X-Men: Red (2nd series) #7

Issue Date: 
October 2022
Story Title: 
The Winning Side

Al Ewing(writer), Stefano Caselli (artist), Federico Blee (color), VC’s Clayton Cowles (letterer), Tom Muller and Jay bowen (deisgn), Russell DAutermann (cover artist), Tom Clarke 8varian cover)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: 

Magneto lies dying after their victory over Uranos. He asks Storm to make sure he is not resurrected and warns her to watch Xavier. He fears Xavier will martyr them all out of the goodness of his heart. Later, at the Great Ring, Isca is met with hostility after she switched sides during the fight with Uranos. When a battle seems to be about to start, the Fisher King challenges Isca in a contest of understanding the meaning of loss. Thanks to her power, she begins to understand loss better than everyone and how much her power has shaped her life and isolated her from everyone. She steps back from the Great Ring and gives up her seat. When the others discuss what to do, Lodus Logos is the one who urges to break with tradition and look to the future instead. Storm decides to hand over her seat with its two votes to him and instead takes Magneto’s place in the Seat of Loss. At the KEEP, Cable and Wiz Kid eavesdrop on Brand. They access her data and are shocked by what they learn.

Full Summary: 

In the heart of the Earth, Magneto and Storm have just defeated Uranos the Undying with his own weapons. However, for Magneto, who has had to keep himself alive without a heart, it has proved too much and he lies dying in Storm’s arms. “You have new gods now,” he remembers saying. She tries to shush him. He continues he always knew who he was talking to. Those who would never be so gauche as to say it themselves, even as they pull mutantkind’s wings off for sport. He needed them to know that godhood was no longer an exclusive club. And look at him now… a full member… dying for a world that hates and fears him. Bitter irony on so many levels, he coughs.

Storm reminds him she told him not to talk, not hold a soliloquy. She can still keep him alive with her electricity if he just…

With a smile, he interrupts that even she can hold back death for only so long. Some things are out of their hands. Resurrection! she shouts. Even without a backup he can… Without backup is his decision, Magneto reminds her. She wouldn’t break her word either. With what’s to come, they need Arakko with them. He honestly thinks they need a martyr? she snaps. No, he replies, that is why she has to promise him to watch Charles.

Ororo doesn’t undestand and he explains the three of them created Krakoa. Moira betrayed them. He deserted his post. Now Charles is alone with his dream. Storm points out there are worse dreams than humans and mutants coexisting. He agrees. He has come to understand that nothing less will save them. They must stand together and fight together, humans and mutants, or their enemies will destroy them for simply daring to exist. He refers to the machines. They have never stopped. Charles dreams of persuading the world that mutantkind has value. In the hope that the world will then make them safe. His dream was simpler: to assure their safety, whether the world valued them or not. Krakoa was a compromise - a shared dream. But they were old fools building on sand and now… there will come a day, if they live.

He fears it will be soon. Their enemies will strike and Charles will feel forced by events to act. To do something because something must be done, however terrible. And, because he cannot see a choice, he will martyr them all. He is a good man. They must be wary of good men. For what will they not do to show how good they are? Watch him!

She promises to try. His eyes lose focus and suddenly he sees his lost daughter, Anya. He asks Storm if she can see her. Crying, she lies that she can. She’s proud of him, he states. He promises to be right there and dies.

The surviving members of the Great Ring survey the carnage and destruction caused by Uranos and his weapons.

Lodus Logos laments all the suffering and death and promises the dead will not be forgotten. He continues that two of their tables are whole, but the Day Table lies empty with two honored dead and one he names traitor. Arakko’s bane, Idyll’s murderer! He stares at Isca. Isca the Unbeaten. Isca the rogue. Isca of Amenth!

She steps closer to him and warns him that his next haiku may be his last. Lodus Logos is unimpressed. Art lives forever!

Ora Serrata interjects there is no true precedent for this situation. To have one of the Great Ring kill another – outside the Circle, in a time of war – even Tarn never dared take that step. It is unheard of, in her time at least. She turns to their historian Xilo but the injuries Uranos wrought have cost too much of his memories.

Isca smirks that the Seat of Law knows no Law and the Seat of History knows no history… and they presume to judge her.

They are all being judged, comes a new voice, as Storm returns with Sunspot, the Fisher King, and Syziza of the Smoke – the three Night Seats. Earth and everyone of Earth is to be judged… tested by Celestial forces far greater than any of them can comprehend and, though they have been gone from Earth for a long time, that includes them, perhaps her more than any. Unimpressed, Isca points out that she will pass any test, because she cannot fail. Worry about themselves.

Lodus Logos gives his condolences regarding Magneto to Storm and the Fisher King. He feels some trepidation as the Night Seats now stand in the day. A reasonable fear, Syziza agree. Traditionally, they make themselves known in ill times. Sunspot states that’s why Genesis had the original Night Seat dissolved, right? They made themselves known a little too much. And Ora Serrata dissolved them, didn’t she? Ora replies it was decided they were no longer necessary. Sunspot opines that that alone would make them more necessary, but what does he know. He’d never consider strategies like sitting in one place for ten thousand years. Getting high on his own pomp and grander…

What did he say? Isca demands. Here’s a thought, Roberto suggests. Did the great warrior Genesis ever win anything that actually mattered? If she had, wouldn’t they have come home? Bold words from a child she killed once already, Isca hisses. What would he do if she asked him to back that up? She turns to the others: what if she asked any of them to back their words up? What if she should judge them? What would they do?

Most of them have faced her at least once, in battle or in training. And how did that end for any of them? They lost because she never can. They only hold court now, because she was merciful. They hold court because she abstains! If she decided that the entire Great Ring is hers – that the entire planet is hers - what would they do? Knowing they’d always lose to her? What would any of them…

Lighting strikes in front of her. Knowing they would lose, they fight her anyway, Storm announces. To the death? Isca asks threateningly. Lodus Logos informs her there are things in life more important than simply living. Isca-who-speaks-of-us, Lactuca seethes, who-speaks-for-us, who-speaks-over-us. Isca-who-does-not-know-us.

Sobunar adds that Arakkii are not afraid of a life that ends.

But it won’t come to that, comes another voice. There will be no battle today between Isca and the Great Ring, because that’s what the Night Seats are for, the Fisher King pronounces, flanked by Sunspot and Syzyza.

She remembers him, Isca mocks. A little rat scurrying through the prisons. A fly they never managed to swat. But better late than never. He agrees and challenges her to a contest of understanding. And the winner is the one who most truly understands the meaning of loss.

Isca’s power begins to work. Pathetic fisherman, Isca thinks. Already old after sixty some years, whereas she has lived more than ten thousand years. What has this fisherman ever lost? His freedom? His love? His family?

Isca’s thoughts turn unbidden to her childhood on Okkara, spent happily with her sister, playing games. She always lagged behind. When she started winning games, it was a novelty at first. They grew up and her sister married a blue-lipped boy who hung onto every word of her philosophy. Swords were sued for ceremonies only. Then the demons came and one island became two and Isca won every battle against the demon army.

Her efforts brought Annihilation to the gates with whispered words for her sister that appealed to Genesis’ ideals, her dark dreams of what Arakko could be. Temptations were heeded. She remembered feeling the shift inside her when there could be no winning. Her perspective suddenly flipped, so that there was no choice to be made. So she left her home behind and walked into Amenth, to the demon lands, to join the first Summoners and fight for their cause. And she took one of them, a genomic mage with a cruel wit, to be her lover. Together they were conquerors and prison lords, bending the proudest their will and the calls of traitor and oathbreaker were as easily borne as summer rain on the skin. Until the world shifted again and she turned again, for she could never lose.

And after the great victory she joined so late, her people despised her and her family was lost to her and her love was killed while she watched. And then the roles had shifted again and shifted back. And she had never had a choice. There was no freedom for her either, even now, how could there be? How could she understand loss?

Isca remembers a laughing girl running along a beach. She falls to her knees. One second has passed.

Isca announces she understands. She resigns from the Great Ring. She does not belong in the Seat of Victory. She does not belong in any seat at all, because she is not of Arakko. She can never be. She can never lose.

The Progenitor appears to her in the form of Tarn and gives her a thumbs up. She passes. Again, she doesn’t lose.

Storm addresses her. Isca tells her not to talk to her. She warns them all not to follow her. She may kill them yet.

Ora Serrata observes that the Great Ring are now six, where once there were nine. She will not dissolve the Night Seats again, even to shore up their number. And yet, to have no Table of the Dawn during the war against a god is inacceptable. There is no precedent for this, and they cannot look into the past. Lodus Logos suggests they look to the future. Sobunar calls him an optimist. He’d rule them all with their dreams.

Yes, he replies forcefully. A new world needs new dreams, new ways of life that are more than war. Would they be like their foes? Eternal and eternally caged? So shackled to their older ways that they cannot change? They stand upon the remains of their dead and they demand more from their Great Ring. Storm agrees and, to everyone’s surprise, yields the Seat-of-all-around-us and its second vote to Lodus Logos, who accepts.

Ora Serrate protests there can be no transfer without a challenge. Storm calls it a challenge of fitness for the role and she yields. The regent’s seat decides the future of this land. Who should chart the future if not their poets and dreamers? Because it can’t be her. She is of Arakko and Earth, her attention is divided. Lodus asks if she is leaving the Great Ring. She replies that, in Magneto’s name, she claims the Seat of Loss.

Wiz Kid and Cable are working outside the station. Wiz Kid warns Cable she just logged in. Oh, and his dead mother just gave him a thumbs up. Something about looking for the truth, even though he doesn’t want to know about it. How is his end of the world going? He’s keeping busy, Cable replies and teleports in. For all he knows, he is risking the bad thumb by taking time out on a personal project. But part of fighting today’s war is planning for the war tomorrow.

And if tomorrow never comes, that’s one less war to worry about? Taki asks. Cable chides him for getting cynical in his old age. He is less concerned about the world ending and more about Brand noticing their hack. That’s the beauty of it, Taki replies, they are not hacking anything. The KEEP is a reality-warped duplicate of the PEAK. Not just a copy but the same station in two places at once. Kind of like two particles in quantum entanglement. The information of the PEAK wants to flow into the KEEP. Including Brand’s files.

The files are incoming. She was just resurrected, and her last back-up was six days ago. She’ll have left notes for herself and will access them so to not do the same thing twice. And now they will see those notes when she accesses them. Taki mutters he guesses they have to decide what to do about it, if she did kill Gyrich. They should take it to Nightcrawler first, then the Council. Whatever Brand’s done, she’s discreet.

He reads and starts to swear. Is he seeing this? he asks in disbelief. He turns to Cable, who angrily locks and loads his big gun. Taki takes that as a ‘yes.’

Characters Involved: 

Isca, Lodus Logos, Magneto, Ora Serrata, Sobunar, Storm, Xilo (The Great Ring)
Fisher King, Sunspot, Syzyza (Night Seats)
Cable, Wiz Kid


Story Notes: 

The story directly follows A.X.E. Judgment Day #4.

“You have new gods now” : Magneto’s line to several politicians in House of X #1.

Magneto and Storm decided to drop out of the resurrection queue in issue #4.
Isca killed Sunspot in issue #3.
More about Annihilation’s temptation of Genesis will be revealed in X-Men: before the Fall - Heralds of Apocalypse.
This issue reveals what was hinted before, that Isca and Tarn were or used to be lovers.

PASSED: iscA; Wiz-kid

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