X-Men (2nd series) #178

Issue Date: 
January 2006
Story Title: 
House Arrest, part 2: The Transmogrification of Robert Drake

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

Brief Description: 

Valerie Cooper agrees to keep Polaris’ secret that she apparently not longer has her mutant powers, while Iceman also seemingly powerless, searches the woods for her. Valerie informs Cyclops, Havok and the other X-Men that the Sentinels are here for the X-Men’s protection, and introduces them to Alexander Lexington, the leader of the Sentinel Squad, the men and women who control this new generation of Sentinels. The X-Men are seriously unimpressed about this, but some of the Sentinel Squad aren’t too keen on the idea of protecting the X-Men either. Meanwhile, also in the woods is the Leper Queen and the other members of the Sapien League, who launch another attack on the X-Men, forcing them to accept Valerie’s offer to help them. Bobby finds himself in more trouble when the Sapien League find him, and the Leper Queen prepares to kill him, however the White Queen picks up Bobby’s distress and alerts the X-Men to his plight, while she does something to him…and to the Leper Queen’s distress, the mysterious villainess finds her arm covered in ice. As the X-Men arrive on scene, they see a confused Bobby once more in his ice form. Meanwhile, in Egypt, an Archaeologist stumbles into a hidden chamber at a dig site, and is greeted by a mysterious shadow on the wall, while at a space station, Gazer realizes he too has lost his powers, and converses with the mysterious "Phantom Torso", before the mysterious green thing he has been trying to make contact with comes into view on his screen.

Full Summary: 

The Xavier Institute, Westchester, New York. ‘Polaris! Polaris!’ shouts Scott “Cyclops” Summers as he and the other X-Men wonder what happened to her, moments after she was tossed into the nearby woods by one of the Sentinels that surrounds the Institute. Polaris’ former fiancé, the Cyclops’ brother Alex a.k.a. Havok exclaims that he knows Polaris is dead, that the Sentinels have killed her, but Scott points out that they don’t actually know what has happened to her yet, and puts a hand on his brother’s shoulder.

Havok tells Scott to get off him, but Scott just tells him not to lose it like this, ’That’s an order’. ’I said get off!’ shouts Alex, punching his brother in the face. Rogue a.k.a. Anna-Marie looks on in shock. ’Pompous freak, can’t even use my proper name when you’re pushing me around!’ Havok remarks angrily to his brother. Scott tells Alex to take it easy, but running towards one of the Sentinels with his mutant plasma powers blasting, Havok replies that he will take it anyhow he pleases.

Suddenly the Sentinel fires back at Havok, knocking him to the ground. As Scott’s lover Emma Frost a.k.a. the White Queen telepathically informs Scott that the Sentinels are human, Scott goes to his brothers side and fires his optic blasts at the Sentinel while telling Emma that these creatures may be a lot of things, but human isn’t one of them.

However, inside the Sentinels, is a control room, similar to that of a plane cockpit, where indeed, humans are operating the Sentinels. ‘Wow, those two are getting a little snippy,’ remarks Briggs as he watches the Summers brothers on his console, before asking Lexington if he has permission to liquidate them. Lexington replies that permission is denied, before telling Briggs to ease up a little. Briggs remarks that their orders are to contain the mutants unless their own personal safety is in jeopardy, and declares that he is starting to feel pretty jeopardized, before asking why the X-Men just don’t quit fighting. ‘Would you, if you were them?’ Lexington replies.

Nearby, in the woods, Polaris a.k.a. Lorna Dane is safe, and stands with her friend and former X-Factor associate Dr. Valerie Cooper, who is also a high ranking government official. Valerie exclaims that she must stop this before someone gets really hurt, which is when Lorna nervously tells Valerie that this thing with her powers, she doesn’t want anyone else knowing that they are gone. Valerie crosses her arms and asks Lorna how long she thinks she can hide something like that. ‘Until the come back, I guess,’ Lorna replies. Valerie asks her what makes her think that her powers will come back.

Lorna glances to the side as she replies that she has a feeling, that perhaps with her it is a psychological thing, like forgetting how to read. Valerie replies that she has never heard of anyone forgetting how to read, but Lorna just asks her to play along, for old times’ sake. As the two walk back towards the others, Lorna tells Valerie that she keeps asking herself “Why me?”, after all, Scott and Alex and the others are fine. ‘You’d think the daughter of Magneto would be the last mutant this would happen to’.

Scott asks Alex if he is okay, to which Alex replies of course he is okay, and urges his brother to go and look for Lorna. Cyclops uses his rapport with Emma to ask her to use Cerebra and locate Lorna and see how many of them are still alive. From the safety of Cerebra, Emma replies that she is picking up some kind of faint mutant resonance from the woods.

But unbeknownst to the White Queen, it isn’t Lorna, it’s Bobby Drake, a.k.a. Iceman. Though at this point in time, he has seemingly lost his powers, so this codename is rather invalid. ‘Lorna? Baby?’ he calls out as he searches for his girlfriend, quickly taking cover when one of the Project O*N*E soldiers walks past him.

Valerie enters the firing line and stands in front of the Sentinels, telling them to stop firing or she will come up there and drag the Sentinel operators out with her bare hands. ‘Doctor Cooper?’ asks Scott, surprised to see her. Alex asks his former X-Factor teammate what she is doing here, to which Valerie replies that besides shouting herself hoarse, she is trying to help them. Crossly, Rogue asks Valerie if she is referring to “help” as in trashing their home with mutant-killing robots.

Valerie tells the X-Men that they didn’t exactly make this easy for her, which is when Lorna takes her cue, walking between the giant legs of one of the Sentinels, she approaches her friends, confirming that Valerie is on their side, and that they should know that, as Val has proved herself in the past. ‘L-Lorna?’ exclaims Havok.

Meanwhile, at an archaeological dig in Akkaba, Egypt. An elderly archaeologist is walking along the dig site and making a recording into a tape recorder, stating that they know the markings measure twenty point twelve meters, the exact length of a cricket pitch. He believes this suggests that the Ancient Egyptians invented and played the game thousands of years before the British, when suddenly, the ground beneath him gives way and falls into a hidden chamber. The archaeologist checks himself and discovers that nothing is broken, before finding his torch, yet as he shines it around the chamber, he sees some mysterious shadow cast on the wall ahead of him.

Back at the Xavier Institute, Bobby Drake is discovered by one of the Project O*N*E soldiers, who has him cornered up against a tree. ‘Please stop pointing that thing at me - bad for my indigestion!’ jokes Bobby. The soldier asks Bobby if he is carrying any identification, to which Bobby asks why he should, after all, he lives here. The soldier is slightly puzzled, and asks Bobby if he really lives here. ‘Sure do. Foods so-so, but the entertainment rocks!’ Bobby jokes, before the soldier points out that he looks pretty normal. ‘Is normal the politically correct term these days?’ Bobby asks.

The soldier tells Bobby to do something to prove he is a mutant, when Bobby explains that he cannot. ‘Nice try, mister,’ the soldier exclaims before announcing in his walkie-talkie that he has located a possible Sapien Leaguer. But while doing so, Bobby whacks his elbow into the man’s neck, causing him to fall to the ground and enabling Bobby to make a run for it, but this forces the soldier to start firing.

Wolverine a.k.a. Logan and Henry “the Beast” McCoy join the other X-Men as Valerie exclaims she can hear shooting. Logan just tells her that it is probably Sapien League, as the place is crawling with them. ‘And we get a lot of unwanted trespassers around here’ Scott remarks snidely. Valerie tells Scott sarcastically that if she had called and said that she and a few Sentinels were dropping by, he would have sent them gold-embossed invitations and rolled out the red carpet then.

Scott tells her that if she had called, pointing out she didn’t, then he would have politely enquired as to why she wanted to bring the robots here. Val replies that they are not robots, and informs Cyclops that they are here to protect the X-Men. Rogue announces that something is happening to the Sentinels, and Cyclops orders everyone into formation, while Wolverine exclaims that he doesn’t believe it, as several human emerge from the Sentinels.

Alexander Lexington stands before the X-Men and greets them, before explaining that as some of them might know, Doctor Cooper is the Deputy National Security Advisor for Mutant Affairs, Office of National Emergency. ‘And who are you? Her pet poodle?’ asks Rockslide, one of the remaining Xavier Institute Students. Lexington introduces himself as the Sentinel Squad leader, and extending a hand to Cyclops he reveals that he has heard a lot about him adding that it is a pleasure to meet him.

Cyclops doesn’t say anything, and the other X-Men just stare at Lexington. One of Lexington’s fellow Sentinel Squad members tells him that she doesn’t think the feeling is reciprocated. Frowning, Scott tells Valerie and Lexington that they have made their point, that their Sentinels are very impressive, a real improvement on past models, and adds that if the X-Men ever need their help, they can be assured to know they will call them. With that, Scott tells them that he would like them to get back into their machines and leave his home. Calmly, Valerie tells Scott that he doesn’t understand, that this is what she has been trying to tell him - ‘We’re here to stay!’ Scott just turns his back, Wolverine hangs his head, and the others just stare in awe.

Meanwhile, in the woods, the frightening and mysterious woman known only as the Leper Queen tells one of her Sapien League fellows that the Institute is like the X-Men’s spiritual home, so they need to take it and make a statement, especially after what has just happened to so many of them. The Leper Queen adds that she is quite aware the Sapien League is likely to incur casualties. Grady and Sam are having a conversation and one of them declares that he heard some of the mutants grab human babies and operate on them in that house, adding that his own sister lost a baby and swore she had seen a mutant hanging around her place.

‘Operate? Like they perform emergency appendectomies?’ asks the other. ‘Tchk! You know what I mean!’ Looking up at the orange-colored sky, the Leper Queen declares that the operation must go ahead now while the mutants are still in disarray, adding that there is plenty of daylight.

Daylight isn’t something that is really seen aboard a certain NASA Observation Satellite, one where the mutant known as Gazer is stationed due to his high-level radiation mutation. A mysterious talking torso, strung up and covered in a straight jacket is listing off a whole lot of unpleasant symptoms, ‘Aren’t we a happy bunny today? asks Gazer sarcastically, before offering some coffee. ‘No thanks’ replies whoever is hidden beneath the jacket, before declaring that Gazer is in denial and they both know he has lost his powers.

Pouring himself some coffee, Gazer admits that without the weird metabolism that protected him, he is very likely to die of radiation sickness, agreeing that it is going to be a horrible and painful death. The mysterious torso suggests that Gazer call NASA and tell them that he has to come home. Sipping his coffee, Gazer addresses the mysterious being as “Phantom Torso” and tells him that he is getting just as irradiated, yet he isn’t nagging him to quit the station.

“Phantom Torso” replies that he isn’t a sentient being, but a NASA experiment to determine the effects of radiation on the human body. Gazer tells “Phantom Torso” that he is splitting hairs again, and declares that he isn’t sure about that, for if he isn’t alive, ‘Then who am I talking to? Answer me that, mister insentient torso’. Looking into a viewer, Gazer tells “Phantom Torso” that he knows he cannot quit, not until they have made contact with whatever is out there - maybe it has the answer to absolutely everything. Suddenly, it begins to come into view…a mighty big blob of green…

Back on Earth, Cyclops asks Valerie just how long it is that she proposes on planting the Sentinels here. ‘That depends,’ Val replies, when suddenly Briggs declares that he doesn’t know why they are even bothering to help these people, as they are nothing but trouble anyway. ‘If it wasn’t for our orders, I’d say we just leave them to rot’. Slayton tells Briggs that he would have thought he’d be more simpatico towards a put-upon minority. ‘Why? I’m not in a minority. I’m part of the fully-functional non-mutant majority’ Briggs replies angrily.

Havok points out that if they are supposed to be so warm and cuddly with each other, then how come some of the Sentinel Squad members are kept back in the Sentinels. Lexington replies that it is standard operating procedure, and asks him not to take it personally. ‘Tell my team who you’ve trampled all over not to take it personally’ Scott remarks, as Rogue exclaims that she is not sure she wants to live in a world where she is protected by giant metal men, and adds that she would rather take her chances with the Sapien League. Gambit and Wolverine agree.

Suddenly, ‘FIRE!’ orders the Leper Queen, and the X-Men, Valerie and the Sentinel Squad members are bombarded with missiles. One of the missiles lands on the already demolished part of the X-Men’s mansion, and Valerie points out to Cyclops that he is under attack and heavily outnumbered. ‘Now you can either let us help you - or you can sit on your mutant pride and swivel’.

Back in the forest, Bobby Drake suddenly finds a gun stuck against the back of his neck - not the Project O*N*E soldier that was chasing him, but Sam and Grady from the Sapien League. ‘Don’t move,’ Sam orders, while Grady urges him to shoot Bobby right now before he morphs into something or zaps them with energy beams. Sam tells Grady to take it easy, as they need to make sure that he is one of them first.

‘Me? A mutant?’ asks Bobby semi-jokingly, before claiming that he works in the kitchen, adding that most nights he spits in their soup just for the hell of it. ‘Stop talking,’ declares the Leper Queen as she walks up to Bobby and holds her gun to his head.

Cyclops and Havok rush into action and Alex apologizes to his brother for biting his head off before, explaining that he got a little hot and bothered. ‘I guess you did, Havok. Take up combat formation,’ is all Scott says, when Emma suddenly contacts him telepathically, ‘Scott - it’s Bobby!’ she exclaims.

‘Sentence you to death in the name of the people,’ the Leper Queen announces as she holds her gun to Bobby’s face as while he kneels in front of her with his hands behind his head. ‘And what people might they be?’ Bobby asks. The Leper Queen doesn’t like that comment, and smashes the gun into Bobby’s face. Watching from the side is Sam and Grady. Sam reminds Grady that he told him the Leper Queen hated mutants, and to watch this - if he has the stomach for it.

Emma is at Cerebra still, and contacts Bobby, ‘I’m trying…I’m trying…’ she says, while the Leper Queen holds her gun at close range, ‘Into the jaws of death…’ she says, as Emma grits her teeth ‘Premotor cortex-midbrain-cerebellum…’ Suddenly, the Leper Queen screams, as something happens to her arm. Bobby cries out in pain too, which is heard by Cyclops, Havok and Rogue who all come running - and stand in shock. ‘What? What’s wrong guys? And why are you looking at me like that?’ Bobby asks, seemingly unaware that his body has returned to ice.

Characters Involved: 

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

Rockslide (Xavier Institute Student)

Dr. Valerie Cooper

Alexander Lexington, Briggs, Slayton and other Sentinel controllers

Project O*N*E Soldiers


Leper Queen

Grady, Sam and other members of the Sapien League



“Phantom Torso”

Story Notes: 

If Polaris has indeed lost her powers, it seems quite odd at first glance that her hair remains green, as originally, her first mutation was to have green hair. However, hair isn’t living tissue, so one might argue that her hair color would change only very slowly to a normal one, as her hair grows.

Gazer is a recent associate of the X-Men, who was seen in X-Men (2nd series) #170.

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