X-Men (2nd series) #102

Issue Date: 
July 2000
Story Title: 
The Cruelest Cut

Chris Claremont and Leinil Francis Yu (Script), Mark Morales (Inks), Richard Starkings and Comicraft (Letters), Liquid! Graphics (Colors), Mark Powers (Editor), Bob Harras (Editor in Chief)

Brief Description: 

At the State Home for Foundlings in Sage, Nebraska, Wolverine and Moonstar break into the remains of one of Sinister’s labs. Wolverine tells Moonstar that this is the 17th attack and the 17th time Sinister was killed. Moonstar uses her powers to show Wolverine Sinister’s death, which reveals to have been done by Domina, leader of the Neo. Wolverine also learns from the image that Sabretooth is alive. Forge calls them back to the mansion, because the space station the X-Men were on was sabotaged. At the Church of St. Michael, Cecilia defends Nightcrawler and the Morlocks from the Neo. Suddenly, the X-Men break in and join the fight and Archangel returns to save Psylocke from Barbican. Domina attacks the X-Men and quickly defeats them all. She goes to kill Cecilia for killing her husband when Wolverine arrives and defeats her. Barbican tries to seal the church so no one can escape, but Psylocke and Cecilia keep a tunnel open with their powers. Cecilia realizes that Charlotte Jones in missing and stays behind to find her as the X-Men and Morlocks escape. Outside the church, the X-Men vow to find a way to save Cecilia and Charlotte. In Boston, Tessa, former servant of Sebastian Shaw, confronts Senator Kelly in a cemetery. Tessa warns Kelly not to run for president, as he may bring the end of the human race. However, Kelly dismisses her warning, as he wants to avenge his wife’s death.

Full Summary: 

The door is locked but that is no problem for Wolverine. He unleashes his claws, which are laced with adamantium, which covers his bone claws and every other bone in his body. The adamantium bonded to him is formed of the pure version of the metal, which makes them able to cut through anything and makes them unbreakable. The mutant healing factor he possesses is what allows him to live with the adamantium in his body. It also makes him nearly impossible to kill, which is very useful during a fight and often comes handy in his line of work.

Wolverine slashes his way past the door and mechanical debris on the floor and follows the tunnel to a staircase. He takes the stairs down to the basement of the State Home for Foundlings in the town of Sage, Nebraska. He takes out a flare and thinks to himself that the building dates back a hundred years, as well as the basement complex, and was built by a mad geneticist who thought he could play god.

With the room illuminated by the light of the flare, Wolverine sees the damage around him. The whole room is trashed. Whatever mechanical devices were here are now scrap metal on the ground. The ground itself is covered with little craters from the fight that went on. Wolverine thinks that it is nice to see that Sinister got what he deserved. He then thinks to himself that he does not need the flare, as his senses tell him everything he needs to know.

He uses he powers and detective skills to deduce that the attack was recent; the latest in a series of attacks against Sinister. He tastes the aftertaste of ozone in his mouth, which tells him that someone was using plasma charges in the attack. Wolverine believes that the charges came from a living power source, not any military weapon. He continues his survey and realizes much of the damage was done by hand. Wolverine finds blood, which tells him that the attacker was out to kill. The attack was precise and destructive. Not a scrap of metal has been left to salvage. Wolverine likes the attacker’s style.

Though he does not expect to find any data left, Wolverine follows standard procedure and plugs in a “ratcatcher” into what is left of a computer terminal to find any data that can be recovered from the attack. He looks around the room once again and tells himself that even though there are no scents left, he knows that the attack was not done by a team. It was a solo job. Anyone who is super fast, super strong and can cast energy is trouble. That is why he brought Dani Moonstar with him this time.

Moonstar, a part time X-Man who plans to attend college, comes into the room and tells Wolverine that she just received a message from Forge. The crew of the High Evolutionary’s space station had to abandon it due to sabotage. They just crash landed in JFK Airport. Forge wants her and Wolverine back at the mansion immediately. Moonstar is left in awe as she sees the damage to the room. She reminds Wolverine that he told her that this attack was not the first. Wolverine tells her that this attack has been the 17th one on one of Sinister’s mainframe installations. Wolverine puts his hand to his chin and tells Moonstar that whoever is out to get Sinister means it personally.

Moonstar asks her colleague what scents he picks up. Wolverine tells her that he smells whatever is left of Sinister. Moonstar asks if the attackers killed him, but Wolverine tells her that this would be the 17th time they did. She then asks how you can kill a man 17 times. Wolverine picks up a piece of metal with the name Summers printed on it and jokes that you kill him until you get it right. Moonstar does not except this and tells Wolverine that he has a healing factor. What is Sinister’s excuse? Wolverine just tells her that Sinister has his ways.

Moonstar then asks if that is why he brought her. Wolverine tells her to answer that question. Dani tells him that she is Cheyenne, but also part Valkrie, to which Logan reminds her that he was there, remember? Dani remembers this and continues. She tells him that the Valkrie aspect of her makes her more sensitive to moments of violent death. She doesn’t now know how many times the death occurred, but people died in this installation.

Dani creates a triangle around her with some flares and reminds Logan that she is also a mutant with the power to make people’s greatest hopes and fears tangible, which includes death. She brings her arms close to her chest and tells Wolverine that she can show him the death of Sinister, since the resonances are strong. She goes on to tell him that the one drawback is that she will feel what the people in her mirages feel. However, she jokes, the Cheyenne do not know how to back down from a good fight.

Dani stretches her arms out and purple energy begins to surround her. Wolverine thinks to himself that the reason Dani jokes is because she knows what is going to come. The jokes are her way to cope with whatever she is about to feel. The energy from Dani soon takes form of two people: Sinister and Sabretooth; the latter a man whom Wolverine once thought was dead.

Sinister and Sabretooth turn to a door as a woman kicks it down and Sabretooth leaps at her. The woman calls herself Domina and tells the two that for their crimes against the Neo, they must die. She grabs Sabretooth by the neck as he leaps for her and cracks it. While she still holds the dead man she turns to Sinister and blasts him away with an energy blast from her eyes.

As the vision fades away, Dani tells Logan that Sinister looked scared at the end. Logan tells her that Sinister likes to pull the strings, not be roped up. He has never faced anyone like Domina. Dani asks who Domina was, but Logan tells her that Domina is someone the X-Men have never met before. She won’t quit until the job is done. Dani asks Wolverine if he is saying that this is not over, to which Logan replies, “Darlin’ I got the feelin’ it’s only just begun.”

Beneath the Church of St. Michael the Archangel in Brooklyn, the Neo named Anteus angrily assaults Dr. Cecilia Reyes with his massive strength. Cecilia had plans to practice medicine, but fate had other plans for her, because she was born with the power to generate a force field around her. That field is why she met the X-Men and now battles Anteus in the catacombs below a church. Scared, Cecilia wonders how someone the size of Anteus could move so fast. She cannot see most of his punches. Fortunately, her shield holds up. Anteus continues his barrage of punches. Cecilia thinks to herself that Anteus is angry because even though he has so many muscles, he cannot touch her.

Cecilia’s assaulter tells her that she has surprised him, but sooner or later she will tire. That is when he will strike her down. Cecilia realizes that Anteus is right in his assumption. The only reason she is still up is because she took the mutant power-enhancing drug, rave. She knows that she must find a way to win before the effects wear off. Cecilia ducks under Anteus’ next punch. While he is off balance Cecilia shapes her field into a baseball bat and slugs Anteus in the face, which knocks him down.
In the shadows, Domina watches the battle and comments on how, without any skill in combat, Cecilia was able to beat Anteus. He will never live this down. Domina tells herself that in other circumstances she would have spared Cecilia, but now the woman only delays the inevitable.

Cecilia panics as she wonders how she will defeat the other Neo. Salvo steps up and introduces himself as the “Living Gun.” His arms transform into machine guns and he begins to fire away at the injured Nightcrawler and a group of homeless mutant “Morlocks” who took refuge in the building from humanity. Cecilia remembers how she hates guns as she jumps in the way of the line of fire. While her shield blocks the bullets from the others Cecilia realizes what war veterans mean by a “hailstorm of steel.” Though she hates the bullets, Cecilia tells herself that she never knew using her powers would feel so wonderful.

The rave drug works wonders on her powers. Quickly, she realizes that it is just like cocaine and heroine and that the rush is a lie. However, the more she uses the more she is consumed by the need to use it. As she continues to block the barrage, she tells herself that she will figure out a way to cut her addiction after she and her friends escape. Cecilia then wonders if that is what every junkie tells him or herself. As her thoughts return back to the battle, Cecilia thinks of how the Neo call her a “spike,” which is their word for mutant. However, she can make spikes and she has already killed one of them earlier. Cecilia stops herself and realizes what she just said was murder.

As Cecilia argues with her conscience, Salvo tells the others that Cecilia is visibly weakening and that the fight will be over soon. Kilmer comes up behind Domina and tells her that they are out of time. “We have company.” Suddenly, from above, Colossus breaks through the ceiling and lands on the ground. From the street, Rogue breaks through one wall of the church. From the interior courtyard Psylocke uses her telekinesis to smash her way through. The three meet in the middle. Rogue introduces them to the Neo and tells the attackers that they do not like those who wish to harm their friends. Colossus and Psylocke offer the Neo the chance to leave the battlefield or suffer the consequences.

Anteus leaps at Colossus and tells him that he is deluded to even think they can beat even the weakest of the Neo. Colossus tells the brute that the X-Men will then have to prove they can win, as he tosses Anteus over his head towards Psylocke. He turns to the others and tells them that Anteus called himself a Neo. Psylocke uses her telekinesis to wrap up Anteus and realizes that Seth, who attacked the space station, was also a member of the Neo.

Rogue runs to Cecilia’s aid and catches all the bullets Salvo shoots. She catches them all and throws them back at him. Salvo ducks down and Rogue takes advantage of his mistake and grabs him. She tells Salvo that Colossus can turn into metal, Psylocke is a telekinetic and she is a thief, with the ability to take powers and memories. She kisses Salvo and absorbs his abilities, which also renders him unconscious. Colossus sarcastically tells Rogue that if she is trying to intimidate the Neo it is working on him. Rogue tells him that she will do whatever it takes to give them the edge. Back on focus, she tells her companions to get their people and leave while they have the chance.

In a Boston cemetery, stands the grave of Sharon Kelly, the wife of Senator Robert Kelly, who, at the moment, visits his deceased wife. Beside him stands Tessa, who apologizes if she disturbed him. Kelly simply tells her that he does not care what her boss wants. Tessa tells the Senator that she no longer works for Sebastian Shaw and that she has returned to an “earlier affiliation.” Kelly tells Tessa that he is surprised Shaw let her go when he considers how valuable she is.

Tessa changes the subject and tells the senator that she recently learned that he decided to run for president. Kelly asks how she knew, but Tessa tells him that is her own business. She goes on and tells him that he faces political ruin if he runs. Kelly tells her that he does not care. The nation and the world face a threat more deadly than the nuclear war. He wants to make people understand the danger. Mutants are dangerous whether they are good or evil.

Tessa tells Kelly that mutants are people, but Kelly rebuts that so are terrorists, some of whom are shot on sight. His wife died because of mutants. He swore never again but things just got worse. The world even acknowledged Magneto as a dangerous mutant and then gave him his own country. He no longer wants to watch. He now chooses to act. Tessa tells the senator to have a care. He speaks of Magneto as evil. She tells him to compare Magneto’s hate filled words and twisted dreams to his own. They have more in common then he realizes. If he tries to save his people, Kelly may indeed guarantee the annihilation of the human race.

Back in Brooklyn, Rogue’s powers go on the fritz. She begins to emit energy, which hits Colossus. Rogue’s skin turns into armor and she realizes that she managed to absorb her teammate without the skin contact.

As Rogue struggles to control her powers, Anteus returns and begins to attack Psylocke. He asks her if she thought the Neo could easily be defeated as he tries to punch her. Rogue’s arms transform into machine guns and her hair becomes blue like Salvo. Unfortunately they are not under her control as she begins to fire rapidly in all directions.
Cecilia orders everyone to get down and runs towards Rogue with the intent to contain the bullets with her shield. On the side, Nightcrawler thinks to himself how Cecilia uses her powers more maniacally now. Even adrenaline would not give someone the same rush she has. Nightcrawler ponders over what is wrong with her.

Cecilia tells everyone she can hold Rogue, but thinks to herself that she can only do it as long as the rave in her system does not wear off. As she covers Rogue, Cecilia realizes that her friend has other problems. The bullets that are fired from her guns are being made from her metal body, which means Rogue will eat her body until nothing is left.
Nearby, Anteus towers over Psylocke and tells Rogue that her death should be called gentle compared to how her friends will die. Suddenly, a wing smacks Anteus in the face and Archangel tells him that if he wants trouble with Psylocke, Anteus will have to contend with her own guardian Archangel. Concerned, Psylocke tells Archangel that the catacombs are no place for a flier. He appreciates the concern from his lover, but Archangel tells her that the first thing Professor Xavier taught him was how to maneuver and fight in closed quarters.

Psylocke gets up and calls Archangel a show-off as he attacks Anteus. She tells her lover that her turn is next. However, she finds that her telekinesis won’t hold Anteus any longer. Psylocke comments on how marvelous it is that the Neo can adapt to their powers. She tells the Neo that two can play that game and changes her war plan. Instead, she upends the floor beneath him.

Cecilia tells Rogue that she could try to jam the guns with her field, but Rogue tells her that the doctor would most likely tear her arms off. Frightened, Cecilia tells Rogue that she wastes away with every second that passes; they have to act fast. Rogue comes up with a plan quickly and calls out to Nightcrawler. She knows he is hurt, but asks him to give her a “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.”

Cecilia tells Rogue that Nightcrawler cannot stand the strain of a jaunt, but Rogue tells her that for their sakes, he’d better. Cecilia lowers her field and Nightcrawler leaps at her. He tells her that he prays she knows what she is doing. Rogue tells him that she makes this up as she goes. Nightcrawler jaunts him and Rogue across the church basement repeatedly. He passes out from the jaunts and the two appear on the floor. Rogue tells him that he made her look like a genius. The multiple teleports snapped her back to normal.

With most of the Neo defeated, the others regroup. Thunderbird arrives and Colossus regains consciousness. Rogue tells the others that the main event is about to start. Psylocke forms a telekinetic katana as Domina approaches the X-Men through the flames. The woman tells the X-Men that they possess all the attributes she wishes in an adversary. She then introduces herself as Domina, leader of the Warclan. Rogue orders Thunderbird to block Domina, which he does in the form of a wall of solar plasma. He does what he is told, but asks if they will fight. On the other side Domina leaps through the flames and tells them that they have no choice.

Domina wages a one-woman war on the team. She tells the X-Men that as Domina, she can assume the abilities of other Neo unto herself. With Anteus’ power she punches Colossus hard in the face. With the power of Static she sends Psylocke, Thunderbird, Archangel, and Cecilia’s powers against them. With all down, except Rogue, Domina takes the power of Jaeger to gain the instincts of a hunter to slam Rogue down. Domina kneels above her and takes out her dagger. Before she strikes, Domina asks Rogue is she thought she could actually take her be surprise. Rogue raises her machine gun arm and says yes. She pulls the trigger.

The gun clicks, but no bullet hits Domina. Rogue is surprised that nothing happened, but Domina tells her that of course nothing happened. She touches Rogue’s hands and the guns melt off Rogue’s arms and onto Domina’s. She starts to fire bullets into Rogue’s face and tells her that from Salvo she can morph her arms into any conceivable weapon. She tells Rogue that she took her Gatling guns, because she can put them to better use.
Cecilia gets up and realizes that, at point blank range, even Rogue’s invulnerability may not handle the stress of the bullets. She puts her field between Rogue and Domina.

While Domina is pushed back, Nightcrawler teleports to her and kicks Domina in the face. He begins to teleport around her and tosses punches at her. Domina smiles and tells Nightcrawler that he is fast, but asks how long he can last with his injuries. She tells him that the X-Men’s courage gives them credit, but it is a lost cause. Psylocke sneaks up from behind, but Domina knows this and uses Static’s power to turn the woman’s telekinesis against her and Nightcrawler. As Nightcrawler is shot past him, Thunderbird thinks to himself that it is probably okay to use his plasma bolts against Domina, since she has so many powers at her disposal. He raises his arms towards Domina to generate a plasma bolt to stun the Neo leader, but discovers that the bolts fizzle as soon as he creates them.

Cecilia realizes that Domina just neutralized their powers. Domina leaps towards Cecilia, grabs her by the throat and slams her against the wall. She tells the doctor that she will not use her shield to kill her like she did to her beloved, Jaeger. She morphs her free hand into one of Salvo’s Gatling guns and puts it in Cecilia’s face. Cecilia tells Domina that she killed Jaeger out of self-defense. Domina rejects this excuse and tells Cecilia that self-defense is the same reason she will kill Cecilia.

Domina tells Cecilia she is dead when someone from behind tells her that Cecilia will not die tonight by her hands. Wolverine clobbers Domina in the face and repeatedly beats the woman. The other X-Men, except Thunderbird, have seen him in action before, yet they all watch in awe. They all suddenly realize that Wolverine holds nothing back except his claws. Before the X-Men can ask why he does not use his claws, the fight is over. Wolverine throws Domina away from him and tells the others that he has bought them time and that they have to go. Domina tells Wolverine that he is too late. She screams out orders to Barbican to seal the church and apartment building.

Inside, the X-Men do not see anything happen at all. Outside, however, things change drastically. Every way into the buildings, whether it is a door or window is suddenly wiped away as if it were done by a sculptor’s hand. When Barbican begins to close the passage Psylocke created to get in, he finds a stubborn force that refuses to let the passage be sealed. However, the X-Men realize that Barbican will focus his entire energy on Psylocke’s tunnel and not even Psylocke can keep it open for long.

Psylocke uses her telekinesis while Cecilia uses her shield to keep the tunnel from closing. The X-Men, Nightcrawler, and Nightcrawler’s Morlocks escape through the tunnel. Wolverine tells the women that it is their turn to go, but Cecilia realizes that Detective Charlotte Jones is missing. Wolverine tells Cecilia that he hasn’t picked up her scent. If they stay, the Neo will kill them. There are no more options. Cecilia refuses to leave and tells Wolverine that it is right for him to save the others, just as it is right for her to stay and find Detective Jones. As Psylocke and Wolverine escape, Cecilia tells Wolverine that she will keep herself and Jones alive. The X-Men should find a way to bring them home.

Wolverine leaps out of the tunnel just as it closes up. The X-Men stand outside and Nightcrawler tells everyone that the structure is totally sealed. Archangel says that they will use Thunderbird’s plasma bolts and Colossus’ fists to get back in, but Rogue interjects and says that Domina is one woman and she defeated them all. She hates to leave friends behind, but they cannot charge in without a better plan.

Rogue tells the others that the Neo are dangerous and new, like their name implies. They are overly hostile. They may even be better than them. Rogue tells the absent Cecilia that she has her word; when the X-Men next return, “…it’ll be t’win!”

Characters Involved: 

Archangel, Colossus, Psylocke, Rogue, Thunderbird III, Wolverine (all X-Men)
Moonstar (X-Men ally)
Cecilia Reyes, Nightcrawler (former X-Men)

Anteus, Barbican, Domina, Kilmer, Salvo (all Neo)

Nightcrawler’s Morlocks
Senator Kelly

in Moonstar’s mirage Domina
Mr. Sinister

Story Notes: 

Dani Moonstar left X-Force after she disagreed with the team’s new direction, which included being trained by Pete Wisdom as a strike force team in a flashback in X-Force (1st Series) #106. She joined the X-Men sometime after that in the Six-Month Gap.

Sinister is responsible for the mutant regression wave that destroyed the Neo’s civilization in Uncanny X-Men #379-380 and X-Men (2nd series) #99.

The last time Wolverine saw Sabretooth was in Wolverine (2nd Series) #145, in which Apocalypse took Sabretooth’s adamantium skeleton to give to Wolverine, who then thought Sabretooth was gone forever after the transfer.

Static (Seth) sabotaged the space station in X-Men (2nd series) #100.

Cecilia killed Jaeger in X-Men (2nd series) #100 and first used rave in X-Men (2nd series) #101. Charlotte Jones disappeared while tailing Delgado during the same issue.

Tessa formerly worked for Sebastian Shaw, a member of the Hellfire Club, which is an organization the X-Men fought on numerous occasions. As soon will be revealed on a ret-con, Tessa was actually a spy for the X-Men’s leader, Professor Xavier, who sought information on the group. Tessa reveals this in a flashback in X-Treme X-Men #3 and #9. Why she left the Hellfire Club and how she convinced the X-Men of her true identity are detailed in X-Treme X-Men #41.

Sharon Kelly was murdered in Uncanny X-Men #246.