New X-Men (1st series) #136

Issue Date: 
March 2003
Story Title: 
When X is not X

Grant Morrison (writer), Frank Quitely with Avalon Studios (art), Chris Chuckry (colors), Richard Starkings & Comicraft's Wes! (letters), Mike Raicht & Nova Ren Suma (assistant editors), Mike Marts (editor), Joe Quesada (chief), Bill Jemas (president)

Brief Description: 

In their secret central headquarters, the U-Men are having a funeral/vivisection of a fallen comrade when Quentin Quire and his gang arrive. With swiftness and cruelty, Quentin's gang tortures and kills the U-Men. It is but the first step in making the world a Garden of Eden for mutants! In the woods which surround the Xavier Institute, Xorn and his "special class" are assaulted by another group of U-Men, who are attempting to "harvest" new mutant organs. Surprising to all, leadership qualities arise from the Beak, who leads the class to safety and manages to save the life of fellow classmate Dummy, who had been injured by one of the U-Men's weapons. Basilisk also rises to the occasion and uses his strobe pulse to incapacitate an approaching U-Man. When the Beak sends her for help, Angel runs into Xorn, who stayed behind the students to stop the U-Men. He has done so startlingly as the U-Men and their vehicle are being consumed in flames. This, Xorn tells the dumbfounded Angel, will be their secret. The class is returned to the Institute by an X-copter, which had been telepathically summoned by Martha. It arrives as Emma Frost and her Stepford Cuckoos leave for an evening event. As the car drives away, Emma is lost in her telepathic tryst with Cyclops, who is returning in the X-copter. Despite Cyclops' protestations, Emma tells him that they are only sharing a thought together, a delicious thought. Turning in for the night, Xavier is knocked out by Quentin Quire's gang. Upon awakening, Xavier finds that he has been outfitted with a helmet, which blocks his telepathic powers. With the major threat to their plan neutralized, Quentin's gang announces to the world the next morning, the opening of Open Day, that they have hijacked the Xavier Institute. School is out. They are rioting!

Full Summary: 

In U-Man Central, a funeral is being held. The stripped remains of the deceased lie in a metal casket, volts of electricity arcing over his body. Reading from their holy book, "The 3rd Species", the "minister" tells the others that a funeral like this is not an occasion for sadness but for rejoicing. It is a time, even, of greedy anticipation. U-Man Smitts, he tells the group, died of blood poisoning when his mutant lung grafts went rotten after a week of agonizing waiting. Bob wasn't pure enough to bear his transplants... but they are. For today is the day of the Recycled Man! The third species eternal! Homo Perfectus! Let the harvest begin, he concludes. As the eight assembled all brandish their various surgical utensils, one informs the others that Smitts promised him his x-ray corneas. The jaws, another exclaims, are his. Holding a bone saw in his hand, a third asks if they all get a bit of him or is it just the group leaders?

Suddenly, a red van bursts through Central's wall, running over two of the U-Men as the others scatter. The van comes to a violent stop as it impacts on Bob Smitts? metal coffin, ramming it against the concrete wall. A few minutes later the U-Men Central is quiet, the remaining seven U-Men having been violently brought down by Quentin Quire and his gang of "new X-Men."

This is nice, Quentin announces. They are their worst nightmare... vengeful mutants on drugs. Bending down to look into the eyes of the U-Man currently being held down by Redneck, Quentin asks why he would want to be like them? Really, it's not east being a mutant. People like them exterminate them, murder their artists, cut out their organs and stick them into their own diseased bodies. Their leaders and teachers expect them to be "reasonable," stare at their shoes and do nothing. Leaning down to whisper in the ear of the U-Man (were it not covered by his environmental suit) Quentin tells him that he doesn't think Homo Inferior should have any right to mess up the future the way they've messed up the past. As the U-Man begs Quentin not to hurt him, the teen breaks the seal of the U-Man's helmet, which begins to hiss re-circulated air. Sneering at the U-Man and referring to his recent speech, Quentin instructs the U-Man to agree with him.

As Quentin pulls his mask off, the U-Man pleads quietly. He can't touch the ground... he has to breathe pure air... it's his religion... please... he can't touch the fallen world until it's been made perfect. Nearby, Tattoo holds a Hypercortisone D inhaler to Rednecks's mouth, instructing him to get some Kick into his lungs and give her five-bar electric death. Still pleading incoherently, the U-Man, now unmasked, tells them that he spent the last of his life savings on this suit... please don't ruin it...

Incredulous, Quentin tells the U-Man that he's not a religion. He's a cannibal freak who met some like-minded losers in a seedy chatroom and decided to create a do-it-yourself species... using pieces of his people. Introducing "Citizen" Redneck and "Citizen" Herman, Quentin instructs the U-Man to meet New X Justice. As he heats up Glob Herman's hands with flames from his own, Redneck asks Quentin if they should tell this guy what Herman's made of... before it's too late for him to hear? His hands heated to his satisfaction, Herman places them on the U-Man's face, eliciting bloodcurdling screams. Does he mean Bio-Paraffin, Quentin finally answers. Living wax? The world has not fallen, Quentin tells the screaming U-Man, calling him an ignorant ape. The world is a Garden of Eden made for mutants.

On a laptop nearby, a faint, electronic voice sounds, asking if anybody is there? Identifying himself as U-Man Patrol, calling U-Man Central, the caller asks if Dix is there. Miles away, staring down at his own laptop, which is transmitting the message, the U-Man reports that he just called to confirm the mutant colony sighting. They think it's some sort of camping trip from the nearby Xavier Institute. Cursing at the lack of response, the U-Man is reminded by a colleague that today is Bob Smitts funeral.

The second U-Man, crouched nearby, is looking through a large set of binoculars. Instructing his colleague to put away the laptop, he tells him to check out this freakshow... they're doing it right out in the open... like bugs! Like on the Discovery Channel! Lowering the binoculars, the U-Man reports that the chick's wobbling like a rubber glove filled with milk and the other thing is like the stuff he used to see hanging on hooks in his Uncle Buck's butcher shop. Returning his attention through the binoculars, he wonders aloud what he's doing now? Why can't he have telescopic vision like U-Man Parr? Her grafts just took... no antibiotics, no infection... these binoculars, he says, are useless.

Telling his colleague to be quiet, the first U-Man returns his attention to the laptop. Informing the other that he just checked the Sublime website, he reports that, in answer to his brief question, Master John says it's their right and duty to harvest the organs of these mutants. The younger, the better.

Some distance away, Angel sits atop the Beak, straddling him as she drinks more of her beer. Announcing that he can't do it anymore, the Barnell begins to rise, to the surprise and anger of Angel. This is supposed to be easy, she tells him. Even the birds and bees managed to figure this out... it's genetic evolution! It's the whole point of the X-Men school! Sitting down with his back to Angel, the Beak tells her it's enough. She's just coming on to him way too strong. He wishes he had never been part of this stupid tent expedition.

Taken aback at the Beak's statement, Angel is repeats part of his statement; she was coming on to him? He was squawking a whole different song five minutes ago. Changing her own tune, Angel offers Barnell a drink. Refusing it, Barnell asks where the romance is here among the bugs and the toadstool? What if somebody trips over them and tells everyone? Laughing at the thought, Angel asks what they would tell? That he said no to the first, last and best chance he ever had? There's not a hope in ten billion anybody's going to find them, so get... Angel's words are interrupted by a spotlight, placed directly on them, followed by the faint voice of Barnell thanking God.

At the campfire, Basilisk informs "Mister" Xorn that he definitely saw him sneaking a peek at No-Girl's sexy, fat butt just a moment previous. Denying the statement, Xorn replies that he still cannot see No-Girl anywhere. Undeterred, Basilisk assures Xorn that she's around.

Speaking up, Ernst tells Xorn that Martha says she is bored in her bubble. What are they going to do now? Do? Xorn asks. This is them doing. He thought that they would meditate. He had hoped they would become friends and learn something about themselves and their limits. Pulling out the piece of paper with the words "Jack Ass" written on them, which had been taped to his back at the classroom, Xorn confesses that he cannot tell when there are trying to be funny or when they are trying to be cruel. After a few moments of Xorn waiting for a response, Basilisk asks about meditation. With a chuckle, he asks if that doesn't make one go blind.

A loud shout draws the attention of the campfire group. The shout is from Barnell, announcing repeatedly the presence of the U-Man. Running as fast as he can while zipping up his pants, Barnell is accompanied by the airborne Angel, who instructs them all to run for their lives. As Xorn catches Angel in mid-air, Ernst tries to hold back the frantic Martha, who has begun to hover in a panicked flight. Announcing that Martha is screaming, she informs the rest that it was the U-Men who cut away her body. She's frightened of them!

Appearing out of the darkness of the forest, three U-Men raise their guns and begin to fire small, razor shards. Recognizing the weapon, Angel tells the others that she knows these guys from before! They'll kill them like stomping on a roach. Directing the students in the opposite direction as the U-Men, Xorn orders them to leave the equipment. Bringing up the rear and watching for signs of the U-Men following, Xorn proclaims, to himself, that this is quite unacceptable.

The group comes to a stop when the Beak announces that they can't go any further. Directing Xorn's attention to his meaning, Barnell shows a steep ravine, descending at an almost vertical angle. Announcing that there will be no need to go further, Xorn orders the students to stay here and wait for him. Watching their instructor disappear back into the woods, Barnell declares that he can't just leave them there... the guy is eight feet tall with the power of a tiny, blue star in his head! While they are the Xavier School remedial class! Standing nearby, Dummy holds his left shoulder, where a wound slowly allows gasses to escape.

Eying the ravine, Basilisk pronounces that "Xorny" is so dead. He bets that they'll find him all cut up with his head severed off and stuff. Reminding Basilisk that Xorn has a sun for a head, Ernst points out that you can't sever a sun... can you? As Ernst collapses in despair, Barnell tells the others that they all have to work together as a team, like they tell them every week in assembly. Drawing everyone's attention over to Dummy, who has collapsed, Angel informs the others that he's making a really creepy hissing noise, like your grandma dying.

Noting the horrible stink in the air, which smells like egg and Parmesan cheese, Barnell asks Angel if it was her. Calling Barnell as dum-dum, Basilisk points out that it is from Dummy, he's a living person. Translating Martha's silent words, Ernst informs the rest that Martha has told her that the smell is Dummy, escaping into the air. Dummy's an intelligent gas in a suit. Laughing at the idea, Basilisk proclaims Dummy a smart fart.

Changing the subject, Basilisk asks the Beak when did common sense stand on its head and make him leader? His arms wide in disbelief, Barnell points out that they are the ones who made him leader by standing there, doing @&@$! They, Barnell tells them, make him look like the X-Men! They're supposed to be losers, Basilisk counters. That's the point of them. That's why they put them in Mister Xorn's special class. Dismissing the belief, Barnell retorts that no way are they losers. Does he look like a loser to them? A moment of silence follows while the group considers the Beak's words.

Pointing his finger at Barnell, Basilisk tells him that he'll never be X-Man material. And Angel, he continues, is only there because she likes the taste of finger-lickin' frozen chicken. With this said, Basilisk lets out a small chuckle. Ignoring her classmate, Angel, addressing Barnell as "leader," reminds him that fifteen minutes ago he was begging her to tell him what went where... now he's the big man with the plan? Shrugging his shoulders in amazement, the Beak asks why is everybody picking on him? They are in a death and life situation! Taking charge, Barnell tells Angel that as she is the only one who can fly, she should fly for help!! Taking off into the night sky, Angel asks what kind of help? Psychiatric?

Lying on the ground, completely covered by his sealed suit, save for the cut on his right forearm, Dummy faintly excuses himself and asks for help... please. He doesn't want to leak away. After Basilisk declares that Dummy is going to die, the Beak replies that that is what he thinks. All they need, he says, is something rubber to patch him up. Pulling out a condom, still in its package, from his coat, Barnell lets out a triumphant A-ha! His jaw dropped in disbelief, Basilisk lets out a corresponding, Wohh.

The arrival of a U-Man from the woods brings the group back to the crisis at hand. As the Beak, Ernst and Martha take cover behind him, Basilisk asks what's in it for him if he saves everybody? Which of the lovely ladies will be his bride? Eying the approaching, armed U-Man, Barnell tells Basilisk to do something and even he will be his bride! He's already done his bit! Speaking up, Ernst tells Basilisk than Martha says that No-Girl has agreed to go out with him on Friday... if he helps them. Emitting a strobe pulse from his single eye, which takes out the approaching U-Man, Basilisk says it's a pleasure.

Her face illuminated by the flames, Angel looks on in dumbfounded silence. Sometimes, Xorn tells her, the teacher must leave to make room for learning. His back to Angel, Xorn faces the flaming wreckage that was once the U-Men's vehicle, his helmet still smoking from the energy discharge that created it. The corpses of several U-Men litter the nearby forest floor.

Beak dreamed of respect, he continues. Ernst could find no one to be responsible for. Basilisk had no focus for his energy. For Dummy, there was no community. And she..., Xorn trails, referring to Angel. Turning around and facing her at last, Xorn places his forefinger to his helmet's chin, miming the "Shhh" sign. Speaking once again, he tells Angel that this will be their secret. All will be well. Her mouth still agape as she watches steam rise from Xorn's superheated helmet, she voices a simple yes, sir.

His shoulders shrugged in disbelief, Basilisk asks Ernst if she really said that. Replying affirmatively, Ernst tells him that No-Girl said she'd go out with him anytime. He has a really nice smile, she says. Struggling with a heavy rock he is dragging to the scene, the Beak tells Basilisk that his eyebeam is just a cheap copy of Cyclops'. Having reached the unconscious U-Man, Barnell lifts the rock and tells Basilisk that Mr. Summers will sue him for stealing the copyright trademark to his talent. Replying that he has no money, Basilisk adds that all he has is a seizure in his brain, which sets off a flash that freezes people like roadkill in the lights.

Watching Barnell struggle with lifting the rock, Ernst tells him he will strain his back. Having finally lifted the rock above his head, the Beak replies that there is no way he will trust Basilisk's stupid eyeflash to do the whole job. Somebody has to break the helmet like an egg and stun this guy. Moving Martha's bubble on the opposite side of her from the U-Man, Ernst tells her not to look if the U-Man scares her. Several feet away, Barnell drops the rock squarely on the U-Man's head. Seeing this, Basilisk grins to himself, repeating to himself the words a nice smile.

Seeing Xorn and Angel emerge from the woods, Ernst excitedly announces that they caught a big one! And Martha says she sent a mind alarm to Miss Frost at the school. Telling Ernst that she did well, Xorn announces that he's proud of them all. The U-Men will leave them alone now.

Still sporting his grin, Basilisk asks Xorn to guess who was the unlikely hero of the hour. And, he continues, he would like him to meet No-Girl... his fiancé. Laughing at the statement, Barnell remarks that only a girl who is non-existent would go out with him. Ignoring the Beak, Basilisk tells Xorn that she's saying "Hi." Addressing the empty space next to Basilisk, Xorn asks No-Girl to forgive him. He was searching all the wrong frequencies for her. There she is. Welcome to the special class.

It is still late in the evening when the X-copter returns to the Xavier Institute, bringing Xorn and his class. Out in front of the school are Professor Xavier, the Beast, Emma Frost and her Stepford Cuckoos. Dressed in matching ladies' suits, the five Stepford girls stand for inspection by Dr. McCoy. Descending from the stairs in her strapless, white dress and carrying a matching purse, Emma Frost tells her girls that this promises to be an evening of high octane wit and cruelly sophisticated chat.

Dismissing Emma's comments, the Beast comments on the shaved hairstyle of a passing student, noting that he has been seeing it turning up everywhere. Speaking in unison as ever, the five sisters inform Dr. McCoy that Quentin Quire has been trying to make it fashionable but then suggest that they not talk about him; he's an unpleasant boy with B.O. Still talking about Quentin, the Cuckoos add that they're still sure he plans to disrupt Open Day somehow.

Descending from the stairs to greet the girls, Xavier notes that they have been wise to trust their intuitions before. Addressing the group as a whole, Xavier asks where is Mister Quire? He would like to speak with him before tomorrow. Speaking to Emma, who seems lost in pleasurable thoughts, Xavier asks if Quentin took her precognition class today. Noting their teacher's distraction, the five girls call her to attention. Brought back to the here-and-now, Emma apologizes in halting words, asking for forgiveness. She was miles away.

Not quite miles away, in a world of yellow haze, Emma kisses Scott Summers deeply. His mouth busy, Cyclops thinks to Emma that they shouldn't. Her mouth likewise busy in kissing, Emma thinks/tells Scott that they're only having a thought together; a delicious thought they can both share.

Calling out to Scott, Xorn, co-piloting the X-copter, brings Cyclops back to the here-and-now. Concerned, Xorn asks his friend if he is well. He seems distant and preoccupied. Dismissing Xorn's fears, Cyclops replies that he was listening. He has just had a lot on his mind. He was miles away.

As the X-copter lands on the Institute's lawn, Xavier's limousine departs. Speaking to Dr. McCoy, who is driving, Xavier voices that the idea of an anti-human protest the next day is unthinkable! They're trying to attract human students! The last thing they need is some lunatic movement arising to fill the ideological void left by Magneto. As Xavier speaks, in the back seat of the limo, the Stepford Cuckoos regard their teacher with scrutiny. Her mind once again lost in thoughts "miles away," Emma brushes a hair away from her face in an obviously aroused manner.

Walking down the hall of the Institute toward his room, Xavier telepathically thanks everyone for a very enjoyable and amusing evening. He'll be shutting down his thoughts until tomorrow. Opening the door to his pitch-black room, Xavier senses that something is amiss. Before he can do anything, Xavier is hit over the head with a baseball bat and collapses on the floor. Suddenly, the lights come on and illuminate the room, which is inhabited by both the Professor and the entire gang of Quentin Quire. Taken aback at their deed, Glob Herman asks Quentin what happens when the X-Men turn up to kick their asses? Already closing the door, Quentin tells Glob to bring them on. They have all night to prepare. Holding the baseball bat which struck Xavier, Radian informs Quentin that Wolverine is all Quentin?s.

Now conscious but unable to see, Xavier hears Quentin Quire ask him is he wanted to see him. Asking the Professor if he remembers telling them to "think outside the box," Quentin tells him that they did. The helmet he is wearing is based on Magneto's telepathy-proof technology. Xavier couldn't think into the helmet and he can't think out of this one.

All of the rhetoric about man/mutant brotherhood sounded really inspiring when he was thirteen, Quentin tells the Professor but he grew up... and the world looks different when you're a little taller. His "dream" has failed the mutant race at every turn. Humans can't be reasoned with. The only thing they haven't tried, Quentin then adds, is Magneto's way... total extermination of the human race. As Quentin tells Xavier that the school gates open to the public in two hours, the others in Quentin's gang discover the moving bookcase, which leads into a giant laboratory. Noting the secret labs, Tattoo tells the others that she smells Kick.

(The next day)
Outside the Institute, Emma Frost and her Stepford Cuckoos lead a group of humans from their parked cars. Noting the absence of Xavier, one of the girls tells Emma that the Professor was supposed to join them for the opening. That's what he said last night. Unconcerned, Emma replies that he likes to make an entrance. She's sure he's racing against the clock to powder his head just so for the...

Emma's words, as well as the advancement of the guests for Open Day, are stopped dead in their tracks by a booming voice. Speaking through a megaphone, a voice announces that Professor X is their hostage. They're hijacking the corrupt and reactionary Xavier Institute. Leaning out of a second story window, from which a giant sheet with his omega symbol over an X is spray-painted, Quentin issues his demands; They demand nothing less than Year Zero for mutantkind! Humans must be tried for their crimes! School's out, he yells. Riiiot!

Characters Involved: 

Beast, Cyclops, Emma Frost, Professor X, Xorn (all X-Men)
Angel, Basilisk, Beak, Dummy, Ernst, Glob Herman, Martha Johansson, No-Girl(?)(all members of the Special Class)
Quentin Quire, Radian, Redneck, Slick, Spike, Tattoo (the students forming the Omega Gang)
Stepford Cuckoos and other unnamed Xavier Institute students

Bix & other unnamed U-Men
Bob Smitts, deceased U-Man

Open Day guests

Story Notes: 

When Basilisk is wondering aloud if meditation makes one go blind, he is intentionally/unintentionally mixing it up with a similar myth regarding masturbation.

Martha Johansson was reduced to a brain in a bottle by the U-Men before being rescued by Cyclops & Emma Frost. Angel almost became a victim of the U-Men but was rescued by Wolverine [New X-Men #118].

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