New X-Men (1st series) #153

Issue Date: 
May 2004
Story Title: 
Here Comes Tomorrow - part 3: We All Have to Die Sometime

Grant Morrison (writer), Marc Silvestri (artist & cover), Joe Weems w/ Tim Townsend and Batt (inks), Steve Firchow w/ Frank D’Armata (colorists), Virtual Calligraphy’s Rus Wootan (letterer), Stephanie Moore & Cory Sedlmeier (assistant editor), Mike Marts (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

In the area known as Panafrika, Phoenix completes her first assignment given to her by the Beast. She eradicates the insectoid species known as the Termids but makes a discovery in the process: the mutant known as Bumbleboy, learning that he was an ambassador to the Termid Multitude from something called the “X-Men.” When she approaches the Beast about this, he dismisses it, declaring that the X-Men are their enemies, who would become too strong, and immune, if left unchecked. Meanwhile, the latest Crawler designed by the Beast, this one filled with “Feeder” genes, capable to attack by telepathic infestation, arrives in the Institute, turning its citizens against each other. Elsewhere, in the Atlantic Ocean, the seven X-Men meet Transatlantis’ first line of defense, a whaling ship filled with Crawlers. Given their surprise attack, the X-Men are able to quickly commandeer the vessel but lose Rover in the process, as he is severely damaged and falls into the ocean. Their victory is short-lived, however, as they see dozens of more heavily armed ships, filled with airborne Crawlers approaching their position. The greatest threat, however, arrives in the form of Phoenix, whom Logan immediately challenges.

Full Summary: 

(150 years from today)
The area of the world known as Panafrika, the gigantic, insectoid Terminds herd their cattle through the desolate landscape to their city built on the mountainside. Though lacking all appearance of intelligent beings, their insect bodies owing more to the long extinct dinosaurs rather than tiny invertebrates, the six-legged creatures speak in their clicking tongue, depicting their true intellect.

High above, a few of their flying brethren escort a humanoid, who is able to soar without wings. They escort the humanoid into their city from the air, answering the questions he asks in their clicking language with their own. While some distance away, the man sees a bright light through his helmet, which has been manufactured to look like the proportionately-sized eyes of an insect. The light, he sees, originates from a flaming woman who has appeared before the Termid queen, who lounges upon a throne of eggs she has laid. The human has only time to speak her name, Phoenix, before the entire area is obliterated by her fiery fury.

Amid the white-hot remains of what was once the city, the flaming woman hovers, her legs crossed as if she were sitting on a floor. A short distance before her, a skull speaks to her, explaining that, as X-Men ambassador to the Multitude, he has to… The skull’s voice trails, as it comes to a startling realization. Asked by the skull if he is dead, Phoenix explains that he’s undergoing radical atomic deconstruction. She has suspended the process so that she can study it.

Continuing, she tells the X-Man, calling him Bumbleboy, that his physical body is too frail to survive the experience but his consciousness is healthy and will shortly experience total absorption into the white hot room. Bumbleboy’s skull stammers out a response, stating that it’s not so bad once you get used to it. Like he’s done this before… or he’s still doing it again… or… Phoenix interrupts him, explaining that he was always there, waiting for himself to arrive.

In his laboratory, the Beast explains that it was 530 million years ago… an explosion of outlandish new species, all fighting for dominance of the Cambrain oceans, all gone within a short span of millennia. Thanks, to him, he states… if he recalls correctly.

Continuing his story, the Beast tells Apollyon that, now, the human flame has all but guttered, Mother Nature squats and labors and brings forth another obscene parade of unknown, experimental lifeforms. He stood alone against the tide of gross creation… until now, Apollyon. Until Phoenix! Apollyon explains. Once, he would have delivered his wrath to the Termids, he tells the “Great Beast.” Once he…

Interrupting his U-Man, the Beast rejoins that his allies are carefully selected. Some, like him, are strong messengers of a better world to come. Others play host to primordial powers he will never comprehend… while some are simply blind predators, stillborn in the sewers of nightmare, like this feeder here. Its name evoked, a small, multi-limbed creature begins to emerge from a glowing beaker.

Turning his back to this latest experiment and moving to another chamber, the Beast continues, stating that each, from the highest to the lowest, has a part to play in the final purification of things. Apollyon should try not to overestimate his own role. Following his master, Apollyon cries out that, if Phoenix’s memory returns, she will betray him in an instant. He should graft her brain to his before she uses it against him! Now speaking more softly, Apollyon asks how many times does he have to beg him to make him whole?

Entering a new chamber, massive in size and containing thousands of still gestating Crawlers, Beast asks Apollyon if he were to lead the charge against Xavier’s Institute, where would the irony be then? She was their last hope! Their redeemer, the Phoenix from the ashes! Instead, she will erase them all… his black, annihilating bride. There can be no resistance to the power they have woken.

Approaching a spherical device, which opens like a clamshell, revealing a Crawler, the Beast command the computers to load feeder traits. After a moment of energy courses through the Crawler, the Beast commands that it on its feet. He declares that it was bred for strength, not survival. It must go do its short life’s work in his name… deliver his vengeance! The process begun, the Beast announces that he who controls the genepool controls the future. Begin the day, he commands. Send in his ships.

(The Institute)
Inside the Cerebra chamber, one of the Three-In-One wears the Cerebra helmet and has an awful realization. Something bad has happened in Panafrika, she informs her sisters - a flaw in creation. Worrying about her sister, one of the others warns Celeste that her synapses are fusing again. Telling this sister, Phoebe, that she felt it too, the third sister says she senses wings of black flame. Crawler incoming!

With an explosion of brimstone and a loud bamf!, a crowd of Institute citizens are blown off their feet with the arrival of a teleporting Crawler. Unlike the previous ones, lithe in appearance, this one is hulking and muscular, and takes in his arrival with guttural grunts.

As the Crawler takes in his surroundings, the populace takes stock of the new arrival. One young woman, named Koo-Koo, realizes that the creature burst both lungs coming through the shield. Why’d it do that? Not caring, a young man tells her to get her telepathy out of its mind. They don’t know where it’s been! Beginning to form a sphere of energy, which he calls a plasmasphere, the man asks that they let him handle it. Koo-Koo, however, is unsure, as she realizes that something came through its eyes… She remembers.

As the Crawler now begins to growl, sparking with energy, another citizen yells out to the rest to get inside; mindshield up! Obeying the order to enter a shelter, Koo-Koo disobeys the other, still staring at the Crawler, muttering to herself. He fell… he fell like that time… on his knees… that day they all fell on the stairs. Confused, another citizen looks at Koo-Koo as if she has lost her mind, asking her what he is talking about. With new, vacant eyes, Koo-Koo replies that she can still smell those stairs. They were soooo hungry…

In the Beast’s tower fortress, Phoenix makes her report, stating that the Extinction Sequence was carried out swiftly and painlessly… as instructed. The Termid species had an inbuilt genetic obsolescence… no future, no loss. Now holding up the skull of Bumbleboy, Phoenix states that these creatures are different.

Holding the skull up to her face, Phoenix instructs it to tell the Beast what he told her. “X-Men.” As he drops the skull into the Beast’s waiting hand, she asks, “What is X-Men?” At first, the skull is confused but, upon reaching the clawed hand of the Beast, it says it remembers. The memory is forever silenced, however, as the Beast crushes it with his hand.

In answer to Phoenix’s question, the Beast states that they are their enemies. The diverse, the strange ones, the crooked masses of Megamerica, forever breeding and multiplying into new and more lethal forms. He told her about them. Xavier’s men.

Hearing this, Phoenix states that she thinks that she came out of the egg too soon. The incubation, she tells “Henry,” is very important. She’s not sure if what she’s doing is… is correct procedure. Wasn’t he a doctor once? Or was that… was that someone else?

Giving a short growl, the Beasts bellows that swarming millions… each faster, stronger, more adaptive, more immune than the last. Giving birth to creatures like her, introducing cosmic strands into the global genebase. The mutants, he tells her, have become immortal, unstoppable supermen if left unchecked. He had to make them fight. He had to protect himself somehow. He refuses death! He denies extinction!

(the Atlantic Ocean)
Rising from the water as if in flight, a gigantic baleen whale rises into the air, releases its lungs of stale air, and returns to the medium of the ocean, where it lives its life. Unlike other whales that do the same, however, this is the mutant known as Mer-Max, who telepathically calls out in a Scottish brogue with an “Endangered species alert!” and asks where’s its rendezvous.

Once again in the water, Mer-Max tries to dive, in order to avoid the explosions of the depth charges fired at him. Calling out again telepathically, Mer-Max declares that he is tired and sore and out of porpoise jokes. Is there anybody out there? High above, a ship of the Beast’s Crawlers cackle with laughter, as one of their number fires a harpoon and line at the mutant, missing him only slightly. Having been missed only barely, Mer-Max telepathically declares that they’ll make tallow and soap of him. Help!

As Crawlers, carried aloft with leathery wings, begin to approach with harpoon guns, another telepathic voice asks whoever heard of an 80-ton crybaby whale? Hearing this, the host of Crawlers pause their hunt and look back into the darkened horizon, which is obscured by storm-clouded night. Psychic screamers, begins the voice, save the whale.

Out of the night, the X-plane roars, scattering the host of airborne Crawlers like ninepins. Even the Crawlers aboard the nearby ship hold their ears in pain, deafened by the sound of the jet. Following the plane from the dark of the night, Rover holds out its palm-weapon, aimed at the Crawlers, and announces his intentions with a definitive destroy.

Aboard the X-plane, Cassandra Nova eyes her “co-pilot,” Martha Johansson, and notes their situation. Martha, with her deluxe Alzheimer’s, her in a synthetic alien body that’s light years from the nearest bloody spare part. The old team’s still got wiggle, eh? As Martha’s container is hooked into the controls of the plane, so is Cassandra, from her synthetic body’s fingers attached to the controls. She tells Martha to engage the artillery. Asked a silent question, Cassandra tells Martha that, of course, she can still call her Ernst. He was her favorite artist. “Europe after the rain;” she still loves that one. Like some sad memory of a future that never happened.

Nearby, another pair of X-Men, Tito “the Beak” and Logan approach the Crawler ship by air. As they near, the Beak asks Logan if he gets to do the “fastball special.” Given a quick “yep” by Logan, Tito asks in turn if he knows how much the fastball special means to him. When Logan orders him to just do it, Tito does so, now declaring that he’s ready to kick the grim reaper’s boo-tay! Seconds later, Logan arrives on the deck of the ship and begins to swiftly make short work of every Crawler in his claws’ reach. His fight is likewise joined by the arrival of Rover, Tom Skylark and E.V.A., all of whom begin to make their way through the host of Crawlers.

The battle soon gives way to a pause, during which Tom and E.V.A. exchange hugs. This does not go unnoticed by Rover, who bellows out a confused and interrogative destroy? Rover’s gaze goes unnoticed by Tom, who asks E.V.A. to listen to him – this could be the last bleedin’ day of his life and… and, well, he has to tell her something just in case… Despite E.V.A.’s protestations, Tom continues, telling her that she just saved his life and…

Tom halts his intentions as he notices small clouds of purple brimstone appear around Rover, who is oblivious to all but Tom and E.V.A.’s embrace. Calling out to his partner, Tom tells him to watch it, calling him a dozy great dummy. Rover manages only to give another interrogative destroy before a horde of leather-winged Crawlers, armed with energy weapons, appear around his head and begin to fire. Rover’s head begins to crackle with released energy and his legs buckle. As he falls to the deck of the ship, Rover managed to call out a final word, which is Tommmmmm.

Standing among the corpses of Crawlers, who, until just recently, had held the room, Logan reports that the bridge is secure. Further, he tells them to inform the Institute that they ain’t got nothing to worry about if this leaky ol’ whaler’s the pride of the invasion fleet. That said, he asks where’re his telepaths.

Outside, Tom watches with tear-filled eyes, as Rover falls over the side of the ship and into the ocean. Yelling into his watch, which acts as a communicator, Tom orders Rover to respond. Realizing that that is impossible, he begins to sob, pleading with him repeatedly to come back. Fathoms below and descending, Rover uncontrollably dives deeper. His processor is barely able to compute his situation; error not error… leave error… error not error.

Nearby, Tito announces that he isn’t going to get far without them – Martha left a bad station-wagon-sized hole in the boat. They’re all going to be a submarine double act if they hand around too long. Suddenly, Tito notices something one the horizon and asks that he is looking at. His words are not heard by E.V.A. or Tom, who is emotionally venting about how, all his life, Rover raised him… he brought him food when he was a baby… she wouldn’t understand. Trying her best to comfort Tom, E.V.A. tells him to not blame himself…

Watching this from the bridge, Logan mutters to himself that this is never easy, is it? Calling out to Beak, he asks where’s all that light coming from. Visual! Mocking the order of “visual,” Tito asks if he knows the old bombastic battle plan, with all seven of them X-Men storming Transatlantis and saving the world from the menace of genetic tyranny… well, it looked a whole lot better before the sun came up.

Looking over the horizon, Tito sees dozens of heavily armed vessels approaching, from which thousands of winged Crawlers are flying toward their position. Brandishing his claws, ready for battle, Logan states that that ain’t the sun. This said, he tells all the X-Men to make peace with God.

(the Institute)
Still in the Cerebra chamber, trying their best to do what they can, the Three-In-One take stock of the situation. What have they missed, asks one. There’s something… The Phoenix can do anything, another states. She can… she can blind Cerebra? There’s a hole, the third declares. Just a little hole at first… a hurt with one remedy…

Outside the chamber, one of the Institute’s defenders declares that they need everybody on the wall. He also orders for somebody to let those telepaths out of the bunker. Another defender, a woman with Angelic wings on her back, asks for someone to send a couple of there. There’s some kind of weird scar in the atmosphere somewhere… can’t anyone else feel it? Descending to the ground, she looks into the sky, telling people that she needs some telepaths to confirm a luminous presence… coming this way. Oh, Professor, she whispers to herself, look after them in their hour of need. Take care of your people.

Suddenly, rain begins to pour from the sky but it immediately causes disgust from the people on which it falls. Speaking through the rainy night, a telepathic voice states that something just climbed into its face… it can’t… Suddenly, the angelic female makes a realization: the rain that falls is not water, but blood. Blood which now cascades off of the giant statue of Xavier. Suddenly, the crowd goes mad and begins to claws at he woman, who tries in vain to ascend into the sky. Feeder. Mind. Eat. cries out telepathic voices. Feeder. Hungry Feeder. Grow.

Inside the Cerebra chamber, the Three-In-One reel at the mental attack. And it all comes crashing down, one states. Splitting hole, another yells. Sew it up… before… before… Phoenix fire. X-Men emergency, the third yells. It wants to eat the world and they can’t stop it!

Is that so, Logan asks, staring up at the fiery visage floating before him. It is the Phoenix, her entire body aflame and her hair a blazing inferno. She is naked, save for leggings and a Phoenix emblem, which covers her bosom, and gloves, which extend past her elbow. Looking up at this visage of death reborn, Logan gives a playful “Mornin’, Jeannie,” and states that he sees she came dressed for a tussle…

Characters Involved: 

Tom Skylark
Three-In-One, formerly Stepford Cuckoos
Cassandra Nova Xavier, headmistress of the Institute
Martha Johansson
Citizens of the Institute



Termid queen

Story Notes: 

A fourth of the five Stepford Cuckoos is named here: Celeste. Previously named were Esme, Sophie and Phoebe. The fifth and final one is named in New X-Men #156.

Two revelations are made in this issue regarding Cassandra Nova. The first is that she is still inhabiting the body of the Imperial Guardsman, Stuff, the same one the X-Men tricked her into inhabiting in New X-Men #126. The second is the implication that the student known as “Ernst” was actually Cassandra, presumably the synthetic body of “Stuff” reshaped into a different form.

Max Ernst was a 20th century German artist, who invented the style of frottage, a technique of making pencil rubbings of objects. He is also attributed with the creation of Dadaism and Surrealism.

The Cambrian era was approximately 542 to 490 million years ago, when the first and most primitive life is known to have appeared on Earth.

Tallow is an oily substance made from fat and was extracted from whale blubber during the whaling era. One product made from this substance was soap.

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