X-Men (2nd series) #72

Issue Date: 
February 1998
Story Title: 
Life Lessons

Joe Kelly (Writer), Carlos Pacheco (Pencils), Art Thibert (Inks), Richard Starkings & COMICRAFT (Letters), Liquid! (Colors), Mark Powers (Editor), Bob Harras (Editor in Chief)

Brief Description: 

Cannonball and Storm get into an argument about how they should deal with the problem of Marrow. While Storm wishes to settle things her way, Cannonball wants to reach out to Marrow. After getting angry at the mentioning of Gambit, Joseph takes a walk on the grounds, where he finds Maggott and Cecilia Reyes. Joseph remembers how Maggott called him friend in Antarctica and decides that he will speak to Maggott about their past connection later on. In the Danger Room, Wolverine tries to talk to Marrow, but the two end up fighting. Wolverine is about to win but, when he lets his guard down, Marrow impales him in the throat with one of her bone shards. Wolverine enters feral mode and tries to kill Marrow. The rest of the team hear his howling and rush into the Danger Room, where Cannonball knocks Wolverine out. Marrow runs back to the sewers, while Cannonball leaves angry, thinking that Storm set Wolverine out to hurt Marrow on purpose. None of the X-Men, however, are aware that, in Salem Center, a homeless man has been brutally murdered and the killer may be in the school. In Israel, Sabra contacts Gabrielle Haller and tells her that she has a lead on who created the false identity of Erik Lensherr for Magneto. The two reach Romania and find Georg Odekirk already dead at the hands of Magneto, who has erased his last connection to the Erik Lensherr alias.

Full Summary: 

In the cold basement of the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning, Marrow asks Wolverine if he likes the dark. Of all the students in the school, he is the one who can live in the cramped, nasty spaces with damp and dead cold. Marrow can tell that Wolverine loves these sorts of things. He at least, knows how to have fun. Storm, on the other hand, doesn’t. The wind rider would rather play with her flowers. She is silly, though. She thinks she understands the formula for keeping a plant. She thinks she can control them. All she does is clip away the parts that don’t grow right or…pretty. Storm thinks by cutting the dead parts, they will go away forever. Storm is wrong, though, and she knows it. She wants to think that the sun, water, light, and love are needed for her plants. The woman averts her eyes from the truth.

Things grow stronger in the dark, continues Marrow. Hate is more powerful than the sun and sewage replaces water. Weeds erupt out of the ground and strangle flowers. No matter how many times Storm cuts the weeds, they always grow back. That is why Wolverine is here. That way Storm doesn’t get dirt under her finger nails again. She has to stay being the innocent goddess in her garden. Marrow hears, though, that when Wolverine cuts something it stays that way. Wolverine supposes that it’s true and then drops his cigar on the weeds that Marrow kneels before in what used to be the Danger Room of the mansion.

Impatient, Wolverine asks Marrow if she is ready to get off her soapbox, because he doesn’t have all day. Marrow plucks the cigar off the ground with her bone weapon and tells Wolverine that smoking in front of children is setting a bad example. Marrow begins to smoke as Wolverine tells her that she is a bad seed and they both know that. They also know that she and Storm have bad blood. If there were a chance that they could discuss things like ladies, Wolverine wouldn’t be here. Truthfully, though, if Storm were down there now, Marrow would wind up dead again, so why don’t they assume that no one wants that to happen again?

Wolverine explains to Marrow that, if she plans on living in the mansion, she must follow their rules. There will be no discussion about this. If she cannot handle that then she should go back to the sewers and save everyone the pain. Marrow throws down the cigar, blows smoke in Wolverine’s face and tells him that he is boring her. She rips a bone dagger from her back and bitterly tells him that he won’t be able to persuade her to be a good little girl, so why don’t they get down to business then? Wolverine pops his claws and smiles. “Kids today,” Wolverine says happily, “no respect for old-fashioned conversation…good.”

In her residence in Jerusalem, Gabrielle Haller lies in bed in casual clothes, typing a letter on her laptop to Senator Kelly. In her closing, she urges Kelly to free Charles Xavier from his wrongful incarceration. Kelly brought Operation: Zero Tolerance to a stop, but now he must finish the job and set an innocent man free. As Gabrielle types her salutations, she begins to yawn. She rubs her tired eyes, which feel like they have been dipped in lead. She hasn’t pulled an all-nighter like this since her days in the Technion. How can she rest though, when she sees Charles rotting in her cell when her eyes close? For all that he and the X-Men have done for humanity, Charles does not deserve such a fate. He is too important to lose. Gabrielle enters her balcony and vows to set Charles free. However, her last statement is stopped suddenly, as she sees a figure floating in the sky above her balcony. The figure tells Ambassador Haller that sometimes freedom, much like truth, is nothing more than an illusion. Doesn’t she agree?

At the Institute, Cannonball stands outside the door to the Danger Room and stares at the message that Marrow etched onto the door when she first arrived: “This Way to a Dark Ride.” Cannonball realizes that he has been staring at the door for ten minutes. He sighs and realizes that sometimes he is just pathetic. He doesn’t understand why he is so concerned about Marrow. It is most likely because she is holed up in the basement without anyone truly trying to get to know her. Cannonball opens the door and thinks about her bad reputation, but also takes into account how she helped Iceman during Zero Tolerance. If none of the “upperclassmen” are going to offer Marrow help, then he might as well. Besides, thinks Sam whimsically, it’s nice to have someone lower on the X-Men food chain to boss around.

Suddenly, a gust of wind slams the basement door shut. From the staircase, Storm asks Sam what he was doing. Shocked, Cannonball explains that he was simply going to introduce himself to Marrow. Disappointed, Storm tells Cannonball that she knows he feels compelled to reach out, but Marrow…she is not like the rest of them. Storm has witnessed Marrow threaten to kill hundreds to further her goals. Cannonball begins to argue, but Storm tells Sam that he was not there and did not see what she did. The X-Men have sworn to unite man and mutant against those who would use their powers to rule. Marrow jeopardizes their mission. Storm suggests that Sam talks to Cecilia Reyes or Maggott if he wants to reach out to one of the new members. However, he is to stay away from Marrow.

Angered, Cannonball goes up the stairs and tells Storm that he understands. Rule number one is to always admit that the senior officer is right. Rule number two is to refer to rule number one. Sam excuses himself, for now he must go remember why he is proud to be an X-Man. When Cannonball is gone, Storm mentions out loud that being an X-Man is always something to be proud of…being a leader is something else.

Elsewhere, Beast and Joseph work hard to repair the hole in the roof and first floor that Cannonball created when the X-Men were rushing the injured Cyclops back to the mansion. Beast surveys the job, as Joseph uses his mastery over magnetism to place steel girders one by one over the holes. As Joseph is about to finish the lattice, Cannonball blasts right through the girders and destroys the construct. Annoyed, Beast wonders if Sam has forgotten how to use the front door. He sighs and then figures that the boy is just blowing off some steam after all that has happened, including the loss of the Professor and Gambit. Beast hears a “klang” sound and sees that Joseph has in seconds repaired the damage that Cannonball caused not once, but twice. Embarrassed, Beast congratulates Joseph and admits that he is surprised that not all of them are blowing off some steam too.

On a hill, Cecilia drinks some coffee and sees the “flying farm boy at ten o’clock.” Cecilia jokes that they aren’t in the hood anymore. To herself, Cecilia wonders about what she is going to do about it. Is she just going to sit on a hill and feel sorry about herself? She already tried getting her job at the hospital back and that failed, due to her worthless and essentially benign power. Cecilia purposely pours the scalding hot coffee on herself, which harmlessly slides off her force field. In perspective, she could take the opportunity to learn more about her condition, but there doesn’t seem to be any teachers at the moment in the “school.”

From behind, Maggott comments on the nice view they have and then adds that it is even better with a fine looking woman like herself. Cecilia pleads to Maggott to not make her puke. She then asks where his slugs are. Maggott guesses that they are out getting lunch. He then asks Cecilia if the spot next to her is taken. Cecilia points out that there are a billion acres of woods and asks if he must sit next to her. No, says Maggott, as he takes Cecilia’s coffee, but the way he sees it is that it would be a shame for the two of them to spend the day looking at anything but one another. He then mutters under his breath if he must throw himself off a cliff to make her smile. Cecilia sighs and sarcastically comments about how she thought it would be safe to be depressed.

In the Danger Room, Wolverine jumps in the air to evade Marrow and admits that now he knows why Storm was not the best candidate to come down and take care of Marrow. He has only been with the girl for ten seconds and he already wants to kill her. Even Gandhi would have to resist the urge to rip out her heart. In a rage, Marrow screams to Wolverine that she is going to dance in his blood and then hang his body by its intestines. Wolverine lands and punches Marrow in the face, telling her that she talks too much. He then taunts her by saying that, if she wasn’t a waste of space, she could actually focus all that anger, but what does a killer like her want with the X-Men?

She wants nothing from them, screams Marrow, because she does not want her goals to be muddied by Xavier’s dream. It is her destiny to rise out of the sewers and dominate the surface. She is the voice of the mutants of tomorrow. Wolverine leap-frogs over Marrow and throws her into a wall. Wolverine tells her that if she is the voice of tomorrow, then he is embarrassed. He gets up every morning to fight to make the world a better place just so a “wannabe roughneck” can ruin things later on? It’s over then, he is going to quit and vacation in Tijuana. Annoyed, Marrow tells Wolverine not to mock her. Humans would bury all mutants if they had the chance.

Marrow charges at Wolverine and asks him if he really thought that the Morlocks lived in upworlders filth because they liked it. The Morlocks were denied the bare necessities by human kind: sun, clean air, water and dignity. Upon hearing that part about dignity, Wolverine punches Marrow in the gut and leaves her on the floor, holding her gut. Angered, Wolverine wonders if they are talking about different Morlocks. The Morlocks he knew had it tougher than the average mutants, considering they lived in the sewers of Manhattan, but if it is one thing that they had it was dignity. They had it in the spades, says Wolverine. That is more than he can say about a certain terrorist he knows, though. She is a disgrace to her people. Screaming in anger, Marrow throw three bone daggers right at Wolverine.

Back in Jerusalem, Gabrielle Haller looks up into the air to see Sabra, who introduces herself. Upon hearing the name, Haller tells the woman that she has heard whispers about her and that she is well respected in the Mossad. What does Haller owe the honor to be meeting Agent Bat-Seraph? Urgent, says Sabra, as if there were any other in their line of business. In particular, it deals with Erik Lensherr. Haller realizes that Sabra refers to Magneto. Sabra lands on the balcony and reminds Haller when the ambassador announced to the world that she had proof that Magneto was actually Erik Lensherr. Her “undeniable” truth has been denied.

Haller is shocked and looks through a folder that Sabra gives to her. Sabra explains that Georg Odekirk, the most accomplished forgers in Eastern Europe, may have created a false identity for Magneto. However, though he can trick any human, in the day of computer technology his ruse fell apart. Haller goes back into her apartment and tells Sabra that she must take her to Odekirk at once. He may be their last chance to stop Magneto once and for all. Sabra agrees and tells Haller to get her sweater in her top drawer, for where they are going it is cold.

At the Institute, Joseph walks upon the hills and thinks about the mysteries of life, even the ones his own heart keeps from him. It is funny how the “master of magnetism” acts like a child whenever Gambit or Rogue are mentioned, just like how he quickly finished his repairing job when Beast mentioned the missing Gambit. He feels so much sorrow, guilt, loss, and…possibly love? All he yearns for is one true friend. Joseph walks by Cecilia and Maggott and overhears Cecilia tell Maggott that all his pick-up lines are from the eighties and that he needs better ones. Maggott tries out a new line, but Cecilia again tells him that it is horrible.

Joseph stops and stares at Maggott. In Antarctica Maggott called him friend, though Joseph is sure that they never met. They haven’t had time alone since they returned. Maybe Maggott has some clues about the past that he cannot remember. Joseph must speak with Maggott, who clearly has his own secrets. Joseph walks along as Maggott begins to stare at him suspiciously. Cecilia tells Maggott that he is a piece of work. “That’s what I hear, lovely,” says Maggot, “That’s what I hear.”

Somewhere over the Institute, Cannonball is angered that the X-Men act like he shouldn’t ask questions and treat him as if he should keep his head down and smash through stuff when they tell him to. He isn’t a kid anymore; he is an X-Man. Several days ago he received a letter from Tabitha. It seems that X-Force is doing fine. If Storm and the others want to have their little senior class, then maybe he should quit the X-Men. Suddenly, Cannonball stops in midair and wonders if he just said that he would quit. He turns around and heads back to the mansion, thinking about how is father is probably turning in his grave over hearing his eldest talking like that. He cannot run off because Storm lectured him. He has to stop acting like a newbie and if that means going toe-to-toe with Storm, then so be it then.

In Sibiu, Romania, at the foot of the Transylvanian Alps, there is a modest looking home on a modest street. There, criminal Georg Odekirk lives a modest life. It is rumored that he signed his own birth certificate at birth. Who signs his death certificate will be a totally different legend. Odekirk finishes the last touches of a fake passport in bed, while his wife sleeps beside him. A voice tells Odekirk that his work is exquisite. Odekirk looks into the air as Magneto tells him that it was a fitting masterpiece with which to end his career. “Merciful God…” stammers Odekirk at the sight of Magneto. No, says Magneto, he must have him confused with someone else, for mercy is not on the program tonight.

In the Danger Room, Wolverine slashes through Marrow’s daggers and tells her that she is persistent. Of course that means little when she is persistent at being boneheaded, no pun intended. Marrow tells Wolverine that this was originally between her and Storm, but Marrow will allow no one to question her birthright. She is a Morlock and, as long as blood pumps into her heart, she will make sure that Wolverine knows what that means.

Suddenly, with much effort, Marrow begins to extend her fingers and makes them sharper. Wolverine is impressed and realizes that, when angered, Marrow can control her bones well enough. He then asks Marrow again what she wants. Marrow screams that she wants respect and there cannot be respect until all debts are settled. She wants a dead human for every dead mutant. Marrow then slashes Wolverine’s face and then drinks his blood off her hand. Hate burns hotter than his pretty words and tastes better too, says Marrow. Hate is her engine and she will never stop until her kills her. Wolverine agrees and tells her that it is time to die.

The two charge at one another and Wolverine knees Marrow in the stomach. He tells her that it is time to take her poor excuse of a life and throw it down a toilet for a cause she doesn’t understand and a hate she hasn’t earned. Wolverine disarms Marrow and tells her that he doesn’t kill stupid kids, though; he kills soldiers. She is not a soldier and that is why she came here. Marrow could have died during Zero Tolerance, says Wolverine, as he pins her to the ground. She could have challenged Marrow anywhere besides the school, but she didn’t. Somewhere in her head, she came here to get something better. Wolverine is only going to offer her that chance once. Cyclops wants him to treat her with kiddie gloves, but Wolverine knew that she needed to get her butt kicked.

Wolverine extends his hand to Marrow and tells her that, if she wants to be a soldier, he will be her drill sergeant but, if he smells dissent, he will give her a harder beating. Marrow asks Wolverine why he is offering her a trick. She isn’t one of the pretty ones. Wolverine tells her that she reminds him of himself. Honestly, he doesn’t think she will last two weeks under his tutelage, but at least they tried to save her. Marrow takes Wolverine’s hand and declines the offer. She then thrusts a bone dagger right into his throat. She tells Wolverine that she will do fine on her own. He can scream now if he can. Wolverine manages a horrible animalistic howl that is heard by Storm, Joseph, Beast, Maggott, Cecilia and even Cannonball.

Back in Romania, Magneto tells Odekirk that he failed the master of magnetism. Terrified, Odekirk begs Magneto to leave him alone for the sake of his slumbering wife. Magneto assures the forger that she will sleep soundly, for she was not the one who betrayed him. Magneto leans in closer as Odekirk defends himself. Magneto explains that Odekirk’s incompetence is what betrayed him. Does the man remember what he promised Magneto nearly 25 years ago?

Magneto was searching for his wife, Magda, while the authorities chased after him for his “crime” of avenging the death of his daughter. He risked everything to find one woman and the Erik Lensherr identity was a means used to make sure that he would be safe on his journey. Odekirk swore that his papers were flawless, but now it seems that the man is a liability. His work has been questioned and Magneto’s enemies will come looking for Odekirk. Odekirk begins to explain that his work is flawless, but Magneto stops him. He gave birth to Erik Lensherr, says Magneto, as he puts his hand on Odekirk’s face. Tonight, Odekirk will kill Erik. Magneto uses his powers to kill Odekirk and announces that now all that is left is Magnus.

Downstairs, Sabra kicks the front door into pieces and calls out Odekirk’s name. Haller follows behind and is amazed at Sabra’s power, though, considering how fast they reached Romania from Israel, she shouldn’t be too surprised. The women hear a blood-curdling scream. Sabra runs up the stairs and tells Haller that Magneto is here. Not so sure, Haller pulls out her gun and tells Sabra that she would scream to if someone barged into her house like they just did. “Not like that,” says Sabra coldly, as they enter Odekirk’s bedroom, only to find Odekirk dead with his eyes clouded gray and his wife shrieking in horror. Haller asks what happened. Sabra explains that he crossed Magneto. She welcomes the master of magnetism back and asks God to help them all.

Back in the Danger Room, Marrow pulls her bone out of Wolverine’s throat and tells him that she did come here to learn, but all she has been taught so far is how to be weak. Storm is too guilty to deal with her and Wolverine was too busy trying to save her that he lost his edge. One lesson she already learned was that the weak get hurt. Marrow pulls back Wolverine’s mask and asks him to show her something that she doesn’t know already. Wolverine responds with a ferocious snarl that few people ever hear. As he erupts in feral mode, Wolverine grabs Marrow by the throat and slams her headfirst into the ground. He unleashes his claws and is ready to stab them through her face. One of the last things to go through Marrow’s mind, however, is that maybe she did push this one too far.

Suddenly, Cannonball flies up from behind and grabs Wolverine by his uniform. Wolverine snarls again, as Cannonball realizes that there is no way to calm Wolverine except by taking him down. He asks Wolverine not to take his personally and slams the man unconscious against the wall. Sam checks Logan and prays that he doesn’t wake up mad. Strom, Beast and Joseph rush into the room, as Marrow runs into the shadows. Angry, Sam asks Storm if this is how the X-Men deal with problems; by sending Wolverine against a kid so she is beyond all help. Storm explains that it wasn’t supposed to end this way.

Still angry, Cannonball asks what happened to compassion and second chances. This wasn’t about teaching Marrow a lesson. One of them could have been killed and, if Wolverine didn’t have a healing factor, it would have been him. Beast tells Cannonball to calm down, for there must be some wise explanation for all this. Cannonball turns away and tells Beast that he gets it. Second chances are out this year. Joseph picks up Wolverine’s mask and gives Cannonball a dirty look. Storm tells Cannonball that he doesn’t know what they are dealing with. She orders him not to walk away when she speaks to him, but stops when she steps on Marrow’s flower.

In the Morlock sewers, Marrow keeps on running. She thinks of all the things the X-Men have taught her and deduces that they were all lies. She is too mean and too ugly to be a part of their world. There is no room for her. Who would want her up there? Marrow reaches Callisto’s room and finds her mentor in bed. Marrow realizes that what she deserves is down in the sewers. Callisto weakly calls out to Sarah, who responds by asking the woman how she feels. Callisto jokingly tells Marrow that she will be back on her feet soon and then asks how school was today. Marrow hesitates at first, but then tells Callisto that school was fine. She is making…friends. That’s a good girl, says Callisto.

In Salem Center, a local officer tells Gumbs that she found Hamish here like this in the alley and she didn’t know what to do. Gumbs jokes around and tells her that, if he is drunk, she should just get him some coffee and…Gumbs stops talking as he sees the bloody mess before him. Gumbs asks what would do such a thing to a man, as he gapes at the horribly disfigured remains. The female officer does not know, but she does notice that the trail heads back into the woods, possibly to the edge of the boarding school. They are not talking about human footprints either. This is going to be ugly.

Characters Involved: 

Beast, Cannonball, Cecilia Reyes, Joseph, Maggott, Marrow, Storm, Wolverine (X-Men)

Gabrielle Haller


Georg Odekirk and wife


Gumbs and another officer in Salem Center

Story Notes: 

The hatred between Marrow and Storm stems from Uncanny X-Men #325.

Xavier was taken into custody in Uncanny X-Men #337.

Cecilia tried to get her old job back in Uncanny X-Men #351.

Maggott called Joseph “friend” in Uncanny X-Men #350, but that is because Maggott had mistaken him for the real Magneto.

Callisto was injured in Uncanny X-Men #346 during the Operation: Zero Tolerance crossover.

The homeless man was murdered in X-Men (2nd Series) #71.

Issue Information: