Astonishing X-Men (3rd series) #19

Issue Date: 
February 2007
Story Title: 

Joss Whedon (writer), John Cassaday (artist), Laura Martin (colorist), Joe Caramagna (letterer), Sean Ryan (assistant editor), Nick Lowe & Andy Schmidt (associate editor), Axel Alonso (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

Though having been teleported onto a SWORD space craft, Danger and Ord continue their attack on Colossus, whose strength and invulnerability seem to be a match. However, having had enough, Special Agent Brand uses the gravity drive beneath them and the rest of the X-Men to increase gravity to the point where they are pulled down and trapped. Kitty’s phasing power though makes her immune to the effect and she pulls a gun on Brand, ordering her to let them go. Brand complies, having already dealt with Danger by downloading hundreds of thousands of viruses into her processing unit. The crisis passed, she now explains to the X-Men their position in deep space, as well as their destination: the Breakworld. Hearing this as he is taken away in shackles, Ord manages to break free and contact his homeworld, just before being recaptured. Later, Brand holds a briefing session, explaining the Breakworld’s obsession with Colossus, after their Augurs having decided upon him as being destined to destroy their world. She further briefs them that she allowed Ord to overhear their position and destination in hopes that he would contact his people and make them avert their warfleet, which had previously been on its way to destroy the Earth. Now, they are on their way to intercept the SWORD vessel, though they hope to arrive at the Breakworld before this happens. Unfortunately, this is not the case and the war ships reach them first. Fired upon by dozens of missiles, the SWORD spaceship erupts in flames around its passengers.

Full Summary: 

The infant, a child of the Breakworld, is the picture of serenity, swaddled in a red cloth and held by its mother. Hope, the female speaks. A child is the greatest symbol of hope. Of will. The will to survive. The right to exist.

As she speaks, the female walks among her fellow citizens of the Breakworld. They have formed two lines that flank her path. The end of their artificial corridor is a balcony, jutting out over an immense chasm. At the end of the balcony is a floating craft, shaped into a wingless and limbless dragon, whose head curls upward from a deep base and back down towards its own body. Its tail matches the symmetry exactly.

Approaching the small craft, the female ceremoniously proclaims that they all have that right. This is not blasphemy. It is their revealed truth. All who being the voyage… should travel safely through. As she speaks, the female places the swaddled infant in the craft and sends it on its way, floating every farther out and toward the bare mountains in the distance, set against a blood-red sky. However, before it reaches this distance, the craft exploded in a cloud of green smoke, having impacted against a latticed web previously unseen.

As what remains of the craft falls from the sky, another female approaches the first. Calling her Aghanne, the newcomer asks for forgiveness but... Before the newcomer can state her thoughts, Aghanne speaks them. She knows. They can’t hold funerals for all the children. In agreement, the other female reminds Aghanne that there are hundreds dead from the Loor-Dje nest alone… and if the Open Hand finds out they’ve honored even one dead… let alone a child

Still gazing out to the distance, Aghanne tells the newcomer, Dafi, that they honored his life. In deference, Dafi agree and again asks forgiveness. Continuing, Aghanne says that, as for the Open Hand, they will move against them no matter what they do. Now beginning her movement down a flight of stairs, she adds that, with any luck, the prophecy will come to pass and they won’t have to bother.

Taken aback. Dafi repeats the key word. “The prophecy?” She thought that she didn’t believe… Smiling back, Aghanne interrupts that of course, she doesn’t. One human male cannot destroy a world. The world does that itself. In punctuation, Aghanne turns her attention to an immense room, whose bottom cannot be seen for both its depth, as well as the innumerable floating beds, each supporting a bloody and infirmed citizen of the Breakworld.

Considering this sight, Aghanne remarks that they fight a tide of brutality that will engulf them. She doesn’t believe the augurs and their time-shadows, but neither does she mock them. She sees the end days in every wounded face, hear in every dying breath. Who could destroy such a mighty and merciless race… and who in the worlds could save them?

Meanwhile, traveling faster than light, a craft of human design moves ever closer to the Breakworld. Though it travels through the serenity of the black that exists between the stars, which lazily streak in the distance, the scene within the vessel is anything but.

In the chaos, the robotic entity called Danger fires her energy blast at Colossus, who charges against the incensed Ord of the Breakworld. To add to Ord’s concern is Wolverine, who has adamantium claws unsheathed and ready to sink deeply into him. A short distance away, the leader of the SWORD agents on the vessel, each with a rifle drawn on the group, calls for the group of combatants to stand down. Stand the Hell down!

Managing to shirk Wolverine off of his back, Ord snarls Colossus’ last name of Rasputin. DIE!!! However, Colossus, already armored, brings his clenched fists down upon Ord’s lack. Watching this melee from afar, Special Agent Brand sighs in disgust and orders someone to “hit ‘em.” A moment later, Danger, Ord, Wolverine, Colossus and the rest of the X-Men – Beast, Emma Frost, Shadowcat and Hisako, all collapse to the floor. Trying his best to speak even as the machinery beneath them pulls him downwards far beyond the ability of his muscles to overcome, Ord curses. Celestial Hell, but he is sick of magnets.

Pacing around the circular floor, Brand explains that it’s a localized gravity surge, actually handy for unruly passengers. Flying flat o his back, staring up at the ceiling with his bare eyes, Cyclops tells Brand that she’s got ten seconds… to turn that… off… Hardly threatened, Brand asks “Or what?” To this, Kitty Pryde appears behind her. “Or else,” she answers, a pistol pointed at the back of her head.

Not turning around, Brand narrows her eyes and tells the other agents that this kid’s not a killer. Her mouth curled in contempt, Kitty counters that she has no idea who she is. Then asked if she’s going to put a bullet in her head, Kitty phases the pistol through Brand’s head, allowing it to emerge far enough through her forehead that Brand can see it through her crossed eyes. For starters, Kitty replies.

Turning toward those trapped but a short distance away, Special Agent Brand tells them that, if anybody starts anything – and she’s looking at Ord, she adds – she’ll turn the grav so high it’ll liquefy them. Her threat made, she tells one of the agents to let them up.

Rising to his feet, Ord points toward Piotr, informing Agent Brand that Rasputin is right here! He tells her to finish this! His planet is at stake! What is his life against billions? Coldly, Brand replies that it doesn’t play out that way. Rasputin’s an asset right now, and he’s their prisoner. As for his robo-buddy, she continues, referring to the nearby Danger and directing her question to her, she assumes she tried taking over their computer systems the moment she materialized. So, she also assumes her knows they have an aggressive defense system.

Having already deduced the answer, Danger states matter-of-factly that they’ve given her a virus. Several hundred thousand of them, Brand corrects. They won’t kiss her, Danger rejoins. Her consciousness is not limited to this body. Back on Earth… Interrupting, Brand states that they’re a long way from Earth, “sister.” The body she’s now in is about to go down with a nasty bug and she can convalesce in a cell till she figures out if she’s useful at all.

“Why.” Cyclops says, much more in a statement than question to Agent Brand. What game is she playing? Where are they? As Ord is being led away in shackles, Brand replies Quadrant Theta 669, on a sub-light arc for the Breakworld. That course can’t be changed, not by the ‘bot, not by their Ms. Pryde. They’ve got more than a day, but if they’re up for a briefing now, she can…

Interrupting, Cyclops helps up Emma, saying not yet. She got a psychic on this ship?

Still in her pajamas, Hisako sits up and takes in her surroundings. Wide-eyed, she asks why everyone is so calm. Squatting nearby, Wolverine tells her to suck it up, kid. They’ve been off-world lots. Also squatting next to her, though clad in a suit, as opposed to Logan’s jeans and sleeveless T-shirt, the Beast adds that he’s not sure he’s characterize them as “calm.” Assuming the term is still in the popular vernacular… he’d go with “fried.”

Back on the Breakworld, a mighty warrior, clad in armor, lifts aloft the body of another male, whose body has been skewered on a pike. Snarling to the newcomer entering the vast chamber, filled with assorted weapons and armors, the warrior tells them to come in. They’re finished there.

Addressing the warrior as Powerlord Kruun as he steps over another corpse, the newcomer holds a small, blue-glowing hemisphere in his outstretched hand and informs him that this message is urgent. Accepting it even as he removes the pike from the most recently deceased man, Kruun asks from whom it comes. When told simply “Ambassador Ord,” Powerlord Kruun snarls the name in repetition. The stink of his incompetence, he announces, will outlast his body’s decay. As you speak it, the subservient chimes, it comes to pass.

Turning to a small, sphere-like device which has been hovering but a short distance away, Krrun places the hemispherical device into a slot on its side. A moment later, from its convex side, a blue beam of light is produced, which eventually coalesces into the shape of Ambassador Ord. Respectfully, the replicated Ord addresses “Lord of his world” and explains that he has little time. He’s aboard a SWORD warship on a direct sling to the Breakworld. Silatyn has their coordinates. Snarling in contempt, Powerlord Krrun begins to ask why he must hear petty… However, his words are cut off by a devastating piece of news from Ord. Colossus is aboard.

As Kruun considers this, the projection shows agents of SWORD appearing from behind Ord and opening fire. Not bothering to notice as the blue light that once formed Ord begins to dissipate, leaving Ord’s fate unknown, Kruun smiles to his subordinate. He orders him to reroute the Bruteships. Intercept and destroy the vessel. They have the world… Let them rule destiny as well. His order given, he gazes out his mighty window and to the Breakworld beyond. As far as he can see, towers of the city rise, with citizens walking in masses on the streets below.

Her eyes closed, Emma Frost lies on her back upon a small table. At the end of the table is Sydren, who holds his hands against her cheeks in physical, as well as psychic, connection. Pain, he announces. Seven gods, this pain…

Watching his nearby, Special Agent Brand turns part of her attention to Cyclops, who stands to her right. When she notes aloud that he’s not sporting his shades, he confirms with a “yeah.” He lost access to his power. Asked if Frost did that, he replies that it’s complicated. Irked enough to turn her attention away from Sydren and Frost, Brand reminds him that she’s got a lotta variables on this mission. If she’s a direct threat…

Interrupting, Hank tells Brand that Emma Frost is an X-Man. When Brand then turns toward him, snarling an “And?” he replies that he’s unaware of the need for a conjunction. To this, Brand asks if he always talks like that, but Hank just ignores it. Emma’s one of them, he says. That means she’s… “Not here,” Sydren announces, his task finished. “Cassandra Nova is not here.” He then adds that the mind is clouded… but it mends.

Elsewhere on the vessel, Kitty sits on a small table, Piotr standing across the room some distance away. Last night, she begins sheepishly. They were together last night. For the first time. “Da,” he replies with a small smile. Turning her head to the window and the stars outside, Kitty slightly changes subjects. It’s fading, she says. Emma’s little puppet show. That monster… But it’s three years. It’s them married, it’s her… their son. Turning back to Piotr, she tells him he betrayed her.

It was a fantasy, Piotr reminds her. Yeah, her fantasy, Kitty admits, finally standing. Nightmare. Whatever… That’s how she worked them all. She knew… Changing directions, Kitty reminds Piotr that he dumped her. First time they were close, he met someone… else. Better. And he killed himself one time! Yeah, temporarily, and for a really good cause, but… How does she know he’s not gonna… Trailing, she sits again. Head in her hand, she tells him she’s just gonna need some time.

Examining an electronic map of the Breakworld on a large oval table, Brand tells the X-Men, assembled and sitting in chairs across from her that she doesn’t get it. She doesn’t like it, but there it is. The Breakworld’s psychics – they call ‘em the Augurs – they hunted for the X-Man destined to destroy their world and the mighty Colossus got the nod. Regarding the X-Man with that nom de guerre, she assumes aloud that he’s as mystified by this as the rest of them. Replying coldly that, no, he’s not, he adds that he has been planning to destroy the Breakworld since he was a child.

When his statement causes the rest of his teammates to regard him with glares of incredulity, the massive Piotr recoils slightly. Turning his head aside, he admits that this is why he doesn’t make so many jokes. He never knows when is good.

Massaging her temple in frustration, Brand replies with “Right. Great” and does her best to move on. She suggests they skip to why they’re there. Answering bluntly, the Beast quips that she kidnapped them. Sarcastically asked that they’re not past that yet, Kitty equally sarcastically reminds her it was four hours ago.

Ignoring her, Brand returns to the larger issue. The moment the Augurs pinpointed Rasputin, an armada was sent towards Earth. On the way to his cell, Ord broke free and contacted the Breakworld. That armada is now headed toward them. Just like she planned, Cyclops rejoins, having deduced the fact. Just like she planned, Brand confirms. He wondered why she was so specific about their coordinates in front of the guy, Cyclops then adds. She needed to draw them away from the Earth, Brand continues. Now they best way to keep them from blowing this ship into fragments is to get to the Breakworld before they can. At current speed, they should just make it.

Chiming in, the Beast remarks that this plan seems overwhelmingly flawed. Refuge in the lion’s mouth? Won’t every living soul on the Breakworld be looking to put Peter down? Calling him “Cookie Monster,” Brand coldly asks if he thinks she hasn’t thought of that? When are they going to figure out that this is bigger than all of them?

“When you figure out who you’re dealing with,” Emma says leaning against the door frame to steady herself. Making her way to a chair, she collapses into it, apologizing for being late. She thinks she picked the gist of it up on the way. Although Agent Brand did forget to mention, she continues, that she’s terrified. Not of you, Brand counters.

In demonstration, she summons the image of Powerlord Kruun and explains that the Breakworld is governed by one principle: domination. By violence, war, extermination… Powerlord Kruun, of the Open Hand, he introduces the image. The global ruler of the Breakworld. His rise to power did not, they’ve probably guessed, involve any Electoral College.

When Logan asks if he’s what she’s afraid of, Brand quips back “How I wish.” Summoning a new image, that of the Breakworld itself, a moon silently hanging above it, she explains that somewhere, possibly here on their smallest moon, the Breakworlders have built a failsafe. A missile. They’re fairly certain this thing could crack the Earth in half. The Earth can’t mount an attack on a superior military force. And they can’t defend against theirs.

Regarding Piotr, Brand tells him that she doesn’t know why they’ve fixated on him, Luck of the draw, maybe. But she doesn’t kidnap them all for giggles. Or even for the time she’ll buy. She did it because, right now, she needs super heroes.

As Brand speaks, a host of Breakworld space craft arrive within visual range of the SWORD vessel.

Continuing, Brand begins to outline her “Plan A” to find and disable the missile when Agent Deems anxiously interrupts her. Seeing all she needs to know from his expression, shee mutters softly. “No.”

Outside, one of the Breakworld space craft fires a salvo of missiles, which impact violently on the SWORD spacecraft. As the world around them erupts in fire, Cyclops asks Brand what’s “Plan B.” When Agent Brand replies that they all die now, Cyclops then asks what’s Plan C?

Outside, the rest of the Breakworld warships fire their missiles at the helpless spaceship.

Characters Involved: 

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

Hisako Ichiki (Xavier Institute student)

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

SWORD agents


Ambassador Ord of the Breakworld

Powerlord Kruun of the Open Hand

Subordinate to Kruun


Aghanne’s child (deceased)


Citizens of the Breakworld

via hologram:

Ambassador Ord

SWORD agents


Powerlord Kruun of the Open Hand

Story Notes: 

Cyclops’ request for Sydren to scan for Cassandra Nova’s presence in Emma is in vain, as unbeknownst to him, Cassandra downloaded her consciousness into Hisako.

Kitty was forced to live out three years of a fantasy life went wrong in Astonishing X-Men (3rd series) #17.

Cookie Monster is a character from the children’s educational TV series Sesame Street, who –like his name implies – loves to eat cookies. Like the Beast, his skin is coated with blue fur.

Though the electoral college system dates to ancient times, in the modern era it is mainly known as the system established in the United States constitution as a means to electing the president. Its original use has been altered by constitutional amendments to a system whereupon the electoral votes of a state, numbered according equal to the number of seats of that state in the US Senate and House of Representatives, go to whichever candidate wins a plurality of votes in the state in a winner-take-all system. Whichever candidate’s electoral votes add up to at least 270 electoral votes wins the presidency.

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