New X-Men (1st series) #137

Issue Date: 
April 2003
Story Title: 
Riot at Xavier's

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

Brief Description: 

His riot well underway, Quentin Quire gloats to Xavier about his revolution and prepares for confrontation with the X-Men. The riot itself escalates as Glob Herman uses his power in a new way, to lob napalm-like parts of his body, while other students create chaos. Even Wolverine is not much of a threat, as Quentin uses his Kick-enhanced powers to entrap Wolverine in a memory. As Quentin's gang emerges out of the Institute, onto the school's grounds, it is confronted by the X-Men. The Beast attempts to diffuse the riot by a recent discovery; Jumbo Carnation was not murdered by humans, but rather died from an overdose of "Kick." Disbelieving an instructor, the rioters continue but are quickly put down by the teaching staff, save Quentin Quire and Glob Herman. While Herman attempts to chase after a bus of humans, Quentin confronts the now-freed Professor. It is the Stepford Cuckoos, however, led by a Kick & Cerebra-enhanced Sophie, who defeat prodigy Quentin Quire. The cost, though, is a high one, as Emma Frost emerges from the school with the lifeless form of Sophie.

Full Summary: 

Glaring out of the second-story window of the Xavier Institute, prodigy student Quentin Quire holds his megaphone in hand while he watches the events transpire outside. With his eyes glazed over and dazed from the effects of Hypercortisone D, Quentin grins maniacally as he views the chaos outside, the result of the riot he has started. Now that they've got their attention... he smirks.

They're not international criminals, Quentin tells Xavier, not bothering to look at his captive. They're not famous super-terrorists. It's true they want to tear down everything that he's created and replace it, but it's not because they're monsters; it's because they're young and it's their right. Finally turning to glance at the Professor, Quentin adds that he's saying all this out loud because he had the brilliant idea of thought-proofing him. Regarding the eyeless metal helmet, which covers Xavier's head and eyes, Quentin informs him that it's adapted from a blueprint of Magneto's helmet they found on the net. He had a lot of good ideas, you know. Yes, Xavier agrees, referring to Magneto. He was kind to animals and he could dance the tango to championship standards. He was also a psychopathic murderer, Xavier then adds, and a poor role model in most other respects.

Sneering mockingly, Tattoo leers over the helpless Professor, reminding him that humans killed Jumbo Carnation. Where was he? Watching the opera? Hovering over Xavier's shoulder from the other side, Redneck adds that humans bomb their cities! Humans trash their whole culture and what does he do? Invite 'em over for dinner! Radian chides.

Some distance from the Institute, Angel stands next to Basilisk and Xorn. Eying the group of protesters standing at the Institute's front door, Angel notes to Xorn that things seem to be getting restless. Something's about to happen, Xorn replies to his student, asking if she can feel it. Human gravity... shifting, he continues, not waiting for her answer. Energy fields in motion...

Closer to the protests, Emma Frost, accompanied by her ever-present wards, the Stepford Cuckoos, warns the Beast that the protest is turning violent. Towering over two protestors before him, the Beast remarks that the rioters said something about the Professor being involved. Finally seeing the level of hostility from the protestors, he instructs Emma to get her girls out of there. Wolverine, he adds, is checking on Charles.

Back at the window, Quentin is joined by Tattoo. Eying the events outside, she informs Quentin gang that they'll send the X-Men in to get them. Any second now and they're squished. Then they're in for glory, Quentin responds. Calling for Glob Herman, Quentin informs him that he's onstage. Taking his cue, Herman asks Redneck to "light him." As Redneck uses his flame powers to ignite the gelatinous flesh of one of his hands, Herman tells Quentin that he'll try and be careful not to hit any of his girlfriends, those beautiful Stepford Cuckoos. Telling Herman to shut up, Quentin uses his bullhorn to smash the window and instructs Herman to make terror. Leaning out of the window, Herman announces to all outside that he is Herman, the Living Weapon! As he hurls flaming globs of his flesh to the people below, Herman asks Quentin in quiet amazement how he guessed he could do this.

On the Institute's grounds below, the teachers, students, visitors and protestors alike all run for safety. Running as well, Emma follows her Stepford Cuckoos toward the safety of the far side of a bus. Another gold star, Emma says, praising her girls. It looks like they were right about Master Quire and his gang of bad haircuts. This, she adds, is quite appalling. Speaking in unison, the Cuckoos remind "Miss Frost" that they told her. They knew he'd ruin their Open Day! Quentin wants to make a mess of everything. Watching the flames rise from Glob Herman's handiwork, Emma replies that she's sure it's just another petulant cry for help.

Adding then that she doesn't know what it is about young people these days, Emma laments that she misses the imagination and verve of the little zealots she used to teach. There was a wild, romantic light in their eyes and they threw themselves into the fray at every turn. Transforming into her diamond form, Emma continues. Now, it's all bored stares, vague demands and a few broken windows, hardly the stuff of mutant legends. One of the Cuckoos, Esme, speaking individually instead in unison with her sisters, snidely asks Emma if her former students weren't all killed. Turning her back to her students and walking back to the Institute, Emma answers that, yes, there were one or two fatalities... But, for heaven's sake, she asks, try not to dwell on the down side. As Emma leaves their presence, one of the sisters tries to reassure the rest; she's only trying to inspire them.

Standing resolutely before the open door of the Institute, surrounded by smoke, Emma watches one of the rioting students tossing a classmate off of the steps of the school. The rioting pupil yells to the others to seize the school! Try the humans for their crimes! Her arms crossed in annoyance, Emma asks for heaven's sake. Seize the school and then what? And then what?

Still bound to his chair, his face still covered by the telepathy-suppressing helmet, Xavier tells Quentin that he can honestly understand the attraction of violent change. When he was young, Xavier informs the youth, he used to imagine using his telepathic talents to short-circuit the minds of despots... Cutting the Professor off, Quentin tells him that he was never his age. Sixteen million mutants died in Genosha while he was imagining new ways to do nothing. Real change, Xavier counters, takes lifetimes... The Professor's statement is cut short by Tattoo, who coolly places a strip of duct tape over the Professor's mouth.

Walking down the hall, away from the bound and now-silenced Professor, Quentin's gang struts with confidence. When asked by Tattoo how far they are taking this, Quentin replies that he doesn't know; he's never done this before. How far do you get? About as far as this Wolverine answers, leaning against the wall of the stairwell platform. I know it'll hurt, he calmly tells Quentin, but he has to say it; his speeches are even more pompous than Charlie's. Acting superior when he's just confused never won anybody any prizes.

Is that so? Quentin asks Wolverine. Still resting against the wall, Wolverine tells Quentin that he's shaking. Giving the "kid" advice, Wolverine suggests to Quentin that he do himself some hard thinking before blood starts pouring outta this drug-induced prank he started. It's not a prank, Quentin counters, as he confidently descends the stairs. It's a mutiny against Charles Xavier's destructive lies. Hard thinking? That nagging though in the back of his head, Quentin points out to Wolverine, trailing off? His muscles seizing up as his eyes roll back, Wolverine can barely manage a gurgle as Quentin and his gang walks by. Hearing Wolverine manage out a comment about him having stones, Quentin smiles, replying that he definitely has Wolverine's. That thought's got so loud you can't think past it right? Quentin asks.

(inside Wolverine's mind)
Wearing a farmer's overalls instead of any X-Men uniform, Wolverine has his metal claws unsheathed, but not bared for combat. Rather than alert, Wolverine is dazed by a dissected, labyrinthine structure, with giant sets of stairs leading to exposed rooms, each housing a different memory. Reeling in the sensory chaos, Wolverine hears voices calling out to "James," telling him that they are there.

Descending the next set of stairs to the ground floor, Quentin's gang marvels at Wolverine's impotent status. Wolverine, Redneck mutters. That's Wolverine he's messed with, Redneck tells Quentin, calling him a suicidal genius. Warned by Redneck that Wolverine will hunt him down, Quentin dismissed the worry. That's just his image Quentin tells his classmate. It doesn't matter anyway. What they do here will never be forgotten.

Outside the Institute, an explosion blows apart a front wall of the school. Still bound in his room, Xavier lets out a silent scream, accompanied by a single tear. Back in the courtyard, Beak Barnell cradles the empty suit of Dummy, whose suit was ripped in two by shrapnel from the explosion, his gaseous form having dispersed.

Flanked by the Beast and Xorn, Cyclops greets Quentin's gang, as they emerge from the Institute. This is way out of line, Cyclops says before ordering them to break it up. Speaking to the mass of rioting students, who have joined Quentin's gang, Cyclops orders them to lay down their weapons, unless they want the Xavier teaching staff to turn this into an impromptu martial arts lesson.

Stepping to the fore, Redneck asks Cyclops about turning some of this big, tough justice on the humans who killed Jumbo Carnation. How about that? Turning back to his following rioters, spurring them on, Rednecks asks if he is just going to let humans walk all over? Redneck's rant is silenced by the optic blast of Cyclops, who deftly uses it to effectively knock Redneck off his feet by a blast to the nose. Checking on the barely conscious Redneck, Tattoo informs Cyclops that he's broken Redneck's nose. That's total assault, she tells him.

The next joker gets a broken leg, Cyclops replies. They don't tolerate killers. What about Jumbo Carnation? Tattoo questions. Humans murdered him like a dog in the street, adds Radian. On the contrary, the Beast corrects. The truth is they've established what happened the night of Jumbo's death in some detail with help from the human police. Some humans roughed him up a little, that's true, the Beast says, but that's not what killed him. Jumbo Carnation died from a self-administered overdose of Kick. Humans, the Beast states, aren't responsible for everything. Maybe they should all take a deep breath and calm down.

Taking in the Beast's words, the rioters consider them in silence. The silence is broken when Radian declares Dr. McCoy's words lies and repels his former instructor with a burst of energy. Firing as he falls to the ground, Cyclops manages to break Radian's leg. Rising to his feet, Cyclops grades the evaluation of his student as poor. To Cyclops' surprise, Tattoo asks him to evaluate her actions, as she phases her right hand through the back of his head, emerging through the front of his face. Having successfully snuck up on him, Tattoo informs Cyclops that, if she solidifies, he dies. Two can play at that game, Emma informs Tattoo as she inserts her own right hand through Tattoo's phased head. If she solidifies, Emma tells Tattoo, she dies as well. Having gotten the drop on her former student, Emma instructs her to remove her hand gently from "Mr. Summers'" head.

Running from the deteriorating situation, Glob Herman, now completely aflame, cries aloud that he is the Inhuman Torch as he exits the Institute's grounds, chasing after a bus. Noting the situation with Glob Herman, Beast announces to Cyclops the obvious: Open Day is now an unqualified disaster, unless they can salvage the situation and redeem the image of the staff by effortlessly tackling the problem as though it were a demonstration of mutant teaching skill. Hearing the cries of Glob Herman as he announcing that he's a suicide bomb and will kill the humans, Cyclops tells McCoy that he makes it all sound so easy.

Entering the Cerebra chamber, Sophie of the Stepford Cuckoos tells her sisters that the Professor's machine can magnify their brainpower ten times, or so she's heard. That, she declares, should be about as much as they need. Another sister, watching the group's rear, points out that Quentin Quire is an Omega strength mutant and can make people do all kinds of things. And the first thing he'll do, Esme declares, is make them take all their clothes off. But they are five-in-one, Sophie counters as she picks up the Cerebra helmet. Well... Esme stutters, just because Frost's old students wore spandex and flew around like idiots doesn't mean they have to be stupid too. Instructing her sister to stop fussing, Sophie tells Esme to hand her the Kick. After taking a lung-full from the inhaler, Sophie dons the Cerebra helmet, asking her sisters if they haven't ever wanted to be a super hero?

Holding his bullwhip in one hand and the Open Day banner, now in flames, Quentin announces that, all his life, he's waited for this "dream" to come true! They were promised peace and security! All his life! Where is it? This place, Quentin rants, has taught him nothing but what it was like to run and fight and hide and... Quentin's words are silenced by the telepathic voice of Xavier, informing him that he could have submitted his critique in the form of an essay. That helmet, Xavier informs the youth, proved as flimsy as his plan.

Big joke, Quentin snarls to Xavier. He can see all around his thoughts from every angle. He knows he's made him question all those big assumptions he just takes for granted. Now standing on the edge of the front staircase, his mouth still bound by the duct tape, Xavier telepathically tells Quentin he's caused some property damage and hurt some people, but it's over now... the revolution lasted minutes. These drugs he's taking are driving his thoughts too hard and too fast. Approaching the Professor defiantly, Quentin tells the Professor to hand the school over to the students. They don't need the kind of education that turns them into victims. Perhaps, Xavier suggests, it's only he who feels like a victim.

Suddenly panic-stricken, Xavier rips the duct tape from his mouth as he telepathically calls out girls. Finishing his short sentence vocally, he yells out no! To Xavier and Quentin's horror, they see four of the Stepford Cuckoos, accompanied by the disembodied, astral "head" of Sophie, break through the walls of the Institute.

Back in the Cerebra room, quite alone, Sophie speaks to Quentin on the Institute's grounds. I suppose, she says, addressing Quentin, that he thinks this is some big fight between (grimacing in pain) between youth and experience? Anarchy and authority? People like he always miss the point. Speaking in turn, the other sisters tell Quentin what it's all about: "In versus Out."

Quentin, reeling from the telepathic attack of the super-charged Stepford Cuckoos, mutters, almost inaudibly, to the sisters; he started up his own movement and everything? so they'd look up to him... Using the disgusting idea as fuel for their attack, the five sisters cry out an united "Ewww" and lay Quentin low with a final psi-blast. Thrown several feet backwards, almost out of his skin, Quentin barely manages a gurgle before curling into a fetal position.

Finally able to speak, Quentin tells the Professor that he didn't mean it... He just wanted to change things... and be famous or something... because he was adopted and... He doesn't even know anymore... He doesn't even know... He didn't want to hurt anyone...

As Quentin manages to rise to his feet, his eyes and mouth bloody from his telepathic/physical wounds, he stands in horror, as does Xavier. Addressing the young Mr. Quire, Emma Frost, holding Sophie, asks Quentin he didn't think this through at all, did he? Quentin, almost speechless, can barely manage to utter Sophie's name as he views her lifeless form.

Characters Involved: 

Beast, Cyclops, Emma Frost, Professor X, Wolverine, Xorn (all X-Men)
Angel, Basilisk, Beak, Dummy, Ernst, Glob Herman, Martha Johansson, Quentin Quire, Radian, Redneck, Stepford Cuckoos, Tattoo (all Xavier Institute students

Unnamed Xavier Institute students

Open Day guests

Story Notes: 

Emma Frost's former "zealot" pupils were the Hellions, most of which were killed by Sentinels in Uncanny X-Men #281.

The entire island of Genosha, along with its population, was destroyed by Cassandra Nova's Mega-Sentinel in New X-Men #115-116.

Fashion guru Jumbo Carnation died in New X-Men #135 after a confrontation with a street gang.

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