Astonishing X-Men (3rd series) #24

Issue Date: 
March 2008
Story Title: 

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

Brief Description: 

Having taken the prison and captured Powerlord Kruun, Cyclops sets upon the next step of his plan. While the agents of SWORD hold the facility, distracting Breakworld forces, one team is to attack the Retaliator weapon, while the other led by Cyclops is to try to convince Kruun to abandon his attack, or face the Breakworld’s destruction by Colossus. Unfortunately for Cyclops’ team, Ord arrives, forcing Colossus to enter the power source of the planet, from which the prophecy says he will destroy the Breakworld. Almost to his surprise, he is joined by Aghanne, who has been planning for Colossus to do so the whole time. Outside the sphere, Powerlord Kruun is freed by Ord and his soldiers. Gloating, he tells the X-Men that the Retaliator is about to fire. Meanwhile, in orbit, the rest of the X-Men, along with Brand and Danger, succeed in making their way to the Retaliator, though Brand takes a fatal shot in the process. Reaching the weapon itself, Danger can find no way to disarm it, forcing Kitty to phase within. However, to her surprise, she finds no wires or controls, only metal, save for a hollowed-out point at the top. At that moment the Retaliator fires, taking Kitty along with it. The lack of thrusters on the weapon quickly leads to a realization by the Beast. With no guidance systems or engines, just a rod of metal hollow at the front. It is not a missile, but a bullet.

Full Summary: 

Here’s where they stand, Cyclops says, addressing the X-Men, agents of SWORD and their Breakworld allies within the walls of the breached prison. While Colossus wraps Kruun in bondages of bent metal, Cyclops continues that they have the Breakworld’s powerlord, inside his most impregnable prison. They pegged it quick enough, Wolverine quips. They’re the X-Men, Cyclops then reminds him.

Speaking up, Aghanne tells Cyclops that the soldiers will come. Sylatin will be massing a force even now. He’ll know how to get in. Turning to Special Agent Brand, Cyclops asks what kind of fight can they put up. Asked then by Brand to answer, SWORD commander Paulletz replies that they’ve secured the facility and picked up some impressive weaponry. If they come hard, they can still buy him a few hours.

Returning to Aghanne, Cyclops asks if they can use Kruun as a bargaining chip. They will do everything in their power to protect him, she replies, but… “Bargaining” probably isn’t a popular concept, Cyclops quickly surmises. And if they begin to see Kruun as weak, she then adds.

There’s a chance Sylatin may nuke the joint anyway, Brand then opines. He’s after Kruun’s throne. He was making a deal with them. No doubt at Kruun’s behest, Aghanne corrects. Treachery is for the civilized, she reminds Agent Brand. Sylatin will protect his powerlord with his life.

Standing around talking feels a lot like standing around talking, Wolverine interrupts. When does Pete get to throw him at something? They priority is the missile, Cyclops replies. They can either disable it up close or convince Kruun to stand down. They work both angles. Two squads. Speaking now to Hank, Cyclops orders him to get Kitty to the missile. If the two of them can’t disable that thing, it can’t be done.

When Colossus then states that he’ll make sure they get there safely, Cyclops replies that he won’t. Brand knows the terrain, so she’s in. Logan and Armor are escorts. When Piotr begins to object, looking down at Kitty, Scott states bluntly that he’s not asking. He’s their ace in the hole. He can actually do the thing Kruun fears most. Kill the planet. It’s ugly, but it’s a card they gotta hold.

Turning now to Aghanne, Cyclops states that she and Emma are with them. The rest of them are holding this fort. Make a big noise of it. The more forces they draw there, the better chance everyone else has. In reply, Paulletz states that their boys got worked over pretty bad. They’re ready for some firework. To this, Cyclops replies that it’s appreciated. Any questions?

Stepping forward, Hank tells Scott he needs a minute alone. When he begins to object, Hank coldly states that he’s not asking… before adding “sir.” A few moments later, some distance from the others, Scott asks Hank if he thinks it’s Brand. Someone’s behind this “prophecy,” Hank answers. Brand said very clearly they should make it happen. If it came to all that, Scott replies. Does he really think that’s her game? As a scientist, Hank begins, he won’t say for certain something he can’t prove. As a cat… the lady is lying. She’s hiding something big. Placing his hand on his teammate’s shoulder, Scott replies that he’s his biggest brain and his oldest friend. Moment comes he has to take action, he’ll never question it.

Changing subjects, Hank asks Scott how long he’s had his power back. Since before laughing boy there brought him back to life, Scott replies, referring to Powerlord Kruun. Emma didn’t even know. He figured it might serve. Well, it’s good to see him, Hank replies. All of him. Yeah, Scott replies solemnly. He shouldn’t get used to it.

Some time later, the battle begins, soldiers of the Breakworld descending from hovering crafts via lines, firing their weapons as they do. From below, the agents of SWORD fire back, defending the prison, per orders.

Nearby, Kitty and Piotr share a final embrace. She hates this plan, Kitty states, while the Beast and Agent Brand board the space craft. Not just the part where she can’t touch him for the next twelve hours, Kitty explains. She hates the plan. Scott’s putting him right where the prophecy said he’d be. She tells him not to let things get out of his control. To this, Piotr reminds “Katya” that he is an X-Man. He is not in the business of destroying planets. Especially when he is on them.

Further in the craft, Emma tells Danger that Scott would rather keep her close, but Emma thinks she’ll be of more use to the away team. Stop that missile, or… well, there isn’t much of an “or” for anyone, is there? Her eyes inhumanly cold, Danger replies that she doesn’t fear annihilation, as Emma does. She just wants to be sure she won’t go back on her word when they’re done. To this, Emma replies that Danger’s programmed to know her better than that. Help them save the world… and she’ll give to Danger Charles Xavier.

Having said her goodbyes to Piotr, Kitty enters the craft. She pauses a moment to look back and see Lockheed hovering nearby. Without saying a word, Kitty closes the hatch, punctuating that which separates the two.

Cyclops, Emma, Colossus and Aghanne find themselves in a massive chamber, which appears to descend to the heart of the planet itself. Suspended between that molten core and their position on a walkway, one of many crisscrossing the chamber from all directions, is a glowing ball of radiant energy.

Simple enough, Emma states. Peter walks into that little ball of light, rips the central distribution core from its mooring. Drops it into the main source down below… does she have this right? Yes, Aghanne replies. Chain reaction. Just a few hours till total core eruption. Turning to Aghanne, Piotr tells her it makes no sense. To put her world at risk with such a fragile, unstable energy source. They prize efficiency over safety, Aghanne replies. Is it very different on Earth? Not as much as they’d like, Emma retorts. Shall they begin? She believes he is waking up.

“No…” Powerlord Kruun snarls toothily. Approaching him, Cyclops tells Kruun that this is very simple. Their world for his. Defiant, Kruun counters to Cyclops that he doesn’t know what he’s done. They haven’t done anything yet, he replies. If Kruun disables his missile, they fade away. He’s the hero that saved the Breakworld. Ignoring the X-Man, Kruun states that the retaliator will fire as scheduled. There’s nothing he can do to stop it. Incredulous, Cyclops asks, seriously… is he trying to wipe out his world?

Elsewhere, a SWORD soldier hands Agent Deems a Breakworld weapon, asking if he’s sure he’s up to it. When Deems replies that he can point and shoot, the subordinate informs his superior that the weapon kicks up, not back. It’s pulse fire, so it gets hot fast. Examining the weapon, Deems says that this is sweeter than the shock sticks they got off the Byyntu pirates.

Deems’ marveling at the weapon comes to an end with a shhhk. Looking up, Deems sees the soldier grabbing his now bloody neck, just before his head rolls off. Ord of the Breakworld is free, wielding a razored hand weapon. Agent Deems fires his new weapon, but its blast ricochets off of Ord’s forearm plate, allowing the alien to slash Deem across the chest. As the now unarmed Deems clutches his wound, Ord asks where have they taken his lord. Ignoring the question, Deems replies that Brand shoulda killed him, day one. His life for her mistakes, Ord replies, reaching out his massive hands over Deems’ face. After a sickening crunch that follows, Ord states it will be his life for his own mistakes.

In space, once again a small craft makes its way to the Retaliator, the artificial moon-like weapon in orbit. Leaning over the pilot, Danger, Agent Brand states that this isn’t going to way she hoped. “It isn’t?” Beast asks, incredulously. Detecting his demeanor, Brand asks if he has something to say to her, to which he replies “scads.” It’ll have to sit, she replies.

Reporting her findings, Brand informs the rest of the team that they’ve got thirty vessels moving to intercept. She thought the powerlord’s private ride would slip them through, but they must’ve got word. They need a plan. Bridling at this, Wolverine snarks that the lady keeps talking like she’s in charge… makes his knuckles itch. Approaching Wolverine, Brand states that she’s looking for suggestions, all right? Last time Summers put himself in a rescue craft and died to keep them from getting tagged. Does she have the stones for that?

Listening to the bickering, Danger quietly asks herself how she cannot kill these morons. More loudly, Danger then announces that they can all relax. The intercepting craft are falling back. Their computer systems think they’re failing. Realizing that she is interfaced, Kitty asks if Danger can access the missile. Nothing, Danger replies. It’s not networked, or… “Or?” Beast asks. Explaining further, Danger states that she’s getting a signature from the base that she can’t decode. Running it against her records, she’s getting one name. “Rasputin.”

Still affixed to the wall via bent metal, Powerlord Kruun berates Aghanne, telling her that her madness has led them there. She should have died on the field of honor. Believe her, Powerlord… Aghanne replies… she did. It’s not too late, Kruun states. She can restore her good name… be a true champion of her people… “Negotiation?” Aghanne mocks, turning her head. How quickly it comes when his vaunted strength is gone. But he’s beyond her help. If he’s going to beg… he should start with the metal man.

Regarding the metal man in question, Scott and Emma watch him, already armored and ready to enter the glowing sphere. Both their eyes affixed, Emma telepathically asks Scott, her love, how far do they take this?

