Winter is over and the uncanny X-Men are happily spending a leisurely afternoon with baseball. At first glance, the sides seem a bit uneven with Nightcrawler, Wolverine and Rogue facing their three fellow X-Men Kitty Pryde, Colossus and Storm plus their mentor Professor Xavier, his lover Lilandra and Kitty’s pet dragon Lockheed, but appearances can be deceiving.
Kitty tells Colossus to batter up. They need a hit. Lilandra sighs she shall miss this when she leaves. There’s a simple solution, Xavier suggests. Yes, she agrees, he and the X-Men come with her to Shi’ar. Touché, Points admits.
He muses that Wolverine chose his team brilliantly. Nightcrawler’s teleporting ability enables him to be anywhere on the field in the blink of an eye, while Rogue can fly after any ball he misses. And Wolverine is the sneakiest pitcher he’s ever seen.
Logan pitches and Peter hits hard (even though he doesn’t even change to Colossus). They watch the ball fly up and disappear. Rogue and Nightcrawler decide to let that ball go. Logan sarcastically congratulates Peter. He just put another ball into orbit.
No, he didn’t, Rogue corrects him. It’s coming back down. Impossible, resident science nerd Kitty states. The descent trajectory is all wrong - unless it bounced off something on the way up. That’s no ball! Lilandra warns them, it’s a ship!
Massive pressor beams hammer the astounded mutants to the ground and nearly to unconsciousness as the unknown vessel reverses its main drive and comes to a complete stop directly above the mansion. Moments later, its sole occupant emerges – Galactus, though strangely the Devourer of Worlds sports a purple and green color scheme.
He greets them and assures them he comes in peace. Lilandra reacts with horror while points out he said he came in peace. He tries to mindprobe Galactus, but registers him as a psychic null, almost as if he doesn’t exist. But he senses another presence. He tries to make contact but goes into shock instead.
Kurt and Lilandra decide to get him to the infirmary while Storm whistles up some bad weather to attack.
“Galactus” is uncharacteristically impressed by her display. The he gets back into his role and tells them the harm that befell their professor was unintentional and he will quickly recover, but Galactus will permit nobody to assault his person or stay him from his course. He requires the use of their domicile. For their own safety, he suggests they scatter.
Angrily, Storm warns him they won’t give up their home without a fight. The X-Men are in the same mood while Lilandra warns them. One gesture by Galactus brings instant oblivion. And when, shortly thereafter, it passes there is only a crater where their house once stood…
Soon the X-Men, Xavier and Lilandra are in the Blackbird hovering above New York City. Rogue asks the Professor and Storm if they are absolutely sure they should be doing this. Scared? Wolverine asks her. You bet’cha! she replies.
With good reason, Xavier agrees. They face possibly the most formidable antagonist of their lives. Fortunately, his mind is so unique and alien that his own telepathic powers can easily pinpoint his location. Storm warns him to take care. Remember the consequences of the last psi-probe! They are almost totally ignorant of their foe, Xavier replies. Since they cannot match his powers, knowledge and cunning are the only key to defeating him.
Lilandra briefs them on Galactus. Storm wonders if that is who they are after? Galactus consumes worlds. What need has he for a house? And see where the psionic trace is leading them? SHIELD’s heli-carrier. He is somewhere aboard, yet how could so huge a being even fit on a ship built for human beings?
Storm orders Nightcrawler and Kitty to reconnoiter and much to Kurt’s discomfort Lockheed holds fast to his tail when he teleports them. Xavier intends to telepathically direct them to their quarry…
Inside the heli-carrier, headquarters of SHIELD, Colonel Nick Fury and la Contessa Valentina Allegro de Fontaine are sharing an intimate moment in his quarters. They begin to kiss. Somebody is reaching for them.
Hold it, buster! Kitty Pryde suddenly shouts, phasing in from the ceiling. Whatever you’re doing here, cut it out! The being turns into a giant snake. Kitty screams as he shouts he won’t let her stop him. Too much is at stake!
That moment, Lockheed blasts in through the window and the creature gets out, having changed into a wooden Indian.
Kitty belatedly realizes this is an apartment. Reaching for his gun, Nick Fury demands an explanation. Kitty apologizes before shouting for Nightcrawler.
Kurt and Fury’s second-in-command Dum-Dum Dugan and his troops arrive at the same time. Kurt teleports Kitty away. Was this an attack? the agents ask. A panty raid more like, Fury replies. Those kid super-types are getting out of hand. Valentina suddenly notices Nick’s eye-patch is gone.
The Savage Land:
Kitty is excited. Unlike her teammates, she’s never been here before. Lockheed probably feels right at home here, she teases her dragon. Is Charles sure they are in the right place? Wolverine asks. Xavier telepathically replies that their quarry is making no effort to hide his trail, almost as if he wants them to follow. None of this makes any sense, Wolverine continues. What could he be after here?
He warns the others the next moment. Movement in the trees. Two people closing in fast. He unsheathes his claws while Lilandra draws her energy sword. Unnecessarily as it turns out, as the newcomers are the X-Men’s friend Ka-Zar and his girlfriend, Shanna O’Hara.
Have the X-Men noticed a slightly kidnapped Saber-tooth tiger, by any chance? Someone just swiped Zabu!
Actually, Colossus informs them, they are looking for their house, which seems to be in a similar predicament. Rogue pipes up. This is gonna sound really loony, but she thinks this is a scavenger hunt. Xavier finds the theory intriguing. Unfortunately, it brings them no closer to identifying their quarry or ending his rampage. The next moment, he warns them he is on the move again, heading due north…
New York City, where in a fifth Avenue mansion famed across the world, the intruder alert beeps.
The Avengers’ butler looks at the video screen. That’s the Fantastic Four’s fantasticar parked on their front lawn, but what’s the clutter piled atop it? Stolen property, she bets, the newest Avenger, She-Hulk, cries. And there are the thieves. She recognizes them from the files; Colossus and Rogue of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.
Jarvis points out that Colossus is an X-Man, an enemy of the Brotherhood. Looks to her somebody switched sides, She-Hulk replies, ready for a fight. Jarvis summons the rest of the team. Unnecessary, She-Hulk thinks, as there are only two of them.
The two X-Men don’t notice She-Hulk coming at them, they have just missed the Fantasticar flying off downtown. What need has their mystery foe for women’s costumes? Colossus wonders. What need have the Avengers for so many? Rogue adds the hovercar’s loaded. He can’t move fast or maneuver. They’ve got a good chance to finally catch him.
She wants to fly off. That moment, She-Hulk catches her by the ankle and smashes her to the ground. She attacks Colossus who tells her they aren’t criminals. He catches her arm and uses a judo throw to toss her to the ground. The next moment, he is hit by a repulsor ray courtesy of Iron Man.
At that moment, in a townhouse in Blecker Street – in the heart of Greenwich Village – Dr. Strange, master of the mystic arts, meditates in his sanctum sanctorum, blissfully ignorant of the night’s events. That’s about to change.
By the hoary hosts of Hoggoth, Strange exclaims as his unique window is suddenly lifted. His brownstone is protected by spells against assaults mystic and temporal, making the building supposedly impregnable. Yet Dr. Strange’s sigil window is snatched from its frame with appalling ease. With the window gone, those selfsame shield spells are totally disrupted and a host of demons emerges from it.
Nearby, She-Hulk and Iron Man halt in their attack on Colossus. What the heck is that? She-Hulk asks. Iron Man has no idea. He warns Colossus not to move or he’ll get another dose of his repulsor ray.
Holding his aching head, Colossus begins he wants to explain. A wasted effort, Rogue announces. Those jerks will never listen. She touches She-Hulk’s bare shoulder. As she absorbs the other’s woman’s strength, she begins to grow and turn green.
So let’s get the creep! Rogue shouts, running off, followed by Colossus.
Kitty turns to Iron Man and apologizes for accidentally disrupting his armor’s circuits. She wishes she could stay and help but she’s gotta run. Why him? Iron Man thinks.
With the X-Men gone, the Avengers’ butler Jarvis shows up. How good to see him again, Jarvis announces. He’s summoned the rest of the Avengers. They’ll be here directly. Does he require assistance? He doesn’t think so, comes the reply. The kid froze his armor momentarily, but the systems seem to be automatically repairing themselves.
They zapped She-Hulk but good. Jarvis asks him to convey her to the infirmary. The medical computers possess the necessary data from the Avengers’ last encounter with Rogue to deal with her affliction. He continues he never dreamed of the X-Men becoming villains.
As Iron Man lifts up She-Hulk, he admits that he has the feeling they all jumped to the wrong conclusion. From the way the X-Men talked, they were chasing the real crook. If the Avengers hadn’t interfered, they might have caught him. They also sounded like Iron Man was a friend, he thinks to himself. What does he do about that? The Iron Man they know is his boss, Tony Stark. The man who created this suit. They don’t know him, James Rhodes, from Adam. And he sure doesn’t know how to handle their crazy powers. This masquerade is getting harder and more dangerous every day.
He asks Jarvis what was stolen. He believes only the Wasp’s costume collection, comes the reply. Huh? Iron Man exclaims. His sentiment exactly, Jarvis agrees.
A few minutes later, a few blocks down Fifth Avenue, Kitty peeks up through the floor and assures the others the coast is clear. A moment later, Rogue and Colossus smash a way up from below.
Never figured he’d walk this turf again, Logan mutters as the X-Men climb up. Storm orders him to scout the room. According to the professor, their quarry is somewhere in there with them.
Also with them is the White Queen. The comatose Emma Frost is lying on a catafalque, like Sleeping Beauty, dressed in a gown and holding a bouquet of flowers. Kitty summarizes that when they captured Mastermind Professor Xavier learned that Ms Frost had been one of his first victims. He must have created the worst illusions to put her in such a state. She knows Emma’s a villain, but isn’t there anything they can do?
Storm reminds her that the professor’s help was refused. With a cold smile she adds that it is no less than she deserves. Worried, Kitty thinks that she’d expect a remarks this like from Wolvie, not Ororo.
Wolverine also notices the change in Ororo. She’s wilder, tougher, walking his and Yukio’s road. He wishes he could be sure that’s right for her.
He stalks around, sniffing. He steps up to Emma and suddenly unsheathes his claws, Nightcrawler and Colossus demand to know what he’s doing. He tries to explain the flowers aren’t real. That moment, the bouquet turns into a water gun and he is doused.
A moment later, Sebastian Shaw throws open the doors, warning them their trespass will cost them dear. The pistol turns into a smiling balloon that comments the gentleman looks upset.
Rogue, still hulked up, ignores Storm’s warning and hits Shaw. Impetuous as ever, Shaw mocks and strikes back. Did she learn nothing from their last encounter? That is his own mutant power: the harder he is hit, the stronger he becomes!
There are ways of defeating Shaw without striking a blow, Nightcrawler points out as he distracts him via multiple teleports. He notes that the one punch drained the power Rogue absorbed from She-Hulk and she’s barely conscious.
Unnoticed in the confusion, the brightly-colored balloon floats toward the costume once worn by the Hellfire Club’s Black Queen, Jean Grey. It then turns into a rocket wearing the costume and regrets aloud it cannot stay as they all seem to be having so much fun, but he is late and has lots left to do – the rocket takes off.
Nightcrawler is surprised, which means Shaw manages to strike him.
The rocket blasts through the ceiling, wondering how the others are doing.
Storm has had enough. She creates a whirlwind as she figures they are up against a shapechanger, one who may mean no harm, but whose antics may still get them killed. She reminds the team that their mission has nothing to do with Shaw. She whirls them outside through the hole the rocket left. Old scores must be wait to be settled another day! That day will come sooner than she thinks, Shaw vows.
575 Madison Avenue:
The sixth floor of that building is empty. They’re gone! the Impossible Man shouts. That is terrible! Were they kidnapped by their enemies… or killed? How could his dear friends do this to him, when he needs their help?
He finds a flier and sees that the Marvel offices have moved. He only hopes it’s on Earth because he is not allowed to go anywhere else. That’s against the rules.
Nearby is the X-Men’s Blackbird, thankfully invisible courtesy of Lilandra’s Shi’ar cloaking device.
Colossus tries to help Rogue, nervously she asks him to stay back. Her costume is ripped up, so they dare not touch her. Colossus is sure nothing will happen to him as he is in steel form. Storm interjects that his substance is a form of organic living metal. He may not be as immune as he belies.
Wolverine asks where the alien bozo is. He’s itchin’ to get his hands on him. Xavier replies he does not wish him harmed, no matter the provocation. Easy for him to say, Logan snarls, but that little creep owes him. Perhaps, but Wolverine will still do as he says, Xavier warns him. He had a brief contact at Madison Avenue near 57th, but he’s moving downtown. Wherever he’s going, the people sure have his sympathy, Wolverine replies.
And so soon at 387 Park Avenue south, the 10th floor, the reception area of Marvel Comics.…
Assistant Editor Eliot Brown and Editor Mark Gruenwald are in a discussion about the correct depiction of Zabu in the comics. Sabretooth tigers have short tails, Eliot insists. Gruenwald points out Zabu was seen in past adventures with a long tail. Maybe he wears a disguise and it’s his costume. They stand in front of an elevator door. By day a mild-mannered housecat, by night, Zabu, lord of the Savage Land. Eliot is not amused.
Assistant Editor Mike Carlin walks by with a stack of papers almost higher than he. That’s Ka-Zar’s job, he points out. He should know; he writes the book!
Out of the elevator shoots the Impossible Man in Ghost Rider form, riding (a short-tailed) Zabu and bowling the three men over.
A lady from reception shouts after him he is not allowed past her without a visitor’s pass. Was that…? Mark asks. Sure was, Eliot replies. Short tail, too.
The next moment, the X-Men run past them with Kitty quickly apologizing. Brown throws his head down in exasperation. When he gets his hand on Claremont…
The X-Men cause chaos in the Marvel bullpen as they follow the alien.
In an editorial office are editor Larry Hama with freelance artist Michael Holden. Laid back, they discuss Michael’s tentative plans to move to the city. The Poppupian in the form of a sword with the head of Stan Lee as a hilt embeds himself in the desk and asks where he might find their leader Stan Lee.
Not agitated in the least, Hama replies Hollywood. Is that in New York? the Impossible Man asks, then cries out eep when Wolverine and Colossus break through the wall.
Wolverine wants to kill him, Colossus holds him back and the Imp disappears in the form of a miniature plan. The X-Men follow.
He was saying? Hama asks. Lots of weirdos in this town, y’know, comes the reply.
The best office in the place is the corner one overlooking Park Avenue and 27th street. Of course, it belongs to the boss: Michael Hobson, vice-president of publishing. With him is Jim Shooter, Marvel’s editor-in-chief.
Hobson asks Shooter if he has seen those expense account vouchers. Sometimes he wonders if all he does is mooch lunches from his editors. What can he say? Shooter defends the writer in question. Chris is a growing boy. If he keeps up, he won’t even be able to fit through a door, Hobson, prophecies.
An editor Lynn enters, to state that Jim is urgently needed in the bullpen. A crisis already? Hobson sighs. The day’s barely begun. Look on the bright side, Shooter tells him as he leaves, no one around here ever gets bored. They never live long enough, comes the reply. He tells Shooter to hurry back. Shooter suggests he relax. Did he ever see a problem he couldn’t handle? Famous last words, Hobson thinks to himself.
Suddenly, there are sounds of shredding and screams from outside. Shooter comes back in torn clothes, Uh, Mike, he begins, about that problem…
Meanwhile in the bullpen, one panicked Marvel employee informs the X-Men that Stan Lee is in California. Great, Wolverine mutters. That weirdo wants Lee so bad, let’s send him out to the coast after him. This isn’t Mr. Lee’s fault, Kitty protest.
Storm reminds Wolverine that their goal is not to get rid of their foe but to stop this madcap rampage and regain all stolen property. They need to completely, instantly neutralize his powers. Rogue is best equipped to do that.
Like heck! the newest X-Man protests. She’s never used her talent on an alien! She doesn’t know what will happen! She reminds them of what happened when she absorbed (the partial alien) Ms. Marvel’s powers and memories. The transfer was permanent. Because of that she will always be a little crazy. Suppose it happens again?
Storm assures her she understands and shares her fear, but they have no alternative. The Impossible Man is still causing chaos in the bullpen. Rogue doesn’t believe Storm. She thinks Storm will never forgive her for what she did to Ms. Marvel. But she goes anyway and grabs the Imp, touching his bare skin.
There is a zapping noise and an explosion. When the smoke clears the X-Men see Rogue unconscious and the Impossible Man furious. She attacked him, he cries out, almost in disbelief. She hurt him! It was no accident either, that was intentional. Boy, is he going to make her regret it!
Wolverine cradles Rogue protectively and unsheathes his claws, threatening he will have to go through him. If he insists, the Imp replies. The other X-Men gather around Rogue and Wolverine. Go ahead, you monster! Kitty cries. He’ll find the X-Men ready for him.
Taken aback, the Impossible Man asks why she is talking to him like that. He’s no monster! Pull the other one, Logan replies unimpressed. He’s not, the Imp insists. Tell that to Rogue! Wolverine snarls, she’s lucky she’s still breathing!
She caught him by surprise, the Impossible Man defends himself. When she touched him and he felt his life essence begin to dissolve, he panicked. He didn’t mean to hurt her or anyone, he only acted in self-defense!
What does he think they’ve been doing all flamin’ night? Logan demands. Playing the game, comes the reply. What game? Nightcrawler asks. Why, the scavenger hunt, of course!
Who is he? Storm asks. He’s the Impossible Man, sole survivor of the planet Poppup. Is she angry with him? Yes, she replies curtly. He apologizes and she realizes he is sincere. He is as innocent as a child. Completely oblivious to the consequences of his actions.
She asks about his spoils. He enthuses how wonderful they are. Storm asks him to take them there and feels guilty about the mess they made of the Marvel offices.
Writer Chris Claremont on the other hand doesn’t. Neither does Paul Smith, who states he doesn’t pencil the book anymore. Editor Louise Jones orders them to behave. They have guests. While Colossus tries to hold back Zabu Kitty apologizes on behalf of the X-Men and they leave.
Got an explanation? Hobson asks Jim Shooter. Nope Jim replies before telling traffic manager Virginia Romita that this month’s book may be a little late. So what else is new? comes the unimpressed reply.
The X-Men find the Impossible’s Man stash in the Gobi Desert. Unglaublich! Nightcrawler exclaims. Returning these items to their rightful owners will not be easy, Storm fears, assuming the Impossible Man will actually let them. Isn’t it magnificent? he boasts. This is the best collection of prizes in the universe. He got them all from friends or beings he liked. Thanks for the compliment, Wolverine replies. But why did he do it?
He begins to explain. Some time ago he, his mate and their family left the Earth to find a planet of their own to populate since their homeworld Poppup was eaten by Galactus. The problem was they couldn’t decide who should be in charge, because all the superheroes he knew on Earth had a person who was boss and he wanted his family to be just like Earth people. He thought it should be him. After all, he was the father.
Kitty in the meantime rifles through the many costumes of the Wasp, wondering if she might “borrow” some. Kid has no taste, Rogue thinks.
The Impossible Man continues that no one liked his idea. They all wanted to be boss. Back home on Poppup they never had this problem. They were a group mind. But in trying to be like Earth people he made his wife a little different from him and she’s been getting more so since, their children too. They’ve become individuals. They held an election, but everyone got a vote a piece, so they decided to choose with a scavenger hunt. They’d each pick a planet and pick as much real neat stuff as possible in a day.
Colossus points out that they have company. The sky is suddenly full of spaceships and, a moment later, a group of very displeased aliens materialize, announcing that the Poppupians’ hour is at hand.
They have followed this transgressor across the galaxy, compiling a list of crimes against their various worlds, and persons, too numerous to mention. Suffice to say, this one and his progeny have wreaked untold havoc. They are not amused! They shall have retribution from the accursed Poppupian and any fool enough to defend him!
He’s on his own, Wolverine announces. A tempting thought, Lilandra remarks, but consider the consequences. The Imp clamps to Xavier. Lilandra suggests she mediate. By all means, Xavier replies, but could someone please pry him loose?
Lilandra introduces herself. She is known and well respected among the aliens, though she has lost her throne. She suggests an amicable solution. After all, nobody was harmed, or was any of the stolen property damaged? Lilandra suggests she volunteer to judge the Poppupians’ hunt. If they return their prizes and promise never to do this again. Will that not satisfy the injured parties?
What of their pride and vengeance? the Bothnian demands. Lilandra suggests to remember what the Poppupians can do. Good point, the alien admits and accepts Lilandra’s terms.
And so, some time later at the swimming pool of the restored X-mansion the Impossible Man is throwing a tantrum witnessed by Illyana and Kitty. Turns out he didn’t win.
Illyana hands Kitty an ice cream cone and asks how long he’s been like this. Nonstop since Lilandra announced her decision, comes the reply. Illyana urges him to cut it out, he promised Lilandra. Another’s stash was greater. The girls tell him life isn’t fair. He becomes interested in the girls’ ice cream. Turning into Magnum PI, he asks if he can try and, lovestruck, the girls immediately hand him their ice creams.