Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #390

Issue Date: 
March 2001
Story Title: 
The Cure

Scott Lobdell (Plot), Salvador Larroca (Penciler), Townsend/Stucker/Vines/Hanna/Miki (Inks), Hi-Fi Design (Colors), Richard Starkings & COMICRAFT’s Saida T! (Letters), Pete Franco (Assistant Editor), Mark Powers (Editor), Joe Quesada (Editor in Chief)

Brief Description: 

After seventy-two hours in his laboratory, Beast is able to discover the cure for the Legacy Virus after deciphering the notes of the late Dr. Moira MacTaggart. Xavier, Cecelia Reyes, Gambit and Wolverine congratulate Beast, who explains to them how the cure works. However, Beast and Cecelia realize that the cure can only be released after its host uses his or her power, which will then kill him or her. Beast stores the cure in a cabinet and goes out to play basketball with Gambit and Wolverine to clear his head. While the three debate on how they should be living their lives as mutants, Xavier enters the game. Inside, Cecelia senses something wrong with Colossus, who tells Cecelia all about his dead sister, Illyana. Cecelia realizes what Colossus wants to do, but he knocks her out before she can stop him. He injects the cure into himself and, for the last time, uses his mutant power. Cecelia recovers and desperately tries to save Colossus, but there is nothing she can do, as the longtime X-Man leaves to be reunited with his sister.

Full Summary: 

His name is Henry McCoy and, over the years, he has become known as the Beast, a scientist trapped in the body of a blue-furred beast. Right at the moment, he is about to save the entire world.

Beast hangs upside down in his laboratory in the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning. He stares at a vial in his hands, which is full of a pink liquid, giving off a pink mist. However, he is not the only one who deserves credit for saving the word. Dr. Moira MacTaggert was a renowned geneticist, who spent the last months of her life trying to find a cure for the Legacy Virus, a fatal virus that primarily attacks mutants. Days ago she discovered the cure, but was killed. Fortunately, the knowledge of the cure was salvaged from her mind. For the last seventy-two hours, the Beast has been trying to piece together the information. Five minutes ago, the dead seemed to have given up their secrets.

Beast confers with a book in front of a wall, comprised of monitors, some depicting video feeds from Muir Isle before it was wiped off the face of the planet. Included in the images are Nightcrawler and Captain Britain when Excalibur was together, Cyclops and Banshee from long ago, Moira with her sweetheart Charles Xavier, and the last few moments of Muir Isle’s existence as Sabretooth and Mystique capture Moira.

Beast begins to mutter to himself and double checks his work. He lands on the ground and turns to a monitor with he and Moira on it at a party and asks the deceased woman if this is what she had been trying to tell him for the last few days. Has it been in front of him all this time? Beast smiles and takes off his glasses. “Oh my stars and garters,” says the X-Man.

Hank screams for joy, though his sounding off is misunderstood in the rest of the mansion. In his room, Colossus is startled but recognizes Beast’s voice. In her room, Cecelia Reyes hears the sound and remembers why she resists staying overnight at the mansion. Xavier wakes up in his office and lifts his head from his desk, worried about Hank. Outside on the mansion grounds, Gambit also hears the sound of Beast and knows that it isn’t a sound one hears everyday.

Moments later Xavier, Colossus, and Cecelia meet in the foyé of the Institute, where they are joined by Wolverine, who is sure all of Westchester heard Hank. Wolverine pops his claws on his right hand and heads towards Beast’s lab. Cecelia pushes Xavier’s wheelchair and follows, while telling Wolverine that maybe he should ask questions first and eviscerate later. Colossus agrees with Cecelia, but Wolverine tells them that he popped the claws on one hand only. That is him being discreet. Wolverine cracks open the door to the lab and reminds everyone that there is a whole world out there which wishes that a cure for the Legacy Virus isn’t found. Wolverine’s companions all call Hank’s name, but there is no response. Wolverine tells them that they should be ready for anything.

Suddenly, Wolverine is knocked to the ground, as he enters the lab. Beast, who sits on top of Logan, congratulates his friend and tells him that he is the first person on the planet to get a peek at what he has in his vial. After countless failures, he and Dr. Moira MacTaggert have done it. Xavier asks Hank if he is saying what he thinks he means. Beast tells him that it is true. They have found a cure for the Legacy Virus. Roughly, Wolverine tells Hank that he better be right.

Beast raises the vial into the air. Cecelia gasps, Xavier thanks God and Colossus is left speechless. Beast tells everyone that they can release the cure immediately and the effect should take place immediately. Even those who are on the brink of death should make a full recovery. From behind, Gambit enters the room and claps for Beast. The thief apologizes for raining on Hank’s parade, but when something sounds too good to be true…

Wolverine lifts Hank off of him and agrees with Remy, saying that it usually is too good to be true. Logan then asks how the cure works. Beast explains that it is simple if one understands the rudimentary basics of biochemistry and the application to both micro-chains and tri-nucleic sub-strands. Confused, Colossus and Wolverine ask for a laymen translation. In words of one syllable, says Hank, he is not sure.

Shortly later, the X-Men regroup in the lab after changing into uniform. Hank turns on a holographic display of a human genome for his five audience members. Hank explains that every strand of DNA is different, yet at the same time they all share the same basic parts. Cecelia asks the others why she suddenly feels like she is back in biology class and Gambit tells her that his old family saying is that, if you cannot get by with brilliance, then you should try bulldozing them with babble. Wolverine asks Beast to get to the point. The Legacy Virus has recently mutated to attack humans now and, how it spreads, has been one of the greatest mysteries of modern science.

Beast disagrees and explains that modern science will never have anything to do with it. The disease was created by Stryfe, a man from two millennia in the future. From information that the X-Men have obtained over time, the disease was released from a “patient zero” who used his or her power for the first time after contracting the disease. Unlike AIDS, which is transmitted through bodily fluids, the Legacy Virus is airborne and attaches itself to latent DNA strands common to humans and mutants. Cecelia points out that it means that anyone could contract the disease at any time, essentially making it a biological weapon that no one could combat. With a bitter face, Colossus tells Cecelia that those infected, like his sister Illyana, serve a death sentence.

Beast interjects and tells Colossus that his statement was true until a short time ago. Now, they have the means to target each of the corrupted genes and correct them instantaneously, as they were changed by the Legacy Virus. The ironic part, however, is that he and brilliant scientists like Moira tried to cure the disease by any means necessary. They looked at the molecular structure from every reasonable manner. It wasn’t until Mystique mutated the virus to affect humans that Moira was able to view the virus from the point of view of a person just as insane as Stryfe. To sum it all up, says Beast, it took the mind of a madwoman to unlock the mind of a madman.

Gambit tells Beast that he still does not feel better, but Beast tells him that now they at least have the cure. Cecelia agrees, but then reminds Beast that the only way to release the virus was to take the life of the first victim. Beast looks at his notes and realizes that it means that, to release the cure of the Legacy Virus, the first host would have to die. He damns Stryfe and realizes that the man created a cure just as deadly as the disease.

Beast injects the cure from a syringe into a vial and puts it away in a cabinet for now. He vows to solve the problem, because he refuses to let Moira down. The X-Men begin to head out as Wolverine tells the solemn Beast that he did his best and, given enough time and sleep, he will crack this new problem wide open. Xavier agrees with Wolverine and reminds his student that they have taken a great step today and that he has much to be proud for. Cecelia chimes in and tells Beast that biochemistry is not her field of study, but she agrees with the Professor. As everyone leaves, Cecelia notices that Colossus is standing alone in the room in front of the cabinet holding the Legacy Virus cure, staring at it as if it were the only thing he is aware of. Cecelia calls to Colossus, but he does not respond.

In the main hall, Beast says that he needs his “cranium readjusted.” He should have known better than to have announced the cure before he had the final solution. Hank asks Wolverine if he saw the look on Peter’s face. The man has always seen a cure for the Legacy Virus as a way to validate Illyana’s death. Wolverine tells Hank that, sometimes, false hope is the only hope a person has. Other times, a person just doesn’t hope. Wolverine pulls back a curtain and sees Gambit playing basketball on the court. Wolverine tells Beast not to promise anything for tomorrow or to regret anything from yesterday. Sometimes, they just need to live in the moment.

Outside, Gambit shoots the ball into the net, as “the crowd” goes wild. Suddenly, he is blinded by the courtside lights, which are turned on. Beast leaps past Gambit and steals the ball and tells him that he is always thinking. A basketball game as a metaphor for “life goes on” is great. Wolverine tells Hank that he is open, but Hank decides to dazzle Gambit with his agility and runs circles around the Cajun. Gambit tells him that it isn’t any metaphor at all. He was just doing what felt normal. Beast challenges Gambit to a one-on-one game with no powers.

Gambit tells Beast that the whole reason there is a Legacy Virus is because of their powers. He playfully strikes Beast with some kinetic energy, causing the man to drop the ball, which Gambit reaches for. As he goes for the ball, Gambit tells him that, instead of hiding their powers, they should be celebrating them.

Wolverine leaps on Gambit’s back and grabs the ball. He tells Gambit that he agrees with him and that the best thing any of them can do for those that died is to keep on living. Gambit tells Wolverine that two-on-one is not fair. Wolverine forces Gambit to his hands and knees and tells him that it isn’t fair at all. However, no one said life is fair. Beast interjects and tells him that there was a great Chinese philosopher who said that, but Gambit interrupts him and wonders why he wishes for a six-pack of Sentinels on the front lawn. Off Gambit’s back, Wolverine goes to shoot, but suddenly something changes.

The three men find themselves at half court, instead of by the net where they were seconds ago. Xavier telepathically tells them that he is sorry but, since the “no powers” rule was already broken, he did not think it would be any problem if he insinuated himself into this “life-affirming display of social interaction.” The three men turn around and see the Professor in his hover chair, wearing gym clothes. Gambit asks him if he could make basketball seem more clinical. Xavier is certain that he could if he tried, but decides to let his actions speak for him. He shoots and easily scores.

The men divide into two teams, with Gambit and Xavier versus Wolverine and Beast. “You got one shot in life,” says Wolverine, “-take it?” “It don’t matter whether you win or lose,” says Gambit, “so long as you win?” Xavier offers his own philosophical insight and asks the men if they ever heard of “Shut up and play?” Beast tells Xavier that he is shocked to hear the Professor say, “shut up” and politely adds, “And sir, you’re fouling me.”

Inside, Peter reverts back to his normal form and tells Cecelia that she never got to meet Illyana. He used to call her “snowflake,” because like how every single snowflake was unique, so was she. Cecelia would have loved her. Quietly, Peter adds that everyone loved her. Cecelia realizes where this conversation is leading and tells Peter that she would like to hear more about Illyana. Over coffee. In the kitchen. Peter does not respond to this and simply tells Cecelia that he let Illyana down.

He turns to face Dr. Reyes with his hands behind his back. Cecelia tells Peter that he heard what Hank said. The Legacy Virus kills arbitrarily. There was nothing he could do to save her. From the disease, says Colossus, no. However, she shouldn’t have been in the United States. He should have sent her home to Russia. She would have been safe there, but he let her stay instead, simply because he was lonely. Cecelia tells Peter that sacrificing himself won’t even the score. Nothing he can do will brink Illyana back. She is a doctor and will not stand by while he throws away is life.

Colossus tells her that he understands and quickly reveals the canister of gas that he hid behind his back and sprays Cecelia. Cecelia’s begins to gag as her force field reacts to the gas. Peter explains that her bio-force field is triggered by kinetic energy. The gas will pass through the field. As she coughs, Cecelia begs Peter not to do this.

Cecelia falls unconscious and Peter catches her. In Russian, he explains to her that he is sorry and hopes that she will understand why he has to do this. He has battled living islands and Sentinels, whose sole purpose are to kill mutants. He has helped save the universe on numerous occasions. He has done all this and more. Yet, the hardest thing he has ever done was watch helplessly as his own sister was killed by the Legacy Virus. Peter lays Cecelia on a table and then opens the cabinet, from which he removes the cure and inserts it into a syringe.

Peter places the syringe against his chest piece and tells Cecelia that he knows that, one day, there will be a cure that does not require a sacrifice. Someday, the violence will stop. One day, innocent children like Illyana will not be victims of a war they are not part of. However, he cannot stand by one more hour, knowing that somewhere in the world there is someone else’s little sister dying of this disease. Peter closes his eyes and shifts to his armored form. “Snowflake,” says Peter, as he speaks for the last time. “I am coming home.” He then injects the cure into his body.

Peter’s body immediately convulses and he can feel the chemical reaction build up. He nearly collapses, but supports himself against a table. He knows that by triggering his mutant power one more time that the cure will be released. A feeling of amazement rushes through him, as he realizes that he is really going to die this time. He will close his eyes and never wake up…and, at that moment, he is more frightened than he has ever been in his whole life. Peter triggers his power and, as he reverts to his normal form, a wave of bright energy is unleashed. As he is about to lose consciousness, he swears that he can smell his sister’s newborn skin and can hear her innocent laughter. At that moment, he knows that what he had done is right.

Outside, the energy flare is seen outside by the four men on the court. Gambit immediately recognizes that it is Colossus’ energy signature, but times infinity.

Inside, Cecelia gets up and rubs her head, which is in pain. She tells Peter that she owes him a brick upside the head for what he did. She hears an odd gagging noise and sees Peter dying on the floor. She screams his name and rushes towards the man. Frantically, she searches through the messy room for the Shi’ar respirator that they had her on a few weeks ago and wonders if it is too much to have a tank of oxygen around. While she searches, she tells Peter that there are no martyrs on her shift.

Cecelia rushes back to Peter’s side empty handed and removes his chest plate as she checks for a pulse. She tells him to hold on and screams that he is not going to die today. Peter simply stares off into the distance, his eyes barely open. Cecelia continues to scream to him that he is not going to die, as she futilely begins CPR. Her demand for him to not die gets less loud, as she starts to blow oxygen into his mouth. She begins to push down on his chest one last time and is barely able to ask him, “…don’t die today…please?” Cecelia stops the CPR. Xavier and the others rush into the room to find Peter Nikolaevitch Rasputin dead on the floor, with Cecelia Reyes’ arms around his neck, crying into his chest.

“You want me to go with you…to America? But if I possess such power as you say – does it not belong to the State?”

“Power such as yours belongs to the world, Peter – to be used for the good of all. And believe me – your powers are needed”

“Then come, we will talk of this with my parents…”

“…And so this professor wants to take me with him – to teach me how to deal with my…my mutants powers. Th-there is wisdom in his words, papa – but I am happy here. Tell me, papa – what should I do?”

“Do as your heart tells you, my son, it will not betray you.”

“My heart tells me to stay, papa – but my conscience tells me otherwise. I must go, papa.”

“Then it is right that you do.”

Characters Involved: 

Beast, Colossus, Gambit, Professor Charles Xavier, Wolverine (all X-Men)

Cecelia Reyes (Houseguest and former X-Man)

Story Notes: 

The final dialogue is all excerpted from Giant-Sized X-Men #1, published in 1975.

Moira died in X-Men (2nd Series) #108, during Dream’s End .

Cecelia has been a houseguest since X-Men (2nd Series) #107.

Illyana contracted the Legacy Virus in Uncanny X-Men #300 and died in #303.

Colossus’ death will have unforeseen repercussions, as well as an unexpected twist, as detailed in Astonishing X-Men (3rd Series) #1-6.

Issue Information: 

This Issue has been reprinted in: