Astonishing X-Men (3rd series) #58

Issue Date: 
March 2013
Story Title: 

Marjorie Liu (writer), Gabriel Hernandez Walta (artist), Chris Peter with Dan Brown (color artists), Virtual Calligraphy‘s Joe Caramagna (letterer), Phil Noto (cover artist), Jennifer M Smith (assistant 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: 

The Fianden alien is painting in an apartment in Egypt. An orange cat is with him, when Warbird attacks him. They battle, and talk about their respective races’ pasts. The Fianden reminds Warbird that she is defective and asks her if she feels the urge to create. Warbird lies and tells him that she does not. Shoving a sword through his head, she discovers that he is actually a robot. The Fianden explains that he was made by the Fiandens and that he is all that is left of them. Warbird does not kill him, instead she tells him that she wants him to reverse what his weapon did - and then she will kill him. The Fianden explains that there is no cure, for Warbird was damaged long before the weapon unlocked her mind. They discuss the Shi’ar’s shame of art, and the Fianden explains that the device is no weapon, but that it can bring the Fiandens back to life. Gambit arrives and informs Warbird that the SHIELD agents will arrive in thirty seconds. Warbird takes the device and the Fianden grabs the orange cat and they flee the apartment. They dodge some of the SHIELD agents and make their way to Karma who is waiting in a car. She drives them out into the desert, where Warbird asks the Fianden if he can really resurrect his race. As he attempts to repair his damaged eye, he points out that he is a scientist. He then stabs Warbird and grabs the device, leaping out of the car, he flees across the barren landscape - only to be confronted by Wolverine and several locals armed with weapons. Karma and Warbird soon join up with them, and they drive away on some trucks. Karma asks Warbird about the Fianden and restoring his race, but Warbird points out that she would be betraying her people to allow this to happen. Night falls, and Warbird guards over the device while drawing some designs into the sand. The Fianden talks to her and points out that she is a creator, while all he can do is imitate other artworks. He makes her question her beliefs, when the SHIELD agents catch up to everyone. Warbird starts to run with the device, and the Fianden is wounded. He pleads with her to give him the device, so she does - which he then implants into his form, and he vanishes, replaced by a large alien structure in the middle of the desert. The buildings is named the Museum of the Lost Fianden, and it contains artwork, music and sculptures of the long-dead race. People visit the museum and the orange cat is cared for, while a statue of the robot-alien Fianden stand in the centre of the museum. Warbird returns to the Jean Grey School, contemplating these recent events, she then picks up a colored pencil and starts to draw.

Full Summary: 

Angent Benzan recalls how the writer Iris Chang once said: “What is not commonly seen is condemned as alien”. She decides it is true enough, that everyone is an alien, all of them outsiders in some way, to someone. She tells herself that when SHIELD sends her on assignment. It lets her humanize them, just a little, like now. A bad idea, she is sure. ‘We are nothing alike’ Benzan decides.

Cairo, in a room, an orange cat walks between canvases of artwork. ‘What do you think?’ the Fianden alien asks in his native tongue. The cat just meows at him. ‘Yes. You are right. It is… terrible’. The cat leaps up and perches on his shoulder. Glancing over at the strange alien artifact, the alien wonders if perhaps that will soon change. The cat turns and sees the alien called Warbird peer out from behind a curtain.

Warbird rushes into the room, sword at the ready, she attacks the Fianden alien, who turns to her and remarks ‘You are still alive. Fascinating’. Warbird declares that mere dust cannot kill her, and lunges at him again, although he dodges her attack. ‘Even though it has killed so many others of your kind?’ the Fianden asks, reaching for his sword. ‘Shut your mouth’ Warbird warns him, but when she raises her sword, he blocks it with his.

The Fianden announces that he remembers those days, when the only warriors of Warbird’s kind who were immune to his people’s weapons were those already infected with dreams. ‘We both know what the Shi’ar did to them after the war’ the Fianden remarks as he grabs Warbird by her wrist and forces her to the ground. He stands over her and holds his sword to her neck. ‘It did not matter that they saved the Empire. They were put down, just like the Fianden’ the alien reminds her. ‘Destroyed for being defective. Is that what you are, Shi’ar? Defective?’ the alien enquires, asking her whether she feels the pulse of beauty in her body, if she feels the urge to create? Warbird remains silent, tears fall from her eyes, then she replies ‘No’. The Fianden pulls away: ‘You lie’ he tells her, as Warbird starts to sit up, rubbing her eyes. ‘NEVER!’ Warbird shouts as she suddenly throws her sword at the Fianden’s head - it strikes him in his eye and goes through the back of his head.

The Fianden drops to the ground. ‘Oh… no’ he utters, as wires protrude from his eye. ‘You are not…organic’ Warbird remarks. ‘You are not Fianden at all’ she realizes. The cat bounds over to the alien and sits by him, as he looks up and reveals that he was made by the Fiandens, that he is their child. ‘You are a machine’ Warbird declares, raising her sword overhead. ‘You are nothing’ she exclaims, bringing the sword down, stopping just before it reaches the alien’s head. ‘But I am all that is left’ the alien-robot points out. ‘Is this mercy, Shi’ar?’ he enquires as he pulls at the sword in his skull. ‘No’ Warbird replies, withdrawing her other sword. She informs the Fianden that his weapon did something to her, it altered her mind. ‘I want you to make it stop’ she tells him. ‘And then I will kill you’.

‘How generous’ the Fianden replies, suggesting to Warbird that she kill him now if she can, as there is no cure - no way to undo what was done. ‘That you are standing here means you were damaged long before my weapon unlocked your mind’ he explains, while Warbird looks over at the artifact sitting on a table nearby. Warbird tells the alien that she doesn’t believe him, and raises his sword to his back as he stands up. ‘You would not’ he points out, wrapping a bandage around his injuries, he adds ‘But let me guess… as a child you loved to draw? You…found a job in it? You craved beauty?’ If you feel too vulnerable to answer -’ he begins, but Warbird, her sword still pointed at him, declares that she does not. Warbird admits that she did those shameful things, felt those deviant emotions - but she cut them from her. The Fianden turns to the artwork in the room, ‘How sad. To be born with such a precious gift, and then throw it away’ he tells her, asking if it is so terrible to write a word or paint a picture?

The Fianden crouches down before one of the canvas artworks. ‘This world rejoices in what you profess to hate. It gives me hope’ he tells Warbird. Looking at the cat who is sitting next to the device, Warbird asks the Fianden ‘Does that give you hope as well? Hope that the Fianden, at last, will be able to destroy the Shi’ar?’ to which the alien replies’ Insanity’. ‘Is it? I have seen records of this device. It was feared -’ Warbird begins, as the Fianden tells her that this is no weapon. He stands up as Warbird faces him and asks for what other reason would he want it. ‘To bring the Fianden back to life’ the alien announces.

Suddenly, someone at the rear of the room clears their throat, and Warbird and the alien turn to see Remy “Gambit” LeBeau standing in the doorway. He holds a playing card between two fingers and announces that in about thirty seconds, SHIELD agents are going to be coming through the window - and the front door. ‘Might want to discuss this somewhere else, non?’ he suggests.

Indeed, outside, choppers are descending over the building, while Warbird reaches for the device, until the Fianden grabs her hand. ‘You will not take this from me’ he tells her, and both leap out a window onto the rooftop below, where two women are hanging some laundry. The choppers have landed, and SHIELD agents stands ready.

Warbird tells the Fianden that if they run and do not fight, they have a chance, as the soldiers will not risk civilian lives. ‘And you?’ the Fianden asks. ‘I am a warrior. Not a murderer’ Warbird responds, while one of the SHIELD agents tells them to halt. ‘And yet…if ordered… you would… commit genocide’ the Fianden points out as he follows Warbird, they push past several of the SHIELD agents, knocking them to the ground, Warbird leaps off the edge of the rooftop, and through the window of a nearby building, startling the family inside. ‘You talk too much’ she tells the Fianden. ‘There!’ a SHIELD agent positioned between two of the buildings calls out as he points up and sees Warbird and the Fianden leap across onto another rooftop.

‘Call it in!’ another agent orders, when suddenly, Gambit tosses something that is kinetically charged towards them, sending the agents flying through the air when the object explodes against them. Gambit calls out to Warbird, ‘This way!’ he shouts as he stands next to a car. ‘Heads down…’ Karma, who is at the wheel, tells Warbird and the Fianden as they get into the backseat. ‘…and hold on’ Karma adds as she speeds off down the street.

They drive for some time, out into the desert, and Karma tells them that SHIELD has too many agents watching their jets, but that Wolverine has “contacts” in this area - of course. She explains that they have agreed to move both of them across the border. Warbird opens a bag and pulls the device from it, while the orange cat pokes its head out of another bag. Warbird asks the alien if it is true he can use this to resurrect the Fiaden. ‘Yes’ he responds. ‘How?’ she asks him. The alien raises the bandage covering his damaged eye and starts to push some of the wires back into the socket. He replies that he is no scientist, and is made of gears, but that he cannot invent them - all he knows is what he was told. The Fianden informs Warbird that what she holds is salvation, and that he has searched this world a thousand years to find it.

‘I could destroy the device right now’ Warbird announces. The alien-robot puts something into his eye socket, tinkering with the damaged wires, and replies that nothing was made to last forever. ‘Just…long enough’ he adds. Suddenly, he shoves the sharp device into Warbird’s shoulder. Karma calls out to her teammate, concerned, while the Fianden grabs the device. Warbird head-butts him, but he punches her in the face. She smacks his damaged eye and responds by biting her hand, drawing blood. ‘Hey!’ Karma shouts as the Fianden leaps out of the car, carrying the device, he heads off across the barren landscape.

However, the robot-alien comes to a halt when he sees Wolverine a.k.a. Logan standing with a couple of dozen armed men. ‘It’s all right, Karma, we got him’ Wolverine radios to his teammate.

Karma and Warbird arrive on the scene shortly after, and everyone piles into trucks. Wolverine sits opposite the Fianden. The orange cat climbs on Wolverine’s shoulder. Karma and Warbird are in the back of one of the other trucks, and they look at the device. ‘You aren’t really going to destroy it, are you?’ Karma asks. ‘What if he’s telling the truth? What if an entire race of people could be saved?’ she enquires. Warbird asks if they were saved, then what would the risk be to the Shi’ar? ‘Would you ask me to betray my people, Karma?’ she enquires. Karma puts a hand on Warbird’s shoulder and tells her that the Shi’ar aren’t so different from humans. ‘You know what’s right’ she adds, and Warbird puts a hand on Karma’s.

Later, night has fallen, and the trucks have come to a stop near some hills. A campfire has been made and everyone gathers around it, except for Warbird, who sits away from the group, the object next to her. She has drawn a pattern in the sand, and turns slightly when the Fianden, with his cat on his shoulders, approaches her. He announces that he has been sentient for over a thousand years, and no matter how hard he tries, he has never been able to create even that much, referring to the patterns in the sand. ‘All I can do is imitate. And desire’ he explains. He sits down next to Warbird, his arms are tied behind his back and suggests to Warbird that she accepts that she was born with the ability to create. ‘Perhaps that is your destiny. Not war’ he remarks. ‘I am a Warbird’ Warbird replies, rubbing away the markings in the sand. ‘You are anything you wish to be. Is that not the gift of life? Even for a machine like me?’ the robot-alien asks.

Warbird scowls at him and tells him that he says this only because he wishes to soften her resolve and make her weak. The cat goes over to Warbird, while the Fianden tells her that she could have fought him until one of them lay dead, but instead, she argued, she talked and listened. ‘Your resolve is already weak’ he points out. Raising her hands, Warbird wonders if the Fianden is right - she is defective. She hangs her head and there is silence, broken when the Fianden tells Warbird that she has been released, that she has been broken of her conditioning, and that disobedience is not death. ‘It feels like it’ Warbird responds. Suddenly, Wolverine alerts everyone to the fact that they have incoming. ‘Untie me’ the Fianden instructs Warbird as they look up at the choppers swiftly approaching.

Two spotlights shine down at the campsite, and when the choppers land, the older female agent, accompanied by others, step out. The locals are rounded up, while the older woman goes over to Karma and Wolverine. ‘You can’t stop this, darlin?’ Wolverine asks Karma. ‘See those devices stuck to their heads? Must be creating a disruption field. I can’t get through to possess them’ Karma explains, while the older woman tells Karma that, thanks to her, she has a headache. ‘And Wolverine, you are a headache’ she remarks, before asking ‘Where are the aliens’. Warbird and the Fianden are running across the sand nearby, Warbird clutches the device, while the orange cat clings to the Fiaden’s shoulders. Suddenly, a blast of energy strikes the Fianden from behind and he falls to the ground.

Warbird turns to the SHIELD agent responsible: ‘You shoot a warrior in the back? Coward! What have you done?’ The agent holds his weapon towards Warbird and explains that it should only stun him, but that if she doesn’t stand down, he will do the same to her. The agent is distracted, and screams when the cat leaps at him, giving Warbird the distraction she needs to punch him in the face. ‘Give me the device’ the Fianden calls out to Warbird, who has placed it on the ground next to the cat. The robot-alien’s voice sounds strange, ‘Threats mean nothing to you’ he remarks to Warbird, informing her that what she holds is a gift, not a weapon, but the final song of the Fianden. ‘Do not be the one who destroys them forever’ he asks. ‘For life. For another chance. Please’ he pleads with Warbird, who looks down at him, then hands over the device, which the Fianden alien-robot places in his chest. Energy bursts around him, and Warbird shields her eyes. The cat sits at her feet.

The energy pours skyward, lighting up the darkened desert. Warbird falls to the ground, the cat crouching at her side, as the ground around her begins to solidify and crack. Energy bursts up from the ground, shattering it. Warbird shields herself, but looking up, in the energy, sees a vision of herself as a child, and many Fianden. ‘Warbird? Are you okay?’ Karma calls out. Out of darkness… light. From flesh and bone… and machine… creation is discovered And rebirth.

‘Where is the other alien?’ Ag ent Benzan asks as she, the older agent and others approach Wolverine and Karma, who stand with Warbird, the orange cat perched on her shoulders. ‘You are… looking at him’ Warbird explains as they stare at the strange, unique structure that has risen from the ground and energy.

Later, at the Museum of the Lost Fianden, in Egypt, people walk through this newly created structure. Some examine bizarre sculptures, others paint and some look up at the large state of the alien-robot Fianden, complete with bandage over his eye. Angent Benzan knows now that it was a bomb, a bomb that would let the Fianden live again - not in flesh, but in spirit. The spirit of their art and music - everything that mattered to them…hared with others, in celebration…and love. The orange cat is at the feet of the statue and someone puts a bowl of food in front of the cat.

Make love, not war. Isn’t that what people say? Unless all you know is war. Maybe something else is required, then. A jolt, a lightning bolt. Illumination, revelation - inspiration. And then, everything is different. And you are never the same. You are awake. Warbird sits at her desk at the Jean Grey School. Canvases of artwork surround her. She looks down at her desk and slowly reaches for a box of pencils and paper. She pulls a blue pencil from the box, and puts it to the paper….

Characters Involved: 

Gambit, Karma, Northstar, Cecilia Reyes, Warbird II, Wolverine (all X-Men)


Fianden Warrior

Agent Benzan




Written By: