Astonishing X-Men (4th series) #6

Issue Date: 
December 2017
Story Title: 
Life of X – part 6

Charles Soule (writer), Ramon Rosanas (artist), Nolan Woodard (colorist), VC’s Clayton Cowles (letterer), Rosanas & Woodard (cover artists), Land & Delgado (character variant cover) , Jay Bowen & Anthony Gambino (graphic designers), Christina Harrington (assistant editor), Mark Paniccia (editor), Axel Alonso (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: 

As his infection spreads in the real world, the Shadow King gloats that he wins to his prisoner Xavier and hints that he used an extra power source. Xavier reveals his ace in the hole – namely the three X-Men he prepared against Farouk – Mystique, Rogue and Fantomex, and they attack the Shadow King. As the Shadow King’s power is spread too thin, Xavier can finally break free as well. He beats the villain and then makes a special secret deal with Fantomex. In the real world, Archangel attacks the possessed Gambit and Logan. Psylocke, in the meantime, learns that the Ministry of Defense means to sterilize the city with bombs, and sends Archangel to stop them. Surprisingly, Fantomex returns from the Astral Plane without her help, only he is Fantomex no longer. He is the man who used to be Charles Xavier but now calls himself X.

Full Summary: 

The citizens are in a zombielike state, chanting ‘set me free’, as the Shadow King is about to break free from the Astral plane. Horrified, Psylocke realizes they have lost.

The Astral Plane:
The Shadow King exclaims that he wins, and then adds to his opponent, Charles Xavier, whether there was ever any doubt. Probably not, Xavier agrees. He will be leaving soon, Farouk announces. He has new games to play out in the world. Xavier will stay here, of course, but he will build him a pleasant reality to inhabit before he goes. Charles has earned it.

Xavier retorts that he appreciates that, but there is a matter to address before they go. He refers to Rogue, Fantomex and Mystique. Their roles in their game aren’t complete. The Shadow King off-handedly replies that he doesn’t need them. As a gift, he will honor their original agreement. Xavier may kill them however he wishes.

He gloats that Charles never really had a chance. He added a little extra this time. Did he notice? Xavier points out that he seemed more powerful than usual. Farouk explains he found a power source. Long forgotten, he thinks. Dark, confused, sad, quite wonderful. Turns out it was the key to everything.

The chained Xavier looks up. So he is saying he cheated. He supposes he did, Farouk gloats. He is quite sorry, old friend, but all’s fair. As black energy tendrils envelope Xavier, he announces he expected no less. He asks Farouk not to concern himself. He cheated as well. That is the cue for the three psi-armored X-Men – Rogue, Fantomex and Mystique - to attack Farouk.

Xavier you bastard! the possessed Gambit and Logan swear. As a response, Logan gets hit by sharp flechettes, as Warren Worthington has finally let his Archangel persona out. “Gambit” remarks he was wondering if he would find the bravery to do so. It wasn’t bravery, is Archangel’s reply. It was inevitability. He attacks “Gambit,” warning there is nothing he can do. That too is inevitability. Throwing his charged up knives at him, “Gambit” announces he is not so sure.

At the Ministry of Defense, those events are observed. Commander Keene gives orders to accelerate the drop of the bomb planned in ten minutes. The psychic manifestation is spreading faster than expected. If things accelerate they will have to destroy all of London. They need to sterilize the location now! His assistant protests they still have assets in the danger zone. He gives orders to transmit the evac code.

The agents sitting on a rooftop tied with telekinetic shackles get the message that Clean Room protocol has been activated. They ask Psylocke to let them go without mentioning any reason. She asks what Clean Room protocol means. When they play dumb, she reads their minds and swears.

The Astral Plane:
Xavier orders his X-Men to attack and muses that these three are the best of all his X-Men for fighting in a place like this where reality shifts. Rogue becomes someone new with every touch. Mystique becomes someone new with every whim, and Fantomex – the man of illusion. These three are fluidity itself. Not like Logan with his grief and self-control and codes. He knows himself all too well. Or Gambit. So ensconced in the glamor of being King of the Thieves, he won’t allow himself to become anything else. Bishop, Archangel and Psylocke are also too controlled and rigid. They could not fight the Shadow King here. But they all have their roles to play. How fortunate that these were called.

He orders them to hold nothing back. Farouk’s mind is fractured with keeping himself on the Astral Plane, spreading his filth through the people of London trying to build a large enough psychic presence to escape, maintaining his hold on Gambit and Logan and finally of course keeping Xavier chained. Of these, his attention is least focused on Xavier. He had stopped fighting long ago. As the shade he was, Farouk knew Xavier did not have the power to escape. Not without his X-Men. But that means Farouk slackened his grip on him and does even more so with being distracted by the battles.

Xavier breaks free and joins the attack. His reign is ended, he tells the astonished Farouk. This was never a game. Not to him! Xavier announces as he beats him with psychic weapons, You liiiieeed! is the Shadow King’s last protest as he fades away.

The X-Men’s psychic armor fades away and Rogue asks if he is dead. Yes, Xavier replies, it’s over. And now the final piece, he decides.

Archangel is flying down to attack the possessed Logan and Gambit, who warn him that killing them will accomplish nothing. However, a moment later, Xavier has severed the Shadow King’s connection with them. They just realize what’s going on when Archangel is upon them.

At the Ministry of Defense, the sergeant still tries to talk Superintendent Keene out of destroying London.

In London, Gambit tries to talk Archangel out of attacking Logan, sees it is no use and charges up his cards.

Elsewhere, Fantomex announces it’s okay. It’s what he wants.

Suddenly, Archangel hears Psyocke’s telepathic voice. She orders him to focus, then informs him she cannot sense the Shadow King. This area seems to be clear. Archangel observes there are still people on the streets who seem to be possessed. There is a kind of energy around them. Psylocke agrees.

Elsewhere, Fantomex announces that this might be good for him. His identity. What do people know about him, after all? Nothing very nice. Murderer, thief, liar… the Weapon Plus boys designed him to be thoroughly awful. He thinks most would say they succeeded beyond their wildest expectations.

Set me freee the possessed people chant moving against the police. There are energy tendrils around them. Psylocke explains she is going to stop the infection but she reveals the coming bomb and asks Archangel to stop the planes without killing anybody.

Elsewhere, Fantomex continues. You do something big enough - good or bad - and it takes everything away. This they will never forget.

Betsy looks into the sky agitated. It’s all right, a new voice tells her. Everything will be fine. It’s Fantomex. Surprised, she states she never pulled him out of the Astral Plane. He is back, he replies, but he is not Fantomex. He does something Fantomex would never do. He takes off his mask revealing a smiling face under shortly cut light brown hair. He is Charles Xavier. But she can call him X.

Characters Involved: 

Angel, Bishop, Gambit, Old Man Logan, Psylocke (X-Men)
Charles Xavier / X

Commander Keene
Other members of the Ministry of Defense

On the astral plane:
Fantomex, Gambit, Mystique, Rogue (X-Men)

Shadow King
Charles Xavier

Story Notes: 

The Shadow King’s power source will be revealed next issue.

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