X-Men: The Hidden Years #20

Issue Date: 
July 2001
Story Title: 
Worlds Within Worlds

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

Brief Description: 

In Atlantis, Magneto tries to convince Prince Namor to begin a new war against mankind. He tells him that, when the two of them join forces, nobody will be able to defeat them. Namor isn’t interested in war, because he has always striven to peace. However, promises to give the idea some thought. Somewhere underground, the captured X-Men are brought by the subterraneans to the throne room of none other than… the Mole Man! The X-Men, minus Beast who’s still unconscious, start attacking the villain. But the Mole Man has the advantage of fighting in his own realm now, and temporarily blinds the X-Men with light from his “valley of diamonds.” The glow causes Jean and Scott pain, rendering them unable to use their powers anymore. But Bobby has noticed the running water in the nearby fountain, and manages to combine that knowledge with his own powers and seals the entrance to the valley with an ice wall. An angry Mole Man unleashes some of his most terrible monsters upon the X-Men, wanting to take care of them once and for all! Unnoticed by the others, Beast regains consciousness and joins his teammates in the battle. Scott is glad to see Hank acting like himself again, because he thought Hank was still too down about his battle with Kraven a while back. Meanwhile, Angel flies Lucy toward Philadelphia, where her now aged son Mike lives. The family reunion is certainly not a happy event, because Mike has a hard time to accept that his mother is still alive, after spending thirty years believing she is dead. Plus, discovering the fact that she is a mutant and even younger than he, makes it even harder. Warren and Lucy think it’s better they leave Mike for now, and instead go try and rescue the other X-Men. Meanwhile at Dunfee, Xavier is worried that he still hasn’t re-established contact with the X-Men. As he continues to try, he is interrupted by Teri, who informs the Professor about the stunning events on the news. The president is about to make a statement regarding a crisis in Manhattan, but in the meantime Reed Richards explains to the viewers that Prince Namor and Atlantis, have apparently declared another war upon the surface world. When Richards mentions strange magnetic waves being involved, Xavier has his own idea of who might be behind the war. He uses his astral form to travel to the Atlantean warships beneath the ocean, where he confronts his old enemy… Magneto! Xavier tries to convince Magneto to stop his war, but Magneto is convinced of his mission and proudly declares that the final hour of humanity is near!

Full Summary: 

Atlantis, Namor’s palace…

Magneto explains to Namor that neither he nor Namor are truly human – that’s why neither of them will ever be trusted by the world above. He suggests that they join forces. With Namor’s great power combined with his, nobody would be able to stop them.

To this, Namor replies that, seeing their past encounters, he has little reason to trust Magneto. In any case, Namor realizes that Magneto hints at war, while he has always striven for peace. Yet, Namor must confess, there is a greater truth in what Magneto says. Greater, perhaps, than the mistrust Namor feels for him. Magneto suggests that, in that case, Namor thinks long and deep about what he just said.


Teri, entering the Professor’s room and holding some cups of fresh coffee, asks him if something is wrong. Hesitant, Xavier admits that he prays that isn’t the case. But he still isn’t able to make telepathic contact with the X-Men and, now, there seems to be something else wrong too. Teri smiles that now, Charles sounds like Obi-Wan when he said, “I sense a great disturbance in the Force.”

Charles wishes that this were something as frivolous as that. But, he fears that isn’t the case. He senses at the very heart of this the mind of his greatest foe. Perhaps, he is even the greatest foe of all mankind. Xavier believes that the next few days may number among the darkest the world has ever seen!

Elsewhere, underground…

The apparently unconscious X-Men are being carried by a host of subterraneans, who make their way over a bridge of rock and across a field of molten lava. In actuality still conscious, though playing possum, Jean telepathically calls out to Scott. She warns him not to react too quickly, as she senses that he’s close to full consciousness. She knows that he can receive her telepathy.

Scott telepathically replies via their rapport that he can “hear” Jean, but wonders where they are. Jean explains that they are being carried by a small horde of subterraneans, if the mental impressions she is getting are correct. And where there are subterraneans… Either Tyrannus or the Mole Man is not likely to be far away, Scott finishes.

Reaching their destination, the subteranneans drop the captured X-Men in Mole Man’s throne room. Sensing that the X-Men are awake, the Mole Man rises from the throne. As the mutants rise to their feet, the Mole Man declares that’s a good thing they still live – because he didn’t want his enemies to die without knowing who’s responsible for their deaths. Scott admits that he always knew Mole Man had a big ego, but promises that any “defeat” they may have coming won’t be because of him. He corrects that they were all knocked out by a fall from more than a mile above. Jean adds that only her telekinetic force field bubble saved the team from being killed.

