Astonishing X-Men (3rd series) #28

Issue Date: 
March 2009
Story Title: 

Warren Ellis (writer), Simone Bianchi (pencils), Simone Bianchi and Andrea Silvestri (inkers), Simone Peruzzi (colorist),Joe Caramagna (letterer), Daniel Ketchum (assistant editor), Axel Alonso (editor), Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

The X-Men search the ruins of secret Chinese mutant haven Tian. Cyclops sends Wolverine and Armor to scout one part of the area. They soon lose telepathic contact with Emma and Storm who are in another part. Shortly after discussing their ally’s Forge’s tendency to always do the wrong thing for the right reason Cyclops and Beast are attacked by a cloaked mutant. Armor and Wolverine too are attacked by a mutant who can pierce Armor’s armor and Storm and Emma face a monstrous attacker without their powers. Nevertheless all three groups of X-Men prevail (somewhat more violently in Wolverine’s case) and all of them are informed by the monstrous strangers that the one responsible for all of this is… Forge.

Full Summary: 

On the ground, in the ruins of one part of Tian, Storm and Emma Frost look around. A Chinese mutant team? Storm asks. That’s what Henry’s telling Scott, Emma clarifies. So half their city is floating and has all systems working, including some preservative system in the air… and half is down here.

Yin and Yang, Storm suggests. She would guess that this half of the city was held up by the will of a mutant or mutants, and the systems were powered by the same intent. And then M-Day happened. Of course, their mutant abilities were subtracted and suddenly nothing was holding this rock up, Emma continues. She hasn’t seen a single machine yet. Perhaps this half of Tian was about psionics… or prayer, Ororo suggests.

Emma hisses at her to be quiet. Telepathically, she continues that they are not alone in here. He’s shielding his mind, but not well enough. However, if they meet him, she’ll likely have to go to her secondary mutation, which mean she loses telepathy. Understood, Storms sends back, and tells her to lead the way.

In another part of Tian, Cyclops is telepathically told by Emma that she thinks she has company down there. This ain’t right, Wolverine states. All right, Cyclops decides and orders Wolverine and Armor to go hunting. And he wants a live catch.

As they leave, Hisako asks Wolverine how they play this. Like they practiced on the headlands all month. She watches their backs, she breaks and circles when he gives her the sign. And not kill anyone right? she asks. Cyke’s a good guy, he states. She should listen to him. But if it comes down to it with some bastard out there, she kills him without even thinking about it.

Left behind, Scott admits to Beast that thinking about parallel universe stuff always makes him feel like he’s getting a brain tumor. That’s probably just a sign he’s still sane, Hank remarks, while watching a monitor. God, none of them are sane, Scott exclaims. They are in a hole here, they really are.

Okay, he summarizes, they’ve got two factions. The triploids with the artificial genetic structure and the alternate-world mutants with their X gene on chromosome 13. At some point they meet. The 13s head here, the triploids follow them. How do the 13s know it’s here, and why do they come here?

Hank suggests perhaps the 13s had their own Tian on their world once and knew full well there would be a massive, pristine database about their Earth there. The timing is tricky, he admits. Forge told him that M-Day affected the entire multiversal structure. But, when the baby was born… there’s no telling how that affected things. Theoretically, entirely new parallel world full of mutants could have sprung into being at that point. And then started looking around for Earths like theirs, with depleted mutant populations.

The guy, Subject X, Scott recalls, he used a word when they caught him: Annex. How does Forge know about multiversal structure, anyway? he asks a moment later. He knows Forge is a mutant engineer, but…

Forge learns quickly and greedily, Beast explains. He consulted with him after M-Day. He was actually looking into parallel worlds. Huh, clever guy, Scott admits. Very clever guy. Never completely trusted him. One of those people who unerringly did the wrong thing for the right reason. Remember how badly he treated Storm? …Hank knows they are not alone in this room, right?

Cyclops fires at the cloaked being and hits his arm. He screams. Beast somersaults and manages to put said person down. He decloaks and is shown to be a scaly, reptile-like being. He attacks the two X-Men. From below, Cyclops shoots at the creature’s knee and it goes down, looking much smaller all of a sudden.

He loathes chameleonic mutations, Hank announces. For some reason they always smells so bad when they bleed. Vomit and old eggs.

