Welcome to the world of Marvel Noir. The year is 193X, superpowers don't exist (for the most part), and nobody loves you.
Three things that you should remember: One, all the Noir
stories take place in their own universe separate from all the others. This means that Captain Logan from X-Men Noir
and Jim Logan, PI from Wolverine Noir
have nothing to do with each other. Two, I've read a good half or so of these before, so forgive me if I'm a little too familiar with the material. I'll try not to spare many details. Three, I'm pretty new at this, so naturally this is going to suck.
Alright, and here we go with X-Men Noir
We begin in the dead of night, under a large bridge. A woman has been murdered. Blimps equipped with searchlights comb the area as two detectives approach the scene. One of them, Fred J. Dukes (The Blob), is a veteran - and a very fat man. The other, Peter Magnus (Quicksilver), is a rookie, a former track star, and the son of Eric Magnus (Magneto), the Department's Chief of Detectives.
Peter asks Fred for a mint, but his request is denied. This is his first murder, and Fred's seen this movie before. They reach the scene, scoping out the "mermaid" that washed up on the shore. A uniform fills them in on the details of the body's discovery as a photographer does his stuff. The woman has an "X" tattooed on her back. As they flip the body over, Peter turns Vomiting Cop
. He'd never seen a dead body before, and this one was in poor condition. Fred gives Peter his mint now, and hopes he understands why he didn't before - after all, he would've just wasted it.
Peter gets down to business. Victim is a Caucasian female, red hair, early twenties (Jean Grey). Cause of death no doubt has something to do with the vicious wounds all over her body - cuts in even groups of three
. She's missing her eyes, her nose, and her upper lip, as well. Peter notes that nobody's writing any of this down, but Fred points out her tattoo: This is clearly the work of the X-Men.
The uniform, Officer Kelly (Possibly a counterpart to Senator Kelly, an anti-mutant bigot), says the X-Men need to be taken care of as soon as possible. Fred points out that as a uniform, that's really more his department. He and Peter take their leave. Fred tries to make idle conversation as they take the elevator back up to the bridge, but Peter petulantly asks about the X-Men.
Fred tells him that the woman's tat indicates she did time in a reform school in Westchester run by "a real head case" named Xavier. He taught his students how to be better criminals rather than actually reforming them. That is, until one of his X-Men (Warren Worthington, the Angel) "did a really bad birdie impression off the roof". The investigation turned up Xavier's operation. He's currently sitting in Riker's while the D.A. tries to figure out what to charge him with. The X-Men vanished into the ether, turning freelance and doing jobs all over the city. Each of them has a rap sheet that puts cons twice their age to shame.
Jean was their grifter. Fred thinks it's a waste of taxpayer money to find out just which of her gangland boyfriends got tired of her first. Chief Magnus wouldn't want them worrying about it; he's a big fan of eugenics, which Fred claims to mean that the criminal element is hereditary and can't be treated so much as contained. "You can't fight city hall" is bull - what you really can't fight is nature
Yeesh. I count no fewer than four searchlight blimps dominating the skyline as we close in on the Creole Club, a happening joint for all you hip swingers out there. A songbird croons soulfully as its owner, Remy LeBeau (Gambit), takes a few questions. His inquisitor is Thomas Halloway (The Angel, a Golden Age hero who predates the X-Men and takes Worthington's place in the story). Halloway asks him about Jean Grey, and Remy shows him a photo of her in the employee's lounge with "do not give chips to this woman" written on it. Remy's caught her in his place three times, running a different scam every time. He says it's almost as if she could control men's minds.
Most audaciously, he claims he caught her running a slug. He asks Halloway if he's familiar with that term, and we get a flashback to the cell of Orville "The Gentleman" Whitwell. The Gentleman explains to a young Tommy the intricacies of the slug, which is basically a blackjack con where you bribe the dealer. Back in the present day, Halloway says he knows the trick, and Remy's impressed. Is there anything this man doesn't know? Yes: The location of the X-Men. Unfortunately, Remy doesn't know either, or he'd have his man Bishop (Lucas Bishop) show them what's what.
As he's leaving, Halloway foils a mugging in the parking lot. Well, it wasn't a mugging, it was attempted assault. The perpetrator? Bishop. The victim? Wanda Magnus (the Scarlet Witch), Peter's sister and Eric's daughter. She keeps raking it in at the Creole Club. Remy can't simply ban her or anything without incurring her father's wrath, so he tried to stage a little "accident" to teach her a lesson. Halloway leaves to have a drink with Ms. Magnus.
Later, he goes to Riker's to have a chat with Professor Xavier (Professor X), claiming to be a reporter with the Daily Bugle. When the paraplegic Xavier is wheeled into the room, he sees Halloway reading a pulp sci-fi novel and asks him about it. Halloway tells him about Bolivar Trask's The Sentinels
. Trask was an anthropologist before becoming a writer; The Sentinels
is about a future where some humans have evolved fantastic powers, using them to protect the "norms" who love and worship them (In mainstream Marvel, Trask was indeed an anthropologist before becoming a roboticist
and developing the mutant hunting Sentinels. The plot summary of the Sentinels is an inversion of the anti-mutant hysteria in 616 continuity).
Xavier says it sounds imaginative. Halloway retorts that he would know. Xavier asks where he heard that from, and Halloway quotes from an article Xavier wrote that, long story short, touts the sociopath as "the next step in human behavioral evolution." Halloway says it's pretty heavy stuff, and Xavier agrees. After all, the American Psychiatric Association expelled him after he wrote it. He's curious as to how Halloway read it, since they also didn't publish it in their Journal, but Halloway insists he's simply "multi-talented."
Halloway then directly asks about the X-Men. Xavier claims that he was the only person who had ever even tried to understand them, and that the only way he could get them to open up to him was to allow them to be who they truly are. Halloway asks if they "truly are" killers, but visiting hours are over. Xavier wishes Halloway luck writing his article, but doesn't understand why he's so interested in his former students. Halloway says that a woman is dead and nobody cares - and he can't live in a world where that happens. As Halloway leaves, Xavier tells him he forgot his magazine. Upon opening it up, he discovers the professor had written a message in it: "FIND MARIE RANKIN."
The scene shifts. Fred and Peter head downstairs at a cop bar, where they find Chief Magnus entertaining a guest with Mortimer Toynbee (Toad), and Jason Wyngarde (Mastermind). They've got Black Tom Cassidy (...Black Tom Cassidy) tied to a chair, and they've been taking turns roughing him up. They want him to move his drug operation to a lower income area. If he has to tell him again, Magnus vows to sent Black Tom to "Irish Hell", where there's no whiskey and the women hit back.
Fred then directs Magnus' attention to Peter. The Chief tries to welcome his son to "The Brotherhood", his little unofficial unit dedicated to working within the criminal element. Scared and confused, Peter simply runs.
Later that night, Halloway sneaks into "Xavier's School for Exceptionally Wayward Youth" while wearing a gaudy costume - his Angel getup. We're treated to another flashback, where Horace "Harlem Houdini" Hobbs teaches little Tommy about lockpicking. Halloway grabs a file on an "Anna Marie Rankin" from an old cabinet. Rankin is a Composite Character
, using elements of Rogue and Calvin Rankin, the Mimic. Anyway, Halloway notices a door with "DANGER Training in Progress" on it (the Danger Room) and has a peek inside. There, he finds a boxing ring, a basketball court, a firing range, and funnily enough a model on lockpicking.
He's soon attacked by a bespectacled, blue-clad man with large, bare feet (Beast), a cold blooded killer with a knife (Iceman), and a gunman with distinctive red sunglasses (Cyclops). Halloway insists he's on their side, but the guy in the shades begs to differ. "Haven't you heard, chum? We're the X-Men. Nobody
's on our side.", he says, before shooting Halloway.
End of Part 1. There's a chapter from The Sentinels
here, but I'm not reading it - at least not for the moment.