Mole Man calls the X-Men liars, and hits Cyclops’ side with his staff! The Mole Man knows that Beast lies unconscious because of him – and the others will soon join him. Scott warns his teammates to watch out, but Mole Man still manages to strike both Jean and Bobby. The Mole Man promises that the X-Men can’t escape him. Though he is nearly blind, his long years in this subterranean realm have no heightened senses that he can anticipate the X-Men’s least movement even before they make it!

Cyclops tries to blast the Mole Man with his eyebeams, but misses as the Mole Man leaps away from it. The Mole Man claims that, even though Cyclops’ beams move at the speed of light, he can sense the minute movements of Scott’s muscles before they strike. He then uses his staff and hits Scott in his face.

Nearby, Jean explains to the Mole Man that her powers don’t require her to move, and wonders if the villain can dodge her telekinesis. In illustration, she uses her powers to lift the Mole Man up, much to his surprise. The Mole Man compliments Jean, admitting that he is helpless against her telekinesis. But he wonders what kind of resistance she has to the mind-numbing glare of the valley of diamonds behind her? Pressing a nearby button with his staff, a secret door opens, revealing a large chasm of gigantic luminous crystals.

Jean starts to feel the diamond’s influence, as the diamonds feel like daggers through her brain! Scott, getting up, warns Jean to hold on. His eyebeams are useless now, but… There is no “but,” the Mole Man announces. This is his kingdom and all games are played by his rules.

Speaking up, Iceman jokes that, in that case, they’ll just have to cheat. Gliding on his ice-slide, Bobby uses his powers to create an ice wall between the group and the valley, immediately eliminating the diamonds’ glare. Iceman explains that he couldn’t help but notice all the water in this chamber, which was more than enough humidity for him to ice up again.

Still not conceding defeat, the Mole Man declares that, when one course of action is blocked, he turns immediately to another. He pulls on a red robe hanging nearby, and the some panels in the floor start to open up! The Mole Man has summoned another of his underground monsters, a gigantic, green creature, which is ready to attack! As Cyclops opens his beams at the monster, Jean tells the others that the monster is too big for her TK, and too mindless for her telepathy. Bobby believes that there is something he can do about this situation. He fires a lot of ice at the monster, but Jean warns Bobby to try not to harm the monster too much, explaining that it’s just like a big dog, obeying whatever its master commands.

Mole Man, standing in front of more monsters he summoned, snipes that he would be impressed by Marvel Girl’s compassion, where it not so misplaced. The monster the X-Men are fighting now isn’t the only creature at his command, and the Mole Man wonders if Jean will show the same, sweet consideration toward his new companions.


Flying high above the city and holding Lucy in his arms, Warren wants to hear again why they are doing this, instead of helping his friends out. Lucy reminds Warren that he already told her about it: she can’t free Lorna Dane or Havok from the hibernation cylinders without killing them. Angel finds that hard to believe, since Lucy was able to free him, after her boss, Tobias Messenger, put him in deep freeze. Lucy reveals that’s because she rigged Warren’s cylinder before he went into it. She also corrects that Messenger isn’t her “boss.” He’s a man with a mission, and that mission has blinded him to the needs of others.

They find the X-Men’s plane again, and both step into it with Warren taking charge of the controls. Warren asks Lucy if, by the needs of others, she means people like herself. Lucy states that she isn’t the first member of the Promise to leave. But she is the first to want out, because Messenger’s crazy dream destroyed her life. Warren activates the plane and steers it up in the sky, telling Lucy to sit back and relax for now, admitting that he isn’t as good in steering this plane as Cyclops is. But, he can have Lucy home in Philadelphia in no time.


Beast quietly wakes up and wonders where he is. As he rises, he watches his teammates battling Mole Man and his monsters. Beast jokes that he’s glad that, when he fainted, his vision of the Mole Man wasn’t a delusion. He suddenly jumps on Mole Man’s back and takes his staff out of his hands! He then jumps towards Scott, who is glad to see his old friend again, telling him that he can fight any monster he wants to.

As he watches Beast playfully fighting all of the monsters, Scott is glad that Hank seems to be okay again, because when they woke up in Messenger’s jungle, Scott noticed how out of character Hank was when he was being attacked by that giant beetle. He was worried Hank was still thinking about Kraven, but that apparently wasn’t the case. Scott spots Jean in danger, and uses his eyebeams to protect her from one of the monsters.


Warren can see the place Lucy wants to go from the plane’s window, but doesn’t find a place to land. He’ll have to set the plane in autopilot to fly the ship in circles. After doing that, Warren flies himself and Lucy down to the ground. Warren asks Lucy if she’s certain there’s somebody she knows is going to be home, because it has been nearly thirty years since she saw him. Lucy explains that her older son was ten years old when she left him, and he’s buried now somewhere in a rice paddy in Vietnam. He’s been there since 1959.

They land at the house in question and see a boy playing with his cars in the garden. Startled, Lucy calls out to the boy, inquisitively calling him “Mike.” The boy corrects that his dad’s named Mike, and begins to ask who they are. However, he is stunned by the sight of Warren, recognizing him from TV, and asks if it is really him. Warren says that could be, and asks the boy if his parents are home.

Hearing the conversation, Mike – middle aged – emerges from the house and tells the two that he is the boy’s father. What do they want with… Mike’s statement trails, as he almost can’t believe it when he sees Lucy, his… mom? When she responds by saying his name, Mike demands to know what’s going on here. Warren admits that’s kind of a long story.

Mike invites the two into his home and, a while later, Lucy has told him everything that happened. She adds that she and Mike’s father were having… problems and, when Messenger came along, told her that she was a mutant and that she could help save the world, she went along with him. Mike is angry with Lucy for deserting him and his brother. Lucy claims that it wasn’t like that, and that Mike has to understand her motives. She admits that she was just an ignorant housewife with no real education or goals. She didn’t even completely understood what Messenger wanted.

When Tobias said that he and his people put themselves into suspended animation and only emerged for a week every decade, somehow, she got confused. She didn’t understand what “suspended animation” was all about. At first, she thought she would only be gone for a week! Mike, still amazed, says that happened thirty years ago. He says that, even if he believes Lucy’s crazy story, she has had a couple of chances to come back. Lucy defends that she tried that the first time. But ten years had passed. Tommy was dead in Vietnam, Mike’s father had her declared legally dead. So, she went back to Messenger and the Promise. And the teaching circuitry in the hibernation cylinders continued to drip knowledge into her mind.

Angel adds that, this time, Lucy realized that Messenger was wrong, and that she helped him escape from his clutches. Mike angrily tells Warren that he’s already got enough to deal with without him adding two cents worth. It’s bad enough to find out that his own mother is another mutie. Warren tries to calm Mike down, but he ignores that. He wonders what Lucy and Angel thought was going to happen here: a joyous family reunion?!? Until twenty minutes ago, he thought that his mother was dead. Now, a freak turns up on his doorstep, with another freak claiming that she is his mother?!? He can’t just roll over and accept that.

Lucy tries to calm Mike down, telling him she can understand he’s angry. However, Mike doesn’t think so. She can’t begin to guess what it’s been like, to grow up without a mother, with a father who even refused to talk about her. Lucy tells Mike to tell her what she can do to make it up to him. Mike claims that there isn’t anything she can do. He means… look at her! His mother is even younger than he is now, and can’t think of her as his mom.

Lucy starts to cry, and Warren tries to tell her it’s best that they go. He picks her up, and flies away from Mike’s home, with his son waving at them. Warren feels sorry for Lucy, as that could have gone a lot better for her. Lucy isn’t sure about that. She wonders if she had any right to expect anything more than this. Maybe she’s no smarter than the dumb housewife who didn’t understand Messenger all those years ago. She can’t believe she honestly thought she could just like that return to the bosom of her family.

As they make it back to the X-plane, Lucy asks Warren if he’s okay. At the plane, Warren goes to sit in a chair and admits to Lucy that he isn’t. He explains to her that, a couple of days ago, he lost his mother too. He has been busy since, and hasn’t allowed himself time to think about this. Lucy apologizes, as she had no idea about this. Hesitant, Warren claims that he’s okay. He spent so much time away from home as a kid, with the boarding school and the X-Men, he guesses that he was never that close to either of his parents. He mocks himself, calling him a poor little rich boy.

He activates the plane again, and wants Lucy to tell him something now. He wants to know how she was able to talk him into this little junket when his friends need help. A bit ashamed, Lucy admits that’s what her mutant power does: when she makes something a little more than a suggestion. Warren noticed that Lucy didn’t use her powers on her son, and asks why. Lucy admits that it just somehow felt… wrong. Even as Mike was rejecting her, she had to let him think for himself.

Warren defends that’s what he’ll be doing now. Now that he knows what Lucy’s powers are, he’s pretty sure he can resist them. So from now on, it’s going to be his “suggestions” that are going to run the show. And first thing on their things to do list is finding and freeing the rest of the X-Men. With full speed, Warren flies the plane back to Messenger’s headquarters!


Teri enters Charles’ room, interrupting his thoughts. He reminds her that he asked not to be disturbed while he continues his search for his X-Men, but Teri replies that she knows… but she thinks there’s something Charles needs to see on the TV, and turns it on. The news anchor of Channel 7 explains that, in moments, they will be going live to the White House, where the president will have a statement. But now, he continues, they have established a link with the Fantastic Four… and Doctor Reed Richards.

Appearing on screen, Reed explains that he can’t take much time, but admits that it is vital that the people of the world know of the dire peril now confronting them! The first thing the world needs to know is that, a few short hours ago, Reed and his partners came under attack from a mysterious magnetic wave. The instruments in their headquarters tracked the wave back to its origin: the undersea kingdom of Atlantis! Unfortunately, before they could determine why Prince Namor seemed to have broken his uneasy truce with the surface world, one of Reed’s partners launched a missile attack toward the center of the magnetic pulses.

At the Baxter Building, a guilt-ridden Ben mocks that he didn’t have a choice, because Reed didn’t let him fight the Sub-Mariner in person. Crystal still believes that Ben’s actions were ill-advised, but Johnny defends that they don’t even know for sure if that missile hit Namor’s home. Reed further explains that, even now an armada of Atlantean warships is moving up to the east coast toward Manhattan.

Teri is a bit scared about another war with Atlantis. She knows that Mr. Fantastic found a way to stop Namor before, but isn’t certain he can do it again. Charles wonders about the “magnetic forces” Reed mentioned. He lets his “ghostly form” out of his body, explaining to Teri that it’s merely his astral self. By this means he’s able to leave the confines of his body and travel to any point of the world!

A few moments later, Xavier’s astral form arrives at the Atlantic Ocean and it travels beneath the waves in search. There, below the surface, Xavier spots an Atlantean fleet of warships. The fleet is far greater than the one Namor launched against humanity before – and, within the largest flagship, Xavier feels the psychic signature which confirms his worst fears. He steps into it, and recognizes… Magneto!

Magneto, taking care of his ship’s controls, thinks to himself that his plan is unfolding perfectly. His magnetic assault goaded the Fantastic Four into premature action and, now, Namor’s own impulsive nature will complete the plot. Magneto suddenly notices that he is not alone, and is quite taken aback when he sees Xavier. It cannot be! He is dead! To this, Xavier replies that reports about his demise were somewhat exaggerated. It was another person died in his place.

Magneto supposes aloud that Xavier brought the X-Men along with him to join him in this battle. Cautiously, Xavier replies that the X-Men are… close at hand. He wants Magneto to surrender now, before more blood is spilled because of his insane hatred. Magneto doesn’t think he’s insane. He asks Xavier if it’s insane to think humanity would deal any less severely with mutantkind, given the chance? In any case, he asks Xavier to listen as the klaxons sound the trumpet call to war: the die is cast! The final hour of humanity’s dominion is upon us!

Above, at the New York harbor, the Atlantean warships begin to rise from the sea and take flight. Citizens of New York look on in panic.

Characters Involved: 

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


Teri Martin

Mole Man

Lucy (all the Promise)

Mike (Lucy’s son)

Mike’s son (unnamed)

Namor, the Sub-Mariner

Namor’s Atlantean troops (all unnamed)

Crystal, Invisible Woman, Human Torch II, Mr. Fantastic, the Thing (all Fantastic Four)

Mole Man’s servants (all unnamed)

Mole Man’s underground monster (unnamed)

New York residents (all unnamed)

(on screen)

Bill, anchor for Channel 7 news

Mister Fantastic

Story Notes: 

The cover is an homage to Fantastic Four (1st series) #1, with the FF members replaced by the X-Men.

This issue overlaps with the events originally told in Fantastic Four (1st series) #102-104, but retold from the X-Men’s point of view.

Namor rescued Magneto’s life in X-Men: The Hidden Years #12. Magneto earlier tried to recruit Namor into his Brotherhood but failed to, as seen in X-Men (1st series) #6.

Obi-Wan Kenobi is one of the main characters from the popular Star Wars movies.

The X-Men dealt with both Tyrannus and Mole Man once before, in X-Men (1st series) #34.

Angel’s mother died in X-Men: The Hidden Years #15. His father was killed in Ka-Zar (1st series) #2.

“Poor little rich boy” is a line describing comic book character Richie Rich, to whom Warren evidently feels he relates.

Xavier’s statement that “reports about his demise were somewhat exaggerated” is a reference to American novelist and humorist Mark Twain, who purportedly stated “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated” when confronted with an erroneous published obituary of himself.

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