Age of X: Universe #1
Though not one of the numbered chapters in the Age of X storyline which had been weaving its way through X-Men: Legacy and New Mutants, this issue is included in the official checklist as the sixth issue. This issue and its sequel show what’s going on in the rest of the Marvel Universe while the Age of X alternate reality is playing out, with stories about the Avengers, Spider-Man and Dazzler. Madison Jeffries and his brother, Dr. Lionel Jeffries appear in a single panel cameo in flashback.
The Avengers in this reality are mutant hunters, some being darkly twisted versions of their 616 counterparts. One of the most twisted is the Iron Man character, who Captain America introduces by showing a flashback to ten years ago when he was first afflicted with a tech-virus implanted by our favorite mutant brothers, Madison and Lionel Jeffries. They are shown in a single panel in shaded blue flashback to that moment, leaving Tony Stark fused into the armor and slowly being digested by it ever since. Yuk!
Unfortunately, once the Age of X reality is unraveled and reader is aware of what’s really going on, it’s difficult to understand the framework of the plot of this book, who is experiencing the action and interactions with the characters on Utopia/Fortress X, which characters are illusory or memory implants or imaginative embellishments and in whose mind all of this is taking place in and who will remember it! Since the entirety of the reality of the Age of X is a construct, it’s a murky mess to try to tell a tale of what’s happening outside the Force Walls surrounding Fortress X. Before your brain explodes trying to understand whose memory is conjuring this false image, just sit back and enjoy the depiction of the two brothers as a gratuitious bonus from Simon Spurrier, who seems to be quite the Jeffries fan based on his previous work with the Second Coming and Curse of the Mutants X-Club spin-out books that featured Madison prominently.
The two characters are not identified by name but readers with a sharp eye will notice Lionel wearing the protective helmet and buckled straightjacket he wore while a patient at Montreal General Hospital in Alpha Flight #30. It’s the most iconic image of Lionel, made more so by Gus Vazquez who chose that as the “official” image in Lionel’s recent entry in the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z Update #5. Note that Lionel only wore that outfit in that one issue, never to don it again, as he was no longer a mental patient after that issue, preferring more traditional medical provider garb such as white lab coats and scrubs. However, it was a great villain costume at the time and to this day, remains the classic costume for Scramble, The Mixed-Up Man.
Jeffries is shown in flashback without the greyed temples which first popped up when he joined the X-Men Science Team in Uncanny X-Men #505. He looks so young! This pairing of the two brothers ought to remind fans of another recent team-up, also in an alternate reality, in House of M: Masters of Evil #3. In the post for that issue, I commented on “how incredibly powerful the combination of techno- and organo-morph mutant powers could be” and from the looks of Tony Stark, this sentiment holds true.