New X-Men (1st series) #131

Issue Date: 
October 2002
Story Title: 
Some Angels Falling

Grant Morrison (writer), John Paul Leon (penciler), Bill Sienkiewicz (inker), Chris Chuckry (colors), RS & Comicraft's Saida (letters), Mike Raicht and Nova Suma (assistant editors), Mike Marts (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Bill Jemas (president)

Brief Description: 

In Paris, France, Professor Xavier, among friends of the deceased, gives the eulogy for the recently departed Darkstar. Meanwhile, in Westchester, NY Archangel teaches a class on flying to the flight-capable students of the Institute. While the rest of the class follows Archangel to the nearby Shi’ar space cruiser, the Beak remains behind, wallowing in self-pity. Trying to cheer him up through a series of heal-meant insults, Angel eventually decides to lift his spirits through a passionate kiss. Arriving at the Shi’ar space cruiser, the Beak revels in his recent romantic tryst, blissfully oblivious to the money being given to Angel for her winning the dare. Inside the Institute, Emma Frost reads a magazine whose lead story concerns the Beast’s recent “outing”. Citing her certain knowledge that he is not gay, she chides him on his joke. Replying back, the Beast tells her that he is trying to challenge preconceived notions about language, gender and species. Before leaving, he tells Emma to not mess with Scott and Jean’s marriage; it’s undignified and Jean will kill her. Undeterred herself, Emma goes to the Cerebra room and telepathically contacts Scott, who is piloting an X-plane back to the States. Mentally constructing a bedroom, replete with candles and pillows, she suggests that they solve his marriage problems through a bit of role-playing. Dressing in the Dark Phoenix costume, Emma tells Scott that she will be Jean and he will be Scott. At first reluctant, Scott agrees to the unconventional therapy session.

Full Summary: 

High above Paris, France, two X-Men jets dive toward the ground before climbing back into the sky diagonally, moving in opposite angles. The trails they leave behind form a giant “X”, framed against the darkening sky. As his jet climbs higher, Scott telepathically hears a voice ask who the hell this “Darkstar” was anyway? Snapping back, Scott tells Emma to be quiet. He has to concentrate or the next funeral will be his.

Gathered over the grave of the fallen Darkstar, a group of mourners listens to the eulogy spoken by Professor Xavier. Calling Darkstar their sister, Xavier tells the group that she died protecting the lives of others. She laid down her life for the Dream. Eyes filled with tears and stammering, Xavier tells the group that he would like them all to join him in a telepathic experience. Telling them to close their eyes, Xavier informs them that they will taste the life of Laynia Petrovna and will understand what they have lost today.

On a cliff, overlooking the Xavier Institute in Westchester, New York, Archangel addressees a group of students. Continuing his lesson to the group of would-be fliers, Archangel tells them that whether they have feathers, skin, vanes or just powerful levitational gifts, flying is really all about confidence and concentration. Here at the Xavier Institute, he tells them, they value cooperation, so look out for your classmates.

Exhaling in a “raspberry”, Angel informs her instructor that she will fly any damn way she chooses. Who says, she ask Archangel, that he knows what’s best for her? Rising to her feet, she tells him that if she had her way, she’d have her wings cut off by a top Beverly Hills surgeon. She would rather be a normal than a freak like the rest. Turning to the Beak, another student, Archangel asks how about him? Looking dejected, the Beak replies that he is hoping to go into space to help with the relief work, but he has no wings to reach the spaceship. Dismissing the student’s pessimism, Archangel, addressing him by his name of Barnell, tells him that he looks fit enough. He just needs to let go and relax.

Jumping from the cliff, Archangel instructs the group to follow him. As he soars away on his wings, Archangel reminds them to sail on the peaks and troughs. If they make it to the Shi’ar flagship, they can consider today’s lesson well earned. Watching the other students taking to the air, Angel remains with the Beak. Finishing the last of her bottled beer, Angel mocks them all, saying that they are all trying to be famous super-heroes like the teacher. Instead, she says, all they need is money and smugness.

Taking out a new bottle, Angel offers it to the Beak, telling him that they will go kick the Angel’s tail into space. Eyes downcast, the Beak reminds Angel that the teacher’s name is Archangel. Telling her to keep her beer and cigarettes, he informs her that he’s straight-edge hardcore. His body is a temple. Turning the freshly opened beer up to her mouth, Angel agrees, but then adds that that his body is like a temple to Satan. When she asks him if he really wants to go with them into space, the Beak asks in turn what is there for him here? Maybe out there with the space aliens, he says, a guy like him could seem normal.

Watching the Shi’ar spacecraft loom in the evening sky, Angel tells Barnell to dream on. There’s nothing normal about this stupid place, least of all, she adds, him. Still eyeing the ground, rather than the sky, Barnell asks Angel why, if she hates the Xavier School so badly, she doesn’t fly away? She, at least, can fly to join them. Taking another draught, Angel scoffs, saying ‘like she wants to. She’s hanging, she tells the Beak, with him because he makes her realize there’re worse things to be than her. Agreeing in a mocking tone, Barnell replies that this is normal for him, to be a joke.

Beginning to enjoy a bit of intoxication, Angel agrees. Keeping the morbid humor going, the Beak gives out a loud chicken “buh-kaww”. Yelling out “Kennntucky!” Angel takes to the sky. Pretending to be Barnell, she asks aloud where Miss Frost is, so she can pretend not to be looking down her bra. Flapping his own wings, the Beak tells Angel to “buck you” and takes to the sky, for all of half a second before falling. On the spaceship, Archangel congratulates all of the students and reminds on, Skywalker, to keep his arms tucked in when he wants to go faster. Taking a moment to review the class, the teacher asks if they have lost anyone on the way up.

Far below, Angel stands over the Beak, telling him that it is official; he a disgrace to the school. Drawing attention to his throat, the Beak informs Angel that there was once a neck there, which is now broken in about a million pieces. Vowing to never, ever try to fly again, Barnell asks himself how stupid he was to think this? For him, he adds, there is now only the circus. Sitting next to Barnell, Angel gives a sound of disappointment. Telling him that she bets she knows how to get him into orbit, Angel grabs Barnell’s face and, much to his surprise, gives him a passionate kiss.

Inside the institute, the Beast peruses the library for a book. Speaking to the nearby Emma Frost, who is sitting at a desk, reading a magazine, the Beast asks if she is in agreement with Scott on this particular issue? She thinks that he’s being deliberately provocative? Not even looking up from her magazine, which sports a picture of the Beast on the cover next to a caption reading “I’m as Gay as it Gets”, Emma informs the Beast that she’s one of the world’s most renowned and prurient telepathic talents and she knows for sure that he’s never had any kind of physical relationship with another man. Further, she says, she even knows that he made hoax phone calls to super-heroes’ headquarters when he was younger. Always something of a practical joker, hmmm?

Raising up her cigarette holder and examining another page through her reading glasses, she points out that the Institute’s already being portrayed as some Boho experiment in mutant sociology. These outrageous statements he’s been making do nothing but fan the flames of controversy. Defending himself, the Beast replies that he’s doing this to challenge preconceived notions about language, gender and species. To this, he adds, he’s also learning to play the drums. Excusing himself, the Beast informs Emma that he has a medical class in five minutes. Before leaving, however, he tells Emma not to mess with Scott and Jean’s marriage. It’s undignified. To this, he adds that Jean will kill her.

Piloting an X-plane over France, Cyclops asks Wolverine how was Madripoor? Kill anyone? A couple of bad guys, Logan answers. Changing the subject, Logan points out to Scott that this was the first time he and Jeannie have been together for weeks. The two of them should talk more often. Still staring at his controls, Scott coldly repeats his question of how Madripoor was. A quarter of the world away, sitting in the Cerebra chair, the helmet lowered upon her head, Emma Frost listens in on their conversation. Finally answering Logan’s question, Scott tells Logan that he was in the air most of the time. They didn’t get a chance to talk. Focusing on the wild blue outside, Logan euphemistically tells Scott that all he’s saying is that a man’s gotta mow his own lawn.

Screeching like an agitated cat at the comment, Emma tells Scott not to listen to Logan. As Logan’s words begin to fade into background noise, Emma’s words/thoughts become clearer. Instructing the X-Man to relax, Emma tells Scott that he is with her now. She is looking through his eye. As she sees the yellow world through Scott’s visor, he tells her that the light turns yellow in the Ruby Quartz shield. Telling him that she knew that, she informs him that she was trying to get him in the mood and to stop being so literal. Transforming the X-plane into a 4-prop cargo plane, at least in his mind, Emma tells Scott to fly with her.

Standing just inside the open door of the plane, Emma draws Scott‘s attention to the land below. She tells him that it’s South Provence. She summered there in those long hot days following the incident, which left her ghastly finishing school in flames and her headmistress penniless. Lowering the dive-goggles over her eyes, Emma adds that at least that’s her memory of it. Referring to the environmental feel of the mental world they are currently in, she points out that she is adding his memories of wind and air pressure to make it more convincing. Isn’t she clever, she asks?

Explaining further, Emma tells Scott that it’s just long-range super-telepathy, made possible by the lovely Cerebra machine. To this she adds that she’s quite drunk on the sensation of ten times the prying power, before jumping out of the plane. Watching Emma fall through the telepathic illusion, Scott tells Emma that he needs a little marriage guidance, that’s all. Continuing her descent, Emma tells Scott that that is exactly what they’re going to do. Trust her. Strapping on his own parachute, Scott retorts that he’s heard that one before. Why can’t she just be straight with him? Jumping from the plane, Scott asks why can’t everyone just be straight with him? As he catches up to her, Emma replies that it’s because they live in a bendy world. Asking him to let go, she tells him to tell her all his troubles.

Pulling on his parachute’s cord, Scott is surprised when, instead of a silken parachute, costumes fly out. As he calls out weakly to Emma, Scott’ original X-Men uniform appears, followed his uniform as a member of the X-Men Blue team. Phoenix’s Hellfire Club attire, followed by Marvel Girl’s graduation costume next appears. Seeing all of this with growing anxiety, Scott tells Emma that this isn’t funny. Is it supposed to be symbolic, he asks? Feeling more and more the all-too real sensation of gravity and falling, Scott tells Emma to stop this. As the panicking X-Man passes Emma in her descent, she tells him to save his breath for impact. Eyeing the tent below and the people surrounding it, Emma suggests to Scott that they aim for her cousin Jocasta. The scene below is a memory of her wedding and she always wanted to ruin it.

As the two mutants impact, they land not on the wedding celebration, but on a giant pile of pillows, which gently breaks their fall. Immediately, the pile of pillows changes to a bed, surrounded by candles. Now dressed in jeans and a halter-top, Emma asks Scott how did they end up there? Taking stock of their surroundings, she judges them as being terribly meaningful. Replying softly, Scott tells her that he only wanted to talk.

Jerking himself back into the real world, Scott startles Logan. Telling Scott that he’s daydreaming, Logan tells his teammate to get some rest. He’ll bring them down. Thanking his teammate in turn, Scott quickly returns to the bedroom scene with Emma. Whispering gently, she tells him to take Logan’s advice. His left brain can handle him yapping away like a dog. His right brain needs all the help it can get. Which is where she, she tells him, the X-Men’s only qualified sex therapist, comes to the rescue.

Still clad in his uniform, Scott reclines against a pillow. He tells her that he doesn’t feel safe there, wherever there is… It’s like everyone’s watching him and he’s doing something wrong. Soothing his fears, Emma tells Scott that they’re swapping thoughts, that’s all. Telepaths do it all the time. How, she asks him, does he think Jean and Professor while away the long hours abroad together? Coldly telling her that he doesn’t need this, Scott asks Emma what does she know about he or Jean or any of them? Rather a lot, as a matter of fact, she replies. Jean, she says, is a human furnace of violent emotions. It can be quite horrific to experience. When Scott replies that he knows she has a temper, Emma reminds him that Jean once almost erased half her brain! She was left drooling and incontinent for a month! Now, Emma says, she would think very carefully before crossing swords with Jean, believe her.

When Scott replies that Jean has never been that way with him, Emma replies that they have all seen her worst and survived. However, no one really knows what passion Scott Summers struggles to repress. Jean, Emma tells Scott, is afraid of him. Dismissing the statement, Scott replies that he would never hurt Jean, no matter what. She, he thinks, knows that too. Emma replies that while he thinks she knows, he’s never really told her. Why is that, Emma asks? What’s the big optic-blast that he’s holding back this time? Afraid he’ll blow Jean to smithereens if he tells her that he doesn’t love her anymore?

Stammering at the accusation, Scott replies that he’ll always love Jean… it’s just that they’ve both changed so much. Everything’s changed. He used to think he was special. He tried to be a good husband, but underneath all the lies and the acting, he’s just like everyone else. Asking him to spare her the bloody obvious, she states that he was possessed for five minutes by an evil spirit. He was shown the dark corners of his soul that he never knew he had, blah-blah-blah. But when do we reach the scandal, she asks him, the real dirt, in its most pure, concentrated and embarrassing little nuggets. Asking Emma to give him a break, he tells her this is hard enough.

Reaching into a closet, Emma pulls out a travel bag. As she opens it up, she innocently mocks that the perfect marriage of the world’s most beloved mutant heroes has fallen into ruin. Where? How? Why and when did it all go wrong? Changing into the clothes from bag, Emma thinks aloud that there’s only one way to find out… they’ll play a little game of super-heroes and heroines. Finished dressing, Emma displays her Dark Phoenix costume and suggests that he be Scott and she be Jean. As the Phoenix-clad Emma crawls toward Scott on the bed, he asks her if this is still telepathic therapy, or are they having some kind of weird affair now?

Aboard the Shi’ar cruiser, Archangel leads his students on a tour. The ship, he informs them, leaves at dawn to rendezvous with the surviving vessels of Lilandra’s Imperial Armada on the dark side of the Moon. Making light of the situation, he then adds that he knows it sounds like the concept album from hell, but it’s true. If you are part of the relief team, he continues, they’ll have a couple of weeks in near-Earth space before the Armada heads back to the Shi’ar homeworld, which is where most of the devastation occurred. That leaves the rest, he tells them, with precisely five hours to help where they can and get some sightseeing time. With this, Archangel dismisses the class.

Before he can say any further parting words, one student points out something overhead. Pointing to Angel carrying the Beak, the student asks his instructor if it is Teamwork 101 or Dumb and Dumber? Carried aloft by the airborne Angel, the Beak announces their entrance by repeatedly yelling, incoming! Dropped from the still aloft Angel, Barnell falls to the floor and tumbles, spilling the contents of his knapsack. As he helps the Beak return the contents into the bag, Archangel congratulates him and then asks if he is sure that he has enough in there for a whole year in space? Addressing the just-landing Angel, Archangel congratulates her on her impressive work. Gold Feather commendation.

His task finished, the Beak stands upright and informs his instructor that he has to tell him something. There is no way, he says, that he can go to the cosmos after all. Rambling on, the Beak informs Archangel that something has happened to him! Something he can hardly explain! His face stony with the obviousness of the situation, Archangel asks if it is a girl, right? Still caught up in his emotional outburst, the Beak replies that there was, like, a rainbow in her wings! He has to stay there now. No girl has ever kissed him before… Trailing off for a moment, the Beak shouts in exclamatory glee that she kissed him!

Smirking broadly, Angel turns to the other students who begin to shell out money. Calling her a disgusting skank, one student hands her twenty dollars. Another student, not previously in the deal, asks the others if they actually bet her that she wouldn’t kiss the Beak? A third replies coldly that Angel would kiss a rat with AIDS. Accepting the money with satisfaction, Angel replies that ‘where angels fear to tread’ just ain’t been invented yet. Looking out of the ship’s window, into the night sky above, the Beak tells the universe hello and informs it that this is the greatest day of his life.

Sitting on the bed in her telepathically constructed room, Emma, still clad in her Dark Phoenix costume, continues her role-playing session. Getting into the character, she tells Scott that she is power and song and life incarnate… but the truth of the matter is, no matter how hard she tries, she can’t keep playing with fire. Turning the ball over to her “darling,” she asks what about him? Getting into his own character, Scott begins to remove his jacket. Addressing Emma as Jean, Scott tells her “sure, why not?”

Characters Involved: 

Archangel, Beast, Cyclops, Emma Frost, Phoenix IV, Wolverine, Professor Charles Xavier (all X-Men)
Sabra, other unnamed mutant mourners (all X-Corporation)
Angel, Beak, Skywalker and other unnamed students of the Xavier Institute
Shi’ar space cruiser crew

Story Notes: 

The group of mourners at Darkstar’s funeral seems to be members of the X-Corporation. As they are all dressed in suits and dresses, it is difficult to tell their identities, but the group most likely includes Cannonball, M, Multiple Man, Rictor and Siryn.

Darkstar’s first name Laynia is misspelled as Leynia in the issue.

Although it is not clear which student he is, this is the first reference to a Institute student named Skywalker.

Boho is slang for Bohemian. Sometimes referring to an artist, Boho can also describe a scruffy, irresponsible person.

Provence is a region of France that borders the Mediterranean Sea.

The human brain is divided into two hemispheres, each side devoted to different functions. The left side of the brain seems to control the logical, analytical nature of our psyche, while the right side is where our intuition and creativity stems. Evidently, Emma considers Scott a “left-brained” individual.

The battle with Jean that Emma is referring to happened way back when she was still serving as the Hellfire Club’s White Queen and opposed the X-Men over the fate of Kitty Pryde. [Uncanny X-Men #129-131] In a duel one on one, Phoenix II proved to be the more capable telepath. Since then it has been established that Phoenix II was the cosmic Phoenix Force having assumed Jean’s shape and place among the X-Men, though apparently Grant Morrison chose to ignore this. It can also be reasoned that with Jean being the entity’s template, Phoenix II acted the same way the real Jean would have in her place.

Cyclops was possessed by Apocalypse during the Twelve crossover. Months later, he was successfully separated from Apocalypse with the help of his son Cable and his wife Phoenix. [X-Men: The Search for Cyclops #1-4]

Emma’s Phoenix costume is actually a mix of two costumes, it’s color scheme is that of Dark Phoenix, while the black neckpiece is a trait from the green costume version worn by Phoenix before she was corrupted by her unlimited power.

An album is considered a concept when all songs on it are considered a single unit.

The Shi’ar homeworld was recently ravaged by the Shi’ar imperial fleet under orders from Empress Lilandra, who was in turn under the mental control of Cassandra Nova. [New X-Men #122-124]

“Dumb and Dumber“ was a 1994 movie starring Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels where they played a pair of complete idiots.

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