X-Men (6th series) #2

Issue Date: 
October 2021
Story Title: 
Fearless, chapter two: “Catching the Wave”

Gerry Duggan (writer), Pepe Larraz (artist), Marte Gracia (colorist), Virtual Calligraphy's Clayton Cowles (letterer), Tom Muller (designer), Pepe Larraz & Marte Gracia (cover artists), Inhyuk Lee; Mahmud Asrar & Matthew Wilson; Russell Dauterman & Matthew Wilson (variant cover artists), Jonathan Hickman (Head of X), Nick Russell (production), Annalise Bissa (associate editor), Jordan D White (editor), CB Cebulski (editor-in-chief)
X-Men created by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

Brief Description: 

Rogue finds her husband, Gambit, at the X-Men's Treehouse HQ, playing cards with some other super-beings based in New York. Rogue isn't happy to see them there and orders them to leave. In deep space, Gameworld, the mysterious Coryceps Jones sends a member of the alien race called Numari to Earth, where they will uncork the waves of Annihilation. The alien arrives in Kansas, and uncorks the bottle containing the Annihilation Wave, releasing a vile horde of savage aliens. In New York, Jean Grey is teaching Synch how to copy and use her telepathy when they are alerted to the sudden arrival of the annihilation wave. As the X-Men travel to Kansas, Synch confesses to Jean that he has been struggling with telling Laura Kinney about his feelings for her, about what happened between them when they spent time together in the Vault. Upon arriving in Kansas, the X-Men work to contain the vile horde of aliens and protect the local civilians. While Sunfire contains the aliens within a ring of fire, Polaris and Jean Grey enter the annihilation wave, making their way through the aliens thanks to a magnetic bubble Polaris keeps around them, until Jean finds the remains of the Numari alien who unleashed this destruction. She uses her powers to touch the dead mind, before giving Sunfire the signal to wipe out the annihilation wave, which Sunfire does with a massive surge of flaming energy. In the aftermath, local civilians invite the X-Men to eat with them, and Sunfire recalls his history to them, and of how he came to join this newest X-Men team. Elsewhere, in some suburban house, a mysterious man called Dr Stasis seemingly poisons his wife and child, before strange talking animal takes the bodies away, and Dr Stasis examines Cyclops's autopsy report.

Full Summary: 

The Treehouse, home of the super hero team known as the X-Men, in New York City. 'Gambit? Ya down here?' Rogue calls out to her husband. 'Uh-oh. Hey, darlin – we got an open seat... want us to deal you in, ma cheri?' Gambit replies as he looks up from the table where he is playing cards with the Black Cat, the Rhino and the Thing. 'Remy Etienne LeBeau!' Rogue shouts as she marches towards Gambit. 'Oui?' Gambit smiles, turning to his wife. 'You said you had a card game hours ago – ah didn't know it was here!' Rogue exclaims. Rogue reminds Gambit that she was elected to Krakoa's X-Men and tells him that she can't have him inviting over the entire Bar with No Name to gamble in the basement of their headquarters, as paparazzi watch this place. 'Now everybody scram. Go on now!' Rogue snaps at Gambit's guests. 'I knew ya was in trouble when she dropped all three of yer fancy-pants names. Good luck' the Thing tells Gambit as he puts a hat on his head and walks away. 'Hell. I had a pair of queens, too' Gambit mutters as he shows his hand to the Thing.

Meanwhile on Gameworld, where a Cordyceps Jones Jam is currently underway. Lights glow as holographic images are displayed. Various aliens party and go about the various casino tables as the strange alien called Cordyceps Jones hovers up above the skeletal remains in an orange astronaut's suit. 'Hey, is that mudball backwater planet still kicking?' Cordyceps Jones asks. 'You bet it is, Cordyceps!' another alien calls out. 'Oof. I knew somebody would get rick knocking the Earth over – I didn't know so many of youse was gonna go bankrupt too' Cordyceps points out that the night is young, and asks who is next to throw some bones. Cordyceps points out that Gamesworld's black holes means that they can toss months of heat at a planet, and it is only overnight for them on Gamesworld. 'But still, would it kill one of ya to put your back into it? It ain't like Earth's the only planet that needs a good rinse, ya know?' Cordyceps declares.

A strange blue-skinned alien steps forward. 'I am Kriv Yu of the Numari, and I bring forth a wager...' Kriv Yu declares, introducing themselves. Another alien with them holds a red bottle as Kriv Yu states that they will uncork a rare vintage upon the Terrans – the waves of annihilation. The other alien heads towards a door, carrying the bottle, as Kriv Yu tells Cordyceps Jones that their friend is being paid to make sure their involvement dies with him, and his kin will be taken care of. 'Go to Earth, and let their suffering end quickly' Kriv Yu tells their companion, who steps into a pod-like construct. 'Oooh. I got a good feeling about this roll...place your bets!' Cordyceps grins as the Numari with the bottle is shunted off through space.

Iola, Kansas, where two farmers in a car come across black smoke billowing up from a crater in a crop field. 'What the hell happened here?' one of them asks. 'Y'all okay down there?' one of  them calls out as they step out of their car and look down into the crater. 'I think that dude is wasted' the other farmer remarks, as the Nurami alien has emerged from the sphere-like transport that it used to travel to Earth. The alien utters something in its native tongue, then pulls the cork off the bottle, and drinks the mysterious contents. 'Yer in enough trouble, I reckon, so maybe ease off that sauce?' one of the farmers suggests. 'Hey, Clay.. .run!' the other farmer exclaims, as the alien then starts to vomit – and an assortment of strange and revolting creatures begins to emerge from the vomit. This small batch of the cosmic black death crests again on Planet Earth. The Annihilation Wave is a truly heinous and immoral weapon to wield. But why was Earth targeted? For sport. And profit. Two universal constants across this cruel galaxy. As the Annihilation Wave begins to spread, Clay and the other farmer get back into their car and drive as fast as they can, a town can be seen nearby, in the path of the Annihilation Wave.

Meanwhile, 'It's a lot too take in... I mean, I know you know it's a lot. Your power is immeasurable, Jean' Everett Thomas a.k.a. Synch telepathically tells Jean Grey as the two hover above Central Park. Closing his eyes, Synch reports that he can hear Rogue and Gambit arguing, he can feel the guy in the park and his burning anguish over the dog he just had to say goodbye to. 'There's a woman in an apartment watching me with a telescope' Synch adds. Jean's hair flows around her as she tells Synch to think of telepathy as a flashlight in the dark, suggesting that he can focus the beam of light onto one mind, and see it clearly, or that he can widen his light and see many minds at once, from a more shallow depth. Jean explains that ideas become like stickers or magnets on a refrigerator, that you can place an idea in a mind or take one away. 'It's true power, Everett. I once saved lives by making a gunman forget how to take the safety off his rifle. But... that can be a dangerous line to cross' Jean adds.

'No doubt' Synch replies, before pausing, and informing Jean that Emma said he would learn a lot from her – and he thinks Emma was right. Jean points out that they are here to learn from each other, and tells Everett that after his time with Wolverine in the Vault, he has a couple of hundred years of experience on she and Scott. Suddenly, Synch opens his eyes, 'Did you feel that? I felt those lives just snuff out!' Synch utters. Jean turns her head and tells Synch that it was to the west.  Jean then telepathically contacts the other X-Men, instructing them to meet her at the plane.

