SPOILER WARNING: This article contains spoilers for “Uncanny X-Men Annual” #1, which is on sale now.
Ever since the launch of “Uncanny X-Men” back in January, Magneto’s team of proactive, take-no-prisoners X-Men have been on the hunt for a cure for — or at least protection against — the deadly M-Pox currently rolling through the Marvel Universe. The disease, caused by the Inhumans’ Terrigen mist, is fatal to mutants; as seen in the “Death of X” series, which documents the mist’s first wave of casualties just prior to “Uncanny’s” launch, plenty of mutants have already died — including one very close to the X-Man Monet. The new “Uncanny X-Men Annual” from series writer Cullen Bunn and artist Ken Lashley includes a potentially major reveal, one that could have big ramifications for the entire X-Men line moving forward.
The issue kicks off with Magneto’s team reacting to the shocking and sudden resurrection of former X-student Elixir. A mutant gifted with the ability to heal (and also to destroy) with just a touch, Elixir found himself in the crosshairs of the mutant/Inhuman bounty hunters the Dark Riders. The Riders assassinated Josh Foley in front of Monet back in “Uncanny X-Men” #3, leaving the young healer presumed dead. It turns out that death was merely the beginning for Elixir. He came back to life, clawed his way out of his own grave, and made his way to the island of Genosha — the location of the Dark Riders’ last stand against the X-Men.
Elixir traveled there for one very dark — and very personal — purpose: he wanted to use his powers to slowly resurrect the Dark Rider that killed him, Gauntlet, and then use his destructive powers to kill him again. Elixir trapped the villain in this cycle of life and death, until the X-Men intervened.
With the Gauntlet zombie dead again, Elixir turned his attention to an even bigger target: the millions of mutants that have died and been buried in Genosha over the course of its tragic history. Elixir’s power levels have never been this high before, and this moment proves to be a definitive one for Magneto.
Even though Elixir passes out from strain before he can successfully ressurrect even one mutant, the fact that his powers looked able to pull off such a feat spurred Magneto to action. If Elixir could potentially resurrect millions of mutants, then surely his newly increased healing powers could cure the M-Pox plaguing the planet.
Monet, though, pointed out that they didn’t yet know if his powers could really resurrect people, or if they’d just bring back brainless zombified versions of the deceased. Magneto brushed off any contrary notions and took Elixir to a mutant crisis medical center in Kansas City, Missouri. There, Magneto pointed Elixir at a room full of sick mutants and let him cut loose.
But Magneto didn’t count on Elixir’s other half — the half of his power that allows him to destroy things with just a touch. As his healing power increased, so did his killing power — and the strain of using his abilities caused his own mental state to fluctuate back and forth. Elixir had no control over whether or not he wanted to heal or kill the afflicted mutants.
The X-Men tried to intervene, but Elixir’s powers were too strong; they couldn’t fight through them. Only Elixir, coming to his senses, stopped the mayhem and made things right. But Magneto was right: Elixir can cure mutants of M-Pox, he just doesn’t yet know how to wield that much power without also unleashing his dark side to balance out his good deeds. Left with no choice, Magneto sent Elixir to the one person — a fellow healer — than can help him: Xorn.
The issue concludes with Xorn taking Elixir under his wing, promising to educate him in his new powers. This puts Elixir in a potentially huge role for the X-Men line moving forward, especially with the line-wide ResurrXion event coming up next spring. If this chapter in X-History, one defined by the M-Pox and the mutants struggle against the Inhumans, is going to close, then it’s likely that a cure will be needed to move forward. It now looks like Elixir might just be the cure mutant kind has been waiting for.
Writer Cullen Bunn even alluded to Elixir’s increased role in the Marvel Universe in a recent interview with CBR. “I can say this — alive or dead — Elixir has a huge place in the Marvel Universe after this, and it could have a big influence on stories going forward,” said Bunn, adding, “We’ll have to see what others do with the character, though.”
The next issue in the “Uncanny” saga, “Uncanny X-Men” #16, arrives in stores on December 21.
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