X-Calibre #4

Issue Date: 
June 1995
Story Title: 
On Fire

Warren Ellis (writer), Ken Lashley (penciler), Tom Wegrzyn, Phillip Moy (inkers), Joe Rosas (colorist), Digital Chameleon (separations), Richard Starkings / Comicraft (letters), Suzanne Gaffney (editor), Bob Harras (editor in chief)

Brief Description: 

Having just defeated Dead Man Wade, the group now known as X-Calibre, made up of Nightcrawler, Mystique, Switchback, and Damask, is in the fight for their lives as they take on the Shadow King, who was sent by Apocalypse to be the reinforcement for the Pale Riders. The Shadow King, who lives for causing pain and suffering, possesses Avalon’s settlers one by one and makes them kill each other. Everything that Destiny has worked for is dying right in front of her eyes. Doug accuses X-Calibre that they brought this destruction with them, but Nightcrawler says that the settler have only been running away and Apocalypse would have caught up sooner or later. When the Shadow King takes over Mystique, Kurt comes up with a plan to take him down. Having learned from Damask that the Shadow King resides within an adjacent dimension, the remaining members of X-Calibre use their powers in combination. Knowing that he too travels through subspace, Kurt teleports them, and Switchback extending their transition time to keep them in the dimension, which normally they would only stay for a fraction of a second. This gives Damask enough time to use her psionic on the mind of the Shadow King. In the instant of dying, the King fires one last blast at Destiny, but Doug jumps into the way, saving his mother. With Avalon in flames and her adoptive son dead, Destiny finally decides to go with X-Calibre to see Magneto. She swears that Apocalypse will be brought down.

Full Summary: 

Mystique, Nightcrawler, Switchback, and Damask stand over the headless Dead Man Wade. Seems an outside presence is around as well, one that cannot be seen or heard. Kurt questions Damask on who or what the reinforcements of the Dark Riders will be, but before she can answer, Switchback startles Mystique by demonstrating her powers without warning. She was starting to get headache so she drove herself and her body’s chemistry a few seconds into the past to the point before she received the headache. Mystique warns her that pulling such a stunt without warning could get her killed. Then and Switchback head back to Destiny to convince her to return to America with them. Meanwhile Damask tells Kurt that she has no idea who Apocalypse will be sending as reinforcement. Damask then startles Kurt by bringing him down for a kiss, feeding her curiosity on wether his fur felt like velvet.

In the burning village, Destiny and Douglas are trying to calm injured residents. One of them cries for his shoes as his feet are so cold, but Mystique tells him that he no longer got any feet. Doug, insulted by Mystique, tells that it is hard to believe she and Destiny are friends. When Mystique calls him a human, Doug says that he is a mutant and that it is thanks to his language power that everyone in Avalon can understand each other. He also tells her that Destiny is not going with them because a crazy man called Bishop tells some crazy story of alternate world. Switchback tries to put things into perspective. That what Bishop is saying can’t be as weird as a darwinist ruling America, that a man with wings runs a bar in Manhattan, or that in the middle Antarctica is a tropical paradise where humans and mutants co-exist. She and the rest of X-Calibre, the name they thought up for their group, just want at least a chance at confirming Bishop’s words. Doug wonder at their teamname and Mystique tells him that it comes from the bullets, carved with an “x“ that they use.

Finally the reinforcements come, in the form of a five-year resident of Avalon named Wendy. Suddenly her electric bolt power goes haywire. Mystique wants to kill her but Doug says that Wendy is not herself. Using his powers, Doug can pick up on the background noise in a person’s thoughts and he hears two within Wendy. The being is then revealed to be the Shadow King, who has possessed Wendy. He came in with Dead Man Wade but after he was killed he tried to jump to Switchback, but before he could get a grip on her mind, she managed to lose him by using her powers.

Mystique, armed with a rifle, shoots right through Wendy. As she flaunts her victory, Damask comes up to tell them that the Shadow King is still at large, that killing the host bodies will not kill him. She also tells how he lives for causing pain and by now he’ll be doing that in another host body, or maybe even in multiple hosts. To prove her right, the Shadow King goes from body to body of the many settlers causing pain and death. He manipulates a human to stone his mutant friends, and causes a pyrokinetic to release his napalm and burn the minds around him. In the many other people he brings forth their worst nightmares and fears to kill them from the inside. Kurt asks Damask how the Shadow King moves from body to body, thinking it must be some form of teleportation. She tells him that Shadow King traverses into an adjacent dimension, and also mentions that Apocalypse wanted everyone to know each other’s abilities, incase someone decided to go rogue.

Behind them, Destiny was having a problem of her own. The Shadow King attacks her, in the form of her friend Marcus. He goes on to mock her and her dream, saying how worthless it is. Destiny replies that she’ll die for the dream if she has to. Switchback isn’t sure if she should shoot the possessed Marcus or not. Damask pushes her out of the way and uses her mental powers on Marcus. She’s always had a dream of using her psionic skinning on him, her former teacher. The blades jab into Marcus’ brain, paralyzing parts of his body, yet she narrowly misses the Shadow King’s mind who again escapes. Doug calls X-Calibre a group of animals and accuses them that the massacre is their mistake, as they brought the Shadow King with them. Kurt tells him to shut up, that all this was inevitable. He goes on to preach that the residents of Avalon did nothing else than to run away from the problem, and sooner or later Apocalypse would have caught up with them anyway. Possibly the dream of coexistence could have worked out better if they had not hidden themselves at the end of the world. They got cut off as the Shadow King then takes over the body of Mystique. Knowing her memories, he shape shifts into the form of Sabretooth.

Kurt comes up with a plan. When he teleports, he spends a fraction of a second in an adjacent dimension. Hoping that his is the same as the one the Shadow King travels through, he teleports Switchback, Damask and himself. Switchback shuts them back in time, extending their transition time to hold them in place for a few more seconds where they find the mind of the Shadow King. Using her powers, Damask psionic skins the mind of Amahl Farouk, reducing the intelligence of the Shadow King to shreds.

The Shadow King uses Marcus, who is lying on the ground, to fire off one last blast towards Destiny to at least spoil the plan of The X-Men. Only Doug sees it and with his head still full of Kurt’s words, he intercepts the blast and dies instead of his adoptive mother. Doug’s death finally makes Destiny agree to come back to America to see Magneto and his X-Men. Destiny swears by all things she holds holy, that they will bring down Apocalypse.

Characters Involved: 

Damask, Mystique, Nightcrawler, Switchback (all X-Calibre)


Douglas Ramsey

Anatoly, Marcus, Wendy and other residents of Avalon
Shadow King

Story Notes: 

The name of the title is finally explained.
Wendy’s counterpart in the main Marvel Universe might be Stinger of the Alliance of Evil.

Issue Information: 
Written By: