New X-Men (1st series) #140

Issue Date: 
June 2003
Story Title: 
Murder at the Mansion

Grant Morrison (writer), Phil Jimenez (penciler), Andy Lanning (inker), Chris Chuckry (colorist), Chris Eliopoulos (letters), Mike Raicht (associate editor), Mike Marts (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Bill Jemas (president)

Brief Description: 

Bishop and Sage arrive at the Xavier Institute, having been invited as impartial investigators of the apparent murder of Emma Frost. The two quickly determine that Emma was killed by a diamond bullet, which hit a flaw in Emma’s diamond body. Bishop and Sage question student and instructor alike, including the Beast, Professor Xavier, Xorn, Angel Salvadore, the Stepford Cuckoos and Jean Grey. Jean is the only one Bishop rules out as a suspect, after Jean convinces him through a telepathic rapport that he cannot even explain. Wishing to investigate a possible lead involving the recent drug, Hypercortisone D, Bishop visits Omega Gang member, Redneck, in prison, who tells Bishop that he obtained the inhalers from Quentin Quire, who purchased them in the woods behind the school. Back in the Institute, Beak confesses tearfully to the Beast that is was he who was selling the Kick drug and it was he that killed Miss Frost. Meanwhile, following Bishop’s lead, Sage discovers a set of inhalers in the woods as well as an old cabin. Entering the cabin, Sage discovers dozens of cocoons hanging from the ceiling. She also discovers the murder weapon, which is unfortunately in the hands of someone who is pointing it at Sage.

Full Summary: 

In Salem Center, New York, an SUV makes its way along a remote road. The vehicle reaches its destination at the gates of a walled estate, which opens at its arrival, letting it in. The estate is that of the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning. The time is 4:55 EST and a lockdown has begun at the behest of Lucas Bishop and Sage. No one in. No one out.

Addressing the populace of the Xavier Institute, students and instructors alike, Bishop informs them that summer vacation is cancelled until further notice. Continuing, Bishop tells the assembly that, while most of them know him as Sergeant Lucas Bishop, he is also a mutant detective. His associate’s name is Sage. Producing a small, crystalline item, Bishop announces that it is the diamond bullet that killed the White Queen. Everyone in the room is a suspect in the murder of Emma Frost. Nobody, he concludes, leaves until they’re done.

Waving the investigators on, the Beast rhetorically asks Bishop if he wants to see the body. Silently, he picks up a handful of the shards that once composed Emma Frost’s body and allows them to slip through his fingers. Regarding the body solemnly, he informs Bishop that she’s not really dead. He knows she’s not… a mind like Emma’s…

Trying to soften the blow of the obvious, Bishop tells Dr. McCoy that there’s no chance. Echoing her partner, albeit in her blunt manner, Sage tells Beast that Emma looks pretty dead to her… and, quite frankly, she adds, good riddance. It’s going to be hard narrowing this down, she tells them both; nobody liked her. Contradicting Sage, the Beast retorts that he did. Almost absentmindedly, he picks up a shard of Emma’s corpse and views it through a jeweler’s lens. Declaring the piece "part 10035," he determines it to be a section of aortal valve. Promptly turning back to his conversation with Sage and Bishop, he informs them that Emma was a good listener. She laughed at his jokes. She knew every line of Byron by heart.

Turning his attention to the current situation, he tells the two that Emma managed to turn to diamond form but the bullet hit her flaw. He tried to find all the pieces, he rambles on. It’s just like an incredibly intricate biological jigsaw… he used to love jigsaw puzzles when he was younger. Quite aware that he is rambling, the Beast asks Bishop and Sage for their opinion. He’s the least likely and therefore the most likely suspect. Before they can even answer, he informs them that he was at the opera… "Orfeo…" with Emma’s girls. Once again changing the subject, he informs Bishop that he does intend to put Emma back together. Leaning in to his former teammate, Bishop replies that he knows and tells him to keep them posted.

In Xavier’s study, Bishop sits in the chair before Xavier’s desk with a cup of tea in hand. Addressing the Professor, who is gazing out of the window, his back to him, Bishop says that it looks like things haven’t been going so well. He has to admit, he tells Xavier, it was hard to come back to the school after the way Sage and he were treated last time. Emma Frost was one of their least favorite people. And, he informs the Professor, there’s something else he has to bring into the equation… he’s been possessed before. In a world of mindreaders, shapechangers and disembodied consciousnesses… crime takes on a whole new meaning.

Gazing out of his window and across his estate, Xavier agrees and informs Bishop that he’s had to give some serious thought to this. Violence haunts them… his teaching methods seem to have failed in so many ways. But, Xavier continues, turning around to face his interrogator, he is Charles Xavier. This is the real him, not some alien imposter bent on world destruction. Mr. Xorn healed his legs, Jean helped heal his mind… neither was able to restore his power to dance. Refusing to smile at Xavier’s humor, Bishop coldly replies that he understands. Monster don’t have a sense of humor, he says, but even they can fake it sometimes. Obviously through with Xavier on multiple levels, Bishop informs him that he will see Xorn and his pupils now.

Welcoming Bishop into his class, Xorn informs him that his children are vulnerable and asks that he be careful with his interrogations. All of them have been exploited and abused, he adds. They are very sensitive. In punctuation to Xorn’s words, the "Beak" Barnell announces to Basilisk that if he says that again, he will have to kill him. There is no such room as "the toilet" in Clue! Sitting on his knees and hovering over the board game like Barnell, Basilisk replies that there is now! "Professor Sex in the toilet with the lawnmower," he declares. "That’s whodunit!" To this, Basilisk ends with a customary chuckle.

Tightlipped and serious, Bishop tells Xorn that he sees what he means. He then informs Xorn that they have to interview everyone. When Xorn replies that he understands, Sage speaks up, calling their first interviewee; the girl, Angel. Alone. Xorn calls out to Angel and tells her that these people wish to discuss her relationship with Miss Frost. Turning away from the Beak and Basilisk, who have begun to tear apart the board game, Angel calls out confused, who wants what?

Approaching Bishop and Sage, Angel asks what is she supposed to have done? Declaring that she didn’t have any "relationship," Angel asks the two what they are trying to say. Stone-faced, Bishop retorts that nobody said she did anything. She has seen this one TV, he tells her, she knows how this works… they have to question everybody. Even he, Sage tells Xorn. Where was he last night? Unable to portray anything but the poker-faced countenance of his metal helmet, Xorn innocently replies that he was meditating, he believes.

Subsequently, in another empty room, Bishop leans sits at the edge of a desk, his arms crossed. Staring down at Angel, who is sitting cross-armed in a desk, Bishop asks the student what she and Emma talked about after Emma took her on a shopping trip to Manhattan a few days before she was killed. Her arms crossed in and stone-faced in defiance, Angels asks how should she know. Emma was all, like, "you are my new project…" and all. Mostly, Angel adds, she was helping her choose a dress for the prizegiving. To this, Angel adds that she won a commendation and has a certificate.

Leaning forward, Bishop tells Angels that he knows. He then asks if she remembers exactly where she was when Miss Frost was shot. Taken aback, Angel replies that she doesn’t even know when she was shot. She’d have been with Beakie, she says, swiftly adding that they hang out. Beakie? Bishop repeats.

One of the four remaining Stepford Cuckoos, dressed in the same black dress and yellow vest as her "sisters," informs Bishop that she completely understands the necessity for this investigation… but she really does have to leave. She’s meeting someone shortly. To this, she adds that school ought to have closed for the summer and this is a little unfair to the non-resident students. Sitting across from the girls along with Sage, Bishop tells… Esme?… that he understands her impatience. Addressing his lack of surety, Bishop asks for forgiveness, as he finds it difficult to tell them apart.

Returning to the subject, he tells the girls that he knows they were Miss Frost’s prize pupils but he also understands there was some kind of falling out… is he right? Speaking now in unison, the girls reply that Miss Frost taught them to conceal their emotions as a way of keeping one step ahead. It seems only fair, they add, to tell him that. But, they continue, he is right… they did. There were five of them, they explain. Sophie, their dear sister, was killed in the school riots after Miss Frost encouraged her to do stupid, supposedly heroic things.

Ah, Bishop voices. Pointing to his cranium, Bishop instructs the girls to not do that again. To not even try to read his mind. He absorbs psychic energy as easily as all other kinds. Returning to the subject at hand, Bishop asks the girls if what happened to Sophie would make any of them hurt Miss Frost. Replying in unison, the girls state that Miss Frost taught them everything they know. Yes, they were very angry with her but whyever would they ever want to hurt their favorite teacher?

Rising from their seats, the girls inform Bishop that they were at the opera with Doctor McCoy. They can ask him. "Orfeo" – it was to cheer them up. Their minds were traumatized by what happened. As the girls leave the classroom, Bishop replies that he can imagine and then thanks them.

Walking alongside her in the garden, Bishop tells Jean that this is hard for him but… she fought with Emma. She had some kind of telepathic affair going on with her husband, Scott. By all accounts, he tells her, she didn’t pull any punches. Unworried by the accusation, Jean stops to smell a rose and asks Bishop if he thinks that she killed her. It’s true, she states, that she has the worst temper. She runs around the world preaching peace and brotherhood and, when she came home, the first thing she does is fight. But, she states firmly, she can only tell the truth. Turning to face Bishop, Jean’s hair begins to dance with flames. After being told to take a look for himself, Bishop silently stares at Jean as she enters his mind. The power of the Phoenix reflects within the iris of his eye.

Her point made, Jean flicks her hair and exits the garden, leaving the befuddled Bishop whispering my God. Sage passes the exiting Jean as she is entering and receives an innocent "hi, Sage." Finding her partner still immobile, Sage asks Bishop what did he see. Closing his eyes in reflection, Bishop replies that he is not sure he can explain… but he knows she didn’t do it.

(11:36 am)
Sage writes in her log that they are no closer to a clear solution. They are assembling the evidence, questioning the suspects and running possible scenarios. Certain key questions are emerging from the mass of speculative data. Foremost, where is the murder weapon? Who supplied the drug called "Kick" they keep hearing so much about? And why Emma Frost?

As Sage and Bishop continue their investigation, the school’s inhabitants deal with their "house arrest." Some are immensely bored, ready to leave with their packed bags when it is over. Others read or draw on the chalkboard. Angel even finds time to argue with a stoic Xorn.

(6:45 PM)
Walking out of the front door of the institute, Bishops tells Sage to do that thing she does and send an e-mail with her mind… and arrange for him to see the boys from the Omega Skulls gang in prison. He wants to find that Kick dealer.

Bishop walks confidently down the hall of the NY State Maximum Security Penitentiary. As he makes his way past dozens of cells, he hears epithets yelled by inmates, calling him cop scum and mutant trash. When threats are uttered, Bishop tells his would-be assailants to get in line.

Prisoner #2102011, previously called Redneck in the Omega Gang, meets Bishop from the other side of the glass at the visitors’ section of the prison. Managing a quick hi, the youth immediately asks if he is getting out of there. Already sitting, cross-armed and wearing his dark shades, Bishop introduces himself as Sergeant Bishop. Rhetorically asking the prisoner if he previously went by the name of Redneck, Bishop states that he ran with Quentin Quire’s gang and helped provoke the riot at the Xavier School.

Gripped in panic, Redneck presses his hands against the glass and asks again, in a much louder voice, if he is getting out of there. There are people who really hate mutants in here, he exclaims. Keeping his focus, Bishop states another fact to Redneck, that he and the others were high on Hypercortisone D during most of their vandalizing spree. Bishop informs Redneck that he wants the name of their dealer. Who’s been dripping the poison into the school corridors? Help him with that, Bishop states, and he’ll see what he can do.

Questions? Redneck states in a panic. What if he doesn’t know the answers? It’s like surviving the jungle in there, he says. Tears welling in his eyes, Redneck exclaims that he has to get out of there before he gets hurt! Repeating his question, Bishop asks Redneck who his supplier was. Finally answering, Redneck exclaims that he doesn’t know. He was buying his inhalers from Quentin, same as the others. Stating again that Bishop has to get him out of there, Redneck states that he can just about generate the temperature of a two-bar electric heater in the bones of his hands… but how is he supposed to protect himself against the daily persecutions he’s getting?

Dropping his head into his hands, Redneck states that all he knows is this… Quentin would go into the woods at the back of the school and later he’d come back with this little baggie filled with inhalers for each of them. He’d never used drugs before in his life. They only cost five dollars each and they make you feel like the Incredible Hulk… Speaking into his glove, Bishop asks Sage if she got all that.

Traipsing through the woods, Sage replies that she’s way ahead of him. She went for a walk to clear her head and on the way she upgraded her sensory function. She set it to detect traces of Hypercortisone D. Coming across two round, black objects with red markings on them, Sage first wonders if they are mushrooms. No, delete that, she tells herself. Bending down and picking one up, Sage identifies them as Kick inhalers.

Studying the piece closely, Beast determines that the part designated #1700065 is a section of right index and ring finger. Taking a moment, Dr. McCoy looks down at the table at the emerging form of Emma Frost, still in thousands of pieces. In a quiet voice, he tells himself that this is insane. A new scent in the air tells the Beast that he is not alone. Turning around, he sees Barnell entering the room and asks if he is all right. Obviously not, Barnell is in tears and clutching his temples. He declares that he was the one selling the Kick drug! He killed Miss Frost!

Still online with Bishop, Sage tells him that there are definite signs of recent activity there. Disturbed grass, broken branches… Seeing an old cabin in a small clearing, Sage approaches it.

Having dropped to his knees, Barnell continues his confession. She was going to tell and… he did it for her, he cries. Joined by Dr. McCoy, who places his arm around him, Barnell informs his teacher that he did it for the babies… because… because no one must know…

At the door of the cabin, Sage looks enter its darkened interior. Still online with her partner, she tells Bishop that there’s something there. Entering the interior, Sage looks at the cabin’s ceiling and, with her tech-glasses, views the two dozen cocoons, which hang from the rafters. Sage manages to tell Bishop that there are living things there, just before realizing that she is not alone. Emerging from the darkness at her flank, Sage’s shadowy companion replies that, no, she’s not alone. Holding a gun up to Sage’s head, the individual tells Sage this probably is what she was looking for.

Characters Involved: 

Beast, Emma Frost, Nightcrawler, Phoenix IV, Professor X, Wolverine, Xorn (all X-Men)
Bishop, Sage (X-Treme X-Men)

Angel, Basilisk, Beak, Ernst, Martha Johansson, Stepford Cuckoos, Tattoo (all Xavier Institute students

Unnamed Xavier Institute students

Prisoners of NY State Maximum Security Penitentiary

Story Notes: 

While the title of this issue is "Murder at the Mansion," it is actually Murder at the Mansion part 2.

Bishop and Sage were "treated poorly" when they came to the school in pursuit of murder suspect Jeffrey Garret in X-Treme X-Men #20-23.

Xavier had previously been "possessed" first by the Entity (X-Men vs Micronauts) and later by Onslaught, a creature created in Xavier’s mind after his absorption of Magneto’s psyche.

Clue is a popular board game where players must determine whose character in the game committed a murder, with what weapon and in what room. The game is apropos in the context of the story as Bishop and Sage are attempting to determine two of those three things.

The Riot at Xavier’s storyline ran from New X-Men #135 to #137. Sophie died ending the riot in New X-Men #137.

Angel won her commendation and informed Beak that she was pregnant in New X-Men #138.

Written By: