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Uncanny X-Men (2nd series) #15

Issue Date: September 2012

Story Title: This Strange Unpleasant Land – part 1

Staff: Kieron Gillen (writer), Daniel Acuna (artist), VC’s Joe Caramagna (letterer), Daniel Acuna (cover), Jordan D. White (assistant editor), Daniel Ketchum (associate editor), Nick Lowe (editor), Axel Alonso (editor-in-chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (Exec. Publisher)

Brief Description:
The Phoenix Five have used their new power to help the world. When the Avengers fought against them, they were outlawed. Hope Summers eventually fled with them. Colossus tries to get Cyttorak to remove his avatar powers from him, as he is now a Phoenix host, but the demon refuses. While the non-Phoenix members of the X-Men are doubtful of developments, the Phoenix Five discuss the threat Sinister might pose to Hope and decide to dispose of him. They locate his secret city and go there, leaving the other X-Men behind. The Phoenix Five emerge in Alaska and then move underground, where Sinister’s troops are already waiting for them and the coming battle.

Full Synopsis:
The office of Kate Kildare, superhuman P.R. agent:
Kate summarizes that, due to their petulance and fear in the face of the world’s best interests, the Avengers are… She ceases her dictation. She figures when the people you are working for could directly put the message into the forebrain of every human alive, writing a press message seems a waste of time. The Phoenix’ entire power is housed in five X-Men and they’ve remade the world. Deserts bloom, free energy, infinite food; it’s the dawn of the jetpack future everybody since Wells has dreamed of.

And the government couldn’t take it. The Avengers came after Hope, taking her, the key to it all. And Hope went with them voluntarily.

Kate closes her netbook. The people don’t need to know the details. They need to know how it relates to them. The Avengers are outlawed. Pax Utopia endures. That’s all that matters.

The new Utopia is a chain of flying islands. Standing atop one is Psylocke. Magneto joins her, observing that Utopia changes. The Five change. Yet some things remain the same. A turned shoulder and a cold welcome from Betsy Braddock, the mysterious English ninja. Betsy interrupts him. If he wants her company, he has it. There’s no need for banter. She isn’t in the mood. She wanted a moment of quiet before the meeting. Just be quiet and admire the view. Of the old Utopia? he asks.

She admits it puzzles her. She doesn’t see why they keep the entire old island floating in the middle of their new city. Magneto explains it’s a living museum of mutankind’s darkest hour. A week ago and it’s already being consigned to history.

Danger who stands nearby announces the prize of getting what you want is having to live with it. Mutants rule the world and now they all have to live with that.

Magneto remarks that Psylocke’s job is to protect rulers who are nigh invulnerable. He’s ended up John the Baptist to a fivefold messiah. They’re surplus to requirements. Conversely, Danger still has her prisoners. What does she have to be so sour-faced about?

Unknown to them, Danger is secretly under the control of the prisoner Unit, who suggests she make a joke to throw off suspicion. Long working hours, Danger tries. Psylocke and Magneto look suspicious. Unit applauds. She’ll learn, he promises. This is for her own good as much as his.

Magneto tells the others to come on. Hope’s gone. Avengers are outlawed. Who knows what their betters have on their mind…

In the Crimson Cosmos, Colossus and his sister Magik have sought an audience with the demon Cyttorak. Colossus explains that now he carries both Cyttorak’s power and the power of the Phoenix. With it, they have rebuilt the world. He knows Cyttorak desires only rubble. Excommunicate him, he begs, as he did his predecessor when he took another master.

Cyttorak considers this, then decides against it. Colossus’ recent backsliding aside, he has been his favorite avatar in thousands of years. Why does he think he has given him so much? Creatures like Cain spend most their lives slinking, hiding from people like Colossus. Offerings were like tiny bursts of light in a long night. But the heroes? In their constant battles, they destroy daily. Their offerings are an eternal banquet. Colossus has brought him far more destruction than he could have hoped. Go with his blood-red blessing. He will forgive his recent impiety in anticipation of what he is sure the future holds. The Phoenix is the spirit of rebirth and destruction. Their desires are not incompatible.

Colossus tries to attack with the Phoenix Force but Cyttorak simply refocuses the energy and reminds him that a demon lord inside his domain is outside natural laws. He should not dream that even with a fifth of that great power he can face him here. Begone!

And Magik and Colossus are back on Utopia. Illyana tells him she is sorry. It was a forlorn hope, Piotr replies. They have turned Earth into a heaven. He was foolish to think that might extend to him.

The Extinction team meets. Cyclops summarizes what they have done and that the Extinction team now has an empty seat. Whether she is here or not, this is about Hope. This is always about Hope.

Magneto asks if they go after the Avengers and their rebellious little girl, but Cyclops explains they might have other business. Emma continues that Hope knew about the Phoenix. Someone told her… it was Sinister. Storm asks if Emma invaded Hope’s mind. Nothing so crass, Emma replies. They are of the Phoenix. They simply asked it. They are nothing but knowledge and understanding now, she explains, mockingly calling Ororo “goddess.” And she should not fear them so, though thanks to the infinity they contain they understand why she does.

Magneto gets back to the topic. Sinister must have had a reason for telling Hope, and it wouldn’t have been an altruistic one. So what do they do now?

While talking with the others, the Phoenix Five are also in a telepathic room of themselves, wondering what do they do now. Sinister is a distraction, Namor announces, more interested in the Avengers. Emma insists they must first make sure Hope is safe. Sinister is a threat to Hope. The Avengers are not. They wish to understand her, not harm her.

Magik announces some things exist only to burn. Sinister is amongst their number. Emma asks Scott who’s been quiet. “We’ve got this power. We can make a better world. And I think it’d be a better world without Sinister in it. Finish him!” And Emma reaches out…

Sinister London deep beneath Earth’s surface:
A guard informs the Prime Sinister that the psychic battalions report the Phoenix hosts are trying to divine their location. It begins, he replies, then gives order to disconnect those manning the spire from the hive mind. Conceal them for as long as they can manage. Honor them! They fight a psychic Thermopylae!

Nevertheless, Emma’s finds them. She pushes harder and the psychic battalion burns. Sinister watches calmly from his balcony.

She’s found Sinister! Emma announces in the war room. They will deal with him! Scott decides and orders them to the Siege Courageous. Only the Phoenix Five, though. He tells the others to stay behind. There is no need for them to endanger themselves.

The Phoenix Five emerge in Anchorage, Alaska. Where is their annoyingly verbose prey? Namor demands. Emma explains his abomination of a species is far below. Still he taunts him! Scott seethes. This is where he grew up, where Sinister first watched him. He brings him back here as if it’s all still part of his plan. He makes a mistake to think of them as still human. What they are now is beyond Sinister’s smaller reason. However, he’s created a problem. They are near enough to Anchorage that they cannot simply bring the whole ceiling crashing down. There will be a fight. Flames surround them as they float downwards.

The Prime Sinister is warned that they are approaching. This is going to be one for the history books! he grins. He addresses his people: in these last few weeks, they’ve lived in a green and pleasant land. Now war is upon them and they must beat their plowshares into swords. They must beat themselves into swords. He declares total war. The Sinisters’ eyes begin to glow…

Sinister Prime gives orders to set the creation engines to full steam. Squat out brother Sinisters as if there’s no tomorrow! His servant protests they will only live a day if they develop them so hastily. They’ll live less than that, is the reply. They are but bloody pulp for the X-Men. If they don’t triumph, there is no tomorrow. Give him war! Give him tomorrow! Give them all tomorrow!

The Phoenix Five burrow further down. They have reached the cavern.

Untether the spawn! Sinister Prime orders. Empty the menagerie! Marauder battalion, engage! Enrage! Enfilade!

And us?” the Madelynes ask. He promises their time will come. There’s a spectacle to appreciate. And damn him, if he says so himself, it is everything he imagined it would be…

And the Phoenix Five come down, declaring war…

Characters:
Colossus, Cyclops, Emma Frost, Magik, Namor (Phoenix Five)
Danger, Psylocke, Magneto, Storm (X-Men)

Sinister Prime
Other Sinisters
Jean Grey / Madelyne Pryor clones

Kate Kildare

Notes:
The story takes place between AVX #6 and #7.

Hope left with the Avengers in issue #6.

John the Baptist prepared the way for the true messiah.

Cyttorak excommunicated his avatar, the Juggernaut, when he served the Asgardian Serpent during “Fear Itself.”

Sinister told Hope about the Phoenix in issue #3.

According to historical record, a group of 300 Spartans heroically made their last stand at Thermopylae, defending their fellow Greeks from the vast invading Persian army.

Issue Summary written by: Ruth


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