New Exiles #3

Issue Date: 
May 2008
Story Title: 
The Panther’s Vengeance!

Chris Claremont (writer), Tom Grummett (penciler), Scott Hanna (inker), Wilfredo Quintana (colorist), Tom Orzechowski (letterer), Jordan D. White (assistant editor), Mark Paniccia (senior editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

Rogue and the Namor family set about planning their next move. Namor has another place they can go to lie low, and thanks to Rogue’s ability to fly and Sue’s invisible jet they depart for safer pastures. While in Alexandria, Shadowclaw tells Psylocke and Sabretooth about the possible whereabouts of their female friend. During the briefing Sabretooth grabs Psylocke and kisses her. Psylocke kisses him back, surprising even herself. It gets even weirder when Sabretooth seemingly has no idea what he’s doing. Then he goes back to his old self and Psylocke suddenly finds it harder and harder to concentrate. Elsewhere, Bloodwitch laughs as she feels herself gain control over Psylocke. Back in the Sahara, Rogue sets the plane down in a barren valley. Namor then leads the group to a cave where he used to hide as a kid. Soon after Psylocke, Sabretooth and Shadowclaw arrive. They take them in as friends and are surprised when Sabretooth and Psylocke turn on them and start taking everybody out. Then Bloodforce shows up with some extra members, Sandstorm and Iron Maiden and things go from bad to worse. Luckily, Psylocke and Sabretooth turn sides again and take out Bloodwitch. The battle rages on. Bloodforce is all but beaten when Black Panther arrives and grabs Sue, placing her sharp nails against Sue’s neck. She threatens to kill her if they try anything else.

Full Summary: 

Earth #6706

Sahara Desert

The desert stretches as far as the eye can see. And it is in one portion of this desolate landscape that Rogue stands watch over the band of thugs that earlier attacked and captured the royal Atlantean family. They sit cross-legged and bound, heads bowed in desolation.
Rogue checks on the royal family inside the tent and finds them hugging and worrying over each other. Johnny asks his mom if he can feed the bad guys to his shark. Sue tells him to be nice.
They move outside to discuss their next move. Gambit suggests Rogue head to Alexandria to find Queen Ororo and see if she knows anything about her missing friends. He also recommends she take the bandits with her and turn them over for sentencing. Namor advises Sue to take the children and go with Rogue too. Sue doesn’t want to hear any of that and argues with her husband about his overprotective sensibilities. She tells Namor they’ll face the future as a family.
Namor asks her to be reasonable and points out he can’t carry them all. Gambit interrupts his parents quarrel to add Rogue can fly. Rogue’s quick to agree to help, but isn’t sure how she’ll carry everyone safely. Sue says she’ll handle that part.
A little bit later Namor and his family are boarded onto Sue’s invisible jet construct. Rogue worries if Sue will be able to hold it together. Sue assures her after lots of experience creating force fields five miles deep in the ocean it’ll be child’s play.
Rogue stares upwards at her charges, hands on her hips. She remarks on how weird it is to see them all floating there midair. Gambit arcs his thumb towards his mom and tells “sugah” he’s got one very cool mom.
Rogue lifts into the air and grabs hold of the jet. Rogue asks which way to go. Namor tells her to head due west. All of a sudden Rogue feels something closing in around her. Alarmed, she asks what’s happening. Sue explains she’s extending the force field so she’ll be invisible like them and also protected from the elements. And with that they’re off.

Shadowclaw finds Psylocke and Sabretooth and tells them of a report Queen Ororo received involving a band of marauders in the sub Sahara who may have encountered one of their friends. The queen wants them to investigate.
Psylocke eyes up the computer screen showing a map of Africa. She remarks on the shape of the Atlantic coast. Creed tells her that’s what happens when your world’s hit by a meteor storm. Psylocke argues the impact pattern is all wrong. Sabretooth tells her it’s not their world, therefore not their problem. He then grabs her by the waist and kisses her. Psylocke breaks free and demands to know what he’s doing. Sabretooth tells her what comes naturally.
Shadowclaw walks away, a bit uncomfortable with what’s going on. She can’t believe Psylocke is giving in to Sabretooth’s desires. She thought she had a stronger will than that. Nonetheless, the two Exiles lock lips once more. When they next break their kiss, Psylocke is practically breathless commenting how she’s never been kissed like that before. Sabretooth on the other hand has a shocked expression on his face. He then acts like he doesn’t know what’s happening.
Psylocke wonders if Creed’s ok. Sabretooth’s expression turns back to normal and he tells her he’s never felt better after a kiss. Psylocke turns and wonders if she imagined it all, but she’s pretty sure he looked very lost for a moment. She asks Sabretooth why he kissed her. Sabes claims Psylocke likes him and he admits he likes her and says life’s too short to waste any moments.
Psylocke disagrees with his assessment. Creed argues that his heightened senses give him the ability to read people pretty well. Psylocke turns and starts to walk away. Sabretooth goads her, asking if it bothers her that he can read her so easily. Psylocke has a foreboding feeling that something’s very wrong.
Sabretooth keeps running his mouth and Psylocke suddenly finds herself having difficulty focusing. She covers her ears with her hands, but it doesn’t help. Psylocke’s thoughts suddenly become extremely focused. She smiles, unexpectedly excited to discover where Sabretooth’s advances will take her.
Elsewhere, Bloodwitch smiles. She senses her control over Psylocke strengthen thanks to the shared kiss with Sabretooth and although neither of them can hear her she tells them both they now belong to her.
Southern Sahara

Rogue finally sets down in a barren valley and everyone disembarks. Namor starts leading the group through the rough terrain. Rogue worries whether Namor knows what he’s doing, but Sue assures her he’s never let them down before.
Soon after they reach the entrance to a cave, to which Namor explains is much more than a cave. Gambit seems a little perturbed that his father’s been keeping secrets again. They enter and discover a hidden, decrepit city. Namor explains the land wasn’t always a desert, but earthquakes changed the topography and the rivers dried up causing the arable fields to turn to dust. Namor says this is all that’s left of the original glory.
The twins want to go exploring, hoping to find treasure or food. Sue asks Remy to go along with them and keep them out of the trouble. The rest follow Namor as he leads them through the labyrinthine structure. Rogue asks how long he’s known about the place. Namor says it was his hideout when he was a kid. Rogue looks around apprehensively. She voices her concerns about the place only having one way in or out and points out it’s an easy place to get trapped in. Namor tells her to have faith and assures her everything will be ok.
Rogue’s still not happy and Sue shares in her discomfort. She says she felt that way the first time he told her to trust him. They were deep underwater and she was out of air and he wanted her to remove her helmet. She did so, trusting in his love and the fact she was going to die anyway, and discovered he’d altered her genome to give her the ability to breathe underwater and in the air, just like him. Sue’s lovely story is interrupted by Gambit who yells out they have company.
Rogue rushes to the cave entrance to join Remy and the two kids. It turns out to only be Psylocke, Sabretooth and Shadowclaw. They join the others inside and Rogue asks how they managed to find them. Sabretooth explains Psylocke flew up to the edge of space and, knowing where she started from, followed the air current path. They also took care of the marauders, he adds.
Johnny looks up at Sabretooth and tells his father he doesn’t like him, that he feels wrong. Namor apologizes to Sabretooth for his son’s behavior. Sabretooth tells him it’s not a big deal, in fact the kid nailed it. He then proceeds to deck Namor while Psylocke bops Sue. Rogue is the next to get nailed by Psylocke. Sabretooth also moves on to someone else, Shadowclaw. She proclaims her foolishness at having believed Sabretooth free of Bloodwitch’s control before Sabes knocks her lights out.
Gambit tells his siblings to get close and stay together. Then he leaps toward Sabretooth and kicks him in the face. He is shocked how much his foot hurts after the mighty blow. It’s as if his skeleton is reinforced with some type of armor substance. Sabretooth tells Gambit to give up and spare the little ones some grief. He and Psylocke charge them but meet resistance against an invisible force field provided by Gambit.
Enter Bloodwitch who proudly reminds the duo they’ll never be free of her. Sabretooth and Psylocke writhe in agony as Bloodwitch more firmly asserts control. Her boasts do not go unheard as the rest of Panther’s Bloodforce enter the cave. Iron Maiden reminds Bloodwitch whom she serves. Rough Justice says she won’t forget after what happened last time. Bloodwitch mutters something about one day evening the score, but then Black Dog tells them all to stop talking and get to hitting.
Bloodwitch moves toward her two victims and caresses both their cheeks. She remarks on how delicious it is to see them both struggle so. She says they taste so much better when she wins. Blackdog, meanwhile, gets to work on the force field. He can’t bust through, but contends the field can’t be sustained forever. Ari agrees with Blackdog and pressures her brother to do something about it.
Luckily, he doesn’t have to do anything as Sabretooth and Psylocke’s astral forms take down Bloodwitch’s with a combo attack. The force of the attack on her astral self knocks Bloodwitch unconscious. Both Sabretooth and Psylocke wish they could have hit her for real. Sabretooth adds that with Psylocke’s power making her functionally immune to psychic control and how he never gets nailed the same way twice they had to run the bluff to get the drop on Panther’s Bloodforce.
Mad Dog’s not one for sitting on his laurels and immediately goes after Sabretooth. Creed orders the ladies to take care of the rest. Sue comes to, rubs her head and asks what’s going on. Mad Dog answers by tackling her and slamming her down into the ground.
Sandstorm enters the fray, introducing himself by producing a powerful sandstorm. He threatens to flay the skin off everyone’s bones. His expression then turns to one of surprise as his winds are being blocked. He searches for the culprit and finds Sue Storm has erected a large bubble around him. She admonishes him for threatening her children.
Sue tells Sandstorm he answers to her and she doesn’t feel like being merciful. Psylocke asks Namor is she’s serious to which Namor replies that when someone threatens the children all bets are off.
Sandstorm confidently tells Sue she can’t hold him. Sue’s face intensifies as she tells him she’s doing a pretty good job so far. In fact, she’s just as happy if he doesn’t want to yield as she’ll keep compressing her force field until there’s nothing left. As she says this the bubble in which Sandstorm is floating begins to shrink around him.
Meanwhile Rough Justice opens fire on a charging Sabretooth. He hits Creed with everything he’s got, but to his surprise Sabretooth keeps coming. Creed even snarks about the amount of ordnance Rough Justice has on him and how impressed people should be. Rough Justice is scared and just wants Sabretooth to die already.
Sabretooth bares his fangs and tells Rough Justice his bones don’t break and his wounds heal fast, and that sooner or later RJ’s going to run out of ammo or he’s going to get close enough to him to do some damage. With that, Sabretooth moves in and swipes at the young man, tearing off a section of his armor and armament.
Nearby, Psylocke and Iron Maiden duke it out. Iron Maiden fires a repulsor ray, which almost nails Betsy. Psylocke realizes she’s going to have her hands full with this one.
Back at the Creed fight Shadowclaw comes over and decks Rough Justice. She tells Sabretooth to leave him to her and go help his friends.
Also on the helping end is Rogue, who grabs Iron Maiden by the leg and begins swinging her around. Rogue smashes her into the wall and Psylocke thanks her for the assist.
Everything then comes to a head when Johnny screams out to his dad that something’s happened to mom. As if on cue Sandstorm, now free, unleashes the full fury of his winds. The Exiles and their friends are forced to take cover as the sand beats on them furiously.
When the sand has settled they check to make sure everyone is all right. Namor is the first to see that it is not so as his gaze falls upon Black Panther and her claws poised at his wife’s throat. Black Panther threatens things are going to get worse if he’s not careful. Any wrong move, she warns, and it will cost him his wife.

Characters Involved: 

Psylocke, Mystiq/Blackdog, Rogue, Sabretooth (all Exiles)
Ari, Erin, Gambit, Johnny, Namor, Susan Storm

Black Panther, Blackdog/Mystiq, Bloodwitch, Iron Maiden, Rough Justice, Sandstorm (all Panther’s Bloodforce)
Samood, various thugs

Story Notes: 

According to the Recap Page the meteor disaster took place 50 years ago, once again coming into conflict with the previous issue’s 30 year claim.
At the very beginning of the issue we’re given a glimpse of the Omniverse. The panel then zooms toward Earth #6706. It is explained that “Earth’s” designation is actually Sol III. In other words each version of Earth throughout Crosstime is officially named Sol III.
It’s a good assumption Sue’s son Johnny was named after her deceased brother.
What exactly was going on with Sabretooth and Psylocke at the palace is unclear. If what they said in the cave was true then neither of them were truly under Bloodwitch’s control, yet they both acted strangely in the palace and Bloodwitch was able to sense gaining control over Psylocke from wherever she was located.
SPOILER FOR NEXT ISSUE: The Sue Storm captured by Black Panther is actually Mystiq in disguise. This is revealed next issue, although it’s never shown or explained when the switch occurred. It is also mentioned next issue that Mystiq took the cover of Blackdog, presumably in the second issue when they were battling one on one, so it could also be assumed Mystiq took the place of Sue when “Blackdog” tackled her during the battle. The fate of the real Blackdog is unknown.
The Exiles “Letters Page” is officially named “Tallus About It!” in this issue thanks to Lisa Rys, contest winner.
Cat Pryde answers the letters this issue, the first issue to actually have letters.

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