Issue Date: April 2011
Story Title: Age of X, chapter 1
Staff: Mike Carey (writer), Clay Mann (penciler) Jay Leisten (inker), Brian Reber (colorist), Virtual Calligraphy’s Cory Petit (letterer), Leinil Yu & Marte Gracia (cover artists), Clay Mann & Paolo Rivera (variant cover artists), Jake Thomas & Sebastian Girner (assistant editor), Daniel Ketchum (editor), Nick Lowe (X-Men group editor), Axel Alonso (editor-in-chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)
At Fortress X, several mutants engage the attacking human forces in combat, however the battle results in Tempo’s death. Legacy does what she can to help Tempo through the dying process. Cannonball and Basilisk have issues with the chain of command, before the Force Warriors - Legion, Hellion, Psylocke, Carmella Unuscione and Revenant - come to repair the force walls that surround Fortress X. After the battle, the mutants return to Fortress X, where Moira MacTaggert fusses over Legion, and Frenzy discusses his current powerless state with Wolverine, as he tends bar. Some of the other mutants discuss the possibility that they may have all met before, in a place where one person brought them all together. Legacy hangs around the edge of the force walls, when she notices an apparent soldier. Several others show up to take the soldier down, until Magneto arrives -the “soldier” is actually Katherine Pryde, a prisoner from within Fortress X attempting to escape. Magneto takes Pryde back to the brig, which is monitored by Danger, and several others - Emma Frost, Magik, the Stepford Cuckoos, Martha Johansson and Professor X are imprisoned also. However, Katherine Pryde had in her possession a camera, and she was taking photos outside the force walls, which Legacy finds very interesting.
‘This is day 1000’ Legacy thinks to herself. ‘Did you know that? Do you keep count? I mean, maybe that’s not much. Not much of an occasion. Nobody baked a cake, or lit a candle. But still…a thousand days. Three years, almost. Went by like nothing, didn’t they? Nothing at all. I mentioned it to Magnus, and he laughed. He said he didn’t see much point in counting…when every day turns out the same’.
At this moment, several mutants are engaged in battle. ‘Iceman, below you!’ the scantily clad Storm calls out. ‘Got him, your goddess-ness. Praise be unto -’ Iceman mocks, but Storm tells him to shut up as she soars nearby, while Iceman slides through the air on an ice-sled, and covers an attacking vessel in ice., while Eclipse engulfs another vessel. Berserker races along the ground, explosions behind him, he exclaims ‘They’re folding! Why are they folding?’ Cannonball blasts alongside Berserker, after destroying a vessel and replies ‘Lack of moral fiber’, before asking Berserker to take out the armor on his left.
The battle rages on, while Colossus engages in physical combat with a tank, and Magma blasts fire at another tank, while announcing that there is another division coming though. ‘We need some back up. Is there anyone -’ she calls out, ‘There’s me’ Basilisk declares as he releases a massively powerful wide optic-beam, destroying the incoming tanks and other vessels. Storm flies even higher, and unleashes powerful lightning, which crackles down and destroys many enemy vessel. Dazzler attacks a human solider face on with a blast of light energy. Angel and the Sub-Mariner swoop down to attack, while Chamber releases a blast of energy at a tank. Cannonball blasts through more of the enemy vessel, while Colossus tips a tank over, Jubilee releases her “fireworks” at the enemy, and Moonstar and Loa join the battle also. Fortress X looms in the background.
Basilisk examines one of the soldiers and informs Cannonball that they were green recruits riding old tech, so it is no wonder this was so easy. Cannonball calls out to “X”, asking to be wormed to the General, as this was a ruse. ‘The push is gonna be some place else’ he declares. ‘Affirmative. Comms worm in place’ “X” replies.
In a room inside Fortress X, the General - Magneto - stands on a platform and observes some monitors, while the cloaked Legacy asks ‘A feint? There were 400 of them!’ Magneto explains that they were just patched up suits, salvaged from previous battles. Magneto points out that it looks as if the enemy wanted them to concentrate their strength. Examining one of the monitors, Magneto exclaims that shield 7, on the western flank, there is something big coming through. Magneto calls out to X and asks what they make of it. Over a communicator system X replies that from an initial assessment, it is forty feet high, one hundred and twenty feet in length, while troop concentration in that area is thin.
Legacy asks Magnus to let her go in, as she can hold them off until Cannonball gets a squad mobilized. Magneto turns to Legacy and tells her to be on hand by all means, but not to deploy, as this is Cannonball’s call. ‘Of course it is. And he only calls me when someone needs the last rites’ Legacy remarks. Magneto contacts Cannonball informing him that it appears to be some sort of battle wagon - very big and armed to the teeth. Cannonball blasts his way towards it while asking who is closest. Magneto replies that Tempo’s squad is three hundred yards, bearing due east. Cannonball replies that he could not have chosen better, and asks Magneto to let them know they are on first.
Down below, the large tank moves towards its prey. ‘Yeehaaaa!’ a soldier shouts. ‘Fortress X, here we come!’ he adds, while another one declares ‘Eat it, you mutie filth! Eat it by the bucketful!’ However standing on a ledge nearby is Tempo and her squad - Gambit, Frenzy and Nightmare. ‘That thing is big!’ Gambit exclaims. Nightmare remarks that big is good, and tells her companions that her grandmother said you cannot beat butter with a toothpick. ‘If that’s dirty, Megs, you can explain it to me later’ Frenzy replies, while Tempo calls out ‘Okay, you motherless sons, bullet ballet. On my mark. Go! And come back with someone else’s blood on you!’ The mutants leap into action, while Tempo begins to slow time down, Frenzy remarks that she will never get used to being a plasma bolt stroll. ‘Yeah, time control is sick, isn’t it? Imagine what you could do with it in bed!’ Nightmare exclaims.
In one of the tanks, a soldier announces that mutants are deploying at 135 degrees. ‘Port guns, they’re yours. Main missiles, lock onto the fortress!’ another soldier calls out, before telling his colleagues not to trust visual, but to obtain full computer lock then fire at will. ‘Freakin little monster! I’ma hang your head on my bedroom wall!’ one soldier tells Nightmare as she flies alongside the tank. ‘Anything you say, preak. Nice gas mask, by the way’ Nightmare replies, before explaining that skin contact is all she needs. After touching the soldier, she flies on by, while the soldier is confronted by a nightmare - a snake lunging towards him. ‘Oh, #%$@$ no! No!’ he exclaims.
Frenzy, Gambit and Tempo move towards the tank, and Gambit releases a kinetic blast, telling his colleagues that he can take out the gunners, but the tank keeps on coming. Tempo announces that she will slow time for the near-side treads, and the stress should take out the axle, before telling Frenzy to give the enemy something to chew on in the meantime. ‘Pleasure’ Frenzy replies as she begins to pull the massive tank over. Tempo begins to use her power on the tank - but suddenly, a large piece of the tank comes flying backwards - and smacks Tempo in the face. ‘Heather!’ Frenzy calls out to her comrade.
Inside the tank, one of the soldiers announces that there is no forward movement, but that he has full target lock on the fortress. ‘Then that monstrosity is going down’ the commanding soldier declares. The other soldier presses the launch button, but another officer announces that the weapons have not deployed, and calls out to the munitions unit, asking what is going on down there. ‘Repeat, what have you got?’ But there is no response. Instead, Warlock, formerly Cypher, rises through the floor of the tank in a techno-organic surge. ‘They’ve got… a problem!’ Warlock declares. ‘No! No!’ one of the soldiers shouts. ‘So…do…you!’ Warlock adds as he extends a techno-organic arm at the soldier, shoving it through his head.
