Astonishing X-Men (3rd series) #29

Issue Date: 
June 2009
Story Title: 

Warren Ellis (writer), Simone Bianchi (pencils), Simone Bianchi and Andrea Silvestri (inkers), Simone Peruzzi with Christina Strain and Laura Martin (colorists),Joe Caramagna (letterer), Daniel Ketchum (assistant editor), Axel Alonso (editor), Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (Exec. Producer)

Brief Description: 

Storm defeats hers and Emma’s foe by cutting loose, after which Emma reads his mind and compares stories with Cyclops’s and Beast’s prisoner. Their stories match up. Forge, having become obsessed with other dimensions, found out about Agent’s X interest in their defenseless dimension and, as a line of defense, created artificial mutants. Cyclops has Wolverine dispatch of the other-dimensional mutant and they fly off to confront Forge, who has taken up residence in the High Evolutionary’s former home Wundagore and doesn’t seem very social… let alone sane.

Full Summary: 

What does he know of Forge? Storm threateningly asks the monstrous mutant that attacked her and Emma Frost. He is their enemy, he hisses. They are their enemy. Storm demands he tell her why Forge is his enemy. You will rot together in the dirt of your Earth, the creature promises her. Perhaps he will whisper his crimes to her then, before worms eat his tongue. Or perhaps I will cut out your tongue and show it to him.

Not to be a pest, Emma remarks to Storm, but she knows… lack of powers, can’t protect herself, can’t grind her heel into his little brain… etcetera… By all means, cut out his gizzard and do a little rain dance around it, but a little haste wouldn’t kill her. And, in fact, taking her own sweet bloody time might get them both killed! Excellent point, Storm agrees and raises her knife.

In the above part of Tian, another prisoner revealed the same name to Cyclops and Beast. When’s the last time they even saw Forge? Cyclops asks. He’s seen him, Beast reminisces. He consulted with him, when he thought there might still be a chance to reverse the effects of M-Day.

It was Forge, in fact, who told him that the M-Day effect extended out into the multiverse itself. Mutants went away everywhere, from the top of the bottom to reality. Forge was scanning parallel Earths. Frankly, he was a little crazy.

How crazy? Scott asks. He means, they’ve seen him loose before. He may have had to deploy a small amount of physical violence, Hank admits. He takes off his glasses. On M-Day, aside from 198 survivors, all X-genes were switched off, everywhere. However, later a child was born with a functioning X-gene. It is conceivable that, at that moment entire new parallel worlds came into being that had always had mutants. Perhaps with their X-gene sitting on different chromosomes, but still mutants. And Forge would not have detected them then, but certainly would detect them now.

This is actually really hurting his head, Cyclops remarks while still tying up the prisoner. What’s the point? The point is that due to the peculiarity of the multiverse and the timescale of M-Day they are very probably being invaded by an Earth that always had mutants and their first line of defense have been artificial mutants created by an unstable genius.

Subject X talked about annexation, Scott recalls, he said the annex would go on. He is starting not to like the implications of this.

It’s an invasion, Cyke, Wolverine announces as he joins them with Armor. He found their guy. Had a talk. Where is he? Scott asks. He shot the kid, Wolverine explains. Turns out the Armor don’t do so well with point-blank laser strikes. He took the guy down, but he bled out fast…

Right, Scott states, but he talked? He and his pals, including Subject X, are part of a recon force. They’re supposed to be looking at the state of this Earth, then juicing up their Ghost Box for their return to report their intelligence. Seems they bumped into Forge somehow…

…and Forge has been trying to make his own mutants Beast concludes. It’s the only thing that makes sense. Hacking DNA to make a functioning triploid with an entirely synthetic third chromosomal set… it an engineer’s solution.

Beast apologizes, seeing Hisako’s bad state. He was miles away. What happened to her? Laser, she replies weakly. He lifts her up to get her onto the plane where he can treat the injuries. This isn’t right! she complains. She’s a proper X-Man. He wouldn’t pick up Logan like this! He couldn’t pick up Logan without doing himself near-fatal mischief, he states. It’s the beer, she assumes.

On the ground, Ororo stabs and kicks away at her foe. When his concentration breaks, Emma can switch on her diamond form again. Storm orders her to leave the room.

Emma complies and feels a detonation in the room behind her. Only Storm is left standing. A very brief, very localized RF5 tornado, she explains. Is he still alive? Emma asks. Of course.

Emma turns human again and telepathically contacts Cyclops they have a live one. An inhibitor. Ororo had to break his concentration. Also, every bone in his body, by the looks of him. Scott asks Emma to bring him up. They’re going to compare two stories. And then he thinks they are going to visit an old friend.

Later… Emma touches the forehead of the creature Storm beat almost to a pulp. It’s unconscious, she explains but she can still explore his brain with complete ease. She turns to Cyclops’ and Beast’s prisoner, telling him he will speak. She will compare his story to the other’s memories. If he lies, she will know. Each time he lies, Mr. Logan will remove one of his internal organs and show it to him. He is efficient and practiced. He may see as many as five before he finally dies. Does he believe her? Yes. Excellent. Begin, she states.

The prisoner starts. Forge has been tracking parallel Earths and can see ghost boxes cutting tunnels between universes. And when he realized they were under observation by alternate-world mutants he made them mutants to fight them. And he really doesn’t want to see his internal organs, please, thank you.

Does Forge know why they’re coming here? Cyclops demands. The prisoner explains that ghost boxes mess up the environment. Time and space get all bent and rotten. And they haven’t got as many mutants as others places.

How did he end up here? Cyclops asks. Followed them here, the prisoner replies. Had to split up; they couldn’t find a way to power up the ghost box here, so one left with it. One of his partners trailed him. Things here… didn’t go so well. If the air here didn’t have all this weird crap in it, he’d have starved to death a week ago.

Fighting a secret war, does that sound like Forge’s style? Cyclops asks Logan. This guy from Georgia who ran with the CIA once called Forge crazier’n a run-over dog and that was twenty years ago, comes the reply. But he’s got to say, the man knew about all this and they didn’t. Yeah, Scott admits. Em? he asks. Emma assures him that the story matches the memories in the other’s head. Fine, Cyclops decides the prisoner comes with them. Time to visit Forge.

What about the other one? Logan asks. They don’t need him, comes the reply and he orders Wolverine to follow him, Emma and the prisoner out in a couple of minutes.

What will he tell Ororo? Emma asks when they are alone. He could tell her that the prisoner bled out from the wounds sustained when she took him out, he muses. Don’t! Emma orders. She knows that part of him would like to sting her back for the things she said at Chaparanga. But telling her that would do more harm than good and he’s a terrible liar. So what does he tell her? Scott asks. He doesn’t, she decides. She’ll tell Storm he died from the shock of the telepathic probe. She is an excellent liar.

That should worry him, Scott states. Oh she’d never lie to him she promises… That is the worst mindgame she’s ever played on him, he accuses her. No, it’s not, she informs him. He simply hasn’t noticed the others, because… Stop, please, he asks her.

The jet takes off, inside Cyclops explains to Hisako that Forge is a man with a mutant gift for engineering who’s also has one or two mental problems in the past. Even with his head on straight, he’s never made the best choices in the world. Regardless of how long they’ve known him, Scott doesn’t think they should just stop in and say “hi.”

She’s done a little reading Hisako pipes up, calling him “Mr. Summers.” “Cyclops,” he corrects her. This is mission time still. Okay, she states, but she doesn’t know if she wants to sneak up on a guy who’s built anti-mutant guns, weapons for DARPA and robot death-legs and stuff. Isn’t it just possible he might have some personal security issues?

Death legs, Cyclops repeats. She read it in the files, she replies defensively. Forge’s got weapon in his cyborg bits. Including his legs. Death legs! What? Death legs, she insists.

Okay, Cyclops tells Hank to plot out the GPS their guest gave up, and he thinks, test the radio frequencies he listed, too. He favors getting in touch then? Hank asks, he thinks that’s wise.

Or not, he decides a moment later, this does not bode well. It’s a location in Transia. They know what that means. Terrific, Scott mutters. He tries the frequency, asking if Forge can hear him. This is Cyclops calling. This is the X-Men calling Wundagore Mountain…

Wundagore, a monstrous citadel sits atop the mountain.

Scott is that you? Forge asks back. Scott asks where he can park. He is told to hold on while he is running his voiceprint.

Storm interjects it’s them. She hopes he’d still remember her voice. Undeterred, he tell them to stand by. The system struggles with verifying more than one voiceprint at a time.

That doesn’t bode well, Storm admits. Okay, he tells them to come on in. Follow the yellow brick road… And neither does that, Scott adds. The hangar gate opens and the jet lands.

Stepping out, they find themselves surrounded by guns. Friendly, Logan remarks. She read the High Evolutionary was a geneticist, not some gunfreak engineer, Armor wonders. Wolverine advises her to take a closer look. That gun platform is breathing…

This may have been a mistake Scott admits to Emma. Coming to confront Forge? she asks. Not blowing the side off the mountain first, he replies.

No matter what, Forge has always had a god heart, Storm defends her former lover. He’s always tried to do the right thing. Ah, Ororo, if only that were true, a ragged-looking Forge replies as he joins them.

Characters Involved: 

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

Forge (former X-Man)

Storm and Emma’s other-dimensional attacker

Artificial mutant created by Forge

Story Notes: 

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].

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