Astonishing X-Men (3rd series) #65

Issue Date: 
October 2013
Story Title: 

Marjorie Liu (writer), Gabriel Hernandez Walta (artist), Chris Peter (color artist), 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: 

Gambit, Karma and Warbird content with the Iceman clones, while Wolverine is imprisoned in a block of ice, and Mystique has just swallowed the death seed. She attacks the X-Men, while Gambit tries to talk her down. Mystique doesn’t listen, and boasts that she is Apocalypse - until Thor strikes her with a blast of lightning. She collapses before him, enabling Kitty Pryde to phase up through the snow and reach into Mystique’s body, where she literally pulls the death seed out of her. She is then sucked into the snow, and the X-Men assume Iceman has taken her. The ice starts to sweep up over them, and soon Gambit, Warbird and Karma vanish as well, leaving Opal Tanaka in shock. They re-appear miles away, though Warbird is in danger, as she is cold-blooded and needs heat to survive. With nothing but ice around them for miles, they need help. Iceman visits his therapist - only his therapist is just a clone. Iceman then confronts Opal and her son, Robert. Mystique re-appears on the Great Wall of China, and Iceman, or a clone, tells her that she betrayed him, while Mystique recommends to him that he hold onto his dark side. At the Drake residence, an Iceman clone keeps watch over his ailing father. One of the Iceman clones confronts Gambit, Karma and Warbird, who, despite her injuries, warns him that she will fight him. Kitty Pryde appears, and announces that she will fight, too. She tells him that if he thinks he is the only one who has had a bad lifer, then he should look around, as they all have, but that they are all survivors. Iceman doesn’t know who to believe - Kitty? Opal? Mystique? The dragon-like form of Iceman attacks Kitty, Karma, Gambit and Warbird, so one of the clones increases his own mass to battle the evil Iceman, and in the aftermath, only Bobby Drake remains. The ice melts across the world. Cecilia Reyes checks Polaris and Annie Ghazikhanian out for injuries, and William Drake is taken to a hospital, while Mystique is left in China. Kitty says goodbye to Opal and her son. Opal wishes she could help her with Bobby, who watches her go. Wolverine tells Iceman that he owed all of the women an explanation, and they discuss Bobby’s future with the X-Men. Kitty joins the discussion, as Wolverine warns Bobby that he will be keeping an eye on him. Bobby tells Kitty that he doesn’t know who he is anymore, and reveals that he liked being a monster, as he was free.

Full Summary: 

‘I think we should talk about what happened’ Bobby’s psychiatrist tells him. ‘Let’s not’ Bobby replies. The psychiatrist insists, and adds that there can be no healing if all Bobby ever does is run from his problems, or worse, pretend they don’t exist. He reminds Bobby that he almost killed his father, so they have to talk about. He gets no response, so calls out to Bobby, ‘I want you to tell me… when you tried to take his life… did it feel good?’ he asks. ‘No. I didn’t feel anything at all’ Bobby responds.

At that moment, in the middle of Manhattan: ‘Mystique!’ someone calls out, as Wolverine a.k.a. Logan, Remy “Gambit” LeBeau, Karma a.k.a. Xi’an Coy Manh and the alien Warbird are battling more Iceman clones in the midst of the snow covered city. ‘Karma -’ Gambit begins as he knocks the head off one of the clones with his bo-staff. ‘I saw what she did. I - oh, God - her mind -’ Karma utters as she kicks one of the Iceman clones in half. They turn to Raven “Mystique” Darkholme, whose body is sprouting wings and tentacles, as the villainess clutches herself after consuming the Death Seed. ‘I’ve almost got her, Gambit! But I can feel the Death Seed… what it’s doing to her… it’s terrible!’ Karma declares. ‘Not… terrible. I feel… glorious!’ Mystique boasts.

Gambit calls out to Warbird to help him, so Warbird turns from where she is trying to chip Wolverine free from the block of solid ice he is trapped in. Gambit tosses his kinetically-charged staff at Mystique, who shouts that nothing can help them. The staff strikes Mystique and explodes. But, ‘You thought… it would be so easy?’ Mystique asks, surviving the explosion. ‘Non. But I had to try’ Gambit replies, before asking Mystique if she knows what she has awakened. ‘You might as well have committed suicide, Mystique. Minute you swallowed that piece of Apocalypse, you stopped being you’ he explains, adding that it might not be too late, if she is still able to listen. Gambit moves closer to Mystique and reminds her that she is a strong woman, and tells her she doesn’t need this power, as all it does is corrupt. ‘I know that. I know it too well’. Mystique’s voice has changed, and her tentacles move towards Gambit and Warbird as she replies ‘I know you do, Gambit. And I always thought it was a waste… that you did not embrace your darkness. You wasted your gift of death. That won’t be me’.

‘You talk too much!’ Warbird declares as she slices through Mystique’s tentacles with her sword. ‘And you still bleed’ the alien warrior points out, before asking Mystique how much her power is worth. ‘How much is power worth, without honor?’
Mystique’s tentacles wrap around Warbird, while she extends a fist forward to punch Gambit. ‘Will honor keep you alive? You’re nothing’ Mystique tells Warbird, adding ‘Whatever I am… whatever this makes me… it is already beautiful. It is horrific and amazing. And I have never felt so alive’.
Mystique slams Warbird against some ice and tells her to squirm, and asks her if she can feel it - how weak her body is? ‘You’ll break like glass. All of you. It can’t be helped. Everything must break compared to what is inside of me’ Mystique declares. ‘In your dreams’ Karma tells her as she picks up Warbird’s sword and slices off one of Mystique’s hands. But Raven tells the X-Men to hack at all her all they want, as it doesn’t hurt - they can’t touch her and they can’t stop her. ‘I have the power of Apocalypse!’ she screams as she knocks Kamra, Gambit and Warbird backwards. ‘I AM APOCALYPSE!’ Mystique boasts.

Suddenly, a blast of lightning strikes Mystique, sending her careening backwards into the snow. ‘Enough. There will be no Apocalypse. No Ragnarok. There will be no more death. Except your own’ Thor tells Mystique as he stands over her. A furious Raven stares up at Thor and tells him that no god power can compare to mine. ‘You stupid piece of -’ she begins, before suddenly, she chokes, and looks worried.
‘That’s right, Mystique. Hold still’ Kitty Pryde suggests as she phases up through the snow behind Mystique and plunges her hand into the villainess’s body. Mystique screams, while Karma rushes forward and asks her friend what she is doing. ‘Digging’ Kitty replies. ‘You don’t know what will happen -’ Karma points out, but Kitty tells her to shut up, as she is concentrating very hard. Suddenly, ‘Oh God. Oh God…’ Kitty utters as she pulls the Apocalypse Seed out of Mystique. Kitty screams, while Mystique shouts ‘NO!’

Karma rushes towards Kitty, ‘We’re coming’ she tells her, while ice suddenly surrounds Mystique, ‘Please, no’ Raven declares, trapped in the ice. ‘Damn it’ Karma exclaims, while Gambit points out that only Iceman could have done that. ‘He dares not attempt to fell the God of Thunder with such feeble magic’ Thor boasts. ‘By Odin’s eye! What trickery is this?’ he asks as the ice starts to engulf his body, too. He casts a lighting bolt forth, but it’s no use, as he is completely submerged in the ice.
Karma announces that she is feeling a little overwhelmed right now. ‘Non, really?’ Gambit replies, while Warbird warns Iceman to show himself. ‘Show myself? Just look around, Warbird. I’m everywhere!’ Bobby “Iceman” Drake’s voice can be heard saying. As the ice starts to swallow Karma, Gambit and Warbird, Iceman tells them not to worry, as it feels just like going to sleep. ‘No! Bobby!’ Karma calls out. Standing at the entrance to the church, is Opal Tanaka, who looks out at the snow, as the X-Men vanish. ‘Oh, my God’ she utters.

An undetermined amount of time later, Karma, Gambit and Warbird emerge in an icy wasteland, with nothing as far as the eye can see but ice. They gasp for breath when they are thrown from the ice, and Warbird collapses. Gambit asks Karma what is wrong with her, and puts his jacket over Warbird, as Karma tells him that the Shi’ar are cold-blooded, and need heat to survive. ‘All this time, she’s been doing a good job of pretending she’s okay. But being turned to ice? It’s too much, Remy’. ‘S-sorry’ Warbird utters. Karma tells her to shush, and assures her that it is okay, while Gambit calls out to Bobby: ‘You out there? Bobby!’ he exclaims, but gets no response.

‘Bobby. Bobby, it’s time’ a voice calls out. Bobby is sitting on the floor of his psychiatrist’s office, but doesn’t respond. ‘You can’t sulk in that corner forever. You need to make a choice’ the psychiatrist tells him. ‘Shut up. I should never have started talking to you in the first place. You’re no help. All you do is sit there and ask me stupid questions’ Bobby mutters. ‘Now you sound like a child’ the psychiatrist points out. Only, it is not a psychiatrist that Bobby has been talking to - but himself! He glances up at his other self, sitting in the chair, as the talkative Bobby remarks ‘But I suppose that makes sense. You are a child, deep down. Just a little boy, still not sure who to be when you grow up’. He adds that it is time, that he has to grow up, he has the world at his feet, after all. ‘Though it’s not so easy having that world, is it?’ the other Bobby asks. ‘It wasn’t easy killing your friends, or you would have done it already. All it would take is a thought - just one thought - and you could have ended this days ago. Even now you could have disintegrated their bodies into the ice - and left them there’ the other Bobby points out.

Bobby stands up and walks over to the seated Bobby, who asks him ‘So why didn’t you? Why was it easier to hurt your father?’ Bobby tells him to shut up, but the “psychiatrist” Bobby replies that he won’t, not until Bobby answers his question. ‘Why do you hate your father? Bobby, tell me for once, be honest’ he asks. ‘My father…’ Bobby begins. ‘I’m frightened of him’ he explains. The “psychiatrist” Bobby explains that everywhere Bobby goes, he sees his father - In Xavier, in Wolverine, even in the entire team itself - authority becomes his father, a man who spent his whole life trying to please, though jokes, action - but nothing was ever good enough. Not even Bobby. ‘You couldn’t even take up room for yourself, for your power. You hid it from yourself, all these years… because it might offend the spirit of your father’. The other Bobby tells him that he has to let it go, because it is starting to look really pathetic.

‘Mommy?’ Robert Tanaka asks as Opal holds her son tight, telling him that it is okay, and that they are going to find a way home. Civilians sheltering in the church start to run from the entrance and the pews, as a wall of ice surrounds Opal and her son. Opal gasps, and tells her son to close his eyes. Iceman appears behind Opal and asks her to let Robert look at who could have been his father. ‘Don’t, Bobby. Don’t say that to him. Don’t be cruel’ Opal replies. ‘Why not? When you let me think he was mine… even for that brief time… you can’t imagine what that meant to me’ Bobby replies. ‘What? You’re going to tell me it changed you? Because it didn’t’ Opal replies, reminding Bobby that he only got more scared, and that he was relieved when she told him it was a lie. ‘I saw it in your face’ she declares. ‘I’m not scared anymore, Opal’ Bobby replies, but Opal tells him that she doesn’t believe him. ‘All this acting out… it’s why I broke up with you, in the end’ she explains. Opal turns to face Bobby and tells him that it doesn’t matter what the truth is. ‘You’re not good enough to be a father’ she declares.

‘You crazy @#$%’ Mystique exclaims as she is thrown up through the ice and snow covering the Great Wall of China. ‘I know you’re there ‘ Mystique tells Iceman, who suddenly appears before her. ‘You betrayed me’ Iceman tells her. ‘Not at all. I took advantage of a situation, one that happened quite by accident’ Raven points out, looking up at Bobby who stands over her. Mystique adds that, as Bobby has made quite clear, he is still himself - the Apocalypse power did not enhance his power, it just freed his mind to its full potential. Bobby grabs Mystique by her hair, ‘You always had a dark side, Bobby. I saw that in you from the beginning. I recommend holding onto it. Life is so much better when you don’t give a damn’.

Meanwhile, at the residence of Madeline and William Drake, Bobby’s parents, neighbors gather outside the house. ‘Are you sure we should leave them alone? I mean, God, the old man is in terrible shape’ one of them remarks. ‘I can’t handle it all night, can you?’ another asks. A third says that she wishes an ambulance could have gotten through all the snow, as it will be a couple of days, she thinks. ‘I just hope Mr Drake doesn’t have another heart attack before then’. While, inside, William lies motionless in bed, as Madeline sits at his side, and an Iceman clone keeps watch over them.

Back in the icy wasteland, Karma and Gambit have started to trek across the snow, with Gambit carrying Warbird. Karma tells him that he must be freezing, and offers her coat to him. Gambit tells her to hush, and points out that it would not even fit him, adding that it is not like he hasn’t done this before. ‘God, don’t remind me. Worst break-up ever. If I’d known Rogue had abandoned you in the Antarctic -’ Karma begins, but Gambit asks her to change the subject. ‘Right’ Karma agrees, before asking Gambit what he makes of all this crap with Bobby. ‘Same crap that happened to me’ Gambit replies, explaining that Apocalypse got to his soul, and he became someone else. ‘Part of me liked it, too. And it’s still there, waiting, deep inside, power like that, you can’t kill. You just make it sleep’ Gambit adds.

‘How did you do it?’ Karma enquires. Gambit tells her that he remembered everyone he loved - and that was suddenly more important. He then adds ‘Might not be so different for you, Bobby’. Karma is confused, but as she turns around, she sees Iceman, or at least one of his clones, on an ice ledge above them. Gambit tells Iceman that he can’t fight him any more, that he can try, but they both know he is stronger. ‘I will fight you’ Warbird declares as she wakes. ‘Even if you weren’t dying, you can’t touch me. I’m a god’ Iceman boasts. Warbird gets to her feet, and tells him that he is a man, a man who still feels unimportant and small. ‘I could kill you with a thought. I could kill this whole world right this second’ Iceman points out, but Warbird tells him that would prove nothing but that he is a fool. Warbird states up at Iceman, remarking that his power was always great, but that it was even greater restraint that made him, in her eyes, a magnificent warrior. ‘But you corrupted everything with ego. You sullied your power’ she declares.

‘So I will fight you, Bobby. I will fight you to honor the man you were, and to honor myself’ Warbird informs Iceman, standing defiantly before him. ‘So will I’ Kitty Pryde calls out as she appears nearby. Iceman turns to her and tells her not to pretend that she ever cared for him anyway. ‘Go to Hell, Bobby. That’s your Dad talking. You were the unwanted son and you’ve spent your whole life reliving your childhood, projecting it on everyone who cares about you’ Kitty declares angrily. Kitty tells Bobby that life sucks, and she is sorry that they were not there for him when he needed them, and she is sorry that he didn’t think he could come to her, to anyone, with his problems. ‘I’m sorry, Bobby. I am’. Kitty continues, and tells Bobby that if he thinks he is the only one who has had a bad life, then he should take a look around. All of us, right here, right now - have been tortured, orphaned, abandoned. We’ve lost loved ones. We’ve lost ourselves’. And, she adds that they all still suffer for it, but that they are also all survivors. ‘You were never alone. You still aren’t’.

‘Do you believe her?’ Bobby’s “psychiatrist” self asks, referring to Kitty. ‘Do you believe her?’ he enquires, referring to Opal, and then to Mystique. ‘You should. You should believe them all’. But he gets no response, and tells Bobby that it is time for him to open his eyes. Open your eyes or just end it all. Because you can’t go on like this. You have to make a choice. Grow as big a you want. Swallow up this whole world. But you still won’t be able to run from yourself’. He adds that it is just up to him - and what matters to him. ‘What are you going to choose? Life or death? Fear or courage? Will you face your monsters? It won’t be easy’. He tells him that it will hurt, but that he should try, try, for just once, to be himself. To take off the real mask and see what happens.

At the same time, Iceman has created another large monstrous version of himself, and he smashes the landscape around Kitty and the others. He challenges the Iceman clone, punching it, and sending shards of ice flying towards the X-Men. The Iceman clone starts to push Bobby’s fist away, and when there is enough room, escapes on an ice-sled. Before the large, evil, Iceman attacks him, smashing him down to the ice. The smaller Iceman looks up, then increases his own mass to match that of the larger Iceman, they prepare to battle again, there is a mighty explosion, and a bright light engulfs the area, as Bobby’s naked body lies motionless in the snow. ‘Oh, Bobby’ Kitty utters as she starts to run towards him.

Bobby’s “psychiatrist” self tells Bobby to remember that there is a price for that, too. ‘You won’t ever be the same. Thank God. Cry. Feel the pain. Let it out. No more hiding. Besides…everyone knows what you are now’. And as the room around him starts to break apart, Bobby starts to cry.

Later, Storm a.k.a. Ororo Munroe flies across the now sunny skies over New York, while Lorna “Polaris” Dane and Annie Ghazikhanian are being examined by the X-Men’s Dr Cecilia Reyes and another doctor. An ambulance has arrived at the Drake residence and Madeline stands nearby as her husband William is loaded into the ambulance. Mystique stands alone on the Great Wall of China and looks around, hugging herself in the snow, while Thor sits in the snow that is slowly thawing around him.

‘I’m sorry. Really, I can’t say it enough. This sucks. And you deserve better’ Kitty tells Opal at the Jean Grey School, as Opal and her son sit in the back of a car which Karma is getting ready to drive. ‘Not your fault’. He’s not ready to see me. I’m not even sure I’m ready’ Opal replies, before Kitty wishes her a safe trip home. Opal thanks Kitty for everything, and wishes that she could be some help with Bobby. ‘No one can do that, Opal. It’ll just take time’ Kitty replies.

Bobby stares out of the window as the car pulls away, and Wolverine enters Bobby’s room, telling him that it would not have killed him to say goodbye, as he owed Opal that much - all of them - Polaris and Annie - they need an explanation. ‘I know’ Bobby replies, before turning to Logan and asking ‘What now? You can’t put me in jail. And I don’t think you’re stupid enough to try and kill me’. ‘Suppose not. I guess that just leaves one option’ Logan replies. Bobby tells him that he is crazy, and asks if he really wants him on the team again. ‘You going to be a problem again?’ Logan enquires. Bobby turns back to the window and admits that he doesn’t know. ‘I was a better villain than I was a hero. More powerful, more confident. Certain of everything, in ways I’ve never been before’ he points out. ‘That was the Death Seed talking’ Logan tells Bobby, replies ’So it takes the power of Apocalypse to make me feel like a real man? Great, thanks Wolverine’.

‘That’s not what I meant’ Logan declares. ‘What you were back there…you weren’t acting like a real man, Bobby. You were being a fool’. But Bobby tells him that none of that makes him feel better. ‘Think I’m gonna spare your feelings? Get real’ Logan tells him as Kitty enters the room. ‘Seriously, Bobby. Tell me what you’re feeling. And be honest’ Logan asks. Bobby turns back to Logan and Kitty and announces that he doesn’t know what he is feeling, as too much happened. ‘But I don’t…I don’t want to be a killer. I know that much’ he admits. ‘Someone needs to keep an eye on you, Bobby. Someone needs to be your friend. Even after everything you’ve done’ Logan points out, to which Bobby replies ‘That could be dangerous’. He assures Logan that he could not have stopped him, and that if he turned again tomorrow, it would be the same fight - the same ending, with Bobby freezing them all. ‘Want to rub it in? Or is this a warning?’ Kitty asks. ‘Maybe both’ Bobby replies.

Wolverine announces that he has to go, and asks Kitty if she is going to be okay here. Kitty holds herself anxiously, and replies ‘Yes?’, before Logan asks her if she took care of that little thing. ‘It’s hidden where no one will ever find it’ Kitty assures him. Logan takes his leave, and Bobby tells Kitty that she can’t destroy the Death Seed. ‘I don’t want to talk about that. I can’t. not with you. You understand why, I hope’ Kitty replies, before asking Bobby how he is, really. ‘I’m flesh and blood through and through. It’s harder than I thought it would be’ Bobby tells her, adding that he wants to be ice again, as that is what feels natural. ‘Who am I, Kitty? I sure don’t know anymore. I only know who I need to be’ Bobby remarks. He hangs his head, and adds ‘But that’s not real. That’s just a mask I’ll put on so no one gets hurt, and everyone and pretend I’m back to normal. Lies. That’s my life now’.

Kitty tells Bobby that it doesn’t have to be that way, but Bobby doesn’t look at her, he just tells her that maybe it does, and admits that he liked being a monster. ‘I’ll never forget. I was better when I was free’ he declares. Kitty looks at him, concerned, before turning to leave his room, and Bobby starts to cry….

Characters Involved: 

Gambit, Iceman, Karma, Kitty Pryde, Cecilia Reyes, Storm, Warbird II, Wolverine (all X-Men)


Opal Tanaka

Robert Tanaka

Annie Ghazikhanian

Madeline & William Drake



Various civilians


Story Notes: 

Iceman almost killed his father last issue.

Gambit was abandoned by Rogue in the Antarctic in Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #350.

Gambit became the Horseman of Apocalypse called Death in X-Men (2nd series) #183-186.

Issue Information: 
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