New X-Men (1st series) #134

Issue Date: 
January 2003
Story Title: 
Kid &#937

Grant Morrison (writer), Keron Grant (penciler), Norm Rapmund (inker), Chris Chuckry (colors), Rich & Saida Comicraft's (letters), Ethan van Sciver (cover), Mike Raicht & Nova Ren Suma (assistant editors), Mike Marts (editor), Joe Quesada (chief), Bill Jemas (president)

Brief Description: 

Outside of a trendy nightclub in the section of New York called Mutant Town, mutant fashion guru Jumbo Carnation is assaulted and killed by a group of humans. At the Xavier Institute, class prodigy Quentin Quire continues to attempt to fit in. Lacking the coolness or popularity of Slick, the coolest kid in school, and unable to attract the attention of any of the five Stepford Cuckoos sisters, Quentin Quire's friends are few and among the uncool. Having been invited to assist in the murder of Jumbo Carnation, Cyclops and Beast visit the scene of the crime. There, they discover an inhaler and learn of the substance it contains; Hypercortisone D, a steroid designed for mutants which increases their abilities. On the way back, the two converse about the recent controversy over the Beasts sexuality, forcing him to admit that it was a puerile ruse against his former girlfriend, Trish Tilby, which has since grown out of control. Back at the Institute, Quentin, having recently learned the truth about a family secret, decides to bring all secrets to light. Using his mental powers, Quentin forces Slick to drop his illusory appearance, revealing his true troll-like appearance. Later in Xavier's office, Quentin is confronted by the Professor and the Beast, who inform him that his recent blood test show signs of an emerging secondary mutation. Lost in this and other recent revelations, Quentin visits the murder scene of Jumbo Carnation. Convinced that the Professor is wrong about everything, including the danger of the Hypercortisone D drug he is taking, Quentin decides to change everything. Walking confidently into a barbershop, Quentin asks to be given the same haircut as an illustrated character in an anti-mutant newspaper article.

Full Summary: 

(last night)
Outside an upscale club in Mutant Town, NYC four-armed mutant and famous fashion designer Jumbo Carnation waves goodbye to the club's patrons, having decided to call it a night. Walking down the street, Jumbo tries in vain to hail a cab. He eventually stops when he finds himself surrounded by five youths. Greeting the group with a hello and calling them big, primitive humans, Jumbo asks them if any of them could help him find a taxi.

Speaking to the rest of his group, one youth tells the others that he was right. This is the guy. He was on TV, all over the news. He's famous. As the group encircles Jumbo, the leader holds up a piece of paper and asks the now frightened Jumbo if he would sign it. As rain begins to fall, Jumbo accepts the paper and begins to sign it, asking if he should put kisses. Without warning, the group attacks Jumbo, trying to bring him down. After a few moments, the leader exclaims in surprise that Jumbo's skin is turning into plastic! As the group makes quick their escape, another corrects the leader; it was just the skin on the outside. Now left alone, Jumbo can barely ask "why" as he struggles to take in his final breaths.

Sitting in the back of the class in the Xavier Institute with his girlfriend draped over him, Slick, obviously one of the coolest students in the school, telepathically tells the class to listen up; Jumbo Carnation is dead.

Turning around in his chair, Quentin Quire, another student in the class and obviously not as "cool," begins to ask Slick what he said. Stopping abruptly in his question, the spectacle-wearing Quentin asks Slick if he minds getting out of his head? Referring to the brain encased in a transparent sphere on his desk, Quentin tells Slick that he's trying to concentrate on making anti-gravity floats for "Martha," okay? Unmoved less by his classmate's compassionate quest than his girlfriend, whose tongue is currently in his ear, Slick replies to Quentin that at least Martha's still alive and thinking about it. Jumbo Carnation is dead, the best mutant designer to ever live. Some bunch of human retards blazed him right outside the X-Factory in Mutant Town.

Realizing now what Slick had meant, Quentin grows quiet and lowers his head. The rest of the class, as well, grows quiet. Having captured the class' attention, Slick informs the rest that he's been working on some songs as a tribute. Picking up his guitar case with one hand, while his girlfriend continues to hang on his other arm, Slick tells the class that anybody who wants to see him perform them can check out the benefit gig after lunch. His announcement made, Slick tells his girlfriend, Tattoo, that it's time to leave.

Watching Slick and Tattoo walk down the hall through a window, Quentin scoffs. Talking to his friend, Herman, another mutant student with a transparent body, save for his skeleton and internal organs, Quentin theorizes that Tattoo only likes Slick because he looks cool - not because of what he is. Turning the statement around, Herman tells Quentin what Slick is; a super-cool guy with a guitar and leather pants. As an afterthought, Herman adds that he wishes he could be like Slick. Pulling a candy bar from his pocket, Quentin eyes the quintuplet Stepford Cuckoos sisters, commenting that there's cool.

When Quentin continues to stare, quietly repeating the name Sophie, Herman asks confoundedly, which one is Sophie? They're all four the same! Emphatically correcting his friend, Quentin tells him that there are five of the Stepford Cuckoos. Walking alongside Quentin, Herman taunts his classmate, asking him how much would he bet that Slick could get Sophie to drop her pants with the power of his mutant charisma? All four of them - and Miss Frost - behind the gazebo after Open Day. Five! Repeats Quentin. Five of them!

Emerging from the school itself into the Institute's grounds, Herman tells Quentin that if he keeps shoveling those chocolate bars, there'll be five of him to match them! Telling Herman to shut up, Quentin tells him that Slick's so charismatic he has to copy whatever it says in the latest glossy magazine. He knows nothing about real style. Pulling a folded paper out of his sweater pocket, Quentin tells Herman that he has there the coolest artifact of all time. Opening the paper up, Quentin reveals a newspaper with an article titled "Mutant Menace! Are they for real?" This, Quentin tells Herman, is the front page of the Daily Bugle on the day he was born. It's from around the time the first mutant started showing in public. Transfixed over the photo of a "mutant" lording over a helpless human, Quentin asks his friend to agree with him - it is awe-inspiring.

Judging the news article on his own, another student with red skin and spikes growing from his head, appropriately named Spike, promptly declares the story pretty whack. Comparing the "mutant" in the picture with the whip to Satan or Prince Namor, Spike cheers on the mutant with a "right on!" Responding analytically, Quentin tells Spike that this is what humans thought mutants were going to do to them. Turning his attention back to Herman, Quentin tells him, by the way, that chocolate makes you smarter.

Interjecting her own opinion as she walks by, a female student wishes aloud that if it were true; she'd be two Einsteins. Informing Quentin that he has a call from home, the girl suggests that he get a mobile, and then calls him a weirdo. Calling the girl Retarda, Quentin retorts that she should get telepathy. Turning his attention back to the article, Quentin declares that this insane pop art masterpiece will go on the common room wall as soon as he's done. His point made, Quentin goes to the public phone on the side of the building and promptly learns something surprising about his mother.

Saying Jumbo Carnation's name aloud, as if in testing its sound, Emma Frost guesses to her students that his parents didn't chose the name. Speaking in unison, the five Stepford Cuckoos inform their mentor that Jumbo was a mutant fashion guru, and a flamboyant young club entrepreneur. It's not the sort of thing they're normally keen on, they continue, but he made some lovely clothes for the X-Factory store; tentacle stockings, wing gloves. Admitting that it sounds fascinating, Miss Frost asks where she can meet this style prodigy. Expressing their disappointment through their glowing eyes, the girls inform Miss Frost that she can't, he's dead, murdered by humans and everyone's very cross about it.

Adding a post-script to their statements, they tell their teacher that they don't want Quentin Quire to be involved with the "Dance of the Planets" display on Open Day. There's something very creepy about him and his see-through mind. Or, counters Emma, could it be that he's Professor Xavier's prize pupil and their chief rival, hmm? Her hands still on her hips, Emma tells the girls that she's afraid she's much more interested in hearing about the misfortunes of Jumbo Carnation.

Standing over the chalk outline of Jumbo Carnation at the crime scene, the Beast declares that it smells delicious, he's ashamed to admit. The explosion killed him instantly and his internal organs were cooked inside his own Teflon skin. As Cyclops and a police detective look on, Beast tells them that Jumbo was a little drunk on vodka and orange juice and had been dancing all night. Amazed at the Beast's details, the detective asks can he really smell all that? Informing the two X-Men that this is his first all-mutant homicide since they assigned him to the new division, he asks them what the term for the crime is; mutantcide? In a low voice, reflecting his black humor, Cyclops tests out the phrase "homicide superior?"

Addressing the Beast by his given name, Henry, Detective Foster asks how he is. Not even waiting for a response, he informs Cyclops that Doctor McCoy here saved his wife and he during a super-terror meets woman-in-labor incident a few years back. Not remembering the incident, the Beast apologizes, telling Foster that all humans look alike to him. It's all save this and save that? Laughing at the Beast's humor, Foster tells Cyclops that he cracks him up. He was like that the whole way to the hospital, while driving a tank! Would he believe it? It's a dry humor.

Dropping to all fours, the Beast lowers his nose to the ground and begins to sniff. Speaking to the uniformed police, who are holding onlookers behind police barricades, Beast asks them if they could ask people to take photographs after he finishes. The light is distracting him. Glancing back, the Beast then adds no cigarettes, aftershaves or perfume, please. Stone-faced and stoic as ever, Cyclops tells Detective Foster that he didn't agree to having his picture taken for the press. He seriously hates having his photograph taken. He always comes out looking stiff and inhuman. Responding as dryly as possible, Foster tells him that the camera never lies.

His assessment finished and having risen to his feet, the Beast tells Foster to leave Cyclops alone. Turning to the subject at hand, the Beast informs the two that Jumbo's blood was contaminated, adding then that he'd like to take the empty inhaler they found on him to nose at. Complimenting the Beast on his work, Foster tells him that the inhaler probably contained a steroid called Hypercortisone D. As the two X-Men leave the scene, Foster yells out, telling "Henry" that he heard he came out gay. Well done! Not turning around, but definitely speaking to Detective Foster, Cyclops replies that he's not gay.

Sniffing the inhaler as they walk, Hank sounds out the name, Hypercortisone D. Telling Cyclops that this is the new drug he was telling him about, the Beast adds that the mutant kids are calling it "kick." He should listen to him more. Switching subjects, Cyclops asks Hank what is this nonsense? What? The gay stuff, Beast responds inquisitively. Telling Cyclops to "come on," Hank replies that he's challenging all kinds of stereotypes here! Really, replies Cyclops, more in statement than a question.

Starting with a quiet, okay, Hank admits that it all started as a cruel, calculated strike at Trish Tilby's fickle heart. He admits it. And it could have ended there, he continues, but his dear ex-girlfriend chose to prolong this ghastly game of emotional chess and leaked the "news" about his sexuality to the entire world's media. So, he thought, why not?

Now arriving at their ride, an X-Men helicopter, Cyclops reminds his friend of the problem; he's not gay. He tells his friend he knows he's not gay. So? Hank counters, he might as well be! He's been taunted all his life for his individualistic looks and style of dress - he's been hounded and called names in the street and he's risen above it. Nearly swearing aloud as he starts up the copter, Cyclops tells Hank that he loves him, but he's officially on the road to apocalyptic mind loss. No one, he tells him, but he is going to find this funny. Replying that he's as gay as the next mutant, Hank adds that he'd make a great role model for alienated young men and women. Why not? As their helicopter rises high above the city, Hank points out to Cyclops that he shouldn't talk about apocalyptic mind loss.

Telling his friend to never mind about him, what about Jean? As a doctor, what does he think of all of this "manifestation of the Phoenix" stuff? Pointing out to his friend that Jean is a grown-up Omega mutant, Hank informs Cyclops that on the Richter scale, she'd be a 12. If she were a mountain, she'd be Olympus Mons on Mars. Telling Cyclops he ran her through every diagnostic, Hank informs him that she's fine. Replying that he wants this to be true, Cyclops points out that one can't run a diagnostic for what Jean's experiencing. There aren't instruments to measure where she is.

Replying with sincerity, Hank tells Cyclops that as his physician and best friend, he thinks that he's projecting his own fears into Jean. He, Hank tells Cyclops, seems to be holding back a lot - more than usual. Jean will be home soon, he continues. Consider this a friendly warning, he says - and beware of late summer Frost, if he knows what he means. Funny, Cyclops replies.

Changing the subject again, Hank tells Cyclops that he caught a whiff of something back there that made him think about when they used to hang around the school library. Remember, he asks, while Warren and Bobby were out chasing girls? They were trying to be these really studious guys to impress Jean because she wore glasses. Recalling another memory, Hank asks his Cyclops if he remembers those little scrapbooks Professor Xavier used to hand out. Remembering them very well, Cyclops comments that, now they were bizarre. Evoking the memory further, Hank remembers that they had to learn to identify the colors for all the weird costumes the bad guys wore. Whenever life seems strange, Hank says, think about that.

Remembering one in particular, Cyclops remarks that Bobby used to have nightmares bout that weird pendant... who was that guy? El Tigre! Remarks Hank. Swearing aloud, he asks Cyclops if he can't still see those drawings with the beautiful water coloring? The idea of Professor Xavier sitting up nights hand painting those things scarred his psyche more than any actual mutant terrorist ever could. Having landed on the Institute grounds, the two X-Men exit their helicopter and walk back to the building. Bringing up the devastation of Genosha, Cyclops remarks that the old troublemakers don?t seem to bother, do they? Everyone's in shock.

Arriving at the Institute itself, the two are stopped by Emma Frost, with her Stepford Cuckoo students. Declaring that they have arrived just in time to become useful, Emma points out that some zealots have levitated a rather embarrassing tribute to man/mutant brotherhood and it is currently wedged in front of her classroom window. Making the leap to the window, several stories up, with a single bound, the Beast receives a compliment from Emma, who calls him a darling. Turning to Cyclops, Emma asks if Hank is not a darling, and then tells Cyclops that Hank's ten points ahead of he in the popularity polls since he came out all over the papers. Gathering around the visibly uncomfortable X-Man, the Stepford Cuckoos, in normal unison, asks Cyclops when Mrs. Summers will be back and then guess that he must be missing her awfully.

Having returned to the ground with the tribute, a gigantic model of the Earth, the Beast comments that some dark-wit has left a cigarette burn where the island of Genosha should be. He then adds that he doesn't know if this "Dance of the Planets" display can survive until Open Day. Now speaking to Emma directly, Hank adds that Jean sends her regards from Hong Kong, by the way. Declaring how generous that is, Emma adds that she was rather hoping for some expensive jewelry, but she supposes regards will have to do. Taking Cyclops by the hand and leading him inside, Emma tells him to tell her all about his adventures. Now left alone with the five sisters, the Beast asks them if they want to talk him through their plans for Open Day. Their eyes still transfixed on the departing Cyclops and Mr. Frost, the five girls reply that they won't have to talk, they'll just let him see them in his head. It'll be more perfect that way.

Sitting on the steps of the Institute with his girlfriend, Tattoo, Slick sings his tribute to Jumbo Carnation. As Tattoo plays the maracas, Slick plays his guitar. The lights went out and the heavens cried on the street where Jumbo dies. What kind of message can we send? When will the suffering end? Can man and mutant meet as friends? Or do all hopes and legends lie on the street where Jumbo died?

After quietly commenting to Quentin that the lyrics are pretty embarrassing, Herman makes an attempt at a sweet, but not-too-subtle hello to the beautiful, Tattoo. Chomping on his candy bar, Quentin tells Slick that he has a question: In what way, exactly, does this stupid performance benefit Jumbo Carnation or help to avenge his murder? Staring down Quentin with a glare of contempt, Slick asks Quentin if he has a point to make. Responding back with a question, Quentin asks Slick if he has any idea what happens inside when you find out you're not the person you thought you were? His own face contorting with loathing, as his left hand contorts into a claw-like fist, Quentin admits to Slick that he does. How about him?

As the rest of the on looking students' expressions turn to abject surprise and horror, Quentin's turns to satisfaction. His arms how crossed across his chest and a wry grin on his face, Quentin asks the others who wants to see Slick naked? As his girlfriend, Tattoo, recoils away from his outstretched hand, Slick stands revealed. Not the tall, slim, muscular hunk that he once was, Slick is now two and a half feet tall, with pointy ears, blue-jeweled eyes, and a barely human face.

Telling Tattoo that it is still he, Slick adds that he still loves her. When she does not move, continuing to assess the last few moments, Slick asks her what is she looking at? He's still the same guy! Finally making her decision, Tattoo uses her powers to form a word across her face, Loser, conveying her thoughts silently. Now gleaming with satisfaction, Quentin comments that it's all fake and illusion. That's what cool is, that's what charisma is. That's what everything is.

Reclining in his chair in his office, Professor tells Quentin that while he tests highly for super-intelligence, and those "antigravity floats" he invented has given Martha Johansson's brain mobility they never thought she'd have, he's not one of the Xavier Institute's most promising students. So you understand, Xavier tells Quentin, why it seems so out of character for him to humiliate another student in this way. To this, Xavier adds that Quentin is welcome to spend some time at the school's Pacific retreat.

Standing at military-like attention before the Professor, Quentin, with a tattoo on his forehead reading "Crazy Now," defends himself, stating firmly that he thinks Slick deserved it. Saying that he had a kind of realization, Quentin explains that he felt Slick was just betraying the ethos of the Institute by using deception. Nearby, standing next to the desk, the Beast points out that while Slick was a pain, no one got hurt. It was wrong, he thinks, to take away Slick's tangible ego. It took him a long time to overcome his shyness by building up an illusory self-image.

His eyes still staring straight-forward, Quentin retorts that Slick was a liar. And he doesn't need a retreat. He just needs a haircut. Telling the two teachers that he just found out today that he was adopted, Quentin informs them that it made him think about things differently. And sometimes, he tells Xavier, he thinks all that matters to him is being on television and telling everyone how wonderful his brave new world is. Well, he adds, he lives in that brave new world and it's not as shiny and perfect as he'd like to think. He's always selling this future that never arrives. He preaches Utopia, but he never delivers on this "dream" they keep hearing about.

Responding as calmly as he can, Xavier tells Quentin that he knows that nothing seems to make sense right now, but they didn't bring him here to lecture or punish him. There is another reason. After the Professor turns the conversation over to him, Beast holds up a set of papers and tells the young Quentin that he just wanted to bring up the fact that he noticed some anomalies in his blood test results. Right now, he informs the student, his brains is burning sugar fifteen times faster than normal. It's literally on fire, hence these big thoughts and ideas. Telling Quentin that they would like to put him on a mega-glucose diet and keep him observation, Doctor McCoy informs him that he may be experiencing a secondary mutation. Taken aback at this news, Quentin can only inquisitively repeat the word, observation?

Standing over the chalk-outline of Jumbo Carnation in Mutant Town, Quentin reads the spray-painted graffiti that accompanies it; "Mutant Scum. He deserved it." Replying to the departed Jumbo, or perhaps the person who wrote the message, Quentin remarks that everyone deserves it. The Professor's a fake, he proclaims to no one and everyone. Mom and dad are strangers. Everything's a lie. Pulling out an inhaler, Quentin adds that the drugs can't hurt him - can they? With this question, Quentin inhales some of its contents.

Noticing that a group of youths had kicked over some flowers left behind in dedication to Jumbo, Quentin's demeanor sours even more. Striding with resolution to the barbershop across the street, Quentin enters and sits down in the chair. Addressing his new customer with a smile, the barber asks Quentin what's it gonna be? The shaved look, he tells Quentin, is big on the streets. Telling the barber to forget it, that look is so out of date, Quentin informs him that there's this new thing.

Pulling the folded article he had shown the students at the Institute earlier that day out of his pocket, Quentin asks the barber if he sees this insane pop-art masterpiece and asks if he can cut his hair like the guy in the picture.

Characters Involved: 

Beast, Cyclops, Emma Frost, Professor X (all X-Men)
Glob Herman, Quentin Quire, Slick, Spike, Stepford Cuckoos, Tattoo

Unnamed Xavier Institute students

Jumbo Carnation
Nightclub patrons
Unnamed youth gang

Detective Foster
Uniformed police officers
Crime scene onlookers

Mutant Town kids

Story Notes: 

Martha Johansson first appeared in New X-Men #118 as a victim of U-Men founder, John Sublime.

Glob Herman has appeared several times since his first appearance in New X-Men #117, but this is the first mention of his name.

Sophie is the second of the five Stepford Cuckoos to be identified by name. The only sister prior to this was Esme, whose name was revealed in New X-Men #123.

The "insane piece of pop art" is actually a newspaper article based on Bolivar Trask's predictions on the future of mutant/human-relations. The article was published in X-Men (1st series) #14, the same issue that saw the first appearance of the Sentinels.

Prince Namor is also known as the Avenging Sub-Mariner, who is, ironically, considered by some to be Marvel's first mutant.

This is the first mention of the X-Factory or the steroid Hypercortisone D.

A drink made of vodka & orange juice is commonly known as a screwdriver.

The incident where the Beast claimed to Trish Tilby that he was gay occurred in New X-Men #125.

The original X-Men fought El Tigre in X-Men (1st series) #25 & 26.

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