Dark Web: X-Men #1

Issue Date: 
February 2023
Story Title: 
Tree’s Will Be Trimming

Gerry Duggan (writer), Rod Reis (artist), VC’s Cory Petit (letterer and production), Tom Muller with Jay Bowen (design), Phil Noto (cover artist), Ryan Stegman, JP Meyer and Matthew Wilson (alternate cover), Laure Amaro (associate editor), Jordan D. White (editor), C.B. Cebulski (editor-in-chief),
Spider-Man created by Stan Lee & Steve Ditko

Brief Description: 

With the Goblin Queen’s spell cast, inanimate objects come alive again in Manhattan and terrorize the citizens. The X-Men in the city decide to speak to Madelyne. Magik teleports herself Jean, Cyclops and Havok to Limbo, where unfortunately they are expected and fall under Madelyne’s sleep spell. While she plans to do something with Jean and Illyana, Cyclops and Havok are simply imprisoned and Madelyne has an argument with them. Back in Manhattan, Firestar and Iceman team up with Spider-Man to stop the demons at Rockefeller Center, in particular the famous Christmas tree which has come alive. When they destroy it, the citizens are anything but grateful. Elsewhere, Forge and Synch note that the X-Men’s Treehouse is the one place not under attack and plan accordingly.

Full Summary: 

The holidays are magic, and that’s bad news this year.”
- J. Jonah Jameson

Magik tells her fellow X-Men Cyclops and Jean Grey the story of her childhood, how she was kidnapped by the dark magician Belasco as a child and taken to Limbo. Eventually, her mutant power kicked in and she learned magic. She ended up fighting Belasco and his goons and won – like she always does… and then… when you break it, you buy it. So, she ruled Limbo and it was cool for a while, but even ruling demons gets old, so she let Maddie Pryor take over Limbo. She made her promise never to attack Krakoa.

What is she trying to tell them? Cyclops asks. That evil magical organ sound they heard…

Illyana looks at her phone and groans. Whenever Limbo changes hands, it throws hands. Jean announces, she senses disturbances from all over the city. She guesses that means they are not making it to FAO Schwarz tonight? Magik ventures. She assures Scott that she really got to know Maddie. She has changed… there is no way this will be as bad as last time. Cyclops is not so sure about that and probably has a case of bad déjà vu, as they see objects like cars come to life and terrorize people.

Jean telepathically calls the other X-Men. Magik points out the bright side: The Treehouse isn’t under attack, since the Goblin Queen is magically bound from attacking Krakoa in any way.

Nearby, Forge engages the enemy in the streets of New York – in this case a demonic motorbike that ate its rider. Forge considers the Avengers should call him next time they fight Ultron. He fires Krakoan vines in a solution at the bike. The vines grow under oxygen. The foliage overwhelms the bike, which cries that it just wanted to eat people! Is that so wrong?

Next, Forge shoots several animated mannequins who are terrorizing people. He then calls Synch at the Treehouse and is told there is no activity there. Apparently, the Limbo demons have been told they are off-limits. Forge suggests they use that.

At the Rockefeller Center, their fellow X-Men are busy with demonic shenanigans. Are they just on defense here? Iceman cries.

Jean turns toward Magik, who calls up a stepping disk to take her, Cyclops and Jean to Limbo. Jean suggests they grab Havok, who is busy fighting a row of angry shopping carts.

Firestar destroys two power tools that are threatening construction workers. She wonders if she did the right thing when those two die with declarations of love for each other. Iceman figures if they plan to kill people, he gives them the business.

He misses a flying demon, who defecates on the Christmas tree in front of Rockefeller Center, infecting it with dark magic. The tree laughs evilly and announces it serves the Goblin Queen, before attacking people. Iceman grabs some people and evacuates them on an iceslide. He tells Firestar to give the tree the business. It’s still a tree, right? she asks anxiously while burning the tree. Before it can fall, it is held up by a web. Spider-Man pulls it back up and jokes to celebrate immortality the mutants are starting a war on Christmas. No wonder Orchis doesn’t like them!

The tree grabs a man and Spider-Man and his amazing friends fly (or swing or iceslide) into action to save him.

Iceman uses his ice to support a damaged building from falling and thanks Spidey for clocking in. As he uses his web on the tree, Spider-Man replies he clocked in last time one of theirs did that to the city, too. Whose fault is it this time? Iceman dishes that they think it’s an old clone of Jean’s who’s sad. Say no more, Spider-Man interrupts. He’s got his own clone issues. Always makes the holidays more difficult.

