X-Men (1st series) #127

Issue Date: 
November 1979
Story Title: 
The quality of hatred

Chris Claremont (co-plotter, scripter), John Byrne (co-plotter, penciler), Terry Austin (inker), Tom Orzechowski (letterer), Glynis Wein (colorist), Roger Stern (editor), Jim Shooter (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

Storm is saved from Proteus by the timely intervention of Moira MacTaggert. Despite Proteus being her beloved son, Kevin, she shoots at him through the hurricane winds that Storm has conjured up. Cyclops stops her, but is taken out by the headstrong Scot. Proteus manages to escape, but Moira has an inkling where he might be headed, and decides to pre-empt him. The X-Men sort themselves out. Cyclops has seen Wolverine, Nightcrawler and Storm all become psychologically unnerved at Proteus’ hands. He uses a little improvised Danger Room session to snap them out of their worries, much to Wolverine’s approval. Proteus, meanwhile, takes a new host body en route to Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital city. Moira reaches the city before him and visits her husband, Joe MacTaggert. He left Moira twenty years earlier and, despite his violence towards her then, she warns him about his son’s imminent arrival. He is shocked to learn they have a son, but Moira is no longer interested in his feelings. As she cries in her Jeep outside Joe’s townhouse, Proteus attacks his father and takes his body as his new host. It is strong, and Proteus feels it will serve him well. The X-Men arrive in Edinburgh and confront Proteus, whose reality-warping powers again give them a difficult time. He grabs Moira and threatens to kill her, or maybe even take her body as a new host. She calls for the X-Men not to worry about her and Cyclops comes to the conclusion that she is right. Proteus must be stopped, no matter what, or who, it costs.

Full Summary: 

Engaging the X-Men in battle, Proteus closes in on Storm, despite the hurricane wind being levelled at him. He wants her body, as Proteus is an energy creature and burns his host bodies quickly. She risks taking to the air, but Proteus simply utilizes his reality-warping powers and the supposedly solid earth and rock flow up around Storm, tumbling her head over heels. She is battered senseless in a matter of seconds. Subdued, Proteus closes in, believing that, once he adds her mutant powers to his own, he will be invincible.

Wolverine and Nightcrawler watch, but are unable to act. Nightcrawler hears the sound of fear in Wolverine’s voice for the first time as he ponders what to do. Before he can teleport, though, bullets snap against the ground around Proteus. An unseen sniper is taking shots at him and, as metal can destroy him, this spells danger. He also needs to be in visual contact with his opponent for his reality-warping powers to be effective.

Atop a nearby knoll, Moira MacTaggert fires with grim determination at her own son. She loves him dearly, but she loves the X-Men too, and cannot allow him to harm them. She uses a special scope to home in on his primal energy form, which works regardless of any changing reality around him. She is about to pull the trigger when Cyclops approaches from behind, and lifts her gun as she fires.

Moira is annoyed at the distraction and winds Scott, by shoving her rifle butt into his stomach. The X-Men wish to capture Mutant X, but Moira isn’t playing by their rules this time. She prays she isn’t too late. Scott falls unconscious as he falls, hitting his head on a rock, and Proteus uses the opportunity to make his way to a Jeep. His body is almost spent but he daren’t risk taking any of the X-Men, as the risk is too great. Moira sees him vanish and bends down to make sure Scott is okay. She then makes her way to her Jeep and, thinking she knows her son’s final destination, heads off to handle him alone.

Storm’s gale blows itself out, and the X-Men convene in a clearing. Scott is okay, and Ororo is treated for cuts and abrasions by Polaris. Scott can’t forget the look on Moira’s face. She wants her own son dead! Wolverine is visibly shaken by the experience of fighting Proteus, and Cyclops understands that, if he doesn’t act quickly, he may become permanently gun shy. For Wolverine, that’s a fate worse than death.

Scott stands and picks a fight with him, telling Nightcrawler that he “thinks the runt’s faking.” Kurt thinks he’s crazy, but Scott continues to berate Wolverine, calling him gutless and taunting him beyond a reasonable ticking off. Wolverine finally snaps and leaps at Cyclops, who inwardly thinks, “That’s the spirit, pal.” Using his well-honed combat skills, Cyclops makes Wolverine look like an amateur, pivoting his opponent over him as he charges. Scott realizes that he has to be split-second perfect, or he could be in real trouble.

Wolverine pops his claws, furious at Scott’s attitude, and Scott ducks under a murderous right hand slash. Scott continues to taunt Logan, saying he’s moving like he’s half asleep. Banshee and Colossus all look on, helpless, as the two X-Men go one-on-one. Phoenix asks them to hold off from intervening. Cyclops started this, and he should be able to play it out. Using Piotr’s steel body as a wall, Cyclops bounces an optic blast off him and into Wolverine’s back. He falls towards Scott, who throws him over his body as he falls backwards, using his legs to propel Logan towards Nightcrawler. Kurt teleports instantly and Cyclops, having worked with Kurt for many months now, knows he will materialize above him. He is ready, and blasts Kurt as he appears.

Storm finally decides enough is enough, and uses a lightning bolt to bring matters to a close. Cyclops takes out the ground from under her, but thinks he’d better quit while he’s ahead. He holds his arms out and surrenders. Wolverine says he isn’t getting off so easily, but Scott replies that they should consider this a Danger Room session. Proteus is still on the loose and, if they want a rematch, they’ll have to wait.

Phoenix explains that Proteus gave Storm, Nightcrawler and Wolverine a pretty rough time. They were all relatively unhurt, physically, but this was Scott’s way of making sure there were no psychological after-effects. Scott adds that he was testing himself as much as he was them. Moira decked him so easily; he thought he might be losing his edge. He tells Wolverine he was worried about him. Logan replies that it was with good reason. Proteus spooked him but good, adding that Scott took a heckuva risk starting this fracas. He was in a killing mood, almost crazy mad. He reconsiders his opinion about Scott’s leadership skills.

The team is back to square one. Proteus doesn’t show up on their portable Cerebro, and neither does Moira, as she’s a normal human. Jean apologizes, but Proteus seems invisible to her telepathic powers too. She should have told Scott sooner, but Scott says it can’t be helped now. He explains that, when they get close to Proteus, Wolverine’s senses should pick him up. Unfortunately, until then, the only way of tracking him is by following the bodies of his victims.

Meanwhile, some fifty miles southeast of the X-Men, on Culloden Muir, a young shop girl called Jennie Banks is muttering angrily over a flat tire. She sees the policeman approaching and reckons she is in luck. She isn’t. Proteus takes her body as a new host immediately, leaving the policeman’s body in a nearby stream. He fixes the tire, leaving the stolen Jeep behind. The X-Men shouldn’t be able to track him so easily now. Driving off past a sign saying ‘Edinburgh 200km,’ Proteus is on his way to the capital and nothing can keep him from destroying the one he hates. When he is no more, it will be the X-Men’s turn.


It’s late afternoon when Moira finally reaches the capital. She pulls up in front of an elegant Queen Street townhouse and, after pushing herself these past few hours, a part of her wonders why she bothers. When she married Joe MacTaggert, he was a Royal marine commando, and the most beautiful man she had ever seen. Now, he is a member of parliament and a sure bet to one day become prime-minister.

Joe’s butler, Wallis, opens the door for her and she meets Joe in his study. He acts as if they last met an hour or so ago, instead of the twenty years it has been. He tells Moira that she looks very well. “Living on Muir Isle must agree you, my love.” Moira replies that she’s his wife, but not his love. Joe reckons that, since she’s the one, the other doesn’t really matter. He enquires as to her reason for visiting him.

Moira wishes to speak to him alone, and Joe dismisses Wallis. He pours himself a whiskey and asks if it’s about a divorce. If so, the answer’s still no. He finds it too politically useful being married to a Nobel Prize winner. Moira replies that, if he truly wanted to see her happy, he’d let her go. Joe reminds her that she swore to be his before God, and he intends to hold her to that.

Moira states the real reason for her arrival. She informs Joe that when they said their ‘fond farewells’ all those years ago, he didn’t just put her in hospital for a week. He left her pregnant. She tells him he has a son and may God have mercy on them both, he’s coming to Edinburgh to kill him. Joe puts the glass down and turns, angry that this has been kept from him all this time. To his surprise, Moira pulls a pistol from under her coat and orders him not to say a word, or she’ll do what she so desperately wanted to do twenty years ago.

Joe says she is insane, but Moira corrects him. “No, Joe, just damned, thanks to you.” She turns and heads for the door, having delivered her warning. Joe tells her that her conscience is clear and, now, she should get out! As she departs, Moira thinks about Kevin. She loved the boy and tried to teach him to love, to care, to be kind. But, all he saw was the pain Joe had caused and the hatred Moira felt for him, eating away at her soul like a maggot. She sits in her Jeep and breaks down in tears. She failed then with her son, and now she’s failed again.

Soon, Proteus, in the body of Jennie Banks, arrives outside Joe’s townhouse. He knows Moira has been to see his father and knows that, once again, he has hurt her. He sees Joe making a phone call to Chief Superintendent Dai Thomas. He senses a strength; a vitality in him that rivals what he felt from the X-Men. As Joe waits for Dai to answer the phone, Proteus confronts him. “Human father…I need you!”

High up on Edinburgh Crag, overlooking the beautiful city, Phoenix scans the city for any sign of Proteus. Without warning, Jean lets out a scream and collapses. Scott rushes to her aid and Jean informs him that she’s found Proteus. She heard the same psychic scream she heard when Proteus possessed his last victim. She warns him that they must hurry, as his power increases with each new body. Soon, he’ll be unbeatable.

Seconds the later, the X-Men are all airborne and heading for the city below. Jean carries everyone using her telekinesis and Scott is amazed that she carries all eight of them without showing any kind of strain. On the streets below, Proteus leaves Joe’s house in his new body, turning the brick to liquid. Moira is still outside in the Jeep and her son tells her that it was kind of her to wait. Moira is shocked to see that Joe has been taken and that this time she senses that something’s different. This time, his manner and his voice; they’re Joe’s!

Proteus tells her that this body is magnificent and transforms Moira’s gun into a snake. He then proceeds to turn the whole street into liquid, molding the metal of her Jeep as if it was clay. Proteus enlightens Moira about possessions. He informs her that, when he possesses people, he absorbs their memories and their emotions as well as their bodies. He knows all his father knew and feels all he ever felt. He’s never experienced such passion and raw strength. This form will last him a long time. As he revels in his own power, he continues to point out that he and his father are very much alike. What they want, they take, and what they take, they never give up. What he wants is Moira.

Not far away, the X-Men approach and Phoenix can pick up Moira’s confused thoughts. Banshee spots the commotion below and is annoyed that he is helpless without his sonic scream. Scott thinks it would have been kinder to leave Sean behind, but knows he has to act quickly. He commands Colossus to lead the attack in his armored form. Proteus can’t stand metal, so he has the best chance against him. Phoenix releases her hold on Piotr and he transforms into his steel form as he drops like a stone to the street below. His approach is as silent as death; his arrival a complete surprise. He lands between Proteus and Moira, smashing the ground as he lands.

Colossus is on his feet in an instant and springs towards Proteus with a pantherish speed that belies his massive form. “Your reign of terror is ended, monster,” cries Piotr. Proteus replies that it’s only just begun. He twists reality by ninety degrees and, inexplicably, Piotr finds himself falling down what was, a second ago, a perfectly normal street. Everyone and everything tumble down the street, helplessly. The X-Men arrive and Proteus informs them that they’re wasting their time.

Cyclops is undeterred and uses his optic blast to take Proteus out. Unfortunately, Proteus counters the assault by changing the energy into flowers that drift harmlessly past him. Cyclops hopes that, although their powers seem useless against him, Proteus will burn his body out whilst denied a fresh host. Phoenix is about to go on the offensive but, before she can strike, Proteus grabs Moira around the neck. He warns them to stay back, or Moira dies.

Moira resists and tells the X-Men that her life is negligible compared to those he’ll destroy if he isn’t stopped. Proteus shuts her up and tells the X-Men that a neck is such an easy thing to snap. They should also consider that, if they push him too hard, he’ll possess Moira, just like he did her husband. The words come as a shock to Banshee, who didn’t know about Joe. He asks Cyclops what they’re going to do. Scott has a hard decision to make. He tells Sean he’s sorry, but Moira’s right. Proteus must be stopped, no matter what, or who, it costs.

Characters Involved: 

Banshee, Colossus, Cyclops, Nightcrawler, Phoenix, Storm, Wolverine (all X-Men)

Havok and Polaris (both former X-Men)

Proteus II (as a policeman, Jennie Banks and Joe MacTaggert)

Dr. Moira MacTaggert

Jennie Banks

Edinburgh residents


Joe MacTaggert

Story Notes: 

This is the first appearance of Joe MacTaggert and his butler, Wallis. Moira’s warning to Joe appeared to omit the all-important detail that his son was a reality-warping mutant with enormous power.

Culloden Muir is the site of a famous battle, which took place in 1746.

Dai Thomas is a long-time supporting character in the various Captain Britain titles.

Issue Information: 
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