Astonishing X-Men (4th series) #17

Issue Date: 
January 2019
Story Title: 
Until our Hearts Stop, part 5

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), Alex Ross (Uncanny X-Men 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: 

The Reaver-Sentinels depart their base, leaving the bodies of Havok, Dazzler, Warpath, Beast and Colossus behind. But once they are gone, the mutants step out of the shadows – they were never killed, Dazzler used her light power to create illusions of them. Havok decides that with everyone safe, there is no reason for them to stay together, and starts to leave, wanting to go to a bar for a drink. Some of the others seems annoyed by this, as Havok is the one who wanted them to form a team in the first place. The Beast notices a map that indicates the Reaver-Sentinels are are headed for the Xavier Institute. Shortly, the Xavier Institute is under attack by these Reaver-Sentinels. Thankfully, Havok and his allies arrive, and Havok tells Kitty Pryde not to worry, as the X-Men are here. Kitty reminds him that he can't call his team that. They fight the Reaver-Sentinels, and Banshee returns, taking one of the Sentinels out by blasting his sonic scream through the Sentinel's chest. Banshee freaks out when one of the Reavers touches him, and the Beast suspects that the Reaver may have done something to the nanotech inside Banshee's body. Banshee screams uncontrollably, but Dazzler is able to absorb all of that energy, and re-directs it as s solid light attack against the Sentinels. With the Reaver-Sentinels defeated, Kitty tries to talk to Colossus, but he has nothing to say to her. The Beast remarks that he is going to retire as he is too old to be an X-Man, but Kitty tells him that she needs him, and Beast begins to reconsider his decision, especially as he still needs to work on Banshee, but Banshee tells the Beast that he is done being a science experiment, and while he appreciates what Beast did for him, he is going to go off on his own. Dazzler and Havok discuss recent events, Havok thinks he will never be the leader anyone wants him to be, but Dazzler assures Havok that Cyclops would be proud of him. Dazzler is at a loose end now, as her concert has been cancelled and Kitty isn't knocking down her door to return to the X-Men. Kitty interrupts their discussion when she informs them that twenty ONE trucks are pulling up. Havok, Dazzler, Beast and Colossus are given a Blackbird to escape in, and Colossus tells the others that Callahan will never stop coming for them. Callahan speaks with Kitty Pryde, telling her that the Sentinels are stolen government property, while Kitty warns him that he has no authority to come in here like this. Callahan believes she is harboring several known terrorists, which is jurisdiction enough for him. Havok suddenly appears and hands himself in to Callahan, which surprises Beast and Colossus – before the Havok aboard the Blackbird vanishes, as he was just one of Dazzler's light displays. Havok proposes that he will surrender himself to Callahan, so long as Callahan admits that he was the only mutant involved in the recent attacks – otherwise he will release the video tapes he made of Callahan's experimentation, kidnapping and killing the Reavers. Callahan agrees to the deal and Havok is led away. Kitty tells him not to worry, that the X-Men don't abandon their own. Kitty knew that something like this would happen, and decides that if Havok is ever released, he needs to be kept as far away from the X-Men as possible, as he is no leader, while Warpath announces that if Havok ever gets out, he will follow him wherever he leads, and Havok decides that he isn't afraid to play his part now, and hopes that the X-Men can go out and save the world now.

Full Summary: 

'That was so much easier than I thought' a Reaver-Sentinel remarks as several of the behemoths look down at the fallen mutants on the ground – Havok, Beast, Dazzler, Colossus and Warpath. 'This new tech is gonna make us gods' another Reaver-Sentinel boasts, before they blast off away from the facility, 'Before you grant your fellow Reavers godhood, Skullbuster, maybe we can go do a little work?' one of them remarks. But when the Reaver-Sentinels vanish, the real Beast, Dazzler, Warpath, Havok and Colossus step out from the shadows, 'Well...that's an unpleasant sight' the Beast remarks as they look down at their dead selves. 'I have died before. I did not think I would ever have to watch it happen again, though' the shirtless Colossus tells the others. Dazzler stands over the bodies as they suddenly fade away, and Havok tells her that making light versions of them is a hell of a trick, and asks her why she doesn't do that more often. 'Because there suddenly being two of somebody isn't actually that useful, especially if one of them can't do anything. And it's really hard' Dazzler responds. Havok points out that it worked.

The Beast suggests that the Reavers are used to trusting their own eyes more than the Sentinel equipment they are now interfacing with, so even though it wouldn't work on fooling Sentinels, Dazzler was smart enough to realize that the Reavers would fall or it. 'You thought of all that?' Havok smiles. 'Yeah... sure' Dazzler replies, rubbing her head. Havok suggests that since they are all safe they should take this opportunity to run before more federal agents show up. 'Where to now?' Warpath asks. Havok starts to run off and tells the others that he has no idea where they are going, but he is going to get a drink, or 30. 'What do you mean? You're breaking up the team?' Dazzler calls back, before she and the others run after Havok, who tells Dazzler that in case she missed it, they weren't really a team – they were more of a slow-motion train wreck with a light show. He adds that he put them in serious trouble, and adds that he is no leader, but that he also rescued them – so they can call it even and go their separate ways.

'So that is it, Alexander? You are just throwing in the towel?' Colossus asks. 'What do you want, Pete? Maybe we can team up with another group of super villains? Or maybe you'd rather we attack another government facility on our own?' Havok asks. Colossus tells him that there is still work to be done, while the Beast looks at a monitor and reminds Havok that the Reavers took those Sentinels. 'That's the government's mess. They can clean it up' Havok replies.

'About that...' Beast begins, before Havok looks at the monitor and asks why he is looking at this. The Beast informs him that it is a map, tracking where the Reavers have gone. 'Again, why am I looking at this?' Havok repeats. The Beast motions to the red dots on the screen indicating the Sentinels and announces that this is where the X-Men are.

At that moment, in Central Park, New York, specifically the Xavier Institute, where Kitty Pryde shouts over her communicator, trying to contact all available X-Men, she tells them that the Mansion is under attack from a group of Sentinels and they need assistance at the mansion now. Iceman lies unconscious nearby, while one Sentinel fires a blast at Kitty, who phases the blast through her body, and X-23 leaps towards another Sentinel. 'You rang?' a voice calls out to Kitty, who turns to see Havok, Colossus, Dazzler, Warpath and Beast. 'We thought we'd swing by and fix your little problem, Katherine' Havok grins. 'A problem we created' Warpath remarks. 'Warpath... c'mon, man' Havok mutters, adding that they didn't totally create this. 'They were making... ya know what? Doesn't matter. The important thing is, you called for X-Men and the X-Men have arrived' Havok points out. 'You can't call yourselves that!' Kitty screeches at Havok, who runs off into the battle. 'We'll see!' he shouts back as he releases a plasma blast that destroys one of the Sentinels' arm.

'Watch out! He's going to throw that truck!' someone calls out as the one-handed Sentinel reaches for a large truck – only to absorb the truck into his destroyed arm. 'Am I supposed to be scared of a guy with truck arms?' Havok asks. 'Yes! Run!' Dazzler shouts as the Sentinel turns the truck into some sort of weapon and opens fire at them. Havok and Dazzler duck behind some rubble and Havok asks Dazzler if she thinks the Reavers would fall for that fake them trick again. 'Probably not' Dazzler replies. 'Didn't we already kill these guys?' one of the Reaver-Sentinels asks, before a strange screeching sound can be heard. 'What the hell is that noise?' another Reaver-Sentinel enquires, before Banshee appears, using his sonic scream to tear a hole through one of the Reaver-Sentinels which falls to the ground, destroyed. 'Yeah, Banshee' Dazzler grins, making a strange sign with her fingers.

Havok fires another surge of plasma at the Reaver-Sentinels and tells the Beast that his dumb Banshee thingy worked. 'Glad to have you back, Banshee' Warpath calls out as Banshee drops down near him, but says nothing. 'Now if you could keep fighting, that'd be great' Warpath suggests to Banshee, while one of the Reavers suddenly emerges from a fallen Sentinel, 'Wanna destroy my new body? I'll destroy yours!' the Reaver shouts as it extends some cables around Banshee's ankles, causing Banshee to scream. 'Get off him!' Warpath declares as he rushes over and punches the Reaver in the face. Havok tells the Beast that Banshee is freaking out, and asks him what is wrong with him. The Beast speculates that the Reaver may have hijacked the nanotech he put in Banshee's body. 'So what does that mean?' Havok asks, but the Beast tells him that he has no idea, while Banshee clutches his head.

'Are you kidding?' Havok asks, releasing more plasma energy at the Reaver-Sentinels, to which the Beast tells him that if he knows of any research papers on the effects of adaptive AI takeover on nanotechnology used to siphon energy from evil viruses that are affecting the undead, then to let him know. 'But we're basically in uncharted waters, maybe -' the Beast begins, before he is knocked backwards by one of Banshee's sonic screams. Colossus rushes over and grabs Banshee, telling him that it is time to calm down. Colossus places his organic-steel hands over Banshee's mouth and informs the others that he isn't sure how much longer he can hold Banshee. 'I fear I will lose my hands or his head will explode soon' Colossus remarks, while Havok announces that he isn't sure how much longer they can keep these guys back either. 'This is bad' he adds, before Dazzler goes over to Colossus and tells him to let Banshee go. 'Alison, I do not think -' Banshee begins, but Dazzler tells him to just do it.

Dazzler stands barely a foot away from Banshee, who continues to release his sonic scream. Dazzler glows with light energy, while Havok watches, 'He's gonna kill her! Pete, stop him!' Havok calls out, but Dazzler grits her teeth and boasts that she can take it – and an instantr later, Banshee stops screaming. 'Sorry 'bout all that' he remarks, sweat pouring down his face. 'I feel so weird right now...' Dazzler tells the others, glowing with all the energy she absorbed from Banshee's sonic scream. 'They sent all the retired X-Men to stop us' one of the Reaver-Sentinels jokes. 'Twenty dollars to whover kills the bootleg Kesha' another Reaver-Sentinel remarks, looking at Dazzler. In spectacular display, Dazzler suddenly releases the energy in brilliant shades of purple, green, pink, yellow and blue lights, which tear through the Reaver-Sentinels, reducing them to scrap metal as they crash to the ground. 'Bootleg that...' Dazzler utters as she drops to her knees.

'The Sentinels are down, make sure the Reavers don't slip away' Havok calls out as he rushes over to Dazzler, remarking that it is at times like this he tries to imagine what Cyclops or Storm or the Professor would say. 'Holy %&*#&$% $#%&, Ali!' Havok shouts, while Dazzler declares that everyone is always underestimating her. 'You forget that I absorb sound for my powers?' she asks. 'No. I've just never seen you do that' Havok replies, asking Dazzler how it felt, while the Beast pushes away part of the Sentinel scraps and finds the Reaver called Pretty Boy. 'It hurts like a #&!^%' Dazzler responds.

Colossus has found another Reaver and announces that he thinks that is the last of them. 'Nice work' Kitty tells him, adding that she is glad he came back, and that he looks good. 'Katya, I...' Colossus begins, to which Kitty tells him that she has been meaning to talk to him, that she has so much she wants to say. 'I know now we were nothing but lovers. All that we ever had to say was said long ago' Colossus tells Kitty, before walking away from her.

The Beast looks over at Kitty and tells her that he is sorry. He then quotes “Scars have the strange power to remind us that our past is real”. Kitty looks at the Beast and tells him that she doesn't think when Cormac McCarthy wrote that he understood how many scars they would get in their line of work. 'I don't know. He's pretty smart' the Beast tells Kitty, who asks him if he is ready to get some new scars here.

'Alas, if this week taught me anything, it's that being an X-Man is a young man's game. And I am anything but' the Beast replies. Kitty tells Hank that there can be no part-timing here, for with Cable dead, Rogue and Gambit off in space and no idea where the New Mutants went, they are a bit beyond checking IDs at the door. The Beast informs Kitty that he did losehis job and he needs a lab to continue his work on Banshee. Banshee speaks coherently for the first time, as he tells the Beast that he is going to pass on that – he isn't going back on ice again. The Beast points out that Apocalypse's Death Seed is still inside him, to which Banshee acknowledges that and tells the Beast that he will have to learn how to live with that, or not, but that he has been doing neither. Sean tells Hank that he appreciates everything he did for him, but that it is time to let nature run her course, and he would like to see if the wind will still have him, he then streaks off into the sky, sonic scream resonating around him.

'Good luck, Sean' Alex remarks as he and Ali sit on a patch of grass nearby. Ali asks Alex if he has any regrets, to which Alex smiles and jokes that he wished he had said “I just flew in from the factory and boy are my arms tires” to that one Sentinel with the truck arm. Ali tells Alex that it is stuff like this that makes no one take him seriously. 'That and the whole “I'm a bad guy now” phase' Alex adds. He remarks that he may not be the leader anyone wants, but that sometimes he worries they will all just break if they don't make jokes about this stuff, so he thinks it is better to let everyone laugh at him. 'Than end up like Scott?' Ali asks. 'I don't think he ever smiled toward the end' Alex informs Ali, who puts her hand on Alex's and tells him that Scott would be proud of him.

'Probably not... but that's okay' Alex replies, before asking Ali what she is going to do now, as he thinks they can agree his little experiment has come to a catastrophic end. Ali points out that Kitty isn't exactly knocking down her door to come back to the X-Men, and her tour is definitely cancelled. 'Which is fine, because the new record sucks... so I have no idea what to do now' she adds. Alex asks Ali if she wants his advice, but Ali tells him that she was hoping for somebody less screwed up than she, but sure. Alex tells her to stop looking for validation from others. 'You're the damn Dazzler. Go save the world and look good doing it' he tells declares. Ali smiles at him and suggests he take his own advice. Kitty suddenly appears and apologizes for interrupting as she informs them that there are twenty ONE trucks pulling up, and she is pretty sure they aren't going to be happy to see the two of them. Alex tells Kitty that he knows she doesn't want to hear this – but he needs a favor.

'It was kind of Katya to lend us a Blackbird, but I do not like to run' the still shirtless Colossus remarks as he, Beast, Havok and Dazzler head towards a Blackbird jet. The Beast points out that they are wanted people, so if they are caught on school grounds it will prove disastrous for the Xavier Institute. Havok and Dazzler drop back from the others, 'Pssst, Ali' Havok whispers. Colossus and Beast take their seats in the front of the jet and Colossus asks if they are fugitives now, to which the Beast tells him that he prefers to think of them as extra-legal entities. 'But if fugitives is what you'd prefer...' his voice trails off. Colossus remarks that Callahan will never stop coming for them, and the Beast agrees. 'We gotta go. Now' Ali announces as she and Havok enter the jet.

Outside, General Callahan motions to the fallen Sentinel parts and announces that he wants it all back at the new facility within the hour, adding that they need to make sure that the amateur reporters and Johnny Youtubers don't have anything to post. 'Hey! This is private property!' Kitty Pryde calls out as she walks over to Callahan. 'And this is stolen government property' Callahan remarks, before introducing himself as General Robert Callahan, in charge of the Office of National Emergency. 'We're a governmental -' he begins, but Kitty interrupts him, informing him that she knows who he is, and that the X-Men had a relationship with Valerie Cooper when she ran the ONE – something he has not attempted since this administration quietly revived the department. 'And that still doesn't give you jurisdiction to just barge in here' Kitty adds. 'That's where you're mistaken. Can I call you Kitty?' Callahan replies. 'No' Kitty tells him.

With his ONE soldiers nearby, Callahan motions to the mansion and informs Kitty that they have reason to believe she is harboring half a dozen known terrorists in there, which is all the jurisdiction he needs. 'You're about to enter a whole world of trouble, Kitty. I -' Callahan begins, before the door is blasted open with a surge of plasma energy and Callahan is knocked off his feet. 'General Callahan. You looking for me?' Havok smiles.

As the Blackbird takes off, Havok fires another plasma surge at the ONE soldiers. 'What is happening down there? Alex, how are you both...' Colossus asks, when suddenly, the Havok sitting next to Dazzler fades away – her light construct ends. 'Alison! What did you do?' the Beast asks. Dazzler reminds Beast that he said it himself – if they were caught, it would be disastrous, and Alex knew that he wouldn't leave him if he did his big hero thing – he knew this was the only way that they walk away from this. 'Almost all of us. Dammit, Alison' the Beast mutters.

Down below, Havok looks up at the Blackbird as it vanishes from sight. He then raises his hands and suggests to Callahan that they make a deal. 'You admit it was just me with the Reavers that attacked your base and leave the X-Men alone. In exchange, I surrender peacefully...' Havok proposes, adding that he won't release all the tapes he made of Callahan's illegal experiments on mutants, kidnapping and killing the Reavers and the attack that Callahan led that destroyed an apartment block downtown. 'That's it? I get you right now?' Callahan asks, frowning.

'That's it. But if you ever go after my team or the X-Men again, I promise you your face will be on the front page of every newspaper in the country...' Havok warns Callahan, who replies 'Deal' and instructs his soldiers to cuff Havok. Kitty quietly tells Alex that if he really has those tapes they can use them to clear his name, and asks him where they are. 'Yeah… I might have been bluffing. Shhh' Havok grins.

Kitty tells Alex not to worry, that she will get him out, as the X-Men won't abandon their own. 'I knew you'd eventually admit we were X-Men!' Havok calls out to Kitty as he is led into a wagon where the remaining Reavers are being held.

Havok thinks to himself that every story needs its big heroes, and its scary monsters and decides that he is not scared of the things that scare other people, he assumed that was because he was the hero. The only thing that ever scared him was the nagging thought that maybe he wasn't. He also thought he was going to be an X-Man until his dying breath, until his heart stops – but he finally gets it. Eventually someone has to be the monster so the real heroes can do their thing – and he isn't scared to play his part anymore. 'Good luck, X-Men. Now go save the world' Alex thinks to himself.

Kitty folds her arms and declares that she knew something like this was going to happen – she adds that she tried to keep Havok away, but he is his own worst enemy. She remarks that if Havok gets out, they need to keep him as far from the X-Men as possible – for his own good, as Alex Summers is no leader. Nearby, Warpath watches and declares that if Havok gets out, he will follow him wherever he leads.

Characters Involved: 

Banshee, Beast, Colossus, Dazzler, Havok, Warpath
Iceman, Kitty Pryde, X-23

Pretty Boy, Skullbuster and others unidentified (all Reavers)

Agent Callahan

Various O*N*E agents

Story Notes: 

Final issue of Astonishing X-Men (4th series).

Many of Rosenberg’s plotlines including what happens to Havok and Banshee are followed up in Uncanny X-Men (5th series).

Cable was killed in Extermination #1, indicating that this story takes place between Exermination #5 and Uncanny X-Men (5th series) #1. 

Rogue and Gambit are off in space as seen in the Mr. & Mrs. X series.

Many of the New Mutants were last seen in New Mutants Dead Souls #6.

Valerie Cooper ran the Office of National Emergency following M-Day.


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