X-Men (6th series) #16

Issue Date: 
December 2022
Story Title: 
The Mutant we Left Behind

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); NetEase (Game 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: 

In the recent past, Forge meets with Mr Sinister, who is impressed by the miniature version of Krakoa that Forge has created, his plans for the real Krakoa. Forge gives Sinister a list of the names of three mutants he needs. Sinister swallows the list so that it remains private, and notes that one of those has a gift within the mind, which needs a cradle to access – and Sinister realizes Forge has one of the cradles. Now, Forge, wearing the Captain Krakoa suit, and part of Caliban, flies through the Vault on a quest to find Darwin. He claims to Caliban that he had sought his approval to use him in this way, and switches into a disguise of one of the Children of the Vault so he can make his way around with ease, unaware that he is being followed by Serafina. Outside the Vault, Havok thinks that the X-Men should be in there with Forge, which leads to an argument with Cyclops, who reveals that Havok is only on this team because Forge forced his hand. Havok punches Cyclops and knocks off his optic visor, which results in Cyclops blasting a hole into the dome surrounding the Vault, disrupting the fake reality that the Children of the Vault are trapped in. one of them becomes free, Perro, and he begins to fight the X-Men, before deciding he needs help and he begins to run back towards the Vault, but the X-Men know how dangerous that will be, so battle him hard, and eventually return him to the stasis pod which he was freed from by the optic blast. The X-Men then turn to Havok, who turns and walks away from his teammates. Jean knows that Havok is embarrassed and suggests that they focus on repairing the breach in the dome. Cyclops tells Jean he could kill Forge for adding Havok to this team. Forge, still disguised, arrives at a chamber housing several stasis tanks, as Caliban's powers have detected a mutant presence in the chamber – but when they locate the stasis tank containing a mutant, they are shocked – it's nor Darwin, but Laura Kinney!

Full Summary: 

The recent past:

'My, my. Judging by your cute little bonsai trees, you have big plans for Krakoa. You haven't been holding out on us, have you, Forge?' Mr Sinister asks as he looks around Forge's lab on Krakoa, which is full of bonsai trees – and a bottle of Port of Genosha whiskey. 'If I were, I doubt I'd be the only one, Sinister' Forge responds. 'Three names' he adds as he hands Sinister a glass of whiskey. 'And what if I ask you to take the matter to the Quiet Council?' Sinister inquires. 'Well, then I'd have to wait longer before executing... and you'd be doing it for free' Forge responds as he pours himself a glass of whiskey, before suggesting that if he and Sinister make a gentleman's agreement, then perhaps he would owe Sinister one. Sinister grins wickedly: 'Ooh, interesting. So, you're not that sure how the vote would go. Well, now you have my attention. And if you don't mind me saying... I want you to know that I'll wholeheartedly support you when you come out as Krakoa's number one real estate developer' Sinister jokes as he motions to the miniature Krakoa before him, lined with an assortment of buildings and trees.

'Is that how you really feel? Or is that how you think you're supposed to appeal to me, because you are also holding out?' Forge asks. Forge states that he has watched several governments pervert what he does, and now he wants to see what Krakoa's mettle is before he gives it his heart  and soul. 'Trust... but verify'.

Sinister smiles and asks 'So what three names?' to which Forge hands Sinister a small folded piece of paper. 'I trust it won't be hard' Forge remarks. 'Huh. No. Not hard...' Sinister responds as he looks curiously at the names written on the paper. Sinister then excuses himself as he puts the paper in his mouth and swallows it, explaining that he must make sure their chat remains private. 'But that third name -' Sinister begins, as Forge interrupts him and tells him that it is the most important.

Sinister tells Forge that he will have a problem with that last name, because his mutant gift dwells within his mind, which means he would need access to a cradle. Sinister finishes the whiskey, then remarks that Forge may already have access to one of the four cradles. Forge stares back at Sinister but remains silent. 'Ah. Very clever' Sinister utters, before announcing that he will help Forge. 'Those of us with diamonds on our foreheads have to stick together' he adds.


Inside the Vault, wearing his adaptable suit which includes having the face of the mutant Caliban across his chest, Forge uses the jetpack built into the suit to fly across the sprawling city within the Vault, as Caliban tells him that it is not much further now, and that he senses the mutant nearby.

'Can I ask a question, Forge?' Caliban then enquires. 'Of course' Forge responds. 'You say you got my approval to use my power and mind like this, but how do I know that is true?' Caliban asks. Forge pauses, before descending down into the city and claiming that he simply told Caliban the truth – that a mutant was in trouble in a faraway place and that his gift could save them. Forge remarks that Caliban's gifts have been used for the wrong reasons over the years, and that he asked him if it would feel good to use them for the right reasons. 'It does, yes' Caliban smiles. Forge notes that the area up ahead is more densely populated, and decides to deploy stealth mode. As he switches into a disguise resembling Perro, a large blue member of the Children of the Vault, Forge admits to Caliban that he did not ask Mystique if he could crib from her. 'Let's go to silent running' Forge adds as, disguised as Perro, he moves freely amongst the city, where other Children of the Vault go about their business.

As Forge/Perro lumbers away down a street, one of the Children of the Vault standing nearby with dark hair and a pink costume suddenly utters 'Hello, Serafina' and the one called Serafina in some sort of translucent form emerges from around a corner and shushes the other, telling her that she is working, while watching Forge/Perro from a distance.

Outside the pacified Vault, most of Forge's teammates in the X-Men are standing on the outside of the dome which covers the Vault entrance way and sticks up past the tops of the jungle trees in South America. Alex Summers a.k.a. Havok tells the others that Forge is not a cannon, and suggests that they should be in there with him. Scott Summers a.k.a. Cyclops folds his arms and points out that they are not, and that they don't have enough suits for the entire team, anyway. Scott tells his younger brother that if he goes running in after Forge without one of the suits, he is going to put a lot of miles on his body – and his mind. Jean Grey stands nearby, examining the dome, while Angelica Jones a.k.a. Firestar and Bobby Drake a.k.a. Iceman can be seen nearby, too, with Firestar watching the Summers brothers arguing.

'What's that supposed to mean?' Alex snaps, pointing a finger in his brother's face. 'Supposedly I was the one who got brain damage when we fell out of that airplane' Scott remarks. 'Cute. I know you didn't want me on the X-Men' Alex exclaims. Scott looks annoyed as he reminds Alex that he doesn't pick the X-Men. 'Oh, yeah, right. Mr “I am the X-Men” Scott Summers has nothing to do with the picking of the team!' Alex shouts. Cyclops leans in towards his brother, and annoyed, he explains that he threw all his weight behind Forge so that he could learn about this operation to contain the Vault. 'And it's a damn good thing I did – the post-humans inside could destroy the whole damn planet!' Cyclops remarks. 'After I picked Forge, he just, you know...' Cyclops' voice trails off, to which Havok shouts 'He WHAT?' as Cyclops turns and walks away from his brother, admitting that Forge threw all his weight behind Havok as a joke. 'To get back at me' Cyclops explains.

Iceman tells Firestar not to worry, as Alex and Scott are always jawing at each other. 'If you say so... but they look like they're about to throw down' Firestar replies. 'Nah... it's just the Summerses being brothers' Iceman assures his friend – then, suddenly – Havok punches Cyclops hard in the face causing Cyclops' optic visor to fall off, and Cyclops fires an optic blast at the dome, which strikes a hole in the dome allowing the optic blast to continue on – where it finally comes to a stop by striking one of the pods where several Children of the Vault are being kept in stasis – and the real Perro is freed from the illusion he was trapped in.

'What the hell is going on?' Perro asks as he wipes the gunk from the pod off of his body. 'How am I back here?' he asks. 'Scott, I'm sorry, I -' Havok starts to say, but Cyclops tells him 'Not now' and through the psi-link that is established between the X-Men, he tells Jean and Magik to call it.

Jean, Iceman, Firestar and Illyana Rasputin a.k.a. Magik stand at the gaping hole in the dome and Jean reports that the real Perro is awake. She remarks that they have to contain the situation, or else they may lose Forge and Darwin. 'And the world!' Magik adds. Perro looks angry as he realizes that the Children of the Vault's entire conquest was just some vile trick. He runs towards the X-Men who enter the vault, as Jean instructs Iceman to hit his body, while she will hit his mind. 'You damn disgusting mutants!' Perro shouts. 'All right, beefcake. How hard do ya hit? Rogue? Colossus?' Iceman asks, attempting to guess the force of Perro's strength. 'Oh. Hands like the Hulk' Iceman utters as Perro smashes Bobby's ice form apart, shattering Iceman into pieces.

Perro looks over to the other pods where more of his kind are being held in stasis. 'WAKE UP!' he shouts at them, before Jean tells him to shush as she enters his mind, 'So very tired' she tells Perro, who screams and shouts at her to stay out of his head. Perro picks up a shard of ice and declares that he doesn't need the others, as he is the strongest one there is. 'Put down that piece of my friend!' Firestar calls out as she flies towards Perro, microwave energy surrounding her. 'How about you hold it for me – in your heart?' Perro responds, before Firestar engulfs Perro in flaming energy – but Perro raises the shard of ice as if it were a weapon. 'You're too close!' Magik calls out to her teammate, opening a stepping disk next to Firestar, who falls through it as Perro attempts to grab her. 'Pick you up in a minute' Magik exclaims as Firestar disappears.

The stepping disk opens and Firestar is falls onto the front of Avengers Mansion in New York City. 'Really? C'mon, Magik' Firestar mutters as she looks at her old home.

'How dare you try to control us?' Perro asks Magik. 'How dare you try to kill us with my friend's leg!' Magik retorts, before slicing her Soul Sword through the shard of Iceman that Perro holds in his hand – and the swords strikes Perro across his chest, causing him to scream. He looks back at the entrance way to the Vault and wonders how long he was trapped, before deciding that he needs the others. He runs from Magik towards the entrance way, when suddenly, 'Oh no, you don't' Iceman calls out as he appears before Perro like a wall of ice, blocking the entrance way. 'I'm pulling my punches with you, Perro, so -' Iceman begins, but Perro shatters Iceman once again, 'I'M NOT!' he shouts as his fists smash Iceman to pieces.

'I'm holding him – but he's strong!' Jean calls out as she latches onto Perro, using her telekinesis to prevent him from returning to the Vault. At the same time, Jean uses her telekinesis to return Cyclops' optic visor to him, as Cyclops informs Havok that Perro is stronger than Colossus, maybe even stronger than the Thing. 'Got it' Havok replies. 'So don't hold back' Cyclops grins as he and Havok both blast Perro with their powers, striking him at close range and causing Perro to scream in pain. Perro drops to his knees and warns the X-Men that they won't stop the Children. 'We'll kill you all' he boasts. Jean lifts Perro into the air while telepathically contacting Magik and telling her that if she can't figure out the Forgetech then she needs to get Synch here now. Jean asks Iceman for a hand with the restraints, so Iceman begins to reform, turning his body into a large fist which he uses to grab hold of Perro mid-air. 'Of course. What? Too on the nose?' Iceman asks.

'Do not resist' Jean tells Perro as she enters his mind, while Cyclops takes of of his arms and Havok grabs the other. 'I WON'T GO BACK!' Perro shouts. 'Oh, $#%&' Havok frowns, before Magik returns with a cable, which she tells everyone is the cerebral link to the stasis pods. 'If it's not in the right end, Havok can sort it' Magik smirks as she shoves the cable into Perro's ear canal, causing blood to spurt from his ears and mouth. 'Wh – where am I?' Perro asks, confused. Jean tells him that everything he experienced was a nightmare, and that he and the Children of the Vault conquered the world. 'This was nothing more than a night terror' Jean assures him. Just a terrible dream' Perro utters. 'The world is under your thumb, Perro' Jean remarks, before the stasis pod appears and clamps down on Perro, trapping him once more. Cyclops, Jean and Magik all turn and face Havok. 'Dude' Magik snaps at him.

Alex narrows his eyes, he looks angry, before he turns and walks out of the dome. 'Alex... hang on -' Cyclops calls out to his brother, but Jean suggests to Scott that he let Alex cool down. 'He's embarrassed and angry' Jean remarks, before telling her teammates that they need to patch the dome and pull back, before asking Magik where Firestar is. 'Oh yeah. I had to move her really quick' Magik responds, before opening a stepping disk. 'Hiiii' Magik exclaims. 'Very funny, Illyana' Firestar snaps. 'I didn't mean it as a slam. Some of my best friends are Avengers' Magik jokes.

Jean telepathically tells Scott that they need to talk, as she has been worried about Synch, as she knows he is depressed – and now they have a loose cannon in Alex. 'This team is still finding its stride' she adds. Frowning, Scott tells Jean that he could kill Forge for adding Havok to this team – as Havok has not found what he is looking for – and this team is not it.

Back inside the Vault, Forge walks towards a large pyramid structure, where a blue light glows. Still disguised as Perro, Forge tells Caliban to stay quiet until he moves them past the guards. 'Morning' “Perro” remarks to two guards stationed at the entrance way. 'Morning' one of them responds. After passing the guards, Forge drops his disguise, deciding that the coast is clear. Forge explains to Caliban that there is an artificial intelligence that is curating them changes in the Children of the Vault, and it is paramount they rescue Darwin to see what he may know of the Children. 'Fascinating. And how are we to rescue him exactly?' Caliban enquires. Forge reports that this suit still has some tricks up his sleeve, as he can medevac a mutant out on his back. 'Remarkable. Do you ever have a day when you feel dumb?' Caliban asks. 'It happens. But not often' Forge admits, before they enter another chamber, where several pods line the room.

'Look at this place. This is obviously their Fort Knox for biological material' Forge suggests. 'Right over there... he's in this one' Caliban tells Forge, who walks towards one of the pods and begins to open it, stating that they will onboard Darwin into life support and be outbound in less than five minutes. Suddenly, both Forge and Caliban go wide-eyed. 'Oh...' Forge utters. '$%#&' Caliban gasps. 'You asked if I ever feel dumb... well, today is definitely one of those days' Forge admits as he stares down into the pod – where the future version of Laura Kinney lies in stasis....


Characters Involved: 

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


Wolverine III

Mr Sinister


Perro, Serafina and other Children of the Vault

Story Notes: 

This particular team of X-Men was chosen in X-Men Hellfire Gala #1.

The Children of the Vault's conquest of Earth was depicted in a dream sequence in X-Men (6th series) #15.

This issue includes a page of Forge's field notes from the Vault incursion #2, which is translated from a private mash-up of Cheyenne and Krakoan languages. In the notes, Forge talks about how Darwin was probably killed, and that Tony Stark and Reed Richards should be notified about what is happening within the Vault. He also notes that this will mean there are one too many versions of Laura Kinney, especially as she was mistakenly resurrected in the first place. Forge proposes that Darwin be moved to the top of the resurrection queue.

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