The Siege of Wundagore
The High Evolutionary wants the scientific citadel on Wundagore Mountain back. Exodus and the Acolytes took it from him and he prepares his Knights to retake it by force. One of his creations, the White Tiger brings in some much needed help in the form of the Heroes for Hire, a loose knit bunch of heroes including Luke Cage and Iron Fist. Another wild card in the proceedings is the unknown Lord Anon, one of the Knights of Wundagore of whom the other Knights are becoming increasingly suspicious. With several interested parties involved, Quicksilver knows that he must keep control, not only of the Knights and the Heroes for Hire, but also the High Evolutionary, who is both physically and mentally unstable, due to his experiments upon himself using Isotope E. With the White Tiger and Lord Anon both working to their own agendas, Quicksilver has his work cut out. Can he guide the Knights to victory and retake the citadel, or are the forces against him just too much for him to handle?
- The High Evolutionary
- Bova, Lord Delphis, Lord Gator, Sir Ram, Lord Tyger, Lady Ursula, Lady Vermin (all Knights of Wundagore)
- Ant-Man II, Black Knight IV, Luke Cage, Iron Fist I, Jim Hammond, She-Hulk, Thena, White Tiger II (all Heroes for Hire)
- Dr. Jane Foster
- The Man-Beast (also as Lord Anon)
- Joanna Cargill, Fabian Cortez, Decay, Exodus, Gargouille, Javitz, Katu, Harlan and Sven Kleinstock, Seamus Melloncamp, Milan, Projector, Scanner, Senyaka, Spoor, Carmella Unuscione, Amelia Voght, several unnamed (all Acolytes)
Heroes for Hire (1st series) #15-16, Quicksilver #11-12, Heroes for Hire & Quicksilver Annual 1998
Exodus has been looking to attack the High Evolutionary for some time now and, to this end, he has captured the golden citadel on Wundagore Mountain, but the High Evolutionary now wants it back. At the Knight’s safe house on the Hudson River, Bova introduces White Tiger to the Knights of Wundagore. When asked to account for herself, she informs them that she was created specifically to hunt the Man-Beast, hated foe of her creator, the High Evolutionary. She informs her creator that she recently hooked up with the Heroes for Hire because they could be useful allies against Exodus. He orders her to return to the Heroes for Hire headquarters in New York and there, she convinces them to offer their help.
The mysterious Lord Anon, meanwhile, finds the High Evolutionary holding a sceptre housing Isotope E, which he finds particularly interesting. The Heroes for Hire soon arrive at the safe house but Lord Anon is spotted and recognized by White Tiger. She immediately attacks him but the Knights defend their comrade while the Heroes for Hire fall in behind White Tiger. An all-out brawl ensues. The High Evolutionary soon appears, disturbed by the commotion and sees them fighting. Having little patience for this kind of behavior, he devolves the Heroes for Hire into subhumans before he and the Knights depart for Wundagore Mountain.
Quicksilver arrives at the haven and finds the Heroes for Hire in their devolved state along with a severely injured White Tiger. He quickly carries her off to Oracle Inc., where she is cared for by Jim Hammond and Dr. Jane Foster. The Knights, meanwhile, fly to Wundagore Mountain where, simultaneously, Exodus orders the Acolytes to travel in the opposite direction, not knowing their opponents have departed, placing Amelia Voght in charge of the team. They are teleported there but find only the devolved Heroes for Hire, whom they fight, before Quicksilver arrives having left White Tiger at Oracle Inc. He engages them in combat, and knowing that conflict is futile, the Acolytes teleport away after Luke Cage inadvertently tells them where the High Evolutionary and just as importantly, Isotope E have gone.
Arriving at Wundagore, the Knights enter the citadel and Bova finds the skeletal body of the real Lord Anon, who has been stabbed to death. They realize their teammate must be an impostor and they rush to the Evolutionary’s side, but find him lying on the floor with Lord Anon standing over him, sword raised and now revealing himself to be the dreaded Man-Beast. Back at Oracle, Ant-Man regresses to subhuman again and Luke is forced to subdue him. They have to find the cure for their condition and that means heading to Wundagore Mountain.
Meanwhile, at Wundagore, the Knights fight the Man-Beast who now has Isotope E and, in the confusion, Bova and Lady Vermin spirit their creator away to safety. The Man-Beast is powerful and defeats the Knights before Exodus appears to face him. He is more on the Man-Beast’s level and he orders the Acolytes to find and kill the Evolutionary and the Knights while he takes care of business. Battle ensues between the two factions while at the base of the citadel the Heroes for Hire arrive and enter the building through the armory. Exodus and the Man-Beast then appear and inform them that, despite their horrific battle, they’ve decided to join forces against the High Evolutionary, which means the Heroes for Hire end up in battle against not only the Acolytes but the Knights of Wundagore as well. Against such overwhelming odds, they don’t stand a chance and are captured.
Quicksilver later wakes and finds himself in chains. He manages to break his shackles and quickly hooks up with the Knights. He then heads off to free the Heroes for Hire. The Man-Beast, meanwhile, discovers that Isotope E is becoming more unstable but, when he takes his eyes off the sceptre, Quicksilver steals it. Exodus soon realizes that the Man-Beast has either lost the Isotope, or it has burned out. Amelia Voght speaks to Magneto by video link and promises him that she will protect Pietro just as Projector sounds the alarm after finding all the prisoners gone. The Heroes for Hire and the Acolytes go at it again while deep in the caves below, the Knights of Wundagore come across Bova and the High Evolutionary, who is in a severely weakened state. Unfortunately, the Man-Beast also finds them and psionically tries to make Lady Ursula kill her friends, though this instead has the shocking effect of causing her to commit suicide. White Tiger then attacks him and they begin a duel to the death.
The High Evolutionary meanwhile undergoes another transformation, becoming truly powerful. After seeing three of the heroes devolve again, Pietro turns Isotope E upon himself, making himself incredibly powerful. He toys with Exodus, splits the Kleinstock brothers apart and ultimately defeats Exodus in battle. Suddenly, behind him, the wall crumbles and a giant-sized High Evolutionary crashes through it, claiming Wundagore and promising to lead the world to its next phase of evolution.
Lord Delphis arrives back on Earth from Polemachus but, in not recognizing the strange off-world craft, the High Evolutionary orders Sir Ram to attack the ship. The craft crashes and Quicksilver rescues Delphis from the wreckage whilst Thena takes on the rampaging Evolutionary. Quicksilver attempts to change the Heroes for Hire back to normal using Isotope E and succeeds, for the moment. The Knights of Wundagore, blindly loyal to the Evolutionary fight the heroes and so Quicksilver manages to recruit some reluctant Acolytes, including Spoor and Gargouille, to help them out against the Knights and their creator. The Acolytes, Thena and Quicksilver all struggle against the Evolutionary and one of the newer Acolytes, Decay, tries to siphon too much energy from the Evolutionary and explodes, killing him instantly.
The Man-Beast, Exodus and Thena then form a uni-mind to try and stop the High Evolutionary. Pietro wishes to talk to the High Evolutionary but, on his way to speak with him, Bova intervenes him and manages to persuade him to hand over Isotope E to Lord Delphis, who immediately studies it. Pietro talks to the High Evolutionary and, just as he manages to convince him that his rampage is going nowhere, the Evolutionary is struck down by the three unified minds. They manage to return him to his normal size and Quicksilver orders them to cease their attack. Now that the High Evolutionary is down, Exodus steps in and tries to take over but the Black Knight has other plans, attacking him, revealing him to be the one who stopped him centuries earlier. The Black Knight is victorious.
The Man-Beast battles White Tiger as Lord Delphis manages to persuade the High Evolutionary to give up his godhood, an enormous sacrifice but a necessary one. He uses Isotope E on himself and becomes human once again. He then devolves the Man-Beast into his original wolf form and makes the Heroes for Hire stable. The High Evolutionary then asks White Tiger what she wants.
She tells him that she can’t cope with human emotions and asks for the same treatment as the Man-Beast and so is devolved into a normal white tiger. With the war ended, Iron Fist asks him what all this has achieved. The Evolutionary tells him that for the moment, the future has been saved from Exodus and the Man-Beast and, indeed, from himself.
- With the High Evolutionary’s health stable again, Quicksilver no longer had to take care of the Knight of Wundagore.
- When Magneto took over the island nation of Genosha, Quicksilver finally discovered that Amelia Voght was watching him on his fathers order. He was teleported to Genosha but was captured by a group of fanatic mutates. He was soon rescued by Amelia and Rogue and became a member of Magneto’s cabinet, mainly to keep an eye on his father. He later rejoined the Avengers as a full-time member alongside his sister. [X-Men (2nd series) #87, Magneto Rex #1 - 3, Avengers (3rd series) #38]
Heroes for Hire:
- In the aftermath of the battle, the Black Knight joined the High Evolutionary who needed someone to help train his current and future Knights. [Heroes for Hire (1st series) #17].
- Devolved back to a tigress, the White Tiger has never appeared again.
- Shortly after this storyline the Heroes for Hire disbanded due to Oracle Inc. being bought out by another company.
- Ant-Man hooked up with the Avengers alongside Quicksilver for a short time. His relationship with Cassie was unaffected by his treatment by the High Evolutionary.
Magneto and the Acolytes:
- The comatose Exodus was placed in the same tomb he was in before by the Black Knight, Thena and the High Evolutionary. Despite the Black Knight stating that the cave was now impenetrable, Exodus was somehow freed from there and was seen in Genosha in trying to make amends for his past deeds. [Uncanny X-Men Annual ’99]
- Magneto eventually retook command of his Acolytes and they kept the X-Men busy with hit-and-run missions of terrorism, while he prepared his next plan for world domination. After blackmailing the world with his magnetic pulse waves, the UN offered Magneto the island nation of Genosha to rule. [Magneto War]
The High Evolutionary:
- The High Evolutionary continued to meddle in the affairs of humans and mutants, soon cancelling mutant powers around the world. Mr. Sinister turned out to be manipulating him and, thankfully, his scheme was foiled by the X-Men. [X-Men (1st series) Annual ’99].
The Knights of Wundagore:
- Several main characters died during the storyline and the issues leading up to this climax and won’t be seen again. Mr. Steed was the first to go, followed by Lord Churchill and Lady Ursula. The rest haven’t been seen since but are presumably still working for the High Evolutionary.