Astonishing X-Men (3rd series) #34

Issue Date: 
August 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: 

Cyclops and Beast have a confrontation about Henry’s research, which leads Beast to point out how Cyclops has changed for the worse under all the pressure. Though the argument becomes heated, they actually manage to agree in the end. A little later, their ship is attacked by a Sauron/Brood hybrid which the team successfully fends off. Then the ship and, the X-Men along with it, are drawn to Japan to the base of the madman behind all this, someone who is already expecting them.

Full Summary: 

Does he remember when they used to call mutants Children of the Atom? Beast asks Cyclops as they stand surrounded by their teammates. The prevailing theory is, in fact, that the increase in background radiation from atomic testing did actually trigger the boom in X-gene activation. Letting off a nuke or ten is about the only thing he didn’t try. Yes, he looked at ways of exhuming active X-genes from dead mutants. Yes, he looked at genetic grafts. He looked at anything. Anything to unlock the iron door of M-Day. Shamelessly.

His eyes dangerously aglow, Cyclops replies he doesn’t care if Henry secured his computer systems to the level of having God sit on them like a hen on an egg. He can’t believe he committed all that to writing. He must have known what kind of threat it represented. He sat there, every night, just conjuring absolute monstrosities in his imagination to try and bring back mutants. Writing them down was like building bombs!

Henry replies that security and defense are very high on Scott’s list now but, if he’s telling him that under his rule scientists are no longer allowed to write ideas down, in case someone else reads them? Then he thinks it’s maybe time to get off the plane. Figuratively speaking, of course, he adds, seeing as they are now on a hostile flying vessel.

That’s not—Cyclops begin. He gets it, Henry interrupts. Scott is the world’s best superhero. The tough guy who makes the tough calls, and what dear old Leonard Cohen called “the perfect man who kills.” And he’s kept his own counsel about a lot of it. Cyclops is working in reaction to a lot of things and trying not to repeat mistakes. Yes, he would rather some very determined people had not hacked his machines and looted data that is being used against them. But, he points at Scott’s face, Scott is not a stupid man. And the stresses he takes upon himself do not excuse ignorance. He does not get to tell Henry how to work. And this” I am the big dog who wants to know your name and then kill you twice” crap? He needs to get that under control. It impresses no one and disturbs his older friends.

Scott looks at him shocked and open-mouthed. Then both he and Henry begin to grin. “Big dog?” Scott repeats. Look, if he has to assert dominance in the feline terms of his mutancy, then he’s going to have to urinate on him… Hank threatens and Scott begins to laugh. He thought he asked Henry to catch him if he started brooding. He did, Henry admits but what happened was that all that loathing and distrust Scott previously turned inwards? He turned it outward on everyone else. He’s never been good at finding a balance. Scott is not this man. Henry has come around to the possibility that sometimes death is the only immediately feasible solution to a threat. He’s trying to be open-minded and realist, but Scott is not the man who takes murder as the first and only option. Stop acting like him! Okay okay, Scott agrees, please stop with the lecture now. Here endeth the lesson then, he hopes, Henry agrees. Well, here endeth him listening anyway, Scott replies. Point taken, but he is keeping all his options open, he warns.

Scott sends out the rest of the team, apart from himself and Henry. The team fans out. Wolverine sulks he hates being treated like a kid. That’s weird, Hisako grins, her lips didn’t’ move but the words came out anyway. They treat her like a kid because she’s eight years old or something, he replies. But he’s older than alla them put together. Emma yawns demonstratively as he continues that with Cyke it’s “you kids go for a walk, the grown-ups have to talk in private now.” It ain’t right. If this about knocking some of the weird out of Summers he’s all for that. And if this is finally about making McCoy shave his pelt, he’s good helping him out there too, because he’s breathing that crap in during molting season and—

Suddenly everything shakes. They couldn’t hear him, right? he asks while Emma shouts for the “bloody Brand woman.” Abigail insists it wasn’t her and they can’t prove anything. She was just looking around.

A moment later, the wall tears from the outside as a gigantic Brood / Sauron mix attacks the station. They should have expected that, Storm sighs. At this rate, one of Charles’ old wheelchairs crossed with Brood DNA will be along any moment. Someone is using their own history against them.

What is Brand still withholding from them? And why isn’t the air whistling out of here? Some sort of forcefield intrinsic to the structure? Brand suggests. Lets things in, doesn’t let their air out when the hull gets breached.

The Brood / Sauron hybrid lets out a giant tongue trying to grab them. History? Emma asks. It’s Sauron, Storm replies. She’d know that smell anywhere. Whatever the thing is, it’s mostly Sauron. She attacks. Running away, Emma asks Armor, that she’s been reading all history files like a good student: talk to her about Sauron. Karl Lykos, energy vampire and also the only known were-pteranodon, Hisako explains. She wonders when it was she stopped questioning statements like that, Emma sighs. So there’s a transformational trigger in its structure? she asks. Hisako guesses. But listen: Energy vampire. With every strike it’s going to suck juice out of the forcefield and they are gonna break up in midair!

Emma concentrates. “Here!” she announces suddenly. And switch! And the Sauron / Brood hybrid suddenly turns human/ Brood hybrid, then falls. Emma too is about to fall but manages to keep back from the precipice, then chides Hisako for making a fuss.

Suddenly, the ship begins to move. Cyclops and Beast join them, demanding what in hell they have been doing. Unexcited, Emma explains they were attacked by a giant were pterodactyl. Hisako can tell them all about it. But now they seem to be dipping again and she can’t read another mind outside.

Henry explains it is a controlled descent. Much smoother than what happened before. He would suggest that they’ve reached the vessel’s point of origin.

Cyclops orders everyone back to their plane. He wants more mobility than riding with this thing provides. He’ll be with them in a minute. And what’s going to take a minute? Emma asks. Something he needs to take care of, Cyclops replies. Don’t read him and don’t argue with him. Emma kisses him, telling him he is a good man.

Alone, Cyclops turns to the head of Paradigm. He never knew him. But it’d be hard to deserve this. He’s sorry he can do more. He destroys the head with his optic blast.

He joins the others heading to the plane and asks Storm where they are. Northern Japan, she replies. Somewhere north of Nayoro, west of the Teshio River, at a guess. Quite remote. How can she possibly know that? Hisako marvels. She senses weather systems. They are all different. Imagine seeing the air all around the shape of a place. Sky topography.

The ship (and the plane on it) floats above a mountainous area. Do they have a plan? Brand asks. Yes, Cyclops replies. And the plan is? He’ll tell her later. He doesn’t have a plan, does he? Brand asks. Cyclops tells her to be quiet with a smile. They hover above a plain. Now what? Henry asks. They wait, Cyclops replies. Their antagonist has serious infrastructure. He has a feeling they are going to see a classic James-Bond-villain crazy man base make itself known in a few moments. He’s always up for a doctor crazy-pants volcano headquarters, Henry agrees.

This is the bit that really annoys him, Scott muses. All the things in this world that can be fixed with money? And every time it’s “well, I’ve got all this cash, but I bought myself an asteroid hideout instead.”

Looking out of the window, Henry remarks this is indeed classic. Disgusting, Scott mutters. Below them a door in the field opens, revealing an underground base, and the ship sinks down.

Peering outside the window, Hisako tells Emma it’s really cool that she and Mr. Summers wanted to take her someplace new, but she’d kind of like to go home now. That whole “what if Willy Wonka was an underground gene pervert” is not competing with Disneyland in her heart.

They land, surrounded by chained monstrosities in the making, Brood mixed with every other X-Men foe imaginable. This is the point at which he starts to regret bringing an unarmed rescue vessel here, Cyclops admits. What the hell is going on here? Someone really, really hates them, Brand spells out. Which is understandable. But this is some serious hate.

It’s got a point, Wolverine agrees. This stuff wasn’t built yesterday. They are looking at an armory that takes decades to fill. This ain’t just hate. This is an assassin’s toolbox. This is someone who’s been waiting for the right time, for a long time…

A decrepit old man in a wheelchair watches them on a screen. Here they come. All the beautiful mutants. “Children of the atom,” that’s what they used to be called. That’s where people first thought mutants come from. The increase of radiation in the environment from atomic weapon testing. Children of the atom. Sports of irradiated nature. They all have to die…

Characters Involved: 

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

Abigail Brand (director of SWORD)

Sauron / Brood hybrid

remains of Paradigm


Story Notes: 

This should be Exogenetic – part four.

“M-Day” refers to the day when thanks to the Scarlet Witch almost all mutants lost their powers and no new ones were born from then on [House of M #7-8].

Leonard Cohen is a well-known American singer, songwriter and poet. The line “Perfect man who kills” is taken from Cohen’s short poem “the reason I write.”

“Willy Wonka” refers to the eccentric character by Roald Dahl from “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and its sequel.

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