X-Men: Red (2nd series) #11

Issue Date: 
July 2023
Story Title: 
A Storm on the Horizon

Al Ewing (writer), Stefano Caselli & Jacopo Gamagni (artists), Federico Blee (color), VC’s Ariana Maher (letterer and production), Tom Muller (design), Russell Dautermann (cover artist), Taurin Clarke, Ivan Shavrin (variant covers), VC’s Clayton Cowles (production), Laure Amara (associate editor), Jordan D. White (editor), C.B. Cebulski (editor-in-chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)
X-Men created by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

Brief Description: 

Storm goes on a date with Craig Marshall but gets called away by Professor X, who has decided he now wants to talk with her about Magneto’s death. She unwillingly joins him, but they quickly get into a heated argument when he demands to know Magneto’s last words to her, as he believes Magneto sensed the Sinister strain in him. Storm is unwilling to tell him that his last words were to warn Storm that Xavier, in his goodness, would martyr them all. When Xaiver tries to get the information from her mind, they fight a mental battle which Storm, thanks to her strong will and the defenses he taught he earlier, wins. Xaiver admits to being frightened after what Sinister made him do. Storm leaves and warns he is no longer welcome on Arakko. Elsewhere, Sunspot, Nova and Kobak Never-held share a hot tub and gossip on Storm’s date and interstellar politics. Kobak leaves for a duel to get a seat on the Great Ring. Sunspot and Nova notice a light near the Otherworld Gate and hurry there to find Jon Ironfire, who cut his way through dimensions to warn them that Genesis is coming.

Full Summary: 

Arakko, somewhere at a beautiful lakeside:
A table for two has been set.

Craig Marshall, NASA scientist, asks the cook if he is Arakkii. Saucier sniffs he is French-Krakoan. Though he does recommend the local cuisine. Simple fare, but he enthuses about the spices. He knows all about the Arakkii spices, Craig replies but loses trail of the rest of his sentence, when he looks up to see Storm, dressed in a seductive gown, make her entrance.

She thinks to herself that he is a NASA astronaut with a doctorate in astrophysics, and another in soil and crop sciences. He’s made the cover of NOW twice. He may be the most ordinary man she’s ever been on a date with, but she doesn’t think that will be a problem.

She apologizes for being late and he does the same for being underdressed. He politely moves her chair for her. She tells him not to worry. The last dinner she had here was with Dr. Doom. He didn’t even take his faceplate off. Craig is a vast improvement. So, this is a strictly diplomatic dinner? he asks playfully. She feels smitten by his smile and wonders when was the last time somebody simply flirted with her. When was the last time she flirted back?

Let’s just say she is a firm believer in mutant-human relations… Saucier present chilled Krakoan gazpacho over caviar from Sobunar’s oceans as an amuse bouche. Craig admits that he had dinner at the White House, but this is something else.

Ororo asks about the Arrakki children he adopted. He replies that Kobb still won’t talk, but he smiles. And Looloo is doing great. He describes how the folks at the Argyre Commune that took them in encourage Looloo to talk about her pain. It helped a lot. Ororo recalls that is also the way of the Fisher King: you can’t heal until you speak the pain.

Craig admits he still has a lot to learn about Arakko, but then he got his briefing from Commander Brand and she wasn’t exactly painting the best picture. What happened to her? She is gone, Ororo replies. No one knows where. If she resurfaces, she’ll face their justice. If she’s lucky, Nova will find her first – she’s broken the Pan-World-Treaty a dozen ways.

He was always a Night Thrasher fan himself, Craig refers to Nova’s former teammate. And a Storm fan, of course, he quickly adds. Of course, she agrees wryly. Seriously, he continues, he always thought the X-Men got a raw deal in the press. When Krakoa was founded, he hoped it would shine a light on the good the X-Men had done for the world. That maybe a new setting would help the people see the real them. They are in a new setting now, Storm points out. What does the real her look like to him? He is speechless.

That moment, Charles Xavier telepathically interrupts the date and orders her to Krakoa. They need to talk about Erik!

Storm thinks to herself that, when she was young, Xavier insinuated himself into her life to tell her what she was not. And for years after, she followed his dream. Now he summons her again – his soldier – as if nothing has changed. But too much has.

Ororo apologizes to Craig. He will have to tell her on the second date. She figures they do have a lot to talk about.

In the meantime, Sunspot is sharing a hot tub and dishing gossip with Nova (still wearing his helmet) and Kobak Never-Held. How do they think it is going? he asks. Not great, Nova replies grimly. The Proscenium is destroyed, Peter and Gamora are dealing with that, and he tries not to worry, but Glorp knows where they even are… and he’s keeping an eye on all the fires back home: rebel Skrulls, rogue Brood… and he still fears Arakko is a target. But his therapist says he’d quit, unless Nova took off six hours every week. So here he is hot-tubbing while the galaxy burns.

Kobak tells him that’s wise. A warrior who cannot rest, can only die.

Sunspot corrects them he was speculating on Storm’s date. Much as he is a fan of their resident galactic supercop. Nova goes off on a tangent about not being a cop and finishes with pointing out he is not a narcissistic billionaire in a fancy suit. Sunspot deadpans, he is completely naked, unlike some he could mention. Nova force overload, Rich explains the helmet. He needs to keep something on, or his cells start degrading. A likely story, Roberto replies wryly. He will show him how a daCosta reacts to an insult and challenges him to a soccer game. New Mutants against New Warriors. They’ll have Nova’s team crying for their mothers by halftime. Make it basketball and he is on! Nova retorts and asks if it’s true his old teammate Firestar is on Krakoa.

Kobak apologizes but he is due to battle Calderak in the Circle Perilous for the Seat of Victory. Standing up and giving the others an unwanted eyeful, Kobak informs them he does not plan to yield. When they see him next, he will be on the Great Ring or dead. Do not wish him luck, for he will prevail by his strength and spines or not at all - but if he does not return, remember him.

He walks away. Shouldn’t be a problem, Rich mutters. How many seats is that now? he asks. Almost a full house, Bobby replies. The candidates for the Seat of Dreams are still in a preliminary stage, but the Seat of Stalemate was decided yesterday. Has he met Lycaon yet? They are a little more imposing than poor Idyll. Imagine an Omega Wolverine and then double it.

Suddenly, they see an energy flare in the sky. Roberto realizes it comes from the External Gate that was originally in Otherworld. It moved to Arakko when the Arakkii came to their reality, then it moved here. A flare like that means something big came through it… or someone. He tells Nova to suit up. This could become apocalyptic!

On Krakoa, Storm joins Professor X at the Grove. He listlessly apologizes if he called her away from something important. It depends how he defines the word, she replies. She was taking a little time for herself. A commodity in short supply, but nothing as important as, say nurturing the crops of the people who gave her a home and support, when she had neither. Had he called her away from that work, they might have a problem.

The both recall how he did just that when he asked her to join the X-Men. He accused her of living a fantasy and offered the real world, telling her she was no goddess but a mutant with responsibilities.

Xavier asks if she still resents that he came to her all those years ago. Storm replies he told her she was living a fantasy and she was young enough to believe him. To believe helping her people survive was worth less than helping him…. And was he wrong? Xavier asks. How many times did she save the world? How many times did the X-Men save the universe, because she was there? She accuses him of seeing life as mathematics. He retorts his hand was forced. His X-Men were dying… his children! And he was alone. He didn’t even have Erik to turn to…

Max, she corrects him. Taken aback, he agrees. He knows Magneto went back to his birthname, but… Erik Lehnsherr… Magnus. He was his oldest friend, who he knew as well as he knew himself. But he never knew Max. He never let him, he adds in a small voice. And that’s why he asked her here. Now he has to know. When Magnus died, Xavier was engaged in psychic warfare on a scale she cannot imagine. He felt him die but had no time for the fine details. Or so Xavier told himself. The truth is he flinched. He could not look at it. He didn’t have the strength, but now he is sole captain of the ship of state. And this business with Sinister… how he infected Xavier with his psyche… he must know: What did Magneto know? When did he know it? What were Magneto’s last words?

They were private, Storm replies. Not from him, Xavier insists. From him most of all, she retorts. The talk of being “sole captain…” like a king on a throne… as if the Quiet Council are merely courtiers to be summoned…

So, Magnus did see something! Xavier demands. He saw Sinister in Xavier when he left the Council? Storm carefully tells him she understands. The blazes she does! he cuts her off. He was his oldest friend! He died in her arms! He has right to know what he said and he is not asking!

Storm coolly replies that she is no longer an X-Man and he no longer leads them. She respects him, but in what capacity does he presume to order her?

Xavier threatens he could simply read her surface memories. She wouldn’t even notice her. Eyes ablaze, she tells him to try.

He tries, she resists and finally throws him out of her mind.

She reminds him he taught them to repel psychic probes, his Red Triangle psychic defense protocol. To be called on if they ever faced a telepath with evil intentions… or one who had lost control… What’s happening to him?

He takes off the helmet and admits he is afraid. She doesn’t know what it’s like being claimed by Sinister. He didn’t control Xavier. He was him. Has he truly purged him? He thought so, but now he isn’t sure… Did Sinister introduce his strain to them during the council massacre or was that a decoy to disguise the real starting point? Before Krakoa, before any of this, he and Magneto came to Sinister. Resurrection is based on Sinister’s database. His evil is the foundation of their greatest good. If their Eden has a serpent, it wears a diamond on its brow. Or a club or a spade or a heart, he amends. Either way they are surrounded by enemies – within and without.

Those who hate them for their success as a mutant nation and those who hate them for where they have failed. Moira lost her faith and turned against them. Max lost his and turned away. If he loses his faith… can their nation survive? Already there are so many cracks in the bedrock… and he is no fool. He knows that things are being kept from him. And he’s allowed it. He spent his whole life closing his eyes to what he could so easily pry into. But if he had looked into Sinister’s mind and forced his secrets from him – how much pain would it have spared the universe? Multiple timelines… trillions of lives… created and destroyed - and he could have stopped it. He could have ransacked his mind at any time.

Xavier hesitates recalling that’s how the Sinister version of him used his power. To violate private thought, to control! Yet, how many times has he crossed the same line? Just now in his anger, he attempted it again. So, is he Sinister? Where’s the difference? The luxury of his guilt? And when paradise is lost for that guilt, because when action was needed he hesitated, what excuse will he give then?

Storm hesitates, then reveals Max was thinking of Xavier when he died. He asked her to watch him. Xavier tries to interrupt. She continues he didn’t do that because he thought Charles was Sinister, but because he might be himself. Of the three that shared the dream of Krakoa, he is the last. And rather than allowing to pass his dream to other hands, he is trying to bear its weight alone, though it is crushing him!

She floats upwards and believes that a measure of concern lay at the root of Max’s request. He was his friend. But after today? She is not! As she flies away, she warns him not to use the gate to Arakko again.

Sunspot and Nova have reached the External Gate. Nova takes a gravimetric scan and swears “Blue blazes.” Roberto jokes that when Nova uses alien swearwords he knows it’s bad, but when he uses “blue blazes…” it’s real bad. Nova agrees. He describes his scan like someone cutting through space. Carving a path between realities, closer with each swing… the gate begins to flare and the energy burst throws them backward.

Jon Ironfire exits, somewhat astonished to see them. Seeing Purity in his hands, Sunspot figures breaktime is over. Is that what he thinks it is? Ironfire informs them the White Sword has fallen, and 99 of his champions with him. He is the last! He brings them Purity as proof of his last words. Tell them, he said, Genesis is coming…

Characters Involved: 

Professor X

Kobak Never-Held
Jon Ironfire

Craig Marshal

In flashback:
Professor X, Storm

Story Notes: 

The issue takes place after the Sins of Sinister crossover and Immortal X-Men #11.

Craig Marshal first appeared in issue #6.

Saucier is Emma’s chef over in Marauders (1st series).

Storm’s dinner with Doom occurred in SWORD (2nd series) #7.

Regarding the destruction of the Proscenium, Nova refers to events in Guardians of the Galaxy (7th series).

The images of Xavier’s and Storm’s psychic duel are from:

Marvel Super-Heroes Secret Wars #5-6 (Xavier demanding obedience and Storm confronting him)

X-Men (1st series) #117 (Storm entering the mind of Storm as a child)

Uncanny X-men (1st series) #147 (Storm unleashing her power as a goddess)

Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #201 (Storm declaring the duel over)

The massacre on the Quiet Council took place in Immortal X-Men #10.

Xavier & Magneto recruited Mr. Sinister in Powers of X #4.

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