X-Men (6th series) #8

Issue Date: 
April 2022
Story Title: 
The Buffet is Undefeated
Staff: 

Gerry Duggan (writer), Javier Pina (artist), Marte Gracia (colorist), Virtual Calligraphy's Clayton Cowles (letterer & production), Tom Muller (designer), Pepe Larraz & Marte Gracia (cover artists), Pete Woods (variant cover artist), Logan Lubera & Rachelle Rosenberg (X-Gwen variant cover artists), Joshua “Sway” Swaby (Black History Month variant cover artist), Russell Dauterman & Matthew Wilson (Trading card variant cover artists); Jim Cheung (sketch variant cover artist), Jonathan Hickman (Head of X), Lauren Amaro (assistant editor), Jordan D White (editor), CB Cebulski (editor-in-chief)

X-Men created by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

Brief Description: 

MODOK has unleashed a virus on a cruise ship to test its effects on the crew and passengers, some of whom turn into murderous maniacs as they set about chasing those unaffected. The X-Men soon arrive on scene to take control of the situation. They split up to manage different parts of the assignment. Wolverine and Synch are on board the cruise liner and try to avoid the infected passengers and crew, while AIM operatives attempt to take them down. During the fights, Wolverine tells Synch that she has a question about their time in the Vault, and asks him how long it took for her to warm to him. Synch explains that it took two hundred years, and Wolverine tells him that she admires patience in a partner. Synch thinks back to the Hellfire Gala, where he expressed that he only really wanted to join the X-Men because of Wolverine, before he and Wolverine come across MODOK gorging himself at the buffet. Outside, Captain Krakoa, Polaris and Jean Grey have been rounding up survivors who jumped ship, before MODOK blasts Wolverine off the ship. Synch goes after her, then Captain Krakoa arrives and attacks MODOK. He is then patched into MODOK's mind, where he finds MODOK living a strange life with his even stranger family. MODOK is defeated and the crew and passengers are saved. Later, back at the X-Men's Treehouse, civilians bring gifts for the fallen Cyclops, while Synch reveals to Cyclops that it was he who used Jean's powers to erase Ben Urich's information about mutant resurrection – and that he regrets his decision, because he took Ben's notebook, and in it, he discovered that Ben wasn't going to write a negative story about mutants, because he thought they were miracles. Synch announces he is probably going to quit the X-Men, but Cyclops tells him that he only leaves when Captain Krakoa tells him he can.

Full Summary: 

'Commence recording' the scientist called MODOK calls out as he holds a small petri dish of cells up to his face. He looks at the cells closely and notes that this is the inspection of the control growths of “Project Army”. 'Hello, darlings. You've never looked this good. It's a shame I have to give you away... but it's time for you to move to a bigger petri dish' he remarks as several of the genes mutate into x-genes. MODOK states that “Project Army” is short for the amygdala, the part of the brain that regulates the fight or flight response, as any registered and licensed user of that  biological software could testify. 'How I've mastered this area of the brain will remain a proprietary secret... but I'm willing to cut you in. for a very fair introductory price'.

A large cruise liner floats on a calm ocean – calm except for the bodies littered in the water around the cruise liner. Black smoke rises up from the ship, and on board, crew members and passengers alike can be seen fighting. One of the crew, a chef, waves two large knives overhead as he chases a woman, while several AIM scientists record the chaos on cameras, and others hold large weapons. Suddenly, a black submarine rises up, breaking the surface of the water. A hatch opens and the monstrous MODOK emerges, his enormous head hovering above the submarine as psychic energy glows around him. 'Cruise ships have been a favorite way for me to quietly experiment with new bugs, but this test will be quite overt' he remarks to himself. 'Refer to my prospectus for all the comprehensive data. All the best, MODOK!' he concludes his recording, as he flies over to the cruise ship, announcing that AIM thanks everyone on this cursed tub for donating their lives for science. A woman with red eyes rushes towards MODOK, but his puny feet kick her in the head, knocking her back.

The X-Men's jet soars through the cloudy skies towards the under siege cruise liner. 'Really? MODOK yelled “for science”?' Scott Summers a.k.a. Cyclops asks, unimpressed, before he asks 'What's our source?' Laura Kinney a.k.a. Wolverine reports that somebody was livestreaming aboard the ship before the comms went down. The hatch on the X-Men's jet opens and Lorna Dane a.k.a. Polaris hangs from the hatch, looking down at the cruise liner, while Jean Grey telepathically informs the X-Men that they have two emergencies – the people in the water and the people on the boat. 'No. Three emergencies – there's a cloaked ship up there' Polaris exclaims, pointing up to the clouds. 'They can hide from my eyes...but not from my power' Polaris utters. Jean Grey joins her friend and looks up to the clouds. 'I don't sense anyone up there, so...whoever they are, they can afford good psi-shields' Jean then asks if anyone wants to call it.

Wolverine suggests that Rogue should go high, while she and Synch go low, and Jean, Cyclops and Polaris save the people freezing to death in the water. Candy bar in hand, Wolverine pops her claws as she claims that she is not a strong swimmer after returning from the Vault. 'Y'all have fun. I'll let you know what I find' Rogue calls back from where she pilots the jet. She then reminds Cyclops not to forget to get into character. 'How could I?' Cyclops asks as his costume suddenly changes into his Captain Krakoa persona. Everett Thomas a.k.a. Synch tells Jean that he is going to borrow her gift. 'Have fun' Jean tells him, adding 'Stay in contact... and be careful, the boat sounds like it's feral'.

'DIE! DIE! DIE!' the captain of the cruise ship shouts as he runs about, waving an axe overhead. 'If you can understand me, I don't want to fight you' Wolverine tells the captain, while Synch reports that it was a drug in the water. The captain lunges at Wolverine, who blocks his attack, then punches him in the face. 'Why do people take cruises?' Wolverine asks as she wraps her arms around the neck of an older man who runs towards her. Using Jean's telepathy, Synch explains that these people are in a frenzy, but even with Jean's power, he can't put them to sleep. Synch then reports that MODOK has some drones with him. Wolverine dodges the weapons fire that is aimed at her by AIM scientists, while Synch telepathically reaches out to everyone trapped on the boat, assuring them that help is on the way, he warns them not to drink the water, as it has been laced with something that is causing this mayhem.

Synch then telepathically tells Wolverine that he thought they could talk. 'At first, I was hoping that you would ask me about the time in the Vault. Then I thought, well, maybe I could show you with Jean's power, but now... I've decided that I really don't want you to have this burden' Synch explains as he punches an AIM scientist. 'Who wants to age a friend with five hundred years of hard road?' Synch asks. Wolverine glances back at Synch and tells him that she does have one question about their time together in the Vault. 'Shoot' Synch tells her. 'How long did it take for me to warm up to you?' she asks. 'A couple of years...a couple of hundred years' Synch responds, hanging his head. 'Broke me down that fast?' Wolverine asks, smiling as she puts a hand on her hip, before there is a loud boom as an AIM operative fires a weapon towards her. 'Hey! You two are interrupting a private chat. You fight each other – we'll take the winner!' Synch telepathically commands the AIM operatives, who begin to fight each other.

'Hey, it was 217 years before our first kiss, but who was counting?' Synch remarks. Wolverine tells him that she admires patience in a partner, and suggests to Synch that he ask her again sometime. 'There's more beekeepers ahead' she adds, referring to the scientists. Synch hangs his head and closes his eyes while he thinks back to the Hellfire Gala, where he announced that he knew he was pulling a lot of votes from his mission in the Vault, but that he is only here because of Wolverine. 'She's the one I want. Er, I mean, she's the one I want on the X-Men'. He remembers saying at the Gala. Suddenly, 'Ev! You're not going to believe what I found!' Wolverine exclaims as she beckons for Synch to follow her. Synch enters another room and is shocked by what he finds. He reaches out to Jean Grey, telepathically asking if, on the off-chance violence can't be afforded, this MODOK fella is disabled.

MODOK is in this room within the ship, a banquet hall, where he hovers next to the buffet, plating food onto a plate. 'I can't hear what you're saying telepathically yet, but I know you are communicating because of certain modifications I've made to my aural arrays' MODOK remarks, adding that the food is the only real reason to step food on these filthy tubs. 'Now, it's veery rude to carry on a private chat in a group setting' MODOK snarls as he glances at Synch. 'You turned these people into rage zombies – why?' Synch shouts at MOFOK. 'Because I could. For science...and eventually, a tidy profit' MODOK replies casually. He waves a fork with a sausage on it around remarks that he doesn't need to get his hands dirty if he can get the killing done for free. 'Of course, I didn't count on you damned kids showing up so fast. I was supposed to have dined and dashed before the first  rescuers arrived' MODOK mutters.

Outside the ship, Captain Krakoa hovers above the ocean holding a child and a puppy and reports that they have pulled everyone alive from the water, while Jean, lifting several people up in the air with her telekinesis, tells Synch that they will be with him to face MODOK in a moment. Polaris flies nearby with a dozen or so people she has rescued, inside a magnetic force field. Jean then asks Rogue howe she is doing. The clouds above them begin to part, revealing the AIM ship that was hidden. Rogue is inside, and with several unconscious AIM operatives scattered around her, she reports that she interrupted an autopsy in progress, and that the AIM scientists were here to harvest as much information from the victims as they could. She then warns Synch and Wolverine not to underestimate MODOK.

Back on the cruise liner, MODOK looks at Wolverine and licks his lips as he asks her if she has claws and a metal skeleton. 'Well, that's a funny story, but yeah, I do' Wolverine replies, scowling as she holds up two claws. 'And... how are you at swimming, then?' MODOK asks as he unleashes a fury of psychic energy, slamming it into Wolverine and knocking her back through the ship, right out over the ocean, with Wolverine screaming as the attack  takes place. 'I could kill you with a thought!' Synch exclaims as he attacks MODOK telepathically. 'YEAOW!' MODOK utters as the blast strikes him. 'Perhaps, but...MODOK has psi-shields, and I think you're missing a call from your friend. 'She says “glub glub glub”' MODOK snarls, looking annoyed at Synch. 'Damn you' Synch mutters, before racing over to a smashed window, and using his borrowed telekinesis to raise Wolverine up out of the water. Wolverine gasps as she is brought to safety.

'Now MODOK bids you adieu. Let this one go, mutants – I'd hate to see your Treehouse catch on fire' MODOK calls out as he blasts his way out of the cruise ship. 'Or maybe giant termites will befall it – the point is... I know where you live! HA HA HA HA!' MODOK laughs as he takes off into the clouds – only to get punched – hard – by Captain Krakoa who slams his fist into MODOK's large head, knocking MODOK off balance and causing him to crash back into the cruise ship. Captain Krakoa drops down to the cruise ship and hovers before MODOK and tells Synch that he would like a private word with MODOK, and instructs Synch to dial him in. 'No... stay out of my head!' MODOK protests.

(inside MODOK's mind)

'I'm in MODOK's mind. It's not what I was expecting' Captain Krakoa remarks as he finds himself outside a suburban house, where a boy with mechanical arms, shovels at the end of the arms, is sweeping the snow in front of the house. 'Hello, I'm a friend of your -' Captain Krakoa begins. 'My dad's around the back' the boy interrupts him. Captain Krakoa goes around the back of the house and finds MODOK hovering over a barbeque. 'Met your son. Seems like a good kid. I'm surprised you're a father...of sorts' Captain Krakoa remarks. 'And are you a father?' MODOK asks, looking up from the barbeque. 'I am' Captain Krakoa confirms. 'It's the hardest job' MODOK remarks. 'Tell me about it' Captain Krakoa agrees, while a woman approaches MODOK, carrying several trays of food, either in hand or via two robotic arms that extend from her back.

MODOK looks at Captain Krakoa and tells him that he knows what he is thinking: “Maybe gthe world is a better off without a mental organism designed only for killing people”. Captain Krakoa admits that he would be lying if he told him that the thought hadn't crossed his mind. 'If we let you live, what do we get? What's the upside?' Captain Krakoa asks. A closer look of the barbeque reveals that MODOK has been grilling the heads of Wolverine, Cyclops and Xavier. 'Death is just the change from one state of being to another. I make tiny monsters, and when they kill, they kill for a glorious purpose. To advance our knowledge' he claims. He the grins and asks 'Isn't science amazing?' Captain Krakoa slams the lid down on the barbeque and asks MODOK why he makes monsters at all – why not make angels? MODOK scowls as he replies that angels are free to soar and often fly away – while monsters can be tamed with but a few clever or sharp words. 'Then hear are a few sharp words for you: You're going to make restitution for everyone you hurt, and if you don't... well, now we know where you live'.

(reality)

'I guess I'll be late for dinner' MODOK mumbles from the floor of the ship where he crashed into. Captain Krakoa, Jean Grey and Polaris stand over him, while some soldiers aim their guns at him. The ship's captain has recovered from the infection and shakes Synch's hand as he thanks him for stopping the terror attack. 'The losses would have been so much worse without you' he adds. Wolverine is eating some food from the buffet and looks up at the X-Men's jet overhead as she remarks that Rogue was right – MODOK is not to be underestimated. 'And MODOK was right – the buffet is undefeated' Wolverine adds as Synch uses Jean Grey's telekinesis to levitate Wolverine and himself up to the jet, where Cyclops, Jean and Polaris are already waiting for them.

Later, at the Treehouse, the New York City home of the X-Men. 'Excuse me? Miss Teenage Warhead? We were so sad about Cyclops' death. We baked you some banana bread' a woman calls out as she and a man stand under the Treehouse and try to get the attention of Negasonic Teenage Warhead, who is making out with a woman with pink hair. Negasonic doesn't look up, instead she holds a finger out, telling the people to wait, as she carries on kissing.

Up on one of the tree branches, Captain Krakoa looks down and asks if Negasonic is building a whole team of girlfriends. 'She'll make a hell of an X-Man someday' Synch remarks, before asking Scott if he has a minute. 'Of course' Scott replies. 'What are we talking about? MODOK? Laura?' he asks. Synch tells Scott to hold that thought, and announces that the first thing he needs to talk about is Ben Urich. 'I know' Scott replies, as Synch sits down on the branch. 'You know?' Synch replies. 'I should've known. I wanted to tell you before you said something dumb to...one of the telepaths in your life...or did I already get you in trouble?' Synch asks. 'Double the trouble, Everett' Scott frowns. 'Ha ha! Sorry, I've made a bigger mess than I thought I had' Synch smiles sheepishly.

Synch tells Scott that he didn't know how he was going to handle Ben, and then Scott fell, and didn't get the chance. 'So... I acted. I synched with Jean before she went back to Krakoa, and I visited Ben' Synch reveals. Scott puts a hand on Synch's shoulder and tells him that the job of every X-Man is to save the world, live to fight another day and prepare the next generation for whatever they failed to fix for them. 'Don't apologize for trying to do the right thing. I've done far worse and accomplished much less while trying to protect our family' Scott points out. Synch explains to Scott that he acted out of fear, but asked Ben to give him his notebook. 'It's a rough read' Synch remarks as he hands it to Scott. Synch looks forlorn as he reveals that he just kicked the door of Ben's mind open and wiped the story, and it wasn't until he looked at his notes that he realized what he had snatched from him.

Scott flips through the notebook and comes to a page that has “Miracle of the Mutants” crossed out, and “The deathless X-Men” crossed out, leaving one title remaining - “Immortal X-Men”. Synch stands up and declares that Ben Urich was not afraid of the truth – he thought the X-Men were miracles.

Scott closes the notebook, while Synch remarks that he has loved being an X-Man, but that his head is not in the game – when he's not thinking about how he messed up Ben Urich's head, he is thinking about Laura. 'My Laura, I mean. She's gone, and she's never coming back. And it's not fair to this Laura Kinney to be haunted by a ghost of a life not lived' Synch declares, before asking 'What if I was to say I'm finished being an X-Man?' This causes Scott to frown and respond by saying 'I'd say...you're finished when Captain Krakoa says you are'.

Characters Involved: 

Captain Krakoa/Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Polaris, Rogue, Synch, Wolverine III (all X-Men)

 

Negasonic Teenage Warhead

 

MODOK

 

AIM scientists

Crew and passengers on ship

Civilians

 

(in Synch's memory)

Synch, Wolverine III

 

(in MODOK's mind)

Lou Tarleton

Jodie Tarleton

Story Notes: 

Although it is barely seen, Jean Grey's new costume this issue is her 2021 Hellfire Gala costume but without the extravagant yellow material that flowed down behind. 

This issue includes a memo from Forge to Cyclops, in which he tells him that the Krakoan battlesuit he wears is one of a kind and is a prototype. Forge comments about how the suit was designed for mutants who can't defend themselves in battle, and notes one of the laws of Krakoa “make more mutants” doesn't necessarily mean that mutants are being made stronger. Forge asks Cyclops to collate data on the battlesuit, and declines the offer to join the X-Men, instead suggesting Bling, if Cyclops wants a technologist on the team.

Forge's memo refers to mutants like Cypher, Artie, Leech and Ugly John being the intended wearers of the Krakoan battlesuit.

Forge's memo also refers to a mutant whose power is to create ice cream – this is a reference to the character called Soft Serve who was seen in the background of Way of X #2, handing out ice cream to guests at the Hellfire Gala.

Cyclops contacted Ben Urich in X-Men (6th series) #6 to talk about his story about possible mutant resurrection, only to discover that Ben was not working on a story about mutants, and had no idea what Cyclops was talking about.

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