Uncanny X-Men Annual (1st series) #16

Issue Date: 
May 1992
Story Title: 
The Masters of Inevitability (Shattershot Part 2) – 1st story, Angel of Death – 2nd story, The Roots of the Past – 3rd story

Suzanne Gaffney (managing editor), Bob Harras (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief)
1st story: Fabian Nicieza (writer), Jae Lee (penciler), Jan Harps and Joe Rubenstein (inkers), Tom Orzechowski and Lois Buhalis (letterers), Joe Rosas (colorist)
2nd story: Chris Cooper (writer), Jae Lee (penciler), Jan Harps (inker), Richard Starkings (letterer), Steve Buccellato (colorist)
3rd story: Skip Dietz (writer), Herb Trimpe (penciler), Tom Palmer (inker), Dave Sharpe (letterer), Kevin Tinsely (colorist)

Brief Description: 

1st story:

At their home in Westchester, the X-Men nurse Arize, the mind-wiped visitor from the Mojoverse, back to health. Meanwhile, the Death Sponsors, a mercenary team from one of the Mojoverse’s pirate networks, travels to Earth to retrieve Arize. Their pursuit brings them into conflict with the X-Men’s Gold Team, whom the Death Sponsors swiftly defeat. As they prepare to return home with their captive, however, Bishop eliminates their time-dancer, stranding the Death Sponsors in the space between dimensions. Arize thanks the X-Men for their help but, having recovered his memories and learned of his destructive role in his home-world, sets out on a quest to learn makes Earth such a good place. The X-Men, meanwhile, question Bishop’s extreme methods and beliefs.

2nd story:
Archangel sustains critical injuries while rescuing some hostages. As he teeters on the brink of death, he meets a mysterious being called Amalgam, a being he met once before while pinned to the walls of the Morlock tunnels. Warren remembers that Amalgam, who referred to itself as the Angel of Death, offered him a chance to live on through her forever. He accepted the offer, but Amalgam realized Warren’s time had not yet come and released him. Archangel suddenly wakes up and returns to the present, where he sees his worried friends standing around his recovery bed.

3rd story:
Bishop privately admits to Storm he feels out of place, both with the X-Men and in this time period. He has already lived through so much tragedy and cannot rest knowing what future tragedies await the X-Men. However, he finds comfort in a young oak tree planted on the institute’s property and decides to give his new teammates – and his future – a chance.

Full Summary: 

1st story:
The Mojoverse…

A unit of Mojo’s army invades a rebel citadel, intent on stopping their pirate broadcasts by any means necessary. When they burst through the door, however, they meet some surprising resistance in the Death Sponsors. The electricity-based Timeslot, the gargoyle-esque Deadair, the mysterious Sweepzweak, the time-shifting Lead-In, and the powerhouse dominatrix Cancellator make short work of the opposition before deciding they want to move on.

Their shadowy leader interrupts and reminds them they have no authority to alter their scheduled programming. Rather, they will continue following the plan he laid out well before this television season began. Is he sure, Lead-In asks? Of course, their leader says. A member of the race of the Spineless Ones, the leader tells them they have made much progress in their crusade against Mojo with their counter-programming. Mojo is beginning to panic, their shrouded leader says. His recent programming errors have eroded viewer confidence in his network rule. They will not take their battle to Mojo, but to his mistakes!

The Spineless One, still obscured by shadows, lists off three opportunities they have to exploit Mojo's broadcasting errors. They can pursue Spiral, the original time-dancer, whom Mojo dispatched to Earth; they can capture the Mojoverse’s Fallen Messiah, presumably talking about Longshot; or they can retrieve Arize, the geneticist responsible for creating the Slave Race, who recently escaped to Earth as well. A broadcast from Earth chronicling the search for any of them — or all of them — will inevitably succeed in their favor! Go, Death Sponsors, he says! He sends Sweepzweak, Deadair, Lead-In, Cancellator, and Timeslot to Earth by way of Timeslot's magical time-dancing. “Go to Earth! To the successful overthrow of my network rival!! To the death of Mojo!!” he shouts as they disappear into the space between dimensions.

Earth. Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters...
The burning building crumbles around the X-Men's Gold Team. Using his super-strength and durability, Colossus holds up the burning beams, thus sparing his teammates from certain death. Storm, the team leader, orders Archangel to run aerial recon for trapped civilians outside the building. Iceman, she orders to assist Colossus by propping up the ceiling and dousing the flames. Talk about belaboring the obvious, Bobby quips.

Bishop, meanwhile, informs Storm that he sees no civilians anywhere. He does not understand why this qualifies as a no-win mission. Unbeknownst to him, a towering figure sneaks up on his blindside. Bishop turns around at the last second and stands face-to-face, for his first time ever, with Apocalypse. The ancient mutant grabs Bishop by the throat and hoists him off the ground. He must be the newest addition to Xavier's — the energy absorber and rechanneler, Apocalypse sneers. Can he absorb and rechannel a broken neck? Bishop, gasping for air, manages to choke out a response. Try it, he tells Apocalypse, and they will find out. Apocalypse commends his noble spirit; it seems Xavier finally found a protégé with teeth.

Colossus calls out to Storm for help. Bishop needs her assistance, or else he will die! Storm informs him she is busy rescuing civilians. Colossus would help, but cannot risk breaking away from the load he bears. Apocalypse laughs; this scenario is exactly what he wanted. He wants to eliminate one of the innocent children in the building, because the child possesses latent mutant abilities. If Colossus drops the beams and lets the building collapse, Apocalypse gets his wish. If not, then he intends to snap Bishop's neck anyway. Bishop, still caught in a chokehold, orders Colossus to ignore the ultimatum. Apocalypse scolds Bishop for his weakness; maybe he is not the man Apocalypse thought he was.

Bishop hits a switch on his wristband and releases a small handgun from a secret compartment. He angles the pea-shooter at his own head and tells Apocalypse to let him go. If not, he will blow his own head off, thereby removing Apocalypse's means of blackmail. En Sabah Nur calls him a madman; would he really kill himself just to prevent his teammate from having to make a decision? Bishop, shouting over the roar of the flames, answers that no one — not children, not friends, not loved ones — will die because he placed himself in a compromising position! He tells Apocalypse to back off before he tastes Bishop's face on his lips.

Colossus, his body superheated from the flames, tells Bishop to stop; his proposed solution is not the answer. Suddenly, the telepathic voice of Professor X interrupts the battle. “Perhaps not, Piotr Nikolievitch,” Xavier says. “Perhaps the point was that, in a no-win scenario, there are no answers.” Xavier instructs the program to end. The burning room fades away, and the true form of the Danger Room returns in its place.

Once the session ends, the X-Men immediately go over their post-battle damage report. Archangel believes the simple training session got a bit too tense. Iceman asks his teammate when he will learn there is no such thing as a simple session in the Danger Room. Colossus, meanwhile, tries to convince his teammates he could have held the room’s support beam for an indefinite period of time. They should have focused on saving the target child! That was not the point of the exercise, Xavier says as he arrives on the training floor. The purpose was to see how the X-Men would react to a difficult moral choice. Their newest member’s decisions were unique, to say the least, Xavier says. He asks Bishop if he would have followed through in a real-life situation.

Bishop pivots toward the professor and fires his pistol. Its energy discharge hits only a few meters to the side of Xavier’s hover-chair. Enraged, Storm asks Bishop if he is insane; he could have killed the professor! Xavier asks her to remain calm; the gun, it seems, only discharged a benign beam of light. It doesn't even have a plasma charge, does it, he asks? Bishop lifts the gun and presses the nozzle to his own cheek. Maybe it does, he says, and maybe it doesn’t. He pulls the trigger; the gun emits only a light spurt of energy.

Most of the X-Men disapprove of the bluff. Iceman, on the other hand, finds it riotous. “Oh man, oh man — you are one crazy guy, Bishop!” he laughs. Bishop turns toward him. Maybe he is, he says, and maybe he isn't. He humorlessly fires a plasma charge at Iceman, and it explodes at his feet. Iceman falls backward and looks to at the impact point, a smoking “X” where the gun hit. Bishop turns to Storm and asks if they training session has ended yet. She dismisses him, and he heads to the showers. As he leaves, Storm admits to Xavier she finds this new recruit puzzling. Perhaps, Professor X says, but Bishop is certainly no more puzzling than Wolverine was when Xavier recruited him. The talk about Logan gets Iceman thinking about Jean, and he asks where she is. “Is she still playing host to ‘Guess What's Coming for Dinner?’”

Bobby, of course, refers to the school’s current houseguest, the mysterious Arize, with whom Jean converses telepathically. Linking up with his mind, she sifts through his jumbled, tortured memories of life in the Mojoverse. After learning how exactly he came to Earth, she asks some more specific questions. If he was a geneticist, why was he called a “Toymaker?” What made him different from everyone else? What gave him the drive to evolve past his masters, the Spineless Ones? He kept creating life, even when the Spineless Ones turned his upright creations into slaves; what compelled him to keep trying? Who is this being he created and instilled with a sense of self-determination — what Arize dubbed the “Messiah Imperative?” As Jean traces his memories, she once again reaches Arize's breaking point. His mind locks up and he shuts her out. Jean groans in frustration. Arize's mind locks up at this memory every time. Who is this Fallen Messiah?

She suddenly senses another presence in Arize's mind: Charles Xavier. He asks how their patient fares. Better, Jean tells him. They pull out of the astral plane and back into the med-lab. With the session over, Arize continues berating himself for what he sees in his memories. He fails to comprehend why he is considered responsible for millions of death if he is supposedly a creator of life. They do not yet know, Professor X tells him, but they have grown closer to the answer since his arrival. Arize tells him that answer does nothing to abate his terrible sense of guilt. Additionally, his presence at Xavier's Institute has only burdened his hosts. It would be much easier if he could approach his pursuers directly and get answers that way, Arize says. Jean Grey hopes it does not come to that; Arize might not like the answers he receives.

Tokyo, Japan. The Ginza District...
The Death Sponsors materialize in the streets of Japan's most bustling metropolis by way of Timeslot's time-dancing. Immediately, they discuss which of their three targets — Spiral, Arize, and the Fallen Messiah — they should pursue first. Deadair declares Arize to be the easiest target. The others might lead to better ratings, but considering the time constraints of this ratings-driven mission, they decide to go for the quickest victory.

While the confused Japanese onlookers stare at these monstrous new arrivals in awe, Deadair takes to the skies and searches for a signal. His tracking device immediately tunes into Arize's frequency. Returning to the ground, he relays the coordinates via cyberlink to Timeslot, who creates a massive sphere of electric energy that envelops the team and transports them to Arize.

Westchester, New York. The Xavier Institute...
Archangel asks the professor a pointed question: why is Xavier involving the Gold Team in this mission if the Blue Team were the ones who began it? Storm reminds her teammate they are all X-Men and, what affects one, affects all. Professor X adds the Blue Team is currently on another assignment, and more importantly, he needs a telepath to access Arize’s mind, and Jean has more experience and skill with telepathy than Psylocke, the Blue Team's telepath.

“Answers the question Archangel asked,” Bishop says, “but raises mine — why are we involving ourselves with this creature at all?” Professor X asks if it isn't obvious; Arize is a sentient being in need of their help. Jean adds that in his own world, Arize is considered a mutant, and is ostracized as a result. How could Bishop turn his back on the situation knowing all this?

Before he has a chance to answer, the mansion's security system announces a perimeter breach. Archangel and Iceman immediately set off to investigate, with Bishop following closely behind. Colossus, Jean, and Storm remain with the Professor, who detects garbled telepathic signals outside similar to those he read from Arize. Storm instructs her team to head to the med-lab so they can defend their guest.

Outside, Archangel, Bishop, and Iceman arrive to battle with the institute's intruders, the Death Sponsors. Deadair basks in the sight of the famed X-Mansion and its surroundings. If their target is protected by the legendary X-Men, they should expect a battle most glorious, he says! While he, Sweepzweak, and Lead-In engage the arriving X-Men in battle, Cancellator and Timeslot sneak away to find Arize.

“As usual, I volunteer for the wretched task of engaging the nubile young female in physical combat,” Iceman says while approaching the airborne Lead-In. The nubile young female in question gladly accepts his challenge, and then vanishes. Iceman looks around in confusion; he hates fighting teleporters. Lead-In reappears behind him and shatters his ice-slide. As he falls, she corrects his assumption; she is not a teleporter, but a five-second time-shifter, a most effective skill for combat.

