We open right smack-dab in the middle of Inferno, a demonic invasion of New York that, to cut a very, very long story short, resulted because Cyclops is not a great husband. The combined teams of the X-Men and X-Factor battle Cyclops’ ex-wife, Madelyne Pryor and S’ym, a demon who is definitely not the Earth-Pig Born, that’s for darn sure.
Whilst in our regular reality, Maddie is defeated by Jean Grey because that always happens (Poor Maddie.), in this new universe FUCKING EVERYONE FUCKING DIES. Except Wolverine because even S’ym knows how much of a money maker THAT dude is. Instead he gets a much pointier mask, standard evil accoutrements and oh yeah, STARTS EATING BABIES. The earth is overrun by demons, monsters and evil building with mouths.
While this is going on, we cut to the Federal Bank Reserve which has so far remained untouched by Maddie’s demonic army. I guess demons hate… finance? A small resistance cell made up of Dr Strange, Baron Mordo, the Human Torch,Thor, Kitty Pryde, She-Hulk, Spider-Maaand never mind the rest of them just got massacred.
A bunch of demonic soldiers led by Wolverine and the Hulk bust through the vault, having finally overcome their fear of gold. Good for them! After some fighting and a whole lot of people getting stabbed through the back by Wolverine so their costume bulges out the front but there’s no blood or anything (an attack that was extremely popular in the 90s.), Thor provides a distraction by exploding himself and what’s left of the team escapes.
Next we cut to the Baxter Building where a demonically possessed Reed Richards and Dr Doom are finally getting along. They’ve been working on a device for Maddie and S’ym to spread Maddie’s demonic influence across the multiverse (Making this a much less interesting column to write unless you REALLY like Inferno.) and extinguish male lights throughout the universe. Unfortunately for them, they’re on a bit of a time crunch, due to the inevitable arrival of the Living Tribunal who you may recall bailing on an entire universe back when Korvac annihilated literally everything. If he arrives before S’ym can enslave the universe, the Tribunal will destroy the entire Earth. Which sucks for people who live there.
Meanwhile, the unstabbed remnants of Team Strange have set up shop at the Daily Bugle, hoping for sanctuary now that Spider-Man is dead. Luckily for them, it doesn’t particularly matter since J Jonah Jameson is now digging for building cavities in City Hall’s new teeth. Strange detects an incredibly powerful new source of energy. It turns out it’s Rachel Summers, Cyclops and Jean Grey’s daughter from an alternate future where that makes sense! She’s apparently been transformed into a mannequin by S’ym, lord of hell and also weird fetishes. Luckily Strange has a counter spell for that. For some reason. He returns her to normal and they reunite with the team.
Now that they have Rachel on their team, Strange explains his plan to summon the Phoenix Force back to Earth, a plan which has never failed ever in the history of the Marvel Universe. Once Rachel has control of the Phoenix, she can burn all demonic life from the planet. Which, yes, will likely kill billions of possessed people but it’s the Phoenix Force so this isn’t exactly news.
Unfortunately, at this point we get a complete repeat of act one as Evil Wolverine, S’ym, Maddie and an army of more demons bust in and start slaughtering people. Again. (I get the feeling this is a comic I would have really enjoyed when I was ten. Evil Wolverine. Demons. Kitty Pryde. Stabbings. Everybody getting murdered. Maddie wearing almost nothing. It’s like a Spawn comic without the disadvantage of having Spawn in it.) It turns out that Baron Mordo has sold the team out because of course he has. He’s Baron fucking Mordo, the Starscream of the Marvel Universe. Mordo murders the Human Torch who sacrifices the last of his energy to attack his foes with a Nova Blast. Which does not work even a little.
Rachel manages to contact the Phoenix Force, not realizing that there’s someone else on Earth with a bit of a passing familiarity with that thing. It’s Maddie! And the last thing she needs is control of a genocidal murder bird in addition to everything else.
Kitty attacks Wolverine who claws her fucking stomach open. As he watches his friend die, Wolverine feels the last of his humanity drain away (One would have thought a steady diet of newborn babies would have done the trick but what do I know?) He goes into a berserker rage and murdors Mordo just as Mordo kills S’ym in a double reverse Starscream. Unfortunately for our baby devouring hero, Mordo takes Wolvie with him, burning the flesh from his adamantium skeleton.
Rachel attacks Maddie but then Maddie gets backstabbed by S’ym possessing Wolverine’s skeleton because not even total disintegration can stop THAT sales juggernaut. Rachel manages to finally take control of the Phoenix Force and wipes out all demonic influence from the earth (including Ghost Rider probably.) Then the Phoenix leaves Earth forever, briefly meeting up with the Living Tribunal who was just on his way over to kill everybody.
Meanwhile, Earth has returned to a stone age level of technology and Dr Strange and Rachel deliver Johnny Storm and Alicia Masters’ baby. Oh! And Strange has an eyepatch for this entire story for some reason. Nobody mentions it but it looks cool as hell.