When you're fighting for survival do you have the luxury of being heroic? It's a question the mutants of the Marvel Universe ask themselves everyday and it's a question that will become especially important this month when writer Mike Carey and a host of talented artists kick off "Age of X," a seven part cross over story line that begins in the one-shot "Age of X: Alpha" and runs through "X-Men: Legacy" and "New Mutants."
Heroism and survival are essential elements of the "Age of X" storyline because it's set in an alternate present where mutants were never given the chance to become superheroic X-Men, and everyday they're hunted by an unstoppable anti-mutant coalition that has seized power. That coalition prevented the X-Men from forming and went on a campaign of extermination against the world's mutant population. Now there are only a handful left.
Being relentlessly hounded by the forces of hatred has changed the world's remaining mutants. They still bear many similarities to their counterparts in the Marvel Universe but they also bear new physical and emotional scars. In our current series THE AGE OF X COMMUNIQUÃ‰S, Mike Carey has been introducing us to some of the major mutant players in his story by sharing the classified intelligence reports of anti-mutant government operative Henry Peter Gyrich. In part one of our feature Carey leaked Gyrich's profiles on Magneto, Basilisk, and Legacy. Last week in part two, Carey provided us with Gyrich's thoughts on Cannonball, Gambit, and Revanant. Today in our penultimate installment of the feature, Carey gives us Gyrich's reports on Berserker, Hellion, and Nightmare
From: Henry Peter Gyrich, Anti-Mutant Task Force
TO: Simon Trask, Director Ops
Stephen Lang, Deputy Ops
As requested, summary information on mutants known to be behind the "Fortress X" barricade. Full files and supporting documentation available on request.
John Proudstar (brother). Died in custody.
Bethany Proudstar (half-sister). Took own life.
Proudstar came to our notice after an initial Exonim sweep of Arizona and New Mexico led to the death of his brother and the incarceration of several known confederates. We knew there was another X-gene positive in the area, but until post-mortem examination of John Proudstar identified him beyond doubt as a mutant, we didn't have any description to go on. This was in the early days of the Exonim program, so dedicated hunter cadres were thin on the ground and concentrated - for political reasons - on the East Coast.
Proudstar proved exceptionally resourceful and resistant to capture. Conventional forces deployed against him seldom even raised his trail. When a hunter cadre was eventually sent, he lured seven Exonims into a box canyon and destroyed them by toppling rock chimneys on them. He even showed a certain satirical humor in choosing the site of this ambush - known locally as Wasted Effort Rock.
Local bureau chiefs will be aware that we attempted to set up our own ambush using Proudstar's half-sister, Bethany, as the bait. This plan was to some degree frustrated by her suicide, but Proudstar walked into the ambush in any case, determined to retrieve the woman's dead body. His state of mind at that point is unknown, as he killed every officer present.
The next time he surfaces is at Fortress X. Unusually, the name Berserker was given to him not by his own side but by our forces. His recklessness and unthinking ferocity repeatedly play right into our hands: then he tears his way out again.
William and Elizabeth Keller. Parents. Serving life terms at Lompoc federal prison for harboring a mutant. Elizabeth identified as X-gene bearer and sterilized.
James. Brother. Dead (see Operation Clean-Sweep).
Keller came from a rich family - new money, but plenty of it. That probably helped him to stay off our radar for as long as he did, although former West Coast Director Robert Monahan was certainly both unwise and premature when he declared the Western seaboard mutant-free.
Keller might have evaded capture for many years longer if it hadn't been for his own arrogance. He allowed himself to be seen at Los Angeles clubs and restaurants, and maintained a highly distinctive 1967 Chevrolet Camaro. Following that trail without undue difficulty, MRD investigators found that Keller had been living for a year and a half in a bespoke underground shelter fitted out to luxurious standards.
The next sentence ought to read: "and that shelter became his burial mound." However, the field officer assigned to the operation wholly underestimated Keller's telekinetic powers. A laser attack intended to kill him instantly, before he even knew an attack was imminent, succeeded only in severing his hands and forearms. Keller was able to stanch the flow of blood telekinetically, and tore his way through the attacking Exonims to effect an audacious escape. Three jet fighters pursued him: the largest piece of metal obtained from the subsequent wreckage measures seven millimeters.
Keller was one of the last mutants to make his way to Fortress X, having by that time survived on his own resources for three years. He was part of no resistance group, was sheltered by no pro-mutant agencies and made contact with no foreign sympathizers. He seems to have made a point of pride out of not accepting any help from others.
It's not known what finally brought him to respond to Magneto's call. Perhaps he reached the limits of his own sturdy self-reliance. Or it could be that Megan Gwynn (see below) had a hand in recruiting him, as she's known to have done for Sofia Mantega and Sidney Green.
Owen and Brenda Gwynn
Possibly related to Jason Wyngarde (Mastermind): DNA comparison was suggestive, but inconclusive.
Gwynn was born in Wales, and there's ample reason to wish she'd stayed there. She and her grandparents were part of a general expulsion of X-gene positives from the United Kingdom, with the apparent intention of settling them on a series of small islands in the Irish Sea.
That plan became moot when Irish separatists bombed one of the ships carrying the transportees, and the others turned back. The Mutant Liberation Front seized control of the ship carrying Gwynn (we believe it also numbered Jonathon Starsmore and Elizabeth Braddock among its passengers) and ultimately were able to berth it at the Canadian port of Saguenay.
Gwynn was as green as grass when she arrived, and was one of many mutants recruited, groomed and trained by East Coast mafia crime families. It's known beyond doubt that she served the Carcotti organization as a runner and enforcer. Must have been quite a culture shock for a kid brought up in the Welsh valleys, but - obviously - she survived and thrived in that Darwinian environment.
Fun fact: Gwynn used to have butterfly wings, and went by the nausea-inducing pseudonym of Pixie. Her current shoulder accessories are more demonic in nature, and apparently they arrived on the night of the Bleecker Street Massacre (qv). As far as we know, Gwynn hadn't killed anyone up to that point. God knows, she's making up for lost time now.