X-Men Noir: Mark of Cain #2

Issue Date: 
March 2010
Story Title: 

Fred van Lente (writer), Dennis Calero (artist & colorist), VC’s Clayton Cowles (letters), Michael Horwitz (assistant editor), Nathan Cosby (editor), Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan fine (executive producer)

Brief Description: 

At Genosha prison, Tommy Hallway is processed, tattooed and told by Emma Frsot what the remainder of his life will look like. Barely a night later, he has escaped, suprises Frost in her quarters and demands to know who killed Cain Marko, though Emma doesn’t know. He ties her up and tries to escape from the island but is found and beaten up by Xavier’s new X-Men. Tommy is tied to a chair and questioned by Xavier. When he refuses to comply, Xavier uses Project Wideawake in an attempt to break him – sleep deprivation. After some time, Tommy begins to hallucinate and is beginning to see his dead brother, Robert.

Full Summary: 

Bend over! Warden Emma Frost orders Tommy Halloway as she puts on gloves. She could at least buy him flowers first, Tommy jokes. Droll, comes the curt reply. She warns him not to lose or break his cup. He will not get another.

He is brought to a chair and tied down. A man with a tattoo needle begins. Frost explains that she studied in Harvard under Professor Charles Xavier. She believes he is familiar with his work.

Emma continues that Xavier teaches that sociopathy is humanity’s next evolutionary advance. But she has taken his theories into a slightly different direction. She believes sociopathy is communicable. That is why those extraordinary convicts must be incarcerated here, away from the rest of America’s prison population. She cannot allow their disease to spread to the other prisoners, those of low moral character, most susceptible to it.

If he should be transferred to another institution those in authority must know he poses maximum risk.

While she’s been talking, the tattoo artist has stenciled the letter M over Tommy’s right eye.

Emma continues that Genosha Bay penitentiary was built by Quaker missionaries. The idea was to isolate prisoners from each other, so they could contemplate the gravity of their sins. Hence the term “penitentiary;” root word: “penance” from the Latin paenitentia meaning “deep regret.”

She does, however, not care if they regret what they’ve done or not. They cannot be rehabilitated. The devil in them is biology and cannot be exorcized. She will keep them isolated, though not for their own good, but society’s.

Tommy is led to his solitary cell. He is told he will have no contact with other prisoners. And almost none with the staff. He is not allowed writing materials. Or to receive visitors or communication from the outside. A guard will let him out in his own private exercise yard for an hour a day, weather permitting. And thus she has described the last remaining days of his life.

Does he have any questions? No, Tommy replies and warns her he will be seeing her soon. Oh? she asks mildly curious. Is he thinking of getting out of here? He knows he is, he replies with a smile. And he already knows how. She wouldn’t bet on it, is Frost’s reply.

Night time at the prison… In her elegantly decorated apartment, Emma Frost, dressed in a silk nightgown, is getting ready for bed. So, Tommy asks with a smirk. Cain Marko. Who killed him?

How did he get out of his cell? Emma shouts. That’s not important right now, he replies. Cain Marko is. Almost frightened, she replies she doesn’t know who that is. Tommy reminds her that Cain’s body is in her morgue. He’s just come from there. Somebody did quite a number on him. And don’t expect him to believe in that Juggernaut nonsense. Did he tell her where the gem was before he died? What gem? she asks confused. He is talking in riddles.

She orders him to go back to his cell. Let’s start with this, Tommy replies. Cain didn’t have the mark over his eye. He wasn’t a prisoner here? Emma admits they allow the army base that’s also on the island to use their facilities like the morgue. When they need it.

Without telling her? Isn’t she the warden, Tommy asks. They are the military, she reminds him. Now tell her how he got out! No time, he replies and takes the radio cable. He’s got to go send a message. She is staying put. He begins to tie her to the chair. Wait, she asks him. Tighter. Please.

Tommy sneaks outside into the courtyard, unaware that someone is crawling down the wall. The masked man suddenly kicks him in the back. Tom hits back, only to be almost sliced by a woman with a knife. She hits him. He manages to throw her into the masked man.

“Be seeing you!” he announces and is almost out, when he runs right into a very tall, muscular man. As he’s being beaten up he realizes guards are watching from the tower, but none of them steps in to stop the beating.

Nearby in the harbor. Eugene Judd remarks that Halloway is six hours late now. He was supposed to radio for a rendezvous after he escaped, whether he found out where the gem was or not. What could they do? he asks the drunk Captain Logan, who lies sprawled on the floor. They should agree with him this was an incredibly stupid plan to begin with, Logan suggests. Eugene replies he’ll radio Cyclops in New York, eh? Maybe he’ll have some bright ideas. And he’ll like be sober, he adds in a quieter tone.

Tommy awakes tied to a chair in darkness. Suddenly garishly bright lights are switched on and he screams. They meet again, Professor Xavier states, or is this the first time? He’s not sure if the one time he met him, it was Thomas or his twin brother Robert. His condolences on his loss, by the way.

He introduces the young woman in red behind him. Ms. Magnus, daughter of the late chief of detectives back in New York. And he’s met his new X-Men, if he’ll forgive the narcissistic phrase. Extraordinary criminals one and all, from around the globe, captured on American soil and imprisoned here. Genosha Bay really is the most fascinating place for study. A giant stone Petri dish of depravity.

Herr Wagner started out in the circus before becoming the top second story man in Europe. Don’t let comrade Rasputin’s size fool you. It’s his artistic talent the Bolsheviks wanted to ship him to Siberia for – he’s an expert forger of artworks and official documents. And Ororo’s skills at thievery are so renowned even at her delicate age, that she is literally worshiped by the footpads of Cairo.

And now Xavier has him. He’s no sociopath, Tommy replies. Can he be so sure? Xavier asks. It has a nasty habit of running in families. And his brother Robert… tsk, tsk. Killed a girl, did he not? One of Xavier’s psychotic students, Tommy snarls, in self-defense! He can’t help him if he throws up these barriers, Xavier laments.

Why bother helping him? Tommy demands. His student, Warden Frost, doesn’t believe sociopathy is curable. That she does not, Xavier agrees. Then why does she let him study here? What better way to be proven right than to watch your old teacher fail? Xavier explains. Emma does not let him use her beautiful prison for free, however. She would like him to find out how Halloway got out of his cell. He’s multi-talented comes the reply. Xavier advises him to tell the truth. Or he’ll torture him? Tommy asks. They teach him that in Harvard?

Please, Xavier scoffs. He’s a scientist and a humanitarian. He won’t lay a finger on him. And in a week, Halloway will be begging to tell him. Welcome to Project Wideawake, Mister Halloway. Xavier is wheeled out and they all leave. The garish lights remain.

Day breaks as Tommy sings: Oh, Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling.

Sweating, he asks if Professor X thinks this impresses him? He has studied Vipassana meditation in Ceylon… so this… this is like a vacation… As his head sinks down the lights flare on again.

A day passes. Anne Marie… he’s sorry Tommy mutters. He should’ve… should’ve saved her.

Suddenly, someone switches off the lights. Thanks, he mutters, he could use a break. The lack of sleep is one thing. But the heat and the glare is… Hey! he shouts and cries for help as he is being waterboarded. Where is the gem? someone demands. Where is the goddamn gem of Cyttorak?

He awakes again to see Professor Xavier in front of him who informs him he spent seventy-two hours without sleep. Has he started hallucinating yet? Stop, it’s been a week, Tommy corrects him. He’s been counting. He’s been here a week. Hasn’t he?

He’s barely lasted a weekend, Xavier informs him. He better tell him how he escaped. The membrane between sanity and madness is so very thin and fragile. And irreparable. He doesn’t want to end up like Robert, does he?

Angrily, Tommy orders him not to talk about Robert. He wasn’t a schizo. He had his problems, but he was a helluvalot smarter than Xavier. ‘Cause he knows what? He overplayed his hand. He knows he hasn’t the gem yet— But suddenly there is no more Xavier, just the glare of the lights.

Baldy’s got a point, a new voice arises. Tommy won’t last much longer. And the only one who can get him out of here is he, Robert tells him. All right, Tommy agrees, Robert wins. What did he have in mind?

Characters Involved: 

Thomas “Tommy” Halloway / Angel

Captain Logan

Eugene Judd

Warden Emma Frost

Professor Xavier

Piotr Rasputin

Kurt Wagner

Ororo Munroe

Angel’s delusion:
Robert Halloway

Story Notes: 

The M tattoo is a nod to Bishop’s timeline in the regular X-Men comics where mutants are marked.

Xavier met Tommy (or Robert?) in X-Men Noir #2.

Robert Halloway killed Jean Grey (with good reason) in X-Men Noir #2.

Project Wideawake is a nod to a project of that name in the X-Men comics (basically a Sentinel project).

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