X-Men (5th series) #21

Issue Date: 
August 2021
Story Title: 
The Beginning

Jonathan Hickman (writer), Nick Dragotta, Russell Dauterman, Lucas Werneck & Sara Pichelli (artists), Frank Martin, Matthew Wilson, Sunny Gho & Nolan Woodard (colorist), Virtual Calligraphy's Clayton Cowles (letterer), Tom Muller (designer), Lenil Francis Yu & Sunny Gho (cover artists), Lucas Werneck (X-Men Design Variant Cover), Russell Dauterman (Marvel Girl Design Variant Cover Artist), Russell Dauterman & Matthew Wilson (Connecting Cover Artists), Jonathan Hickman (Head of X), Jay Bowen (production), Annalise Bissa (associate editor), Jordan D White (editor), CB Cebulski (editor-in-chief)

X-Men created by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

Brief Description: 

The Hellfire Gala is underway, but Xavier and Magneto are away from the main festivities as they try to convince Namor to take a seat on the Quiet Council. Namor is not impressed with their offer, after all, he's King of the Seas – why would he want to be simply one of a number of “rulers” of an island? He walks away from Xavier and Magneto and tells them to come back to him when they have something better to offer. He then walks over to several other leading members of the superhuman community including Captain America and Iron Man. The Gala continues, and reaches the point in the evening where all of mutantkind is able to vote for who they want to be the new official X-Men team. Mutants near and far open their minds to Jean Grey, who filters their conversations and reasons why they should be on the team. The process doesn't appear to take very long, and shortly the new team is announced – Cyclops! Jean Grey! Rogue! Sunfire! Wolverine (Laura Kinney)! Synch! And a very surprised Polaris! Later that night, Mystique listens in on Emma Frost making a deal with representatives from a hidden society, and Cyclops has an encounter with someone famous, who wants to hear his story. Quentin Quire starts to gather the omega-level mutants – Storm, Jean, Exodus, Monarch, Hope, Elixir and Proteus, and Iceman – and they all start to leave through a portal. A short time later, Emma Frost addresses the Gala, opening everyone's mind to the night's fireworks, she points to a red orb in the night sky – and several asteroids floating in front of it.

Full Summary: 

8:12 PM, Reception.

'Another drink, sir?' a Multiple Man dupe asks King Namor the Sub-Mariner as he leans on the banister at the edge of a large balcony which looks out over the ocean, currently glowing orange as the sun sets over it in the distance. 'Yes. And be sure to make your return often and the pour generous. I fear it may be the only way we two get through this night' Namor responds, an empty champagne flute at his side. 'Understood' the dupe replies, before asking Namor if he can bring him anything else – something to nibble on. 'Cheese, perhaps?' he grins, motioning to some cheese on the tray he carries. Namor glares back at the dupe, before a voice calls out 'We can handle it from here, Jamie'. Namor looks up as Magneto and Charles Xavier, both dressed in white and gold, approach him, dozens of guests at the Hellfire Gala can be seen behind them. 'Charles. Erik' Namor acknowledges them, holding up two champagne flutes.

Namor congratulates Charles and Magneto on their party, noting that it sees well attended. 'If this were the event – and these were the attendees – one might desire' Namor adds. Xavier thanks Namor, noting that he is, of course, the North Star of all their invited guests. 'Yes. You grace us with your presence, your majesty. We are honored and humbled' Magneto smirks.

Namor drinks one of the glasses of champagne. 'So' he remarks. 'Yes?' Xavier replies. 'How goes the empire building?' Namor enquires. 'Well, I think. But in the long term, that depends entirely on forming new alliances to dissuade new adversaries that have swooped in to fill the vacuum of vanquished old enemies' Charles smiles. 'If it's a question of influence... changes are coming to the Quiet Council. We can offer you a seat' Magneto announces.

'Offer? I think if I stepped one foot into your council chamber, there would be a rush to surrender a seat to me, even if one were not available' Namor boasts, adding that frauds tend to flee at the sight of a true aristocrat. 'I am a real king, Erik. Never forget this' Namor declares. Charles suggests to Namor that he should return home and claim his rightful place among his people. 'I tell you, truly, Charles... at night, when I dream, I dream of this entire world under my thumb. Me seated on a throne of thrones... and the people – human, mutant and all living things under the sun... they cry out and cheer with love and affection. For the blind can finally see and see me as I really am' Namor reveals as he clinks his glass against Xavier's. 'Which, I assure you...i s not me being on a council with those who pretend to be my peers' Namor adds,

Xavier and Magneto are unimpressed with these comments, and both frown. 'I have dominion over 70 percent of this planet, gentlemen. You currently control, what... an island?' Namor asks, before pushing past Charles and Erik and striding off towards other guests at the party. 'Get back to me when you have something more to offer. Until that day, my interests – whatever  they may be – will remain divided'. Charles and Erik watch as Namor stands alongside Iron Man, Mr Fantastic, Black Panther, Captain America and Dr Strange.

10:15 PM, Election.

The Gala is in full-swing, with guests mingling and enjoying themselves. Storm can be seen talking to Rogue and Gambit, while Kate Pryde sips her drink and Emma Frost stands nearby. Magik and Colossus are speaking with some guests, while Monet narrows her eyes and sips her drink as she stands near a man in a suit. All of the women wear striking outfits, and even some of the men – such as Cyclops, who calls out 'If I could have your attention, please' as Jean Grey flies down from above hover at his side. The guests begin to gather around Cyclops and Jean. Among them, Rictor, Warlock, Thor, Kwannon, Banshee and Pixie can be seen. Cyclops thanks everyone, and reports that they have  reached the point in the evening when it is time to introduce the new team of X-Men. 'Of course, before we can do that...they have to be selected' Cyclops smiles. 'Jean?' he asks. 'Mutants of Earth... open your minds to me' Jean calls out as she concentrates on the thoughts that open to her.

Human guests look around, intrigued and perplexed as the mutants stare ahead at Jean Grey, who reads their vote with her mind. Angel, Betsy Braddock, Iceman and Emma Frost are standing together at the Gala when this takes place. The vote is also open to mutants not at the Gala – like Risque and Peepers who are on board the SWORD space station, or Anole, Cosmar and Rain Boy who are sitting around a campfire in a forest on Krakoa. 'Shall we begin?' Jean asks. Storm looks on as Thor turns to Johnny Storm the Human Torch and asks 'What is this ensorcellment?' Johnny remarks that he doesn't know, and admits that he is freaked out right now. Dr Stephen Strange tells him not to be, and explains that this is rather elegant, and that telepathically bonded, every mutant who wishes to is telling the others why they want to be an X-Man. 'As they do, other mutants begin to coalesce behind the best reasons – and the ideal representatives – of what they believe their fledgling nation to be'.

Noticing that Strange's Eye of Agamotto is active, Johnny rubs his head and asks Strange if he should be listening. 'Okay, okay, I gotta know. Tell me what they're saying. But just to be clear, this feels so wrong!' the Torch exclaims. Dani Moonstar can be seen nearby as the glamorous Eternal called Sersi turns to the men and assures the Torch that it's not. 'If you have the ears to hear...they are shouting out from every corner of the Earth. No one's hiding anything here. There's no shame. No hidden agendas or manipulation... just pride' Sersi announces.

Jean Grey smiles as she announces that it is done – and done well. She then calls out to the newly elected X-Men to step forward: 'Rogue'. Gambit leans in to kiss his wife, while their Exclaibur teammates Jubilee and Rictor look on, Jubilee creating some plasma fireworks in excitement. 'Sunfire' Jean calls out – but Shiro Yoshida stands at the back of the celebrations, arms folded, he frowns – and no one turns to him to congratulate him, either. 'Wolverine' Jean calls out next, causing the surprised Laura Kinney to look up from the shrimp bowl where she is eating shrimp from one of her claws. Cannonball and Sunspot are standing nearby to congratulate her. 'Synch' Jean announces next. Everitt Thomas is standing with his Generation X friends Skin and Mondo, both who embrace their friend in excitement. Another former member of Generation X, Monet, glares at them out of the corner of her eyes. Finally, 'Polaris' Jean reveals the last member of the new team. Lorna Dane smiles sheepishly, while several of her X-Factor teammates – Northstar, Rachel Summers and Prodigy – are nearby to congratulate her.

