Immoral X-Men #2

Issue Date: 
May 2023
Story Title: 
part 6: Four-Letter-Words

Kieron Gillen (writer), Andrea di Vito (artist), Jim Charalampidis (color), VC’s Clayton Cowles (letterer), Jay Bowen (design), Leinil Francis Yu & Sunny Gho (cover artists), Phil Noto, Marc Brooks, Todd Nauck (variant covers), VC’s Clayton Cowles (production), Laurie Amaro (associate editor), Jordan D. White (editor), C.B. Cebulski (editor-in-chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)
X-Men created by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

Brief Description: 

100 years in the future, the Sinister Council has taken to space. Led by Hope, mutant forces fight and terrorize alien empires, many of whom have joined together in the Compact. Copying Exodus’ powers at her whim and using her troops’ faith to heighten them, Hope prefers the personal touch when battling aliens and destroying their worlds. After one successful mission, they return home, where Mr. Sinister shows them his latest success: the only viable five-gift-chimera, Rasputin IV, who is meant to captain their new exploration vessel Marauder. The others ask if he can create even more complex chimeras and he admits this is as far as he can go. After he leaves, the rest of the Councill decides he has outlived his usefulness. Sinister is aware that his time is running out. In his quarters, he is welcomed by Mother Righteous. For a ‘thank you,’ she gives him information regarding the existence of the other Essex clones. Sinister decides to act. He releases Rasputin IV from her brainwashing and appeals to her heroic side. He asks for her help, as with his lost Moira engines he could restart the timeline. Together they hijack the Marauder. In the meantime, in space and during another battle, Exodus abandons Hope to die, as he feel a trues messiah ought to be dead and inspire. Hope goes down fighting, with the thought that she won’t be the last Council member to die.

Full Summary: 

100 years later:
In space, at the edge of the Pax:
A fleet is battling the remains of the Compact - the Skrull-Kree Alliance, plus the Rigellians. The Shi’ar have already splintered. On the bridge of the command ship stands commander Hope Summers, now with even more cybernetic parts. Exodus, as ever, hovers silently at her side.

Hope is rather amused at what the Compact system is throwing up as a defense. She decides the system has nothing they need. Still, she figures, the Supreme Intelligence is blocking the sector from farviewing. They can’t deploy the L-bombs and pop them until they got eyes on the ground. Thankfully, she has itchy feet and wants some action.

She addresses the whole fleet: who do they believe in? The word bursts out on the speakers, the word most feared in the galaxy: Hope. She copies Exodus’ power, which is heightened by the troops’ faith in her.

She flies outside, battling Superskrulls on her own, supported and protected by her “trusty wingman” Exodus. They land on the planet. Hope gets a look around and sends the psychic imprint to the fleet. Let’s go, she orders, and they teleport back into space, protected by an energy shield. Addressing her as “messiah,” Exodus announces the L-bombs await their deployment.

She imagines crosshairs over each planet and, if you think about it, crosshairs look like an X. She mimics a gun with her finger.

L-Bombs are a four-gift-chimera. Unstable, so they are stored in a tempus-stasis vault until needed. Anyone with a Lila Cheney gift can teleport to anywhere they have been in the universe… and then they got Hope’s psychic imprint of the destination. They are good to go.

The L-bombs deploys and the other three gene payloads kick in. Firestar plus Leland plus Micromax. Nuclear fission, plus increasing mass, plus increasing scale, equals a planet-splitter. She watches the world die and figures her dad would be so proud of her. If he wasn’t a big pile of worms.

In her command log, Hope recalls that the Compact had its last chance against them in ’33 but, thanks to Xavier’s influence, the Shi’ar stayed neutral until it was too late. The Shi’ar joined the Compact in ’50, as did many others, but it was too late. She figures they will have beaten the Compact completely in ‘120. All that will be left is Storm’s resistance. They return home.

Back on Earth:
The Reliquary Arbor:
A giant room, in the center of which is a pool with several of Hope’s discarded limbs. Around the pool, distributed equidistantly, stand cloned groups of the rest of the Five.

Hope thinks to herself this probably would have creeped her out before the whole Sinisterization thing. Now she just thinks it’s cool. The only reason why she can be off at the frontline being an inspiration is because chunks of her are floating in a big tank back home. She doesn’t clone well. Only one of her at once, it seems. Sinister said something about it being a similar problem with Jean (which Hope didn’t like to hear). But Hope’s discarded bits can synergize with all the clone groups of her old gang and keep the industrial cloning complex working.

Now that it’s been duplicated, she doesn’t have to stand there chanting and holding hands like a #+$§ hippy. She is meant to be holy and do wars, and, by definition, any war she does is holy, and this one is nearly won, which means they have to find a new war. They need to keep expanding. That’s how empires work. Ask her fellow redhead Genghis Khan. And to explore they are getting a new ship. The Marauder, a state-of-the art vessel working with Shaw batteries, Unus glands and a Tempus-Magik drive bio substrate. The Marauder will get out there and find worlds, strange civilizations and report home, so they can come and annihilate them.

Is the crew ready? Hope asks. Emma smirks, she has whipped them into shape herself. They will follow orders unquestioningly. Then they need one more thing, the Captain, Xavier announces and addresses Mr. Sinister, currently dressed and acting far more subdued. She’s ready, he replies.

Hope silently gloats, it’s good to see him sweat. He should be. Him creating better tech is the only reason he is still part of their utopia.

He presents a group of Mystique-Greycrow chimeras and has them armed to test the latest generation of Chimeras: Rasputin IV. A young woman with long, black hair, metallic skin and a large Soulsword.

As she jumps to attack the other chimeras, Sinister explains that Rasputin IV is stable, which is almost impossible with five mutant genes. Most fives explode before you can toss them into the Tempus vault. Xavier asks what happened to versions I to III. Sinister repeats that five genes are tricky. They may have been stable, but they were unsuited for the position of captain and hero. Rasputin IV is very good.

Hope asks about the gene payload. Sinister explains that Colossus and Kate Pryde provide the base. They are very stable, and strength, steel and intangibility are classic. A taste of Unus adds some forcefields and he splashed in a little Kinney for aggression and survivability. Plus, he managed to get an actual omega telepath gene in there. They know the problem with the Grey strain, but Quire is more malleable… and on the equipment side, a Soulsword! It was hard to get ahold of, but a weapon you can use while being intangible has obvious charm. Plus, it looks fabulous!

Rasputin IV has beaten all her foes. When all is conquered, all will be at peace! she shouts. Does she really believe that? Emma smirks. Sinister replies, she does. She is good in every way. You need a hero in the captain role. She is such a powerhouse that they need to make sure she won’t backstab the council when she is on her own.

Rasputin eagerly asks Sinister how she did, and he gently praises her, before telling her to take a cycle to prepare. She will be off in the field soon, saving the universe.

Hope pokes one of the corpses with her foot and asks what’s next on his list? Can he do six gifts? He replies that five is as far as they can go. He leaves with Rasputin.

Hope pronounces what they are probably all thinking: Someone just said he isn’t of any use anymore… Emma agrees. Xavier puts it in more euphemistic terms, whereas Exodus admits he could only bear Sinister so long, because he knew one day, he would tie him to a stake and burn him! Hope wonders if Sinister knows how #*&$#§ he is.

Entering his quarters, Sinister remarks acidly what that distant noise he can hear is. Why, he believes it’s the sharpening of a guillotine…

He sees something new in his quarter. A locked grimoire with a heart symbol on the cover. He wonders if it is a magic trick. He hates magic. Where did it come from? Suddenly, Mother Righteous stands there, key in hand. She smirks she is as magic as they come. So, he won’t get it open without the key. He asks who she is. Answer’s in the book, she grins. What’s in the book? he asks. Answer’s in the book, she repeats.

Coming out of the shadows, being ominous and hinting at a bigger story? He invented that game, he scoffs. Did he? she grins. Answer’s in the book. And if he wants the key, Mother Righteous just wants a ‘thank you.’ Thank you, he announces, bemused. With a grin, she offers him book and key and tells him to have fun, ducky.

He reads the book, telling him facts in the form of a story… a story of how Nathaniel Essex realized machines would eventually destroy them. So, he created four clones who would specialize each on one route to stop the machines.

Orbis Stellaris – the cosmic powers.
Dr. Stasis: posthumanity (she killed him).
Mother Righteous: Magic.
And Mr. Sinister: Essex Factors.

The book spells out that the one way to beat the machines is to become a Dominion. She figures only one of them can become a Dominion, and it’s going to be her.

So, how’s his big existential crisis going, gene brother? Mother Righteous mocks while he is still reading. He retorts whether it is true or not does not matter. He is the real one. Sinister was born of the diamond via Apocalypse. He remembers that. It is a race, true, but it has always been a race. It was him against the awful AI. Now it’s against her and the other imposters. And “thank you?” Please. Whatever she’s trying, it won’t work in the long run. Magic is basically nonsense.

Cheerfully, she agrees. There’s a lot of nonsense in the world, and a clever girl can use it in clever ways. Think about this: everything he does, he does it with DNA. Just four letters, ACTG. She works with 26. With a grin, she teleports away.

Sinister realizes that this changes everything, but he needs his Moiras to use this. And he needs them, before the Council crushes him. What did he do to deserve this? he wonders dramatically.

Hope recalls that Sinister was the first villain she shot when she was an X-Man. She shuddered then, now she shivers in delight when she thinks about it. She is grateful Sinister made her stronger… now she’ll make him dead. They agreed on killing Sinister after crushing another warren of Chitauri Priest worlds.

Back in space, on the bridge of her flagship, Hope orders her faithful to pray and she feels the rush of power (copied from Exodus).

She kills several Chitauri, then hovers above the ground, her work done. Suddenly, she falls to the ground. Exodus is gone. He telepathically tells her he is far enough away. Without him, she is just a girl with a gun. She is of no more use to the Council or her church. He is her church… and her church is bigger than her. A messiah’s purpose is to inspire a church, to hope they will one day return. That a messiah is with them diminishes them. It makes true faith impossible, for who could truly believe in such a petulant childish girl? She is of more use to them dead than alive… until she comes again.

Hope is alone, surrounded by enemies.

Exodus orders the gene sacristy to bring back her body when she is dead. Her corpse is precious and holy.

Hope fights grimly. She knows she will go down, but she will do so fighting. She is slightly comforted by the fact she is only the first of the Council to go down, but not the last.

On Earth, Mr. Sinister gives Rasputin IV a final treatment and suddenly the diamond on her forehead fades away and she feels something profound has changed. He explains he dissolved her genetic chains. She is now free. She asks what he means. He explains, Krakoa was a paradise. He destroyed it. He describes the happy island of the past where children were cherished, not commanded. It was the best thing that happened to the world. It went wrong. He made this strain and infected them all. He turned them into these monsters and has been trapped in their service ever since. He has seen them do such horrors… and it is all his fault. He touches her shoulder and explains that there is a way. He had this device. It was lost. If he finds it, he can purge this strain and they can have bright beaches. The universe need not be afraid again.

He kneels in front of her. He has raised her to be good. She is a hero in a blighted world. She alone is free and can save them. Save them from his sins!

They can’t do it alone, she decides, and so she hijacks the Marauder with its crew.

She manages to have the ship escape into warp space. She asks Sinister how long he thinks their mission will take. Five years, he thinks. Surely no more than five years…

Characters Involved: 

Emma Frost, Exodus, Hope Summers II, Professor X (Council of Sinisters)

Mr. Sinister
Rasputin IV

Mother Righteous

Clones of Egg, Elixir, Proteus, Tempus

Story Notes: 

This issue follows Nightcrawler #2. The next chapter is Storm and the Brotherhood #2.

Hope refers to Cable being a pile of worms: Cable has joined in symbiosis with the Arakkii Xilo. They are now called X-Man (Storm and the Brotherhood)

Another version of the Rasputin IV character appeared previously in  Powers of X.

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