New X-Men (1st series) #141

Issue Date: 
July 2003
Story Title: 

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: 

In the woods behind the Xavier Institute, Bishop finds Sage collapsed, her computer brain effectively shut down. After a quick reboot, the two investigate the shack she discovered and find dozens of eggs hanging from the rafters. Also in the shack, they find a pistol. Back in the Institute, the Beak confesses to shooting Emma Frost but Xavier and the Beast are disbelieving, as the story does not sound plausible. As proof of motive, the Beak reveals that Angel was pregnant and that Miss Frost knew. The return of Bishop and Sage and the news of their discovery cause Xavier and Xorn to wish to investigate themselves. As they do so, the Beast returns to his task of reassembling Emma’s body. He is joined by Jean, who, with the use of the Beast’s telepathically lent medical knowledge and the Phoenix Force, is able to fully reassemble and reanimate Emma Frost. Once again, Emma Frost is among the living. Back at the cabin, Xavier and his group discover Angel there among the children from the hatched eggs. The children are hers and the Beak’s and are already toddler age, flying around and adorable. Having finished their analysis of the murder weapon, Bishop and Sage pronounce Angel as the culprit but Xavier is unsure as to whether Angel actually pulled the trigger. At the front gate of the school, Bishop and Sage confront Esme, who has abandoned her sisters and is secretly trying to leave the school. To the young girl, Bishop and Sage reveal their conclusions: she wanted control of the Cuckoos and was the force that killed Sophie during the riot. Also, it was she who telepathically coerced Angel into shooting Miss Frost. When asked by Bishop who she is leaving to meet, Esme mocks his question, telepathically renders them both catatonic and makes her getaway in a driverless taxi. Xavier manages to restore Bishop and Sage’s sanity, which leads Sage to a revelation. Memories from the forest have been restored. The person who confronted her in the shack earlier was a male at least six foot two… meaning Esme had an accomplice. Taking this in, Bishop asks a question that only now occurred to him: where is Scott Summers?

Full Summary: 

"Sage!" yells Bishop, calling out to his teammate as he finds lying her on the tall grass of the forest. Not actually unconscious, Sage mumbles to herself, nearly incoherently, repeating the phrase, The sun in a box. The sun in a box.

Sage bends down and gently picks up the inert form of Sage, who continues to ramble. Me a pony… stop that shouting… sh-sh-shouting. Horse and trap. Leaning in closely, Bishop tries to coax Sage back to coherence, telling her that it is he and asking what happened. Send me a p-p-postcard, boyo. she replies. When commanded by Bishop to talk sense, she can only reply her own command… make it oily.

Having had enough, Bishop uses the hand that has been cradling Sage’s head to search the nape of her neck. Finding the correct acupressure point, he applies pressure, effectively rebooting Sage. After a brief shriek of pain, Sage opens her eyes wide, taking in her surroundings. After she manages to speak his name, Bishop asks again if she is okay and… what the hell happened? Easing her partner’s fears, Sage tells Bishop that she is fine but that she seems to have lost some files… somebody did something to her and wiped gigabytes of data from her brain. Where, Bishop asks. What did she find? There was a shack, Sage manages to voice and, gesturing to a nearby clearing, she points it out.

Having returned to her feet, Sage follows Bishop to the cabin. Along the way, she informs him that she can’t remember anything from the last hour. Great, replies Bishop, who then asks how long before she can perform a full data retrieval.

Staring up at the dozens of cocoons which hang from the rafters of the cabin, Bishop repeats the words used by Sage earlier to describe it: alive. Taking in the scent, Bishop tells Sage that it smells like… biology. Like the smell you get in tidal pools by the sea. Viewing one sac up close, Sage bluntly tells Bishop that they shouldn’t have come there. There’s something rotten at the Xavier School. Riot, drugs, telepathic adultery, murder…

Unconcerned with fears, Bishop rubs his hands along one of the cocoons with his gloved hand. Inside is a green insect-like creature, still forming. What are these things, Bishop asks in frustration. Hazarding her guess, Sage says that they are eggs of some kind. When she advises him to not get too close, Bishop replies that maybe she’s right. They should get back to the Institute. He wants Professor X and the X-Men to know about this.

Taking a last moment to observe the eggs, Sage asks Bishop why is that every time Emma Frost gets mixed up in their lives, there’s always trouble and confusion? She can’t even keep her death simple. Everyone has to get involved in Emma’s latest drama, whether they like it or not. A short distance away, Bishop looks through a box, investigating the contents. Almost absentmindedly, he tells Sage that he gets the picture: she hated her. But they are there to investigate her murder and that’s what they’ll do until they crack it. Repeating again that she did not like her, Sage also adds that she does not like this. Wishing to leave, Sage tells Bishop that they can’t risk any kind of contamination by staying with these things. Seeing a change in Bishop, she asks if he has found something. Standing up and holding a pistol, Bishop replies that he has. They definitely have to involve Professor Xavier.

Sitting behind his desk, Professor Xavier tells Barnell to go on… he was telling him how he shot Miss Frost. Standing next to Barnell, his arm around the youth’s shoulder, Doctor McCoy asks him if he is sure. His story doesn’t sound convincing in the slightest. His head buried in his hands, the Beak tells McCoy that he doesn’t know what to say. His head is crazy with this!

Barnell, Xavier says, interjecting again, he doesn’t have to be a telepath to know that he is lying. Why doesn’t he just tell them whom he’s protecting? Angel shot Miss Frost, didn’t she? Raising his head in panic, Barnell repeats that it was he! He was mad and he did it! He didn’t want anyone to know he made Angel pregnant with monster babies. Reeling from the revelation, the Beast asks Barnell to wait a minute… Angel is pregnant?

Was, answers Barnell. He explains that Angel is half-girl and half-fly… how was he to know there is a life cycle of, like, only five days between the sex and birth? Lowering his head again and choking back the tears, Barnell tells Xavier that she said they would throw them out if they didn’t hide the babies… she said Miss Frost would tell, so… so he shot the teacher dead so no one could know… His voice lowering to a whisper, Barnell tells the teachers that they are like monsters in bags of hanging skin and it’s all his fault.

Having made his way around the desk, Xavier stands next to Barnell and asks him why would they think of throwing them out? Whatever he’s done, Xavier tells the youth, he’s one of their most valued students. Crouching down on one knee to be at eye level with the sitting Barnell, Xavier asks him who told Angel these terrible things? Barnell looks up into Xavier’s eyes. To the headmaster’s question, Barnell replies that he doesn’t know. Maybe it was Miss Frost, maybe someone else… she said they would be expelled if he found out. Finally realizing something that was said moments ago, Barnell asks innocently… he is valued?

Putting the pieces together, the Beast states that Angel told Emma that she was pregnant. So where is Angel now? Replying that he doesn’t know, Barnell adds that there has been nothing of her since the mutant policeman Bishop guy was asking all the questions yesterday. And now, for him, it is all just too much. All too much life! Too much reality.

Breaking the tension, Beast informs Xavier that Bishop and Sage are on their way up and that he has to get back to Emma’s body… if there’s still a chance. On the way out, McCoy passes the two arriving investigators. Prodded by the simple question of "so?" Bishop replies that that have the murder weapon. It is custom-engineered by experts to fire a diamond bullet capable of shattering Emma Frost in her mineral form. As Xavier asks if they have checked for fingerprints, Barnell begins to wail. This is so bad. As before, the Beast tries to assuage his fears, telling him it’s okay.

Continuing his report, Bishop informs the group that they found a shack in the woods behind the Institute. There’s some kind of life forms in there and Sage was attacked. Returning to his pleas, Barnell tells them all that they musn’t go there! This is what he’s saying! Recalling the shack, Xavier tells the group that Wolverine built one a few years ago, recovering up there after one of his lost winters. Returning to her experience there, Sage postulates that Angel was the one who attacked her, protecting her larvae. Asking what this word is, larvae, Barnell demands to know who is to say these babies are insects or medical curiosities?

As the only true geneticist in the room, McCoy admits that they have no idea what kind of offspring could emerge from two X-gene positive parents with radically altered reproductive physiology. Mutations, he points out, can be benign or malignant but it’s hard to tell without actually seeing what’s happening. Grabbing his coat, Xavier declares that it is enough talk and tells the group to follow him. They’re taking a walk in the woods.

In his laboratory, the Beast continues to pour over the countless shards that once comprised the body of Emma Frost. Anointing a piece part 11100276, Doctor McCoy declares it the right occipital ridge. Following this is part 11100277… left occipital ridge and orbit. On the table below, the body of Emma Frost is beginning to re-form, piece by piece, like a gigantic jigsaw.

Entering the lab, Jean tells the Beast that what he’s trying to do is impossible. Turning to face his longtime friend, McCoy replies that it never stopped him before. Recalling the confrontation the two had, the Beast tells Jean that Emma was really upset after what she did to her. She and Scott should have dealt with their marriage problems a long time ago. Replying that she knows, Jean adds that she got distracted trying to save the world. Holding out her hand, she deposits a shard of diamond into the Beast’s paw, telling him that she found it. It is Emma’s lips.

Examining the piece closely, the Beast lets out a hrrrm and announces that he’s been hunting all over for them. Glancing back up Jean, McCoy bets that everyone thinks it’s he, don’t they? The way Sage just stares with her computer brain clicking away behind those cyber-sunglasses… Well, McCoy announces, he was watching "Orfeo." Emma’s girls can vouch for his dubious attempts to recreate the lead tenor in the restaurant afterwards.

Speaking bluntly, Jean reminds Hank that the girls are highly skilled telepaths and were trained by one of the most devious, Machiavellian women she’s ever met. Stone faced in self-assurance, Hank replies that he knows what he saw. So, he continues to Jean, now she thinks he killed Emma too? Don’t be ridiculous, Jean counters. Nobody suspects him. She’s just saying the Cuckoos could make his see anything they wanted. He could have been sitting in a back alley listening to cats mating…

Sensing something amiss, Jean bends over the diamond body that the Beast has so painstakingly restored. In almost a whisper, Jean announces that Emma’s consciousness is still clinging to life. Standing back up, Jean informs Hank that she read the theater’s manager’s memory. The scheduled performance of "Orfeo" was cancelled that night because of a bomb scare.

While Sage examines something from the grass outside, Xorn stands next to Bishop and Xavier at the front steps of the shack. Hesitating with the others, Xorn informs Xavier that Angel and Beak are not killers. He knows the children and trusts in their goodness. Sometimes, Xavier replies, even the best people will do terrible things to protect secrets. But, he tells Xorn, he is in full agreement with him.

Agree all they like, Sage tells the two, Angel has the murder weapon there and was probably using it to defend her brood… Holding an empty husk that was once one of the cabin’s eggs, Sage adds that the brood was hatched now, by the look of it. Standing ready at the door, Bishop reminds Sage that Brood is a loaded word and orders the rest to get behind him… just in case.

Bishop’s last words trail as he, Xorn and Xavier taken in the unexpected sight that awaits them in the shack. Sitting cross-legged in the center of the floor, Angel tells them not to shoot. In her lap sits a toddler-sized child, with bird-like features along with insect wings. Flying around the cabin are other similar aged children, some with sparse, feathery hair resembling Barnell’s and others with dark hair, much more like in appearance to Angel’s. Smiling broadly, Angel tells the group that the bags burst but it’s okay now. Check ‘em out!

