Relax everyone. I'm back to read comics for you.
Before we get started, 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.
We're almost ready to get going, but first I need to do more explaining.
We've gone over who Rachel Summers/Grey is before, but it's been a while so let me do it again. Rachel is the daughter of Scott Summers (Cyclops) and Jean Grey (Marvel Girl, Phoenix, no-codename Jean Grey) from a future, apocalyptic timeline. In this PARTICULAR timeline, the world went to hell and is ruled over by Sentinels. The giant robots have pretty much killed all the important mutants but someone let dudes like Magneto live out their lives in camps. This was the Days of Future Past storyline, and it pretty much defines EVERY post-apocalyptic comic book storyline.
Rachel was another survivor, though we didn't learn much about her in her first appearance, other than her first name and the fact that she was dating Franklin Richards, the son of Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic) and Sue Richards (Invisible Woman) of the Fantastic Four. It was only later we found out who she was and that she was the current host of the Phoenix. Rachel ended up in the present and served on the X-Men and Excalibur teams.
Later on, it was revealed that before the events of Days of Future Past, Rachel was forced to hunt other mutants as a hound. She still bears the marks on her face that show what she did. Sometimes those marks disappear (possibly due to her powers) but what they represent cuts right to Rachel's soul.
Speaking of mutants with some blood on their hands, let's talk about Rogue. Anna Marie has been a long time X-Man, so a lot of you might not remember that she started out her career as a member of Mystique's Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Her first appearance was in Avengers Annual #10. As the villain.
Rogue used her powers to steal the powers and memories of Carol Danvers. You may know Carol better as Ms. Marvel. This was a rookie mistake on Rogue's part. She hadn't attended Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters and hadn't intended on PERMANENTLY stealing Ms. Marvel's powers. It just happened that she touched Carol too long.
This left Ms. Marvel in a vegetative state. Professor Xavier was able to reassemble Carol's mind but Danvers lost any emotional connection to her memories. It was like they happened to another person.
Rogue, on the other hand, got another personality living in her head. Her Ms. Marvel persona would fight for control throughout her early career until eventually becoming separated from Rogue and destroyed. Rogue kept Carol's powers right up to Messiah Complex, when her abilities were rebooted from scratch.
Ms. Marvel and Rogue have a complicated history. While they have laid aside their differences, you just don't get over someone wiping your mind clean.
Wolverine and the X-Men #12
Writer: Jason Aaron
Penciler & Colorist: Chris Bachalo
Inkers: Tim Townsend, Jaime Mendoza, Al Vey, Victor Olazaba
Editor: Nick Lowe
Click HERE to see Wolverine and the X-Men #11!
The issue in a nutshell:
Rachel Summers tracks down Wolverine in Indonesia. In a surprising move, the Avengers fight the X-Men. Rachel finds Hope but lets the Mutant Messiah go.
This issue by bullet points:
• Rachel Grey/Summers enters a bar called The Last Astronaut at the Spaceship Graveyard in Indonesia. She finds Wolverine brooding and probably drunk.
• Things go south pretty quickly and it turns out Logan brought his Avengers posse with him.
• That's ok. Rachel brought some X-Friends along for the ride. It's big fight time all over the place.
• Mixed into the fighting, we see Rachel having flashbacks to her time as a teacher at the Jean Grey school and to an earlier conversation with a Phoenix-powered Cyclops.
• Oh, Wolverine beats up Kid Gladiator.
• After finding Hope, Rachel ends up letting the Mutant Messiah go.
• When reporting this mission to Cyclops, she omits the part where she found Hope. Before Cyke can further question her, Gladiator, Warbird, and some Shi'ar arrive to kick the Phoenix's butt.
This issue in EXTREME detail:
The PhoeniX-Men are in the midst or remaking the world to be stronger, faster, more alive. Even more fun than THAT, Cyclops ended Avengers vs. X-Men #6 by declaring "No More Avengers." It turns out that this means that the Avengers are now the outlaws and the X-Men are Earth's Mightiest Heroes.
That's all well and good but an even greater priority than arresting the Avengers is locating Hope and bringing her back to the PhoeniX-Men's loving embrace. To do that, Cyclops and friends need someone who is trained to hunt down mutants. Since they can't get a hold of a Sentinel (Emma's destroyed them all), they go to the next best thing.
Rachel Grey-Summers-Askani'son-Dayspring. OK, it's just Rachel Grey. Sometimes Rachel Summers. It all depends on how she's feeling on a given day.
Today, she's ticked the hell off because she's doing something that seriously hits a nerve. She's being the Phoenix Five's Hound. It's too bad she's so damn good at it.
Which brings us to the Spaceship Graveyard, Caparanga Beach, Indonesia. In the Marvel Universe, this is where old spacecraft go to die. In the remains of a Space Shuttle, we find a bar called The Last Astronaut. It is inside this bar that Rachel finds the Headmaster of the Jean Grey School for Gifted Youngsters.
That'd be Logan. Wolverine. Member of every team in the Marvel Universe. Rolemodel for today's youth. Probable alchoholic.
Rachel uses her telepathy to get all the civilians to leave the bar without a fuss. She then goes into some minor detail on how she was able to track down the old canucklehead. This boils down to Beast's psi-shield devices not being foolproof, Wolverine thinking his thoughts too loudly, and Rachel being a hell of a hound.
With the pleasantries out of the way, the former host of the Phoenix gets to her real reason for tracking down Wolverine. She's looking for Hope. The Avengers took the Mutant Messiah away from Utopia in Avengers vs. X-Men #6. Even though Hope went of her own free will, it was this act that pushed Cyclops into his whole "No More Avengers" state of mind. Hope needs to be recovered before the Avengers try to use her against the X-Men.
Almost at the mere MENTION of "Hope," Wolverine pops his claws and starts a fight.
Outside of The Last Astronaut, a squad of X-Men lie in wait. Namor, Iceman, Angel, and Kid Gladiator have been waiting for Rachel to talk things out with Wolverine. We're not the only ones who know how that has gone. Namor orders the X-Men to attack, stating their new team motto. "No More Avengers." Iceman still tries to give Rachel time but when she comes flying out of the bar, it's pretty obvious that there's fighting to be done.
Wolverine wasn't alone inside. His drinking buddies, the Avengers, were all in there. Somewhere. We're talking about Giant-Man, Spider-Woman, Thor, War Machine, Captain America, Beast, and Quicksilver. In terms of numbers, the Avengers have an edge.
In terms of power, the X-Men have Namor.
While the two teams get their fight on and pose dramatically for a two page spread, we take a trip back in time to friendlier days. It's the Jean Grey School. Rachel is teaching her Psychic Self-Defense Class. She's not one of those friendly, easy-going teachers. She's a shouter. Granted, it's telepathic shouting but I'm pretty sure that would be worse.
To her, none of the students at Jean Grey's are prepared for a telepathic invasion. This includes Kid Omega who is the snotty pink haired dude giving the teacher attitude. The two engage in a psi-fight. Rachel wins, leaving Kid Omega with a bloody nose.
Headmaster Logan interrupts the class, dismissing the students. He thinks Rachel is being too hard on the kids but Rachel disagrees. She's from a future where all of these people are dead and is trying to make sure it doesn't happen again.
Flashback over! Back to our Avengers vs. X-Men fight.
Captain America versus Rachel? You are soaking in it. This little battle is great because it goes a lot like this:
Captain America: I'm disappointed in you, Marvel Girl. I always had such high hopes for you. You could've been one of the greats. (Cap tosses his mighty shield)
Rachel: Don't call me Marvel Girl. And also, BITE ME, Captain America! I AM one of the greats. (Rach telekinetically returns the mighty shield to sender)
In another corner of the fight, Kid Gladiator, the son of Shi'ar Majestor, Gladiator, is fighting anyone he can. Right now, he's punching Giant-Man. In the eye.
Over here, Iceman is trying to talk to Beast.
Good point, Bobby. Beast quit the Avengers in Avenger vs. X-Men #6. This issue quite clearly takes place AFTER AvX #6. Beast shouldn't even BE here. Nevertheless, there he is. Instead of the tired, conflicted Hank McCoy that felt that attacking his oldest friends just when they were making the world a better place was a bad idea (as seen in AvX #6), Beast is back to showing a serious hate-on for Cyclops that causes him to attack Iceman for choosing the other side in the conflict. That's OK. Bobby has a lot of ice related tricks up his sleeves.
In yet ANOTHER part of this fight, Namor is taking on Thor. During the fight, Thor loses his hammer, Mjolnir, and Kid Gladiator tries to pick the weapon up. Good luck with that, Kid.
If you're wondering what Angel is doing, he's trying to find a peaceful resolution while dodging weapons fire from War Machine.
