New X-Men (1st series) #122

Issue Date: 
March 2002
Story Title: 

Grant Morrison (writer), Frank Quitely (artist), Tim Townsend, Perrotta and Florea (inkers), Hi-Fi Design (colors), RS Comicraft's Saida! (letters), Mark Powers (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Bill Jemas (president)

Brief Description: 

Lilandra travels to Earth to warn the X-Men of Xavier's possession by Cassandra Nova. Enroute, they are attacked by Cassandra who telepathically takes down the crew, one by one. As the ship's pilot falls, wrecking the ship, Lilandra send the Imperial Guardsman Smasher to warn Earth. Back at the X-Mansion the X-Men take their current lull in action to reevaluate their situation. Emma suggests a new curriculum for the students, Phoenix and Cyclops reflect on Jean's powers, and Beast diagnoses Xavier/Cassandra's condition. Cassandra boobytrapped her own body with a psychic form of Alzheimer and other diseases and Xavier will die within a week, further she might be responsible for the flu epidemic and also seems to have been involved with the U-Men. Additionally she outed Xavier as a mutant, causing the school to get attacked by protesters and media, yet Jean plans to change at least this aspects by having a press conference and try to convince humans of their good intentions. Knowing that Xavier will die inside of Cassandra's failing body, Cyclops travels to China to visit a mutant capable of great healing - Xorn. Elsewhere on Earth, Smasher arrives, violently impacting on the pastures of a rural farmland. Unfortunately for Smasher, the group of Earthlings he tries to warn before passing out has little hope of heeding his warnings – they are a herd of cattle.

Full Summary: 

At the controls of the Shi'ar starship, a gigantic wheel, Steersman Immundra yells to his queen, Lilandra, that the wheel is broken and that the world is lost. As she flees from the control room, Lilandra, with her Imperial Guardsmen, orders the steersman to hold his course. All that stands between Earth and the Shi'ar super destroyer fleet... is they. Lilandra orders for Jorrsk to activate the ship's escape pods and begins to recall Medic Forunn having a idea about Xavier's condition.
Lilandra's recollections are interrupted by Smasher who informs his queen that Forunn and Super-Guardian Mammoth, another Imperial Guardsman, are dead. Smasher also reports that an Immensity is alla round and within Xavier, controlling him. Smasher offers to vaporize Xavier’s body from afar, but Lilandra declines, pointing out that Xavier is not in control of his own body. Radioman Jorrsk cries out in pain, crying that "she" has come. Meanwhile, before the steersman, Cassandra Nova appears. She is clad in Xavier's naked body and surrounded by the psychic aura of dozens of people. With red laced eyes and a maniacal grin Cassandra orders the Steersman to destroy his craft. Sensing that Immundra has fallen, Lilandra orders Smasher to go and warn the Earth. Smasher briefly objects, not wanting to abandon his queen, but reluctantly agrees. Moments later the craft explodes and Smasher is propelled through the cosmos, toward Earth.
Back on Earth, Emma Frost makes an announcement before the student body. She informs the students that as of the next Monday, the traditional timetable previously used by the school will be abandoned in favor of more "fluid" approaches to learning. While the goal of the school in teaching will remain the same, the administration is likewise interested in learning from the students about the future of mutantkind. She welcomes back Dr. McCoy, the Beast, and informs the students that he will be working on the flu that seems to have been afflicting the mansion's residents. She also points out that Mr. Logan, Wolverine, will be unreceptive to anyone looking to complain about injuries sustained in the previous day's field expedition. Finally, she points out, that as the world is now watching them, they must be nothing less than fabulous.
Scott enters Xavier's study and finds Jean hard at work. Floating three feet above the floor, Jean telekinetically levitates herself, her laptop computer and half dozen papers. She tells Scott that she is trying to rearrange the school's curriculum according to the professor's notes. Scott changes the subject, and brings up his worries. According to Wolverine, Jean had manifested a phoenix raptor while defending the school against the U-Men. He points out what happened the last time she lost control of her thoughts and emotions. Jean dismisses Scott's fears, pointing out that these are different times. Before the event with Cassandra Nova, Xavier was imagining a whole new world and a new way of thinking and living.
Later in the medical bay Cyclops, Jean, Beast, Wolverine and Emma converse about Xavier's condition. Beast points out the irony that his new more bestial skull was what saved his "prodigious brain" during his recent beating that resulted in a coma rather than death. Also, if he had not been in a coma, Xavier, trapped in the broken body of Cassandra Nova, would have been unable to take control of his body and inform the X-Men of his situation. Wolverine inquires about the green slime that is on Cassandra's body. Jean informs him that Xavier grew the slime-shell around himself and the life support equipment keeping him alive. She further explains that Xavier's mind is trapped in the right hemisphere of Cassandra's body. Cerebra, she says, is the only thing holding together the professor's thoughts. While he is very weak, both she and Emma are able to communicate with the professor telepathically.
When Wolverine asks why they had never heard about Xavier's twin before, Jean points out that the professor himself had not known. Telepathically, Jean shows the group a replay of the thoughts she gleaned from Xavier's mind. After Xavier, as an unborn fetus, killed his twin sister in the womb, Cassandra was born without a body. Formless, immense and totally unique, Cassandra is composed of living emotional energy. The appearance of her body, Jean explains, is a mental copy of Xavier's cells that is merely mimicking human traits.
Jean brings the group back to reality and tries to emphasize the danger of their newest foe. Apparently intelligent and educated, Cassandra has announced the X-Men's existence to the world at the mansion and effectively weakened them. Jean also theorizes that Cassandra has had something to do with the flu that has been afflicting them recently. Beast confirms the possibility, pointing out Cassandra's connection to the U-Men. He further theorizes that she has been trying to soften the X-Men up for her next attack. In claiming Xavier's body, she has fooled the Shi'ar, a level 5 space civilization, into accepting her. She very well could now control an interstellar empire. Further, the Beast explains that Cassandra has boobytrapped her own body. The Beast has identified motor neuron disease, a type of Alzheimer's, and a new form of Creutzfeld-Jacob disease. The Beast predicts that the professor has about a week to live, but within three days will be a dribbling vegetable.
Jean, trying to turn their grim conversation into a positive one, tells them that she has "spoken" with the professor. Even though Cassandra has set them up, they are going to turn the problem on its head and make it work. The professor has asked Jean to invite the world's media to the school. There Jean will submit a mutant rights charter to the world that the professor had previously written. The professor wants it to be his final statement to mankind. His last testament. Jean points out that the X-Men need to get the humans on their side - before Cassandra arrives.
Later, Cyclops is flying the X-Wing away from the school. Jean telepathically asks where he is going. He replies that he has had an idea. Perhaps Xorn and his healing abilities can help their situation. As he flies away, Cyclops does not notice a fiery object falling to the Earth.
Back at the mansion, Jean and Wolverine speak about Cassandra's imminent return. Cassandra, Wolverine theorizes, will not allow Xavier to die without being there. After Wolverine leaves, Jean approaches Beast who sits at his worktable. She asks if something is bothering him, but is rebuked. After another attempt, Beast admits that during his confrontation with Cassandra she had called him an animal. She told him that he was devolving into a worm. Jean tries to comfort him, saying that his new form is an improvement. Beast does not find any humor in the situation, and compares himself to the fictional Gregor Samsa, and wonders if he will wake up and find himself mutated into a bug or a virus. In torment, Beast tells Jean that he fears Cassandra. Jean continues to console her friend and asks what he has been working on at his worktable. Beast answers that he has been trying to use the U-Men's technology to restart the professor's immune system. Sensing that immersion in work can console him better than she, Jean tells Beast to continue. Cassandra, she points out, has no concept of cooperation. That, she says, is how she will be beaten.
Cyclops arrives at a Chinese monastery. He is escorted inside by Rinpoche, who compliments Cyclops on his excellent Chinese. The monk shows Cyclops to a room, where Xorn kneels on a mat. In his hands glows a small bird that flutters and flows with energy. Rinpoche states that the bird was once dead... but now... Xorn, still studying the bird, tells Cyclops that it is good to see him again. As the bird takes to the air and flies free out the door, Cyclops tells his ally that he is not there with good news. He thinks that he may need Xorn's help.
Elsewhere a fiery object falls to Earth. Its impact is terrible and creates a ground tremor greate enough to fell a nearby water tower. From within the smoking crater emerges a crawling and battered Smasher. Through his no doubt clouded vision he sees a group of Earthlings. He tells them that he has made it, the only living being to ever survive travel 4-space unaided. He introduces himself to the Earthlings as the Imperial Guardsman Smasher and the emissary of Lilandra. He warns the Earthlings of the coming Shi'ar assault fleet and pleads with them to warn their leaders, prepare their weapons, build up their defenses. Closer he crawls to the Earthlings, telling them to bring a warning to the X-Men, to tell their people, protect the Earth... for she has come...
Smasher collapses before the Earthlings, a herd of cattle, which gently "moo" at their savior.

Characters Involved: 

Beast, Cyclops, Emma Frost, Phoenix IV, Wolverine (all X-Men)
Xavier, in Cassandra Nova's body
Angel, Stepford Cuckoos, and other students of the Xavier Institute
Xorn, X-Men ally
Empress Lilandra
Smasher, dead body of Super-Guardian Mammoth (both Imperial Guard)
Doctor Forunn, Steersman Immundra, Radioman Jorrsk (several Shi’Ar crewmen)
Cassandra Nova

Story Notes: 

Jean manifested the Phoenix Raptor aura while fighting the U-Men troops in New X-Men #120.
Cassandra telepathically coerced "the Beak" into beating the Beast with a titanium baseball bat.
Beast went into a coma. (New X-Men #117) While in this state he was used by the likewise impaired Xavier to inform the rest of the X-Men that his mind was in Cassandra's body. (New X-Men #120)
Xorn has previously appeared in New X-Men Annual 2001.
Gregor Samsa is a character from Franz Kafka's book the Metamorphosis where Gregor wakes up one morning to discover himself transformed into a bug.
It is not clear if the cows were able to understand Smasher's warnings or whether they could convince officials of the seriousness of the invasion threat.

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