> Uncanny X-Men Masterworks Volume 1

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From the Mouths of the Marvels:

"Nothing changes, Prof. I thought I'd learned to control myself. I guess I was wrong- an' ya wanta know something funny? I'm glad!

-- Wolverine, after going berserk on Kierrok, pg. 13

Like the claws, dig the 'tude...but that costume?!?!?

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X-Men #96
December 1975 18 pages

Script: Chris Claremont/Bill Mantlo Letters: Dave Hunt
Pencils: Dave Cockrum Inks: Sam Grainger

Title: "Night of the Demon!"

Villain: Kierrok, Dr. Steven Lang

First Appearance: Moira MacTaggert, Col. Michael Rossi, Kierrok, N'Gairi demons

Death: Col. Michael Rossi

Innovation: Project Armageddon, the Cairn

Letters Page: Page One

Synopsis: Cyclops wanders through the woods adjacent to the Westchester mansion of Professor Xavier lost in thought. He recalls the series of events in their battle against Count Nefaria where things went so dreadfully wrong that they lost their teammate John Proudstar, aka Thunderbird. Driven to despair from this grieving angst, he lets loose with a powerful optic blast that flashes around the wooded glen, tearing down trees and knocking the top off a large obelisk. His lonely rampaging soliloquy over, he mournfully walks back to the mansion, wishing John Proudstar eternal peace and rest, not noticing that from the top of the obelisk- the cairn- that he felled with his optic blast, comes a strange green glow, hovering in the air.

Back at the mansion, the new X-Men are engaged in a fight with the Danger Room, honing their powers under the mentoring of Professor X and Banshee. Interrupting the concerned discussion between two veteran X-men about the mental state of their friend, Cyclops, is the ring of a door bell; the coming of the new "housekeeper," Ms. Moira MacTaggert. Banshee is the first to open the door and is awestruck by the beautiful, brassy, Irish brunette standing in the doorway.

Flash to a secret base hidden in the Adirondack Mountains, the facility of Dr. Stephen Lang, who greets the coming of Col. Michael Rossi, an envoy from Washington bringing a message of great importance. He says that "the council" wants a final report from Lang before they're willing to support his six-year project, which he calls Project Armageddon. As he explains to Rossi, this ominous sounding project revolves around the plan to kidnap mutants for in-depth study, so as to subdue the Homo Superior threat before it can flourish. Col. Rossi will hear none of this, however, saying this project is insanity, and saying that he cannot recommend any further funding. As Rossi takes his leave back to Washington, Stephen Lang whispers under his breath that Rossi may never make it back to Washington....alive!

Meanwhile, the X-Men enjoy the end of their evening with a nice get-together, and Professor X introduces Moira MacTaggart as the caretaker of the mansion- as well as the team!- while he goes away on a vacation. He explains that certain secrets have been revealed to MacTaggart, and that she is to be trusted to tend to X-Man business, but is light on details. But, in a flash, the body of Cyclops comes hurtling through the window, crashing to the floor. He struggles to stand, warning that his attacker is nearing any second now!

And sure enough, crashing in behind him is the red, raging demon-beast Kierrok the Damned, declaring he has come for the souls of all the X-Men! Cyclops bashes him again with his optic blasts, Storm summons winds against him but is battered down, and Colossus reacts savagely in defense of Ororo with smashing fists. Kierrok is down, but not out, tossing a metal slab at Colossus and knocking out Nightcrawler. Kierrok cannot stand up against Wolverine, however, who goes into a beserker rage and slashes into the demon-beast's gut with his adamantium claws. Professor X notices, though, that each attack leeches the power of the X-Men, while helping Kierrok reform, stronger than before.

Professor X establishes a mind probe with the demon, but passes out from exhaustion due to the hellish signals he received in return. Moira MacTaggart rages into battle firing a machine gun, but Banshee evacuates her from the battle before she can get hurt. While Banshee and the others keep Kierrok at bay, Professor X details a plan to Ororo that may win the day- she must return to the cairn that Cyclops sundered and seal it back up! She flies off into the distant woods, where she is met by dozens of demon nasties, all trying to keep her from sealing the cairn. These demonspawn- the N'Garai- attempt to suck her into the cairn as she works through her plan, but to no avail. Storm's will proves the stronger, and she shatters what remains of the cairn into a pile of rubble that seals itself over.

At that same moment, Kierrok dissipates in front of the rest of the X-Men, crumbling into a pile of dust. Any attempts to explain exactly what just happened are futile, but one thing the Professor is sure of: Kierrok and his kind, the N'Garai, once ruled mankind- and they want it back!

Meanwhile, in an orchard outside Red Hook, New York, a plane carrying Col. Michael Rossi has crashed, killing all men aboard.

--synopsis and panel images by Gormuu

--letters pages provided by Avengers Assemble

Issues Reprinted
X-Men #94-100, Giant-Size X-Men #1

Click on cover image to learn more about each issue.


GS XM #1

XM #94

XM #95

XM #96

XM #97

XM #98

XM #99

XM #100


All cover images are courtesy of the Silver Age Marvel Comics Cover Gallery.

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