Issue Date: November 2002
Story Title: Ambient Magnetic Fields
Staff: Grant Morrison (writer), Phil Jimenez (penciler), Andy Lanning (inker), Chris Chuckry (colors), Richard Starkings & Comicraft's Jimmy (letters), Mike Raicht and Nova Ren Suma (assistant editors), Mike Marts (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Bill Jemas (president)
In the ruins of Genosha, Quicksilver, Sabra and Thunderbird survey the devastation. On his return to the domed X-Corporation HQ on the island, Quicksilver comes across a very much alive Unus the Untouchable. Shortly after Unus is returned to the dome, the team is joined by Professor Xavier and Phoenix IV, stopping on their way to India. Hearing Unus report that he has seen the believed-dead Polaris, the X-Men begin a search for her. Instead, however, they come across the Toad and two other followers of Magneto’s legacy constructing a monument to the fallen leader out of the remains of the Mega-Sentinel. Not wishing a confrontation, the X-Men continue their search for Polaris and soon afterward locate her. Wielding powerful magnetic forces and surrounded by luminous “ghosts,” Polaris is attempting to dig something out of the rubble. The X-Men try to subdue their demented friend and recover whatever she has been searching for. Finding a black box, a recording device used by Magneto in his final moments, they inadvertently activate it. As the voice of Magneto fills the air, supplying his final testament, Quicksilver and Polaris use their powers and their fervor to complete the Toad’s job, finishing the transformation of the Mega-Sentinel into a monument to Magneto. As the X-Men watch the fallen Magneto being memorialized before their eyes, they listen to his words. Magneto tells them that their voices will never be silence. They will be heard beyond this life… and far, far beyond this death.
On a pile of debris overlooking Hammer Bay, three individuals look down upon the ruins of the former capital of Genosha. The skeletal remains of the city’s structures lie like sun-bleaches bones, having baked in the mid-morning sun. In the center of the bay city sits the now defunct Mega-Sentinel that caused the destruction, eternally admiring it’s handiwork. Overlooking this indescribable devastation, Quicksilver tells his two compatriots that he can remember when it was all fields, spires and monorails. This, he tells them, is where Magneto died.
Through her environmental suit, which like the others’ protects her from their toxic surroundings, Sabra apologizes to Quicksilver, but tells him that it’s good riddance. Magneto, she tells him, was a master-race lunatic who coerced the entire Genoshan mutant population into a war with humanity and brought this on himself. As Thunderbird begins to object to Sabra’s words, Quicksilver speaks up. Plainly, he states that while Magneto was his father, otherwise, she is right. Turning to the other two, Quicksilver informs them that he will meet them both back at the dome. He’s impatient o rendezvous with Professor X and get the hell out of this godforsaken graveyard.
Sabra begins to apologize but, in a flash, Quicksilver is gone. Watching the blur that is Quicksilver traverse the once proud city, Sabra wishes aloud that she had just stayed in Paris with X-Corp. This, she tells Thunderbird, has been the worst weekend of her life. She keeps saying the wrong things and Quicksilver is so uptight all the time… Fumbling over the embarrassment, she asks Thunderbird if she is right in thinking that his name is Neal. Thunderbird replies that it is, but suggests that she call him Thunderbird. Sometimes code-names are easier.
Sprinting through the rubble of the city at super-speed, his surrounding practically a blur, Quicksilver abruptly stops, having seen something. Arriving at the object that caught his attention, he finds a man clad in a red outfit with purple trunks and boots, curled in a fetal position. Asking the man if he knows him, the man begins to ramble incoherently. Untouchable, he stammers, he is supposed to be untouchable. Looking up with eyes that seem to see things not truly there, the man tells Quicksilver that they came right through. They came right through his forcefield. Ghosts… millions of ghosts all buzzing… millions of voices… talking in him… following her.
Not far away, a gigantic gray dome rises out of the ruins of the city, adorned with a simple “X”, the trademark sigil of the X-Men. It is the only structure standing. Descending out of the X-Plane that has landed nearby, Xavier and Phoenix, both clad in environmental suits, take in their surroundings. Referring to the report of the recent discovery, Xavier rhetorically asks Jean about ghosts. Citing that sixteen millions mutants died there in one day, he wonders if it is any wonder there are ghost stories. Taking a moment to take note of the dormant Mega-Sentinel some distance away, Jean follows the Professor into the dome, through an open hatchway.
Taking in her own surroundings within the dome, Storm informs the others, Sabra, Thunderbird and Quicksilver, that if any of them wants to score Brownie points, Charles Xavier particularly loves Japanese green tea. Chiding Storm in return, Thunderbird replies that she speaks like a prize pupil. Noting the arriving Xavier, Quicksilver jokingly tells the others to try to look busy.
Greeting the group, Xavier informs them that Jean and he have begun to wonder if the decision to stop their on their way to India was a wise one after all. The word, Sabra replies, is “grim as hell.” The ice now broken on their tense situation, the four warmly greet Jean and the Professor. Telling Sabra that he is glad to see that she made it, the Professor tells them all that he thinks they all have to see Genosha for themselves, at least once. Changing the subject, Xavier states that they heard something happened just before they arrived: Unus, the Untouchable Man?
Still panicked, Unus yells excitedly that they were ghosts and asks to be told what else they could be. Talking to both Xavier and Jean, Unus asks them to tell him what else can go through walls and skin and bone. Referring to the deceased lord of Genosha, Magneto, Unus tells the two X-Men that he kept the magnetic fields alive! Leaning forward in her chair, Jean, calling Unus by his name, Angelo, tells him to calm down. Addressing the Professor, she asks him if he can see what Unus is seeing? These weird shapes…
Finishing Jean’s thoughts, Xavier replies that the shapes are passing through Unus’ forcefield. Physically touching the forcefield with his hand, the Professor tells him that it is all right. His protective shield is intact. As Xavier tries to get him to listen to Jean, Unus continues his ramblings. He tells them that there are so many millions of voices of the dead and running at the head of the procession is a girl with hair like the sea… as green as the sea. Taken aback at the statement, Xavier asks Unus if he means Polaris.
Standing with Storm, Xavier joins her in gazing out of a window, at the desolation outside. Speaking his mind, he tells her that he keeps thinking what they are doing there. What good can they bring out of this horror? Turning to her former teacher, Storm replies that she arrived only three days ago. She has seen nothing but charred bones and the ashes of children. So far, she can only bring grief and pity. But something survived, the Professor counters. Everyone seems to think so. Unus, he points out, saw something.
Eyeing the floating spectral blobs outside, Storm asks Xavier if he believes in ghosts. Replying with a simple no, the Professor then adds that sometimes, he wishes he could. Answering differently, Storm tells the Professor that she thinks she does believe. Ghosts, she says, come in many forms. Taken a little by surprise, Xavier responds by asking that the two of them don’t get to talk often enough, do they?
Sitting around the dome’s conference table, Xavier tells the group that they only know one green-haired woman. Lorna Dane, he continues, would be able to generate the kind of magnetic field anomalies they have been recording. Playing the part of the cynic, Thunderbird counters by pointing out that they don’t know what they are. With respect, he adds, the previous X-Corporation relief team reported strange visual manifestations; figures that were seen, voices heard. His point having been made, Thunderbird offers the Professor some green tea.
Countering Thunderbird’s argument, Xavier points out that Unus wasn’t alone. They know that now. Addressing the rest of the group, the Professor informs them that Jean and he have become aware of several living mutant minds here on the island. Stepping in, Jean says that the minds are there for reasons they don’t understand. Which is why, she continues, she is suggesting a search party before it gets too murky to see… Stopping in mid-sentence, Jean draws the group’s attention to several luminous forms outside and asks what it is.
Eyeing the light source, the Professor tells the group that if Polaris is causing the magnetic displays, then she needs their help. The radiation levels outside are toxic and she couldn’t survive for more than a few hours. Chiming in now, Quicksilver informs Xavier that the X-Men are not the only mutants to have come there. There are people, he says, who think that his father survived the Sentinel attacks. Replying that he knows, Xavier tells Quicksilver that he’s seen the T-shirts. When asked by the Professor what he thinks, Quicksilver replies that he thinks that his father’s greatest trick is to be more dangerous dead than he ever was alive.
As the X-Men’s all-terrain vehicle climbs over the city’s rubble, Quicksilver informs the team that the area they are in used to be Magda Square. The Mega-Sentinel attacks, he then asks, were concentrated there on the Parliament buildings, right? Citing that this is where Magneto died, Storm asks if Polaris would not come there? After the Professor states that he senses something, a strange, troubling presence, Jean replies that it’s not a human or mutant mind, whatever it is. Noticing Xavier’s preoccupation, Storm tells the Professor that he looks like he has something on his mind. Replying that he does, Xavier tells her that he keeps glancing in the rear-view mirror. He doesn’t know if he’s imagining it or not, but it appears that there’s a face appearing on the huge, standing Mega-Sentinel machine…
Inside the helmets of the three-faced Mega-Sentinel, three mutants, hard at work, pause to regard their new guests. Reluctantly admitting that it had to happen, the Toad remarks that they were minding their own business, trying to pay their respects in their own way, and who turns up, but the mutant police. What happened, asks a claw-handed mutant, Unus show up drunk somewhere and turn them all in for beer money?
Replying that they are not the police, Xavier informs the three that they are not there to fight any of them, especially not there. This place, he tells them, has seen enough fighting. Wouldn’t they say so? Retorting that he is correct, the Toad tells the Professor to clear off while he still has the legs to trot with. Rising in a provocative stance, the third mutant squawks loudly, calling the X-Men “species traitors” and “human collaborators.” Jumping into the X-Men’s collective faces, the Toad asks Xavier, what now?
Flanked by his X-Men, the Professor tells the Toad to stand easy. They are only searching for one of their people, a mutant: Lorna Dane, Polaris. Informing the Toad that they think she is in danger, Xavier asks him if he thinks whether Magneto would want him to help them protect her. Now clinging to the side of the wall like his namesake, the Toad asks Xavier if he knows what Magneto had really wanted. All Magneto ever wanted, the Toad tells Xavier, was for him to admit that human beings were murderous scum. He only ever wanted Xavier to admit he was right.
Turning the conversation back to Xavier’s subject, the Toad tells the X-Men that he and his two colleagues, Shocker and Toad-in-Waiting (as he calls the teenage tosser) have all seen things… heard voices. Magneto, he tells the group, won’t let Genosha and Polaris die… not like they think. Speaking up, Shocker agrees, telling the group that he was outside, picking up scrap for the Memorial, when he saw the junk moving in patterns and rows all around her. She was gathering the dead, he informs them.
Putting together their surroundings with Shocker’s words, Jean begins to look around and asks what is happening here? Having finished examining the entire area in the last half-second with his speed, Quicksilver asks the three squatters bluntly if they have been building some kind of insane monument to his father?
Outside the Mega-Sentinel, whose middle helmet has indeed begun to bear the resemblance of Magneto, the X-Men take stock of their situation. Remarking that Quicksilver seemed quite eager to help in the construction work, Sabra then notes that these are strange times. The super-hero and the super-terrorist now work together to make art.
Calling the attention of the rest of the group, Storm informs them that the ghosts are back. Trying to fathom the floating, luminous, amorphous shapes, Storm rhetorically asks what they are. Voices, Jean replies, like repeated thoughts, all broken up. Fractured radio echoes. It’s not just one person, she continues, it’s crowds. Pointing in the direction her senses are telling her, Jean leads the group back into the ATV. The last to enter the vehicle, Storm asks Jean if she can see where the air is bending? The ghosts are all around them, sweeping in the same direction!
Arriving at Jean’s destination, the group finds Polaris, still alive. As she floats in a trance, numerous amorphous ghosts and various metallic fragments revolve around her, like the winds of a tornado. Exclaiming to the others that it is Lorna down there, Jean informs the team that they are inside her, millions. As they exit the vehicle and approach, Jean begins to hear their thoughts more clearly. One voice exclaims that, there is a big light outside and they have to see… Another wonders, what that noise was? A third thinks that they heard President Magneto speaking. The noise is… A fourth exclaims that they think they are blind. Yet another cries for their momma. One more says that they are like Sentinels. Bigger than any Sentinels ever…
Standing next to Jean, Thunderbird tries in vain to move forward. Exclaiming to the others that Polaris is acting like a magnetic pole, he tells them that she is repelling them. Concentrating intently, flames dancing in her hair within her helmet, Jean tells Thunderbird that she will need his help in a second. Right now, she says, she needs to concentrate on moving the corrosive sludge away from Lorna. On cue, the metallic debris orbiting Lorna is washed away in waves of Jean’s telekinetic tide. Her eyes glowing from the energy output, Jean tells the others that Polaris’ entire nervous system is overloaded. She’s carrying millions of magnetic patterns, the recordings of the last moments of Genosha. Addressing the Professor, Jean asks him what is going on in her mind?
Calling out of Storm, Xavier orders her to swoop down into Jean’s telekinetic whirlpool and rescue Lorna. As she rises back into the sky after grabbing Polaris, Storm alerts that she is safe; naked, safe and more than mildly deranged. Moving to the next phase, Jean tells Thunderbird that as he is the only X-Man completely immune to radiation poisoning, she wants him to find what Polaris was trying to get at under the surface.
Kneeling over the spot Polaris was hovering over moments ago, Thunderbird ignites his hands with his plasma powers. Citing that this is where the magnetic activity is the strongest, where the source is, Thunderbird begins to melt the ground with his plasma. As the ground liquefies, boiling at his touch, Thunderbird comments that it feels as if his dental fillings are coming lose from his skull. Suddenly feeling something, something he cannot identify, Thunderbird lifts the object out of his pool of slag. Examining a dark, black, rectangular box, he asks aloud if anyone can tell him what an aircraft flight recorder would look like.
Nearby, as Storm deposits her near the others, Polaris begins to lash out at the Professor. Still hearing the thoughts broadcasting from Polaris, Xavier exclaims that her consciousness is bursting open. As her magnetic powers reach out, attracting more metallic debris, the Professor calls to Jean and Storm for help. As the three gather around Polaris, they form the epicenter of a funnel of swirling debris, orbiting them. Comparing their task to an exorcism, Jean exclaims that they have to purge these forces from Lorna. Finally putting all of the pieces of the puzzle together, Xavier realizes the truth; Magneto put himself into the recorder. He recorded everyone! Nearby, as he brings the black box to the group, Thunderbird informs them that even he can hear the voices, millions of them.
Crying out in a combination of pain, grief and madness, Polaris exclaims that she has to boost the signal. Calling out “daddy,” she extends her arm to the face of the Mega-Sentinel. As the last words of the Genoshan dead continue to broadcast about her, Quicksilver speeds across the Sentinel’s face, adjusting metal plates and reshaping it into the image of his late father Magneto. Repeating that she loves him, over and over again, Polaris reaches out for the statue. As the face continues to coalesce, a voice begins to boom over the wasteland of the ruined city.
This is the voice, it says. This is the voice of Magneto. From within the head cavity of the Mega-Sentinel, Toad, Shocker and Toad-in-Waiting look up, attentive to the words of their fallen leader. This is the voice of the Genoshan Nation. Her dementia subsided, Polaris listens in rapture. It is a strange thing, to die in the darkness. Aghast at the events before her, Sabra asks aloud what is happening. Still holding the black box, Thunderbird replies that in the last moments of his life, he recorded everything. These are the last words of Magneto as he lay dying in the ruins. Professor Xavier, displaying no emotion whatsoever, listens on. It’s a strange thing to die. I was Magneto, the master of magnetic forces. Now I will be a voice in the darkness, echoing forever.
The Mega-Sentinel, still being transformed, begins to take a final shape. Bearing little likeness to the monstrosity that murdered so many, the giant robot now appears in shape, form and attire of the former ruler of Genosha. Once, I was a mortal man. Now I am becoming a memory, immortal. They must have thought they could silence us forever. Instead we have become magnetic. Unstoppable. During these last sentences, the giant monument rises out of the debris, now about twice as high as before. In tears, Polaris looks up at the statue she has just helped to create and calls out. She calls out to her dad, remarking that he saved them all on tape.
Do you understand? the voice asks. Our voices will be broadcast around the world… into space. At the speed of light. At the speed of radio. Our voices traveling without end though the depth of time and space. Beyond this life. And far, far… beyond this death.
Phoenix IV, Storm, Thunderbird, Professor Charles Xavier (all X-Men)
Sabra (X-Corporation Europe)
The entire island of Genosha, along with it’s population, was destroyed by Cassandra Nova’s Mega-Sentinel in New X-Men #115-116.
Sabra refers to the X-Corporation, of which she is a member, as “X-Corp“. This is not to be confused with Banshee’s defunct paramilitary outfit X-Corps.
Unus the Untouchable’s real name is Angelo Unuscione, although at one point he did legally change it to Gunther Bain. Unus was previously believed dead after his supposedly asphyxiating when he lost control of his powers, causing his own forcefield to repel oxygen. The Blob, convinced of his close friend’s death, went on a rampage over his loss. [Peter Parker, Spectacular Spiderman #91]
“Grim as hell“ is actually three words.
Genosha’s Magda Square was named after Magneto’s late wife, who died decades ago.
Shocker’s real name is Randall Darby and is a former of the group known as Mutant Force, who later changed their name to Resistants, to express their protest against the Government’s Mutant Registration Act. Among that group, Shocker called himself Paralyzer to avoid recognition, though recently the team went back to calling themselves Mutant Force and again use their original codenames. [New Warriors (2nd series) #6]
Inexplicably, Polaris referred to Magneto in this issue as “daddy”. In her earliest appearance, a robot duplicate of Magneto did claim to be Lorna’s father, but that ruse was quickly discredited. [Uncanny X-Men #49-52] However, as she worked extremely closely with Magneto in the months prior to the Genoshan holocaust, it is conceivable that Lorna could grow to consider Magneto a surrogate father.
This Issue has been reprinted in:
New X-Men Vol. 3: New Worlds (Trade Paperback)
New X-Men Vol. 2 (HC) (Trade Paperback)
New X-Men Omnibus (HC) (Trade Paperback)
Issue Summary written by: Douglas Mangum