Riots have erupted in San Francisco over the proposed legislation "Proposition X" which would restrict mutant reproductive rights. Beast led a protest march against it and was arrested. Norman Osborn, H.A.M.M.E.R., and his Avengers have been called in to stop the riots. This situation is made worse when Osborn labels Cyclops an instigator of the riots even though he was not involved. Beast is transferred to Alcatraz where he has been tortured with the Omega Machine. Ironically this device is a creation of an alternate-world "Beast" who is working for Osborn.
It is clear that Osborn has his own agenda in this matter. Using his secret alliance with the Emma Frost (White Queen) he has formed his own squad of X-Men to be the public face of mutant-kind for the time being. They have been manipulated through various means to work for Osborn. Their first assignment is to bring in the mutant rioters who are setting Union Square ablaze.
At Alcatraz Island, H.A.M.M.E.R.'s current base of operations, Beast has been returned to his cell. He is laying on his bunk, unable to move. His fingernails are falling out. His fur is also falling out, covering the floor around him.
Osborn and "Dark Beast" are watching him from outside his cell. Osborn asks what has happened to him. Dark Beast explains that the Omega Machine still needs some refinements. At present, the device will suppress their mutant powers, but the side effects are still debilitating.
Osborn tells him that this is unacceptable; there is no benefit to torturing mutants. Dark Beast lashes out that the advances he has made given their limited technology is nothing short of a miracle. Osborn isn't interested and tells him to either make those "adjustments" or he will be the next person subjected to the machine.
Cyclops flies out to Alcatraz to meet with Norman Osborn. Osborn gives him a big speech about how difficult both their roles are, but Cyclops interrupts and orders him to leave San Francisco. He can do or say whatever he has to in order to save face, but he should leave now. Osborn becomes angry and shows his true colors by insulting him and warning him of the problems he has brought on himself. Cyclops flies away claiming he tried to be reasonable.
Inside Osborn's Avengers watch the footage of "his" X-Men taking on the mutant protesters. Bullseye begins criticizing Osborn's choice to use mutants instead of them to arrest the mutants. Ares, Moonstone, and Venom III are equally bored, but not to Bullseye's level. Sentry arrives and tells them Osborn's X-Men have returned with the prisoners.
When they arrive in the detention area, they observe Osborn and Frost arguing over the treatment of the captured mutants. Each of the rioters have a cumbersome power dampening helmet placed on them. Osborn had to separate Frost from Daken when he kicked one of the prisoners without provocation. She is livid that they would be subjected to abuse or torture (the power dampening helmets). Osborn assures her that mutants are not being tortured. When she demands to see all aspects of their plan, Osborn has little choice but to comply. As they walk away Bullseye picks a fight with Daken about his loyalty. This starts a massive brawl between the two teams.
Osborn and Dark Beast show Frost the holding cells. Every step of the way they give her false assurances that the mutants are being treated as humanely as possible. Xavier picks up on their conversation and warns her telepathically that they are lying. Following Xavier's suggestion Frost asks to see the "real" McCoy. Osborn flatly states that he's not at this facility.
Following Xavier's telepathic signal, Emma walks over to his cell. She is unable to see him due to the image inducer placed inside. Although she is looking at a room of spare equipment, she looks directly at Xavier and states aloud that she believes him, making sure Osborn hears her as well.
At St. Francis Hospital, Simon Trask - who is now identified as a human sentinel - commands all those under his control to rise and attack Osborn's squad of mutants.
Things are moving along very well here. Nice balance between the subplots that have been established.
A few items of note. Although not explicitly stated, I have to assume they put Xavier through the Omega Machine as well. I notice that Xavier is still able to use his mutant power even in a limited capacity. One would think that one of the premiere telepaths in the world would require additional precautions. I assume that this is due to the necessary refinements Dark Beast spoke about. Not only in terms of eliminating the physical torture aspect of the device but also completely suppressing the mutant gene. This is my submission for an old-school No Prize.
I find it interesting that we see two different aspects of Norman Osborn in this issue. His objection to torturing mutants and his objection to Cyclops ordering him around. I'm sure that his no-torture policy is politically motivated, but still its interesting to see a different side of the megalomaniac.
4 webs. Still going strong. Just the right amount of screen time for everyone to keep it interesting.