess pieces now, but at least I can say I did everything in my power to knock the board over. She won't get her Nasty Boys...and she won't get me' Shinobi declares, before making his hand intangible, 'Tell your master that Shinobi Shaw never knelt!' he adds, before plunging his hand into his head, his brain – he then keels over in front of the horrified X-Men.

two days ago:

Inside Hitachi Towers, the headquarters of the X-Men, Manhattan. The Dark Beast moves on his spider-like legs through a laboratory. 'I don't know if I can make myself sound stupid enough for you all to understand. I fixed it' the Dark Beast declares, holding up a vial. 'Fixed what?' Dani asks him as she, Illyana, Madrox, Scott, Alex, Juggernaut, Banshee, Hope and Warlox stand before him. 'The dreaded vaccine. The mutant cure. I have rendered it obsolete' the Dark Beast boasts. Dani asks him how he did that, to which the Dark Beast tells her that she is struggling with the concept, that he thinks the science behind it might overwhelm her. 'Try me' Dani replies. Dark Beast reveals that he took a sample of the vaccine, to which Dani interrupts him and asks him where he got the sample from. 'Scotty gave it to me' Dark Beast replies, pointing at Cyclops. 'You gave this maniac a biological weapon that can be used against us?' Alex asks his brother.

'In case you missed it, it already was used against us. The vaccine is in use throughout the entire developed world. A generation of mutants – maybe all future generations of mutants – has been eradicated' Scott declares. 'So you thought “How can I make this worse”?' Madrox asks. Scott tells him that he thought their backs were against the wall and every option should be explored. 'I'd be happy to hear your plan, Jamie' Scott adds. 'No, you're probably right. Arming our psychotic enemies seems like the way to go' Jamie responds. The Dark Beast tells the X-Men that while their lack of faith in him hurts, he must remind them that Scotty didn't give him the power to actually act on this – Warlox here monitored him 24 hours a day to make sure of that. 'I have just worked to give you an avenue of action. Feel free to ignore it if you don't trust me' Dark Beast remarks.

'Thanks for your permission, McCoy. Now that that's settled, we should discuss -' Alex begins, before Hope interrupts him: “settled?” she asks. 'Yes. We're not doing...whatever this is' Alex tells her.  Hope frowns as she declares that she knows the Summers brothers like to decide what is best for everyone else, but she recalls them saying that they vote on things like this. Dani tells Alex that Hope is right, and that they can't throw out the rules just because he is worried about the outcome – so they have to vote on this. 'He's a monster!' Alex exclaims. 'A monster who cured Illyana, Shan and myself. As painful as it may be, we have to be examining every option at this point' Dani points out. Madrox mutters that this is crazy, to which Dani assures him that she is uncomfortable with a lot of this herslef, but that they don't even know what it is yet, so they should hear McCoy's plan and go from there. 'Fine. But you can count my vote as a “hell no” right from now. No matter what he says' Madrox frowns.

McCoy tells the X-Men that he apologizes for his tone before, and claims that he uses humor as a defense mechanism when he feels vulnerable, but it really is quite elegant, if he can say so himself. The Dark Beast continues, stating that the vaccine is a really simple virus, that it attaches itself to proteins in their genes, specifically the x-gene, and smothers them while it tries to feed. He reveals that it is harmless to those of them whose genes have already mutated, but deadly to the genes of children in that crucial moment when their x-genes activate. The Dark Beast claims that what his anti-vaccine does is attack to their virus before it can attache to the x-gene, that it inhibits its ability to bond – basiclaly, he feeds the vaccine so that it doesn't smother the x-gene, leaving them free to activate. 'I can show you all the data and tests, but basically...I cured the cure' the Dark Beast smirks, adding that all it needs now is a delivery system.

'Oh, I'm sure we can convince every parent in the world to let them inject this stuff into their kids' Alex remarks, but the Dark Beast tells Alex that he misunderstands, as always – because he created this anti-vaccine to be an airborne, photosynthetic, asexually replicating protein – no one needs to inject it anywhere. The Dark Beast adds that if it is placed in a few key places in the upper atmosphere around the globe, within a week the vaccine will never work again. 'We just need someone who can fly' the Dark Beast points out.

And so, Magik begins teleporting Banshee around the world, as the Irish mutant soars across the  land, releasing the anti-vaccine across the planet.


The Hellfire Club's garage, the Upper East Side, where Wolverine and Kwannon confront the Hellfire Club – Emma Frost, Mystique, Elixir and Marrow. Sinister is with them. 'I know you put a lot of work into messing with my head, Emma -' Logan a.k.a. Wolverine begins, to which Emma interrupts him, reminding him that his head was a disaster before she got there. 'Well, I've got a psychic on my side and it's all coming back now, sweetheart' Logan declares. Emma admits that she didn't anticipate Miss Braddock's sexy side coming back to life and sticking her nose into her handiwork. Wolverine reminds Emma that she was an X-Man once, and so she should always be preparednfor crazy $#%& to ruin her plans – and for people to come looking to cut her head off. 'I hope you got more than Mystique, Marrow and Elixir to protect you' Logan tells Emma, who smiles and announces that she does, as she motions to dozens of Hellfire Club guards that rush into the garage.

Wolverine roars as he leaps towards the guards, while Emma smiles and suggests to Mystique, her White King, that they let the guards do their job. 'They're getting murdered!' Mystique retorts. 'That is their job' Emma points out. 'You plan ends here!' Kwannon calls out in her native Japanese as she rushes past several guards, and races towards Emma, Mystique, Elixir and Marrow – but as her blade is about to strike Emma, the White King switches her body to her diamond form. Emma smirks and tells Kwannon that she thought she would like her more without that annoying princess living in her head – but she doesn't. Mystique leaps at Kwannon, but as she brings a sword down, Kwannon blocks the sword, 'Nice strike, but not fast enough' she states, while Marrow looks on. Mystique moves back and remarks that she can feel Kwannon trying to probe her mind, trying to predict her moves.

The two woman fight as Msytique begins to rapidly shape-shift, first into Lady Deathstrike, admitting that Kwannon is probably better than her, but if she is going to cheat, then Raven can match her every step. Mystique switches to Elektra and kicks Kwannon in the face, before lunging towards the skilled fighter in the form of the six-armed Spiral. Kwannon dodges the attack, but as she leans in to strike, Mystique switches into Kwannon herself, boasting that she can just become her. Kwannon gives no reaction, and Mystique finds this interesting, remarking that usually being attacked by your own body has more of an effect. 'Maybe I just picked the wrong you' Mystique suggests as she switches into the form that Betsy Braddock a.k.a. Psylocke spend many years in. This catches Kwannon off guard, 'Thought so' Mystique smiles as she shoves a sword into the shocked Kwannon's shoulder.

Sinister and Emma watch Wolverine battle the guards, and Sinister tells Emma that he loved what she has been doing with her little puppet show, that it looks fantastically fun, and apologizes if his getting involved complicated things – especially because it looks like she was about to spectacularly blunder this on her own – and he has longed to watch that. 'What did you do, you pathetic little man?' Emma scowls, before Marrow leaps at Wolverine and shoves him through a window – they end up outside the Hellfire Club on street level. Wolverine swirls around and strikes his claws across Marrow's stomach, causing the younger mutant to keel over. Logan then turns as Emma, Mystique and Elixir arrive outside and Logan tells Elixir that the rest of them aren't worth his time, and he should save Marrow instead, as he has to gut his boss.

Suddenly, dozens of Office of National Emergency soldiers surround Wolverine, 'Halt! This building and its inhabitants are under the protection of the O*N*E!' a soldier calls out. 'Congrats, Emma. Didn't think you could do it, but this is a new low' Wolverine snarls, growling as he lunges towards Emma, only to be set ablaze by several soldiers who use a flame thrower against him.

Meantime, in Washington Square Park, Manhattan, civilians go about their business while Alex, Dani, Scott and Illyana sit on two park benches. Dani announces that they have no more leads after the Upstarts incident, and everyone else on their list has vanished. 'They'll reappear' Scott tells her. 'And if they don't?' Dani asks. Scott admits that he doesn't know, and remarks that he hates to do it, but it might be time to call Rogers and see if he has any information. 'Don't bother' Steve Rogers a.k.a. Captain America calls out as he approaches the X-Men, accompanied by Doctor Nemesis. The X-Men turn to the new arrivals, and Scott asks them what they are doing here. 'I think you know, Scott' Cap replies. 'Actually I have no idea' Scott replies.

Cap states that he was worried when Cyclops came back – as Cyclops has made rash decisions before. He admits that they don't always see eye to eye. 'But if I'd know you were capable of this -' Cap begins, to which Scott gets to his feet and assures Captain America that they did not kill the Nasty Boys or Shaw – it was a trap that was set for them. Cap explains that he was talking about the vaccine, and asks Scott what the hell he was thinking. 'The vaccine was a hate crime. It was the chemical sterilization of the mutant race by the governments of the world' Scott replies, explaining that nobody asked those kids if they wanted to be denied the chance to become who they really are. 'So you're killing them to teach us all a lesson?' Cap asks. 'What are you talking about?' Cyclops enquires.

Doctor Nemesis steps forward and reveals that five children have fallen into comas after being vaccinated in the last eighteen hours. He reports that he has examined three of them, and that something put into the air is causing this reaction, and he thinks Cyclops knows what. Dani steps in and promises Captain America that that was not what they intended. She adds that his help and trust in the X-Men over the last few weeks has proven invaluable, and she asks him to once more trust them. 'What are you talking about, Danielle?' Cap asks. 'Taking the prisoners...? Your meetings with Scott...?' Dani responds. But Cap points at Cyclops and states that he has not spoken  with Summers since that rally at Empire State, and if he had known then what they were all capable of, he would never have let Cyclops walk away. 'You came to Harry's Hideaway...' the wide-eyed Dani tries to remind Cap. 'I don't know any Harry, but you should all know the Avengers are going to take -' Cap starts to say, before a stern-faced Cyclops instructs Magik to grab Doctor Nemesis and get them home. 'Excuse me? What the -' Doctor Nemesis utters as a portal suddenly forms around him, Magik, Dani, Scott and Alex, and they vanish.

Back outside the Hellfire Club in Manhattan, a O*N*E soldier approaches another and asks him what is going on. The second soldier reports that Callahan wants Sinister transported off-site right away, as the shackled Sinister is led to a transport vehicle. 'But we're still -' the first soldier asks. 'Take it up with Callahan' the second interrupts him. Callahan arrives on scene and notices a blood-covered sword lying on the ground and asks 'Where's Psylocke?' 'She's not Psylocke. They just shared a body' Emma replies as she watched medics place Wolverine into an ambulance. Emma adds that she doesn't know where “Psylocke” is as she seems to have vanished in the commotion after Callahan's stormtroopers arrived and royally botched everything. 'They saved your life' Callahan points out. 'I was doing just fine' Emma responds.

Callahan asks about Mystique, 'You knew she escaped from my custody with the other X-Men. You never should have harbored her' Callahan tells Emma, before asking her where Mystique is now. Emma reports that she doesn't know, and that Mystique is being psychically shielded. 'So be it. I'm done playing nice, Emma. I can't trust you' Callahan declares. He instructs some soldiers to secure this building and lock Ms Frost inside while he figures out what to do with her. He adds that the Hellfire Club is now the property of the O*N*E. 'That wasn't our deal, Callahan!' Emma exclaims, but Callahan informs Emma that they never had a deal – as deals imply that both parties wield some sort of power. 'You exist by the grace of me. It would do you good to remember that' Callahan reminds Emma.

Back at the X-Men's apartment base, Cyclops, Moonstar, Havok, Magik, Banshee, Hope, Madrox, Juggernaut and Doctor Nemesis enter the Dark Beast's lab, where the mad scientist is watching a news report that indicates there is word of a possible sixth child to have fallen ill after receiving the vaccination. 'What did you do?' Cyclops calls out. The Dark Beast replies that he was just trying to catch up on his shows, and asks if anyone knows whether the new season of “Fargo” has started. 'No more games! What did you do?' Cyclops demands to know. The Dark Beast frowns and points out that he did what he was asked – he made it so parents will never again subject their children to that horrible solution. 'It stands in the way of evolution. And we hate it' the Dark Beast states, adding that after the children have been exposed to this concoction, which according to his airstream models has now happened to 98% of the world, their little protein bonds with the big bad medication and shuts it down – harmless, mostly.

The Dark Beast grins as he reveals that sometimes a child's x-gene will actually activate while the serum takes effect, and then it works as a catalyst to help the protein replicate inside of them – basically, they made it so some of the little mutants' organs go into overdrive and they slip into comas. He states that they have given parents a choice – inject their kids and, if they are mutants, they will probably die – they will see how pure their hatred of mutant kind really is. The Dark Beast continues, stating that, as for how, all he needed was a little help from Sinister, and when he visited him in Westchester, Sinister looked over his work, saw what he could not and added the missing piece. Cyclops and Havok look shocked, while Magik frowns, and the Dark Beast tells them that all it took was Sinister offering some subconscious suggestions to all of them, and they were off to the races with this plan.

The Dark Beast boasts that they did great work this week, that they are a great team, although he might suggest that going forward they get another psychic to shield them, as without Jean, Betsy or Rachel it seems an awful lot of people are mucking around in their heads these days. Suddenly, 'Enough' Magik calls out as she narrows her eyes and starts to open a portal around the Dark Beast. 'Illyana, don't -' Cyclops calls out, while Dark Beast utters 'Where are you sending me, witch?' as he falls through the portal – and re-appears hanging from the ceiling above – his neck down, at least, while his head is nowhere to be seen 'Good Lord, Illyana!' Cyclops exclaims. 'What the hell is wrong with you?' Alex asks Illyana. 'He tricked us into killing children. What's wrong with you?' Illyana retorts, while Dani stands nearby and puts a hand to her own head.

Doctor Nemesis flips through a book annd announces that they are not dead. 'McCoy isn't – sorry – wasn't as smart as he thought' Doctor Nemesis remarks, adding that he can fix this, but he nees to move quickly. 'Good. Whatever you need to help those kids we'll...we...' Cyclops begins, before his voice trails off as he stares into the distance. 'Scott? Are you okay?' Alex asks his brother. Dani, Juggernaut and Doctotr Nemesis look over to Scott as he receives a telepathic message from Emma, informing him that she is going to give his memories back now. She asks him not to be mad at her, and tells him that she needs him now – she needs the X-Men!

Characters Involved: 

Banshee, Cyclops, Havok, Hope, Juggernaut, Magik, Moonstar, Multiple Man (all X-Men)




Dark Beast


Dr Nemesis


Emma Frost, Elixir, Marrow, Mystique (all Hellfire Club)

Mr Sinister


Siena Blaze, Fabian Cortex, Trevor Fiztroy, Shinobi Shaw (all Upstarts)

Gorgeous George, Hairbarg, Ramrod, Ruckus (all Nasty Boys)


Captain America


General Callahan


Hellfire Club guards


Mother and son

O*N*E soldiers



Story Notes: 

This issue has the Legacy numbering of Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #642.

The Nasty Boys first appeared in X-Factor (1st series) as Sinister's henchmen of choice for some time. While individual members have made some solo appearances over the years, the last time they were seen as a group was in Uncanny X-Men (4th series) #15. Only Hairbag, Slab and Gorgeous George appeared that issue. Notably absent this issue is Slab.

The Upstarts have not worked together as a team since X-Force (1st series) #33, although individually they have made many appearances. Fabian Cortez was last seen in X-Force Annual (3rd series) #1 and Trevor Fitzroy last appeared in X-Factor (3rd series) #46-50. Shinobi Shaw was killed by his father off-panel at some point prior to “Necrosha” only to be resurrected by Selene. Although it was believed he returned to death following that event, his appearance here indicates otherwise. Similarly, Siena Blaze was killed in the mutant concentration camp, Neverland, in Weapon X (2nd series) #5, and was resurrected by Selene for “Necrosha” but she hasn't been seen since that event.

Captain America and Cyclops spoke at the anti-mutant rally in Uncanny X-Men (5th series) #11. Captain America came to Harry's Hideaway in Uncanny X-Men (5th series) #14-15, but this was later revealed to be Mystique in disguise.


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