|Free Comic Book Day 2008 - X-Men # 1|| || |
Issue Date: May 2008
Story Title: Untitled
Staff: Mike Carey (writer), Greg Land (pencils), Jay Leisten (inks), Justin Ponsor (colors), VC’s Joe Caramagna (letters), Will Panzo (assistant editor), Nick Lowe (editor). Axel Alonso (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)
With the Xavier Institute closed down for the foreseeable future, Megan Gwynn has returned to her hometown in Wales. She notices that several people, more than there should be, appear to be missing. Her concerns go unheeded by her grandparents, so she tries the local constable. He makes light of her worries, so she heads to a park to chill. There, she notices two N’Garai demons, which are looking to snatch a couple of children who are playing. Acting in her identity of Pixie, Megan intervenes and the demons confront her. She stands her ground, confusing one with her pixie dust and leads the other to a library where she kills it with her souldagger. She leaves the library and sees the town overrun with the demons. As she watches them searching for her, she lets her guard down and they grab her. When they attack, however, the X-Men step in and defeat those surrounding Pixie. She explains what’s happened and that they mentioned feeding ‘him.’ They head to the coal seam and use a lift to descend into the darkness. There, they discover Kierrok, who requires sustenance in order to be reborn. The X-Men battle the demons inside the cavern whilst Pixie uses her wits to make Kierrok destroy the place. When it collapses, she teleports the team back to the surface. Once there, Cyclops gives her back her place at the school and she heads to America to rejoice.
Megan Gwynn is at school. She is on the phone, and her teacher appears exasperated that she is absent from the roll call, like so many others. Megan, otherwise known as Pixie, is calling the Xavier Institute, but only gets a recorded message. She asks if anyone’s there, but as no one picks up, all she can do is leave a message. She informs them that she got home to Wales all right. However, there’s something weird going on and it’s quite scary. She’d really like to speak to someone.
Her teacher, Mrs. Beddows, comes into the hallway and says her name. She tells Megan that going to the bathroom does not require a stop at the pay phones. It’s her turn to read out her essay and she’s keeping them all waiting. Megan hangs up and apologizes, but there were four names before her. Mrs. Beddows replies that they have a lot of absent children from school today. It must be the flu…
Megan stands at the front of her class and reads aloud. She explains that last year she won a scholarship to the Xavier Academy in America. It was an amazing experience and they wouldn’t believe half of it if she told them. The teachers were all so helpful and inspiring, even if some of them, especially the headmistress, were quite scary. The other students were really friendly and made her feel like she belonged. They didn’t even laugh at her accent. She admits that she had some setbacks at first, but Mister Summers made them work together as a team and they just got better… and better.
In the end, it felt more like a family. Then, unfortunately, there was an accident at the school and it got damaged. It’s kind of a long story, but they had to close it. So, now she’s back in Abergylid. She’ll never forget the people she met or the things she did. It was tough going at times, but it was the best year of her life. Mrs. Beddows thanks her, and asks the next pupil to stand up. Joey Prothero doesn’t respond, being absent, so she tells Rhiannon it’s her turn next.
Outside the school, Megan's friend reckons Joey and Dai probably ran away. Joey talked about it often enough. She wonders why Megan came back. Anywhere’s better than the dump they’re in. Megan heads home and discusses the missing people with her grandparents, but they don’t think there’s anything sinister going on. It’s just how some people are. Her grandmother says that Mrs. Leith next door said that her husband has upped and left, too. Bed empty and not a word. It’s a wicked world.
Megan heads out and meets Constable Rhys. She explains that people appear to be missing, but he reckons he’d know if there was a problem. Megan explains that, at her last count, more than twenty people were unaccounted for. She asks him to look at her list. Rhys takes it, but tells her that he’d think a young girl would have other things to keep her busy. He adds that her father died in the two-mile seam. It’s no wonder she thinks dark thoughts from time to time. He gets on his bike and tells her that he’ll investigate this. He is a man of deeds, not a man of words; just like that James Bond or Sherlock Holmes.
Megan heads to a park. Nothing much gets past her. She sees two small children playing on the swings and slides, and also two strange-looking demonic figures perched on the equipment. She must act fast. She knows that the gossips will have a field day. It’ll be like ‘Ooh, Barry Gwynn’s girls’ got wings now. Has she? There’s posh!’ It’s not like she has a choice. She throws off her jacket and her wings extend.
The two demonic creatures are N’Garai. They figure the small ones are scrawny but easy to carry. His time nears and he is hungry. As they approach the swings, Pixie whizzes past, causing the demons to screech in anger. She picks up the two children and promises not to let the demons near them. The boy wonders who she is talking about and asks to be put down. She stops and orders them to run to their mother. The girl says that she’ll tell on Pixie, and the boy screams that there’s a scary girl with wings.
The demons approach Pixie and ask who comes between them and their prey. “Let it speak its name as it dies.” Megan is understandably nervous, and speaks only to hide the sound of her knees knocking together. “I’m Pixie,” she states, “Of the X-Men, and I’m not afraid of you.” She leaps at one of them, sprinkling her pink pixie dust in its face. The demon screeches as it begins to hallucinate small rabbits that sing. “Why do they sing?” it asks.
Its fellow demon slashes Pixie, pleased that she has shown that she has some power. It thinks the food there is a little bland. “He say ‘Bring me something better’ he say. Now I bring.” Pixie opens her wings and takes flight down a nearby shopping street. She realizes that her pixie dust barely slowed them down. Why aren’t the people running? How come they’re just standing there? Can’t they see…?
She heads to the Abergylid Museum and Visitor Centre. B’Terak is in hot pursuit. It tells her that she has darkness welded to her soul. It can smell her. Is that why their spell does not hold her? it wonders. No matter, it adds, as it scampers into the museum; there is no one to hear her when she screams. There is no one there to help. Megan slams the door behind it, trapping them both inside the museum. She smiles and informs B’Terak, that that was kind of the point. Duh! “Nobody here but us monsters.”
She pulls out her souldagger and attacks. The knife is kind of a piece of her soul. Magik made it for her, so she could help her friends against a demon much bigger and scarier than this one. It’s not like holding a weapon. It’s more like turning into a weapon. The knife knows what to do. It doesn’t hesitate or think twice. It slices and dices the demon, chopping its tail off and sending splatters of blood across the floor. Megan is pulled along like the string behind a kite until it’s done. The demon falls. Megan knows that this isn’t really the case. As she kneels beside her fallen foe, she knows that the problem is bigger than this one demon: bigger than her, and she’s going to have to solve it anyway.
She heads to a hill called Moel Famau in order to sit and watch the demons. The sun is going down and there are more of them now. It’s like they wake up after dark, the same way owls do. She bets they feel really comfortable in a place like Abergylid. N’Garai demons wander the town searching for her. They’ve found the body and are out for blood. If they thought about it, they should be a little more careful. They already know that she can see them. At least if they’re looking for her, they’re not stealing people off the streets. As she watches them, she figures they must be letting their guard down as they’re not afraid of her. Unfortunately, she does exactly the same thing.
A strange liquid web-like substance wraps itself around Megan, holding her wings and arms tight against her body. Three demons surround her. “Darkness calls to darkness, human whelp,” says one. “You easy to find. You will feed his rebirth. Nothing stop it now.” Pixie warns them to stay back as she fingers the souldagger in her right hand. One of the demons slaps her, knocking her over. She drops the knife and the demon asks, rhetorically, if she threatens them with a soul knife. “N’Garai souls should be broadswords, battering rams, siege engines spewing burning hellfire.”
A voice from above attracts their attention. It’s Cyclops, and he admits that it’s all true. And still, that’s nothing compared to N’Garai breath. Standing beside him is Emma Frost, with Colossus, Beast, Nightcrawler and Wolverine also looking ready for action. Cyclops adds, “I could say we can do this the easy way or the hard way, but that would be a lie.”
The X-Men wade into the demons. Beast topples one from the cliff face, whilst Wolverine uses his adamantium claws to good effect. Colossus turns his enormous strength on them, whilst Nightcrawler ‘ports from one demon to the next, using surprise to take each one down. Emma Frost is cornered by two demons who warn her that her mind-powers are useless against them. “Oh dear,” she replies, “So they are. Thank heaven for secondary mutations.” Emma turns into her diamond form and socks one of the demons in its overly large jaw. Cyclops blasts another.
The X-Men make quick work of the demons and then Scott asks Pixie for a sit-rep. She explains that the demons are in the mine, and they talked about a birth; about something being born and how it’s too late to stop it. It needs to eat a lot, which she thinks means people. That’s gross. Wolverine states that the N’Garai need a physical gate to enter our plane. The only way to stop them is to find it. Hank reckons there could be miles of tunnels underneath them. If the mine’s disused, they’ll be far from safe. Megan says, reluctantly, that she thinks she can find them. There’s a sliver of darkness that Magik put inside her soul. It’s like a compass needle for other dark stuff. Scott agrees to let her lead, but once inside she wants her to fall back and let them handle the fighting. She’s done enough already.
Pixie flies down to the mine entrance. ‘The mine,’ she thinks. ‘Why did it have to be the mine?’ Two miles of earth, and the only way down is the lift, which means Hank has to get the generator running again. He takes a look and notes that nothing is broken or burned out. It’ll only take a moment. Emma then speaks to Megan telepathically. She tells her that she can feel how afraid she is of this place, and why. Does she want her to remove that fear? Megan says no thanks. There’s too much else… attached to it. Hank fixes the lift. “Okay,” he tells them. “Going down.” As the doors clank, Megan remembers her father and his colleagues doing the exact same thing.
Once they are deep enough, Pixie senses that they are deep enough. She tells them to stop there. She notices a light coming from the tunnel in front of them and reckons that with any luck, she’ll have found the nest. If they have to, they can spread out. As they come to the end of the tunnel, it opens out into a large open area which glows deep red. Inside, they see a pool of liquid with a massive demon sat inside it. “Feed me you worthless maggots!” it snarls at its underlings. “I hunger still.” Pixies eyes open wide and she asks what it is. “Kierrok the damned,” replies Cyclops. “Lord of the N’Garai host.” Hank says that he thought it was deceased.
Down below, a demon explains that they were opposed. Kierrok is surprised. They were invisible. He orders it to bring it food to fill the void inside so that it may be born anew. Wolverine points out something to Cyclops, behind the demon. Scott sees it. It must be the cairn; the gate that the N’Garai used to get there. They have to close it. Without hesitation, Wolverine leaps into action, drawing their fire. Cyclops begins blasting as he orders his X-Men to choose their targets and fire at will.
As Colossus sweeps aside one hapless demon, he asks Wolverine what it was like in the N’Garai dimension. Logan replies that he should think of Jersey City. He tells Cyclops that anytime he wants to cut loose with those eye-beams of his is good with him. Scott quips that it’s on his to-do list.
Megan’s mother is standing at the seam entrance, crying. Rescuers and workers stand around, helplessly. “Two miles of earth,” she cries. “Two miles of earth they’ve got for a ruddy headstone!” She says her little girl is fatherless because they wouldn’t lay the boards and pillars close enough.
As Wolverine eviscerates another demon, Pixie has an idea. She flies over Kierrok, drawing the demon’s attention. She verbally taunts it, so that it tries to catch her in its huge fingers. It only succeeds in smashing the supports on the chamber’s edge. She moves around with grace, and the demon misses each time it tries to grab her, smashing its way into the rock and wood. As the roof begins to collapse on Kierrok, Pixie glides effortlessly to safety. “Thanks Mister ‘the Damned,’” she smiles. “And next time you get reborn, start with a brain.” She figures she’d better get them outta there. “Sihal novarum chinoth!!!”
In a flash, she and the X-Men find themselves above ground. Kurt is surprised that she teleported all of them. Megan replies that she had to. The walls were caving in. “Unglaublich!” he groans. “Now I feel a little old…” Cyclops congratulates Pixie. He reckons they can assume that the cairn is closed. Anyone who wants to open it again has their work cut out for them. The question now, is, does that excellent performance offset her unauthorized absence? Megan puts her hand behind her back innocently, and asks what he means. Scott explains that the semester started two days ago. Since she’s still on roll, she’s officially skipping.
Pixie’s heart swells up like a balloon and a broad smile spreads across her cheeks. She feels like crying and throwing up. She is so happy. Wolverine jokes by asking if he thinks the new school will have a brig. Piotr says da, and a whipping school he believes.
(later, San Francisco)
Pixie soars through the sky, still sporting a big smile. She isn’t going to throw up. ‘I’m an X-Man. I’m an X-Man, I’m an X-Man!!! So I’m gonna fly!’
Beast, Colossus, Cyclops, Emma Frost, Nightcrawler, Wolverine (all X-Men)
N’Garai demons including B’Terak and M’Drul
Megan’s fellow pupils
Innocent bystanders and townsfolk
Beast, Cyclops, Emma Frost (all X-Men)
Megan’s mother, father and fellow miners and rescuers
Abergylid is not a real place.
James Bond is a fictional spy created by Ian Fleming. He has appeared in over twenty movies at the time of this issue’s publication, including Live and Let Die, From Russia with Love and Goldfinger. Sherlock Holmes is a fictional detective created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. He published many books, The Hound of the Baskervilles being among his best known.
Wales has a strong tradition of mining, both coal and slate, though very few now remain operational.
Moel Famau is a hill and a country park in Denbighshire, Wales.
The N’Garai were first seen in X-Men (1st series) #96 when Cyclops accidentally damaged their cairn on the school’s grounds. Wolverine went to their dimension in Wolverine Annual 1995.
This Issue has been reprinted in:
Uncanny X-Men: Manifest Destiny (Trade Paperback)
Issue Summary written by: Fantomex