X-Men (4th series) #18

Issue Date: 
October 2014
Story Title: 
Exogenus (part 1)

Marc Guggenheim (writer), Harvey Tolibao (penciler), Ed Tadeo and Craig Yeung (inkers), VC’s Joe Caramagna (letterer), Paul Mounts (colorist), Terry Dodgson and Rachel Dodgson (cover), Frankie Johnson (assistant editor), Daniel Ketchum (editor), Mike Marts (X-Men group editor), Axel Alonso (editor in chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)

Brief Description: 

A few years ago, the Grey family were all murdered at a reunion by Shi’ar Death Commandos. Rachel Grey was the only survivor and, at the moment, she is working with the X-Men to destroy an AIM-created giant virus. The virus is swarming high in the air and the X-Men work together to collect all the parts of it and blast it with Storm’s lightning. Afterwards, they get a call from Beast, who says that a little while ago Deathbird was found floating outside the Peak space station. She is in a bad way and the X-Men were called to deal with the situation. They travel to the space station and meet Agent Brand, who asks them to see if they can read the unconscious Deathbird’s mind to find out why she was headed to Earth. Cecilia Reyes joins the group and examines Deathbird. When she sees something surprising on the machines, she goes to run some further tests, leaving the other X-Men to enter Deathbird’s mind. Rachel, Monet and Psylocke enter her mind and see visions of Deathbird’s past, as well as evidence that she was experimented on. They also see a strange symbol but, before they can probe further, Deathbird wakes up, declaring something has arrived. The Peak is suddenly swarmed by Sidri hunters and, before long, they find their way in the station and cut the power. It isn’t too long before the shields go down and hull breaches erupt. The side of the bridge suddenly rips open and everyone has to hold on or else they will be sucked into space. The Sidri find their way to Deathbird in the medical bay and quickly surround the X-Men down there. They wonder why the Sidri are after her but Cecilia declares it’s not Deathbird they want but her unborn baby. 

Full Summary: 

(a few years ago)
Terry Maguire and Rachel Grey stand on the back porch of her grandparent’s house as they take a moment to escape the family reunion going on inside. Rachel’s alternate grandfather, John Grey, comes to ask her for a dance and she telepathically tells him off for embarrassing her. Terry leaves and John tells Rachel he wishes they knew how to cope with telepathy when Jean was with them. Rachel comforts him and says that Jean saved the universe. John notices something is up with her and she tells him she doesn’t know how to dance. He takes her hand and replies that it will be his pleasure to teach her.

Before he can take another step, though, he suddenly explodes in a ball of fire right before Rachel’s eyes. A little way off, the Shi’ar Death Commandos stand armed and ready for action. Their leader, Black Cloak, tells Rachel that, by order of the Majestrix Shi’ar, the Grey genome is to be eradicated and then gives the order to his team to kill them all.

On board one of the X-jets, Rachel looks at her tablet device and declares they should kill them all. Jubilee turns around and asks how they should do that, as the X-jet flies towards a swarm of strange, green, spherical creatures flying in the sky. Flying outside the plane, M suggests that maybe she should hit as many as she can, as hard as she can. Storm points out there are A.I.M created viruses that have evolved and will continue to do so. They will simply adapt to blunt force easily and must be exterminated. Rachel psi-uploads all the data on the virus to the team and Storm asks Jubilee if she would fly the plane. Jubilee replies she would if she knew how and Rachel uses her powers to upload details on how to fly the jet directing into Jubilee’s brain.

Storm, Rachel and Psylocke fly out the plane to join M, and Rachel says she has to use her telekinesis to group the viruses together. That way, Storm can light them up all at once. As the team starts herding the viruses together, Psylocke declares it’s ironic, to which M asks if she means that three of the five team members are telepaths. Psylocke corrects her and says she meant that they are fighting unplanned evolution, or in other words… mutations. The X-jet swings by the viruses and Jubilee says she is just using it to fry some of them in the jet wash. Once the viruses are gathered closely enough, the rest of the team backs off, whilst Storm blasts the swarm with lightning. After successfully destroying the viruses, Psylocke congratulates Strom, to which she replies that she has never had a chance to destroy a rogue bioweapon before.

In the X-jet, Beast appears via a holographic display and Jubilee asks if she can make a Star Trek joke. He says she wouldn’t be the first but in this case it might be appropriate, as fifty-eight minutes ago something extremely interesting happened.

(fifty-eight minutes ago on The Peak)
Agent Abigail Brand storms onto the bridge of her space station, proclaiming that she only gets sixteen minutes of free time on a good day. She’s been watching Game of Thrones on fifteen minute watches and she hasn’t even finished season one.

One of the SWORD agents sitting at his console tells her there has been a proximity alarm. She tells him off for calling her sir and points out that it’s not about the respect, it’s about the fact it makes her seem manly. He asks her why it can’t be about both and she replies that she likes him and not because his name, Manifold Tyger, is strange but it’s because he’s the one Axilogian who isn’t afraid to give her lip.

He explains the proximity alarm was triggered by a single Shi’ar humanoid bearing in their direction. As they put on space suits, Agent Brand asks tells him Shi’ar can’t live very long in the vacuum of space without a suit and he replies that the individual is already going into organ failure. They leave the station and float to the person, who they discover is Deathbird, the former ruler of the Shi’ar Empire. Brand says that she looks pretty good, given that the last anyone saw of her she was paralyzed and nearly dead. So, anyway he slices it, this condition is an improvement.

On the X-jet, the X-Men are surprised to hear Deathbird is alive, to which Beast replies that she was merely paralyzed and held captive on Chandilar. It makes her appearance on what is essentially Earth’s doorstep a little unexpected. Given the connection to the Shi’ar, the X-Men’s presence has been requested and Rachel was specifically asked for. Monet notices Beast refer to his girlfriend as Agent Brand, which causes her to sarcastically question why he called her that. Beast tries to ignore her and continues that Cecilia Reyes will also be joining them and she will meet them at the Peak. Psylocke wonders why Dr. Reyes is needed and Beast tells her that the Peak’s resident medic is elsewhere and Cecilia has the next best knowledge on Shi’ar biology.

Beast’s hologram disappears and Jubilee asks Rachel why she would have a connection to Deathbird. Rachel solemnly replies that it may be because the Shi’ar murdered her entire family or the fact that Deathbird is her aunt. Jubilee looks confused and states that she has missed a lot.

The X-Man arrive at the Peak and Agent Brand meets them. When one of them asks if Deathbird said anything, Brand sarcastically replies that she was very chatty before losing consciousness and her entire diatribe was “uhnnnf.” Psylocke ignores her and asks why Deathbird was headed to the Peak. Brand corrects her and says she was headed to Earth, and with three telepaths on the team she figures one of them will be able to get in her head. Storm points out that SWORD has telepaths but Brand replies she doesn’t have 1.6 telepaths per non-telepath like some do. Those she does have cannot get a read on a Shi’ar and so she hopes one of the X-Men will, specifically Rachel because Deathbird is her aunt. Rachel points out that it’s by marriage and Brand retorts that her mother is from Earth and her father is a green-furred alien, so she shouldn’t start about unconventional families. Cecilia Reyes, escorted by Manifold Tyger, joins the group and she and Storm greet each other and hug.

A short while later, Cecilia stands at a console that operates a piece of equipment that Deathbird is laying in. She remarks that the SWORD medics did a good job of stabilizing her, despite their lack of knowledge on Shi’ar physiology. Storm wonders how she made it all this way given she was paralyzed, but Cecilia tells her there is no evidence of paralysis. The injuries she does have are fresh, having only occurred in the past few days. Cecilia looks at a small holographic image of Deathbird and seems a little taken aback by something. She asks if SWORD has a lab she can borrow and Brand tells Manifold Tyger to escort her to one. As they leave, Jubilee is curious as to why Cecilia was so freaked out and Storm decides to use the opportunity to have the telepaths read Deathbird.

Psylocke, Rachel and Monet surround the unconscious Deathbird, who is being suspended in a medical device. Psylocke tells Rachel there is no need for her to do this and Monet dryly agrees, stating they are capable of tiptoeing through her aunt’s psyche by themselves. Rachel disagrees and says that she gets the feeling Brand isn’t giving them the full picture. Psylocke says she couldn’t read Brand, as her psy-shields were too powerful. Monet asks why that means Brand isn’t telling them everything and Psylocke replies that it’s because Beast told her she wouldn’t. The three women hold hands and join their minds together to probe into Deathbird’s.

Inside her mind, they see visions of Deathbird’s past, including the moment Lilandra impaled her with a javelin, fighting Ms. Marvel and ruling on the Shi’ar throne amongst others. Psylocke comments that it’s a mess in her head, to which Monet replies that Rachel’s aunt is a proper wackadoo. Rachel doesn’t like her using that word and, when Monet asks if she means wackadoo, Rachel replies she meant aunt. Psylocke asks if they should risk going deeper but Rachel is already there and has found evidence of psychic scaring, indicating she had been experimented on. A strange symbol appears to the women and Psylocke wonders if it is Shi’ar but Rachel feels something is wrong.

In the real world, Deathbird suddenly opens her eyes and states that they are here, and Rachel asks who she means.

On the Peak’s bridge, a soldier tells Brand they have multiple bogies coming from everywhere. Storm looks at the screens and says she hasn’t seen them in a while, which Brand asks who she means. Storm tells her they are Sidrian Hunters, as everyone looks out at the thousands of alien creatures swarming around the Peak. Brand says she has never heard of them and extraterrestrial creatures are her wheelhouse. Storm says the Sidri are hunters and they only exist to claim their quarry and must be here for Deathbird.

In the medical bay, Deathbird can barely say the word “Sidri” before she passes out again through exhaustion. Cecilia runs in and asks what’s going on, to which Psylocke replies that they are under attack. The lights suddenly go out as the Sidri cut the power and Manifold Tyger says that there will be hull breaches in ninety seconds. He corrects himself that it might be less when everyone looks up to see the six-legged crab-like creatures pouring in from somewhere. Everyone leaps into action and starts killing the Sidri but the sheer numbers of them are too big.

Down in the medical bay, the Sidri are in there too and the X-Men cluster together around Deathbird. Psylocke creates a telekinetic shield and mini-gun and starts blasting the aliens. Psylocke tells Cecilia to get behind her, but the former X-woman has other ideas and creates a shield to reflect the Sidri’s bio-blasts. Despite being creeped out by the creatures, Monet jumps into the swarm and starts punching left and right. The numbers are too much for them, though, and the X-Men find themselves surrounded on all sides. Monet wonders what they want with Deathbird but Cecilia replies that it’s not Deathbird they are after, it’s her baby. Rachel seems surprised and Monet asks the strange question… has anyone seen Deathbird’s baby?

On the bridge, the situation isn’t much better and Manifold Tyger says there are multiple hull breaches but the shields are holding for the moment. Whilst fighting the Sidri with her vampiric abilities, Jubilee says that “for the moment” isn’t exactly a good phrase. Manifold Tyger tells her their shields are defensive and they are not designed to stop explosive decompression. A SWORD agent, looking at his monitor, says that shields are failing on decks eight, sixteen and twenty-eight. Brand realizes they are on twenty-eight, just as a hole bursts open in the hull and sucks the SWORD agent out. Brand yells for everyone to grab onto something, as the explosive decompression sucks everything in the room out to space.

In the medical bay, Monet says that Deathbird doesn’t have a baby, but Cecilia replies that she is pregnant. 

Characters Involved: 

Beast (via hologram), Jubilee, M, Psylocke, Rachel Grey, Storm (all X-Men)
Cecilia Reyes (former X-Man)

Agent Brand, Manifold Tyger (SWORD agents)
Numerous unnamed SWORD agents


Sidri Hunters

Rachel Grey
John Grey
Terry Maguire

Black Cloak, Colony, Devo, Flaw, Hypernova, Krait, Offset, SeGa, Shell (all Shi’ar Death Commandos)

(in Deathbird’s mind)
Ms. Marvel (Carol Danvers)
Shi’ar soldiers
Colossus, Cyclops, Storm, Wolverine (all X-Men)
Uatu the Watcher
Silver Surfer

Story Notes: 

In this issue, Marc Guggenheim takes over writing duties from Brian Woods, who left the series last issue. It isn’t Guggenheim’s first time writing the X-Men, as he wrote Young X-Men #1-12.

The scene at the beginning depicting the death of John Grey was first shown in Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #466-467. It is an almost word for word re-telling of the scene. Whilst not depicted here, Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #467 went on to show the deaths of the entire Grey family, bar Rachel.

The Shi’ar Death Commandoes featured in the flashback are exactly the same ones depicted in Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #466-467. Rachel Grey went on to kill their leader, Black Cloak.

Deathbird was last seen during the X-Men: Kingbreaker miniseries. She was stabbed through the abdomen by her sister Lilandra and remained in a coma ever since. In the time she has been unconscious, Lilandra and her husband Vulcan were both killed and the Shi’ar throne passed to Gladiator.

Jubilee’s “I know Kung Fu” quip is a quote from the first Matrix film, where Keanu Reeve’s character has all the knowledge of Kung Fu uploaded into his mind within a matter of seconds.

Sidri hunters haven’t been seen since Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #168.

It’s strange that Beast mentions that Cecilia Reyes has the next best knowledge on Shi’ar biology when she hasn’t had any previous contact with them on panel.

Technically, Deathbird could be considered to be Rachel’s aunt, given that Rachel considers her 616 bloodline to be family. Vulcan aka Gabriel Summers, Cyclops and Havok’s brother and Rachel’s uncle, married Deathbird in Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #485.

Deathbird’s first appearance was in Ms. Marvel (1st series) #10, where she fought Carol Danvers.

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