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Kieron Gillen (writer), Michele Bandini (artist), David Curiel (color), VC’s Clayton Cowles (letterer), Tom Muller (design), Mark Brooks (cover artist), Phil Noto, Meghan Hetrick, Betsy Cola (variant covers), VC’s Clayton Cowles (production), Lauren Amara (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
Emma Frost is nervous and restless the night before the Hellfire Gala. She regrets they don’t have a big announcement like last time. She changes her mind, as the story of mutant immortality breaks the day of the gala. The Chinese ambassador accosts her with reasons why mutants need to share the gift, and a protester throws a bucket of pig’s blood at her. At the next council meeting, they discuss the issue. In addition, Emma reveals that the X-Men have encountered a doppelganger of Mr. Sinister called Dr. Stasis. Sinister is truly puzzled and flees to his private lab, intending to restart the timeline with a Moira engine. However, Destiny’s words make him reconsider and he returns to the council, offering to work with them to clear his name. At that moment, he is teleported away by God knows who.
Nighttime on Krakoa:In her bed, Emma Frost muses that she has a secret. She has taken to sleeping in her diamond form. Were she to be asked, she’d say it was a defense. A psychic is most defenseless when asleep. She sleeps in this form because a diamond is unchanging. Do they think she is shallow? Mere vanity is the least of her flaws. She can admit that to herself even if to no one else.
She’s done far worse than vanity. She’s done petty. She made a girl think she’d cooked her own horse, so she’d come to Emma for sympathy. She wasn’t at her best.
Let’s just say that Emma Frost was in her snow phase. But if you’d call her on it, she’d fix you in the eye and say: “if you call a horse something as ghastly as Butter Rum, you deserve everything you get, darling.”
Emma gets up and walks to the mannequin with her gala outfit.
She can’t sleep because she is a cocktail of excited and petrified. The Hellfire Gala looms. Of course, she is restless. She knew she would be, so she chose to sleep the night alone, tossing and turning and all diamond hard. Scott told her when she sleeps as a diamond, it is uncomfortable, cold. “Nothing people haven’t said before.” She turns human, musing she doesn’t know what Scott sees in her. She also knows exactly what he sees in her. It’s difficult knowing how magnificent you are while also knowing you are nothing.
She stands in front of the mirror, holding up the Gala outfit.
Telepathy allows two things: control and empathy. In her darkest hour, she wonders if that is why she is not quite up there with Jean. Emma could only ever commit to the former. She has to be untouchably perfect, which means that she never will be able to achieve perfection. For that, one must be touched profoundly. And she is aware that, when she is touched, she is hurt.
She is still a little angry with Scott. She funded Utopia and then was ruined by it. X-Men. She is more than a little burned out at the men part. They don’t realize how important Krakoa is for her. She went all in with Xavier and Magneto, to find out about Moira and the risk they were taking with all their futures.
She goes back to bed. She will not let her children suffer harm. And perhaps the only order is that which they apply with a stiletto heel to the throat of the world.
She starts thinking about the Gala. It’s a shame they haven’t-got a big announcement, but what could compare to last year’s revelation of bringing life to a dead world? But they must be unforgettable.
But then the Daily Bugle drops with the headline “Immortal X-Men” revealing the mutant secret of resurrection. Emma wishes the news could have broken after the gala but goes ahead with it thinking what is the worst that can happen?
A few hours later, soaked with pig’s blood she again stands in front of her mirror and seethes: “how dare they?”
Flashback, somewhat earlier at the Gala:Emma walks down some steps, past a crowd that is kept outside. Chinese ambassador Mingyu asks for a few words. Emma tries to brush him off. She is busy. He can imagine, Mingyu replies. Immortality. Mutantkind offered humanity five additional years, when they had this. Not stopping, Emma replies they can talk about this another time. She has a trillion fires to fight now and… Mingyu insists is the right time because of those fires. Their analysts have been at work and say this is going to get out of control, unless the do something. The mutants have something everyone else wants.
Emma stops and turns around. They can’t share this. It is a limited resource and not a duplicable technology. Mingyu insists on more information. Do they mean it won’t work on humans or do they choose to not make it work or… Sixteen million dead, Emma cuts him off. Yes, it is awful that humans are dying, but sixteen million mutants are still dead, killed by Sentinels. Even if they could, she doesn’t see why one human should be brought back as long as the mutants are still in the ground.
Over sixteen million dead and they all watched. Some of them even cheered. And some of them made profit selling the pieces of the machines that tore mutants to pieces. She is sorry that their children die, but she has to look after her own children first! She turns around, ready to leave again.
Mingyu remarks he understands her position but tells her to be realistic. If she says it is a limited resource, it need not be shared with everyone. Give access to their leaders, key donors. Industry figures. Once they have it, they can assure the majority accept this. Krakoa has made deals to assure its future before. This is just another one.
Emma hesitates, then promises to talk to the Council. Someone calls her name. And an angry protester tosses the pot of sheep blood at her.
Wolverine and Beast hold the woman back. Emma learns that her husband died in a boating accident last week. Her anger washes over Emma and she wonders how Charles can let them just in. All the pain in the world? She has enough of her own.
Present: The ambassador’s words haunt her. He is right: this needs to go away but how? People don’t care about Mars. They care about life. There is one upside: Dear Scott brought her a gift. He told her something. Tomorrow, she gets to hurt the worst of men…
The next day at the Quiet Council:Mr. Sinister stands in the center, suggesting this might be an opportunity. If world leaders are interested in letting him clone them and fiddle with their genes, they should embrace it. Who wouldn’t want kill-switches on all world leaders? Mystique groans. He tells her she is against it, because it would put her out of a job.
Xavier orders them to stop, then announces he has awful news. A sick man injected himself with Mutant Growth Hormone and then killed himself. He thought if he died a mutant, he could come back… oh the poor fools!
Everyone is silent for a moment, then Exodus asks if they can be blamed for humanity’s stupidity. No, but they can feel sympathy! Nightcrawler shoots back. This is only the start! They must hold fast to their empathy, their humanity! Humanity? Mystique repeats and asks if he is sure he should be on this mutant council. Shaw calls her a pedant. She should at least understand this is terrible PR. Doesn’t matter if they give a damn or not, they should make the appropriate frowns in public. This may even be profitable: line their coffers a little and…
Emma interrupts. There is something else they should discuss before this goes any further. She has some memories from Scott. She asks the other psychics to confirm that the psychic signature is that of Scott Summers. Xavier and Exodus confirm and Sinister jokes he’d recognize the lack of quiver in that stiff upper lip everywhere.
Emma then projects the memory to everyone. It shows the X-Men fighting Dr. Stasis, who is wearing a helmet that cover his face. Scott thought he was a human geneticist working with Orchis but when he destroyed the helmet, he saw a – slightly more human looking – twin of Mr. Sinister with a club symbol instead of a red diamond on his forehead. Emma adds that Stasis claims to be the real Nathaniel Essex, not the clone they have here.
Sinister stammers, he doesn’t understand! He is silent for a moment and Emma almost believes him. He doesn’t even joke.
Suddenly, he throws a grenade to the ground that copies Nightcrawler’s teleportation effect (smelling even worse) and disappears. He runs through a nearby crowd.
When Exodus spots him, Sinister swallows some pills with the letter M on them, allowing him to copy Multiple Man’s ability creating an army of dupes or as Exodus states, he has given more people the opportunity to punch him. “I am Spartacus!” all the dupes shout as they flee or fight (except for one who shouts “I am Brian!”). “I am out of here!” the real Sinister mutters as he heads to the gate to his secret lab.
Destiny stands next it and greets him mildly. Doesn’t he want to know what’s going on? She chides him not to be a coward. Thanks for the food for thought, he replies while he fires a gun at her. Good to catch up! She dodges the blasts, expecting them. Sinister steps through the gate. In his lab, Sinister, obsessed with Dr. Stasis, utters, a club on his forehead? Ridiculous! He would never be in a club that would have him as a member! He orders the turtle Professor Plod not to look at hm like that. He knows!
Diamonds, clubs… two more. He’s not stupid, he bets even Colossus has worked that out. Maybe he can get past Judgment Day this time… but this is new. How could he have missed that? He orders the system to add up all information to the latest Moira. He decides to go back and see what he can find out about that Stasis ruffian. Burn this timeline. He takes aim at a Moira, then recalls Destiny’s words chiding him not to be a coward. He muses she could have stopped him. So, did she think playing to his pride would stop him? Infuriating, infuriating woman! he rages.
He decides not to act for the moment. He can still blow it all up if it gets too much. He gives the order to purge all his personalities and make a clean install. The system announces basal state is operational. It continues installing core motivation, mainly that Sinister is the only real person in existence, the only one that matters. He orders personality overlay, charisma chafe and generalized memetic stew: a cocktail of Deadpool scraping, five seasons of Drag Race and a sample of Oscar Wilde. He muses that of course Oscar Wilde was a mutant. The twist is he was a feral sort of like little James. The clue is in the name. He pronounces there is only one Nathaniel Essex in any way that counts. He walks toward the gate announcing he is read for his close-up.
He steps out of the gate back on Krakoa, hands raised in a pacifying gesture. He is back and quite contrite, he assures them. He apologizes, claiming he panicked. Dr. Stasis was like him, just hideous. He is sure they understand. He kneels down offering to help clear his name.
Mystique has a gun aimed at him. Unimpressed, Exodus suggests they kill him. They can always bring him back if they need his expertise. Nightcrawler protests this isn’t what the Spark is about. Destiny suggests the Pit. However, suddenly, energy surrounds Mr. Sinister and, a moment later, he is gone.
Please say he is dead! Emma pleads. Destiny doesn’t think so. He has been kidnapped.
Emma returns to her room and her bed, musing about the war Desitny has been predicting. She thinks Sinister’s kidnapping is part of it but doesn’t know if he is party to it or not. And you can’t tell if Destiny really doesn’t know or is hedging her bets. But Emma trusts her in that she would save mutant lives. Destiny believes in Krakoa.
Which makes Emma realize something profoundly sad. She is still sleeping in diamond form. She is acting like she is going to get old. The thing about telepathy is you can make everyone believe everything… except yourself.
Colossus, Destiny, Emma Frost, Exodus, Hope Summers II, Kate Pryde, Mr. Sinister, Mystique, Nightcrawler, Professor X, Sebastian Shaw, Storm (all Quiet Council)
The issue crosses over with X-Men: Hellfire Gala.
The title refers to the James Bond novel and movie of the same name.
Cyclops and Synch leaked the secret of mutant resurrection in X-Men (6th series) #12.
In the Firestar limited series, Emma killed Firestar’s horse Butter Rum to manipulate the girl into believing she couldn’t control her powers without Emma’s help.
Dr. Stasis’ face was revealed in X-Men (6th series) #11.
The line of not wanting to be a member of any club that would admit him is by comedian Groucho Marx.
The “I’m Spartacus” line is from the 1960 movie Spartacus, where when asked by the Romans to identify the leader of the uprising Spartacus all men shout the line in solidarity.
The Movie “Life of Brian” parodies that in the crucifixion scene with several people claiming they are Brian - as does one of the Sinister dupes.
“Little James” refers to Wolverine (aka James Howlett).
“I’m ready for my close-up” refers to Gloria Swanson’s last line in the movie Sunset Boulevard. You can’t fault Mr. Sinister for his taste in movies.
Sinister is kidnapped by the Eternal priests Ajak and Makkari as shown in A.XE.: Eve of Judgment.