Astonishing X-Men (3rd series) #53

Issue Date: 
October 2012
Story Title: 

Marjorie Liu (writer), Mike Perkins (artist), Jay David Ramos (colorist), VC’s Caramagna (letterer), Dustin Weaver & Rachelle Rosenberg (cover), Jennifer M. Smith (assistant editor), 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: 

Hank and Cecelia work on finding out why Wolverine exploded. Hank discovers a small nano-worm, one of many that inhabited Logan’s body. He realizes that it is capable of transmitting a tiny signal, but when linked to other worms, is capable of transmitting anywhere around the world. He believes it to be safe but, when Cecelia’s force field kicks in, they realize otherwise. Before it explodes, it transmits a tiny signal which Hank tracks, allowing his fellow X-Men to follow it. Meanwhile, Remy, Bobby and Jean-Paul visit Susan Hatchi, who is blatant about what she’s been up to and how she’s involved Karma. However, they cannot touch her in public and must bide their time When they get Hank’s coordinates, they head to the country of Georgia and locate one of Hatchi’s facility’s there. They find some bedraggled people who have been experimented upon and Cecelia says she’ll take care of them. The others head off to find Karma, with Warbird covering their backs. They locate her in a small room and grab her, taking her back to Cecelia. Though they are ready to leave, the captives refuse to budge, explaining that they must not go anywhere. One man, however, desperate and upset moves towards them, only to explode when he crosses a parallel yellow line. This explosion sets off more explosions and Cecelia’s force field protects her and the X-Men as the whole facility is destroyed, leaving them in a small air pocket under tons of rubble.

Full Summary: 

Wolverine is recovering from his injuries which came courtesy of a bomb having exploded inside his stomach. Hank McCoy and the visiting Cecelia Reyes check data on their computer and both spot a small unusual object. Gambit asks them if they know what caused the explosion. Hank replies that, if they were on another world in another universe, he would speculate that it was a very small Shai-Hulud; a fictional reference of course. Remy says he knows full well that it’s a sandworm from Dune. He does read. Cecelia calls them nerds. Bobby looks at the screen and can’t believe that blew up Wolverine. It looks like something that lives in intestines. Hank reckons some probably were in his gut. His body was infested with the things… each one a little bomb.

Jean-Paul asks what it is. Hank informs him that it’s an advanced form of nanotech. It’s so advanced that he must speculate that its origins are not of this world. Jean-Paul asks him to please pretend it is. Hank replies that he’s calling in Warbird in case she, as a Shi’Ar warrior, can identify it. Bobby asks how it got into Wolverine. Does Hank think that Karma had anything to do with it? Remy reckons they should look at Hatchi Tech first before they blame her. Wolverine, still weak as his body knits itself together again, explains that Karma was there. She watched him explode along with a handful of the same mercenaries who hit them at Gambit’s place. Hatchi Tech, Karma… it’s all tied together. Hatchi owns the warehouse where they found the dead marauders. The mercs had their tech and they got mind-screwed at their facility. He finally tracked down the owner and was going to talk to her before he went boom.

Remy tells him they’ll pay her a visit, but he turns to Jean-Paul and asks him to go home. He has a new husband who he can’t be neglecting. Jean-Paul tells him that Kyle’s the most important person in his life which is why he needs to make sure whoever hurt him and whoever used Karma to hurt him can never do so again.


Susan Hatchi is giving a speech to some members of the business community. Remy, Jean-Paul and Bobby have turned up to listen to what she has to say. She talks about how money is the bottom line in business and how if the market doesn’t respond to one of their projects, they evolve it until it’s exactly what the market needs. Bobby thinks she’s hot, but Jean-Paul reminds him that she’s probably a killer. Remy adds that either way, she’s no fool so they should tread softly on this one. Once Hatchi’s speech is over she prepares to leave, but the X-Men ask her for a word.

Hatchi’s overly-large bodyguard warns him to back off but she checks her phone and tells him she’ll talk to them. She knows all their names and in a flirty manner says that her heart is all aflutter. Northstar asks her to cut it out. She knows why they are there. She replies bluntly that she put a bomb in Wolverine, took over Karma’s mind and made her take possession of his new husband and the X-Men. She also killed the Marauders, or rather their most recent incarnation. “Clones are so convenient.” She looks up from her phone and asks if they thought she’d deny it.

Jean-Paul asks why she would do that. Bobby adds that they don’t even know her. “Don’t you?” she replies. She informs them that it was an experiment. She needed to test some new technology and who better to be her guinea pigs than the X-Men. If she can beat them she can beat anyone and it’s becoming abundantly clear to her that she can beat them anytime she wants. Remy tells her she made it personal. She replies nonchalantly that maybe she can be petty. She asks if they know that she used to be a mutant - a low-level telepath. She lost her gift along with most every other mutant on the planet. But, that doesn’t mean she lost her imagination.

Jean-Paul asks if she has Karma. Susan says that’s a loaded question. If she does… what then? Will he attack her in this crowded room with all these witnesses? Will he risk the reputation of the X-Men and mutants everywhere? As her bodyguard wraps Susan’s coat around her shoulders, she adds that it’s so difficult being the ‘good minority.’ There’s so much pressure and so little room for mistakes. She congratulations him on the wedding day and says her husband is very handsome. As she walks away, Bobby asks if they’re really letting her go. Remy says no. She drew the line in the sand. “And now we cross it,” adds Northstar.

Back at the school, Wolverine is now sitting up and his hair is growing back. Warbird tells him that he looks like a Gruarg vomited him from its stomach. Logan replies that if she’s going to talk about vomit it’d better be with a beer in her hand. Hank tinkers with the nano-worm and tells Cecelia Reyes that it’s kind of her to be there on her day off. On a personal note, he says it’s good to see her again. Cecelia replies that she missed him. E-mail isn’t quite the same. He asks if Wolverine offered her a chance to work there on a more permanent basis. She replies that he did but she turned him down. She doesn’t think she was ever suited for this life. Working the E.R. might be hard but the people she sees need her more than the X-Men do. She knows her friends are here, but she makes a difference there. She has her priorities.

Hank tells her that she is always true to her heart which is something he deeply admires. He returns to business and notices that the worm has a transmitter. She asks how he can tell. He informs her that the computer has been analyzing its internal structure and just found traces of a deviously small digital signal processor and RF amplifier. He explains that an individual nano-worm probably has no signal strength whatsoever, but working in unison? That combined power might allow them to reach anyone in the world. He mentions that if he can activate this one then they might be able to follow its signal.

As he speaks, the worm wraps itself around the pointer he is using and begins to transmit a signal. Hank immediately tracks it. Cecelia asks if he has any safeties in place. He asks her to have no fear. “It won’t explo…” Cecelia asks him to look out. He steps back and Cecelia erects a force field as, naturally, the nano-worm explodes. She asks if he’s okay. Hank quickly turns to a monitor and says that he was able to capture the focus of the signal transmission. They have a location. “I’ll take that as a yes,” she remarks.

(meanwhile, a little later)

Jean-Paul and Kyle are in bed. Jean-Paul apologizes to him. Kyle says it’s okay, but Jean-Paul replies that it’s not. He doesn’t want to leave him. They’ve already postponed their honeymoon. He almost wishes Hank hadn’t found that transmitter. Kyle says this isn’t like him, but Jean-Paul reckons that maybe it should be. When he saw that woman and thought about what she did to Kyle, well, things would be easier if they could just kill the people who want to hurt them. Kyle kisses the back of his hand and replies that he’s a jerk, not a killer. Jean-Paul continues to say they have an obligation to protect themselves. It used to be easier, more straightforward. When he was young, there was never any question that violence was an option that worked.

Kyle asks if that’s why he punched Iceman’s head off when he was being mind-controlled. Because he was protecting them? Or, was it because he was furious and desperate and not in his right mind? He adds that he could have killed Bobby and it wouldn’t have been for the right reason. Northstar gets up and puts on his pants, telling Kyle that he has to keep him safe. Kyle tells him that he could do that; put him in a box and hide him on a shelf where no one could ever hurt him, but he wouldn’t be the man he married. That doesn’t sound so great to him. Northstar smiles and says he’s glad they’re married. Kyle keeps him from doing stupid things.

Kyle tells him he’d better get up. JP has bad guys to catch and he has his brand to manage. Their wedding is going to generate about three million dollars in new revenue. “Love mixed with greed is a sexy look on you, Mister Beaubier-Jinadu,” replies Jean-Paul. He asks if Kyle is sure about him leaving. Kyle says he’s okay with it. This is his job and he’s good at it. Jean-Paul kisses him and says he’ll be home as soon as he can. With a blur he is gone, leaving Kyle to whisper to himself, “I know you will.”

On board the Blackbird, Bobby asks where they are. He’s slept through the entire flight. Northstar informs him that they’re in Akhalhalaki, Georgia. Hank traced the signal to an abandoned Russian military base. It’s radioactive and being used by their bomb-happy enemy in heels. Remy adds that they don’t know what they are going to find there, but Beast said their tech is advanced, even by their standards. Bobby wants to rewind to the ‘radioactive’ part of that statement, but Cecelia would rather not. Remy tells her he’s surprised she came on this mission. She replies that it’s for Karma. If they do find her there is a good chance that she’ll need medical attention. All of them will if they get around more of those exploding things. “Face it,” teases Iceman. “You just like us. You really really like us.”

They arrive at their coordinates and realize that they are going to need a distraction. Moments later, Iceman provides just that when he creates an ice monster that attacks some of the facility’s guards. As the X-Men enter the building, Warbird salutes his distraction. Bobby coughs and replies that he gets a little more awesome every day. Northstar does a quick recon and Remy asks him if he found Karma. He replies no, but he’s found something else.

He leads them to a large room filled with makeshift hospital beds. As they approach some of the people in there, Cecelia informs them that she’s a doctor and asks what happened. A bearded man replies that they were supposed to come to the place for work and that was that. A Dark-haired woman adds that they were experimented on. Remy says they have to go now, but Cecelia asks if he’s kidding. These people aren’t there of their own free will. They need help! Remy says that they will get help, but they need to find Karma. Cecelia looks around at the poor state of health of the people surrounding them and asks Remy to radio when they find her. Right now, she can be of more help where she is.

Warbird states that the enemy is close behind them. “And they’re feeling feisty,” adds Iceman. Warbird senses danger and shouts for everyone to get down. Iceman quickly erects an ice wall for protection as gunfire rings out. The bullets go through the ice as Warbird grabs Northstar and pushes him to the ground. He thanks her, but reminds her that he is faster than a bullet. “Does it matter?” she asks. Iceman tells Northstar that he thinks they found Karma. Warbird holds her swords out and tells them she will hold them off. As the others head off, Warbird roars into action.

Northstar soon enters a small room where Karma is sitting down. Her arms are shackled and she is wearing a helmet with all kinds of cables attached to it. “Oh, no,” gasps Jean-Paul. He asks who these animals are. Remy replies that they know who one of them is and Iceman adds it’s Susan Hatchi… and they let her walk away. They remove the helmet and Remy injects her with a sedative Hank gave him until they know for certain whether she’s a threat or not. They pick up Karma and return to Warbird’s location to find that she has successfully cleared a path for them. Remy calls Cecelia and asks her to get ready to move. They have Karma.

As they arrive back in the makeshift hospital, they find Cecelia asking the injured why they are just standing there. They can leave now so they have to move. One of them replies that they must please go and leave without them. They have to. Remy tells Cecelia that they have to go. Cecelia informs him that they won’t budge. She’s done everything except threaten them. The dark-haired woman says she told her already. None of them are allowed to run. An older man, sweating and desperate asks if they can take him. He can’t stay there anymore. He moves towards the X-Men, but after a few paces he steps over a set of parallel yellow lines and explodes right before them.

The explosion spreads out towards a bank of missiles. Cecelia tells the people to run towards her, but Remy grabs her and, suddenly, everything goes black. There is a massive explosion and Cecelia’s force field automatically kicks in to protect herself and the X-Men around her. The blast covers them in rubble, leaving them in a small underground pocket. “This is… really… getting old,” she groans. Up above them, the facility is completely destroyed with all the people she was trying to help dead.

Characters Involved: 

Beast, Gambit, Iceman, Northstar, Warbird, Wolverine (all X-Men)

Cecelia Reyes

Kyle Beaubier-Jinadu

Susan Hatchi

Phil, Susan Hatchi’s bodyguard


Hatchi’s mercs and victims

Story Notes: 

Aside from the Fremen name for the sandworms in Frank Herbert’s Dune series, Shai-Hulud is also the name of a Florida metalcore band.

Bobby’s comment to Cecelia that ‘she likes them, she really really likes them’ is a play on Sally Field’s Oscar acceptance speech (and subsequent ridicule) when she won Best Actress for 1984’s Places in the Heart.

Issue Information: 
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