X-Men (2nd series) #185

Issue Date: 
June 2006
Story Title: 
The Blood of Apocalypse, part 4: Love and Death (First Story)<br> Riddles of the Sphinx, part 4 (second story)

Peter Milligan (Writer), Salvador Larocca (Artist), Jason Keith (Colorist) first story

Peter Milligan (Writer), Paul Pelletier (Penciler), Dave Meikis (Inker), Wil Quintana (Colorist) second 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):
Havok, Iceman, Rogue, Mystique, Pulse and Bling contend with Apocalypse and Gambit who is now the new Death. Rogue reminds Gambit of their love for one another, but Apocalypse tells Death to ignore her. Havok and Apocalypse battle, resulting in the vat of Apocalypse’s blood - the antidote for Pestilence’s meta-plague - being shattered, and the cure all lost. War, formerly Gazer, attacks the White Queen to try and retrieve Sunfire a.k.a. Famine, but Sunfire comes to Emma’s aid, before passing out, and Emma informs Cyclops and Colossus that it is too early to tell how much of Sunfire still exists, adding that he may not survive. Apocalypse sets the sphinx’s control panel to take him somewhere else, so the X-Men make a quick exit, though Rogue thinks she should have stayed with Remy. Ozymandias also remains onboard the sphinx, despite Havok’s suggestion that he comes with them. Apocalypse and Death crash a United Nations meeting and reveal Apocalypse’s original plan to wipe out the human race with the meta-plague, before declaring that the new plan is for the humans to wipe ninety percent of themselves off the planet so ten percent will survive to compete with the remaining ten percent of mutants, and they have one week to comply, or else he will release the meta plague. Val Cooper takes Havok and Cyclops to New Mexico where she introduces them to two new kind of Sentinels which are badly needed to stop Apocalypse before the deadline is up, as there are already world leaders that want to accept his offer. Apocalypse meets with Pestilence, to make sure she knows who she is no longer and she is revealed to be…Polaris! (Second Story):
Polaris and the Leper Queen are separated from Doop, and Lorna awakes to find herself the prisoner of Apocalypse. Apocalypse reveals to Lorna that he has chosen her over the eager Leper Queen to become his new Horseman - Pestilence. Lorna protests, but Apocalypse reminds her she has lost her powers, and is once more fearing that she has lost her mind again. Apocalypse reveals he is keeping the Leper Queen prisoner for use at a later date, and explains that the Leper Queen wanted too badly to become Pestilence, whereas Lorna is perfect.

Full Summary: 

First Story:

‘Remy! What have you done!?’ exclaims the X-Man Rogue as she lays eyes upon her lover, Remy LeBeau, formerly Gambit, now known as Death. Apocalypse stands behind his newest Horseman and declares that Gambit saw that mutant kind needed a leader - and he wished to serve that leader. Inside Apocalypse’s sphinx, Rogue blasts the eternal mutant with her flame powers, ‘I wasn’t talking to you, Apocalypse!’ Rogue exclaims, only for Gambit to knock her to the ground, and place one of his feet just above her face. Scared, Rogue asks her lover if he doesn’t know who she is. Death looks at Rogue, his eyes blood-red, and says nothing.

Suddenly, Bobby “Iceman” Drake comes to Rogue’s defense, ‘Don’t you see? Remy’s “out to lunch”!’ Iceman exclaims, before blasting Death with a surge of ice, knocking him off his feet. Alex Summers a.k.a. this particular squad of X-Men’s leader, Havok, agrees with Iceman for once and tells Rogue that until they can do something about it, this isn’t Gambit they are up against. Rogue wipes away the blood from her nose as she swears that she saw something in him.

‘Ah, behold the weak sentimentality that leads to cultural dissolution!’ exclaims Apocalypse. ‘Shut your mouth!’ Havok tells him. As Bobby goes over to Death, Rogue pleads with him not to hurt Gambit. Iceman replies that he will see what he can do, when suddenly Death grabs him and smashes him to the floor. Apocalypse unleashes a surge of power against Havok, who retaliates with some of his own mutant solar energy. However, Havok’s powerful abilities bounce of Apocalypse’s own power, and crashes into a huge vat of blood. The dark red liquid spills over into the room, ‘The antidote!’ exclaims Apocalypse as the force of it crashes against the side of the sphinx and breaks through the wall, billowing out over the Xavier Institute and the grounds below.

Down on the ground, Scott “Cyclops” Summers and Piotr “Colossus” Rasputin see what is happening above them, when suddenly, another Horseman approaches the Institute, and crashes right through the building - it is War, formerly the X-Men’s associate Gazer. The student Rockslide is the first to come across War, while nearby, Emma Frost a.k.a. the White Queen over hears the commotion. War orders Rockslide to tell him where the Horseman Famine is, to which Rockslide exclaims ‘That ain’t gonna happen, buddy!’ and lunges towards him. Emma gets up from where she is tending to Shiro Yashida, the former X-Man Sunfire who was transformed into Famine, and telepathically calls to her teammates, as she requires immediate assistance. ‘Famine!’ declares War as he smashes Rockslide into the wall.

Back in the Sphinx, Havok asks Ozymandias, Apocalypse’s traitorous servant, what is happening to the ship. Ozymandias explains that Apocalypse is preparing to depart and informs the X-Men that they have about thirty seconds to depart. Havok blasts Apocalypse a.k.a. En Saba Nur away from the control panel, but Ozymandias explains to Alex that he has only brought several more seconds, for once the ship has been stirred, nothing can calm it.

Rogue looks at Death, and addressing him as Remy still, she asks him to come with her. ’I am not Remy, I am Death!’ the former X-Man replies, but Rogue declares that she doesn’t believe that. ’There must be some part of you that still loves me!’ she exclaims, telling him that no matter what awful things Apocalypse did to his body, he couldn’t have completely crushed out all of their love. ’Love, master?’ Death asks. ’An emotional response with some limited evolutionary benefit’ Apocalypse replies as he busies himself with the ships’ controls, before declaring that he has had enough of this, and orders Death to use the gas on Rogue.

Death does as he is commanded, only for Rogue’s foster mother and new teammate, Raven Darkholme, better known as Mystique, to lunge at Death and knock him over. Raven’s associate Augustus a.k.a. Pulse tells Rogue to take it from him, a career coward - now is an exceptionally good time to leave.

Back inside the Institute, Emma orders War to turn around and leave or else she will kill him. ’You have something that belongs to Apocalypse’ War replies. ’I did warn you’ Emma remarks as War comes closer to her, before informing him that she is sending a surge of psychic energy into his brain, and that giddy sick feeling he is experiencing will be his Neuro-transmitters wildly misfiring. War glares at his former friend before unleashing a powerful blast from his mace, knocking Emma to the ground.

‘Where is the Horseman?’ he shouts, only to be struck in the back by an powerful optic blast from Cyclops. ‘Get away from my girlfriend!’ Scott exclaims. War declares that he will not be denied, that he has come for something and is not leaving without it. Gazer is suddenly bombarded with powerful flame, and Shiro stands before him. ‘Tell your master…he has lost a Horseman!’ the weary mutant declares. Gazer looks at Cyclops and Colossus, then back to the White Queen and Sunfire, before leaping up through the ceiling, declaring that the battle may be lost, but that the war will continue.

An exhausted Sunfire thanks Emma, before collapsing in her arms as she tells him he must rest. Scott asks Emma how Shiro is, to which the White Queen reveals Sunfire has been through a tremendous inner struggle - even his subconscious mind railed against what Apocalypse turned him into. Emma adds that she thinks ti will be some time before they know exactly what the outcome of Sunfire’s struggle will be, before announcing that that he is so weak it is possible he might not live.

Outside, Iceman has created a ramp for everyone to escape from the sphinx down to the ground. Rogue, Mystique, Pulse, Iceman and Bling are on their way down when Havok turns back to Ozymandias and points out that he cannot remain onboard after betraying Apocalypse. As the panel begins to close, Ozymandias reveals that the sphinx has many chambers, so it could take Apocalypse years to find him, and by that time, everything will be different. Down the ramp, Rogue remarks that she shouldn’t have left, that she should have stayed with Gambit. Iceman reminds Rogue that the X-Men have made it through worse than this before, so they will find a way to help Remy…somehow.

Inside the Sphinx, Death looks up at Apocalypse, who has been drenched in his own blood, and tells the master of mutants that it is like looking through a fog - at another person, but now he begins to see that he is still Remy LeBeau - still Gambit. ‘Gambit and Death - and part of me…still loves her!’ ‘Death does not love!’ Apocalypse exclaims, declaring that Death is a force of nature, like a desert storm, a flood, an earthquake. Apocalypse grabs Death by his throat and declares that they will have to put him back on the transformation machine for adjustment. ‘Release me, or I’ll be the death of you!’ Gambit warns Apocalypse, declaring that hw will turn the air inside his lungs into noxious gas as he taught him. Wide-eyed, Apocalypse releases Death, but warns him that there is to be no more talk of love, or else he will surely put his powers to the test. Turning, Apocalypse orders Death to come along, as they need to alter their strategy, for too much of the antidote is lost now.

Later, at the United Nations in Manhattan, Apocalypse’s sphinx sits ominously above the U.N. Building. Inside the building, a representative from the United States of America addresses the leaders present and remarks that he wants to make it clear that the United States has no plans, aims or wishes to invade Canada. Suddenly, there is an explosion, and Apocalypse enters through one of the walls. ‘You world leaders will listen to what Apocalypse says!’ the mighty mutant declares. Several security soldiers rush up to him and order him to halt, only for them to be blasted away, then burnt in a burst of flames.

Apocalypse, followed by Death, takes center stage at the podium, telling the leaders what they should already know - that the mutant population has dropped to less than ten percent of its former number, before boasting that he will redress the balance of power. He explains that to this end, his Horseman, Pestilence, has been creating a meta-plague that can wipe out every human being on the planet. En Saba Nur reveals to the leaders that alongside the plague, he had been developing the antidote made from his very own blood - enough to save ten percent of the human population. He explains that he had been planning to distribute this - but thanks to the X-Men, these plans have been ruined. Apocalypse asks Death if this is not the case, to which Death declares that the X-Men did not understand how times have changed.

‘Precisely!’ Apocalypse declares, before informing the world leaders that stocks of antidote are too low to save more than a few of them, so he has come to offer a deal. He tells them that he will keep Pestilence at bay, even destroying the meta-plague that his Horseman carries - if they themselves cull ninety percent of their human stock. ‘C-cull?’ asks one of the leaders. ‘Cull - exterminate - kill!’ Apocalypse declares, pointing out that they have enough bombs and poison gases to do this many times over.

Apocalypse tells the leaders to sacrifice ninety percent of their number, so ten percent of the humans and mutants will share the world - fight for its resources. ‘and may the best species win’. Apocalypse, followed by Death, leaves through the same way he came in, and tells the shocked leaders that they have one week to comply - after that, he will let Pestilence loose and the entire human population will perish.

Later, at the Office of National Emergency’s Sentinel Base in New Mexico. The much respected Doctor Valerie “Val” Cooper, long-time supporter of the X-Men and mutants in general, and high-ranking government official informs Cyclops and Havok that there are some world leaders who want to accept Apocalypse’s offer. Scott asks Val if she is serious, to which Valerie asks him if he is kidding, pointing out that there are some leaders who would quite happily do away with most of humanity - a chance to get rid of political opposition, unwanted poor, troublesome elements. ‘I bet some of them are wondering why they hadn’t thought of it before’ Valerie adds.

Havok asks his former X-Factor government liaison, and sort-of-member if she didn’t bring them all the way to New Mexico to tell them this, to which Valerie reminds the Summers’ brothers that they both know that the O*N*E* Sentinels are out of commission for some time, but that she can be pretty tenacious when it comes to getting her own way. ‘We know that too!’. Valerie informs the X-Men leaders that she has been given special licence for them to use two of the newest Sentinel models, but only because these are extraordinary circumstances, and while these models are unpredictable, they are their best shot.

‘You said permission for us to use’ Cyclops states. Valerie states that Apocalypse has to be beaten before he wipes out most of the planet. ‘We need each other. End of story’. Valerie motions to two very unique looking Sentinels and tells Scott and Alex to say “hello” to Crazy Train and War Machine. ‘Holy crap!’ exclaims Alex.

Inside Apocalypse’s sphinx, which still hovers over the United Nations building, Apocalypse calls to Pestilence and declares that the time approaches. Apocalypse remarks that Pestilence’s brother Horseman, Death seems to be experiencing inner conflict, trying to reconcile his old and his new self. Apocalypse remarks that before Pestilence is let loose, he must be sure - ‘”Sure” master?’ Pestilence asks. ‘That you know who you are - know who you no longer are…’ Apocalypse states, before asking Pestilence how she feels when he says the name…’Polaris!’ Removing her cowl, the green-tressed Pestilence - once upon a time the powerful X-Woman Polaris - replies that she feels nothing. ‘Absolutely nothing’.

Second Story.

A blinding light carries the powerless X-Woman Lorna “Polaris” Dane, her foe the mysterious Leper Queen and the enigmatic Doop up into the air - only for Doop to be put back together from his separated form, though he breaks free from the light, and flies off into space.

Sometime later, The green-haired Lorna is trapped in some kind of contraption. The mutant master Apocalypse appears before her and explains that she has been unconscious, so she should not hyperventilate. He begins to introduce himself, but and angry Lorna declares ‘Apocalypse! I know who you are! I know what you are’, before asking how she got here. Apocalypse pulls a lever as he informs Lorna that this transformation machine is merely one stage of her journey towards becoming his newest Horseman.

Lorna cries out in pain as the contraption does something to her, before Apocalypse tells her that her journey will end at transformation. ‘I wont let you do this to me!’ Lorna declares in protest. Apocalypse tells Lorna that he can force her to change, before remarking that he always prefers his Horsemen to enter the process willingly. ‘Perhaps you will allow me to persuade you?’ he asks the long-time X-Woman. Lorna remarks that this thing looks like an instrument of torture, and asks why she would ever want it to be used on herself.

Apocalypse asks Lorna if she is happy with the way she is. ‘Ecstatic’ Polaris replies sardonically. Apocalypse asks Lorna if she rejoiced when she lost her mutant powers, to which Lorna replies that she dealt with it okay. ‘Liar!’ exclaims Apocalypse, before asking Lorna what upset her the most - knowing she had lost her powers - or fearing that she had lost her mind - again. Lorna doesn’t say anything, she just looks at Apocalypse, who asks her if it is pain she is afraid of - because he can do something about the pain.

Polaris remarks that she didn’t say anything about being afraid, to which Apocalypse tells her that he can offer her so much, and pointing out that this might feel just a little uncomfortable. The transformation machine begins to work on Lorna, who screams, before telling Apocalypse that he cannot offer her anything that she wants. Apocalypse tells her that he can offer her powers, like her old ones and more. ‘I can offer you peace of mind - the peace of mind that comes with being beyond what one might call “usual moral constraints”.

‘I’m an X-Man - you’re Apocalypse. We’re enemies!’ Lorna exclaims, to which Apocalypse calls them labels and tells Lorna to face it - ‘You are ripe for change!’ Drenched in sweat, Lorna asks Apocalypse about the woman she was with - the Leper Queen, what has he done with her. En Saba Nur informs Lorna that the Leper Queen will be looked after until he has need for her, but that only one of them can be his new Pestilence. Apocalypse informs Lorna that while she was unconscious, the Leper Queen was interviewed for the position, but she was rejected.

Lorna asks Apocalypse why this was, to which Apocalypse explains that a certain degree of volition is advantageous, but that one - the one with the mask and the ruined face - she wanted it too bad. In another part of the sphinx, the Leper Queen is in some kind of dungeon, restrained by powerful chains, she looks as furious as ever. Apocalypse narrows his eyes as he says to a frightened Lorna ‘Whereas you, Polaris - you are…perfect!’

Characters Involved: 

First Story

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

Bling, Rockslide (both Xavier Institute Students)

Pulse V

Dr. Valerie Cooper

Leaders at the United Nations




Polaris / Pestilence V, Gambit / Death VI, Sunfire / Famine IV, Gazer / War V (all Horsemen of Apocalypse)

Second Story:

Leper Queen
Doop / Daap

Story Notes: 

First Story:

What happened to Skids, Scalphunter and Fever Pitch this issue is unknown, as at the end of X-Men (2nd series) #184, they were alongside Apocalypse.

Second Story:

This story takes place between X-Men (2nd series) #181 and #182.

Apocalypse’s sphinx appeared at the forest where Polaris and Havok were investigating Doop and fighting the Leper Queen in X-Men (2nd series) #181. In that same issue, Lorna, the Leper Queen and Doop were all carried off by some strange force, which is revealed to be Apocalypse this issue.

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