Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #227

Issue Date: 
March 1988
Story Title: 
The Belly Of The Beast !

Chris Claremont (writer), Marc Silvestri (penciler), Dan Green (inker), Tom Orzechowski (letterer), Bill Wray (colorist), Ann Nocenti (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor in chief)

Brief Description: 

Eagle Plaza is no more. However the X-Men, Madelyne Pryor and Neal Conan are still alive. They’re right in the middle of a Vietnam War battle, but there is one thing weird about it - there are demons everywhere. The X-Men take to the battle and go toe to toe with the beasties. All the while Neal videotapes with his camera, hoping the outside world can see. Maddie runs for cover and ends up coming upon Forge, as a young soldier in the war. Desperate over his arm buddies‘ deaths, he uses their souls to cast a spell that opens a gateway. The demons the X-Men are fighting came from this gateway. Forge soon realizes his mistake and orders an air strike to fix it. The X-Men realize that this past event is related to what is happening now. Neal asks more questions of the X-Men. He wants them to use this opportunity to show the world that mutants aren’t to be feared. High above Earth, the Adversary has taken over Roma’s Starlight Citadel and Forge (of the present day), Storm and Roma are his prisoners. He watches the X-Men and marvels over his future victory. Down below, Psylocke senses Forge and Storm up in the citadel. The X-Men come up with a plan to get up there. Upon arrival, they discover that the Adversary, like most other magical beings, is vulnerable to iron. As steel is an alloy of the metal, one blow from Colossus rips the Adversary in half and reveals his true form. That was the reason for Roma making sure that the armored X-Man would be present for this conflict. Rogue absorbs some magical knowledge and opens an energy portal behind the Adversary, though he managed to grab hold of the edge. All the X-men’s efforts to blast him fully through fail, and it becomes clear that there’s only one thing that can truly defeat him; Forge’s magic. Years ago he used the souls of his friends to open a gate, now he again needs nine souls to close one. The eight X-men and Madelyne Pryor agree without a second thought and even though it pains Forge greatly, he commences the spell. The Adversary is knocked through the portal and sealed behind a tombstone. Roma transports Forge and cameraman Neal Conan transported back to Dallas, where Freedom Force any many viewers of the live-feed are waiting for them. Shocked by her foster daughter’s death, Mystique accuses Forge of being a murderer. On Muir Island, Kitty Pryde watched the TV as the X-Men sacrifice their lives. She informs Moira MacTaggert, and Nightcrawler, just awakened from his come, of the bad news. However high above in her Citadel, Roma draws the X-Men’s essences from the tomb and recreates them. She tells them that chaos is needed in the universe, so the Adversary should not be locked away forever. Roma thanks the team for their heroism and tells them she could send them where- and whenever they want. The X-Men decide to let the world believe them dead, so that their friends and families are no longer in danger of being attacked by their enemies.

Full Summary: 

Eagle Plaza comes crashing down. People are running every which way, attempting to escape the falling debris. Most of Freedom Force and Manoli Wetherell are hanging out by the news van. Manoli tries to sneak away and go in after Neal, but Crimson Commando grabs her. He tells her it’s no use. Pyro pops out of the van and tells everyone they still have a live feed from inside; everyone’s still alive!

Inside what was Eagle Plaza, the X-Men watch in shock as North Vietnamese soldiers engage in a firefight with demon-like creatures. The team springs into action and helps take out the red-skinned monsters. The X-Men split up and use their unique skills to stop the alien threat. Psylocke stays close to Dazzler so she can telepathically guide her, since she’s fighting blind, with Destiny’s mask fused to her face. Neal, who’s videotaping it all, gives a report on each X-Man and their powers for the home viewers. He doesn’t know if anyone is getting his transmission, but he continues with his account. Although Rogue is having doubts about helping the NVA (because the U.S. fought them in the Vietnam War), she understands that as humans they have to stick together. Colossus rips a tree out of the ground and swings it in a huge arc. He knocks back about five of the creatures. He wonders out loud if this is some quasi-version of the Vietnam War caused by the chaos. He never heard of a demon presence during the war.

Nearby, Madelyne runs for cover. She trips over a dead soldier and hits the ground. She looks up and sees many dead American soldiers lying around. Up on a nearby hill, one of them is still alive and glowing. The glowing man is Forge, though a younger Forge, as he was during the Vietnam War. Madelyne witnesses him casting a spell. He’s chanting and as he does, the souls of his compatriots rise from their bodies. Forge takes their souls and opens a rift in the sky with them. Out of the newly opened gate emerge dozens of demons. They take to the ground and attack the NVA. Madelyne screams in horror. Forge soon realizes he’s made a big mistake. He calls in for an artillery strike over the radio. The bombers come soon after and obliterate everything. Luckily, the X-Men were out of the air strike’s range.

In a floating city up above the planet, the Adversary watches the X-Men and their pitiful attempts to stop the chaos. Storm, Forge and Roma are tied to a pole behind him. The Adversary walks towards them and tells them about the new age he will bring about. He rebukes Storm and Forge for leaving the reality he created for them. There they would have been at peace. Instead, they will be witness to the end of their world. Storm tries to strike him with lightning, but he stops it easily. Then he takes her control over wind and creates a hurricane-like force field around the Starlight Citadel. He claims victory to be near. Roma, however, knows better.

Back in Dallas at the news van, Manoli and Freedom Force are still watching what’s happening with the X-Men. They try to establish contact with them, but it’s a one-way transmission. The see Wolverine on the screen, who is asked by Neal about the events that just unfolded. He wants to know if he thinks Forge was trying to cover up what he did by ordering the bombing run or did he realize he made a mistake and wanted to stop the demons. Wolverine tells him to get away. Neal pleads with Wolverine, explaining to him that people are afraid of mutants. If Wolverine really wants to prove the world wrong, this is his opportunity. An opportunity to show the world that the X-Men are heroes. Havok agrees with Neal and pats him on the shoulder.

Psylocke alerts the team that she can now sense both Storm and Forge, the real one, not the younger man they just saw. Their thoughts are originating from the floating citadel above them. Rogue takes that as her cue and zips off to check it out. She gets up to the wind shield and is thrown back to Earth with great force. Wolverine is left to consider their options. Individually they are no match for the Adversary, so they have to confront him as a team, though as Havok correctly points up, before they can even confront him, they have to reach the citadel. Dazzler comes up with the idea to have Longshot lead the team in. His bones are hollow, so he might be light to soar on the wind-shield. That coupled with his luck power could bring in the whole team safe after him. Madelyne thinks that’s crazy, though Wolverine thinks it over and agrees.

Neal takes this opportunity to ask Longshot how he feels about what he’s going to do. Longshot tells him that his friends are being held hostage up in the citadel. He will do whatever it takes to rescue them. Neal heads over to Madelyne and asks why she, as a civilian, is still there. She tells him you don’t have to be a mutant to believe in what the X-Men stand for. She compares their goals with those of Martin Luther King, people should be judged by the content of their character, not race, color or powers. Madelyne concludes that chances are slim to survive this day and see the dream come true, however she wishes that her son and her husband could.

From behind them, Rogue yells they are ready. Neal and Madelyne walk over. Rogue grabs the rope everyone’s holding on to and once more takes to the air. One by one they’re lifted from the ground, and Dazzler is actually happy that she can’t see what’s happening. As they near the citadel Rogue whips the end Longshot’s on towards the wind. Down below, Colossus is anchoring the rope. Behind him, Neal is running it through his hands. Piotr, through intense concentration, reverts back to human form and is swiftly carried away. Neal is taken as well.

Up above, Longshot manages to make it through the wind-shield. He sees the Adversary and throws some blades at him. They land in his chest and the Adversary steps back in pain. The blades are made of iron (steel alloy), which hurts him. Rogue’s next through. She flies over to him and gives him a big kiss. Usually her victims are instantly kayoed, but the Adversary fights back. Rogue doesn’t care and holds on, hoping that the longer the contact lasts, the weaker he will get. Wolverine dives at them and knocks her free. Presumable weakened from the kiss, Wolverine hacks away at the Adversary. It does no good and both Rogue and Wolverine are knocked backwards by a swift punch. Colossus realizes that it must have been the steel that hurt the Adversary. He morphs back to his armored form and dives at the Chaos Maker. The Adversary is shocked to see Colossus is even there. He wasn’t supposed to be part of this game. When Piotr makes contact the Adversary is ripped in half revealing his true demonic form. The demon looks at Roma and tells her he’s impressed with her trickery, bringing Colossus into the fold.

Rogue walks up to the Adversary and hurls him towards an energy vortex she created. When she had kissed him earlier, she absorbed Naze’s psyche. With that, she gained the spells and shamanistic powers to use against him. A magical portal opens, but the Adversary manages to grab the edge before falling. Unfortunately Rogue doesn’t have enough control over her sorcery to push him all the way through. Now that the Adversary is focusing his energies on Rogue, his hold over Forge and Storm breaks, though Roma is still bound to the pole. Storm rushes over and uses her mastery of wind and lightning to try and force the Adversary through. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work. All the force wielding X-Men blast away at the Adversary too. He still won’t budge. Neal Conan keeps recording at all, while Psylocke realizes the only hope the X-Men have lies with Forge. Only magic can stop the Adversary.

Forge hears this and immediately says “No”. Storm doesn’t understand why and wants to know. Forge still refuses. The Adversary calls him weak and frightened, saying he won’t use his powers even if it’s for the sake of the world. Storm realizes now what must happen. In order for Forge to send the Adversary back, he must use the souls of his friends just like when he opened the portal back in ‘Nam. Forge tells her she’s right. In Vietnam he used the souls of his deceased comrades without their permission, and he can only undone this justice with soulforce freely given. The only way to seal the portal is by taking his friend’s, the X-Men‘s souls.

Havok mulls it over and wonders if the spell would work. Forge assures him it will, without a doubt. Storm rushes over to Forge and kisses him. It looks like it will be their last kiss. Wolverine says that Neal and Madelyne aren’t to be part of the spell. They’re only civilians. Unfortunately Forge needs nine souls like in the original enchantment, but there are only eight X-Men. Madelyne steps forward and says that she expected as much. Neal turns the camera on Maddie so she can give her last words. She calls out to Scott and tells him to find their son and raise him well. She tells him she loves him then says good-bye.

Forge starts chanting and the X-Men revert to pure light. Their souls combine to form a miniature star. Forge takes the sphere and hurls it at the Adversary. It strikes the otherworldly demon in the chest and knocks him through. The portal seals itself into a tomb. Forge reflects on everything he had just done. His fellow soldier’s souls are now able to rest in peace, but the cost he paid was once again too high. Now released, Roma comes over to Forge and Neal, who recorded everything.

At Muir Island, Kitty and Lockheed watch as the X-Men sacrifice their lives on international TV. She’s pretty upset and about to cry when Moira buzzes her over the monitor. She wants her to come straight to the lab. Kitty phases through many walls and floors until she reaches the infirmary. Nightcrawler has awakened from his coma! Kitty is elated and rushes over to hug him. Nightcrawler can sense something is wrong and asks her about it. Kitty, obviously distressed, buries her head in the fuzzy elf’s chest.

Forge and Neal are teleported back to Dallas, to the remains of Eagle Plaza. Freedom Force and Manoli are there to greet them. Except Mystique is not too happy with Forge. She wants to know why he didn’t sacrifice his own soul. She’s obviously in pain over the loss of her foster daughter. Forge tells her that since he had to cast the spell, he couldn’t be part of it. He walks away. Everyone just stares at him. After a little bit Mystique yells out and calls him a “Murderer”. Forge continues to walk.

Up at the Starlight citadel, Roma uses her powers to sift the souls of the X-Men from the tomb of imprisonment. The X-Men and Madelyne Pryor rematerialize in front of her, alive. Storm wonders how this happened. Did Forge’s spell fail? Roma assures her it worked. However, the universe needs chaos and so the Adversary cannot be locked away forever, though he will be punished. She says the X-Men deserve a reward for their heroism. They now hold their future in their own hands, she can send them back to earth, the moment they left it, or she could transport them to any other world, any era, any reality.

Wolverine realizes they can use this to their advantage. Storm wanted to fake the X-Men’s deaths so they could operate with more freedom. Now that the world thinks they’re dead they can continue with the plan. Dazzler, free from her mask now, thinks it would be unfair to their friends and family to not know they’re alive. Everyone else starts piping up about how they could be in danger just by their connections to them. They reach an agreement and tell Roma they are ready to go. Roma congratulates them on their decision – this will be a new era for the team as they have grown from heroes to legends.

Characters Involved: 

Colossus, Dazzler, Havok, Longshot, Nightcrawler, Psylocke, Rogue, Shadowcat, Storm, Wolverine (all X-Men)

Madelyne Pryor



Moira MacTaggert

Neal Conan, cameraman

Manoli Wetherell, reporter and engineer


Blob, Crimson Commando, Destiny, Mystique, Pyro, Stonewall, Super Sabre (all Freedom Force)

The Adversary

Story Notes: 

Colossus has been having troubles to revert back to human form ever since his injury during the Mutant Massacre. [Uncanny X-Men #212]

Naze was Forge’s mentor and teacher. The Adversary possessed him (or actually a Dire Wraith posing as him) in Uncanny X-Men #188 and used his body as host ever since.

Madelyne’s husband Cyclops watches the transmission in X-Factor #27.

As explained in X-Factor #38, baby Nathan Christopher was kidnapped by the Marauders, off panel between X-Factor #1 and Uncanny X-Men #206.

The Adversary is only temporarily defeated. Forge encounters him again in X-Factor #120-121.

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