Astonishing X-Men (3rd series) #16

Issue Date: 
October 2006
Story Title: 

Joss Whedon (writer), John Cassaday (artist), Laura Martin (colorist), Chris Eliopoulos (letterer), Sean Ryan (assistant editor), Nick Lowe (associate editor), Mike Marts (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

Ord of the Breakworld is free from his prison on the SWORD space station, the Peak, and is determined to remain so. Making his way through a host of agents, Ord is stopped briefly by Special Agent Brand, though he still makes his escape by jumping through a window and into the vacuum of space. There, he is rescued and taken away by Danger, piloting a space craft. Meanwhile, Kitty returns to the surface of the Institute from deep underground. She briefly checks in on Piotr and speaks with the frightened Hisako and Blindfold, before searching for Wolverine. She finds Logan in the forest on the outskirts of the Institute’s grounds, having survived and regenerated from an attack by the mentally devolved Beast. In the bowels of the Institute, Emma Frost, Ellie Phimister, Shaw, Cassandra and Perfection find their prize: a metal container, which they try to open. However, the container resists Emma’s diamond-fist blows and its defenses beat her back in turn. The group begins to argue about their next course of action, however Emma senses something amiss and goes to investigate. She discovers Kitty Pryde, who was lying in wait behind a wall. Using her phasing powers on Emma herself, Kitty takes her to a small cavern, beneath the Institute. Leaving her there, effectively imprisoned, Kitty returns to the Institute to look for students who can help. However, she is discovered by the still-terrified Wolverine – and then by the enigmatic Perfection, who reveals her identity: the White Queen! Seeing Emma, whom she just imprisoned in a cavern and appearing as she has not for years, Kitty is… confused. Meanwhile, back on the Peak, Special Agent Brand prepares to go after the escaped Ord, whose mental status might be suspect upon learning that the one mutant who was destined to destroy his homeworld was the one mutant that he had resurrected: Colossus.

Full Summary: 

The once captive Ord of the Breakworld is now very much free, making his way through a host of SWORD agents, trying to stop him. The fury of Ord, however, will not be contained, as he makes his way through the space station called the Peak.

Elsewhere on the station, Special Agent Brand and Agent Deems, fully armed, make their way to Ord’s position. Reporting the status, Agent Deems informs Brand that Ord’s cell unlocked itself. All systems are fritzing. Asked about life support, Deems reports that it’s stable, so far. Changing subjects, she asks Deem if Ord knows. When Deems begins to ask why else he would be doing this, Brand interrupts angrily, repeating her question, more emphatically.

Reaching the site of the breakout, Brand crouches and raises her rifle at Ord, telling him to stand down. It’s over, she yells at him. Dropping the body of a SWORD agent, Ord replies, “Truer words, Agent Brand… Over it is.” With nothing more to be said, Ord runs at full speed toward the spacious window, crashing through it easily and into the vacuum of empty space.

Half a moment later, the open breach into space is closed by an iris, preventing explosive decompression of the station. Not missing a beat, Brand calls out orders, as she spies Ord floating outside the station. Brand orders a shuttle to be scrambled and to pick up Ord. Now! However, Deems draws Agent Brand’s attention to a small spacecraft, which has pulled alongside the station and Ord’s position. Still very much alive in the vacuum, Ord grabs a hold of the wing of the craft and is taken away.

Watching this dispassionately, Brand orders for an intercept to be scrambled. However, when Agent Deems informs her that the hangar’s locked down, Brand replies, “Of course it is.” She then asks Deems if they have any idea who’s driving that shuttle. However, when Deems begins to give an excuse about their status of “collating,” she interrupts in disgust. Amateurs. When Deems defends that the rescue belied intel and precision, Brand corrects that she meant them. The dumbest alien she ever met just mad them look like rank #@%$ing amateurs.

Collecting her thoughts, Brand remarks that Ord did not do this alone. Deems is to find out who he’s working with. When Deems asks her about the shuttle, Brand replies that they’ll deal with it. They already know where it’s going.

Panicked beyond comprehension, Logan has climbed out on a tree branch, high above the grounds of the Xavier Institute. Attempting to be silent to avoid detection, Logan’s mind, nevertheless, races. Praying to God that he is sorry, he promises to be virtuous and doing good deeds if He would please make that “moose creature” not find him. He promises to help the poor… unless God doesn’t like them for some reason and that is why they’re poor. Down below, the “moose creature” – in truth Hank McCoy, in a mentally devolved state as bestial as his namesake – stalks the ground in search for Logan.

Inside the Institute, Blindfold carries Hisako around her shoulder. Spent from her recent generation of the gargantuan exo-armor, Hisako is weak and so very tired. As Hisako is almost incoherent, asking where they are, Blindfold informs her that she thinks someone’s awake in the infirmary. When Hisako then asks if she saw earlier, Blindfold replies that her armor was magnificent. However, any pride Hisako might have felt turns to despair, as she beholds the trashed infirmary and the very much unconscious form of Colossus and comatose Cyclops. No one in there is awake, she informs Blindfold.

Suddenly, Kitty Pryde rises through the floor of the infirmary. Seeing Peter’s prone form, she calls out to him, quickly picking moving to him. To her relief, she finds that he is breathing. He’s breathing, she repeats. Speaking up, Hisako asks Kitty what’s going on. At first, she does not respond. However, when prompted again by Hisako, Kitty turns to the student, her face stony in determination. She instructs Hisako to tell her what she knows.

On the grounds of the Institute, Logan falls from his hiding spot on the branch of the tree, even as the Beast leaps to his position. Impacting on the ground a moment later, Logan has no time before the feral Beast pounces upon him, immediately sinking his teeth in Logan’s leg. Logan cries in pain and horror. Closing his eyes, Logan clenches his teeth and fist, trying to survive the pain. Upon opening his eyes, he sees three metal claws erupting from his clenched fist. Another howl of terror escapes his lips.

And that’s it? Cassandra asks, eying the metal container. Its main section is rectangular in shape, with the ends tapering into points, like pyramids. Replying in the affirmative, Emma Frost calls it the manger itself. How ignominious, Cassandra notes. Beside her and Emma stand the rest of their group, Sebastian Shaw, Ellie Phimister and the shrouded Perfection.

Speaking up, Shaw tells the others that he still has a bit of kinetic energy stored up from young Rasputin. Shall he…? Interrupting as she converts to living diamond, Emma Frost tells him and the others to just stand back. Approaching the container, Emma delivers a crushing blow to the container’s main section. However, much to her surprise, the container is not even dented. A moment later, four lasers erupt from container’s corners, propelling Emma back and into a desk. Crouching next to the disheveled Emam, Ellie Phimister thanks her for the “stand back” tip. That was definitely less painful from back there.

Her hooded eyes still glued to the container, Perfection tells the others that Xavier clearly designed it to be impregnable, even by his own people. Shaw inquires about McCoy, citing that this is his domain, however, Emma interrupts. She rejoins that Perfection’s right. Charles couldn’t risk anyone being able to open it. Sneering, Cassandra spits, “Damn well right he couldn’t.” Continuing, Emma states that even if Ms. Nova hadn’t devolved Hank into Cujo… According to plan, Cassandra chimes in. …it’s doubtful he knows his way into it, Emma concludes.

But they assumed that all along, Perfection states. That’s why they bought someone there… who can go through it.

Elsewhere on the Institute grounds, Kitty Pryde races through the trees, eventually stumbling across Logan, crouched at the base of a tree and examining his leg. When she calls out to him, he places his finger to his lips, wanting her to hush. He tells her that she’ll bring the monster back. And he doesn’t know where Logan is. In his cups, no doubt.

Moving down to her knees, Kitty sits before the Logan at eye level. She tells him that it’s Emma. She’s messed with his brain, and she’s not alone. That doesn’t make any sense, he replies. There’s a monster, possible moose or bear. But blue, and he ate his leg but then he made claws, and he stabbed him… As Logan continues to ramble, telling her about how a good portion of his leg was eaten (but grew back) and how there was a bald lady, Kitty bites her lower lip, looking off into space.

Meanwhile, in the infirmary, Blindfold sits, cross-legged, in the middle of the floor, while Hisako hovers over the sink. Hearing something that only she can, Blindfold responds to the unheard voice with a greeting of “hello.” She tells it that she heard it before. She wasn’t certain who it was – and thanks it. In response to an unheard question, Blindfold replies that she doesn’t know. She can try.

Continuing his explanation, Logan informs Kitty that she also met an Oriental. Ignoring him, Kitty replies that the whole team is down. She should have seen this coming. To herself, Kitty thinks that she knew it was coming and she… All right, she thinks. She does this alone. Not a problem.

Defensively, Ellie tells the rest of the group that no one told her they’d need her! She means, why’d they have to wait all this time anyway… Interrupting, Cassandra states that she’s been saying that from the beginning. Prudence, Shaw replies. Now that the X-Men are out of commission… As if that doesn’t happen regularly, Cassandra interrupts again. Totally! Ellie agrees. There’s a dozen times they could’ve… It’s irrelevant, Shaw states. Until they have young Pryde back from the bowels of the Earth… It’s not her fault, Ellie yells.

Shut up! Just shut up! Emma shouts, her gloved hands covering her ears. The rest of the group, minus Perfection, stare at Emma in silence. After a moment, Emma tells them that she cannot hear them think. Or anything else, with all their babbling. When Cassandra speaks up, assuming aloud that Emma has a plan for retrieving the contents, Emma again tells her to be quiet. Does no one else hear that?

Moving into the next room, Emma finds a spacious room, with a high ceiling and technologically advanced equipment. Sensing something, Emma finds the source. “You,” she says to her reflection in a mirror. Did you really think you could hide in there? A moment later, a gloved fist erupts from within, phasing through the glass. The fist punches Emma is the nose, which erupts in a spray of blood. The fist then unclenches, grabbing Emma by her cape and pulling her forward to the mirror, which shatters by the impact. From behind the wall, Kitty kicks her phased leg through, though her foot becomes solid enough to impact Emma’s stomach, doubling her over.

Phasing through the wall, Kitty presses her attack with an elbow to Emma’s chin. “Hide?” she asks, “from you?” She continues to press, but her advantage comes to an end, when Kitty’s foot comes into contact with Emma’s now-living diamond face. Now on the offensive, Emma grabs Kitty by the throat, pushing her to the floor. “Well,” Emma remarks. “You know what they say…”

Much to her surprise, however, before she can complete her sentence, Emma finds herself phased through the floor and into the level below, screaming “Aaahh!” Mocking Emma as they both continue to descend into the Institute’s foundation, Kitty asks if they really say, “Aaaah.” She is pathetic, Kitty tells Emma.

Reaching her destination, a minute cavern deep underground, Kitty becomes solid, but holds Emma partially phased, with her head half inside solid rock. So positioned, Kitty tells Emma that, if she gets in her head, the rock gets into hers. Who is she working with?

Replying simply, Emma says the Hellfire Club, of course. Of course, Kitty spits back. Who? Sebastian Shaw, Emma states. Cassandra Nova. She hasn’t got a prayer against her. Asked about the kid, Emma states that she’s negasonic teenage warhead. Sarcastically, Kitty replies that they really have run out of names – and then asks who else. When Emma says that’s it, Kitty tells her to try again. It’s just the four of them. Kitty can turn her brain to slate – which by the way she won’t – but that’s the truth.

Pulling Emma forward and out of the rock, Kitty tells Emma that she’s right. She’s not going to kill her. She’s going to let her stay down there… and think about what she’s done. With this, Kitty phases again and begins her ascent again, leaving Emma very much alone, deep underground.

Elsewhere in the Institute, shrouded in darkness, as well as her ever-present cloak, Perfection telepathically replies to Emma that of course she can hear her. She’s not to fret. She did just fine. Considering.

Making her way through the hallway of the Institute, Kitty peeks into a bedroom, finding several students fast asleep. She considers that one of them, Nova or that dream kid, Megalithic… something, might be able to help. However, she realizes that she’s still alone – and she doesn’t know these guys. As she begins to enter the file room to do research, she is startled by Logan, who appears behind her, scaring both of them.

Grabbing his shoulder, she asks him what he is doing there. She told him to hide. Replying sheepishly, Logan replies that she’s a girl and, if there’s danger about, he… Well, it isn’t right for a Howlett to hide behind someone’s skirts. He shan’t prize his life above his honor. Unless she thinks that’s a good idea.

Before she can respond, Kitty doubles over in pain, clutching her head. Behind her, coming up the hallway, is the cloaked and hooded figure of Perfection. Calling out to Kitty, Perfection tells her that it’s time. At long last, it’s time to make herself useful. As Logan looks on in terror, immobilized by his fear, Kitty turns regard her attacker.

Forget what you’re thinking, Perfection tells her. Emma Frost may have been easy – embarrassingly easy – to take out… but even she was never a match… for the White Queen. With this, perfection removes her cloak and hood, revealing Emma Frost, as she once looked, many years ago when she was the White Queen of the Hellfire Club. Her hair and costume are the same as when Kitty first met her, upon joining the X-Men. Taking this in with wide eyes, Kitty is in stunned silence. After the initial shock wears off, she closes her eyes in confusion. “Yeahbuhwhat?

In a fireball, the shuttle carrying the escaping Ord of the Breakword explodes, its pieces raining down into the ocean below it. Back at the Peak, Special Agent Brand is informed that the shuttle is down, but they don’t read any life signs in it. In response, Brand remarks that she knew Ord would bail out. But now he’s gotta fly the rest of the way on his own power. That buys them time.

As the rest of the SWORD strike team prepares, Agent Deems tells Brand that, when Ord went out that window, he thought he was trying to off himself. Woulda made sense, Brand replies. She means, what would he do if the one mutant destined to destroy your entire planet…is the one he brought back to life?

As the rest of the strike team prepares to deploy, Agents Brand and Deems regard the folder, labels Psychic probability report: Breakword, laying on the desk. From out of the side of the file is the photo of Piotr Rasputin, in his organic steel form of Colossus.

Characters Involved: 

Beast, Colossus, Cyclops, Emma Frost, Shadowcat, Wolverine

Blindfold, Hisako Ichiki (Xavier Institute students)

Unnamed, sleeping Xavier students

Cassandra Nova, Perfection, Ellie Phimister, Sebastian Shaw (new Hellfire Club)

Special Agent Brand, Agent Deems, Sydren (all SWORD)

SWORD agents

Ord of the Breakworld


on screen


Story Notes: 

Kitty does not seem to react to Logan saying the name of “Howlett,” his true surname. However, as he is speaking incoherently, she is most likely not taking everything he says seriously.

It was revealed by Special Agent Brand that precogs of both SWORD and the Breakworld had determined that a mutant will most certainly destroy the Breakworld in the next three years.

Cujo is a novel by Stephen King about a sweet dog suddenly becoming a horrible menace.

Issue Information: 
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