Astonishing X-Men (3rd series) #33

Issue Date: 
February 2010
Story Title: 

Warren Ellis (writer), Phil Jiminez (breakdowns), Andy Lanning (finishes), Frank D’Armata (colorist), VC’s Joe Caramagna (letterer), Daniel Ketchum (associate editor), Axel Alonso (editor), Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (Exec. Publisher

Brief Description: 

Brand confides that someone is trying to kill the X-Men using data he has stolen from the Beast’s files. Their discussion is interrupted when a Krakoa / Brood hybrid appears to recover the Brood /Sentinel the X-Men bested. Cyclops has had enough and shoots the thing apart. He reasons that another attempt at salvage will be made. When that happens, the X-Men follow the ship in their jet to a flying fortress and secretly enter it. There they learn how the villain was able to steal beat’s computer files – via the power of the dead mutant Paradigm. Cyclops has had enough and vows to kill the person behind all this.

Full Summary: 

Abigail Brand, director of SWORD, has just dropped a bombshell in the X-Men’s lap, namely that someone is trying to destroy the few remaining mutants in the world, using the Beast’s work. His work? the Beast asks, incredulous. His post M-Day work, Brand specifies, eyes still downcast.

That’s… not possible, Henry insists. Those files are under twenty three levels of security. Furthermore, the database was compartmentalized, so that breaching one set of files paced the additional locks on the others.

The man in question paid an awful lot of people, Brand explains. And, yes, when one set of files was breached, the shutters came down on the others. But the one set of files were full of him discussing the possibility of harvesting live X-genes from dead mutants.

What? Storm asks, disgusted. Henry explains that there was no guarantee that the whole “No more mutants” thing would apply to mutants who were already dead. He was desperate for a way to break the M-Day chain. He was considering anything and everything!

Brand remarks that the man question is a geneticist among other things. And although all the money in the world couldn’t buy him hackers enough to get through Henry’s security, that one file gave him the clues he needed.

Exhausted, she sits down. They estimate that within three weeks of the initial breach he had copies of everything in Henry’s darkest disk space. She wanted to get this all cleaned up without it ever reaching Henry’s door.

Who? Cyclops asks coolly. A man called Kaga, comes the reply. He needs more than that, Scott Summers insists but a coolly furious Emma Frost interrupts him as she stares down at Brand threateningly. That was one of her students. Exhumed. Re-animated. A meat puppet with an X- gene. With something hidden inside her.

He is running out of patience, Scott adds. Tell him what’s happening here! Kaga is after mutants, Brand replies. They don’t know why, but they know it’s the intent. His control of information is nothing short of stunning. They don’t even have a photograph of him. They just have documents and physical statement evidence.

Oh, for--! Hisako interrupts. Why was she flying to Earth in a bit of spaceship? Answer that one first! Because she was trying to take out Kaga’s secret asteroid base which was full of aliens, comes the reply. That’s actually a cool job description, Armor admits. What are the aliens and what were they doing there?

They’re called the Brood, Wolverine answers, recalling all the times he fought them; they almost got them. He calls them sleazoids. The funny thing is he heard they were all dead! They were, Brand agrees. Are. She mentioned Kaga’s a geneticist. She guesses he got some Brood DNA somewhere along the way. Started growing them. Started redesigning them. Not what they were expecting to find in his secret lab.

Well, what were they expecting to find? Armor asks. The next moment, the building shakes.

That was not her fault! Hisako shouts. It’s not like she said “What could possibly go wrong now?” or anything like that!

Cyclops orders Beast to set all surface cameras to intelligent threat detection and Beast reminds him he still has a regiment of medical staff up there. Today is proving to be a more surreal day than he had hoped for. Really? Seems like just another day in the X-Men to him, Scott retorts. A moment later, seeing the threat - a huge Brood Krakoa hybrid (having the poor MSF scientists on the run – he shouts for the X-Men to be topside in sixty seconds!

The X-Men are transported outside by an elevator. Okay, he’s actually less interested in what it is than how it got here, Cyclops announces. It was dropped, Brand explains. There’s three parts of the ionosphere they’ve been unable to look into, traveling belts of “rain fade.” They’ve probably been tethered to vehicles and hidden up there.

Enough! Cyclops announces, addressing Emma. He tells her he is good with the running away, but he’d like a little more order. Try to get everyone to flock in two directions, directly away from the thing. Oh certainly, she mocks, make a hundred people flock like birds. Would he like them to hop? Sing a tune?

Got a plan? Wolverine asks as he and Cyclops run toward the thing. “Not die” is the acerbic reply. Damn thing looks like Krakoa, Scott observes. Not something he ever needed to see again.

The hybrid begins working on the Bio-Sentinel. What’s it doing? he asks Beast. Henry explains that it’s trying to destroy the Sentinel and therefore the evidence. They can’t get any information from a meaty smear. They need the Sentinel more than some giant clone of Krakoa, right? Wolverine asks. Let him get in there and… No, he’s all done with this, Cyclops replies. His eyes begin to glow as he orders everyone back and unleashes his optic blasts fullscale…

That’s a little Damien Hirst, isn’t it? Henry observes. She can quite guarantee that Scott has never hear of Damian Hirst, Emma retorts. Which is a shame because she’s sure they could gouge the Tate Modern for a significant sum for this piece of modern art he’s just butchered into life.

Every time Scott does that, Wolverine remarks, he wonders how screwed up the world is that it put a frickin’ nuke inside the head of someone like Scott. He just gets sick of all the long fights and faffing around, you know, Cyce answers. He’s a nutbag, Wolverine informs him.

They look at the remains of the Brood-Krakoa hybrid only half of which remains. He’s an idiot! Scott shouts and runs toward it. ‘Cos he ain’t told him that before or anything, Logan retorts. Something dropped this thing on them, to trash the Bio-Sentinel. It’s not going to leave them the disposal machine as well as the Bio Sentinel. It’s going to come back!

The X-Men get down inside the building again as Cyclops orders them to the rescue vehicle, over Storm’s protest that it’s taken quite a beating. The X-Plane doesn’t have grapples, is his reply. He wants to board whatever vehicle he expects to come swooping down to capture this chopped up land leviathan? Emma asks. Not a land leviathan so much as land. Krakoa was an island, he corrects her. And yes he does.

How delightfully piratical! Emma replies. Also insane. The vessel takes off. He might be quite fetching in a ruby quartz eye-patch, she suggests. They are working now, Scott reminds her as he takes off.

The ship is strained. Just a little give in the airframe Scott remarks to Henry. If it gives any more, they’ll be outside, Henry fears. Oh my stars and garter, he exclaims. They have something on the radar the size which… well, it’s either Scott’s cloaked air vehicle or they are under attack by Long Island. It is the former and is about to dispose of the evidence.

Well, it’s certainly big enough, Beast observes. An ionospheric cruise carrier. Who are these people? Cyclops wonders. The cruiser grabs the Krakoa Sentinel hybrid.

The X-Men’s jet tosses a grappler at the ship and locks onto it. Cyclops explains he’s hoping there’s a control center or bridge he’s brought them next to. Gameplan: direct strike on that area!

He orders Wolverine to get down there and cut a hole through that hull. Yeah, cause he’s just the human frickin’ can opener, he mutters. Something he wants to say to his face? Cyclops asks. What’s the point? Logan mutters, and jumps out, beginning to slash at the hull.

Cyclops orders Armor up next to secure the entry point. She jumps down, telling Wolverine: Me: important. You: Fat. Shaddap, she is told. She jumps inside the hole into a strangely organic looking corridor. She doesn’t see any crew.

The others enter too. Emma doesn’t scan anything living aboard beyond them. Well, excepting Logan. He’s getting that stabby feeling coming on, he warns her.

Storm warns them that they are gaining altitude very quickly. Given that the seal over the hole Logan cut is imperfect, they are going to have trouble breathing soon.

Point taken, Cyclops agrees. Logan? Yeah, he replies and begins leading downwards one direction. Smell of death: this way.

They eventually find what looks like a robot head. Emma identifies him as Paradigm. She knew of him. Part of a rogue group modeled on her own student team. She never got to teach him. His mind could interface with information technology. They exposed him to the Phalanx, the cybernetic aliens… And that’s how they got into the X-Men’s computer system, Brand realizes. Part technokine human, part computronium- based lifeform. No security suite’s going to cope with that… Wirelessly cracked and hacked by a dead boy’s superbrain from twenty miles up, Beast muses.

He’s dead, Brand reminds him. A biological machine component. But they got the rest of Henry’s theory. And so they were looking at ways of bringing live X-genes back from beyond the grave. Because Beast was so desperate to save the mutant race that he actually did research on it. And he was using his own expertise to pack Bio-Sentinels inside reanimated X-Men as sleeper agents. Because he’s been waiting for them all to thin out enough to be sure of exterminating them. Retooling Brood and even Krakoa DNA as weapons. This is a gun that was first aimed at them at least ten years go. And they don’t even know his name. They’ve never met him. And the thing is… neither has she.

She wanted to defuse all this before it even got near them. Fists clenched, Cyclops orders Beast to connect Paradigm’s head to the plane’s onboard computer He wants direct control of this vessel before the air gets too thin. He would like to visit this person. And know his name. And kill him.

Characters Involved: 

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

Abigail Brand (director of SWORD)

Mutates sans Frontieres staff

Krakoa / Brood hybrid

remains of Paradigm

Story Notes: 

This should be Exogenetic – part three.

Krakoawas the new X-Men’s first foe as seen in Giant-Size X-Men #2.

Damien Hirst: a famous British scandalous artist with a penchant for the subject of death.
The Tate Modern: A famous London gallery focusing on modern British art (as opposed to the Tate Gallery proper).

A leviathan is a biblical water monster. In the connection with the word “land” it appears as the title of a novel by Science fiction author Michael Moorcock.

Paradigm’s only appearances to date were in X-Force (1st series) #87-90 as a member of King Bedlam’s Hellions.

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