Astonishing X-Men (4th series) #16

Issue Date: 
December 2018
Story Title: 
Until our Hearts Stop, part 4

Matthew Rosenberg (writer), Greg Land (penciler), Jay Leisten (inker), Frank D'Armata (colorist), Virtual Calligraphy's Clayton Cowles (letterer), Greg Land, Jay Leisten & Frank D'Armata (cover artists), Yoon Lee (variant cover artist), Jay Bowen & Anthony Gambino (graphic designers), Annalise Bissa & Danny Khazem (assistant editors), Darren Shan (editor), Jordan D White (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 O*N*E facility, Colossus is being tortured, while Dazzler stands up to Agent Callahan, who decides to kill her – until the Beast intervenes, and offers to work for Callahan, who likes the idea of having one of the greatest minds in the world on his team. At the abandoned Radio Shack that the Reavers are using as a base, Havok and Warpath tell the Reavers that they want to join forces against the O*N*E. The Reavers provide Havok with some background information on what has been happening since they were handed over to Callahan, and Havok informs them that he has what they have been looking for – the nanovirus inside his head that Callahan wants. The Reavers then extract this nanovirus from Havok's mind. At the O*N*E base, the Beast talks with Donald Pierce, who explains that he too is a prisoner. During their convesation, Pierce receives a mysterious message from someone. Outside the facility, Havok, Warpath and the Reavers arrive and break into the O*N*E base, where they take down soldiers who are armed with Reaver-like tech and weapons. Havok and the Reaver called Macon locate the cells where the other mutants and Pierce are being held, but Macon rushes off in another direction, leaving Havok and Warpath to rescue Dazzler, Colossus, Beast, and Pierce, who is very surprised to see them. The Beast starts to explain what Callahan is up – that he needs a nanovirus for something, when they are attacked by a Sentinel. The heroes fight the Sentinel, before more arrive. The Reavers arrive on scene, and instead of taking down the Sentinels, they latch onto them, seemingly merging themselves – thanks to the nanovirus they took from Havok's head. Pierce then declares death to the X-Men, and one of the Sentinels fires a powerful blast at the heroes....

Full Summary: 

Location 22, secret weapons development facility of the Office of National Emergency, where right now, Piotr Rasputin a.k.a. Colossus screams in agony as he is strung up in some restraints and tortured as lasers try to cut away at his armored form. Alison Blaire a.k.a. Dazzler is held prisoner in a stasis tank, and is in shock at what is happening to Colossus. 'Girly is freaking out in there. She does not like watching this' a scientist remarks. 'Good. My kid made me go see her in concert last year' another mutters. Suddenly, Dazzler begins to clutch her throat, and one of the scientists wonders if there is something wrong with the airflow in there. 'Dammit! If she dies on our watch, Callahan will -' the other scientist begins as he starts to open the stasis tube. 'Dave, don't open -' the other scientist calls out, but too late, as Dazzler raises her hand and blasts the scientist with her light powers. 'You wanna lock me up?' she asks.

'Dazzler, stop!' Hank McCoy a.k.a. Beast calls out, but Dazzler tells him to fight back and asks him when he became such a coward 'They'll kill you' Beast warns Dazzler. 'They'll have to catch me -' Dazzler tells Beast, before Agent Callahan slams the end of his gun into her face, knocking her out. 'A pity. I was curious to cut you open and see how you worked, but my interest in your abilities runs out the moment you put one of my men in hospital. Make peace with your mutant god, Ms Blaire' Callahan tells Dazzler as he points his gun at her head – but the Beast calls out to him, asking him not to do this. 'Why not?' Callahan asks. The Beast points out that this is a weapons research facility, and asks him if having one of the pre-eminent brains in the world in his service be of more value than a dead one-hit wonder. 'Spare her and I'm yours' Beast offers. 'You'd work for us?' Callahan asks. 'If I must' Beast responds.

'Okay, no reason to freak out. I can see why you guys might  be weirded out by this' Alex Summers a.k.a. Havok smiles at the Reavers, as he stands in front of their makeshift hideout, an abandoned Radio Shack. 'What are you doing here, mutie?' Skullbuster asks, machine gun aimed at Alex's head. 'Woof. If does not sound cool when you call me that' Alex replies, before telling the Reavers that he knows they have always had their differences. 'You attacked us the other day. We kicked your asses. I get it. Your're pissed' Alex remarks. 'Are you trying to get us shot?' James Proudstar a.k.a. Warpath asks. Havok smiles at the Reavers and tells them that he thinks they X-Men and the Reavers can find some common ground here. 'And what's that?' Skullbuster asks. 'The Office of National Emergency' Alex declares.

Havok continues, informing Skullbuster that he heard some of his guys turned up dead in North Carolina, and asks him if it was the O*N*E. 'News said it was you' Skullbuster replies, but Havok tells him that is not how the X-Men really operate. 'And you know that' he adds, before pointing out that the O*N*E got some Reavers, and now they have some X-Men, too. Pretty Boy reveals that Callahan held Pierce and a whole bunch of Reavers prisoners, doing experiments and making them work for him. He adds that some escaped, and some were killed, but Pierce is still there. 'That's awful' Havok responds. Pretty Boy adds that they have been prisoners ever since the X-Men attacked them in Canada and handed them over to the cops for no reason. 'Okaaaay...I know I sad we are, but technically we aren't X-Men here. But I can say that I'm sorry that happened' Havok replies. 'They were trying to dig up Wolverine's dead body so they could sell it' Warpath informs Havok. 'Oh, never mind' Havok tells Pretty Boy.

Skullbuster explains that Pretty Boy and Bonebreaker escaped, but Callahan kept them moving around, that it's all secret satellite sites, so they have been trying to find where they have Pierce since then. 'But we know one of you X-Men knows where they are. That's why we attacked you at the cat-man's little school' Skullbuster explains. 'Not a Harvard man, I see' Havok mutters, before Skullbuster announces that Callahan says a nanovirus containing the last piece of a puzzle he needs is inside an X-Man's body, so they made a lit of X-Men that might have the info – if they find that that, they could find where they have Pierce. 'If you're looking for an X-Man with weird stuff in his is your lucky day!' Havok smiles.

Twenty minutes later, Bonebreaker readies a scalpel and a syringe as Havok is strapped to some restraints, and asks how getting this crap out of his head is going to help them find their friends. 'Reverse engineering. Now shut up' Bonebreaker replies. Havok quietly tells Warpath that this might not have been his bet plan. 'Seems about average for you' Warpath replies. Havok remarks that he doesn't love people playing around with his brain, and tells Warpath that he needs him to do hi a favor if they lobotomize him or turn him into a Robocop or whatever. 'Kill you?' Warpath asks. 'What? No! I was gonna say make them turn me back' Havok clarifies. Havok then turns to Bonebreaker and asks him if this is going to hurt. 'Yeah. A lot' Bonebreaker replies. 'Oh... neat' Alex mutters, before screaming as Bonebreaker shoves the scalpel into Alex's nose.

'Well, isn't this fun?' Donald Pierce asks as he approaches the Beast, who is working in a lab. 'Why am I not surprised to find that you switched sides, McCoy?' Pierce asks, while the Beast removes something from a drawer. 'Donald Pierce is questioning my allegiances? Never it be said you can't reach new lows in life' the Beast replies. 'Don't get your fur up. I was just joking' Pierce smiles. 'Hilarious' the Beast mutters, before Pierce claims that he, too, is a political prisoner and cog in this giant machine, but that he is not as opposed to what they are working on as the Beast is. 'and what would that be?' Hank asks as Pierce holds up some sort of tool. 'Oh, you don't know? How is -' Pierce starts to say, when suddenly, he receives some sort of communication. 'Hello? Yes...' Pierce responds. 'Are you having a stroke?' the Beast asks. 'Excellent. I'll go get ready' Pierce responds, before turning to Beast and apologizing for being rude. 'If I had to gess I'd say the O*N*E doesn't know that you have some sort of communications device hidden in that robot body of yours' Beast frowns. 'And that's why you should be the one running this place' Pierce tells the Beast, before excusing himself, he walks away, announcing that he has to get ready for his departure.

