X-Men: No More Humans

Issue Date: 
July 2014
Story Title: 

Mike Carey (writer), Salvador Larroca (artist), Justin Ponsor (colorist), VC’s Cory Petit (letterer), Salvador Larroca (cover artist), Xander Jarowey (assistant editor), Nick Lowe (editor), Axel Alonso (editor-in-chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (Exec. Publisher)

Brief Description: 

Raze breaks into the Autolycus Corporation. The next day, a jumbo jet almost falls on the Jean Grey School. The X-Men stop it and are surprised to find neither flight crew nor passengers. Surprise turns to horror as Cerebra reveals there are no more humans anywhere on the world. They teleport to Manhattan to see for themselves and run into Cyclops’ X-Men group. After a terse greeting and accusations, they are joined by Magneto and his children, who demand that they work together. After some discussions at the Jean Grey School, Cerebra locates one human signal in New Mexico. A small group of X-Men fly there while the rest are to protect the school. In New Mexico, they find a dying man, Gregory Sale, head of the Autolycus Corporation and learn of Raze’s involvement. That moment, a trap snaps shut and teleports the X-Men into a kind of void. Marvel Girl keeps an atmosphere around them until the others have reverse-engineered the device that came with them and teleport them back. They find Sale has died in the meantime. At the Jean Grey School (as well as in other locations), a teleportation portal has opened and persecuted mutant from other dimensions come through, asking for asylum. The X-Men want to research the Autolycus building. Nightcrawler teleports ahead and is imprisoned by Raze and his new pan-dimensional Brotherhood of Mutants. Raze pretty quickly explains that the X-Men have no chance to change the situation and that more and more mutant refugees from other dimensions will come. Magneto joins with Raze’s forces but forces him to free Nightcrawler. The X-Men find themselves busy with the refugees, however things look up when Tempus spies on Raze and Mystique and learns that humanity isn’t dead but stored in a kind of null space, meaning the process can be reversed. Despite Beast’s misgivings, Cyclops has the young healer Triage revive Sale’s corpse. Sale explains that the humans can be returned, but they quickly realize that this would mean millions of deaths of people, who for example were in cars or planes. Still, there seems to be no better solution. Most of the X-Men are to confront Raze and his Brotherhood, while Magik teleports a smaller group, including both Beasts, Triage and Sale, right into the Autolycus building to work on Sale’s machines. In the battle, the X-Men slowly gain the upper hand, causing Raze to play his trump card. He tells the Mastermind from another dimension to bring her – her being Phoenix in love with Mastermind and under his control. Phoenix attacks the X-Men until Marvel Girl steps into her way. While her alter ego immediately despises her, the Phoenix Force itself is fascinated and wants both Jean Greys. She takes over Marvel Girl as well. The Beasts realize the situation becomes tense as the Phoenix Force considers destroying them all, leaving a clean Earth. Beast teleports all mutants into the void dimension, asking Sale to return them, something the zombie does not intend to do. In the void, they can remind Phoenix of her role in the cosmos, namely a bringer of life. Without anyone on Earth, there will be no life. They finally talk the Phoenix Force into returning both mutants and humans without anyone getting killed and she decides to return all the mutant refugees to their old homes. The Phoenix force itself leaves with the other-dimensional Jean Grey, leaving everything as it was before. Beast decides to destroy Sale’s machines, Jean has a lot to think about and the others decide to pretend this never happened.

Full Summary: 

Elliott Bay, Seattle:
The headquarters of the Autolycus Corporation:
It’s a rainy night and the complex is heavily guarded. One guard’s shift is over as his colleague arrives. Once the first man is gone, however, the new guard changes shape, revealing himself to be Raze of the future Brotherhood of Mutants.

Raze scales the wall, jumps over the barbed wire atop and is inside the complex. He lets some blackbirds out of his bag and the building’s lasers are trained on them while he runs towards the building. He taps in the correct security code and takes on the form of Dr. Gregory Sale for the facial ID. He is let in but grabbed by metal tentacles a moment later. Sampled DNA on keypad does not match face or voice ID, a mechanical voice announces. Security protocols engaged.

A little later, the real Gregory Sale asks a security man named Beacham who their prisoner is. He should be asking what, is the reply. Beacham tells him to look into the cell. When they captured him, he looked like Dr. Sale, then he took on Beacham’s shape.

Noticing he’s watched, Raze turns into an innocent little girl. Beacham explains he can change body mass and core temperature.

Who is he? Sale addresses Raze. An innocent little child all alone in the great big world, Raze (still in little girl form) replies. Who is he under the hologram cloak or whatever? Sale scoffs. He’ll show them. Any minute now, is the reply.

Dr. Sale is impressed his prisoner got that far. But she never would have made it all the way inside. The little girl points out she is all the way inside.

Sale warns her she is inside an electrified field of half a million volts. Not to mention six inches of glass. The girl smirks. Tonight, March 8th, 11:09 pm which is about thirty second from now. It’s in the history books. Tropical storm Malcolm hits the eastern seaboard a whole lot harder than expected.

And how did it get into the history books before it happened? Sale demands. Her history books go a whole lot further, the “girl” smirks. That’s where she read about him.

The lights go out. The back-up generator kicks in moments later and the cell is empty. The shapeshifting Raze hangs from the ceiling. Let him show them who he really is… He unsheathes his claws and massacres the guards, leaving only Dr. Sale. That’s who he is. And he knows all about Sale’s wonderful invention. In fact, that’s why he’s here. He’d like to borrow it…

Alarms clamor, sirens scream. The start of another day at the Jean Grey School. X-Men and students look out of the windows to see a jumbo jet heading for the school. Rachel Grey announces that she senses nothing from the pilots or the passengers. The kids wonder whether this is an attack.

Storm flies upward and orders Rachel to mindlink the X-Men. Nightcrawler teleports himself and Wolverine into the cockpit which they find empty.

They inform the others and try to bring the plane down safely. However, the engines are dead. Rachel tells them to get ready. Storm creates a tornado to slow the jet down and Iceman changes its direction with his ice slides. The plane lands hard a short distance in front of the students.

Rachel scans and announces there isn’t anyone alive in there. Kid Gladiator tears off the door. Instead of dead bodies, they simply see nobody aboard. Quite the locked room mystery, Beast muses. Rachel fears it’s worse than that and asks him to fire up Cerebra.

Later, in the Cerebra chamber, Storm wonders what’s wrong. If anything, the mutant lights can be seen even more clearly. Rachel asks Beast to tell them.

He wants to believe this is a malfunction. Cerebra picks out mutants from the larger mass of baseline humans. You could think of mutants as the signal and everybody else as the noise. Interference. But now there isn’t any interference, that’s why the signals are so clear. While what he is implying sinks in, he suggests they verify by sight before they panic.

Nightcrawler teleports them to Times Square. Machines, cars everything is there, just not the people who operate them. Can they now panic? Iceman asks. Beast announces as far as he can tell the whole world is like this. If this was a planet-wide attack, shouldn’t there be more damage? Wolverine wonders. Iceman points out the fires and car crashes. Wolverine corrects him that these are side effects of people disappearing.

They still try to wrap their minds around what happened, hoping the people aren’t dead. Iceman wonders: Cyclops keeps talking about a mutant revolution. They don’t think— Storm protests, Scott is many things. And a killer is one of them, Wolverine interrupts. But this? Storm continues. Nobody sane would depopulate the planet. Beast suggests the quickest way to find out is probably ask them.

Not too far away stand Cyclops’ team of X-Men, as well as the young original X-Men. The two groups face each other and cool greetings are exchanged. Wolverine asks if this is a coincidence. Did they just decide to catch a show while they were in town? Hardly, Cyclops replies. They’ve been to a dozen world capitals. All the same. They came here to ask the other X-Men if they know more than they do and suggest a common front.

Storm asks where Magneto is. He is no longer with them, comes the non-reply. Which way is their common front facing? Wolverine asks. Do they see this as a threat or an opportunity? Does he think he‘d condone something like this? Cyclops snaps. He’s not saying he did this, Logan replies. Just that he might not be in a hurry to put it right.

So because he doesn’t share his perspective he has to be a mass murderer? Cyclops shouts. Wolverine killed more people than the Black Death! Yeah, but he doesn’t do that stuff and then climbs back on his pulpit, Logan insists. He knows what he is.

He didn’t come here to fight him or prove his innocence, Scott retorts. Reaching for his visor, he warns if he has to choose between the two…

Enough! a voice from above booms and for good measure a car lands between them separating them. Above floats Magneto along with his children, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver. Magneto announces this is unseemly and there is work to be done.

Soon back at the Jean Grey School:
Some students repair the damage from the plane landing and the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver wait outside while inside a group of X-Men from both sides, as well as Magneto, have gathered to discuss the issue.

Magneto explains as far as he can tell the eradication of the human race occurred in an instant at 8:32:17 this morning. The surge in electromagnetic activity was like a solar flare, only more powerful. And was he in the vicinity at the time? Iceman demands.

Magneto points out his vicinity is the entire world. They are dealing with an entity or agency that can wield energies on a planetary scale. He would offer as possible suspects the Phoenix, Galactus and the High Evolutionary. What about his daughter? Gambit asks. This is not how Wanda’s powers manifest, Magneto retorts.

Beast reminds him she has been responsible for a genocide before, which is why she is not welcome at the table. She shouldn’t even be allowed within the school grounds, Rachel adds. Magneto tells them his children and he are there to offer an alliance not a new target. He makes and breaks alliances very readily, Emma points out. He adapts to circumstances he retorts.

Beast looks at his tablet then interrupts. They made a mistake, he announces. They were looking for a haystack with a machine that calibrates for needles. He conferred with his past self. Between them, they reset Cerebra’s data buffer search algorithms. They told her to filter out mutants. In Southern New Mexico is a light. The last human left. Think that might be significant? Magik points out it might be a trap. Cyclops figures they got to go in either way. And since trust is in short supply there, they’ll all wish to be represented, Magneto points out. So who gets to be the X-Men today?

A little later, a Blackbird flies towards New Mexico. Aboard are Storm, Wolverine, adult Cyclops, Emma Frost, adult Beast, Magneto and Marvel Girl. The rest get to stay behind to protect the students.

Beast identifies the place as La Jornado del Muerto. The site of the first nuclear test. Now there’s a pleasant omen. Humanity always did excel at thinning out its own numbers, Magneto opines. Beast doesn’t want to hear it. Storm reminds them there is hope. Isn’t that why they are here? Magneto remarks he is here to protect mutantkind. If that includes restoring humanity, fine, but it’s not his first priority.

Wolverine tells them to stay on task as they land and see a man tied to a stake in the desert. Jean can’t read anyone else around. Emma asks for access to Jean’s power. She reads only the man but faintly like he’s wearing a mind-shield. After making sure the others defer to him in leadership matters, Cyclops orders they go in but the jet stays on autopilot with the engines hot.

They walk towards the man. Jean kneels down next to him and reveals it’s not a mind-shield. His thoughts are broken up because he’s dying from exposure and thirst. At least that’s what it looks like to her inexperienced eye. Magneto asks for a medical kit. Emma figures it’s too late.

The man groans, he made him! Cyclops tells him not to talk and asks Emma if she can get anything from his surface thoughts. Emma reads he is Dr. Gregory Sale, a physicist. He owns the Autolycus Corporation. That’s tied into what he’s afraid of. Three nights ago, his people caught an intruder.

Jean chides her she is going in too far. She is hurting him! Emma retorts he’s dying. He’s thinking of a face. She sees a memory of Raze telling Sale evolution works in stops and starts. It’s their turn now. It’s not personal.

Dear God! Emma burst out. It was that bizarre lovechild of Mystique and Wolverine! His name is Raze, Wolverine adds and swears the next moment when a tower bursts from the ground.

Magneto warns this device is broadcasting on the same frequencies he sensed this morning. He and Cyclops attack it. Something blips and the device and X-Men disappear, leaving Sale and the jet behind…

Back at the Jean Grey School, several students of both schools are bored. Kid Gladiator suggests a game, but the others consider that in poor taste. Kid Gladiator explains this will take their minds off the problems. Is he thinking baseball? Triage asks. Actually, he is thinking a series of duels, but then gives in.

Idie Okonkwo announces she’ll mark out a diamond at the far end of the lawn. She can’t, Broo replies. Idie misunderstands, announcing she’ll ask Ms. Grey. The lawn is now the locus of a hyper-dimensional portal, he explains.

Several people begin to materialize and Kid Gladiator fears they are being invaded. Stay behind him! He confronts the exotic looking people and tells them that’s far enough. One step farther and they are going to die so bloody, even the gods will look away.

Before an argument begins, Rachel joins them, along with Northstar and Magik. She explains that Cerebra reveals they are all mutants. She asks the strangers who they are and what they want. The speaker introduces himself as Stonewall of New Amsterdam in the Orange Republic of the Americas. He wants what was promised to him: Sanctuary. At this word, they all kneel down before Rachel, who admits she did not see that coming.

The others find themselves cast literally into nothingness. Before they die of exposure or lack of air, Marvel Girl creates a telekinetic bubble around them, gathering the air and creating some pressure. Emma explains that telepathically to the others. She warns them that Jean is straining and to do something fast.

As the device was teleported along with them, Scott asks Beast if he can operate it and send them back. He’d need to inspect its workings and he has neither time nor insides. Magneto helps there, carefully opening the device according to Beast’s orders.

After some time, he thinks he’s figured it out and hopes a certain action will cause the reverse action, but they need power. He asks Magneto to ionize the air enabling, Storm to create electricity for the device. Moments later, they are teleported back to the desert.

Wolverine and Cyclops figure that, since they were trapped and not the whole school, their foe wanted the fighters out of the way. They find that Sale died while they crossed over and wonder why he didn’t cross over along with them.

Rachel contacts them and asks them to hurry back. Beast asks her to send Magik. Their transport is down.

In the meantime, the others have created a tent city on the school grounds and do their best to help the other-dimensional refugees.

The senior X-Men have gathered again to discuss matters. Cyclops wonders where all the refugees came from. Pretty much everywhere but here, Rachel replies, alternate dimensions. Most of them are mutants from anti-mutant governments and coalitions. A mysterious stranger opened a gate and told them there was safety on the other side. They were desperate enough to try it out.

The gate is one-way and Beast figures if more keep coming they are looking at a humanitarian crisis in the making. Magneto suggests their foe wants that to tie their resources down. So the disappearance of humans was the first step in a bigger plan, Cyclops summarizes.

Can he remind them of what else is going on? Wolverine interjects. According to Emma, one of the last thing that dead guy Sale saw was Wolverine’s son, Raze, who is ruthless, dangerous as hell and wants mutants to wage war on humans. Something he’s happy to use his future knowledge to achieve.

Magneto wonders why Sale was chosen to draw them in. Beast did some analogous research (as the Internet is down). He had Nightcrawler pull most of the newspapers archived in the Salem Center library. Sale was the CEO of a company that specialized in in cutting edge technologies, the Autolycus Corporation. Over the last two years, he filed more than two hundred patents, some he would call game-changing.

The removal of the human race is certainly that. Magneto agrees. Storm accuses him of being coldblooded. He apologizes. He’ll put on a sadder face then.

Cyclops suggests they follow the Autolycus lead. And so, sometime later in Elliot Bay, Seattle, Nightcrawler teleports into a deserted compound. He finds the place has weeds growing and broken windows, signs it was deserted some time ago. Furniture and equipment have all been stripped out. Cyclops orders him home. Suddenly, a voice tells Nightcrawler he should know mother liked HIM best. He is hit by a blast. Raze stands over him, surrounded by other-dimensional counterparts of many mutant villains.

Soon, Marvel Girl informs the others she has lost contact to Nightcrawler. So someone set an ambush in an empty factory, Rachel summarizes. Magneto points out he merely set the appearance of an empty factory and Beast concurs. It would take months for the place to fall into such disrepair and Autolycus was a working factory until five days ago. Ergo the look was either a fake or illusion.

Cyclops suggests they go there in force. Storm points out that they know nothing of their foes. She suggests a plan B and asks for a word in private with Cyclops.

In the factory, Mystique asks Raze if he knows they are coming. Of course, he replies, or he would have let Nightcrawler leave without noticing anything. And if he didn’t want to talk he’d have killed him.

Magik teleports in a small group of X-Men (Storm, Cyclops, Beast, Wolverine, Magneto, Emma Frost and Marvel Girl). Raze orders Mystique not to let them see her.

He steps forward to greet the X-Men. Cyclops threatens what will happen if he won’t free Nightcrawler. Raze reveals he has Nightcrawler rigged to die five different ways. He will let him go after they hear him out. Cyclops retorts with an ultimatum of his own: There is an iron-rich asteroid hovering three miles up. Magneto and Psylocke are keeping it there. For now. Raze says or does anything they don’t like, he’ll get a mile-wide headache.

Raze tells them to look around. These machines are keeping the gate on their school grounds open. A second one is here and more on every landmass in the world. This is the largest resettlement project ever attempted. All the persecuted mutants of every variant Earth will now make their homes on this one.

He killed billions to make room for them, Wolverine points out. Omelet, eggs, breakage, Raze shrugs. Logan hits him in the stomach and remarks Raze didn’t say there was a motion trigger. Raze warns him what will happen to Nightcrawler if he does that again. In which case, he will lose his bargaining chip, Wolverine retorts and orders him to talk.

Actually, he was at the ‘any questions’ stage, Raze quips as he gets up. If there is anything they are not getting, ask him. Otherwise they are done.

Storm summarizes that he is planning to repopulate the world with persecuted mutants from other realities. What about the man staked in the desert? What was he for? Raze explains Sale invented the dimensional gate. All those other patents were tech he stole from other realities. Which is why he named the company after the god of thieves.

Storm asks why he brought Sale to their attention. Because they had to see this and understand. Otherwise, they’d think there was something they could do.

Cyclops threatens that they will shut him down. And he’s supposed to be the tactical genius, Raze mocks and tells him to think this through for a second. And they should meet his Brotherhood of Mutants, in case they miscalculated the odds. He snaps his fingers and tell Mastermind to drop his illusion and they see a group of alternate members of the Brotherhood of Mutants as well as this world’s Mystique. Fight him and the X-Men will lose and everybody will lose as the world will be empty. Do they want that?

On his mark, Cyclops orders the X-Men. Wolverine gets ready to attack without any order when Magneto tells them not to. This is the greatest good for the greatest number. Raze has presented them with a fait accompli. As of now the mutant refugees are his primary concern.

He can’t condone this! Wolverine shouts. He doesn’t, Magneto shrugs, but the choice is between a depopulated wasteland and a mutant republic. Is it really a surprise that he chooses the latter?

Raze grins and tells them the door is over there. Cyclops realizes there is nothing they can do now. Storm protests. Wolverine gets ready to attack, threatening he is not leaving without Nightcrawler. Raze angrily replies he is in no position to make demands. Magneto announces there is no more need for hostages. Raze switches off the traps and agrees, telling them to stay out of his way.

Wolverine frees Nightcrawler. Mystique tells him she wouldn’t have consented to Kurt’s death. Logan replies she talks to him now she’ll start a war.

As they teleport away, Cyclops threatens this isn’t over. Raze retorts he has faith in them. The X-Men always do the right thing. After all they’ve run through all the other options.

Back at the Jean Grey School, the X-Men ascertain that Raze’s claims are true. Cyclops decides to do nothing at the moment, causing Wolverine to express his disgust. Cyclops explains Cerebra shows twenty-thousand mutants clustered at more than 100 locations. The population of this camp here is pushing three thousand and they still keep coming. So Raze gets away with mass murder because he changed the facts on the ground? Wolverine demands. Is that what he said? Cyclops shoots back. It’s what he heard, Wolverine retorts.

Beast interjects that it’s not about Raze and admits Cyclops is not wrong. Those lights represent a new planetary population that can’t be sent home. And they have to be helped, integrated. Go after Raze, by all means, but don’t imagine it will change this.

Iceman joins them, announcing a problem in tent city. Someone got their rations stolen and now it looks like two populations going to war. Cyclops and Storm rush after him. Wolverine asks Beast if he isn’t going to help. Of course he is, Hank replies. He just though he’d never see this day. The X-Men going down losing without even making a fight of it. He doesn’t think they are fighters anymore, Logan replies grimly. In this brave new world, they are going to be peacekeepers. And outside, the X-Men try to disperse the conflict.

Elsewhere, walking between some trailers, Raze and Mystique discuss the situation. Mystique is skeptical of his claim that he is her and Wolverine’s son, while he tells her to look at the evidence: his powers he inherited from both of them. The shape shifting makes the rest moot, she points out. He can look like anything he chooses. He tells her his connection to Logan is not one he is proud of.

Two alien mutants thank Raze for saving them. They saw so many of their friends murdered by the Purity squads. The woman gives him a small statue as a gift and Raze seems to be touched. When they are gone, he throws it away and asks why she helps him if she doesn’t believe him. She tells him what he achieved is incredible. Insane and appalling in many ways but incredible. Insane? he frowns. What would he call it? He cut the Gordian knot of human-mutant relations. But he did it by taking the humans out of the equation, by committing genocide.

Possibly, they are arguing about semantics, he replies and confides something else. Even as he is talking, they are eavesdropped on by Eva Bell. Raze notices her and grabs her with an extended arm. Mystique grabs a knife, intent on killing her. Eva freezes time in a time bubble and calls for help.

An alternate Blob hits the ground, making her stumble, but suddenly she is gone, thanks to Northstar’s super-speed.

Back in the infirmary, Eva informs the X-Men leaders about Raze’s secret. The humans aren’t dead, more like pending. When Wolverine presses for more info, Beast lays down the law: his patient needs stitches and some rest.

Cyclops announces this changes everything. If humanity is in some kind of virtual storage, they have to retrieve them. Even if that means going to war with Raze and the Brotherhood. Especially if it means that, Logan stresses. Storm points out Sale’s technology is the key but, if Raze couldn’t master it, she doubts they will do much better. Logan asks if they can reverse-engineer the device they brought with them from New Mexico. Storm explains Hank said the lightning destroyed half its circuits.

Why don’t they ask Sale? Cyclops suggests after some thinking. Storm points out he’s dead. That doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker, Scott continues and soon asks his student Christopher Muse aka Triage for help. The boy refuses, overwhelmed. Nobody could do that! Cyclops reminds him he brought him back from the dead in Phoenix. Triage believes he was still breathing. He was either dead or dying, Cyclops replies. And Christopher’s powers reversed that. This goes beyond mere healing. He manipulates the life force. Christopher admits he doesn’t want his power to work like that. He wants to be Dr. Feelgood, not Herbert West, Re-Animator. Scott stresses the importance and Christopher replies he needs some minutes to psych himself up.

Soon Cyclops, Storm, Wolverine and Triage join Beast in the morgue. So they are grave robbers now? Hank asks cuttingly. He’s asking in the interest if accuracy. He likes to keep his resume up to date. Cyclops tells him to do the math: his conscience against seven billion lives. Seems like a pretty straight forward equation to him. The end justifies the means? Beast scoffs. They need this information to save countless lives. Except he just counted them, is the belligerent reply.

Christopher speaks up that this should be his choice. He has to do it and maybe it’s the best out of a lot of bad ideas. Good for him, Beast tells him. There’s a place for him in today’s X-Men, compromising morals one at a time.

Can they just get this done? Wolverine asks. Of course they can, he is told. He will be waiting outside in the hallway.

Nervously, Triage begins the process and explains it feels different. When he’s healing someone, he can feel things working like electricity but here there isn’t any— and then Gregory Sale opens his eyes.

Slowly, the animated corpse gets up. Cyclops announces they’d like to ask him a few questions.

Storm steps outside and tells Beast that they need him in here. He’s made his feelings on this very clear, he replies stubbornly. She retorts that Sale is talking now and they can’t even frame the questions they need to ask. They can’t do it without him.

Does she remember what it was like not to make these compromises? he asks. To have a moral code they could actually put in the school prospects? She learned to pick pockets right after she learned to walk, Ororo reminds him. Nobody blames her for what she had to do to survive, he amends. This is about survival, too, Storm stresses. The human race’s. And just this once, Scott is right.

So Beast joins them and soon they listen to Sale’s explanations. The dimension gate can be set to select by genetic markers. It operates in two stages. Abstraction to virtual holding space. And then return from space to target destination. They can bring them back, Beast translates if they don’t mind a few million casualties. When the others don’t understand, he clarifies. Everybody who was in a car when they were dimensionally shifted will come back with the same momentum but the car won’t be there. The passengers in all those downed planes come back mid-air and so on. It’s going to be bloody, whatever happens.

There has to be something they can do, Wolverine insists. If they had a million years or were gods, yes, Beast replies. Oh and he forgot to mention the hard part. None of this works unless they get to Sale’s original rig. They’ve got to get through Raze and the Brotherhood. Anyone else seeing that as part of the good news? Logan snarls, or is it just him?

Elsewhere, Magneto looks down at the refugee camp where the Brotherhood resides. Mystique addresses him, asking if he isn’t a little jealous. He’s given his whole life to promoting the interests of the mutant race. Then Raze comes along and literally gives them the whole world in a single day.

Magneto announces that he admires his achievements but has some reservations regarding the methods. Because he didn’t play nicely with the Homo sapiens? Mystique mocks. Of course not, is the reply. Because of his death wish. There were a thousand ways of putting the Autolycus gates in the service of mutantkind. Most did not involve provoking open war with the X-Men. Mystique reminds him the X-Men crawled out of here with their tails between their legs. Magneto is sure this isn’t the end of the matter. All plans have built-in flaws. In this case, the flaw is Raze. He’s desperate for the X-Men to fight him. He’ll do anything it takes to make that happen. Why attract the X-Men’s attention with an apparent act of genocide? And why stop short of completing the act, thus raising the stakes as high as they can go?

She doesn’t see any sign of— Mystique begins when an urgent telepathic message by the X-Men to all the Brotherhood interrupts her. The X-Men tell them to come out or they’ll come in.

There are many things that can cause a man to court self-destruction, Magneto points out as a parting shot. An overly dominant parent, for example. She snaps at him not to push his luck.

Mystique tells Raze to let the X-Men come to him. He replies then it’ll look like he ducked the challenge. Those mutants out here are only just learning about the world. They need to see who runs it.

Mystique exclaims Magneto was right. He wanted this all along! He wants the world to belong to the mutant race, he retorts, and the mutant race to acknowledge who their true saviors are. Is he naive to assume that can only be achieved via a massacre?

Raze calls the Brotherhood and soon they five X-Men past and present. Let’s show the X-Men their place in this new world, he announces. Under it.

He addresses the X-Men directly, musing when they left they seemed to know they were beaten. If that slipped their minds somehow they’ll be happy to remind them.

Cannonball announces they’ll fight Raze if they have to but that’s not why they came.

So what do they want? Raze plays dumb. He already knows, Storm replies. If he gives them access to Sale’s machine, they can bring back the human race from the virtual state Raze left them in.

And start the whole tedious cycle again, he replies. They oppress mutants. Mutants oppress humans and on and on.

Peaceful existence is hard but worth striving for, Storm insists. Personally, he just finds it kind of dull, he decides.

Wolverine unsheathes his claws. They are not asking, just announcing they are coming through. If Raze is too stupid to get out of the way, that’s up to him.

Clearly having waited for this, Raze unsheathes his claws as well. Wolverine is his, Raze announces. The rest is negotiable.

The Brotherhood attack. Storm faces Magneto who expresses his regret it had to come to this. Her lightning won’t touch him. She’s aware of that, she replies as she hits him in the face, and she’s not sorry at all! Tasting blood, he announces he thinks they are done with bland courtesies. He raises metal shards and hurls them at her.

A disgusted Siena Blaze attacks Cyclops and asks if they have no ethnic pride. She drops him. Unus repels Rogue and Cannonball recalling that the X-Men on his world died early.

Wolverine and Raze go at each other. His friends are getting torn apart, Raze mocks. Must feel like old times. He talks too much, Logan snarls. He does a lot of things too much, Raze retorts, growing two extra pairs of arms with which he pummels Wolverine. Too much is kind of his comfort zone.

Still falling, Cyclops shouts to Jean or Emma for help. Nightcrawler teleports up, chiding him they are all working very hard. He shouldn’t be relaxing here. So drop him somewhere useful, Scott suggests. Kurt brings him in position to blast Raze. He’s welcome, Cyclops tell Wolverine. For what? Logan shouts. They are still about a million miles from even. And the fight’s not over. He goes for Blob, while Cyclops blasts Phantazia into Unus.

In the meantime, Magik has teleported the Sale zombie, both Beasts and Triage into the factory. She is going to the fight now, she announces. What if they need her in a hurry? Triage asks. Try not to, she smirks and teleports away.

What now? Triage wonders. Now Dr. Sale tells them how it’s done, young Beast remarks He tells them how it’s done, Sale repeats slowly. And they save the day, grown Beast adds. Or fail, young Beast points out. And nobody is left alive to tell them “I told you so,” grown Beast points out.

Outside, Lorelei reaches out with her persuasion power and asks Psylocke to drop a mountain on the X-Men. Psylocke telekinetically slams her into a wall and suggests she grab a little self-respect. That super hypnosis thing is not cute. It’s creepy! Unsurprised, she asks Jean if she disconnected her auditory cortex as she kicks an alternate Quicksilver. Little bit, Jean admits and tells her she lip-reads well. Next time ask first, Betsy tells her. She did ask, but Betsy didn’t hear.

Inside the factory, the Hanks begin fixing matters with the recalcitrant Sale’s help.

Outside, the battle continues. Iceman tells the beaten Raze to tell his Brotherhood to stop but he remains stubborn. Moments later, Iceman is shot by Mystique. With a smile, she tells him it’s good to see him again. She doesn’t have to be part of this, he pleads. She shoots off his head and tells him not to spoil the moment.

Mystique helps up Raze as she explains Iceman will grow a new head in five minutes. Time for Plan B. They can beat them, he insists stubbornly. Not without backup, Mystique replies and tells him to do it. Fine, but only to be done with this mindless brawl. Raze calls for other-dimensional Mastermind.

Northstar races towards whom he believes to be Wolverine, announcing they need his help against Unus. “Wolverine” hits him before assuming his form as Mastermind. He asks Rate what he wants. What does he think he wants? Raze snaps. His company? Oh, well, Mastermind shrugs, but he’ll need his other face for that. He assumes the more handsome look of Jason Wyngarde. She is particular about that. He shouts out to someone to save her darling Jason from the monsters. Ideally in a way that involves a great amount of violence and bloodshed.

Cyclops, Wolverine and Rachel react with horror, Jean with curiosity as Dark Phoenix manifests in the sky. Smiling darkly, she tells the X-Men the Phoenix does not forget her friends. Or forgive her enemies.

Is that really her? Wolverine asks and steps toward her. If it is, she can fight this. She did once before. She tells him to hush. When the X-Men chose to hurt her beloved Jason, they became her enemies. And the enemies of Phoenix burn. With a gesture, she waves him away.

Cyclops orders the others to do what they can to take her down or this is over. Storm attacks with lightning, which Phoenix deflects with a shield. Amused, she asks if there are tears in Storm’s eyes. Ororo admits they are for Jean. Every time they think her torment is over— Phoenix assures her she isn’t tormented and hits her with a fiery blast. Heavily burned, Storm falls and is caught by Nightcrawler, who calls out for Triage.

Inside the factory, Triage tells young Hank that the other Hank and the dead guy say they are finished here. Seeing the Phoenix outside, holding herself against all attacks, young Hank agrees grimly.

Outside, a smugly grinning Raze and Mystique watch the battle. Magneto lands next to them and asks where Raze found her. The same place he found all of his Brotherhood. A parallel Earth. Took a long while but looks like it was worth it. Magneto calls him a fool. There is no taming the Phoenix Force. He doesn’t want to tame her, Raze retorts. He’s happy to see her cut loose. Something worse than a fool then, Magneto decides. He’s built his strategy on something he can’t control. And that’s no strategy at all.

Making short work of the X-Men, Phoenix calls to Wyngarde she is coming. And if a million X-Men throw themselves between them, she’ll walk through every one of them.

Jean Grey stands in her way and suggests a million is a big scary number. Let’s count to one, then stop and get their breath back. Not amused, Phoenix asks what this is and demands she take her face off. Jean explains this is a sanity check. She’s trying to hurt and kill her friends. What does that tell her about her state of mind right now?

Phoenix refuses to believe she is her. She wishes that were true, Jean exclaims, but they can read each other’s thoughts. Phoenix calls her a filthy little liar. Lashing out with her power, she shouts at Jean just to die. However, she and the others find that the blast didn’t touch Jean, apparently the Phoenix Force has other ideas. Angrily, Phoenix shouts at the raptor to stay away from Marvel Girl.

Raze orders Mastermind to get her to finish the X-Men. Wyngarde tries to get Phoenix’s attention. Ignoring him, Phoenix tells Marvel Girl it won’t do any good to resist. It wants them both.

Losing his cool, Mastermind shouts at her to do as she is told. In response, she incinerates him.

Inside the factory, young Beast asks what that is. Older Hank tells him the Phoenix just took Jean. Again.

But the plan stands, young Hank insists. This is the only chance they have to bring back the humans. They are beyond that his older self replies, fiddling with the controls. There’s no point in bringing them back just to see them burn. Help him change these settings quickly!

Outside, Raze shouts for Mastermind to tell him what’s going on. Magneto calmly informs him there is no point. Mastermind can’t answer him. He’s just been eaten by the law of unintended consequences.

Jean, Dark Phoenix and the Phoenix Force are in a rapport, wondering why they are two. Or are they three? Or one? It’s all the same. Just them now anyway. Nothing can intrude on that. Jean tries to assert herself: they are not the same. She doesn’t want to hurt anyone. Her other self is different. She doesn’t seem to mind death that much. She speaks that language pretty well.

Death is just a station on the way, she is told. Why should they care what path they take when their final destination is so glorious? What is their destination? Jean asks. Fire and life, she is told. That burns and lives the brighter when all that’s old and imperfect is burned away. And they, referring to the others, are imperfect. Every one of them: just listen.

And Jean is privy to the others’ thoughts: Cyclops regretting the harm he did when he had her. And what if this is their best shot. No more humans… Magneto caught between the scales of hurt and hope. Raze focused only on himself. Storm hurting for Jean, Beast trying to figure out their chances. Triage doubting his courage.

They are all just themselves, Jean decides. All just people. And she agrees. Here— now, it is nowhere near good enough.

As one the two address the Brotherhood and X-Men both. Their little world is so near death already. Has none of them the courage to administer the final—

Inside the factory, all is set. Beast tells Sale all is on him now. God help them if he lets them down. And suddenly all mutants on Earth disappear.

Sale alone is left and recalls what Beast told him. Namely that he was going to drop everyone with an X-gene into that virtual holding space, leaving only Sale behind. He’ll need to refine the search algorithm to bring the two Beasts back. They will then sort this out and return everyone else.

Sale begins to work giving the order to execute security procedure “crash and burn.” The device explodes. Nobody owns him, mutants, he spits, nobody.

All the mutants end up in the virtual holding space. Young Beast tells everyone to shut up and listen, then asks Jean to get them some oxygen. The stuff they brought with them won’t last five breaths. The Phoenixes demand where they are, then take the answer from young Beast’s mind.

He explains that the dimension shunt sent them all into virtual storage just like Earth’s human population but the two Beasts built in a failsafe. If the physical integrity of the shunt was threatened, they’d be dropped out of storage into this place.

Why here? the two Jeans ask. Because it’s not Earth, he replies. They were hoping a timeout might clarify what’s at stake. Which is? Phoenix asks. Life, he replies. Right now, the Earth is a tomb the size of a planet. All the cities built with such hope. Falling back into ruin. Chaos out of order. Triumph of entropy. Oh, there will be upsides. The forests will grow back. The ice caps will reform, the carbon in the atmosphere gets reabsorbed. And maybe a new sentient species will spring up in a few billion years or so. Or maybe not. The odds aren’t great and the sun might burn out before that happens. In the meantime, one undead man sits in a warehouse and listens to the sound of his own body rotting. That’s what they’ve come to. That’s what the future holds. Unless Phoenix does something about it. Because life is supposed to be its big thing, right? Its raison d’etre. It might be time to put up or shut up.

The Jeans reply that the Phoenix builds by sweeping away the old with cleansing fire. Which is easy if fire is what you are made of, Hank replies, but the easy option is getting old.

Phoenix doesn’t reply and Jean begins to cry. Raze urges an attack while they are distracted. Magneto warns him off.

Dark Phoenix finally announces they have decided. It is better that the world should live and know itself. For that, sentient beings are needed. So they will restore them. They will return to where they were at the point of interruption, so far as this is possible. But where that would mean death, they will make adjustments. To altitude, depth, velocity, friction… Whatever aspects of the physical world might cause them harm in their return. They will wake up, as if from a dream.

They didn’t mention them, Cyclops points out. Yes, they did, comes the reply. They said that all things would be as they were before. Mutants will be returned to their various points of origin, just as humans were.

Magneto protests, causing Phoenix displeasure. Nevertheless, he wants to speak. Raze promised the refugees a new world. If they send them back, they will send them to their death! Phoenix admits to seeing no other solution. Magneto suggests Phoenix make a world for them here in all the emptiness. Phoenix cuts him off. They will consider his argument.

They then return the mutants to the site of the battle. Raze shouts this is a travesty. Phoenix doesn’t belong here either! Set that right too and let them figure out things themselves!

The two Jeans step apart. One of them belongs. The other does not. They acknowledge his points. As he must acknowledge theirs. The other dimensional Phoenix telekinetically draws Raze to her as she announces she must return home and reflect on what occurred here. And with a crackle of lightning, both of them disappear.

Can it really be that easy? Wolverine wonders. That felt easy to him? Angel protests. He’s never gonna cut it as an X-Man!

Cyclops helps Marvel Girl up and asks if she is okay. Not even a little bit, she replies. Being part of that thing— she felt like God! And at the same time, she was a drop of water trying to hold itself together in an ocean. He reminds her she did hold herself together. She is not sure. He points out the Phoenix showed mercy and compassion. Two things that aren’t in its usual repertoire. Jean saved them today. And if he needed a reason for the original X-Men being here, he got it today.

Magneto announces he’ll leave. Wolverine seethes that he’s got a lot to answer for. So do others, Storm interjects, and this is the wrong time for a reckoning. Standing before his team, Cyclops retorts that he will be ready when that day comes. He’s not hiding from them. Like he could, Wolverine scoffs.

All right, they call it a day then. Back off and pretend this never happened. Easy to say, Jean mutters. Storm addresses Beast, who stares at the Autolycus ruins. There’s technology in there that could change the world forever. Maybe he’ll stay and watch it burn. Just to be sure. Then they all go back to their corners, don’t they? And wait for the next round.

Characters Involved: 

Beast, Chamber, Gambit, Rachel Grey, Iceman, Nightcrawler, Rogue, Storm, Wolverine (X-Men based at the Jean Grey School)

Cyclops, Emma Frost, Kitty Pryde, Magik, X-23 (X-Men based at the new Xavier school)
Angel, Beast, Iceman, Marvel Girl (original X-Men)

Cannonball, Scarlet Witch (Avengers)
Gambit, Quicksilver (X-Factor)

Broo, Genesis II, Kid Gladiator, Kid Omega, Oya, Shark Girl, Transonic (students at the Jean Grey School)
Benjamin Deeds, Goldballs, Hijack, Tempus, Triage (students at the New Xavier school)

Avalanche, Blob, Dark Phoenix, Lorelei, Mastermind, Quicksilver, Peepers, Phantazia, Pyro, Scarlet Witch, Siena Blaze, Toad, Unus, Vanisher (alternate versions)

Dr. Gregory Sale
Beacham and security

Displaced mutants

Story Notes: 

In Greek mythology Autolycus is the son of Hermes and, like him, a god of theft and trickery among other things.

Raze, the future son of Wolverine and Mystique was introduced in the Battle of the Atom crossover.

Magneto is mistakenly drawn with hair. In his own series at this time, he shaves it.

Magneto left the X-Men without a word, hence Emma’s snap about breaking alliances.

Magneto’s power level has been heightened again due to the use of the drug MGH.

Art mistake: The Jean Grey statue at the Jean Grey School is depicted as Phoenix instead of Marvel Girl.

Triage returned young Cyclops from the dead in X-Men: Battle of the Atom #1.

The preview art shows young Cyclops as part of the story as well.

Herbert West – Reanimator is the star of a horror story by H.P Lovecraft (and several movies) who tries to bring the dead back with monstrous results.

The Gordian knot reference refers to the story of Alexander of Macedonia coming to the town of Phrygia, which had a local legend that whomever could untie an intricate knot would become king of all of Asia. Rather than try to manipulate the rope, Alexander purportedly used his sword to cleave it in two, thereby satisfying the prophecy, albeit in an unorthodox way. Since then, the story has become a metaphor for solving an intricate problem with a bold, decisive stroke.

A locked room mystery is a genre of detective fiction, where a crime (usually a murder) is committed in location where outside influence is thought to be impossible. Famous examples of these have been Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None” and “Murder on the Orient Express.”

Written By: