X-Men: Red (2nd series) #1

Issue Date: 
June 2022
Story Title: 
The Broken Land

Al Ewing(writer), Stefano Caselli (artist), Federico Blee (color), VC’s Ariana Maher (letterer (production), Tom Muller and Jay Bowen (design), Russell Dautermann and Matt Wilson (cover artists), 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

Brief Description: 

Storm is now regent of Arakko, as the only member of the Great Ring who has more than one vote. Nevertheless, she chafes at being looked at as a queen, both by Isca (who mocks her) and Brand (who wants to use her and create her own X-Men team to control Arakko). In the Diplomatic Zone, Sunspot has created the Red Spot, a club where he is bonding with Kobak Neverheld over lost loves. He witnesses Vulcan harassing a Shi’ar delegate. Sunspot intervenes but Vulcan siphons his powers leaving Roberto to fight him powerless. The fight is interrupted by Thunderbird, who kicks Vulcan’s behind for being a bully and a Summers. Brand and Cable break up the fight and Cable and Thunderbird almost get into an altercation. Brand bans Thunderbird from Mars, an edict which he intends to ignore. He is suspicious of her motives and Sunspot agrees. Magneto wants to spend the rest of his life on Arakko. Looking for an empty place to settle, he finds a middle-aged fisher and asks if the land belongs to anybody. After schooling Magneto on Arrakki rules of possession, the fisher watches him build his palace and manages to get Magneto to open up about his pain. Soon they are joined by Sunspot and by Storm, who is sporting a new look, and announces what they need is a Brotherhood.

Full Summary: 

Flashback to just before the first Hellfire Gala – when Arakko was still an island:
In the Circle Perilous, Storm is fighting what looks like a younger version of herself. Said younger version sits atop Storm, who is trying to stop her. Nameless, the shapeshifter queen of Arakko hisses I amm yuu as she defends her title against her challenger. Storm shakes her off and replies that, if she were, she would have killed Storm already.

The other woman calls her a liar. Storm is not quick to kill. She is shapeshifter omega. She knows her. She has become her in her prime. When she was her best self. When she was clean. She throws lightning at Storm who dodges the attack.

Nameless accuses Storm of being tainted by the world. Seduced by power - by crowns and thrones. But Arakko does not belong to her. She did not suffer in the prisons! She did not shed blood on the battlefields. She was not there.

Storm replies she was fighting battles Nameless knows nothing of. Living a past, she stole the wrong face from. For if Nameless has youth, Storm has experience! She hits her with a snowstorm, freezing Nameless’ fluid flesh. Storm lands in front of her. She has no desire to kill Nameless but the other woman cannot defeat Storm. She asks her to yield and hand over her seat.

Nameless hisses she was not there. She wants to be of Arakko. Know the cost! She kills herself with a lightning bolt and Storm looks on in horror. A voice calls her.

Three days ago:
Ororo sits in the Great Ring, the ruling body of Arakko, now one of the Ring and regent, as she has the one seat with two votes. Storm apologizes. She was deep in thought. No doubt weighing the decision they are all about to take, Isca the Unbeaten remarks. The future: It will be war or peace. So, return to Amenth to destroy the ancient enemies as the law of Genesis demands, or a new beginning here on this new planet. She suspects the final decision will be in Storm’s hands. She mockingly addresses her as queen of Arakko. Regent, Storm corrects her. They are a council. The decision should not be hers alone. Would that not please her, Isca needles, after she went through such trouble? Isn’t her throne comfortable, oh voice of Sol? Isn’t this what she wants? Storm does not reply:

Now, a small island on Arakko:
A pudgy middle-aged man walks carrying some fish. A voice from above asks if that land is his. It is Magneto, floating in the air. The man scoffs at him to talk sense. It’s everybody’s. That’s how land works. But if he wants it just for himself, then they have a problem, “silverhair.” Do they have a problem?

Clearly angry, Magneto states his codename, and bristles he is unused to being threatened by… He stops, apologizes and announces his name is Max. He lands and explains that this island seems peaceful. He was hoping to build a home here. This can be that if he keeps an open door, the fisher tells him. And if he is not one for crowds, well, there is him and not much else. If alone is what he needs, here he can find it.

Good, that’s good, Magneto replies, clearly saddened. The fisher asks if he wants to talk about it. Magneto replies that he thought Arakkii frowned on weakness. The fisher laughs. The Krakoans think a lot about them. And know a little. Speaking pain is weak? How is that sense? How can you be strong if you won’t heal what’s broken? How do you heal without saying where it hurts? Speak the pain aloud, he urges Magneto.

What is there to say? he murmurs as he begins shaping the metal globe he brought with him into a building. He tried to build something. A great work. The great work. A dream of something perfect. Something to balance all he’d lived through… all he’d lost. But when he tried to make his dream real, it broke apart, shattered to pieces. And they cut him to the heart. There are those who see him as a monster. And he can pretend they never knew him. That they were not there. But if they see him as a fool – a failure – what can he say to that? What can he say to the truth? There is nothing to say. Nothing in him. Nothing left. What he sees here? This latest great work he has embarked on?

He points to the Autumn Palace he has created. A comfortable grave for him to die in. No more than that.

Port Prometheus, spaceport:
The Red Lagoon, a new club and bar:
Its owner, Roberto da Costa aka Sunspot, sits at the bar talking to Kobak Never-held. He explains it is a nice little investment but, at the end of the day, it’s a spaceport bar. He needs somewhere with acoustics… this planet needs a party palace. He wants to be the David Mancuso of Mars. Arakko, Kobak Never-held corrects him, and he has no idea who that is. Roberto lectures him, he made the dancefloor what it is today. Has he ever danced to disco? Kobak tells him he hasn’t. He was born as the final siege raged, over a century past. His first love died in the prisons. His name was Tarlo. They fought against the Vile and, when they came for them, he took it on himself. Kobak wept for a year. He has not shed a tear since.

Roberto tells him, his first love was named Juliana. She loved him against the odds. Saw something in him he hadn’t seen himself yet. Then she died to save his life. So, he lives. He raises his glass. Here’s to the business of living, he tells Kobak who returns the gesture. He sees Roberto –and he has a place in the broken land. Roberto jokes that is great but he needs to know if Nile Rodgers has…

He breaks off when he notices Vulcan berating a Shi’ar envoy. Doesn’t he know who he is? Vulcan shouts. The Shi’ar nervously points out he has diplomatic immunity. He is immune to challenge. Vulcan scoffs at this. Does he think him Arakkii? Has he already been forgotten? The Shi’ar tries to hint that there are certain vagaries at to what may officially be recalled. His face is familiar, he admits.

Vulcan grabs him by the front of his shirt. Because he is him, he hisses, the one they fear and adore. He is Vulcan! Energy flares from his mouth and eyes as he rants that he led the Shi’ar empire to true greatness. He is fire – and he never died! He heard how Gladiator usurped the throne, how he gave it to Lilandra’s line. To Xandra Xavier. But it wasn’t his to give – because he never died!

The Shi’ar begs, which pleases Vulcan. Perhaps it was fate, he mumbles, He is a Summers, and every Summers must kill his Xavier in the…

Roberto interrupts his ramblings. He doesn’t like shenanigans in his bar. At least not shenanigans he didn’t start. So is this what they’d call a shenanigan, Mr. Summers?

Vulcan lets the Shi’ar go. He’s heard of him, Vulcan states. He owns the Red Lagoon. Turning to his solar-powered form, Roberto announces it is step one of his larger plan. He thinks Arakko is the place for a major disco resurgence. He’s not even joking. Anyway, that makes the nice young gentleman a customer, and round here the customer is king. He trails off as against his will he powers down.

King, yes, Vulcan grins as he has absorbed Sunspot’s solar power. He attacks with an energy construct fist, but Roberto dodges the attack. He has fought without powers before. Vulcan strikes him and asks how that worked out for him.

At the bar, Kobak is disgusted that Vulcan is a weapons thief. The Shi’ar delegate asks him to help his friend. Help him in a one-on-one fight? Kobak asks in disbelief. He won’t insult a man he has just met.

Vulcan sneers at Roberto: look at him. Who is he? With his human suit, his human money, his human bar - what is he doing on the mutant planet? Vulcan knows why he is here. He is a king, the fire of empires! And he is a Summers… Krakoan royalty!

Suddenly, a heavy hand lands on his shoulder. He turns around to stare up at John Proudstar, the original Thunderbird. He’s a Summers, huh? John asks. Does he know Cyclops? He’s his brother, Vulcan stammers at the taller man. Can he help him with something? Proudstar hits him in the face. He can tell his brother he can go &%$ himself.

Vulcan identifies him. One of the also-rans who left him on Krakoa to die… Thought he was Krakoan royalty, John points out as he grabs a table. Sorry for not catching him last time. He’d have snapped his pencil neck when he had the chance. He hits Vulcan with the table. The crowd boos and jeers for his interference in the fight, which goes against their sense of honor.

Cable and Brand enter and Cable orders Proudstar to stand down. He’s made his point. Brand announces that they got word of an Earth mutant threatening Shi’ar dignitaries. That makes it her business. Then he guesses he took care of her business, Thunderbird retorts.

He will become a sun before them, Vulcan rants. He will burn this world! Cable telekinetically blocks his uncle’s carotid artery for a moment to make him unconscious. He’s getting worse, he tells Brand. All the Shi’ar in town, that thing with Sway and Petra… What thing? Brand asks. It’ a long story, Cable sighs. He is not welcome at the Summer House, but even so maybe Cyclops can get through to him…

Brand decides to take him to SWORD Station two instead. She thinks what he needs is some useful work.

Roberto and John are not pleased to hear that. John angrily shouts if he hadn’t taken him out… Cable continues, they’d have resolved the situation peacefully. And with a lot less damage. He warns John to watch his temper. It’s gotten him killed once. That a threat, scarface? John snaps in his face. He wants to back that up? There he goes again, Cable replies stoically. Misplaced aggression. He could learn a lot from his brother… &%$§ you! Thunderbird shouts. Cable is momentarily taken aback. $§*% all of them! John continues. Him, Xavier, Frost, all those vultures! He’s proud of Jimmy, proud of what he made of himself. But does Cable really think John would have let him turn James into his soldier if he had been around?!

But he wasn’t around, was he? Cable asks. He had better things to do. He had a plane to catch…

John is about to explode. Brand steps between them. She orders Cable to put Vulcan in the brig. She has places to be. She orders Thunderbird to take the next gate back to Earth. She is rescinding his Martian privileges. Automatically, he replies he goes where he pleases. She suggests he try.

Roberto announces that he is happy to have John here. If he’s ever on Arakko again… He will be, John promises. One-eye junior just made it real personal. He warns Roberto to watch his back. It doesn’t take his senses to smell how this place is rotting from the head down. No, Roberto agrees. It does not.

After the vote in the Great Ring came down on the side of peace:
Isca walks up to Storm and remarks, another day on the Table Day’s business. The dry dusty business of peacetime. Is this the paradise Storm wanted? A paradise of paperwork? Storm suggests, if it’s battle Isca craves, Redroot still languishes in Otherworld… Isca interrupts that Redroot made her bed. That was the law of Genesis. Any taken alive must free themselves to redeem themselves. Her sister understood strength, Isca muses. She should have gone with her when she went to face the demons of Amenth…

Storm points out it was Isca’s abstention that allowed Storm to decide the issue… by Arakko’s own law. Just as Isca abstained on Arakko moving to Mars. Had she chosen to vote on either of these…

Isca reminds her that her power is never to lose. Had she voted, the vote would have gone her way… and she prefers to keep that powder dry. No, the responsibility of this lies with Storm. She brought them to this new world. She brought them this era of peace… and all it may bring. She is the regent. This is Storm’s planet, is Isca’s parting shot, they are just the people who live here.

Storm’s mind flashes back to the accusations of Nameless that Storm is not of Arakko. She was not there!

She is brought out of her reverie by Commander Brand, who remarks she just came from the Red Lagoon and felt the need to speak to the Queen of Mars. Regent of Arakko, Storm corrects her. “If you say so, your majesty,” Brand mocks and suggests they walk and talk.

Brand begins, when Krakoa colonized Mars… Storm interrupts, they never “colonized” anything. This wasn’t someone’s land. This was a dead rock, until they gave it a chance to live and thrive! What Krakoa did here was resurrection.

When Krakoa appropriated Mars, Brand corrects, it was a solution to a problem. What to do with an island full of violent morons who live to cause trouble. Storm retorts, a few groups of roaming bandits don’t represent a whole society. Roaming bandits with high level mutant powers, Brand points out. She’s got the head of the Great Ring’s quotes on file, saying Krakoa should have conquered Earth.

Storm muses, she is a little tired of Isca’s big talk. She fought against Arakko all through the war – why is she treated as the voice of the people now? Why is Storm, voice of Sol? Brand reminds her. The point is Arakko needs a controlling influence and she thinks that’s a job for the X-Men. Cultural ambassadors setting a good example, she explains. Isn’t that what the X-Men have always been? She’s proposing an X-Men of Mars along those lines. Of course, Storm would be the leader.

Storm tells her to find someone else as she heads toward another Krakoan gate. Brand calls after her to think about it. After all, it’s what she is already doing. Taking a position of power… imposing her will, deciding what’s right and wrong for this culture. That’s what a queen does. That’s what a queen is. “That’s what you are, your majesty!”

Storm heads through the gate into what looks like a throne room. Is that what she sees? she asks as she takes off her earring / hair ornament. A throne… a crown. Was she this in the crowds of Cairo? On the rooftops of Tokyo? When she laughed in the skies and gave rain to the soil, did it only lead here? To this piece of gold?

She recalls Nameless accusing her of being seduced by power. By crowns and thrones. She throws the ornament to the ground and refuses this. She’ll be free of that cage and the planet with her! No thrones on Arakko, she says and uses her lightning to destroy the throne. She smiles. There are greater things to be than a queen…

The day passes. In the Autumn Castle the fisher remarks that Max has created not a bad castle but it’s a little austere. Magneto remarks he is the master of magnetism, not carpeting. He’ll work on the decorations in due course. Unless his new friend has the power to conjure scatter cushions from the air. They could make it a challenge. His guest laughs. He’ll be an Arakkii yet. That’s a nice open door. Magneto apologizes for being rude. He never asked his name. His guest explains his name is long gone. Most call him the Fisher King. Looking at his catch, he mutters they should roast that one before it gets much older.

