X-CUTIONER’S SONG: UNCANNY X-MEN #294-297, X-FACTOR #85-87, X-FORCE #16-18, and X-MEN #14-16 (1992-1993): Stryfe dies; TO Virus unleashed

What I like about doing this web site is that comics are self-contained adventures, and if I read everything published, year-to-year, then I get to see a wide variety of characters. The deeper I get into the ’90s, the less I get to do what I like and the more of a slog all this becomes. Which brings us to X-Cutioner’s Song. As far as events go, it’s not awful. It’s just not what I love about comic books.

So I’ll just hit the high notes.

The X-Cutioner’s song is a 14-part story that crossed over between X-Men, X-Factor, X-Force and Uncanny X-Men. 

It starts in Uncanny X-Men #294, where Lila Cheney holds a concert in the park in support of mutant rights and tolerance.  Professor X is going to make a speech.

X-Factor are trying to watch the speech on TV but Madrox forms a conga line to block the view.

I love that scene.

We get to see a bit of the speech…

Stryfe shows up and tries to kill Professor X, but Cable stops Stryfe and then…Shoots Professor X himself!

We don’t know this yet, but Cable has shot Professor X with a bullet infected with the techno-organic virus (also called the TO Virus)–a disease that destroyed the future Cable hails from. This works well as a story point. From his first introduction, Cable has been mysterious and his motives unclear. We still don’t know if he’s really a “good guy” or “bad guy.”

At the same time, Apocalypse’s new Horsemen–including the massively jacked Caliban–fight various other X-heroes, and kidnap Scott and Jean. 

Only it’s not Apocalypse they’re working for–it’s Mr. Sinister, disguised as Apocalypse. 

They’re not super friendly with each other.

Professor X, shot, goes to the hospital and members of X-Factor and the X-Men chase down Cable.

X-Force join with them because, hey, dude shot the Professor!

Turns out, after a fight, Wolverine and Bishop learn that Cable didn’t shoot Xavier.  It was Stryfe.  Disguised as Cable. 

Shape-shifters make for a confusing story!

At this point, we’ve got competing storylines: One set of X-Men/Force/Factor people going after “Cable” (Stryfe) and the Mutant Liberation Front, and another trying to rescue Scott and Jean from “Apocalypse” (Mister Sinister).

The team looking for “Cable” succumbs to in-fighting.

Simultaneously, Stryfe, who we now know to be the clone of Nathan Summers, trades with Sinister to get the captive Scott and Jean, who are in tubes (yay!). Stryfe says he is delivering to Sinister a genetic sequence to push mutantkind.

But of course, it isn’t. In another of the many confusion double-crosses in this story, it’s actually TO Virus. Towards the end of this series, he opens the canister and finds it empty–but in fact, he has released the TO Virus.

Meanwhile, the mutants figure out that Professor X has been poisoned and are looking for a cure.

Apocalypse, it turns out, has his own version of the Odinsleep, but his Dark Riders pull him out prematurely to advise him that someone was masquerading as him. At the same time, Cable learns that he, too, has been set up.

He decides to go after Stryfe.

Angel is still pretty hateful towards ‘Poc, since he turned Angel into Archangel, but ‘Pac isn’t to blame for the current issues. He gives the X-team a cure for the virus killing Xavier.

For X-Force #16, we see that the young soldiers–who have been without their leader–are out of control. There’s a standard hero-vs-hero fight-instead-of-talk sequence.

It takes up most of the issue.

After a big fight during which Strobe blinds Rogue, everyone finally learns wasn’t really Cable who shot the Professor.

We learn that Stryfe’s motivation in getting everyone to hate Apocalypse was that ‘Poc abused him as a kid.  It’s kid-abuse stuff. 

Stryfe manages to mortally wound Apocalypse, but Apocalypse escapes into the arms of the X-Men.  His horsemen think that’s pretty weak, so they decide to team with Stryfe.

Got it?  It’s the X-Men/-Factor/-Force teams, with Apocalypse, now teamed against Stryfe and the Horsemen, who have Scott and Jean hostage.

They’re being tortured, by the way. And Stryfe’s base is on the moon.

When all the teams come together for the big fight, Stryfe and Cable are sucked into a time vortex, and Jean figures out that one of them–either Stryfe or Cable–is actually Scott’s son Nathan.

Yes, there’s a lot more–it’s 14 comics long after all–but those are the main points. 

Also Angel deciding not to kill Apocalypse in his weakened state.

And in the tradition of Chris Claremont, a big story wouldn’t be enough if it didn’t also plant seeds for the future–we see the first signs of the TO Virus in this story as well.

I noted above that Sinister opens the TO Virus canister. Here’s the epilogue…

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