X-Men: The 198 #2

Issue Date: 
April 2006
Story Title: 

David Hine (writer), Jim Muniz (penciler), Kevin Conrad (inker), Joe Caramagna (letterer), Matt Milla (colorist), Sean Ryan (asst. editor), Nick Lowe (assoc. editor), Mike Marts (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher), Juan Doe (cover art)

Brief Description: 

Following the trauma of losing her new love, Magma goes on a rampage through Guatemala. Her fiery attacks are stopped by Empath who calms her with his power and returns her to the Xavier Institute. There she is housed among the 198 and befriends the young mutants named Johnny and Outlaw. The refugees are starting to form a sense of community and Mr. M uses his powers to entertain and help the others. He heals Lorelei for example. The scope of his power is cause for alarm among O*N*E officials. In a briefing with the X-Men, the parallels between this “relocation center” and concentration camps becomes increasingly obvious. Kitty points this out rather harshly and excuses herself from the meeting. The meeting is cut short when Erg and some of the more volatile mutants among the 198 try to leave the grounds. This leads to a direct conflict between his “gang” and the Sentinels but Mr. M puts a stop to it before it gets out of hand. O*N*E recognizes that they are rapidly losing control of the situation. Meanwhile, the mysterious mutant named Johnny uses his grotesque power to somehow create a tiny, genetic duplicate of Magma.

Full Summary: 

A trio of Guatemalan soldiers approaches a small church where the mutant called Magma has stopped after unleashing her anguish and grief on their village. The ground is cracked and lava flows freely where she has passed. One soldier named Raul aims his gun at her. He notes that he has a clear shot as an American helicopter lands behind them. His fellow soldiers note that the Americans want her alive but Raul says they can have her corpse after what she did to two of his friends. As he is about to fire, Emanuel de la Rocha AKA Empath places a hand on his shoulder and uses his emotion-controlling powers to calm the man and fill his heart with joy.

Following Antonio’s death Amara plunged herself into the earth. She stayed underground for quite some time before emerging in Guatemala. Since Antonio’s death, she’s felt nothing but rage and has wanted the whole world to burn. Thus, the chaos around her.
Empath approaches the steps of the church where Magma sits, carefully avoiding the spouts of lava erupting from the ground. She threatens to kill him if he comes any closer. He reminds her that she was once in love with him and she says that she never loved him and it was all the result of his emotion-controlling powers. Using said powers, Manuel calms Amara. She recognizes that this is his doing but he asks if she trusts him. At first, she says no but quickly changes her answer to yes. Empath admits that he is altering her brain chemistry to calm her, just as a psychiatrist might prescribe drugs to stabilize a patient’s internal chemistry. He takes her hand and leads her to the O*N*E helicopter that awaits them. She tells him that she hates him and he again disagrees.

Later at the Xavier Institute, Amara recounts this to Johnny, one of the many mutant refugees at the Institute. She explains how she once loved Manuel but it was all the result of his empathic powers. She goes on to share how her mind and past have been altered so many times she doesn’t know who she truly is anymore. Antonio was the single person in her life she was sure of and who she could truly trust her feelings around. Johnny puts his arm around her and tells her that she can trust him too and that he’s there if she needs to talk. She thanks him as Outlaw approaches.

Outlaw introduces herself as Inez and guides Amara to the tent that they’ll be sharing along with Skids. She notes that Johnny is really cute except for the strange mouth and appendages on his chest. She explains that the dorms were damaged during the Sentinels battle against the Sapien League and thus the necessity of bunking her down in the tents.

As they move through the camp, Amara is shocked to see the ragtag grouping of Arclight, Fever Pitch, Erg and Sack. Outlaw explains that Cyclops offered amnesty to all mutants regardless of their criminal backgrounds. Magma notes that Arclight is a murderer and Inez says that from what she heard, Amara came pretty close herself in reference to her maddened assault in Guatemala. Outlaw says to get through this everyone needs a clean slate.

Cyclops arrives to check in on Magma and see how she’s doing. She admits that she’s not sure since she’s still under the calming influence of Empath’s powers. Cyke apologizes but she admits she was crazy and that numb is probably better for her than that. She can’t believe how much has changed in the few weeks since she left her teaching post. Cyclops notes that most of the students are gone now and things are a bit up in the air, but that they could use her experience as a teacher to help among the refugees in the encampment. She assures him she’ll help but is distracted by Mr. M and asks who he is.

Mr. M is entertaining Leech and some others by transmuting a mini-pterodactyl from thin air. Leech is thrilled and even more impressed when Mr. M transforms the pterodactyl into a cloud of butterflies. Leech begs for more but Mr. M excuses himself to deal with something more important. He crosses over to Lorelei and asks what they did to her as he removes the scarf covering her head. She asks him not to as her mostly bald and scarred head is revealed. He assures her that he can fix it and with a wave of his hand, her hair regrows to its former length almost instantly. Tears of joy fall from her eyes at this miraculous display of power.

Others view Mr. M’s transmutational powers as a cause for alarm and concern. In the X-men’s War Room, Val Cooper meets with various team members to review the current state of affairs. They assess that he is an Omega-level mutant and Cyclops says that the X-Men will keep an eye on him. Val expresses her concern that they might be underestimating Mercator. She shares a mutant affairs report that has labeled him as mentally unstable, citing the incident in Mutant Town where he nearly obliterated half the city. Bishop notes that he was there and doesn’t feel that Mister M means any harm. Valerie counters by reminding them of what he did to the Sentinels when he arrived. Cyclops cuts the debate short, reiterating firmly that they will keep an eye on him. Valerie coldly replies that O*N*E will be doing the same.

Moving on, she notes that many mutants are still unaccounted for and that orders from the White House are to bring all active mutants in to the relocation center. Beast calls attention to this particular phrase and notes that this is the same euphemism used to describe the internment camps that Japanese-Americans were confined to during World War II. Val defensively notes that this program s not internment and that it’s completely voluntary and for the protection of mutants. Kitty asks if everyone is free to come and go then. Valerie hesitantly replies “not exactly” and explains that they have to have some control. Kitty narrows her gaze on Dr. Cooper and says two words: “concentration camp”. Valerie seems indignant at the mere suggestion but Kitty holds her ground. She says the words again: “relocation center, internment camp, concentration camp” and asks what exactly they are operating here. Dr. Cooper says it’s a have and refuge and Kitty in turn, asks why the guards are patrolling the inside of the grounds.
Dr. Cooper tries to change the subject and carry on with her agenda and Kitty asks what’s next: communal showers? Cyclops tells her that was uncalled for and Kitty bites her tongue and excuses herself from the briefing. Val seems dismayed. Emma suggests that Kitty is an attention-seeker but Beast explains that Kitty had family who died in Auschwitz. Val says once again that they are not running a prison.

Outside, there is mounting evidence to the contrary. Erg is stopped by an armed guard when he and a small group request to leave the rounds. When a superior officer arrives to find out what’s happening, Fever Pitch notes that they just want to go outside. When questioned on their reason, they offer a variety but the guard insists that they can walk freely on the ten square kilometers of the estate’s grounds. He notes that they cannot ensure their protection outside the gates. Sack and Fever Pitch continue to get agitated and asks Erg for permission to use their powers to force their way out.
Dr. Cooper is alerted and orders two Sentinels to meet her at the front gates. She notes to Beast and Cyclops how many of the mutants here are suspected of homicide. Things come to a head and Erg fires a blast of energy at the guard who has blocked his way. Fever Pitch and Sack attack as well while Erg moves on to blast the gates open. One of the Sentinels blocks his blast with their hand and orders them to cease using their powers. Erg asks what they’ll do if he doesn’t comply since he’s already grounded.

Seeing the conflict erupt, Mammomax and Arclight race in to join the rebellion. Cooper and the X-Men arrive as the Sentinel pilot requests permission to retaliate. Cooper authorizes minimal force but the fighting stops when a force field is cast between the Sentinels and the attacking mutants. Erg turns on Mr. M and asks if he was responsible and whose side he is on. He simply replies that it is far too nice a day to fight. Cooper reports in to General Lazer that the situation is under control and he notes that it’s clearly not under their control. He orders Cooper to report in to him the next morning. Speaking to himself, Lazer wonders what the most dangerous collection of mutants ever assembled is truly capable of.

Later that night, Johnny is thinking about Magma and how incredible she is. He notes that all her amazing power is locked in her DNA as he takes a lock of her hair and feeds it to the sentient creature that occupies his chest cavity. With his hand still stuck in the thing’s gaping maw, he convulses before pulling his hand free. He opens it and inside is a small round pod of some sort. It glows and he tears it open. Inside it is a miniature version of Amara aglow with power.

Characters Involved: 

Arclight, Erg, Fever Pitch, Jazz, Johnny (last name unrevealed), Leech, Lorelei, Mammomax, Mr. M/Absolom Mercator, Outlaw, Peepers, Sack, Toad and several unnamed mutants (all refugees at the Xavier Institute AKA “The 198”)

Beast, Bishop, Cyclops, Emma Frost, Shadowcat (all X-Men)

Karma, Magma (all Xavier Institute staff)

Dr. Valerie Cooper, General Lazer, Alexander “Lex” Lexington (all Sentinel Squad O*N*E* team members)

Unnamed Sentinel Squad O*N*E* team members and military personnel

Raul and unnamed Guatemalan soldiers

Story Notes: 

Magma and Empath have a significant history between them. Amara original left the New Mutants and joined Emma Frost’s Hellions to explore her attraction to Manuel in NEW MUTANTS (1st Series) #57. The two eventual moved to Amara’s home in Nova Roma. It was later revealed that Nova Roma was an elaborate contrivance of the ancient mutant Selene and the citizens of Nova Roma had all been kidnapped and mind-wiped into believing themselves to be part of this hidden and anachronistic society. When this illusion began to break down, Empath used his powers to tentatively maintain the illusion out of fearing of losing the happiness he had found there with Amara. When the truth was revealed, the two parted ways and Magma (who’s given name was apparently Allison Crestmere) was enraged at Manuel’s role in manipulating her (NEW WARRIORS (1st Series) #31). Since returning to the Xavier Institute, Magma has returned to being called Amara Aquilla but it has yet to be explained why and what this means regarding the truth behind Nova Roma.

The mutant called Johnny was rescued from an anti-mutant attack by Quicksilver and Spider-Man in SON OF M #1.

Arclight was a charter member of Mr. Sinister’s primary strike squad, the Marauders. The Marauders were responsible for the wholesale slaughter of the Morlocks during the Mutant Massacre crossover.

Mister M nearly destroyed Mutant Town in DISTRICT X #7-8.

It was revealed that Kitty’s great-aunt, Chava Rosanoff died in Auschwitz in Uncanny X-Men #199.

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