Age of X-Man: X-Tremists #2

Issue Date: 
May 2019
Story Title: 

Leah Williams (writer), Georges Jeanty (penciler), Roberto Poggi (inker), Jim Charalampidis (colorist), Virtual Calligraphy's Clayton Cowles (letterer), Rahzzah (cover artist), Jenny Frison (variant cover artist), Annalise Bissa (assistant editor), Jordan D White (editor), C B Cebulski (editor-in-chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)

Brief Description: 

After Psylocke and Iceman assist some nuns with a little boy who had fallen from his bicycle, Psylocke tells Iceman that she thinks about the last time their parents hold them – because at some point, they were held by their parents for the last time. Iceman then picks Psylocke up and takes her back to the Department X office, where their fellow clerks Blob, Northstar, Jubilee and Moneta re working, or in Northstar's case, reading the paper. Blob gives the clerks their work detail for the day – a controlled purge – after all, they still have to give the X-Men things to do that actually make people feel safe. Shortly, at the location of the purge, Psylocke telepathically commands the animals to flee the fire that Department X have started, while Iceman creates a large wall of ice to contain the fire. The clerks gather together as they watch the fire as the X-Men arrive on scene to put the fire out. Later that night, Northstar informs Psylocke that Moneta is in the basement with their guest, before he leaves for the night. Psylocke then confronts the Blob about the latent feelings he has for her that she has picked up on, and offers to use her powers to take care of those feelings. Blob is at a loss for words, and rushes from the office into the waiting night. Three days later, the Blob has called in sick for the third time, and his workload is stacking up. Moneta wants to take over his duties, but the others aren't interested in her doing that. She yells at them, accusing Northstar, Iceman and Jubilee of being happy to push papers rather than doing real work. Northstar and Moneta argue, while Psylocke finds a note from the Blob that asks her to forgive him and tells her that he doesn't want to forget, before Moneta storms out, announcing that she is going to interrogate their prisoner. Jubilee quickly reminds Moneta that the “prisoner” is their guest.

Jubilee follows Moneta into the basement, where she is horrified to discover that the pregnant Nezumi is chained to a sink. Moneta assures Jubilee that she brings the prisoner blankets, water and food every day, so she is comfortable. Jubilee leaves to get the others, but Moneta tells her not to. Nezumi and Moneta argue for some time, with Moneta very vocal about her disgust at the pregnant Nezumi. Jubilee convinces Moneta to leave, then apologizes to Nezumi, but Nezumi isn't convinced, and tells Jubilee that she will take the monster she can see coming rather than the one who pretends they are anything but. Jubilee assures Nezumi that she hasn't doesn't anything, to which Nezumi points out that she is complicit, which means she is the worst offender. Nezumi asks Jubilee if she is happy to see another Asian woman, and a pregnant one at that, chained like this. Jubilee tries to justify herself, before leaving, unable to understand what Nezumi is trying to tell her. Meanwhile, Psylocke arrives at the Blob's home. He invites her inside, and Psylocke is surprised to see the large library the Blob owns. The Blob starts to make some tea, and eventually confesses to Psylocke that he needs to feel the feelings he has for her – because even though he knows nothing will ever come of them, it's better to feel longing than to feel nothing at all. A sad Psylocke then reveals that she had a recurring nightmare as a child about the death of her mother, and how she would wade through rotting corpses to find her mother's body – but she still can't remember the last time her mother held her. Psylocke then crawls across the table towards the Blob and tells him that she will let him keep his feelings.

Full Summary: 

'Have you ever been stung by a bee?' Betsy Braddock a.k.a. Psylocke asks as she crouches beside a little boy who has fallen from his bicycle onto the sidewalk. 'Y-yes' the boy replies, while Betsy tends to his bloody knee. Bobby Drake a.k.a. Iceman is nearby, checking on the boy's bicycle, he concentrates as he tries to repair the wonky wheel. Betsy asks the boy if the bee sting still hurts, to which the boy sniffs and wipes his eyes, 'No...' he responds. Betsy tells him that is right, because pain goes away, just like this hurt will. She helps the boy to his feet and tells him to remember that all pain is only temporary – that no hurt lasts forever. The boy looks up at Betsy, wide-eyed, some tears still falling down his face, before he rushes towards some nuns. One of the nuns apologizes for this, as the other asks for forgiveness, and remarks that they don't know how he slipped the fence. 'It's okay' Betsy responds, while Bobby holds the bicycle up and tells the nuns that he is sorry, he tried to fix it. 'That's fine. Thank you for everything you do, Department X' one of the nuns smiles, as they carry the boy and the bike away.

