X-Men (2nd series) #183

Issue Date: 
April 2006
Story Title: 
The Blood of Apocalypse, part 2: The Hunger (1st story)<br> Riddles of the Sphinx, part 2 (2nd story)

Peter Milligan (Writer), Salvador Larocca (Artist), Aron Lusen (Colorist) (1st story)

Peter Milligan (Writer), Pasqual Ferry (Artist), Dave McCraig (Colorist) (2nd story)

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: 

(First Story) Apocalypse stands over the Xavier Institute offering the X-Men and the 198 hope and salvation in these dark times. Valerie Cooper tells Cyclops to let the Sentinels handle this, but Scott isn’t interested and goes to rally the other X-Men while Havok looks after the 198. However, certain members of the 198 like Karma and Scalphunter point out that Apocalypse might be able to do more for them than the X-Men can. Before much more thought can be put into the situation, Famine strikes and everyone begins to think they are hungry. While several members of the X-Men try to attack Famine, unaware that he is actually Sunfire, Apocalypse and Ozymandias discuss the plan, before Apocalypse offers the mutants an elixir, provided they join his side. A starving Skids is first in line, but Karma stops her, pointing out that they don’t know what is in it. Some members of the Sentinel Squad also race to get the elixir, leaving the Sentinels all unmanned, except for Lexington, who stands his ground - until Gazer, now transformed into War, attacks him. Some mutants begin taking the elixir, though it is unknown who exactly. In his Sphinx, Apocalypse is soon joined by Gambit, who is ready to take him up on his offer of salvation, and drinks some of his blood.

(Second Story)
Sunfire decides to free Gazer, only he is too late, and Gazer has been transformed into War. Sunfire is then recaptured, and the process of transforming him into Famine begins.

Full Summary: 

(First Story):

‘In a time of desolation I come with a message of hope! Your tears have awoken me, your pain stirred me. I am your SALVATION!’ shouts Apocalypse the Messiah from on top of his Sphinx which suddenly appeared looming over the Xavier Institute in Westchester. Apocalypse exclaims that all he asks in return it complete loyalty. ‘If you are not with me…you are against me!’

‘Oh my God!’ exclaims Scott “Cyclops” Summers, leader of the X-Men, surrounded by his teammates Bobby “Iceman” Drake, Piotr Rasputin a.k.a. Colossus, Rogue and his brother Alex a.k.a. Havok as they all look up at one of their most deadliest foes. The operators of the Sentinels standing guard around the safe haven to the few mutants that exist following the tragic mass-depowering of Homo Superior that occurred after the mysterious “M-Day”.

The X-Men are soon joined by some of those very mutants who came here seeking safe-haven. Dubbed “The 198”, they look up at Apocalypse in shock, fear…and even hope. Among them are former Alphan Diamond Lil, former New Mutants Skids and Karma, the Marauders known as Arclight and Scalphunter, Morlocks Leech, Beautiful Dreamer and Erg, as well as Peepers, Mammomax, Fever Pitch, Lorelei and the Collective Man.

Cyclops tells Havok to look after the 198 while he goes and gets the rest of the X-Men. Suddenly, Doctor Valerie Cooper exits the mansion and asks Cyclops what the hell is going on out here. Annoyed, Scott replies that they have it under control, and ushers Valerie back inside with him. ‘Sure you do,’ Valerie remarks, before pointing out that as soon as this area is cleared, the Sentinels will deal with Apocalypse.

Scott replies that he appreciates the offer but that they will call when they want the Sentinels help. ‘Scott, please, we’re here to help you,’ Valerie points out, to which Scott reminds her that they have handled Apocalypse before, and that they don’t need her help. ‘I thought Apocalypse was supposed to be dead,’ Valerie remarks. ‘He was. I should know,’ Scott exclaims.

Back outside, Havok tells everyone to get moving, as it is not safe out here. ‘This is mutantkind’s darkest hour!’ Apocalypse shouts. ‘Well he’s right about one thing’ Remy “Gambit” LeBeau mutters to himself. Rogue exclaims that her mother used to say that the Devil sometimes spoke the truth, which is what makes him so dangerous. ‘Yeah…guess you right, girl’ Gambit mumbles under his breath.

‘What’s the problem here, people? Come on! Move!’ Alex exclaims. But none of the 198 seem to be interested in moving. Colossus tells them that if Apocalypse attacks here, it will not be pretty. The deadly Scalphunter a.k.a. John Greycrow suggests that they hear what Apocalypse has to say first. Havok exclaims that he can tell them exactly what Apocalypse is going to say - that they are in a battle for survival and their only chance of winning is by following Apocalypse.

The elephantine Mammomax declares that it sounds pretty sounds to him. Sally “Skids” Blevins asks that if this isn’t a battle for survival, then what is? Havok turns to Xi’an Coy Manh a.k.a. Karma who is wearing a standard X-uniform and reminds her that she knows Apocalypse, knows that he has threatened millions of lives. Phillipa “Arclight” Sontag points out that it was millions of human lives, so as far as she can tell, Apocalypse is on their side.

Karma declares that the truth of the matter is that it has never been worse to be a mutant, before asking what it is the X-Men are doing? Siding with Sentinels. She remarks that Apocalypse might have something more to offer them…something like hope. ‘We know what Apocalypse is offering and it’s not hope!’ Alex exclaims. ‘Maybe you’re wrong, Alex. The X-Men can be wrong from time to time, can’t they?’ Karma declares defiantly.

Suddenly, Rogue alerts Havok to the Sphinx, as something shoots out from one of its eyes, then lights up the sky in a blinding light. From inside one of the Sentinels, one of the operators exclaims ‘My eyes!’ while Valerie Cooper declares that it is an attack and orders all Sentinels to fire at will. The Sentinels do as they are ordered, but all miss their target.

Down on the ground, the X-Men and 198 are all clutching at their stomachs. Sally exclaims that she is starving and wearily asks what is happening to them. Gambit holds onto Rogue as she remarks that a second ago she was full, now she is empty. Havok declares that it is the first Horseman of Apocalypse - Famine! And in a burst of flames, Famine flies past them.

Inside the Sphinx, Apocalypse tells his scribe, Ozymandias, that they need to prepare more treated blood. ‘Yes, Master, of course,’ Ozymandias replies. Motioning to the vials of blood, Apocalypse declares that everything depends on the blood - everything. Ozymandias asks Apocalypse how the mutants reacted to his speech, and if he have won their trust.

Apocalypse declares that he will, because he meant every word of what he said. Every tear. He is their salvation. ‘And they are mine’. Holding up a test tube of blood in his hand, Apocalypse admits that he has wronged in the past, lost sight of the true path, but that this is his destiny. ‘If I fail - might as well die. And the world might as well die with me’. He raises the test tube of blood to his nose and smells it, announcing that it has an exhilarating aroma, he decides to start them off with this.

Back outside, Rogue, Cannonball and Iceman streak across the sky towards Famine, while two of the X-Jets are also in the air.

Inside, Emma “the White Queen” Frost sits calmly, eyes closed, and exclaims that the science is beyond anything human she has ever come across. She explains that explosions of light seem to work on the retina, which affects the parts of the brain controlling appetite - consequently, everyone feels as though they are hungry. Sitting huddled in a chair across from her, Gambit wearily exclaims that he is famished, before asking what is happening outside.

Apocalypse stands on a floating platform which has dropped down to the Institute and holds up a bowl. He announces that it is his precious and venerable blood - so rich and nourishing it can stave off any hunger. Sally is at the front of the 198 and exclaims ‘Please! I feel like I’m going to die!’ She reaches up for the blood, and Apocalypse tells her she may take a sip of the elixir if she is willing to abandon her past to join him. ‘We join. We’re with you. We accept!’ she exclaims, exhausted.

Karma suddenly pulls her backwards, exclaiming that she is as hungry as the rest of them, but points out that they do not know what is in this blood. ‘Who cares? He’s trying to help us!’ Sally remarks. Karma asks her who it is she thinks made them hungry in the first place. Fever Pitch and Peepers come along and push the young women to the ground. ‘Come on! You’re blocking the line!’ ‘Out of the way, lady!’

Up in the Sentinels, the members of Sentinel Squad O*N*E are watching what is going on below. One of them asks wearily what it is Apocalypse is feeding the mutants - just a few drops and they are smiling. Someone else exclaims that while the mutants gorge themselves, they are stuck up here in these metal towers. Alexander Lexington tells his team to get a grip, and asks Joni if there are any more emergency rations. Joni replies that there are none and the only things they have left to eat are their own stomachs. Briggs announces that he is going down to the ground before that “red soup” runs out, though someone tells him to stay where he is.

Down on the platform, Ozymandias informs Apocalypse that the humans are leaving their machines just as he predicted. Standing before the queue of mutants, Apocalypse smiles, for it is just like he predicted, though one stayed behind, he doesn’t think it will present a threat, before asking if the Horseman War is ready. ‘And waiting, Master,’ Ozymandias replies. Cracking a joke, Apocalypse declares that it is time to see what they have made of their poor star-Gazer.

At the foot of a Sentinel, Slayton tells one of his teammates to leave him alone as he can get along with her help. His teammate declares that she wants to make this as quick as possible, that they will have a few mouthfuls of whatever it is the mutants are having then get right back.

While inside his Sentinel, Lexington members searches for some crumbs. ‘Must be a few crumbs down here…; when suddenly, War makes his startling appearance. Gazer is gone, transformed almost beyond recognition, and he strikes the Sentinel with full force. Lex tells himself to quit shaking and gets back into his seat, knowing he has only got one shot at this.

Apocalypse informs War to concentrate his assault on the manned Sentinel, for once they have taken that one, the others will fall. Apocalypse himself starts blasting at the Sentinel and The 198 begin cheering him on. ‘Apocalypse! Apocalypse!’ ‘Kill the Sentinel!’ One of the Sentinel Squad exclaims that Lex is fighting on his own, and Slayton points out that he is getting whipped. Suddenly, Apocalypse blasts the ground around them.

Valerie rushes out and asks Briggs what is happening, why he is out of his Sentinel. Briggs replied that they got hungry, to which Valerie exclaims ‘Well, now you’re hungry and court-martialed!’

Up in the air, Rogue remarks that she thinks Famine is running out of steam, before asking her teammate if they think he looks kind of familiar. Cyclops tells Rogue to just take him down and they can find out who he is later. Valerie radio’s into Scott’s jet and informs him that the Sentinels are under attack, so he needs to return to the Mansion immediately. Scott replies that they are “kind of” busy right now and that he is sure the Sentinels can look after themselves.

Valerie replies that all but one of the Sentinels are unmanned - they are being destroyed. ‘Scott, please!’ she pleads. Scott tells Valerie that the Horseman is their priority, and switches off the radio, before turning to his friend and teammate Doctor Henry “the Beast” McCoy and telling him that he will call Emma to make sure the Sentinels are the only things under attack. ‘Good idea,’ replies the Beast.

Back inside the Sphinx, Ozymandias asks Apocalypse if he is pleased with War. Apocalypse replies that he doesn’t seek pleasure, but satisfaction, and declares that he will not be satisfied until their complete victory. Ozymandias suggests to Apocalypse that he strikes now, for his other Horseman, sweet Pestilence, is ready to spread her wings.

Apocalypse declares ‘Not until we produce more blood’, for how else are they to save ten percent of humanity when Pestilence falls upon them? ‘Why save any?’ asks Ozymandias and suggests to Apocalypse that he forgets his blood antidote and kill all the humans - then mutants shall be kings of the Earth. Apocalypse tells Ozymandias that he doesn’t understand, and explains that he wants mutants to triumph - but only if they are worthy. He declares that he will level the playing fields a little, let humankind and mutant kind both be reduced to ten percent of their former numbers - then let the final battle commence. Ozymandias points out that ten percent of the billions of humans will still far outnumber the mutants.

‘It’s a symbolic figure,’ Apocalypse declares from his throne, when suddenly, the intruder alarm goes off. Ozymandias exclaims that there must be an intruder, to which Apocalypse just tells Ozymandias to leave him now. There is a moment of silence, until Apocalypse senses the intruder outside his door, and tells him to enter. ‘I’ve been expecting you’.

Standing in the doorway, is none other than…Gambit! ‘Expecting me? Until about two seconds ago I wasn’t sure I could do this,’ Remy exclaims. ‘But you had to do this, didn’t you? You felt you had to do something’ Apocalypse exclaims. Gambit agrees, then Apocalypse says something to him in French. This surprises Gambit. ‘You speak French?’ he exclaims. Apocalypse replies that he speaks all human languages. ‘I speak your language, LeBeau. As I said, you have tried the way of old…the X-Men way.

Apocalypse puts a large hand on Gambit’s shoulder and reminds him that he used to tell himself that everyone can get along - mutants and man can all live in peace. ‘I believed it,’ Remy exclaims. ‘But now you start to realize that these dark days…require darker ways!’ Gambit remarks that he doesn’t seem to be listened to anymore, to which Apocalypse tells him they are scared to listen. Gambit exclaims that he has been relegated. ‘Because you are better then them’. Apocalypse hands Gambit a test tube of blood and suggests to him that the drink to a mighty partnership - to a world new…and Gambit begins to drink the blood.

(Second Story)

Inside Apocalypse’s Sphinx temple which is located in Costa Rica, Sunfire thinks to himself that there are some things you cannot run from. ‘I am a man with no legs - that is an unavoidable fact’. Another unavoidable fact that Sunfire is confronted with as he tries to escape is that somewhere down the corridor is a man whose cries have filled him with mounting horror. The old Sunfire would probably risk his neck to go back for that tortured soul. ‘But what about this new, sawn-off version…has he lost more than just his legs?’

Inside that chamber of screams, Apocalypse tells Gazer that his legs will feel powerful, the strength of his arms will be equaled only by the material fire in his belly. ‘Can you feel it coursing through you, Gazer?’ There is no response, so Apocalypse asks Gazer if he can hear him. Looking down at the poor mutant stuck to some contraption, Apocalypse supposes he needs to sleep for a while. ‘You have had a particularly long day,’ Apocalypse remarks as he leaves the chamber.

Sunfire peers inside after Apocalypse and Ozymandias have left and crawls over to Gazer, pulling the tubes and wires off him, Shiro Yoshida informs Gazer that he is here to help. Pulling the wires, Sunfire apologizes if it hurts, but explains that he has to do it to get him down from this contraption. Pulling at the cords, Sunfire exclaims that they do not have time for much finesse, before telling him that they are going to have to crawl and limp all the way out of this Hell-hole, but they are going to be okay.

Gazer is finally free from the contraption and Sunfire encourages him to move, as he is too heavy for him to lift. But Sunfire gets his response when Gazer stands before him and whacks him across the face. Sunfire exclaims that he is on his side, that he is trying to help. ‘Ga-zer?’ Gazer asks, confused. Sunfire explains that is what Apocalypse called him, when suddenly Gazer looks at Sunfire with a gaze so cold that it chills the bottom of his phantom limbs - and he knows instantly that he is too late. ‘Not Gazer…WAR!’

Shortly after, Sunfire is now bandaged up all over, and attached to some contraption of his own. Apocalypse tells Sunfire that he could have run away - but nevertheless, he came back for someone he didn’t even know. Apocalypse declares that if they are to make a successful Horseman out of him, they need to exorcise that kind of softness. Hearing a mutter come from Sunfire, Apocalypse asks Ozymandias if he is trying to say something. Ozymandias replies ‘He says, Master, he says that there are some things you cannot run from’.

Characters Involved: 

First Story

Beast, Cannonball, Colossus, Cyclops, Havok, Iceman, Rogue, White Queen (all X-Men)

Arclight, Beautiful Dreamer, Collective Man, Diamond Lil, Erg, Fever Pitch, Karma, Lorelei II, Mammomax, Peepers, Scalphunter, Skids (all The 198)

Dr. Valerie Cooper

Briggs, Alexander Lexington, Joni, Slayton (all Sentinel Squad O*N*E)



Gambit, Sunfire / Famine IV, Gazer / War V (all Horsemen of Apocalypse)

Second Story





Story Notes: 

First Story

This marks the first appearance of Diamond Lil since Weapon X (2nd series) #5 when she, along with Random, tried to fight back against the guards at the mutant concentration camp Neverland. Random, Leech and Mesmero were among the notable prisoners also. Leech was seen with The 198 in X-Men: The 198 #2. How they were freed or escaped from Neverland has not been revealed.

This issue marks Skid’s first appearance since X-Treme X-Men #45, where she was a member of X-Corporation Los Angeles.

Apocalypse was thought dead at the end of X-Men: The Search for Cyclops #4.

Sunfire is the third Horseman of Apocalypse to take the name Famine. The first was Autumn Rolfson and the second is Dr. Rory Campbell, they are Famine II and III respectively, making Sunfire Famine IV.

Second Story

This story takes place parallel to the main story.

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