Astonishing X-Men (3rd series) #30

Issue Date: 
August 2009
Story Title: 

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

Brief Description: 

The welcome the X-Men get from Forge is not altogether friendly, as they learn what he’s been up to. Trying to break the M-Day effect, he created artificial mutants – horrible freaks – and in addition he has an active Ghost Box. Agitated, Forge explains that he became aware of the threat long before the X-Men did. Now with the X-Men here, he can activate the Ghost Box, so both they and his New Mutants can fight the annexers. While he argues over the plan with the X-Men, whose powers are suppressed by an inhibitor, Armor receives a phone call from Abigail Brand, with whom Armor has been sharing everything that is happening via Twitter. Via Armor, Forge is told Brand has a two-zettawatt cannon pointed at Wundagore, though he decides to go ahead anyway. At this point, Wolverine figures out Forge has hidden the inhibitor in his artificial leg and slashes it apart, but not before Forge activates the Ghost Box and orders his New Mutants to attack the X-Men. While the others fight, Storm asks Forge to come with them, as he will die otherwise. However, Forge tells her in no uncertain words he’d prefer death over being belittled by her again. Realizing he is lost to her, Storm uses her weather powers to blow the New Mutants away, enabling the X-Men to flee. Beast tosses Armor’s phone onto the Ghost Box, telling Brand to aim for the phone. They reach the jet just as some kind of Sentinel-like being reaches out of the Ghost Box. Moments after they have left Wundagore, Brand’s spacegun blows it sky-high. Beast muses about what he did, namely allowing the Brand’s weapon to devastate part of the annexers’ world, as he had to take the chance that Forge was right. He and Cyclops muse on growing up, as they fly back home.

Full Summary: 


A ragged and not altogether friendly-looking Forge asks his former allies, the X-Men, what they are doing there. Their leader, Cyclops, gets right to the point. Ghost Boxes… Ghost Boxes and pseudo-mutants Forge built and let loose across the planet to fight a secret war with extra-dimensional soldiers. What the hell was he thinking?

Oh, Forge replies, not at all touched by the agitation in Cyclops’ voice. Have they come to help?

Storm interrupts. They’ve followed a trail of death and menace over half the planet, and it leads right to his door. They’ve come to try and finish this, not add to the body count and abet whatever war he thinks he is fighting here. He does understand that, doesn’t he?

Forge turns his back on the group that looks at him expectantly. He steps towards one of the team’s members, fellow scientist Henry McCoy. Henry knows what he did, he states matter-of-fact. Beast agrees. He broke the chain, Forge continues. The M-Day effect. He did it. Beast corrects him. Forge did not make mutants. He knows he thinks he did, but… he hammered some genetic synthetic material into the DNA of God knows how many poor victims and made himself some freaks. The X-Men have in their possession an idiot chameleon who appears to consider standing still for a week the height of military deviousness.

Disappointed, Forge retorts he thought Henry of all people would understand what he’s done here. They need mutants. They need evolutionary development. They have to continue moving forward.

Spoken like an engineer. Beast observes. Agitated, Forge shouts back he is an engineer! And while they were all asleep he discovered a real threat! He is an engineer! He fixes problems! He is fixing this problem!

Of course, he is, Emma Frost interjects condescendingly. They found one of his little technological solutions burned to death behind a foul-smelling fast-food trough in San Francisco. Well done, that man.

“Emma Frost,” Forges says. He didn’t recognize her with her legs together. Angered, Cyclops begins to protests at that treatment of his girlfriend.

They do nothing! Forge interrupts him. They talk and pose and strut and people like him do the actual work. He intends to show them what he does. Come on, he orders them, see how he’s saved the mutant race and how he’s going to save the entire world. Meet the New Mutants!

Disgusted and horrified, they stare at a group of truly monstrous part biological part mechanic creatures that used to be human.

He doesn’t care what Henry says, Forge continues. These are mutants. They’re something, all right, Henry admits. Do they talk? Can they talk? They can kill the X-Men, if he indicates it would amuse him, Forge warns him. Think about that. Oh, and he just had his systems release his friend in their hold. Let him show them something.

Wolverine whispers to Cyclops that he’s pretty sure Forge is running an X-gene inhibitor in here. He can feel it in his bones. Cyclops agrees. His eyes are itching. Can Logan track the thing before they get completely shut down? Logan doesn’t know.

Forge addresses them, telling them he gets it. They think he’s confused, crazy, all the usual crap. But he found out this was going on long before they even suspected it. That has to count for something. And he has a plan. Look at what he’s found. He points toward a Ghost Box, connected to several cables.

Anxious, Cyclops asks what the hell he is doing. Forge smiles as he touches the Ghost Box’s surface. He has his army now. His surviving New Mutants are here. The X-Men are here. He can open up a Ghost Box right now, right inot the center of their lair on another Earth in another universe. And they can finish this right now, today.

The X-Men are not enthusiastic. He’s not serious, Cyclops states. They’re trying to invade our Earth, Forge retorts. Why would he not be serious? All his life he’s been last man in. People picked their wars and then drafted him to fight them. This is his war.

So he’s going to save the world? Emma states coldly. Yes, he is, Forge replies and warns her not to even dream of running a mind game on him. He took the precaution of activating an inhibitor when they landed…

Is that a phone ringing? he asks irritated. Armor apologizes as she takes out her cell. She’s been talking to people on Twitter. Hold on… She doesn’t even know how she’s betting coverage in here… Hello? Um, it’s for him, she tells Forge and hands him the cell.

Surprised, he takes it. It’s Abigail Brand, director of SWORD. She curtly introduces herself ands warns him she has a two-zettawatt quantum laser pointed at his location from two hundred miles up.

Okay, how did she do that? Scott asks Henry. She probably bugged the plane while she was in the hangar, comes the reply. She is very clever. He should have let Logan stab her that time, Scott sighs, then turns back to Forge, telling him to use logic. Some authority from a parallel Earth sent a team in to see of they were ripe for invasion. All the members of that team have now been taken out, right? So that’s all the information they need. They sent a team in, nobody came back alive. If Forge opens a Ghost Box back to their parallel…

Agitated, Forge spits that they were not the first team. This is the Ghost Box belonging to the first team they sent in. The second team was here to find out what happened to the first team. Doesn’t he see it yet? They’ll keep sending annex squads in! They have to act!

Yeah, about that… Logan smirks. Nice inhibitor. It finally shut off his enhanced senses a minute ago. Forge is a pretty smart guy, hiding the inhibitor where he did. There’s only one thing he forgot. He doesn’t need a working X-gene to pop his claws. So stated, Wolverine does so and then proceeds to cut through Forge’s prosthetic leg, where he has hidden the inhibitor.

See? Armor states triumphantly. Death legs! That’s better, Emma states, as her telepathy works again. Now, then, she tells Forge, perhaps he’d like to tell Agent Brand he’s going to be a good boy?

No, Forge replies and presses a button. I’m going to make you save the world with me, you spineless bastards…

The Ghost Box begins to glow with energy. Scott calls him a damned fool. Forge retorts that Cyclops is the one who can’t see that everything has been leading them to this point.

The energy outpour from the Ghost Box doesn’t allow the X-Men to come close to it. Now we go to war, Forge rambles. Throw the X-Men in first.

Well, she thinks their work is done here, Emma remarks. Jake the peg is now clearly talking to himself… A moment later, she sees. Forge was talking to his New Mutants which he has released and who now surround the X-Men.

Please do excuse him a moment, Henry announces. He has a phone call to make. He takes Armor’s cell and asks if Abby is still on the phone. He tells her to calibrate the diameter of her beam to sixty-eight centimeters and then track the final position of this phone. Thanks awfully. He tosses the phone atop the Ghost Box - They should leave now. Yeah, make a hole, Cyclops tells them.

Storm reaches out for Forge, asking him to come. He’s not going anywhere, he retorts. They are all coming with him. She refuses to believe he has lost his mind. It is over, Ororo tells him. Staying here means death.

Then he chooses death over being worthless, he hisses back. He chooses death over being laughed at and ignored and dismissed and being made to feel worthless. By her. Ororo Iqadi T’Challa.

Storm withdraws her hand as though he hit her. Then she regains her composure. You’re already dead, aren’t you? My poor maker.

The rest of the team is still fighting. This is taking too long! Cyclops complains and accuses Wolverine of getting old. Old enough to spank the front of his brain with one of his claws, comes the reply.

Storm now intervenes, blowing the New Mutants away with a controlled blizzard. Waving away a tear, she orders the team to leave. A Sentinel’s hand comes out of the Ghost Box. Now would be good! she shouts.

Horrified, Forge screams. He told them! Oh God, he told them!

While the X-Men run Beast calmly points out that his girlfriend has a space cannon aimed at them and patience has never been her signal virtue. If she detects something exiting the Ghost Box… They get it! Cyclops interrupts him.

In the jet, Scott announces he is taking off whether they are sitting comfortably or not. He’s not waiting here to be shot by Abby Brand and her space gun. It’s a little more than a space gun, Henry begins to explain. A Zetawatt is…

Later, Scott interrupts him. Engines to the max.

The jet takes off and leaves Wundagore behind. Which is hit by the “spacegun” moments later and eradicated.

Damn, Wolverine exclaims with a smirk. He doesn’t like the woman but he’s gotta say her problem-solving skills amuse the crap out of him.

He owes her a new phone, Armor tells Henry. What exactly was he doing with hers?

Telling Abby precisely how to focus her particle beam in order to send the initial burst right through the Ghost Box portal. So? Armor asks. So, he continues, the laser beam traveled through the portal to wherever it opened at. The parallel Earth that their happy annexers emanated from. Very likely the precise location they traveled to here from.

How much is two Zetawatts? Hisako asks. Around ten thousand times the total power received by the Earth from the sun, comes the reply. He is trying to imagine. He’s imagining a world already shredded by intense Ghost Box usage. A place so toxic to mind and body that the designers and operators of the boxes began looking for somewhere to move permanently and start again. And discovering them: The epicenter of M-Day. World with less than two hundred surviving mutants to deal with. They send in their teams to gather intelligence. The teams don’t come back. Perhaps they wrote them off then. Or perhaps, as in Forge’s nightmares, they intended to return in force to punish them for the loss of their scouts.

It doesn’t matter, for today a Ghost Box opened in their stronghold. They may even have established where the portal came from. They may have awaited their retuning team, rich with knowledge of this defenseless blue world.

And then a woman he cares very deeply about poured two zettawatts of quantum laser through the portal. It would be very like landing a piece of a star in the room. Even ten miles out the polariton storm at the edge of the beam’s field of effect would have torn people and buildings into foam.

He is silent for a moment. He had to consider the possibility that Forge could have been right, he adds as though defending himself.

He did what had to be done, Scott agrees. And listen: he didn’t fire the gun. She did. And she was doing her job at that, much as he hates to admit it.

Hmm, Henry muses. Does he remember when they were kids? When everyone called Scott Slim and him Hank? “Honestly?” Scott replies. “Not so much, anymore.”

He asks Ororo who has been silent if she is okay. Fine, she replies. As he said, things have changed. She is fine. Fine, he agrees. Heading home. And that they do.

Characters Involved: 

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

Forge (former X-Man)

“New Mutants” (Artificial mutants created by Forge)

Abigail Brand (off-panel but very present)

Story Notes: 

“Jake the Peg” was a fictional three-legged man, the subject of a song played by Rolf Harris in the 1960s.

Issue Information: 

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