Gambit and the X-Ternals #2

Issue Date: 
April 1995
Story Title: 
Where No External Has Gone Before !

Fabian Nicieza (writer), Tony Daniel (penciler), Kevin Conrad, Al Milgrom, Mike Christian (inker), Chris Eliopoulos (letterer), Marie Javins (colorist), Digital Chameleon (separations), Bob Harras (editor, editor in chief)

Brief Description: 

The X-Ternals find themselves on an alien planet and are immediately approached by the Imperial Guard. After a quick battle where both Starbolt and Gladiator are knocked for a loop, the X-Ternals head into the jungle to escape. They are able to hide from the Imperial Guard but are snagged by the plants and vines. A Shi’Ar / Mephistoid hybrid named Jonath comes along with his crew and releases them. He proceeds to tell them the recent history of the Shi’ar empire. Emperor D’Ken has forcefully wrested control over the empire, forcing his older sister Deathbird into exile. D’Ken’s mad quest for power caused him to tamper with the M’Kraan crystal and the expanding nexus is now endangering the entire universe. More and more frequently the crystal sends out waves of energy that cause the eradication of all reality for brief glimpses. Meanwhile Rictor, who followed the mutants through Lila’s teleportation gate, has surrendered to the Imperial Guard and makes a deal with them. He has a tracking device planted on one of them and will help to hunt them down if he can deliver the X-Ternals back to earth as his captives. Gladiator agrees and soon the Imperial Guard and Rictor crash in on the X-Ternals and their new friend. Unfortunately for everyone, the crystal wave starts enveloping the planet. Shortly after, almost everyone is crystallized. Luckily, the X-Ternals are beamed up to a ship piloted by the Starjammers, led by Deathbird. She explains that the crystal wanted to show them that it is not a mere piece of rock and that not only earth’s fate is in the hands of the mutants but that of the entire universe.

Full Summary: 

Continued directly from last issue, Lila has transported the X-Ternals to a new planet. Immediately they are pitted against the Imperial Guard. Gladiator orders them to surrender, but before Gambit can make a decision, Lila passes out from exhaustion. Guido dives to catch her causing Jubilee, who was riding his back, to fall over onto the ground. Roberto’s a little worried. He asks Gambit what they should do, especially now since he realized Rictor followed them through Lila’s portal. Their fearless leader’s strategy… Run! The X-Ternals charge off and the Imperials’ follow. Rictor doesn’t run, but instead lift his hands and surrenders to the Shi’Ar.

Starbolt flies by and knocks Jubilee over with a concussive blast. Then he fires away at Sunspot. Unfortunately for Starbolt, Sunspot is able to absorb his attack and throw it right back at him knocking him out of the fight. Bobby grabs Jubilee and flies her to safety. Next in comes Gladiator with a huge slab of rock. Guido tells Remy to get behind him and protect Lila. He then takes the full brunt of the attack. Gladiator walks over to check everything out. He’s greeted by Guido’s fist and is sent sky high. Now that they’ve bought themselves some time the X-Ternals decide to head into the forest to try to lose the Imperial Guard.

They make their way through the jungle. Gambit wonders what their next move should be. Suddenly, vines and plants reach out for them and snatch them up. When the Guard arrives at the same spot a few minutes later, they no longer find a trace of the mutants. They report back to Gladiator who isn’t happy to say the least. Gladiator wants to send a message to the Grand Vizier Araki and alert him to the X-Ternals presence and receive some reinforcements to help track them down. However Oracle suggests that they will use Rictor to find them, hoping that it will spare them from whatever painful repercussions would await the Guard if they should fail to deal with the intruders.

In a cavern beneath the jungle, the X-Ternals are still hung up in the vegetation. A group of people approach them. Their leader tells them that the plants are alive and sentient and they were strung up because they were hacking away at them. He also tells them the planet is dying. Lila hears this and realizes that it was the planet that made her teleport them there, as it called out to her.

At the planet’s main agricultural processing facility, Rictor lets the Imperial Guard know about his little secret. There’s a tracking device implanted on one of the X-Ternals and that’s how he can follow them. Oracle scans him to see if he’s telling the truth. She sees that he is and wonders more if their presence has anything to do with the dangers foreseen by D’Ken’s telepathic spies. Telepathically reading Rictor’s mind, she finds that he knows nothing about it, he considers the X-Ternals nothing more than a mere band of outlaws. Suddenly reality is interrupted by a BLINK and Oracle falls over. Gladiator rushes to her side and she tells him that D’Ken’s spies were right. This planet is the next one to fall under the nexus expansion. Oracle wishes that D’Ken had never tampered with the crystal in the first place.

Rictor wants to know what they’re going to do about the X-Ternals and how he will be rewarded. Gladiator is fuming and choke slams him into the wall, stating that he will be allowed to live. Rictor tells him about his mutant powers and how he will destroy the tracking device if he won’t let go. Gladiator backs down and asks what Rictor wants. Julio tells him that once they capture the X-Ternals he wants them to be given to him to take back to his planet for past crimes committed.

Having been released from the sentient plants, the X-Ternals are gathered around Jonath, the man who rescued them, who is a hybrid of Shi’Ar and Mephistoid. He tells them the “Blinks” are brief glimpses of the eradication of all reality. Then he tells them the recent history of the Shi’ar emporium. He was part of the Jath’che, an assassin cadre devoted to protecting the Shi’ar throne. The emperor was assassinated by his children and so the Jath’che were banished to the planet they are on now and became farmers. Emperor D’Ken found the M’Kraan crystal and used it to take the throne from his older sister Deathbird. Then he killed his younger sister Lilandra who was admiral of the grand fleet and took over the armada and the Imperial Guard. Now the universe is falling apart because of his tampering with the M’Kraan.

They now realize that this planet will soon be hit by the crystal wave. Jubilee is pretty upset. She doesn’t want to die on this alien planet. They were only supposed to steal a little rock, but now they are in way over their heads. Jonath tells her it was meant for them to be here as witnesses. The crystal has told the planet this and the planet in-turn has told them. The team is unsure of what to do, but Jonath assures them they are warriors and they were meant to fight this fight.

Out of nowhere the Imperial Guard along with Rictor bust into the cave. Things are getting hectic and Gambit wants Lila to transport them out. Guido objects out of fear of Lila hurting herself by pushing herself too far. A large “Blink” occurs and the crystal wave is upon them. Another “Blink” and half of them are crystallized. Guido retracts his earlier comment and asks if Lila can ‘port. She is unable to and the X-Ternals face the end with dignity. A weird sound rings through the air and the X-Ternals begin to fade. Rictor screams out to Gladiator that the X-Ternals are vanishing. Then they disappear.

The X-Ternals find themselves on a ship and are met by the Starjammers who are led by Deathbird. They know the X-Ternals are the ones who are supposed to save the universe. Deathbird sets the ship to leave the area and they’re off. They all watch out the ship’s monitor as the planet below turns to glass. In the background, the ship’s computer alerts them to two lifeforms who are exiting the planet. Deathbird tells them the crystal wanted them to see the destruction of the planet. It wanted them to know there is much more to their mission than stealing a piece of the crystal. Gambit punches the ship and rips some of the wires out and after charging them holds them up. He declares that if the X-Ternals are supposed to save the universe, then that is what they’re going to do.

Characters Involved: 

Lila Cheney, Gambit, Guido, Jubilee, Sunspot (all X-Ternals)

Ch’od, Deathbird, Hepzibah, Raza Longknife (all Starjammers)

Rictor, leader of the Infinites

Fang, Gladiator, Hobgoblin, Impulse, Mentor, Nightside, Oracle, Scintilla, Smasher, Starbolt, Titan, Warstar (all Imperial Guard)

Story Notes: 

Art error - in one panel Oracle has no hair.
The plotline where D’Ken messed with the M’Kraan and Phoenix saved the day (Uncanny X-Men #107-109) seems to be the background for the whole crystal wave expansion seen in this series. Unfortunately in the Age of Apocalypse Jean Grey never became Phoenix to repair the crystal in time, and since Xavier was not around to be contacted by Lilandra the X-Men never even met the Shi’Ar.
Lilandra was killed by D’Ken years ago.
The art of the first three pages is an homage to the first three pages of Uncanny X-Men #107. The X-Ternals are in the same position as the X-Men, with Lila Cheney being in the spot of Phoenix (who empowered a stargate to transport the team into Shi’Ar space), and the Imperial Guard has almost the same line-up.
Question : Why does Gambit rip out the wires of the Starjammers equipment, other than to look cool ?

Issue Information: 
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