X-Men: The Hidden Years #9

Issue Date: 
July 2000
Story Title: 
Dark Destiny

John Byrne (writer), Tom Palmer (pencils), Greg Wright (colors), Jason Liebig (editor), Bob Harras (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

At Whisper Hill, in the home of Agatha Harkness, both Agatha and Sue Richards can feel that something bad is about to happen to the other members of the Fantastic Four, and Sue admits she doesn’t feel too happy about lending her place on the team to Crystal. Meanwhile in space, Jean becomes entirely consumed by the mysterious phoenix-like force. As Cyclops tries to figure out what just happened, Jean kills him using her new, dangerous powers! Beast defends his fallen friend, but in return, Jean kills him as well. Crystal has had enough of it and uses her Inhuman energy-manipulating powers to end the madness. The plan works, and Jean turns back to normal. Scott and Hank are surprisingly enough also back alive, and Jean can’t even remember what just happened. It almost felt like a dream. Outside, the battle against the Z’Nox aliens grows out of control as more of their troops arrive to defeat the heroes. Reed makes a perfect strategy against their foes and pulls Ben back into their ship, and they head towards the Z’Nox’ gravity device. While Ben, Reed and Hank go to the gravity device, the remaining heroes all work together in order to defeat a huge Z’Nox guardian. Reed managed to build a device which will cause a flux into the gravity device. As Ben manages to plug it into the device just in time, the heroes quickly return to their ship. On that very moment, the entire Z’Nox race and their home planet vanishes to a realm between the dimensions of Earth and the Negative Zone, where they can never harm anyone ever again. The heroes cheer for their victory and return home. At Xavier’s, Candy is brought to Xavier, who isn’t pleased to see her again so soon. Candy claims that this isn’t a social call, as she has some important news for Warren. But, he still hasn’t returned from the Savage Land mission yet, so it has to wait. Meanwhile in the Savage Land, Iceman still suffers from amnesia and Karl Lykos isn’t sure what to do about it, fearing his secret identity of Sauron might be discovered. Elsewhere in Illinois, a young girl named Ashley Martin is attacked by a wild Sentinel!

Full Summary: 

Whisper Hill…

This is a place of secrets and mysteries. And tonight, it’s also a place of dark forebodings. Sue walks over to Agatha, who stands alone in her room. Sue asks if everything’s alright. She realizes Reed insisted that both she and Franklin came to her house for safety, but now she senses something weird. Agatha admits that she feels something too. She feels a… disturbance at the very center of those most dearest to Sue!

Sue immediately thinks about her family, and knew she shouldn’t had let them go off alone. Agatha defends that Ben, Johnny, Reed and Crystal all had a mission, one which they knew might be fraught with unspeakable dangers. Sue doesn’t believe Agatha can be talking about any more danger than the team has faced before, not ever since they became the Fantastic Four. Agatha takes Franklin into her arms and nurtures him. She feels that Sue feels frustrated that her place in the team has been taken by another. Sue admits that. She realizes that Crystal is skilled and competent, but she believes that what both she and Agatha feel may be a threat that could demand all of their powers to stop it!

Space, Z’Nox orbit…

Cyclops panics, and has noticed that Jean has been taken over by a terrible, and evil looking force and asks if she’s alright. Jean claims she is, but mentions that she isn’t “Jean” anymore. Scott is startled by it all and wants to know what happened to her. It’s as if all of her natural inhibitions have been stripped away from her. He wonders if this might be something the Z’Nox did to her. Jean starts attacking Mr. Fantastic, so Scott fires an optic blast on her before she kills the man. However,, Jean isn’t even harmed by the blast!

Jean calls Scott a fool, and uses her telekinetic powers to lift him up. She noticed he didn’t use the full power of his optic blast, and that the love he feels for Jean made him hesitate. The force guesses that’s the sole human weakness. She demonstrates her fire powers, and torches Scott’s entire body!

Seeing this, Beast quickly attacks Jean, and asks her what happened. “Jean” smiles that she has been faced with such imaginable power and is ready to use it. She also torches Beast’s body, like with Scott! Crystal sneaks up on Jean, and attacks her using her Inhuman powers. Crystal proudly claims that she won’t ask questions like the others, and instead she’s going to tell Marvel Girl that in her she will face one who manipulates energy as a sculptor shapes his clay. There isn’t a force Jean can unleash that Crystal can’t turn back upon her.

Crystal starts using her powers on Jean, who isn’t so impressed. She can feel that Crystal is powerful, but claims that the girl never had to face the likes of her. The force attacks Crystal, and she faints due to the large amount of energy in the room. The force sarcastically laughs, claiming that she has so much power not even the universe can contain it!

On that very moment, Jean suddenly turns back to normal! Scott gets up again and tends to her, telling her that, in the middle of the attack, she just froze! Reed wonders if the aliens are perhaps using some kind of psionic device against Jean. Crystal believes that might be true, since with Jean being a natural telepath she might be vulnerable for such a thing. Jean knows for sure it wasn’t that. But, she can’t remember what it was, since what happened is already fading away from her mind. It’s like she dreamt the whole thing. Scott can confirm that they aren’t in a dream, because the Z’Nox have redoubled their assault!

He points Jean’s attention to outside, where the heavy battle can be seen. He explains that Beast, the Thing and the Human Torch are in the middle of the battle, and he and Crystal have been using their energy powers for precise surgical strikes. Reed mentions that, although he reverse engineered their ship from Skrull technology, he didn’t include any weaponry in the ship’s equipment. Their powers will have to do! Jean confirms that that’s all the X-Men could use the last time they faced the Z’Nox.

All in one searing instant, memories flash across Jean Grey’s mind. A scant nine days ago, when Charles Xavier, the leader of the X-Men, told the youthful teammates of a terrible threat to their world. Jean remembers how Xavier revealed to the team that the Z’Nox use a powerful gravity transformer drive to transport their whole planet across the galaxy. The aliens are like swarming locusts and pillage a planet, and then move on. Making his erstwhile students at last aware of his plan, which Xavier had been formulating in secret for many months, he set about honing each of the X-Men’s special mutant powers towards a selected task.

It was a task which linked not only through the minds of Cyclops, Iceman, Havok and Marvel Girl, but also through the minds of every man, woman and child on the entire planet Earth! After the Z’Nox were finally defeated, Xavier released the humans from his grip and wished them good luck. However, just a few hours ago, the Fantastic Four arrived at the school, having learned about the Z’Nox’ existence and potential danger to other planets. Xavier admitted he hadn’t thought about that possibility, so he sent the X-Men along with the Fantastic Four in outer space to battle the aliens.

Beast hops back into the spaceship, and unfortunately has some bad news. They are highly outnumbered against the Z’Nox! Reed realizes they’ll have to try out something unconventional. Crystal panics, as she notices that Reed is picking up the orbital maintenance controls, and they can’t be altered! The ship goes out of control, and pulls Ben along with it! He panics. Johnny tries to help his friend out, but the ship is going so fast, that the cold atmosphere in space might end up killing Ben!


The security robot brings Candy to the Cerebro room, where she meets up with Xavier. He’s angry with her, due to this he lost mental contact with the other X-Men. He wants to know what she’s doing there. Candy claims that this isn’t a social call, and needs to speak to Warren. Xavier informs Candy that Warren hasn’t yet returned from the Savage Land mission, but wants to know if the news is important. Candy claims that that depends on how Xavier looks at it. She asks when the last time was he read Hamlet.


Reed orders Crystal to use the wrench to pull Ben back into the ship before the atmosphere gets too tick. She quickly does and manages to pull Ben back into the ship and he wants to know what happened. Reed apologizes for spoiling Ben’s fun, but he believes he finally has a solution to their problems. Johnny notices that the ship is steering back to normal and is glad to see that. But now it seems to be diving right at the base of the bad guys. Reed warns everyone to prepare themselves, as he has activated the inertial dampers, but this will still be a bumpy arrival.

The ship lands in front of the entrance of the Z’Nox spaceship. Johnny notices that everyone is stepping out of the ship and following Reed. He wants to know what’s going on. Ben jokes that Reed is having another big solution, which he, as usual, isn’t sharing with anyone. Reed claims that this time, talking means wasting time and they’ve got to hurry. He takes out a scanning device and points the direction to go. However, as the team goes, they have to face the Z’Nox guardian again. It looks like the huge monster found its way home again. Cyclops starts attacking it, and Jean mentions that the monster is too big for her to use her telekinetic powers again. Scott notices that Jean is sounding like her former self again, but he still can’t figure out what happened to her back on the ship. But those are concerns for later.

Scott notices that his beam is slowing the monster down a bit, but recalls that, the last time they faced the creature, they only managed to elude it. Reed thinks that will have to do for now as well, and orders Beast and Ben to follow him. They do as told, and Reed orders the others to do what they can to hold the monster back. Ben admits he’s a bit angry for being left out of the battle and hopes Reed has a good reason to do this. Reed explains that, before they left the ship, he was able to pinpoint the precise center of the Z’Nox gravity drive, and now they are at the exact room where it lays!

Hank takes a closer look at the drive and notices it has a long tunnel down. Ben wants to know what they are looking for. Reed explains that the “tunnel” is in fact a shaft, which reaches down to the very core of the Z’Nox world. In order for the gravity drive to do what it does, it must harness the electro-magnetic fields of the entire planet. And that is what Reed is intending to bend to his own purposes. Ben notices that Reed still isn’t explaining what he’s going to do. Reed uses his powers to stretch down into the tunnel and attaches a device against the drive. He asks Ben if it would help if he told him he hopes to cross link the interstitial field generators, who are going to cause a sub-protonic flux emission, which will translate the molecular structure of the Z’Nox world sideways into the negative space. Ben jokes that his point has been made, and that Reed still isn’t explaining anything.

As Reed continues to give his answers to Ben, the battle against the guardian continues. Jean doesn’t believe that this can possibly be the same monster they faced before, as this creature seems to be able to adapt to their powers. Scott believes that adapting is the answer! He realizes that they have been hitting this thing piecemeal, and need to coordinate their attacks. He wants everybody to focus their powers on one spot.

Johnny doesn’t believe the plan will work, but Crystal tells Johnny to listen to Scott, believing he’s on the right track. She also suggests that they hit the monster right between its eyes, to which Scott agrees, and orders everyone to do so. The plan works, and the monster falls! Jean notices that they didn’t kill the beast, as she can still sense low brain functions in it. Scott is just glad they gave their foe a headache it won’t forget anytime soon, and suggests they go to Ben, Hank and Reed now.

The Savage Land…

Karl notices that Bobby is awake and asks how he’s feeling. Bobby guesses he’s okay, as he doesn’t know how he’s supposed to feel. He still can’t remember anything. Karl isn’t surprised that Bobby’s amnesia isn’t showing any sign of abating. He explains that, when he found Bobby, he was washed up on the shore and near death. In some ways, he is more fortunate that he didn’t suffer anything worst than just a memory loss. Bobby hopes his memory will only be temporarily lost. But either way, he thanks Karl for all the help, and for the food he brought for him. As he watches Bobby eat, Karl wonders how grateful the boy is going to be if he would recall that he is actually Iceman, a member of the X-Men…


Ben believes that’s something’s wrong. Reed explains that the Z’Nox drive mechanisms have reached down deeper into the shaft than he had originally anticipated. He isn’t sure if he and Beast can withstand the pressure. Hank cheers that they can’t give up. Ben jokes that he can take a hint. He jokes that this is where his old Aunt Petunia’s most handsome nephew finally gets to earn his salt. He just wants to be told what he has to hit so they can move on. Reed isn’t sure if that’s going to work, but Hank doesn’t think they’ve got another choice. The Thing is the only one of the two teams who can hope to survive the crushing pressures so far down!

The Thing dives into the shaft and, after a while, Reed asks over intercom where he is. Ben mentions that this was a whole lot easier when Reed was playing elevator. But he can see the mechanism Reed described just a couple of yards further down the shaft. He takes out the device and plugs it in the mechanism, just like Reed told him. However, as Ben puts the device in, the shaft starts making an odd sound. Reed panics and Hank realizes that these shifting mechanisms are threatening to seal the Thing below! Reed believes that the Z’Nox must have detected their actions, and engaged the gravity drive again. It will only be seconds before Reed’s modifications kick in!

Beast believes they’d better act quickly then, now that there is still time. He tells Reed to allow himself to become maximum ductility. As Reed stretches his body until he has become that way, Hank explains that the pressures down the shaft might still crush them, if they are too long exposed to it, but they have to give it a shot in order to rescue Ben. While Reed holds on to something above, Beast uses Reed’s body as a rope to dive into the shaft. There, he picks Ben up and pulls them both back up into safety, by using Reed’s elastic body like a snapped rubber band!

The others catch up with Ben and the two scientists, and they decide to head back towards their spaceship. Reed activates the ship again, and just in time, as the entire Z’Nox world starts to glow in a green light and then… disappears!

The heroes all watch the spectacle, but Scott can’t help but wonder to where the Z’Nox world has disappeared. He can’t figure out a place where they won’t form a threat. Reed explains that he send the Z’Nox into the distortion zone which lies between Earth’s dimension and the Negative Zone. There, the Z’Nox will find energy aplenty, but no planets to conquer and hurt. And, Reed adds, since their adaptation of the Z’Nox’ drive will have also caused it to fuse into an useable mass, the Z’Nox will have to become self-sufficient, living off the resources of their own world, instead of the ones they pirate from.

Cyclops congratulates Reed on the fine solution and is certain the Professor will approve of it. Hank suggests they head back home again so they can inform their mentor about the events. Ben jokes they might, and also check out for any other loose ends the X-Men left behind their tails. Jean smiles, as she thinks they don’t have to worry much about them, as normally the X-Men don’t leave a job unfinished!


Illinois, some fifteen miles west of the town of Dunfee. Far from matters which would seem of any concern to the uncanny X-Men. But certainly, Ashley Martin, a young girl at the age of 10, has no reason to believe she would be of interest to the X-Men. If only she would know what is about to happen.

While playing with her Barbie dolls, young Ashley suddenly hears a loud bang behind her. She turns around, and finds herself stalked by… a Sentinel!

Characters Involved: 

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

Iceman (former X-Man)

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

baby Franklin Richards (son to Reed and Sue)

Agatha Harkness

Candy Southern

Karl Lykos (aka Sauron)

the Phoenix Force

alien monster (unnamed)

Ashley Martin

a Sentinel

throughout Marvel Girl’s flashback:

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

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

Z’Nox aliens (all unnamed)

various Earth people (all unnamed)

Story Notes: 

This issue would indicate that Jean was introduced to the Phoenix Force before the original story in X-Men (1st series) #101.

Sue took a leave of absence as a member of the Fantastic Four when Franklin was born in Fantastic Four Annual #6. Crystal became her replacement in Fantastic Four (1st series) #81.

Jean’s flashback stems from X-Men (1st series) #65. In that issue, the X-Men also faced a similar Z’Nox guardian like they do in this issue.

Neither the Professor nor Candy are at this point aware that the reason why Angel hasn’t returned from the Savage Land yet is because he and his friend Avia have been kidnapped by sailors and a man named Kreuger, as revealed last issue.

Karl Lykos found Iceman barely alive in X-Men: The Hidden Years #6. The reason Karl doubts so much about what to do is because he doesn’t want the X-Men to find out his alter ego of Sauron is still alive, as they believe him to be dead after hading faced him in X-Men (1st series) #61.

First appearance of Ashley Martin.

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