Taking in the sight of his children, Barnell is amazed. He tells the group that, in his dreams, he would see an army of monsters, all shouting "Father"… but look at these… Still smiling uncontrollably, Angel announces that she’s going to call them after the Jackson family. Turning to Barnell, the father of her children, Angel tells him that the one,the little freak in her arms, looks about as cute and useless as he.

Changing the subject, Barnell informs Angel that he has told them that he was the one who shot Miss Frost to protect their secret. He was ready to take the blame but they are all too smart and nobody will believe him… Trailing off briefly from a sight from one of his children, Barnell comments on the wingspan of the little guy.

Back to business, Bishop informs Angel that they have the gun and know Barnell had nothing to do with it. No, Angel replies, they are right. She took that gun and shot Miss Frost in the face. Her voice lowering in intensity, she confesses that she had to because she found out about something but she doesn’t know what. Concluding the presentation of the evidence, Sage tells the others that fingerprint analysis of the weapon confirms it: Angel did it. Telling the others to wait, Xavier tells Angel that she held the gun… but she didn’t pull the trigger, did she? Not really.

In the hall of the Xavier Institute, one of the Stepford Cuckoos struggles as she drags her heavy trunk down the hall. Watching Esme fight against the weight, the other girls, in unison, tell her that she can’t just walk away like this. Glaring back at her sisters, Esme replies that she can do what she likes. She’s called a taxi telepathically. She’s going to dye her hair and scrawl her name across the world. Turning her back on the others, Esme manages to drag the trunk down the steps. Not even bothering too look back, she tells them all that they can shut up. All of them. Back up on the higher floor, the three girls lean against each other, inert to each other and the rest of the world.

The flame of the Phoenix Raptor causes the Beast to recoil. As when used before, the flame engulfs Jean’s body but does not consume her. Rather, it brings her senses and powers few comprehend. When her friend calls out to her, Jean replies that she knows everybody’s worried about her. Everybody thinks the Phoenix Force is turning her into some kind of cosmic destroyer but it’s not like that. She has trouble with the rushes but she’s okay, really.

Drawing her attention to the mass of diamond shards, both connected to the body of Emma Frost and loose, Jean engulfs them in her Phoenix aura. Speaking again to Hank, she tells him that she can make things right here. This isn’t the first time Emma’s been disembodied, she adds. So, she’s thinking that maybe she could fuse the diamond molecules together telekinetically. Maybe she’s overreaching…

Closing her eyes in concentration, Jean asks Hank if he can think of a pink door opening and promptly thanks him when he does. Narrating her actions, she tells Hank that she’s reading all those medical textbooks from his memory. She wouldn’t want to put her heart in the wrong place. Now drawing more of Emma’s psyche, Jean tells Hank that she loves him. Emma has actually fallen in love with her husband. It’s almost funny, she adds.

Under Jean’s direction, the pieces of Emma’s body coalesce into a single form, energized by the Phoenix’s flame. Reveling in these same energies, Jean calls out to Emma Frost and tells her to wake up. Scott needs her. Wake up. Engulfed in flame, the body of Emma Frost sits up of it’s own accord, as life is restored to the woman. Clutching her naked body, with all of it’s cracks and flaws, Emma screams out the last thought she possessed before dying… ESME!

At the front gate of the Institute, still dragging her trunk, Esme is met by Bishop. Speaking sarcastically, Bishop asks the young girl if she is in a hurry. Continuing his manner of speech, Bishop tells Esme that he is surprised a smart girl like her forgot about the curfew. No one in, no one out till they’re done. Remember? Her eyes glowing with rage in a snarl, Esme tells Bishop that she’s waited long enough. Summer will be over by the time he tracks down Miss Frost’s murderer. If he can’t solve the crime, she continues, it’s his own fault, not hers.

Appearing suddenly from behind, Sage informs Esme that they did solve the crime… it wasn’t that difficult. They know who shot Emma Frost… they’re not entirely sure why but they do know who. Angel was remote controlled, wasn’t she? Sage accuses Esme. She used the drug Kick to boost her telepathic powers… then she overwhelmed the group mind of the Cuckoos and, when Sophie resisted the takeover, she steered her toward death. Why? asks Bishop. Miss Frost spoke very highly of her.

No she didn’t, spits back Esme. She only loved herself! Why does everybody always take her side? Miss Frost wanted them all to be like her and she, Esme tells Bishop and Sage, is nothing like her. Nothing at all!

Not accepting the answer, Bishop tells Esme that it doesn’t seem to him like a good enough reason to kill her. There’s someone else behind all this, isn’t there? Someone bigger. Drawing to the point, Bishop asks Esme who is she meeting? Perking her lips in defiance, Esme replies a mocking if only you knew, Mister Bishop. Her mind now brimming with energy, Esme then tells Bishop and Sage not to worry… they’ll all find out soon enough.

Suddenly paralyzed by Esme’s attack, Bishop barely manages to bark an order to get her. Not wasting time, Esme turns her attack to Sage, affecting an emergency shutdown of her computer brain. Helpless against the attack, Sage does just that and is lost in a world of her own. Watching Sage try to feel around in her presumably sightless world, Esme tells her to continue doing that until she’s gone and begins to work the main gate’s controls. After the door has swung open, Esme drags her trunk into the street to meet the driverless taxi that awaits her. Entering the back seat, Esme closes the door and is driven out to the main road.

Grasping Bishop’s temples, Xavier manages to pull him out of his trance. Bringing him back to reality, Xavier informs Bishop that he is not his father and he is not in any trouble. Now cognizant of his surroundings, Bishop asks the Professor what did she do to him? It feels like he relived the worst day of his childhood.

Turning to Sage, who is likewise recovering, Bishop asks if she is okay. Answering yes and then no, Sage asks Bishop to excuse her, as memories are returning to her from her hard drive. Esme’s psychic attack, she informs him, seems to have loosened something. The process finished, Sage tells her partner that she can smell the pines… sweat and male pheromones. The gun is pressed against her fifth vertebra. The angle of the muzzle would make the assailant at least six feet two, possibly taller. It wasn’t Beak or Angel she concludes. There’s someone else.

Figures, Bishop replies in disgust. Now taking a moment to assess a fact he had only just considered, Bishop asks a final question: "Now where in the hell is Scott Summers?"

Characters Involved: 

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

Angel, Beak, Stepford Cuckoos, (all Xavier Institute students

Children of Angel and the Beak

Story Notes: 

Most likely an oversight, the customary credits for the issue have been omitted. Only the names of Morrison, Jimenez and Lanning appear and they do so on the cover.

This story is Murder in the Mansion part 3.

Angel informed Beak that she was pregnant in New X-Men #138.

Emma and Jean had their telepathic confrontation in New X-Men #139.

Jean’s adjective describing Emma Frost, Machiavellian, refers to Italian philosopher Nicolo Machiavelli, author of the Prince. Machiavelli believed that deceit and cunning were needed to maintain power and position. The adjective derived from his name has come to describe grandiose plans used to attain great power.

Brood is a loaded word to the X-Men as one of their greatest foes has been an alien species that goes by the same name.

Most likely, Angel’s reference to the Jackson family refers to the extensive musically talented Jackson family, whose names include Marlon, Jackie, Michael, Tito, Jermaine, Randy, Janet and LaToya.

Sage’s nearly incoherent ramblings in the forest, „sun in a box," combined with the revelation of a male accomplice, leads one to suspect Xorn, as his brain is a tiny star/sun, encased in a metal helmet. However, Cyclops might also fit this description as his optic blasts are generated by absorbed sunlight. In addition her phrase „ horse and trap" sounds reminiscent of the Trojan horse gambit – also hinting at an enemy within.

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