Her name is Jean Grey Summers, a.k.a. Phoenix, and, truthfully, some people just aren’t cut out to be leaders. Jean, unfortunately, is a prime example. Her husband, Scott, led the X-Men many times but, at her first time out on the field as leader, she already lost one of her troops in combat. She clearly isn’t taking it very well. In a rage, Jean calls Magneto a monster and tells him that he just killed Dazzler.
In Jean’s defense, though, the rest of her interim X-Men are still alive. Those left standing beside her are Sunpyre, the supposed sister of Sunfire, Northstar, former member of Alpha Flight, Paulie Provenzano, a man from Brooklyn who is also invulnerable, Wraith, who is more dangerous than he looks, and Frenzy, who has had a change of heart, or mind, regarding human kind.
Northstar tells Magneto that he will pay and not even all his magnetism will stop them. Paulie mutters that a few thousand Genoshan soldiers will probably stop them. Frenzy hears this and tells her teammates that she knows Magneto well and is sure that his ego won’t allow anyone else to fight this battle for him. Phoenix tells them that they only have one shot. If they do not stop Magneto now, he will unleash the dogs of war and humanity will be extinct. Phoenix sounds confident but it is hard, when right behind her is her friend and mentor, Charles Xavier, motionless and bound to a cross. Magneto looks at the X-Men and asks Jean if this is her cavalry and his final battle against the X-Men. He confesses that he is insulted. Paulie tells Magneto that his red face will match the bruises that they are going to throw on him. Northstar tells Paulie to think of a strategy first but Paulie tells him that he isn’t afraid of some man who wears a bucket on his head.
Annoyed, Magneto uses his magnetic powers to lift up Paulie and asks the arrogant youth if he knows what Magneto has endured on the behalf of their people. They will all see how amusing Paulie is after he is ripped apart when the iron in his blood is manipulated. Far more powerful adversaries have fallen before him. However, when Magneto finds that his plan is not working. Paulie looks at Magneto and tells him that invulnerable really must mean invulnerable. Jean thinks to herself that that is one of the best things about a team of “virgin” X-Men: they can even surprise Magneto.
Northstar takes advantage of the confusion to use his super speed to fly around Magneto and punch him. The man asks Magneto if war is all he has to offer to a world in desperate need of healing. Magneto tells Northstar not to lecture him. He then grabs Northstar by the throat and tells him that he is not nearly as fast as his son, Quicksilver. However, he does fly. Magneto ponders for a moment and then asks Northstar if he can fly fast enough to save his friend Paulie from suffocating in the upper atmosphere. With that, he jettisons Paulie into the air. Magneto releases Northstar and tells him to hurry, for Paulie will be dead in minutes. Northstar tells Magneto that he doesn’t care, because he and Paulie aren’t close. Jean yells at Northstar, who flies off after Paulie but not before taking another swipe at Magneto. Magneto looks at Jean and tells her that three are down in a matter of moments.
Magneto tells the X-Men to surrender but, before he can finish speaking, Frenzy tackles him from behind into a wall. Frenzy tells him that she is sick over all the talk about killing, for it seems that he wants to get rid of anyone who is different or disagrees with him. Isn’t he doing exactly what he is accusing the humans of? With ease, Magneto wraps up Frenzy in some metal piping and tells her that she is last person he thought would turn traitor. He then turns to Jean and accuses her of mind-controlling Frenzy. Jean pretends to be shocked and asks Magneto if he doesn’t think that mind controlling is immoral.
Nearby, two guards stand by the doors leading into Magda Square and out of the tunnels. One of the guards tells his friend that it sounds like Magneto is winning. The other guard says that they will do the same to the Homo “apiens,” and then asks his friend if he gets the joke. From above, Cyclops blasts a hole in the floor, where the two men fall through and meet their untimely deaths, thanks to Wolverine and his adamantium claws. The two regroup and Wolverine asks if Cyclops isn’t going to lecture him about not being nicer to the two guards. Cyclops tells him that they are at war and the guards chose their sides the same as they did. Wolverine pauses for a moment and then asks Cyclops if he still wants to act like nothing has changed since he merged with Apocalypse. Cyclops tells Wolverine that he hasn’t changed and, also, that they might have asked the guards for the key to the doors first. Wolverine pops his claws and tells Cyclops that he has their key right there.
Back in Magda Square, Sunpyre unleashes her furious atomic flame on Magneto, all the while telling him that though he seeks supremacy in the world, there are some of them who will refuse to bow to him. Phoenix is impressed by the woman called Leyu Yoshida. She is barely older than a child and already she has mastered her powers. Part of Jean feels bad about bringing her into this but, as Xavier would tell her, if one cannot stop the problem at its source, then it will be on your doorstep tomorrow. However, as Jean and Wraith both notice, Magneto encases himself in iron. Sunpyre stops her assault and tells her teammates that that is how it is done.
Magneto removes the metal from around him and tells her that it was a simple task of projecting the heat away from his body along the Earth’s electromagnetic lines. However, let’s see Sunpyre be nearly as creative in averting her death. Magneto then takes the iron casing and assaults Sunpyre, wrapping her up in the metal. Sunpyre crashes into the group and Wraith asks Phoenix about their next move. Telepathically, Phoenix tells him that they have to stand a few moments longer against Magneto. They can do it, for Phoenix believes in both of them. Wraith looks towards Sunpyre and tells Phoenix that she was the first girl who looked at him since his mutation without turning away horrified. Sure, she is a little into herself, but she is beautiful. Well, admits Wraith, not at the moment. Magneto interrupts Wraith’s rambling and tells him that he shouldn’t have come here. Wraith feels some pain and realizes that Magneto is trying to control the iron in his blood, like he did with Paulie.
Off the coast of Genosha, Northstar gives Paulie mouth-to-mouth on a battle cruiser. Paulie wakes up and knocks Northstar away, accusing Northstar of coming on to him while he was out. A group of sailors watch on, as Northstar tells Paulie that he passed out in the upper atmosphere from a lack of oxygen. He touched them down on this American battle cruiser fifty miles from Genosha. He was only trying to save his life, though at the moment he is having difficulty understanding why. Paulie realizes his mistake and Northstar flies them back to Genosha. Along the way, Paulie thanks Northstar. “Yes,” says Northstar, “Whatever.”
Back at Magda Square, Magneto holds Wraith up by his neck and asks the youth if he has any other powers besides his hideous look before Magneto makes an example out of him. Nothing, says Wraith, except for one thing. With that said Wraith’s skins to his body and Magneto’s skin appears to disappear. Wraith explains that he can only pass on his affliction onto another. Phoenix thinks to herself that, when she went into Hector’s mind, she discovered that he manipulate the visibility of objects. With more training, he can learn to render himself completely invisible. However, what Jean didn’t know was how disorienting the effect would be on another.
Magneto drops the boy and grabs his head. Magneto returns to normal and Wraith returns to having his skin invisible. Wraith asks Magneto if he is okay but Magneto tells him that he is trying to change the world for people like Hector and, though it saddens him, this battle ends now. With that, he uses his powers to throw Wraith away. Suddenly, an optic blast slams into Magneto and sends him flying. Perfect timing, thinks Phoenix.
Wolverine and Cyclops enter and Wolverine tells his partner that the only scents he recognizes are Phoenix’s and Frenzy’s, though he doesn’t understand what Frenzy is doing on their side. There must be twenty to thirty mutants with an X around their neck, complains Wolverine; how did they end up with the little league team. Cyclops reminds Wolverine that they were once the little league team too, but Wolverine tells him that things were different. Cyclops tells him that they can talk about it later, assuming, of course, that there will be a later.
Wolverine heads over to Xavier to cut him down but Phoenix yells that he cannot. Wolverine asks Jean if she is crazy but the woman tells him to trust her. Wolverine sniffs Xavier and then tells Jean that he always will. A group of guards surround Cyclops, who stands over Magneto. One guard threatens to kill Cyclops if he doesn’t back down. Cyclops, however, tells the troops that their leader is a madman, who, in truth, is just an angry, old man who is going to make the world suffer for his own personal losses.
Magneto picks up his helmet and asks Cyclops if that is really how little he thinks of him. Cyclops tells him that he thinks less of him. People follow him, yet all he can offer is a world founded on the same fear and hatred he claims to be fighting. That is why they are going to stop him. Cyclops shoots an optic blast but it goes over Magneto’s head. Magneto criticizes Cyclops for trying, for Magneto can easily bend the optic blast with the electromagnetic spectrum. However, in truth Cyclops was actually aiming for the helmet and as the optic blast ricochets off a wall it hits the helmet and sends it into Magneto’s head.
Enraged, Magneto uses his powers to throw his helmet at Cyclops. Cyclops asks if it comes down to Magneto just throwing his helmet. He then blasts it in half with his optic blast but Magneto is still able to guide one of the pieces and nails Cyclops in the head. Magneto tells Wolverine that it is down to them. Wolverine approaches Magneto but Cyclops tells him to stop, because his whole body is laced with adamantium. Wolverine tells Scott that he has survived the worst that Magneto can dish at him. He then leaps at Magneto, ready to kill.
However, Magneto easily stops Wolverine midair and then begins to lecture that the X-Men will never win, because they do not learn from their mistakes. Mutants pride themselves on adaptation, yet the X-Men have yet to realize that the world is darker than it was when the conflict started. It is kill or be killed. He will once again tear the adamantium from Wolverine’s skeleton, only this time he will die!
“Or not,” says Wolverine. Magneto is flummoxed as he realizes that his powers aren’t working. Wolverine tells him that it is teamwork and he should try it some time. Magneto turns to see Phoenix, Cyclops and a free Charles Xavier in the arms of Amelia Voght. Magneto, however, sees that there is another Xavier, still chained to the cross, and does not understand how the impossible could happen. Phoenix explains that he only thought that it was impossible. Cyclops continues and explains that this was Phoenix’s plan from the beginning. With only a half dozen X-Men, they had to be created. Charles tells Magneto that, in his defense, even he was amazed by his students’ gamble.
Suddenly, the figure on the cross turns into Dazzler, who asks anyone if they really thought that she didn’t know that Magneto would turn her powers against her. Magneto is surprised to see her but Dazzler tells him that she is hale and hearty. In fact, she has been so fine that she has been projected an image of Xavier around her ever since Jean let him believe that he killed her. Phoenix explains that she needed Dazzler’s ability to turn sound into light, while she concentrated on distracting him while Amelia freed Xavier. Magneto deduces the rest and realizes that Xavier entered his mind and prevented him from using his powers on Wolverine. Once again, he did to Magneto what Xavier would do to no other. And, once again, says Xavier, Magneto refuses to see the hate and violence that will never lead their people to freedom. He is sorry that it has come to this.
Magneto tells him that he has no hard feelings. However, they both know that this is not the end. What he said was true. No matter how hard they try to deny it, this world is kill or be killed. Since the X-Men are unwilling to be the former, they will be the latter. Wolverine comes up from behind Magneto and tells him that Xavier may not be able to kill, but he can. With that said, he pops his claws right into Magneto’s gut and out through his back.
Xavier is horrified and Phoenix asks Wolverine why he did it. Cyclops tells his wife that, God help them, there may have been no other way. Phoenix tells him that, if that is the case, then the war has only begun. She wonders to herself that this may have been part of Magneto’s plan all along. Was it enough to get the X-Men to draw first blood?
Xavier holds the bleeding body of Magneto in his arms. The X-Men, both old and new, gather behind him, while Xavier telepathically addresses Genosha. Xavier tells the people that he has no words to repay them for what they have suffered for being mutants. He and Magneto dreamt of changing the world. They were young and arrogant. Today, though, the people of Genosha have the power to change the world. Either they shall start a war, which will surely kill them all, or they can choose another path. They are who they are because of something born in them. Can anyone of them believe that it is right to condemn others for being different? They are free now. Isn’t that enough? The future is open for them all. They should use their gifts and teach others less enlightened. Some day, they will wake up in a world and all will live in peace, no matter who they are. With the speech over with, the X-Men leave Genosha, while guards tend to the hurt Magneto.
Epilogue: “The Morning After the Eve of Destruction.”
The next morning, Jean was about to give herself more credit than she was giving herself before in regards to her leadership skills, but decided that it wouldn’t be necessary. A shuttle bus waits outside Xavier’s mansion to pick up the interim X-Men, who have decided not to stay at the mansion.
Inside, Jean asks the group if they are sure they don’t want to stay. Scott tells them that there is plenty of room. Frenzy thanks them but declines. Sunpyre says that she won’t be staying in this lifetime. “Later for that,” says Paulie. Wraith tells the X-Men that it was fun but he is not cut out for this. However, he would still like help controlling his powers. Xavier sees Dazzler come with her bag and asks about the Mojoverse. Dazzler asks Xavier to let the last day sink in first. The five exit and slam the door behind them. Xavier turns around and asks if that leaves the four of them. Wolverine tells the others that he is going for a beer and if anyone wants in. The other three follow him.