Young X-Men #8

Issue Date: 
January 2009
Story Title: 
The Y Men Part 1: Outnumbered

Marc Guggenheim (writer), Rafa Sandoval (penciler), Roger Bonet (inker), Jose Villarrubia (colorist), Dave Sharpe (letterer), Michael Ryan & Christina Strain (cover artists), Anthony Dial & Paul Acerios (production), Daniel Ketchum (assistant editor), Nick Lowe (editor), Jose Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

Cyclops, Sunspot and Moonstar inform Ink that he is not actually a mutant but they believe his tattoo artist, Leon Nunez, is and has been giving super-powered tattoos to criminals and escaped convicts. Realizing his place with the X-Men is no longer necessary, Ink leaves the X-Men as Cyclops sends the Young X-Men to deal with all the men that Nunez has given powers to. They visit Nunez at his tattoo parlor but the mutant tattoo artist doesn’t offer any assistance. By snooping around in Leon’s office, Dust discovers that the gang of tatted up criminals are hiding out in an abandoned paintball park. The team initiates an attack but are overwhelmed and outnumbered by the gang’s wide array of powers. Meanwhile, after violently defending himself against a Hellfire Cult attack, Ink is approached by a young girl in an X-Men uniform who calls herself Cipher and tells him that the X-Men need his help.

Full Summary: 

Ink, angry and drunk, is attacked by the Hellfire Cult in downtown San Francisco but uses his various tattoo-induced powers to defend himself. After brutally fighting back his attackers, he walks away, informing his bloodied victims that they “just got sent to the emergency room for nothing” because he’s not even a mutant.

(48 hours earlier)
Cyclops, Moonstar and Sunspot inform Ink that, thanks to a saliva sample he provided Beast with, they have discovered he is not actually a mutant. Shocked, Ink asks them how they can explain his tattoo powers, to which Cyclops tells him they believe Leon Nunez, Ink’s tattoo artist, is in fact a mutant with the ability to bestow tattoos that give people whatever power he wants them to.

Ink tells them that he had no idea and thought he was the only guy with super-powered tats. Cyclops tells him about Julio Rodriguez, who just broke his brother, Carlos, out of prison by punching through the walls with a fist covered in a bomb tattoo. Cyclops has decided to send a team to visit Mr. Nunez and asks Ink for any information he can provide.

After telling him that he knows nothing about his tattoo artist, including the fact that he was a mutant, he begins to leave. Sunspot stops him and tells him that he’s still a part of the team. Ink tells him that the only reason he stuck around on a team that hates him in the first place is because he thought it was the safest place for mutants. Since that’s no longer a concern for him, Ink abruptly leaves.

Cyclops doesn’t seem too concerned about Ink’s departure but Moonstar is hesitant and reminds Scott that “tortured souls” are the X-Men’s specialty. Scott tells her that their current priority is to find Nunez and the gangbangers that he’s been giving super-powers to. Instructed to take the team of Young X-Men for this mission, Moonstar expresses concern about just how many “power tattoos” Leon Nunez has been giving out.

At the Grace Cathedral, Rockslide and Anole try to think of a proper name for their new headquarters as they complete a training session. While Rockslide is glad to have his friend back, he wonders what made Anole join the team. Anole tells him that a gay guy doesn’t need an excuse to move to San Francisco but his reasons for rejoining the team are more complicated. Dust interrupts the two to inform them that Dani and Roberto have a mission for them.

On the X-Jet, Rockslide questions how they’re can be new mutants popping up if the mutant population was said to be capped off at 198. Moonstar corrects him, stating that there are 198 known mutants but some like Leon Nunez, were off the grid. Rockslide acknowledges that his new teammate, Graymalkin, is also a recently discovered mutant and has been talking to himself for the entire flight, saying things such as “They are good people. You should talk to them. Reveal yourself to them…”

The team of X-Men arrives at Leon Nunez’s tattoo parlor in La Jolla, California and Dani and Roberto begin to question the tattoo artist. Leon tells them that he knew he was a mutant and sarcastically asks if giving people tattoos was against the law and if he’s in “mutant trouble.”

As Nunez refuses to answer any questions about Julio Rodriguez and tells Dani and Roberto to enroll in a police academy if they want to play detective, Anole and Dust snoop through Leon’s office for additional information. When the team regroups, Dust shows Dani and Roberto a photo she found in Leon’s office that shows a man with the same bomb tattoo as Julio Rodriguez in paintball gear. After calling the nearest paintball arena, she discovered it was out of business and since the Rodriguez brothers are wanted fugitives, the team assumes that they will be hiding out there.

Forty-five minutes later, the team arrives at the abandoned paintball park and Dani expresses worry about the team especially Graymalkin, who doesn’t have any training. Sunspot, on the other hand, doesn’t think a bunch of degenerates like the Rodriguez brothers will be too much trouble for them.

As they prepare to confront the gangbangers, Anole comforts Graymalkin, who admits that he’s anxious. Anole informs him that he can stay in the jet but Graymalkin tells Anole that the Graymalkins don’t shy from danger.

Moonster spots the Rodriguez brothers along with other tatted up men and it appears they’ve been living there. Sunspot figures that the rest of the men are wanted fugitives as well and that the team should contain them quick and turn them over to authorities.

As the Young X-Men spring into action, Dust notices that a part of her arm is reverting into glass.

The group of men, who jokingly call themselves the “Y-Men,” immediately attack the X-Men after they are ordered under arrest. A man with cheetah tattoos covering his body slashes viciously at Graymalkin while Carlos who has a star-shaped tattoo around his eye knocks Anole out with an eye blast and Julio punches Dust with his bomb-tattooed fist. After Moonster takes a bullet to the shoulder, Sunspot warns Julio and his men to back off and reminds him that they’re outnumbered. Just as Sunspot finishes his thought, he looks around to find that he surrounded by dozens of men, all covered in strange super-powered tattoos.

Back in San Francisco, Ink is walking away from his fight with the Hellfire Cult when a teenage girl in an X-Men uniform stops him. She calls herself “Cipher” and tells Ink that even though he’s not a mutant, he’s still an X-Men and his team is in trouble.

Characters Involved: 

Dust, Ink, Anole, Graymalkin, Rockslide (Young X-Men)
Sunspot, Moonstar, Cyclops


Hellfire Cult Members

Julio Rodriguez
Carlos Rodriguez
Leon Nunez

Y-Man with Cheetah Tattoo
Various Super-Powered Tattooed Y-Men

Story Notes: 

First full appearance of Cipher, although later issues will reveal that her presence has been involved in events for some time.

The Hellfire Cult first appeared in Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #500.