New Mutants (2nd series) #13

Issue Date: 
June 2004
Story Title: 
The More Things Change

Nunzio Defilippis & Christina Weir (Writers), Khary Rhandolph (Pencils), Rich Perotta (Inks), Dave Sharpe (Letters), Avalon Studios’ Ian Hannin & Rob Ro (Colors), Randy Green (Cover), Stephanie Moore & Cory Sedlmeier (Assistant Editors), Mike Marts (Editor), Joe Quesada (Editor In Chief), Dan Buckley (Publisher)

Brief Description: 

Justin Pierce, an F.B.I. agent, and the nephew of Donald Pierce, leader of the Reavers, arrives at The Cage to, reluctantly, make a deal with his uncle on behalf of his superiors. They need information on Kevin Ford. Back at the recently destroyed Institute, Shan, Dani, and Rahne are reunited with their former New Mutants teammates, Sam, Amara, and Roberto. They reminisce and learn things about each other that have happened recently. Soon, Pierce, while being transported, escapes from custody, and Justin quickly warns Dani and the others of the danger. Pierce gets Duncan and the rest of his Reavers together so they can get revenge on Josh Foley, the traitor. Dani comes up with a plan to beat Pierce using Josh as bait, and the resources of the F.B.I. The plan works and the former New Mutants manage to defeat Pierce and the Reavers, though Duncan escapes. They realize they still make a great team, and Sam asks Dani to quit teaching and join the X-Men with him, and she tells him she needs time to think it over…

Full Summary: 

Somewhere off the coast of France there is an island prison known as The Cage. A large prison guard welcomes another man, who introduces himself as Justin Pierce. He says he is with the American Federal Bureau of Investigation, Metahuman Crimes Division. He is here to see Donald Pierce, and the guard tells him he knows who he is. As they walk town a corridor, the guard informs Justin that Donald isn’t a pretty sight. Some mutant decayed the flesh right off his cybernetic body. Justin asks if anyone has taken care of that. It’s been months. The guard says it isn’t their problem. They imprison them—they don’t have to make them look good. He then asks why he cares. His government is planning to execute him. Justin tells him he wouldn’t be so sure about that...

As the guard opens the door to let Justin into Donald Pierce’s cell, he tells him he won’t need to worry about his cybernetics in there. The containment field shuts down all functions but life support. Justin says it is good to know as he steps into the cell and says hello to his uncle. Donald Pierce, with a robotic frown, tells Justin not to call him that. He doesn’t have the right. If he was a real nephew, he would have gotten him out of there already. Justin tells him that he is a real nephew, but he’s also a real Federal Agent and Donald is a killer.

Donald says Justin must be overjoyed to see him facing execution, but Justin says he won’t be facing execution. Against his protests, Justin’s superiors have decided to offer Donald a deal. Justin turns and faces the door, and continues to the subject of the student from Xavier’s who took away Donald’s skin. Kevin Ford. They want Donald’s testimony about his powers. Donald asks if they are going to prosecute Kevin for what he did to him, but Justin says that that was self-defense. However, there was a disappearance in Atlanta, and they think he was decayed like Donald, but all the way to dust. It may be the same kid.

Donald smiles slyly and asks if his sentence will be commuted if he testifies, and Justin responds that it will be commuted to life with no parole. Donald says that he also want out of there. Too many mutants and freaks. He wants to be in a real prison in America, so Justin says he’ll talk to his bosses. Donald comments about Justin going after one Xavier’s students, continuing that it is good timing. He says that he hears the school is quite vulnerable right now.

Outside of Salem Center, Rahne, Shan, and Dani all look in horror at the burning rubble that was once the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning. Rahne stutters, saying that this is horrible, adding that she can’t look away. Shan says an hour… it took Magneto an hour to do this to the Xavier Institute… to their home. Dani adds that there was nothing they could do about it.

From behind the girls, a familiar voice says he can’t believe it. The girls turn and, with a big smile, Rahne calls out to Sam, who is walking towards them with Roberto and Amara right behind him. Sam says he used to think the mansion would last forever, and then asks how many times it has been destroyed since they’ve been there. Dani gives Sam a big hug as she tells him it’s so good to see him, and he says ‘hey’ back. Off behind the others Rahne asks Amara if she’s alright and starts to comment about the way she left the Institute, but Amara tells her she is fine, without much patience. Nearby, Shan puts an arm around Roberto and welcomes him home. He smiles and says he only wishes there was a home to return to.

As the former New Mutants hang out near the wreckage, Shan says that it wasn’t supposed to happen here. This was supposed to be the safe place. Amara says For you maybe, and Shan turns and looks at her with a sad look on her face. Sam asks how they all fared against Magneto and his new Brotherhood when the fight happened, but Dani tells him that they didn’t. They had to evacuate the students and watch over them. They missed the whole fight. The X-Men took care of everything. Sam puts an arm around her and tells her she knows that protecting the students is important. Dani agrees and says that she really cares about these kids. But… she doesn’t know…

Roberto says he knows what she means. If she had told him five years ago that she’d become a teacher, he never would have believed her. Rahne tells him he’s one to talk. Head of X-Corp L.A., huh? Who knew? Roberto asks if she is surprised he’s a successful businessman, and then asks what she thought he’d be. Shan says that she thought he’d become leader of the Hellfire Club. Roberto tells her that she wounds him. He just knows how to get things done. Nothing sinister about that. Shan responds, Sure thing, Don Roberto.

Sam asks Rahne how she is doing, and she responds that she gets by. Sam tells her she does more than that, pointing out that she’s been through a lot and she always comes back strong. He then adds that he is sorry about her mom. Roberto tells her that he likes the hair, and the new look, and then adds to Sam that she looks good, and Sam agrees as he leans closer to Rahne. Rahne asks if she mentioned that she got her powers back as she and Sam get a bit of a lovey-dovey look. Amara interrupts saying she is hungry, and asks if they can take the reunion elsewhere as she stands apart from the rest, looking somewhat uncomfortable. Dani says sure and adds that she has a place she really wants to show them.

At the JFK Airport in New York City, a bunch of Federal Agents load Donald Pierce into the back of a van. One of the agents tells Pierce not to get any ideas. The cuffs he is wearing work the same way as his cell, so nothing in his cybernetic arms is going to give them any trouble. Justin watches as his uncle is loaded in, and then follows along behind the van as they head down the highway. On the radio, Escort Two asks Escort One if everything is under control, and at about the same time, one of the agents riding in the back of the van with Pierce asks him what he is doing as he stretches his arms out forward. Pierce says he is stretching, and moments later, the driver hears a slashing noise behind him. On the radio, Escort Two asks Escort One to please reply, but Donald Pierce has taken out the two agents in the back with a large blade coming out of his arm, and soon the van goes out of control off the road and into a tree.

Justin Pierce stops his car behind the van and calls the names of two agents, and when he doesn’t get a response, he pulls out his gun and heads into the trees. From ahead of him, Donald Pierce calls back that he can kill Justin where he stands, but unlike him, he values family. Justin races after his uncle, but Donald calls back that he is leaving. He has a date with a traitor and some mutants.

Meanwhile at the Grindstone, the former New Mutants have arrived and Roberto spots Luna and announces that he thinks he is in love. Shan swats him and tells him that she is sorry, but he doesn’t stand a chance with Luna. He says no woman can resist his charm, so Shan points out that she can. He starts to say that she and Luna are together, but she interrupts with a stern No, so he says there is still hope. He leans across the counter with a big goofy smile and tells Luna that she is the loveliest creature he has seen in quite some time. He starts to introduce himself, but she says his name for him, adding that she has seen him on the news. She then asks him what she can get him, but says they should just stick to coffee.

As Shan and Roberto head for the table with their coffees, Roberto comments on Luna’s name and says he could craft a poem around it, but Shan isn’t all that impressed by the idea. At the table, Shan asks Amara if she is going to come back and join them in the teaching gig at the school. Amara says no, and Dani asks if she is sure, but gets cut off by Amara excusing herself from the table. Dani follows, telling her that they need to talk. She tells her that she hasn’t said a word since she got there, and asks if there is something wrong. Amara gets angry and insists nothing is wrong, adding that she wishes everyone would stop asking. Dani says that Sam told her she was doing okay, but she isn’t seeing it. Amara gets offended that Dani was checking up on her, so Dani tells her that she didn’t have much choice. She took off from Xavier’s without a word and hadn’t contacted them since she got to L.A. Amara tells her that she doesn’t need guilt from Dani right now, so Dani asks her what she does need, and asks her to help her out, because she is trying, but just then someone opens the door and asks for Ms. Moonstar.

Dani turns to the man, who entered the coffee shop and asks him to excuse her, but she was right in the middle of a conversation, but he doesn’t let her finish. Amara walks away as Justin Pierce introduces himself as being with the F.B.I. and tells her they definitely need to talk. Rahne watches and wonders what is going on, and asks if they should—but Sam stops her, telling her that Dani is the leader of this unit, so let her deal with it. She’ll tell them soon enough. Shan turns to Sam slightly annoyed and tells him that they are teachers. They are not a unit. Sam agrees, but they should still let Dani handle it. Across the room, Dani has just learned that they lost Donald Pierce. She asks if it would have anything to do with Justin’s last name. Justin says that it is true that Donald is his uncle, but nobody wanted to see him rot in The Cage more than him. Dani says she thinks he is wrong about that.

Dani asks why he was being moved from The Cage anyway. Justin says it is because the government cut a deal with him. Dani is very angry and asks what kind of deal they could cut with a mass murderer. What could he possibly offer? Justin says that it information on the student that attacked him in New York they are after. Information that could help in a possible murder case in Atlanta. Dani gets a horrified look on her face, but Justin continues. He says he can guess what happened in Atlanta, and his uncle attacked her kids in New York. If Kevin Ford is still in her care, he needs to turn himself in. Dani says that Kevin left the school months ago. She doesn’t know where he is. Besides, they have more immediate problems now. She heads back to the other former New Mutants and tells them that one of her kids may be in trouble. And Donald Pierce just broke loose.

At a motel 15 miles outside of Salem Center, Donald Pierce thanks Duncan, not only for bringing him his Reavers, but also for bringing him his skin back. As he adjusts the skin on his face, he says he feels much better now. He then turns to his four followers and tells them that they have one more chance to prove themselves worthy of the name Reaver and the cybernetic enhancements that come with it. The mutant enclave has been shattered by one of their own so they have never been more vulnerable. Duncan then tells Pierce that he was the one who brought Josh Foley to join the Reavers, so it’s his fault Josh betrayed them. When it all comes down, he wants to be the one to deal with him. With a large smile, Pierce tells Duncan that he would expect nothing less.

In a building in Salem Center, Josh complains loudly that this place is awful… the fight with Magneto is over so can’t they find someplace better for them now? Josh, David, Laurie, and Sofia sit in one corner of the room with Nori next to them, and various other students and a whole bunch of sleeping bags are scattered around the room. Josh then says the place stinks like his sock drawer and waves his hand in front of his face. David tells him that his sock drawer isn’t supposed to smell bad. It’s called laundry.

Laurie comes up with any idea that, since the threat is over, maybe they’ll let them stay at her mom’ house… it’s local… Sofia closes her eyes and smiles, mentioning how it would be to have a working shower. David hangs his head and says they probably wouldn’t go for it, except for Laurie. Just then, Dani and Shan rush into the room and Sofia mentions Laurie’s idea, but Dani apologizes, saying that they can’t do that. There is a new threat. She asks them to gather round, Noriko, too.

Shan informs them that Pierce is loose and may be headed this way. Noriko says that it doesn’t concern her, so she wanders away. Shan tells them that this is the safest place for them right now, with over a hundred students and all the faculty, Pierce will never make a move. Dani starts thinking that if Pierce doesn’t strike, he’ll just be out there… but if they can draw him out… but Shan says she thinks that’s a bad idea. Josh steps forward and says that since he’s after him, he’ll do it.

As Dani walks out of the room, she calls Agent Pierce. Shan follows her and asks her if she is actually thinking of using Josh as bait. Dani tells her that they’ll just move Josh onto the campus, and if Pierce finds out, he might be willing to show himself. Shan tells her that’s insane, but Dani argues that the F.B.I. is here, so they can have them cordon off streets, then make it look like they left an opening. Pierce has to be monitoring. And he’s just arrogant enough—but she gets cut off by Shan, who says that that’s not the point. Josh’s safety comes first. Shan reminds Dani that she is his guardian now. And she is a teacher. As the other former New Mutants watch, Dani says she remembers, but she was so busy being a teacher and guardian that she couldn’t do anything to stop Magneto. She says that if they don’t catch Pierce, Josh will never be safe. She then tells Justin that she needs a favor. As he leans on a window frame smiling, he tells her that he heard, and he’s on it.

As Josh leaves with Dani and the gang, Laurie tells him to be careful. David then tells him that he is a lot of things, but a coward isn’t one of them, and then asks if he is sure he wants to do this. With a look of determination, Josh says he used to work for this guy, so he figures he has to do it. On the radio, Agent Pierce tells all units that they are moving Josh Foley onto the campus, and to stand by. Donald Pierce, who was listening in, says Perfect. As the good guys arrive at the ruined campus, Roberto comments about Josh having worked for Pierce, then adds that Sam did, too. But… Sam’s an X-Man, says Josh. Roberto says he knows. He was just trying to tell him that anything is possible.

While driving, Duncan tells Pierce, who is sitting right next to him, that the F.B.I. is in town so this is gonna be tough. Pierce says he is tapped into their communication, so he’ll find an opening. At the Institute campus, Dani tells Josh that she knows he wants to play hero, but she will never forgive herself if anything happens to him, then tells him to use the radio if he needs anything and shows him into his hiding place. Right about then, Pierce and the Reavers arrive nearby and Pierce tells them that they have one chance to get to that campus unmolested.

Elsewhere on the campus, Shan tells Amara that she should know they are only worried about her because they care. She can tell them if she still isn’t feeling herself. Amara tells her that she and Dani don’t get it. She was so ashamed of how weak and out of control she felt. She couldn’t call them. And now she is ashamed that she didn’t. She says she is a terrible friend. Nearby, Sam asks Rahne if she is alright. She says not really. This’ll be her first battle since getting the wolf back. Sam leans in close holding her chin, and says that she can handle herself. She says that isn’t what she meant. What if she loses control? He tells her that isn’t going to happen. As their lips get closer and closer, Sam says he can’t. He scratches his head nervously, mentioning Lila, but he gets cut off by Rahne shushing him as she whips her head around. She tells him that Pierce is coming. She can smell him.

Rahne leaps through the air towards the Reavers as Sam calls for her to wait. Dani tells them all that this is it. Like they planned. Rahne hits one of the Reavers, and knocks him down, and Pierce jumps back in surprise. Pierce whips out his arm blade and tells his Reavers that now they will make up for New York and teach Josh the price of betrayal. Their helmets should shield them from their mental attacks so it won’t be a repeat of last time.

As Sam, Dani, Amara, Shan, and Roberto stand facing Pierce and his remaining three Reavers, Pierce says how fortunate it is that this is almost exactly the same collection of mutants he fought all those years ago. He then says the only reason they survived back then was because Xavier was there to help them, but he’s not there now. Dani tells him that they’ve grown up since then, and they aren’t afraid of him. She then calls Now to Sunspot, and he goes into his super-strength black form and attacks all the Reavers, removing their helmets. Karma then announces she’s got control of them. The Reavers are out of it. Nearby, Wolfsbane crouches on top of Duncan, ready to strike, and he begs her not to kill him. She stays positioned to slash with a ferocious look to her face, but she releases him and tells him to get out of there, and he runs away, looking back with a look of surprise.

Pierce stands impressively with his large blade stretched out, and says that they may have handled his help, but he thinks they’ll him harder to—but he is cut off as Cannonball shatters his blade and tells him he always talks too much. Mirage then grabs him and flips him over slamming him into the ground, telling him it’s over. He lies on the ground smiling, saying that perhaps it’s over for them. Their school is destroyed. Xavier’s dream is done. Just then, a large magma ball smashes into the ground right beside his head as Magma tells him to be silent. She stands over him and tells him that the school was supposed to be a haven from people like him. And it will be again. She then lets a whole bunch of magma balls rain down on him, leaving him injured and smoking in a small crater. Shan comes by says she hates to ask, but asks her if she is alright. Amara says she will be.

As they walk towards the crater, Sam comments about what almost happened, but Rahne tells him to forget it. Animal instincts: She’ll get them under control. The F.B.I. move in and Justin tells them they are quite the team, then adds that they’ll take care of Pierce and make sure he stays locked up this time around. As Dani arrives to get Josh, he sticks his head out and asks if it’s over. She smiles and says “yeah, like you weren’t watching through the window.” As they head off the campus, Dani tells Josh that what he did took great courage. But that’s not what makes her proud. He did what he was told and stayed safe. He did well. He says that the agent guy was right. They kicked butt. Roberto says of course they did. They are the New Mutants. Dani corrects him, saying they were.

At the front door of the X-Corp place they are staying, David, Sofia, and Laurie welcome him home, Laurie calling out to him, saying he’s okay. He runs up to them and tells them that it was so cool. A small distance away, Roberto comments to the others that Josh is right. It was cool. They still make a fine team. He says sometimes he wishes… Dani says she does, too. Sam puts a hand on her shoulder and asks her if she misses it. The teamwork. Fighting the good fight. She says sometimes… so Sam tells her to come with him. Stop teaching and join the X-Men. Dani tells him to let her think on it, it’s tempting… She looks at her students, Josh, David, Sofia and Laurie, and adds that someone needs to teach the next generation.

Characters Involved: 

Amara Aquilla / Magma, Roberto DaCosta / Sunspot, Sam Guthrie / Cannonball, Xi’an (Shan) Coy Manh / Karma, Dani Moonstar / Mirage, Rahne Sinclair / Wolfsbane (former New Mutants)

David Alleyne, Noriko “Nori” Ashida, Victor Borkowski, Laurie Collins, Josh Foley, Julian Keller, Cessily Kincaid, Sofia Mantega, Santo Vaccarro (among other students from the Xavier Institute)

Luna DePaula (waitress at the Grind Stone)

Justin Pierce and other FBI Agents

Donald Pierce and the Reavers (Duncan and others)

Story Notes: 

In X-Treme X-Men #46, Dani declines Sam’s offer to join the X-Men and opts to just stick with teaching for now.

In New Mutants (vol. 2) #3, Dani recruits Kevin Ford, a boy with an uncontrollable ability to decompose organic materials, who accidentally killed his own father with his ability. He later left the Institute after the incident with Pierce (New Mutants #6).

In New Mutants (vol. 2) #5-6, Josh Foley betrays Pierce and the Reavers, and Kevin Ford uses his powers on Pierce causing his organic flesh to decompose off his cybernetic body.

In New Mutants (vol. 2) #7, Josh Foley wakes Amara from her coma and she takes off, and doesn’t tell Shan and Dani where she went.

Cannonball used to work for Pierce before joining the New Mutants (Marvel Graphic Novel #4).

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