X-Men (2nd series) #166

Issue Date: 
March 2005
Story Title: 
Golgotha - part 1: And What Dark Beast…

Peter Milligan (Writer), Salvador Larroca (Penciler), Danny Miki (Inker), Liquid! (Colorist), Chris Eliopoulos (Letterer), Stephanie Moore & Sean Ryan (Assistant Editors), Mike Marts (Editor), Joe Quesada (Editor-in-Chief), Dan Buckley (Publisher)

Brief Description: 

Havok, Polaris, Iceman, Rogue and Gambit arrive in Antarctica after receiving distress calls from a mutant colony trying to set up their own Utopia. Discovering masses of mutant bodies, either dead by suicide or killing each other, the X-Men also discover “Golgotha” scrawled on the wall in blood. The White Queen telepathically informs them the biblical meaning of Golgotha, before a mutant reveals himself to be alive still - only to kill himself in front of them. Iceman comforts Polaris, who blames herself, until Havok scolds him. Polaris is then attacked by a perverse mutant, and ends up killing him. Havok scolds Lorna for using her powers to kill, which is not what X-Men do, when a group of zombie like mutants approaches them. Rogue uses her powers to go into the mind of one of them and learns little, before they are attacked by another group of mutants. They manage to subdue one of them, who, after telling them that they will never escape, that it will destroy them too, bites his tongue off so he doesn’t have to tell them anything about Golgotha, The White Queen then arrives, and after riling Havok, the mutant has a heart attack, but before he dies Emma learns who Golgotha is, and where it is.

Full Summary: 

Antarctica…’What are these people doing in the South Pole, anyway? Searching for the perfect snowball?’ asks the handsome and cocky Bobby Drake, as he and four of his teammates in the X-Men approach a large, dimly lit complex. Rogue asks Bobby if he didn’t read his mission notes, to which Bobby asks if they were actually supposed to read them. As this particular X-Men squad’s leader, the equally handsome Alex Summers uses his mutant talents to create an opening into the complex, he asks Bobby why he thinks he wrote them in the first place. Rogue points out that the notes are very instructive, and informs him that this community here is trying to build a mutant Utopia, to escape all the in-fighting, Magneto, the Brotherhood of Mutants, all that…insanity.

With the entry way cleared, Havok tells his team to listen up, as they do not know what is going on here, so they need to be ready for anything…and “anything” indeed, as the quintet of heroes discover a mass group of mutants, all dead. Remy LeBeau declares that all the barricades didn’t do these mutants much good, to which Alex asks him what he means. Gambit replies that it is obvious whatever these mutants were trying to keep out got in. ‘Maybe it was already in,’ suggests Bobby.

The X-Men search through the bodies, Bobby points to two mutants who have their hands on weapons inside each other - they killed each other, and he wonders why they would do that. The stunning Lorna Dane a.k.a. Polaris suggests that death may have been better than what was coming. Iceman approaches a mutants that he recognizes, and points out that it is the “Butterfly-something”, a Z-list mutant X-Men wannabe, a poor guy who never quite made the grade - as a human, or one of them.

Rogue touches the winged mutant and reveals that he is still a little warm, so supposes that he must have killed himself the very moment they were breaking in to save him. Bobby asks Rogue if she means like suicide, and how can she be sure. Rogue declares that she is sure, and as she rolls the mutant over, asks her teammates what kind of fear makes a man rip his heart out.

Bobby motions to the wall behinds the mass mutant bodies where “GOLGOTHA” is scrawled across it in red. Bobby touches the writing and asks if it is blood, as it sure looks like blood. Someone else agrees that it must be blood, but asks what “Golgotha” is. Rogue suddenly finds someone else speaking through her, their telepathic teammate Emma Frost the White Queen, who is using Cerebra to amplify her powers.

The White Queen informs the others that “Golgotha” is also known as “Mount Calvary” the place of the crucifixion of Christ, adding that the Latin “Calvaria” means “skull”, which is just a translation of the original name Golgotha. Emma adds that the word might have a more contemporaneous significance for all of them.

Bobby asks Rogue that since she is in communication with theirdear Emma, if she could give them the latest football scores. ‘I shall treat that with the disdain it deserves, Robert,’ replies the White Queen, before declaring that in short, there was an outbreak of violence in present day Calvary, in the Holy Land, four days ago, adding that they have received reports of some crazed people - mutants and humans - wrecking havoc in Los Angeles.

Alex, Lorna, Bobby, Rogue and Gambit stand in silence for a moment as they look up at the blood writing on the wall. Alex wonders why anyone would want to write the name of an ancient biblical site on the wall, not to mention in blood. Rogue suggests that it might be a warning.

Suddenly, someone comes up behind them, ‘All my sins…I told them…for all my sins…you’d be coming to punish me’ he stammers as he lurches up behind the X-Men. Alex warns everyone to be careful, as he may be dangerous, before telling the mutant to stay where he is, as they don’t want to hurt him. Havok informs him that they have come in answer to the distress calls they received from this colony, before asking him who he is. ‘I am the Sinner,’ replies the mutant before he kills himself with a hand grenade of some sort.

Shaken, Rogue reaches out to take Gambit’s hand, it is instinct, natural…impossible. Remy asks Rogue if she is okay, to which Rogue replies that she is fine considering someone just blew their brains out in front of them all. Polaris hugs herself, while declaring that this is all her fault, millions and millions of people…all her fault. Bobby approaches Lorna, and tells her that she is getting confused, as this is not Genosha. He quickly adds that he is not saying that Genosha was her fault, before they hug.

‘Iceman! Get over here!’ shouts Havok as he sees his former long-time girlfriend and fiancée in another man’s arms. Alex tells Bobby that this is real heart warming, but that they are supposed to be in fighting formation. Bobby apologizes and tells Havok that he didn’t mean to hurt his feelings. Alex replies that this has nothing to do with his feelings.

Suddenly, someone comes up behind Lorna, saying ‘I’m gonna love you…like only a mutant with superhuman explosive bone marrow, infrared eyes and low-level paranoid schizophrenia can love you…’ ‘In you dreams!’ replies Polaris as she turns to the mutant, and bathes the room in magnetic-green light as she uses her powers to shove him backwards. The mutant tells Lorna that she really doesn’t want to know about his dreams as he fires his explosive bone marrow at her.

Iceman intervenes, creating an ice shield to protect Lorna, but the explosives shatter the wall, sending shards of bone marrow and ice everywhere. Gambit threatens the unknown mutant while Lorna exclaims ‘Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!’ and uses her phenomenal powers to bring a metal wall down around the mutant, trapping him in metal cords…and killing him.

Sometime later, Lorna declares that she must have got a little carried away and apologizes. Havok informs Polaris that it is not good enough, as the X-Men do not kill, no matter how carried away they get. He tells Lorna that if she had been a little more disciplined, then they would have someone to question, and suggests she could have just stunned him. Lorna apologizes again, as yet another group of mutants come up behind the X-Men. Gambit asks Alex if they are known to them.

The X-Men stand before the newcomers who do not move, just stare blankly at nothing. Havok tells them that they got distress calls from them, but then the calls stopped abruptly one day ago. He asks them to concentrate on what happened here. Bobby waves a hand in front of one of the mutants and asks if they are loaded. Rogue declares that there is another way to find out, but knowing what she plans on doing, Havok tells her not to, as she doesn’t know what she is going to find. Rogue asks if anyone has any better ideas, to which Gambit declares that they can turn around, leave and get the zombies to a hospital.

Rogue mutters what is the point in having her ridiculous powers if she doesn’t get to use them once in a while, and touches one of the mutants on the forehead, creating a psychic link. Rogue sees inside the female mutant’s mind, where she sees the recent past - Butterfly-Bore telling the woman about some event in his past, and the woman turns to him, telling him to rip his heart out, as she doesn’t care because she has enough of her own troubles at the moment. Rogue goes back further into the woman’s mind, where her family are being informed that her differences are not skin-deep, that it will take more than plastic surgery….

‘Rogue…Rogue for God’s sake, break contact!’ calls Emma. She telepathically tells Rogue that this is dangerous as there are no more memories here, just sludge, and it will pollute her if she doesn’t break contact. Rogue snaps back to reality just as yet another unknown group of mutants attack the X-Men. ‘I leave you guys for two minutes and look what happens!’ jokes Rogue as Gambit tells her that these bozos came out of no where, adding that they are ungrateful seeing as they were the ones who asked for the X-Men’s help. ‘Some mutant Utopia this is!’ As he fires plasma energy at their opponents, Havok asks Rogue if she got any information from the zombie. ‘Yep. I got weirded out,’ replies Rogue. Rogue replies that the few memories she had are degraded, like most of her has been wiped clean.

Iceman freezes an opponent who leaps at him, and asks who wiped the mutants mind clean and how. Trapping another mutant in metal, Lorna suggests it might be Golgotha. Dodging an attack, Gambit asks who - or what - Golgotha is. The handsome Havok smiles as he jokes, ‘that, as they say, is the question’.

Gambit is in battle with a opponent with dreadlocks and points out that they seem to be dealing with two groups of mutants, burnt out zombies and raging psychopaths. ‘And the dead’ adds Rogue, reminding Remy that there are lots of dead. ‘They’re the bloody ones with funny expressions who don’t move around much’. Gambit subdues his opponent, and agrees with Rogue.

Afterwards, Havok asks the mutant with dreadlocks, ‘Who, or what, is Golgotha’. The mutant reveals that they tried to hold out, tried to escape, but it is no good, and tells the X-Men that they won’t be able to escape either, that it will destroy the X-Men like it did his group. Havok asks what it is that will destroy them, but the mutant protests, declaring that he will not talk about what happened. He backs up into a corner as Iceman tries to calm him down, and Alex tells him that they don’t want to hurt him, that they are here to help.

The mutant tells the X-Men that they will not even be able to help themselves, that they will be next. ‘You’ll see, you’ll be next!’ he exclaims, before crunching down on his tongue, blood pours out the sides of his mouth. ‘He bit his own tongue off!’ declares Iceman as he leaps on top of him to keep the mutant down. Remy helps keep him down, adding that he really doesn’t want to talk to them.

Rogue admits that last time was not an unqualified success, but tries to convince Alex that she might be able to get something from this guy. ‘For God’s sake, Rogue, he’s a psychopath!’ Alex tells her. But Rogue protests, declaring that she will be absorbing his memories, not going on a date with him. ‘Glad to hear it’ says Alex, when suddenly, Emma Frost telepathically reminds him that he is leader of this band of merry mutants, and tells him to make a decision, as he cannot stay in the South Pole all his life.

Alex realizes who it is in his head when suddenly, ‘chilly, isn’t it?’ declares the White Queen as she walks up to her teammates. Alex asks Emma what it is she is doing here. ‘Nice to see you too, Alex,’ mocks Emma before she reveals to everyone that the mutant’s brain is a writhing cauldron, and she can hardly read what he is thinking at all. Alex tells Emma that they don’t need her to read anything, as it is all under control, and suggests she goes back to the mansion. ‘But I’ve only just got her, Alex’ exclaims the White Queen pretending to be hurt, before telling him that he has become very brusque since he was made leader of this squad of X-Men.

Emma reveals that it was Cyclops’ decision, as she doesn’t recall there being a plebiscite, mockingly asking if that is the correct term when mutants are involved. Rogue tells Alex to relax, pointing out that Emma is only trying to rile him, before asking Emma why she would do that, as someone might think she had an ulterior motive. ‘Darling, I’m not sure if I have any kind of motive,’ replies the White Queen.

The mutant with dreadlocks make a noise on the floor, and as Bobby and Gambit try to hold him, he cries out in excruciating pain. ‘Oh dear, he seems to be having a heart attack’ mutters Emma with no emotion, describing his aorta is bursting, being starved of oxygen... Alex asks Emma if she is doing this, to which she asks why she would want to even if she could.

Iceman informs everyone that the mutant has died, as Emma tells her teammates they should be glad there was a powerful telepath present at the end, as amid all the storm and fury, she managed to get something interesting. ‘I know who Golgotha is. Or more to the point…I know where Golgotha is…’

Characters Involved: 

Gambit, Havok, Iceman, Polaris, Rogue, White Queen (all X-Men)

Butterfly-Bore, The Sinner and other mutants in Antarctica

Bodies of mutants in Antarctica

In Flashbacks / Unnamed mutant’s minds

Female mutant (last name Highsmith)


Other mutants

Female mutant as a child with her family, the Highsmiths

Story Notes: 

The title is taken from the last line of William Butler Yeats' famous apocalyptic poem “The Second Coming" though it should be "rough beast, " not "dark beast." The complete stanza is:” And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?”
Polaris’ statement about it all being her fault, may have something to do with the fact that she was on Genosha when the Sentinels attacked [New X-Men (1st series) #115] and was so scared that she could not do anything to prevent the destruction, not to mention she may have survivor’s guilt.

This is not the first time Polaris has killed someone after her experiences in Genosha, she had previously killed, on two occasions, operatives of the Church of Humanity [Uncanny X-Men #422, #424].

An error occurs in the script, when Rogue is explaining that the zombie mutant’s mind had degraded, she addresses the mutant as male, when the mutant is clearly shown as female, both when Rogue touches her, and in the flashback.

Havok was made leader of this X-squad in X-Men (2nd series) #157. The White Queen riling Havok being leader of this X-squad, and about how it was Scott’s decision may have something to do with there being plenty of other capable and / or former X-leaders [Nightcrawler, Archangel, Beast, Wolverine] present, but Havok got the position because he was Cyclops’ brother. Several members of Havok’s team were also unhappy about being placed on his squad, namely Iceman, Rogue and Gambit.

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