Appearing in "Casualties of War"
- Henry Peter Gyrich
- Robert Kelly
- Magneto (Only in flashback)
- Nazis (Only in flashback)
- Sharra (Mentioned)
- Sharon Kelly (Mentioned)
- Bastion (Mentioned)
- Legacy Virus (Mentioned)
- Onslaught (Mentioned)
- Graydon Creed (Mentioned)
- United States Senate (Mentioned)
- X.S.E. (Mentioned)
- Gladiator (Mentioned)
- Professor Xavier (Mentioned)
Synopsis for "Casualties of War"
The issue opens to the image of a bound, bleeding, and apparently tortured Lilandra Neramani. A Phalanx unit acting as her captor is puzzled that she still survives. He finds her "obstinate" (stubborn). As an explanation of her survival, Lilandra reminds him that she is the Majestrix of the Shi'ar Empire.
A narrator explains that the Empire is the preeminent force in the galaxy, controlling a galaxy with hundreds of planets and thousands of races of sentient beings. For uncounted generations the Shi'ar have maintained their supremacy, quelling unrest swiftly and with minimal bloodshed. Now the Empire seems to be experiencing its last hours.
The next scene reveals that the Phalanx have taken over Lilandra's main throne room. Many Shi'ar corpses fill the room, with Lilandra apparently being among the last survivors. A hidden Gambit observes the scene and starts making his observations. He views Lilandra's words as "brave", "royal", and "empty". What is left of the Shi'ar ruling class is on its last limb, dying. The Phalanx see every carbon-based lifeform as organic fodder that must be absorbed into their collective. If the X-Men fail to stop them here, they are unlikely to ever be stopped.
He then points that their group only has 7 members: Gambit himself, Bishop, Joseph, Rogue, Deathbird, Beast, and Trish Tilby. Beast tells him to stop with the "woe is me talk". Hank says that the X-Men have dedicated their lives to protecting a world that fears and hates them, Earth. Now they are broadening their horizons into attempting to overthrow pan-galactic warlords.
Bishop observes that there is something strange about the Phalanx's behavior. They are taking their time with the captive Shi'ar. Why haven't they killed everyone and finish the job. He likens their behavior to playing with their food. His words make Deathbird realize something, that the Phalanx are after the Shi'ar's children. Rogue observes that there is no sign of any children, and Deathbird clarifies that she is speaking for the royals yet to be born. The Phalanx are aiming to assimilate the Shi'ar offspring, an entire of her race. Gambit realizes she is talking about the eggs of the Shi'ar. He says that the Phalanx are in the "hen house" with their claws on the eggs.
The X-Men have to decide what to do and everyone turns to Rogue for leadership, which surprises her. (She has actually served as the unofficial leader of this group for a while). She consults with the Beast on whether they can spare to send Bishop and Deathbird on a mission. He replies that seven or five against a universe, what difference can it make? Rogue tasks Bishop and Deathbird with rescuing the eggs. Deathbird expresses her gratitude and says that they have admirable courage, considering they are nothing more than humans.
The scene shifts to the New Mexico desert and the former Hulkbuster Base. The narration explains that the Base is currently operated by Operation:Zero Tolerance, a shadow-army seeking to protect mankind from mutants. A few vehicles and personnel of the Base are seen from the distance. Within the base is Henry Peter Gyrich, who has championed the Operation's cause for years. His efforts have been decried as fascist but he sees them only as part of his duty to his country and people. Now this patriot feels doubt.
Gyrich is approached by Senator Robert Kelly who expresses similar doubts about the Operation. Kelly says that the two of them may have unleashed a force than can no longer be stopped. He himself has long fought to ensure that humanity has a suitable defense against mutant aggression and lost his wife to this cause. But this is no longer about defensive plans. He sees around him an army mobilized for combat and equipped with advanced technology. They seem fully prepared to declare war on United States citizens. He questions if this is what the two of them wanted.
Gyrich replies that it may be too late for regrets, since Bastion has grown too powerful to stop. The Operation has yet to be officially sanctioned by Congress. But Bastion has allies in the United States House of Representatives, the United States Senate, and every other ruling party in the world. Bastion has used to his advantage the spread of the Legacy Virus to the human community, the near-destruction of planet Earth by Onslaught, and the assassination of Presidential candidate Graydon Creed. Neither Gyrich, nor Kelly could prevent any of these events. Kelly argues that the two of them were trailblazers and that Bastion follows the trail they opened. But if he follows that path to its end, the result may be the disintegration of human society.
The scene shifts back to Chandilar, specifically to "the nest" of the planet. It is a collective womb where all the eggs (offspring) of the Shi'ar race are incubated, nurtured, and protected. It is the most sacred place in the Empire since it is connected to both the dawn of life and the very power of creation. Deathbird and Bishop arrive to the nest and are embraced by the womb.
Bishop has never seen this place before but is impressed by its beauty. Deathbird explains that this is the very heart of Shi'ar society, and the only spot where there is no class distinction. Here both the Shi'ar ruling class and the lower caste are equals. Noting that her words sound romantic, Bishop comments that they are somewhat strangely coming for a persistent claimant to the imperial throne who has kept trying to usurp it. Deathbird sees no contradiction in these facts. She does believe that she alone deserves to rule the Shi'ar Empire but still cares about the rights and liberties of its myriad of worlds.
Bishop wishes to end their conversation, since this is no time for a philosophical discussion. He wants them to concentrate on preparing to face the Phalanx. Deathbird agrees but comments that she was wrong about Bishop not being a warrior. He seems different to her from his "callow" (inexperienced and immature) teammates in the X-Men. He seems to actually have a true warrior's instinct. She asks why.
He replies that he spend his formative years in the X.S.E., a mutant peacekeeping force that exists 80 years in the future. She is surprised to learn that he comes from the future and even more surprised that 80 years later the Empire has yet to annex the Earth. The conversation is interrupted by a scream by Deathbird, which reminds Bishop of the sound of a wounded eagle falling out of the sky.
Bishop checks a suddenly weakened Deathbird for wounds. He discoverers that she has no fresh wounds, but one of her older wounds has opened and she is bleeding. He realizes it is a wound from the battle with the Phalanx at the derelict space station. He chastises Deathbird for not giving herself enough time to heal from her wounds. She protest that there is no time to heal, and argues that only a coward would spend time in convalescence amidst a crisis. She is no coward.
He wants to transport her to safety, but she would rather die in defense of the nest. She claims it is the only thing that has ever been important to her. She asks what he would have done in her place. The scene shifts to Joseph. He is experiencing a flashback to Magneto's childhood memories from World War II and the Holocaust. The flashback has been triggered by observing the Phalanx performing genocide on the Shi'ar.
The flashback depicts Magneto being transported with other prisoners in a military vehicle. He seems to be the only child among them. The prisoners are soon slaughtered but Magneto survives, the sole survivor. He hides from the German guards. The flashback ends.
Gambit instructs Joseph to ignore his memories and turn off his feelings. He says that Joseph has got to do it for Beast's plan to work. Joseph protests that the Sh'ar are living, breathing, and sentient beings. He hates seeing them perish. Gambit says that the plan will eventually allow the X-Men to rescue them. Joseph thinks to himself about avenging the Shi'ar and that someone has to pay for all this death and for victimizing those unable to defend themselves. His allies are blissfully unaware that Joseph is thinking in a Magneto-like way.
Beast carefully explains his plans to the X-Men. He is working on a device that will find the right frequency to separate the techno-organic Phalanx to "techno" and "organic" components. He needs at least five minutes to do so and wants them to maintain their low profile. At this moment Joseph can take it no longer and snaps. He steps in at the protector of the surviving Shi'ar civilians and reveals his presence and status as Homo superior to the Phalanx.
Rogue decides to go join Joseph, and Gambit follows her. Beast and Trish Tilby stay behind to work on his plan. As a battle begins, a Phalanx unit attempts to execute Lilandra. The execution is prevented by Joseph who uses his magnetic powers on the unit. Lilandra is surprises. She says she expected reinforcements from Earth, but she was expecting her love Professor Xavier and the X-Men, not Magneto. Gambit uses his own powers to blow up the Phalanx unit. Lilandra recognizes him as an X-Man and thinks that the X-Men came after all.
While Gambit, Joseph, and Rogue continue to fight the Phalanx units, Gambit privately starts to worry. For the time being Joseph is part of the solution, but Gambit thinks he may be their next problem. This traumatic experience seems to be reverting him back to his Magneto persona. Seeing Joseph/Magneto in full combat mode and taking out the Phalanx, makes Gambit wonder how the X-Men managed to beat this man over the years.
Rogue fights alongside Joseph and asks him if he knows what he is doing. He says he only knows that he can not sit idly and let "it" (genocide) happen again. He recalls making a vow: "never again". His next blast of magnetic energy is stopped by the Phalanx, who have found a suitable frequency to counter his magnetism. A unit warns the "humans" that their actions mark them as unworthy vessels for the Phalanx Dominion. Instead of being assimilated, they will be sentenced to oblivion.
A unit attacks Joseph but Rogue leaps to his defense. She is captured instead of Joseph, and starts struggling to escape. Gambit can not help her since the Phalanx have found a way to counter his kinetic energy. Other Phalanx are chasing Beast and Trish Tilby. Trish asks why are they running away from them, and Hank says it is only a strategic withdrawal. They are trying to keep the units after them from shifting their focus to Rogue or realizing what is actually happening.
The scene shifts to the nest, where Deathbird and Bishop are fighting a large number of Phalanx. The Phalanx units fall to their energy blasts but more of them keep arriving. Bishop thinks that the Phalanx's currently inept strategy is giving him and Deathbird an advantage. The Phalanx units keep throwing themselves at them and die before having time to adapt to their energy blasts.
Deathbird notices that her ally's energy storage is falling low. He confirms this is true but says once his energy powers are gone, he is ready to take them apart with his bare hands. She invite him to leave right now, since this is not actually the human's fight. He is firmly against this solution, something which impresses Deathbird.
Suddenly, the Phalanx are starting to change. Something tears them apart, separating their technology from their bones and organic components. They die en masse without even screaming. The duo realize the X-Men have managed to stop the invaders.
In the throne room, Trish Tilby is celebrating their victory over the Phalanx, pointing they just defeated an entire intergalactic army. Around her surviving Shi'ar and other citizens of their empire seem dazed, Lilandra helps one of the wounded, and Joseph is brooding in silence. Gambit takes one look at the scene and says he does not feel like a victor. The story ends.
- None of the Phalanx units are named in this issue and they do not seem to have individual characteristics or personalities.
- According to this issue, the Phalanx have pirated technology from 100,000 worlds and absorbed organics from 200,000 alien races. This is new information but has mostly been ignored by subsequent storylines.
- The Marvel Chronology Project, which tracks character appearances, has the following information on the characters who are not regular cast members:
- Henry Peter Gyrich appears here following Domino Vol 1 1 (January, 1997). He next appears in Uncanny X-Men Vol 1 346 (August, 1997).
- Robert Kelly appears here following Uncanny X-Men Vol 1 333 (June, 1996). He next appears in Wolverine Vol 2 116 (September, 1997).
- Lilandra Neramani appears here following a flashback scene in Imperial Guard Vol 1 2 (February, 1997). She next appears in the following issue, so she never joins the regular cast.
- The flashback scenes with Magneto take place within scenes covered in X-Men: Magneto Testament Vol 1 3 (January, 2009), New Mutants Vol 1 49 (March, 1987), and Vision and the Scarlet Witch Vol 1 4 (February, 1983).
- While the X-Men celebrate their victory over the Phalanx, most of them played little to no role in this victory. The victory is achieved solely due to the Beast exterminating the Phalanx with a literal push of a button. Beast just achieved what several X-Teams and the entire Shi'ar Empire failed to do: terminate the threat. This is somewhat undermined by later storylines which depict surviving Phalanx units.
- Despite Joseph insisting that genocide should never happen again, the issue's solution to the Phalanx threat is genocide. The Phalanx are massacred in a planetary scale. The moral implications are never really explored.
- One of the major subplots of the issue is Bishop and Deathbird bonding and fighting side-by-side. This leads to a long-running storyline which features them as partners, although the initiative belonged to Deathbird.
- The other major subplot is Joseph becoming more Magneto-like and loosing his innocence. Gambit worries that he might be returning to his villain status. This is somewhat undermined by subsequent revelations that he is not the real Magneto, only a clone of the original.
- The victory celebration of Trish Tilby is cheerleader-like and seems rather inappropriate. She is in a room fool of corpses and wounded people, and the dazed civilians around her seem to be shell-shocked. Also the rest of the X-Men do not celebrate at all. She seems to be rather oblivious to the situation.