'So they're in there?' Warpath asks as he, Havok and the reavers stand before a large facility with a O*N*E logo on the front of it. 'According to the information our cyborg enemies turned allies got from the nanobot infection that the evil future robot put in my skull...ys' Havok replies. Warpath frowns at him, so Havok smiles and replies 'I know, I just wanted to hear myself say it out loud...' before announcing that it is time to attack the government, and he fires a powerful surge of energy through the door, enabling them entry to the O*N*E facility.

'We have a breach!' a soldier announces. 'Night, night, pig' Skullbuster snarls, opening fire. 'Don't’ Warpath tells Skullbuster, while knocking a soldier back with a chunk of machinery. 'You aren't my boss, chief' Skullbuster responds. 'He dies, you die' Warpath warns Skullbuster. 'Here they come!' Pretty Boy calls out, blasting down a corridor as more soldiers rush towards them. 'Remember when you were going around telling everyone it was time for the X-Men to return to doing the “big hero” thing again? How's that going?' Warpath asks Havok, who replies that it is going about as well as everyone expected, while blasting more energy at thje soldiers, as Reese and Cole fight soldiers nearby.

Havok goes over to the Reaver called Macon, who is at a series of computer monitors, and asks him if he hs had any luck finding them. Macon doesn't respond, so Havok asks him if  he is all right in there. Macon then points at an orange mark on some schematics of the facility and tells Havok that they are holding cells, and that is where their teammates must be. Macon then gets up and starts to walk down another corridor. 'Macon, I think it's the other way. Macon?' Havok calls out, but gets no response. Warpath goes over to Havok and asks him if he found them. 'I think so. But it's not that way' Havok replies, watching Macon. Warpath asks him where Macon is going, to which Havok tells him he doesn't care, as long as they draw all the fire.

Havok then runs down another corridor, and stops at a door, which he blasts open with a small surge of power. 'It's about time' Dazzler remarks, sitting on a bed, creating some light effects, while her blonde wig lays next to her. The next room, where Colossus is being held. 'My friends! Thank you' he calls out as Havok frees him. 'Hmm, you're not who I expected' Pierce remarks as he is freet. 'We're not rescuing you, tool' Dazzler tells him while adjusting her weave. 'The Reavers are sorta the reason you're getting out of here' Havok explains. 'Excuse me?' Colossus asks. 'We're Reavers now. Sorta. Long story' Havok replies. Pierce smiles and tells Havok that he was always his favorite Summers brother 'Says a lot about you' Havok replies, before pointing out that they need to find the Beast. 'You sure? He switched sides, you know' Pierce smirks. 'A lot of that going around... but we're not leaving him'.

In a lab, Hank is singing to himself: “They tell us that we lost our tails. Evolving up from little...” with headphones in his ears. He doesn't hear when Havok calls out to him, so Havok leans in closer: 'HANK!' he booms, causing the Beast to look frightened, 'Stars and -! Don't do that!' Hank exclaims as his headphones fall out of his ears. Alex asks Hank if he has finished working for the bad guys yet. 'It's time to bounce, cat-man' he adds. 'What the...why do people keep...I don't look like a friggin' cat anymore!' he complains, explaining that he wasn't working for the bad guys, he was keeping an eye on them. 'Great! What'd you learn?' Havok asks. Hank reports that the O*N*E has a new project, although he isn't sure exactly what it is yet, but they can't complete it without the information Bastion put in Havok's head – only he didn't find out what that is, either.

'So you got... absolutely nothing?' Havok asks. 'Yes, well... I didn't expect my rescue to come so soon' Hank replies. Hank tells everyone that, either way, General Callahan is grasping at straws. 'Whatever they're working on is nowhere near complete -' he begins, when suddenly, there is a loud THOOOOM. 'Or maybe it is' Hank mumbles as a large Sentinel which introduces itself as Sentinel 1138 blasts into the lab and reports that it has found the intruders. Dazzler throws some light powers towards the Sentinel while asking Alex if he has a way out of here. 'Yeah, but it's through them' Havok replies as energy surrounds him while more Sentinels move into the lab. Colossus tells Warpath that he thinks it is time for a Fastball Special. He picks Warpath up, 'Wait! Colossus, you don't have to -' Warpath begins, but Colossus doesn't stop, he hurls Warpath towards the Sentinel, while Warpath pulls two large knives out and mutters 'I already fly, you drunk Russian idiot' as he moves towards the Sentinel's head.

'Gotta say, you picked a bad company to work for here, Hank' Havok remarks as he starts to release the powerful energy towards the Sentinels. 'I wasn't working for them' Hank replies, holding up a small remote, he reports that he was working on this. Hank explains that it uses repeating pattern long-wave radio frequencies to trigger the bio-circuitry he put in Banshee in order to override his neural pathways with basic binary modality focused on finding the source. 'Pretend you're talking to a normal person' Havok asks as he continues to pour the energy onwards at the Sentinels. Hank reveals that he made this thing to make Banshee come rescue them. 'Didn't you think that I'd come rescue you?' Havok asks, before telling Hank not to answer that, and instructing him to hit it and use the Banshee thing.

Havok's plasma blast takes the head off one of the Sentinels, while he points out that the device didn't work. 'Where is he?' Havok asks. Beast hangs his head and tells Havok that it isn't a teleporter, that it might take him time to get here. As Warpath assaults a Sentinel, Dazzler blasts some more light at her opponent and tells the others that these new Sentinels feel a lot like the old ones. Beast leaps onto one of the Sentinels and explains that whatever Bastion designed has not been implemented. He adds that Callahan couldn't get access to the missing piece, which they will make sure stays locked away in Alex's head forever. 'Yup. Totally. For sure...' Havok replies as he fires another blast. 'Alex? What aren't you telling me?' Hank demands as he rips a Sentinel open. 'Nothing... except I might have let the Reavers take that stuff out of my head' Havok admits, shielding himself as a Sentinel blasts the area around him.

'Fall back!' Dazzler shouts as more blasts are fired at them. Havok tells the Beast that he had to, that it was the only way they could track down where they were all being held. 'What about the radio in Pierce's head?' Beast enquires as he and the others run from the blasts. 'I guess they forgot to mention that to me?' Alex mutters, before telling Beast that it isn't a problem, as the Reavers are their team now, that they are working together. 'And here they come' Havok adds, noticing Skullbuster drop down onto one of the Sentinels. 'They're going to get killed!' someone calls out – but, cables suddenly emerge from Skullbuster's body and connect with the Sentinel. 'What the hell is he doing?' one of the mutants asks. 'Anomaly detected in Sentinel 20-' one of the other Sentinels begins, before the Sentinel Skullbuster conncted to exclaims 'Come get some!' and blasts the other Sentinel at close range.

Other Reavers appear atop more Sentinels now, connecting with them. 'So, that's it? That's Bastion's big plan? A sustem that allows the user to take over AI?' Beast asks Pierce, who reveals that it doesn't just work on AI – it works on any technology, and they don't just take it over, they integrate it and it becomes a part of them. 'It would be terrifying had Callahan been allowed to implement it into his Sentinels' Pierce adds. 'Not much better in the hands of the Reavers now, is it?' Beast mutters. 'Heh' Pierce just laughs, before walking towards the Reaver-Sentinels and congratulating them on their work, he suggets that they see what their new bodies can do. Impressed, the Beast admits that this is pretty cool. 'They're taking the Sentinels? We can't just let the -' Havok starts to say, before calling out to Pierce, telling him that he can't take those, and reminding him that he made a promise. 'A promise? The only promise I remember making was... DEATH TO THE X-MEN!' Pierce shouts, before the Reaver-Sentinels open fire on the mutants!


Characters Involved: 

Beast, Colossus, Dazzler, Havok, Warpath


Bonebreaker, Wade Cole, Angelo Macon, Donald Pierce, Pretty Boy, Murray Reese, Skullbuster (all Reavers)

Agent Callahan



Various O*N*E agents


Story Notes: 

The X-Men apprehended the Reavers in Hunt for Wolverine #1, and the Reavers were handed over to Alpha Flight, not to the cops.

Cylla appears on the cover to this issue, but not in the story itself.


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