X-Men (6th series) #23

Issue Date: 
August 2023
Story Title: 
When Cometh – the Stark Sentinels

Gerry Duggan (writer), Joshua Cassara (artist), Dee Cunliffe (colorist), Virtual Calligraphy's Clayton Cowles (letterer & production), Tom Muller & Jay Bowen (designers), Joshua Cassara & Marte Gracia (cover artists), Giuseppe Camuncoli & Matt Milla (Trading Card 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: 

Dr. Stasis is enjoying a meal with clones of his family, but is shocked by the arrival of Mother Righteous, who is based on the likeness of Nathaniel Essex's wife, Rebecca. Mother Righteous torments Dr. Stasis for some time, and she declines to join Orchis for the war against mutantkind that looms. In New York, firefighters are attempting to put out a burning building, when they are assisted by a Stark Sentinel which arrives to help them. However, the Stark Sentinel identifies one of the firefighters as a mutant and attempts to attack the firefighter, until Cyclops, Forge, Iceman and Firestar arrive to take down the Stark Sentinel. They are soon joined by Jean Grey, Magik, Synch and Talon. During the battle, the Stark Sentinel fires a weapon at Magik that cuts the side of her face, before Magik teleports the Stark Sentinel to various locations across the universe by shattering it through a series of stepping disks, leaving the head in New York, which Jean destroys to make sure that Orchis cannot retrieve any information collected by the Sentinel. Cyclops and Forge realize they need to talk to Tony Stark about this. Dr. Stasis is pleased with the Stark Sentinel, however, and informs Feilong that the Stark Sentinel was able to plant nanobytes inside of Magik. On Krakoa, Emma Frost is meeting with the Kingpin, who confirms he will be a good citizen of Krakoa. Cyclops then informs Emma that he and Jean have separated, before Emma reveals that Kamala Khan has been killed.

Full Summary: 

Aboard an Orchis station, where, after a long day of quietly and efficiently committing genocide against the mutants, there is nothing Doctor Stasis enjoys more than eating with clones of his family. 'What a disappointment you didn't even ask me how my day was' Dr. Stasis remarks, before announcing that this meal is concluded. He wipes the side of his mouth with a napkin, while the clones of his wife and child fall face-first into the plates of food on the table in front of them. When supper is over, so is “family time” in the Stasis household.

'I had to see this pitiful charade for myself' a voice calls out. 'Who's -? YOU!' Dr. Stasis exclaims, shocked, as he turns around and sees the red-skinned woman with white hair standing behind him. Her name is Mother Righteous, and she addresses Dr. Stasis as Nathaniel, and asks him if he has ever been sadder. 'R-Rebecca? How can this be? You're not one of my creations -' Dr. Stasis stammers as he stands up.

'Ha. Hardly. Today, you may call me Mother Righteous' the mysterious woman remarks as she lifts the head of the clone up from the plate of food. 'I haven't been Rebecca Essex, devoted wife of Nathaniel, for many lifetimes. This masquerade is truly vile, luv' she declares, before informing her former husband that she is here with news that should improve his lot. 'I know some things, you don't. For instance... that you're a complete fraud' Mother Righteous exclaims as she sits on Dr. Stasis' lap. 'You thought you were the original Nathaniel Essex?' she asks. 'I came to America when my old world collapsed. I am the original' Dr. Stasis exclaims. Mother Righteous touches the club symbol on Dr. Stasis' forehead and tells him that they both know that is not true. 'How else do you even explain my existence?' Mother Righteous asks.

Mother Righteous continues, noting that the real Nathaniel liked his games, and that they suited him well. 'He put one of us in every corner, didn't he? Insurance that he'd end up on the winning team' she remarks. She grins wickedly as she leans over Dr. Stasis, informing him that she is not going to play games with him, and that she is here to tell him that she is taking an interest – possibly a controlling one – in Orchis. 'Well, as director of Human Resources, you'd think I'd know about any openings...' Dr. Stasis begins, while Mother Righteous reaches for a glass of wine – until Dr. Stasis grabs her hand and tells her that he assumes she is intending a hostile takeover. 'Ow. Annoyed once more by an unwanted little prick' Mother Righteous responds as she pulls her hand away. Dr. Stasis claims that he is totally off-balance here, and that he needs time.

As Mother Righteous rubs her hand, Dr. Stasis holds up his – revealing a small pin under one of his gloved fingers, he claims that it is a little jab to keep them on equal footing until he can determine what is real. 'So think twice before threatening me' he snarls. Mother Righteous sucks on her hand to try and remove the substance Dr. Stasis injected her with, and tells him that he does have the man's arrogance. 'But while you are made in his image, you're not the man. And I... am not your wife!' Mother Righteous declares as she reaches down and grabs Dr. Stasis by his genitals, causing him to scream in pain. Dr. Stasis falls to the floor, clutching himself as he whimpers, Mother Righteous remarks that she doesn't usually get so hands-on, but that she is making an exception tonight because she is going to be very busy and doesn't want to nurse a fragile male ego.

Lying at Mother Righteous' feet, Dr. Stasis utters 'You and I, hearts and clubs – the disgusting one with the diamond on his forehead... and there's a spade to be played out there. There's a game afoot, and I intend to be its winner'. Dr. Stasis suggests to Mother Righteous that they are stronger together, but Mother Righteous puts a foot on Dr. Stasis' face and tells him that the ignominousness of this evening is enough rubbish for this life, and that she hopes someday he will thank her for the boundaries she is establishing. Mother Righteous points a finger in Dr. Stasis' face as she offers him a final thought: 'Make no attempt to have a future with me. And mind what I said: No more clones of your wife or son. Not. A. single. One, luv'. Horrified, Dr. Stasis looks up at Mother Righteous and utters 'But, darling – you know I hate to eat alone'.

On Earth, in the Bronx, New York City, where New York's bravest are battling a three-alarm blaze on Briggs Avenue. The blaze rages in an apartment block, when suddenly, the roof begins to collapse, and two fire fighters fall down through the roof and into the burning building. 'We need a bucket at the window, now!' one of the fire fighters calls out. But, luckily for the fire fighters, the most technologically advanced machine on the planet has been deployed to safeguard New York. A large hand punches through the side of the apartment block and reaches out to rescue the fire fighters. 'What the hell is this?' one of the fire fighters asks. 'I dunno, but one thing's for sure... Iron Man's been seriously juicing!' the other fire fighter exclaims as they are pulled to safety. Other fire fighters look up at stare at the massive Iron Man armor that has rescued the fire fighters from the burning building.

In fact, Iron Man has not been taking steroids, but it was technology from the patents of Tony Stark that have been assimilated into a powerful, new Sentinel, resembling Iron Man. Feilong of Orchis has succeeded in a hostile take over of Stark Unlimited, and Orchis has wasted no time in testing this new creation. The rebrand seems to have worked for most Americans, who view the machines favourably. This Stark Sentinel places the rescued fire fighters back on the ground. And, as with any new product, there are kinks to work out – as the Stark Sentinel suddenly detects one of the nearby fire fighters as a mutant. 'Aw, crud!' the fire fighter calls out, as the Stark Sentinel enables the hostile-mutant protocols, and unleashes a beam of energy from its chest, which slams into the fire fighter, knocking him over. 'Somebody help!' the fire fighter pleads, before the Stark Sentinel raises its foot over the fire fighter. 'Please, I don't want to die!' the fire fighter cries out, before mumbling a prayer to himself. He then hears a sound he had never heard in his life – almost like lightning.

A beam of red energy slams into the back of the Stark Sentinel, who is knocked off balance, causing it to bring its foot down some inches away from the fire fighter, the impact of the massive foot striking the ground sends the fire fighter careening sideways. The X-Men are now here. 'Well, we got its attention. Now what?' Forge calls out as he hovers above a nearby rooftop thanks to a jetpack. 'It's Firestar's turn to quarterback. Call it' Scott Summers a.k.a. Cyclops, wearing his classic 90s' costume responds, fists clenched. Angelica Jones a.k.a. Firestar acknowledges Cyclops' instruction, and turning to Bobby Drake a.k.a. Iceman, she suggests they start with immobilization. 'Can do!' Bobby calls out as he ice-sleds towards the Stark Sentinel, where he starts to cover it in ice, but is surprised that he doesn't have much effect on it, he notes that most metal would be suffering under this much cold. 'Mutant detected!' the Stark Sentinel announces as  it attempts to grab Iceman, who darts about the Sentinel on his ice-sled. Iceman decides that this Sentinel doesn't mind the ice so much, when suddenly, the Stark Sentinel slams a fist straight through the ice-sled and through Iceman's a body itself, while announcing that it is under attack, and lethal protocols have been enabled.

'Lemme take a swing' Forge calls out as he uses the jetpack to fly towards the Sentinel, while Firestar tells him she'll get the Sentinel looking at her. Forge flies behind the Stark Sentinel and fires some sort of ray gun at it, but the ray has no effect on the Stark Sentinel. 'We need to rethink this' Forge suggests, while Firestar flies up in front of the Sentinel and calls out to Iceman, telling him that he needs to put the burning building on ice. 'Let's attack one fire at a time' Firestar adds, while the Stark Sentinel looks down at her. 'That's right, look at me, you ugly heap' Firestar exclaims. Cyclops leaps off the rooftop and fires an optic blast at the Stark Sentinel's head, while communicating with the rest of the X-Men not currently on site, he informs them that he needs them at their location and fast, while suggesting to Synch that he be ready to use Polaris' power. 'We've got a really big can for you to crush' Cyclops jokes as he grabs a railing to prevent himself from falling to his death.

Iceman has reformed his body and announces that he has knocked down the fire, before suggesting that they put this Sentinel on ice. The Sentinel turns to Iceman and noting that he is an omega-level mutant, the Sentinel places a request for backup, before blasting Iceman at close range, destroying his body once more. Forge flies up in front of the Sentinel and tells the others that they are in trouble, and that they are fighting this like it is a Sentinel, so they need to scale their attack. 'We're fighting a three-story Iron Man' he points out.  He adds 'As much as I loathe Tony Stark... the man's a genius'. Forge admits to the Sentinel, and gets its attention. 'Hey, ugly, take a look at this!' Forge exclaims as a strange green energy is emitted from a gauntlet on Forge's wrist. 'It's a powerful machine, but it's only as good as its code' Forge adds as the energy flitters in front of the Sentinel's head.

The Stark Sentinel states that it is in peril, while Forge grins and tells everyone never to leave home without a powerful logic bomb on your wrist. The Stark Sentinel switches to its uncompromised node, and ejects a blast which knocks Forge to the ground. There is a loud KRAK noise, and a concerned Cyclops shouts' FORGE!' before the Sentinel identifies Cyclops as a Krakoan War Captain and states that he must be executed with extreme prejudice. The Sentinel fires a powerful blast which sends Cyclops diving for cover as the balcony he is standing on is blown apart.


'Well, this is horrible' Laura Kinney a.k.a. Talon remarks as she and the remaining members of the X-Men arrive on scene via one a stepping disk courtesy of Illyana Rasputin a.k.a. Magik. 'My god, look at that monstrosity' Everett Thomas a.k.a. Synch exclaims. 'You gonna let it stomp Scott?' Magik asks Jean Grey, who replies 'No, that's still my job' as she throws a telekinetic force field around Cyclops, preventing the Stark Sentinel from stomping on him. This is the first contact Jean and Scott have had in some time. Even wrapped in Jean's telekinetic embrace, Scott has been knocked unconscious – but Jean has saved his life, the telekinetic bubble cushioning Scott's fall as the Sentinel forces him through the ground, where he lands in a subway tunnel, to the surprise of some nearby civilians.

'All right, you piece of $#%&, Polaris might not be here, but her power is. Get crushed!' Synch calls out he begins to attack the Stark Sentinel – but a look of horror falls across Synch's face as he realizes that this Stark Sentinel has counter-measures to magnetic attacks, and the Sentinel smashes a fist down on Synch. When the dust clears, Synch's broken body is discovered by Talon, who screams out for him, and grabs his hand as he lay dying. Synch's power reaches out to his partner, and Talon's healing factor is passed to Synch, saving him. 'I'm here' Talon tells Synch. 'Don't try to talk. Our teammates are covering us. Just heal. Start with the bones. Breathe' she utters.

Orchis would later say of this day that the Stark Sentinel saved the lives of several fire fighters and then was attacked by the X-Men. But the Sentinel had been secretly programmed by the enemies of mutandom to provoke this attack – they wanted to draw the X-Men into the brawl. Not just to test their machine and the X-Men's response – but to draw blood. And blood they draw, as Magik leaps towards the Sentinel, she slices her sword through a harpoon that the Sentinel fires at her, however part of the harpoon cuts her face. While Talon helps Synch to his feet, Jean instructs Magik to end this. Magik's first idea is to send the behemoth on a one-way trip to the sun, but she sees the phones recording the fight in her peripheral vision, and so sends a message to her enemies, as she opens a stepping disk beneath the Stark Sentinel and shouts' DIE!' She then snaps closed the stepping disk, and the metal that cannot bend or break is cleaved into pieces and scattered acorss the universe by a superior force. 'DIE! DIE! DIE!' Magik screams as she cleaves the Stark Sentinel over and over, until it is nearly all gone, and only the head remains.

But the X-Men feel no joy from this victory – far from it. This single machine nearly succeeded in killing the entire team. 'I'll make sure Orchis doesn't retrieve anything from this' Jean tells the others, as all of the X-Men gather around the Sentinel head, which she begins to crush with her telekinetic force. 'How many of those things are there?' Cyclops asks, concerned. 'We're not going to like the answer' Forge tells him, before offering to talk to Stark, and suggesting that they start planning to counter all his patents. 'Our overconfidence was almost fatal' Forge adds.

Orchis remains bust building Stark Sentinel factories, hidden across the world – but they also began constructing a a private prison on Randall's Island, just a fastball special away from the city's notorious prison Ryker's Island. At the facility, Dr. Stasis, Feilong and Nimrod are inspecting the prison, and Feilong tells the others that he hopes this facility will be ready for the night of the festivities. Feilong adds that he hopes Dr. Stasis did not waste one of his first Sentinels today. Dr. Stasis assures Feilong that this facility will be ready for their “guests” ahead of schedule, and tells him to fret not, as his billion-dollar behemoth did its job. 'I'm already receiving a signal...from the machines inside their teleporter' Dr. Stasis remarks as he looks at an image of Magik on a small screen. 'And what of the woman? Did we bag “Marvel Girl”?' Feilong asks, referring to Jean Grey. But Dr. Stasis confirms that Jean Grey has yet to feel his sting. 'That's okay... leave those pesky Omegas to Nimrod' Nimrod declares.

Meanwhile, the sun sets over the mutant nation of Krakoa, where Emma Frost walks along the shore of the land with Wilson Fisk the Kingpin. She tells Fisk that he knows the laws of this land, and she has stated the norms. She assures him that his Krakoan citizenship by marriage will be defended in the human world should it be required, but that their protection will be rescinded should he slip back into any of his bad habits. Fisk tells Emma that he expects no special treatment, and that he will be a good citizen of Krakoa.

'Hope I'm not interrupting' Cyclops calls out as he approaches Emma and Fisk, his shirt open revealing his muscular body. 'No...our business is concluded' Fisk responds as he turns and walks away, before smirking as he glances over his shoulder and tells them that he will see them both at the gala. 'Please tell me that was Mystique' Cyclops asks by projecting his thoughts to Emma. 'Would that it were' comes Emma's response.

They continue to communicate via thought, as Scott tells Emma that he got her message, and that he supposes news travels fast. 'You heard Jean and I are taking some time?' Scott asks. Emma pauses, before responding 'No, I had not heard, you gorgeously concupiscent clod'. Emma then tells Scott that she is not in the mood, not does she have the time – although she does appreciate his provocative attire. 'Oh' Scott responds, before Emma explains that she has asked him here because a tragedy has occurred. 'Worse than the one I'm living right now?' Scott asks. Emma informs Scott that she summoned him because before Krakoa was established he was close to Ms. Marvel, and reveals that she has been killed in New York. 'No' Scott utters, dropping to his knees.

Emma remarks that she assumes this changes Scott's calculus on their previous conversation. 'Yes, of course' Scott replies. 'Emma, she has a secret identity and a family who -' Scott begins, while Emma walks away and tells Scott not to worry, that it is nothing she can't solve as Krakoa's premiere janitor. She adds that she is sorry he and Jean are skidding. 'There is not enough love in this world'.

Characters Involved: 

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

Emma Frost


Dr. Stasis, Feilong, Nimrod (all Orchis)

Mother Righteous



Clones of Dr. Stasis' wife and child

Orchis operatives

Stark Sentinel MK II



Story Notes: 

This issue includes a paid op-ed to be run across the United States in all major newspapers from Dr. Stasis, blaming the X-Men for attacking the Stark Sentinel, and inviting readers to apply for work at Orchis.

Kingpin arrived on Krakoa claiming residency as the husband of mutant Typhoid Mary, in X-Men (6th series) #20.

The time-displaced Cyclops and Ms. Marvel (Kamala Khan) were teammates in the Champions, beginning with Champions (2nd series) #2 until #18. Kamala was killed in Amazing Spider-Man (6th series) #26.

Cyclops’ and Emma’s previous conversation regarding Kamala will be revealed in the Hellfire Gala.

Dr Stasis’ and Mother righteous’ relationship continues in the X-Men: the Sinister Four oneshot.

Written By: