Uncanny X-Men: First Class #3

Issue Date: 
November 2009
Story Title: 
The Next Life

Scott Gray (writer), Roger Cruz (art), Val Staples (colorist), Blambot’s Nate Piekos (letterer), Anthony Dial (production), McGuiness & Sorra (cover), Jordan D. White (assistant editor), Nathan Cosby (editor), Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (Exec. Publisher

Brief Description: 

After an exercise where Banshee shows off his experience to his teammate, he goes on a date with Moira MacTaggert who, in spite of her feelings for him, keeps Sean at a distance. Back at home, he is in for a surprise: his estranged father-in-law, Patrick Rourke, has arrived, distraught and begging Sean for help. When Sean takes a late night walk, he believes he sees the ghost of his late wife, Maeve, who tells him the word “Belfast.” Rourke has seen the ghost as well and the two men decide to go to Belfast together, not the one in Ireland, but the one in the US where Sean proposed to Maeve. Patrick talks Moira into coming along. In Belfast, Sean takes off alone and Patrick shows his true colors, kidnapping Moira. Sean is confronted by the ghostly Maeve again, who attacks him and takes him to her father and his compatriot Graverobber, who created the “ghost” Maeve from memories. Patrick is dying of cancer and, when he learned that Sean had found a new love, he wanted to destroy him and Moira. Maeve means to kill Sean but, influenced by his memories of her, she becomes more like the Maeve he loved and frees him. Sean and Moira manage to flee before the building burns down. Afterwards, Sean is better able to let go and Moira is more willing to open herself to Sean.
On Starcore One Peter corbeau and his colleagues scan the sun and find there are humanoid beings on it.

Full Summary: 

The woodland of Westchester, New York, morning as some of the X-Men are training. The flying Banshee’s cry pierces the air when suddenly his teammate, Nightcrawler, teleports in and lands on his back. Thought he slipped past him? Think again! Grinning he holds his hands in front of Sean’s eyes, suggesting he land before he crashes.

However, the more experienced X-Man can actually fly blind. Using his sonic scream as a sonar, he is able to “see” the trees in front of him. He goes low, then high, losing Kurt in the crest of a tree.

A moment later, he is hit by a dust cloud coming out of nowhere, courtesy of Storm. Wolverine orders a fastball special from his teammate, Colossus, and unsheathes his claws. Storm cries out in protest.

However, Banshee is well prepared as Wolverine’s hyper-senses make him especially vulnerable to Banshee’s sonic scream. He then aims another blast at the tree. Colossus is busy protecting Storm from the tree. Banshee has almost reached the finishing line, the flag, grabs it and dodges Cyclops’ optic blast.

Triumphantly, he lands. Cyclops claps impressed, praising his work. Pinpoint accuracy and first-class adaptive strategy. Wolverine moans about his head. Sean thanks Scott and jokingly tells the others to let this be a lesson. They might think Sean Cassidy is looking long in the tooth but this old dog’s learned every new trick in the book.

Sean’s mood remains high as he travels to Salem Center, a small town near the X-Men’s home. He has a lunch date with the woman who has recently won his heart, Moira Mactaggert, a good friend of the X-Men.

Very soon, they are embroiled in an argument over musical tastes. Hank Williams? Moira asks disbelievingly. Merle Haggard? Johnny Cash?! Where is his national pride? He should be listening to the Pogues or Van Morrison! Is he going to be sewing rhinestones onto that costume of his next?

His pride is alive and well, he assures her. His heart will always lie in Ireland, but his soul belongs to Nashville. He can’t wait to take her to the Grand Ol’ Opry this summer. Oh, is that so? she asks. She was counting on Barbados or Greece, not rodeo and square dancing. Any reason why they can’t do both? he asks and takes her hand. They’ve got plenty of time for all of it. Their whole lives are ahead of them. They are going to see the world together…

Moira hesitates, then asks him not to spoil things. She gets up. What does she mean? he asks. She reminds him it’s still early for them. She’s happy where they are but she’s not comfortable with him planning their retirement just yet. Maybe they’ll make a go of it and maybe they won’t…. They will if they try, he assures her, that’s all he’s asking. He knows she feels the same way he does. Moira turns away. There are no guarantees in life. Lord knows she’s been certain of her heart before and been wrong…

The past is in the past, he assures her. It’s what happens next that matters. He whispers that he knows what would put a smile on her lovely face. Let him fly her back to mansion. No way! she whispers back agitated. And why not? he asks. She never lets him fly her anywhere. That’s because she prefers to keep her feet firmly planted on the ground, thank you very much, she replies tartly. Oh, g’wan lass, he urges her.

Speaking loud again, Moira orders him to stop calling her “lass.” She’s a woman with a whole mess of years under her belt. She won’t be swept off her feet like a silly little school girl. She’ll see him back at the mansion! She leave.

Saints alive, he thinks as he walks out as well. If he lives to be a hundred, he will never understand… He bumps into a handsome black man with long dreadlocks. Sean apologizes. No problem, the stranger assures him in a French accent. He smirks as he watches Sean walk on. No problem at all…

It is late afternoon at Xavier’s School when Xavier calls Banshee to the reception area; he has a visitor. Xavier points to an old man who only said Sean’s name, little else. Surprised, Sean bursts out he doesn’t believe it. Patrick Rourke? Sean Cassidy, the old man mutter, seemingly still out of it. Sean Cassidy, that’s who ye are. Found ye… I found ye. What is he doing here? Sean demands. It’s been fifteen years. The old man falls against him. It’s his little girl, he gasps.

Later, Sean sits brooding outside and Moira joins him, having just gotten back and learned what’s going on. Patrick Rourke is resting. She notices Sean is white as a sheet. Who is this man? He’s someone he never thought he’d lay eyes on again, Sean admits. He’s the father of his wife…


Maeve Rourke came into his life like a lightning bolt. She challenged him, cared for him, made him a man. She loved the scent of jasmine and the feel of rain on her face. Her laugh was like a warm breeze. Their wedding was the happiest day of his life. Maeve was proud when he made inspector at Interpol. But that’s when it all started going sour. He was sent away on a special mission. Deep cover. He was gone for months. There was no way to contact her. She’d never say good-bye when they parted. It was always “be seein’ ya, boyo. And then the Troubles flared up again. Dark times for Ireland. So much hate in the air. Maeve went to visit her family in Armagh and one day she was out shopping and there was a bomb. He came back too late. Too late even for her funeral.


Moira tries to console him. Crying Sean states that Patrick never forgave him for not protecting Maeve and why should he? Sean never forgave himself! He’s kept a photo of Maeve in his wallet. He reaches for his wallet to show Moira, to find it’s gone.

Elsewhere, the man who bumped into Sean, now wearing a strange tribal outfit sits in a cellar, staring at Maeve’s picture. A love so strong… a love so true. He kisses the picture. He can feel her breath, smell her hair. He can hear her voice singing a slow sweet tune. She’s so close now. Rise, darlin’, he commands. Rise up!

Night at Xavier’s. Insomniac Sean tries to clear his head as he takes a walk along Breakstone Lake. He wonders why Patrick has come now. He always hated Sean, wouldn’t come to the wedding, said Sean wasn’t worthy of Marve. He was such a strong man, wealthy, powerful but he’s turned so frail. He looks like he’s seen--

That moment, something rises from the lake; it’s Maeve in her wedding gown, carrying flowers, a bemused look on her face. She gazes at Sean sadly, then rises up into the air.

Sean flies after her, but loses her in the clouds. Where are you, darlin´? he cries out and begs her to say something. In the clouds the word Belfast takes shape.

Later, Sean shakes Patrick Rourke awake, demanding answers. Why is he here? He knows it’s about Maeve! Tell him everything! Has he seen her too? Patrick asks in a weak voice. His little girl came to him on the anniversary of her death. She said nothing at first. But she kept coming again and again, so sad and alone. She told him to find Sean. It’s taken him months. He hugs Sean, begging him to help him, help her

In the morning, Sean has packed his things. As he packs his cases into the car, Moira pleads with him to stop and give this some thought. His head was filled with memories last night. Maeve was all he was thinking about. He spotted something in the mist and his mind filled in the gaps, she rationalizes his sight.

So maybe it was just a hallucinations, is that her diagnosis? He demands. Ol’ Sean’s going a bit doollally. Of course not, she hurries. He was overtired. He’s seen sights in his life she could never explain, he tells her. The spirit world is as real as the ground they are standing on. Maeve was real and she needs him. In Belfast? Moira asks. Not the one in Ireland, Sean informs her. There is a town on the coast of Maine with the same name. Maeve and he went there on their one trip abroad. It’s where he proposed.

Patrck pleads with Moira, telling her this is hard to accept. Moira gives him condolences for his loss but still believes they are making a mistake. The only thing they will find on this trip is heartache. Shouldn’t she come with them then? Patrick suggests carefully. If she truly cares for Sean, then she knows he’s going to need her. Moira thinks for a moment, then tells Sean to leave some space for her hiking boots. She’s riding shotgun.


The United Nations Satellite Starcore One has been monitoring solar flare activity for the last few days. It has now found something else. Peter Corbeau orders his colleague Nadia to focus on the scan. This is the first clear signal they’ve had in days. She is trying but the flares keep wiping the entire spectrum. They are building in strength.

The next moment, they are again shocked to see their suspicion confirmed – there are people on the surface of the sun. In the heat of the flares. And they are wearing armor.

This is madness! one of the scientists exclaims. The gravity, the radiation, the heat – nothing could survive there! Corbeau orders them to get as much data as the can while the signal lasts, then he becomes unsure. One of the shapes seems to be looking at them…

Sean, Moira and Patrick have finally reached Belfast on Penoboscot Bay in Waldo County. A quiet town, at ease with its surroundings. Sean remembers walking with Maeve along the shoreline. A ring clutched tight in his trembling hand. He breathes the sea air and sighs. He asks Mora to take the wheel and find them a place to stay. He feels like a walk. Moira agrees but knows he is just slipping away so he can ghost hunt by air. Well, she decides, she’ll protect his secret, but she can’t protect his heart. She silently wishes him luck.

Out of sight, Sean slips into his costume and takes to the air, vowing to find Maeve and make sure she will rest in peace. He won’t fail her again.

In the car, Moira talks to Rourke, suggesting they find a hotel. And the seafood is supposed to be excellent. What does he say? With an evil grin, he asks her to call him “Patrick” while pressing a wad with chloroform over her mouth.

Sean has flown over an hour when finally he sees Maeve’s ghostly shape floating in the air. Banshee instinctively shifts his sonic scream to a sub-harmonic frequency, allowing him to speak, but his voice is choked with years of grief.

She looks so beautiful, he tells her, not a day older than when he left her on that platform in Dublin. What does she need from him? She needs to know why he left her to die, she replies. Tears in his eyes, he pleads with her to forgive him. He knows he let her down. He was supposed to be her man, he should have saved her. He’s carried that weight with him every day since. There were times when he thought it would crush him. He loved her from the moment they met…

Liar! she snarls as her face transforms into a feral monster’s. She attacks and tears at him with claws shouting he abandoned her. He owes her a blood debt and tonight he pays in full.

Elsewhere, Moira awakes, chained in the dark. Just a mild sedative, Patrick Rourke informs her. They haven’t come far. She was right, by the way. The seafood in Belfast is excellent but she won’t be getting the chance to sample it.

He introduces her to the man sitting opposite her – Julius Dupree – the same man that stole Sean’s wallet. Now though instead of a suit he is wearing loincloth and a fancy tribal necklace. Rourke continues that he is currently employing Dupree who is a man with a singular talent. He’s dealing Rourke some overdue justice.

Then this is all a trap, Moira realizes. His coming to the mansion, playing the confused old man, begging Sean for help. He just wanted to lure him here. Why? What did Sean ever do to him? He stole his little girl! Rourke shouts. Maeve was all the family he had. She belonged to him! He ordered her not to marry that jumped-up fool Cassidy and she disobeyed her father. And then he just pranced off and left her to die!

She knows his type well, Moira replies condescendingly. Violent, jealous, controloing. She married someone like him and barely survived the experience. And she’s had a hard time trusting any man since. But why attack Sean now after all these years?

Because it had to be done come the reply. On the anniversary of Maeve’s death, he learned two things. He had terminal cancer – less than a year to live – and Sean Cassidy had found a new love: her. The thought of that cur starting a happy new life when his was ending was too much to bear.

With a grin, he confides he never lost track of Cassidy. As long as he was miserable, he let him live. And, yes, he knows he’s a mutant. Part of a group, his sources say. That’s why he brought him here where his friends can’t help him… here’s where it all ends.

In the air, Maeve still savagely tears at Sean, sarcastically ordering him to tell her he missed her… how much he cares! Unwilling to fight her, Sean tries to flee. Running again? she asks. She doesn’t think so. She claws right through his back. All his lies, all his crimes, they burn inside her. He falls towards the water. It’s all he deserves! she shouts after him.

Down in the hideout, energy swirls around Dupree as he announces that Maeve is coming. His spell has made her sing an angry tune to poor Mr. Cassidy.

“Spell” my eye, Moira scoffs. He can play the voodoo priest all he likes, but she knows psionic energy when she sees it. He’s a mutant. If she says so, he replies with a broad grin. Power is power, no matter what name you give it. He takes memories and gives them form. He shapes them and sculpts them and gifts them with a voice and they obey him. Back in Haiti, strong men cry when they hear his name. They call him the Graverobber.

Meave comes flying in, bringing a tied up and gagged Banshee. Patrick thanks her. She’s become a dutiful daughter, at last. He had to see him one last time, he tells Sean. How does it feel, knowing he is about to fail another love? He takes out a detonator and presses the time button. A hundred pounds of TNT are wired up all over this factory. The clock’s ticking with five minutes to go. Soon Sean and his new lady friend won’t even be dust. Sean kicks his face, but Patrick just laughs.

Maeve threatens Sean. She shouts at him not to hurt her father, but then she is overcome by his memories of her, the way he saw and loved her.

Patrick hysterically shouts at her to strike, but instead she returns to the Maeve Sean knew. Mouthing his name, she takes of Banshee’s gag.

Instantly, Sean uses the chance and screeches at the two villains. C’est l’amour Graverobber comments. It’s been fun but it’s time he’s leaving. Fire flares around him as he teleports away and the building begins to burn.

Moira shouts a warning to Sean. They need to get out before the fire reaches the explosives. A girder is about to fall on her and Sean shoves her to safety. Frantically, he tries to look for Maeve. Moira cups his face and asks him to let her go.

In the flames stand Patrick and a collected, calm Maeve. It doesn’t end like this! he shouts in disbelief. It can’t! Get off me, you thing! he orders Maeve. Father, our time is over, she replies. With a smile she tells Sean: Be seein’ ya, boyo. And Sean gets himself and Moira out only just in time before the explosives detonate.

Soon they watch the conflagration from a safe distance. Moira summarizes that Dupree was a psionic sculptor. He took Rourke’s twisted memories of Maeve and created a psychic construct – a deadly puppet. But she thinks he started using Sean’s memories to strengthen it and that was his mistake, His love for Maeve must have influenced that construct.

Is she sure about that? he asks. At the end, when he stared into her eyes, that was the real Maeve looking back. But he won’t live in the past. That’s what finished Rourke. Maeve’s sprit is finally at rest and he’s got a future to plan. He tells Moira he loves her. She loves him too, Moira replies. Now there’s something he can do for her. They kiss. Take me flying, Moira orders and Sean happily complies.

Characters Involved: 

Banshee, Colossus, Cyclops, Nightcrawler, Storm, Wolverine (all X-Men)

Professor X

Dr. Moira MacTaggert

Patrick Rourke (Banshee’s father-in-law)

Julius Dupree / Graverobber

“ghost” of Maeve Rourke Cassidy
Dr Peter Corbeau

Nadia and other scientists on Starcore One
In Banshee’s memory:

younger Sean Cassidy

Maeve Rourke Cassidy

Story Notes: 

Maeve is colored as a redhead here instead as a blonde as in her first appearance in Classic X-Men #16, which also chronicles Sean’s and her first meeting.

The Troubles refers to the time of conflict between Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland, which dated from the 60ies to the Belfast Agreement in 1998.

Sean’s comment about strange sights may refer to his adventure in the special when he met an actual Banshee. However, he also has actual elves living at his castle. So he’s used to strange things.

Moira’s marriage to the abusive Joe MacTaggert is revealed in X-Men (1st series) #125-128.

Issue Information: 
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