Once more, it's time for a Super Read Experience. Avengers vs. X-Men #7! Uncanny X-Men #15! X-Men #'s 111 & 112!
Dissention in the PhoeniX-Men ranks, Sinister war, and the X-Men working a circus. This is one for the records.
Let me break down exactly what you've gotten yourself into. This is Super Reads. The short story is that I read Marvel's event comics and then I spoil the hell out of them, trying to explain the who, what, when, where, and why so that everyone can understand what they might have read. The long answer basically relates to HOW I do this. I nutshell the issue, giving a three sentence break down of a comic. Then I bullet point the thing, detailing the broad scope of the issue. With all the condensing out of the way, I finally break into full spoiler mode, examining the book page by page and scene by scene.
This ain't my first rodeo. I've been covering Marvel events since Secret Invasion, back when I was a wide-eyed young fanboy with hope for the future. :) You can read about it all in the massive Super Reads section on the site... which is down right now but trust me, it was awesome.
We're almost ready to get going, but first I need to do more explaining.
What can I say about the PhoeniX-Men that I haven't already said? Nothing? That's right.
But I'm gonna talk about them anyway.
Due to the crazy events in Avengers vs. X-Men #5, five X-Men ended up with a portion of the infinite power of the Phoenix. You know the tale. Power Corrupts, Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely.
Capitalizing Every Word Is Awesome.
So the X-Men are officially the bad guys in this story but that doesn't make the Avengers the good guys. It just means that everyone is acting out of character and doing enough douchey things that your average internet geek will be able to jump online and say "I refuse to acknowledge the horrible atrocities my favorite character is committing but LOOK AT WHAT THE OTHER GUY IS DOING." It's a time honored tradition.
I can't naturally segue into talking about Mister Sinister but that's what we're going to talk about next.
You may know Sinister as that Dracula Wannabe that likes to study genetic codes and has an unhealthy interest in the Summers family tree. Well, he's all that and more... not a lot more but enough.
Mister Sinister was a Victorian Era scientist who decided that Darwin wasn't extreme enough. That somehow led to him making a deal with the Egyptian immortal mutant, Apocalypse, where he was genetically altered so that he could... I think he originally wanted to watch the rise of the mutant race. Mister Sinister made several of his OWN adjustments to his genetic code down the years as well. So he's kind of a work in progress.
Eventually, Sinister purchased an orphanage in Anchorage, Alaska where Scott and Alex Summers were brought after their parents were "killed." While Alex was adopted, Scott was left to Sinister's tender mercies until eventually leaving the orphanage to join the X-Men. If you want to know where a lot of Scott's psychological baggage comes from, it's probably a combination of traumatic-burning-parachute-ride-while-your-parents'-airplane-explodes and growing-up-in-an-orphanage-run-by-Mister-Sinister.
There was also the time when small-time mutant villain, Jack of Diamonds, forced Scott into a life of crime after his mutant abilities activated. It's a rich tapestry of character defining moments.
Besides shaping Scott Summers into the man he is today, Sinister also made a clone of Jean Grey who went on to become Scott's first wife, Madelyne Pryor, the slaughter of the Morlocks by his Marauders, and accidentally unleashing the Legacy Virus on the world. There was also a female version of him. It was weird.
Nowadays, Mister Sinister rules a civilization composed of Sinister clones beneath the Earth's surface. This society is called Sinister London and it's modeled after an idealized version of Victorian Era London. Except there are no women running around.
It's raining Sinister men.
Avengers vs. X-Men #7
Writers: Jason Aaron, Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction, & Jonathan Hickman
Script: Matt Fraction
Penciler: Olivier Coipel
Inker: Mark Morales
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Click HERE to see Super Read Avengers vs. X-Men #6!
The issue in a nutshell:
The X-Men hunt down the Avengers while Earth's Mightiest try to get valuable battle data on their encounters with the Phoenix Five. Hope Summers if moved to the Immortal City of K'un Lun. Namor disregards Cyclops' orders and attacks the Avengers' secret base in Wakanda alone but with information given freely by Emma Frost.
This issue by bullet points:
• The X-Men shut down Avengers Tower and Avengers Mansion in their search for Avengers.
• When they encounter the super-hero team, the X-Men find that only the Scarlet Witch is able to fight them... and scare them.
• Clint Barton, burned up beyond recognition, is seriously wounded but the soul still burns.
• Tony Stark is slapped in the face because Matt Fraction hates him SO MUCH.
• The Avengers lure the X-Men into confrontations in order to get more sweet Phoenix combat data. They also have a half-assed plan of making various team-members looking like the Scarlet Witch but they end up blowing this by using it in four battles at the same time.
• Transonic ends up a prisoner of the Avengers.
• Namor storms out of a meeting when he isn't allowed to turn this fight up eight notches.
• Lei Kung the Thunderer arrives to take Hope Summers to K'un Lun.
• During a heavy make-out session, Emma Frost reveals the Avengers' location to Namor. Scott doesn't know.
• Namor attacks Wakanda with a wall of water.
This issue in EXTREME detail:
The phrase that pays is "no more Avengers" and the X-Men are living in that world. They have BECOME Earth's Mightiest Heroes and downgraded the Avengers' status to hated fugitives (Scott says that they have been branded as a "Global Terrorist Network"). The roles have officially become reversed... except the Avengers rarely tracked down the X-Men or imprisoned them. That's exactly what's going down right now. The PhoeniX-Men and their mutant followers (every mutant who isn't Beast or Wolverine) have locked down Avengers Tower and Avengers Mansion in their ongoing hunt for Captain America and his gang of rogue heroes.
Most important on their list is the Scarlet Witch. Multiple reasons exist for this. The biggest would be what Wanda Maximoff did in House of M. "No more mutants." This declaration decimated the world's mutant population and left only around two hundred or so mutants to fill up the X-Titles. With how many X-Books have sprouted over the years, that's not NEARLY enough.
Another reason that bears mentioning is that last issue, the Scarlet Witch's powers actually gave Scott some trouble. Since no other Avenger has been able to even make a dent in the Phoenix Five, that makes Wanda Steve Rogers' biggest gun.
While the location isn't listed, Illyana Rasputin (Magik) and a platoon of X-Men (Havok, Polaris, Gambit, X-Man, and Warpath) find where the Avengers are hiding and engage the enemy. This is kinda, sorta a set up. The Avengers are engaging one of the PhoeniX-Men so that Tony Stark (at another location but with unseen sensors all over the battlefield) can get data on their Phoenix enhanced power levels and maybe come up with a way to take them all down. His last attempt at destroying the Phoenix Force split the cosmic firebird into five pieces. Since that has led to the current situation... Tony is looking for a fix for the problem he's created.
And this means seeing just what the Scarlet Witch can do against one of the Phoenix Five. The Vision, Wanda's ex-husband, has already expressed his objections to working alongside the Scarlet Witch (in Avengers vs. X-Men #0) and he does so again right here. Wanda and Vish bicker for a bit until Tony gets the Witch back on track.
While Wanda is seeing what her powers can do against Magik, Havok and Polaris take the Vision out of the fight. This distraction almost loses the fight for the Scarlet Witch but she gets back in the game with a small amount of help from Stark and his pep talk. Wanda fires a few blasts of pink... magic? Whatever. It's pink and it's damaging. When Emma Frost arrives from the open teleportal, Illyana is out of the fight.
Well, one PhoeniX-Man might be down but it doesn't look like Wanda has two in her. Dr. Strange teleports in to magic the Avengers away but the Scarlet Witch finds herself overwhelmed by the Phoenix flames of Emma Frost.
Hawkeye races in to give Wanda a hand with one of his trick arrows. This thing bumps Emma across the room and takes the Witch out of the line of... fire. As Captain America and the Scarlet Witch teleport away, Clint Barton bursts into flames. They look pretty lethal.
Back at the Avengers' super-secret headquarters, Tony chews everyone out for leaving the battlefield too quickly. He wasn't able to get NEARLY enough data. Wanda tells him straight up to "Go to hell." Cap is a bit more diplomatic, informing the Golden Avenger that they lost a teammember.
Actually, if you were paying attention, they "lost" at LEAST two. Warpath carried Spider-Woman off as Emma started her fight with Wanda. Steve is clearly talking about an Avenger being killed but this is HAWKEYE. He never PERMANENTLY dies.
For example: There he is on Utopia with 1st degree burns covering his whole body. You'd think this would be a career ender but that's not what the X-Men are about. The Phoenix Five can rebuild him and with Cyclops as their leader, that's exactly what they're going to do.
Scott chews Emma out for her actions on the battlefield but Ms. Frost tells him that she never intended to kill Hawkeye. The Phoenix powers got a little out of control but Clint is still alive and no permanent damage was done so... y'know, no harm no foul, right? Barton won't have any psychological scarring from this or anything.
Namor thinks it's time to turn things up a notch and start murdering Avengers wholesale, but Summers tells the Atlantean monarch that that is the exact OPPOSITE of what they should be doing. The world is changing for the better. The Avengers are being taken down one-by-one. Now is not the time to go off half cocked when victory is within their grasp.
Cracks in the ranks, people. Namor's not the only one who thinks it's time to start purging the world. Illyana tells Cyclops that she saw EVIL when she looked at Wanda Maximoff and postulates that their Phoenix powers were meant to get RID of that evil. Permanent-like. Scott AGAIN tells everyone that they aren't here to do that kind of thing. To him, this is about making the world a better place and that doesn't mean killing people who don't agree with you.
Or, as he puts it: "This isn't a war. It's a RESCUE MISSION. Conduct yourselves ACCORDINGLY."
If you think the X-Men are falling apart in victory, wait'll you see what the Avengers are like in defeat. At their super-secret base in Wakanda, Captain America demands that Tony Stark and the Black Panther give him a solution on what to do about the Phoenix. When they explain that they need more data (which Tony already TOLD Steve a few scenes ago), Rogers snaps at them for before storming off.
Tony tells Black Panther all about his plan to kill himself in an attempt to destroy the Phoenix but it's so poorly thought out and devoid of a possibility of success that T'challa tries slapping some sense into his lab partner.
The King of the Wakandas tells Tony that they need to stop with the science thing and start resorting to magic. This is probably the last thing that Stark wanted to hear.
Captain America addresses the rest of the Avengers (Dr. Strange, Daredevil, Black Widow, Spider-Man, Giant-Man, the Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, Beast, She-Hulk, Sharon Carter, Falcon, Mockingbird, Wolverine, Luke Cage, Valkyrie, and Thor-- yeah, Beast is back for some reason), telling them that their science guys need more data so they're going back out in the world to fight Phoenix-powered X-Men until Tony Stark finally relents and calls up Reed Richards. He turns the floor over to Hope Summers so that the Avengers can get her inside take on the Phoenix.
Hope, who looks like she's de-aged to ten years old, tells them that she isn't looking to kill the Phoenix Five. She's looking to save them. The power of the Phoenix is too much for them to handle even when split into five parts. She then tells the heroes that the only Avenger that's worth a damn on the battlefield is the Scarlet Witch. Wanda can hurt them... HAS hurt them. She's the only one that SCARES the X-Men. To help out with that, Dr. Strange hands out medallions (the Enchantments of Ikonn) that will make the wearer LOOK like the Scarlet Witch.
With that done, the Avengers split up and try to get some X-Men attention. In New York, Captain America, Sharon Carter, Luke Cage, Daredevil, and Spider-Man meet up with Magma, Colossus, Sunspot, Psylocke, and Danger. As the fight heats up, Sharon uses the medallion to make her look like the Scarlet Witch. This IMMEDIATELY freaks out Colossus and he orders the X-Men into retreat.
In the Ukraine, Emma Frost, Warpath, Boom Boom, Surge, Velocidad and Domino find themselves facing off against Thor, Falcon, Quicksilver and ANOTHER Scarlet Witch.
By this point, Cyclops, who is at the Arctic Circle fighting Giant-Man, She-Hulk, Beast, Red Hulk and his own Scarlet Witch alongside Magneto, Dr. Nemesis, and Armor, realizes that they're being played. An optic blast destroys the Scarlet Witch illusion and reveals Valkyrie. The X-Men are free to attack at will.
Somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, Namor, Transonic, Polaris and Iceman confront the REAL Scarlet Witch alongside Dr. Strange, Mockingbird, and Thing. The battle is right next to a downed Quinjet and once again, Wanda is the only Avenger capable of putting up a real fight when facing the Phoenix-powered Sub-Mariner.
Since this group of Avengers has the magical teleporter, Dr. Strange starts working his mojo to get the team safely back to headquarters. Before he can accomplish this, two things happen at pretty much the same time. The X-Man, Transonic, flies INTO the teleportation field, getting herself captured by the Avengers, and Namor's Phoenix powers blast the Scarlet Witch OUT of the teleportation field, assuring that she is not taken with her comrades. There's no big fight between Namor and Wanda, though. The Avenger tells the Sub-Mariner to "go away" and with one pointy finger, Namor is disassembled. His body is put back together at Utopia.
And, yeah, that is probably the moment when Namor goes over the EDGE when it comes to his rage.
When the PhoeniX-Men reconvene post-battle, Cyclops tries to calm down the Sub-Mariner using the same tactics that he used earlier but it seems like Namor is no longer willing to listen to the X-Men's leader.
To the Sub-Mariner, Cyclops is a great leader but a terrible ruler. This is the point where Namor storms off.
Back in Wakanda, Tony's analysis of the Avengers' battle data reveals some sort of connection between the Phoenix and Wanda's powers. With that psuedo-revelation out of the way, Iron Fist and Lei Kung the Thunderer interupt. They tell Tony that they're here to collect Hope and bring her to K'un Lun to prep her to save the world. Seeing the Immortal City as a safe haven, Stark asks if the rest of the Avengers can tag along.
Back on Utopia, Namor is brooding on one of the decks. Emma joins him and basically agrees that Cyclops is making a bad play in regards to the Avengers. She makes some comments about Scott Summers having been an ACTUAL Boy Scout but I seriously doubt that would hold up to any sort of continuity check. Maybe this all happened off-panel but since Scott was being psychologically manipulated by Mister Sinister during his Boy Scout years, I'm doubting he would be allowed to be a Tenderfoot.
Moving on, with Transonic as the Avengers prisoner, Emma has locked on to the mutant and discerned the Avengers' super-secret headquarters. She and Namor begin to make out as she telepathically tells him that the Avengers are in Wakanda.
Oh, and Cyclops doesn't know.
Let's head back to Wakanda where the team is about an hour away from relocating to K'un Lun. Wolverine and Hope have already left and Cap is making final preparations for the trip while getting assurances from Lei Kung that this isn't a one-way ticket.
This is about the time that Namor rides a tidal wave right into the heart of the Wakandan nation.
Uncanny X-Men #15
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Daniel Acuña
Editor: Nick Lowe
Click HERE to see Super Read Uncanny X-Men #14!
The issue in a nutshell:
The Phoenix Five find out that it was Mister Sinister who told Hope about the Phoenix. They decide to get rid of the villain in a permanent fashion, leaving behind their non-Phoenix teammates for this mission. Sinister and his Sinister London prepare for war.
This issue by bullet points:
• X-Men Public Relations Agent, Kate Kildare, starts writing a press release but stops when she realizes that press releases are obsolete in the Pax Utopia age. She then catches up the readers on where things sit in AvX at the moment.
• Magneto, Danger, and Psylocke talk about the new Utopia and how Betsy and Magnus are both as obsolete as press releases. Danger makes a joke at Unit's remote command.
• Don't make me explain who Unit is again. Just pretend he's a bad alien robot who isn't really as trapped in the X-Brig as everyone would like to believe.
• In the Crimson Cosmos, Cyttorak denies Colossus's request to be released from his contract. The Phoenix and Cyttorak can make beautiful music together.
• The Extermination Team meets in the meeting room on Old Utopia. The discussion is Hope and Sinister.
• The Phoenix has told Emma that Hope learned of the Phoenix from Mister Sinister.
• In a separate telepathic meeting, the Phoenix Five decide to destroy Sinister and start searching the globe for signs of the villain. The destroy Mister Sinister's telepathic brigade during the search.
• Leaving behind the non-Phoenix powered members of the Extermination Team, the PhoeniX-Men port on over to Anchorage, Alaska to kill themselves a couple billion Sinister clones who have been living peacefully below ground.
• In Sinister London, Mister Sinister excitedly prepares for war.
This issue in EXTREME detail:
In her office in San Francisco, Kathy Kildare, the X-Men's publicist, starts and then stops writing a press release about Pax Utopia. She wonders what the point is. Her clients can directly communicate their messages to the entire world through telepathy. Still, she goes over the details that have led us right up to this point. Phoenix-powered X-Men. World changed into something just left of paradise. Governments and Avengers try to retaliate against Utopia. Hope leaves with them.
That gets readers up to speed on the current Marvel world. To Kildare, everything is working out great even though she has some reservations on the whole Hope Summers thing. Her only question is: what's gonna happen next?
Let's journey over to the flying super-city of Utopia. This is NOT the place that the X-Men were living in eight seconds ago. The OLD Utopia was one of Magneto's old Asteroid M's that had crashed into the ocean and was raised up to sea level to become the last refuge for the world's mutant population. THAT Utopis is smack dab in the center of the new city but it's straight out of the ocean and floating just like everything else.
Betsy Braddock, the X-Man known as Psylocke who in charge of security, wonders why the Phoenix Five kept the original island. Magneto tells her that it's a monument to all the wrongs committed against mutantkind. Before mutants controlled the world, they were persecuted right to the edge of extinction. But that was last week. Let's see what the present holds.
Danger, the Warden of the X-Brig, joins Mags and Psylocke. Noticing that Danger is as sour faced as he and Betsy are, Magnus asks what she has to complain about. He and Psylocke have genuine issues. Braddock is security chief in charge of guarding five people WAY out of her own power range. Magneto no longer has any reason to fight for mutant rights in a world that has been shaped into something nearer to perfection than ever seen before. Danger, however, still has her job with Avengers filling up her prison cells.
Under the command of Unit, the insane alien robot charged with bringing peace to the universe who also happens to control Danger, the X-Brig Warden makes a light joke that just ends up confusing Psylocke and Magneto. Magneto slyly changes the subject to maybe getting to the big meeting of the world's mutant leaders.
Don't worry, we'll get to the meeting but first, let's head to the Crimson Cosmos. It is here where the Avatar of Cyttorak, Colossus (with his sister, Illyana providing transport), is here to update his boss, Cyttorak, on his current Phoenix powers and also ask to be released from being Cyttorak's avatar. After all, a similar situation during Fear Itself was responsible for the Juggernaut being rejected as Cyttorak's Earthly representative. You'd think the fact that the Phoenix has rebuilt the world into some sort of paradise would be cause enough for Cyttorak to reject Piotr but it turns out that Colossus's boss has no plans to release his avatar from service.
Cyttorak believes that the Phoenix, being a symbol for death and rebirth, will get to the destroying soon enough. Further, Colossus is a hero and ends up fighting ALL THE TIME. This is pretty damn good for Cyttorak. Piotr attempts using those Phoenix powers to force Cyttorak to let him go but the demon lord doesn't allow himself to be hurt in his own realm. Cyttorak waves his hand and Colossus and Magik are back in Utopia.
In the command roon of Old Utopia, the Extinction Team meets to discuss Hope Summers. Magneto thinks this is going to be about taking her back from the Avengers but it turns out they have some other Hope related stuff to do first. Emma informs everyone that it was Mister Sinister that told Hope about the Phoenix. Storm is shocked by this, believing that Emma resorted to mind theft to learn this. Frost explains that she learned this little snippet by asking the Phoenix... who I guess is up on the latest gossip. There's also mention that Storm isn't entirely sold on the whole Phoenix Five business.
The question now is what do the X-Men do about this. Sinister clearly didn't tell Hope about the Phoenix to HELP. Magneto asks what is to be done about Sinister...
...but it turns out there's a meeting WITHIN this meeting where the Phoenix Five are talking about this very question WITHOUT their more mortal teammates listening in. Namor is all set to table the Sinister talk in order to get right into Avenger smashing but Emma tells the Sub-Mariner that their primary concern right now should be Mr. Sinister. The Avengers aren't going to hurt Hope anymore. They plan on using her AGAINST the PhoeniX-Men. I guess Emma isn't concerned about that.
She's more worried that Sinister's plans will cause harm to Hope. One by one, the rest of the Phoenix Five agree. Cyclops basically repeats the exact lines that Sinister said he would say from the last issue, proving that Sinister totally has Scott's number, if nothing else. The order is given to find Mister Sinister, wherever he may roam.
WE already KNOW where Mister Sinister is hanging out. Below the Earth's surface, in a little slice of perfection called Sinister London, Mister Sinister and his society of Sinister clones awaits the coming war. One of Sinister's aides comes to him with news that the Psychic Battalions are fighting a battle against the PhoeniX-Men. After a brief telepathic fight, the psi-tower explodes and the location of Sinister London is revealed to the X-Men.
Back at the meeting in Old Utopia, Emma Frost declares that she has found Mister Sinister. The PhoeniX-Men head through the Siege Courageous to confront the villain, leaving the normal X-Men behind so that they aren't hurt... or probably because they'll just get in the way.
The Siege Courageous brings the Phoenix Five to Anchorage, Alaska. This is where Scott grew up at Sinister's orphanage. Deep below the surface lies Sinister London. This location is clearly a jab at Scott and a sign that Sinister is in control of the situation and everything is going according to plan. Cyclops doesn't believe that to be the case, thinking that his Phoenix status has made him and the Phoenix Five something MORE than human and therefore immune to manipulation.
In other words, Cyclops is overconfident and is playing RIGHT into Sinister's plans while thinking himself ABOVE those plans.
The underground lair is too close to Anchorage to just be collapsed. This was always going to be a personal fight. The Phoenix Five use their Phoenixy powers to dig a path to Sinister London.
Mister Sinister telepathically talks to his clone-people, telling them that the battle is near and that it's time to fight. War is declared.
Walking to his war room, Sinister orders that the Creation Engines spit out as many soldiers as possible. When his aide tells him that these quick made warriors won't last long, Sinister responds that OF COURSE they won't. These quick dried soldiers are destined to die at the hands of the PhoeniX-Men.
Once the X-Men reach Sinister London, Mister Sinister orders his Menagerie (which was saw last issue and includes such favorites as the Gambit and Sabretooth clones) unleashed on the poor unsuspecting Phoenix Five. The Madelyne Pryor clones want to know what THEY should be doing, but Sinister just puts them on stand-by. They're his ace in the hole.
In a quiet moment before the battle get underway in earnest, Sinister expresses his excitement at the upcoming fight to the death.
The All-New, All-Different X-Men #111
Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: John Byrne
Inker: Terry Austin
Editor: Archie Goodwin
The issue in a nutshell:
Beast looks for the X-Men at a Texas circus. When he finds them, they are under the mind control powers of Mesmero. The X-Men break free but find that Mesmero has already been defeated by a better villain: Magneto.
The issue by bullet points:
• The Avenger, Beast searches for the X-Men at a one-ring circus in Texas. He finds most of them in the Carnival Freakshow but doesn't know the team well enough to confirm their identities.
• After watching an acrobatic performance by Ms. Destiny, Hank is convinced that this is actually Jean Grey. Closer investigation makes him doubt himself. When "Slim" Summers shows up to bounce him out of the Circus, Beast again thinks he's on the right track.
• Unfortunately, he also finds himself facing every available carnie at the circus. Eventually, Hank is defeated, thanks to a punch to the back of the head by Colossus and a whole lot of carnies.
• Beast is brought to the circus boss who turns out to be old X-Men villain, Mesmero.
• Wolverine breaks out of his nigh unbreakable chains, gets dressed into his hero costume, and then frees Phoenix from her own mind control with a whole lot of slapping.
• Hank breaks free from Mesmero's lackies' grip and threatens the mind controlling mutant. Then he's taken out from behind by ANOTHER villain. This is the second time in this issue that Hank was defeated by an attack from behind.
• The X-Men are all freed. When they're all dressed appropriately, the attack and defeat all of Mesmero's Legion of Carnies.
• When they reach Mesmero's trailer, they find that he's already been defeated. By Magneto.
The issue in EXTREME detail:
Let the fun begin! The Beast was one of the original five X-Men. At about the same time that the All-New, All-Different team was being formed, Hank McCoy became the first X-Man to join up with the Avengers. He sent the new team a mission that the Avengers didn't have time to handle but has otherwise stayed away from his former team. That's about to change.
Here's the backstory that Hank will explain somewhere inside the issue. Polaris and Havok are vacationing in Scotland. Someone kidnaps Havok. Lorna tries to call in the X-Men but gets no answer at the X-Mansion. She calls in Beast to investigate. Hank races on over to the X-Mansion and finds the whole place deserted. A pile of mail lays just inside the door, telling Beast that the X-Men have been gone for a while. A postcard tells Hank that at least Professor Xavier is accounted for. He and Lilandra are off on a vacation of their own... though Hank doesn't know WHO Lilandra is.
Investigating the kitchen, Beast finds the table set and an old meal left unfinished. Cerebro is off but undamaged. When Hank starts the system back up (people forget that Cerebro didn't always require a telepath to function), he locates the X-Men in...
Sullivan County, Texas!
Hank zips on over to the Lone Star State and right on to a local one-ring circus, making sure to wear a trenchcoat and fedora to avoid anyone recognizing him. It appears that the new X-Men are PART of the carnival but Beast isn't certain because he's only met one of the All-New, All-Different teammembers. Fortunately, that X-Man is Banshee and he's the first one that Beast sees. Sean is playing the role of carnival barker. Behind him are five big posters, showing most of the other X-Men in their new carny personas.
For five dollars, Beast takes a trip through the sideshow and gets a look at what LOOK like the X-Men. Wolverine is the "Man-Beast of the Yukon" and is chained up to the wall. Nightcrawler teleports around his chamber screeching like a feral cat. Storm plays weather goddess but is mostly just posing in a bikini. Nothing is giving away whether these are the X-Men or not. Hank just isn't certain.
This is the part where Beast explains WHY he's searching for the X-Men. Since we've already gone over that backstory, we can quickly move on.
Underneath the big top, Hank takes in an aerial display of acrobatics with Jean Grey as the star attraction under the moniker "Ms. Destiny." Hank isn't certain that this is ACTUALLY Jean but when the acrobat uses her telekinesis to drop safely to the ground, McCoy is convinced. After the show, he walks over to her dressing room to figure out WHY Jean and company have joined the circus.
This just brings more doubts to Hank's mind. Ms. Destiny LOOKS like Jean Grey but she certainly doesn't ACT like the Marvel Girl he knew back at Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters. Still, she answers to the name "Jean Grey" so she's probably the real thing.
Hahahaha... no she's not. :D She's the Phoenix PRETENDING to be Jean. No one knows that for a couple more years, though, so it's just a bit of after-the-fact humor.
Ms. Destiny quickly gets annoyed at her guest and his crazy questions. One of the bouncers (or whatever he is) walks in to see if Jean wants help removing Hank from the premises. It turns out to be Scott Summers... or, as they like to call him, "Slim." Jean absolutely wants Beast taken away and one slight scuffle later has Hank revealed as a giant furry Avenger.
Hank loses his cool and punches Scott out of Jean's trailer... which is something modern Beast would have probably done earlier... and harder. This Beast still kind of likes Scott, though, so he pulls his punches, allowing Slim to call for reinforcement using the time honored Carny Call of Doom.
The Carnies congregate to deal with the intruder and quickly get the word that they're fighting an Avenger. That freaks them out because they're all wanted men. While Hank could easily handle a couple of these crooks, the numbers are against him and the exit are most likely covered. McCoy decides to take shelter in the freakshow until the heat dies down.
While inside, Hank has no choice but to discuss his predicament OUT LOUD. He goes over his fears and doubts about whether Scott and Jean were REALLY Cyclops and Marvel Girl but mostly he just makes enough noise that one of the freaks hits him in the back of the head with a monster punch. The freak turns out to be Colossus and his attack leaves Beast too shaken to defend himself against the gathering Carnies.
As Hank is dragged away, the chained Wolverine growls out "nnnNNOOO...!"
The Carnies are scared that bringing in Beast will draw in the rest of the Avengers but they know that their boss is still going to add Hank to their entourage. The Beast is brought to the boss's trailer and we finally see who is responsible for mind controlling the X-Men.
It's Mesmero! We covered some of Mesmero's early X-Men appearances over in Super Reads XXX. Check it out!
Back in the Freakshow, Wolverine shows one of his earliest Mary-Sue moments as he breaks out of some super-strong chains just because he's got a primal, determined urge to do so. When he's free, he finally wakes up from whatever Mesmero's done to him. When one of the Carnies walks by him with a rifle, Logan takes the guard out and threatens the man in order to find out what the hell is going on.
After getting properly dressed in his super-hero suit, Wolverine breaks in on Jean Grey and Slim Summers as Jean is getting ready for her "date with the boss." After knocking Slim to the ground, Logan begins to slap Jean Grey until she changes into the Phoenix and blasts him across the room. This also breaks Mesmero's hold over her. She apologizes to Wolverine and they begin the task of waking up the rest of the X-Men.
Meanwhile, Mesmero's attempt at mind controlling Beast isn't going exactly to plan. Hank is resisting. When Mesmero gets news that the rest of the X-Men have escaped, he lightens up on his attack and Beast uses the opportunity to break free of his guards and take the fight to the villain.
The big problem is that someone ELSE has made their presence known to Mesmero... someone who terrifies him. That unseen threat takes out the Beast with one blast of energy.
Outside, the X-Men make short work of the Carnies and then race on for a fight with Mesmero. That fight never happens. Before their eyes, Mesmero drops to the ground. Sitting in his chair is the even bigger threat.
Cyclops thinks to himself that the new team is still not ready to fight the Master of Magnetism. It doesn't look like they have a choice in the matter.
Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: John Byrne
Inker: Terry Austin
Editor: Jim Shooter
The issue in a nutshell:
Magneto transports the X-Men and the circus trailer they are in to his Antarctic base. Once there, he kicks their asses and forces them into his baby chairs. No, really.
The issue by bullet points:
• The X-Men confront Magneto! Cyclops orders them all to retreat but they find that the trailer they are in is in the air.
• I mean, it's pretty high in the air. Supposedly it's being lifted by Magneto's magnetic powers but it's a wooden wagon. I guess it's the metal in the wheels?
• Magneto sends Mesmero, still unconscious, on a trip down to the Amazon Forest, using his magnetic powers to keep the mind controlling villain relatively safe.
• Once the wagon reaches Magneto's Antarctic base, it explodes and the X-Men ACTUALLY fight Magneto.
• This is a battle they are destined to lose. None of them can stand against the Master of Magnetism.
• The X-Men wake up trapped inside specially designed chairs that make them as helpless as an infant.
• This is a giant revenge scheme for Magneto, who was once reduced to infancy and placed at the mercy of Professor Xavier.
• The X-Men (and Beast) are given the blood curdling robot, Nanny, to take care of their every needs. She'll feed them... and change them... forever.
The issue in EXTREME detail:
And now... MAGNETO!
Inside of Mesmero's tiny trailer, the X-Men prepare to fight their oldest and most powerful foe. Beast wakes up just in time to join them. Cyclops is pretty certain the X-Men don't stand a chance against Magneto and orders his team to stand down and employ some caution. The All-New, All-Different line-up has only fought Magneto once but the battle didn't go very well before they were forced to retreat in order to deal with another, more important threat. The team still hasn't spent enough time training to handle Mags.
This confrontation will prove JUST how unprepared they are. While retreating from the close quarters of Mesmero's tent, Scott orders Nightcrawler to teleport ahead of them. That means Kurt is the first to find out that the trailer is no longer on the ground. It's being magnetically lifted high into the sky. Colossus smashes open the door to rescue Nightcrawler and give the rest of the team a good look at their predicament.
Wolverine is still intent on attacking Magneto even though he's the only thing keeping the trailer in the air. The rest of the team holds him back because they aren't insane.
Magneto begins his first monologue of the issue, detailing how he followed Hank McCoy from the X-Mansion to the Texas carnival and right through all of the events of the previous issue. He tells the X-Men that had they not freed themselves from Mesmero's thrall, he'd have helped them out.
This isn't out of altruism. The Master of Magnetism has his own plans for the X-Men. First, however, he's got to deal with Mesmero who's been unconscious this whole time. Using his magnetic powers, Mags sends Mesmero on the gentle ride down to the Amazon Forest below.
A jet is up to check on this UFO but its crew doesn't want to believe their eyes. When the flying circus wagon pulls away from them at unbelievable speed, they choose to follow Mesmero to the ground, and decide to start some heavy drinking when they put down.
The wagon continues its journey until it reaches Antarctica. At that point, it begins its descent into Magneto's underground base. We get a mountain cutaway of the base and it's... impressive. The narrator tells us that it's something that would impress Tony Stark and Reed Richards. I don't doubt it. I want one.
Once inside, the wagon explodes and the battle is joined. Cyclops gets things going with an optic blast and then starts giving his team directions.
Instead of giving you the choreography of hits and misses, I'll just give you the FEELINGS of the fight. Magneto... isn't losing. He's countering everything that the X-Men throw at him. While Cyclops' initial attack took Mags off balance, the Master of Magnetism recovers too quickly for anyone to capitalize on it.
Worse still, Colossus (with his metal skin) and Wolverine (with those metal claws) are pretty useless in the fight... unless you count Logan attacking Magnus' cape.
The X-Men quickly go off Cyclops' script and start fighting as individuals instead of a battle-honed team. In other words, they fall apart. Divided they fall. Stuff like that.
Even the Phoenix falls to Magneto's power when she finds that there's some upper limit to her powers that never existed previously.
When the X-Men wake up, they find themselves strapped into chairs and without the ability to speak. Let's let Magneto explain.
There was a time, recently, when Mags was reduced to infancy. He was at the mercy of Charles Xavier and a baby at the same time. Worst still, he knew what was happening but was unable to communicate or act in any way that wasn't "baby." So it was super humiliating.
Magneto has decided to give the X-Men the same fate. They will live out their lives in these chairs, unable to talk, and reduced to the coordination of an infant. Their care will be handled by a robot constructed just for this purpose: Nanny.
For Magneto, this is what vengeance looks like.
Hey! We're done. If I have any luck, I'll be able to navigate through the Outhouse's new front page and post this. And then you'll see me talking all about it. :D
Until next time: Have a good week!
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