Astonishing X-Men (3rd series) #66

Issue Date: 
October 2013
Story Title: 

Marjorie Liu (writer), Amilcar Pinna (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: 

As New York deals with the aftermath of the recent “ice age”, civilians are warned to stay out of the completely submerged subways - but in one of them, a rat is attacked by a strange green tentacled creature. Gambit and Karma visit Cecilia Reyes who is helping out of an makeshift medical centre. Northstar and Kyle return from helping out the Canadian Territories, only to find their apartment covered in ice. Warbird is there, which surprises them, as they didn’t think she liked them. She was keeping some of their possessions safe, and after they confront her, admits that she doesn’t know how she feels about them now, but that she may have changed her feelings towards them. Gambit and Karma pick Warbird up, and Cecilia is with them as they head out for a night of fun. A woman walking her dog is speaking on her mobile phone, unimpressed with all the ice which she blames on mutants. The dog is then attacked by the green tentacled creature, and transforms somewhat. It leaps at the woman, who transforms herself, he skin shrivels and she announces that she feels so alone. Cecilia is surprised when they arrive at a private karaoke booth, where Storm, Wolverine and Jubilee are waiting for them. Most of the X-Men take turns singing, but Cecilia is somewhat nervous to start with. Everyone loosens up and enjoys each other’s company - even Warbird gets up and sings in her native Shi’ar. The fun is interrupted by a horde of what appears to be zombies - until Karma makes a connection with them, discovering that they have just been possessed. They are all claiming how lonely they are, and reach out for the X-Men, but Cecilia puts a force field up between them - until she starts to feel strange and lets it down. The possessed attack, so the X-Men keep them at bay, until Storm disrupts them with a blast of lightning. Cecilia and Karma feel a connection to something, and race out of the building. The others follow, as Cecilia and Karma find the green tentacled creature under a car. They try to connect with it further, and tell it to let go of the others, as it doesn’t need them. But the creature escapes down through a sewer grate. Later, the X-Men gather on a rooftop and briefly discuss the creature, before Storm and Wolverine talk to the others about the changes the X-Men have gone through, and how they need to spend more time together as a family. Gambit encourages Cecilia to smile more often, and she reveals that she feels like the baby alien - alone and like an orphan. Meanwhile, in space, a spaceship appears, and green tentacles can be seen.

Full Summary: 

Civilians go about their lives following the devastating ice-age that temporarily befell the world. Cleanup continues across the United States, but in New York, the freak winter storm has shut down trains and roads and left thousands without power. Residents who are in danger from the cold are urged to seek out one of the many emergency shelters established throughout the city. A reporter states that, if you can, enjoy the rare sight of New York with empty streets - but warns everyone to stay away from the subways, as the tunnels are completely submerged.

Indeed, inside one subway tunnel, litter and rates float through the filthy water. There is a green glowing energy in the water, too, and it reaches forward, grabbing one of the rats, sucking it within its green form.

In Chinatown, at Dr Sun Yat Sen MS 191, part-time X-Man Dr Cecilia Reyes is making her rounds. Beds are set up in the auditorium, and Reyes sits on one of the beds, asking her young patient how he is doing. ‘Good, Dr Reyes. Better. I think I could go home’ the boy replies. ‘Well, soon’ Reyes replies, before handing the boy a stuffed rabbit. ‘Oh. Thank you’ the boy replies. ‘Right. I know, it’s just a rabbit, but see, he’s soft and his name is… is Fred... and he’s good for holding on to -’ Reyes explains, when suddenly, Remy “Gambit” LeBeau touches Reyes on the shoulder, ‘Maybe instead you should tell him about that time you fought an alien barehanded and won’ Gambit suggests. ‘Or how you saved the lives of your friends after being buried alive.

‘What are you doing here, Gambit?’ Cecilia asks. ‘Taking a load off your shoulders, chere. The boy would prefer a magic trick, oui?’ Gambit explains, ‘Yes please’ the boy smiles as Gambit brings out his playing cards. Xi’an Coy Manh a.k.a. Karma is also present and she brings Reyes a hot drink, telling her that she looks like she needs it. ‘Wow. Yes’ Reyes replies, before Karma tells her that she has been out of contact since New York froze, that Gambit was worried - they all were. Cecilia tells Karma that she appreciates that, but thought she was needed elsewhere. ‘Of course’ Karma agrees. She looks over at the boy and asks what is wrong with him. Reyes explains that he was trapped in a car for almost a week, and that frostbite got him - he is going to lose both of his feet. ‘He just doesn’t know it yet’ Reyes explains.

Meanwhile: Northstar” Beaubier flies him across the snow-covered city. ‘Taking care of our families and helping out the Canadian territories? Not really. Do you?’ Northstar replies. ‘Rock and a hard place. We did what was right for us’ Kyle points out. ‘So much for coming home’ he adds as they drop down onto their apartment. Examining their home, Northstar notes all the ice still inside, and remarks that he doesn’t think his fabulous powers of super-speed are going to fix this one. ‘God. Our first home together’ Kyle utters. Jean-Paul smile at Kyle and tells him that they will make it right - that they will make another home, the two of them, here or wherever. ‘Screw the snowpocalypse. Screw US immigration laws’. Kyle smiles back: ‘Whatever. You’re so butch right now. I love it’.

Suddenly, they turn and see someone in their apartment. ‘What the…?’ Northstar calls out to his alien teammate, Warbird. ‘Ah. You have returned’ Warbird remarks. She and Northstar greet each other, and noticing Warbird is carrying some of his belongings, he asks her if she is looting their apartment. ‘I do not know what this means’ Warbird replies. ‘It means it looks like you’re stealing our stuff’ Kyle explains. Warbird announces that, knowing they were gone, she came to collect their belongings on the off-chance there had been damage to their home. ‘Oh’ Northstar utters. ‘That was… incredibly kind of you’ Kyle remarks. ‘Kindness had nothing to do with it’ Warbird replies, shoving the box of belongings into Kyle’s arms. ‘I thought you hated us’ Northstar points out as Warbird walks out of their apartment. ‘We have fought together all these months. Did I ever give any indication that I despised you?’ she shoots back.

Northstar and Kyle follow Warbird, ‘Well… no, but at the wedding - ‘ Northstar begins. ‘I never hated you or Kyle. I simply believed your union went against the will of the gods’ Warbird explains. ‘Oh. Just that’ Northstar frowns. Kyle asks Warbird if she still feels the same way, but she turns from them and replies that she does not know - that life is not always as it seems.

Later, Karma drives a jeep, with Gambit in the front passenger seat, and they pull up on the sidewalk to collect Warbird. The alien climbs in the backseat and sees Cecilia, slumped against the other door, sleeping. ‘She is exhausted. Are you certain this is wise?’ Warbird asks. ‘Ask me that tomorrow’ Gambit smiles, adding that right now isn’t the time for “wisdom”.

Outside, a woman walks her dog across the ice and snow. ‘Yes, I know, it’s terrible’ she remarks to someone on her mobile phone. ‘I haven’t had coffee in three days. If Starbucks doesn’t open tomorrow, I may kill someone’ she adds. Her dog starts to growl at some green tentacles which slurp up from a manhole in the middle of the street. One of the tentacles wraps itself around the dog’s neck, while the woman tells the person she is speaking to that she blames mutants. ‘Like, hello? City buried in tons of ice? That’s supposed to be natural?’ She adds that she totally just saw a couple of them flying into her apartment building. ‘I hate it’ she mutters, not noticing that her dog’s teeth have increased in size and that it looks rather angry. Suddenly though, the dog turns on her. ‘Fitz?’ she remarks, before the dog leaps onto her, pushing the woman back onto the ice. ‘Ack! Gross! What are you - why are you licking -’ the woman calls out to her dog who is licking her face, when suddenly, she appears in pain, her skin starts to shrivel, her eyes go wide, ‘Oh… someone… please…I feel… so lonely…’ she calls out, but none of the passers-by stop. They are too busy shoveling snow or going about their business. ‘Please… help me…’ she pleads.

Meanwhile: ‘You’re kidding, right? There’s no way… you’re getting me up there’ Cecilia exclaims as she, Gambit, Karma and Warbird enter a private karaoke booth with a lounge area, and some food set out on a table. Wolverine a.k.a. Logan, Ororo “Storm” Munroe and Jubilation Lee, better known as Jubilee, are waiting for them. Cecilia sits on one sofa, arms folded and frowning, watching Karma sing, while lights flash above her. Gambit sits next to Cecilia, and Jubilee next to him. ‘Seriously, dude? Mystique left you kittens? Are they genetically enhanced killing machines, or what?’ Jubilee smiles. Gambit replies that the crazy thing is they are normal - and adorable. ‘Oh, see, she totally got you. Adorable is the new Nuke’.

‘I would stand inside my hell…’ Karma sings, while Warbird watches her from another sofa, where Wolverine tells Storm that she looks beautiful tonight. ‘Oh, Logan…’ Ororo replies. ‘…just to reach you…’ Karma sings to Cecilia, beckoning her to come and take a turn. ‘Um. Hey’ Cecilia mutters when she takes the microphone. ‘You like to think that you’re immune to the stuff…’ Gambit sings out as he takes the phone from her. ‘You come out at night…when the vampires roam…’ Jubilee sings as Wolverine stands with her, knocking back his beer. ‘I’ve got the stuff…that you want…’ Cecilia sings, slightly nervously. ‘Cause when we kiss…ooooh, fire…’ Storm sings as she takes her turn. Cecilia starts to loosen up as Jubilee and Karma join her for a song: ‘I’ve got more than enough to make you drop to your knees… FIIIIRE!’ the sing, while Gambit and Storm dance, and Warbird watches on.

Suddenly, Warbird takes a microphone, stands up, and sings in her native Shi’ar. ‘Oh, my God. She sounds…’ Jubilee exclaims as everyone stops what they are doing and watches her. Warbird continues to sing, and Karma smiles, ‘Glorious’ she utters. ‘Um…help?’ a man, possibly the one who runs the karaoke bar, enters the room, ‘You guys are super heroes, right? Because there are some crazy people out in the hall and they’re coming this way and I think they’re zombies. For real’ he announces. ‘Oh, please. Zombies?’ Jubilee declares. As if on cue, the “zombies” burst through the doorway and grab the man. ‘Oh God don’t let them eat me!’ he calls out. ‘Aw, hell’ Wolverine mutters. ‘Holy crap’ Jubilee declares as more of the “zombies” enter the room. ‘What happened to the man?’ Storm asks, while Wolverine explains that he think he just became one of them. ‘I knew it. All karaoke leads straight to Hell’ Cecilia tells her teammates.

‘Can you help me? I feel so alone’ a female “zombie” calls out. ‘Let me hold you’ another exclaims. ‘I’m so alone’ the woman utters. ‘You’re so soft and pretty. Just one touch’ she begs. Jubilee frowns and asks her teammates if anyone else feels dirty right now. ‘Cause I think I just got herpes listening to that’ she adds. ‘Will you be my friend?’ one of the strangely transformed humans asks. ‘Please?’ another screams. ‘I need you!’ a third shouts. But as they move closer to the X-Men, they find themselves suddenly unable to move any further - as Cecilia extends her force field around the X-Men. ‘You’ve been practicing’ Gambit comments. ‘Damn right’ Cecilia boasts, while Wolverine instructs Karma to see what she can do. Karma reaches though the force field and puts her hand to the head of one of the “zombies”. Karma reports that she is inside, and that they are not zombies, they have just been possessed.

Karma informs her teammates that the touch is alien, and very alone, very scared. ‘I don’t know if I can displace it’ she adds. Reyes tells Karma to hurry, because suddenly, she doesn’t feel so good. ‘I think whatever made these things…is trying to infect me through contact with my shield…’ she tells everyone, sweat pouring down her face as she concentrates on keeping the shield up. ‘Chere?’ Gambit asks, before throwing some kinetically-charged playing cards towards the infected civilians at the same time Reyes drops her force field. Storm asks Gambit what he is doing, to which Gambit announces that he is listening to his instincts - doesn’t know what these things are, but they are getting too close for comfort. The possessed civilians fall back, while Wolverine tells Jubilee to keep her distance and not to let them touch her. ‘As if’ Jubilee replies, while Gambit puts an arm around Cecilia, who reports that she doesn’t feel so well, that she thinks something is trying to crawl into her head.

‘Take that, you needy freak’ Jubilee declares as she leaps into the melee, kicking one of them in the back of the head, as Wolverine slices his way through them. Karma tells her teammates not to kill them, as she is close to gaining control. ‘Storm! Let’s see if a jolt of electricity breaks the connection to whoever’s controlling them!’ Karma suggests. Storm obliges, and instructs the rest of the X-Men to stay back, as she casts a lightning bolt into the group of possessed civilians. ’Urk!’ Cecilia utters, while Warbird asks: ‘Healer? Are you well?’, while Karma calls out to the others. ‘Where am I?’ one of the civilians utter. ‘Who are you people?’ the woman enquires. Jubilee tells Storm that she thinks she overdid it, as they smell like roasted chicken. Suddenly, Cecilia falls to the ground: ‘Oh my God’ she and Karma exclaim in unison. ‘Do you feel that? Please tell me I’m not the only one who feels that’ Cecilia calls out.

‘We need to hurry’ Karma announces, before rushing out of the door, while the civilians clutch their heads. ‘Wait for me. I know where it is!’ Cecilia exclaims as she follows Karma. ‘Are the zombies gone?’ the karaoke bar worker asks. ‘…where?’ Karma asks as she and Cecilia step outside. ‘…to the left, I can still feel it in my mind…’ Cecilia reports. The other X-Men step outside and watch their teammates rush down the icy sidewalk. ‘What the Hell?’ Wolverine asks. ‘Here!’ Cecilia announces as she halts beside a car. She and Karma drop to the ground, and see a green tentacle sticking out from under the car. ‘Oh…wow’ Cecilia utters. ‘That is… not what I expected’ Karma remarks.

Wolverine crouches down beside the women and asks ‘What the hell is that thing?’ Karma tells him to shush, as he will scare it. ‘Scare it? You sure you’re not possessed, Shan?’ Wolverine asks. ‘She’s sure. Now shut up. I’m trying to listen’ Cecilia snaps. ‘Listen to what? Whatever you’re looking at, I can’t even hear it breathing’ Jubilee calls out, adding that it smells. Cecilia explains that she can hear it, in her mind, that she can feel it. ‘Gambit stopped me from getting sucked into that crazy human knot, but a connection was still made’ she reveals. Karma explains that the same thing happened to her when she tried to possess those people - they connected. ‘I can hear its thoughts. This thing… it’s just a baby. Lonely and scared. It just woke up, and doesn’t know where its family is’ Karma announces. Cecilia adds that it didn’t mean to hurt anyone, that it just wanted a voice, some connection, a friend.

‘Chere. If you’re saying this thing caused what we just encountered…I don’t think you should be trying to touch it’ Gambit tells Cecilia. Reyes just suggests to Gambit that he back up. ‘and if anything bad does happen…get Storm to electrocute me. That seemed to break the connection for the others’. Reyes reaches out further to the alien, ‘Come on…it’s okay…’ she urges it. Two tentacles just about touch Cecilia’s hand. That’s right. You don’t have to hurt people. You know better now’ Cecilia smiles. ‘Let the others go. Anyone you’re connected to. You don’t need them’ Karma assures it. Storm assures Wolverine that she is prepared to release more lightning to subdue the creature if necessary. But suddenly, there is a loud SKREEEE and the creature retracts back down the sewer grate under the car. ‘No!’ Cecilia exclaims. ‘Ow’ Karma utters, announcing that the alien broke off its last connection to them, so she can’t track it.

Later, Wolverine, Storm, Gambit, Karma, Jubilee, Warbird and Cecilia have gathered on a rooftop. Storm stands on the edge, arms extended, while Karma reports that she asked Rachel to put out some feelers, and that she and Kitty are down there now, trying to get a bead on it. ‘Still think I shoulda gone with ‘em’ Wolverine remarks. ‘Why, so you could be bored and get in the way?’ Jubilee asks. ‘Besides, you promised we were all hanging out tonight. No aliens or super villains or anything’ she reminds him. ‘Yes. Tonight was meant to help us all feel less alone. To bring the family back together. The way it was always meant to be’ Storm declares. ‘Dude, I know I miss that’ Jubilee remarks, adding that it used to be different around here, even when things got bad, it didn’t get serious - not between them, they could always talk.

Storm turns back to the ground, and tells them that they believe their hearts are so invulnerable that if they smile, their lives must be well - and maybe for some that is true. ‘But the things we do, the things we see…it can be too much’ she adds, reminding everyone that she lost her marriage this year. ‘And have I spoken of it to my friends? No. Because I thought I had to be strong’. Logan reminds everyone that they let Bobby fall through the cracks, and that there is too much fighting, too many responsibilities - and that is what they do, it can’t be changed. ‘But there wasn’t enough of this, either’ he admits. ‘Just being together’. Logan stands up and, arms folded, explains that Iceman didn’t think he could come to them to talk about his problems. ‘That can’t happen again, for any of us’ he declares. ‘We’re not alone. We’re together. Not just a team, but family’ he announces.

‘That’s funny, considering you’re the least talkative and touchy-feel type we know’ Gambit points out. ‘Word’ Jubilee agrees, as she leans against Gambit. ‘Hmph’ Wolverine mutters, while Storm wraps her arms around him. ‘What?’ Cecilia asks. ‘I like seeing you smile. Doesn’t happen often’ Gambit tells her. ‘I smile’ Cecilia replies. ‘Oui. When you don’t think people are watching. Maybe you think it’s a crack in your armor’ he suggests to her, assuring her that is okay - smiles or not, she is safe with him. ‘I don’t think I’ve felt safe with anyone in years, Remy. I…I feel just like that baby alien. So alone. Like an orphan’ Reyes reveals. ‘Who would understand that’ she asks, while everyone turns to the sky.

And, high above the Earth, there is a green glow - and spaceship appears, with green tentacles emerging from the underside….

Characters Involved: 

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

Kyle Jinadu




Story Notes: 

Storm and the Black Panther’s marriage was dissolved following the events of the Avengers vs. X-Men crossover.
Karma is singing “Come to my window” by Melissa Etheridge.
Gambit is singing “Addicted to love” by Robert Palmer.
Cecilia is singing “The Queen of the Night” by Whitney Houston.
Jubilee is singing “Building a mystery” bx Sarah McLachlan.
Storm is singing Fire by Bruce Springsteen.

Issue Information: 
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