New X-Men (2nd series) #22

Issue Date: 
March 2006
Story Title: 
Childhood’s End - part 3

Craig Kyle & Chris Yost (writers), Mark Brooks (penciller), Jaime Mendoza and Jay Leisten (inkers), Brian Reber with Dave McCaig (colorists), Dave Sharpe (letterer), Sean Ryan (asst. editor), Nick Lowe (assoc. editor), Mike Marts (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

The Reverend Stryker continues to amass an army to carry out his anti-mutant agenda, adding a trained assassin to his group and preparing to strike. Meanwhile, the students at the Xavier Institute try out the new Danger Cave built by Prodigy. The entire group is torn apart by the impact of M-Day. Tag realizes he no longer belongs without his powers. Icarus questions the growing violence in their lives while X-23 tries to find her place among the established groups. The New Mutants say a tearful good-bye to Dani Moonstar who was fired by Ms. Frost after losing her powers. Sofia packs her things as well, shutting out Julian who tries awkwardly to reach out to her. Wither runs away after overhearing the Hellions discuss how dangerous he is. Despite Cyclops’ insistence that X-23 be given a chance, Emma is determined to drive the young Wolverine clone away and conjures an illusion of her dead “mother” Sarah Kinney to remind the girl what she is: a trained killer.

Full Summary: 

Los Angeles – Six Months Ago:

The rain falls on assassin-for-hire Matthew Risman as he takes aim at his target. Perched on a rooftop, he looks through the targeting scope at Bob Forward, who is having a drink in a building across the street. As he starts to take his shot, his cell phone rings and throws his aim off. He curses and answers angrily.
The voice on the other end tells him that his wife and daughter are in grave danger and must be out of their home by a specified time or they will both die. Risman demands to know who the caller is but they hang up after telling him that his mark is still alive. Risman quickly picks up his rifle, aims at Forward who is already bleeding from the neck and swiftly ends his life. He then makes a run for it.

As Risman drives home in the rain, he tries in vain to call his wife, Piper, who is sound asleep at home. He arrives with moments to spare and rushes in to tell his wife that they have to get out of the house now.
Grabbing his young daughter, he drags his bewildered wife out onto the lawn. The house explodes behind them.
As he watches his home crumble, the Reverend William Stryker approaches and congratulates him. He says that the Lord sends his love and asks to speak privately to Matthew. Styker explains that this was a divine intervention and that God is not yet ready for him and his family to join him. Risman is bewildered and asks Stryker what God would want with a paid killer like him. Stryker smiles and tells Risman that not everyone in God’s army is an angel.

The Xavier Institute – Now:

Months later, the remaining members of the Hellions and New Mutants student squads are testing out the new “Danger Cave” built by their classmate, Prodigy. The scenario is taken from another X-Men mission during which the X-Men and the Hellfire Club teamed up briefly to survive an assault by the time-traveling robot known as Nimrod. In this scenario, Hellion is costumed as Sebastian Shaw, Rockslide as Harry Leland, Mercury as Selene, Surge as Storm, X-23 as Rachel Summers, Icarus as Nightcrawler, and Elixir as the Morlock, Caliban.

Hellion and Rockslide finds Nimrod’s hot pink armored form less than a credible threat. Santo adds that he wants to be an Avenger and fight some Avengers’ foes. Prodigy informs him that this robot is an advanced Sentinel who managed to kill the guy Santo is “playing”. Mercury wonders how anyone could fight in the get-up she’s wearing as the “Black Queen”.
Prodigy tries to convince them that Nimrod is tough by telling them that the X-Men never managed to beat it. Hellion demands he change the channel and Noriko suggests that maybe he’d like to fight her instead. Hellion telekinetically shoves Surge. Tag is overwhelmed and realizing he shouldn’t even be there.
Icarus tries to get Nori to back down but gives up quickly and walks away. The others try to call Jay back to the scenario but he suggests that they replace him with X-23 since they all seem to want more violence. Dust tries to go after Jay but David stops her.
Mercury awkwardly invites X-23 to join in. Hellion says that she can play but she doesn’t get to be Wolverine every time. X-23 the approaches and reaches towards Keller’s groin. With a smile he says “Down, girl” but his smile quickly fades as X-23 pops her claws. Julian is unhurt but gets the message. He asks angrily if they cloned her a sense of humor.

The scenario shifts to Inferno with the X-Men and original X-Factor team joining forces against the Goblyn Queen. In this scenario, Hellion is dressed as Cyclops, Mercury as Jean Grey, X-23 as Rogue, Rockslide as Colossus, Surge as Storm and Elixir as Iceman. Given her burka, Dust does not seem to be changing costumes from scenario to scenario.
As the scene materializes, a demon jumps out at Hellion. Mercury cries out a warning but before Julian can respond, X-23 has leapt in and dispatched the demon. Hellion tells her to back off and let him fight his own battles. As he does so, another demon gets the jump on him and again X-23 leaps in and rescues him, much to his chagrin.
Surge teasingly suggests that X-23 has a crush on him! Hellion challenges Noriko and points out that it’s now four against two, with only Surge and Elixir remaining from the New Mutants squad. Elixir tells Julian to shut up and Hellion responds with “Make me.”
As Josh approaches, Santo grabs him and brushes off Josh’s threats since Josh is only a healer. Surge tells Santo to put him down. David steps in a shuts off the program. Mercury tries to play mediator, asking them all to not do this now. As tempers flare, Josh returns to tell the others that Dani is leaving.

The New Mutants turn and leave. The Hellions are left there and Rockslide notes that X-23, who he calls the weird girl, is looking at them. Hellion tries to shoo her away like he would a stray dog. Mercury chides him for this and tells him not to be mean. Santo suggests that Brian Tag her so she’ll leave them alone. Mercury’s the only one who noticed that Brian left, probably because the others have been ignoring him now that he’s lost his powers. Hellion seems largely unconcerned and tells Cessily that Ms. Frost is probably going to force Brian to leave anyway now that he’s human.
Mercury wonders about Kevin who has been absent recently since his incident with Wallflower. Santo notes that her arm was really mangled and Mercury defends Wither saying it was an accident. Hellion tells her to relax; they all know she cares for Kevin despite how dangerous he is. Julian says that he needs time to figure out how to deal with Kevin after he almost killed Laurie. Wither is nearby listening and runs away after hearing this. He does not stay long enough to hear Julian’s explanation that they’re still a team and that he won’t let anything happen to Kevin.

Outside, the New Mutants find out that Ms. Frost fired Dani and that she’s being forced to leave. Dani tells them this wasn’t her choice and that she hates it but that she’ll be more use outside the Institute. Josh brings up that Dani is his guardian and wonders what will happen to the squad. She assures them all that Karma and Magma will be there for them. She starts to cry and tells them she just can’t be there right now but that they’ll be okay. She hugs Sofia and tells them that she’s sorry it has to be this way.
Emma joins them and Dani tells them that Agent Pierce is here to pick her up. She encourages them to stick together and trust themselves and each other, since that’s all they have sometimes.
X-23 arrives and watches from a short distance. The kids say their final goodbye and Emma leads them into the mansion. X-23 begins to follow and Emma abruptly stops her and asks harshly where she thinks she’s going. Scott arrives and immediately stops Emma, reminding her of their agreement about Laura. He tersely sends her inside and talks with X-23, telling her that they’ll find her a place to sleep.

He takes her to Sooraya’s room, where they interrupt her daily prayers to Allah. He tells Dust that since Noriko has opted to room alone he thought she might make a good roommate for X-23 and could show her around. Sooraya is very compliant and says it would be an honor. X-23 notes that Sooraya is Sunni and Dust is surprised that she can speak. She apologizes for this and asks if X-23 knows her homeland. X-23 replies that she has killed in Afghanistan, leaving Dust speechless.

Elsewhere, Josh has fallen asleep in Laurie’s arms. She asks if he’s awake and realizes he’s out. She quietly tells him that she loves him.
Nearby, Nori and David are making out. Her gauntlets lie next to his shades on the nightstand. She tells him passionately, “Less talking.”
Down the hall, Julian tires to talk with Sofia. He practically begs her to come out and stop avoiding him. She asks him to go away. He tells her that he knows she’s hurting and wants to help but she won’t let him in.
Mercury comes by and asks if he’s seen Kevin. Julian blows her off saying that he’s a little busy. Cessily tells him that Kevin’s missing and asks him if he’ll help her look for him. Julian tells her that Kevin’s a big boy and will get over this on his own. Cessily walks away angrily and tells Julian “Way to look out for your friends.” He chases after her.
Inside, Sofia is packing to leave. Kevin himself emerges from a manhole outside the mansion having used the tunnels to evade the Sentinels and leave the Institute.

In Dallas, Texas, Forge listens to a news report about the placement of Sentinels at the Xavier Institute and the question of whether they are there to protect the mutants or those outside the Institute where the remaining mutants are currently being voluntarily interred. Forge is working on a robotic form that looks strikingly similar to Nimrod.

Back at the Institute, X-23 wakes up to the sound of a voice calling “Laura” and asking why. She rises and goes to the hallways where she is shocked to see the bloodied body of her “mother”, Dr. Sarah Kinney. The zombie-like form moves towards her and asks why she killed her. She says she loved her and again asks why, calling her X-23.
Through her tears, X-23 looks up at the vision. She defiantly states that her mother gave her a name and would not call her X-23.
Emma appears and X-23 demands to know why she’s doing this. Emma responds that it’s because she is a weapon and a cold-blooded killer who knows nothing else. She believes that X-23 is a threat to the lives of her students and makes it clear that one way or another, she’ll be leaving. X-23 is distraught and falls to her knees crying.

New York – Seven Days from Now:

Stryker’s followers, including Matthew Risman, arm themselves with rocket-launchers, guns and automatic weapons. Stryker enters and asks if they are ready. They address him as “father” and reply that they are ready.

Characters Involved: 

Cyclops, Emma Frost (both X-Men)
Elixir, Icarus, Prodigy, Surge, Wallflower, Wind Dancer (All New Mutants Squad)

Dust, Hellion, Mercury, Rockslide, Tag, Wither (All Hellions Squad)

X-23 (
Dani Moonstar
Sentinel Squad O*N*E*
Reverend William Stryker

Dr. Jack Abrams, Matthew Risman and other unnamed followers of Reverend Stryker
Piper and Gracie Risman
Bob Forward
In the Danger Cave simulations (illusory only):

Goblyn Queen and demons
In Emma’s Psychic Illusion:

Dr. Sarah Kinney

Story Notes: 

The cover art features the New X-Men team surrounded by the following X-Men foes: (Clockwise from top left corner) Juggernaut, Onslaught, Blob, Dark Phoenix, Magneto, Nimrod, Scalphunter, Mystique, Spiral, Crimson Commando, Vertigo, Bonebreaker, Harpoon, Prism, Stonewall, The Adversary, Skullbuster I, Pyro, The Vanisher and Deadpool.
The image on the recap page shows two street names, Yost St. & Davesek Blvd. Yost refers to writer Chris Yost while Davesek is the screen name of frequent poster at the New X-Men message board at the ComiXFan community forums.
Inside the Risman’s home are several framed photographs. The pictures used are of penciler Mark Brooks and N*Sync band member JC Chasez. The connection here is that recently online there were some jokes made about Brooks’ apparent resemblance to the boy band sensation. There is also a framed movie poster of Orson Welle’s Touch of Evil. For more information about the film, visit the Internet Movie Database.
The Reverend William Stryker first appeared in the Marvel Graphic Novel #5, X-MEN: GOD LOVES, MAN KILLS. He was confronted by the X-Men at Madison Square Garden. During this confrontation he was shot by a police officer and it appeared he was dead at the end of this issue. He apparently survived and convicted on murder and conspiracy charges. He next appeared in X-TREME X-MEN #25-30. At the beginning of this arc, Stryker had clearly been incarcerated for some time. He escaped with the aid of Lady Deathstrike and merged with a mutant artificial intelligence called Paul. Their merged form also appeared to perish at the story’s conclusion. It is unclear whether this is what Stryker is referring to when he says that God spared his life. He could also be referring to the flashback depicted in NEW X-MEN #20 in which God seemed to appear to him as he was about to commit suicide or to surviving the gunshot wound in his first appearance. According to writer, Chris Yost the scene from NEW X-MEN #20 takes place after the events shown in X-TREME X-MEN. The full story of Stryker’s return will unfold in upcoming issues.
The first Danger Cave scenario against Nimrod is taken from Uncanny X-Men #208-209. The Goblin Queen scenario is clearly from Inferno which crossed over in many X-Titles of the time including Uncanny X-Men #239-242.
When Wither emerges in Westchester, the street name reads Madrox Ln. This is likely a reference to Jamie Madrox, head of X-Factor Investigation and longtime X-Men ally.

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