Astonishing X-Men (4th series) #14

Issue Date: 
October 2018
Story Title: 
Until our Hearts Stop, part 2

Matthew Rosenberg (writer), Greg Land (penciler), Jay Leisten (inker), Frank D'Armata (colorist), Virtual Calligraphy's Clayton Cowles (letterer), Greg Land & Frank D'Armata (cover artists), Adam Kubert & Jason Keith (variant cover artists), Jay Bowen & Anthony Gambino (graphic designers), Annalise Bissa (assistant editor), Darren Shan (editor), Jordan D White (X-Men group editor), CB Cebulski (editor-in-chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)
X-Men created by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

Brief Description: 

In the Beast's lab, Banshee has been released and fights the Reavers alongside Beast and Havok. The Reavers prepare to take the Beast, when Warpath, sent by Kitty Pryde to keep an eye on Havok, joins the battle. Warpath makes it clear that they are not teammates and that he doesn't trust Havok. But Havok is still determined to put a team of X-Men together, and with Warpath accompanying him, goes to the messy apartment where a drunk Colossus is wallowing in his misery after he his marriage to Kitty never went ahead. Colossus is happy to see Havok, and agrees to join his team. Havok contacts the Beast, who reveals that he accessed information from one of the Reavers – what appears to be a list of targets, with the Beast being the first target – it is the second target the Beast is more concerned about. One road trip later, Havok, Beast, Colossus, Warpath and even the silent Banshee arrive at a venue where Dazzler is performing to a small crowd on an anniversary tour. Dazzler is happy to see her old friends, and fakes how happy she is with her life – but is taken aback when Havok reveals that they are actually here to see her stage manager – Forge. Beast informs Forge that the Reavers are attacking certain X-Men, and have a list of targets, with Forge listed as their second, but Forge isn't concerned and doesn't want to join Havok's group, as he is happy on the road with Dazzler and her tour. Havok and the others leave, when they are attacked by a group who they think are Reavers. Dazzler joins the battle, providing much needed assistance. But with the attackers taken out, the mutants are shocked to discover that they have just taken out a group of federal agents belonging to O*N*E*.

Full Summary: 

Inside the Harvard laboratory of Dr Hank McCoy a.k.a. Beast, where the mutant Sean Cassidy a.k.a. Banshee unleashes a powerful sonic scream that tears apart several Reavers. Alex Summers a.k.a. Havok looks on shock and thinks that he learned long ago that sometimes the things that terrify people can be the things you care about most in the world.

'Is that  really Banshee?' Havok asks the Beast as they both look out from behind the workstation where they were taking cover from the Reavers. 'Yes' the Beast confirms. 'You've had him this whole...?' Havok asks. 'Yes' the Beast replies. 'He's really...' Havok begins, to which the Beast declares 'Glorious!' But Havok knows that doesn't mean things aren't terrifying. Banshee lands near Havok, who releases a surge of energy at another Reaver, and tells Banshee that of all the times to come back from the dead, he picked a great one. 'It's awesome to have you -' Havok smiles, but Banshee just hangs his head and doesn't say anything, before flying forward and unleashing his sonic scream once more. Havok destroys another Reaver with a powerful blast of energy and asks 'Umm, Hank? Is he okay?' to which Hank shrugs 'Maybe?'

In another part of the lab, Skullbuster begins to make a run for it, as another Reaver mutters 'I knew I shouldn't have worn my new legs!' and Skullbuster tells the remaining Reavers that they are outnumbered and to make a run for it. Havok blasts one of them back, 'Not so fast, Astro Boy! We've got some questions we need answered... and you are our lucky volunteer' Havok jokes as the Reaver slams into a wall. 'Screw you, gene joke!' the Reaver retorts, before a mysterious charge of energy seemingly destroys the Reaver. 'Dammit. Didn't see that coming' Havok frowns, before Hank calls out to him and tells him that they have a slight problem. 'We're gonna walk right out of that door with the bear-man...' a Reaver who has a gun pointed at the back of the Beast's head declares. “Bear-man?” Beast asks, as the Reaver tells Havok that he isn't going to do anything about it – when, suddenly, James Proudstar a.k.a. Warpath bursts through a window, grabs the Reaver and cuts his head off with a knife. 'Wait! Warpath, don't -' someone calls out, but it's too late, and Warpath throws the Reaver's head to the floor.

'-kill him. Or do. Ya know, whatever' Havok mumbles. 'It was either him or McCoy. I chose McCoy' Warpath replies. 'So you did have a team, after all. Good job, Summers' the Beast remarks. 'He's not with me. I don't know what this is' Havok replies, before asking Warpath what he is doing.

'Isn't that guy dead?' Warpath asks, looking at Banshee. 'No. obviously not' Havok points out. 'He's not dead, right?' Havok asks the Beast quietly, while Beast turns to Warpath and tells him to forgive his rude compatriot, and that he is the furthest thing from ungrateful. 'but what does bring you to our lovely campus today?' the Beast asks. 'Pryde sent me to keep an eye on Summers' Warpath reveals. 'So what is this? Kitty doesn't trust me?' Havok asks. 'I don't think anyone trusts you. Should they?' Warpath replies, looking down at Havok.

'Yes, yes. We are all very macho. It's quite impressive' the Beast mutters as he picks up the Reaver's head, and tells Havok and Warpath that if they are quite finished, he thinks he has found a common cause  here – the Reavers, they're different. 'I've had the pleasure of performing an autopsy on one once...' the Beast begins. 'Lovely' Havok remarks, as the Beast explains that these Reavers seem upgraded. He wonders if they have some sort of processors or network he could access. 'And while you do that I'll do anything else' Havok declares, to which the Beast tells him that he thinks it is time that he finished assembling their team. 'And I know just the person who would love to join us' the Beast adds.

Soon, Havok and Warpath have civilian jackets over their costumes as they stand in a corridor, and Havok knocks on a door as he asks Warpath 'So you're just going to follow me everywhere?' Warpath replies 'Yes'. 'Kitty and I are going to have some words' Havok mutters, while a voice from inside the apartment shouts 'Go away!' but Havok doesn't listen, instead he opens the door, to find a messy apartment with pizza boxes stacked up on the floor and clothes strewn everywhere. 'Heyy, big man! It's your old friend Alex...a nd Warpath' Havok smiles. 'What the $#%& happened here?' Warpath asks as he looks around. 'He's been going through some stuff' Alex whispers, as Piotr Rasputin a.k.a. Colossus looks up from the sofa where he sits  in shorts and a dirty sleeveless t-shirt, holding up a large bottle of alcohol. Several other bottles are on a small table in front of him. 'Alex! James! Welcome to my humble abode!' the unshaven Piotr exclaims. It's good to see you, Pete! Been a bit. You look...' Alex's voice trails off, as James declares 'You look like $#&%, Colossus'.

Piotr stands up and goes over to Alex, telling him that it is good to see him. 'Whoa, breath. Okay... you been drinking, Petey?' Alex asks. Piotr replies 'A little' and remarks that if he had known they were coming over he would have cleaned. 'It is dirty' he points out. 'Is it? We didn't notice' Alex lies, as Piotr states that things have been hard for him. He rubs his nose and asks Alex if he knew that his wedding announcement was in the newspaper. 'If it is in the paper, it should happen, no? After Katya and I... called it off, everyone must have been disappointed. Quitting the X-Men was the right thing to do' Piotr explains, adding that he thinks the others have forgotten him, and that they only ever cared when he was the Colossus for them – not about Piotr.

'We care about you' Alex smiles. Warpath makes an obvious coughing noise, and Alex frowns at him, before telling Piotr that he has a fun idea he thinks he would love, announcing that he is putting a team together, Hank, Banshee and himself. 'Oh, I miss Theresa' Piotr remarks. 'Other Banshee' Alex explains. 'Sean is back? Is he okay?' Piotr asks. 'Yup. He's totally back' Alex claims.

Piotr concentrates and remarks that he doesn't know, adding that it would be an honor to join the four of them. 'Three. Warpath's not on the team' Alex clarifies, as Piotr states that he cannot be around Katya now – his heart cannot bear it. 'That’s the thing! We maybe aren't technically “X-Men”!' Alex reveals. 'Not X-Men?' Piotr enquires. Alex tells him that it is a gray area, but the good news is, no Kitty Pryde. 'And I can hit things?' Piotr asks. 'That's pretty much all we want you to do, yeah' Alex smiles. Piotr knocks back some more of his alcoholic drink and announces that he is in.

'Hank McCoy's phone. This is Hank' the Beast remarks when he answers his phone. 'Who answers a phone like that? It's Alex. How's it going?' Alex remarks, to which the Beast tells Alex that, not surprisingly, he was fired from the university, so not great – but he did manage to access the processor inside the Reaver's head, so that is something. 'How's your day been?' the Beast asks. Alex is standing outside a burger diner, where he smiles and tells Hank that it went okay, that they got their muscle. Beast asks 'How is Colossus' to which Alex replies 'Umm... he's fine? Fine-ish'.