The tree lashes out at them and shouts it hates them. Spidey jokes that’s why every year he writes a letter to the mayor to get a Charlie Brown Christmas Tree, in case it ever steals frosty bits and comes to life. Firestar groans she hopes the others are having more fun in Limbo!

Speaking of, Magik teleported the others into a desert-like place in Limbo (with the rubble of a broken Belasco statue in the background). She explains she wanted to get them away from Madelyne’s place, so they can sneak in. Havok announces if Maddie is in trouble, he’d like to speak with her first.

Magik points out a small mountain hurtling towards them. She knows they are here.

Havok doesn’t like people throwing rocks at him. Cyclops is no fan either. One gave him brain damage when he was a kid. Jean catches it telekinetically. She yawns and mutters that is just a diversion. She senses a strange presence. Illyana recognizes the danger - sleep demons. However, before she can act, a demon whispers in her ear and she falls asleep, as they all do.

Back in New York, the tree is pulling decorations off buildings. While Spider-Man changes web cartridges, Firestar and Iceman save a dog from being eaten. Iceman suggests they take off the kid gloves. Spider-Man webs the tree up, while Firestar burns it.

The tree holds a dying soliloquy about burning in the flames of mankind… it did not ask to be born… a demon emptied itself on it, and this is Christmas in the Anthropocene era…

Firestar feels guilty and a firefighter shouts at them to stop helping. Iceman figures they can at least make it shut up and covers the tree with ice. Spider-Man groans this is all on camera. Jameson is gonna roast his chestnuts!

The demon attack over for the moment, the heroes nevertheless are booed by the crowd to their surprise. Iceman protests people love when Tim Burton does this, but not them? A child announces that he saw the tree eat Santa. Spider-Man agrees and tells him not to worry. Santa is a mutant and the X-Men are gonna resurrect him in their Keebler treehouse.

Spidey suggests they should never team up again and is interrupted by a call from Norman Osborn, stating he’s back. Osborn needs help! Spider-Man swings off after a parting shot not to get cloned.

Limbo, the Goblin Queen’s seat of power:
Jean and Magik are trapped in a powerful spell and the Summers brothers awake to find themselves prisoners in Madelyne’s sky dungeon. Every time he has sympathy for Maddie, she goes off and does something like this! her former husband Cyclops shouts. Havok grimly retorts, Scott doesn’t know what it’s like, not to be in charge, to be left behind, to be used up, chewed up and spit out. He thinks that‘s why he understands her. They are the same.

Getting a good look at his brother, Scott bursts out, what is he wearing? Namely his costume reduced to a loincloth and a shirt only covering his upper torso. In other words, his former Goblin Prince look.

He woke up looking like this, Alex defends himself and tells him not to change the subject. They were finally getting somewhere. Cyclops retorts that the only place he wants to get back to is Jean and New York and stop the invasion. Alex stubbornly insists this may be their chance to deal with the past.

Cyclops tries to break the chain and tells him he can stay and wait for group therapy to start, but he is escaping. He can’t get ahold of anyone telepathically.

That‘s because their telepath isn’t available right now, comes a new voice. It’s Madelyne. Scott orders her to release them. New York is a living hell right now! What else is new? she scoffs. The great Summers brothers. She hits Alex with a chain.

Scott asks her to listen. She refuses and hits him too. As they lie unconscious on the ground, she announces they are going to have some fun! She is going to get everything she wanted, and they can watch…

Characters Involved: 

Cyclops, Firestar, Forge, Havok, Iceman, Jean Grey, Magik, Synch (all X-Men)

Goblin Queen
Goblins and demons

On the phone:
Norman Osborn

In Magik’s narration:
Younger Illyana

Story Notes: 

The story is continued from Dark Web #1. This limited series focuses on the X-Men side of the plot.

The organ sound the X-Men refer to occurred in Dark Web #1.

Magik’s back story with Limbo is told in Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #160 and the first Magik limited series.

She gave Limbo to Madelyne in New Mutants (4th series) #25-28. However, Madelyne had to promise not to attack Krakoa.

FAO Schwartz: a famous toy store

The last time something like this occurred was the Inferno crossover.

The “he” Osborn refers to is Spider-Man’s clone Ben Reilly aka Chasm, Madelyne’s partner-in-crime.

Written By: