Standing inside Fall’s Edge Dome within X-Factor’s base with Forge, Mystique looks up and asks about the stars above. Forge begins to reply that they are just a holographic projection on the inside of the electrostatic dome, when his words trail. Mystique fills the new silence and they begin to talk about the feelings they may have for each other, with Mystique saying she isn’t sure she even knows how to care for someone. Forge counters that maybe she is thinking too much and that they should just go with the feeling and...
They are just about to kiss when their scene is interrupted by Stan Lee, who literally rips through the page.
The “Real” World
Wearing his baseball cap backwards and sporting both sunglasses and a jersey labeled “Unca Stan,” Stan excuses himself to all the “true believers” and asks if anyone didn’t tell the bewildered bullpen that Marvel stopped publishing romance comics years ago. He then calls over to Polaris, Shard and Wild Child, while wondering who made up those names. He tells them to gather around so “ol’ Stan” can tell a story, since only the lovebirds Forge and Mystique are missing. Wild Child quickly points out that Sabretooth is missing too, but Stan replies that he doesn’t miss him.
Stan further explains his dislike of Sabretooth by saying that he hopes Sabretooth is securely tied down and locked down in the safest, strongest cell in Fall’s Edge. He then tells the members of X-Factor to not ever trust him, to which they all give unsure responses: “You mean like… really?” “We sort-of don’t, I guess…” and “Well hardly ever, maybe…” To these responses, Stan quips that’s what he loves: definite answers. He then again reminds them to keep their beady eyes on Sabretooth.
Stan than tells the members of X-Factor he has a story for them while they’re on a vacation, even though they say it isn’t a good idea since they are in the middle of a story. Stan, however, interrupts them and says it’s the perfect idea and will give them time to dream up next month’s plot. He starts to tell his story, saying that there has been some weird stuff happening lately and he wants to clue them in about Alex Summers, aka Havok. Stan says he isn’t offering excuses for him, since he is thought of as a bad guy with the Brotherhood now, but he does want them to know what helped set him on the dark path he’s now treading.
It is a glorious summer day and a 13-year-old Alex Summers sits under a tree, shaded from the sun, and daydreams of a life that might have been. Suddenly, he hears his newly adopted mother call out his name, telling him that lunch is ready and that she has made his most favorite lunch ever. Alex’s newly adopted father, Mr. Andrew Blanding, tells him that he’s going to have to wolf down his sandwich fast if he wants to make it to football practice on time. His new mother, Mrs. Blanding, replies that Alex has never had trouble with that before, but Alex states that sardines and mayonnaise isn’t his favorite. Mrs. Blanding insists that he has always loved it, ever since he was a boy, before realizing her confusion with her recently deceased son. As she apologizes, Alex’s new sister, Haley, tells a confused Alex that they should just go.
Haley tells Alex that it wasn’t his fault and she explains a bit about her deceased brother, Todd. He was the all-star football player, and was so perfect and likable. Haley pleads with Alex to at least try to be like Todd but Alex claims he doesn’t want to be like someone he isn’t. Interjecting in the conversation, Mr. Blanding puts his arm around Alex, telling him he truly does see potential in Alex and decides, as coach, to make him the replacement quarterback. Even though Alex clearly doesn’t want to be the new quarterback, Haley again pleads with him to at least try.
Unseen by either Alex or Haley, Mr. Sinister watches in the shadows from a distance.
At football practice, Alex throws miserably but Mr. Blanding dismisses it, telling Alex that he saw a lot of Todd in him earlier. He then tells him to clean up and that he’ll see him at home. On Alex’s walk past the bleachers, however, Alex is grabbed by three bullies, led by a bat-carrying youth named Vince. Grinning, Vince tells Alex that he rules the town and doesn’t want to look bad from a terrible quarterback for the entire school. He threatens Alex to quit the team… or maybe he’ll have an accident. When Alex says he doesn’t fell so good, Vince tells Alex he’s about to feel a lot worse.
Colossal energies begin to build at Alex’s clenched fists but, before any of the bullies can see, they are interrupted by Haley, who orders them to leave Alex alone. She then clocks one with a sock to the jaw, following that with a kick to another. Haley then stands her ground, at which point the three back down. However, before they leave, Vince tells Haley that it’s not over. Not for her and not for the orphan. Haley then walks Alex back home, supporting his wait as they walk, while again Sinister watches unseen.
On their way home, Haley tells Alex he has to stick up for himself, saying that Todd would’ve. Alex tells her that he felt different, like he was going to explode, but Haley brushes this off as his body simply going through puberty. Later that night, Mrs. Blanding again apologizes to Alex and tells him that she loves him and that she is glad he is a part of the family. Mr. Blanding then talks with Alex and tells him that Haley informed him about what happened between him and the bullies. Mr. Blanding says that if being on the football team is too much on Alex, he can quit, but Alex says he can handle it. This greatly pleases Mr. Blanding, who tells Alex that he was smart not to fight back. There is never a reason to resort to violence and that it was an act of violence that took Todd away from them. With that, he leaves Alex alone in his room.
Later in the night, Alex thinks back to when his parents threw him and his brother, Scott, out of the burning plane as to save their lives. Looking back, he calls himself a waste and can’t believe he isn’t happy with what he has now.