Betsy watches as the nuns carry the boy away as she asks Bobby if he remembers the last time that he was little enough to be held like that. 'No' Bobby replies. Betsy tells him that sometimes she thinks about the fact that as children there was a time when their parents held them for the very last time – at some point, they were picked up and then set back down, never to be picked up and held again.

Suddenly: 'WHAT!' Betsy screams as she finds herself hoisted into the air, as Bobby holds Betsy up and starts carrying her down the sidewalk. 'Bobby! What are you doing?' Betsy asks, surprised. 'Proving you're not too big to be picked up' Bobby responds, before telling Betsy to come on, as the others are waiting for them inside.

'Bobby, put me down!' Betsy exclaims as Bobby carries her into the Department X office space where their fellow clerks Jean-Paul Beaubier a.k.a. Northstar, Jubilation Lee a.k.a. Jubilee, Fred Dukes the Blob and Moneta are sitting behind their desks. Some are working, while Northstar is reading a newspaper. 'I, uh, trust everything went okay with the little one?' Blob asks as he stands up. Betsy looks at him and tells him that it did, and apologizes for holding everyone up.

'Uh, no problem at all. Right, guys?' Blob asks. Jubilee smiles and points at Betsy, while Moneta shrugs, and Northstar doesn't even bother to look up from his newspaper. The Blob pours himself some coffee and remarks that now they are all here, he will go over the day's work detail. He informs his teammates that there is a controlled purge on the docket today. 'Even with all these wildfires? Is that wise, Blob?' Northstar asks, looking up from his newspaper. Blob sips his coffee and tells Northstar that it is, now more than ever, as everyone works for everyone – a part and not apart. . 'I mean, we still need to give the X-Men a fire they can actually put out. People will feel safer' Blob adds.

Shortly, Moneta stands on top of the Department X van that the clerks use as their transport. She peers through some binoculars as smoke billows around her. 'Northstar, Betsy's -' Moneta begins, but doesn't get to finish her sentence as Northstar speeds away from her. 'D'accord. Bye, then' Moneta mutters. In the forest, Betsy uses her telepathic powers to command the wildlife to run to safety. The ground rumbles as the many creatures rush past her. Northstar tackles the flames darting around him with ice-walls, as Northstar flies towards him, telling him to wait as Bobby starts to finish the ice-wall, blocking the forest. He leaves a small gap, as Betsy and several more animals run through it. 'That's the last of them. This quadrant is cleared' Betsy reports. Bobby closes up the ice-wall and remarks that he hates this part. 'You got every last living creature out of there, right? You're sure?' Bobby asks Betsy. Betsy tells him that she is sure, admitting that she is no Nature Girl, but that she can nudge a stress response one way or the other, at least in organisms that actually have one. 'R.I.P... bees?' Bobby asks, but Betsy tells him that they are fine, that insects are especially sensitive to stress.

'Light 'em up, Princess Jelly Bean!' Bobby then calls out to Jubilee, who raises her shades, and looks at the flames before her. 'On it' Jubilee responds as she fires her plasma blasts towards the flames, which crackle upon contact. She fires more, and lowers her shades to watch her work, a grin on her face, she is distracted as Northstar calls out to her. 'Huh? Oh, right. Thanks' Jubilee calls back as she raises a hand, and Northstar swoops down to pull her to safety. 'Shouldn't we have at least made it look like a campfire started it?' Moneta asks atop the van as Northstar flies over and drops Jubilee down, while Betsy and Blob stand on the ground nearby. Blob tells Moneta that doesn't matter, as people won't be asking those kind of questions about the wildfire. 'I'm asking those questions...' Moneta declares.

'Yeah, but that's why you get to be in Department X' Blob replies. 'Good on you, little buddy' he adds as Bobby seals off the ice-wall surrounding more flames. Blob and Betsy looks at each other and smile, before Bobby sleds over to his teammates. 'Here we go, folks!' Blob calls out. As the Department X clerks gather together and watch as the heroes arrive. 'Right on time' Blob points out, before telling the others that they did good work. 'Dang it! I forgot to bring hot dogs and marshmallows again!!' Bobby mutters. 'And yet we still suffer an abundance of weenies' Northstar points out. 'Haha. That's mean. You're mean' Bobby replies. 'Better than being a weenie, though' Northstar boasts, as they look down at the X-Men – Storm, Magneto, X-Man, Nature Girl, X-23, Colossus, Nightcrawler and Jean Grey, who have come to fight the fire.

Later that night, Blob shuffles some papers on his desk, while Betsy looks over at him. 'Betsy? You are staying late tonight?' a voice asks. Distracted, Betsy turns to see Northstar standing behind her and she tells him that she is going to hang around for a bit. Northstar announces that he is leaving, but wanted to let someone else know that bibitte is downstairs checking on their guest. 'Oh, how nice of her' Betsy replies. 'Nothing Moneta does is nice. That is why I'm letting someone know she is downstairs with our guest' Northstar replies. 'Oh – understood' Betsy replies, assuring Northstar that she will pop down in just a moment, but she needs to do something else first. 'I don't care enough to object' Northstar responds, before stating that he is off and that he will see Betsy in the morning. 'Goodnight, Jean-Paul' Betsy replies, her hair blowing behind her thanks to the gust that Northstar creates when he speeds away.

Betsy gets up and walks over to the Blob. 'Ah, Fred?' she calls out. 'Oh, hey, Betsy' Blob replies as he looks up from his papers. 'Burning the midnight oil too, huh? I'm usually the only one left by now' the Blob points out. Betsy tells Fred that she knows, and that she wanted to talk to him alone. 'You don't say? Well...gosh. Is everything all right?' Blob replies. Betsy tells him that she is certain it will be, but that earlier today, in the controlled purge, she caught something coming from his thoughts that they need to discuss – specifically, his attraction to her. 'Er – that's -' the Blob begins, but Betsy interrupts him, telling Fred that he doesn't have to explain, and adds that she could also pick up on how hard he was working to hide it from her – so she knows it is not something he would ever act on. Betsy tells Fred that as a professional courtesy, she would be more than happy to take care of that for him. 'Take care -' the Blob begins, surprised. 'Take care of erasing all traces of your romantic feelings' Betsy clarifies, assuring him that he wouldn't remember ever having them at all. Betsy adds that she could even implant a mild feeling of disgust towards her to ensure his physical attraction doesn't happen again.

'I – uh – umm -' the Blob begins as he gets to his feet, confused. 'Fred?' Betsy asks. 'Uh -' the Blob begins, before turning and running away. 'Fred, what's wrong?' Betsy calls out, but gets no response, as the Blob rushes out of the office, knocking a door off its hinges. 'Fred! Wait!' Betsy calls after him. She goes over to the doors, but is too late, as the Blob is gone. 'Mon dieu, what happened here?' Moneta asks as she approaches Betsy, who tells her that she has no idea.

The next day, papers begin to pile up in the Blob's in-tray, although he doesn't show up for work.

The day after that, even more files stack up in the Blob's in-tray.

Day three of the Blob calling in sick to work, the stack of papers in the in-tray towers high as Moneta places another paper on the stack – only for it to collapse, sending papers scattering across the floor. 'What a mess. Where is he?' Moneta mutters, as Betsy helps her to collect the papers. 'Fred said he has strep. Go easy on him. He's not feeling well' Betsy replies, to which Moneta declares that is no excuse, and that they can't just stop prosecuting offenses because one of them falls ill. 'Who knows what is being reported that we haven't been able to investigate in his absence!' Moneta exclaims, before standing up and volunteering to take over the Blob's planning duties. Northstar looks up from his book, while Jubilee and the shirtless Iceman turn from their idle chat to look up at Moneta too. No one says anything, and they return to their other activities. 'What is wrong with you all? It's like you're happy to just stay here and push papers instead of doing real work!' Moneta shouts at them. 'Pushing papers is real work' Bobby replies as he makes a paper plane.

Still angry, Moneta goes over to Northstar, who doesn't look up from his book, and asks why it is that they keep getting calls about the same retrogrades over and over again. 'I think these intimacy violation calls are just a distraction to keep us from finding the real problem!' Moneta exclaims, while Bobby throws the paper plane towards her, it lands on Northstar's desk, so Jean-Paul uses his book to knock the plane away as he tells Moneta that intimacy violations are a real problem. 'Not the only problem! Or even the biggest one!' Moneta snaps. 'Maybe so, petite bibitte' Northstar replies, casually returning to his book. 'Stop calling me that! Arretez!' Moneta exclaims, while Betsy notices an envelope with her name on it on her own desk. She picks it up and looks at it, as Northstar, in his native French, tells Moneta that he will stop when she stops being a bug. Betsy opens the envelope, to find a hand written note that reads “I don't want to forget. Forgive me” as Moneta swears at Northstar in French. 'Ooh, even I can hear how spicy that was' Jubilee remarks, while Bobby asks Jean-Paul if his protegé just cussed him out. 'Somewhat. She said she's had enough and she is leaving to -' Northstar begins, before Moneta interrupts him, 'I AM GOING TO INTERROGATE OUR PRISONER!' she shouts as she storms away. 'GUEST!' Jubilee calls out after Moneta. 'Call Nezumi our guest, you little monster!' Jubilee exclaims, while Betsy holds the letter to her chest and turns away from her fellow clerks.

'We demand cooperation, you deguelasse waste of resources!' Moneta calls out to the pregnant mutant Nezumi, who is chained up in the basement. Jubilee gasps as she sees the pregnant Nezumi, who looks up at Moneta, ' demand, huh?' Nezumi scowls. 'This...this is awful' the wide-eyed Jubilee utters, seeing the rubbish that is scattered around the chained Nezumi. 'Why did you tell me she was comfortable down here?' Jubilee asks. 'Because she is. She's fine' Moneta snaps, pointing out that Nezumi has water and blankets, and she brings her food every single day. 'This is unacceptable. It's horrific. We can't just -' Jubilee begins, before turning and walking away, announcing that she is going to get the team 'Non! You will not!' Moneta replies as she grabs Jubilee's wrist. 'HA!' Nezumi laughs as she stands up, and holding her pregnant stomach, asks what kind of secret police force are so inept that they can't even imprison a hostage right?'

'When I get free, I'm going to -' Nezumi boasts, interrupted when Moneta goes over to her and slaps her hard across her face. 'Moneta!' Jubilee gasps, shocked. 'She is a rat shifter retrograde! Vermin! She does not deserve our compassion' Moneta snarls Moneta wipes her mouth and remarks that rats are fiercely intelligent creatures. She swears at Moneta, who tells her to shut her mouth, calling her a “'Grade”. '“Grade”? Retrograde? You're all  so stupid. Tell me what kind of benevolent authority creates terms like that, huh?' Nezumi asks. 'You spit that word out like it's poison' she adds, to which Moneta tells her that she is poison. Jubilee grabs Moneta and tries to pull her towards the door, telling that she needs to leave. 'Poisonous to everything we work for!' Moneta exclaims, telling Nezumi that she is poisonous to the life for mutants that is free of all pain and subjugation – and poisonous to everything Hope Summers died for.

Moneta walks out of the basement and Jubilee tells Nezumi that she is sorry about her, that she is new and way overzealous. 'I had no idea about the way she's been treat -' Jubilee begins, while Nezumi tells her that she is worse. 'Excuse me?' the surprised Jubilee asks. 'Far worse!' Nezumi  exclaims, spinning around to face Jubilee, she announces that she will take the monster she can see coming over the one who pretends they're anything but, any day. 'I haven't done anything to you!' Jubilee points out. Moneta lurches towards Jubilee and asks her how she doesn't understand  what it means to be complicit. 'You haven't done anything to me – but definitely not for me, either' Nezumi points out, adding that she had stupidly hoped Jubilee would be different than the rest of her team, but after a few days down here, she has realized that Jubilee is just perfectly content seeing another Asian woman chained up in the basement – and a pregnant one at that.

Nezumi tries to move closer to Jubilee, but the chain clangs against the sink pipe it is attached to, restraining Nezumi by her neck. Jubilee assures Nezumi that she had no idea she was being kept here. 'And you didn't ask, did you?' Nezumi points out. Jubilee tells Nezumi that it is for her own good, that there is nowhere else safe for her condition right now. 'Oh, sure. Being held captive and tortured is great for the baby' Nezumi mutters. Jubilee tells Nezumi that she definitely isn't being tortured. 'You think this isn't torture?' Nezumi shouts. 'No!' Jubilee replies. 'Yeah. That's why you're worse' Nezumi mutters. Jubilee turns and walks away, telling Nezumi to calm down, and that she is going to look for the others and tell them what is going on. 'Hate me all you want – they still need to know' Jubilee adds.

Under the light of the moon, Betsy stands outside an apartment door, and looks at a moth flittering around a light that hangs from the ceiling above her. There is a creaking noise as the door opens, 'Betsy?' the Blob calls out as he sees Betsy standing before him. 'Hi' Betsy replies, turning to Fred. 'Hi...' the Blob replies. Another moth flitters around the light, as the Blob asks Betsy if everything is all right. Betsy tells the Blob that she just remembered that as a child she had a terrible fear of moths. 'Why?' the Blob asks. 'They fly like they're broken' Betsy points out, as they look at the moths on the light. Blob tells Betsy that the moths are just doing what they are meant to – that they don't know anything else. 'They're meant to kill themselves by violently plunging into light bulbs over and over again?' Betsy asks. The Blob tells her that the moths don't know it is a lightbulb – they think it is the moon. He admits that it is a fatal attraction, but to moths, it is everything they've ever wanted – the only thing they care about.

Betsy holds out the note that Blob left her and asks him if he wants to be unwell. The Blob tells Betsy that he will explain himself, but isn't comfortable discussing it out here. 'No funny business, I promise, but do you maybe want to -' the Blob begins, as Betsy walks past him and enters his home. 'Oh -' the Blob utters, while Betsy tells him that moths don't care about anything – they are moths. The Blob closes the door and tells Betsy that he would argue that moths only care about one thing – and that one thing they care about a great deal. 'They're just $#%&*#%% moths, Fred' Betsy points out. 'They're so stupid that their evolution was disrupted by the invention of artificial light bulbs'. Betsy goes wide-eyed as she looks around Blob's home, and sees floor to ceiling bookcases, all filled with books. 'This is what you care about, then' Betsy realizes. The Blob nervously rubs his hands as he tells Betsy that he can care about more than one thing at a time. 'I mean, I'd hope that I'm at least more complex than a moth...' his voice trails off.

The Blob then tells Betsy to look around and grab something if she likes, that she can feel free to borrow anything she wants. 'Do you drink tea?' Blob asks. 'I'm English' Betsy reminds him, to which Blob goes into the kitchen to make the tea. Betsy goes and sits at the kitchen table, and the Blob looks over at her. 'Okay – you're in here now -' the Blob begins, before putting a cup of tea on the table and looking at his note that Betsy holds. He sits down across from Betsy and sighs, before telling Betsy that he is sorry, and he would rather lose his job than ber forced to forget his feelings for her. Fred adds that he would never impose how he feels on her, never, it's not something that comes with any expectations of her. 'I'm already screwing this up' he mutters, before explaining to Betsy that he just needs it – the way he feels about her.

The Blob continues, explaining that he needs to feel something, and being sick with longing every time he looks at Betsy is better than the alternative, which is feeling nothing at all. Blob asks Betsy if she understands, that she is a hymn that he sings, a fever dream, the one luminescent thing hanging brightly in a blackened sky – and he is dumber than a damn moth, because he knows how out of reach she is. 'But...have you ever ached in a particular way so deeply, and for so long that you get used to the pain and then start to look for it every day? Even if it's comfort yourself with the familiarity of something? You just start needing it?' Blob asks, adding 'And you don't know when it happened because... at some point, what began as a burden then became your only anchor'. The wide-eyed Betsy stares at the Blob, who tells her that he is sorry. He starts to say something else, but she tells him that he has said enough. 'You dragged me into this, and now you have to let me speak!' Betsy declares.

But, Betsy falls silent, looking away from Blob, she hangs her head and reveals that when she was a little girl, she had this recurring nightmare about a cemetery that was a pond – she doesn't mean a cemetery that was near a pond, she means the pond was the cemetery. 'To mourn a loved one, you would have to fish their bloated corpse up out of the water' Betsy explains, tears begin to well in her eyes. The Blob listens intently as Betsy tells him that she would wade through all these fish-pale dead bodies bobbing in the water lillies to find the one that was her mother so that she could drag  her from the water, pay her respects, and then roll her rotting corpse back in. 'Betsy? What are -' the Blob begins, before Betsy climbs onto the table, she starts crawling towards the Blob, asking him why she can recall something like that, but not the last time her mother ever held her? Betsy tells the Blob that she will let him keep his feelings if he answers one question for her: The Blob clears his throat, 'What?' he asks. 'Does it still hurt?' Betsy asks as she comes to the edge of the table, leaning over the surprised Blob, they stare into each other's eyes....

Characters Involved: 

Blob, Iceman, Jubilee, Moneta, Northstar, Psylocke (all Department X)

Colossus, Jean Grey, Magneto, Nature Girl, Nightcrawler, Storm, X-23, X-Man (all X-Men)

Nezumi Sen


Story Notes: 

D’accord: Agreed
Mon dieu: My God
Petite bibitte:  little bug
Arretez: Stop (polite form)
Deguelasse: revolting

Written By: