New X-Men (1st series) #154

Issue Date: 
May 2004
Story Title: 
Here Comes Tomorrow - part 4: Rescue… and Emergency

Grant Morrison (writer), Marc Silvestri (artist & cover), Joe Weems (inks), Steve Firchow w/ Beth Sotelo, John Starr and Brian Buccellato (colors), 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: 

Three billion years after its birth on the primordial Earth, the intelligent bacteria called Sublime has finally obtained its ultimate genetic trait: the Phoenix gene, which it gleefully injects into its host body, that of Hank McCoy, the Beast. Meanwhile, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, Logan manages to distract Phoenix long enough for Martha Johansson to use her mental powers to disconnect the Phoenix Force from its host body, Jean. Now all too human, Jean asks what has happened and is given the history of the last 150 years by Logan, who tells her that, after her death, Scott gave up. Hank tried to continue the school but it fell apart, leading to his ultimate use of “Kick,” which was in truth the intelligent bacteria known as Sublime, allowing it to take over the his body. Though the threat of Jean’s rogue Phoenix is ended, the crisis escalates with the arrival of Sublime, now possessing both the Beast’s body and the power of Phoenix. Sublime makes short work of the X-Men but is quickly laid low when Jean recovers, using her Phoenix powers to remove the Sublime bacteria from Beast’s body. The now freed Beast is promptly killed by Apollyon, in revenge for never completing and “perfecting” him, as was promised. As most of the rest of the X-Men likewise succumb to their battle wounds, Jean shifts herself out of their reality into a new one, where she is joined by other Phoenixes. A voice in this nether-reality urges Jean to fix a badly wounded orphan universe. Jean complies, symbolically watering it with her heart’s blood by letting go of Scott and telling him to live. A century and a half in the past, Scott changes his mind and takes Emma up on her offer of both reopening the school and accepting her heart.

Full Summary: 

(3 billion years ago)
The cataclysmic primal screams of the newborn Earth woke them. And they knew themselves as one mind. Self-aware, immortal. Sublime.

They were “dominant species.” When carbon slime colonies and bacterial mats gorged themselves on abundant hydrogen and were idiot emperors of the dawnworld, they hid and they thrived in the undergrowth of tangled DNA. They bartered their genetic innovations with increasingly more organized lifeforms… plants, insects, lizards, mammals. They were “dominant species.” Primordial sequence. Alpha gene. Sublime.

Looking at a small vial of purple liquid, the Beast continues his self-history, explaining that even humanity, the “crown of creation,” had no defense against them… he imagined he ruled the world. But they lived inside him… invisible, unchallenged, unrecognized… until the birth of the mutant children. Until Homo superior. A new lifeform, born in a marvelous collision of radiant atoms and broken chromosomes. These mutants, with their potential to breed strong, invulnerable offspring, were the first real threat to their eternal dominion.

Taking his eyes off of the vial and onto Apollyon, who lies curled in a fetal position on the floor, the Beast asks if he’s listening to this. Trying to return to his feet, Apollyon reminds the Beast that he promised an end to his pain! He said he would be made whole! Ignoring his U-Man, the Beast continues, stating that he had to infect them with aggression, had to divert their great energies into mindless conflict. Locked in perpetual struggle, they could never breed, their population could never grow to threaten them with extinction.

Finally managing to rise, Apollyon calls upon “Great Beast,” and points out that he’s served him for so long as his swift messenger. He’s endured agonies of mind and body… he’s longed to take off this spacesuit and walk, naked and free, on perfected soil. Let him taste the Phoenix blood and feel again.

Still ignoring his servant, the Beasts states that the supermen fight and die and return in a meaningless shadowplay because they make them do it. Finally speaking to Apollyon and his fears, the Beast tells him to have patience. Their eugenic Eden is almost born, when all will be as they will it.

