X-Men (2nd series) #173

Issue Date: 
September 2005
Story Title: 
Bizarre Love Triangle - part 3: The Foxx in the Attic

Peter Milligan (Writer), Salvador Larroca (Penciler), Danny Miki & Allen Martinez (Inkers), Liquid! (Colorist), Cory Petit (Letterer), Sean Ryan (Assistant Editor), Nick Lowe (Associate Editor), Mike Marts (Editor), Joe Quesada (Editor-in-Chief), Dan Buckley (Publisher)

Brief Description: 

Mystique contacts an associate who is currently breaking and entering and asks for another “fix” , but her associate is unable to, and warns her that she best be careful the telepaths at the Xavier Institute don’t pick up on what she is up to. Gambit informs Rogue that Foxx is leaving the Institute, so Rogue goes to see her off - until the White Queen, Havok, Iceman and Gambit come to prevent her from leaving - as Emma has discovered Foxx isn’t who she claims to be! Mystique drops the disguise, surprising everyone, especially Rogue, except that Emma telepathically learns Gambit isn’t surprised - that he already knew. Rogue argues with her boyfriend about this, as Mystique prepares her getaway, only to be stopped by Havok, then Gambit, the two engaging in a serious fight. Rogue breaks them up using her new fire powers, and Mystique reveals that she couldn’t resist in showing Rogue what a loser Gambit is, and that she wants to join the X-Men, as it has been some time since she last worked with a team. The X-Men deliberate Raven’s request after they put her in a containment cell. Rogue wants her thrown out ASAP, but Polaris thinks Mystique should be given a chance to present her case. Emma decides that this involves the other X-Men, and decides to contact them so everyone can be a part of the decision making process. Gambit tries to talk to Rogue, who wants nothing to do with him. Emma reveals to Cyclops that she couldn’t probe Mystique’s mind properly, while Rogue confronts Mystique alone, asking her if she “gave herself” to Gambit. Meanwhile, Havok continues to pester Polaris about what she saw in space, but Emma refuses to enter Lorna’s mind. Havok wonders if what Lorna saw in space is having some effect on the Institute after Emma mentions the telepaths have all been a little “off”. Havok then admits to Lorna that he still loves her, that he made a mistake in leaving her for Annie. But Lorna replies that even if she still felt the same way, she couldn’t go back to him, for it would upset Iceman so much and she reminds Havok that he broke her heart.

Full Summary: 

‘Why do I do this?’ wonders someone dressed in black as they enter a large house that they are quite clearly not supposed to be at. ‘Why do I raid the citadels of the rich and powerful?’ He wonders why he eschews a life of comfort only to seek out such danger. But most puzzling perhaps of all - why do cell phones always ring at the wrong time? The thief takes a seat and answers the phone: ‘Mystique. You sound a little edgy, what’s wrong?’

At the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning, Raven Darkholme a.k.a. the deadly Mystique lies on a bed - in the form of her daughter, Rogue, and explains that she thinks her “shield thing” might be breaking up, as last night she had an aura, then this morning, she felt something like the cold fingers of another mind trying to enter her. Returning to her default form of blue skin and scarlet hair, Raven explains that she is calling her favorite kleptomaniac for a little help.

‘Mystique! I told you I am not a kleptomaniac!’ comes the reply, before the thief declares that kleptomania is a compulsive urge to steal, before excusing himself, as he hears the mellifluous tones of wealth and privilege. Two young people stand near the room where Mystique’s ally is, and one of them tells the other that they heard a cellular phone - the ring tone being the opening notes to Beethoven’s Fifth. The other points out that with the security system rigged up in this house, an emaciated mosquito couldn’t move in here without setting off the alarm, before joking that he doubts that the criminal classes go in for classical music.

Raven’s associate gets back on the topic they were previously talking about - kleptomania, and points out that it is a compulsive urge to steal, whereas he chooses to do what he does with a clear head and a clearer conscience - not to mention a meticulously prepared plan. Mystique interrupts her ally, revealing that she would like to get a hypnotic booster or something over the phone, more of what she had before.

Mystique’s ally replies that it is impossible, and suggests she will just have to hope the telepaths don’t get on to her before she has finished her work in there, before asking if Wolverine has been any trouble. Mystique smiles and replies that Wolverine hasn’t been around for a while, which is lucky, considering how he has got one hell of a nose. The thief asks Raven about the reason she is at the Institute in the first place - any progress. Mystique replies ‘Like some old guy with cigar once said - this is not the end. It’s not even the beginning of the end…but it is the end of the beginning’.

Elsewhere at the Xavier Institute, Remy “Gambit” LeBeau informs Rogue that he has just been to see Foxx. Rogue points out that Remy seems out of breath. Gambit reveals that he told Foxx he wants her out of his class. Rogue smiles and tells Remy that he didn’t have to do that, to which Gambit claims that it had nothing to do with the two of them. ‘Of course’ replies Rogue, to which Gambit exclaims that he wouldn’t have done it if he didn’t think it was right. Rogue grabs her jacket and declares that it would have been totally unprofessional.

‘A dereliction of duty’ states Gambit. ‘Shameful, really’ replies Rogue. Remy explains that Foxx didn’t fit in with his class, and that he has spoken to Alex who has agreed to shuffle things around. Rogue asks Gambit how Foxx took the news, to which Gambit exclaims that Foxx is young, and has talked about quitting the Institute altogether. ‘Oh, that would be a shame,’ Rogue replies without any emotion, adjusting her hair as she looks in the mirror.

In the office of the Institute headmistress - Emma Frost, Emma sits opposite two of the school’s earliest X-Men - Alex Summers a.k.a. the handsome Havok, and Lorna Dane a.k.a. the beautiful Polaris. Lorna happens to be the reason everyone is gathered, and asks why everyone is so interested in what is inside her head. Emma explains that it is only suggestion, and assures her that it wouldn’t hurt at all. ‘No. No. No. No!’ declares Lorna. Lorna’s former lover Alex reminds her that he is worried that this buried memory of what she saw in space might be haunting her.

Lorna covers her mouth as Alex puts a hand on her shoulder, asking her if this memory is hurting. Alex turns to Emma and asks her if she could play the tape again. Emma touches the remote of the recording made from the X-Men‘s recent mission to space, and Lorna’s current boyfriend, Iceman is heard on the tape - What have you done to her, Summers? You and your twisted… She knew the risks when - says Alex, interrupted by Polaris’ disturbing comment: It looked right at me.

‘It looked right at me’ Havok repeats. Suddenly Lorna gets to her feet and unleashes a blast of magnetic energy, directing it at the tape player as she screams ‘Turn that off! Turn that damn thing off!’ Thr machine is ripped to shreds, to which a very well-dressed Emma tells Lorna that she could have asked for the remote control. Polaris starts to leave the office, apologizing and offering to pay for what she broke. ‘Forget it’ Emma replies, but turning the corner, Lorna asks how she can forget it when no one will let her.

Havok tells Emma that they cant let this go on, but the White Queen points out that they have already asked Lorna to participate in a telepathic reading, but she doesn’t want to. Havok asks Emma not to tell him that she has never gone into someone’s mind without getting their permission first. Emma frowns and Alex and declares ‘Only bad people, Alex. Lorna isn’t bad…just confused’. Emma and Alex arrive at Cerebra, as Alex points out that Lorna doesn’t have to know, suggesting that Emma enters her mind when she is asleep, to find out what she saw in space, and come out again.

Asking Emma where they are going, Emma replies that she is going into Cerebra, and informs Alex that for the past few days she has felt that the collective telepathic wash of the mansion has been out of kilter. Alex suggests that it might be Polaris, perhaps the memory inside her is so terrible, so huge, that it is stinking everything up. ‘Is that what that unpleasant smell is?’ Emma asks nonchalantly as she enters Cerebra and the door closes behind her.

Havok opens the door to Lorna’s quarters, where the Mistress of Magnetism sits in darkness, gazing out the window. Lorna tells Alex that if he has come to bully her into being mind-read then he can forget, as she is sick of the whole thing. Lorna declares that she wished she never went into space - never became an X-Man, before asking why she has to even call herself an X-Man. ‘It’s pretty ridiculous. I’m not a man. Why aren’t we called X-People? Why Can’t I call myself an X-Woman?’

Havok informs Polaris that he has come to say he is sorry, which surprises Lorna. Alex admits that he has been obsessing about this whole “What did Lorna see?” thing, before explaining that on his way over, he realized why it had him - then it hit him - a road to the Damascus of the heart. Polaris asks Alex what he is talking about, to which a serious Havok admits to Lorna that he still loves her.

Polaris turns her back as Alex declares he has been trying to hide it, but Lorna just exclaims that she is not having this conversation. ‘Let’s talk about what I saw in space!’ she offers. Havok takes Lorna by the shoulders ‘Burying it so deep, doing everything…’ he begins, ‘It was lonely out there, black, empty, then suddenly…’ exclaims Lorna. ‘Doing everything not to see what’s in front of me’ ‘I saw something’. ‘I saw it, when I dumped you…I made the biggest mistake of my life!’ ‘You broke my heart!’ Lorna reminds Havok, who asks to be allowed to mend it. ‘I’m gonna throw up’ Lorna declares.

Havok admits that he was stupid and vulnerable. ‘You were fooling around with your nurse’ Lorna reminds him, to which Havok asks not to be punished for being an idiot. Lorna tells Alex that even if she felt the same way, she couldn’t, because it would kill Bobby. ‘Bobby would kill you’ she adds. Suddenly, Emma telepathically contacts Havok, asking him to go and find Bobby and Gambit. ‘I need some X-Men’.

Outside, Rogue approaches Foxx, informing the girl that Gambit told her everything. ‘Oh, I doubt that very much’ mutters Foxx, to which Rogue asks her what she means by that. Foxx quietly tells Rogue that Gambit isn’t worth it - that Rogue is worth twenty Gambit’s. Annoyed, Rogue informs Foxx that she has come to giver her some comfort, as she knows how it is to be young around here, and that she wanted to - ‘Make sure I was going?’ asks Foxx. Rogue instead says she came to tell her not to feel too bad.

Foxx informs Rogue that the only thing she feels bad about is making her so miserable, but claims that she had to do it. Rogue asks Foxx what it is she is talking about - but before she can get a reply, Foxx announces that they have company. Rogue turns around, only to be confronted by the White Queen, Havok, Iceman and Gambit. Emma informs Foxx that she and Cerebra finally worked out what the problem was. ‘Foxx - or whoever you really are, a shape-shifter, I presume’.

Gambit quickly tells Rogue that she might like to wait inside while they deal to this, to which a taken aback Rogue asks why she would want to do that. Emma too finds it strange, commenting that Gambit’s statement was unusually patronizing - even for the X-Men. But suddenly, everyone is wide-eyed as Foxx’s form begins to shift - revealing her true self.

‘Mama?’ asks a shocked Rogue. ‘Mystique!’ exclaims Alex. ‘Remy…’ scowls a disappointed Emma, using her powers to ascertain that Gambit tried to hide it, tried to act surprised - but he wasn’t surprised at all. ‘You knew Foxx was Mystique all along!’ Emma declares, to which a furious Rogue walks over to Remy. ‘You knew?’ she asks. Gambit admits he did, and apologizes to Rogue. But Rogue isn’t interested in an apology and asks Remy why it was he didn’t say anything earlier. Gambit claims that he was going to, to which Rogue, even more riled, asks him when that was going to be.

Mystique rushes past the X-Men to make her getaway, but not without Havok grabbing his former X-Factor teammate by the wrist and telling her that they need to find out what she is doing here. ‘Or maybe that should be who you’re doing here? Eh, G-Man?’ Bobby says to Gambit. ‘Watch your mouth, Drake’ Gambit mutters back. Raven whacks Alex in the face, breaking free of his hold, Alex falls to the ground as Mystique continues to flee, exclaiming that she cannot stand people pawing at her.

Suddenly, Gambit lunges at Mystique and shoves her against a wall. Raven tells Gambit that he has lost Rogue, that he lied to her and doesn’t deserve her, adding that Rogue is starting to see her mother was always right about him. Gambit calls Mystique pathetic, but Mystique scratches him across the face, ‘You can’t even fight!’ she snaps back, which Gambit retaliates to by punching her back.

Rogue watches as her mother and lover fight - ‘They’re killing each other!’ she whispers, before using her newfound flame powers and screaming ‘STOP’ she unleashes two blasts, which not only knock Alex and Bobby over, but separate Gambit and Mystique. Raven gathers herself, pointing out that Rogue has a lot more fire than she used to have. Rogue tells her mother to keep talking, and she will make it hurt even more. Gambit compliments Rogue on the use of her powers, calling it the work of an artist, but Rogue doesn’t even look at him. Instead she turns her back and tells him to wipe the stupid grin off his face as she was aiming for his butt.

The White Queen stands over Mystique and asks her if she minds explaining herself. Raven stands up, and face to face with the former villainess explains that she wanted to show her she could still do it, that she still had the old magic - and then when she got here she couldn’t resist showing her daughter that she is stuck with a loser. Remy protests at this comment made about him, asking Emma if they are going to let Mystique talk about an X-Man this way. ‘Yes’ replies Emma, before asking Mystique to carry on.

Mystique points out that she has been a single agent for too long, that even working as a solo agent for Xavier didn’t really satisfy her needs, so the truth is - Gambit interrupts, asking what she would know about the truth, and as Alex and Iceman hold him back, he asks why they are even listening to this woman. Emma suggests Remy calms down and lets Mystique talk, as Rogue warns him that he is showing himself up.

Mystique claims that the truth is, she gets lonely and while she can change her shape into anyone she wants, that doesn’t mean she likes who she is. She declares that she wants to belong, to be part of her beloved family. Rogue turns away and mutters that on second thought, perhaps Gambit was right - maybe they shouldn’t listen to her. Mystique holds her hands up in the air and asks if she has to spell it out? ‘Fine, here it is, the unexpurgated version…I want to join the X-Men!’ Rogue, Alex, Emma, Gambit and Bobby just look at Mystique with varying degrees of uncertainty on their faces.

In the cafeteria, Gambit’s squad are eating together, and Flubber puts to them a question - who would win in a fight, Gambit or Havok? Rain Boy suggests that the early round would be to Gambit, but that ultimately the win would go to Havok, as he has too much firepower. Flubber points out that Gambit is tough, a street-fighter. Onyxx mutters that Gambit is a coward as he didn’t want to fight them - he backed down. Bling tells her male teammates that Gambit didn’t back down, that he did them all a favor and hasn’t said a word about it to anyone else, which means he is a decent guy.

‘Do decent guys cheat on their girlfriends?’ asks Onyxx, to which Bling points out that they don’t know for sure that he did that, and adds that she still cannot believe they are still having this infantile conversation. ‘Got something better to talk about Miss I’m-So-Mature-It-Hurts?’ asks Flubber. Bling replies that she has, and points out that she hasn’t seen Foxx all day long, not to mention the X-Men are acting real weird, and that she tried to call Gambit for her tutorial, but he isn’t there. ‘Very well…Wolverine versus the Beast…animal cunning meets brute strength!’ suggests Rain Boy for the next X-battle, ignoring what Bling just said about the strange goings-ons.

‘Is this absolutely necessary? Asks Raven as Gambit and Havok take her into a small room, guarded by laser beams. Havok replies that it is necessary until they decide what they are going to do with her. ‘Know what I’d like to do with her’ Rogue mutters, before Emma asks her teammates to hold Mystique still, and tries to enter her mind telepathically. Raven tells her to get out, ‘You won’t find anything in there!’ she claims. The X-Men are joined by Polaris as Mystique exclaims ‘I suppose an upgrade to a garden suite is out of the question?’

Rogue is astonished that they are even considering her mother’s requests, to which Emma points out that they have been allies before. ‘And enemies’ Rogue snaps back. Polaris suggests that they should give Mystique a chance to present her case, as she wouldn’t be the first X-Man to come in from the wrong side of the law. Alex agrees with Lorna and points out that Mystique has been working for Xavier, so maybe she would pan out okay with the X-Men too.

Emma tells her teammates that they will call a meeting and vote on it tomorrow. But Rogue protests, exclaiming that if they are going to do it, they should get it over with now. Emma points out that this doesn’t concern just this squad of X-Men, that they need to have all senior X-Men available. ‘We do?’ asks Rogue, to which Emma replies ‘Definitely’ and reminds her that some of the others are away on various missions, but assures her that she will contact them tonight to ask them to return as quickly as they can.

Rogue explains that she won’t feel comfortable until that “creature”, as she calls her mother, has been thrown out of here. Gambit tells Rogue to have courage, pointing out that it is only one night, and the chances are Mystique won’t be accepted. Rogue shoves Remy off of her, telling him not to talk to her, and that if she ever hears his voice again it will be too soon. ‘Going up…or down?’ Bobby asks Emma as the door opens to the lift.

That night, Emma informs her lover and fellow head-of-school, Scott “Cyclops” Summers, that she did a quick mind-sweep to glean Mystique’s real intentions, but that it was like the psychological equivalent of seven out-of-tune televisions playing simultaneously. Cyclops suggests that it sounds like some kind of mental illness, and informs Emma that Mystique has exhibited signs of it in the past. Emma agrees, before informing Scott that this anomaly isn’t organic, it is as if something has been planted somewhere deep within her cortex to stop people such as she probing. ‘Scott - do you ever wonder what other people talk about at two in the morning?’ ‘No, why? Should I?’

In her quarters, Rogue looks at a photograph of Gambit and herself, before getting out of bed and heading for Mystique’ containment cell, where she says to her mother ‘I’ve built a life for myself here. A good life. Why did you come here? To spoil it?’ Raven sits up on the bed and claims that she just want to be close to Rogue, to make up for all the times she wasn’t there in the past.

Rogue touches a panel on the wall, which registers her handprint and deactivates the lasers, telling Mystique that she has had enough of her lies and now she wants the truth - even if she has to beat it out of her! ‘Fine…I came here to seduce Gambit’ Raven admits, to which Rogue asks her if that is why she created Foxx. Mystique explains that she fashioned Foxx to appeal Gambit’s crude tastes, but that when it didn’t work, she offered him the one thing he couldn’t have - ‘You!’ A stern-faced Rogue asks Mystique if it worked - ‘Did you give yourself to my man?’ Mystique doesn’t answer….

Characters Involved: 

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

Mystique / Foxx

Bling, Flubber, Onyxx, Rain Boy (all Gambit’s Squad)

Mystique’s associate

People being robbed

Story Notes: 

Mystique has been impersonating new Xavier Institute student Foxx since X-Men (2nd series) #171.

Mystique and Rogue last met when Mystique seemed to plan to assassinate Xavier in issue #23 of her own series. They left on decidedly bad terms.
“The old guy with the cigar” Mystique quotes is, of course, Winston Churchill.
The mystery of what Polaris saw in space began in X-Men (2nd series) #170 during the battle with Golgotha.

Havok dumped long-term off-again-on-again girlfriend Polaris at the altar in Uncanny X-Men #425, for Annie Ghazikhanian, the nurse who had been looking after Alex when he was in a coma. Annie developed a crush on Havok, and with a little help from the mutant powers of her son, Carter, they began a relationship, which ended in X-Men (2nd series) #164 with Annie’s departure from the Institute.

Gambit learned that Foxx was actually Mystique in X-Men (2nd series) #172.

Mystique has indeed worked with other groups in the past, most notably the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants III / Freedom Force [Uncanny X-Men #141-266], later X-Factor [X-Factor (1st series) #112-139] and more recently the Brotherhood of Mutants III [X-Men (2nd series) #106]. She was a solo agent for Xavier in her recent solo series. [Mystique #1-24]

Polaris’ comment about Mystique not being the first X-Man from the wrong-side of the law is indeed founded. X-Men that were labeled “villains” before they joined the team include: the White Queen, Juggernaut, Rogue, Banshee and Gambit.

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