Soon, Rogue, Scott Summers a.k.a. Cyclops, Lorna Dane a.k.a. Polaris, Laura Kinney a.k.a. Wolverine and Shiro Yoshida a.k.a. Sunfire have joined Jean and Synch inside the X-Men's jet, where Rogue, who is piloting the jet, reports that she has a course plotted for Kansas, so they will be there real quick. 'What are we up against?' she then asks. Synch, still using Jean's telepathy, announces that it is a black death from a deep void. Jean telepathically warns Synch to be careful, as sometimes there can be little gleaned from peering into voids. Cyclops looks at a computer screen and tells his teammates that whatever it is, it must be related to a warning from SWORD that an object from interstellar space just used their sun to slingshot to Earth. 'Whoever threw this at us knew to avoid Arakko on the way into our system' Cyclops adds. Synch telepathically tells Jean that he has been trying to find a way to tell Laura about what they shared, and who they were in the Vault. 'But I could just show her...if she asks' he suggests while looking over at Wolverine, who gazes out a window. 'If she does, then my gift is your gift' Jean responds. Synch starts talking as he thanks Jean and tells her that he has had enough of her gift for the day. 'I'm glad you get to turn it off' Jean replies.

Soon, the X-Men's jet arrives in Kansas, where the horrid mass from space can be seen before them. 'That's disgusting!' Rogue exclaims. She calls the jet “Thunderbird” and instructs it to go into patrol mode. 'X-Men – GO!' Rogue shouts as the heroes leap from the jet. Rogue takes the front, flying with her fists ready, while Wolverine leaps behind her, claws outstretched. Jean telekinetically lowers herself behind Rogue, with Cyclops behind her, readying his visor to release an optic blast. Sunfire flies alongside the others, a burst of flame surrounding him, while Polaris casually drops from the jet, holding a coffee in one hand while adjusting her sunglasses with her other, and Synch drops out of the jet last. 'Let's put ourselves between the town and that hell' Cyclops tells everyone. Jean telepathically announces that they are mindless horrors, so everyone can cut loose, but to watch the collateral damage. 'This big one – is mine!' Wolverine calls out as she drops down on one of the horrid alien creatures and shoves her claws into it.

'Hey, Jean... wanna swat the bugs?' Polaris calls out as she looks over to a large logging truck and uses her powers to snap the metal chains holding dozens of large logs in place. 'Good idea' Jean tells her friend as she then uses her telekinesis to lift the large logs up into the air, while remarking that she usually traps bugs in force-fields and releases them outside. 'But not today' Jean declares as she uses her telekinesis to hurl the large logs at several of the horrid creatures, squashing them with deadly force. 'Hey, Scott!' Rogue calls out as she grabs one of the logs and carries it up into the air, before throwing it in front of one of Cyclops' powerful optic blasts. 'Front toward enemy!' Rogue exclaims. 'You got it!' Cyclops replies as his optic blast tears the log apart, turning it into dozens of sharp splinters, which all strike the aliens like spears.

Several large insect-like aliens reach the town, and civilians begin to run from them. Cyclops fires another optic blast while telling his teammates 'The more matter this wave eats – the bigger it gets  like the Blob. The McQueen film, not our bartender. 'Never seen it' Wolverine replies as she shoves her claws into some horrid creature. 'Well, now you have' Jean tells her. 'Cool' Wolverine responds, while Jean reports that most of the town are in their tornado shelters. Cyclops instructs Sunfire to take the perimeter and hold it by any means necessary. 'We can't afford to let this problem grow' he declares, before ordering Polaris to pop a bubble over the town, and that it needs to be big. 'Jean, show Polaris how big she needs to go' Scott adds. Polaris announces that some of the bugs are under the dome, while Jean telepathically shows her how big the bubble needs to be. 'Not for long' Wolverine tells her. 'Shield's up!' Polaris calls out as she begins to extend a magnetic force field around part of the town, while Sunfire burns a huge number of the horde.

Suddenly, Jean tells everyone that there is a change in plan, as she has just received an interesting ping from deep inside the wave, and she now needs to talk to one of the bugs. Cyclops turns to Synch and asks him what his call is. Synch announces  that he will borrow Polaris' powers to provide a force-field cover for Jean. He begins to do so, but Jean tells him that he should stay and protect the humans, while Polaris can cover her, pointing out that he may need to borrow Sunfire's powers to help end this. Synch reports that he is synched with Polaris, and asks Polaris to pass him the dome. 'Here you go' Polaris calls out as she surrounds herself and Jean in an energy field. 'The monsters – they're pushing so hard' Synch calls out. 'Some may enter when we leave' Polaris warns everyone as she and Jean pass through the bubble surrounding the town, and find themselves within the energy field, now surrounded by the hideous alien horde. 'We got them!' Wolverine calls out as she and Rogue attack the stray aliens that escape into the dome. Rogue's thoughts are connected to her teammates as she tells them that she thinks this is the Annihilation Wave. 'Whenever we had downtime on the Unity Squad, Captain America used to check our knowledge of extinction-level events' Rogue explains.

'Sounds like fun' Polaris calls back as she and Jean explore their new surroundings. 'It was fun for him' Rogue can be heard responding. 'Uch. Was the number one cause of death for Avengers boredom?' Polaris asks, before frowning at the horde around her, and telling Jean 'This is $#%&ing gross'. She asks her friend what they are doing out here, and whether somebody is still alive. Jean tells Polaris that nothing can survive this, that they are dead – but their brain was swallowed whole, and neurons are still firing for a few more moments, so they might learn something invaluable if they can find the one that ate it before it's too late. A green glow emitted by Polaris' powers light the way through the dark horde surrounding the two powerful women continue their quest, with Jean adding that she only heard these alien thoughts because her telepathy passed through Lorna's heavy magnetic field, so they are almost there.

Outside, Sunfire continues to burn the horde with his powers, flying around the force field protecting the town. 'I really think I should vaporize everything out here' Sunfire calls out. As Wolverine's blood-soaked claws plunge into another alien creature, Cyclops fires a powerful optic blast and tells Sunfire to hold on, as Jean needs a few more minutes. Cyclops' thoughts reach out to Jean, telling her to hurry – when suddenly, one of the horde closes in on Cyclops – until a local armed with a rifle shoots it and saves Cyclops. 'Much obliged!' Cyclops calls out as he waves to a group of armed civilians nearby. One of them waves back.

'My eyes are closed – are yours? Oh my god. I opened them' Polaris exclaims from within her bubble as she looks at the vicious horde surrounding the bubble. Soon, she and Jean arrive at the remains of the alien who set this devastation in motion. 'We're here. I've never been able to touch a dead mind... but you and I can, working together' Jean Grey announces, explaining that Polaris' magnetism and her own telepathy are combining to make an MRI machine for memories. 'I see!' the wide-eyed Jean utters, before she shouts 'Sunfire – NOW!' As he flies around the dome, Sunfire tells his teammates to let him know if it gets too hot, as he is not going to be able to hold back. There was a time, not so long ago, that Sunfire wouldn't have waited to engage the threat... and a critical clue would have been lost. The Annihilation Wave once nearly washed over the entire universe – but it never had encountered a mutant wielding the power of a star. A powerful, furious fire begins to rage around the outside of the bubble protecting the town. The horde begins to burn, before an atomic blaze seemingly destroys all of the horde in spectacular display.

'Are there any more?' Sunfire asks as he drops down beside Jean and Polaris, who disperses the bubble around her and Jean. 'Oh, god. Please say no' Polaris remarks, while Jean reports that they are gone. 'How'd it go?' Cyclops asks as he, Rogue, Synch and Wolverine join their teammates. 'It was hairier than Hank' Polaris responds, while Jean reveals that they know something now, and telepathically tells Cyclops that she will show him later. The X-Men start to return to their jet, before the group of armed locals approaches them. 'Where you going, X-Men?' one of the civilians asks, before extending his arms to Sunfire and telling him that he saved the town. 'What's your name?' the man asks. Sunfire introduces himself, and tells the man 'You would not have always cheered me, I'm afraid'.

Sunfire remembers how it was not always his goal to use his powers for mankind, and how by the time he realized he was born gifted, he had already lost much, and so he did what many do – he fought for his country. Then he fought for the X-Men, and later, for the Avengers. He always wondered what he would get him – and he always ended up with an empty heart. But then, suddenly, Krakoa arrived, and as good as it has been for them all, Sunfire had already found fighting for country to be unfulfilling, which is why he asked to be chosen for the X-Men. 'I have always served a powerful interest, with the goal of self-enrichment. But tonight, watching our world and Arakko's transform, I stand before you, wishing only to be of service'. Sunfire tells the locals that they were the words he spoke on behalf of himself at the Hellfire Gala, and as such, he remains happy to serve.

'You saved the whole damn town. Ya gotta stay for a bite' one of the locals smiles. 'We couldn't possibly -' Sunfire begins,  ' - say no. We'd love to stay for a meal' Jean Grey interrupts Sunfire, smiling, while telepathically telling Sunfire that the locals wish to serve, too. 'I have heard wonderful things about Kansas barbecue' Sunfire utters as he and Jean walk over to a nearby park, where a brick barbecue is operated by one of the locals, while Cyclops and Polaris stand nearby. The other X-Men mingle with the other locals. The man at the barbecue announces that supper is ready, and that they certainly worked up an appetite.

'Supper's ready, my king!' a woman calls out in a suburban home as the setting sun shines through a window. 'Who wants to say grace? Wait... is... is this a cream sauce?' the man sitting at the table asks. 'Oh dear. I forgot you don't enjoy that. I hope I haven't ruined the meal' the woman wearing an apron bringing food to the table responds. The man pauses, before extending his hand and telling her 'Of course not. Please sit'. 'What is it I like to say when things go wrong?' the man asks. “Tomorrow is a new opportunity to be perfect” the boy sitting at the table quotes – before suddenly, the woman and the boy both collapse, falling face-first into their plates of food on the table. 'That's correct, son. I hope tomorrow's recipe is better' the mysterious man states, wiping his hands on a cloth. He gets to his feet and walks away from the table as he calls out 'Bornan! Would you mind clearing the meal, please?' A strange creature that appears to be some sort of animal hybrid with an ape-like body with long white fur and the head of a large cat enters the kitchen, 'Of course' Bornan replies, addressing the man as Dr Stasis. 'Oh my. These two didn't stay long' Bornan  adds as he starts to drag the woman and boy away. 'No sass tonight, Bornan. I've got a lot of reading' Doctor Stasis retorts. 'You know how I love autopsy reports' Dr Stasis adds as he begins to read a file which includes an image of Cyclops' broken visor.

Characters Involved: 

Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Polaris, Rogue, Sunfire, Synch, Wolverine III (all X-Men)

Black Cat, Rhino, Thing

Cordyceps Jones
Kriv Yu
Various aliens

Doctor Stasis
Unammed woman and boy


Annihilation Horde

(in Sunfire's memories)
Captain America

Story Notes: 

Synch and Wolverine III spent time in the Vault from X-Men (5th series) #5 through to #19, which equated to several hundred years “Vault time.”

Rogue refers to being on the Unity Squad, a combined Avengers/X-Men team (but mostly Avengers) which Rogue joined in Uncanny Avengers (1st series) #1.

Sunfire initially briefly joined the X-Men in Giant-Sized X-Men #1, and served with the Avengers Unity Squad alongside Rogue from Uncanny Avengers (1st series) #1.

This issue includes an Orchis Protocol “All Petals” in which Doctor Stasis reports on how they know Cyclops was dead recently, only he isn't now. The report indicates that Doctor Stasis is the HR Director & Charman of the Board of the Oblivion Institute.

Written By: