Avengers Academy #31

Issue Date: 
August 2012
Story Title: 
Protective Services part 3

Christos Gage (writer), Tom Grummett (penciler), Cory Hamscher (inker), Chris Sotomayer (colorist), VC’s Joe Caramagna (letterer), Guiseppe Camuncoli & Jim Charalampidis (cover artists), 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: 

Sebastian Shaw has returned having escaped from custody. The kids are wary of him and, when Dr. Rao radios Hazmat to inform him of what she feels his intentions are, a fight breaks out between the academy students and the X-kids. It’s only when Finesse explains that his body language and tactics suggest his intentions appear to directed elsewhere that the fighting ceases. Shaw actually wants to help the X-kids escape, but Tigra says that she cannot allow that. When X-23, Finesse and Mettle side with the opposition, Tigra faces a difficult choice. She realizes that fighting them will not work, so she informs everyone that there are cameras everywhere and that they are not leaving. However, her eyes and vocal signals suggest otherwise, and most of the kids understand that she actually wants them to escape, but make it look like the academy teachers and students put up some form of resistance. After a brief battle and some appalling over-the-top acting by Hercules, the X-kids are victorious. They wish to be part of the Avenges/X-Men war and nothing the older heroes say will change their minds. Shaw is the first to depart, quickly followed by Crosta, who leaves for Atlantis. X-23 gives a positive speech before making up with Dust. The X-kids then leave, thanks to Pixie’s teleportation skills, and the academy students begin to enjoy themselves whilst they can, with Loa remaining at the academy for the time being.

Full Summary: 

(Avengers Academy)
Sebastian Shaw looks down at the assembled group of academy students and the kids from Utopia. They are understandably nervous, but he assures them that he has no quarrel with them, informing them that if they don’t interfere with what is about to happen then they can keep it that way. Reptil is surprised to see him. He was locked up and under guard. “Where are our teachers?” he asks. Shaw replies that this isn’t his fight and he should walk away. Hazmat then receives a call, transmitted directly into her helmet, from Dr. Kavita Rao. She informs Jenny that campus-wide comms are down. She has Tigra. Shaw has taken down their teachers and escaped. They believe that he plans to murder the X-students, so she asks Jenny to get everyone to safety.

Seemingly unable to respond to her message, Hazmat decides to act instead. She turns and blasts Shaw with a radiation burst, shouting, “Avengers Academy assemble!” Transonic rushes towards her and orders her to leave Shaw alone. Before she can dissuade her, Transonic punches Hazmat, knocking her to the ground. It doesn’t take long for the students to start fighting each other. Mettle smashes Transonic in the jaw, whilst Reptil transforms into a giant snake in order to wrap himself around Sebastian Shaw’s body. White Tiger faces up to Primal who doesn’t know whether to fight her or mate with her. “Fight, Primal. Definitely fight,” she replies as she slashes at him. Sparks fly between Surge and Striker. She asks if he thinks he can overload her. Striker replies that her stupid-looking gloves are starting to smoke. Whatever they do - they won’t do it much longer.

Hazmat can’t believe the x-students are fighting them. Don’t they know Shaw is going to kill them? X-23 turns to Jenny and says that her instincts say otherwise. She asks Sophie if she can read his mind. Sophie says she can’t. Miss Frost placed barriers in it. She will just have to beat him senseless - for safety’s sake. As Finesse throws Prodigy over her head, X-23 tells her that she has observed Sebastian Shaw. Does she believe he is there to murder their guests? Finesse replies no. She explains that his body language, tactics and travel pattern suggest he is there to help them escape.

The fighting stops instantly and Reptil lets loose his grip on Shaw. “Kill them?” exclaims Shaw. “Was I really the kind of man who’d hurt children?” Surge asks, rhetorically, that he wasn’t just trying to get away? He stuck around to break them out? She tells him she feels bad for calling him an old perv behind his back. “Touching,” quips Striker. “Too bad jailbreaks are also frowned upon.”

At that moment, Tigra arrives along with Hercules, Dr. Rao, Madison Jeffries and Juston’s Sentinel. She tells him that Striker’s right. Maybe they misjudged him but they still can’t let him leave. Any of them. “And I cannot let you stop them,” replies X-23. Tigra is surprised by this. She realizes Laura is a mutant, but this is a complicated situation. She says the kids are at the academy for their own protection. Wolverine himself brought them. Laura replies that she is familiar with the arguments but they change nothing. Yes, she adds, they are young, but they have risked their lives fighting Sentinels, Purifiers… any threat that arose to give mutantkind a future. That future has arrived. She adds that to deny them the chance to participate in it simply because they are young is wrong, and she will not allow it.

Tigra says she is sorry Laura feels that way. They feel equally strongly that the Avengers/X-Men conflict is no place for minors. Finesse points out that it is about a minor. Hope. The girl that everyone is chasing is their age. Furthermore, she points out, it is illogical to state that the X-Men’s students are equipped to make life-or-death decisions in battle, but not to choose responsibly now. She stands with Laura. Mettle also admits that they seem like good people. He doesn’t want to be part of keeping them somewhere they don’t wanna be. Hazmat also offers her opinion. She finds them kind of obnoxious, but the truth is, there is only one reason the teachers want them out of this war and that is because they are embarrassed about the whole stupid thing.

Hercules turns to Tigra and begins to agree with them, only for Tigra to warn him not to start. If they show cracks then they’re doomed. She asks Dr. Rao and Madison Jeffries if they agree with Hercules. Jeffries admits that, frankly, the girls are right. These kids have been to war and he thinks they’ve earned the right to be part of something this big. Dr. Rao is ambivalent. She just wishes to return to her lab. Tigra groans and then turn to the assembled crowd. She reminds them that it is her job to ensure they stay on campus. And they shouldn’t think they can slip away either. There are cameras all over the grounds. She asks if they understand. There are cameras everywhere. So, they’re not leaving without a fight. Her eyes reveal what she is really trying to say.

The kids look at each other and prepare for battle. Tigra takes on X-23. Once they are at close quarters, Tigra asks if she knows they’re just pretending. Laura says she wasn’t sure, so Tigra asks her not to kill her. Striker zaps Hercules. He swings his arm to his forehead and cries, “I am undone! O cruel fates. Why have you cursed me so?” Striker tells him that he’s a horrible actor, but Herc replies that Sophocles disagreed. He should be quiet as his monologue has just begun.

Finesse takes on her own teammate Reptil. She tells him he remained on the side of the Avengers. Humberto replies that he still thinks they’re right. He cares about her, but he is not going to change what he believes for her. As she picks him up and hurls him at Striker, she tells him that perhaps there is hope for them yet. Hercules continues his overly-dramatic monologue as the giant Sentinel picks up Sebastian Shaw in its steely tendrils. Juston, sitting in the control booth on the robot’s left shoulder, tells Shaw that it’s an honor to meet him. He hears he built the Sentinels. Shaw reckons it’s more like he bankrolled them but he doesn’t remember any of it. But, the classic model before him stirs something in him. He finds it simple and elegant like a vintage car. He asks if it’s capable of self-repair. Juston replies yes. Shaw says good and then punches a hole in its chest, forcing it to release him.

Elsewhere, Dust creates a cloud in order to stop Lightspeed. Julie falls to the ground beside Striker who smiles. “Now that’s acting,” he tells her. She flashes a smile back and informs him that she just got a callback for a Lifetime movie. White Tiger finds herself pinned down by Primal. She tells the nearby Velocidad that she doesn’t believe his friend got the message. She doesn’t want to use her claws, but can he do something. “Fight,” barks Primal. “No, Teon. No fight. Sleep,” replies Velocidad. Primal looks up and repeats the word sleep before slumping on top of White Tiger, fast asleep. As he begins to snore, Ava grimaces. “Eww, his breath smells like sweaty socks,” she groans. Velocidad tells her that he’s always licking his feet. “Yes,” he adds with a wry grin. “Let’s go with feet…”

As Hercules concludes his histrionics, Tigra is zapped by Surge. It hurts a little, but she is the last to fall. With all the teachers and students of the academy down, Surge wonders what they do now. Sebastian Shaw informs her that now she charts her own course; something he’s come to realize is a rare and precious opportunity. He believes that he’s paid his debt for giving them a second chance and he would like to help Hope further if he could. However, it seems his presence causes more problems than it solves. So, he will make the most of the opportunity she’s given him. He asks Surge, if she sees Hope, to tell her he hopes that is enough.

Before they leave, Tigra grabs Shaw by the trouser leg and warns him that the school’s founder believes in second chances… and third and fourth. With her, he gets one. Make her regret it and she will go after him. Shaw understands. He doesn’t feel she is the sort of person who makes promises she won’t keep. He doesn’t want to be that either. So, he adds as he leaps from the cliff into the sea below, he will simply say that he understands the price of failure quite well.

Crosta follows him, saying that his place is in Atlantis. The Cuckoos state that they would like to find Miss Frost and the others. Madison Jeffries reckons that goes for most of them, but how? They say it’s quite easy. The security measures that prevented them from projecting their thoughts off-campus or influencing other’s minds have mysteriously failed. Pixie adds that whatever prevented her from teleporting have too. Handy, that. She supposes that she can now take them wherever they wish to go. Transonic says she wants to find Hope. With all that’s going on, she’s not sure that anyone’s bothered to ask what she wants. She owes her for some things that went on between them. Velocidad reckons that sounds good to him.

Surge tells X-23 that it looks like they’re heading off. She apologizes to Laura for going all ‘Mean Girl’ on her, especially after she stuck up for them. She’s glad Laura is back with them so she can make it up to her. Laura thanks her, but informs her that she isn’t back with them. She’s staying at the academy. Dust asks if she’s sure. “If this is about the things we said…” Laura assures her that it isn’t. Surge asks if the Avengers will be mad at her for taking their side. Hazmat reckons they won’t be any madder than they will at them. They’re the bad kids. They expect this kind of thing. Dust asks Laura if she can ask why. Laura thinks for a moment before replying that when she was uncertain what to do, Finesse helped her decide. She didn’t attempt to push her in any direction. She simply provided her with what she needed and expected nothing in return. She closes her eyes and says, “It was… nice.”

Laura hugs Dust, who tells her that if she ever needs them, they’ll be there for her, assuming the world doesn’t end, of course. Surge asks Pixie to take them out. She lights up and utters the magic words and, in a flash, they are gone. Tigra thanks God that’s over. They’re going to have some explaining to do once Cap and the others get back. Hercules asks her not to worry. He’ll do all the talking. Tigra sighs and reckons if they get lucky, the world will end. She then notices that they’ve left Loa behind. Loa turns and smiles. She explains that it was her call. She figured she’d hang out for a bit. She knows there’s a war going on and they are at a major turning point in mutant history, and tomorrow they could all die. She motions to the sea. “But have you seen those waves?”

Moments later, she and White Tiger are surfing, Mettle is chatting to Laura and Finesse has a relaxing sit down on the beach with Reptil. Tigra looks down at the having fun as Juston prepares to dive into the sea from his Sentinel’s hand. She asks Hercules if he thinks they did the right thing. Herc doesn’t know the answer to that, but he asks her to look at them. While their elders make war, they have found peace. If that is wrong, then he does not wish to be right. They head off towards the school. Tigra thinks they may have won the future of the whole Avengers versus X-Men thing. She only hopes the present lets them live to see it.

Characters Involved: 

Finesse, Hazmat, Lightspeed, Mettle, Reptil, Striker, White Tiger, X-23 (full-time students)
Hollow, Ricochet, Juston Seyfert and his Sentinel (part-time students)

Tigra (faculty)

Crosta, Dust, Loa, Pixie, Primal, Prodigy, Stepford Cuckoos, Surge, Transonic and Velocidad
Madison Jeffries and Dr. Kavita Rao (X-Club)

Sebastian Shaw

Hercules (guest tutor)

Story Notes: 

This is part of the AvX crossover.

Sophocles was a Greek playwright whose works include Oedipus the King and Electra.

Lifetime produces television shows and movie primarily aimed at a female audience.

Mean Girls is a very successful 2004 movie starring Lindsay Lohan, Rachel McAdams and Amanda Seyfried.
Continuity mistake: One of the Stepford Cuckoos is indentified as Sophie. But Sophie is one of the two dead sisters. The surviving Cuckoos are Celeste, Phoebe and Irma / Mindee.

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