X-Men (2nd series) #38

Issue Date: 
November 1994
Story Title: 
Smoke and Mirrors

Fabian Nicieza (writer), Andy Kubert (penciler), Matt Ryan (inks), Bill Oakley (letters), Kevin Somers (color art), Bob Harras (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor in chief)

Special thanks to Alfred J. Kehn Jr. and Dr. David Berger for their Research Assistance

Brief Description: 

Cyclops and Phoenix return to the mansion after their honeymoon, only to discover the school now bears a new name: “Xavier Institute for Higher Learning.” Phoenix later coaches Psylocke in the use of her psychic powers, while Cyclops overviews Sabretooth’s latest training session in the Danger Room. Gambit replaces Cyclops in his post and exhibits his hatred towards Creed, first by submitting him to an almost lethal session and then fighting and almost killing him. Gambit vows that Creed and his insinuations about Gambit’s past will not ruin his relationship with Rogue. Meanwhile, Iceman wallows in self-pity, after Emma Frost made it painfully visible he has yet to tap his potential as a mutant. Beast tries to console him, although he is too absorbed with his research on the Legacy Virus, having discovered that the virus can also affect humans now. Simultaneously, Professor X decides to employ the mutant talents of the villainous Commcast, in order to retrieve his data that were lost during the recent demolition of the Ready Room. In New Mexico, Adam X pays a visit to Carter Ryking, seeking information on the mysterious Millbury. Ryking suggests he should seek Xavier. In Israel, Legion is visited in his coma by the ghost of the late Destiny, who speaks in riddles. Legion wakes up from his coma, wondering what the precog meant.

Full Summary: 


Professor X, Cyclops and Phoenix peer at the new inscription that adorns the entrance to Xavier’s school: Xavier Institute for Higher Learning. Scott likes it. Jean agrees: it does lend a certain air of dignity to the old place. Till you get past the gates and see Gambit riding around on his Harley, Scott quips. Jean thinks it’s nice that after some of the things they’ve been through, they can come home to find so many good things happening. It’s as if their wedding was a breath of fresh air for all of them. Even with the problems they still face, Charles agrees. Their directions and the goals they strive towards can certainly be seen in a more positive light.

“Easy for the two of you to say,” Scott retorts. Their schedules include a training session with Psylocke and cleaning up the Ready Room, while he’s stuck guarding Sabretooth during his daily exercise routine. “Poor fearless leader Slim Summers!” Jean jests. She thinks the more things change, the more they stay the same…


Hank is testing his tape recorder: “Okay, testing… “To shun the Heaven, which leads men to Hell,” he recites Shakespeare. He realizes it’s working. While he’s hanging out waiting for some crucial test results, he’ll be continuing the datafile: “Henry McCoy, recording Legacy Virus log: Nucleotide replication findings: Tape four.” A vast difference has been isolated in the polymerase substrates of various blood and tissue samples. And he doesn’t mean different as in “fascinating, Dr. McCoy.” He means as in Staten Island “no way dat can be happenin’!” Different to the point he thinks this little viroid is playing a dangerous game of hide-and-go-seek. If, indeed, Legacy has been mutating since it was first introduced to their biosphere by the late, unlamented madman, Stryfe, it beggars the question – mutating into what?

Examining the data, Hank tells himself that the results are in… the data has been processed and… “Yes! I did it!” he wails in unconcealed excitement. He’s a genius! “Yes, I am, Dr. Galakiewicz!” he vaunts. “Accolades, awards, prestige and dinero to the left, scantily-clad ladies to the right!” he murmurs like a little boy.

He suddenly sighs; who is he kidding? All he’s done is determine that this particular killer disease is far deadlier than they first feared. According to the comparison charts of the collated information gathered on all current and past victims of Legacy, their little pal, the viroid, has evolved into at least three distinct manifestations.

“Hankster, you in there, gorilla of my dreams?” Iceman cheerfully interrupts Hank’s flow of thoughts by knocking on his lab door. Without going in, Bobby, dressed in a bathing suit and carrying a towel, informs him he’s going out to the pool. He urges Hank to come out there so Bobby can watch his fur clog up the filter! Hank replies he’s truly sorry to defer the entertainment in Bobby’s voice for the nonce, but he is rather busy in here. “Important mad scientist stuff, don’t you know?” he jokes.

Bobby reminds him that the only break he’s taken in the last three weeks was to take that Espinosa kid over to the Academy. Bobby knows what Hank’s working on is important but he’s got to slow down and be a part of the living for a couple of hours. ‘Sides, he adds to himself in a lower voice as he walks away, I could sure use someone to talk to right now… Still, Hank is able to listen to that last part. I know, Bobby, and I’m sorry… he contemplates. He knows the problems he’s had as Iceman lately but he’s right – finding as means of stopping Legacy is important – for the innocent victims of Stryfe’s madness… for all of them!


“Is the water cold?” Rogue asks Bobby as she hesitantly dips one of her toes into the pool water. “Why would it be?” Bobby replies. “With you hangin’ out, dumb ol’ grin plastered all over your face…?” Rogue retorts; she’d just call it a hunch! “No foolin’ around, okay?” she warns him as she ascends the ladder that leads to the diving platform. She explains she isn’t in the mood for it lately. She just came out here to relax a bit. So Bobby can keep his practical jokes to himself!

Moi? Pull a childish stunt to try and lighten your lousy mood?” Bobby smiles. He admits that after all he’s been through, he’s kind of a pouty one himself. He asks her how she would like having someone like Emma Frost take over her mind and have her use her powers better than she could use them herself. Does she know what it’s like to have a voice inside her head as a constant reminder of what a mess her life is?

Rogue jumps from the platform, admitting that she knows that only every day of her life since she was thirteen. “Ask a silly question…!” she scoffs. But she doesn’t even need to hear the voice in his head to know it must be nuts to be trusting him! Iceman playfully claims that she wounds him. How would a hormonally overactive young man like himself do anything to ruin such a picture-perfect moment?

And then Rogue crashes down on the now iced-up pool, courtesy of Bobby. “Ah’m gonna KILL you, Drake!” Rogue screams with rage. Bobby smiles and provides the correct answer to his own question: because he is and always has been such a weenie! He boasts that he didn’t need ol’ tighter-than-the-torque-on-a-rusted-over-lugnut White Queen to show him how to freeze the water in the pool lickety-split!

Rogue gets out of the pool and announces he’s deader than a snowman in July! And she means TV-movie of the week, CNN all-day coverage kind of dead! Better yet, she’ll just let him live since everyone knows just being himself is punishment enough! Bobby retorts that was low blow! Rogue argues that maybe he deserves it. She’s been through what he has every day of her life. She knows how lost he feels inside but he’s got one big advantage she doesn’t: he can do something about it. He can control his powers. He shouldn’t hide from his problems but deal with them!

“Okay, then!” Iceman complies. Maybe he did deserve the shot but he meant it as a joke and she bites off like he’s Magneto’s kid brother! Maybe he’s not the one she’s really mad at. Maybe, just maybe, they both should be taking a long hard look in the mirror. It’s no secret she and Gambit are having problems and they’ve all noticed how miserable that’s made the two of them. He suggests they do themselves and each other a favor… Bobby will work on his problems if she works out hers. Deal? Rogue, however, says nothing as she walks away from the pool.


In the psychic plane, Psylocke is about to confront Jean Grey, the latter’s astral form equipped with a shield and a helmet. Jean asks her if she’s ready. Betsy imagines they’ll find out soon enough. Jean reminds her that this exercise is designed to help her refine her telepathic abilities by forcing her to simulate the kind of combat she’s become so comfortable with in her physical body while operating on a psychic level.

Psylocke immediately lunges at her and strikes, but Phoenix easily protects herself behind her psi-shield. Jean commends her on the thrust, but advises her she should be thinking more defensively. Psylocke admits that losing the use of this part of her mutant powers hindered her more than she realized. Jean is sure that was a result of Kwannon’s influences. “One of many, right?” she suggestively adds. “As was my little flirtation with Scott…?” Betsy catches on the hint. She’d like to offer a very belated apology for that but, although she was certainly influenced by Kwannon’s more sensuous presence in her mind, the truth is, it was she who found Scott to be very attractive!

Jean thinks she can’t be mad about that since she married the guy! However, that fact does help her to understand Betsy’s personality a little better, which makes it easier for her to try and do this! Just then, she darts at Betsy and fiercely strikes her. She tells Betsy it’s no good; she wasn’t ready for an attack! Obviously, Psylocke admits. Jean’s psionic parry cut through what meager mental blocks Psylocke tried to erect a little too easily for her comfort!

Jean striking Betsy with that shot pulls both women back to the real world, as Jean realizes a moment later. Still, she congratulates Betsy: she did a good job of combining the aggressive and passive sides of her mind to even deflect as much as she did. Finding the proper balance between the two is a tough thing – especially for a telepath. They’re all constantly trying so she shouldn’t get too down on herself. Psylocke explains it’s just that she felt so alive when Kwannon was a part of her, so much more of what she wanted to be. Confident, reckless, the dangerous type.

“The type who chops off ten inches of hair at once?” Jean remarks, alluding at Psylocke’s new, dramatically shorter haircut. She though it was time she mentioned the change. Betsy argues she actually did that because she was tired of seeing Warren with better hair than hers! “Ah, men!” Jean sighs. What would they do without them?

Just then, Cyclops appears in the threshold. “Girls… ladies… I meant ladies… is it all right if I use the Danger Room now… if you’re done, I mean…? he hesitantly asks them. “Maintain our sanity, perhaps?” Betsy jollily provides the answer to Jean’s question as she and Phoenix exit the room. Seeing both women grinning, Cyclops wonders what’s so funny.


Sabretooth is in the Danger Room, eager to fight. From the control room above, Cyclops informs him that the program has been set up to run a routine exercise drill. Scott will let him work up a sweat, but it’s not difficult enough to drive his adrenaline levels into a furious rage. Sabretooth wonders if Summers is going to yap during this whole thing. “Would it bother you if I did, Creed?” Scott provokes him. “Nah. Would it bother you if I showed Jeannie what a real man is…?” Creed glibly replies. Not at all, Scott replies, since he believes Creed doesn’t come close to fitting the definition anyway. He accepts why Creed is here. He may never like it, but he understands it. However, Creed shouldn’t ever think for even a second that he has what it takes to push Scott’s buttons.

A “breep” sound is heard. “Come in,” Scott says. Gambit walks in and announces he has some terrible news. Cyclops wonders what could be worse than baby-sitting Creed. Remy explains that he ran into Jean and Elisabeth and ‘red’ asked him if he could take over for Scott. She needs Scott to rearrange more of the furniture they brought over to their new love nest yesterday. Cyclops sighs he was wrong; there are worse things! “You mind?” he tells Gambit. “Some choice, eh?” Remy laughs. If Scott doesn’t help her, she will be asking him next! So no… he doesn’t mind at all. He thinks he’ll stay here with the ‘pussycat.’

As Scott leaves, Gambit, his visage hardened, clicks on a button on the control panel: Danger Room program sequence amended level 120 – Critical force activated – Safety parameters: disengaged. “What the…?!” Sabretooth grunts, as he is suddenly attacked by holograms of countless lethal enemies!

Interlude One:

Roswell State Minimum Security Prison, New Mexico

Inmate Carter Ryking, also known as Hazard, has a visitor. The guard announces he gets five minutes. Hazard remarks he’ll need five seconds since he has no idea who his visitor is. His visitor, a tall, young man with long blond hair, pleads him: if he is Carter Ryking, the man whose father ran the Almagordo nuclear power plant decades ago, he should give him a chance to talk with him. “And why would I do that?” Ryking provocatively retorts. Because I need your help, the young man replies. He introduces himself as Adam. He is looking for someone who briefly knew Ryking’s father a long, long time ago. His name was… Milbury.

Ryking retorts that lots of people worked for his father. What makes Adam think he’d know anything about the one he’s looking for? Adam doesn’t; it’s just that he’s run into a dead end in his search for the man. He’s getting desperate and he’ll do whatever it takes to find him. Would he really, a tempted Ryking repeats. That’s interesting to know. He thinks that maybe there is someone who could help him. His name is Charles Xavier.


Bishop and Professor X are inspecting the recently devastated Ready Room. Bishop asks him what he’s going to do. Charles doesn’t know. He did not foresee this kind of destruction happening to his Ready Room after they went to a two-team structure. But as they’ve told Bishop before, the future is not set in stone. He just wishes it hadn’t taken Banshee’s detonation to prove the point. A lifetime’s worth of information is now… lost.

Bishop asks if he had any program back-ups – perhaps at the Muir Island facility. Xavier answers negatively. The information stored here contained the names of many mutants he’d met over the years. Mutants who would prefer to live in anonymity. And names of those humans who have helped him in his underground network. To have any duplicated seemed to put their trust to him in risk. The self-destruct sequence Sean activated was intended as a final failsafe to deter an internal menace or an electronic threat, both of which the Phalanx proved to be.

Bishop again wonders: is there no way at all to retrieve what was lost? Professor X admits that the only option he is aware of is one he would prefer to avoid. “And that is…?” Bishop queries. Xavier presents him with a hologram: Gareb Bashur, the man Bishop knows as Commcast. He is a mutant, though he is unaware that Xavier knows of his abilities. Commcast is capable of conceivably receiving and storing every data transmission across the planet. His ability makes him the electronic equivalent of a telepath of the highest order. And as such, somewhere in his mind, or downloaded into his files, may exist every information Professor X owned, Bishop realizes. He exclaims that the man is a dangerous threat then. Is Xavier certain that’s a wise course of action? “What choice do I have my young friend?” Charles sighs. He then suggests the two of them begin the pleasant task of cleaning this mess up.

Interlude Two:

(dream sequence)

They glisten in the flashing light of David Haller’s maddened mind: dazzling crystal figurines of Xavier and Magneto and the X-Men. So clear, clean and perfect: the stuff of which dreams are made. Dreams of love and harmony, hope and unity. The dreams his father, Charles Xavier, once had.

For long months, David – Legion – has lain in a coma – his erratic mind thought lost forever. His gnarled body now lies in an intensive care ward in one of the best hospitals in Tel Aviv. His mind is elsewhere with a woman long dead. David should know: he killed her.

Destiny’s spectral form appears and assures David his dream is a good one; she saw it long ago. And perhaps, the world may yet awaken to see it come true. If only, years ago, his father had been given a real chance to fulfill his own dream. She tells him dreams are fragile things so easily shattered. “Who knows, David?” she tells him. If the dream comes true, if the dreamer rises, perhaps redemption is not far off. And as she has before, the woman fades from sight, leaving David once more much alone.

(real life)

“Destiny!? Come back…! Tell me what you mean!” Legion screams as he wakes up from his dream.


In the Danger Room, Creed is relentlessly attacked by various robotic enemies. Still thinking Cyclops to be in the control room, Sabretooth asks him what the flaming heck he’s doing! These things are trying to kill him! Good, he then adds, claiming he likes it this way and maneuvering around, to avoid being hit.

The sequence is suddenly deactivated. Gambit appears behind the glass booth outside the Danger Room and reveals that Cyclops had nothing to do with Creed’s special ‘exercise’. Creed exclaims that with a suicide attack like this he should have known it would be him. So, Gambit asks him, he liked the critical setting, no? “It got me t’ break a sweat, punk,” Creed snarls. He encourages him to come here. Creed will show him what a real man can do… one who’s not hiding behind glass booths.

Gambit mocks him: he’s a tough guy… still, they should see how tough! At once, he dashes at him and kicks him in the face. Was he thinking Remy was going to let it drop that he has been trying to tear him and Rogue apart. Does he think Remy is going to forget what he did to Genevieve? Pummeling at him, he wonders: Creed can’t find a way to tear into their skins with his claws so he’s trying to tear into their heads instead?

Sabretooth scoffs at him. What is Gambit afraid of? Sabretooth spilling something more… Sinister? What he’s done is working, isn’t it, Creed triumphs. “Ya think? I ain’t so sure, Creed,” Gambit retorts and kinetically charges a pack of cards, unleashing it with all his fury against Sabretooth. Just the opposite actually, Remy stresses. With Creed fallen on the floor, Remy charges his bo-stuff and informs Creed that every part of the man he was says he should push his stuff through his thick skull, but the problem with that solution is that he’d giving him exactly what he wants! Instead, Remy chooses not to penetrate Creed’s skull with his stuff, striking the floor next to Sabretooth’s head instead.

Remy argues that the best way to beat Creed down isn’t to beat him up. Remy worked too hard, cared too much about being here, learning how to love for real and being an X-Man, to let a loser like Sabretooth take it away from him. He knows the best way to win the fight against him is for him and Rogue to be happy together!

Rogue suddenly appears behind Remy and asks if that’s a fight they can win. Startled, Gambit admits she didn’t know she was here. How much did she hear? Enough for her to realize how wrong she was to blame him for the things he did in his past when her own is just as messed up, Rogue clarifies. However, she also knows that the two of them won’t ever work right until they both accept what they’ve done in their lives. Remy asks her when that is going to happen. Soon, Rogue hopes. She can’t run anymore from who she was if it means she keeps running away from who she wants to be. Saying this, she exits the Danger Room.


Beast tells Iceman he’s truly, truly sorry but it’s still not a good time. The possible breakthrough he’s made on the causative viroid agent’s evolution concerning the Legacy Virus requires some more empirical verification before he can discuss it officially with the Professor and Moira. Bobby assures him he understands. He knows what his work means to mutants and humans – to everyone… It’s just that he’s… “I… forget it…” he mumbles.

He then asks Hank if he wants to explain what he just said so that an accounting major could understand it. Hank rephrases his discovery: he’s isolated three apparently different strains of the Legacy Virus, which he’s calling Legacy One, Legacy Two and Legacy Three. “Geez, Hank, how original,” Bobby banters. Hank advises him to shush and enjoy the infotainment. He’s not exactly certain how or why this evolution has occurred but he does know that with the data Scott and Jean provided them from their foray into the future, this disease is now a closer – and deadlier – match to the nucleotide strain from which Stryfe originally developed the virus to begin with. This has resulted in Legacy having the potential to infect humans as well as mutants. Stryfe’s legacy fulfilled: hatred and death to all. He notes, though, that as with all scientific research definition and isolation are but the first steps towards finding a cure – a vital step nonetheless.

Bobby mumbles that’s great… he’s doing something great… In a lower voice, he suddenly asks him: “Hank… uhm… am I a loser?” “What?” Beast cries. He wonders: did his ears perchance mishear? Of course he isn’t! Bobby suggests Hank looks at himself: he’s brilliant! He then suggests he looks at everyone else here and then he looks at Bobby. Bobby is a lame excuse for a human being and as Emma Frost so painfully pointed out to everyone, as a mutant, too.

He suddenly realizes he’s whining while Hank is trying to cure a plague! Hank tries to console him by joking: what matters a teensy epidemic in light of a friend’s self-pitying doubt? “Gee, when you put it that way, I feel so much better,” Bobby quips. Hank grabs him and suggests they sally forward. He has given three weeks of his life to this viroid – he can give at least three hours to his bestest lil’ buddy! Bobby proposes a quick bite at Harry’s Hideaway then. Hank has a better idea: how about a slow diner, with dessert and coffee afterwards? Bobby admits it sounds great… he appreciates it but… is Hank going to pick up the tab?


Cyclops and Phoenix find Xavier inspecting the new epigraph at the entrance of the school again. Scott remarks it’s funny finding him here again and reveals that Bishop mentioned the problems in the Ready Room. Jean asks if it’s possible to start all over with his databases. Xavier replies that if there’s one thing the three of them have proven time and again, it is the ability to deal with curve life happens to throw at them. The last few months have seen both incredible highs and terrible lows, self re-criminations and unbounded joys. However, he’s never felt quite so hopeful. Hopeful of the future and their place in it. He wonders: is he deluding himself or does their goal actually stand a chance of coming true?

Of course it does, Charles, Jean replies – and it will and it has to. Although, she jests, when they do succeed, what are they all going to do for jobs? Xavier replies he always fancied the chance to become something simpler in life – perhaps a barber…

Characters Involved: 

Beast, Bishop, Cyclops, Gambit, Iceman, Phoenix IV, Professor X, Psylocke, Rogue (all X-Men)


X-Treme/Adam X



As hologram:


In Legion’s dream, as hallucination or ghost:


Story Notes: 

Cyclops and Phoenix’s wedding took place in X-Men (2nd series) #30. Their honeymoon and the twelve years they spent in a future timeline were documented in The Adventures of Cyclops & Phoenix #1-4.

Stryfe tricked Mr. Sinister into releasing the Legacy Virus into the atmosphere in X-Force (1st series) #18.

Beast took Angelo Espinosa aka Skin to the Massachusetts Academy in Uncanny X-Men #318.

The White Queen took over Iceman’s body and used his abilities in unprecedented ways in Uncanny X-Men #314.

“Milbury” presumably refers to Nathan Milbury, one of Sinister’s many aliases, which he used during his involvement with the Almagordo facility. However, the plot of Adam X pursuing Sinister and Xavier is never followed upon.

Banshee blew up the Ready Room in Uncanny X-Men #316, during the Phalanx Covenant storyline.

Legion had been in a coma ever since Uncanny X-Men #280.

Destiny was killed by Legion in Uncanny X-Men #255. It is unknown if the Destiny that appears here is a hallucination or the mutant’s ghost. Either way, both Destiny and Legion (by then deceased) will later appear as ghosts in Fantastic Four (3rd series) #16. It was never confirmed whether it was really them, though, as the plot was dropped soon afterwards.

Sabretooth once killed Gambit’s girlfriend, Genevieve, as revealed in X-Men (2nd series) #33.

“To shun the Heaven, which leads men to Hell”: the line comes from Shakespeare’s Sonnet 129.

The Beast’s seemingly inexplicable declaration of “Yes, I am, Dr. Galakiewicz!” refers to a Bud Light beer commercial, which had been quite popular around the time of this issue’s publication. In it, a man having just disembarked from an arriving plane sees several drivers holding signs. When one replies to the man’s question that he does indeed have Bud Light in his limo, the man tells the driver that he’s Dr. “Gal-E-Week-Itch.” To this the driver asks the man if he means Dr. “Gahl-ack-ah-witch.” In reply, the man smiles “Yes, I am.” The rest of the commercial depicts the man enjoying a bottle of Bud Light in the back of the limo, while fiddling with dials and controls of the limo, clearly never having seen any of them before.

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