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Si Spurrier (writer), Bob Quinn (artist), Java Tartaglia (color), VC’s Clayton Cowles (letterer), Tom Muller (Design), Guiseppe Carmuncoli & Marte Gracia (cover artists), Bob Quinn (Way of X design variant cover),Russell Dautermann (Emma Frost design variant), Russell DAutermann & Matt Wilson (connecting cover variant) Nick Russell (production), Jonathan Hickman (Head of X), Shannon Andrews Ballesteros (assistant editor), Jake Thomas (editor), Jordan D. White (senior 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
During the Hellfire Gala, Nightcrawler becomes increasingly drunk as he makes a spectacle of himself and tries not burst out the truth about Onslaught. He eventually falls into a drunken stupor at the gala and awakes the next morning hungover. He joins Dr. Nemesis in the Green Lagoon for some coffee. There he sees a hooded figure passing out contraceptives and finds it is his former teammate Stacy X, who is not impressed with the Quiet Council law to make more mutants. She shows him her home, where people come to connect but also where mutants leave unwanted children. To his astonishment, he sees Loss among the children’s caretakers. However, when she sees Cortez outside, she flips out and attacks him. In the meantime, on Arakko (formerly Mars) at the afterparty, Pixie asks Legion to help her friends, Loa and Mercury, as Loa’s powers keep them from being intimate. She knows that he and Blindfold communed telepathically. She asks him to create a psychic link between the two girls. He complies but the intimacy proves too much and they begin attacking each other… which was Legion’s plan to get to the source of the violence - Onslaught. They follow by having Pixie teleport them to Stacy’s place, where Legion draws Onslaught out of Lost. However, the spectre escapes. Later, they head to the Green Lagoon, where with some nudging courtesy of Stacy, Dr. Nemesis stops his bullying of Dazzler to admit that he is actually attracted to her, leading to them sharing a dance.
The Hellfire Gala is under way: As the evening continues, Kurt Wagner seeks out different people and becomes increasingly drunk, as he has a lot on his mind. First, he elucidates Pixie on the failures of their community and bemoans his own failure at creating a mutant religion. Later, he tris to lecture an equally drunk Nanny that their three laws are the key. She agrees enthusiastically and Mr. Sinister calls for someone to get their Moses a coffee.
Later still, he talks about the first law - make more mutants - to Dazzler. Annoyed, she orders him to let go of her microphone and asks if he is a hook-up app now.
He hints at the dark things in the shadows to Loa and Mercury and spills his drink over them when he is almost run over by Beast.
Later he talks with Northstar’s husband Kyle Jinadu, who points out that the first law is somewhat heteronormative and hints that Meggan Braddock may be pregnant, as she hasn’t touched any alcohol. Enthusiastically, Kurt congratulates a startled Meggan, while claiming he is completely over her.
Later still, he shouts about having visions and fears it is Onslaught, until Kate Pryde reminds him, it is just the psychic fireworks. She orders him to lay off the gin before he says something he will regret. He protests he will save them all before falling asleep, missing the empty dance floor where Magneto and the Scarlet Witch share a dance.
The morning after:Kurt awakes, the only one left at the gala and groans what an idiot he is. He calls Dr. Nemesis via comm who assumes he is after a hangover cure. A moment later, Nemesis shouts “be silent, you screeching harpy!” at Dazzler, who sits at a table close by humming while she is composing. Nemesis continues that Kurt is not the only one who is suffering. He spent all night monitoring omega level showboaters sloppily terraforming Mars. It’s lucky he put his krakoffee in quantum entanglement with Wolverine’s liver or he might be showing signs of over-caffeination.
When he hears the magic word, Nightcrawler teleports in and grabs the coffee cup, greedily downing its contents.
David Haller chooses that moment to telepathically contact Kurt and remarks Nemesis isn’t the only one who heard about Kurt’s performance. Tongues are wagging but nobody knows what he was actually talking about. Kurt admits he couldn’t spoil the gala… by revealing that they are haunted by an all-powerful astral parasite, David continues his sentence. He tells him to leave Onslaught to him. Stick to the plan and focus on the laws. They need people feeling like they are all in it together, and this Mars crap hasn’t helped at all. The usual A-listers doing big secret +*&%, while everyone else twiddles their thumbs. Does he know what David has learned over and over? Neglected energy has a nasty way of going kabloom. David is hovering in the air over the after-after party on Arakko, flanked by the Xorn brothers.
On Krakoa, Kurt thinks aloud: the first law… Make more mutants… where do you start? Dr. Nemesis is full of helpful thoughts regarding artificial creation of mutant babies, deriding sex. There’s nothing magic about making love, he tells Nightcrawler, but Kurt’s attention is focused on a hooded figure talking to a young couple.
Meanwhile on Arakko, Pixie has asked Legion for help regarding her friends Loa and Mercury. Pixie explains that Loa can sort of shred things by touching them and she can’t control it very well when she gets over-excited… The two young women sits some distance away from each other and David notices that Mercury’s right arm has been shredded. Pixie reminds him that she was a friend of Blindfold who told her that she and David had a special way of being intimate inside their heads.
On Krakoa, Kurt tries to confront the hooded figure, asking what they are handing out. When the figure runs away, Kurt tackles them, to find it is his old teammate Stacy X. He realizes she has been handing out contraceptives. Stacy points out last night was the biggest party mutantkind ever threw. Attended by hundreds of young mutants, whose role models dress in fetish gear. He better believe she was handing out contraceptives! Kurt begins to stutter and she tells him not to start. She heard he was getting less Catholic, not more! It’s nothing to do with that, he replies. It’s the first law: make more mutants. So he’s what - the sex sheriff? she asks as she leads him to her home. He’ll never take her alive, “copper,” Stacy jokes.
What is this place? he asks as they enter. Inside, couples are making out in giant flowers. They call it the Bower; it’s for folks who are lonely or frustrated or sad. The ones the dramatic pose types never much notice - the ones who haven’t figured out yet where they fit into paradise.
Kurt accuses her of using her powers of seduction on people. Unimpressed, Stacy tells him to simmer down. She can’t make anyone do what they don’t want. It’s just a nudge of encouragement. Some couples just talk. Other hold each other for hours. Some go at it like bunnies then never see each other again. They all leave happier than when they arrived.
Kurt accuses her of having built a brothel in the garden of Eden. In response, Stacy slugs him and calls him a tiny-minded piece of crap. Kurt apologizes, but these people need support, not this. Does he know how many religions got a history of temple sex? she lectures him. Pretty much all of them. Most cultures knew there is nothing more sacred or healing than intimacy. Sapiens forgot. She didn’t. She touches his arm and teases him when he blushes. How can he unite mutants if he forgot their first law? he states. They are told to multiply not surrender to empty desire. She asks him to follow her.
Elsewhere, Loa asks how she is supposed to relax with Legion and Pixie watching. Mercury asks them to turn around. They are attracting a damn audience. She refers to the Xorn brothers floating some distance behind Legion. David tells them the way this works there is nothing to be ashamed of. No secrets, no lies, no shame. Ruth always said it was like the idea of who you are mixing with somebody else. Bloody amazing, she said. He asks if they are sure. Mercury hesitates but Loa announces she’ll try anything once.
Pixie thanks David for doing this. She didn’t think he’d come. Seems like small potatoes for him. He shrugs. Good people deserve good things. ‘Sides community like this? Small potatoes can grow awful big.
He links Loa and Mercury telepathically, telling Pixie that, if it’s anything like Ruth and him, it’s like a million getting-to-know-you dates in one moment. It’s like blurring together. No boundaries. Sharing everything. However, the two girls begin to groan in pain. Legion decides to go look. Pixie protests at this breach of privacy. He tells her that’s Sapiens thinking. Mutants help mutants!
They enter their minds. Pixie fears Loa and Mercury are sharing too much. David replies that’s how Ruth and he did it. Pixie protests it’s going too fast. They shouldn’t have to share every ugly thought. Why can’t they stop? There is something ugly inside of them.
Legion makes them awake and they attack each other. The force inside them laughs and the two girls turn away from each other in disgust.
Opportunistic predation, Legion figures. Pixie asks if he used her friends’ awkward psychic hook-up as bait for a monster. He shrugs; better they get the full picture right away. Meanwhile, how does she fancy a wee hunt? He thinks he can track this beastie…
Back at Stacy’s place, Nightcrawler sees a creche where several mutant babies are resting in flowerbeds. Stacy explains she found the first one abandoned while walking one day. Lucky for her, plenty of the folk who visit the Bower have time and love to spare. She’s flourished. She guessed word got round. They average one a week. Some are left outside. Couple got teleported in. The twins at the back? Their parents just dropped them off like laundry. Kurt stammers. Stacy tells him he wanted folks to make more mutants… here they are. She muses, there are some couples doing it traditionally. And maybe someday the Council approves an adoption service. When they are done annexing planets and selling drugs, she mutters. Till then? Here’s his first law in action. She tells him it’s not babies they need. It’s folks who give a damn about other folks!
Kurt sees Lost entering and cuddling the kids. Stacy corrects him her name is Marinette. She met her in New Orleans a few years back, living on the street. Lost her powers during Wandageddon. Constant pain. Scared of every damn thing. Traumatized. Here she is tall and perfect in mutant paradise, with more reason than anyone to go wild and be selfish, but this is what she wants to do. She tells them stories. That gravity thing she got that makes folks puke? Doesn’t bother the little ones. The bones in their ears aren’t formed yet. Kurt asks if she never told who hurt her. Stacy demurs.
That moment, outside the window, Frenzy kicks the ass of Fabian Cortez, who apparently tried to come on to her with some weird Magneto fetish. Lost sees him and flattens him with her power. Furious, Cortez tries to throttle her.
Fearing for the stability of the building, Stacy asks Nightcrawler to teleport Lost out of here. Instead, Pixie teleports in Legion and the Xorn brothers.
“Out you come, twinkle toes!” Legion orders. “As you wish,” comes the reply as the spectre of Onslaught rises from Lost and psychically lashes out at them. Pixie saves the day with her Pixie dust, putting Lost to sleep and everything goes back to normal. When Cortez wants to know what’s going on, one of the Xorn brothers order him to go away.
Kurt asks Legion if he saw where Onslaught went. David explains it covered its tracks this time. What and who? Pixie asks and Legion and Kurt decide they need alcohol.
Soon they are all sitting at the bar of the Green Lagoon, next to Dr. Nemesis while Dazzler is performing. Stacy gently mocks them as heroes. Give it up for the procreation police. Kurt asks her how Lost is. Sleeping, she replies, dreaming, which is what they have been doing, if they think they can fix things with their silly baby boom.
Dazzler finishes her set and Stacy mutters how great she is. Of course she is a fan, Nemesis scoffs. Kurt asks what Krakoa needs if not reproduction. Connections, she replies, while gently using her power on Dr. Nemesis. She turns to Kurt and explains the sexy stuff takes care of itself. They need ways of softening the barriers. Making mutants feel like they are all in the same story. Pixie protests you can’t just force people together. They need secrets. They need to belong to themselves as well as the big stuff. It’s about risk, Stacy replies, about daring things even though it hurts when they go wrong. She watches Dr. Nemesis get up.
She tells Kurt she knows they are prepping for a fight. It doesn’t come down to how tough they are. Win or lose, it comes down to the same thing. Someone tries something new.
Nemesis steps toward Dazzler, who tells him she is tired and could do without another rant. He apologizes for being boorish and nervously asks her for a dance. With a smile, she accepts.
NightcrawlerLegionLoa, Mercury, Pixie IIIDr. NemesisStacy XLost
Banshee, Beast, Colossus, Dazzler, Kate Pryde, Magneto, Meggan, Mr Sinister, Nanny
Xorn, ZornScarlet WitchFabian Cortez
Text pages:Excerpt from the book of [redacted]:Nightcrawler writes of Onslaught’s origins, and he and Legion wonder if Xavier and Magneto are compromised.
Further notes:This is part of the Hellfire Gala running though the August 2021 titles.
The title refers to the bestselling “Joy of Sex.”
David and Dr. Nemesis derogatively refer to events of Planet-Sized X-Men.