Meanwhile, Vince is sneaking around the Blanding’s house, trying to come up with a plan for revenge against “the orphan,” when he is spotted by a bearded man in a suit and overcoat. When the man states that the youth appears to have much on his mind, Vince asks back who the man is. The man introduces himself as “Mr. Essex” and adds that he likes to deal with his problems directly. Does he agree? When Vincent does, Essex suggests that he go deal with his problem. As Vince runs off, Essex reverts to his form of Mr. Sinister and mocks Vincent, ordering him to stir up Alex, so as to see what genetic wonderments young Alex may have.
Later still, Alex is kidnapped unexpectedly in the middle of the night by Vince and the other bullies, who begin to take him out of the office. They are caught by Haley but, before she can call for help, one bully puts a knife to her neck, telling Alex not to move or he’ll slice her. Alex is also told that his new parent will be killed as well if he does not comply. Vince then tells his partners in crime that if either fights them to kill the girl. Alex and Haley are then tied up and carried away to an abandoned factory on the other side of town. Once they all arrive, the bullies untie them and toss them inside.
Vince tells Alex and Haley it’s time to play a game and that the rules are simple. He explains that there are two exits from the factory: one, which they just entered and he just locked, and the second, which they have to find. If they find the other way out, Vince explains, they go home with no problems. The only problem is that Vince and his boys are going to be hunting them down and, when they catch them, it’ll be payback time for everything.
As Alex and Haley begin to flee, Alex suddenly feels sick. He tells Haley his head is about to explode and that she should go on without him. Haley says she isn’t leaving him and that she will carry him if she has to, but he is coming with her. They finally find the way out but are stopped by Vince’s pals. Haley kicks crates down on them, however, so they seem to be free. Haley says they should just get out of there and call the cops, but Alex complains again that he’s burning up, asking what’s wrong with him.
Vince then arrives with a gun and fires a warning shot at the door. He then explains to Alex what he feels is wrong with him, calling him a freak and an orphan. He rants at Alex for getting good grades, excelling at sports, having everyone love him, including his teachers, people that aren’t even his real parents, and everyone else. Vince then goes on to say that he Alex is so perfect and no one so perfect should be allowed to live. Vince then states that Todd was perfect too… then somebody went off and three a rock at that car and did him in. He deserved it too.
Hearing this, Haley realizes that Vince killed Todd and in tears runs to him with clenched fists. However, Vince simply shoots her in the leg and then walks over to Alex, telling him now there’s no big sister to defend him. However, Vince tells Alex he isn’t going to kill him. Instead, he’s going to take everything away from him: the perfect little house, the perfect little family-it’s going to go away. And then where will he be with no one to help him and no one to tell him how to make it better? No, he’ll be by himself with the entire world against him. Then he’ll know what it feels like to be like Vince; what it feels like to be really different.
Injured, Haley pleads for Alex to stop Vince, saying he’s going to kill her… their parents. Alex again says his head feels like it’s on fire and that he feels like it’s about to explode. However, Haley says it is his last chance to be a hero, to be like-even better than-Todd. He’s been given a chance to do what he couldn’t for his birth parents. Yeah, my parents, Alex states with newfound confidence as waves of energy pulse from his fist.
Later, at the Blanding’s house, Vince is examining the gas water heater when Alex and Haley arrive. Alex shouts at Vince to stop, but Vince won’t listen. Instead, Vince welcomes “the orphan” Alex to the final fireworks, saying one bullet into the Blanding’s natural gas tank will be a beauty with no more house, no more life and no more problems. Haley again pleads with Alex to do something, this time saying that, if Todd was here, he would.
In tears, Alex pleads with Vince, muttering that he doesn’t feel good. A moment later, he erupts, projecting an energy pulse from his outstretched fists. He can only yell NOOOO! as his mutant powers incinerate Vince. The next moment, it is over. Terrified of himself, Alex asks what he did, and what he is. Haley confesses she has no idea, but is glad he saved their parents. However, she says no one should ever know, or they’d take him away. He has to forget that it ever happened.
Alex again asks what he is and how he did what he did, but this time he is answered, not by Haley but by Mr. Sister. To the shock of both, he tells Alex that he is a mutant with the ability to absorb ambient cosmic rays into the cells of your body where you can transform and release it into super-heated waves of plasma energy. He is descended from a genetically superior lineage. And today you have surprised even him with the potential power you command.
Still dumbfounded, Haley can offer only a “who?” Sinister indeed introduces himself but then confirms her earlier statement, that she is correct in assuming that the memories of today’s events must be deeply buried. It will be as if none of it ever happened. Mr. Sinister says Vincent will just be one more “runaway” and that no one will miss him.
As he projects a red hued ray from his palm at them both, Sinister further explains to Alex that a genetic lock will be placed on upon him to curtail the development of his mutant powers, stating that, even though he is the inferior Summers brother and possesses greater potential, he lacks all control. So Sinister forces Alex and Haley to forget that day and tells Alex that one day, if he does gain the control needed to harness his powers, they will meet again.
The “Real” World
Stan Lee then reappears and explains to the readers that it was this forgotten event that molded Alex Summers into the man we know today. He also says that life is full of twists and turns and that the Summers story is far from over. He then goes on to say that there are many more startling events in store and, when the wonderment unfolds, the reader – the keeper of the flame – will be privy to it all. He then ends with his catchphrase “Excelsior!”