Colossus and Warpath are sitting at a table, devouring burgers, fries and shakes stacked up before them. Alex then asks the Beast if he got anything good from the Reaver's brain. Beast reports that most of the data was corrupted, but he did find a file with a list of names – he can't say for certain, but he thinks it is their targets. 'I'm number one on the list' the Beast adds. 'What number am I?' Alex enquires. 'Thirty-six' the Beast remarks. 'Thirty-six? How are there that many X-Men ahead of me? I can't even name that many. Who's 35?' Alex exclaims. The Beast tells him that it is Hellion. An unimpressed Alex frowns 'Who the hell is that? I should -' but before he can continue, the Beast tells Alex that it is the second name he finds interesting. 'Want to take a road trip?' Beast asks.

One road trip later, inside a fairly empty nightclub, Piotr sits in a booth and smiles. A drink in each hand, he tells Banshee, who stands nearby, that it is good to see him again. 'Seeing you is the first time I have smiled in weeks' Piotr remarks, before asking Banshee how he is feeling – but gets no response. 'I have not been doing so well myself. Let me buy you a drink and we can -' Piotr begins, to which Alex asks him if he hasn't had enough. 'No' Piotr replies. 'Well, this is...depressing' Alex frowns as Hank and James stand behind him. 'Why do you  say that?' Hank asks. 'There's nobody here, Hank' Alex points out, adding that the people who are here kinda creep him out.

Suddenly, a DJ calls out 'Ladies and gentlemen! It's time for the Sounds of Light and Fury. It's time for... DAZZLER!' With that, in a blaze of light, Alison Blaire a.k.a. Dazzler appears on stage, with long blonde hair, and wearing her old silver costume. 'She's still got it' Alex remarks as he and the others watch the show along with a very small audience. 'She does' Hank agrees, before Alex asks if there is a robotic Mojo on stage. 'It is' Hank confirms. Alex suggests that it pretty distasteful, and Hank agrees, before telling Alex that he is right – this is depressing.

Backstage after the show: 'Can I help you?' a security guard asks, blocking the door to Dazzler's dressing room. 'Umm... we're Alison's friends' Alex tells him. The door opens and a short-haired brunette Dazzler tells the guard that it is cool, she knows them. Alison smiles and thanks the guys for coming. 'Of course, Ali' one of them tells her. Alison asks them what they thought of the show. Hank tells her it was great. 'Great' Alex agrees. 'Yes' Piotr remarks. 'I didn't like it' James mutters, while Banshee, standing away from the rest of the group, remains silent. 'You look so...' Alex begins. 'Oh, the hair? Yeah, this is, like, an anniversary tour for the Sounds of Light and Fury album, so I have to do a whole “classic-look” thing. Wigs and bell-bottoms' Alison explains, adding that folks love their nostalgia. 'I guess' Alex tells her, before Alison tells them all that it is awesome to see them, and she is sorry they came tonight, as it was a bit of an off show. She remarks that the tour has been amazing, that things are going amazing, she is so happy. 'It seems it' one of them agrees, as Alison tells them that she wouldn't trade it for the world.

Alison smiles as she goes over to Sean and tells him that she had no idea he was back. 'This is amazing. How are you?' she asks, but gets no answer. 'Umm... is he okay?' Alison asks Alex, who gives her the thumbs up sign. Hank then tells Alison that they had a specific reason for coming here tonight. 'Oh my God! You need me for your team? I'm in!' Alison exclaims before Hank finishes what he was saying. 'Let me just grab a couple of things. What uniform do you think I should wear?' Alison asks.

'I thought things were “going amazing” on your tour' Alex asks. Alison hangs her head and reminds him that he saw it, that it has been awful. 'But this is perfect. I can -' Alison begins, but Alex tells her that the thing is, they actually came for the show. 'The robots and stuff?' he asks. 'The stage show?' Alison asks, 'Well, the guy who manages the stage show. Hiya, Forge' Alex calls out to his former longtime teammate, who is backstage tinkering with some equipment.

Alison looks unhappy: 'Are you #%&$ing kidding me right now? You're in my dressing room on my tour to steal my set designer?' she asks. 'And you already have five guys on your team. Sausage party, much? It's the twenty-first century, Alex. That's not okay. You guys are the #%&$ing worst'.

Forge smiles at the others and tells them that it is good to see them, before asking what is going on. Beast announces that the Reavers are attacking certain X-Men and associates, that he managed to get a list, and Forge's name is second on it. 'Any idea why?' Beast asks. 'Nope' Forge replies. 'With your machine building... powers... thing? They'd love to get their hands on you, I'm sure. And we don't want that' Alex remarks, telling Forge that the easiest thing would be for him to join them. 'Nope' Forge replies. He tells Alex not to get him wrong, that he appreciates the concern, but that he can take care of himself. Forge adds that he is having a good time taking it easy fixing stuff for Alison on the road and living the simple life for a bit. 'You heard him. Get the #%&$ out of my dressing room' Alison snaps.

'Well, that went well...' Alex remarks as he and the others leave through a backdoor which leads them to an alleyway. 'I disagree' Hank tells him. 'It's sarcasm, Hank' Alex explains, adding that it wasn't a total loss, as they can still keep an eye on Forge and wait for the robot guys with guns to show up. 'You want to use him as bait? That's highly unethical... and probably not necessary' Hank replies, pointing out that it appears they have just shown up. Indeed, several armored soldiers rush down the alleyway. Alex starts to suggest that they figure out a plan, when Piotr switches to his organic steel form and races towards the soldiers, roaring. 'Oh hell' Alex mutters. 'All right then. #$%& it. X-Men assemble!' Havok shouts, to which Warpath frowns and tells him that is not their rallying cry, or anything.

'Stop! You know who we are?' a soldier asks Colossus while opening fire at him. Havok releases a blast of energy, then turns to Banshee and tells him that now would be a good time to do his thing. Banshee starts screaming as he flies past one of the soldiers, while another continues to fire his weapon and radios for backup. 'No need to invite your friends' Warpath mutters as he slams a fist into the soldier. Another soldier is trying to fire at Banshee. 'He's coming back around! I got him!' the soldier calls out, striking Banshee, who plummets to the ground. 'Banshee is down! Colossus, get over there and -' Beast calls out, too late though, as a large vehicle slams into Colossus, knocking him to the ground. 'Spread out!' shouts one of the soldiers who emerge from the large vehicle, opening fire, he knocks the Beast back.

Beast finds cover behind a dumpster bin, where Havok goes up to him and protects him. 'Stay with me, Hank! I could really use my lucky blue cat-man right now' Havok jokes, adding that he doesn't remember there being this many Reavers, or them being this well armed. Suddenly, there is a blinding light, 'Do you see that, too? Or am I dead?' Beast utters, to which Havok tells him that he sees it. 'It's our salvation' he exclaims as Dazzler, wearing her blue costume with the yellow star on it appears, blasting the soldiers with light. 'Congrats! You boys beat the b-squad. You just earned the chance to face a real X-Man!' Dazzler exclaims as the intensity of her light powers increases. 'X-Men! Rally on Dazzler!' Havok calls out, while one of the soldiers exclaims 'C'mon! Show me what you got, muties!' The large vehicle is suddenly lifted overhead, 'I got this' Colossus declares as he drops the vehicle down on the soldier.

Soon, the mutants regroup, and Dazzler asks if she is good enough to join this little boys club now. 'Yeah, Ali. Thanks for saving our butts' Alex tells her, before asking her what is with the old costume and hair. 'Gotta look good for my fans' Ali smiles, adding that she has to remind the people who forget her who the hell she is. 'Damn it feels good to be an X-Man again' Dazzler adds. 'Yeah... about that... we might not technically be X-Men' Havok admits. 'WHAT?' Dazzler asks. 'It's complicated' Havok tells her. 'We sure felt like X-Men when kicking those Reavers' behinds!' Dazzler declares, while, nearby, Warpath crouches at one of the unconscious soldiers' sides, and calls out 'Hey, quick question. Do the Reavers have badges? Because if not, I think we just attacked a bunch of federal agents' as he holds up an ID badge identifying the soldier as an operative of the Office of National Emergency!

Characters Involved: 

Banshee, Beast, Colossus, Dazzler, Forge, Havok, Warpath (all X-Men (no matter what Kitty says))

Skullbuster and other Reavers

Security guard
Dazzler fans
Office of National Emergency Soldiers

Story Notes: 

Banshee was killed in X-Men: Deadly Genesis #2-3. He was resurrected briefly during the “Chaos War” and “Necrosha” events, before being restored to life as a Horseman of Death by the Apocalypse Twins via a Death Seed in Uncanny Avengers (1st series) #10-13. He was last seen in a stasis tank in Uncanny Avengers (1st series) #23.

Colossus and Kitty Pryde were supposed to get married in X-Men: Gold #30, but Kitty called the wedding off.


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