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Kieron Gillen (writer), Michele Bandini (artist), David Curiel (color), VC’s Clayton Cowles (letterer), Tom Muller and Jay Bowen (design),Guiseppe Camuncoli and Jesus Arbutov (cover artists), VC’s Clayton Cowles (production), Laure 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
While at a Quiet Council meeting that discusses Destiny’s vision that the Eternals will attack them, Exodus is lost in his memories of the past, when he met Apocalypse and was transformed from crusader Bennet du Paris into Exodus. It was also the first time he met and fought an Eternal – the time-displaced Sersi. Something about those memories seems relevant. He fights his way to the present and learns that the Quiet Council has been and is under telepathic attack by the Eternal Uni-mind. Wolverine was barely able to protect Hope Summers from an attack on her life. Xavier takes over telepathic defense while Exodus, supported by Emma Frost and Hope, attacks the Uni-mind. During his battle, he recalls his despondence when the Scarlet Witch had all but destroyed mutantkind, how he was ready to commit suicide, until he learned of the birth of the mutant messiah Hope, who rekindled hope for their species. With the telepathic attack over, they barely have time to breathe before the Eternals send the gigantic Hex to attack Krakoa. Certain in his faith and purpose at his messiah’s side, Exodus flies to fight them.
What seems to be the past, a desert:Bennet du Paris, dressed in a Templar knight armor makes his way through the heat, his mouth parched, his skin cracked. He is on a quest that is going poorly. It is months after the siege of Jerusalem. No, he realizes this is a memory and wonders why he is having this memory.
He walks across a dune. He is half a mile short of dying. A half mile short of being reborn. Apocalypse waits for him. To others, “Apocalypse” means the end of the world. They are short of learning. Apocalypse” means “Revelation.” Revelation is way of seeing and in this desert, he saw clearly for the first time.
Others would say he was hallucinating, but then he thought himself a man of faith. Was it Moses’ burning bush? Was it akin to Constantine’s vision of the burning cross? Somehow both? Something else? As a man of faith, he had no answer but, now as a mutant of faith, he understands perfectly!
What he sees on the other side is the burning Phoenix raptor.
He collects himself. He remembers he is on Krakoa at a meeting of the Quiet Council, then realizes it is still not quite now.
Destiny informs the Council about her vision. Their enemies are the Eternals, who will soon wage war against them. Xavier expresses surprise at this. Shaw leers about the Eternal (and sometime Avenger) Sersi. Will she be coming in her skimpy costume? Storm asks if Destiny is sure.
The precog admits all things are in flux, but she is as certain about this as that Xavier will share new information from Forge. Xavier remembers and shares said info… regarding the abduction of Mr. Sinister. Forge was studying how he was taken and found Celestial technology signature. He compared it to recent activities of the Eternals averting a disaster in a town called Little Hollow. It was a match. It seems poor Nathaniel was kidnapped by some Eternals. Or rescued, Exodus announces grimly.
Emma would usually be throwing a parade at this news. But right now, she is worried. There was a lot of polite politicking at the Gala, but she did get a surface scan from some awful CEO that lingered with her: “Apocalypse is gone. Magneto is gone. All your big dogs are leaving, and it’s just you in an expensive dress, trying to look fierce.” It was all she could do to stop herself from psychically imprinting him with the desire to soil himself whenever he heard her name. They need people to know they remain strong. If the Eternals are warring against them, they need more than a slap on the wrist. First, they brief the war captains and prepare a defense. Scott will have plans. He always does.
Forget defense! Shaw shouts. Offense, dammit! How can they strike at the Eternals?
Exodus reveals the Eternals have their own cities locked off from reality, citadels caught between molecules, shadowing dimensions. There they have engines that can rebuild their bodies, time and time over. They can besiege the mutants at will Mutantdom will not find it easy to return the favor.
Xavier is surprised he knows so much about the Eternals. Exodus stresses he has lived a thousand years. Didn’t he spend most of the time asleep? Destiny asks. Exodus continues that, shortly after Apocalypse tried to recruit him to his false church, he met an Eternal. They fought in their minds and he won. He learned a lot as he hurt her. He silently thinks that fighting in their minds seems relevant.
Xavier muses that he isn’t aware of a grudge the Eternals carry against them. They were expecting Orchis. Exodus interrupts that Sinister’s absence is suspicious. They should purge him.
Time slows in that moment. He tries to understand. He sees Destiny twitch in her chair that once belonged to Apocalypse. He is gone…
… Apocalypse is here, again in his memories:On the other side of the desert. Exodus, still Paris then, was nearly dead. He had faced trials and Apocalypse told him he was worthy. He revealed his blessing, turned Paris into Exodus and his understanding of the world shattered. He would be a knight in a new crusade. It would take him a while to reassemble his faith, but Apocalypse offered him purpose in that moment. He was to be an apostle. An Acolyte. It had a cost. He just had to kill the man who was like a brother to him. The Black Knight (really Dane Whitman in the body of Exodus’ friend Garrington) together with the Eternal Sersi.
Exodus knew him as Garrington and attacked him. But Sersi sprung to his defense. Exodus thought her a witch as their minds battled. He thrashed her and rode away with his knowledge of the Eternals like spoils from a sacking. He was drunk with power, like a knight who had forgotten his oaths. He saw she was not a witch. She was more machine than woman, unlike a human. Cold, awful, angelic!
But he humbled her. Garrington was defenseless. Exodus could have killed him. He looked into his eyes and looked within himself and realized this was not God asking Abraham to slay Isaac. He was still in the desert and he was being tempted by the devil! He turned against Apocalypse and was disappointed when he saw how small his dreams were. He did hit all for his family? A mutant of faith thinks of a bigger family.
The Black Knight and Sersi fled. Exodus remained behind slumbering. Still, Apocalypse means revelation. The brain of the witch, so unlike a witch, unlike anything human. Cold like an angel. Its familiar.
He slept for the best part of a thousand years, until something more than man – Magneto – set him free. The world outside shocked him. The Mass was no longer said in Latin. Paper was so plentiful that one could wipe one’s behind with it. He suspects some would have been lost, but he was a mutant of faith and he had Magneto, the man he first thought a messiah, to guide him. He was in a tomb and Magneto rolled the rock back and let him breathe. In time, he learned Magneto was just a mutant prophet but it gave him time to learn and assemble his faith.
He thinks of popes and antipopes. When there are two people who aim to be pope, one is the antipope, the one not recognized by the church. The church could flip tomorrow and all popes become antipopes and vice versa. All it requires is the church to have a certain insight. A revelation.
He is now the only true church, because he is a mutant and his journey has shown the cross from another angle. An X is a rotated cross. There is a cross in the genes of every mutant. All mutants carry the cross.
Magneto was lost to him, time and time over. All too flawed. Not a messiah. That meant the messiah was yet to come. Magneto is gone and in his place sits Hope. He must be there for Hope- he must find the now!
He battles his way free to the present.
What blasphemy has occurred? he demands as he sees Wolverine, blades in his shoulder, standing in front of Hope. Wolverine explains the Eternals have some sort of shadow-walking killer who is going for the Five. Killed Egg. Nearly killed Hope. They know how to hurt them!
Xavier announces he is protecting the Council from the psychic assault. They must defeat the Uni-mind. Emma orders Hope to copy Exodus’ gift and for them to come with her.
As they enter the astral plane, Hope swears at the Eternals’ audacity. He has a sweary messiah, Exodus states dryly. Emma explains Xavier is on defense and they are on offense.
Exodus muses that he must see the telepathic conflict in terms he understands. To him it is a battle in a desert. He is a knight. On his left hand is a diamond shield - for all her barbs, Emma is protective. In his strong right hand is his sword, his faith in Hope. The Eternals appear to him as a many-headed dragon. He smirks as he attacks. A knight is well accustomed to slaying dragons.
Moving together, the three attack and surprise and hurt the Eternals. The Uni-mind realizes Exodus is the linking part and concentrate on him. He feels low but recalls he has felt lower…
Flashback:… when almost all mutants had been depowered by the Scarlet Witch, with barely 200 remaining. He went on a pilgrimage looking for purpose and found none. He tortured himself to find clarity. He was near the sun about to commit the mortal sin of suicide. He would only have to relax his mental defenses for a second and the fire would consume him. But then he remembered the fire in the desert. Hope. A child had been born. The first mutant birth since the witch had wiped them all away. The Phoenix Child would return to save them all. Exodus returned to Earth.
He was right. His messiah returned and the people kindled.He will never kneel as long as she stands.
Present:“Get up, lazy!” Hope offers Exodus a hand to get up. Happily, she informs him they kicked the Eternals’ asses so hard, they’ll wipe their behind every time they brush their teeth. Emma rolls her eyes. Sometimes one really can tell Hope spent crucial years of schooling wandering a radioactive wasteland drinking repurposed urine.
Exodus informs the others they chased the Uni-mind away. Xavier checks. The Eternals are retreating. He muses it shouldn’t be that easy. They’ve had second thoughts. They have a moment to consider their next step. What now? Emma suggests they get that lovely telekinetic carpenter here to get the furnishing repaired. Destiny, supported by Mystique, warns the Eternals will be back. Drawing her gun, Hope promises they will be ready for them.
Exodus hears how an Eternal – namely current Prime Eternal Druig - makes a speech to humanity. He is disinterested, as there is nothing new. Druig mentions the Hex – giant Eternals – though, which has the witchy ring of Sersi. He remembers when he first walked the streets of New York seeing those giant glass lances. It made Apocalypse’s tower look like a shack. He never thought anything could be so big. Now six beings of that size attack their sacred land.
Scratch that, Hope admits. Not ready for them. Exodus corrects her, they are ready. He tells her to return to safety and help restore the fallen warriors. Be an inspiration! Guard the flame of mutant life. Be herself. It is more than sufficient. And he? she asks. What does she think he is going to do? he asks as he flies up to meet the enemy.
Exodus thinks to himself he is the pope of a new church, like Peter was long ago. Peter was the rock upon which the Nazarene mutant built his church. Exodus is that rock, but he is also the rock in the hand of Cain.
With a smile he flies to confront the Hex.
Colossus, Destiny, Emma Frost, Exodus, Hope Summers II, Kate Pryde, Mystique, Professor Xavier, Sebastian Shaw, Storm (Quiet Council)Wolverine
In Exodus’ memories:Bennet du Paris / Exodus
Eobar Garrington /Black KnightDane Whitman / Black KnightSersi
The issue is part of the Judgment Day crossover, crossing over with A.XE. Judgment Day #1.
The title is a homage to “Meditations on the Cross” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
Most of Exodus’ memories including his battle with Sersi are from the Black Knight: Exodus oneshot.