X-Men Legends (1st series) #12

Issue Date: 
May 2022
Story Title: 
Start Again

Chris Claremont (writer), Scot Eaton (penciler), Lorenzo Ruggiero (inker), Edgar Delgado (color), VC’s Joe Caramagna (letterer), Rachelle Rosenberg (color), Alan Davis and Matt Holingsworth (cover), Gomez and Arburtov (Variant cover), Lauren Amaro (assistant editor), Mark Basso (editor) Jordan D. White (senior editor), C.B. Cebulski (editor-in-chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)

Brief Description: 

Nightcrawler, Shadowcat (and Lockheed) awake somewhere outside, still in their nightclothes. A hologram of Destiny tells them she had them brought here because her partner Mystique is planning to kill Forge, and she needs them to stop her. Kitty is rather reluctant to play hero again, considering how badly they both got hurt against the Marauders. They are attacked by several members of the Harriers, a mercenary team hired to protect Forge. Nightcrawler and Lockheed manage to take several of them out, though Lockheed and Kitty are hurt. He hides Kitty somewhere safe and then tries his best to get through to the chalet to find Forge, fighting his way there. When he is finally inside, soon joined by the somewhat recovered Kitty, Forge orders them to stop fighting. However, Nightcrawler recognizes him as Mystique. She threatens to shoot them and Hardcase (leader of the Harriers) as soon as the exhausted Kitty’s phasing power gives out, but he calls her bluff. She admits that she found she couldn’t kill Forge - Rogue’s heroism seems to have infected her. She shows surprising concern, when she realizes the poor state Nightcrawler is in. They are joined by the real Forge, who berates Mystique for not killing him. She reads hm the riot act and tells him that he owes her. To assuage his guilt, she demands he help Kurt and Kitty. Forge does his best and the two soon return to Muir Isle in a somewhat better shape. Kitty tells Kurt she has been having dreams of their lost teammate Rachel…

Full Summary: 

Nightcrawler and Shadowcat (and Lockheed) wake up - still in their night clothes – outside in an unknown area. A knocked out armed man lies next to them. They have no idea what’s going on.

Suddenly, a hologram of Irene Adler aka Destiny appears and addresses them. She tells them she needs their help: her partner Mystique has gone mad over the death of their foster daughter Rogue and she blames Forge for Rogue’s death. She wants him dead. Destiny warned her that was a mistake, capable of shattering the foreseeable future, but Mystique doesn’t care. Irene could not stop her, now they must! she pleads before the hologram fades away.

Kurt checks the man. He is unconscious but alive. Mystique is getting careless, Kitty opines.

Kurt wonders about the logistics of finding them, then getting them here (and their costumes as well). Clearly, working for the government has given Mystique and Destiny access to surprising resources. He takes out his costume and suggests Kitty get changed as well. Kitty forcefully replies she almost died in that outfit. No way is she ever putting it on again! Agreeing, Lockheed burns her costume.

Is he serious about doing what Destiny asks? she wonders. Kurt reminds her they are heroes, as were their friends. If the X-Men’s sacrifice is to have any meaning, they must hold fast to the same ideals. Sometimes being a hero sucks, Kitty pouts, then orders Lockheed to scout the area.

That moment, a shorthaired woman – Blindside – attacks Kurt and hits him in the face. She calls her boss Hardcase but believes those two will not be much trouble. Shadowcat distracts Blindside with her phasing power and Lockheed returns and spits fire at her.

Kurt orders Kitty to stay focused so he can touch her, grabs her and teleports them away.

Blindside contacts her boss Hardcase in the chalet, telling him they disappeared without a trace. Shotgun is down as well, referring to the guard. They will need Lifeline to check him out. Hardcase warns her to stay alert and assures her back-up is on the way.

He orders Warhawk and Ranger to deal with the dragon. Longbow is to head to the roof. As soon as Timebomb flushes out the intruders, Longbow will take them out. Hardcase reminds the Harriers they were hired by a national security advisor to protect Forge, but nobody is to use lethal force without his say so. Blindside’s foe sounds like the X-Man Nightcrawler. He wants them and the dragon taken alive.

Somewhere outside, after his teleportation jump, Kurt feels awful. Kitty is worse off; she can barely stay cohesive. She complains she wants to go home. Soon, he comforts her. He tells her to stay and Lockheed to guard her. He will be back soon. She reminds him they both nearly died fighting the Marauders. They are in this together!

Suddenly, Timebomb fires his bombs at them from inside the house. Lockheed flies off to look for the attacker. He doesn’t know that the Harriers have him in the crosshairs but, before Longbow shoots him the flier, Warhawk attacks Lockheed physically in the air.

Somehow, on the ground, Kitty feels Lockheed’s pain and screams in agony.

In the chalet, Forge hears her scream. He recognizes her voice and berates himself for being responsible for this.

Kurt grabs the almost unconscious Kitty and teleports them to a hideout, however he realizes her natural state is now to be intangible. He can barely hold on to her. He lays her down on air, hoping Earth’s rotation won’t move her and merge her with the ground or a tree. He realizes that to help Kitty he has to get rid of the guards, then deal with Mystique.

The still airborne Warhawk tells her teammates that she has an unconscious dragon and asks what she should do. She has done enough! Nightcrawler retorts as he teleports onto her back. Teleporting in and out he sabotages her flying gear, then teleports her into the ocean.

He teleports himself and Lockheed back to the floating and unconscious Kitty’s side, completely exhausted from the strain, clearly hurting.

Nearby, Blindside finds the unconscious but relatively unhurt Warhawk and tells Hardcase that the X-Men seem to be playing as nice as he wants them to. That moment, Kurt appears and takes her out as well.

Floodlights from the roof find him and Longbow and Timebomb fire at him. Kurt dodges their shots. Hardcase wonders why he is running instead of teleporting. Kurt makes his way up the roof, where he takes out Piston. He is so fast that the other two Harriers shoot Piston instead.

Meanwhile, Kitty slowly awakes.

Kurt teleports further up the roof and manages to take out the two snipers but leaves himself open for being beaten by Battleaxe. He throttles hm with his tail and the two of them fall through the glass roof window into the chalet.

Battleaxe nevertheless grabs Kurt by the waist and Kurt realizes he cannot teleport anymore.

That moment, Forge comes downstairs. He tells the Harriers this is Nightcrawler of the X-Men and orders them to stop. While Battleaxe and Kurt keep on fighting, Hardcase tries to steer Forge away. He reminds him they are here to protect him.

That moment, Kitty phases through Battleaxe, somehow hurting him and demands they all behave.

Forge suddenly draws a gun and trains it on Hardcase, ordering him to stop this and call his team off.

Kurt jumps in front of Hardcase and Kitty joins him, phasing through the man’s body.

Kurt addresses “Forge” as Mystique and asks her to stop. If she means to kill this man, she has to go through him. Mystique shifts to her true form and scoffs that he wouldn’t be able to dodge her bullet in his state, and Kitty doesn’t look much better. She bets she can’t keep them intangible for much longer. The moment she skips, Mystique will shoot and he will die.

He tells her to do it and goads her what she is waiting for. Rogue is dead. For that, they all grieve. They all want vengeance. But walking this path will likely destroy everything she values. It will leave Destiny alone. Is that really what she wants?

Exhausted, he suddenly stumbles and falls. Mystique drops her gun and crouches next to him. She asks what is happening. Fight finally caught up to him, he mutters. What does she care? She calls both him and Kitty idiots. Kurt muses this may be for the last time. Even if they recover, their superhero days are done.

Mystique asks why he fought if he knew the risk. Kurt explains that he and Logan have talked of her, of how Logan knew her as a hero. Now she leads Freedom Force, a team of heroes. He hoped she would react as that. She hasn’t killed Forge, has she?

She admits that she thought she wanted to… turned out she was bluffing. She has changed. In many ways, she hates it, but she can’t go back to what she was. Rogue’s choice to be a hero – turns out it’s infectious. She’s becoming as crazy as her… as him.

That moment, the real Forge comes down, berating Mystique for not killing him. It’s what they both wanted! Hasn’t he heard? she retorts. She’s a hero! Death is what he deserves, but that’s far too easy. She knew Ororo. She loved him, which means he has forfeited the right to act like a coward. Now is the chance to prove himself worthy of that love and sacrifice. Save Nightcrawler and the brat! Make them whole again, and she will consider them even.

Kurt asks why. Perhaps one day she will tell him. Until then, consider it a courtesy of a nascent hero. Forge promises to do his best.

Sometime later on Muir Isle:
Forge’s therapy worked. They are both restored, if not yet fully fit, with one big exception: Kitty points out being intangible now seems to be her permanent state. She wonders where they go from here. Wherever they want, he replies but senses something more is on her mind. She reveals that, since returning to Muir, she has been having these weird dreams about Rachel. She wonders what they mean…

Characters Involved: 

Nightcrawler, Shadowcat (both X-Men)

Battleaxe, Blindside, Hardcase, Lifeline, Longbomb, Piston, Ranger, Timebomb, Warhawk (Harriers)

In hologram:

Story Notes: 

This is the last issue of this volume of X-Men Legends.

The story takes place after Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #227 and before Excalibur: the Sword is Drawn.

Hardcase and the Harriers, a group of former SHIELD specialists turned mercenaries have so far only appeared in Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #261 and Wolverine (2nd series) #5.

The national security advisor who hired the Harriers is probably Val Cooper.

Wolverine knowing a more heroic Mystique from the past is probably a reference to X-Men: True Friends.

There are several inconsistencies in the story:

While Claremont always wrote Kitty and Lockheed as having a certain bond, this is the first time they are shown to have a full-blown psychic link that lets them feel the same pain.

It makes no sense for Forge to recognize Kitty’s voice from her scream, as they have never met before.

When posing as Forge, Mystique mistakenly wears the Muir Island X-Men uniform, which at that point hasn’t been created yet.

Mystique’s claim about how well she knows Storm is odd. However, since that issue, Storm (4th series) has appeared, which takes place in the 170ies of Uncanny X-Man and would actually explain this.

What did Forge fix anyway? Nightcrawler is in better shape in this issue than he is at the start of Excalibur (when he can only teleport once a day).

The dreams about Rachel are explained in Excalibur: the Sword is Drawn.

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