X-Men Unlimited (1st series) #16

Issue Date: 
September 1997
Story Title: 

Ben Raab (story), Meluin Rubi (pencils), Rob Hunter (inks), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (letters), Shannon Blanchard (colors), Kelly Corvese (editor), Bob Harras (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

Sean Cassidy and Emma Frost decide to allow a non-mutant student into the Xavier Institute for an exclusive summer-research program. They debate over two candidates, both of whom are highly qualified. However, they both turn out to be bad choices: one of them, Adam Berman, is secretly a mutant, while the other, Ginny Mahoney, was recently transformed into a Prime Sentinel in order to infiltrate the school. Emma decides on Ginny, and sends out Adam’s rejection letter. The next day at school, Ginny the undercover Prime Sentinel picks up Adam’s mutant signal and invites him to a party. When she leaves, she reports Adam’s mutant status to Bastion. When Adam gets home, he receives his rejection letter from the Xavier Institute. He sulks in his room before Ginny shows up and surprisingly makes out with him. After she leaves, she reports to Bastion that she catalogued the new mutant’s DNA, and dispersed a catalyst into his blood. After Ginny leaves, Adam rushes over to meet with Sean and plead for entry into the school. While he’s there, Emma detects that he is in fact a mutant. His secret discovered, Adam lashes out at Sean and runs away. Sean goes to Adam’s high school the next day to find him. During an assembly, Ginny begrudgingly activates the catalyst in Adam’s blood in order to generate positive publicity for Bastion’s Operation: Zero Tolerance. Adam transforms into his mutant alter-ego, while Ginny reveals herself as Prime Sentinel. She tries to dispatch the mutant, but Banshee intervenes and saves Adam. Adam regains control of himself and asks Ginny what she’s doing. He reaches through to her, and she overcomes her Prime Sentinel programming. She kisses Adam and runs away, only to meet up with Bastion, who executes her for failing her mission. After the fight, Adam talks to Emma and Sean and turns down their offer to attend the Xavier Institute as a mutant instead of a human. He believes he can do more to build unity between mutants and humans by living amongst humans.

Full Summary: 

Despite the protests of her fellow headmaster Sean Cassidy, Emma Frost has decided to admit one non-mutant student into the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters. Sean swallows his objections and concedes to go along with the plan. As they sort through all of the applications, Sean comes across the applicant he deems most worthy of attending. The student’s name is Adam Berman, and he displays both a strong interest and aptitude in the field of genetics, making him an ideal candidate for the school, in Sean’s opinion. Emma glances at Adam’s application and scoffs at his dorky photo. “Judging by this kid’s monstrous fashion sense, how can you be sure he’s not a mutant?” she asks.

Her lack of a serious approach upsets Sean, who already has objections to this idea. He believes it to be dangerous and irresponsible to enroll a non-mutant in a school of mutants simply to mask the school’s true purpose. Emma takes issue with Sean’s hypocrisy. She asks how he can object to this, but be fine with the fact that they basically train young mutants to serve in their private army, and then send them off to die in battle?

“Application denied,” she says before tossing a different application at Sean. He grabs it and looks at its contents. The applicant he sees is a beautiful red-headed girl named Ginny Mahoney. “We’re going with this applicant,” Emma declares.

Sean cannot believe Emma’s stubbornness. He tries to make a case for the applicant he chose. He explains that Adam Berman shows enough promise as a geneticist to someday rival Charles Xavier and Moira MacTaggert. Emma gets in Sean’s face and tells him that while Adam may have impressive credentials, she received an even better application in the mail earlier that morning. This other girl trumps Adam in three areas. First of all, she is the valedictorian of her high school class, while Adam is merely salutatorian. Second, she got into Harvard, while Adam “only” got into Yale. The third reason is simply that Emma says so. She slams the door on Sean, leaving him in the study alone to smoke his pipe.

Bewildered by this conversation, and lost in his thoughts, Sean wanders over and picks up the day’s newspaper. An article on the front page grabs his attention. The article boasts of a recent, successful raid by Operation: Zero Tolerance, and is accompanied by a large picture of Bastion and his Prime Sentinels. Sean leans back in his reclining chair and ponders what this story means. It’s evident to him that anti-mutant paranoia remains as prevalent as ever. He decides that while Emma could still be wrong, her plan to immerse human teens among their mutant peers may just be the best way to dispel anti-mutant fears at a young age. “After all, it’s like my da used t’say about the lads in the I.R.A.” Sean thinks to himself. “Change always begins with the young. ”

Sean then buries his head further in the paper, completely oblivious to another news story on the front page. This other news story bears the headline “Missing Valedictorian Found”, and is accompanied by the very same photograph of Ginny Mahoney that was in her application to the School for Gifted Youngsters.

Meanwhile, at Newton North Public High School, Adam Berman relaxes after class under a large oak tree on the school’s lawn. Books by Charles Darwin and Hank McCoy spill out of his book-bag as he sits with his back against the tree. He completely loses himself in Charles Xavier’s theory linking the random dispersal of the X-Factor gene with Chaos Theory.

Adam’s pleasant time of mental reflection gets interrupted by an errant football-to-the-head. The blow knocks Adam’s glasses off, and a preppy-looking jock walks over and snatches them away from Adam. Adam rises and up and demands that the bully return his glasses. The muscular jock laughs and pushes Adam down onto the grass.

“Wanna mess with the big dogs, Berman, your bite’s gotta be a lot tougher than your bark!” the jock laughs as he turns and walks away.

“Y’mean…like this?” a gruff voice says behind the jock. He turns around, and in Adam’s place stands a seven-foot tall reptilian man wearing Adam’s clothing. The monster grabs the jock by his clothes and lifts him up off the ground, telling him he’s a blood-sucking, brain-eating mutant. This threat sufficiently scares the jock, who runs away screaming for help.

He finds some bike police on campus and frantically tells them a “killer mutie” tried to eat his brain. The cops ride away to investigate, but clearly have a hard time believing anything would be interested in this kid’s brain. Adam, meanwhile, realizes he has just exposed himself as a mutant, and quickly reverts back to his human form. “Sometimes all I wanna do is morph and lash out at jerks like him, but that’d just get me killed by some genetophobic mob, like it did that kid Dennis Hogan,” Adam thinks to himself as he watches the bike cops ride past him. Suddenly it’s very clear why Adam Berman desires to get into the Xavier Institute’s summer program.

Adam picks up his book and continues reading, while fantasizing about getting the chance to meet his idols, Charles Xavier and Hank McCoy. He is interrupted once again, but this time by his classmate, and academic rival, Ginny Mahoney. Adam blushes and stumbles over his words before eking out a greeting. He asks how Ginny has been since her recent abduction and all.

“Ohhh. That,” she answers. “All I do is visit an old camp friend for a weekend, and everyone freaks out just ‘cuz I forget to call home!” Ginny then leans down and extends Adam an invitation to her welcome-home rave at a hip club the following weekend. The invitation surprises Adam, but before he has the chance to ask any follow up questions, Ginny leans down and grabs one of his books off of the ground.

“Check it out! Dr. Hank McCoy’s Genes: Do Yours Fit Society’s Expanding Waistline? ! I love this book,” she says.

“You do?” Adam asks, surprised in her interest in genetics.

“Totally! Not only is it sooo funny, but, like, what it says about mutations is sooo true!” Ginny says. “I absolutely believe mutants are, like, the next wave in evolution, don’t you?” The two teens begin discussing genetics, and learn that they have both applied for the summer program at the Xavier Institute for Gifted Youngsters. Ginny eventually leaves Adam to his books, adding that the best student will get the slot. She even calls him “cutie” as she walks away.

Adam instantly develops a massive crush on his former rival. “Ginny and I may have had our differences in the past,” he thinks as she walks away, “but I’ve gotta admit, that girl is a full-on robo-babe!”

Ironically, Ginny walks around the corner and immediately transforms into a Prime Sentinel. She reports to Bastion through her internal computer interface and tells him she detected a mutant signature nearby and has already made contact. Bastion orders her to catalog this particular mutant, as it wasn’t in Xavier’s files. The Prime Sentinel then asks about her other mission. Bastion simply tells her to have patience. His carefully orchestrated plan of kidnapping a top student, turning her into a Prime Sentinel, and having her infiltrate the Xavier Institute is going as planned.

Later that night at the Institute, Emma informs Sean that she already sent Adam’s rejection letter, and even forged Sean’s signature on the document. The decision is final. Sean is about to let Emma have it when he’s interrupted by an incoming call from Moira MacTaggert at Muir Island. He takes the call and speaks to the holographic projection of Moira. He tells her about his frustrations concerning Adam and Emma. The holographic Moira consoles Sean by reminding him that he once faced a similar rejection from the Interpol. However, he went right into the director’s office and revealed his mutant power, displaying how he could be an invaluable asset to the force. Moira adds that maybe this Adam Berman may show a similar, proactive attitude just yet.

Meanwhile, Adam receives an e-mail on his computer at home. Some of his friends are hanging out in his room, but as soon as Adam realizes he’s reading a rejection letter from the Xavier Institute, he asks them to leave. His friends politely exit his dorm room, leaving Adam alone with his thoughts. Adam loses control of his emotions somewhat, and his reptilian eyes glow red. He decides that he needs to go talk to Headmaster Sean Cassidy in person about this, as he desperately wants to get into the school to learn about his mutation.

Suddenly, Ginny walks in the room. She wears a short purple dress and leans seductively against Adam’s open door. Adam asks why she has come to his room, and she says that she has to talk to him about something she saw that day at school. Before he has a chance to ask what, she pounces on him, and they two teens land on Adam’s bed and begin making out. Ginny uses this opportunity to implant an undetectable catalyst in his body, which she can activate at will. She also takes a genetic sample from Adam’s saliva, which she processes immediately using her Prime Sentinel hardware. Once the sample is identified and catalogued, Ginny gets off of Adam and turns away. While she is now a Prime Sentinel, she still feels some very human emotions towards him. “That kiss – I felt it…enjoyed it,” she thinks to herself. “Bastion said I’d never feel anything again! Something’s wrong…”

She interrupts her internal monologue and tells Adam that she saw his transformation into a mutant earlier on campus. Adam can’t believe he was seen, but Ginny immediately calms his fears. She tells him that she doesn’t care that he’s a mutant, and he should actually be proud of his identity. Adam cannot believe he has found a hot girl who doesn’t care he is a mutant.

Ginny leaves Adam’s dorm room and walks down the hall, reminding herself not to let Bastion know she enjoyed her kiss with Adam. If he found out, he terminate her right away. She opens a communication link with Bastion once she is out of sight, and informs him that she dispersed trace catalytic elements into Adam’s body during their “salivary exchange”. Bastion’s plan to expose Adam in public, which will lead to his incarceration, proceeds as planned. After Ginny asks about what will happen to Adam, Bastion comments that it is none of her concern.

Adam heads right over to the Xavier Institute, and is greeted at the door by Sean Cassidy. Sean offers him a glass of water, commenting that Adam looks dehydrated. Apparently, Adam ran all the way to the school in his reptilian form, and this has left him nearly dehydrated. As they sit down at the table to talk, Sean states that he knows how Adam must be feeling.

“Do you, Mr. Cassidy? I don’t think so,” Adam says. While drinking glass after glass of water, he tells Sean about his heroes: Crick, Watson, Moreau, Pym, Richards, McCoy, MacTaggert, Xavier. He has admired these geneticists since puberty, and has dreamed of one day working alongside some of the modern ones to tackle the world’s genetic issues. When he learned he might have that chance at the Xavier Institute, he devoted himself to being the best student possible so he could have a chance at getting into the school. Sean tries to console the despondent teenager, telling him that if it were up to him, Adam would have the slot for sure.

Emma interjects in the conversation telepathically. “Well, well, well,” she begins. “So my suspicions were justified.”

Adam, not used to having voices speak in his mind, looks around confused. Emma then tells him that he hasn’t fooled her, and she knows he’s a mutant. Adam begins nervously sweating and loses control of his mutant abilities, and transforms into his reptilian alter-ego. Emma tells him that if he cannot even control his mutation in front of Sean Cassidy, then someday the world will find out what he is.

Sean turns around and is stunned to see a hulking lizard-man standing in front of his face. He tries to talk Adam down, but Adam takes a swipe at Sean’s pitcher of water, shattering it into pieces. At this point, Sean has had enough. He lets out one of signature Banshee-wails in an attempt to get Adam to back down. Adam barely feels it, and lunges forward, sending him and Banshee through a window. The two mutants begin fighting on the lawn. Banshee has trouble fighting Adam hand-to-hand, so he unleashes a stronger sonic scream. This one actually affects Adam, who runs away into the woods. Adam had no idea Sean Cassidy was a mutant as well, and needs time to process this information. Sean pleads with him to come back, but quickly gives up. He decides to catch up with the student later on at the high school.

The next morning at school, several students groan about having to sit through a guest lecture at a surprise assembly. Adam and his pals lounge around outside drinking coffee before the day begins. Adam sees Ginny approaching, and as she walks by, he offers a salutation. Ginny completely ignores him at first, to Adam’s surprise. He runs after her and taps her on the shoulder. Ginny snaps out of her catatonic state, smiles, and tells Adam she can’t talk right now.

“Duuude! What’s goin’ on with you an’ that hottie, Mahoney?” Adam’s friend Arlo asks.

“I wish I knew, bud,” Adam responds, adding that he has a feeling something is terribly wrong with Ginny.

Later on, at the assembly, the principal introduces the guest speaker, Sean Cassidy. Sean begins speaking about the Xavier Institute’s summer program. He tries to draw students in with details about the school’s perks, as well as the life-changing classes it offers. Instead of listening, Adam tries to get Ginny’s attention. She turns and makes eye contact with him, and an emotionless look forms on her face. She begins activating the catalysts in his bloodstream, while at the same time regretting what she must do.

Adam suddenly finds that he is unable to control his mutation, and much to his horror, he transforms into his reptilian form. His uncontrollable alter-ego begins thrashing the desks in the auditorium, and his classmates begin freaking out. Sean watches this scene from the stage, wondering how he can help without outing himself as the mutant Banshee.

Ginny transforms into her Prime Sentinel form and springs into action. She orders the students to remain calm. She tells them to exit the auditorium in an orderly fashion while she dispatches the mutant menace. Of course, she mentions the fact that this rescue operation comes courtesy of Bastion and Operation: Zero Tolerance. Ginny then hits Adam with a plasma beam, which she fires from her hand.
He recovers and lashes out at Ginny, blaming her for his ill-timed transformation. She apologizes in her emotionless, Sentinel voice, but continues her attack. The two teens take the fight outside, where Ginny finally defeats Adam. He falls to the ground and begins reverting to his human form. Ginny walks over to him and begrudgingly initiates her extermination programming.

Banshee, decked-out in his X-Men gear, flies out of the auditorium and hits the Prime Sentinel with a sonic scream just before she executes the mutant teenager. This blast knocks her down temporarily, and Banshee flies over to the injured Adam. He begins helping him off the ground when the Prime Sentinel rises up again and announces her plans to exterminate them both.

Adam regains consciousness and asks Ginny what she is doing. She states that as a Prime Sentinel, it is her duty to protect humans by eliminating the mutant menace.

“You’re calling me a menace? See those kids over there?” Adam asks, pointing at the injured students limping out of the building. “I didn’t do that to them! You did! So tell me, who’s the real menace here?”

Somehow, this argument reaches the human beneath the programming, and Ginny regains control of herself. She transforms back to her human form, and tells Adam he is not a menace, but a one-of-a-kind guy. “Funny, but I used to be a lot like you…before I was recruited,” she tells him. “Not anymore, though. Now, I’m just a serial number and replacement parts.” She plants a kiss on Adam’s lips and runs away before she loses control again.

She runs down the street and finds Bastion waiting in a dark alley. He asks if she completed her mission. She tells her master that she must have malfunctioned, because she could not go through with her orders.

“How unfortunate,” Bastion says. He pulls out a gun and fires three shots into Ginny, killing her instantly. “Malfunction corrected.”

Later on that day, Sean and Emma tend to Adam in the med-lab of the Xavier Institute. They ensure him that they completely cleaned the Prime Sentinel’s catalyst out of his body. However, in order to have complete control over his transformations, Sean tells him he should study at the institute for a while. Surprisingly, Adam declines the offer.

“Sure, society hates and fears people like us for being different, but I’m not gonna segregate myself just ‘cuz I scare people,” Adam says. He then leaves the room to make a phone call. While he is absent, Emma assures her co-headmaster that she will mind-wipe whomever comes to retrieve Adam.

Adam’s friends M’Bala and Arlo finally arrive, and he says goodbye to Emma and Sean. He tells them that he will work to bridging the gap between mutants and humans on his own. As he leaves, he adds that he might see them next summer.

Adam climbs into the backseat of Arlo’s jeep. “Duuude, you shoulda told us you were a mutant,” Arlo tells him. “The chicks are gonna go ape over ya! That power of yours is totally primal!”

Primal, huh?” Adam says, pulling down his shades to reveal his crimson, reptilian eyes. “I like the sound of that…”

Characters Involved: 

Adam Berman (a closet mutant)

Ginny Mahoney (an undercover Prime Sentinel)


Banshee, the White Queen (Headmasters of Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters)

Moira MacTaggert (via holographic projection)

M’Bala (Adam’s friend)

Arlo (Adam’s friend)

Jocko (antagonist high school student)

Police officers

Story Notes: 

Dennis Hogan was murdered by an anti-mutant mob in X-Men: Prime.

Bastion seized Xavier’s comprehensive mutant database in X-Men (2nd series) #65.

Frances Crick and James Watson are the geneticists who were credited with discovering the structure of the double helix. However, their work was based largely on that of another scientist, Rosalind Franklin, whom history largely ignores.

The “Moreau” to whom Adam refers is the Genegineer from Genosha.

“Pym” and “Richards”, of course, refer to Henry Pym of the Avengers and Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four.

Issue Information: 
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