X-Men: Red (2nd series) #9

Issue Date: 
February 2023
Story Title: 
Return of the King

Al Ewing(writer), Stefano Caselli (artist), Federico Blee (color), VC’s Ariana Maher (letterer and production), Tom Muller (design), Russell Dautermann (cover artist), Taurin Clarke, Ivan Shavrin (variant covers), 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

Brief Description: 

Some time ago on Brand’s request, the Five resurrected Vulcan. Xavier’s attempt to calm his violent tendencies psychically did not go well. Now, much later, the situation at the Diplomatic Zone has gone from tense to worse, as Vulcan has shown up pronouncing himself still ruler of the Shi’ar. He easily deals with the superbeings present and then fires a deadly blast at Xandra, which she absorbs, as Xandra turns out to be Sunspot disguised by an image inducer. Vulcan realizes he has been played and believes he will find Xandra at the Brotherhood’s HQ, the Autumn Palace. What he does find is a battle-ready Storm. At the World Farm, Orbis Stellaris awakens the three Progenitors to help him and they take a spooky interest in Manifold.

Full Summary: 

After Magneto’s death, Brand appeals to Xavier to resurrect Vulcan, since without Magneto Krakoa and Arakko are underpowered. While originally Vulcan had been moved to tertiary importance in the resurrection queue, Xavier agrees with Brand. To help Vulcan with his rage and paranoia, he will be telepathically given tools to handle this. Xavier is optimistic it will work.

And so, soon at Arbor Magna, the Five stand around an egg. Xavier is with them, Cyclops and Havok stand in the background. Havok pronounces he doesn’t like this. Scott agrees but admits it makes sense. With Magneto choosing to remain dead, they need powerhouses, and Charles’ idea is a good one. Havok points out this is a repair job, and do they trust Charles? Xavier coolly remarks, he has ears.

Hope wonders why the egg isn’t hatching and asks Tempus for a quick age-up. No reaction. Tempus remarks, it is his first time out of an egg, right? Is this another Kate Pryde situation? Hope recalls Kate needed a jump start. She turns to Xavier, who agrees. He saw how Emma did it. A little additional guidance… He reaches for the egg, which starts to sizzle and burn. Xavier retracts his injured hand and gasps he didn’t give back Vulcan’s mind. He took it!

A hand reaches from the egg. Now! he mutters. Cyclops asks if Gabriel is okay. Yes, he is, Gabriel replies. The shell is broken, brother. Now, it is happening now!

Arakko, the Diplomatic Zone:
Addressing his former wife Deathbird with her given name, Vulcan asks he heard their union was blessed. How is his son? Somewhere safe, she hisses. Safe from the intrigues of the Shi’ar. Safe from the scientists and their endless experiments. Safe from them, she addresses him.

Seems she has no problem with other children being part of the intrigues, he needles, to throw her niece to the wolves, is that it? “That’s ‘your royal niece,’ Mr. Summers”, Xandra corrects him from her throne. Deathbird hushes her. Mr. Summers was his father, he smirks. He is Emperor Vulcan.

Gladiator steps in front of Xandra, announcing he is emperor no more. The days of his accursed rule are stricken from official memory. Is that so? Vulcan asks mildly. He can understand the desire to pretend. He’s a little embarrassed by those days himself – not his best work. He’ll do much better on his second reign…

Unbelievable! Nova bursts out. Can someone X-affiliated tell him who was dumb enough to resurrect that creep. The mad king? During a period of Shi’ar unrest? Are they trying to start a war here?

Frenzy points out he came out of the Fault alive. What were they supposed to do, throw him back? Nova snaps back that Vulcan started a galactic war for kicks. He dropped nega-bombs on inhabited worlds to see the fireworks! You don’t throw that guy back to hell - you fire him out of a krutacking cannon!

Very evocative, Vulcan mocks. Shut it, war crimes! Nova snaps back. He asks Gladiator if he knew about this. Didn’t he think of what could happen? Gladiator replies, Xavier himself pronounced Vulcan safe. They chose to respect old alliances and chose mercy… As he speaks, he is getting weaker and finally sinks down. Vulcan sneers that Strontians are powered by their own confidence. They have an enlarged prefrontal cortex - just buzzing with electrical impulses. As an omega level energy manipulator, he can reroute those impulses. That’s what he thinks of mercy. What could happen? He calls Nova a stupid police man. It’s happening now!

Grimly, Nova announces Vulcan is charged with crimes against sentient lives, under the pan-world treaty. He orders him to surrender. What is he going to do - use the Nova Force? Vulcan mocks. This Nova Force? He turns the energy against Nova. Frenzy tries to reach Brand, asking for SWORD security as she hits Vulcan. Brand doesn’t reply.

Mentallo remarks that Frenzy would be pissed if she knew Brand was already watching. She is pissed at her anyway, Brand shrugs. It’s only her sense of duty that keeps Frenzy at her post. It’s a shame. At one point, she’d have let her into the inner circle as far as him. That inner circle paycheck does buy the kind of luxuries you can’t get in eco-hippy paradise, Mentallo grins. Shame about Frenzy. She was one of the best, but she caught the worst disease you can get in this game: caring what happens to the suckers…

Frenzy screams as Vulcan blasts Paibok.

Brand corrects him that she does care about – about everybody in the Sol system. Somebody has to. Somebody’s got to care enough to be the bad guy…

The World Farm:
Taki sulks back in the ship. He tries to contact the others. Instead, several robotic beings notice him and consider him a threat.

I’m not at home to nuisance callers today,” Orbis Stellaris, atop a giant armed robot, announces inside the World Farm, so he hopes they’ll excuse his rudeness by showing them out via the quickest way possible - their violent deaths! He fires a blast at Khora who dodges.

Cable orders Zsen and Thunderbird to get him off-balance. The two go for cutting the robot’s tendons and Stellaris feels the body s pain. Cable shoots him. Stellaris mutters that the overlord class was apparently made to give orders, not to engage in combat. He will remember that. Fortunately, he has assistance within the room. He addresses the three sleeping Progenitors, ordering them to rise. Their creator commands!

The creator has guests, the first Progenitor grins (with two sets of mouths with needle-sharp teeth).

Manifold swears. He can sense the power of those three.

Such a compliment, one of them replies, but he has greatness in him. A great tool for their purpose. May it take a closer look?

It does something to Manifold, who is paralyzed.

Cable orders Thunderbird to get his knife ready.

The Diplomatic Zone:
Vulcan takes out Frenzy by taking away her oxygen. Nova flies at him and is swatted away.

Deathbird tries to appeal to him and he is disappointed that she would bow to the throne. The fire in her eyes is lost, but his fire burns forever! He fires a deadly blast at Xandra.

On the KEEP, Mentallo asks to be excused. Brand tells him they have to look at what they do. That’ s the prize… She breaks off. Something is wrong!

The Diplomatic Zone:
Deathbird mocks she tried to warn him. Wonderful things, Shi’ar image inducers, comes a voice from the throne. They even do voices! Xandra couldn’t make it, Sunspot announces. “Fortunately, I rule.

Vulcan blusters that he will burn him alive for this. Roberto mildly reminds him they both eat solar energy. But please, give it a go. Find out which of them is hotter.

Vulcan realizes Sunspot is a distraction. If Xandra isn’t here, he knows where to find her. He flies off.

Deathbird smirks at Roberto. Vulcan would have incinerated him. Obviously, he replies, but even so he is better looking. It’s the moral victory that’s important.

Vulcan lands outside the Autumn Palace. Brand contacts him via Mentallo to warn him this is not a smart move. He orders her to make her telepath stay out of his mind. Telepaths anger him, especially if they are of Xavier’s line like Xandra-Thronestealer.

He enters and shouts he can feel she is here scratching at his mind. “You!” he states a moment later, He has been dreaming of this fight since before he died. Really? Storm asks, eyes ablaze. Sorry to keep him waiting…

Characters Involved: 

Cable, Khora of the Burning Heart, Manifold, Thunderbird, Weaponless Zsen, Wiz Kid

Commander Abigail Brand

Orbis Stellaris

In flashback:
Professor X
Cyclops, Havok
Egg, elixir, Hope Summers II, Proteus, Tempus (The Five)

Story Notes: 
  • Xavier’s notes on Vulcan pre-resurrection in which he suggests that adding some telepathic information during resurrection will help Vulcan’s sanity
  • A look into Sunspot’s secret files, which shows he has pretty much guessed what Brand is up to.

Further notes:

Continuity mistake: Despite what is claimed in the file on Vulcan, Xavier actually has a PhD in psychology and even taught psychology classes at Columbia University during the 190ies of Uncanny X-Men (Of course, his students did beat him up…).

Vulcan died in issue #2.

Kate Pryde situation: As shown in Marauders (1st series) #11, the Five had trouble resurrecting Kate. Thanks to her mutation, she didn’t burst out of the egg and needed some telepathic help.

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