In his laboratory, the Beast finishes his preparations for his latest machine. Carefully, he places the small vial of purple liquid in a slot. The precious blood of the Phoenix, he announces. The ultimate mutation. Telekinetic godhood… in a jar, at last.

Seeing this, Apollyon yells out in protest, reminding the Beast that he promised it was for him, not for himself! Him! He promised! Standing in the middle of chamber, bare-chested and surrounded by robotically controlled limbs with syringes of Phoenix blood, the Beast growls his response, announcing to Apollyon that he lied! He will never be whole! The power is his alone! One rule! Survival of the… The Beast is unable to finish his sentence, as the robotic limbs insert themselves and inject their contents into his body. In the glorious pain of victory, the Beast growls uncontrollably.

(mid-Atlantic drift)
Shining like a beacon, the Phoenix hovers over the deck of the vessel Logan’s X-Men have commandeered, along with the rest of the X-Men. Pleading her case, Phoenix explains that the “kindly Beast” is trying to help them pass with dignity. Extinction is part of the cycle of natural growth and death. New life will come.

Addressing the Phoenix as Jeannie, Logan asks her to give him a break with the hoo-ha. Hank was a doctor, he reminds her. Does “destroy all intelligent life” sound like the sort of idea he’d come up with? The Beast lied to her, he states. That ain’t Henry McCoy; it’s just what’s left of his body. Pondering Logan’s words, Phoenix states that it is strange – he seems representative of a potentially viable species…

Jokingly, Logan replies that it’s nice of her to notice. Her boss has been trying to stop mutants from spreading since they started… He was behind all the U-Men and the Super-Sentinels and nano-viruses and drugs. This said, he tells “Jeannie” to look into his mind. He dares her. X-Men, says Phoenix, speaking the word as if she just learned it. The Beast told her X-Men were lethal variant lifeforms, spreading like… like a genetic sickness across the planet… but… she came to fix something that was dying…

Elsewhere on the deck, E.V.A. calls out to Tom Skylark, who is still looking over the side of the railing, where his friend, Rover, fell into the ocean just minutes before. Calling out to Tom, E.V.A. tells him that the Phoenix is assuming a psychic attack posture. When he replies with a barely vocal “big deal,” E.V.A. rejoins that they have to be ready. For what, he asks. It’s all over. Rover saw them together and… and he thought he was all set to dump him for the latest model and it’s all… nobody knows what they’ve been through, the two of them. He’s nothing without him. The game’s up.

Still trying to make sense to Phoenix, Logan continues his conversation. He tells her that, while these kids don’t know what’s what, she and he, they’ve seen it all before. She ain’t there as anybody’s servant… she’s the Phoenix. She’s an A-grade telekinetic talent tapped into a cosmic power source. But she’s still Jean Grey-Summers.

Taking this in, Phoenix tells Logan that he has such a tricky, intricate mind. Don’t… The words of Phoenix trail as she considers something that popped into her mind, almost as if someone else put it there. Scott? she asks. Logan?

From behind her, the X-plane arrives, screaming through the air with technological fury. Inside the cockpit, Cassandra Nova gently touches the containment vessel holding Martha Johansson’s brain. Telling her to be steady, Cassandra informs Martha that her Shi’ar files tell her the Phoenix consciousness accesses its human host via the so-called Crown Chakra port at the top of the skull.

Speaking now more in retrospect, Cassandra states that she saw it all coming. They’re all going to die but it’s for a good cause… and if she’s learned anything at the Xavier Institute… it’s that a good cause always gives a meaning to a bad death. Returning to the task at hand, Cassandra orders Martha to unplug the Crown.

Phoenix reels from the attack until, suddenly, her flames disappear and she falls to the ground, helpless. Luckily, she is caught by the waiting Logan, who tells her he’s got her. No longer aflame, she is once more Jean, acting as if she was just awoken from a dream, trying to gather her bearings. Stammering out her train of thought, she tells Logan that she was in this huge place… how long? Telling her to shh, Logan replies that it’s been 150 years since they last saw her face. 150? she repeats in horror. Oh, no. What… what happened?

Recalling the events that shaped the last century and a half, Logan tells her that Magneto killed her, under orders he never understood. Scott lost his heart and his chance. Hank tried his best, re-opening and running the school, but it all fell apart, like it always does. Then, Hank tried “Kick” one night… that was long before anyone realized Hypercortisone-D was Sublime’s new aerosol form. And by that time, Hank was gone, replaced by smart bacteria and global disease. Humanity died… and they all went to war in the ruins. It’s been a heck of a time.

Still aboard the X-plane, Cassandra revels in their accomplishment. Smiling broadly, she admits to Martha that she loves being in her mind. Everything, she says, is so colorful and exciting in the cartoon world of No-Girl. No-Girl’s brains, Cassandra’s beauty… they’ve never really been appreciated in that “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” way, have they? Suddenly, Cassandra notices something out of the corner of her eye. Emitting a helpless, oh, dear, Cassandra says to no one in particular Not like this. Half a moment later, the Shi’ar android body she inhabited so long ago from the Superguardian called Stuff explodes violently, ending Cassandra Nova. Only the protected brain of Martha Johansson survives, thrown from the destroyed plane and bounces on the deck of the ship to the X-Men’s surprise.

(Xavier Institute)
At the portal of the Cerebra chamber, the Three-In-One know that the end is near. It’s all going dark, one states. Everyone screaming. Cerebra is afraid, the second adds. Something’s eating at her mind, speaks the third. Their fate now clear, the three sisters make their final decision. “Well,” they say in unison, “I’ll tell you what… it’s not having us for dessert.” With this, the three sisters, Stepford Cuckoos Version 01, 03 & 04 – Weapon XIV – activate their consciousness self-destruct… Each bringing one of their hands together in the spirit of their name, the Three-In-One give their final testament: Triplets rule! Their declaration is followed by the sounds of the angry mob, which bursts through the door leading to the Cerebra chamber and the three sisters.

Over the Atlantic, the X-Men stand before their true enemy, the Beast. Now filled with the traits of the Phoenix, the Beast hovers before his last adversaries to his dominion. Held aloft by the power of the Phoenix, he needs no technology to defy gravity. At long last, the power comes from within. Snarling in his triumph, the Beast informs Logan and the now de-powered Jean that he drowned the last whale. He can do anything now.

Asking if that is so, Tito takes to the air on his winged limbs, still clutching his ever-present baseball bat. Spanning the distance from the ship’s deck to his foe, he asks the Beast if he can shut his mouth and hold still while he spreads his brains out like jelly-on-rye. Rather than waste words in a retort, the Beast merely raises a clawed hand and gestures with a growl. Immediately, Tito’s ascent is halted, as his feathered form becomes a ball of flame.

Grinning toothily, the Beast plays with the energy at his fingertips, informing his now helpless X-Men that here is evolution’s end. All life if his. “All creatures great and small.” His.

Watching this sight from below, Tom Skylark calls out to his old mate, Rover. He doesn’t care how many fathoms down he’s sinking, he knows he can hear him. You get up here right now, Rover! Cause, he continues, finally seeing that he has drawn the attention of the Beast, he’s as good as dead as the rest of them. Now feeling the Beast’s Phoenix Force energy swirling around his helpless form, Tom asks him what it’s all about. Why does there always have to be people like him? Angered by his imminent demise, he yells out his final order, Stop all the mad bleedin’ chat and give me a straight answer! Finally deigning to answer, the Beast informs Tom that he will build his future on his bones.

The Beast’s future, however, is temporarily delayed with the arrival of Rover, who emerges violently from the bowels of the ship through the deck with an emphatic Destroy! Knocked to his feet, the Beast shirks off this most temporary of setbacks and extends his hand. All matter responds to his slightest whim, he announces. His new senses.

Rather than giving the Beast time to counter-attack, E.V.A. launches an offensive, transforming her arms into cannons and firing them at point blank. The Beast is swift, however, and quickly grabs E.V.A.’s arms, re-transforming them with his newfound power. With a snarl, he asks her if she can feel these thoughts they made entering her soul, rewriting it. Bio-software! Command execute! Generate trash codes!

As E.V.A.’s body begins to lose all cohesion, becoming slivers of silvery metal without shape or form, the Beast orders her software to give him an uncontrolled explosion of useless body parts… Nnaaaauurr… an unstoppable cancer storm! Now speaking to E.V.A. directly, he addresses her as Weapon Thirteen and tells her that he created her once… he can unmake her now.

Nearby, Logan makes his way to Tito’s nearly inert form. Finding his comrade barely alive, Logan hears him begin to ramble about his failure, stating that he knew he’d mess up. His granddad, he states, is going to be laughing down at him… he never could live up to a hero like that… a legacy like that. Holding his dying friend’s hand, Logan replies that Tito’s about three feet taller than his granddad. If only he knew.

Sensing the final moment has come, Logan tells Tito to let himself go. He did good. Fly. The moment passed, Logan gives the mental command to unsheathe his claws from his forearms and stares back at the Beast. Continuing his statement to the passed Tito, Logan tells him that he doesn’t want to be around for what’s coming down.

Emerging from the flames, Logan surprises the Beast, slashing at his torso with his claws, cutting him deeply. As he continues his attack, snidely telling his furry foe to stitch that, Logan does not hear Jean’s warnings of not letting Sublime contaminate him. To not fight.

Despite his wounds, which even include his eyes being gauged out, Sublime calls Logan a little speck and asks him if he thought he would live forever. He can turn off his healing gene! Waving his hand, Sublime/Beast forces Logan off of his feet, while playfully stating, “like so.” With a thud, Logan lands on the ripped deck of the ship, just out of arm’s reach of Martha Johansson’s brain case. Her own containment vessel cracked, Martha’s life’s blood is draining, ending her life as well. As a final gesture of hope, Logan addresses her by her old name, No-Girl, and asks her for help. Instead, Martha informs Logan that it’s all right now. They’re going to the white room now.

Elsewhere, having turned his attention back to the Phoenix creature, Sublime offers a new deal. With her talents and an endless army of Crawlers, they will set their mark on all of creation! They will remake God in their image! And sit on the throne high above the universe… Really? Jean replies. Actually, she counters, what’s happening there is a coordinated disinfection. Her friends were only keeping him busy. Now speaking with the voice of Phoenix, Jean tells Sublime to be calm. His time has come. He must accept the judgment of the Phoenix. Did you really think you would live forever, little speck?

Stretching out her hand, Jean order “Sublime” to show himself. On command, the sentient bacteria violently and involuntarily extricates itself from the body of the Beast, making its way to Jean’s cupped hands. Clutching the three billion year old enemy of evolution in her hand, Jean playfully asks, surgery complete?

Nearby, the Beast, Sublime’s host for the past century and a half, tries to come to grips with his newfound freedom. Finally managing to speak, Henry McCoy tells Jean that he feels awful. Speaking softly, he tells her he tried to save the human genome but… but there was no one left to run the school… He lost it. Bowing his head in shame, he continues to ramble, telling her he’s so glad to see her again and that he can’t believe he managed to live so long with his asthma.

With sudden finality, McCoy’s words come to a close, as his head separates from his body. The energy disc which caused the decapitation promptly returns to the hand of the one who threw it: Apollyon. Yelling out in triumph, the U-Man declares that the Beast is dead! All is perfected! Perfected! Basking in his dementia, Apollyon removes his mask and breathing apparatus. Though all features have been removed by surgery and grafts, Apollyon does not go unrecognized, as the dying E.V.A. asks in halting words if it is he… Fantomex?

Approaching the dying E.V.A., Tom tries to attend her, even as she attempts in vain to recompose herself. Seeing his teammate more of a puddle of silvery metal than an android, Tom remarks to her what a bloody smash-up this turned out to be. Unable for form a complete thought, much less sentence, E.V.A. rambles on about what she thought… what she heard… Tom apologizes to her about what he said. He can make it better, her tells her. He’s good with machines.

Nearby, finding his long life finally coming to an end, Logan remarks to himself that has peace at last. Lying in a pool of his own blood, he states that it had to be something like this. His own mind how failing, he tells an unseen companion that he’s been in there before… that echo… Does she mind if he… mind if he hands it over to her now?

The reality that exists on the vessel in the Atlantic Ocean gives way to a new one. It is a reality of purple energy and smooth surfaces, upon which half-constructed towers of metal are built. Floating through this surreal existence, her attention still captivated by the glowing bacteria known as Sublime, is Jean… the Phoenix. She is clad in her old Phoenix costume, which is now white and yellow in color.

Still studying that which was Sublime, Jean/Phoenix states that it is some kind of intelligent bacterial colony gone rogue… she… had to amputate the whole future. Phoen/////ix disinf////ection suc///cessf///ul, an unearthly voice responds.

What now? she asks. ////this is now, she hears in response. Is… is this the future? You los////t con////centration///// became emoti///onally/// engaged/// Shock///almost k///illed it Will//// patient die unless///internal heart dam/////age repa////ired

But it didn’t deserve to end like that, she replies. Her friends don’t deserve that. No! comes the response. Tur///n ar////ound No en///d y///et. Th////ere! Tu////rn!

Her fascination now over, Jean releases the luminescent bacteria, which slowly begins to float away in the void. Here before/// always///, the voice begins again. //Hospi///tal///white h////ot. Now he////al wound///make bet////ter future grow///quick///

In understanding, Jean replies that it’s right. She lost her concentration. Turning to a new direction, she states, “in there.” Hea///rt g////ot stu///ck, the voice then adds. Tur////n.

Entering this new place, Jean finds it full of people, all clad in the uniform of the Phoenix. Each different in color, each Phoenix is different in appearance as well. Both male and female in gender, few are human in appearance, many seeming to be from alien worlds.

Telekin////etic control of all th/ose ato////ms at on////ce is////n’t as////eas///y as it s////ound/////s in tr////ain////ing, the voice states. ///not even for as White Ph///oenix of the Crow////n.

Now surrounded by her fellow Phoenixes, Jean finds a new form of energy in her palms, this one glowing with a purple hue. Qu////ick/// now////, the voice states. /////It lost its parents when unit////y br////oke out a////cros////s the meg////asys////tems. Eyeing this energy with fascination, Jean asks if she had to fix something that was dying. What is it? she asks. As the energy coalesces into the form of a swirling galaxy, Jean hears the voice answer. A b////adly wound//ed orphan un//////iverse… Ph///oenix///// work.

The beauty of the tiny galaxy bringing a tear to her eye, Jean asks what it is suppose to mean. Th////at H////enry’s hear////t is brok////en//// it rejoins, that Scott suc////cumbs to lonel////iness and doubt/// that all is lost unless///

Thoughts begin to echo through the void from times past. Every diamond has its flaw. Gus was a good dog. Are these words from the future?

Jean’s attention is suddenly diverted by a voice. She turns to see a young man with his head shaved on the side and the remaining hair dyed pink, much like from an insane pop-art masterpiece. He, too, wears a Phoenix uniform, his green in color. Stating that it’s what they said, in that way they’ve got, he quotes, “If you want it to grow a new future to replace the one you just cut away… you have to water it with your heart’s blood.” This said, the shadow Quentin Quire adds that they said he was to tell her to hurry. When asked by Jean if they have met, the youth replies “hundreds of time,” and begins to depart with the rest of the Phoenixes, rising into the infinite sky, deeper into the void. As he departs, he tells Jean that, if it were just him, he’d let it die.

Hearing this, Jean replies no… it’s just… A smile suddenly crosses Jean’s lips, as she realizes something special in the tiny galaxy, swirling in her hands. “Ha,” she says to herself. “Live, Scott.” As she so commands, a tiny Phoenix rises from the dying, orphaned universe. In the voice that fills the void, it repeats Jean’s command. Live.

Standing behind Scott, as he stares single-mindedly down at the grave of Jean, Emma mocks that it must be getting rather tedious, Scott dear, these reruns of his grief.

When Scott snaps back that it isn’t funny, Emma agrees that it is, and he knows it. Replying no once more, he says aloud the name of Magneto, followed by Xorn… this last year, he says in exasperation. His eyes were opened, he tells her. Something about them, the X-Men, makes others want to kill them and nothing they do makes a difference. Difference to what? Emma counters. To people? For God’s sake, she asks Scott, who cares about them?

Switching subjects, Emma bluntly tells Scott that she wants to open the school. His eyes still cast down at the grave, Scott replies that it’s over. Even Professor X has retired, he tells her. The costumes, the heroics… done. As Scott begins to walk away, Emma calls out to him, telling him that she and he, together… think of what marvelous teachers they could be to a new generation of gifted bloody brats. They could inspire them to greatness!

Catching up to Scott, she asks him to imagine what they could do for one another. Doesn’t he want to inherit the Earth? After pausing for a moment, Scott turns back and kisses Emma deeply. “…Yes,” he answers.

Characters Involved: 

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



Cyclops, Emma Frost (both X-Men)

Beast, Cyclops, Emma Frost (all X-Men)
Beak, Basilisk, Martha Johansson, Stepford Cuckoos, Ernst, unnamed students
Unnamed X-Men of the possible near-future

Sublime/Beast’s minions

Citizens of the possible near-future

Story Notes: 

The revelation of Sublime as being an intelligent bacteria, dedicated to eradicating mutants due to the difficulty of possessing them, has long ranging implications. In the short-term, it explains why “John Sublime” wanted to graft mutant organs into humans, as it would give possessable humans the power of mutants. Further it is implied that Sublime had a hand in the Weapon Plus project, which has been dedicated to solving the mutant question since around the second World War. It could be interpreted that the very distrust between humans and mutants are a result of Sublime’s attempt at self-preservation.

The drug called Kick, also known as Hypercortisone-D first appeared in New X-Men #135. According to Logan, it is the aerosol form of Sublime, concentrated so that it might be able to possess mutants, like the Beast.

Logan’s statement that Magneto killed Jean under orders that he didn’t understand probably refers to Magneto’s use of Kick. Presumably, once Magneto started using the drug, he was acting under the influence of Sublime.

Since her mention in New X-Men #135, it has been unclear whether No-Girl was a person or a joke, created by Basilisk and the “special class.” From Cassandra’s words, we can determine that she is very real and is the name Martha Johansson has given herself.

It seems to be implied that the Stepford Cuckoos are Weapon XIV, with Celeste, Mindee (named in New X-Men #156) and Phoebe being Units 01, 03 & 04. If the designations are alphabetical, that would have made Esme “Unit 02” and Sophie “Unit 05.” The details of how these girls are/were associated with the Weapon Plus project remains to be seen.

The words that echo through the Phoenix reality are from issues past. “Every diamond has its flaw,” was said by Sublime about Emma in New X-Men #119, “Gus was a good dog,” was said by Jean, when speaking to the mentally injured Xavier in New X-Men #123” and “Are these words from the future,” was said by Xavier repeatedly in New X-Men # 114, 128 and 149.

The epilogue with Cyclops and Emma is identical to the one shown in #151, with the important difference, that, nudged by Phoenix, Scott no accepts Emma’s offer.

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