Astonishing X-Men (3rd series) #52

Issue Date: 
September 2012
Story Title: 

Marjorie Liu (writer), Mike Perkins & Gabriel Hernandez Walta (artists), Jay David Ramos & Cris Peter (colorists), VC’s Caramagna (letterer), Dustin Weaver & Rachelle Rosenberg (cover), Daniel Ketchum (associate editor), Jeanine Schaefer (editor), Nick Lowe (group editor), Axel Alonso (editor in chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)

Brief Description: 

Northstar and Kyle’s wedding reception is in full swing, but Bobby Drake is thinking about Karma. One hour ago, Karma is walking through town, struggling to maintain control of her own mind. Ten days ago, Karma is with her two siblings and Kitty Pryde at the American Museum of Natural History. As the children look around and take photographs, Kitty realizes that something is preying on Shan’s mind. Shan reveals that she feels like she is realizing more and more how much she has lost over the years. She is feeling increasingly alone and that her life is a mess. As they leave the museum, a woman trips on a step and Karma catches her and, unbeknownst to Karma, she infects her with nanobots. Karma then receives a phone call from Logan, who asks her to meet him. Kitty takes the children and Karma heads off to meet Logan, who is with Iceman and Warbird. He informs her that they have a situation so they’re heading to Gambit’s place to talk about it. Warbird decides she wishes to walk, so Karma goes with her and Iceman comes along for safety in numbers. As they head towards Remy’s apartment, Warbird spots some mercenaries in the trees and charges of towards them. In the present, Karma arrives at Northstar and Kyle’s wedding, not understanding exactly how she came to be there. She is approached by Susan Hatchi, whom Shan recognizes as the woman who she caught on the steps ten days ago. She tries to fight Susan’s mental control but Susan explains that the nanobots she infected her with means she owns Shan. Asking why Susan chose to grab her, Susan informs her that she likes using power and owning it. She is surprised that Shan doesn’t recognize her. Shan suddenly remembers who she really is and then attacks Susan. As they fight, Logan approaches and Karma runs towards him. When Karma within a few yards of him, Susan activates a remote control and sets off an explosive inside Logan’s stomach, blowing him apart.

Full Summary: 

(Central Park, New York City, now)

Kyle and Northstar’s wedding party is in full swing. Jean-Paul tells him he bets he never imagined a party like this. “Never,” replies Kyle. “Best day of my life.” Kyle reckons they’re going to have a lot of those. Away from the dancers, Bobby Drake is with Remy LeBeau and Cecelia Reyes. He remarks that it’s a great wedding. “But?” asks Remy. Bobby replies but nothing. It was great. Cecelia says sure it was, but he suddenly looks all twitchy. Bobby admits that he can’t stop thinking about Karma. The other two pause for thought.

(Lower East Side, New York City, one hour ago)

Karma has been severely injured. She struggles alone along the empty street, simply trying to remember her own name and those of her siblings. She repeats her name and tells herself that she is an X-Man. As she lies in her own blood, she thinks about what’s happened to her. She is someone she doesn’t recognize anymore. She doesn’t know what is real and what is all in her head. It’s not the first time she’s lost herself, but this time it was all so sudden. One second she was with her team with her guard down, and then something wriggled inside her head. Something… someone, stole her life.

(The American Museum of Natural History, ten days ago)

Karma is at the museum with Kitty Pryde and her siblings, Nga and Leong. Standing beside a huge whale, Nga takes their photograph. Karma informs Kitty that ever since she bought her the camera she’s wanted to be the next Annie Liebowitz. “For mutants,” adds Nga. Karma bends down besides Leong and asks him to say he loves her. “I love you,” he replies, smiling at the camera as it snaps. Leong takes a photo of the three of them together and they carry on looking around the museum.

Kitty tells Karma that she seems wistful. Karma explains that she keeps thinking about how young they are. Kitty says it’s not like they are old, but Shan replies that she feels old. Kitty asks if she remembers the time they overheard the freshman at the University of Chicago call her a cougar. That’s when she felt old. A tear trickles down Karma’s cheek and she moves towards a window, ensuring the kids aren’t looking at her. She admits that she doesn’t know what’s going on with her lately. She wishes she could start over again. They both stare at a Lion and Lioness and Kitty asks her what’s wrong. Karma looks at her brother and sister taking photos and replies, “Everything.”

As they walk, she explains that it’s been creeping up on her just how much she’s lost. Her brother, her leg… her mind. They’re all things she’s never let herself think about. She asks Kitty if she ever wonders what her life would have been like if she hadn’t joined the X-Men. Kitty replies of course. They all do sometimes. But, she wouldn’t give up all the good stuff that came from it to erase the bad. “No,” replies Karma. “Of course you feel that way.” Kitty assures her that she can talk to her, but Shan says she wouldn’t understand. “I’m your friend,” replies Kitty. Shan looks into Kitty’s eyes and decides she’s right.

She tells Kitty that if she gave up everything she’s experienced with the X-Men and traded all the good to get rid of the bad, for her it still wouldn’t help. Her whole life was a series of people making choices for her; her father, her brother, the men who killer her mother. “The men who… who...” She tells Kitty that she knows what they did to her. She was just a kid. She’d never even been kissed. That was her life before the X-Men. Kitty assures her that she’s a different person now. Karma hugs her and agrees that she’s an X-Man, but she feels old and alone and scared. With or without the X-Men, her life is a mess. She adds that she hates feeling this way. She’s never wallowed and doesn’t want to start now.

As they leave the museum wondering where to go next, a woman stumbles on a step. Shan catches her and the woman smiles at her, saying she’s such a klutz. Karma’s phone then rings and she answers to find Wolverine on the other end, asking for her time. It’s urgent. Kitty says she’ll take the kids home to Westchester for the night.

(one hour ago)

Karma lies on the floor in pain. A group of down-and-outs find her and see all the blood. A guy notices her bionic leg and wonders if the army gave her that in Iraq. Another wonders if she’s really a veteran. The guy replies that he was there, too. He’s got some shrapnel on his brain. As Karma tries to get up, another guy asks her not to move. Confused, Karma misreads the situation and believes they are looking for trouble. She uses her mental abilities to stop them in their tracks and makes her way out of the alley.

(ten days ago)

Logan is leaning against a van waiting for Karma. A little bird lands on his shoulder and he recognizes the sign. “Hello darlin’” he smiles. As the bird flies away, he turns to see Karma approaching him. Logan tells her that he likes her little spies. Karma replies that she just likes flying. She asks if he wants to explain why she had to abandon her brother and sister to lean against a van with him. Logan mentions how pre-cogs are always having visions and bad dreams. Well, some of them lately have to do with them. Shan asks if he means them specifically or is it one of those X-Men problems. Logan replies that involves the X-Men, which is why he’s called a meeting at Gambit’s place to talk about it. Shan bets he’s thrilled about that, but Logan replies that Remy doesn’t know they’re coming.

Shan pauses, so Logan asks, “…what?” Shan replies that after this is over she’s done. Bobby then turns up with some food. Shan asks what it’s for. Bobby replies that they have to feed the beast. He slides the van’s side door open revealing Warbird sitting in the back. She informs Shan that she told them she will hunt her own prey. There is prey on these streets. She has seen many four-legged creatures. She thinks they call them dogs. “You’re better off with a dumpling,” quips Bobby, “And no… cats are not edible either.”

Shan closes her eyes and places her hand against her forehead, prompting Logan to ask if her head hurts. She says she’s had a headache ever since she left the museum. Warbird wishes to leave the van and explore but Logan replies that now isn’t the time. Warbird finds that unacceptable. For better or for worse, it has become clear that she will not be leaving this world in the near future. So, she must learn about it, study its weaknesses and strengths and make it her home. Karma says she’ll walk with her. It might help her headache. Logan asks them to take Bobby too. He’s napping in the back.

Once out of the van, five blocks from Remy’s apartment, Warbird checks out her surroundings. She spots a little girl and her mother. She says hello to the child and informs her that her guardian looks like a Sidarian soul devil and asks if she knows how to kill one. The woman holds her daughter’s hand tightly and ushers her away. “But…” says Warbird, “In case they invade… she would know how to protect herself.” Bobby tells Warbird that it’s okay, but Warbird replies that it isn’t. Something always comes.

As she speaks she notices a group of soldiers hiding in the trees nearby. She doesn’t hesitate for a moment as she leaps over a small wall, heading quickly in their direction. Iceman calls out her name but Karma doubles over grabbing her head. “What’s… wrong… with me?” she cries.

(Central Park, now)

Karma staggers across a bridge and realizes by spotting a marquee tent that she’s at Northstar’s wedding. She wonders how she got there. She turns to see a woman in a short red dress flanked by two mercenaries. “You!” Shan exclaims, recognizing her from the museum earlier. “Yes, me,” replies Susan Hatchi, “Clumsy old me. The woman with her finger on your soul.” Karma tries to fight her mental control but struggles in pain. Susan tells her it’s cute that she would try to fight her, but the nanotech she infected her with makes Karma hers. Entirely hers. Karma asks why her. Susan tells her that whether she realizes it or not, she is one of the most powerful of the X-Men. She likes power and using that power. She likes owning it.

Karma tells her that it’s not that. That isn’t the reason. “It’s more than that. When you… look at me…” Susan replies that it’s true and she’s surprised that Shan doesn’t recognize her yet. Shan suddenly remembers and she reaches out towards Susan Hatchi. “I’m going to kill you…” she snarls. “Kill you for good.” She lunges at her and grabs Susan around the neck. She has her soldiers remove her, just as Logan appears holding his stomach. Karma is freed and allowed to run towards him but, as she comes into his view, Susan activates a remote control and an explosive device in Logan’s stomach goes off, ripping a massive hole in his torso. Karma is then grabbed by the mercs with one of the putting a hand over her mouth.

Characters Involved: 

Beast, Gambit, Havok, Iceman, Marvel Girl, Northstar, Psylocke, Rogue, Shadowcat, Storm, Wolverine (all X-Men)

Kyle Beaubier-Jinadu

Wedding guests including Anole, Dazzler, Guardian, Glob Herman, Kid Gladiator, Match, Puck, Rockslide, Sasquatch, Snowbird and Spider-Man

(in flashback)


Leong and Nga

Iceman, Kitty Pryde, Warbird, Wolverine (all Jean Grey school for Gifted youngters)

Susan Hatchi

Museum customers

Down and outs including Dawn



Story Notes: 

Annie Liebowitz is an American photographer, known primarily for her work for Rolling Stone magazine and her photograph of a pregnant Demi Moore.

Kitty left the X-Men and enrolled at the Robert A. Heinlein School for Engineering and Astrophysics after Colossus died trying to kill off the Legacy Virus. She met Karma who had enrolled at the University of Chicago and they began a close friendship.

Shan and her mother were assaulted by pirates as they traveled to the United States from Vietnam. Her mother died shortly afterwards.

The soldiers that Warbird chases come to an unsavory end, with one of them being decapitated and his head taken to Remy’s apartment. [Astonishing X-Men (3rd series) #48]

It isn’t clear yet who Susan Hatchi really is, but Karma clearly recognizes her.

Issue Information: 
Written By: