X-Men (6th series) #15

Issue Date: 
November 2022
Story Title: 
Collapse Theory

Gerry Duggan (writer), Joshua Cassara (artist), Guru-eFX (colorist), Virtual Calligraphy's Clayton Cowles (letterer & production), Tom Muller & Jay Bowen (designers), Martin Coccolo & Jesus Aburtov (cover artists), Russell Dauterman & Matthew Wilson (Trading card variant cover artist); Terry Dodson & Rachel Dodson (Miracleman variant cover artist),  Lauren Amaro (assistant editor), Jordan D White (editor), CB Cebulski (editor-in-chief)

X-Men created by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

Brief Description: 

Forge and Cyclops make their way through the jungles of South America to the Vault. A large weapon sits in front of the Vault entrance way which would fire a black hole into the Vault should the door open. Cyclops is concerned that Forge wants to exterminate hundreds of thousands of post-humans inside, to which Forge asks Cyclops if he wants to fight possibly millions of post-humans who will exterminate mutantkind. Suddenly, the Vault opens – but the weapon doesn't work, and Cyclops and Forge are under attack by Serafina and several other Children of the Vault. They are killed, and the Children of the Vault soon destroy Krakoa, and their conquest turns to the rest of the world, as more and more heroes fall, until the Children of the Vault celebrate their victory. In the recent past, Forge and Charles Xavier devise a plan to contain the Children of the Vault. In the present, Forge and Cyclops make their way through the jungles of South America to the Vault – contained within a false reality which Forge created to trap them. Jean Grey, Iceman, Havok, Magik and Firestar are with Cyclops and Forge, and Havok is surprised when Forge announces that he is going into the Vault to rescue Darwin. Magik makes reference to Synch wanting to sit this mission out, and Forge puts on the Captain Krakoa body armor as he enters the Vault, leaving the rest of the X-Men to deal with the Vault sentries keeping guard. Forge's armor enables the ability to disguise him as one of the Children of the Vault so that he can easily move about this strange reality, and when he passes through the false reality around the Vault, he sees that indeed the Vault had been opened. Entering the Vault itself, Forge drops his disguise, and soon reveals that he has part of Caliban's body attacked to his armor to help him find Darwin. But as Forge disappears, he is unaware that Serafina is watching him.

Full Summary: 

The jungles of South America, where a machete-like weapon suddenly swipes through the dense foliage, cutting a path through the jungle, courtesy of Forge. 'You wanted to know what I was doing for the council so much... that you put me on the X-Men' Forge complains, before taking a drink and telling Scott “Cyclops” Summers to see for himself. 'Is that – My god' Cyclops utters as he looks ahead to a clearing and sees the old Sentinel which sticks up through the trees and is known as the Vault. Forge welcomes Cyclops back to the Vault, before Cyclops sees an enormous gun aimed at the entrance way to the Vault. 'That's a big gun. If Cable sees it, he's gonna want it' Cyclops points out.

As they stand next to the massive gun, Cyclops asks Forge what the payload is. 'A very small bullet' Forge replies as he leans against the weapon and explains that if the Vault opens, it is going to fire a baby black hole at lightspeed into the opening doors, and then it will collapse and take the Vault into the great unknown. Cyclops tells Forge that when Synch returned from the Vault there were possibly hundreds of thousands of post-humans inside. 'You intend to just exterminate them all?' he asks. 'Do you want to fight almost a million post-humans who will absolutely exterminate us?' Forge responds, explaining that this is why the council wanted to keep him out of this. 'And please don't go blabbing about this to Ben Urich' Forge adds. Cyclops defends himself that humans already knew about resurrection, and that lying to them was only going to make it seem like they had more to hide.

'Oh no!' Cyclops utters when the round door to the Vault opens – but the weapon doesn't work. 'Misfire?' Cyclops queries. Forge tells him that he doesn't understand, as this should have worked.


'We mean you no harm!' Cyclops calls out as several beings known as the Children of the Vault emerge. 'Well... whoever's overcompensating with that gun might disagree with you' the woman called Serafina grins. Forge cries out to Jean Grey, asking her if she can hear him, while a large member of the Children of the Vault stomps towards the two X-Men and smacks Cyclops aside with ease. 'Perro, right?' Forge asks. 'Si! I am!' the post-human responds, informing Forge that his damn gun nearly killed them all when it fired, but that that was a long time ago for them. 'We're stronger now' he boasts.

Forge aims a small gun at Perro and tells him that the collapsing gun isn't the only weapon he has brought today, when suddenly, the one called Cadena lunges at Forge and cuts off his left hand, causing him to drop the gun. 'It would seem you've been disarmed' Cadena points out.

'Run, Forge!' Cyclops calls out as he fires a powerful optic blast at the flame-headed Fuego. Cadena attacks Forge with her strange energy chains, while Fuego absorbs Cyclops' optic blast and declares 'You disgusting mutants. You don't know how #$^&*! you are!'

Cyclops sacrificed himself so that Forge could escape – not that it did much good. The Children of the Vault arrived on Krakoa. Banshee, Storm, Colossus, Kid Omega and Black Tom Cassidy were on hand to stop them, but it was no use. While Perro battled Colossus, the bulky one called Martillo snuck up behind Colossus and slammed his large hammer into Colossus' back. Colossus screamed in pain and collapsed to his knees. Fuego told Martillo to stop – as he wanted some fun, too – and engulfed Colossus in flame. Krakoa fell less than a day after the Vault opened.

As it turned out, a day was a record. The Avengers went down swinging, too. Ghost Rider wrapped his chain around Fuego's neck, the two flaming-skulls battling, but Fuego told Ghost Rider that it was “lights out” and he absorbed the energies of Ghost Rider's flame into his own. Ghost Rider collapsed to the ground and Fuego stood on his skull, crushing it.

Time works differently in the Vault, and the Children had been inside cooking their new bodies and powers for thousands of years. Nobody was prepared. Sangre's hydrokinetics took out the “tanks” such as the Thing, by easily drowning him. Fuego ate everything that burned bright – the Human Torch, Sunfire, even Vulcan. The Children hadn't been evolving just to deal with mutantdom – they had come for everyone. Mr Fantastic fell to Serafina, his extended body laying tangled at her feet, before Serafina broke the Invisible Woman's neck.

The mystics lasted the longest, and Latveria was the last stand of mankind, where Clea and Dr Doom fought side-by-side. 'By the Vishanti, you will pay for the ocean of blood you've spilled!' Clea cried. Clea then screamed as she was struck by an energy blast, and Dr Doom looked on. The Children of the Vault began to close in around Doom as the rain poured down above him. 'This isn't over' Doom uttered. 'When you get to Hell... I'll be waiting!' he warned the Children before they killed him. Doom did not give the Children the satisfaction of hearing him scream.

Conquerors are never happy, and fascism can never be appeased. The Children laid waste to Asgard, littering the Bifrost with Asgardian warriors as they kept marching. Nothing would stop them but an overpowering force – and yet, they found none in this universe. Serafina sat on Thor's back as the Children feasted in the Great Halls of Asgard. This fourth generation of the Vault proved beyond any measure that there is nothing they cannot overcome with enough patience and time. This is what is known as the “contentment of the Children”.

All of this happened.

Reality, the recent past:

The origin of Project Blackbox. A bottle of alcohol floats under a dark sky which is lit up by a strange green light. The alcohol is poured into two glasses. 'The question is... can it be done?' Charles Xavier asks. Forge takes one of the glasses of alcohol and replies 'Well, after the success of the cradles, I think, it's safe to say we've solved our power problems. The question I need you to answer is: what is the goal? If it's to contain, then -' but Forge is interrupted as Xavier exclaims 'Yes!' while taking the other glass. They clink the glasses together, and Xavier tells Forge that it has to be, as the alternative is to perpetuate their own Genosha. The two men stand over a bonfire in the middle of a snow-covered forest as Forge tells Xavier that he is on. 

Back to the topic at hand, Forge notes that the Children of the Vault will always have a tactical advantage. 'They'll always have the high ground by being able to retreat to a place where time moves at an accelerated pace' Forge points out, to which Xavier asks him if he can disrupt that technology. Forge explains that the problem with that is that even if they succeed in knocking them back to their Stone Age, they would still be millennia ahead of mutantkind. 'So... containment?' Charles asks. Forge drinks the alcohol and tells Charles that he prefers “pacification” and boasts that he thinks he knows just how to do it. 'Some doors are better left... unopened' Forge smirks.

Reality, the present:

The jungles of South America, where a machete-like weapon suddenly swipes through the dense foliage, cutting a path through the jungle, courtesy of Forge. 'You wanted to know what I was doing for the council so much... that you put me on the X-Men' Forge complains, before taking a drink and telling Scott “Cyclops” Summers to see for himself. 'Is that – My god' Cyclops utters as he looks ahead and sees a huge red dome sticking out from the jungle, a vine-like structure covering part of it. 'Simply put: I locked the Children and their entire damn vault in a reality of my making' Forge explains. He tells Cyclops that some of their brightest minds believe they are living a simulated universe, and that if done well enough, they would never know.

Forge continues, revealing that when the Children exited the Vault, they walked right into his hack – he didn't make it easy on them. It was war for days, but that they are alive and well in the dome, and think that they are the masters of the universe. 'I'm... impressed' Cyclops responds. Forge thanks him, and asks Cyclops if he could not tell Ben Urich about this secret.

Shortly, Cyclops and Forge have moved closer to the dome, and are joined by most of their fellow X-Men – Jean Grey, Alex Summers a.k.a. Havok, Bobby Drake a.k.a. Iceman, Angelica Jones a.k.a. Firestar and Illyana Rasputin a.k.a. Magik, who sports her new yellow and black costume with gold armor on part of her right leg and covering her left arm. Forge explains that the Vault has some very pesky defenders, which don't communicate with the interior at all, but might give him a hell of a time on the way into the Vault. 'Wait – hang on. You're going in there?' Havok asks his longtime teammate. 'We leave no mutant behind, right, Havok?' Forge responds, reminding everyone that Darwin is inside the Vault, and they owe it to him to make the honest attempt to fish him out. Forge adds that he would have gone sooner, but that the engineering took time.

At the X-Men's Treehouse Everett Thomas a.k.a. Synch sits at the monitor station, watching several screens while spinning a basketball on one finger and blowing some bubblegum.

Back in the jungle, Magik remarks that it is no surprise Synch wanted to sit this one out and take monitor duty. 'What happened?' Firestar enquires. Magik informs her that time works different in the Vault, and that Synch, Darwin and Wolverine went in, spent hundreds of years together and only Synch came out – a lot of bad stuff went down in there that he doesn't like to talk about. 'Oh my god. Synch is five hundred years old?' Firestar grins. 'Makes him almost as old as Steve Rogers, right?' Forge jokes. As Forge begins to put on a strange blue suit with a large white X across the chest and strange vine-like green arms, Magik tells Firestar that things get weird on the X-Men, like whatever is about to happen here. 'You don't know the half of it, Magik' Forge remarks as he and Magik “fist-bump”.

Jean reports that she is sensing some unusual minds and tells the others that the jungle is alive. 'Yeah, weird, right?' Forge replies, explaining that the Vault has a separate ecosystem outside it, and they don't view his dome as a threat. Forge adds that Cyclops was right about one thing – it was time to bring them all into this secret. Forge reports that on the miniscule chance that Krakoa is incapacitated or killed, his hack will fail and the Vault will open and scald the entire world. He then reports that the sentries await them a few kilometers toward the dome. 'No problem, Forge' Bobby calls out as he switches to his ice form. 'We'll get 'em looking at us' Firestar adds as she glows with a bright flame, and flies towards the Vault'  sentries which wait for them right outside the dome.

Iceman moves through the jungle on his ice-sled, while Cyclops and Magik run forward to the Sentries, and Jean flies alongside them. The team are linked telepathically and Cyclops tells the others that one thing is bothering him – if Darwin is still alive, he will be thousands of years old. And probably pretty pissed off' Magik adds. Jean reminds them that Darwin's gift is to adapt, so no doubt he'll need help returning to this world. 'And he will have everything he needs' she adds as she slams a telekinetic blast into one of the large sentries. Firestar blasts one wiith microwave energy while Iceman covers another in ice. 'Bon voyage, Forge' Iceman calls out, while Magik tells him it is nice of him to volunteer to get old. 'Nah, this suit has some more tricks up its sleeve. With a little luck, I'll be back with Darwin' Forge responds.

Cyclops blasts an optic beam through one of the sentries' heads, while Havok destroys one with a powerful surge of energy. Firestar throws more microwave beams about, as the green vines of Forge's costume rise up above his face and form a helmet. Forge tells Iceman that he would love to study one of the sentries, but has never been able to catch one. 'I can do you a solid' Iceman responds as he covers one of the sentries in ice. 'Is that a science joke?' Forge asks. 'If you want it to be Iceman replies, assuring Forge that the sentry will still be on ice when he is back in a couple of centuries. 'You always were a bright kid, Bobby' Forge responds.

As Forge walks closer to the dome, Jean Grey tells him that his suit is quite the abomination and adds that she can sense it is co-opting Mystique's mutant gifts. 'If it were to fall into the Children's hands, we -' Jean begins before Forge interrupts her, 'It won't' he snaps. Narrowing his eyes, he reveals that if he bites down on his back tooth, it will open a black hole that will delete everything within six meters.

Suddenly, Forge's form changes as he tells the others that he needed his disguise to be as realistic as possible, and he appears before the X-Men as the one called Perro, large and blue, with a visor across his face. Forge reveals that he has had months with the Vault as his sole project, except for when they needed Captain Krakoa. 'The good news is since I made this with gate technology... only a mutant can walk into or out of my vault' Forge smiles as he easily walks through the glowing red dome.

Forge returns to his true form as he walks through the jungle within the dome, approaching the large Sentinel head which acts as the entrance way to the Vault. He begins recording his journal entry, and states that the situation under the dome hasn't changed, which is a good sign, and he doesn't need to maintain the illusion of being Perro. He sees that the Vault remains open, and Blackbox has snared at least five inhabitants, as he notices five of the Children of the Vault, trapped in domes nearby. 'Hiya folks. How's the steak in the Matrix?' he asks. 'Actually, I don't give a $#%&. You can choke on it' Forge grins.

Forge stands on the edge of the entrance way to the Vault, 'Now for my next trick...okay, wake up, Caliban' Forge calls out. Suddenly, the face of the mutant known as Caliban appears on the white X across Forge's costume. 'Forge? Where am I?' Caliban asks, confused. He asks why he can't feel his body, and utters that the last thing he remembers is having a drink with Forge at the Red Lagoon. 'And it's a long story, but a longer trip, so buckle up. I'll explain along the way' Forge tells Caliban as he uses a jet pack on his costume to fly into the Vault, adding that this is going to be a milk run, because nobody even knows they are here.

And as Forge disappears into the Vault, outside, next to the entrance way, the woman called Serafina watches....

Characters Involved: 

Cyclops, Firestar, Forge, Jean Grey, Havok, Iceman, Magik, Synch (all X-Men)



Serafina (Children of the Vault)



in flashback:


Professor X


in dream:

Cyclops, Forge (both X-Men)


Banshee, Black Tom Cassidy, Colossus, Kid Omega, Storm

Ghost Rider

Human Torch II, Invisible Woman, Mr Fantastic, Thing (all Fantastic Four)


Dr Doom



Aguja, Cadena, Fuego, Martillo, Perro, Sangre, Serafina (all Children of the Vault)


Story Notes: 

Cyclops discovered Forge was doing secret work for the Quiet Council in X-Men: Hellfire Gala #1, so Cyclops decided to keep an eye on Forge by nominating him for the X-Men, to Forge's annoyance. 

The Children of the Vault were last seen in X-Men (5th series) #18-19.

Synch, Wolverine (Laura Kinney) and Darwin entered the Vault in X-Men (5th series) #5, and their adventures and Synch and Wolverine's return to the current timeline were chronicled in X-Men (5th series) #18-19.

Since X-Men: Hellfire Gala #1 almost every character who speaks with Firestar talks to her as if she has never worked with the X-Men before. Firestar served with an X-Men team based at the Jean Grey School during Amazing X-Men (2nd series) #1-19.Caliban was last seen in X-Force (6th series) #1.

Forge refers to Cyclops revealing the secret of  mutant resurrection to reporter Ben Urich.

The “steak in the Matrix” line refers to  the movie “The Matrix” in which one character, Cipher, stated he preferred the  illusion of a good steak in the Matrix to real food in the real world.

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