Down below, Bishop grapples with Sweepzweak. “Face does not scan,” Sweepzweak says. “Sweepzweak preference to combat high-definition targets. You are commercial airtime, at best,” it says to Bishop while choking the life out of him. Bishop has no idea what the alien is trying to say, but promises to blow its ugly head off.

Archangel, meanwhile, calls dibs on the aerial opponent, Deadair. Much obliged, Deadair tells him; for years, he has dreamed of battling the vaunted X-Men! He charges at Warren head-first, his horns poised forward dangerously. Archangel manages to grab him by the horns and hold him at bay. Although he has no idea who these villains are, they have made their intentions perfectly clear, and therefore, Warren has no reservations about unleashing the deadly power of his wings. He lets loose and cuts a swath across Deadair's torso.

Iceman happens to notice Cancellator and Timeslot heading into the mansion. He excuses himself from his brawl with Lead-In by freezing her face and heads to the mansion to intercept the stray Death Sponsors’ entry. Effortlessly, he builds a wall of ice around the building, sealing off the front door. Haven't they ever heard of knocking, he asks? If Iceman wants them to knock, then no problem, Cancellator says. She strikes the wall with a precision punch and reduces it to shards.

Inside, Storm asks if remaining inside was truly the best course of action. Arize apologizes for involving the X-Men in his conflict. Xavier, reporting that at least two attackers have entered the mansion, remarks they must somehow know exactly where to find Arize. He tells his X-Men to be prepared. Suddenly, the lab's door crackles with energy. Colossus steps forward and tells his teammates to get behind him, but to everyone's surprise, the energy attack on the door ceases as quickly as it began. Where did they go, Jean asks? Before anyone has a chance to provide the most obvious answer, the two Death Sponsors reappear directly behind the X-Men in the lab, courtesy of Timeslot's space-jaunt.

Cancellator elbows Storm in the face and laughs at the X-Men's rotten luck. Timeslot's energy release has the unfortunate side-effect of scrambling the thoughts of telepaths, she says. Jean and Charles both let out agonized screams as if on cue. With the entire team down except for Colossus, Cancellator asks them to release Arize. Arize, meanwhile, suddenly recalls the identities of these attackers. He identifies them as the Death Sponsors, from the mergers and acquisitions department of one of the Mojoverse's pirate networks! He has no idea how he remembered this fact, however. Colossus tells him not to worry about that now; all they need to do is prevent the Death Sponsors from accomplishing their mission. He lunges forward and socks Cancellator in the face. Good punch, she tells him. She hits him back and asks if he can take hits as good as he gives them.

Arize, meanwhile, wonders why a rival network would want to retrieve him. He supposes they could have overthrown Mojo. As he speaks that name, he wonders why he even knows it. Arize is so lost in his own train of thought he fails to notice Timeslot approaching. At the last second, he asks the creature to leave him alone, but Timeslot reaches out and scrambles his mind. Jean finally recovers her senses, just in time to see Timeslot creating some abnormal vortex of energy behind Arize. She lashes out with a telekinetic thrust intended to sever the contact, but somehow jaunts the three of them into the air above the X-mansion. They tumble out of the sky and land, luckily, in the institute's swimming pool.

Bishop still grapples with the same opponent from earlier. Sweepzweak acknowledges the contradictory nature of their two powersets; he disrupts energy, while Bishop rechannels it. They seem to have reached a stalemate. Lead-In sneaks up on the X-Man from behind and intends to tip the balance in her team's favor. She lifts her hand and begins to fire her wrist-shooter. However, Iceman warns his teammate just in time, and Bishop whips around and deflects the shot. After thanking Bobby, he asks Lead-In if she can time-shift out of a broken jaw, and punches her in the face.

He turns back to finish his fight with Sweepzweak just as a projectile Colossus erupts through the cobblestone patio and continues to sail into the air. Cancellator crawls out of the hole in the ground and asks Sweepzweak where her opponent went. He points her in the direction of the downed X-Man. Wow, she says; he looks just like she feels.

With the battle advantage already leaning in favor of the Death Sponsors, Sweepzweak finally unleashes the full potential of his power, propelling it even further in their favor. He raises his fist and emits a sonic signal that disrupts the mutant abilities of each of the X-Men. Iceman's ice-slide shatters as his body reverts to its human form. Jean, airborne, loses access to her telekinesis and falls back into the pool. Archangel's wings fold up and he crashes into the shrubs. Cancellator, meanwhile, effortlessly hoists the body of the powerless Piotr Rasputin into the air with just one hand and commends her teammate on a job well-done. Since Timeslot has Arize in captivity, they can now leave.

The Death Sponsors forgot to take into account the other weapons at the X-Men's disposal. Bishop draws his shotgun out of its holster and levels it at Timeslot. Sweepzweak orders him to stand down; if he kills even one of their members, they will execute each of his teammates. Cancellator informs the last X-Man standing that this matter does not even concern him; they only want the Toymaker. They were honored to have faced the X-Men in battle, even if they failed to live up to their legendary status.

Arize finally asks the Death Sponsors why they want him so badly. He asks that they at least tell him who he is, and why he carries such importance to everyone. In response, Timeslot approaches, raises its hand, and injects a cable into Arize's brain, instantly transferring all the desired knowledge into his head. “Oh,” Arize says.

With their target acquired, the Death Sponsors prepare to return home. While Timeslot cyberlinks with each of his teammates, Deadair says goodbye to Bishop, and Cancellator thanks him for providing a ratings-spectacular! Bishop refuses to accept defeat. He notices the means they use of traveling through dimensions – Timeslot’s cyberlinks – and realizes he can disrupt their return by eliminating the source. He fires his shotgun at Timeslot, destroying him. With him gone, the rest of the Death Sponsors, caught mid-jaunt, scream as their bodies discorporate in a flash of light. Arize tumbles to the ground; thankfully he had not been cyberlinked yet.

Bishop checks on his teammates once the battle ends. They each stand up, frustrated at their defeat, but otherwise fine. Iceman asks why Sweepzweak’s disruption field did not affect Bishop’s powers. Jean reminds Bobby that Bishop was not using his energy-channeling powers at the time of the disruption. She changes subjects and tells Bishop he took quite the risk with his final gambit. Indeed, Storm says, arriving outside along with Professor X. What if his gamble had not paid off and Arize had been transported along with the others, the professor asks? “What if your point were moot because it never happened?” Bishop snaps back. Arize commends his savior on his quick-thinking. It may have been a dangerous move, but Bishop dealt it skillfully.

After thanking the X-Men, Arize, with sadness in his voice, informs them he may not even be worth the effort. Why is that, Storm asks? Arize reports that he is responsible for all the chaos and disrepair in the Wildways. He created a race of slaves, a creation responsible for millions of deaths. Professor asks if he is certain. Yes, Arize says; with all his heavy heart. The very things that make Earth good and right, the Mojoverse has twisted and perverted. Arize intends to fix his home-world by first learning what makes Earth good. He thanks the X-Men for inspiring him and says goodbye before setting off on his quest.

He expects quite a bit from himself, Jean says after Arize leaves. Archangel agrees and adds that he doubts they have seen the last of him. Colossus asks how they can know if they fought for the most just cause; who is to say they were right in preventing the Death Sponsors from taking Arize back to the Mojoverse? Xavier tells him they have no way of knowing, but at the very least, they can rest assured they fought to uphold the values in which they believe: peace, harmony, and understanding between different races.

Professor X now turns his attention to Bishop, who stands apart from the rest of the X-Men, staring at the setting sun. His own reservations about Bishop and his extreme methods grow each day. How will the team now deal with its own member who believes so strongly in their dream, he is willing to kill for it, he asks? What will the X-Men do if he goes so far over the line in defense of their dream that they must betray their own beliefs?

2nd story:
Few people must look death in the face as often as the X-Men. Today, the X-Man known as Archangel exemplifies that fact, yet again, as he dodges the gunshots of a group of Mandroid terrorists. He orders the terrorists to yield, but realizes he carries little authority in this situation. They outnumber him four to one, the cramped quarters of the nuclear power plant cut down on his maneuverability, and none of the other X-Men are present to help him. Plus, he has to worry about ensuring safe passage for their hostages in addition to fighting for his own life. Things are not looking good.

One of the terrorists comes dangerously close to knocking Warren out of the sky with a gunshot. He fires back with his wing fletchettes, piercing the terrorist’s armor and knocking him unconscious. Unfortunately, the bulky, armored assailant falls backward and pins an innocent hostage beneath his weight. Archangel refuses to leave the innocent man to die. He flies to the ground, fully aware of the vulnerability of his position, and pushes the armored terrorist off the trapped man. The hostage thanks him and slips away, but Warren remains a moment too long and takes gunfire to his back.

The armored terrorists encircle the pain-stricken Archangel and rejoice in the ease of their victory. Their foresight enabled them to obtain their Mandroid suits well in advance. With their only opposition defeated, they can now proceed with their plan of stealing the power plant’s uranium so they can construct their bomb. They shoot Archangel in the head and walk away, leaving his seemingly lifeless body behind to rot.

After a few moments, Warren hears a vaguely familiar voice calling out to him, and his eyes snap open. He beholds a strange woman with blue skin, red eyes, dark hair, and a green outfit similar to the one Rogue used to wear. “Warren, Warren, Warren,” she says, “…you really are becoming a tease.” Warren recognizes the visitor. She seems surprised to hear that; it has been such a long time since their first encounter. Before he can acknowledge her response, Warren drifts into unconsciousness.

“You’re not real. You’re just a hallucination,” Angel says to this new visitor. “I’m dying and my mind is playing tricks on me.” He can barely keep his eyes open. He hangs from a pair of wrist shackles. Two spears pin his once-glorious wings to the wall. Warren Worthington III, the former X-Man and current member of X-Factor, has seen better days.

The mysterious woman standing before him, the one whom Angel swears is a hallucination, introduces herself as Amalgam. However, some call her the Angel of Death. Amalgam tells Angel she came to offer him a choice. He can die and live no more, or he can offer himself to Amalgam and live on through it. He still dies, but his skills will get put to use fighting for mutantkind.

Warren tells his visitor to leave. He calls it a vulture from his fevered brain, and just another part of his horrible nightmare. It is indeed horrible, Amalgam says, but it is no nightmare. It is real. She explains the massacre in the tunnels brought her there, and too many times today has she offered this same choice to other mutants. Things will only get worse, but Warren can prevent it by offering himself to the Amalgam.

Angel once again tells her to leave. He doesn’t believe her proposition. Perhaps one of her other forms can convince him, Amalgam says as she transfigures herself into the image of Hank McCoy, the Beast. “Salutations, Warren,” Amalgam-Beast says, “though I could wish for more felicitous circumstances.” With this form, Amalgam finally captures Angel’s attention. This can’t really be Beast, can it, he asks? Amalgam-Beast tells him it surely is. She not only has the power to permanently absorb mutant abilities, but their minds and memories as well. She stops before she reveals how she obtained this metamorphic power. Continuing, Amalgam-Beast tells Warren it can recreate him at will; if he joins, he never has to die, as he will live on forever in this way.

Angel lifts his drooping head and asks what Amalgam has done with the real beast. He must not understand, she says. To elaborate further, she transmogrifies into the form of Angel’s team leader, Cyclops. “You’re not Cyclops… just another fake,” Angel says. “Or another part of this elaborate hallucination.” Amalgam-Cyclops asks if a hallucination could access the same powers as Cyclops. It turns and fires a precision optic-blast that ricochets expertly and harmlessly around the walls of the sewer system.

Amazed, Angel asks Cyclops how he can be a part of Amalgam; as far as he knows, Cyclops is still alive! Amalgam-Cyclops explains he is still alive now but, one day, the Sentinels will murder him. They are not the only threat mutants will face in the future either, it tells Angel. They eventually face unimaginable horrors that make this mutant massacre look like a garden party. Amalgam-Cyclops tells Warren they all deserve to rest in peace, but cannot do so knowing the world still needs their help. It implores Warren to join.

After grimacing for an extended moment, Angel relents. He asks what he must do to join. “All it takes is a touch,” Amalgam says, “or a kiss.” Reverting back to her female form, she leans in and softly presses her lips to Warren’s. He feels a terrible wrenching as his identity exits his body and joins the clamor of other voices within Amalgam. She, on the other hand, feels something akin to ecstasy. However, both sensations end abruptly moments before the transfer completes.

“Impossible!” Amalgam shouts. Although Angel gives himself willingly, Amalgam senses something deep within him that resists. Using the precognitive abilities she obtained from Destiny, Amalgam scans his future and pinpoints the problem. His time has not yet come. She sees in his future that his spirit will serve his friends well, but first, he must endure great hardship, even becoming a supposed Angel of Death at one point. Amalgam cannot help but note the parallel to how people perceive her. Nevertheless, she dismisses Warren, and tells him that when his time does finally come, she will be waiting.

(end flashback)
Archangel returns to the realm of the waking with a terrified scream. He lurches forward and finds himself in a hospital bed, covered in bandages and surrounded by his friends, the X-Men. Scott tells him not to worry; he is safe now. He had them worried, Hank says; they nearly lost him. Logan, however, congratulates Warren on a job well-done. He fended off the terrorists long enough for the proper authorities to arrive with heavy artillery. They apprehended each of the terrorists, save for the leader, a mutant, who died in the fight.

Jean tells Warren she senses some inner unease. It’s nothing; just a bad dream, Archangel tells her. He had a nightmare about the mutant massacre, and a hallucination he had while pinned to the walls. Scott reminds him he can relax now. He has earned his reprieve. “I’ll say! You really put the fear of God into those terrorists!” Beast says. He informs Warren that just before their leader died, they kept insisting an Angel of Death came to claim him. Archangel hears these words and comprehends their hidden meaning, but says nothing to his teammates. He instead keeps this dark secret to himself.

3rd story:
Bishop stands outside by himself one beautiful, starry evening, but pays no attention to the wonders of the night sky. As a mutant trapped far in his own past, he finds he has much to ponder, much to the confusion of his teammates. One such teammate, Storm, arrives in the field to talk. She informs him of her team’s impending Danger Room session and asks Bishop to participate. No thanks, he says, claiming he is not in the mood.

Storm watches him for a moment. She notes his indomitable pride, and the mystery that surrounds both his personality and his circumstances, but adds that neither of those traits is new to the X-Men. She asks Bishop if anything is wrong. So much has happened in his life recently that he finds it hard to accept, Bishop says. Storm asks if it might help to talk through his feelings.

How could that possibly help, Bishop asks? None of the X-Men have made an effort to make him feel at home, even after Professor X officially appointed him to the team. Besides, they could not possibly understand how he feels. This era of time is not even his own. Just a few weeks ago, he and his fellow X.S.E. officers Malcolm and Randall were busily hunting down a group of escaped mutant criminals. These escapees not only fled their prison, but with the help of the mutant Upstart Trevor Fitzroy, their own time period as well. Bishop and his men followed them into the past, now knowing where they would arrive. To their surprise, they came face-to-face with the legendary X-Men. The triumph of joining the X-Men in their battle against Fitzroy was short-lived, however, as shortly afterward, Malcolm and Randall fell in battle. Now, he finds himself alone in a completely alien world.

Bishop points Storm toward the X-mansion and tells her that, in his time, the mansion no longer stands, it having been destroyed in the same cataclysm that claimed the lives of the X-Men. Even the shoreline of the lake looks different. At some point, Bishop believes it will be altered irrevocably by a battle with the Sentinels. In fact, the only feature of the grounds that survives to his time is the single oak tree that must be just over the hill from where he stands. According to legend, the X-Men planted this tree sometime between the first class’s graduation and the second class’s induction. This tree, Bishop says, will survive attacks by the Sidri, the Genoshans, and the Sentinels. In his time, it has several scars from the various battles it survived, but it survives, much like Xavier’s dream.

Slowly, Storm reaches out and places her hand on Bishop’s shoulder. He pulls away. He explains what it feels like to be trapped in the past, among legends who fail to live up to their reputations, knowing the horrors to come in the ensuing decades. Storm reminds him every X-Man understands tragedy. Only through their camaraderie do they survive adversity from threats such as Magneto and the Brood. Bishop needs to let the X-Men help him; they are there for him, she says.

“Are you?” Bishop asks defiantly. He reminds Storm that she once said he could not be trusted, and that his methods and tactics were not up to the standards of the X-Men! Apparently, he has a lot he must sort out on his own. Storm turns and leaves. She informs him she is already late to the Danger Room session. When he feels like rejoining the team, he knows where to find them.

Bishop does not watch her go. Instead, he sits down on the grass, hangs his head, and broods. He soon falls asleep, but even his slumber brings no peace. He wakes at dawn, when some errant raindrops splatter on his head. Immediately Bishop assumes the rain is just another one of Storm’s tricks, but when he looks up, he beholds the very oak tree he remembers from the future. At this point in time, the oak tree is little more than a sapling, however.

It begins to rain. Bishop, so caught up in his own memories, barely notices. Instead, he contemplates the oak tree and what it means. Storm planted this tree long ago, and now waters it with her own mutant abilities. He takes a moment to understand the message behind this tree. Many years from now, the tree will serve as a last monument to one man’s dream. Today, however, this tree is Bishop’s and Bishop’s alone. He turns around and heads back to the Xavier Institute – home.

Characters Involved: 

1st story:
Archangel, Bishop, Colossus, Iceman, Jean Grey, Storm (X-Men – Gold Team)
Professor X

Arize (creator of the Biped slave race)

Cancellator, Deadair, Lead-In, Sweepzweak, Timeslot (Death Sponsors)
Mojo II (leader of the pirate network)
Mojoverse rebels

(in Danger Room training simulation)

(in Arize’s mindscape)
Mojo, Quark, Longshot (all denizens of the Mojoverse)

2nd story:
Beast, Cyclops, Jean Grey, Wolverine (all X-Men)


Unnamed hostages

(as manifestations of Amalgam)
Beast, Cyclops, Destiny

3rd story:
Bishop, Storm (X-Men)

(in flashback)
Bishop, Malcolm, Randall (X.S.E.)
Archangel, Iceman, Storm (X-Men – Gold Team)
Angel, Beast, Colossus, Cyclops, Storm (All-New, All-Different X-Men)

Story Notes: 

This annual is the second part of the four-part Shattershot crossover that ran through the X-annuals in 1992. The story began in X-Men Annual (1st series) #1, and continues in X-Factor (1st series) Annual #7 and X-Force (1st series) Annual #1.

This issue contains several one-page pinups:

Colossus and Strong Guy, by Dale KeownStorm, by P. Craig RussellArchangel, by Ron Frenz/Tom PalmerCannonball and Storm, by Brandon PetersonColossus battling the Brood, by Joe Madureira

1st story:
This story takes place between Uncanny X-Men #287 and 288.

This is the only appearance of the Death Sponsors. Their fate is left unclear at the end of the issue, although it is likely they got lost in the space between dimensions and died. The names of the individual Death Sponsors – Cancellator, Deadair, Lead-In, Sweepzweak, and Timeslot – all refer to terms used in television programming.

Arize, on the run from Mojo, arrived on Earth in this issue’s prequel, X-Men Annual (2nd series) #1.

Bobby’s question about how Bishop managed to use his powers after Timeslot’s disruption seems odd, as Bishop did not even use his powers to defeat the Death Sponsors; he merely fired his shotgun.

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? is a 1967 film about two white, liberal California parents, played by Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn, whose daughter brings home her new fiancé, who happens to be black, for dinner.

Mojo II is not named in this issue. His identity is not formally revealed until X-Men (2nd series) #11.

2nd story:
This is the only appearance of Amalgam, a rather mysterious character who bears an uncanny resemblance to Rogue and seemingly possesses the powers of Beast, Cyclops, Mystique and Destiny, among others.

Warren’s flashback to the Morlock tunnels takes place during the Mutant Massacre, specifically X-Factor (1st series) #10, when Harpoon pinned his wings to the wall.

Shortly after the Mutant Massacre, Apocalypse abducted Warren and transfigured him into his blue-skinned, metal-winged form he now bears, aptly dubbed the Angel of Death.

Mandroids are suits of armor designed by Tony Stark and usually associated with Avengers stories.

3rd story:
This vignette takes place sometime after Uncanny X-Men #287. In that issue, Bishop’s origin in this timeline was revealed, his friends Malcolm and Randall died, and Storm expressed her distrust of Bishop, which he now rubs in her face.

Written By: