X-Men 2099 #21

Issue Date: 
June 1995
Story Title: 
Unreality Bites

John Moore (writer), Ron Lim (pencils), Harry Candelario (inks), Ken Lopez (letters), Tom Smith (colors), Joey Cavalieri (editor), Bobbie Chase (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

Doom announces to the world that he has self-proclaimed himself the new President of the United States of America! Halloween Jack clearly isn’t happy with that and shows it. After dealing with an unhappy former casino star, Jack decides that he and Meanstreak proceed with their plan and activate the Virtual Unreality machine. Meanwhile, Lytton Synge abandons his badly injured sister Desdemona in the Nevada desert and walks back to Las Vegas, wanting to take revenge on Halloween Jack all by himself. At the same time, Krystalin tries to reach Las Vegas after a disturbing call she gets from Meanstreak. At first, she finds resistance from road workers, who ask her to wait because they have to launch some EMP’s from Doom, who hopes will clear the air of pollution. After the launch, Krystalin makes it to Las Vegas where she witnesses Virtual Unreality in action. She rescues a family from certain death and then moves over to the Synge Casino. There, Halloween Jack is glad that his plan works, but Meanstreak doesn’t like the thought that innocent people get hurt in the process. Halloween Jack doesn’t care about those people, but Meanstreak does and runs away from Jack, wanting to over-think things. Meanstreak notices Krystalin in the casino and they meet up with each other and try to make a plan to stop Halloween Jack, before someone dies. Meanstreak and Krystalin go back to Halloween Jack and try to shut down the Virtual Unreality projector, but Jack takes Krystalin hostage and threatens Meanstreak not to do it, or else he’ll kill Krystalin. The trio gets the company of President Doom, who asks Jack to shut down the machine. Nobody can do that, but Doom says that he has thought of that and explains that the EMP’s he launched earlier will create a containment field that will buffer the vu wave of the projector. Lytton attacks Jack but gets easily defeated by Doom. Doom also informs Jack that he is closing Las Vegas down for good and takes off. An angry Halloween Jack wants to take revenge, but he has to do it alone. Meanstreak tells his old friend that he doesn’t want to be his partner any more and takes off with Krystalin.

Full Summary: 

We interrupt your regularly scheduled narrowcast to bring you the following program: A Ministry of Signal Presentation!

A blond haired woman, wearing the American flag, playfully around her body, tells America to wake up! She explains to the people that, while they were sleeping, the winds of change didn’t merely came sweeping down the plains; no, they came roaring across the wide expand of the great nation, from California to New York, from the Redwood Forests to the Gulf Stream Waters. The woman tells the people to look up the skies, as they will see a new monument on the Washington Skylight: the Liebera Cielo. That is the floating headquarters of America’s new administrator. The woman explains that the headquarters is determined to steer the USA into the twenty-second century at maximum speed.

But these aren’t the empty promises of career politicians, the female broadcaster promises. This is an administration of action! Already, she continues, those workers have begun launching environmental maintenance platforms in all fifty-one states, in an effort to undo the damage of almost two hundred years of atmospheric pollution. No tool of the corporate elite, this administration believes in social equality for all, and has therefore established the privileges of the wealthy black card carrying aristocracy. With that said, the woman announces the man responsible for this to the public: Doom! People go out on the streets and proudly cheer out Doom’s name. Halloween Jack isn’t happy with this and asks who this “Doom” thinks that he is! Meanstreak tells Jack that he knows who Doom is. Meanstreak explains that Jack was there when Doom shut down Alchemax’s Aesir con back when Jack was still masquerading as Loki. Jack says that he didn’t want an answer: it was a rhetorical question. Of course he remembers the Latverian!

Jack tells Meanstreak to mark his words: Jack believes that Doom is all words but no deeds. Meanstreak simply believes that Jack is jealous about Doom. One of the Casino security guards steps in, with an obvious angry woman followed by a small flying around camera, and the woman refused to come voluntarily. The woman introduces herself as Celestia Amberlyn, and she isn’t happy that she isn’t treated like the big star she used to be around here. Jack tells Celestia to calm down, and asks here what it was she was doing here. Celestia explains that her exclusive contract at the Synge Casino was life performance. She tells Jack that the ministry of signal licensed her copyrighted holographic likeness. Celestia believes that the ministry couldn’t afford anything more. Okay, Halloween Jack tells Celestia, she can get off on a technicality. Jack notices the floating camera and asks Celestia if it’s on. Twenty-four hours a day, the blond-haired star explains, and the recording later on gets edited and replayed on the Celestia Channel. Celestia tells Jack that her life is her art.

Jack sadistically congratulates Celestia on her selflessness, for giving the “average Joe” a view on her world of celebrity and glamour. Jack looks at Meanstreak and jokingly tells him that they are lucky to stand between such an absolute angel. Henri sarcastically agrees. Jack takes out a gun and shoots the camera! Angry, Halloween Jack tells Celestia that she needs to understand that he is the star of the show now! Celestia calls Jack a jerk and reveals that she is a close friend of Indigo Eshun, Doom’s Minister of Signal. She shouts that she can have the new administration make life very difficult for Jack if she wants to. Jack tells Celestia to keep her temper and shows her why he believes that neither Doom or his cabinet threaten his plans: Jack takes her to the roof and shows her the virtual unreality projector!

He reveals that the projector is guaranteed to transport and transmogrify the world around him in ways unimaginable. Celestia is impressed to finally see what the Casino scientists have been so secretly working on in the past few weeks. Jack is proud of the design of the projector, which he made himself. Celestia remembers how an ex-boyfriend of her, who worked at Alchemax, told her that the Virtual Unreality once caused a total disaster. And now that Celestia remembers this, she also recalls that her ex told her that he blamed a man named Jackson Boone for the project’s failure. Silently correcting Celestia, Halloween Jack explains to her that the one responsible was not named Jackson Boone, but Jordan Boone and that the man was a genius, whose work went sorrowfully unappreciated by the Alchemax executive board. But that doesn’t matter, Halloween Jack believes, because in a few moments he will overturn the natural laws of physics throughout the entire city of Las Vegas and replace them with the wildly unpredictable reality of another dimension.

Celestia smiles at the thought of how twisted Jack’s plan is to use the entire city as an experiment. Jack returns to Meanstreak and asks his old friend, Hank, if he heard what Celestia named him: Jack thinks that the woman likes him. An upset Meanstreak asks Halloween Jack to make a deal: he won’t call Jack Jordan Boone anymore, so instead Meanstreak asks Jack to never call him Hank again. While quickly using his super-speed powers to check on the Virtual Unreality equipments, Meanstreak informs Halloween Jack that the hardware seems to be alright, but Meanstreak is still not comfortable with the margin of error they are working with. Halloween Jack tells Meanstreak not to worry about that and take a risk; after all, they are in Las Vegas! Jack turns on the machine and purple energies surround the entire city, and Virtual Unreality begins!


Riding on a bike, Krystalin gets stopped by road workers when she tries to enter Las Vegas. The workers explain to her that she has the new president, Doom, to thank for that. The workers hate the changes Doom is bringing: first, he gives the old Environmental Protection Agency martial powers, and then Doom makes the road workers launch various EMP weapons all across the state. Not knowing what EMP’s are, Krystalin asks for an explanation. Supposedly, the workers explain, the EMP’s are going to flush out all the pollution out of the air and rebuild the ozone. People say that the EMP’s worked in Wakanda, but the workers don’t believe that. As the EMP’s get launched, they make a horrible noise as they do and Krystalin and the workers cover up their ears.

The high desert of Southern Nevada…

Lytton leaves his badly injured sister Desdemona behind. Desdemona begs him not to, but Lytton refuses to listen to her and simply walks away. Lytton tells her that he has never forgotten that unfortunate fact of birth, not when Desdemona stole the casino from him, and not when she turned him into the monster he is now. Desdemona begs Lytton to take her with him, offering to work together to make a plan so that Halloween Jack can pay for his deeds. Lytton doesn’t want her by his side, and why should he? Lytton finds him to be bigger and better than ever before. Although it seems that Lytton is peeling. He cuts off small pieces off from his body and walks towards Las Vegas alone, where Virtual Unreality goes on at full force.

The Las Vegas Strip…

After the launch Krystalin makes it in Las Vegas. Thinking in herself, she says that she assumed from the road that the weird purple light she saw was the result of one of Doom’s EMP’s malfunctioning, but now she can clearly see that the light comes from the Synge casino. Now Krystalin knows what Meanstreak meant when he called her in Oakland to come meet him here and told her that things were getting out of hand. Krystalin sees the Virtual Unreality in action, which causes all the buildings, cars and streets to writhe like a snake. The writhing causes Krystalin to fall off her bike and she wonders what’s going on. She notices a scared family running and that they don’t notice that a hand-shaped signage above them is breaking off and threatens to fall on their heads!

The family does see it though and get in shock when they think about their possible deaths, unable to move further. Krystalin uses her powers to create a crystalline sluice, so that the signage drops down in another direction. The family thanks her and informs that they feel sorry for losing the nice Synge casino. They say it turned into such a bad way since Halloween Jack took it over. The family believes that the casino will lose business because of this. “Not mine,” Krystalin answers, “I have reservations.”

Inside the casino, Halloween Jack dances of joy because his plan works. Celestia claps her hands, but notices that Meanstreak doesn’t seem to be happy with this at all and asks why. Meanstreak informs Celestia that he agreed to help Jack take over the casino and ban the Syndicate out of Las Vegas, but now Meanstreak is worried about the consequences of the Unreality projector: it’s ripping the city apart.

And that’s the point, Halloween Jack adds, to turn Las Vegas literally upside down! Meanstreak doesn’t like the thought that Jack is hurting innocent people in the cause. But Halloween Jack simply doesn’t care about that. Meanstreak has had enough and says that he needs a break from Jack’s insanity and runs away from him. Meanstreak runs through the casino, which is changing as well. The playing people happily grab all the coins that fall out of the machines they are playing from, which is caused by the Virtual Unreality effect. Meanstreak doesn’t know what he was thinking when he agreed to help Halloween Jack. He remembers how the X-Men were falling apart and, after that, immediately got involved into the plans of his old friend, whose sanity can now be questioned. Meanstreak doubts if he could have been more irresponsible. Now that he sees the side effects of Virtual Unreality, Meanstreak realizes his mistake.

Suddenly, Meanstreak notices that some Virtual Unreality creatures are running next to him, at the same speed he is running! Meanstreak recognizes the creatures as Benign and thinks that they have opened Pandora’s Box. Meanstreak passes some angry casino players, who want to go complain to Halloween Jack about this situation, but are stopped by the Suicide King, who informs them that Jack doesn’t want to see anyone at the moment. Krystalin is in the crowd as well, but the Suicide King refuses to believe that she is Meanstreak’s friend, like she claims she is. Meanstreak overhears the conversation and pulls Krystalin out of the crowd and happily hugs her.

Krystalin hugs him too and is glad to see that Meanstreak is all right. Meanstreak asks her what happened in Oakland, but Krystalin finds that to be a story for another time and asks what’s going on around there and who Halloween Jack is. Meansteak informs her that Jack is another alter-ego of Jordan Boone and that he is responsible for all of this, but Meanstreak adds that, unfortunately, he helped Jack accomplish it.

Outside the casino, Lytton Synge has made it to the entrance and can only think about making Halloween Jack pay for what he has done to him and climbs up the casino. Meanstreak and Krystalin go back to Halloween Jack, who happily greets Krystalin to his team. Jokingly, he asks her when she and Meanstreak are going to skip the faking and confess their love for each other.

Changing the subject, Meanstreak tells Jack that he is going to shut the Virtual Unreality machine down. Jack wants to stop Meanstreak of course, but Meanstreak quickly runs to the control panels and almost shuts it down, but Jack takes Krystalin hostage and threatens Meanstreak not to do it, or else he’ll kill her. Meanstreak angrily tells Jack to leave Krystalin out of this. The fight gets stopped by an arriving stealth ship, and the man who steps out of it is none other than… Doom!

Everyone is impressed seeing Doom in his new armor, but Krystalin recognizes him from their earlier meeting. Halloween Jack welcomes Doom in Las Vegas and jokes around, using his shape shifting abilities in the hope to impress Doom. Doom tells Jack, calling him Jordan Boone, not to waste his time. An angry Halloween Jack tells Doom not to call him by the name of Boone. Doom grabs Jack up and doesn’t care about his personality disorder.

Doom informs Jack that his sophomoric application of dimensional interference technology threatens the environmental balance he is trying to restore. Jack doesn’t understand Doom’s concern, saying that it is only Las Vegas they are talking about. As they talk, nobody notices that Lytton has made it to the rooftop as well. Doom explains to Jack that he has completely miscalculated the persistence of the anomaly wave. Doom believes that the effect will not diminish with distance. Jack disagrees with that, trying to convince Doom of Richard’s principal of tangential equilibrium, but Doom tells Jack not to talk to him about Reed Richards or any of his theories. Lytton attacks Jack, but Doom, not wanting to be disturbed, simply attacks Lytton with an energy wave, which throws him off the roof again.

Jack smiles and recognizes Lytton. Doom demands that Jack pays attention to him, and explains to him that his recklessness ignored the need for containment buffers. Doom reveals that, if left unchecked, the other-dimensional projection will create a chain reaction that will transform the planet in the same unnatural manner it is warping Las Vegas. Jack informs Doom that he doesn’t intend to keep Virtual Unreality running non-stop. Smiling, he asks Meanstreak to do them all a favor and shut the projector down! Meanstreak says that he has been trying to do that, but can’t close the one-dimensional lens and the vu wave has rendered the failsafe inoperative. Dancing around with joy, Jack is glad that there seems to be nothing left but to see the planet destroy itself.

So angry that red energies float from his eyes, Doom tells Jack that it’s a shame that he led himself grow so insane, because he could have make a fine member to his cabinet. Doom says that Jack leaves him no other choice but to take extreme actions to end this mess. A confused Jack asks Doom what he means by that. Doom reveals that, minutes ago, he gave a command to launch a phalanx of EMPs around the greater area of Las Vegas. Doom says that those EMPs have been specially programmed to create a containment field that will buffer the vu wave. From this moment, Doom concludes, he will close Las Vegas for good.

Jack gets upset and threatens Doom that he won’t stop him and will make him pay for this. An unimpressed Doom tells Jack that he is welcome to try it, but tells Jack that if he takes his mischief to any other place in his America, Doom will have Jack killed. He promises that. Doom walks back to his ship and flies away.

Halloween Jack hates Doom even more now, but is glad to see that at least Meanstreak is still with him, and now Krystalin as well. Meanstreak informs Jack that he isn’t his partner anymore and runs away together with Krystalin. Jack begs Meanstreak not to go, but Meanstreak doesn’t listen and takes off. An angry Halloween Jack says that he doesn’t need anyone and plans his next scheme. As Meanstreak and Krystalin run out of Las Vegas, a road worker plants a warning sign which reads “Danger: Las Vegas: anomalous zone ahead. Enter at your own risk.”

Characters Involved: 

Krystalin, Meanstreak (both X-Men 2099)

Halloween Jack

President Doom 2099

Desdemona Synge

Lytton Synge

Suicide King (all the Rat Pack)

Celestia Amberlyn (casino star)

female broadcaster (unnamed)

casino security guard (unnamed)

several road workers (unnamed)

Elmo, Myron and unnamed family dad (people visiting Las Vegas)

Story Notes: 

Doom claiming presidency could be seen last issue.

Doom shut down Alchemax’ Aesir during the Fall of Hammer cross-over. Halloween Jack was still Loki at the time.

The disaster of the Virtual Unreality can be found in Spider-Man 2099 #12.

Krystalin suffered from the acid rain as could be seen in X-Men 2099 #16.

Desdemona Synge turned her brother, Lytton, into a monster in the hope that he would be strong enough to defeat Halloween Jack once and for all, and to retake the casino from him, but failed. The full story can be found in X-Men 2099 #18-19.

Issue Information: 
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