What If...? (2nd series) #46

Issue Date: 
February 1993
Story Title: 
What if Cable had destroyed the X-Men?

Kurt Busiek (writer), Tod Smith (pencils), Ian Akin (inks), Janice Chiang (letterer), Evelyn Stein (colors), Craig Anderson (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor in chief)

Brief Description: 

Instead of participating in the Skrull/Shi'ar War, Professor X escapes and returns to Earth where he finds the X-Men in disarray. He chastises them, and after Cable speaks out against him, he is stripped of his stewardship of the New Mutants. Cable and the New Mutants fight through the X-Men to escape into the Morlock tunnels. Some time later Cable assassinates the Professor, Jean Grey, and Cyclops. After the funeral the X-Men divide into two groups, Wolverine's, who want to find and kill Cable, and Storm's, who want to capture him. The X-Men's enemies attack the X-Men, leaving them preoccupied while the world's mutant terrorists run amok. Wolverine's group finds and kills Cable. The Mutant Liberation Front, Zaladane, Fenris, and the Hellfire Club attack the X-Men in the mansion, killing some of them. The X-Men flee. It’s time for the rise of Magneto who decides he is mutantkind's only hope.

Full Summary: 

Tavern-On-The-Green, Central Park, New York

Professor X, Jean Grey, and Cyclops are having dinner.
Xavier asks Jean and Scott whether arranging for Beast to rejoin the Avengers might provide welcome some positive visibility.
Scott asks Charles if he really thinks that is necessary.
Charles responds that they live on a razor's edge of public tolerance. Mutants are too isolated of late, too embroiled in their own concerns. Never has it been more dangerous. If they do not--
Charles, Jean and Scott are interrupted by a disk emitting a shrieking sound which has been hurled through the plate glass window of the restaurant.
Jean screams that the noise is agonizing. Charles tells her that it is constantly changing its sonic frequency, preventing them from concentrating and from using their mental powers. Scott asks the professor why.
As Scott is preoccupied, a second projectile is hurled through the window, coming to rest at their feet. It explodes, killing them all.


Cable is seen fleeing the scene. Bystanders comment that he must be the bomber, but why?


The Watcher explains:

In this alternate reality, Professor X escaped from the Skrulls after they had tried to use him as a weapon against Lilandra. Upon escaping, Charles returned to Earth to find the X-Men in dire straits. Using his unparalleled mental abilities, Charles repaired as much damage as he could.

Xavier addresses the X-Men and assorted teams.
Present are Strong Guy, Quicksilver, Gambit, Cannonball, Boom-Boom, Sunspot, Storm, Jubilee, Wolverine, Havok, Rictor, Quicksilver, Archangel, Jean Grey, Psylocke, Cable, Beast, Iceman, Banshee, Wolfsbane, and unidentified others. The professor is visibly agitated:
“Havok a victim of Genoshan brainwashing —Dazzler and Colossus amnesiacs (the siege perilous)—a psychic intruder worming its way in to the minds of those of Muir Isle—bands of mutant terrorists roaming virtually unchecked—the mansion destroyed—Rogue and Longshot missing—Storm regressed to childhood—the once-proud X-Men forced to huddle in an underground ruin—this is how you protect my legacy?”

Wolvie grunts that Chuck may talk big, but couldn't be bothered to stay on Earth. Jubes agrees while Jean shushes her and Psylocke is insulted. Beast tells Betsy that the thing is, Xavier is right. Charles continues by saying that he was obviously mistaken when he assumed that his charges could be trusted to carry on in his absence. He cries out to them that they have allowed things to spiral out of control. He chastises them for not having shown humanity that mutants can be forces of good as well, and laments that the damage may not be able to be undone. Iceman wonders if Xavier could have really done better. Wolvie seconds the thought. Jubes thirds it. Havok protests that they were not sitting around fiddling their thumbs.
All of those assembled grumble about Xavier's criticism except for Cable who comes forward and tells Xavier that that's a crock, and even he knows it. Cable screams that it is Charles’ hysterical devotion to appeasement that has doomed the mutants. He cries that it's time for the X-Men to start looking after themselves, and to stop behaving as humanity's pets. Charles reacts by revoking Cable's stewardship of the New Mutants, claiming him to be as much of a menace as Magneto ever was. The New Mutants are shocked and refuse to desert Cable who stuck by them even after the X-Men and X-Factor both deserted them.

Charles orders the X-Men to take Cable by force if he will not surrender. Cable tells his New Mutants that they are leaving, by force or not, it's up to the X-Men. As the battle is joined, Archangel faces off against Cannonball, Wolfsbane faces off against Wolverine, Beast faces off against Sunspot, Cyclops against Cable, with Gambit and Banshee bringing up the rear. As Jubilee and Boom-Boom face off Boom-Boom says “Take that, copycat! I had this look first!”

The X-Men hold back, unwilling to harm their friends, allowing the New Mutants to escape into the Morlock tunnels. As they flee, Cable collapses the mouth of the tunnel behind them. As they retreat, Xavier tries to shut Cable's mind down, but Cable resists. Charles threatens that he is making it his priority to track Cable down and remove the children from his influence. Cable responds that he will do whatever he has to do to fight for his cause. “You want a war—you'll get a war!” he screams as they retreat.

Havok asks the professor if it's really such a bad idea to allow the children to stay with Cable. Charles lashes out irrelevantly against Alex, and calls Scott and Jean to his side to plan.

The Morlock tunnels

Cannonball asks Cable what he plans to do. Cable responds that his world is made up of allies and enemies, and that if Xavier wants to be treated as an enemy, then he will oblige him. Cable says that the first thing to do when outnumbered by an enemy is to sow confusion in their ranks, and tells Sam that he plans to do just that.

(The present)

At the graveside of Xavier, Scott, and Jean, the world's mutant heroes have gathered to pay their respects. They have also come for a council of war.
Wolverine starts by saying that everyone saw the news, all the bystanders identified Cable fleeing the scene. “We find him. He dies. End of story.” Storm disagrees with Logan. She says that in respect to Xavier's memory and what his wishes would have been, their task must be to apprehend Cable, not to kill him. Justice, not vengeance. Archangel takes his stand with Wolvie, not allowing Cable to get away with murdering their family. Iceman agrees with Warren, and pledges X-Factor to Wolvie's cause. Beast speaks up, however, and says that murder was never the professor's way. He sides with Storm. The group divides slowly, grimly, and silently. In the end, Forge, Nightcrawler, Beast, Colossus, Strong Guy, and unidentified others join with Storm. Havok, Dazzler, Jubilee, Psylocke, and Archangel join with Wolverine. Storm speaks up, asking why the death of the professor should tear them apart so, but Logan responds that two eulogies a day are his limit, and leaves with his followers.

Storm had pledged to bring Cable to justice, but she never gets the chance. The X-Men's enemies have taken the deaths as an opportunity, and soon, the X-Men are called upon to prevent a Genoshan incursion into the United States. The X-Men cannot be everywhere, and thus, Apocalypse and his riders capture the Scarlet Witch from the Avengers. Fenris strike in Manhattan, calling for the fleeing humans to blame the devastation on the X-Men. The humans retaliate by arming themselves and killing the Morlocks, who cower in fear. Zaladane attacks, crying for extension of her borders beyond the Savage Land. Stryfe and the Mutant Liberation Front attack the Fantastic Four in the streets of New York. Blob and Freedom Force are sent by the government to drive the Morlocks back into hiding, as the Morlocks chastise them, telling them that they are feared by the humans as much as themselves.
After the governments of France, Egypt, and Columbia, among others, are destabilized by anti-mutant rioting, Gideon calls for Saul and the Externals to consolidate and ride the wave of violence to victory. The Shadow King basks in the rampant fear and hostility, and his legion of slaves grows. Sebastian Shaw, smelling fear, calls the president to talk about Project: Wideawake. Mr. Sinister calls for his Nasty Boys to bring him the heads of Roxxon Oil, the P.T.L. Club, and the Boy Scouts of America no longer content with controlling a single senator. Humanity, even those who once tolerated mutantkind, responds to these events with waves upon waves of anti-mutant pogroms. Peace has been lost, and the X-Men are missing.

The former Sentinel base in the Adirondacks:

Sunspot has left the New Mutants. Domino comes to join themand is welcomed by Rictor, Boom-Boom, Cannonball, and Warlock. Cable asks if Rictor or Boom-Boom wants to defect now, but Cannonball replies that they're sticking with him. As he speaks, “We don't condone murder—not even yours. But once this turmoil is over, we're going to have us a little--”
Sam doesn't get the chance to finish, as the wall blows in. Wolverine's crew has found them using the mini-Cerebro. Cable orders a bodyslide, but before Computer can reply, Iceman destroys it. The melee breaks out, with Archangel squaring off against Cannonball, Havok against Rictor, Psylocke against Boom-Boom, and Iceman against Warlock. As they fight, Wolverine slips through and approaches Cable. They fight. Wolverine wins. As he dies, Cable laments that Xavier, although a wimp, was worth more than Wolverine's entire group put together. Xavier, he says, at least had the courage of his convictions, but Wolverine has let personal feelings get in the way of the job, and the X-Men have paid the price. Wolverine is mystified as to what he meant.

The mansion:

The X-Men battle the Mutant Liberation Front who have invaded the mansion grounds. Colossus comments that they have been fighting non-stop since the funeral, and asks if there's anyone who hasn't attacked them. Beast replies that they still haven't been attacked by the Ogre, or Metoxo the Lava Man, but otherwise--
Siryn and Captain Britain have joined the X-Men, after the deaths of Banshee and Meggan at the hands of the MLF. Noticing the time, the MLF teleports out of the mansion, just as Zaladane and the Swamp Men attack, along with Fenris and the Hellfire Club. The X-Men are outmatched, outnumbered, surrounded. Although they battle valiantly, they cannot win. Fenris blast Beast to atoms. Colossus directs Nightcrawler to avenge him. Gaza directs Mercenary's fire, and kills Nightcrawler just as he rematerializes. Zaladane drains Polaris' life force.
In the face of such losses, Storm orders the surviving X-Men, Colossus, Forge, Siryn, and Captain Britain, to retreat, abandoning the mansion. Zaladane allows them to flee, knowing that now there is no longer any place where the X-Men can hide. Zaladane and her cohorts then proceed to blow up the mansion.

The Watcher speaks: “Steven Lang said it once. Cyclops, Marvel Girl, and Charles Xavier 'are the heart and soul of the X-Men. Cut out the heart, and the body dies'.”

Nearby, Storm watches the destruction. She asks herself how it all went so bad, so quickly, and begs the Professor for forgiveness.

Elsewhere, a figure watches the destruction on a monitor. Having witnessed the routing and breaking of the X-Men, he is certain that the cycle of destruction will continue. He predicts that the victorious forces will fall to fighting amongst themselves, thus dooming the world's mutant population, unless a leader emerges, to unite the race under one banner. To ensure mutant survival—by whatever means necessary. It is Magneto in full dress. It is time for him to be that leader.

Characters Involved: 

The Watcher

Archangel, Banshee, Beast, Colossus, Cyclops, Dazzler, Forge, Gambit, Havok, Iceman, Jean Grey, Jubilee, Polaris, Professor X, Psylocke, Storm, Wolverine (all X-Men)

Cable (leader of the New Mutants)

Boom-Boom, Cannonball, Rictor, Sunspot, Warlock, Wolfsbane (all New Mutants)

Various Genoshan magistrates (unnamed)

Captain America, Quasar, Scarlet Witch, Thor (all Avengers)

Apocalypse & Underling (a member of Apocalypse’s Riders of the Storm)


Zaladane (leader of the Savage Land Mutates)

Amphibius, Barbarus, Brainchild, Gaza, Lupo (all Savage Land Mutates)

Various other unidentifiable Savage Land Mutates

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

Stryfe (Leader of the Mutant Liberation Front)

Dragoness, Forearm, Reaper, Strobe, Sumo, Tempo, Thumbelina, Wildside, Zero (all Mutant Liberation Front)

Avalanche, Blob, Spiral (all Freedom Force)

Masque and other unidentified Morlocks

Gideon & Saul (all Externals)

Sebastian Shaw & Tessa (all Hellfire Club)

Various Hellfire Club foot soldiers (unnamed)

Shadow King

Mr. Sinister (leader of the Nasty Boys)

Gorgeous George, Hairbags, Slab (all Nasty Boys)




Strong Guy

Captain Britain, Nightcrawler (all Excalibur)


Various civilians (all unnamed)

Story Notes: 

The story is continued in #47: What if Magneto took over the USA?

The Skrulls used Xavier as a weapon to control the Shi’ar, as shown in Uncanny X-Men #275-277.
Storm was physically reduced to childhood by the villain Nanny, as shown in Uncanny X-Men #267.
Havok became a victim of Genoshan brainwashing after he went through the Siege perilous (Uncanny X-Men #251). The exact circumstances of how he joined the Genoshan Magistrates (as shown in Uncanny X-Men #270) were never revealed.
Dazzler, Colossus and Psylocke also went through the Siege Perilous. Dazzler and Colossus ended up amnesiacs as a result and for Psylocke this set up the circumstances that led to her transformation into a ninja by the Hand (Uncanny X-Men #256-258)
Sinister controlling a senator refers to Peter David’s first X-Factor storyline (X-Factor #71-75)
The Watcher’s Steven Lang quote refers to X-Men (1st series) #98.

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