Emma Frost and Polaris face off against Miss Sinister and Havok as Magneto rushes to stop the deadly effects of the Mothervine virus.
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Marcus To
Color Artist: Rain Beredo
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Artists: RB Silva & Rain Beredo
What You Need To Know:
With the use of Mothervine – a human to mutant transformation machine – Havok, Emma Frost, Miss Sinister, and Bastion have been plotting to make mutants the dominant species on Earth. Magneto’s team of X-Men, led by his daughter Polaris, were deployed to subdue the new Mothervine mutants, and this eventually led to their capture. Magneto himself was nursing some of the Mothervine victims back to health when the alternate-universe Marauders appeared and turned the Mothervine mutants against him. He hopped on his time platform to escape.
Meanwhile, the time-displaced Original Five X-Men – Marvel Girl, Iceman, Beast, Cyclops, and Angel continue to be lost in space.
What You Will Find Out:
Polaris, Daken, Gazing Nightshade, and Xorn wait in captivity, their powers suppressed by the combined might of Emma Frost and Miss Sinister, both of whom are with Jimmy Hudson, who has been strapped down to a table. Miss Sinister taunts him, which Emma finds distasteful, and she asks Miss Sinister to stop playing games with him and move on to studying him, as that was Miss Sinister’s intention with him.
Miss Sinister points out that Jimmy’s blood has a foreign compound in it – Mothervine – and that it was created in Jimmy’s native world to create mutants, and then to weaponize them. Emma tells her that they are not going to follow in those footsteps, and Sinister shoots back by saying that they’re at war and that her lab is a place for the development of weapons. Emma, never one for being spoken down to, lashes out by taking control of the Marauders around them, sending them to attack Miss Sinister, who easily takes them out. Emma, though, used the distraction and her mind-control to get Jimmy free, because the best weapon in any fight is a Wolverine-type.
With Emma being occupied with taking Miss Sinister down, Polaris and the others realize that the psychic leash on them has been severed, and so Polaris uses her powers to bust out of the room they’re imprisoned in, only to run into Emma, Jimmy, and Bloodstorm. Polaris correctly guesses that Emma’s decided the Mothervine stuff was bad, and so they come to terms enough to work together.
Meanwhile, Magneto is in Mexico City with his new recruits – Elixir and Exodus – who are all working together to cure the humans affected by Mothervine. Unfortunately, as one of the afflicted finds out, the only ones who can be cured are those who didn’t carry a latent mutant gene.
Havok learns that Magneto has found a way to reverse the effects of Mothervine and is none-too-pleased. Bastion informs him that they will need to get rid of Elixir if they want to be successful, and Havok realizes that he ought to have dealt with Magneto earlier so that something like this didn’t happen. Havok wonders where Miss Sinister and Emma have gone off to, which makes it the perfect moment for Emma to stage an entrance.
Polaris, Bloodstorm, and the others punch their way to Havok and Bastion as Emma informs Havok that their group was going to implode at some point anyway, she simply made the first move. Bastion moves to take them down, but Xorn unleashes his full power, causing both Xorn and Bastion to disappear. Havok attacks Polaris and Emma, but unfortunately for him, the two of them are on the same side.
Emma uses her telepathy to link the minds of three of them and they get through to him. Emma manages to flip his personality back to what it used to be before. Polaris tries to empathize with Havok but can’t because Havok feels as though maybe he’s the fake personality and the true personality was the one he had been operating with these past few months, since the events of Axis. While they talk, Elixir kills the Mothervine virus, including the part of it that’s within Jimmy. He’s also healed Havok’s scars, but Havok feels as though they’re still there.
Her job done, Emma seeks out Magneto. She takes telepathic control of all the people around him and uses them to communicate with him, telling him that she helped stop Mothervine and save the X-Men. She wants to extend an olive branch to him, but Magneto wants no part of that. She put him in a difficult, unforgivable position, and for that, she’s made an enemy.
What Just Happened?:
Well, the biggest thing that happened is that Havok – one of three people who didn’t revert to their original personalities post-Axis – is back to his old self. Well, as back to his old self as he can get, given the trauma he’s now experiencing after switching back. The fact that he can feel his old personality within him, that he still feels scarred by his action and by the actions of his other self, that’s going to take a lot of time to get over, if the story is treated properly. It seems as though the Summers brothers are always destined to forever be drowning in the shadows of the darkness that imbued them. Scott felt it back after that mess where he merged with Apocalypse, and later again with the Phoenix stuff, and now Havok is undergoing much of the same. Where Havok is going to go from here is anyone’s guess, but it’d be nice for him to catch a break and get to a place where he’s able to heal and come to terms with his recent past and believe in himself again.
Emma Frost under Cullen Bunn’s writing is the best she has been for the past few years – strong, capable, determined, with her own moral code. She’s not the cackling woman gone mad that she had become at the end of the Inhumans vs X-Men event anymore, and that’s a change for the better. Emma has always operated best as a character who has toed the line between good and evil, in a sort of silvery-grey area where she’s realistic about the world around her and will do whatever she needs to assure that she and her people survive, but without being an out and out villain. Hopefully, other writers will carry on with this characterization and let her continue on the path of redemption that she’s been on since Generation X. Her scenes with Polaris were some of the best in the entire issue, and it’d be great for them to foster a friendship of sorts because together, they could be formidable.
Magneto is another character who has always flipped and flopped between villainy and heroism, but in this issue, he was out saving humankind by healing them from the Mothervine virus, and it was a wonderful side of him to see. For a man who once hated all of humanity, for him to have come to a point where he doesn’t need all of humanity to become mutants or anything, it’s clear he’s come a long way from the man he used to be. Sure, his new target seems to be Emma – which will be an interesting antagonistic relationship – but it’s great that the writers are continuing to let him evolve instead of snapping him back to outright villainy.
While the arc started off shaky at best, it’s ended on an incredibly strong note, and though the time-displaced X-Men will be back in the next issue, this has been a fantastic interlude arc and one hopes that this group of X-Men won’t disappear into the background. Seeing Lorna and Magneto’s daughter-father relationship evolve is a delight, and this is an eclectic but solid group of characters that Bunn has gathered.
Marcus To is one of those artists who I feel never quite gets the due he deserves. He’s a fantastic artist, his work light, airy, deceptively easy, but extremely grounded and thoughtful. He draws his figures with respect and grace, and this is most noticeable with how he draws Emma and Polaris. He’s wonderfully expressive too – that haunted expression on Alex’s at the end is pitch-perfect. Rain Beredo’s palette is absolutely complementary to To’s linework, the colors aptly bright or subdued where they need to be. Of special note is the fact that Beredo ensures the fact that even Elixir’s skin is a metallic gold instead of simply golden colored, which is a feature some artists tend to overlook.
Final Thoughts: A strong ending to an arc that started out shaky, with some incredibly strong character moments and some juicy seeds dropped, this is a book that is clearly continuing to improve. It will be interesting to see where Bunn takes these characters to next on their journey. This book comes highly recommended.
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