11:35 PM, Exodus.

Many human and non-mutant party guests mingle as longtime friends Storm, Jean Grey and Rogue can be seen together, all smiling and enjoying each other's company. Kate Pryde is talking to two humans, while Northstar and Pixie can be seen chatting. Kwannon and Colossus can be seen amongst the guests, while the Thing and the Invisible Woman stand nearby. X-Corp CXOs Monet and Angel walk together.

Inside, Emma Frost in her diamond form is flanked by several of the Stepford Cuckoos and approaches two people who are covered head-to-toe in clothing that only lets their eyes be seen. 'Ah, how wonderful. What a delightful surprise. I cannot tell you how happy I am that you accepted my invitation' Emma remarks as she approaches the two mysterious people. Nearby, Mystique stops and listens in on Emma's conversation. Emma shakes the guests' hands and tells them that they – as much as anyone here – stand to gain greatly from any relationship that might be formed this evening. 'I would be honored to do business with the nameless city of your hidden society' Emma tells them. 'It's bad enough that you know we exist when you should not...' one of them begins to reply, as the other concludes '... but the pleasantries and preamble are a waste of time we do not have, Ms Frost. Simply tell us what you want so we can get on with refusing you and escape this hellish bleed'. Emma reveals that what she needs are the contents of the Kara Kutuca, and that they can keep the box – she just wants what is inside. The mysterious guests pause, before one of them asks Emma if she has any concept of what she is asking for. 'Oh... I have a pretty good idea' Emma smirks, while raising a glass of wine.

At the bar, more Madrox dupes are busy pouring and serving drinks, while a human guest calls out 'Excuse me, I'd like a... bartender, can I get a... guess not'. Cyclops, looking very handsome in his Gala costume, approaches the guest and asks 'Problem, friend?' The man smiles at Cyclops and replies 'Can't get this guy to notice me'. 'Jamie. One for the room, please' Cyclops calls out to Madrox, who hands a drink over to the guest. 'Nice' the guest responds. 'Yeah, thanks' another guest calls out. 'Don't mention it' Cyclops replies, turning to a man in a suit wearing a baseball cap. 'So... what's your story?' the man asks. 'Well... it's complicated' Cyclops begins. He tells the guest that he was blind – blind to how the world worked, and then he met a man who taught him to see – see how things really were. He loved him for it, and because he loved him, because he believed in him, and in a way, worshipped him, he claimed the things that he had faith in as his own. 'He called it his dream. It was a good one. But the world, you see – the waking world – where we all live – it is a killer of dreams. A destroyer of things you believe in'.

Cyclops continues informing the guest that when he grew older, he realized it was foolish to deify him, and honestly, it is unfair to expect that kind of perfection from anyone – after all, they are all flawed and imperfect – there is no real difference between any of them – not matter how much they believe the lie that there is. 'You see, he wasn't a savior. He was just a man – a mutant – like me. And his dreams – which still make me smile to this day – are no more valid than anyone else's. Including mine'. Cyclops admits that he loves the idea of that, the promise of it. He quotes the guest's question: “So what's my story?” and announces that he is a dreamer – he is an X-Man.

As Cyclops tells his story, Quentin Quire can be seen striding around, he goes over to Storm and whispers something in her ear. Storm looks over to Jean Grey as Quentin points at her. Quentin walks towards Jamie Braddock, who is wearing an all-white costume and extends his arms as Quentin approaches him. Jamie's brother Brian – Captain Avalon – and Meggan can be seen nearby. Quentin then goes over to the group of mutants known as the Five, and leads Hope, Proteus and Elixir away from Tempus and Egg. Finally, Quentin locates Iceman and beckons for him to follow him. The selected mutants start walking towards a Krakoan gate. Cyclops smiles as he turns to his guests and tells them to have a good night.

11:45 PM, Fireworks

Two Madrox dupes begin striking a large gong with an X symbol in the center. Guests turns to the sound of the gong. Monet can be seen standing with Meggan, Manifold, Colossus, Jubilee and Karma. Several Madrox dupes then walk into the center of the room, carrying Emma Frost on a platform. 'It's an interesting thing. An ending' Emma announces while plucking petals from a flower. She states that it is often a matter of perspective – what seems to be an ending for one, might be the beginning for someone else, or, more appropriately, what seems to be one ending of an occasion. 'Let's call it a party, a gala, even – might be the start of a new proceeding altogether'. Dupes help Emma up onto a stage that towers above the partygoers. 'A second event unto itself. Expansion, if I must put a word to it' Emma explains, before announcing that she is going to connect all their minds now – all of them, human and mutant, as she wants to offer them a unique view of the show. Cyclops and Dani Moonstar are standing together and smile.

Emma places a hand over her eyes, 'You can refuse, of course... but fair warning... this is one of those “where were you at when” moments... and it would be a shame if being closed-minded made you miss it' Emma switches to her human form as she telepathically connects everyone's minds, her power flowing from her, touching Cyclops, Laura Kinney, Rictor, Synch, Rogue and everyone else. 'So... a deep breath... a soft exhale... and fireworks... at the evening's end. Which is not the end at all... but the beginning of a new age'. Emma raises her arms above her head, the sky above her glows, and a red orb can be seen in the distance. Several figures can be made out standing on floating chunks of rock, or asteroids....

Characters Involved: 

Cyclops, Marvel Girl

Exodus, Emma Frost, Magneto, Mystique, Kate Pryde, Storm, Professor X (all Quiet Council)

Captain Britain II, Gambit, Jubilee, Rogue (all Excalibur)

Cannonball, Karma, Magik, Mirage, Sunspot, Warlock (all New Mutants)

Northstar, Polaris, Prestige, Prodigy IV (all X-Factor)

Angel, Monet, Multiple Man (all X-Corp)

Banshee, Colossus, Iceman, Kwannon, Pixie III, Quentin Quire, Stepford Cuckoos, Sunfire

Manifold, Peepers, Risque (all SWORD)

Anole, Cosmar, Rain Boy


Captain Avalon, Glorianna, Monarch

Black Panther, Captain America, Dr Strange, Human Torch II, Invisible Woman, Iron Man, Mister Fantastic, Namor, Sersi, Thing, Thor


Various unnamed guests

Mysterious guests from unnamed hidden society

Kevin Feige (unnamed)

Story Notes: 

Part of the “Hellfire Gala” event. Issues in this event can be read individually, as several of them take place over the same period of time. The recommended reading order places this issue as part 5, following Excalibur (4th series) #21 and followed by Planet-Size X-Men #1.

Final issue of X-Men (5th series). It will be replaced by X-Men (6th series) #1, starring the new official X-Men lineup.

The inclusion of Sersi as a guest is interesting – she's currently tied up in events taking place in Eternals (5th series), but of everyone in the Marvel Universe no one loves a party more than her.

The new line up of Jean Grey, Cyclops, Rogue, Sunfire, Laura Kinney and Synch was revealed in early 2021, along with ten options for readers of the X-Men comics to vote for: Armor, Banshee, Boom-Boom, Cannonball, Forge, Marrow, Strong Guy, Sunspot, Tempo, and the winner of the fan vote, Polaris.

The unnamed man talking to Cyclops is meant to be Kevin Feige.

This issue includes cryptic messages from the Red Diamond – Sinister Secrets #51-60

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