Age of X-Man: X-Tremists #5

Issue Date: 
August 2019
Story Title: 

Leah Williams (writer), Georges Jeanty (penciler), Roberto Poggi (inker), Jim Charalampidis (colorist), Virtual Calligraphy's Clayton Cowles (letterer), Rahzzah (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: 

Jubilee is busy at the Department X headquarters, collecting newspaper articles about her team's exploits when she finds herself confronted by a massive amount of rats – and Nezumi, who is commanding the rats. With Nezumi is her baby that she has given birth to, and Nezumi is angry at the way Department X have treated her. She wants revenge, and asks Jubilee where the others are – none of them are here though, and Jubilee suddenly finds herself confused when she hears the baby cry – and she remembers that she has a son, too, Shogo – but doesn't know where he is. Jubilee struggles to make sense of things, but is able to assist Nezumi with her baby, and and wraps the baby in her jacket, while distracting it with some fireworks. Jubilee leaves Department X, and finds the Blob and Psylocke cuddling up at the Blob's home. She moves on and she no longer cares about anything in this fake reality. A fire engine speeds past her, when Jubilee notices the missing Department X van outside a cafe, she gets rid of the civilians hanging around outside it, then goes inside the cafe, where she finds her teammate Moneta, who has been murdered. Jubilee takes the keys from Moneta's body and starts blowing buildings up with her powers. She goes into a store and takes steals money and a car seat while more fire engines speed down the street – and arrive at the Blob's home which has been set ablaze. The Blob and Psylocke watch as fire fighters try to put the fire out, and the Blob is devaestated – not because of his precious collection of books, burning inside, but because that is where he got to know Psylocke, and they grew close. Psylocke chooses this moment to inform the Blob that she had not been deleting the memories of mutants they arrested. Jubilee finds Northstar, Iceman and Rictor partying on a rooftop, and they join her in the destruction of the city. The Blob tries to process the reveleation about Psylocke, who tells him that she wants to give all the memories that she has been storing inside her back to their rightful owners. The Blob assures Psylocke that he has her back, and so Psylocke releases the memories, which fill the minds of mutants in the Danger Room prison, and all over the world. Some mutants nearby form a mob and want to attack the Blob and Psylocke, who passes out. The Blob puts Psylocke in the back of a truck for safety, and stands his ground. Jubilee, Northstar, Iceman and Rictor are in a mall when Iceman gets his memories back, and he struggles to cope. Northstar comforts him and vows that they will make people pay for what has been done to them. Afterwards, the Blob is alone again, and Jubilee gives the Department X van to Nezumi, in an attempt to make amends, she has loaded it with cash. Nezumi snatches Jubilee's shades, and drives away, while telling her son that she loves him, and Jubilee thinks about her own son, Shogo, about how much she loves him, and hopes he will understand one day why they aren't together at the moment.

Full Summary: 

6:30 PM, where an enraged Jubilee sets fire to a street downtown, and smashes cars apart with a baseball bat. 'Have you ever walked around just carrying a feeling of wrongness?' she wonders. 'Like you don't really know what it is or where it comes from. There's just something about yourself that you know isn't right'. She tries to think of what word it is – not “cacophony” but, in the same vocab family, she thinks, before realizing that the world is “discordant”, that you live like this, feeling kinda monstrous, kinda really undeserving of love and happiness – and for the longest time, you won't even know why, until one day, you learn something important about yourself that you didn't know before – and then everything else starts to make sense in reverse. Her teammates Bobby Drake a.k.a. Iceman and Jean-Paul Beaubier a.k.a. Northstar and their friend Julio Richter a.k.a. Rictor join in the destruction alongside Jubilee, as Bobby begins to freeze objects down on the street, Northstar flies at super-speed down the street, knocking cars over, and Rictor uses his seismic powers to add to the destruction.

Earlier, at 9:17 AM, Jubilee remembers she has a son. Up until remembering this, she had been screaming without sound. She had also been clipping newspaper articles about wildfires. 'Who knows if I'd eventually have been caught. Who cares' Jubilee thinks to herself. 'Nice' she remarks, when suddenly, her concentration is disturbed, turning from her drawer full of articles, she looks around the Department X office and sees dozens of rats surrounding her. '' Jubilee asks. 'Hi' the mutant called Nezumi snarls as she stands nearby, holding her newborn baby in one arm, and a large gun in the other. 'I have a secondary mutation. Wanna guess what it is?' Nezumi frowns, aiming the gun at Jubilee, she opens fire, but Jubilee is quick enough to dodge the bullets, dropping down behind her desk for safety. Nezumi offers Jubilee a hint – the clue is in her name. “Sen” means thousand, and “Nezumi” means rat. 'It took my friends here days to chew through the chains. Days. Thank goodness for small favors, though. Or thousands of them, I should say. Because otherwise I would've been forced to give birth in chains. All alone in the Department X basement' Nezumi explains, narrowing her eyes, before she screams 'NOW WHERE'RE THE REST OF YOU?'

