Uncanny X-Men Annual (1st series) #15

Issue Date: 
August 1991
Story Title: 
<BR>Kings of Pain - part 3: Queens of Sacrifice (1st story)<BR>The Killing Stroke - part2: The Razor's Edge (2nd story)<BR>X-Men Origin story (3rd story)<BR>Wolverine: The Enemy Within (4th story)

First story: Fabian Nicieza (writer), Tom Raney (penciler), Joe Rubenstein (inker), Joe Rosen (letterer), Brad Vancata (colorist)

Second story: Fabian Nicieza (writer), Jerry DeCaire (penciler), Joe Rubenstein (inker), Mike Thomas (colors), Joe Rosen (letterer)

Third story: Len Kaminski (story), Ernie Stiner (art), Don Hudson (inker), Kevin Tinsley (colors), Joe Rosen (letters)

Fourth story: Len Kaminski (story), Kirk Jarvinin (penciler), Brad Vancata (inks / colors), Mike Heisler (letters)
Suzanne Gaffney (asst. editor), Bob Harras (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor in chief)

Brief Description: 

First story: X-Force and the New Warriors close in on Muir Island, where the apex of the mysterious energy surge is located. They are aware that A.I.M. is trying to recreate Proteus, the most dangerous mutant in history. However, on the island, Moira MacTaggert is not aware of this. While the Shadow King is in control of her Muir Island X-Men, he loosens his hold for the time being. The X-Men rush to fight the incoming teams, but give up quickly as they are severely outnumbered. Meanwhile, in Edinburgh, Harness and Piecemeal arrive to consume the last of the Proteus energy signature. Harness slaughters some policemen while Piecemeal begins absorbing more energy than he can handle, getting fatter than the eye can see. Cable leads a team of heroes to beat up Harness, as Harness is abusing Piecemeal. Marvel Boy and Legion go to Piecemeal’s aid, as he is beginning to rupture. However, they find that Harness is Piecemeal’s mother, but before they can get any more information out of her, it is too late – Piecemeal ruptures, and Proteus is reborn as an amalgamation of Gilbert Benson and Kevin MacTaggert. The new Proteus bids his mothers goodbye, and blows up Edinburgh.

Second story: Blob remains the only member of Freedom Force still standing. Super Sabre is dead, Crimson Commando has lost an arm, and Avalance and Pyro are injured. As Blob prepares to defend himself against the onslaught of the villains known as Desert Sword, the Iraqis warn him that the physicist, Reinhold Kurtzmann, is not worth dying for. Blob is brought to his knees just as Avalanche and Pyro get back in the fight, surprising Desert Sword and allowing Kurtzmann to fall back into the American team’s hands. They regroup, but the Iraqis quickly strike again. Beaten, Pyro remembers the orders, and burns Kurtzmann to death do that the Iraqi government can’t have him. Meanwhile, Crimson Commando signals for the helicopter to extract himself and Avalanche, but they don’t realize that the Iraqis have rigged the area with mines. Both of them are caught in a massive explosion, leaving them near death as Desert Sword swoops in for the kill.

Third story: Mojo organizes a television program telling the abridged history of the X-Men, finding it extremely convoluted and mind-boggling.

Fourth story: Wolverine has a nightmare about the monster within him, the monster created by Weapon X that gave him a razor skeleton.

Full Summary: 

First story:
Muir Island:
Having failed to contact Moira MacTaggert or the British government, X-Force and the New Warriors fly to Muir Island in a desperate bid to prevent A.I.M. from recreating Proteus. With no response, the two teams fear the worst. Cable tells Cannonball to do a high fly-by recon of the area. Marvel Boy says that Firestar should also go, to use her microwave pulses to dampen any electronic equipment. Sam fears that Moira may not be answering because Harness arrived first.

Inside the facility, Jamie Madrox asks Moira what they are to do. Moira says that she isn’t keen on strangers barging into the lab and invading. They can’t be allowed to know what is going on. She pushes a button to slow them down, as the Shadow King holds dominion over the Muir Islanders’ minds.

Outside, a laser blast narrowly misses Firestar and Cannonball. Sam calls for help, and immediately both teams leave the helicopter. Marvel Boy says that there is a scrambler field covering the island from four stationary points, blocking their access. He and Firestar find one such point, and combine their powers to destroy it. Vance says that he hopes the others are having an easy time as well. No sooner does he finish his sentence than Cannonball, Namorita, and Nova return, each having blown up a control tower.

Firestar worries that it was too easy, but Nova says that maybe they’re all just tougher than she thinks. However, they are all knocked to the ground, as a sonic scream hits them from behind. Marvel Boy wonders how this can be, as Banshee is on another planet. The Muir Islanders appear behind them, and Moira asks if Sean’s daughter will do. They attack, with Polaris quickly slugging Namorita. Cannonball lets everyone know that the woman carrying the big gun is Moira, and she is not what they should expect. Moira shoots Nova out of the air, as Cannonball blasts into Siryn.

Nova lands in a heap at Legion’s feet. Legion says that “we” will take care of Nova. Nova asks who “we” is, and Legion replies that there are four people inside him – and calls his Cyndi personality to burn Nova with pyrokinesis. Nova howls with pain, as Marvel Boy tries to pummel Madrox with telekinesis. Unbeknownst to Vance, however, is Jamie’s mutant power to create duplicates of himself, and in moments, Marvel Boy is surrounded by Multiple Men. Before the fight progresses, Cable lands the helicopter, and the remaining members of X-Force and the New Warriors get out to stop the Muir Islanders. Moira immediately gives up the fight and asks why Cable is on the island.

Edinburgh, Scotland:
Harness once again prepares Piecemeal for energy absorption. Piecemeal begs to stop, but Harness uses his mutant powers to restrain Piecemeal and march him forward. Unlike the previous sessions of energy gathering, Harness notes that Piecemeal doesn’t have to search out the energy in Edinburgh – it flows directly into him. Piecemeal howls in pain, as he gets too fat to walk. Harness tells the boy to enjoy his full-course meal. Piecemeal begs Harness to stop once more, asking why Harness likes it when he is in pain. At that moment, the police arrive, telling Harness to freeze. Harness says that he gives up, but quickly unleashes some blades from his armor and kills the cops. Piecemeal keeps moving, as the energy flows into him, making him so fat that he cannot move without pain. Finally, he collapses, and Harness decides that there is enough energy in Edinburgh to complete the mission. Harness tells Piecemeal to march toward the nearby castle, which is the focal point of all the energies. Harness says that they will soon know what A.I.M. wanted, and it will be theirs instead.

Muir Island:
Cable apologizes for the intrusion on Moira’s property, but says that it involves her son. Chord, Cannonball, and Night Thrasher recap the scenario so far, telling the Muir Islanders that an armored hulk of a mutant called Harness and a boy named Piecemeal have been absorbing energy in an attempt to resurrect Proteus for the benefit of A.I.M. By using Cerebro, they discovered that the energy reached a nexus point in Edinburgh. Cable says that two groups have actively been trying to recreate Proteus: Genetech, by using data from Moira’s own experiments, and A.I.M. by absorbing and manipulating energy.

Moira says that she learned long ago that her son’s cellular structure may have had the ability to replicate itself. She says that she ad the ability to bring Proteus back to life, but chose not to so that Kevin could experience peace for once.

Marvel Boy asks Moira for the circumstances surrounding Kevin MacTaggert’s death. Moira explains that Kevin was born an energy vampire of sorts, and lived his childhood in isolation and containment as Moira struggled to find a means to cure him. Kevin was embittered by the experience, and escaped, possessing one body after another, burning them out with each use. The X-Men fought him, but were no match for his powers. Finally, Colossus attacked him, and discovered that Kevin is allergic to metal – and Piotr’s touch caused Kevin’s form to dissipate. Moira says that Proteus is incredibly dangerous, and if A.I.M. is trying to recreate Proteus, they will do everything they can to stop it.

Night Thrasher says that Harness has been using a severely abused child to absorb the energy, and Kevin MacTaggert also had a miserable life – Madrox interjects that the emotional output from a combination of the two could be horrendous. A transmission rings on the screen, and Brigadier Alysande Stuart appears, telling the Muir Island team that there is super-human activity in Edinburgh – a very large armored figure and a large, glowing mass of fat. Dwayne says that this is the final move, and they had better get to Edinburgh fast.

Vail, Colorado:
In the mountain chalet, the two mysterious figures continue their chess game. The tall stranger says that the mechanical method is the way to go for offensive strategy. The short one replies that he would prefer to lose through the manipulation of body and mind. The tall one says that he shall. The short one moves his queen, and the tall man asks if the other is willing to sacrifice his queen to capture the other. The short one says that the game will be much more interesting with the women out of the way.

Edinburgh, Scotland:
All three teams fly toward the city center, where Harness and Piecemeal are causing havoc. Moira says that they need to get Harness out of the way quickly so that they can effectively deal with the child. Legion, Madrox, Speedball, Marvel Boy, and Firestar join Moira to help Piecemeal. Domino and Chord stay in the air, keeping the two air vehicles ready for evacuation, and the rest head for Harness to attack.

On the ground, Harness is guarding the child, as a blast of energy ripples through the air and sends Harness flying. Shatterstar says that was a taste of his concussive force blast, and that each of them are capable of hitting him just as hard, and asks Harness if he will make it easy or not. Harness replies that he will make it hard, of course. Before Harness can attack, Nova and Cannonball team up on him, knocking him down. Immediately after, Boom Boom throws a time bomb at Harness, causing a big explosion. Before Harness can land, Warpath, Polaris and Namorita begin pummeling him. Warpath says that he feels Harness’ energy building up, and Harness sends all three of them flying with an electrical discharge. Harness draws out his weaponry and starts shooting at the heroes, hitting Siryn, Boom Boom, and Feral with lasers and nearly killing Feral. Cable guards Feral as she lies on the ground, but Harness chides that nobody is covering Cable.

Elsewhere in the castle, the other team tries to figure out how to help Piecemeal as he is still absorbing too much energy. Piecemeal tells them to kill him if they have to. Moira refuses to do that, and scans the area. Marvel Boy says that first they have to figure out how to keep Proteus’ energy from flowing into the boy, then drain him of what he has already absorbed – all without letting the boy tear out of his skin. Moira tells Marvel Boy to erect a telekinetic shield around everyone except Speedball and himself. Vance, the know-it-all he is, says that this will create a counter-force to Piecemeal’s expansion. Vance tells Robbie to trigger his kinetic field inside the telekinetic bubble. Speedball worries that it will smother everyone inside, but Moira says they will be fine with Legion providing a shield around each of them. Madrox creates duplicates of himself to pin Piecemeal down.

However, Legion refuses to comply, as he doesn’t want to let Jack, his evil telekinetic personality, come to the surface. Moira threatens that she will kill all of the personalities by killing Legion if he doesn’t do it. Legion finally complies.

Next, she tells Firestar to emanate a high frequency microwave emission throughout the dome to disrupt Proteus’ energy. Angelica worries that she can’t do it. Moira curtly says that if she can’t, the boy dies. Moira says she will use a dampening pad to extract what Piecemeal has already absorbed. Madrox tells her to hurry, as he cant keep the boy pinned much longer. Moira starts absorbing the energy.

Outside the bubble, Speedball worries about Vance, as Marvel Boy is beginning to bleed from all of his facial orifices. Robbie asks how much longer Marvel Boy can keep it together, and Vance says he can do it for as long as it takes.

Below, the other team is trying to contain Harness, as he hits Cable with a laser. Cable orders Silhouette to tackle Harness. Harness is confused, but Silhouette appears behind Harness and pushes the laser gun aside long enough for Nova and Namorita to attack. The two Warriors fly Harness straight into Polaris and Warpath, who catch Harness with a fierce blow on the first bounce, sending Harness flying in the opposite direction. Harness complains that he can’t take much more. Cable tells everyone to gear up and attack fast to finish him off.

Above, Marvel Boy is starting to collapse, covered in blood from straining to keep the shield going. Moira says that the plan is failing, as she can’t extract energy fast enough. Legion drops the shields around everyone else, as he can’t take the strain of Piecemeal’s pain. Moira tells everyone to run away fast.

Below, Warpath hits Harness with another fierce blow, shattering Harness’ helmet and revealing that there is actually a woman inside the armor. Everyone pauses in shock, but they hear and see a large explosion above, as Piecemeal screams in pain and begins to rupture. Piecemeal begs his mommy to help him. Harness tells Gilbert to hold it all in or he’ll ruin everything. The heroes look in horror at Harness, as she is Piecemeal’s mother. Gilbert tells his mother that he can’t do it, and completely ruptures, sending everyone flying. It appears to them as a hurricane of energy, as a being floats into their view.

“We are one. We are Gilbert Benson and Kevin MacTaggert. We are Piecemeal and Proteus.”

Warpath says that they are all in big trouble. Everyone looks at the creature in horror. “Hello mothers. And… good-bye.” Proteus activates his powers, causing Edinburgh to explode.

Second story:
As the rest of Freedom Force has fallen, Blob remains the only member still standing to challenge the entirety of Desert Sword. Sirocco asks Blob if the physicist, Reinhold Kurtzmann, is really worth dying over. Blob says no, but he’s sure worth killing over. Blob lunges forward to crush his opposition. Arabian Knight flies over Blob, saying that he has no desire to hurt the Americans. Sirocco tells the Knight to stop showing his Saudi weakness and to fight. The Veil encases Blob in a thick layer of fog, and Aminedi strikes, slashing at Blob’s legs. Blob falls to his knees, and Black Raazer moves in for the kill. Before Raazer can slash Blob with his demon blade, Avalanche gets back up and sends Desert Sword to the ground with an earthquake.

Pyro tells Blob to get up, as Kurtzmann is thrown to the ground in front of Freedom Force. Avalanche’s fissure separates Blob, Pyro, and Kurtzmann from the armless Crimson Commando and Avalanche. The Commando orders them to get to the dust off zone quickly. The two groups begin running in opposite directions. The Commando says that he is losing too much blood to go much farther.

Desert Sword regroups at the bottom of Avalanche’s crater. Sirocco asks why the Commando isn’t dead if he has been cut by Raazer’s blade. Raazer replies that either his armor deflects the mystical properties of the blade, or the Commando already believes his soul is confined in Hell. Sirocco orders everyone to get the German scientist back, but that Freedom Force must be stopped. He orders the Arabian Knight to take Veil and Raazer to pursue Kurtzmann, while he and Aminedi will go to destroy the others.

Blob and Pyro take the frightened Kurtzmann toward the chopper site, but can’t find it. Before they can do anything more, however, the Arabian Knight’s team is upon them. Raazer asks the Knight if he sees the Americans from his vantage point. The Knight does, but tells Raazer that he doesn’t. Raazer tells the Saudi not to play games, as he will do as he is told as long as the Iraqi regime holds his wives and children hostage. The Knight wipes away tears of frustration, and points at the Hajib café, where they are hiding. Raazer tells Veil to create a smothering fog inside the restaurant, blocking escape.

Inside, Blob clamps his hand over Kurtzmann’s mouth, and they cower behind the bar. As the three members of Desert Sword arrive, Pyro surprises them by hurling a massive ball of flame at all three, knocking them down. Blob grabs the scientist again, and they start to run out the back way. However, a gust of wind sweeps Kurtzmann off the ground and back into the Arabian Knight’s hands. Blob asks Pyro what the orders exactly were again. Pyro asks if Fred is joking – then burns Kurtzmann to death with his flames. Pyro says that if Freedom Force can’t have Kurtzmann, then neither can the Iraqis. Raazer says that they just made the last mistake of their lives.

Near the Kuwait international airport, Avalanche leads the crippled Commando to safety as Commando commences firing. Commando says that the chopper is already signaled. As Sirocco and Aminedi are about to attack, Sirocco tells his flying companion not to go any further – the Iraqi soldiers in Kuwait have prepared, and do not want anyone using the airport. An explosion rips through the ground underneath Avalanche and the Commando. Sirocco says that there were concealed mines everywhere. The two villains look around for pieces of the Americans, but find they are still intact, though Commando is hurt even worse and they breathing shallowly. Sirocco tells Aminedi to enjoy watching them die slowly as they gasp their last breaths.

Third story:
Mojo excitedly asks his staff if his production is ready. The people in charge tell him that it is, and Mojo is excited, as “The Origin of the X-Men” is displayed over the opening credits. Mojo screams at someone to get popcorn.

The narrator begins the story of Charles Xavier, his planet’s most powerful telepath. Charles dreamed of a future where mutants and humans could coexist. One of the staff begs forgiveness from Mojo, as they forgot to have it looped in. The story continues, as the television shows the X-Men when Xavier began his school.

Xavier called them the X-Men, as they each possessed an “X-tra” power. They fought many brutal foes, like Magneto, and almost always won. However, one day, the original X-Men were completely and utterly defeated on Krakoa. To save them, Xavier recruited several more mutants. Afterwards, the first generation left the school so that he could begin training the second wave of X-Men. Mojo laughs at the ungrateful cretins, as Marvel Girl, Iceman, Beast, Angel, Havok, and Polaris walk off stage.

In the years that followed, the second team carved an even greater presence, fighting greater battles for all mankind. Mojo congratulates the staff on the mindless violence of Wolverine and Sabretooth on screen.

Though many battled evil incessantly, they began to think they had forsaken their mentor. The original five X-Men reformed as X-Factor, to harbor and train mutants. Of course, there have been many other mutant teams to spin-off from the X-Men’s desire, including the Fallen Angels, Excalibur, the New Mutants, who would become X-Factor, and many more to come. Mojo tells them to stop right there. This story is far too convoluted, he says, and nobody will believe it. The lead producer says that it was thoroughly researched. Mojo says to stop confusing him with facts, and to start the program over, and this time, bring in something plausible!

Fourth story:
Wolverine is having a nightmare, and he knows it. Everything he sees is in black and white. He also knows there’s a hunt on, and for once, he’s the prey. He crawls through the jungles of his mind, naked, looking for the hunter. He keeps telling himself to run and hide, as he knows it’s coming. But it’s too late, and the hunter is upon him. Wolverine says that he has never despised anyone as much as this “thing.” He stares at his enemy head on – it is an adamantium skeleton, threatening him with claws. Logan stares at it in anger, and throws his body at it in anger. Not a smart move, as the skeleton carves into him. Logan says that something made of flesh and bone just doesn’t have a chance against razored death. He tries to convince himself that he’ll wake up soon, and forget it happened. But for now, all he can think of is blood scents, and the will to kill and attack. The skeleton tears into Logan further, and begins forcing itself to merge with Logan’s body, tearing it inside out. Wolverine tastes his own blood, as well as the unnatural taste of antiseptic metal, and it wins again.

Logan screams, and wakes up, destroying his furniture. He realizes that this is happening far too often over the years, maybe a hundred times he has had a nightmare and woke up in attack mode. Logan crouches for some meditation, thinking that someday he will come to terms with the monster inside him. Until then however, there will be a lot more sleepless nights.

Characters Involved: 

First story:
Legion, Dr. Moira MacTaggert, Multiple Man, Polaris, Siryn (all Muir Islanders)
Firestar, Marvel Boy, Namorita, Night Thrasher, Nova, Silhouette, Speedball (all New Warriors)
Boom Boom, Cable, Cannonball, Feral, Shatterstar, Warpath, (all X-Force)
Copycat, posing as Domino

Proteus II - Gilbert Benson/Piecemeal and Kevin MacTaggert/Proteus I combined
Genetech client
A.I.M. client

Shadow King

in flashbacks
Colossus, Wolverine (X-Men)

Second story:
Avalanche, Blob, Crimson Commando, Pyro (all Freedom Force)
Aminedi, Arabian Knight, Black Raazer, Sirocco, The Veil, (all Desert Sword)
Reinhold Kurtzmann, a German physicist)

Third story:
Mojo’s staff
in Mojo’s movie
all members of the various X-teams

Fourth story:

Story Notes: 

This issue is part of the Kings of Pain crossover event of 1991, with the story continued in X-Factor Annual #6. All Marvel annuals published from 1988-1993 were a part of one crossover or another.

In fact there are two crossovers involved in these issues, the second story “The Killing Stroke” is continued in X-Factor Annual #6.

First story:
This issue, as well as the entire Kings of Pain crossover, takes place during Uncanny X-Men #274-277, when the X-Men were in space.

The X-Men fought Proteus in the classic story in X-Men (1st series) #125-128, reprinted in Classic X-Men #31-34.

Moira learned more about Proteus in the back-up story of Classic X-Men #36.

Chess boards have 8x8 squares. For some reason, the artist drew the board as a 12x12 square board.

The mysterious chess-playing clients of the warring companies are revealed in X-Factor Annual #6 as Gideon and the Toad.

Second story :
Super Sabre of Freedom Force was decapitated and killed in New Mutants Annual #7, the first chapter of the Killing Stroke.

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