SPOILER WARNING: This article contains spoilers for “Uncanny X-Men” #15, which is in stores now.
Mystique's been a major player in the recent run of "Uncanny X-Men," but she hasn't exactly been a member of the team. Instead, Mystique's one of the solo operatives secretly placed in the field by Magneto, to run side missions in the shadows. The main "Uncanny" team was unaware of her role -- until recently. Recent months have seen many of Magneto's secrets come to light, including the roles played by Mystique, Fantomex and the Hellfire Club. Associating with those villains didn't sit right with Psylocke, who left the team.
"Uncanny X-Men" #15 by Cullen Bunn, Greg Land and Ibraim Roberson picks up with Psylocke operating on her own, taking out names on Magneto's hit list before they can cause a problem. Psylocke cut her way through the Omega Sentinels, Sauron and the Nasty Boys before taking on a different kind of foe -- the shape-changing Mystique. It turns out Mystique has been trailing Psylocke through all of her missions, watching her. Mystique launches an attack as Psylocke's narration lays out Mystique's mental state.
"Her shape-changing physiology makes her agile...strong...and completely mad," thinks Betsy Braddock. "She's unpredictable... weaponized schizophrenia."
Mystique then poses a question to Psylocke, asking if the ex-X-Man thinks Magneto sent the shape-shifter to spy on her, kill her or protect her. Psylocke has her own question, namely wondering why Magneto chooses to trust the perpetually unstable Mystique. "The only thing about you that can be trusted," says Betsy, "is that you can't be trusted." Psylocke begins using her mental powers to poke around, sensing a vulnerability in Mystique's constantly shifting mental structure -- and Psylocke senses how much pain this constant personality flux keeps Mystique in. So, she does something about it.
Psylocke then uses her powers to clear Mystique's head, halting her ever-shifting mind and stabilizing her in a way she's never been before. Or in Psylocke's words, "I made you trustworthy." Mystique departs, subtly vowing that she will kill Psylocke the next time they cross paths. And Psylocke worries that she just sent an even deadlier Mystique back to Magneto.
This issue marks a major change for Mystique, as her mental instability has plagued the character for at least 24 years. Back in 1992's "Uncanny X-Men" #290, Mystique -- bereaving the loss of her partner Destiny and using her powers wildly -- came under the care of Forge, who basically said what Psylocke said in the latest "Uncanny" issue.
Her mercurial nature has also led her to switch sides from ally to foe of the X-Men with nearly every appearance. She went from Forge's care to a member of X-Factor, to an assassin and supervillain, back to an X-Man -- albeit a traitorous one -- and then a criminal mastermind. And she did all this while maintaining a manipulative relationship with her foster daughter, Rogue. This new development marks a fundamental change in Mystique's character, setting her on a path unlike any we've seen in recent continuity.
Next month’s issue looks to shift the focus away from Psylocke towards the shady saboteur Fantomex and the teenage Jean Grey. “Uncanny X-Men” #16 arrives in stores on December 21.