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Quote1 See for yourself. Lorna's alive, I think. But this other one is beyond human help. Quote2
-- Nightcrawler

Appearing in "How Sharper Than a Serpent's Tooth...!"

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Synopsis for "How Sharper Than a Serpent's Tooth...!"

Continued from last issue.

The X-Men’s private Blackbird jet blazes across Scotland’s moors in haste to reach Muir Isle. Responding to Lorna Dane’s distress over the phone, the X-Men left in such a rush that they could not even wait for the Beast to rejoin them. Upon arriving at Muir, they split into small groups to search the facility. Colossus finds Alex, who has suited up as Havok. Banshee and Cyclops find Lorna and the ravaged body of Angus MacWhirter. Storm finds Moira. Wolverine catches Jean’s scent, but Cyclops insists on meeting her alone initially. He finds her still dazed after a fight with Mutant X. In a haze, she initially thinks Cyclops is Jason Wyngarde; Scott is disturbed when she calls out the name Jason.

The entire group convenes in Moira’s home. Jamie recounts the events that happened after Lorna’s call was cut short: Mutant X first attacked Phoenix, but she drove him off. Afterwards, Jamie created a small army of duplicates to search the grounds. When Mutant X then attacked Lorna, she also successfully repelled him but one of Jamie’s duplicates came on the scene and the villain took him over, knocking Jamie for a loop. Concerned by the ease at which their opponent overpowered Jean Grey, Polaris and Jamie Madrox, Cyclops asks Moira for more information. Moira explains that Mutant X is an energy being who possesses bodies to use as host forms. This possession kills the host and ultimately Mutant X reduces the body to a dessicated carcass. Cyclops demands to know who Mutant X is. Moira refuses to talk initially, but finally relents and reveals that he is her son.

Meanwhile, using the form of Madrox's doubles body, Mutant X has escaped to the nearby city of Stornoway where he attempts to find a new body (Jamie’s duplicate is almost spent). He crosses paths with an unaware Jason Wyngarde, but is foiled by the latter man’s psychic defense mechanism. Alas, the hapless Ferdie Duncan fares less well.

The next morning the X-Men (including Phoenix, Havok, Polaris and Moira) head to the mainland while Jamie remains behind. They reason that their target will be headed towards a major town or city. As they split up, Moira explains to Cyclops that she’s been attempting for years to rein in her son’s killer instinct with no success. She further explains that he will be driven to seek more host bodies as he burns through his victims and that his one weakness is any form of metal, which is toxic to him.

From a distance, Jason Wyngarde observes the team’s dispersal and causes Jean to suddenly experience another vision of an 18th century life. She's a Scottish noblewoman riding horseback on a hunt alongside her “betrothed” -- Jason. Suddenly, the dogs bring their quarry down and when Jason clears them off, he offers Jean the knife in order to put down their quarry. She initially accepts his offer but blanches when she realizes they’ve been hunting a man playing the part of the stag - and Jason claims it was her own idea! The shock reverts her back to reality and she finds a mummified corpse of one of Mutant X’s victims.

Wolverine has picked up Mutant X's scent. Ignoring the radio call concerning Jean’s find, he follows his nose to a policeman. Impressed at how fast Wolverine saw through his new facade, Mutant X tries to possess him only to recoil when he realizes his opponent’s his body is laced with metal.

Nightcrawler drives up just as Wolverine threatens to gut their enemy. Mutant X, who now declares that he has renamed himself Proteus, demonstrates his ability to warp and twist reality itself. Wolverine's heightened senses make him especially susceptible to this form of attack. He and Nightcrawler are nearly overwhelmed when Storm arrives to aid them. Her attack distracts Proteus but he quickly turns gravity upside down on her, causing her crash her into the ground. Injured and in danger of becoming Proteus's next host, she desperately tries to repel him with a massive gust of wind. Yet he inexorably closes in on her.

This story is continued next issue.

Notes

  • The psychic shield that prevents Mutant X from possessing Wyngarde is most likely provided by the "mindtap mechanism" (revealed in X-Men Vol 1 134) created by the White Queen to enable him to access the Phoenix's mind. No doubt it was intended to prevent the telepathic Jean from "hearing" Wyngarde's true thoughts about her.
  • Although it's previously been mentioned that Wolverine has unbreakable bones, this is the first issue that states he has a metal (adamantium) skeleton.
  • Mutant X renames himself Proteus in this issue.

Trivia

  • This issue's title - "How Sharper Than a Serpent's Tooth" is a quote from Act 1, Scene 4 of Shakespeare's King Lear. The whole line is "How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child!" (The "thankless child" bit was of course omitted so as to preserve for as long as possible the surprise revelation that Mutant x / Proteus is Moira's son.) In the original play, however, the line remarks upon a father's (Lear) relationship with a daughter.

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