Bishop : The Last X-Man #9

Issue Date: 
June 2000
Story Title: 
Locomotive Breath

Joseph Harris (writer), Georges Jeanty (pencils), Art Thibert & Allen Martinez (inks), Jason Wright (colors), Jon Babcock (letters), Mike Marts (editor), Bob Harras (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

Bishop and the others are walking over train tracks. They want to reach the next town before nightfall, where Bishop hopes to find more allies for the upcoming battle against the Chronomancer. However, they are confronted by a giant called Tull. To their surprise, Tull looks just like Nom and used to believe that he was the last of the giant race, to which both he and Nom belong. Tull claims that the tracks belong to him and that the team can find a transport train in the town ahead. If they repair the train, Tull will let them use it. They make it to the city, where the villagers and their leader, Williams John, becomes upset when they see Nom, because he’s a giant like Tull, who has been causing problems for them, as he won’t let them leave the town anymore. Nom gets left behind while the others restore the train, and Bishop promises Williams to help them deal with Tull, in exchange for their help against Fitzroy. As he heads back to Tull, Nom learns more about the history of the giants, and that they were once ruled by King Azeroth. However, Tull believes that one day Azeroth will return to restore the once great status the giants had, but that can only be if there’s only one giant left. And he wants to be that last one. He fights Nom on the bridge, which breaks apart and Nom almost falls to his death. Back at the town, Bishop and the others have restored the train, which is accidentally activated by Michael and runs out of control. The team can also hear the battle noises up ahead and go to investigate. Scorch helps out his friend Nom, who climbs back on the bridge and punches Tull off of it. Tull begs Nom to pull him back up, as he can tell him more about the giants, claiming that others of their kind are still out there, though in hiding. Nom pulls Tull up, but he betrays Nom and the battle continues. As the train continues its wild ride, it hits Tull, who falls off the bridge. As the train hits the ground, it explodes and the explosion seems to have taken Tull’s life. Nom is safe again and, when alone, he stares at his hand, which has a tattoo of Azeroth on it. Williams and the other villagers offer their help against Fitzroy, and agree to follow Bishop’s lead. Meanwhile at his castle, Fitzroy treats his prisoner, Shard, to a rich dinner, but she refuses to touch it because she doesn’t need to. Fitzroy claims he can help Shard deal with her new powers, and that he knows more about them than Shard. He suggests that she thinks about it.

Full Summary: 

Bishop’s statements:

“We’re back on the march to ward war. Three towns visited and four days gone when Scorch makes a discovery.”

Scorch notices that the train tracks they are walking on are made from metal, and laid along the ground. Bishop tries to scout ahead and believes the next town shouldn’t be far, and tells his team he would like to reach it before nightfall. He realizes that a fight with the Chronomancer will take all the allies they can find. Michael explains to Scorch that they are walking on train tracks. Scorch just calls the tracks painful, as do his toes! Jinx asks Scorch to stop being so dramatic. Bishop sees that the tracks look old, like everything else he has come across in this world. But he also sees how the tracks gleams in certain places, and that the dirt is level between the ties. He’s certain someone tends these tracks. But he agrees with Jinx: there’s nothing sinister about a pair of train tracks. He only wishes they had something to ride them on.

Bishop’s statements:

“We’ve been traveling for weeks following the discovery at the X-Men’s long-abandoned hideout. There we had found the mutant tracking computer known as Cerebro. And in reactivating it after many years lost, pinpointed the location of Trevor Fitzroy, aka the Chronomancer! Now we just have to get there if we have any hope of stopping him. In these past days, I have learned that Scorch can transform his body into living flame. Jinx can strafe like a ghost... she’s speedy, and always a split-second ahead of a watcher’s eye. Link can read minds, and Nom... Nom is simply strong.”

As Bishop speaks out his wish, a cracking sound of wheels is behind the group. Michael hears it and wonders what’s going on. A loud voice demands to know who tries to pass this place, as these tracks belong to him... Tull! The team turns themselves around and are amazed by the sight of a huge, grey-skinned and hooded creature standing in front of them. And the crazy thing is that Tull looks a lot like Nom.