Cyclops contacts Emma, telling her to pull Wolverine and Armor in. A moment later, he announces that his telepathic link with Emma is down.

Further down, Emma announces to Storm that she has lost telepathy completely. Can she still shift to her diamond form? Just, Emma admits and proceeds to do so. Have they walked into an inhibitor field? Possibly, Storm muses. Fine talents like PSI tend to be affected before gross ones like metamorphosis. She can feel some change now. They have to assume it’s going to get worse, if they continue in this direction. Well, let’s absolutely do that like they’re complete bloody idiots then, Emma suggests.

How well is she going to be able to cope without powers? Storm asks her. Scott’s been instructing her in hand-to-hand and she can feign a dead faint. And Storm? She’s coped without powers before, Storm replies. But goddess knows it’s starting to feel a little oppressive in here. Emma assures her that she can still feel the breeze from outside. She isn’t trapped at all.

She’s been without powers? Storm tells her she was once shot with an inhibitor gun that Forge built during a more… confused phase of his life. Clever little sod, Emma states. Yes, Storm agrees. Compelled to solve problems and yet somehow never fixing the right ones.

Her gift is fading, she announces. But she doesn’t think it’s an inhibitor device. In the dark before them stands a tall creature with lots of toothy mouths at several impossible places on his body.

Bugger! Emma shouts as she loses her diamond form. She just lost her powers, too, Storm announces, She draws a knife. As she said, she can cope without them.

Elsewhere. Unaware of the being hanging from the ceiling, Armor needles Wolverine. So… he can detect and hunt anybody because he’s the best there is at what he does, right? Shaddap, Wolverine retorts. No one escapes the Wolveroonie, Hisako continues. It’s this place, Logan explains. If he didn’t know better, he’d say something in the air is processin’ scents before they reach him.

The undetected being fires energy blasts at Armor. She screams and finds she is actually hurt. With her armor, she hits him forcefully. Wolverine orders her not to drop her armor. How did he get through it anyway? She thinks it was a laser. The armor kinda has to let light in, right?

Their bald foe creates a cage of laser beams around Logan. Ah hell, he mutters. Another laser beam goes through Hisako’s armor again and pierces her foot.

Wolverine attacks and brutally headbutts and beats the other mutant. He slams him to the ground, and then unsheathes his claws. He’s not screwing around, he warns his foe. He pierces him with his claws. When he pulls his claws out, he explains it’s gonna take him a few hour to die. And it’s gonna feel like fifteen friggin years of agony before. He feels that? he asks, calling him bastard. He brought a doctor and medical gear with him, Logan continues. He tells him everything he wants to know and he’ll remember where he left them. Screw with him just once and the last thing he’s gonna see is his own guts on the deck.

Logan? Hisako asks uncertainly. What? They ain’t met before, or somethin’? he snarls.

Cyclops and Beast’s prisoner groans. Is he waking up? Scott asks. Henry lectures him not to presume anything bout mutant physiology. That sound could just be… he doesn’t know, brain-bladders losing tension or something. He really just makes that stuff up, doesn’t he, Scott asks. He does not, Henry replies dignified. He once met a mutant with brain-bladders. Terrible breath.

He was waiting for the right moment to say hello, their prisoner announces weakly. If they are who he thinks they are, they have a mutual friend.

Storm kicks her attacker and repeats: Stand down and no one has to be harmed. X-Men the mutant snarls. She kicks his face with both feet and slices his arm with her knife. He knows them! he shouts, holding his injury. They are working with him! They are working with…

Forge! all three prisoners exclaim.

Characters Involved: 

Armor, Beast, Cyclops, Emma Frost, Storm, Wolverine (all X-Men)
Mutant attackers in Tian

Story Notes: 

M-Day is the day when most mutants lost their powers due to the Scarlet Witch as shown in house of M #7-8.

Beast and Forge talked about alternate universes in X-Factor (3rd series) #23.

Cyclops should be aware of Forge tinkering with other universes as during the Messiah Complex crossover he asked Forge to send Multiple Man into two different futures [X-Factor (3rd series) #25].

Forge treating Storm badly can refer to his being to blame for the loss of her powers [Uncanny X-Men #185] and to proposing to her and then retracting the proposal [Uncanny X-men #289-290].

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