New X-Men (1st series) #146

Issue Date: 
October 2003
Story Title: 
Planet X - part 1

Grant Morrison (writer), Phil Jimenez (penciler), Andy Lanning (inker), Chris Chuckry (colorist), Virtual Calligraphy’s Rus Wootan (letterer), Ethan Van Sciver (cover), Anne Thornton (assistant editor), Mike Marts (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Bill Jemas (president)

Brief Description: 

Just prior to the satellite’s destruction, Cyclops is able to pilot his shuttle away. However, his and Fantomex’s fate is uncertain, as the explosion causes their shuttle to lose control, crashing in the Pacific. Back at the mansion, Xavier summons his remaining X-Men to the task of rescue. Jean decides to use the new Mark 3 X-Plane to fly into orbit to rescue Wolverine, while Beast and Emma Frost fly to the Pacific for Cyclops and Fantomex. With most of the team gone, Xorn makes an offer to Dust, which causes her to seek out Xavier in panic. Seemingly, she loses control of her powers, wrecking Cerebra in the process. Xorn quickly manages to collect and contain Dust in a canister, much to Xavier’s dismay. In the Pacific, as the Beast and she approach Cyclops’ position, Emma detects a stray thought from their teammate, warning them of a traitor in the Institute. They have no time to debate the issue, however, as a wing of their plane explodes from sabotage. Meanwhile, in orbit, Jean arrives at the remains of the Weapon Plus station, the asteroid around which it was built, and finds Wolverine, standing over the remains of Weapon Fifteen, now dead. It is from Wolverine that Jean realizes the origin of the asteroid-heart of the space station: it is Asteroid M. Back at the Institute, Xorn finally moves against Xavier and uses his powers to re-cripple his old foe by removing the Nano-Sentinels he had used to fuse Xavier’s spine together. His old foe now helpless, Xorn reveals his true identity to Xavier: he is Magneto… and Xavier’s dream is over.

Full Summary: 

X-Men, emergency! Xavier exclaims, telepathically as much as verbally. Like so many times in the past, Xavier uses his powerful telepathic abilities, augmented by Cerebra, to broadcast a signal across the globe to his disciples, calling them to gather and come to their mutual aid. The question only remains: who will, or is able to, respond?

Inside the shuttle, which rocks from the exploding space station around it, Cyclops tried in vain to call out to Logan. With a lack of response, the X-Man enacts his only option and casts off from the station. As the shuttle drifts away from the dying satellite, Cyclops continues to call out to his teammate. He does so until the final explosion seemingly obliterates the station.

Caught in the shockwave of the explosion, the shuttle cries out in pain, made manifest by shorts in the system and miniature explosions in the equipment. In the middle of trying to salvage the craft, Cyclops hears/senses the Professor’s call for aid. Responding verbally to the non-present Xavier, Cyclops apologizes for running out like he did, promising to explain later.

In the seat behind the X-Man, Fantomex stirs, finally returning to consciousness. Speaking out in his own telepathic manner, more so than verbally to Cyclops, Fantomex calls out to E.V.A., trying to recall if it was hurt or not. Turning in his seat to view his passenger, Cyclops informs Fantomex that Logan has been blown to hell and needs immediate assistance… his spaceship can wait. Turning his attention back to Xavier, Cyclops informs the Professor that he needs for him to check allegations of a government informant inside the mansion.

Finally realizing that his attempt to control the shuttle has failed and they are falling uncontrollably, Cyclops radios their position as being above the Pacific Ocean, maybe two hundred miles southeast of French Polynesia… Cyclops words are cut off, as the shuttle impacts into the water, taking the shuttle to the watery deep. Back in Westchester, Xavier reels at what he has just witnessed. Wasting no time, Xavier calls out to his other X-Men.

Inside the his lab, Emma Frost informs the Beast that she’s leaving this “awful place” the instant he’s done with the tests on her. Impatient for the verdict, she promptly asks him if she is all right or not. Typing away with special gloves that makes up for the paw-like nature of his hands, McCoy simply replies that she’ll really be missed if she goes… she’s a great teacher.

Suddenly, the two receive the blaring telepathic message from Xavier, calling them into service. Wasting no time, the two leap into action. Marveling at the way the Beast is above to swing across the complex on carefully places trapeze swings, Emma comments to the departed Beast that he really is nimble. Finally alone, she suddenly asks herself why she has the impending feeling that her life’s approaching some kind of horrible closure.

Back in the Cerebra room, Jean enters, already dressed in the team uniform. Calmly and coldly, she informs the Professor that she’s going away soon. Taken aback at this non-sequitur exclamation, Xavier struggles to understand until it hits him. Oh, he states plainly, the Phoenix Force. The X-Plane Mark 3 can get her there, she tells the Professor. She’s learning how to fly telepathically from a test pilot in room 221 of the Westchester Hilton. Turning to go, she grins at her former mentor, telling him that he needn’t worry so much. He needn’t be disheartened. Whatever happens will be for the best.

Smirking in kind, Xavier tells Jean that he thinks the world of her. He still hopes that, when he steps down in the summer, she’ll be willing to take over as headmistress of the Institute. Without another word, Jean turns and leaves. Watching her depart, Xavier tells her to please take care.

In another room of the Institute, one dedicated to his “Special Class,” Xorn stands before his students, looking upon one in particular. Behind the X-Man, the map of the word is displayed, albeit upside-down. With his expressionless facemask facing the young woman, Xorn addresses Sooraya, the Afghan mutant known as Dust. Standing resolutely and holding a small canister, Xorn tells her that she has heard what he has to say… what’s her answer? Garbed in her black burkha and thus betraying as equal amount of her thoughts and expression as Xorn, Sooraya looks upon the other students of the class… Angel, Basilisk, the Beak, Ernst, Martha Johansson… but does not reply.

Lost in deep thought, Xavier walks down the empty halls of his school, aided by the help of his cane. Into the massive chamber of the Cerebra room, Xavier arrives… but is given pause. Sensing that something is amiss, Xavier glances around until he sees a cloud of sand rise from the floor and coalesce into a human form. Smiling to himself, Xavier tells Sooraya that he thought he felt something nearby. Her telepathic presence is almost undetectable in granular form, he tells her. Incredible…

Beginning to move to the Cerebra machine, Xavier is able to understand the thoughts of Sooraya, who projects them willingly. In response to her unspoken question, he informs her that the machine is Cerebra… the helmet amplifies his telepathic gifts, he informs her. Using the equipment, he can watch over every mutant on Earth and scan the whole globe for trouble. Turning the conversation back to her, Xavier asks Sooraya if she would like for him to find someone for her. They haven’t had much of a chance to talk since Jean brought her to stay with them…

Suddenly picking up new thoughts from Dust, ones that she now projects desperately, Xavier replies that he’s sure that can’t be right… As Sooraya takes on a more human form, she reaches out in her desperation. Still in disbelief, Xavier replies that they put her in the special class because Mister Xorn has an affinity for sensitive and traumatized children… Xavier is sure he wouldn’t…

Looking over at the door, Xavier sees the arrival of the man in question, Xorn. Calling out to the man, Xavier informs Xorn that one of his students seems ot think something’s wrong… Interrupting the Professor, Xorn replies that he knows. Something has affected Sooraya deeply, he tells the Professor. She ran from the class, changing form as she went. To this, Xorn adds that he thinks she may have lost control of her power.

Suddenly, with no other warning, Xorn calls out for the Professor to look out. At that same moment, Sooraya releases herself from her human form, transforming into a cloud of dust that fills the chamber. As the localized sandstorm continues, choking the air out of him, Xavier calls out for her to stop. With the arrival of Xorn to his position, Xavier is pulled down to the floor, reducing his exposure to the particles of Dust’s shapeless form. Trying to call out to his teacher through the sound of the wind, Xavier asks Xorn what’s happening. In this form, he adds, she could cut their flesh to the bone!