Before he can answer, Ord enters the chamber and fires the weapon he took from Agent Deems. With a blood curdling “DIE!!” Ord fires and hits Aghanne, who is knocked off the walkway and over the railing. As Emma runs for their falling ally, Cyclops turn to Colossus, ordering him inside the field. “NOW!” Seeing this, Ord fires the weapon at Colossus, but it is too late, as the X-Man enters the sphere.

While below, Aghanne’s fall ends with the impact on another catwalk, Cyclops fires at the catwalk above on which Ord is standing, knocking him down to the one on which the X-Man stands. Immediately, Cyclops orders Emma, on whose diamond-form debris has fallen, to move. Oblivious to this, Ord begins to ruse, commenting that, at lat, this ends as it was meant to. “Oh, please,” Cyclops replies, as he fires another blast, destroying the walkway beneath Ord’s feet and plunging him downward.

Elsewhere, the agents of SWORD find themselves overpowered and their commander orders his forces to fall back.

On the surface of the Retaliator, Beast, Wolverine, Armor, Shadowcat, Danger and Agent Brand fight the defending troops. When two such troops bring a new, much larger weapon to the fight, Agent Brand jumps in front of the blast, taking what had been aimed toward the Beast. As the rest of the team runs on, chasing after the remaining forces, Hank asks Brand why she did that. Her life already slipping away, Brand replies that he’s supposed to be a genius. Be a genius and disarm the missile. Save the dam world already… her voice trails before ending forever.

A short distance away from the warhead, Danger examines the facility’s computer systems, immediately noting it as being primitive. She reads constant position adjustment from the orbit thrusters, combustion detonation system, and a clock. No uplink to the missile. Standing over Danger’s shoulder, Kitty asks about the Rasputin signature she couldn’t decode. How is this connected to Peter? Not Peter, Danger replies. Illyana Rasputin.

Dammit! the Beast replies. Of course. It’s not Illyana; it’s magic. Danger can’t read it precisely ‘cause they’ve thrown up mystical protection for the thing. They’ve got no way of knowing what kind. Speaking up, Wolverine asks the group if anyone wants to hear about the army heading their way? It’s a colorful story…

Enough, Kitty states. She’ll take the shortcut. With that, Kitty dives to the floor, phasing through it the whatever lies below.

Within the energy sphere, Colossus finds himself alone, save for a smaller sphere, which floats a short distance from him. After a few moments, Colossus is joined by someone wearing an environmental suit, approaching from behind. Without turning, Colossus tells the newcomer that he is not a great thinker. But he believes he understands this now. Then he understands how it must end, the newcomer replies. Yes, Colossus rejoins. He rips out the core and destroys her world… “just as you planned, Aghanne.”

Kitty finds herself in a large, cylindrical chamber, in the center of which is the missile. Floating via her phasing power, she reports to Danger via comm. that she has reached the missile. No controls, hatches… the shell is perfectly smooth. To this, Danger relays that McCoy says to look inside. He is saying quickly, she reports. Struggling for a moment, Kitty remarks that she hates this stuff. After a few more moments, however, Kitty manages to phase; first her arm and then her whole body. From within, Kitty immediately declares, “Now this is weird…”

Back beneath the surface of the Breakworld, Ord has recovered from his fall and propels himself over the railing of the catwalk, kicking Cyclops from behind. Before Cyclops can fire his optic blasts, Ord grabs his head from behind, turning it to avoid aiming. “It is over!” Ord proclaims. Though now being surrounded by Breakworld troops, led by the now freed Powerlord Kruun, Emma replies that she thinks not. For her world, it is, Kruun laughs. The retaliator fires in seconds. It cannot be stopped.

Within the missile, Kitty finds nothing, literally. She replies that she’s gone more… than a mile… no wires, no works… she… This metal…

Finally, Kitty happens upon an open space, a small chamber with a smooth, metal floor and smooth, curving metal walls. Via comm. she reports that there’s a space near the top, but no damn controls. How the hell do they guide this thing?

Before anyone can offer an answer, movement causes Kitty to fall to her back. Outside, Wolverine immediately surmises that she’s firing. “Oh no… no…” Hank replies. A moment later, an explosive force shoots from the center of the gigantic sphere, from which the missile launches into space. Within her small chamber within, Kitty is held motionless on the floor by the G-forces of the launch.

Watching the missile disappear, Hisako remarks that it’s got no thrusters. Of course not, Beast replies. Precise timing. Perfect trajectory. But no guidance systems, no engine… just a giant rod of metal that’s hollow at the front. It’s not a missile, he explains. It’s a bullet.

Characters Involved: 

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


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

SWORD agents




Rebels of the Breakworld

Powerlord Kruun of the Open Hand

Ord of the Breakworld

Soldiers of the Breakworld

Citizens of the Breakworld

Story Notes: 

Though technically untitled, no doubt this is to be “Unstoppable pt 6.”

Cyclops power has been deactivated or simply lost since Astonishing X-Men (3rd series) #14.

Tensions between Kitty and Lockheed have been difficult since the X-Men learned that the dragon had been acting as a mole within the Xavier Institute for SWORD for months. [Astonishing X-Men #22]

Issue Information: 
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