X-Factor Forever #4

Issue Date: 
August 2010
Story Title: 
Pawns (first story)<br> The Apocalypse Journal, part IV (second story)

First Story: Louise Simonson (writer), Dan Panosian & Eric Nguyen (artists), Jim Charalampidis (colorist), Dave Sharpe (letterer), Damien Lucchese (production), Jordan D White & Mike Horwitz (assistant editors), Mark Paniccia (editor), Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)

Second Story: Louise Simonson (writer), Aluir Almandine (penciler), Terry Austin (inker), Dan Jackson (colorist), Jordan White & Michael Horwitz (assistant editors), Marc Paniccia (editor), Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)

Brief Description: 

First Story:

With Apocalypse and baby Christopher missing, X-Factor are confronted by another Celestial - Arishem the Judge. From his base, Apocalypse spies on X-Factor, who learn from Caliban that all of this has something to do with the fact that mutants have few children. X-Factor battle Caliban, before he reveals that Apocalypse left him co-ordinates for a location in Nebraska. Ship informs X-Factor that there are enough heroes in New York to deal with the Celestials, and so they depart for the co-ordinates. En route, Caliban explains that Apocalypse believes that viable children born of mutant liaison were the result of some external intervention, and poses questions about Jean Grey, Madelyne Pryor and Cyclops’s son. X-Factor arrive at the co-ordinates - a decommissioned nuclear silo. Inside, they hope to make Apocalypse come to them. Instead, they find various clones of themselves and others - and Mr Sinister appears. With X-Factor and Sinister distracted, Apocalypse plans to learn the secrets about baby Christopher Summers. Various clones of the X-Men and others attack X-Factor, with Cyclops and Jean Grey determined to win the battle against Sinister and rescue their son.

Second Story:

While Apocalypse took part in various Earth-changing events, Mister Sinister taught himself about genetics, and eventually broke away from Apocalypse’s care. But Apocalypse tracked Sinister over the years, leaning about his dealings in Genosha. And Sinister’s actions that would have an impact on the future - in the Days of Future Past.

Full Summary: 

First Story:

Standing on the balcony entrance to their Ship, Scott “Cyclops” Summers, Jean Grey a.k.a. Marvel Girl, Bobby “Iceman” Drake, Hank McCoy a.k.a. the Beast and Warren Worthington III a.k.a. Archangel look out over the city in horror. ‘Oh no! Not another one! We are so screwed!’ Iceman exclaims, while Jean asks Cyclops where the baby is, not to mention Apocalypse. ‘Gone. Teleported somewhere. I don’t….know where’ Scott replies, while pointing outwards: ‘And that’s - that’s Arishem, the Judge. Apocalypse said -’ Cyclops remarks, while the massive Celestial called Arishem stands over Ship. ‘I heard what he said. I don’t care right now why the Space Gods are here or what they want!’ Jean declares as she runs towards the edge of the platform.

‘Christopher is crying! I can feel him…inside my mind. We’ve got to find him -’ Jean exclaims, but Scott grabs her ankle, telling her to wait, pointing out that they do not know where Apocalypse has taken Christopher. ‘He’s not in any immediate danger. Nothing can hurt him. He’s inside his force bubble. He -’ Scott begins, while Jean angrily declares ‘He’s wet and hungry and mad and - and scared, Scott. He’s…so scared’ Jean exclaims as she collapses in Scott’s arms. ‘And so are you’ Scott points out. ‘And so am I’ he admits, assuring Jean that they will find the baby. ‘Your…psychic link to Chris will lead us to him eventually. But right now - can we abandon this city, maybe the whole world, even for our own child?’ Scott asks, adding that if any harm comes to their son, Apocalypse will pay a terrible price. ‘But we need to make the right decision’ Scott exclaims. ‘Sorry. You’re right. We…we have to think. But Scott…he’s so small…and helpless’ Jean exclaims.

Meanwhile, far beneath the Himalayas, Apocalypse arrives via teleportation inside his stronghold, while Christopher cries. Apocalypse tells the baby to lower his force field and cease his wailing. ‘You are in no danger from me, at present’ Apocalypse exclaims. ‘In fact, if we are lucky, you might mean the preservation of all I’ve worked for. As you will’ Apocalypse declares, before turning his attention to several monitors, watching the events back in Manhattan, as he tells the baby that hs presence will force X-Factor to join him in a confrontation with his mother’s maker - and possibly, his own.

Back at Ship, X-Factor gather around their former ally Apocalypse’s hound, Caliban, and Iceman exclaims that kidnapping babies is a new low for Apocalypse. ‘But leaving you here to face the music while he gets away…? That’s just his style’ Bobby exclaims. Caliban replies that Apocalypse has not abandoned his Hellhound, simply leaving him here as a liaison. ‘Did you not comprehend what my master said? Are you not curious why he fears the human genome has been corrupted?’ Caliban asks. ‘That’s bull. Apocalypse is the master of lies’ Archangel exclaims.

Warren asks Caliban what does the genome techno-babble have to do with those Celestial monsters out there. ‘Or us? Or Christopher?’ he asks as Gammenon the Gatherer appears next to Arishem. Caliban remarks that even Cyclops must acknowledge that mutants have few offspring. ‘And even those few were the result of some sort of outside influence…or were ultimately non-viable!’ Caliban exclaims while Jean throws a telekinetic field around him. ‘So Apocalypse says. And yet, I have a son! Perfect. Healthy!’ Scott exclaims. ‘Do you?’ Caliban asks, reminding him that his dead wife Madelyne was Jean Grey’s genetic duplicate - cloned by Mr Sinister.

‘And Christopher -’ Caliban begins, before Jean declares that she doesn’t care if Christopher is her child or Madelyne’s. ‘He’s a baby. He…needs us!’ she exclaims. ‘Yes. And the fact that your powers repel each other means that you are, in all probability, his genetic mother’ Caliban exclaims, pointing out that Cyclops’ and Christopher’s powers do not repel. ‘A minor anomaly? Or a clue to the child’s true parentage?’ Caliban suggests. ‘Don’t tell Caliban you haven’t wondered. Is Nathan Christopher the true child of your body? Or like your wife, a creation of the evil geneticist Sinister?’ Caliban exclaims.

‘Even his middle name suggests -’ Caliban begins, before Scott shouts ‘NO! Enough!’ and unleashes an optic blast, knocking Caliban back across the chamber. ‘Don’t you understand? We don’t care how he was made! We just want him back!’ Jean exclaims. Hank tells Cyclops and Jean to chill, suggesting they don’t kill Caliban - yet. ‘This is why Apocalypse left you here, isn’t it, Caliban?’ Hank asks. ‘To distract us with this gibberish…the same way he used the Master Meld to distract us’ Hank adds, while wondering what Apocalypse is really up to. ‘Where is my son?!’ Cyclops booms, before Caliban, lying on the ground, announces that Apocalypse has taken the child to the lair of Mr Sinister to learn the truth.

‘Not to distract us, then. But to lure us there! Why?’ Hank exclaims. Caliban replies that he doesn’t know, pointing out that Apocalypse has his own agenda, and keeps his own secrets. ‘Caliban knows only that his master left Caliban to guide X-Factor - ’ Caliban remarks, while Archangel exclaims that Ship is back on-line. Ship begins to rise from where he stands in Manhattan, as the sentient ship declares that he heard all, though could not respond, but is now fully functioning. Ship informs Cyclops that there are approximately 147 enhanced humans within this city who will stand between Earth and the Celestials. ‘Good point’ Cyclops replies, while Ship flies past the two Celestials, announcing that Apocalypse left him the coordinates for a location in the state of Nebraska. ‘We will be there in 3.5 minutes’.

‘You have 3.5 minutes, Caliban! Make them count! What did Apocalypse mean by mutants don’t have viable progeny?’ Scott asks. ‘What about Magneto? The Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver are his children’ Beast points out. ‘Their mother was a powerful witch. It was her magic -’ Caliban begins. ‘And Professor Xavier? His son Legion -’ Iceman exclaims, while Caliban declares ‘Is insane and comatose’, before remarking that his master believes that most - if not all - viable children born of a mutant liaison were the result of some external intervention, be it magic or science. ‘The few conceived naturallu were seriously flawed and those who survived infancy did not live past adolescence’ Caliban remarks, before pointing out that all of X-Factor have had liaisons. ‘Where are your children?’

‘We don’t have any…just Scott’ Archangel exclaims. ‘Yeah, we’ve always been careful’ Iceman adds. ‘Always, Bobby?’ Hank asks. ‘Hank, don’t tell me you’re buying his guff?’ Warren asks. Images of Mr Sinister, Madelyne Pryor, Cyclops and Jean Grey flash by on a monitor, while Caliban exclaims that, for other mutants, it is the same. ‘We Morlocks are also barren. My master has many questions’. Caliban lists some of those questions - ‘How exact a duplicate of Jean Grey was her clone, Maddie Pryor? Who is this child’s father? Was the child genetically altered? What else has Sinister done? The answers could mean nothing, but…my master fears the Celestials have been angered by his efforts - and by the efforts of others - to force changes in humanity’s DNA’ Caliban explains.

Caliban adds that Apocalypse fears many things - among them, that his own existence has become a threat to humanity’s survival. Ship announces that they have arrived, and as Ship hovers overhead, X-Factor leap from their sentient home, with Jean telekinetically lowering herself, Cyclops and Caliban, while the Beast follows Iceman down on Bobby’s ice-sled, and Archangel flies down. Scott asks Jean if she can feel Christopher, to which Jean replies that he is still crying, but is not here. The heroes and Caliban land on the ground, and Caliban declares that Apocalypse will bring Christopher to this location - as that is part of his plan.

‘A decommissioned and sealed nuclear silo’ Scott points out, to which the Beast declares that there is symbolism and a kind of mad logic, before pointing out that Sinister enters via teleportation, as will Apocalypse. ‘But we -’ Hank begins, ‘Have our own methods!’ Cyclops exclaims as he unleashes an optic blast, creating an entrance for them. ‘Apocalypse wants a diversion, so we give him one! We go in fast and furious!’ Scott exclaims, telling the others not to give Apocalypse or Sinister time to think or marshal their defenses. ‘We’ll make Apocalypse come to us - NOW!’ Scott booms.

X-Factor and Caliban descend into the silo, as Cyclops declares that they have scores to settle with both Apocalypse and Sinister, and that if this confrontation means Apocalypse and Sinister will end up tearing each other to shreds, it will save X-Factor the bother. ‘But we take Christopher out of the equation!’ Scott adds, when suddenly, an alarm sounds as the mutants enter some sort of laboratory, where tanks of green-colored liquid floats. ‘Intruder alert’ the Beast suggests. ‘Good’ Scott replies. ‘So where -?’ Bobby begins, before they move further into the lab - and see various bodies floating in the tanks. ‘Oh my stars and garters…! That’s…us’ Hank exclaims. ‘Sabretooth…’ Caliban whispers. ‘Oh my God’ Jean exclaims.

Jean looks at younger versions of herself in the tanks, and exclaims ‘It’s…us. But…not’. Jean adds that her telepathy is nearly gone, but she always senses something, in living beings. ‘These are just -’ Jean begins, before a teleportation signal announces the arrival of the deadly Mister sinister. ‘Mindless bodies. Empty shells. Slabs of meat. Blank slates’ he concludes Jean’s sentence. ‘Until I law hands upon them and, through my own unique and proprietary process, give them life…and history. Of a sort’ Sinister declares. ‘Like what you did with Maddie, Sinister? How did you -?’ Jean begins, shaking a fist at the villain, who once again finishes her sentence: ‘Acquire your DNA? Yours personally -? It was long ago, even your dear mentor, Professor Xavier, never learned of it’ he reveals.

Sinister continues: ‘Cyclops, too, made his donations early. As did his brother. The rest of you have engaged in many battles, your wounds presented…opportunities’ Sinister explains. Suddenly, Sabretooth appears, declaring that it is a kind of immortality. ‘And dead useful…on occasion. Eh, Caliban? Ready for round two?’ he asks. Sinister grins wickedly, while Caliban declares that Sabretooth was not tough enough to beat him the first time. He calls him a clone, and declares that this time, he will send him and all his brothers back to the hell where they belong.

Elsewhere in Mister Sinister’s complex, Apocalypse teleports in with the baby. ‘Papa!’ Christopher exclaims. ‘Yes, young Nathan Christopher! Cyclops and the others are here…and their arrival has successfully masked my own’ Apocalypse replies, before thrusting his fingers into a control panel, declaring that, while Sinister is distracted, they shall learn exactly who and what Nathan Christopher is ‘And end this disaster that my one-time apprentice has created’ Apocalypse exclaims that, for the sake of this world, he hopes that what he does here - and elsewhere - will be enough.

Back in Sinister’s main lab, Jean announces that the baby is here, that she can feel him. ‘Where is -?’ Scott asks, while Sinister exclaims ‘Good call, Jean. I can call you Jean? I feel I know you…down to the very atoms of your soul’. Sinister remarks that as far as Cyclops’ precious son goes, they can just step through into his dedicated neonatal unit. ‘I’ve created several variations on that theme. Pick whichever son you choose!’ Sinister exclaims, surrounded by small tanks, filled with infant clones. ‘No! MONSTERS!’ Cyclops shouts, his eyes charge with optic energy - before he unleashes a massive burst of energy at Sinister - but Sinister puts up a deflector shield. ‘You never have been able to do things the easy way’ Sinister remarks.

The optic beams rebound and hit two of the tanks, causing them to crack. ‘I like that in a hero. So much more to work with’ Sinister exclaims, as a door opens, and several figures appear. Sinister remarks that Archangel was always of a sunnier temperament, and asks him if he likes what he sees here, as a clone of Warren - how he used to be - moves forward amongst the group entering the lab. ‘Join me, and I will erase the mark Apocalypse has placed upon you’ Sinister offers.

‘Immortality? What a crock! They’re a bunch of zombies!’ Archangel exclaims as the battle begins. ‘Watch who you call a zombie, bub!’ a Wolverine clone exclaims, while Iceman battles the fiery version of himself, Caliban battles Sabretooth, and Jean approaches the mysterious Cable clone. Sinister blocks another of Cyclops’ attacks and declares that, in a way, Archangel is right, but that they are hardly of the mindless sort. ‘They are simply whatever I want them to be! As you will be, once I am done with you!’. Marvel Girl tells Scott that they need to end this. ‘Christopher -’ she begins, to which a smirking Sinister exclaims ‘Surely you mean young Nathan? My namesake?’.

Referring to the man Jean is battling, Sinister tells Jean that she is perceptive to recognize Nathan in his adult incarnation. ‘Jean, don’t listen to his garbage!’ Cyclops exclaims, continuing to unleash his optic blast. ‘Think, my dear! That spark! That clash of powers! Who else -’ Sinister begins, while Cyclops shouts ‘ENOUGH!’, and calls out to Apocalypse, telling him that they have taken his bait, and are fighting his battle, before removing his ruby-quartz glasses his blast is at full strength, as he shouts ‘This ends today!’, and he finally knocks Sinister down to the ground. ‘Now bring me my son!’ he orders, before his power suddenly stops.

Sinister smirks and wipes the blood from his mouth, remarking that Cyclops has reached the limits of his power, while his limitless army is still standing. ’Even the strong will fall before us. And Earth will be left in human hands…where it belongs’ Sinister exclaims.

Jean goes over to Scott and kisses him. ‘Jean…?’ Scott asks, opening his eyes. Jean tells Scott that, in case they do not make it out of here, she wants him to know that in all her incarnations since their beginning, he has been the center of her universe. ‘I felt you…in my heart. I love you!’ Scott exclaims as his eyes begin to go red, his power returning. Jean places Scott’s glasses back on, and tells him that deep inside of her, in a place she thought had died, she has always known. ‘Good. That’s settled. Now let’s clear out of this rat’s hole…’ Scott begins. ‘And find our baby…and take him home!’ Jean exclaims as they hold hands, and confront Sinister and the clones.

Second Story:

During the last century, Apocalypse had transferred his main activities to a cavern deep beneath the Himalayan Mountains, and no longer confided many of his actions to his Ship. His apprentice - the boy who called himself Mr Sinister - labored by Apocalypse’s side. Among other gifts, Apocalypse gave Sinister an extended adolescence - a time to study and learn. But like many young men, Sinister was impatient, and he scorned Apocalypse’s careful shepherding of humanity, caring more for the results. Looking at several monitors depicting humans and chimps, Sinister suggests ‘Why not just change them? You have the knowledge and the power. You can make them into anything you want them to be’.

Apocalypse explains that the Celestials reserve the right to directly alter human genomes for themselves. ‘This is how they punish transgressors. When they return -’ Apocalypse begins, showing a monitor of a Celestial destroying an area. ‘But you altered me’ Sinister reminds Apocalypse. ‘You’re but one boy…kept hidden from their artifact, my Ship. But genetic manipulation on a large scale could be disastrous. That is why I go carefully in my defiance’ Apocalypse explains, before telling Sinister to return to his studies.

Apocalypse knew that like any sorcerer’s apprentice, Sinister was growing restless, and wished to test his own power. Yet, Apocalypse knew that he underestimated the extent of Sinister’s yearning - and his resentment. Sinister leans over a cage of rodents of various genetic manipulation, and picks up one with two heads, declaring that he spends his time imprisoned here, breeding mice to achieve minor mutant variations, while Apocalypse wields power and destruction. ‘All because you were born a mutant!’ Sinister exclaims. Apocalypse was distracted - fighting in a war, while Sinister masked his defiance. ‘Why waste time when there are easier ways to change a species! With more interesting results!’ he exclaimed to himself’.

Apocalypse only saw what Sinister wished him to see - a steely intelligence and a forceful will - and some interesting experiments on the reactions of DNA to different stressors. Apocalypse knew that if Sinister chose to approach his studies differently than he, using test tubes and vats and microscopes, that was his prerogative, so long as he learned. But, while Apocalypse was away, Sinister had also been building his own variation of Apocalypse’s teleportation portal. Teleporting himself to London, Sinister exclaims ‘Why wait for Apocalypse to deem me worthy of more power and aggress into the world? I can recreate myself in his image…or any image I choose!’. Apocalypse told himself that this was a good thing, that it proved Sinister has initiative.

Eventually, there was triumph, as the first wave of Homo Superior was born - among them Charles Xavier and the men who would become Magneto and Wolverine. Even in infancy, their potential shone like beacons in the night, Apocalypse decided. Apocalypse watched a world at war, saw technology burgeon everywhere - he knew that the human gene pool was nearing its tipping point and one more push was all that was needed. Apocalypse witnessed Sinister’s influence in experiments performed by the Nazi regime - vile, but nothing that would actively draw the Celestial’s wrath, so Apocalypse ignored it.

A period of relative peace and stability followed, necessary for the safe growth of the burgeoning generation, and Apocalypse did his best to keep it so. Technology began to advance, and more mutant infants appeared. The Fourth Host came, and Apocalypse cowered beneath the Himalayas, sensors withdrawn to avoid spiking their notice. Apocalypse feared the Celestials would learn what he had done, but they left - and Apocalypse emerged unscathed to find that his former apprentice, Mr Sinister, had vanished from his sight.

Later, Apocalypse found Sinister again by his deeds, freed of all caution since the Celestials Fourth Host had departed, he had begun to experiment with genetic manipulation on a grand scale. Among his many secret schemes, Sinister was using the island of Genosha as his own private laboratory, creating poisonous conditions that artificially encouraged the emergence of mutants - and a society that enslaved them.

It was then how thoroughly Apocalypse understood that he had underestimated Sinister’s ambition…and his resentment. As Apocalypse had been inspired by the Celestials to become a god and create mutantkind in his own image, Mr Sinister had seen Apocalypse’s very existence as a threat to human pre-eminence. Mutants were powerful beings to be enslaved, to be used, as Sinister had used Apocalypse. The duo fought, but neither of them was strong enough to destroy the other.

In Mr Sinister’s actions, Apocalypse foresaw a future that could spell disaster for mutantkind, unless he acted - dark days would overtake mutantkind - what would be known as the Days of Future Past - and Apocalypse began to plan how to counter it….

Characters Involved: 

First Story:

Archangel, Beast, Cyclops, Iceman, Marvel Girl (all X-Factor)

Nathan Christopher Summers





Various clones

Gammenon the Gatherer

Arishem the Judge

On Computer Screen:

Colossus, Cyclops, Magneto, Polaris, Phoenix IV, Professor X

Madelyne Pryor-Summers

Mr Sinister

Second Story:


Mr Sinister

Colossus, Shadowcat, Storm, Wolverine (Days of Future Past)





Story Notes: 

First Story:

This series takes place after X-Factor (1st series) #64, creating the “X-Factor Forever” universe. It has no connection to the “X-Men Forever” universe.

Jean Grey is incorrectly spelt Jean Gray at points in this issues.

Among those in the tanks are: Cable, Sabretooth, Angel and younger versions of Jean.

Among the clones include versions of: Wolverine, Storm, Angel, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Harpoon, Blockbuster, Masque, demon-like version of the Beast and someone who could be a fiery version of Iceman.

Sabretooth and Caliban fought each other in X-Factor Forever #1.
In the continuity of the normal Marvel Universe Magneto’s wife Magda was never a witch, but an ordinary woman- Possibly Ms. Simonson mixed Magda up with her Ultimate version.
Actually there were Morlock children, e,g, the children of th Morlock Analee.
Interestingly Caliban doesn't mentione one viable second generation mutant, namely Theresa Rourke Cassidy aka Syrin.

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