Without warning, the sandstorm begins to subside, as Dust’s mass leaves the main room and enters the smaller Cerebra chamber. In vain, Xavier calls out for Dust to stop, trying to explain that it’s very delicate machinery. Without it, he exclaims, he can’t keep in touch with his X-Men. Xavier’s words, however, fall on deaf ears, as the Cerebra chamber explodes in fire and dust. The task completed, the cloud-form of Dust rises into the air, leaving to main room.

In the hall outside, Dust’s cloud begins to coalesce, rising above the remaining members of Xorn’s Special Class. Responding to Beak’s exclamations of wonder, Basilisk agrees, stating that his strobe eye is crap compared to this. Standing nearby and cradling the cylinder held by Xorn earlier, Ernst informs Basilisk that Martha says they’d better put Dust in the container. Following this, Ernst begins to protest, stating that it doesn’t seem right because Martha’s voice has gotten all snotty… Ignoring Ernst’s ramblings, Basilisk instructs her to hold it open while he catches Dust with his eye.

Uninterested in what is about to occur, Dust’s cloud form strikes, blinding the group with her mass, swirling around them like a tornado. Trying to regain her composure, Ernst yells to all that Martha says they have to do what Mister Xorn says!

Arriving into the hallway with Xorn, Xavier informs the X-Man that it’s almost impossible to grasp hold of her consciousness in this form… he needs her to become coherent. Almost on cue, Dust’s form shifts from amorphous dust-cloud to human female. Calling out in broken English, Sooraya asks for the Professor to help her. Her message delivered, Dust returns to her sand form, seemingly involuntarily, and collapses to the floor. Their troubled student now subdued, Xorn takes the canister and begins to collect her inside.

Over the Pacific, the Beast pilots an X-Plane in search for Cyclops’ shuttle. In the backseat, Emma tries to use her telepathic powers to direct their path. Finally detecting something, Emma informs her partner that he’s nearby; she knows it. Scott, she says, gives of the most bizarre and aloof psychic radiation she’s ever experiences. But there’s something wrong, she adds. He’s found something out… a traitor at the Institute? They have to get closer.

Taking this in, the Beast is in disbelief. A traitor? To this, he instructs Emma to tell Cyclops he’s nuts. What kind of traitor would let them fly all the way out there to save him? In mockery of the Beast’s question, the starboard wing of the X-Plane explodes.

Above the Earth, in orbit, Jean’s Mark 3 X-Plane reaches the remains of what was once the Weapon Plus space station. Attempting communication by telepathy, she tries in vain to reach the Professor, asking if something just happened to Cerebra. Receiving no response, she continues her silent approach to the rock that was the core of the station.

After “docking” with the asteroid, Jean suits up in an environment suit and exits her shuttle, propelling herself through the vacuum by her telekinesis. Along the circumference of the asteroid, she searches, until she finds a hatch. At her command, the hatch opens and beckons her inside. Once inside and the airlock sealed, Jean removes her helmet and calls out for Logan. When she eventually finds him, she discovers him standing over the corpse of an armored individual; Weapon Fifteen.

Hearing her approach, Wolverine bluntly tells her to get out. Refusing to do so without answers, she asks her teammate what’s happening. With a snarl, Wolverine turns around and repeats his order for her to leave. It’s a trap, he adds. Doesn’t she recognize this place? Looking around, Jean realizes that she does. It’s Asteroid M!

In his classroom, Xorn regards the mass of Sooraya, now completely enclosed and imprisoned in the canister. Speaking to Xavier, Xorn states that she refused to renounce her religion… she was raised a Muslim in the Sunni tradition. He tried to show her the error of her ways… He tried to tell her she was wrong to exalt a faith over her species loyalty…

Standing behind Xorn and regarding him with equal scrutiny, Xavier begins to realize the truth. He was making her do those things I the Cerebra chamber, he states. Wasn’t he? Turning to see the map on the wall, Xavier asks why it is upside-down. Regarding the map in reflection, Xorn replies that it’s a picture of the future. He calls it Planet X. He’s teaching his student to imagine tomorrow and giving them the tools to take them there.

Now seeing Xorn in a new light, Xavier instructs him to let Sooraya out of the jar. She’s very afraid, he tells him. She has reason to be, Xorn replies. It’s too late to stop it. He’s been educating the next generation of terror, right under his nose, Xorn informs Xavier.

And these posters, Xavier continues, speaking of one with the slogan “Magneto was right,” are inappropriate for the school. Not to mention baffling. Staring coldly at Xavier, Xorn retorts that he’s had it all to himself for too long and nothing much has changed… has it? Without guidance, without an effective creed, he’s watched Xavier’s “dream” run rampant, watched discipline fall. It will all begin to happen very quickly now.

Baffled by these riddles, Xavier stares at Xorn, bluntly asking what he’s talking about. In response to this, the door slams shut, followed by the self-locking of the locks and deadbolts, all to Xavier’s horror.

A man in an iron prison? A star for a brain? Xorn mocks. He kept thinking it was too obvious, but he still missed it, he tells Xavier. There was no Feng Tu mutant prison in China… he assembled it especially for the occasion. Reaching out with his hand, energy cracking from his fingertip, Xorn asks the startled Xavier if he has any idea how much he’s hated the pretense. His simpering homilies, his Zen diaries, his sickening New Age passivity? How long he’s waited to do this?

His eyes wide in pain, Xavier collapses to the floor, energy rippling through his legs. Standing over the collapsed headmaster, Basilisk chuckles, proclaiming Xavier crippled again. Across the room, Xorn informs Xavier that his Nano-Sentinels were gluing his spine together all this time. He’s been holding him up… and now he’s cutting his strings. As he speaks, Xorn’s metal mask begins to raise of its own accord off of his head, revealing a very flesh and blood head beneath. He’s such a clever man, Xorn tells Xavier, but nowhere near as clever as he likes to think.

Running through the remains of the asteroid, Jean is in disbelief as much as horror. But… but he’s dead… how can he… she trails, trying to make sense of what they have learned. He’s trying to provoke a war, Wolverine remarks. Magneto’s not dead! Magneto set them up!

Before the two can reach the X-Plane, it explodes. The resulting jarring of the asteroid, causes the two X-Men to go flying within, even as the asteroid, Asteroid M, begins a slow and methodical approach toward the sun, draw in by its gravity well.

Back in his former classroom, the unmasked Xorn reels at his victory. His oldest foe, lying helpless on the floor beneath him, he is finally triumphant. Levitating the metallic helmet of his former alias with the ease of his mutant-born magnetic powers, the mutant supremacist known as Magneto gloats. “X-Men emergency indeed,” he tells Xavier. “The dream is over.”

Characters Involved: 

Beast, Cyclops, Emma Frost, Phoenix IV, Professor X, Wolverine (all X-Men)

Xorn / Magneto
Angel, Angel/Beak children, Beak, Basilisk, Ernst, Martha Johansson

Weapon Fifteen

Story Notes: 

Cyclops “ran out” of the Xavier Institute during Bishop and Sage’s investigation of the apparent murder of Emma Frost. [New X-Men #140]

Actually Jean, like all original X-Men and early member of the team’s second incarnation, already is trained to fly a plane.

The Sunni branch of Islam represents around 90% of the Muslim faith but is not represented by any formal structure or organization.

Xorn/Magneto’s use of an upside-down map is meant to be both a symbol of turning the world upside down and as his age-old goal of reversing the magnetic poles of the Earth. However, it is to be noted that north representing “up” and South representing “down” is an arbitrary decision made by ancient cartographers with no basis in science. In recent years, many groups have tried to change this view of the world as, among other reasons, it creates a psychological effect of the poorer nations being on the “bottom,” while the more affluent nations are on the “top.”

The X-Men first encountered “Xorn” in the Chinese prison of Feng Tu in New X-Men Annual 2001.

“Xorn” repaired Xavier’s legs at the end of the conflict with Cassandra Nova. [New X-Men #126] At the time, it was believed that Xorn used his healing powers on him. Now, it seems that Magneto’s powers over the metallic Nano-Sentinels were used to fuse the Professor’s spine. Likewise, it is likely that Xorn did not so much “heal” the other X-Men from their Nano-Sentinel infection, but he used his powers to kill the microscopic robots.

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