Outside the tank, Storm, the Sub-Mariner, Colossus, Iceman and Basilisk arrive, along with Cannonball and several others. Cannonball calls out to X, asking if the tank is dead. X’s reply announces that Warlock reports no mechanical or electronic functions. Cannonball tells the other mutants to stand down, that they are good. Basilisk goes over and taps the tank, suggesting they strip it down and see what is salvageable. ‘We can use it to go to church on Sundays’ he adds. Cannonball calls Basilisk over, informing him that they have to have words. ‘What now?’ Basilisk asks, annoyed. Cannonball points out that Basilisk opened his faceplate when Magma was in his line of sight. ‘You were this close to smashing her into pulp’ Cannonball declares. Basilisk tells Cannonball to next time send him in first and there will just by the bogeys in front of him.
Cannonball removes his goggles and tells Basilisk that he knows what they did to him on Alcaztraz, how they used him to execute other mutants, and suggests that perhaps he is too broken to fight in a line unit. ‘If that’s so, I’ll use you some place else. Say the word’ Basilisk stands close to Cannonball and exclaims ‘Broken? You want to see broken, Hayseed?’, but Iceman approaches Basilisk and tells him to cool down. Cannonball tells Basilisk that he wants to see some sign that he can obey orders. ‘Look me in the eye and say it’ Cannonball declares. ‘Look you in the eye? Sure. Why not?’ Basilisk replies, optic red flashing from behind his faceplate.
Suddenly, ‘Enough!’ Frenzy screams, before announcing that Tempo took a bad hit, and her ribs are staved in. ‘Damn, I didn’t know’ Cannonball replies as he approaches Frenzy who is crouched over Tempo’s unmoving body. Cannonball calls out to Northstar, asking him to get Dr Rao double time. Cannonball leans down over Tempo and tells her that he is sorry, before asking her how she is doing. ‘Hurts to…can’t -’ Tempo begins, while Warlock emerges through the side of the tank and announces that Tempo’s glow fades quickly, and that she will join the not-living. ‘Never mind Rao, X. We need the Reaper down here! And we need her now!’ Cannonball reports back to base.
An instant later, ‘Did he call me Legacy, or -?’ Legacy asks as she appears. But X reports ‘Negative. Cannonball seldom uses that designation, despite your expressed desire. He called you Reaper’. Legacy declares that she hates that name so much, before pulling her cloak over her head and announcing that she has this, before asking if Tempo wants anyone to b here with her. Moonstar stands nearby, while Cannonball is still crouched at Tempo’s side and explains that she cannot talk, but he is staying, to which Legacy suggests everyone else go count their war wounds or something.
Legacy takes Tempo’s hands, while Cannonball removes her helmet. Legacy tells Heather that she is right here, to which Tempo quietly utters ‘Tell - tell - Maria -’, but Legacy explains that Feral is dead. ‘But Ah got you. You feel that? You feel where we touch?’ Legacy asks, explaining that as Tempo lets it go, it is all going to flow into her. ‘You won’t ever be forgotten, and not one moment of your life is gonna be lost ‘cause it lives in me’ Legacy explains. ‘You live in me’ she tells Tempo. Cannonball turns to Frenzy and remarks that he knows Tempo was one of hers from the Mutant Liberation Front days, so if she wants compassionate - but Frenzy interrupts Cannonball, informing him that she will work it out on the battle field. ‘You even think about taking me out of the line, I’ll break your damn fingers’ Frenzy warns him.
The others have still gathered around, when suddenly, ‘Look! It’s the Force Warriors!’ They’re coming to weave the force walls!’ Anole exclaims, urging the Force Warriors to build the walls high. Energy swirls around the five powerful “Force Warriors” - Psylocke, Hellion, Carmella Unuscione, Legion and Revenant. The others watch on, Bling remarks to Nightmare that Hellion is amazing. ‘Too hot to handle!’ she declares. ‘You think?’ Nightmare replies, boasting that she would teach Legion a thing or two about irresistible force. Loa tells her comrades to show a little respect, as Tempo has just did, before pointing out that Nightmare would have to get past Legion’s step-mom. ‘You know what she’s like’ Loa adds.
