X-Men (6th series) #22

Issue Date: 
July 2023
Story Title: 
Bring on the Bad Guys

Gerry Duggan (writer), Joshua Cassara (artist), Marte Gracia (colorist), Virtual Calligraphy's Clayton Cowles (letterer & production), Tom Muller & Jay Bowen (designers), Joshua Cassara & Marte Gracia (cover artists), Gerald Parel (Spider-Verse variant cover artist), Mark Brooks (corner box variant cover artist), Stefano Caselli & Edgar Delgado (Marvel Icon variant cover artists), Derrick Chew (Magik variant cover artist), Giuseppe Camuncoli & Matt Milla (Trading Card variant cover artists), Ario Anindito & Java Tartaglia; Nick Bradshaw & Rachelle Rosenberg (variant cover artists), Lauren Amaro (assistant editor), Jordan D White (editor), CB Cebulski (editor-in-chief)

X-Men created by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

Brief Description: 

Under the X-Men's Treehouse in New York City, Omega Sentinel meets with Opal Vetiver, one of the elderly women of Hordeculture. Omega Sentinel blackmails Opal by revealing that she knows Opal uses Krakoan medicines, and claiming that there is a Trojan horse in the medicine which places her in danger. In exchange for that information, Opal gives Omega Sentinel the information Hordeculture had collected on the Krakoan gateways. Dr. Stasis, MODOK and Nimrod hover next to an apartment in New York City, where they watch a man taking Krakoan medicine – and demonstrate what control Orchis now has over the medicine when MODOK presses a button on a remote, causing the man to rush towards a window, smash his head repeatedly against it, then hurl himself through the glass where he plummets dozens of stories to the ground below. Orchis are pleased with this newfound level of power they have, knowing that millions of humans around the world use the Krakoan medicines. Orchis are also beginning to distribute their own medicines, specifically an X-Gene suppressant, which is being offered to mutants at Orchis clinic. A green-skinned mutant called Woofer arrives at a clinic, wanting to take the Orchis X-Gene suppressant – but as he is taken to several Orchis operatives, he suddenly changes his mind. The Orchis operatives don't care though, but thankfully for Woofer, Cyclops, Forge and Firestar arrive on scene. They fight the Orchis agents, and battle the Sentinel Zero, which is formed from one of Wolverine's adamantium skeletons. They are aided by Woofer who can turn light into sound. Later, at the Treehouse, Forge examines the remains of the Zero Sentinel, and wonders how many times Wolverine has died and the X-Men have not recovered his skeleton. At another Orchis facility, Orchis have yet another Wolverine skeleton in their possession and prepare to create yet another Sentinel.

Full Summary: 

The Treehouse, home of the X-Men in New York City. This beautiful headquarters is the result of a merging of mutant technology with the natural environment. Krakoa may be for mutants, but Seneca Gardens is for everyone, and most days, the park is crowded with New Yorkers and tourists hoping to enjoy a quiet moment away from the din of the city. A woman wearing pink sits on a park bench, an umbrella obscuring her face. 'It's a beautiful day, isn't it?' the woman remarks to an elderly woman who approaches her, carrying on oxygen tank at her side. 'Cut the S' the elderly woman replies as she sits on the park bench. The mysterious woman greets the elderly woman as Opal Vetiver, and tells her that she is her greatest admirer. 'Well, well. So you're the crafty B who's slithered into my DMs' Opal remarks, adding that she isn't sure how the woman accomplished that.

The woman under the umbrella introduces herself as Karima Shapandar. 'I know who the H you are. What I don't know is what you want with me... and why meet here, of all places?' the old woman, a member of Hordeculture – enemies of the X-Men – asks. Karima, who goes by the alias Omega Sentinel, claims that she visits often, and notes that the Treehouse is beautiful, and that she hates it. 'I hate even thinking the tree is pretty' she adds, explaining that she comes to be reminded that mutants are an invasive species, that if left unchecked, well, she is sure they would have these lovely trees around the world. 'The problem is, of course, the fruit that these trees bear' Omega Sentinel adds. 'I get it – you're a stone-cold B. I brought what you asked for, but I'm not sure why I should just hand it over' Opal announces.

Karima narrows her eyes and tells Opal that she had hoped their relationship would be based on an ideological accord, but that she sees this will be transactional. 'I'll be blunt: I can smell the Krakoan medicine in you. I know you're on their “drugs of the mind.” That was a mistake' Karima warns Opal, who explains that she was losing herself. 'Every day, I felt a little less... me'. She adds that she doesn't believe in miracles, but that she remembers everything now. Opal hands a flashdrive to Karima and informs her that it contains Hordeculture's research into the Krakoan gateways. 'I assume your friends in Hordeculture don't know. The mutants put a Trojan horse into their medicines... the users of their medicines are in grave danger' Karima explains as she takes the flashdrive. Karima stands up and begins to walk away, while suggesting to Opal that she is going to want to make sure she uses completely organic Krakoan flowers for her doses. 'Put that green thumb to work' she adds, before bidding Opal goodbye, and good luck.

Late that night, across the town from the Treehouse, the bounty of Krakoa is a part of the nightly ritual of an aging human population. In one high-rise apartment building, a man stands before his bathroom mirror and throws a couple of pills in his mouth. The drugs of the mind can cause drowsiness, so naturally, it is recommended that they are taken before bed. Omega Sentinel was telling the truth about the drugs – they have been secretly subverted – but she lied about the perpetrators.

Flying outside the apartment building in a hovercraft are Dr. Stasis and Nimrod, while MODOK flies alongside them. The hovercraft is piloted by an Orchis operative in a red costume. 'How many more of these are we gonna do?' Nimrod asks. Dr. Stasis remarks that this will be the final test if it goes like the others, and asks MODOK if he agrees. 'Oh, I could do this all night, but I suppose that would be counter to our long-term goals' MODOK grins, before agreeing that this should be the last one. MODOK holds a remote control in his hand and declares that the genius is all in the frequency, that it is above the range at which a human can hear it, but it is there. 'Observe!' MODOK exclaims as he adjusts a dial on the remote control.

Back inside the apartment, the elderly man suddenly gasps as he lies in bed, then sits up, seemingly unaware that the diabolical Orchis members are watching him. MODOK tells the others that their subject is totally normal until the drugs in his system encounter their special broadcasts. The old man suddenly runs to towards his floor-to-ceiling window, as MODOK explains that the man's fight-or-flight response has kicked into overdrive. The man slams his head into the window, drawing blood. He then begins slamming his head repeatedly into the window until it begins to shatter. 'Success!' MODOK exclaims as the man finally breaks through the glass and leaps out of his apartment, free-falling from a great height.

MODOK laughs as he watches the man fall, along with large shards of glass. There is then a bloody SPLAT as the man lands on the concrete street below. MODOK declares that this was just a localized signal, and suggests that if they were to broadcast this via mobile towers, well, then there would be a run on mops. Dr. Stasis grins wickedly and asks how many humans they estimate have ingested the Krakoan drugs with the Trojan. 'Millions of users around the world...' MODOK announces gleefully. He adds that with his little creation in their blood, they can control their fight-or-flight response and turn them against each other, or themselves. 'Amazing. I know we're going to win. I know it' Dr. Stasis boasts, before suggesting they head back, as he is meeting his tailor about his tuxedo.

Orchis had already executed an attack on Krakoa's gift to humanity. The medicines were a soft power for mutants to win hearts and minds of those who hated and feared them. At the same time, Dr. Stasis rolled out his own gift to humanity – the suppressions and eradication of the X-Gene. Every day across the country, those looking just to be normal were offered the chance at pop-up clinics like this one in Chicago. At one such pop-up clinic, a mutant with green skin approaches an information desk outside a tent, where the Orchis operative stationed at the tent tells the mutant that he is right to be curious, and to investigate his X-Gene as a medical problem to be treated. 'When was the last time you looked into the mirror and saw the real you? I bet it was when you were 12, or maybe 13?' the operative asks. '12, yeah' the mutant responds. The Orchis operative hands the mutant a pen and points at a consent form, telling him to sign it, and then they can start suppressing that X-Gene. The operative asks the mutant what his name is, and as the green-skinned mutant signs the consent form, he remarks that most people call him “Woofer”.

'Life is hard for everybody, and your path looks harder than most, but Orchis has the answers' the Orchis operative claims. 'Salvation lies within' a masked Orchis agent tells Woofer as he is led into the tent. 'Uh... yeah' Woofer responds. Once inside, Woofer sees several tables within the large tent, and a dozen or so Orchis agents in red uniforms standing about. 'Welcome' one of them calls out. 'He sign already?' another asks. 'Yep. Good to go' the unmasked agent announces. But Woofer looks scared and remarks that he has changed his mind, that he doesn't know if this is right. He rushes for the opening of the tent, but someone grabs him and pulls him back in. 'I changed my mind, and -' Woofer begins, before suddenly, 'You heard the man. Changing one's mind if a fundamental right!' a voice calls out as several Orchis agents drag Woofer towards a table.

'For both mutants and humans. Anyone who wants to leave, walk to me. Anyone who wants to stop me, well... I suggest you change your mind' Scott Summers a.k.a. Cyclops, who is accompanied by his X-Men teammates Forge and Angelica Jones a.k.a. Firestar. 'Give me your hand' Cyclops calls out to Woofer. 'Cyclops!' the surprised mutant exclaims, while one of the Orchis operatives pulls back their mask, revealing a scarred face, he announces that he is living proof that the X-Gene can be treated. 'Is that such a surprise?' he asks. Forge blows some bubblegum and tells the agent that he used to think like him. Small and ugly. 'HELP!' Woofer calls out as one of the other Orchis agents drags him backwards. 'Then you shall have it!' Cyclops exclaims as he punches the Orchis agent, only to look confused, thinking that the punch should have sent the Orchis agent on his ass. 'Been hitting the gym, or -' Cyclops begins, before the Orchis agent responds by slamming their fist into Cyclops' face, knocking him backwards with powerful force.

'Our cure works whether you volunteer or not!' the Orchis agent opposing Forge claims, raising a weapon. 'Now you've gone and done it' Forge tells the agent as he spits the bubblegum out, the bubblegum expands and engulfs the Orchis operative. 'What the hell, dude?' Firestar asks. 'Are you talking to me or the doctor trying to drum up business with a gun?' Forge asks. 'Both!' Firestar exclaims. 'You're dangerous and rude and – what the hell is this?' the Orchis agent asks as the gum begins to expand even further until it consumes him entirely. 'What happened to “do not harm,” Doc?' Firestar asks as she burns the gun out of the agent's hand. 'This is disgusting? Will I be able to breathe?' the Orchis agent asks.

'DEATH TO THE X-MEN!' another Orchis operative shouts as they leap at Forge and punch him in the face, knocking him backwards. 'Whoever you are – you're about to have a hell of a sunburn' Firestar exclaims as she begins to burn the agent's uniform. As he helps Cyclops up, Forge informs Firestar that it is a machine, and that she shouldn't hold back. Firestar increases the level of her power, which tears through the Orchis costume – and she goes wide-eyed as she sees what lies beneath: a Sentinel which introduces itself as Sentinel-Zero. The Sentinel Zero pops some claws which resemble Wolverine's claws and states that Orchis personnel will be protected at all costs. The Sentinel Zero reaches forward and slashes Firestar's side, drawing blood.

'That's adamantium! These monsters – look at what they've done!' Cyclops calls out. Forge explains that he thinks this is a Sentinel with a chassis built from a dead Logan, and admits that it is pretty clever, but that he has something that should put it down. Forge kicks the Sentinel Zero, who in return slices Forge's cybernetic leg off. 'I don't suppose you have any combat experience?' Firestar asks Woofer as he helps her up. Woofer confesses that he doesn't, and explains that he's called “Woofer” because he turns light into sound. 'It's dumb' he mutters. Cyclops picks up Forge's cybernetic leg and knocks it into the Sentinel Zero, sending it careening backwards, while telling Firestar that he needs her to cover their withdrawal. 'The skeleton is adamantium – but the rest of it isn't!' Cyclops exclaims as he uses Forge's leg once again, this time to protect himself as the Sentinel Zero's claws slice into the leg.

'I got this. Everybody... if you can hear my voice, then you're too close. Now help the wounded up...and run for your lives!' Firestar calls out as her powerful fiery energies begin to radiate around her. She lets loose with her microwave powers and unleashes a blast of heat that is flet for blocks. From space, the light emitted by Firestar's counterattack is momentarily confused for a nuclear bomb by NORAD. Of course, the light overwhelms Woofer, too, who releases several loud BOOMS. 'Ow, my ears!' Cyclops complains as he carries Forge away from the danger. 'Sorry! My bad!' Woofer calls out. Firestar was willing to bet her life that her power would disable the Sentinel before she got another taste of the unbreakable adamantium claws. But the Sentinel Zero continues to surge forward, until, inches away from Firestar, 'STOP!' Firestar screams, and suddenly, the Sentinel Zero collapses. 'Oh, thank god' Firestart utters. She is right, but just barely, and as the Sentinel Zero lies on the ground, a strange smoke rises up from its remains. 'Let's get home to our medical bay... and will somebody please tell Wolverine to stop littering?' Firestar exclaims as she drags the Sentinel Zero behind her. 'Nice save' Forge tells her. 'That's the job' Firestar remarks.

Later, at the Treehouse, Woofer is outside, taking a selfie with two civilians. 'Wait, don't use a flash -' Woofer begins, but too late, as there is a loud BOOM which can be heard up in the Treehouse, where Talon and Synch are with Firestar. Things have been a little tense around the home of the X-Men. Cyclops and Jean have hit a rough patch, with the Brood being a likely wedge between them. The rest of the team have been giving Scott and Jean their time. 'You needed me?' Cyclops asks as he steps into Forge's workshop, where Forge is busy fixing his severed leg. 'Sorry to interrupt your brooding – er, forgive me, poor choice of words' Forge responds, before informing Scott that he is worried they are losing the hearts and minds of humans, but claims that he has a plan. 'I have just the idea, if I can get a little stage time at the next gala' Forge adds, before asking how many times Logan has died and they have not recovered his skeleton. 'Uh...' Cyclops responds, confused.

And, inside an Orchis lab, several ape scientists stand over the adamantium skeleton, presumably once belonging to Wolverine. 'We did it! Ten X-Sentinels with adamantium are coming online for Orchis' one of them announces. Another of the ape scientists declares that they grew some human flesh in the lab, and suggests that they camouflage this one in meat. 'Good show' one of them replies as they fist bump each other.

Characters Involved: 

Cyclops, Firestar, Forge, Synch, Talon (all X-Men)


Dr. Stasis, MODOK, Nimrod, Omega Sentinel (all Orchis)

Opal Vetiver (Hordeculture)




Orchis operatives

Sentinel Zero

Ape scientists




Story Notes: 

This issue includes an Orchis Protocol, which sets out the organization's structure, noting its various strategies and the person responsible for each strategy. Dr. Alia Gregor is responsible for research and development, Feilong heads infrastructure and influence, and MODOK is in charge of operations and offense. They are all listed as “direct strategies” while under the category of “oblique strategies” Judas Traveller is responsible for culture and narrative, Dr. Moira MacTaggert heads sociology and modelling and Dr. Stasis is responsible for human resources. All six leaders report into Dr. Killian Devo at the central column.

This issue includes a memo from Forge to Emma Frost in which he tells her what a good job Firestar is doing with the X-Men, and hints at a new future for himself.

Cyclops and Jean Grey have been at odds since last issue when Cyclops wanted to exterminate the Brood population, while Jean disagreed and helped Broo establish a secret Brood refuge within Knowhere, now located in the orbit of Jupiter.

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