Tull immediate notices that Nom is also a big one, and strong and tall like all giants are. Except, all the giants are gone, except for Nom... and now Tull himself, the giant creature adds. Tull sighs, and states that Nom sure is big... but not as big as he is. Tull laughs at that remark. Bishop excuses himself and the others, because they had no idea these tracks belonged to him. Tull says that, now, Bishop does know. Bishop adds that, if they had known earlier, they would have surely asked permission to cross them.

Bishop asks Tull if he has any means to travel across the tracks. Tull thinks Bishop wants a “chak-choo,” which also belongs to him. Tull mentions he might let Bishop use the transport, if he fixes it first. He asks the team to follow him. Scorch laughs at how stunned everyone looks, and Michael wonders if Tull has a train they can use. Tull says that they’ll find the chak-choo in the city up ahead, and leads the team there.

Bishop’s statements:

“We had believed our giant Nom to be unique. Even he considered himself to be the last of his kind. And in that, we shared a tragic kinship. The things I come across in this world never cease to amaze me...”

Tull tells the team they’ll have to fix the vehicle, and he’ll let them use it then. He also tells them not to be afraid of the bridge: it also belongs to him, but he’ll escort them across it. Michael asks Bishop if this means they’ll follow Tull. Scorch admits to Bishop he knows he may be a little cautious at times, but he doesn’t really trust Tull. He noticed the way he looked at Nom. Bishop only knows Tull said he’s got a train they can use. Besides, Bishop noticed that Nom looks more curious than worried. And so, the team crosses the bridge carefully. Wood cracks beneath their feet. Wind howls below. But they have a mission to perform, and no one said it would be easy.

While walking on the tracks, Link reads Tull’s mind and telepathically reports this to Jinx. Jinx mocks that she guesses there must be a lot of open space in Tull’s mind. Link has learned that the village looks normal enough. And Tull appears to be telling the truth about the train. Tull stops walking and tells the group to come back with the train, and promises to wait on this exact spot.

Michael finds a sign and asks what it means. Tull sighs, and tells Michael to keep up with his others friends, claiming it’s not safe for a little boy like him to be alone. Michael sarcastically says “right” and continues to walk away. Tull sighs again, and rests his arm on the sign, which reads, “none shall pass”

The team continues their walk. Link supposes that following the tracks is as good a way as any to locate this “chak-choo” Tull was talking about. Scorch agrees, if that means they don’t have to walk as much. He suggests they just find the train and get out of there. They reach the city, but it looks empty. Then, when Jinx looks behind them, she can’t see Tull anymore and wonders where he could have gone. Suddenly, someone starts throwing rocks on Nom, who tries to dodge them. A voice angrily shouts, “Oh God... there’s another one of them!” A man with a beard and a scar over his eye asks what Nom wants from them. The man refuses to deal with two giants now!

Bishop defends that they’re not there to fight, and that they only seek help. Bishop introduces himself and mentions that they’re looking for something the villagers have. The man with the beard introduces himself as Williams John. He claims the villagers haven’t selected a leader of any sort in a long time, but he supposes he fits the role. He then asks Bishop what he wants. Bishop explains to Williams that the giant at the bridge told them the town has a... vehicle that might help them in their travels. Bishop adds that they don’t have any money to pay for it, but are willing to barter for its use. The giant said the vehicle belonged to him.

Williams laughs at Bishop’s statement of “the giant at the bridge.” He shouts that, if the giant was smart enough to fix the vehicle by himself, he would. Instead, he sits beneath the bridge all day, preventing any of the villagers from leaving. Bishop now realizes that Tull was all too willing to let them enter the town. He suggests to Williams that they would like to help this town. And whether John helps them or not is up to him. Scorch remembers Bishop’s earlier statement about finding allies wherever they can find them. He thinks he knows what Bishop has in mind, but tells Nom he thinks it would be best he stays behind for a while. Scorch joins the group in making battle plans, and Nom is left alone at the back.

John guides Bishop and the others through the town. He reveals that Tull came over about a year ago. He saw no one was big enough to stop him, and set himself up underneath the bridge. He won’t let anyone pass without paying a price. When Bishop asks what sort of price, John replies he is talking about food and drinks. What little the town has left since Tull blocked their only means of exit or trade. The other settlements in the area aren’t much help. And John can’t say he can blame them, either. Bishop suggests that they should stand together, with a leader to unite everyone.

Hearing this, Scorch asks Bishop if he could speak with him privately. He reveals that, when they found Nom years ago, he was lost and alone. They knew nothing of his history. Yet they accepted Nom, even though he wasn’t one of them. Scorch would trust Nom with his life, but that doesn’t extend to others of Nom’s kind. Bishop understands. He promises to make this quick.

Bishop suggests to Williams that they will deal with Tull in exchange for help. He knows that sometimes the best way to deal with a bully is out-bully him. Bishop asks John what he’ll do afterwards. John doesn’t understand. Bishop explains to him they fought a bully of their own, one whose accompanying misery dwarves that which Tull makes the villagers feel. Bishop adds that he and his team fight the biggest of bullies. That bully’s name is the Chronomancer and, against him, they could use this town’s help. John and Bishop shake hands and John promises to listen to what Bishop has to say, but warns Bishop that the giant is a nasty one.

Elsewhere on the tracks, Tull grins.

Back at the town, John tells Bishop they’ve got other problems to deal with. They find a half-destroyed and dusty train, and Bishop jokes that really makes a “chak-choo.” Scorch also mocks that the train doesn’t look too comfortable. He wonders what Nom is up to.

Meanwhile, Nom has headed back to the tracks. He looks down and finds an opening in the caves below. He jumps off the tracks and enters the cave. There, he is shocked to find hieroglyphs of... more giants like him?! And the pictures are about giants lining up to honor their king, who sits on a throne like a pharaoh. Nom touches them gently with his hand, and wonders quietly. Tull appears behind them and reveals that, back in the day, there were many giants. And they were mighty. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case today. He thinks Nom sees now what he didn’t see before, and realizes Nom isn’t stupid.

Tull further reveals that, in the past, mighty Azeroch lead giants to glory, for many days and nights. That was before time caught up with the giants, and before they began to fade away from the world. Azeroch said he would come again in time of the giant’s greatest need. Tull angrily leaves the cave, thinking Azeroch is too late. Once the giant is gone, Nom stares at his hand... which has a tattoo of Azeroch painted on it!

Meanwhile, Bishop and the others have succeeded in restoring the train. Bishop brags that a little hard work and dedication go a long way. He suggests they continue north, and says that’s though faster than hoped, and quicker than expected. He whispers quietly that, “By the Maker, such an old engine never looked so futuristic”. Jinx has explored the train inside and reports it’s still musty there, but cleaned out what they could. Scorch compliments it’s quite the rediscovery. Jinx wonders if the train will work now. Michael has a look at the control wheel, and finds it cool.

Bishop and Scorch find some sediment lying around. He touches it and it looks like coal, which Bishop believes to be usable. But he wants the engine cleared, and tells Scorch he’s the only one who can give the engine what it needs. Scorch agrees to do it, because that means they won’t have to walk to the Chronomancer’s party. He throws some of his fire powers in the engine, and the train works again! Bishop now wants to see how difficult it is to save this city, and tells Scorch to go fetch Nom and to tell him it’s time to go.

Back on the bridge, Tull is still taking to Nom, who’s quietly staring in front of him. Tull reveals that giants come from Northlands, though nobody knows what happened to them. Tull only knows he is the last of the giants, at least he was before Nom got there. Tull thinks Nom believes Azeroch will come to restore the glory the giants once had. However, until that day comes, Tull refuses that another giant will be out there.

He rips one of the metal tracks lose, and tries to hit Nom with it, shouting that Azeroch won’t save him! Nom luckily rolls into safety just in time without getting hit. Tull looks angry with Nom, asking Nom who he thinks he is, being so small and making friends with humans. He claims that Nom isn’t good enough to be the last giant. Tull hits Nom in the face, but he quickly recovers and tries to fight back. However Tull laughs at him and doesn’t believe Nom is strong enough to defeat him.

Nom beats Tull severely and blood sprays from his face. Tull believes that Nom will want to know more about the giants and will discover then that he doesn’t want to fight him. But, Tull still believes there can only be one “last giant” and wants himself to be that one. He gets back up and punches Nom off the bridge!

The cracking of the bridge can be heard even in the nearby down. Bishop realizes what must be going on and tells Jinx to get Michael out of there. Jinx jumps out of the train and tells Michael to follow her. However, he gets his shoe stuck between a handle, which gets the train moving! Michael falls out of the train and Jinx catches him in her arms. Michael warns Bishop and Scorch about the moving train, and Bishop believes this can only be a bad thing. Williams agrees.

On the battlefield, Nom managed to hold on against the remains of the bridge. However, Tull still wants to kill Nom and takes out a knife to do it. He thinks that Nom might be starting to like Azeroch, and Tull mocks that, maybe after Nom’s dead, he’ll paint pictures of him in his cave and might use Nom’s blood to draw them. Scorch arrives and hits Tull with his flames, warning him to get away from his friend. The train starts getting closer as well. Nom pulls himself back up and pushes Tull off the bridge in return. Tull begs Nom not to let him die, claiming he can tell him more things about the giants, claiming that there are still more giants out there, but are in hiding. Nom pulls Tull back up, but then Tull once again punches Nom off the bridge, and calls him stupid. The train moves closer and hits Tull in the back, causing him to fall of the bridge again, into the depths below. The train explodes on impact, and the explosion seems to have caught Tull as well.

Scorch believes that Nom must have fallen down as well and believes his friend to be dead. Bishop tries to tell Scorch this wasn’t his fault. But then, Nom’s hand can be seen trying to pull back up, and Bishop, Scorch and Jinx help their friend out. As they pull Nom up, Bishop wonders what Nom would say, if he were able to speak. They go back to the town, where Williams and the villagers can’t thank Bishop and the others enough. Their help inspired the villagers so much and see it as a wake-up call. John does warn Bishop that he faces incredible odds, and a threat which is worse than a thousand Tulls. Bishop corrects John that they face a threat to the entire world.

John promises that the villagers will follow Bishop, if he lets them. Bishop smiles that he wouldn’t have it any other way, though it looks like they’ll still have to walk. And so, everyone starts packing their things, and follow Bishop’s lead. At the back of the row, Nom again looks quietly at the tattoo of Azeroth on the palm of his hand, and ponders it.

Epilogue. At Fitzroy’s castle...

Fitzroy admits he has been meaning to do this for some time now, and is pleased his guest agreed to join him. He claims that the... inhabitants of this land have not yet seen fit to socialize with him. And so, his guest’s company is most welcome. Sitting behind a table, Fitzroy knows this has all been a bit... jarring for his guest. And he was hoping to melt the ice between them a bit. After all, her brother means so much for the both of them. And, Fitzroy claims, the only thing they’ve got left is each other. He stands up and tells his guest that the food is usually quite good, and he picks the wine personally. He tells his guest to relax and enjoy the meal.

At the end of the table, Shard quietly looks away from Fitzroy. Eventually, she says that she doesn’t eat. Fitzroy, calling Shard “little one,” replies he forgot about that. He knows that, technically, she is no longer alive. He knows people now call Shard a “photon-based” lifeform and finds that such a shame. He knows her flesh has died, and that Shard has been brought back as this ghost-like being. That means she can never again know the... complexities of taste. Or the pleasure of touch. Fitzroy does remember how Shard used to respond.

Shard begins to cry, begging Fitzroy to stop this. Fitzroy tells Shard she is so much more than flesh, and adds that she doesn’t even realize it. He wants to know what would make her happy, because he has the means to give it to her. He picks up a purple apple and creates a force field around it using just his hands. He orders the Chronotroopers to put her back in shackles. They try, but Shard’s hand phases through it. With the rest of her body still intact, Shard stares in disbelieve. Fitzroy concludes the dinner by suggesting that Shard thinks about what he said.

Characters Involved: 

Bishop, Jinx, Link, Michael, Nom, Scorch


Williams John

various other people (unnamed)

Chronomancer (Trevor Fitzroy)

Chronotroopers (unnamed)


On hieroglyphs:

Azeroch (king of the giants)

other giants like Nom and Tull (all unnamed)

Story Notes: 

First appearance of Tull, Williams John and the other villagers.

This tattoo on Nom’s hand would indicate that he’s actually the long lost king of the giants, Azeroch. However, since that’s not completely clear, Nom could also be a descendant of the king.

“The Maker” is what Bishop called “Forge” in his timeline. Apparently, Forge did some great things in Bishop’s timeline, which caused him to be praised by his fellow mutants. What those things are, however, are unknown at this point.

More about Shard’s death and resurrection can be found throughout the miniseries “X.S.E.” #3-4. More about how Shard received her current lifeform state can be found in Bishop: The Mountjoy Crisis #2 and Uncanny X-Men Annual 1996.

Issue Information: 
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