Astonishing X-Men (3rd series) #21

Issue Date: 
May 2007
Story Title: 

Joss Whedon (writer), John Cassaday (artist), Laura Martin (colorist), Chris Eliopoulos (letterer), Will Panzo (assistant editor), Nick Lowe & Andy Schmidt (associate editors), Axel Alonso (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

Though late, Wolverine and Hisako join Cyclops, Emma, Beast and Special Agent Brand at the tomb at Attur-Hei. There, Wolverine informs the rest of the X-Men that Hisako is now an official member, a decision which is summarily accepted without objection. Having examined the mosaic of Colossus destroying the Breakworld with the sun and unable to learn more from it, the group breaks into three teams. While the Beast and Brand go in search of the Breakworld weapon capable of destroying the Earth, Wolverine and Hisako search for Colossus and Kitty. Cyclops and Emma are to rendezvous with the downed SWORD spaceship, Splinter. Elsewhere, Colossus and Kitty are given shelter from the Breakdown citizenry, both of which want to kill them, by a rival sect led by Aghanne, a Breakworld malcontent who is repulsed by the society’s lack of compassion. Her fervent hope is that the prophecy about Colossus’ destiny regarding the Breakworld has been interpreted incorrectly as destruction instead of rebirth. Accepting a night of respite despite his misgivings at being labeled a messiah, the spirits of the dour Colossus are raised when Kitty resumes their romantic relationship, much to his surprise. Meanwhile, acting on intelligence of the X-Men’s departure from the tomb, Powerlord Kruun orders a snowstrike on an area, through which the Beast and Brand are currently traveling. Crashing as a result of the sudden blizzard, the two quickly burrow into the amassing snow, using their body warmth to survive, much to the amusement of the Beast. Elsewhere, en route to the downed Splinter in a confiscated sky craft, Cyclops and Emma’s conversation leads to argument, which in turn leads to a revelation when Scott admits he’s in love with her. Emma is rendered speechless for some time until they converge on the Splinter, which is now in flames. As they circle for survivors, the two are attacked and downed by Danger, who has created a monstrous and immense body, resembling a mechanical insect. Danger subsequently reassumes humanoid form to finish the job but, to her astonishment, is asked by Emma, who survived the crash in better shape than Cyclops, to kill her – and to try to make it quick…

Full Summary: 

Flanked by Hisako, who sits atop a similar craft, Wolverine reclines in the seat of what can only be described as a hover-cycle. Grimacing slightly, he apologizes to Cyclops and Emma for being late.

After dismounting, he asks the two about Pete and Kitty. Cyclops reports that they haven’t shown yet, but they’re alive. News is reporting a lot of new things. When Emma then asks about the two of them, Wolverine replies that Agent Brand’s brilliant plan went south. Their pretending burning wreckage stopped pretending. They get through this, he’s going to pop a claw through her eye. Are they cool with that? Emma quickly replies with an “absolutely,” but Cyclops begins to object though quickly changes his mind. “Nah, go for it.”

Craning his neck to regard the immense mosaic in the chamber, that of Colossus using the heat of the local sun to melt the Breakworld, Wolverine notes that this doesn’t leave a whole lotta room for doubt, does it? Regarding the yellow orb, he asks if it is indeed the sun, to which Cyclops rejoins that it’s his best guess. Chiming in, Hisako asks what that means. Supernova? Orbital shift?

Hanging upside down, his feet claws having dug into the wall of the mosaic, the Beast tells Hisako that it’s very likely and bestows high marks for the stowaway student. To this, Hisako begins to stammer but is interrupted by Wolverine. He informs the others that she’s called “Armor.” She’s their new teammate. Hisako again begins to stammer a response, but Emma quickly provides her assent, declaring it lovely. God knows the team’s going to need some new blood soon. To this, Cyclops asks the young girl if she was taught the handshake.

His visual analysis completed, the Beast drops back to the floor and announces that, without a lab, he can’t really tell much about this carving. The symbols, Agent Brand replies, are older than anything in their banks. It’s going to be a while before they get specifics. She thinks they should split up, she concludes. At last they agree on something, the Beast replies. When she then adds that he’s coming with her, Hank quickly notes the ending of that era…

Continuing, Brand explains that she needs to get a look at the weapon they’ve got pointed at the Earth. There’s a base directly under its orbit, a hundred miles east. He’s the science division, so he comes with her.

Chiming in, Wolverine announces that he wants to find Pete and Kitty. He’ll take the kid. Interrupting Hisako’s objection to being called “kid,” Cyclops says he’s interested in Kruun. To this, Brand opines that he’s not up to facing him. She’s got men in the field and thinks he and Ms. Frost should rendezvous with them and wait for word. Eying her distrustfully, Scott asks if that’s what she thinks. No offense, she replies, but he’s powerless and Emma’s more than normally unstable. She wasn’t counting on either of those things when she brought them. Promptly asked by Wolverine if he wants him to pop that claw, Scott replies no. The lady has a point. Let’s do the work.


With a powerful kick, the steel-skinned Colossus propels a soldier of the Breakworld into a large piece of machinery, which crumples from the impact. As other soldiers approach, Kitty admits that she was wrong. Not only is he clearly destined to wipe out this race… apparently he has to do it one at time. Racing toward one soldier who fires impotently through her phased torso, Kitty dives through him, appearing on the other side and holding the man’s firearm.

Taking that weapon, Kitty then lays a spread of fire over the heads of a crowd of civilians. The result is a hush of silence. Some of the civilians eye Kitty and Piotr with fear, others with hatred. Finally, breaking the silence, a small child at the fore yells, KILL IT!!! Before the rest of the group can comply, Colossus grabs the large piece of machinery in which he kicked the solider before and brings it down, blocking the path from which the civilians would attack.

Finally speaking himself, Colossus tells Kitty they’re done and proceeds to lead them outside. Breaking through the door while Kitty merely phases through the wall, Colossus laments that the child did not even know who he was. It just wanted blood. The more he sees of this world…

A voice yelling out his family name of Rasputin draws the immediate attention of both Colossus and Kitty. The source of the proclamation is a citizen of the Breakworld, holding aloft a small pistol. To the side of the alley in which he stands are other citizens, huddled in places of cover with weapons of their own trained on the two X-Men. Calling once again, this time to both Rasputin and Pryde, he tells them they will come with them. When Colossus replies coldly that it’s unlikely, the man rejoins that his translators are primitive. It is not an order. They are asking. They are asking for his trust.

In his palace, Powerlord Kruun of the Open Hand declares that he is unimpressed. He tells Danger that they already have intelligence on the X-Men. Not like hers, she replies. She was created to kill them. And yet they live, Kruun observes aloud. She was distracted, Danger rejoins, by a more important mission. And she was younger then. She doesn’t care about his world anymore than he cares about her. But their interests coincide. The X-Men can be stopped.

Interrupting, Sylatin appears and addresses the Powerlord. He announces that they have word from the Attur-Hei. The confederates of Colossus and Agent Brand – they overcame the guards, but one woke to see them go their several ways. If this machine is right, Kruun replies, referring to Danger, they know about the Retaliator. It must be protected. He orders Sylatin to bring down a snowstrike between Attur-Hei and the sub-moon base. When Sylatin asks about those headed elsewhere, Powerlord Kruun turns to Danger, asking what she will need.

As they fly over the surface of the Breakworld in a local craft, Emma chastises Cyclops that he certainly rolled right over, didn’t he? If she’d known he was such a submissive, she’d’ve gone with an entirely different wardrobe. To this, Cyclops replies simply that he’s trying to drive the craft.

Not letting up, Emma adds that Brand is reckless at best. It’s still her show, he replies. When it’s not her show, he’ll make it known. Asked if he will indeed, Cyclops replies that’s their first talk since the, mansion and her opening gambit is snark? That’s a little weak, he opines. And they’re not alone, he then adds, seeing something on the craft’s sensors.

Hands clasped on the weapons console, Emma asks if he expects her to beg forgiveness? To this, she then tells Cyclops to bank left on her mark. A moment later, the mark is given and, as the craft banks, the sky craft opens fire and destroys the two trailing sky craft.

Continuing their previous conversation, Emma tells her lover that he’s acting as though he knows what she’s been through. He replies that she doesn’t really get it, do she? He stood by her! He still does! He’s got no cover her! Interrupting his own train of thought, Cyclops tells Emma that he’s going to use the smoke from a fire below. Understanding, Emma tells him in turn to throttle down a bit. They don’t want to lose him completely. And, she says, returning to their conversation, he should stop pretending everything’s the way it was. It’s not! Cyclops counters. That’s the point! He’s in love with her now!

As the sky craft disappears through the cloud of smoke, Emma’s eyes suddenly go wide.

Standing on the balcony from which she said goodbye to her child, Aghanne tells Piotr and Kitty that she knows that it’s absurd, but… she imagined him an actual giant. Asked if he saw the care center, Piotr replies that it’s appalling. It’s medieval, Kitty adds. The technology this planet has… are all the hospitals this primitive? Smiling slightly, Aghanne repeats the word “hospital,” musing that they have a word for it. There are no others. To care for the wounded, to honor the dead or fight for the weak… On the Breakworld, these are the closest they have to sins. But she doesn’t think compassion is a sin. She thinks it may be a mutation.

Asked why exactly she rescued them, Aghanne replies that she hasn’t. This is possibly the most dangerous place on the planet. If Powerlord Kruun knew a thing about it, this mountain would be a crater. She sought them because she believes Colossus may be the instrument of their salvation. Then asked by Kitty if doesn’t believe in the prophecy, Aghanne replies that she didn’t. And then they were here.

Leading them back inside, Aghanne takes them to an immense open space. In its center is a massive obelisk, which has been shaped to resemble two arms, one reaching downward, the other up. Both hands at the end of each arm clasp the forearm of the others. Regarding it, Aghanne explains that she thought perhaps that it’s not the prophecy that’s wrong, but the interpretation. A world in chaos, perhaps, but not destroyed. Re-formed. Reborn.

Understanding the meaning, as well as the obelisk, Piotr replies that he’s not a messiah. By the world, no, Aghanne replies. He’s a man. But he’s been thrust into the arena, willing or no. The world is watching. Turning back to him, Aghanne explains that she’s been in the arena. A show-killer; that’s what she was bred as. The throng screams and your head crowds with only two choices: kill, be killed. She won so often the roar becomes like the air to her. She couldn’t even heard it. And in the silence, the third choice can be heard.

Sitting down, Aghanne states that she has no agenda for them. No plan, no coup. She brought them there so they could hear that great silence, understand that third choice, to know that even on a warrior world, they can be made to understand it too. They can be better. Lowering her head, she tells them to rest tonight. And tomorrow they will do what they will.

Elsewhere, the sky cycles piloted by the Beast and Agent Brand make their way through a snow storm. When the Beast asks where this came from, Brand immediately replies “Snowstrike!” Kruun must know where they’re going. They need cover now. As the two dive, the Beast repeats “snowstrike,” but Brand finds herself unable to respond due to a new problem. Proclaiming her engine is freezing, she is quickly saved by the Beast, who stretches out his hand and grabs her by the wrist. Her life in his hands, Brand finds herself pulled free of her cycle, which stalls and falls away into the distance.

A few moments later, the Beast pulls up the cycle in time to come to a controlled skid, which finally comes to rest at a snowdrift. Leaving the cycle, Hank announces that they’ll never find cover. To this, Brand adds that, in thirty seconds, it’s gonna be a hundred below in the shade so… dig. As he begins to do so, the Beast gripes that he truly dislikes this world.

Shielding herself from the flying snow, Brand explains that this tactical weather deployment is pretty common. When she then tells him to dig faster, the Beast asks how many people will be caught in this beside them. To this, she replies that Kruun will do whatever he has to. Reminds him of someone, the Beast rejoins.

Annoyed, Brand asks why he can’t let up for one second. She’s amoral, he replies. She’s abrasive and, right now, she’s looking at him like he’s a taun-taun. Moving into the snow cave he has just dug, Brand begins to remove her gloves. He can stop whining, she tells him. She doesn’t need his guts to keep her warm. A sudden realization dawning upon him, Hank simply replies, “Oh. My.”

Elsewhere, an interrogator of the Breakworld takes a break from his task at Agent Deems. Speaking to a Sylatin, the interrogator tells him that the human said he would talk, but only to him. He’s resilient this one. Then asked by Sylatin if the mind probes are working, the interrogator replies that all of Brand’s crew is shielded. She must have their codes. Regarding Deems with a sneer, Sylatin mocks him as a lackey. This is beneath him. He then instructs the interrogator to fetch his personal tools, in case he becomes coy.

As the interrogator departs, Sylatin approaches Deems, who is shackled to the wall, various implements of torture pointed at him. Leaning in, Sylatin tells Deems that he’s in a sorry state, isn’t he? None of the damage is permanent, if he’s worried. But that can change.

A moment later, however, Sylatin’s demeanor changes. Lifting up Deem’s chin so that they are eye to eye, he instructs the Earthman to listen carefully. The recorders will reboot in a minute. In understanding, Deems says that they need to know about the weapon. It’s primed, Syltain replies. Kruun has only to push the button, and his presence has pushed him that much closer. When Deems tells him that he has to stall him anyway he can, Sylatin counters that even attempting to influence his actions is treason. Power’s not for the weak, Deems replies. Isn’t that his thing? Keep their deal and he’ll have the throne. And they’ll give him the means to keep it. They’ll give him Colossus.

In the room provided by Aghanne’s people, Piotr Rasputin has disrobed to his shorts and silently considers the robe laid out for him before putting it on. Referring to a container of fruit of the Breakworld, set out in the center of a room, Piotr announces to Kitty, also dressing in the curtained bedroom, that they left food. It is probably safe to eat… if she is hungry… When she replies curtly that she is not, Piotr guesses rhetorically that she is not. Best to sleep, he guesses. Now he is a messiah, tomorrow will probably be busy. They bring him back from dead, they want him dead. He will destroy them. He will save them. He’s so confused… so tired.

Suddenly, Piotr is rendered speechless as the curtain between him and the bedroom is pulled aside by Kitty, who is wearing nothing but a pair of raised eyebrows and a knowing stare. Finally breaking the silence, he remarks that now he is more confused… but somehow not as tired. Kitty smiles at this, lowering her head slightly as she does so.

The sky craft of Cyclops and Emma approaches the burning hulk of what was once the Splinter space craft. Noting it, Cyclops muses that the troops can’t have gone far. They’ll circle. To this, he tells Emma that, at some point she can think about speaking, again, ever, before they die of old age. When she begins to apologize, Cyclops reacts incredulously. Did he actually just hear that? That’s uncharted territory. They’re gonna have to do some recon. He then asks for what was she apologizing. Being so mean? Sorry she ever met him? Sorry that she basically…

Halting in mid-jest, Cyclops notes something from the sensors and yell back for Emma to hold on! A moment later, a metallic craft resembling a six-legged insect towers over the craft, one if its legs deftly impaling their sky craft. At the top, or “head” of the robotic insect is the face of Danger.

A short time later, having been shielded herself from the crash by her diamond form, Emma has pulled Scott free of the wreckage of their sky craft. As he mumbles through his semi-consciousness, Emma says his name pleadingly. Beyond her, emerging from the smoke is Danger, now returned to her human form. Now human once again, her diamond form sheathed, Emma remarks aloud that he said he loved her. This man, this extraordinary man is in love. With me.

Now standing, she is approached by Danger, who tells her that that’s all over now. Oh, it’s over all right, Emma rejoins, glancing over her shoulder to the machine that walks like a woman. She asks her to do her one favor… kill her. As Danger reels at the request, Emma takes a moment to regard her unconscious lover. The moment taken, she glances again to Danger. “Please do try to make it quick.”

Characters Involved: 

Armor, Beast, Colossus, Cyclops, Emma Frost, Shadowcat, Wolverine (all X-Men)

Special Agent Brant, Agent Deems (all SWORD)



Rebels of the Breakworld

Ambassador Ord of the Breakworld

Powerlord Kruun of the Open Hand


Breakworld interrogator

Soldiers of the Breakworld

Citizens of the Breakworld

(on stone mosaic)


Story Notes: 

Though technically untitled, no doubt this is to be “Unstoppable pt 3.”

It is unclear where Wolverine produced the pristine, spare costume he is wearing here, considering the previous was incinerated during his atmospheric reentry the previous issue.

The Beast’s reference to the taun-taun no doubt refers to her horse-like beasts of the fictional planet of Hoth from the movie “the Empire Strikes Back.” In the family, Han Solo saves Luke Skywalker’s life by slicing open a just deceased taun-taun with a light saber and inserting Luke inside for warmth. Clearly, the Beast is not interested in sharing the same fate as the taun-taun in the film.

Issue Information: 
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