When he hears his guest’s sobriquet, Magneto remarks he has to tell Elizabeth Braddock that one when he sees her. He asks about the Fisher King’s power, figuring it has something to do with the name. His guest replies he never had one, as he pours two drinks.

He's human? Magneto exclaims. Of course not, the Fisher King replies forcefully. Humans are from Earth. He was born in the prisons. But he lives among the Arakkii, Magneto tries to clarify. It’s not powers that make the Arakkii, the Fisher King explains. He was born in the prisons. He grew up tortured by the Vile. His own daughter took their bribes… but he fought. It was war and he fought. He was there. Btu he sees him, he tells Magneto. He has a place in the broken land. He was somewhere, too. He offers Magneto a cup. Magneto hesitates then agrees. But it’s not something he cares to –

He breaks off when he hears another voice who praises the castle’s acoustics. It’s Roberto DaCosta. Critically, he remarks the place could use a few scatter cushions.

Magneto asks how Roberto even knew he was here. “Ways and means, Erik,” Sunspot boasts. Eyes and ears on the comings and goings. Any objections to him turning this into a disco place? He promises they’ll play oldies… Magneto admonishes him to tuck his shirt in. Has he been fighting? he asks critically considering Sunspot’s disheveled appearance. Not very well, Sunspot replies, calling him ‘headmaster.’ In the Danger Room, he’d score a D- at best. On that note, he’s got a proposition…

The Fisher King asks how many names Magneto has: Max, Magneto, Erik and headmaster? Too many, is Magneto’s sober reply. He tells Roberto he doesn’t know what he needs, but he is no longer the man he needs. He is done building utopias. Is that so? Sunspot asks slyly. Then he is exactly the man he needs. Abigail Brand is up to something, he explains. She always was, but she is more open about to now. She’s got a plan for Arakko… a utopia to build…

… and Arakko has no say in it, the Fisher King continues grimly. He’s been there before, too. It won’t end well. So, Mars needs X-Men, Roberto continues. Are the two of them in?

She’s in, a new voice announces. She was coming here to suggest something similar, but not X-Men. This is not Mars. This is Arakko. To defend it they must be of Arakko. Brand is the one looking for X-Men and she will find them. So, they need to balance that. Then what is that balance? Magneto asks. Who defends the broken land? The Brotherhood does, Storm, dressed in leather, hair styled in a faux mohawk replies.

Characters Involved: 

Fisher King, Magneto, Storm, Sunspot (Brotherhood of Arakko)
Brand, Cable (SWORD)|
Kobak Never-Held
Idyll, Isca, Lactuca, Lodus Logos, Sobunar, Tarn, Xilo (Great Ring of Arakko)
Shi’ar delegate

In flashback:

Story Notes: 

The Nine Seats and how they voted:
Seat of victory: Isca: abstains
Seat of Stalemate: Idyll: war
Seat of Loss: Tarn: War
Seat of abve-us__ Lactuca: peace
Sear of all-around us (two votes): Storm: peace
Seat of below-us: Sobunar: peace
Seat of Law: Ora Serrata: war (in absentia)
Seat of history: Xilo: War
Seat of Dreams: Lodus Logos: peace

Further notes:

The series has nothing to do with X-Men Red (1st series), but is a continuation of S.W.O.R.D. (2nd series).

Magneto left the council in Immortal X-Men #1, probably due to the events in Inferno (2nd series).

Max Eisenhardt is Magneto’s actual (though rarely used) name.

Kobak Never-Held first appeared S.W.O.R.D. (2nd series) #9, where he challenged Storm and lost.

David Mancuso was a famous American DJ who popularized the idea of the “by invitation only” party.

Juliana Sandoval was Sunspot’s girlfriend who died saving his life in Marvel Graphic Novel #4.

Nile Gregory Rodgers Jr. (born September 19, 1952) is an American record producer, musician and composer.     

“Summers killing Xavier”: Vulcan probably refers to Cyclops killing Professor X when he was one of the Phoenix Five in Avengers vs X-Men.

Thunderbird was resurrected in The Trial of Magneto #5.

“Also rans who left him to die”: When the new X-Men saved the original team on Krakoa, nobody was aware of the team of interim X- Men who had also been captured (X-Men: Deadly Genesis)

The issue with Sway and Petra will be explained in issue #2.

“Plane to catch”: Cable is rather nastily referring to how Thunderbird threw his life away to stop Count Nefaria. [X-Men (1st series) #95]

Redroot was captured by Mad Jim Jaspers during the X of Swords event.

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