X-Men: The Hidden Years #2

Issue Date: 
January 2000
Story Title: 
“The Ghost and the Darkness”

John Byrne (writer and penciler), Tom Palmer (inker), Greg Wright (colorist), Jason Liebig (editor), Bob Harras (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

Cyclops mourns of the loss of Jean Grey and ponders the events which brought them to the Savage Land. Grief stricken, Cyclops unleashes his optic blast on the forest, but only draws attention to himself in the form of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Thanks to the Beast however, he is saved from the creature’s massive jaws. The Beast and Angel then give Cyclops some good news, Jean Grey is alive. When the tribesmen said that Jean had “Passed onto the land of the dead.” they had meant it literally, that it was an actual place that the tribe had sent their elderly for their last days. Shortly, the X-Men make their way to the point of embarkation to the Land of the Dead, and find that the travelers must take a boat which takes a course on the river into the mountains. The Angel takes off on the recon mission, but no sooner does he leave that Cyclops and Beast are attacked by the tribesmen. During the fight, Cyclops is hit square in the chest by an arrow, but they manage to escape on the boat which brings them into a cave. Once on the other side, they find that the Land of the Dead is far from a paradise, and that something in the air prevents people from dying, as evidenced by Cyclops sudden recovery as he pulls out the arrow from his chest. But they don’t have much time to contemplate it as a cage suddenly cases them. Meanwhile, the Angel is caught in the freak wind gusts that surround the Savage Land, and it sends him crashing into the side of the mountain, knocking him unconscious, where he is subsequently found by another winged being.
Meanwhile, Iceman has crashed over at his old girlfriend, Zelda’s, apartment. While in the middle of explaining his situation, that he has quit the school, he intercepts a mental contact from Professor X to Havok and Lorna Dane that he has lost contact from the X-Men in the Savage Land. After he makes a hasty exit, Zelda calls Candy Southern about her concerns with Bobby.

Full Summary: 

Deep in the jungles of the Savage Land, Cyclops wanders alone, lost in his thoughts and mourning for the loss of his fellow teammate and girlfriend, Jean Grey. He remembers the events which brought them to the Savage Land.

From receiving a reprimand from Professor X by not making sure that Magneto had died during the X-Men last encounter with him, to their ship being toss by the freak turbulent winds that surround the hidden land and their subsequent crash landing, at which point Jean had used her telekinetic powers to protect them. But not without a cost, as the force of the impact seemingly reflected back upon Jean and thereby killing her in the process, as explained by the natives who told them that she had “Passed into the Land of the Dead”.

Unable to cope with her loss, Cyclops unleashes his optic blasts with full fury against the trees. However Cyclops’s fit only manages to draw attention to himself as a Tyrannosaurus Rex emerges from the trees after him.
The X-Men’s leader barely manages to dodge out of the way of the dinosaur’s massive bite, but he only manages to back himself into a tree. Realizing he has nowhere to run, he prepares for the inevitable, only to be saved at the very last moment the Beast, who swinging from a vine snatches him out of harm’s way.
Not unappreciative of the last minute save, Cyclops still has to wonder why the Beast is in such a happy mood, despite Jean’s death. The Angel soon arrives and explains that they have good news, Jean is alive! The Beast goes on to explain that the Chieftain has been using a cultural metaphor, that Jean is still alive.

Meanwhile, at Zelda’s, Bobby Drake’s old girlfriend, apartment, Bobby himself is asleep out on the couch, while Zelda is on the phone talking with her mother, attempting to explaining the situation. When Bobby begins to wake up, Zelda hangs up and asks him what is going on.
After Professor X’s deception, Bobby Drake became upset, that and the fact the girl he is in love with is no seeing someone else. This, of course, doesn’t go at all well with Zelda, who suddenly blows up at Bobby for his audacity for dumping her without a word and suddenly expect her to take him in when things go sour.
Just then, Vera Cantor enters the room, having been disturbed by the commotion. Bobby is suddenly interrupted by a telepathic message from Professor X. The message is intended for Havok and Lorna Dane, but Bobby’s long time tenure at the school allows him to make out part of it, the general gist is that he has lost contact with the other X-Men.
Knowing he has to do something, Bobby suddenly takes off without another word. Zelda, determined to find out what is going on picks up the phone and calls someone else, the Angel’s girlfriend, Candy Southern.
While on the other line, Candy explains that she remembers Zelda. She goes onto answer Zelda’s question if she had ever gone to Professor Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, that she hasn`t gotten around to it yet.
While talking on the phone Candy turns over a picture of Warren Worthington from the wall to reveal another picture behind, of Warren and Candy under more leisurely circumstances, revealing that Candy unlike Zelda does in fact know that Warren and the Xavier students are mutants.

The Savage Land:

Cyclops begins to question the Savage Land natives they have met upon their arrival. As it turns out, no one actually dies in the village, and all their sick or aged people are sent to a place of earthly paradise…a literal “Land of the Dead”.
When Cyclops exclaims that they have no choice but to follow Jean, the natives they are questioning cry out that it is forbidden. But Cyclops is adamant, while he doesn’t want to be breaking any local taboos they don’t have a choice but to find out if Jean is all right.

Elsewhere in the Savage Land:

Jean is very much still alive, though in an unconscious state, as one of the “Land of the Dead” priests watches over her. When told that she would no longer need to slumber, the “ghost” of Magneto objects that the girl is among her greatest enemies, she is one of the people who killed him the last time they came to the Savage Land. Magneto goes on to explain that should she awaken, she will alert those others and ruin everything they have been working towards.

Meanwhile, back with Cyclops, Angel, and Beast:

The trio of X-Men soon find the point of embarkation into the Land of the Dead, a temple at the base of a river which leads into the mountain. They notice that the priests which guard the temple are very strange, and that their cloaks looked disturbingly organic. The X-Men witness a couple sick and elderly natives entering the temple and then climbing on board a boat before drifting off down the river.
While there isn’t anything untoward in the ceremony, they realize that the only way to get into the Land of the Dead is on the river through the mountain or above it, at which point Cyclops orders the Angel to find a way around the peaks. No sooner does the Angel leave than the two remaining X-Men are confronted by the tribal warriors and the Chieftain they met when they first arrive
d. The Chieftain exclaims that they have been betrayed and then orders the warriors to fire their bows at the strangers. Cyclops manages to take out the first wave of arrows with his optic blasts, at which point the Beast jumps into the battle himself. Despite their superior battle techniques, a discreet retreat would be a more viable option. Cyclops then orders the Beast to rush to the boats, but before the latter can commandeer one for them, he meets up with the priests, who reveal themselves to be much more. Their “organic” cloaks aren’t cloaks at all, but leather wings, which mean that the priests aren’t exactly human.
Caught off guard, the two X-Men quickly climb onboard one of the boats, at which point Cyclops uses his optic blast to push the boat forward like a motor. However before they can get too far, one of the warriors fires an arrow, which catches Cyclops square in the chest.
By then, the boat is caught by the current and they are already miles deep within the mountain. The wound, however, is quite fatal, and Cyclops prepares Beast to leave him behind to find Jean once they reach the other side. The Beast begins to encourage Cyclops to hold on, and as the boat emerges from the other side of the mountain any hope of a paradise is dashed when they witness the vast technological city on the other side. All around them is a dreary cityscape, with spires that reach high into the sky, and a polluted water stream with which they are now floating through.
Cyclops soon begins to stir, despite the Beast’s urgings to the contrary; however it is soon apparent that it is unnecessary, as Cyclops simply removes the arrow from his chest…the wound miraculously healed. Suddenly, before the two X-Men are able to contemplate it further, a cage springs from out of the water around them.


The Angel is having troubles of his own, as the cyclonic air currents are throwing the airborne X-Man back and forth. Deciding that since he can’t get over the current, he may try under them, he streaks for closer to the ground, barely gliding above sharp rocky outcroppings.
Just as he laments about the dangers of one badly timed gust, it actually happens and he is sent careening into the side of the mountain. The impact knocks him unconscious, and the Angel comes crashing to the ground, tumbling down the snow covered rocks until crashing to a rest on one of the lower outcroppings. Shortly after, another winged figure flies above him and then lands next to him.

Characters Involved: 


Angel, Beast, Cyclops, Iceman, Marvel Girl (all X-Men)

Zelda, Vera Cantor, Candy Southern (various past and present girlfriends of X-Men)


The Nhu’Ghari Priests

Various Savage Land Natives

Story Notes: 

Zelda and Vera’s apartment is an amazing likeness to a certain another apartment of other well known roommates, Monica and Rachel from Friends.This is also the first mention of Zelda and Vera having been roomies.

Zelda met Candy Southern at Bobby Drake’s 18th birthday at the Coffee-A-Go-Go in X-Men (1st series) #32.

The title “The Ghost and the Darkness” is from a movie based on facts. Set in 1898, this movie is based on the true story of two lions in Africa that killed 130 people over a nine month period.

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