Tales of the Age of Apocalypse: Sinister Bloodlines

Issue Date: 
December 1997
Story Title: 
Sinister Bloodlines

John Francis Moore (plotter), Brian K. Vaughan (scripter), Steve Epting and Nick Napolitano (pencilers), Al Milgrom (inker), Richard Starkings and Comicraft/KF (letters and designs), Kevin Tinsley (colors), Matt Idleson (editor), Bob Harris (editor in chief)

Brief Description: 

Five years ago, Christopher Summers, after being abducted years ago, returned to Earth in a Shi'ar craft. Arriving near the citadel fortress of Apocalypse, Christopher was shot down and captured by Apocalypse's forces. Five years later, after half a decade of being the Beast's experiment, Christopher makes his escape. Evading the hunting party sent by Sinister, Christopher is eventually discovered by his sons, Cyclops and Havok, now prelates under the command of Apocalypse. After learning of the man's identity, the Summers brother decide to wait out the arriving storm in the safety of a nearby church and discuss family history. The reunion is interrupted by the arrival and attack of dozens of, apparently, undead people. The trio are almost killed by the horde, but are saved at the last moment by the arrival of Sinister. As Cyclops chastises his adoptive father for keeping secret the existence of his real one, Christopher Summers goes through a startling transformation, becoming an alien brood. Realizing that his true father is no more, Cyclops uses his optic blast with deadly force, ending his father's life. As Havok grows more distant from his brother for his recent decision, Cyclops tries to learn a lesson of life from the recent events. Watching his father's body being consumed in a funeral pyre, Cyclops vows that some things will change.

Full Summary: 

(five years ago)
On Liberty Island in New York Harbor, the Statue of Liberty lies in pieces. Atop the giant stone pedestal upon which Lady Liberty once stood is a different statue; one of the mutant overlord known as Apocalypse. The statue of Apocalypse, like Lady Liberty, asks for the world to send him its poor, huddled masses. Unlike Liberty's altruistic motive, however, Apocalypse wishes to them to come so he can destroy them for their weakness. Behind the statue, on the island of Manhattan, lies what remains of New York City, capital of Apocalypse's new America.

High overhead of Apocalypse's Manhattan fortress, a small spacecraft of Shi'ar design streaks through the night sky. In close pursuit of this craft are three Scarab class attack crafts. Hitting the Shi'ar craft with a missile, they watch the intruder crash in the New Nile. Sometime later, a salvage crew lifts the craft from the water and places it on the dock. Clad in radiation suits, the crew cautiously opens the craft and is shocked. Calling out to his captain, one crewman exclaims that he is probably going to want to see this.

In the heart of Apocalypse's Manhattan fortress, Scott and Alex Summers spar hand-to-hand with two humans. Scott, a rising star in the ranks of Apocalypse and on the fast track to becoming a prelate, advises his younger brother on tactics. Alex, forever in his brother's shadow, grows even more irritated at his performance and is pushed to the floor by his opponent. Acting on instinct, Alex defends himself by using his plasma powers to incinerate his adversary. Emerging into the sparring area, Sinister voices his disappointment and reminds Alex than the object of the exercise was to teach him not to rely solely on his mutant gift. Rubbing in his failure, Alex is told that, as always, he takes the easy path to victory, and as such will always be second to his brother. Trying to ease the blow from their surrogate father, Scott predicts that next time, he will do better.

Entering the room, Dr. Hank McCoy, the prodigy of Sinister who is referred to in hushed voices as the Beast for his infamous cruelty, apologizes for the interruption and asks to speak to Sinister. Speaking cryptically, McCoy informs his mentor that salvage has retrieved an... anomaly. When prodded for more information by Sinister, McCoy, in a hushed voice, suggests that they had best discuss it elsewhere, perhaps in the lab. As the two leave, Alex comments to his brother that the rumor is McCoy has begun to experiment on himself. Adding his own opinion, Scott states that some people are just never happy being who they are.

(five years later, present)
Lying strapped on an examination table, Christopher Summers howls in pain. For the past five years, he has been poked, prodded, cut into and operated on every minute of every hour of every day. Having lost his family while trying to smuggle them to safety before Apocalypse's rise to power, Christopher had returned to find his two sons. For the past half decade, this driving mission has kept him going and enduring pain that would have broken a lesser man. Still, after all of this time, Christopher does not give up. In an act of will as much as strength, Christopher breaks one of his straps, freeing himself.

Eyes downcast at his notepad, the Beast, now in form as well as spirit, greets Christopher as #9763 and jokingly asks if he called for a doctor. Impaling the mutant with a syringe, Christopher replies that it'd be better if he called him dead. Knocking over a table of volatile liquid, starting a fire, Christopher tells the collapsing Beast to burn in hell. As Christopher makes his escapes through the flames, several guards arrive on the scene, asking the Beast if he is all right. Still trying to return to his feet, the Beast orders the two to catch the subject and kill it if they have to.

Making his way to the outside though an air vent, Christopher emerges onto the streets of Manhattan. Recognizing the ruined city, he yells in horror. Grabbing a passing vagrant by his cloak, Christopher forcefully asks what happened? Pulling and knife and swinging, the vagrant tells the confused stranger to stay away and to find his own clothes. Christopher begins to explain, but is silenced by the sound of an alarm blaring through the night sky. Another vagrant, a kindly dark skinned man with short gray hair, beckons Christopher to follow, explaining that the wagons are on the way.

Moments later, Christopher finds himself in a hidden bunker, filled with the arid scent of yellowed newsprint. Taking the long coat being offered by his new friend, Christopher tells him that he's been away for a long time. How did all this happen, he asks. When did it all go into the toilet? The old man answers that there was a war against humanity by the mutant population. Humanity lost. Pointing to some hanging single page newspapers titled "Bugle", the man states that he tries to keep other humans informed of the news Apocalypse won't tell them. Finally remembering his manners, the man introduces himself as Robbie. Returning the gesture, Christopher introduces himself as Chris Summers. Trying to inform his own shattered mind as well as his new friend, Christopher tells Robbie that he remembers fleeing the coming war with his wife and children. They crashed. There was a strange ship... and then there was a gray monster conducting tests. Recognizing the name, Robbie asks if his sons are Scott and Alex. Shocked that this man could know his family, Christopher tells him that they are and asks if he knows his boys. Robbie replies that he does and, placing his hand on Christopher's shoulder, tells him it's time he had a history lesson.

Back in Apocalypse's fortress, Sinister speaks to a gathered group of mutants. As Scott and Alex wonder why a reported flatscan requires such attention, Sinister continues. The subject is one of the most dangerous men ever held in the pens. For the search, Northstar and Aurora will take point, the Bedlam Brothers will coordinate from the citadel while Emplate and the Monets will be the trackers. Closing the meeting, Sinister informs them that he wants the subject and is only to be killed if necessary. Already taken aback by the unprecedented command of capturing a flatscan alive, Cyclops asks Sinister if he shouldn't be handling the situation. Brushing off his adoptive son, Sinister replies that he should learn to delegate. He has been groomed for more than combat, he is to be a leader. As the group disperses, Alex is approached by the Bedlam Brothers who, despite their orders, wish to take a break to the exclusive club called Heaven.

Greeting the three Alpha mutants at his club's entrance, Warren Worthington III welcomes them and tells his bartender that everything's on the house for the three. When Alex orders a dry drink, the Bedlam Brothers tell him to lighten up and offer a toast to Apocalypse. Drinking to the toast, Alex tells the Brothers that life would be a lot sweeter if he were an only child.

Meanwhile in Joe "Robbie" Robertson's shelter, Emplate, the Monets, Northstar and Aurora find Robbie dead, gutted like a fish. Sensing that something is wrong, Emplate sniffs the corpse and declares that the "meat" is tainted. It is dead, yet still alive. A sudden movement from Robbie's corpse startles the group, but Aurora quickly incinerates the body. The group dismisses their unsolved mystery, deciding instead to continue on their hunt. Minutes later, the group's trail leads to the sealed Lincoln Tunnel. Having been closed for years, it is now the world's longest road to nowhere. Trapped at the tunnel's entrance, Christopher attempts to fight back with a large knife, but is quickly dropped to the ground by a blow from Emplate. Pulling an energy pistol from his coat, much to the surprise of the group, Christopher blasts Emplate in the chest, killing him instantly. As the Monets stand in frozen shock, Christopher flees. The fleeing human does not get very far before he is stopped by Northstar and Aurora. Both laugh at Christopher as he presents his weapon, asking if he truly thinks that bullets can stop them. Their laughter turns to pain when Christopher, instead of firing at them, fires at a car behind, which explodes violently. Not wishing to take another life, Christopher leaves the injured twins and continues on his way.

In the club Heaven, Alex, the Bedlam Brothers and their female guests tell stories, laughing in their posh surroundings. Their laughing stops with the arrival of Prelate Cyclops who brings news that the search team's emergency beacon has activated. Since that means something's wrong, they are going after them. Alex attempts to blow off the mission, but is quickly rebuffed by his brother. Silently, Cyclops thinks that this is his chance to figure out why this whole mission has felt wrong from the beginning.

(thirty minutes later)
Scott and Alex, riding their motorcycles, arrive at the scene of the battle. They find the injured Northstar and Aurora, the transfixed and catatonic Monet twins, and the deceased Emplate. Reveling in what a supposed flatscan has done, they pick up on his trail heading west into the Ghost Lands. Arriving there, in reality a cemetery, Scott voices his worries. He states that their target could easily have disguised his signal. He wants them to find him. Following their signal, the two prelates enter a mausoleum, and are quickly fired upon.

Firing a warning shot, Christopher warns the two to stay back. Firing a non-lethal plasma bolt, Havok knocks his target back, making him drop his weapon. Disarmed, but not out, Christopher flees in the resulting confusion. Running at his top speed, he wonders if it was really they and would they kill him, their father, if he were just a human? Christopher's sprint is halted when the ceiling, blasted by Cyclops optic blast, begins to fall around him. Drawing out his sword, Christopher turns to his sons and offers them two choices: they can kill him because he is a flatscan, or can spare the life of their poor old dad. To this, Christopher adds that he has missed them.

(partially flashbacks)
Angered at the apparent insult, Havok begins to fire again, but is stopped by his brother. Christopher tries to reach out to his sons, marking that he knew that Scott would be the calm one and suspected that Alex would inherit his mother's fire. Unconvinced, Alex exclaims that it is a trick, a messed-up scheme by the resistance. When asked by Cyclops why they should believe him, Christopher sits down and tries to recount when their saga began. The war was just beginning, Christopher tells his sons. Fleeing the coming conflict, the Summers' family packed their entire life into the Cessna. It was their mother's birthday and they were going to give her the gift of free Canadian soil. When the gigantic alien craft appeared, for reasons he cannot even remember, he placed his two sons in a parachute and pushed them out of the plane to safety.

Taken aback, Alex exclaims that the story is accurate, a story which nobody knows. Cold as ever, Cyclops asks his father why he didn't come back until now? Their real father would never have abandoned them like that. Recalling the alien ship once more, Christopher says that he first believed it to be one of Apocalypse's crafts, but when the beam pulled the plane inside, he knew that the ship wasn't of this world. The aliens, calling themselves the Shi'ar, were terrible and couldn't be reasoned with. The aliens subjected them to all type of tests, wanting to know everything about them. Dying early in the process, his wife, their mother, did not suffer. After the period of testing, he had been thrown in the brig with other aliens. United by their common hate of the Shi'ar, they plotted for months before staging a mutiny against their captors. Taking control of the ship, they spent years taking their revenge against the Shi'ar Empire, which was losing a war of their own. After time, revenge lost its taste and he had to leave. They were on the way to Earth when they encountered... Christopher trails off before somberly adding that he should never have come back.

Cyclops congratulates Christopher on his story, claiming that whomever he's working for did a good job supplying his information. But aliens? He doesn't think so. Voicing his own opinion, Havok says that while he could be clutching at straws, he believes him.

As the three continue their dialogue, shadowy figured emerge from the woods, hungry for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Striking swiftly, the two inhuman men strike, knocking down Havok. Recognizing the two as scavengers, Cyclops orders his brother to go for the jugular; it is their only chance. Moving at lightening speed, the same scavenger, with serpent-like features, strikes Cyclops from behind, immobilizing him. Ducking a blow from the second scavenger, Christopher orders his recovering son, Alex, to help his brother. Havok fires, knocking both Cyclops and the serpent scavenger down. Comparing himself to a cobra, the scavenger suggests that they shouldn't challenge one when it's hungry. Cyclops, having recovered, answers the comment with a deadly optic blast.

Recovering from their swift battle, the two brothers hear the cry of their father attempting to evade the blows of the second, giant scavenger. Drawing his sword once more, Christopher impales the brute, killing him. The kill fresh in his mind, Christopher attempts to quell a rising thirst for death. Trying to relax, he promises that he can't let his sons see him like that. Impressed by his father's actions, Cyclops offers a compliment. Wiping his brow, Christopher states that one picks up skills fighting aliens. Wiping the blood from his sword, Christopher tells his sons that while he never had the chance to really raise them, and he knows that they grew up in a harsh world, he never imagined they'd be capable of doing the things he's seen them do. Changing the conversation, Cyclops notes that their bikes were destroyed in the fight and the weather's about to go to seed. They need shelter for the night. After Alex points to an old church, Scott agrees, saying that they can use the time to get to know each other better.

In the laboratory of Sinister, the Beast and Sinister look at the image of a red-haired woman on the screen. Hanging from the ceiling, the Beast asks his master what he thinks. Do they have a winner? Examining the data, Sinister notes that the woman's genetic code may be the perfect compliment to Scott's X-factor. Recalling the death of Emplate and the catatonic state of the Monets, the Beast asks Sinister why he thinks that the two Summers boys will fare differently. Still staring at the screen, Sinister remarks that they know how to take care of themselves. Obviously trying to provoke a reaction, the Beast asks if he has told the two the truth about their father. He also wonders aloud their possible reaction to the news that their substitute guardian had been using their real father as a guinea pig. Snapping back with rage, Sinister grabs the Beast by the neck and tells him to not test his limits. He may be brilliant, but he is not expendable. As the Beast skulks away, Sinister silently wonders if he did have a point. The tenuous situation could easily spin out of control.

Back in the Summers' church refuge, the three men try to warm themselves around barrel fires. Citing the storm, Cyclops states that they will not be able to call for backup. Holocaust's nuclear "campaign" in the Midwest creates atmospheric interference. Turning the conversation back to their father's past actions, they ask what happened when he returned to Earth. Trying to brush off the question, Christopher replies that he doesn't recall, angering Scott greatly. Despite his father's pleas for him to drop his shell for a second, Scott turns his back and walks away. Standing on his own, Cyclops reminisces. He remembers the look on his father's face when he handed them the only parachute. Trying to reconcile that face against the hate he's felt for years, Cyclops nearly does not notice the slaughter he has walked amongst. Finding a group of scavengers, all dead, Cyclops wonders what happened? Did they kill each other? Noticing the animalistic wounds and the warmth of the bodies, he quickly surmises that the killers might still be there.

Checking inside an old garbage dumpster, Cyclops discovers a dark skinned woman, chained. Picking her up, the prelate attempts to ease her fears, promising that his intentions are to help, not to hurt. Using his optic blast, Cyclops breaks her chains, freeing her. Introducing herself as Misty Knight, the woman tells Cyclops that he she doesn't take help from mutants, and asks him to kill her. Dismissing her fears as underground rhetoric, Cyclops tells her that they are not butchers like the scavengers. Retorting angrily, Misty asks Cyclops to tell that to what's left of the families murdered by Apocalypse's dogs.

Looking around for signs of the killers, Cyclops suggests that they not stay long. Whoever did this, he points out, could still be in the vicinity. As they move back to the Summers' camp, Misty tells Cyclops that she and her friends were headed toward Canada when the scavengers found them. They threw her in a dumpster, most likely to save her for later. The two stop dead in their tracks, seeing a red-haired woman hanging from the rafters, dead. Asked by Cyclops if she was a friend, Misty replies to the woman, Colleen, stating that she never thought that she would outlive her. The two continue on their way, not noticing the deceased Colleen open her eyes.

Back at the camp, Christopher is working on the motorcycle as Havok explains its specs. Speaking with his usual authoritarian voice, Cyclops enters and explains that some predator is on the loose and has killed most of the locals. As his father quietly mutters "not now", Havok asks his brother who the flatscan is. Cyclops barely has time to introduce Misty before the group is encircled by a group of undead people. Exclaiming that all of them were dead five minutes ago, Cyclops hands a pistol to Misty. Apologizing for her friends, he tells her they have no choice. Firing his optic blast at one undead, Cyclops is astonished that it survives, albeit injured. Likewise, Havok finds his powers nearly useless. Preparing to fight with his sword, Christopher is seized by the wrist by one creature, which pauses briefly, and calls Christopher "mother". Seizing the moment, Christopher impales the creature with the sword. Elsewhere in the fight, Misty is accosted by the undead Colleen, who greets her former friend just before being blasted by her pistol. Yelling that they are losing ground, Cyclops orders the group to fall back.

Running free of the church, the group finds that they are trapped between the undead creatures, and a deep ravine. Facing certain doom, the group is rescued by a crescent shaped craft, which's cannons obliterate the undead. After a swift landing, Sinister emerges from the craft. Not even taking a moment to thank the genetic master, Cyclops bluntly states that he has a lot of questions about his father. Pointing his energy rifle at Cyclops father, Sinister coldly states that he is afraid that they'll have to wait.

Acting swiftly, Cyclops pushes the rifle skyward and, at the top of his voice, asks Sinister when he was planning on telling them about their father? In another five years? The argument abruptly ends by Havok's exclamation over his father's condition. Doubling over in pain, Christopher tells his sons that he tried to fight it, but he killed Robertson and the others. Standing upright once more, Christopher knocks Havok away with a powerful backhand before revealing his transformed self. Snarling with monstrous teeth and flashing inhuman eyes, Christopher Summers, human/alien hybrid, growls at his children and tells them that it is time for them to join the Brood! Standing next to his adopted sons, Sinister tells the Summers brothers that when he found their father he was already infected with an unknown strand of DNA. He hid their father as he didn't want them to see him like this. Almost fully transformed, the alien Christopher launches an attack at Sinister. Yelling that he will be the first to fall in revenge for the years of prodding and cutting, Christopher slashes with razor sharp claws.

Defending the man who raised him, Cyclops forces back his father with an optic blast. Uninjured, the Broodling grabs Havok and effortlessly lifts him above his head. Hearing the pleas of his younger son calling for him to resist his transformation, Christopher responds that he is not their father anymore. There is no turning back. He can't fight it anymore. Hearing a plaintive "please" from his father, Cyclops honors his father's last request and releases the full power of his optic blast, pulverizing the creature that was once his father. Breathing his last few moments of life, the now-human Christopher thanks his son. Speaking haltingly, Christopher confesses that he never should have come back. The Brood, he informs them, infect every species they encounter. They got the Shi'ar and the Shi'ar got him. Closing his eyes forever, Christopher Summers gives Scott one last command, look after his brother, Alex.

Enraged at his lost, Alex grabs his brother, telling him that there had to have been another way. He didn't have to be killed. Bringing his hand to his head in his own grief, Scott responds that he had no choice. Their father would have killed every one of them. As Alex begins to retort, he is silenced by Sinister, who declares what Scott did was necessary. Once again, he points out, the strongest survive. His eyes averted in grief, Scott asks Sinister again why he didn't tell them before. Responding bluntly, Sinister states that he had hoped to spare them the pain of seeing their father like this. Unfortunately, he continues, Christopher escaped before he could find a way to remove the alien DNA. Stepping toward the corpse of Christopher Summers, Sinister announces that he shall take care of the body. Stopped by Scott, he is told that it is his duty... as a responsible son.

As the funeral pyre for their father burns, Sinister watches the Summers brothers from afar. Both stand in solemn silence, watching the flames consume the body. After some time of this, Scott turns to his brother to reach out. Instead of accepting this outreached hand, Alex interrupts him, telling him to go to hell. As his brother leaves the pyre area, Scott returns his gaze to the flames. Speaking to his departed father, Scott tells him that he was right. This isn't what he wanted them to become. While Alex may never understand the gift of this knowledge, Scott says, maybe it's time one of them started to make some changes.

Characters Involved: 

Aurora, Beast, Bedlam Brothers, Cyclops, Emplate, Havok, Monet twins, Northstar (all Mutant Elite Force)
Christopher Summers

Robbie Robertson
Misty Knight
Colleen Wing
Mister Hyde

Manhattan vagrants
Slaughtered scavengers
Salvage crew
Sparing partners for the Summers brothers
Citadel guards
Heaven patrons and staff

In flashbacks :
Alex, Catherine, Christopher and Scott Summers
Brood transformed Shi'ar
Ch'od, Corsair, Hepzibah, Raza Longknife (all Starjammers)

On a video monitor :
Jean Grey, Weapon X

Story Notes: 

The complete engraving at the base of the Statue of Liberty is as follows:
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.
I lift my lamp beside the golden door."

Still, these passages are but the final lines of the poem called "The New Colossus". The poem was composed by Emma Lazarus, a 19th century Jewish American poet, who saw the statue as a beacon to the world.

The divergence of the Age of Apocalypse timeline from the original occurred twenty years ago with the death of Charles Xavier. By all known accounts, this was years prior to any Earther's contact with the Shi'ar Empire. As any differences in the timeline would have to be a result of Xavier not having lived the past 20 years, begs the question "what has caused the Shi'ar to be taken over by the Brood?" While it is most likely a logical oversight by the writers, the alteration does cause one to wonder if the Shi'ar have had unknown contact with Earth prior to the abduction of Christopher and Catherine Summers.

One curious difference of the manner of gestation for the Brood in the timeline of the Age of Apocalypse is the need for the host to die. In the main Marvel Universe, the Brood eggs transform their very much living hosts, sometimes to their complete surprise.

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