What if…? (2nd series) #75

Issue Date: 
July 1995
Story Title: 
Variations on a Scream

Stefan Petrucha (writer), Greg Luzniak (penciler), Andy Lanning (inker), Maria Parwulski (colorist), Gespar (letterer), Marcus McLaurin (editor), Carl Potts (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

When Generation X are fighting the Phalanx, Blink uses her power to destroy the Phalanx. However, she accidentally also kills the other kids while she herself is blinked outside regular time and space, She lands in a strange dimension where she can witness what is happening on Earth in small bubbles. When she sees Banshee drowning, she uses her power to change that bubble and save him and soon realizes that she can influence the timeline. When the dimension’s ruler, the In-Betweener, confronts her and tries to kill her, she vanquishes him too and takes on aspects of him. Blink spends the time trying to make the world perfect, especially for mutants and the X-Men. Only Banshee, who is somehow connected to her, realizes something is wrong with the world. The X-Men find out Blink has changed their world but see no reason to change anything. When Blink tries to change the past, namely the death of Generation X, the event that brought her to this dimension, the whole timeline collapses and the world goes crazy both around her and the X-Men. However, the X-Men refuse Banshee’s suggestion to kill Blink, as this would mean sacrificing their children. Banshee confronts her alone and begs her to let go, that the deaths of Generation X were an accident. Blink finally agrees and the original timeline is restored. Generation X are dead and so is Blink, or at least everyone think so. Actually, so she has become apprentice to the In-Betweener.

Full Summary: 

Clarice Fergusson aka Blink is torn between time. She sees splinters of her own life, how she and other young mutants were captured by the Phalanx. As she is torn between time and space, she has the urge to let go but a part stubbornly resists.  

She sees flashes of the X-Men’s lives. She finally remembers. How she used her teleportation powers to attack the Phalanx Harvest, willing to sacrifice her life for the others youngsters. But instead of Blink, the others died in the ship’s explosion.

Banshee reached for her hand before she became trapped by her own powers. Blink rematerializes and figures Banshee pulled her free. Instead, as she gets a look around, she realizes she is in a strange place that is certainly not Earth as it is distorted, though it seem to be constructed of her memories. She soon realizes the distortion comes from the floating bubbles.

In one bubble, she sees the past when she was captured by the Phalanx and, horrified, she sees how her powers made the ship detonate and tore apart the other youngsters in the water. She swore she wouldn’t use her powers again, and now…  

She hears Banshee in the ocean weakly crying her name. She realizes he is drowning because he tried to save her. She cries out his name.

Banshee, exhausted, goes down, thinking of Moira MacTaggert.  

Blink figures she can’t make matters worse. She uses her power to blink the bubble apart and reform it differently. Suddenly the ship still exists, allowing Banshee to grab for it and stay afloat. He decides not to waste this miracle.  The second he finds Moira, he’s going to propose.

Blink is happy about her miracle until she remembers the deaths of the other kids which she caused.  She decides to study every bubble in this place until she can undo this tragedy. She walks off on the yellow brick road unaware of the black and white figure behind her that studies her intently.

When Banshee returns to Westchester, he finds Colossus hugging a miraculously recovered Illyana Rasputin. She explains that Professor X found a cure for the Legacy virus and a treatment for AIDS as well. Xavier admits it’s been as stunning 12 hours. Apart from his discoveries, Forge removed the threat of the Phalanx with a simple mech-virus.  

Sean doesn’t want to intrude on their happiness, so he doesn’t tell them he remembers Illyana’s funeral.

Blink manipulates more and more time-bubbles, feeling like a guardian angel. Banshee and Moira get married. Storm and Forge patch things up. She changes more and more about the time line but she cannot touch the moment when her friends died. Why? she wonders aloud.

A voice announces the event that brought her here cannot be altered by her. To do so would create an irreparable paradox. The ground shakes as the terrain comes alive. The voice continues it thought at first she was a refraction. But given the damage she has done she is not. Perhaps she is from the shadow world come here to upset the balance. The ground strikes her down.  

Wait a minute! she protests. The use of that term betrays her as a creature of the finite linear world, he muses. How can this be? Whatever error brought her here must be corrected immediately.  

Does this mean she is going home? Blink asks hopefully. The In-Betweener bursts from the ground and angrily tells her it means she is going to die! He is the In-Betweener. Servant of chaos and order, protector of the time stream. With her petty manipulations, she has disturbed the balance of this realm. She must be expunged.  

Dodging his blows, she protests she did it to save some good people a lot of pain. What does she know of good? he scoffs. Save one child here, and elsewhere a hundred die. So he lets people die when he could save them? Blink bursts out. That’s insane! He is neither sane nor insane the In-Betweener replies. He is a manifestation of the principle of balance. She could not begin to understand what ill she has done. Those that were meant to die are now alive.  

He tells her not to struggle. Upon ending her essence will once again become one with the all that birthed her. She shall become the stuff of stars and insects. If she is lucky perhaps for a moment she will even understand death is not an ending.  

Clarice is not convinced. She attacks with her teleportation power and blinks him apart. He’s gone and she realizes she just destroyed a godlike being. Is there anything she can’t do?

The X-Men continue leading charmed lives. After some years, Banshee, Moira and their two sons visit the Xavier Institute for a reunion, to find Professor X can walk with implants he and Magnus designed. Beast and Forge greet Sean. Has it really been three year since the X-Men disbanded? Hank muses. Forge tells Sean Hank has his hands full reforesting the Brazilian rain forests. It’s certainly easier now that the tension between mutants and humans has vanished. Ever miss the old days? Forge asks. Nah, is the reply. Sean is puzzled.  

Next he runs into Jean and Scott Summers without his red glasses. Ruby quartz contact lenses, Scott explains. Jean asks if he has seen their boy running around. He’s always getting into some mischief or other.

Later, Sean talks to Logan who explains they still have a long way to go. It will be five years before all of Ethiopia is fertile again. As the others celebrate Sean tells himself no crime, no disease, no war, no hate and the children, his children are growing happy and fast. Seems like only yesterday the whole world was on the verge of mutual destruction. He sinks down. Problem is, he thinks it was yesterday.

Moira sits down next to him and asks if he can’t even take some joy in watching their children play. He apologizes but what eats him won’t fit into words. It’s a gnawing sense at the back of his head that things aren’t right. Moira explains she had another reason for bringing him here. Forge has invented a neurotransmitter that will allow her to feel what he feels. Maybe she can help.  

Later, she shares his memories and is horrified. She expected the guilt over the loss of the children… but the rest of the world, full of crime, pollution, hatred… Make it stop! she shouts. She wonders if this is a psychosis or real. Suddenly the alarm goes off.

Sean and Moira join Forge and Storm in the comm-center where they are extinguishing a small fire. Storm explains they were reprogramming Cerebro to use historical data to make some future projections. But every model of the future collapsed. A first they though there were programming glitches. Then Forge realized that maybe they were the problem. Time’s linear quality may be a quirk of human perception. Cerebro not being human accessed a different perspective and uncovered some anomalies. They traced them to the death of the mutant children - Generation X - and isolated a tachyon signature surrounding the event. Cerebro recognized the pattern as Blink. She survived and she is somehow manipulating time. There is no telling what she has done and what they may owe to her. They could try to each her but she’s become so enmeshed in the time stream he is not sure there is any way they could stop her short of killing her. And no certainty they should.  

That moment, the two couples’ kids come in crying because of the noise and darkness and the heroes are distracted.

Blink is pleased to get some credit for her deeds. She wonders what Forge meant about her identity getting enmeshed with the place. She admits she does feels stronger and now looks more like the In-Betweener as well. She is confident enough to tackle what has been bugging her: the deaths of the other kids. The In-Betweener said she couldn’t change it but he probably didn’t think she could destroy him either. What if he was wrong on both counts? After all, she has more experience now and more power.

She tries to manipulate the time bubble and feels it starting to give. However, suddenly tendrils from the ground grab her and the ground is beginning to shake.

The X-Men have gathered and Xavier explains that after a decade of peace and progress a thousand disasters at once are happening. It’s as if time is folding on itself, with hundreds of temporal incongruences rocking the world. Why now and why are they so unaffected? Earthquakes, super-villains, rifts in time. What single entity could cause this?

Banshee announces they know who it is. He explains how years ago Cerebro discovered Blink was transported into a simultaneity. He’s theorized that ever since she’s been manipulating time, bringing them this golden age. But now something has gone wrong, time itself is deteriorating and Clarice is the source of the problem. They have one hope. According to Cerebro, they can use the temporal distortion device left here by the Fantastic Four to access the simultaneity, find Clarice and destroy her.

Storm and Forge protest. Apart from the fact it’s murder if they do that, everything may return to the way it was. On a global level, that means pollution, disease and hatred of mutants. On a personal level, it may mean that for some of them their children were never born, for others it may mean death!

Has she become insane? Sean shouts at Storm. There is no alternative! While they are talking two Galactuses are preparing to eat the world! Dinosaurs are wandering Wall Street! The bleeding world is falling apart! Clarice must die! If necessary, he’ll kill her himself!

He finds the other X-Men turning against him. Even Moira sides with them, refusing to let him endanger their children.

Blink finds the aborted timelines are fighting back and now are forcing their way back all at once. She is overwhelmed and for the X-Men reality goes crazy as suddenly both Napoleonic soldiers and Sentinels attack them.

Banshee takes off. He is linked to Blink and can sense her. He flies to the lab and presses the button. “Goodbye, Moira. Hello, Clarice. Your killer is here.”

He finds himself in another realm. ”You poor child!” he exclaims when he sees her attacked by the very landscape itself. He tells her to let go, to stop fighting events. Blink replies if she stops it will all return to the way it was. And she will have killed Generation X forever. He tells her it was an accident and he knows what it will mean, what he will lose, but it’s the only way.

Blink realizes he is right. She lets the old go. She is ready not to be. From the nothingness the In-Betweener speaks  to her. She has managed to detach from the corruption she engendered, allowing him to manifest again. Will he kill her now? she asks. No, he decides.

The old timeline is restored.
The X-Men, Banshee among them, are at the funeral of Generation X.
Banshee mourns for them, wishing he could have done something. He wanted to tell Moira how much she means to him. Maybe another time, he decides.  

Two hooded figures watch. The smaller one remarks she swore an oath of non-interference in exchange for survival but it hurts so much to watch time without being able to help. With patience, she will see how things work, the In-Betweener tells her She is but a child and he has so much to show her.

Characters Involved: 


Angel, Banshee,
Beast, Colossus, Cyclops, Forge, Gambit, Iceman, Jean Grey, Professor X,   Psylocke, Rogue, Storm, Wolverine (all X-Men)

Moira MacTaggert

Illyana Rasputin

White Queen

Chamber, Husk, Jubilee, M, Skin

Moira and Banshee’s children
Storm and Forge’s children

Human Torch, Invisible Woman, Mr. Fantastic,
Thing (Fantastic Four)



Apocalypse, Cyber, Emplate, Galactus,
Hitler, Magneto, Red Skull, Sentinels, Venom

Story Notes: 

Sean is mistakenly called “Shawn.”

Illyana died in Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #303. Her funeral was in issue #304.

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