New X-Men (2nd series) #23

Issue Date: 
April 2006
Story Title: 
Childhood’s End - part 4

Craig Kyle & Chris Yost (writers), Mark Brooks & Paul Pelletier (pencillers), Jaime Mendoza (inkers), Brian Reber with Tom Chu & Marte Garcia (colorists), Dave Sharpe (letterer), Kate Levin (production), Sean Ryan (asst. editor), Nick Lowe (assoc. editor), Mike Marts (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

Weeks ago, Rev. Stryker approached Jay Guthrie and used information about his dead girlfriend, Julia Cabot and Jay’s faith in God as a means to gain sway over the New Mutant. Weeks later, Jay arrives on the steps of the X-Mansion with his wings amputated and covered in blood. When the headmasters call in Elixir to help, Jay freaks out and refuses to be helped. Emma calls forth all the students who remain powered and places them in a no-holds-barred, last-man-standing combat exercise to determine who amongst them will train to be X-Men. She orders Hellion to take out X-23 but he hesitates because she saved him in a previous training session. Emma declares the New X-Men to be Elixir, Dust, Mercury, Hellion, Rockslide and to everyone’s surprise names Surge as the team’s leader as payback for Hellion’s refusal to take down X-23. Cyclops arrives and insists that X-23 be added to the group. The X-Men speak to the remaining students about the state of mutant affairs and the reality of their reduced numbers as a population. They make arrangements to send the non-powered students away. As the bus pulls away, Stryker’s forces launch a missile that destroys the bus in a fiery explosion.

Full Summary: 

Eight weeks earlier:

Stryker and his Purifiers are combing a database for information. The huge datastream scrolls past on giant screens. The shattered figure of a robot of some sort hangs behind them and appears to be networked into the computer stations below. Stryker is searching for a specific name and asks his technicians to narrow the data to just the women on the list. Finally he spots the name he is looking for: Julia Cabot and asks that her file be pulled forward.

In a church in Westchester, a hooded figure lights a candle. He speaks to his lost love, Julia and tells her that he knows they’ll be reunited someday. The Reverend Styrker strides purposefully past the pews to the kneeling figure and states in a knowing voice that it has been almost a year since Julia’s death. The hooded man is surprised as Stryker notes that he has been coming here every Sunday to honor her memory. Rising, the man removes his hood to reveal Jay Guthrie AKA Icarus. Jay asks the Reverend how he knows this and who he is. Stryker simply replies that he is a servant of the Lord and assures Jay that Julia awaits him in Heaven and hears his prayers. Stryker then asks if Jay knew there was an angel there the day Julia died. Jay is confused and begins to weep. Stryker continues, telling Jay that God sent an angel to end her suffering and send her home to Him. Stryker tells Jay that there is an angel here today as well and that he is that angel as he pulls off his coat to reveal his crimson wings. He tells Jay that angels exist solely to serve God’s purpose and that he has come here to bring Jay a message from God.

The Present:

It is early morning at the Xavier Institute and already the headmasters are arguing. Emma points out that the world has become a much harsher place and their students have to be ready. Cyclops agrees but also wants to try and give them a chance to have a childhood. Emma thinks that it’s already to late given the decimation and it aftereffects. Emma expresses her fear that with their numbers thinned, their enemies will be emboldened. She tells Scott that she doesn’t want blood on her hands and will do whatever it takes to protect these kids. She hears a knock at the door and when she answers it, Jay’s bloodied and nearly unconscious body falls through the doorway.

Scott and Emma rush Jay to the infirmary and Emma telepathically calls for Elixir to join them immediately. They arrive at the medlab and Hank McCoy begins to assess Jay’s injuries when Josh arrives. He is shocked to see that Jay’s wings are gone. Jay wakes up and seeing Josh shouts for them all to get away and not to touch him. Hank and Scott try to restrain Jay and note that someone should go and get Jay’s siblings, Sam and Paige. Emma tries to lead Elixir out but he is insistent on staying to help Jay. He wants to know what’s happened to him and that the others need to know. Emma uses her telepathy to wipe Josh’s memories of Jay’s condition and asks him to join her in the Danger Room.

Emma telepathically orders all of the students who retain their powers to report to the Danger Room in uniform immediately. The kids are dismayed at this abrupt alert and the Cuckoos note that Frost is clearly upset and fear that her impromptu training session will end badly.
Twenty-five students gather outside the Danger Room and Emma announces to them that everything is going to change effective immediately. No more squads or field days. The students are surprised, especially the Cuckoos. She says they are here to see what they’ve learned and where they now belong: on the battlefield or the sidelines. The exercise is every man for themselves and those who last the longest will train to be X-Men, the rest will not. She immediately excuses Wallflower, Ernst, Blindfold and Nezhno. Laurie tries to protest but Emma doesn’t give her the chance and demands that she leave.
Mercury chimes in and asks about Kevin’s whereabouts and Dust notes that Icarus is missing too. Josh has a vague recollection of seeing Jay but Emma gives him little chance to piece things together. Josh wonders why he’s being included since he’s useless in a fight. Laurie encourages him not to give up. The others prepare for the test. Loa warns Victor not to use his tongue on her, Wolfcub wonders if Cyclops knows about all this and Santo and Onyxx are both stoked. Trance asks if she can leave her body outside and Pixie chides herself for not bringing her helmet. Dust expresses her concern about all this and Mercury reassures her. Hisako overhears and asks why they’re even worried since they’re Miss Frost’s students. Mercury says that means that They’ve actually learned something. Amidst all of this, X-23 just looks out of place. As they enter the Danger Room, Nori glares at Hellion with challenge in her eyes.

Before the session begins, Emma telepathically contacts Hellion and orders him to take X-23 out first no matter what it takes. He hesitates, remembering how Laura saved him during the Danger Cave scenario earlier. Emma asks if there’s a problem and he assures her there isn’t.

As the session begins, Santo attacks Hellion who blocks the blow with a TK shield. He berates Rockslide and tells him the Hellions are staying together. The battle is pitched. Match squares off against Anole. Rockslide takes down Wolfcub while Surge dispatches Bling. Mercury assaults Onyxx with her arms formed into blades, aided by X-23. Mercury then turns her attack on Hisako. Dust easily overwhelms Indra as X-23 finishes with Onyxx. Hellion shoves Loa out of the way as he makes a move on X-23. He is cut off by Surge, who sees this as the perfect time for these tow to settle the animosity between them. Hellion says he doesn’t have time for her but Nori refuses to back down and goads Julian into attacking. Meanwhile, X-23 is everywhere and takes down Quill and match in one fluid motion. When Rockslide moves up to attack her from behind, she pops her foot claw and uses it to slice his arm off!

Emma uses her telepathy to freeze Laura in place, making her full away of what she’s done and taunting her telepathically. Seeing an opening, Julian breaks away from his struggle with Surge and moves to attack X-23. Just then, Onyxx recovers and barrels towards the two. Seeing that X is not moving out of the way, Hellion lifts her out of harm’s way. He reiterates that no one saves him and that they are now even. From the control booth, Emma glares at Julian for this betrayal and calls a halt to the exercise.

Still reeling, Onyxx asks if he won. Emma announces that Mercury, Dust, Hellion, Elixir, Rocksilde and Suge will now begin training as the New X-Men and that she will deal with the rest later. Hisako bitterly notes that it’s no surprise that Emma chose four Hellions to make the cut. Cyclops arrives with the Stepford Cuckoos, who obviously alerted him to Emma’s latest action. He insists that Laura be added to this group and tells Emma that they will discuss this “exercise” later. Emma announces that there will be an assembly in fifteen minutes for all mutant students and names Surge as the new team’s leader, to the shock of both Nori and Julian. The new team looks around and Elixir adds his two cents: “This is going to suck.”

The auditorium is nearly empty as Emma and the X-Men address the remaining mutant students. She asks them to look around and realize that they are all that is left. Elsewhere, Rev. Stryker addresses a crowd of thousands, emphasizing that they represent but a handful of God’s children. Miss Frost continues to say that most students knew only a world where mutants thrived and were on the rise, shaping culture and building their own local and global communities. She adds that their number has been reduced to the hundreds and the dangers posed to them all had grown exponentially. She tells them it is time to grow up and that their survival and the survival of mutantkind depend on it. She announces that the now human students are about to board a bus that takes them to a safer place and that now is their chance to say their good-byes.
Meanwhile, Stryker claims that God stood by and watched as “Satan’s seeds” flourished, waiting for the faithful to act but they did not. He says to the clearly anti-mutant crowd that they have been given one last chance to act and finish the work that God himself has started for them. He leaves them with a choice to help end Satan’s reign or to turn their back on the Lord. As he leaves the stage, he orders his Purifers to assemble and informs them they have a bus to catch.

Shortly thereafter, the X-Men stand watch as the human students are led through the Morlock Tunnels to a waiting bus. There are many tears and questions among the students as they say their good-byes. Mercury hugs Dryad and tells her it’ll be okay. Surge assures Network that they’ll find them when the smoke has settled. Dj asks Hellion to say good-bye to the girls for him. Rubbermaid boards the bus and can’t believe this is happening. Finally, Tag boards and Julian waves a final goodbye. As the bus pulls away, smoke can be seen in the distance. In seconds, a missile can be seen hurtling towards the bus. Tag sees it as does X-23 who cries out “Ambush!” Her warning comes to late as the bus explodes!

Characters Involved: 

Beast, Bishop, Colossus, Cyclops, Emma Frost, Iceman, Rogue, Shadwcat (all X-Men)
Elixir, Surge, Dust, Hellion, Mercury, Rockslide and X-23 (All New X-Men trainees)

Icarus, Prodigy, Wallflower (All former New Mutants Squad)

DJ, Dryad, Network, Rubbermaid, Tag and other unnamed former mutants (All de-powered and former students)

Anole, Blindfold, Bling, Ernst, Hisako, Indra, Loa, Match, Onyxx, Nezhno, Pixie, Quill, Stepford Cuckoos (Celeste, Mindee, Phoebe), Trance, Wolfcub (All Xavier Institute students)

Dani Moonstar

Sentinel Squad O*N*E*
Reverend William Stryker
Dr. Jack Abrams, Matthew Risman and other unnamed members of Reverend Stryker’s Purifiers
Crowds at a speech by Stryker
Parishioners at a Westchester church
On viewscreens:

Julia Cabot

Story Notes: 

The cover is an homage to the cover of Uncanny X-Men #171.
The shattered robot form connected to Stryker’s data systems is very likely tied somehow to Reverend Paul, the artificial intelligence that Stryker seemingly merged with in X-Treme X-Men #30.
Julia Cabot was the girlfriend of Jay Guthrie. She died at the culmination of an ongoing feud between her rich, mutant-hating father and the Guthrie clan. This story was presented in the She Lies with Angels story arc in Uncanny X-Men #437-441.
This is the first appearance of Nezhno, the only previously unseen student to retain their mutant powers. “Nezhno” is a Russian word that means “tenderly”. His dismissal from the combat evaluation may be an indicator that his power is more passive in nature like Blindfold’s. The creators have mentioned in their postings on’s message boards that Nezhno was part of Storm’s unseen training squad.
Emma has mentioned in previous issues of NEW X-MEN that there were roughly 27 students who retained their powers after M-Day. In this issue, 25 students show up for the combat exercise. This includes X-23 who was not at the mansion when Emma made her earlier estimates. Counting in Icarus and Wither who were not present in this scene, that gives us a total of 27 powered students accounted for if you include X-23 in the count.
The appearance of Ernst is surprising given that she has previously been established as a reborn Cassandra Nova. Cassandra Nova has appeared in ASTONISHING X-MEN #12 and 13 as part of a mysterious new Hellfire Club of which Emma Frost is secretly a member.

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