The Force Warriors combine their powers, while Legacy watches them work their magic. Legacy thinks to herself that it may be day 1000, but they would not have got past day one without these five, as every night, they remake the force walls that surround Fortress X, layer on layer, and all so the precursors - the baseline humans who hate mutant kind so much - have to waste precious hours breaking through again. X announces that they have gone to amber status, and recalls all fighters to the fortress. Legacy pulls her cloak down off her head and replies that she heard the sirens, but will wait until the rush dies down. As she watches the others return to Fortress X, Legacy thinks to herself that the truth is, she cannot cope with being in a crowd right now - at least her thoughts are only her own, as anyone who could look into her mind would sour like bad milk.
Soon, back at Fortress X, ‘David!’ Moira MacTaggert calls out as she rushes over to Legion. ‘Hi, Mom. You came to see the walls go up?’ Legion asks. ‘Always, m’love. Everyday’ Moira assures Legion, adding that she worries about him. ‘Yeah, I get that. But -’ Legion begins, but Moira puts her hands to his face and tells him that he pours his soul into those barriers, day after day and with no rest. Legion replies that it is an honour to be one of the Force Warriors. ‘You know it is’ he tells Moira, adding that she should be grateful Magneto will not risk the Force Warriors in the thick of the fighting. ‘Not until things get a whole lot more desperate’ he points out.
Nearby, within Fortress X, Carmella approaches the “Rat Run”, the mutants’ bar. ‘Okay, keep setting them up until I say stop’ Frenzy tells the barkeeper - Logan, once known as Wolverine. Carmella approaches the bar, while Frenzy declares that they lost a good woman today. Logan tells her that he heard. ‘But she died fighting, not hiding in a damn hole. So it’s all good, right?’ Frenzy exclaims. Logan wipes the bar and tells Frenzy to stop riding him. ‘You know why I’m not out on that field’ he tells her. Frenzy remarks that she heard stories, like a bomb was strapped to Wolverine’s heart and they pumped him full of the x-gene cure. ‘Is that it?’ she asks. ‘It’s close enough’ Wolverine replies.
Frenzy takes hold of Wolverine’s hands, wrapped in bandages, and tells him to go ahead and pop his claws. ‘I’ll die if I do’ Wolverine reminds her. ‘Better than what you’ve got now. Think about it’ Frenzy exclaims. But Wolverine frowns and tells her that nobody except he knows what he has, or what he wants. He hands her the bottle of alcohol he was pouring and tells her to keep it and to drink to hold times. ‘Maybe if you get drunk enough, you’ll start forgetting them’ he suggests.
Carmella sits down on a bar stool, a few down from Frenzy and Wolverine goes over to her, while Basilisk approaches Frenzy and tells her that he thought he would find her at home. ‘Really?’ Frenzy asks, slouched over against the bar. ‘No. Not really’ Basilisk tells her, to which Frenzy exclaims ‘Good’ and reminds Basilisk that she told him he wouldn’t work like that. They hold hands and Frenzy looks up at Basilisk, telling him that she is going to need him to take off that helmet and look her over tonight, wash the garbage right off her. ‘What I’m here for, babe. You know that’ Basilisk replies.
Several mutants sit around a couple of tables in the “Rat Run”. Psylocke and Iceman re playing a game of cards with the Sub-Mariner and Magma, and Psylocke asks the Sub-Mariner how it feels living with a goddess. The Sub-Mariner explains that Ororo does not see her self in those terms any more, that she is content to be a queen. ‘What about you, Lady Braddock? Don’t you miss the hunt balls and the best bone china?’ the Sub-Mariner asks. The glamorous Psylocke leans into Iceman and remarks that she has always loved slumming it. ‘Isn’t that right, Robert?’ she asks. ‘She likes it when I go Dick Van Dyke’ Iceman begins as he starts to quote a line from the Mary Poppins film, until Psylocke interrupts him: ‘Don’t make me hurt you, dear’ she tells her boyfriend.
At another table, Karma, Gambit, Berserker and Colossus are also playing a game of cards. ‘That’s not what I’m saying. I mean, if we’d met before. A long time before’ Karma begins. ‘How would we have met?’ Berserker asks. ‘Let’s say someone brought us together. All of us, in one place’ Karma suggests. Gambit looks at his cards and tells Karma that he does not think things would have been any different, that the Phoenix would still have eaten Albany, and the Sapien League would still have stolen the election. ‘And we’d be paddling up the self-same creek’ he adds.
Outside, Legacy walks along the perimeter, while X reminds her that this space is under solo interdict, that she should not be here alone. ‘When the barriers have just been remade? If it’s not safe now, X. I think we’re all in trouble!’ Legacy replies, while looking up at a poster advertising for mutants to be reported to a tagging team. ‘Can you see me, from wherever it is you hide yourself away?’ Legacy asks. X replies that visual monitoring is imperfect, with life signs monitoring to 97%. X announces that Rogue’s heart rate and respiration hare elevated and that she appears to be experiencing some distress. Leaning against a wall, Legacy replies that she is fine, but some bad memories from Tempo have taken her by surprise. Images of mutants - including Banshee and Mystique - being paraded down a street while angry humans watch on flash through Legacy’s mind.
Tears stream from Legacy’s eyes and she replies that she is always like this after she takes on someone new. ‘Legacy -’ X begins, but Legacy explains that it was the same with Madrox and with Kurt - so much pain and loss. ‘Ah can’t always -’ she begins, before X informs her that alert status has gone to red, as there has been a barrier breach. ‘All stations, I record a barrier breach a locus 19, west 15’ X announces. But Legacy looks around and tells X that she doesn’t see anything. X asks Legacy to withdraw. ‘But ah don’t -’ Legacy begins, X orders an emergency strike team to be scrambled at 20:06:07, and asks Legacy to withdraw.
Suddenly, Legacy announces that she sees the intruder. X reports that the threat level is unquantifiable, and asks Legacy to withdraw. Legacy approached the suited intruder and informs X that he doesn’t look that dangerous, as it is one guy on his own. The intruder, wearing a form of quarantine suit, holds a camera, and suddenly places their hand, holding the camera, through the force wall. Legacy goes wide-eyed, when suddenly, ‘Well here’s a thing. One little sheep who lost his way!’ a voice calls out as dazzling light engulfs the area, and Angel, Dazzler, Gambit, Northstar and Vertigo arrive on scene. ‘He’s got some kind of shield!’ Gambit points out, before asking Vertigo if she wants to oblige. ‘Onto it’ the green-haired mutant replies as she unleashes her power on the intruder. ‘Which way is up, sweetheart? Well, here’s a clue…’ Vertigo’s voice trails off, as Northstar speeds up to the intruder, ‘The ground is that way!’ he exclaims as he smacks the intruder to the ground.
Northstar stands over the intruder and removes their helmet, while one of the others asks Northstar what he is doing. Northstar replies that he is looking for numbers, names or insignia, revealing that Corporal Sejanus 723 killed his sister, and when he finds him, he will die slowly. ‘Don’t - don’t - the whole world - nowhere! Don’t let them! Don’t let them!’ the intruder calls out. ‘She’s just a kid’ Angel announces as they stare down at her. Gambit points out that he hit her, but it went right through her. ‘Like she was -’ he begins. ‘Like she was one of us’ Legacy points out.
Suddenly, Magneto descends upon the group and announces that she is one of them - her name is Katherine Pryde and is one of the inmates from the brig - the mutants who are considered too dangerous and unstable to mix with everyone else. Magneto explains that her power is to move through solid matter, and places a scrambler harness on her, which should keep her locked out of her luminal “phased” state. Magneto congratulates the heroes, telling them that this could have been a lot worse than it was. But Magneto tells Legacy that she should not be out here by herself, that after an absorption she needs to be with people who care about her. Legacy assures Magneto that she was just about to come back inside.
Legacy informs the others that Katherine was on the far side of the barrier, and asks what she could have been doing out there. Magneto picks Katherine up off the ground and assures Legacy that will be the first question he asks when she regains consciousness, but until then, they should say nothing to anyone. Magneto takes to the air, pointing out that morale is a fragile thing, and sometimes, a single word will break it. Gambit looks at Legacy and asks her if she wants him to walk her home, as this is a dangerous neighborhood. ‘So everyone keeps telling me. Ah’ll be right behind you’ Legacy replies.
The others all leave, as Legacy tells herself that she does not want any eyes on her for this, and wonders why she never said anything about what she saw. Legacy recalls how Katherine was so young and so frightened. ‘Maybe Ah just want to know why a mutant would go outside the force walls’ Legacy tells herself as she reaches down to the rubble and pulls from it the camera. It makes a tiny sound as Legacy hit’s the power button - like the sound of a mosquito. Legacy looks at the images - and it is like she is bitten. Infected.
Deep within Fortress X, Magneto enters the brig, still holding Katherine Pryde. The robotic Danger informs Magneto that his jurisdiction ends here, so she will take custody of Katherine Pryde. But Magneto informs Danger that he would prefer to deliver her by hand. He assures Danger that it is no reflection on her, but he just wants to be sure Katherine does not get free again. Danger states that she will transfer Katherine to the high security corridor, and points out that ordinarily this would be off-limits even to Magneto. Magneto walks past Danger and tells her that he is aware of her operation protocols, as he drafted most of them.
Danger points out that it appears Katherine requires medical attention, to which Magneto asks if Danger has facilities for that here. Danger boasts that her knowledge of mutant physiology is complete, so she will attend to Katherine herself. Magneto places Katherine down on a bed and informs Danger that she went outside the barrier, and that until they know what she was doing, he thinks it best if Katherine sees no one. ‘You want to keep her isolated?’ Danger asks. ‘Completely’ Magneto replies, adding that nobody but he is to see her or speak with her. ‘Nobody but you, General. I understand’ Danger assures him.
Outside, Rogue holds the camera as she thinks to herself ‘Day 1000. 1000 days after the Humanist Coalition declared the x-gene illegal, and the whole world fell into line. 1000 days after mutants threw up their barricades and spat in the face of the law. The day it all started to fall apart.
And in the brig, Magneto walks past several imprisoned mutants - Emma Frost, Magik, the Stepford Cuckoos, Martha Johansson, and Charles Xavier!
Angel, Anole, Basilisk, Berserker, Bling, Cannonball, Chamber, Colossus, Danger, Dazzler, Eclipse, Frenzy, Emma Frost, Gambit, Hellion, Iceman, Martha Johansson, Jubilee, Legacy, Legion, Loa, Magik, Magma, Magneto, Moonstar, Nightmare, Northstar, Katherine Pryde, Psylocke, Revenant, Stepford Cuckoos, Storm, Sub-Mariner, Tempo, Carmella Unuscione, Vertigo, Warlock, Wolverine, Professor X
In Flashback Image:
Banshee, Mystique and other mutants
In the Age of X, several characters have new codenames:
Cyclops = Basilisk
Pixie = Nightmare
Rogue = Legacy / Reaper
Sunspot = Eclipse
Warpath = Berserker
Cypher = Warlock
Also, someone with Phoenix imagery and maybe the Phoenix Force goes by the codename Revenant.
This issue is narrated by Legacy / Reaper.
Basilisk was seen as the executioner on Alcatraz, a mutant prison, in Age of X: Alpha.
In the 616 reality Frenzy was never a member of the Mutant Liberation Front.
Wolverine was rendered powerless after being injected with the mutant “cure” in Age of X: Alpha.
The Age of X continues in New Mutants (3rd series) #22.
This Issue has been reprinted in:
X-Men: Age of X (Trade Paperback)
Issue Summary written by: Daytripper (Steven Bishop)