At that time, Fred Dukes a.k.a. Blob and Betsy Braddock a.k.a. Psylocke are having coffee and reading books at the Blob's home, while Northstar, Iceman and Rictor are dancing, drinking and celebrating on the rooftop of an old cinema, and an angry Moneta is driving somewhere in the Department X van.

With the gun aimed at her face, Jubilee smiles at Nezumi and tells her that she doesn't know where the others are. 'You're lying!' Nezumi retorts, before asking Jubilee why she is looking at her son like that. 'Like what?' Jubilee asks, wide-eyed. 'Like you've never seen a baby before' Nezumi points out. The baby begins to cry, ' this...' Jubilee begins, while realizing at first she doesn't want it to be real. 'Stop! You're creeping me out!' Nezumi exclaims, as Jubilee asks if this is real. 'What's wrong with you?' Nezumi mutters, while the wide-eyed Jubilee suddenly comes to the realization that she has a son, Shogo. The crying of Nezumi's baby rings in her ears, before Jubilee shouts 'OH GOD – SHOGO!' This causes Nezumi to step backwards and calling Jubilee a lunatic, warns her to back off.

For the rest of the day, Jubilee will experience pretty much the lowest and most traumatic point in her life – remembering she has a son, and in the very same instant realizing she has no idea where he is, or if he is okay, or even the last time she saw him.

Nezumi's baby continues to cry, and Jubilee asks Nezumi if she can show her something. 'What?' Nezumi asks. 'Just... just... just here. You, um, swaddle a baby... like this' Jubilee explains as she removes her coat, and lays it flat on a desk, while the baby continues to cry. Jubilee realizes that all of these memories had been taken from her by force, and she doesn't know why – but she can feel how incomplete her mind is – it's still broken. She wonders if her child is all right, as she places Nezumi's baby on the desk, and, with tears streaming down her face, Jubilee explains to Nezumi that the baby has to be snug, they like tight spaces, as it makes them feel secure.

With the baby wrapped up safely, Jubilee covers her face with her hands and tells Nezumi that she has a son, but doesn't know where he is. 'God' Nezumi gasps, putting a hand on Jubilee's shoulder, while Jubilee wonders if her son is alive, and if she will ever see him again. Jubilee sniffs and wipes her nose, while telling Nezumi that she is okay, well, not really, before pointing out that she needs to get Nezumi and her son out of her as fast as possible. 'Why? What are you going to do?' Nezumi asks. 'Detonate' Jubilee smiles as she creates some fireworks over Nezumi's baby, to the infant's delight, while Jubilee tells herself that if this reality is fabricated, then she has no reason to hold back.

Jubilee  doesn't set out looking for trouble – at first, she is just looking for the stupid team van, but can't find it. At 10:30 AM, wearing a dark coat, covering her head with a hood, and heart-shaped sunglasses, Jubilee stands outside the Blob's home, and looking through a window, she sees Betsy and the Blob cuddling on a couch. '... you are %&#$#$& kidding me right now?' Jubilee mutters, before she stops caring, and carries on down a busy street, remembering being a little bean of a thing, and people always warning her about the big scary world out there, and how she should definitely always carry a weapon on her – just so she could protect herself from all the evil kidnappers. Jubilee notices a fire engine speed past, and looks over to a coffee shop, where she sees the Department X van parked. 'The hell's our dork van doing over there?' Jubilee wonders, while deciding that she never wanted to carry a weapon – she wanted to be one.

Striding over to the coffee shop, Jubilee throws some plasma fireworks towards the civilians that have gathered outside it, 'Sorry! But you're all fake and in my way!' Jubilee snaps, while realizing that everyone seems to forget she can be an atom bomb if she wanted to. Jubilee checks the Department X van, it's locked, so she goes into the coffee shop, 'Hello?' she calls out, before discovering the body of her coworker, Moneta, lying motionless on the floor. Jubilee decides that Moneta has been murdered and that it looks like she has been dead for hours. She crouches beside Moneta's body and sighs. A bullet wound can be seen in Moneta's forehead, blood trickling from it. '... keys? Please?' Jubilee asks as she finds the keys on Moneta's body, before admitting that they were all monsters for what they had done to other mutants in Department X.

Things come back to Jubilee in waves. She hasn't just woken up in a different reality without her son, she has woken up in a reality where she has been brainwashed and reprogrammed to serve on someone else's squad of enforcers. Jubilee starts to throw her fireworks around, destroying some buildings, while nearby civilians run for their lives. She goes into a store and takes a lollipop from the counter, while smiling at the elderly couple behind the counter and telling them to give her all their money. They don't answer her, so she asks them if they have car seats, but when they don't respond, she snaps her fingers and tells them to focus. Another fire engine speeds past, and Jubilee thinks to herself that she wanted to tear the whole place apart – and decides that she definitely got a head start on that.

'Fire! There's a fire! A red-skinned mutant shouts as a fire engine arrives at a home which has been set ablaze. The home of the Blob, who looks, wide-eyed in shock, 'No! This can't be happening! My house!' he exclaims, while Betsy coughs from smoke inhalation and tells Fred that it is okay, that they are both all right – and that is all that matters. Betsy tells Fred that she knows he valued his library collection, but points out that it is replaceable, and she will help him find the books. The Blob tells Betsy that she doesn't understand, that it is about the books – it's the place he fell in love with her. 'Right at that stupid kitchen table. You... you just refused the pedestal I'd put you on inside my head. So that is where I actually got to know the real you, instead of just this...distant fantasy I'd had' the Blob explains. The Blob tells Betsy that is where he learned that she is far more magnificent than he ever could have imagined. 'Ah, hell' he mutters, looking back at the fire, before Betsy asks him if he remembers when Moneta accused her of not actually deleting the memories of everyone they arrested. Fred tells her that he remembers, and Betsy admits that Moneta was right.

At 6:00 PM, Northstar calls out to Jubilee from the rooftop where he, Bobby and Rictor are drinking, and relaxing. 'I suggest we riot!' Northstar  declares as he flies off the cinema rooftop. Bobby slides down on an ice-sled and Rictor readies a powerful vibration. They join Jubilee in her destruction, and Jubilee realizes that the four of them are uniquely qualified for mass destruction – and they didn't know who had done this to them. Fires rage and walls of ice block parts of the city, before the quartet combine their skills to topple a large statue of Hope Summers. They know this world isn't the real one and that they had been torn away from their families and loved ones back home – and they thought they were the only ones who knew any of this. Jubilee rips Bobby's Department X armband from his bicep, and tells him that he is going to thank her for this later.

Only, they're not the only ones who know this, as firefighters continue to work on the fire that rampages through the Blob's home, the Blob asks Betsy 'What?' as she admits to him that she hasn't actually erased anything from the people Department X arrested – she has only temporarily harbored their memories in her own subconscious. 'I've been keeping it all safe, because... it – it never once felt like it was ever our bloody right to erase. And I – I think I'm going to give them all back now. I'm barely holding on to their memories as it is' Betsy announces, before telling Fred that she is a liar and a traitor and asks him if he still “loves” her. Fred takes Betsy's hand and tells her that if he could be anything in the world, he would still just choose to be alone with her again. 'And when they come for us, I'll have your back' he adds. Betsy smiles at Fred and thanks him.

A moment later, Betsy releases the memories  - everyone gets them back – prisoners in the Danger Room, Nezumi Sen. Betsy has been keeping thousands of other people's memories safely locked in her the whole time.

'Betsy! I've got you!' the Blob calls out as he catches Betsy, who falls backwards after releasing the memories. Some nearby mutants watch, and one of them exclaims 'See? I told you the big one lived down here! Him and that purple-haired lady – they're the ones who mind-wiped us!' the mutant exclaims. 'Get 'em!' another shouts as they rush forward, carrying baseball bats and makeshift weapons. The Blob puts Betsy onto the back of a truck, while Betsy asks him how they can feel so angry. Blob tells her to rest and not worry about them. 'Not so tough now, huh, big guy?' one of the mutants calls out as they close in. 'What, you think I'm afraid of you all? I'm the Blob...I'm %#&^%#$* indestructible!' the Blob roars as he turns to the mob of mutants.

Jubilee, Northstar, Bobby and Rictor enter a mall, and Jubilee knows that Rictor is pretty much always ready for a riot, regardless of why, so once he got his memories back, he got a little more provocative about it. 'So, who's ready for big gay apocalypse round two?' Rictor asks, announcing that he wants to go crack the prison open like an egg. Jubilee has changed into some civilian clothes and asks Rictor how he has this much energy. 'Are you still drunk?' she enquires. 'Yeah' Rictor replies, before telling the othrs that he will catch up with them in a bit. 'Don't touch my theater' he calls out as he walks off. 'We'd never dare' Jean-Paul assures Rictor, before Bobby yawns and asks when breakfast is. Jubilee puts a goofy hat on Bobby's head, and Northstar tells him that is a good look, while calling him “otter-pop”. 'What'd you just call me?' Bobby asks, wiping his mouth “otter-pop” Jean-Paul replies, asking Bobby if he remembers. 'Long, long before I met my husband, when I had a one-sided crush on you – I nicknamed you “otter-pop” in the hopes that you were secretly gay too' Jean-Paul explains. Bobby wipes his eyes, 'He's waking up' Jubilee remarks. 'Welcome back, Bobby. I am... so sorry' Northstar remarks.

Jubilee has a theory about why Bobby was the last one to remember everything – the whole time, and even under reconditioning, Bobby had been the one person working extra hard to keep the rest of them afloat – so when it all came crashing down and he finally started remembering... 'Jean-Paul!' Bobby calls out. 'I know. I know' Jean-Paul replies, opening his arms as Bobby stumbles towards him. They embrace, and Jubilee realizes that Bobby had the furthest to fall. 'Do they know? Do they know what they took from us?' Bobby asks as he puts his head against Northstar's, who holds Bobby and tells him No'. Bobby wipes his eyes, 'Princess Jellybean – Shogo?' Bobby asks Jubilee, who hangs her head and tells Bobby that she doesn't know, and that she only remembered him this morning because of Nezumi.

'Oh, God, Nezumi! We have to go, we have to -' Bobby exclaims, wide-eyed, he starts to rush away, but Northstar and Jubilee hold him back, as Jubilee tells him that it is okay, and that she let Nezumi go. 'Jubilee, please don't tell me – no, please, no -' Bobby begins, while Northstar asks if it was a boy or a girl. 'Boy. She gavev birth to him in the basement' Jubilee announces. 'How are we even supposed to live with ourselves after this?' Bobby shouts. 'After everything I've done' he utters, turning to Northstar, who embraces him again as he cries. Northstar sighs, 'Look, we don't have time -' he begins, before Jubilee joins in the hug. Northstar tells them both that they don't have time to unpack the trauma of this right now, so they can cry if they must, but then they need to put it away, because they still have much work to do. 'And people to make pay' Northstar declares, narrowing his eyes as tears begin to form.

What happens after that is another story all together. Someone has painted “DIE X-TREMISTS” on the Department X headquarters. According to Jubilee, Rictor returns and they party until they finally broke the world. Betsy and the Blob somehow become separated, the Blob is left alone, visited by rats. Jubilee wants everyone to understand that to be turned into the enforcers, they had to be made malleable for the psychic reconditioning. The idea was that if they had fewer memories tethering them to their old reality, then they would be less likely to form relationships in this one, and make them better at enforcing. But they all sought each other out through the darkness anyway, and desperately clung to everything they still managed to find. Which is why she gives Nezumi the van.

Earlier, at 3:00 PM, before Jubilee met up with Bobby, Northstar and Ric, before the burning, she wanted to  make sure Nezumi and her baby would be safely out of range. Jubilee drives up to Nezumi and gets out of the Department X van, telling her that she is sorry she was gone so long, but she picked up some supplies for her, and the tank is full. Nezumi doesn't say anything, she just snatches the keys from Jubilee's hands, then grabs her heart-shaped shades, 'I'm taking these too' Nezumi frowns. As she puts her son into the car seat in the van, Nezumi tells Jubilee not to think that this means she forgives her – she still hates her for what they all did to her. 'Even if I robbed three banks and filled the back of the van with 700 large?' Jubilee asks. Nezumi snorts, 'Yeah. Right'.

Now, Nezumi drives into a desert as the sun rises behind her. Wads of cash can be seen stacked up on the backseat, and Nezumi smirks, before telling her son, little no-name, that she loves him.

As for Jubilee, she thinks to herself that, of families, her aunt in LA used to have a stupid fridge magnet quote that kinda stuck with her. She can't remember who said it, but it was basically like “You gotta take care of yourself, because there's only one of you and you'll get one chance to be you”. She isn't sure what made her think of that, and wonders if it is because she feels like she is supposed to end this with some wise words or something, but someday, when Shogo can actually read, she hopes this letter will clear up the scary time in his life when she was gone – it was because she had no choice. But she does now, and she is coming home to find Shogo, no matter what it takes – because she loves him.

Characters Involved: 

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

Nezumi Sen
Nezumi's son


Story Notes: 

This issue is followed by Age of X-Man: Omega #1.

Jubilee's son, Shogo, is being cared for by Karma as of Uncanny X-Men (5th series) #18, and prior to that was living with the Morlocks.

Northstar did indeed call Bobby “otter-pop” in Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #414. That issue, and #415 detailed Northstar's one-sided crush on Iceman.

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