Four X-Men make their way through swampland looking for their missing team member Iceman, following his trail of icechunks. Unaware of what’s looming behind him, Cyclops orders Beast and Angel to go on ahead as they can move faster in this swamp. Beast looks at him and shouts a warning. To his right – there’s someone… or some thing!
They become aware of the red-eyed, muck-encrusted, hulking creature that once used to be as human as they – the Man-Thing. Angel is the first to gather his wits and flies at the creature believing it has got Bobby. Vines suddenly shoot forth at him, ensnaring him.
Hank uses his athletics, intending to kick the creature back, instead he finds his feet sinking into the creature and becoming stuck. Suddenly, he cries out in pain. Cyclops attacks the creature with an optic blast, inadvertently causing a large hole which frees Hank. They look at the creature seemingly only made of plant matter and mud in confusion and Marvel Girl recalls how things began: yesterday when they thought things would get back to normal. Well, normal for them
At the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, they witnessed how the entity that had played havoc with their powers was sent back into space. Once free of Earth’s pull, it separated from the rocket and returned to the comet it came from. But then they found out that everything hadn’t gone off without a hitch, as one of the scientists informed them of a strange energy reading during launch… from the south. A big lightshow went off a few hundred miles away when the rocket passed over.
The NASA scientists were interested, but not worried, chalking it up to atmospheric conditions. The Professor thought it was important though and suggested they pay a visit to a friend near that area.
And so not much later, the X-Men visited Dr Curt Connors, whom Hank and Warren tangled with when he was the Lizard. He saw the phenomenon too and added that this area of the country has lots of unusual things. Including him of course, right? He addresses Hank and Warren who politely pretend not to know what he’s talking about. Now, Connors continues, they are saying an extraterrestrial caused this effect…
Hank quickly summarizes what happened. They aren’t sure if it was truly alive or a complex machine, but it briefly altered their mutant genetics. Xavier adds that he believes its strange properties triggered another phenomenon in this area. They can’t see it in the sky now, but it’s still there. When he’s projects his consciousness toward this area he gets a… bizarre feedback. He’s misdirected to other areas and possibly other times.
If they want to investigate, Connors offers them the use of his hydrofile and Cyclops immediately wants to drive it. Soon, the five X-Men are off with Xavier keeping telepathic contact.
However suddenly they run up on something. Something being a German WW II submarine The Nazis immediately fire at them and Bobby shields the others with an iceshield. While Jean lifts them as they land again Beast notices that time itself seems to be going awry. More than time, Jean comments dryly, as they are suddenly attacked by Valkyries on flying horses.
Cyclops shoots one of them down. What devilry, another announces who is reined in by Warren – a winged man! Oh like a winged horse is all natural and he’s all weird, he fumes. The Valkyries vanish like the sub, only to be replaced by a sea serpent that breathes fire at them.
Iceman evades the serpent chased by it on an iceslide. Scott fires at it and it disappears, but so does Bobby. They follow his trail of icechunks which ends with finding their newest monster pal.
The Professor contacts them and the mud creature actually seems to sense his presence. Connors remarks that he has seen bad drawings of it but it is a local legend called the Man-Thing. Like the Bigfoot of the Everglades.
The Man-Thing isn’t attacking anymore. Xavier finds its mind hard to fathom but warns everyone to remain calm. It seems to mirror the emotions around it. Hard to be calm. They’ve been attacked by Nazis, valkyries and sea serpents.
Suddenly, a hole in the sky appears, an arm reach out to grab Jean, shouting there she is. Beast grabs her hand and jumps after her. Warren and Scott want to follow but Xavier warns them to stay back. On the other side of the swirl, they see a hairy blue-back ferocious creature that roars and attacks them. The Man-Thing follows them through the swirl and Scott realizes that Xavier is in contact with him. They hold onto the Man-Thing, who takes them back to the swirl and reveals that the former monster is Hank.
He moans that it was so hard to think like he’d gone feral. Xavier explains that he was assimilated into another reality. One where his mutation went too far.
As they crossed through, torrents of information rushed through him. This area of the Everglades is a nexus point… a confluence of times and realities. Normally closed, but their alien catalyst opened it on its trip back to space. The Man-Thing has a special connection to the Nexus. Somehow he can find his way through the phenomenon with his will. Without him, they may never have found the way back. His consciousness allowed Xavier to come along. He focussed on the three of them and he walked right into the exact alternate existence. Let us try again, Xavier decides. Can he find the missing Marvel Girl and Iceman?
The Man-Thing takes them to another reality, a post-apocalyptic one where New York is in ruins. Destroyed Sentinels and dead mutants (among them Magneto, Colossus, Wolverine and Psylocke) are lying on the ground. The only one left in this final hour of the final mutant war is Jean Grey as Dark Phoenix in her final incarnation, more powerful than all her previous rebirths.
What is this? Scott asks. She simply pulled their powers from them, comes the reply. She can easily do this with them. Then she recognizes him. How can it be Scott? They killed him. That’s why they all had to die.
She takes off his visor and holds back his optic blast. He doesn’t know what this is, but she has to come back, Scott pleads. He’s so young, Phoenix mutters, but he’s gone. He and Xavier.
Scott points towards the Man-Thing. The professor is with them, he assures her, in that body. Dark Phoenix flies toward the Man-Thing who then proceeds to literally pull Marvel Girl out of her. With that, they follow the Man-Thing through the vortex, a confused Jean asking what that was. Some reality where things went horribly wrong, Hank replies and advises her not to worry, it’s over. Scott reminds them they still have to find Bobby.
They are led to another future where all of New York seems to be covered in ice. Okay, this is another opposite-of-utopia-type deal isn’t it, Angel asks. Dystopia, Hank corrects him curtly. It must be a new ice age, Jean assumes.
I say thee nay! an enraged voice shouts and they find the mighty Thor battling an ice giant. Thor shouts that he warned him of where his power could lead him and identifies the frost giant as Robert Drake. No one warns the Ice Giant, the monster snaps back. The humans tried to erase his kind from the planet. Now they have learned what they are truly up against. Do any of them end up happy and retired? Angel moans.
Cyclops orders Jean to telekinetically levitate the Man-Thing up to the giant. Thor strikes at the frost giant, shouting he could have been the most powerful hero rather than a frost giant. Now he must die like one.
Just in time, the Man-Thing drags present Bobby out of him. With Jean’s and Warren’s help, they return to the vortex and finally the present. He never thought he’d be so glad to see this swamp again, Bobby mutters. Jean insists that still they should leave now.
Xavier telepathically guides them back and the Man-Thing leaves. Warren tries to thank him, but Xavier informs him that he cannot understand. His mind is unfathomable. He thinks he let Xavier step in because he liked his clarity. And lack of emotion, oddly. He learned that the Man-Thing once was human. A scientist who let his own work take him over and transform him into something else.
Later at Connors’ home, Xavier informs them that the effect is subsiding and the nexus is closing up. Good because he hates it, Bobby announces. Are they doomed to become the future versions they saw? They were possibilities Xavier replies. It’s possible one of them could be their future, but he prefers to think not. Because they were afraid when they passed through the portals their fear took them to places they would find horrifying. Like a mirror. Perhaps that’s why he was burned by the creature’s touch, Hank muses. As the guardian of the Nexus the Man-Thing hates fear. So does she, Jean admits soberly.