All-New X-Men (1st series) #20

Issue Date: 
February 2014
Story Title: 

Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Mahmud Asrar & Brandon Peterson (art), Israel Silva & Marte Gracia (colorist), VC’s Cory Petit (letterer), Brandon Peterson (cover artist), Xander Jarowey (assistant editor), Jordan D White (associate editor), Nick Lowe (editor), Axel Alonso (editor-in-chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)

Brief Description: 

X-23 awake at the X-Men’s headquarters and runs. Young Cyclops follows and manages to talk her down. Afterwards, X-23 leads them to the Purifiers’ headquarters, which the X-Men infiltrate and attack. Unfortunately, nobody counts on William Stryker Jr. having superpowers, which he uses to take out the whole team.

Full Summary: 

X-23 awakes to bright lights and faces leaning over her. One of them asks if she can hear them and assures her she needn’t panic. She is with friends. Can she hear them? Ask her if she will marry him, Iceman interrupts Cyclops. Scott repeats his question.

Her hair growing back before their eyes, Laura sits up and unsheathes her claws. Cyclops again tries to tell her who she is and that she is among friends. She knows exactly who she is and where she is, she snaps.

Kitty Pryde tells her she must know who they are then. So even though this usually has the opposite effect on her: she needs to calm down. Jean offers to make her go to sleep, but Kitty forbids it. Laura is one of them. There is no need for any kind of manipulation. She’s clearly been through enough. Jean informs them Laura doesn’t believe they are who they say they are.

Cyclops interrupts Kitty, introduces himself to Laura and asks how she is. He asks if she remembers how she ended up in Florida. Jean warns them she doesn’t and she’s going to run.

Laura glares and then jumps off and runs. Jean tells them she knows this place is Weapon X, where they made Wolverine into Wolverine. She figured that out fast. They make Wolverines on purpose? Bobby marvels and Kitty realizes this might not have been the smartest place to take a clone of Wolverine.

Cyclops decides to go talk to her. Bobby still can’t get over the fact they made Wolverine. And he can’t get over the fact that, after they saw what Wolverine turned out like they thought it might be a good idea to clone him into a teenage girl. A girl Scott Summers quite fancies, Jean informs them. Kitty shudders.

X-23 has reached the outside but Cyclops took a shortcut and emerges in front of her. It’s kind of beautiful, he tells her. She should see it in the daytime. They are in Canada, by the way. But she probably knows more about this than he does.

She asks who he is. He tells her. Who is he really? she insists. He is really Cyclops and would appreciate it if she didn’t do anything that will make him bleed. Laura sniffs him and realizes it is him. Why are they so young? He explains the original X-Men time-traveled here. Why would they do that? she asks. Here sucks. They figured maybe they’d help make it not suck anymore. And anyway they are stuck here now. For the foreseeable future.

Where’s the other older him? Laura asks. Around, he tells her. That’s weird, Laura mutters. He agrees. What happened to her? She looks away and keeps silent. Scott continues a few hours ago she was bald and sickly and scared and being chased by religions anti-mutant zealots. She didn’t recognize Professor Kitty.

Laura snaps she feel this has to be a trick. What does he want from her? What does everybody want from her? She’s a mutant, Scott replies. She’s a friend of their friend. They want to help her.

That was the actual Jean Grey, she realizes. Wow. What happened? he repeats.

Dear God! Jean exclaims some distance away. She can see what happened to Laura. It’s awful!

Laura tells Scott she is not a whiner. But the last year of her life has been nothing but a raging sea of lies, torture and disappointment. That’s all she wants to say about this.

Jean whispers Laura was kidnapped and forced to— Kitty warns her this is one mind she shouldn’t read. Get out of there! she orders when Jean hesitates. Laura will tell them when she’s ready. But-- Jean begins. Kitty raises her finger reprovingly and Jean complies.

Why were those crazy people harassing her? Scott asks. Because that’s what crazy people do, X-23 retorts. Why her specifically? he clarifies. She thinks it’s just her famous luck being at the wrong place at the wrong time. They hate mutants. And they could smell it on her. She can heal and she was healing from as close to death as she can ever hope to be. She was healing herself from almost nothing. That’s why she was having trouble seeing them all for what they were. She was out of her head.

Why are they living in Weapon X? she demands. They were told it was the last place anyone would look for them. Who told them that? Laura asks. Him, Scott replies.

Laura decides she’d like to take her anger out on those Purifiers. Does she know where to find them? he asks. Get her back to where they found her. She can track them.

She awkwardly thanks him. They’ve all been there, he points out. He doesn’t know what he would have done if Charles Xavier hadn’t grabbed him out of that fire when he did. They stand there awkwardly. She looks like she is about to cry. Scott steps closer and hugs her. Laura protests. She doesn’t do hugs. Especially not with an audience.

Ocala, Florida, nighttime at an abandoned theme park:
The Purifiers’ leader lectures his people. People focus on their quest to end mutants like it’s cleansing, like they hate them for being different. They don’t hate them. They pity them. They would put them down because of pity. But it only matters that they are a danger to humans. His father saw it coming. He told the world this was coming. They are not human! He told him every day! They are abomination!  

But they all doubt. He found himself full of doubt. You see Scott Summers dressed like the devil on the cover of magazines, toasted like he is God… treated lie a rockstar… A hero. And he wonders: is it him? Does he just not see the world for what it is? Has his father, the great William Stryker, brainwashed him into feeling this way?

He said to God: give him a sign. Show him why the mutants are dangerous. And just like God spoke to Moses, God spoke to him. He delivered unto him the original X-Men. For they are his burning bush. The original X-Men, who last night felled many of their Purifier brothers, are in the present? What are they doing here? That means they are breaking rules of time and space as if those rules don’t apply to them!

In the meantime, the X-Men led by X-23 (who has been given her own tan and brown version of their uniforms) infiltrate the place.

Stryker continues you don’t have to be a scientist to realize if the past X-Men are here that endangers their future, the future of their children.

Angel takes out a guard.

They could very well cease to exist because of the X-Men’s selfish actions. Just because they have the power to do so, doesn’t mean they should be allowed to do it. There are consequences. A human being would understand that. A child of God would understand that. He prayed to God for a sign that mutants must be destroyed and he brought the original X-Men to them. He gave them a—

Kitty warns the X-Men the Purifiers know they are here as she takes out the electricity. As they practiced! Everybody follow Laura, but everyone listen to Scott.

Stryker orders the Purifiers to suit up.

Jean takes over Stryker’s mind and has him suggest they all take off their clothes. God told him he wants them all to be naked.

X-Men, go get them, Jean orders and Cyclops sends off an optic blast at them as the X-Men attack. The X-Men seem to get the upper hand. Stryker concentrates. Jean shouts a warning as Stryker glows with energy which bursts forth and hits all the X-Men. They fall down unconscious. God’s will be done, he smiles.

Characters Involved: 

Angel, Beast, Cyclops, Iceman, Marvel Girl (all original X-Men)
Kitty Pryde, X-23 (X-Men)

William Stryker Jr.
Other Purifiers

Story Notes: 

The traumatic events for X-23 took place in Avengers Arena #1-18. However that storyline occurred over the space of exactly a month, not a year.

This is the first mention of William Stryker having a living son in the Marvel Universe proper (Unlike the movie universe and the Ultimate Universe). Before that, only his first son was mentioned whom Stryker killed after birth, as he was a mutant.

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