X-Men: The Hidden Years #19

Issue Date: 
May 2001
Story Title: 
Broken Promises

John Byrne (writer), Tom Palmer (pencils), Greg Wright (colors), Lysa Hawkins (associate editor), Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

The X-Men all wake up separately in what looks like an ancient jungle. Beast is attacked by a huge bug, but quickly rescued by Cyclops’ optic blasts. The two soon meet up with Jean and Bobby and try to get out of what appears to be a humongous holding cell. However, as the X-Men make escape plans, Tobias Messenger appears in a holographic image in front of them. He reveals to them who he is and what his goals are, and that the X-Men are supposed to be his prisoners. He vanishes, returning to his body in the Promise’s HQ. There, he and the rest of his people prepare to go back into their stasis tanks, so they can emerge a decade later, hoping that the inevitable war between humans and mutants will be over by then and that the Promise can be the voice of reason. They also place Angel, Havok and Lorna in stasis tanks, believing that they can be of use, and after doing that close their tanks. Back in the jungle, Scott notices that the floor of their room is made out of metal, and he combines his optic beams with Bobby’s ice powers, giving them the chance to penetrate the metal and escape. However, as they try to find an exit, the X-Men find themselves into a huge shaft, and its fans threaten to suck the X-Men up. Once again, though, the X-Men combine their mutant powers to bring themselves into safety. Unfortunately, that safety is only a matter of mere seconds, as they also land into subterranean vault. This results in a rough landing, which knocks out most of the team, leaving only the Beast conscious. However, he is quickly confronted by none other than the Mole Man, who wants revenge on the X-Men because of his earlier defeat. Using his staff to knock out the Beast, the Mole Man shouts that the X-Men are at his home now, where his will rules, and his will is that none of them leave this place alive. Meanwhile at Dunfee, the Professor starts to worry as his connection with the X-Men fades away. And back at Messenger’s lab, Lucy gets out of her stasis tank alone, unnoticed by the others. She also releases Warren from his tank, admitting she has some feelings for him, and claims that Warren will help her gain the life back the Promise stole from her!

Full Summary: 

In a mysterious jungle…

Very much alone, Beast is attacked by a giant, monster-like beetle! Recognizing it as an example of the species Dynastes Hercules, Beast remarks that its size coulg daunt the god for which it is named. However, rather than face it, the Beast flees further into the jungle.

As he races, with the giant beetle in pursuit, the Beast takes in his surroundings. Hank notices that everything in the jungle is a thousand times bigger as it’s supposed to be. He wonders if he has been shrunk. Suddenly, Cyclops attacks the giant bug using his optic blast, admitting to Hank that was his first thought as well. The bug is still alive, but seems to have lost interest in Hank as it takes off.

Hank climbs up to the hill Scott is standing on, and thanks him for the assist. Scott states that there’s no reason for them to go after the bug, and instead asks Hank if he has seen Jean or the others. Hank hasn’t and adds that, on closer observation, he withdraws his earlier query as to their own potentially diminished proportions. He explains that the textures of these local flora are not what one might expect if it were they who were so small, rather than them being huge. Scott already noticed that.

Joining the conversation, Jean, coming crawled out of the bushes, asks if she is seeing something like really giant plants. Scott is relieved to see Jean again and they embrace. Hank admits that the plants are giant, but no more so than might have been familiar to the dinosaurs. Jean thinks that that raises another question, which Scott voice: have they been transported through time? Hank states that though there are some people out there capable of doing that, he doesn’t believe that’s what happened to them. He tells his teammates to observe the way the vegetation arcs above them, forming an enclosed vault.

Jean realizes they must be in some kind of huge chamber. Scott has noticed something else which fits Hanks theory. He explains that he fired into the ground to scare that big beetle off that attacked Hank. And his eyebeam uncovered something build out of metal! It looks like the floor, which must have been built by someone. But Scott wonders who build it, and why.

Elsewhere, the Mole Man’s servants have brought their master’s attention to their viewing screens, which have spotted the X-Men. The Mole Man recognizes his enemies, because their paths had crossed once before, many months ago. He states that, if that encounter has to be repeated, this time the outcome shall be more to his liking!

Meanwhile, Scott, Hank and Jean happily wave their hands into the air as they spot Iceman ice-gliding through the air. Bobby is glad that he finally found his teammates again, because he was beginning to think he would never find them again. Noticing their absence, Bobby asks where are Warren, Alex and Lorna. Scott explains that there’s no sign of them, and that they have also no idea where they are.

Still studying the metal floor of the jungle, Beast admits that he’s beginning to think he may have been a bit too hasty when he dubbed this chamber as “man-made.” When Jean wants to know what Hank means by that, Hank claims that he can’t be sure about it, at least not without the proper tools with which to make a detailed analysis, but the metal appears to be an alloy unlike anything known to modern science.

Yet, Hank adds, and this is the most perplexing point in his theory, there is evidence that the metal artifact is thousands of years old! It’s certainly older than industrialization in North America. Jean mentions they can only assume they are still in North America. Iceman jokes that the history lessons are all very interesting, but he wants to know how that’s going to help Lorna.


Teri visits Charles in his room, telling him that she thought he had gone to bed. She asks if there’s something wrong, with the Sentinel, for instance. Xavier promises it’s nothing like that. He claims that the robot that attacked Teri’s daughter, Ashley, is the last Sentinel they are likely to see. But something disturbed his slumber. His telepathic abilities have allowed him to develop a subliminal bond with his X-Men, and that bond has been broken. It’s as if the X-Men… are no longer on Earth!


Iceman asks if they are sure their plan is a good idea. Concentrating his optic blasts on the metal plate, Scott admits that he can’t make no guarantees. But it seems no more than common sense to him that if someone put them in this place, they should do everything they can to get out. So, he uses his optic blast to try and fire a hole in the metal floor. The down part is that the metal is most resistant to his blasts. He asks Jean what her telepathy is reading. Jean explains that she isn’t reading anything but the four of them. It’s as if this chamber is in the middle of some kind of psychic dead zone.

Tobias Messenger interrupts, and appears in a holographic image of himself. He compliments Jean on the apt description. Tobias reveals that he has created a neutralizing field all around this chamber. He introduces himself to the X-Men, though he believes his name doesn’t mean anything to the youngsters. He admits that he’s the leader of a group of mutants, not unlike the X-Men and call themselves the Promise.

Iceman covers his ears and tells Tobias to turn down the volume since none of them are dead. To this, Tobias rejoins that he himself is deaf. He was born unable to speak or hear, and only a mutation allowed him to communicate with his fellow. Beast asks the Messenger what it is he feels he “promises.” Tobias confirms that he promises nothing less than the future of the world. To answer Hank’s question in greater detail requires that they need to know something of the strange story of Tobias’ life.


He was born in the year 1959. And before the manifestation of his mutation during his nineteenth year, Tobias was sealed in a prison of silence. But by the time he became thirty years old, Tobias’ power was developed enough that he could travel abroad in the world, looking for others like himself. By the time he turned fifty, Tobias had gathered a small group of mutants. Tobias admits that none of these mutants possessed powers as… flamboyant as the X-Men’s. He realized that the atomic age was still some thirty years in the future, and his and his fellow mutants were only such minor skills as Mother Nature herself created. Still, they found they could combine their powers, and even before America’s entry into the first World War these mutants used their special abilities to help shorten what might have been a much longer conflict.

Alas, death and attrition whittled away at Tobias’ fragile band of mutants. By the time he was sixty years old, he was alone yet again. It was on that day that he conceived the idea of placing himself into suspended animation, emerging once each decade to monitor the progress of the world, and to seek new mutants he could enlist into his cause. This, Tobias has done with success, until the most recent occasion when they learned of the X-Men’s existence, and also of the existence of Magneto and his Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.


Bobby can’t believe that Tobias’ response to all this was to kidnap Lorna. He still needs to hear something that will make him trust their captor. Beast agrees with Bobby, and tells Tobias that his actions don’t inspire a great deal of faith. Tobias believes that the X-Men’s lack of trust is because of Charles Xavier’s influence. He believes Xavier taught his students to be fearful and suspicious of any mutants who don’t agree with his “narrow precepts.” Iceman reminds Tobias that talking bad about the Professor isn’t going to win him any Brownie Points either.

Tobias doesn’t really care if the X-Men trust him or not. He informs them that the time has come that he and his fellow mutants return to hibernation. He promises that this place will provide food and shelter, and that the X-Men’s powers will keep them from harm. He waves the X-Men farewell, and vanishes.

Iceman wonders where Tobias went, but Beast states that Tobias was never really there. The thing they just saw was some kind of mental projection. Scott asks Jean if she can trace the source of the projection. Beast agrees that would indeed help them to decide which direction to go into, should they succeed into escaping from this place.

At their base, the Messenger has returned to this followers, all of whom are dressed in their hibernation suits. Tad notices that Tobias didn’t have any luck. Tobias confirms that, claiming that the X-Men’s minds are armored against any who aren’t themselves. Craig asks if that means they’ll have to go back into the tubes, and wait another ten years for the world to get smarter. Tobias states that they don’t seem to have much choice. He’s confident that the day the war between humans and mutants begins is approaching fast. And once that war is over, and mutants have prevailed they must be there to lend sound minds and counsel to what will surely be a long and difficult task of rebuilding the world.

Gene is glad that at least they’ve recruited two more people into their cause: Lorna Dane and Havok. Lucy doesn’t entirely agree with the idea that they’ve “recruited” the two. Or, she mocks, was she the only one who could hear Lorna scream when the put her into the cylinder? Tobias claims that Lorna was just screaming because she feared the unknown. He explains that, in the next ten years, as the teaching circuits feed information into her mind, Lorna will see validity of their purpose. She and the others alike will see it, assuming the Angel hasn’t been completely indoctrinated by Xavier.

Meanwhile, Scott is still attempting to use his blasts to escape from the room they are in. When Jean asks if he’s having any luck, Scott thinks so, as he thinks he has already opened a small crack into the floor. He jokes that he could surely use a crowbar right now! Iceman gets an idea. He reminds them that ice expands as it freezes, so he fires some of his ice powers at the panel that Scott fired upon, and Beast happily states that Bobby’s ice is forcing back the edges of the opening Scott made! Scott fires one last beam on the floor, and a tunnel opening is made!

Beast jumps down first and finds some kind of long tunnel, which seems to go on for miles in both directions. Hank believes that this is further evidence that they are somewhere underground. He explains that a structure of this size could not have been built on the surface. At least, the tunnel couldn’t have remained a secret were it build on the surface! The walls appear to be a combination of native rock and the same mysterious metal of the floor above. The other X-Men jump into the tunnel as well. Jean thinks that this is fantastic and wonders who could have carved out such structures.

Iceman wonders if it couldn’t have been their old “pal,” the Mole Man, since he has a fondness of tunnels. Hank agrees with that, but the tunnel is so far beyond the scope of modern technology, it’s unlikely even the Mole Man could have handled such a big job. Scott asks Jean if she’s reading anything, but Jean replies that she isn’t. She believes that the Messenger’s dead zone must extend for miles around the jungle chamber. Hank believes that means the X-Men should observe a heightened protocol of safety for themselves. Scott agrees with that, and mentions that Tobias must have known they wouldn’t just sit in the box he put them in.

Jean notices that Bobby’s a bit quiet and asks if he’s okay. Hesitant, Bobby admits that he isn’t sure about that, because he’s having trouble staying iced up! Hank believes that’s due to the lack of humidity. There’s almost no moisture in the air down the tunnel, so there’s nothing for Bobby to freeze but his own bodily fluids. Scott tells Bobby that he better turns back into his human form, because he doesn’t want to risk of complete dehydration. Bobby agrees with that and de-ices, and notices how hot it suddenly becomes without his ice powers on.

Hank further explains that temperature increases with distance, which means they must be miles underground! Jean has noticed that there’s enough movement into the air to keep it from being completely unbearable. Scott believes that there must be some kind of gigantic ventilation system at work. Bobby jokes that he would hate to be the one paying Messenger’s electricity bill, if that’s the case.

Scott finds a room which seems to be a vertical shaft. Amazed by the humongous size of the shaft, the X-Men can also feel breezes, which are being pulled up from far below! As they explore the shaft, Beast believes that the enclosed central-core will most likely contain vertical mass relocation units. Bobby asks Hank if by that, he means elevators. Scott orders the team, in that case, they’ll go to said elevators. He does warn the team to move slowly and easy. Jean wonders what makes the air move. Beast notices a gigantic fan, joking that’s the answer to Jean’s question. Bobby thinks it’s lucky the device isn’t turning too fast, because they would be in serious trouble if it were the case.

But suddenly, the fan does start to move faster! The X-Men hold on to the catwalk they were walking on, and Hank believes that the fan must be some kind of cycle, which conserves energy by not running at full power constantly. Bobby mocks that it happens to be just their luck to walk into it just as fast as the cycle begins. Scott orders the team to keep moving, as they are past the halfway point to the center.

The X-Men crawl toward the center but, once there, Bobby mentions that he can’t find a door to go through! Scott is determined that there must be something, because it makes no sense to make a catwalk toward a dead end. Beast adds that they can only assume they are running on a catwalk. They may have allowed themselves one too many assumptions. The suction is getting stronger by the second, and its force increases geometrically! Scott asks Jean if her telekinesis can’t hold the team down. She is already working on that, and states that’s the only reason why they haven’t been sucked up already! But Jean doesn’t know how much longer she can do this.


At the room where Tobias’ stasis tanks are being held in, one person gets out of hibernation tube.


The suction of the fan has listed the X-Men off of the feet. However, Beast has held onto the walkway, with him holding into Cyclops. In turn, Cyclops holds onto Jean, with Iceman grasping her. Unfortunately, against the suction, Jean shouts to Scott that she can’t hold on anymore!

As Beast continues holding onto the catwalk, he asks Scott if he can’t blast the central mechanism with his eyebeams. Scott explains that he can’t, because he can’t operate the control studs on the sides of his visor in this state, or the secondary systems in his gloves. Bobby asks Jean if she can’t open Scott’s visor with her telekinesis. Jean can, but not without losing the little she’s able to contribute to them all resisting the suction. Hank believes they’ve only got one choice then: he lets go of the catwalk!

The X-Men let go of each other, and Scott fires his optic blast on the fan. The beam hits its target, but the plan fails! They are still being sucked up! Jean doesn’t give up hope yet, as she spots some kind of steel mesh above them, which is closing in front of the fan blades. Beast gets an idea. He explains that it only makes sense there would be some kind of device like this to prevent detritus from being sucked in and possibly damaging the fan.

Whatever its purpose, Jean is thankful for small mercies. Scott says to Jean that Kraven really pushed Hank to the edge, and it looked like Hank might be afraid to really cut loose. Jean agrees with that. Beast notices that the blasts Scott fired are really working, as he can already see the gap opening into a sizeable chamber beyond. Bobby concludes that all they need now is for the fan to turn off.

Suddenly, a crashing sound is heard. Bobby panics, believing that Scott’s beams did more damage than they thought: the fan is jammed! The X-Men fall down, and Scott tells Jean to form a telekinetic bubble around them. Jean does so, but reminds everyone that her T.K. isn’t strong enough to support all of their weight.

As the bubble bounces down, Scott adds that Jean’s powers don’t have to be that strong, as long as she can keep them all together and cushion them against random impact. As they continue to fall down, Scott points out to his teammates that they are approaching the end of the ventilator shaft. Hank sees that too, but he doesn’t see the bottom. They continue to fall into a subterranean vault, which seems to be a natural formation. “The vault is so huge you could fit a whole city in it!” one exclaims.

Jean’s bubble starts to break up, and she warns that impact will happen in about ten seconds. Scott warns Jean to make her force field as big and soft as possible. The bubble crashes, and everyone besides Beast are rendered unconscious. Hank believes he’s still up because he’s a little more resilient than the others.

A voice promises Beast that he’ll soon join his teammates, and the X-Man then receives an electrical shock coming from a staff, which knocks him out as well! The Mole Man reveals himself, and shouts at the X-Men that they’ve entered his domain. And here, it’s his will that rules. And it is his will that none of the X-Men will make it out of this place alive!

Elsewhere, at Tobias’ lab…

Lucy is out of her stasis tank and releases Angel from his as well. Warren wants to know where he is, but Lucy claims there’s no time for explanations. They’ve got to get away from there. Warren tells the lady not to be so fast, because the fog is already lifting off his brain. He remembers that Lucy has something to do with the people that kidnapped Lorna. Lucy admits that, but tells Warren that he’ll have to trust her because she’s the only one who can help him escape.

Lucy wants to leave, but Warren holds her back because he sees Lorna and Havok in their stasis tanks. He defends that he won’t leave without the two of them, or without any of the other X-Men either. Lucy explains to Warren that his other teammates aren’t in this room, and she can’t open those tanks without killing Lorna and Alex. But, Lucy cries, none of that matters! She wants Angel to come with her and he’ll help her take the life back that Tobias and his people stole from her!

Characters Involved: 

Angel, Beast, Cyclops, Havok, Iceman, Lorna Dane, Marvel Girl, Professor X (all X-Men)

Craig, Gene, Grace, Lucy, Simon, Tad Carter, Tobias Messenger and unnamed others (all the Promise)

Teri Martin

the Mole Man

the Mole Man’s servants (all unnamed)

Story Notes: 

Chronologically, Fantastic Four (1st series) #102-104 has to be read first before the next three issues of X-Men: The Hidden Years, because those stories overlap with the FF adventures.

Mole Man was defeated by the X-Men in X-Men (1st series) #34.

Beast was hunted down by Kraven the Hunter in X-Men: The Hidden Years #17.

Dynastes Hercules is the scientific name of the Hercules Beetle, which is native to Central and South America. While large for insects, they mainly grow to a length of over six inches.

Detritus is organic waste material from decomposing plants or animals.

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