X-Men (2nd series) #175

Issue Date: 
November 2005
Story Title: 
Wild Kingdom - part 1

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: 

Strange happenings are going on in the turmoil-ridden nation of Niganda in Africa, including the appearance of apparent mutant animals, one of which kills a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter on camera. The X-Men, including Storm, journey to Africa to investigate. Storm recalls her childhood in Africa and when she was worshipped as a goddess, and wonders why she is not happy to be returning. The X-Men are then attacked by giant mutant crocodiles, and Havok and Polaris team up to stop them, they both seem to be happy working together, while Polaris’ boyfriend Iceman is not. Havok gives the team orders, but Storm flies off on her own, telling Havok that she would appreciate him not telling her what to do. Wolverine follows Storm and the come across a wicked general who is killing innocent people. They manage to save a woman and her child, and Logan sends the general to his death. Rogue and Gambit continue to argue since their break-up, while Storm wonders why she is chasing after mutant crocodiles when there is so much suffering on this continent. After obtaining some information from the woman she saved, Storm and the others arrive at a place called “the Factory”, where people who started working here went missing from. Searching the factory, which Iceman believes is a monster factory, the X-Men soon come across the Black Panther!

Full Summary: 

The great continent of Africa…. A newsreader turns the television viewer’s attention back to Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Alex Roberts. Alex thanks Geoff and informs everyone that he is in Niganda, witnessing another bloody chapter in the ongoing nightmare that is Post-Colonial Africa. He explains that since the overthrow of M’Butu, the tyrant who once held this troubled land in an iron grip, Niganda has descended into anarchy, while other African countries and the United Nations are either unwilling or unable to stop - suddenly, there is a loud roar and in a blinding flash, Alex Roberts screams, then disappears.

Back in the studio, Geoff the newscaster explains that they seem to be having some technical difficulties, while in Niganda, Alex’s colleagues wonders what happened to him, and one of them radios back to the studio, asking the technicians if they got that on the feed. One of them replies that they don’t know what they got, adding that by the look of it, neither did Alex. ‘That’s really not funny’ another technician mutters before telling his colleague to rewind the tape. At the desired point, he tells his colleague to run it forward slowly and frame by fame - then they see it, a large set of jaws closing in behind Alex at tremendous speed. ‘What in the name of God is that?’

Meanwhile, oceans away at the Xavier Institute in Salem Centre, Westchester, New York. The school headmistress Emma Frost a.k.a. the White Queen is using Cerebra, when she is interrupted by one of the X-Men squad leaders Alex “Havok” Summers. ‘Can I help you?’ Emma asks, to which the handsome Alex informs Emma that there is something she needs to see. Emma leaves Cerebra, asking Alex if he doesn’t think she sees enough already. ‘Funny,’ mutters Alex.

Walking out of the chamber, Emma informs Alex that she was in the middle of something important, as Cerebra has picked up some irregular activity. ‘Irregular?’ asks Alex. Emma explains that something odd is happening in Africa. ‘You’re telling me!’ Alex exclaims

Entering an communications room where the rest of Alex’s team are, Emma sees some sort of giant crocodile, with a hand sticking out of its mouth, on the monitor. ‘What…what is that?’ she asks. Bobby “Iceman” Drake replies that it was some fancy reporter named Roberts who won a bunch of prizes for zipping around the world in first class and feeling sorry for all the poor people. ‘Actually, Robert, I was referring to the slavering monster. As you well know’ Emma states. Bobby smiles and remarks that he was just trying to lighten things up a little.

No one says anything, so Bobby reminds everyone that there was a time people laughed at his jokes. Alex tells Bobby that there was a time they were funny too, in a simplistic, high school kind of way. ‘Gee, thanks, Skipper. Never knew ya cared!’ Bobby jokes. Emma informs everyone that whatever this creature is, it bears out what Cerebra had been indicating - a new breed of mutant is emerging in Africa, one not based on Homo Superior.

Remy “Gambit” LeBeau asks if it is bad, to which his former lover Rogue mutters ‘What do you think?’ Wolverine a.k.a. Logan points out that it doesn’t look too good for Roberts, before Emma informs everyone that they will not know the extent of the problem until they get there, adding that the center of this new emergence seems to be in Niganda. Emma tells Havok’s squad that any of them who take a break from video games long enough to occasionally watch the news should know that Niganda is in meltdown, with rival factions tearing the country apart.

Emma tells Alex that she expects everyone to be ready for departure in one hour. Suddenly, Ororo Munroe a.k.a. Storm, long-serving senior leader of the X-Men enters the room and announces that she will be coming along too, for she knows that part of the world too well. Emma smirks and replies ‘I’m sure you do’ before telling Ororo that whatever is happening there, this squad is perfectly capable of handling it. Emma looks at Alex and reminds Storm that she knows who he has a problem playing second fiddle to just one woman. ‘Imagine if we both went. He might blow a fuse!’ ‘I think you’re confusing me with my brother,’ Alex replies angrily. Storm ignores their banter and simply declares that it is not up for discussion.

One hour later, the X-jet prepares for take off, and inside the plane Alex radios to Emma, announcing that they are all set and that it is not like her to be late. From Cerebra, Emma replies that she has decided that she will be of more use here, for in Cerebra she will be able to detect if there new mutants start to spread out of Niganda, then she can let them know. Alex asks Emma if she isn’t staying behind because she doesn’t think he can’t handle having two women with authority over him, but Emma just replies that she was merely toying with him. Seated next to Alex in the front of the plane, Ororo tells Alex that she is anxious to get started. ‘Africa, here we come!’ Alex exclaims, adding that they should hope Niganda isn’t as bad as they say it is.

‘Your lips will be sliced off, your ears removed with a machete and the pieces thrown to wild dogs!’ shouts a forceful general, flanked by his followers as he points a gun at a doctor. The general announces that this is the usual punishment for helping an official of the Niganda Peoples’ Liberation Army, but he has other plans. The doctor holds his hands above his head and explains that the man was dying and he was simply doing his job as a physician, trying to explain what the Hippocratic Oath is, the general interrupts the doctor by whacking him across the face with his gun and telling him that he has been polluted by the West.

The general shoots the doctor, ‘It’s time you embraced the new Africa,’ he says as the doctor falls screaming into a large pit dug into the ground. He lands amongst dozens of skeletons - and an extremely large lion moves towards him.

Inside the X-Jets that fly overhead, Remy tells Rogue that he isn’t going to keep saying sorry for something he didn’t even do. ‘Fine. Don’t’ mutters Rogue, gazing out of the window. ‘So that’s it then?’ ‘If you say so’. Havok mentions to Ororo that growing up in Africa must have been pretty tough, but Ororo calmly replies that it wasn’t for her, as she was considered a goddess. Iceman just laughs. Storm declares that she was a goddess, young, headstrong and restless. Eager to learn life’s mysteries, she travelled across Africa. She believes that Africa made her everything she is today. ‘So why aren’t I more happy to be back?’

After landing, Havok and Wolverine meet up with the cameraman who points to a stain on the ground and exclaims that it is all that is left of Alex Roberts’ glittering career. ‘Kinda makes you wonder what it is all for’ he mutters, before asking Havok if he can get a few shots of the X-Men on camera, as they are putting together a wildlife film. ‘We didn’t come all this way to appear on National Geographic, pal’ Alex exclaims, putting his hand over the camera.

Back at the Institute, Emma announces that there is no more new mutant activity, adding that Niganda borders the Black Panther’s nation of Wakanda, so she has tried to contact him, but so far King T’Challa seems to have disappeared. Emma then asks what the team’s status is.

Wolverine replies that they are on the trail of the Pulitzer Prize winner, but that his scent has stopped. Logan then remarks that it is weird about the Black Panther, for he thought T’Challa took a keener interest in his neighbors’ affairs. The X-Men enter some sort of cavern, and Storm points out that T’Challa does take an interest in the affairs of his neighbors’, so there must be a good reason why he isn’t around. Suddenly, there is a loud roar and Storm screams, disappearing from the entrance to the cavern. The X-Men rush back out to find her, and Logan asks if anyone saw what happened.

Beneath the nearby water lies Wolverine’s answer, as Storm finds herself in the jaws of one of the giant crocodiles. Havok spies the struggle and urges everyone into the water, but Logan pulls everyone back, pointing out that whatever is going on, it looks like Storm has it under control. Indeed she does, as a giant bolt of lightening strikes the water, and Storm, along with dozens of the giant reptiles, rise to the surface. Ororo explains that the beasts’ senses are scrambled, so everyone needs to hit them before they recover. Rogue unleashes a blast of fire which engulfs several of the crocs, while Iceman stands next to his teammate and girlfriend the glamorous Lorna Dane a.k.a. Polaris. ‘Come on, baby, you and me together!’ Bobby suggests, before freezing the water and crocodiles around him.

‘Hey, why didn’t we do it together?’ asks Bobby as the Mistress of Magnetism unleashes her powers moments after Bobby. ‘Because I wasn’t ready’ Lorna snaps at him, telling him not to be such a baby. Havok uses his plasma blasts on some of the crocs as he tells Iceman to stop bothering Lorna, ‘And keep outta my way!’ he adds as his powers narrowly dodge Bobby. Some more of the crocodiles close in around them, and Havok calls to Polaris, who replies that she sees them. Then, the two former lovers use their powers in unison, and smile. ‘Got it!’ ‘Nice work!’ ‘Ice, anyone?’ asks Iceman, obviously peeved.

The battle over, the X-Men stand in the water with dead giant crocodiles all around them. Logan believes that some of them managed to scuttle away, to which Havok replies that they will chase them down. Storm takes to the skies, announcing that she will find some locals who will hopefully be able to fill her in on what has been going on, adding that they will rendezvous later. Havok suggests that they should stick together and go after the other mutant crocodiles.

Annoyed, Storm tells Alex that she knows he is only doing what he think best, and that his heart is in the right place, ‘But if it is at all possible for you not to tell me what to do…I would greatly appreciate it’. With that, Ororo flies off. Havok turns to his team, who are all staring at him. ‘What?’ he mutters, explaining that he thought sticking together was a good idea. Logan tells Alex not to worry, as Storm is like that with everyone, before telling him that he will catch up with them all later. Alex asks Logan where he is going, to which Wolverine replies that he is going to take a sniff around. ‘Don’t worry, I wont get lost’.

Nearby, a woman hold her son in her arms as they are tied to a rope, hanging from a tree which overhangs the large pit in the ground. The wicked general reminds the woman that her husband is a high-ranking official of the Niganda Democratic Party, so he wants to know where he is, or else she will face the consequences. The woman tells the general that it was he who took her husband away three days ago, and she hasn’t see him since. The general replies that there may have been an administrative error, but tells her that is no excuse for her unhelpful attitude, and orders her to be lowered into the pit.

But as the woman and her son fall towards doom, a gust of wind sweeps them to safety, and Storm descends upon the scene. The general asks Storm what she is - a secret weapon of his enemies? ‘I am a goddess, so when you speak to me…do so with respect, little soldier’ Ororo declares. ‘This is all the respect you’ll get from me!’ the general exclaims, before firing at Storm. Suddenly, Wolverine leaps at him and slices him across the face, causing the general to let go of his gun and fall backwards into the pit. ‘You heard the lady, bub. Now don’t get her all upset’. The general screams as he falls to doom.

Storm lands and thanks Logan, before pointing out that she could have handled him. ‘Of course ya could’ve, but I dig playing the mutant-in-shinning-armor’ Logan jokes. Storm forgives him, before turning to the frightened woman and her son, asking Wolverine to give her a few moments alone with them. ‘Not a problem’ replies Logan as he looks into the pit, where the general continues to scream.

Elsewhere, Havok and the others have come across a body. Rogue remarks that he must have been stashed here so the crocodiles could snack on him later. ‘Kinda the crazy crocodile equivalent of a TV dinner’ remarks Gambit. Rogue tells him that there is no need to be so glib about a man’s death, to which Remy claims that she started it. ‘I wasn’t being glib, I was being factual’ Rogue exclaims. ‘”Snack on him later” ain’t glib?’ asks Remy.

From the comforts of Cerebra, Emma declares that she wishes she could be there with the “children”, but that she has been doing some interesting research on Niganda. She reveals that M’Butu was the tip of the iceberg, that the real problems lie with the Western banks and multinationals who bankroll people like him.

Flying back to rendezvous with the others, Storm asks Wolverine why she is chasing after a group of mutated crocodiles when so much of this continent is suffering. Logan replies that Africa is a big place to have all its problems solved by one person. ‘Even a person like you’.

Night falls over Niganda, and the X-Men arrive at a large building with smoke billowing from large pipes. After speaking with the women earlier, Storm learned that people call it simply “the Factory”, and as the X-Men enter the grimy factory, she explains that there were jobs for a while, but people who came to work here had a habit of disappearing. ‘I hear it’s the same way with McDonalds.’ jokes Logan. Havok tells everyone to watch their steps, as it may be booby-trapped.

Uncovering a cage, Remy discovers some poor creature, mutated beyond recognition. ‘What kind of factory is this?’ he asks. Iceman exclaims that it might be a monster factory, to which Storm remarks that he might be on to something. Havok tells Storm that Iceman was just making another lame joke, but Storm declares that nevertheless, he still might be on to something. ‘A factory for monsters, but why?’

Suddenly, Wolverine orders everyone to be quiet, as he just heard something - and smelt it too. ‘Animal, mineral or vegetable?’ asks Bobby, to which Logan replies that it is animal. Lorna uses her powers to open a metal door, which reveals the skeleton of a large two-headed creature. ‘This what we’re looking for?’ she asks. Logan replies that what he smells is alive, and this thing has never been alive. Logan, with the others in tow, races towards another door, and Logan declares that the smell is big, and from what he can tell, it is also familiar. Alex blasts the door open with his plasma powers, telling everyone to be ready, as whatever is up there could be a dangerous, nasty monster.

But as everyone enters the office, they see it is messed up, and someone lies on the floor, blood dripping from his head. But it is who sits at the desk that is most shocking. ‘T’Challa?’ asks Storm. ‘Black Panther?’ remarks Alex. ‘Not the nasty, dangerous monster you were looking for?’ exclaims the Black Panther, his attention focused on the computer before him….

Characters Involved: 

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

Black Panther

Alex Roberts (reporter)

Geoff (Newsreader)

Camera crew

General and his soldiers

Citizens of Niganda

Factory worker

Mutant animals

In Storm’s Memory:

Storm as a child and teen


Story Notes: 

Gambit and Rogue’s argument stems from the events of X-Men (2nd series) #171-174.

Storm’s time in Africa where she was worshipped as a goddess can be seen in Giant Sized X-Men #1 and X-Men: The Hidden Years #8. Her backstory with the Black Panther can be seen in Marvel Team-Up #100.
The story is continued in Black Panther (4th series) #8.

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