Since this fight is all about securing Hope Summers, Cap sends Pietro to make sure the Mutant Messiah stays out of X-Men hands. Quicksilver is intercepted by Kid Gladiator (who has given up on picking up Thor's hammer) and is dealt with. This means eye beams. After ranting about how the Avengers are too weak to stand against him, Kid Gladiator finds himself face to face with the Wolverine.
Rachel is still trying to grill Hope's location out of Captain America but finds herself with a bigger powerhouse to deal with. Thor. God of Thunder. He would have words.
Let's head back into the past one more time. This is just a few days ago. Pax Utopia has already been established. Rachel is having a chat with Cyclops as the Phoenix-powered leader of the X-Men brings flowers to a desert. Scott is assuring her that hunting down Hope and using her hound skillset is for the greater good. That's nice and all... I guess.
Things get a little more sinister when Cyclops tells his alternate future daughter that the Phoenix still loves her. It loves everyone. And it just wants to give the world a big, fiery hug. Dun dun DUN.
And now back to our AvX battle still in progress.
Kid Gladiator is in the midst of punching the crap out of Wolverine. Logan fans, DON'T WORRY! The old Canucklehead is the only Avenger who knows how to hurt a Strontian like Kid Gladiator. All he needs to do is hit a pressure point. That point is off panel but I'm PRETTY sure it's the Kid's groin. PRETTY sure...
Anyway, Kid Gladiator drops, defeated.
Beast is eating Iceman. War Machine is shooting Angel. Warren finally stops trying to talk his foe down and lights Rhodey up with SURPRISE GLOWING HANDS. Even Angel is shocked at this random power.
Thor's words with Rachel are pretty much "Don't try to read my mind because it's a god's mind and you would get lost in there. I do all the time." Rachel's response is "Former Phoenix Host, douche!" and a powerful display of telekenesis. Namor takes over this fight again as Hope goes back to searching out Hope.
The Black Widow is trying to get Hope out of the combat zone without drawing any attention but it's too late for that. Rachel's found them. The Widow is out before she can even TRY to fight back. There's a page or so build up to a fight between Hope and Rachel but it's not gonna happen. Before any attack can be unleached, Rachel lets Hope go do what she's gonna do.
That's not how Rachel is going to report this encounter when she's back in Utopia, however. To Cyclops, Rachel lies. She never even SAW Hope in Indonesia. It's possible the Mutant Messiah wasn't even there. Scott asks for details, doubting Rachel's story.
Before her lie can be found out, Utopia faces another attack as Kid Gladiator ducks into hiding. It's Gladiator. Majestor of the Shi'ar Empire. For some reason, he's colored his usually blue mohawk red. With him is Kid Gladiator's bodyguard, Warbird, and a bunch of Shi'ar soldiers. Gladiator is no longer looking for his son (like he was in the unanswered cliffhanger that ended LAST issue-- that was when Gladiator stormed into the Jean Grey School in a similar scene to THIS one). This time, Kallark is set to defeat some PhoeniX-Men.
I hope Cyclops knows Gladiator's secret pressure point.
X-Men Legacy #269
Writer: Christos Gage
Penciler: David Baldeon
Inker: Jordi Tarragona
Editor: Daniel Ketchum
Click HERE to see Super Read X-Men Legacy #268!
The issue in a nutshell:
Rogue, completely sold on the idea of Pax Utopia, plays hero in New Orleans. When she gets word of a helicopter that went down for an emergency landing, Rogue goes to the rescue and ends up in a fight with Ms. Marvel. After winning, Rogue gets a warning from Carol to watch out for the Phoenix Five going insane and evil.
This issue by bullet points:
• Iceman uses ice to irrigate a desert landscape in China. Rogue borrows part of Bobby's power to save New Orleans.
• After icing up the water surrounding New Orleans, Rogue gets the thanks of the relief workers and a delicious local meal of catfish.
• Learning of a downed Navy helicopter, Rogue races off to play hero.
• Instead of finding a Navy chopper, she finds Ms. Marvel.
• Hey, it's fight time! This is exacerbated when Rogue tries stealing Carol's powers... reflecting their first meeting in Avengers Annual #10.
• While fighting, Ms. Marvel tries to warn Rogue about how the Phoenix Five are going to lose their cool and burn the planet to a cinder.
• The fight is ended when Rogue finally manages to ice Carol up. Carol continues her warnings until Magik arrives to take her to the Avengers prison.
• This prison turns out to be a portion of Limbo that has been brought to Earth. Rogue thinks that maybe the Phoenix Five have already leaped over the edge of sanity.
This issue in EXTREME detail:
Let's review some things.
1. The Phoenix Five all share an equal part of the infinite power of the Phoenix Force. With their backing, the X-Men have set out to make the world a MUCH better place.
2. With VERY few exceptions, the worlds remaining mutants fall right in line with their Phoenix-powered leaders. There's no checking or double checking of whether the Phoenix'd ones are going to go totally evil. There's just blind faith.
3. At this is in light of the fact that the Phoenix Five are composed of questionable X-Men like Magik, Namor, Colossus (with Juggernaut's power and a WHOLE lot less control), Emma Frost, and even Cyclops. Half the mutants LEFT Utopia after Schism and many of them had issues with Cyclops.
4. It's quite possible that mind control is at work. This is based on absolutely no physical evidence but MAN, some people are acting out of character.
5. That's an understatement, by the way. It would be easier to list who IS acting in character. Shorter, at least.
Anyway, the mutants of the world support their New World Order. Anyone who DOESN'T support the future is clearly jealous at the change in status quo.
We start out story in China where Iceman is using his powers to bring water to a desert. He's doing this by seeding the area with ice. As it melts, it will gently irrigate the area. As Magik describes, this will prevent flooding and other complications. I suppose that's sound. I mean, we get floods as the snow melts but that's because the ground is still frozen. This ground is not so it'll just soak up that sweet water.
THIS is what Rogue likes about Pax Utopia. It's not just the Phoenix Five doing their thing. It's the entire mutant race making the world a better place. She has been a key component to it because her powers allow her to copy another teammate's power and use it in a different location. This also means she's running on barely any sleep. That's fine. She enjoys the work.
Rogue is here to take a portion of Iceman's powers to New Orleans to prevent the city from being hit by a serious stormfront. Before Rogue grabs that power, we see Iceman calling Magik "boss" and learn that Illyana doesn't see the PhoeniX-Men as "in charge." Maybe Cyclops. The rest of the Phoenix-powered X-Men are just teammates. Be that as it may, they still seem to be calling the shots.
One flaming portal later, we find Rogue saving New Orleans by erecting a wall of ice to halt any storm damage. At least that's what I think she's doing. All I see is a wall of ice and a lot of relieved relief soldiers. They're double happy when they find out that Rogue is from Mississippi. One of the soldiers offers her a catfish meal as a reward and she accepts gratefully.
You can't imagine how inviting all of this is to your average mutant. They're used to being feared and hated and here Rogue is being thanked for her assistance and even getting a local meal out of the deal. She's in the middle of enjoying her food when the soldier who gave it to her interrupts to tell her about a downed Navy helicopter that made a forced landing nearby. While there are no injuries, Rogue still has the power to make the situation better and she ice sleds off to offer more aid.
Rogue does a lot of searching before realizing that she's being played. There's no Navy chopper. No emergency landing. There's only Ms. Marvel.
Don't worry! She's not here to fight. She's here to talk. Rogue won't let her. This is the old world order comign for a confrontation and Rogue won't let Carol get a word in. It's ice powers all around.
The X-Man no longer has Ms. Marvel's power set which means she's seriously underpowered. Iceman may be up to some brand new tricks these days and fighting heavy hitters like Red Hulk but Rogue is only rocking a fraction of Bobby's abilities. To try to even the playing field, she rushes Carol and absorbs the Avenger's powers once more.
And that... was probably the worst idea ever.
These two have history. BAD history. Rogue stole Carol's powers and all of her memories. They've let bygones be bygones but c'mon. This makes things personal. In a bad way.
Ms. Marvel goes out of defensive mode and straight up into offense.
During this fight, the two finally do some talking. Ms. Marvel thought Rogue would be the best person to approach about the Avengers' justifiable fears regarding the Phoenix Five. Carol thinks it's likely that Rogue had some of these fears herself since she's fighting angry.
The Avengers believe that it's only a matter of time before the PhoeniX-Men go evil. They might already be showing cracks in their benevolent exterior. Ms. Marvel just wants Rogue to keep her eyes open to this and then REACT.
Rogue tells Carol that OF COURSE she'll react. If the Phoenix Five lose control, the X-Men would take them down. That's because Pax Utopia is a cooperative effort between them all.
After a fight all over the swamp, Rogue finally freezes Ms. Marvel in place. She calls up Magik for a prisoner pick up. While waiting, Rogue de-ices Ms. Marvel's face so that Carol can breath.
Carol continues to talk, telling Rogue that she really DID come to talk and deliver this message because she knew Rogue better than the rest of the X-Men. Ms. Marvel doesn't hate Rogue. She's IMPRESSED by the southern X-Man. Danvers just wants Rogue to keep her eyes open. REALLY keep watch.
When Magik shows up, Carol declares that Illyana, being mostly evil already, would probably be the first one to go full bad. 'Yana uses her Phoenix abilities to slap a muzzle on the Avenger and then they teleport to the Avengers prison.
As Illyana explains, this prison is inescapable because it's a little slice of Limbo that she's brought to Earth and placed inside one of the Verkhoyansk Mountains in Russia.
That's right. Hell on Earth. As Ms. Marvel is dropped into the Limbo prison, Rogue looks horrified. Maybe Utopia isn't as perfect as she was pretending.
The All-New, All-Different X-Men #108
Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: John Byrne
Inker: Terry Austin
Editor: Archie Goodwin
The issue in a nutshell:
With the entire Universe in danger of destruction, thanks to the M'kraan Crystal and the alignment of nine deathstars, only the X-Men stand a chance of saving everything. Unfortunately, they've got the M'kraan Crystal's guardians and a mad emperor to deal with, too. Phoenix ends up fixing up the Crystal with her friends and teammates anchoring her to reality.
The issue by bullet points:
• The M'kraan Crystal threatens universal destruction.
• The Avengers and the Fantastic Four realize that they are powerless in this situation.
• The X-Men and the Starjammers fight two of the M'kraan Crystal's guardians before one of the Starjammers throws Majestor D'ken at the Crystal.
• Suddenly, everyone is INSIDE the M'kraan Crystal. The sphere at the center of the Crystal drops a Nightmare Field on everyone.
• The Phoenix is mostly unaffected since her nightmares don't scare her anymore. She wakes up to find Cyclops screaming and lashing out with his optic blasts.
• Phoenix uses her telekenesis to stop Cyclops' rampage but not before the mutant's powers severely damage the sphere.
• Jean goes inside the sphere to see what she can do and finds that it contains a neutron galaxy capable of destroying the Universe if its containment field fails.
• Guess what's failing?
• Using Storm and Corsair to anchor her to reality, Phoenix repairs the damage to the containment field and saves everything.
• The X-Men go back to Earth with Lilandra accompanying them. She's waiting out her exile on Earth until the Shi'ar sit her on her mad brother's throne.
The issue in EXTREME detail:
This one isn't exactly a crossover between the X-Men and Avengers, but the Avengers make a small and interesting cameo without ever actually MEETING the X-Men and I decided it was important enough to go into details. This is also the final chapter of what became known as the "Phoenix Saga" and features one of the most heroic moments in the short life of the Jean Grey Phoenix. This is also the first issue of X-Men illustrated by John Byrne. Dave Cockrum had moved on to a position that didn't leave him time to draw a monthly comic so Byrne took over and led the X-Men to great, great things. Let's get on with the story:
The Universe has just blinked out of existence, courtesy of the M'kraan Cystal and a special galactic alignment of the nine deathstars (not Star Wars related). On the unnamed planet that is home to the M'kraan Crystal, a whole lot of unexpected visitors are shocked and confused.
We've got a LOT of visitors. The X-Men book has gotten confusing VERY quickly as varying factions all met on this planet to fight over a device none of them understand.
ANYWAY, we're not the only people confused by what's going on. The X-Men are ALSO in the dark and they ask for a quick explanation from their fearless leader, Cyclops, who just so happens to have gotten a similar explanation in the previous issue. Instead of reciting HIS recounting, I'm gonna use this space to catch you all up to speed on what's been happening in the X-Men book.
First, Professor Xavier has been having haunting dreams that have finally cleared up to the point that he's realized that they are telepathic in nature. They were coming from Lilandra, sister of the Shi'ar Majestor, D'ken. She was commander of the Shi'ar Imperial Fleet. When D'ken made plans to secure the "ultimate weapon" that was the M'kraan Crystal, Lilandra protested and got on D'ken's badside. She's been a fugitive ever since and has been SLOWLY making her way to Earth for a meeting with Xavier.
Realizing that Lilandra would be heading for the X-Men, D'ken contacted a Shi'ar agent that was already on Earth to make sure that the X-Men were in no shape to aid the Shi'ar princess. That agent dressed up as Erik the Red and antagonized the X-Men for the past year without really doing any permanent damage. When Lilandra arrived, Erik was there to kidnap her and then leapt through a stargate right to this unnamed planet. The X-Men followed close behind, courtesy of the powers of the Phoenix.
Greeting them on this planet was the Shi'ar Imperial Guard. You probably know these guys since they've been pretty active in the Marvel Universe over the last few years. Their leader is Superman analogue, Gladiator. The rest of the team is based on DC's Legion of Super-heroes, proving that anything DC can do, Marvel can do better and make more relevant. :P
It was X-Man versus Imperial Guardsman for most of last issue. Wolverine ended up having his clothes burned off and ended up stealing one of the Guardman's clothes to satisfy the Comic Code. Good times.
The X-Men were on the ropes when reinforcements arrived from an unexpected quarter (it was a theme). The space pirate Starjammers showed up, rallied with the X-Men and evened out the sides just in time for the M'kraan Crystal to explode with energy and endanger the entire universe.
And now, you might understand what's going on. Maybe.
The Universe blinking out of existance for a moment is something people might notice. It's the UNIVERSE. Peter Corbeau, Director of Stargore (the space laboratory orbiting near the sun), is reporting the incident to the President of the United States, Jimmy Carter. Also on the line is Mr. Fantastic and the Avengers. Everyone experienced the blink but not everyone is drawing the same conclusions. Dr. Corbeau sees this as a threat to the entire Universe's existence.
The President's science advisors aren't ready to draw that conclusion.
But we're not here to discuss the fate of the Universe. We're here to check in on the Avengers and their appearance in an X-Men comic. The Avengers shown are Captain America, Beast, Black Panther, Yellowjacket, and the Wasp. They share Corbeau's opinion... but there's nothing they can do about it. The problem is too far away for them to make their presence known. The Universe will live or die and the Avengers can't do anything. Realizing their helplessness, Janet Van Dyne asks her husband, Hank Pym, to hold her close.
Back on the Planet with No Name, Cyke has finished catching everyone up to speed when they wind up facing their next challenge. It turns out the M'kraan Crystal has a couple guardians that haven't come into play just yet. The first one we see is a pint sized terror named Jahf. This little robot is destined to cause some problems for our heroes and his first victim is Wolverine. Logan leaps into battle, believing this tiny guy to be no threat... which is funny considering how short Wolverine is. Cyclops tells Logan to be cautious but the clawed mutant basically does the opposite of what his leader tells him to do.
And for his attitude, Wolverine is punched into space. Fortunately, the Starjammer ship is able to retrieve Logan but he's out of the fight.
The rest of the X-Men and Starjammers don't fare any better than Wolverine. Phoenix even recovers her strength (she's been weakened after powering the stargate that got the X-Men here) in time to telekinetically grab a meteor and drop it on the robot. Jahf just shrugs it off.
The only X-Man who can stand a chance to defeat Jahf is Banshee. He destroys the robot with a sonic scream but it roars his voice dry and Jahf ends up crushing a few ribs before going down.
With one guardian defeated, another rises to the defense. This second one is a giant robot named Modt who claims to be "a THOUSAND times greater than Jahf." The next guardian will be another thousand times more powerful. So, y'know, this is impossible.
From a same distance, the mad Majestor, D'ken, thinks that these guardians not only spell doom for the Starjammers but signal his own rise to power with the help of the M'kraan Crystal. We're not the only ones that notice D'ken's flawed plan. All intruders, no matter their reasons for being here, are the Guardians' targets. Colossus points this out to himself. Raza, one of the Starjammers, ignores the debate and just moves in to toss D'ken...
...right into the M'kraan Crystal.
This avoids the fight with the Crystal Guardians altogether because once D'ken is inside, so is everyone else. Phoenix explains what's happened and tells Cyclops that the Guardians won't follow because they don't belong in here. In the center of the structure is a sphere of light. When Phoenix reaches out to touch it, her hand goes all ghost-like.
There's no time to consider the implications of this as beams of red light reach out from the sphere and grab hold of every intruder. The X-Men, Starjammers, and D'ken all begin living out personal nightmares. Only two of these are kind of important. Corsair, the leader of the Starjammers, relives the moment his wife was taken from him by Majestor D'ken. This is important because he turns out to be Cyclops' dad so this is a small piece of his own history.
The second one is that of the Phoenix. Her nightmare is her own mortality... except she's recently died and been "reborn" as the Phoenix so this nightmare doesn't have the same emotional weight as it would have BEFORE her death. This causes her to wake back up to her own reality within the M'kraan Crystal.
The first thing she notices is Scott Summers screaming. Whatever his nightmare is, it's so horrifying that he's unleashing his concussive eye beams without thinking. When Phoenix tries to calm her lover down, the beam cuts right into her. This would be a lethal attack if Phoenix were tangible. She's not. Luckily, her telekinesis still works just fine. She uses it to knock Cyclops out.
UNLUCKILY, before he's incapacitated, Scott's eyebeams lash out at the sphere, shattering it. Phoenix feels a strange connection with the sphere, realizing "as it loses its hold on reality, I lose MINE." She turns into a cosmic firebird and enters the sphere. As soon as she enters, the X-Men and Starjammers wake up.
Inside the sphere, Phoenix is amazed at her firebird form. She feels "as if, for the FIRST time in my life, I'm... TRULY ALIVE!" Considering the retcon that made this NOT Jean Grey and ACTUALLY the Phoenix Force taken Jean Grey's form, this line turns out to be that much more true.
At the heart of the sphere, the Phoenix finds a neutron galaxy surrounded by a "geodesic latticework of anti-energy" that's keeping it in check. The latticework is failing. When if finally breaks apart, the neutron galaxy will destroy the Universe. Phoenix imagines the destruction it will cause, specifically to her friends left on Earth. This kind of thing must be stopped. The X-Man tries to heal the latticework but finds her own powers to be ineffective. The neutron galaxy just absorbs her energy. Since entering the sphere, Phoenix has been reduced to energy... which means SHE is being absorbed.
Suddenly, Ororo is by her side and offers a solution. Phoenix needs something that reconnects her to the world in a solid kind of way. Storm's life-force ought to do the trick. Unfortunately, it'd be a one way trip to deadsville for Ororo. While she is fine with that, Phoenix is not. Maybe TWO life-forces would work where one would be gobbled up...
And that's how Corsair is recruited into the salvation of the Universe. Jean also gives him the startling revelation that his two boys are alive. Major Christopher Summers was living under the belief that they were dead. As Phoenix jumps back into the sphere, Corsair runs over to his unconscious son.
Back inside the sphere, Phoenix gets right to work repairing the geodesic latticework that holds the neutron galaxy in check. It's cosmic work, full of poetry and a firebird that spreads throughout the universe while still being stuck inside the M'kraan Crystal. She nearly fails but finds that the rest of the X-Men (including Professor Xavier who is still back on Earth) are there to spiritually support her.
With the Universe saved and the M'Kraan Crystal fixed, the X-Men use the stargate to return home. They land where they left: on top of Jean Grey's apartment in Greenwich Village. Everyone is alive and well... except for Wolverine who is still recovering from his trip of reaching escape velocity.
Greeting them is Firelord, the former Herald of Galactus. This cosmic-level individual was the last threat that Erik the Red set against the X-Men before he kidnapped Lilandra. The X-Men prepare for a rematch (except Phoenix who is sick of fighting battles based on misunderstandings) but Firelord has realized that he's been the victim of Erik the Red's lies. Professor Xavier filled in the rest of the blanks.
You'll notice that in all the commotion of saving the Universe, Erik the Red quietly slipped off-panel, never to be a threat to the X-Men again.
The last person to exit the stargate is Lilandra. She explains to Xavier that this whole M'kraan Crystal shenangians left her brother, D'ken, insane. Since he has no heirs, the throne SHOULD pass to Lilandra. Unfortunately, she's also a traitor to the Shi'ar Empire because of her revolt against her mad brother. FORTUNATELY, her point of view turned out to be the correct one. So it's a complicated situation but Lilandra is certain that she'll eventually be called home to take the throne. Until then, Earth is her home.
Which means Professor Xavier is going to get some.
The issues ends with: "This book is dedicated with respect and admiration to DAVE COCKRUM-- who helped make the dream a reality"
This is followed by the very short: "I'm not dead-- Dave Cockrum."
Good stuff! :D
It looks like I've gone and finished yet another Super Reads. Which is awesome.
Until next time: Have a good week!
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