The Uncanny X-Men #296

    The Uncanny X-Men » The Uncanny X-Men #296 - X-Cutioner's Song Part 9: Crescendo released by Marvel on January 1, 1993.

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    Continued from X-Force #17. Beast completes surgery on Professor X to remove Stryfe's bullet. Moira tells Beast she broke Stryfe's code in the T-O virus but it only says "You are smart but I am smarter" over and over. Apocalypse, detained in the X-Mansion, suggests that he can save Xavier and Archangel vouches for him.

    Meanwhile, Stryfe's torture of Cyclops and Jean Grey continues. He presents them with an infant and tells them they if they destroy the child, they will destroy him as well. To Stryfe's amazement, they choose to rescue the child.

    Cable uses the Professor to find Stryfe on Earth and comes to the conclusion that he's not on the planet. Story continues in X-Factor #86.


    Having escaped their cell, Cyclops and Jean Grey find themselves cornered by a select few of Stryfe's Dark Riders (he stole them from Apocalypse in an earlier issue). Cyclops' visor has been removed and Jean seems out cold. It's a well known fact that Cyclops can't control his plasma blasts without his visor so the Dark Riders advance with no fear. Unfortunately for them, Jean was only faking; her psychic rapport with Cyclops allows her to control his eye beams and he easily blasts the Dark Riders out of the way. He and Jean move on and run into a large room that appears to be a dead end; they are on a balcony in a room that has a huge drop-off with another balcony across the chasm. To make matters more interesting, Mainframe shows up to engage them. Cyclops holds him off while Jean forms a teke-rope. They kiss as they swing across to the other balcony to continue their escape.

    Stryfe watches Cyclops and Jean Grey escape. He consoles Zero. He explains that the two mutant captives are far too predictable and he will soon have them trapped and destroyed by his deceptions.

    At Professor Xavier's mansion, Beast has successfully removed the slug from Xavier's head. Sadly, this doesn't halt the progress of the techno-organic virus. Moira tells Beast and Polaris that she has finally unlocked the binary code that accompanied the virus. She sounds grave and with good reason. She plays the message: Stryfe appears on the screen and taunts, "You're smart but I'm smarter" over and over. The Beast recognizes the childlike quality to the message. He then hopes that Cable, Wolverine, and Bishop are getting closer to discovering where Stryfe could be. Polaris doubts it when she reflects on each person's propensity for team playing.

    On Graymalkin, Bishop and Wolverine have Professor continually playback the assassination attempt and any other relevant factor. The men recap the events, including the framing of Cable, Mr. Sinister's involvement, and the capture of X-Force. Bishop concludes that things must be plainer than they appear. He has Professor group the main pieces to run a diagnostic on what they all have in common. Grouped together are Stryfe, Apocalypse, Cyclops, and Jean Grey. Bishop then adds Cable to the mix.

    As Cyclops and Jean Grey continue trying to find a way to escape, they stumble upon a baby hooked to the complex.

    At the X-Mansion, Apocalypse awakens from a healing sleep. It seems that this one wasn't voluntary, as he had passed out just after offering to help the X-Men. Storm asks why they should trust him. Surprisingly enough, Archangel sticks up for his former master. He states that Apocalypse is probably the only person who knows more about the techno-organic virus and would probably be the only one who could save Xavier. The X-Men walk Apocalypse to Xavier's room and Apocalypse announces his awe at Archangel for not killing him then and there. Archangel states that he won't kill Apocalypse just because it is convenient - he wants to do it on his own terms. His time, his place. Apocalypse grins.

    Back on Graymalkin, Bishop relates how mutants would hide from the Nimrods in his time node - they'd simply go where they were least expected to be, with regular humans. Following the analogy, Stryfe could be hiding among his own enemies. The X-Mansion is invalid because Cerebro would have picked him up, as would Professor is Stryfe were somehow hiding on Graymalkin. Professor does a scan of some of the old haunts of Apocalypse and gets nothing.

    Jean looks down at the baby and can't believe how close the infant looks to the son of Cyclops, Nathan. (Cyclops had had to send him to the future to be cured of the techno-organic virus Apocalypse had inflicted him with.) Cyclops is sure that this baby is a ploy, a fake, but Jean is able to sense a thought pattern within the child. He is alive. Stryfe appears by hologram and informs the two that the baby is connected to the life support of the base in which Stryfe is living. Destroy the baby, he says, and Stryfe is also destroyed. He gives them thirty seconds to decide. Cyclops objects to such a notion. Within his observatory, Stryfe tells Zero that Cyclops will have no problem deciding to destroy the child, as he's already made this type of decision once in his life. Contrary to these thoughts, however, Cyclops tries to find a way to save the child. Simply, he does not have enough time. Jean concedes that they must give themselves up to save the life of the child. This is not an option for Stryfe and he sends in the Dark Riders. He shouts that Cyclops and Jean Grey must kill the child in order to save themselves. The Stryfe's horror, Cyclops and Jean refuse to the kill the child. They fight to protect the baby. Every thought he'd had about Cyclops and Jean seems to be a lie and Stryfe doesn't know how to process this new wrinkle in his plan. Cyclops and Jean jump from the platform the baby and Dark Riders are on in hopes of drawing the enemies after them. As they fall, the baby reverts to the techno-organic structure it once was; the life Jean sensed was merely Stryfe's thoughts being channeled through the baby. As they fall, Cyclops blasts a hole into the wall and Jean attempts to mentally move them through the hole. This effort is pointless, however, as they are easily sucked right out.

    At that moment, both the parties of Cable and Cyclops realize where Stryfe has been hiding. Wolverine explains that Stryfe is in the last hideout Apocalypse had. Cyclops and Jean have just been sucked out onto the surface of the moon.


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    This issue does a fair amount with not much material - which is impressive considering the couple of flaws in it.  The beginning is confusing, made more so by the incorrect footnote from Bob Harras on page one.  When did Cyclops and Jean encounter the Dark Riders?  The missing footnote on page 22 (though the issue doesn't have page numbers for some reason) - the references to years-ago back issues are more important than references to issues in the same crossover.  It's also a bit confusing how ...

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