Avengers Academy #29

Issue Date: 
July 2012
Story Title: 
Protective Services part 1

Christos Gage (writer), Tom Grummett (penciler), Cory Hamscher (inker), Chris Sotomayer (colorist), VC’s Joe Caramagna (letterer), Guiseppe Camuncoli & Jim Charalampidis (cover artist), Jake Thomas (assistant editor), Bill Rosemann (editor), Axel Alonso (editor in chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)

Brief Description: 

Captain America and Hawkeye arrive at the academy with Wolverine. They’ve brought a few guests who need to hole up there until their problems with the X-Men are over. No one is particularly pleased with this arrangement, but Cap wishes to keep them from harm and not interfere with their search for Hope. He asks the academy students to stop anyone from leaving, using force if necessary. Sebastian Shaw is placed in a cell with only few books to keep him occupied. Hercules, there as a guest tutor, wishes to have a kind of Olympics, so he tests the kids from Utopia against those from the academy. Lightspeed and Transonic have an aerial race, whilst Loa allows Mettle to surf once again only this time on earth. Some kids are friendly enough with each other, but Surge and Velocidad in particular are really not happy to be there. The following morning, Tigra and Madison Jeffries discover that Sebastian Shaw has escaped by using the books to charge himself up and smash through the cell floor.

Full Summary: 

(Avengers Academy athletic field, Ancient History 101 with guest instructor Hercules)
The students are outside on a sunny day, just like they would be any other day. However, today is a little different, as Hercules is on campus, standing there completely naked. As they stare at him with surprised looks on their faces, he asks them to rejoice as he is recreating the very first Olympics as one who took part. He asks them to imagine the finest warriors in Greece coming together with no protection from the sun but for the oil coating their unclad bodies. They should burn the sight before them into their memory forever. “Already done,” quips Hazmat.

He turns to Mettle and Striker and asks which of them would like to assist in his wrestling demonstration. Mettle tells Striker that it’s all his. He’s the one who’s into guys. Striker replies that Hercules is too bearish for him. Besides, he hates to think what static electricity would do to all that hair. Tigra approaches and spots Hercules, noting his appearance. He smiles and tells her that she can be his opponent, though it won’t be historically accurate as women weren’t allowed to compete in the games… despite his urging to the contrary. She thrusts his pants at him and asks him to put them on, but he replies that he no longer wears pants. He finds them too confining. Tigra doesn’t care what he uses as long as he covers himself. Hasn’t he noticed that in the past several hundred years public nudity became a no-no?

Before the problem can be decided, Reptil notes that they have company. Captain America, Quicksilver and Hawkeye step off their ship and inform them that something’s happened. Pietro says it’s exactly as he warned since the idiots took his father in. They are at war with the X-Men. X-23 is quite shocked at the news. Cap says it’s not like that, but Pietro snarls that the Phoenix Force, which consumes planets, is returning to Earth, most likely to take Hope as its host… a young lady the X-Men refuse to allow them to protect. They intend to welcome this extinction-level threat based on the naïve possibility that they can control it and create a new golden age for mutants. They fought them, he adds, and won. Some X-Men escaped and they took some others prisoner. What would Cap call that if not war?

Hawkeye replies that he would call it a bad situation which they don’t want to make worse. They have to find Hope for her own sake and everyone else’s and they must do it before the X-Men do. Tigra agrees and wishes to leave with them, but Hank Pym says they actually need to stay at the campus. Tigra doesn’t know if he just wishes to protect her, but Clint assures her that Pym is correct. When the X-Men took off, they left their kids behind. They need a safe place for them, somewhere where they won’t get mixed up in the craziness. The Academy will be like a sort of child protective services for mutants as their facility as they’re equipped for this kind of thing.

At that moment, Wolverine walks off the ship, followed by a group of mutants including Sebastian Shaw, Pixie, the Cuckoo’s and Madison Jeffries. He apologizes for springing this on them, but Avengers Academy is about to get a hell of a lot more crowded.

Hank wishes to emphasize that this is a school and not a prisoner of war camp. Logan has no argument with that. He and Cyclops split over his notion that kids should be part of his army but they ain’t. No matter what Quicksilver said, they are not prisoners. He can’t put them at his school, as there’s too much history and they’re liable to drag his own students into this. Things are moving fast and he needs them out of the way of what comes next. He introduces Tigra to Dr. Kavita Rao and Madison Jeffries, part of Utopia’s science team. They’re not thrilled about this but they’ve agreed to be chaperones. Hercules tells them that he shall remain with them. His rapport with youth is unparalleled and they can witness how well his young friend Amadeus Cho turned out for proof.

Hank mentions that he already has countermeasures at the school against teleportation and mind control, but beyond that he opposes the dampening of anyone’s powers. Cap agrees. They’ve done nothing wrong. It’s just that they can’t have them interfering in the fight for their own protection. Madison also agrees, but points out that they have a bunch of willful, rebellious and strong-minded kids there. Cap says he knows, which is why he’s asking for their help. He turns to the full-time academy students and asks them to welcome the kids from Utopia and show them the advantages of Avengers Academy. But, if they attempt to leave, attack, or do anything that would escalate the conflict… they must stop them.

He turns back to Hank and informs him that Iron Man wishes to consult with him about a special project. Striker asks Tigra if they can, like, taser them, but she asks them to use the minimum force necessary to stop an escape and to alert herself or Mr. Jeffries at their first opportunity. Madison asks them to do that before tasering anyone. They agreed to this to prevent violence.

X-23 approaches Wolverine who turns. “Yeah,” he says. “I thought you might want a word.” Laura tells him she used to hear the others speculate about this jokingly, but if it came to a choice, who would he choose? Logan replies that he didn’t choose anyone. He just did what he had to do. He recalls the bad old days of Dark Phoenix and says she never saw it. If Jeannie couldn’t control it, no one can. Laura replies that he pushed her to make her own decisions. She chose not to be part of his war with Cyclops but now he’s brought the war to her. Logan apologizes for that, but he brought the kids to the academy to keep them clear of the bad stuff. The adults who ought to know better are acting like jerks and he isn’t sure he can live with what he’s got to do, but he sure as hell knows he can’t live with them getting mixed up in it. He needs her help here. Laura turns, annoyed, but replies that she will do what she is able.

Before the Avengers leave, Wolverine has one last thing to say. He tells Sebastian Shaw that if he thinks he’s going to be let loose with a bunch of kids then he’s dreaming. Shaw assures everyone that he gathers he used to be quite an unpleasant man, but that was someone else. His memory has been wiped and he has no recollection of who he was. Logan tells him that what happened with the Phoenix last time was his fault. The Cuckoos then point out that Shaw is lying. He’s seen the file on himself and knows everything. Shaw replies that it might be true, but he doesn’t remember any of it.

Madison points out that Shaw can absorb kinetic energy so he can retrofit a holding cell so its walls do the same. He won’t be able to break out. Logan snikts his claws and tells Shaw that it’s his call. He can go easy or hard but they’re in a hurry. Shaw replies that he understands he beat Wolverine quite badly once and wishes he could recall that, but if he is given some books to keep him occupied he will go quietly.

(moments later)
The ship leaves with the Avengers allowing the students to settle in with their new colleagues at the Academy. Hercules states that they are not prisoners and there will be no torture of any kind. Tigra quite rightly takes over introductions from him and admits that these are far from ideal conditions but hopefully they can make the best of it. They may find out they have much more in common than they think. She asks them what they know about Avengers Academy. Surge replies first, saying that from what X-23 told her, it’s the kind of place where people don’t get punished for something they might do. But, even though they’ve done nothing wrong they aren’t allowed to leave. Does that sound about right? Before Tigra can even explain, Surge turns and asks her to just show her where the TV is. Tigra says she thought they’d become acquainted with some sports games, but Surge decides to pass. Hasn’t Tigra heard? There’s a war on. Hercules suggests they continue this war, but on the athletics field… unless they don’t care to know who is better. He turns and grins at Tigra, saying no warrior can resist the Olympics.

The first to compete are Lightspeed and Transonic. They crouch down at the edge of a cliff for an aerial sprint. Transonic tells ‘blondie’ that she’s going down, but Julie replies that she actually went up against a girl who flies really fast not long ago - Karolina Dean of the Runaways. When Laurie asks how that went, Julie smiles sideways at her and informs her that they’re now dating. Laurie is surprised at the comment, but it was simply Julie’s way of throwing her off balance. She takes off, leaving Transonic in her wake. “It’s on,” she smiles as she takes up her pursuit.

Dust becomes reacquainted with X-23. Her attempts at conversation are met with one word responses, and she tells Laura that she is the same as ever. Laura tells her she smells healthy and hopes she is well. Dust quips that she made an attempt at courtesy. Perhaps this place is good for her after all. However, for future reference, it isn’t polite to comment on a person’s odor. Laura replies that she can only see Sooraya’s eyes. “I have missed you,” says Sooraya. She asks Laura if she agrees with what the Avengers have done with them. Laura tells her she doesn’t have enough information to decide. Dust replies that she understands and she has come far in making her own decisions. Apparently she has yet to learn there are some things that you just know.

As Lightspeed and Transonic cross the finishing line almost neck and neck, Loa and Finesse prepare to duel it out in a surfing contest. Loa tells her she doesn’t look like a surfer, but Finesse informs her that she has studied many videos and can duplicate the maneuvers of the last five world champions. Mettle tells her that her photographic reflexes won’t help her. Every wave is its own beast. “You surf?” asks Loa, incredulously. Mettle says he used to. He’s Hawaiian, born and bred. Loa says she is too. How come she’s not up against him? Mettle replies, with regret, that he can’t any more. He just sinks.

To this, Loa informs him that she is named after a worm because she can tunnel through rock and earth. Hazmat asks so what. She’s already made him feel bad, but having a lame power doesn’t make it okay. Loa replies that her power has its uses. Moments later, she is tearing through the ground leaving a wave of rock upon which Mettle can surf. He loves it, getting a similar feeling of riding a wave. Loa says it’s not the same as a killer wave, but… Mettle asks if she’s kidding. That was righteous! It felt like being back on the Banzai Pipeline. Before he can go on, Hazmat hugs Loa and thanks her, saying as far as she’s concerned the X-Men Win. She then asks who’s for a cookout on the beach.

Angrily, Velocidad asks if they’re insane. Hope’s missing, possessed by who knows what and, if Wolverine finds her, he’s going to kill her. The Avengers just invaded their home and took them prisoner and she expects them to play beach blanket bingo with their sidekicks? Surge reckons he’s right and, if they think they are being harsh, then they should think about what they’ll do if the academy teachers ever decide their students are too dangerous to make their own decisions. They will end up in protective custody too… for their own good, of course. It looks to her like the teachers have them on a pretty tight leash. She turns and walks away with Pixie, Velocidad, Primal and Dust. “Now, about that TV.”

(the training room, later)
X-23 has a training session, tearing through a horde of killer robots. Finesse asks if she can participate, too. Laura has no problem with that so Finesse takes her Billy club and joins in. As they wade through the robots, Finesse asks if those people were her friends. Laura replies that she studied with them and shared rooms with others, but she isn’t sure she would call them friends. She’s not even sure that she understands the word.

Finesse is pleased to hear that. She thought she was the only one. Laura leaps and slashes down at a robot. She says that people tell her she must determine what she wants irrespective of others, but then they seek to direct her actions. Finesse kicks another opponent and replies that it’s contradictory behavior and she finds it off-putting. She has worked to expand her knowledge base in the hope that it would help her understand. Laura asks if it has. “No,” replies Finesse. With all their opponents destroyed, Laura asks if she wishes to go again. “Yes,” replies Finesse as she leaps at a fresh batch of robots.

(the holding cells)
Tigra and Madison Jeffries stand outside Sebastian Shaw’s cell and can hear a ‘whump whump’ noise coming from inside. Tigra reckons Shaw is testing the walls, but Madison assures her that it won’t do any good. They’ll absorb every bit of kinetic energy from his punches. Tigra asks if he’s sure. From what she’s heard, he’s a pretty tough customer. Madison informs her that when he’s powered up, sure. If he’d been punched by Thor he could probably hit the walls with so much energy that they’d overload, but he wasn’t. They didn’t give him a chance to build up any power. He thinks they should let him wear himself out and maybe he’ll go to sleep.

Inside the cell, unseen by them, Sebastian Shaw hits a book against his head, hard. Eight hours later, Shaw is still doing it, but now the energy has built up inside his body. He kneels up and prepares to punch through the floor.

At the campus monitoring station, Tigra asks if there have been any problems overnight. Madison replies that their kids seem understandably upset but it’s mostly taking the form of outraged rants. She asks if he really thinks this Hope girl can control the Phoenix. Madison doesn’t know, but what he does know is that her fate shouldn’t be decided by whoever can hit the hardest.

They then hear a loud noise and rush to Shaw’s cell, only to discover a hole in the floor. Tigra asks how he could possibly have managed that. Madison looks around at the books and realizes what Shaw has done. He is impressed. He asks where it leads. Tigra looks down and says it goes to the storm drains which then lead to the ocean. Madison reckons they should get out there now. If Wolverine’s afraid of the man, he doesn’t even want to think about what he’s capable of.

Characters Involved: 

Finesse, Hazmat, Lightspeed, Mettle, Reptil, Striker, White Tiger, X-23 (full-time students)

Giant-Man, Quicksilver, Tigra (faculty)

Wolverine (Avenger and X-Man)
Crosta, Dust, Loa, No-Girl, Pixie, Primal, Prodigy, Stepford Cuckoos, Surge, Transonic and Velocidad

Madison Jeffries and Dr. Kavita Rao (X-Club)

Sebastian Shaw
Hercules (guest tutor)
Captain America and Hawkeye (Avengers)

(in flashback)
Colossus, Cyclops, Nightcrawler, Storm, Wolverine (all X-Men)

Jean Grey/Dark Phoenix

Story Notes: 

This is part of the AvX crossover.

On the final page, the image of Sebastian Shaw is an homage to the same drawing of Wolverine back in Uncanny X-Men #132.

The Banzai Pipeline is a surf reef break off Ehukai Beach on O’ahu Island, Hawaii. Several surfers have died attempting to ride its waves.

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