New X-Men (2nd series) #24

Issue Date: 
May 2006
Story Title: 
Crusade - part 1

Craig Kyle & Chris Yost (writers), Paco Medina (penciller), Juan Vlasco (inker), Brian Reber (colorist), Dave Sharpe (letterer), Tom Valente (production), Sean Ryan (asst. editor), Nick Lowe (assoc. editor), Mike Marts (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

The remaining staff and students at the Xavier Institute gather to mourn those who died in the attack against a busload of former, de-powered students. They bury fifteen of the students themselves. Of the forty-two who died, these are the students whose parents would not take them back even to lay them to rest. Among the dead is Brian Cruz AKA Tag. As the funeral progresses, each member of the New X-Men team recalls the explosion and the loss of life they witnessed days earlier and deals with their grief. Sadness, anger, guilt and disbelief are felt by all to varying degrees as they recall the tragedy. The X-Men question O*N*E’s lack of response but Val Cooper places the blame on Emma Frost. Emma deals with her grief by pushing the New X-Men to train and be prepared for the next attack which she feels is inevitable. Meanwhile, Icarus continues to refuse treatment for his wounds and Rev. Stryker plots his next attack and identifies an Omega threat among the remaining students.

Full Summary: 

(The Present)

Nightcrawler reads a passage from the Bible at a funeral ceremony for Brian Cruz, the former Hellion squad member codenamed Tag. Gathered together are the remaining staff and students at the Xavier Institute including the currently active X-Men. As Nightcrawler reads the passage, Wolverine, Cyclops and several other X-Men serve as pall bearers, bringing the casket to the gravesite. The casket is lowered as Kurt finishes the scripture and says a few brief words to those gathered.
As the service concludes, Cyclops quietly asks Logan how these kids are supposed to deal with this. Logan pragmatically says that they’ll either learn or they’ll die. Scott asks what will happen to those responsible and Logan simply replies that they will just die. Scott says that that suits him just fine.
Mercury looks down at the casket, tears streaming down her silver cheeks. Nightcrawler calls for those present to remember the life of those who have died as a means of keeping them forever with you. Cessily recalls what happened just days earlier.

(The Recent Past)

Mercury screams “NO!” as she watches the bus filled with her friends and former classmates at Xavier’s explode violently. As she staggers in shock, Surge powers up and is charging forward. She can’t believe this is happening as she spots Rubbermaid’s lifeless body among the wreckage. She calls for help as the gravity of the situation in front of her sinks in.

(The Present)

Kurt continues to offer words of support and condolence, saying that it is not the length of one’s life that determines its worth but how it is lived. He states that one must ask questions such as did they do more harm than good, did they make more friends than enemies and did they do all they could for those that they loved. This takes Rockslide back to the moment of the explosion as he thinks about these questions.

(The Recent Past)

As Surge calls for help, Rockslide is left dumbstruck. He falls to his knees, completely overwhelmed by the sight before him. Hellion looks back as he charges in to help and calls to Santo to get up.

(The Present)

At the graveside, Rockslide gives in to his feelings of guilt and helplessness and he too begins to cry.
As Nightcrawler concludes his sermon, Julian stands stoically in profile, his jaw clenched against the emotions of the day. He remembers the explosion as well.

(The Recent Past)

Julian calls out “Brian!” as he sees the bus explode. Sheathing himself in telekinetic energy, he flies into the wreckage and quickly spots Tag’s unconscious form. He tells Brian that he’s coming and drops his teke shield. As he reaches for Tag, another explosion hits and he is thrown forcefully away from Brian’s body.

(The Present)

Hellion’s face is badly scarred on the left side, his face red with burns and his eye swollen shut where the explosion hit him. Hellion continues to stand solid, his clenched fists and jaw the only betrayals of the emotions he holds in check.
Nearby, X-23 leans against a tree and absorbs Nightcrawler’s comments about friendship and how the bond between friends is what makes us all human. This takes her back to the explosion.

(The Recent Past)

Using her claws, X-23 slashes through the wreckage to try to save those trapped inside. Behind her, the second explosion throws Hellion back but she proceeds into the inferno. She hears a cry for help and turns to see DJ trapped in the wreckage. He sees her and says that she’s pretty. These are his final words. Elixir arrives at his side and tells him that he’s going to be fine but X-23 tells Josh that DJ is dead. Josh pushes Laura away and places his hands on DJ’s wounds. He tries to revive DJ but his efforts are in vain. He repeats over and over “I can fix you.”

(The Present)

At the graveside, Josh holds Wallflower’s hand. His face is clenched not with grief but with anger. Echoing his feelings are Nightcrawler’s words. He tells them that it is easy to focus their anger at the injustice of these deaths or their own failures. Laurie assures Josh that this wasn’t his fault. Nightcrawler’s says that they must have faith that from this darkness, light will come.
Sooraya says her own prayers to Allah for her fallen teammate as she recalls what happened.

(The Recent Past)

Dust assumes her sand form and uses it to extinguish the flames around the wreckage. She uses a bit too much force and propels a piece of wreckage into Surge, injuring her arm. Dust assumes human form to help Noriko as Cannonball arrives on the scene to help. As Dust supports Surge and helps her up she sees the bodies of several students amidst the wreckage. Tears fill her eyes as she cries out “No!” She goes into shock and Mercury arrives to try and snap her out of it. They are both surprised when a Sentinel arrives and illuminates the area. The Sentinel pilot begins to issue a warning and then stops when he sees the carnage below.

(The Present)

Nightcrawler finally closes his Bible and asks that God have mercy on all of their souls before saying a final “Amen.” Surge remains and stares at the headstone for a moment before voicing the question in all of their minds, “Why?” Forge steps up to comfort her telling her that there is no answer and that all they can do is be strong for those who are still with them. Surge asks how they are supposed to get past this and Forge tells her honestly that part of them never will. He says he has to return home to Dallas but that she can always reach him through her gauntlets if she needs him. He notes that all of his machines talk to each other and he’s always there to listen if she needs him. The two walk away from the gravesite together and as they move away, it becomes clear that this isn’t the only funeral happening as there are rows of open graves and caskets awaiting burial.

Inside the estate, Psylocke is having words with the officials in charge of the Sentinels and asks if this is the kind of protection they are here to provide. She notes that there are forty-two children dead and that they are burying fifteen of them because even in death their parents didn’t want them back. Sentinel squad leader, Alexander Lexington tells her this wasn’t their fault. Bishop tries to get Psylocke to back off but she won’t, questioning why they tolerate their presence at all if this is what they have to offer.
Colonel Reyes steps up and tells Psylocke that their presence is not up for debate and that the X-Men chose to circumvent the Sentinels to smuggle the human students out. Bishop retorts that O*N*E would have not let them leave if they had gone through proper channels. Lex jumps in to say they’re here to help and Psylocke tells him they’ve done a brilliant job of that as Bishop holds her back.
The squabbling is interrupted by Val Cooper who tells them that’s enough. She says that this was a terrible tragedy and they are all sympathetic to the loss the school has suffered and will help find those responsible. She adds that if anyone is to blame it’s Emma Frost.

In her office, Emma looks over the photos of the dead students. As she does so, she assumes her diamond form and drags her super-strong nails across the desktop, making a horrible sound as the nails rake across the grains of wood.

Hellion and Mercury walks back to the school together, both in disbelief about all that has happened. Julian says he’s going to go check on Sofia who wasn’t at the funeral. Mercury is surprised and tells Julian that Sofia left the day of the attack with her butler. Julian doesn’t believe her and thinks she’s joking. Cessily tries to apologize but it’s too late.

The other students process their grief in their own way. Nori finds comfort with David and tells him she can’t help but think that he could have been on that bus too. He assures he that he’s right here and not going anywhere. Santo takes his frustration out in a physical way, pounding the ground and fervently apologizes to Brian. Sooraya prays in her room as X-23 watches. Julian makes his way to Sofia’s room only to find that she is gone. He calls out her name and lashes out with his telekinesis, shattering her window.

In the infirmary, Paige tells Jay what has happened and he cannot believe it. Outside his room, Cyclops comforts Sam who admits that he couldn’t break the news to Jay and is relieved that Paige is there to do it. He says that Paige was always closer to Josh. Cannonball says that he was there when the explosion hit but couldn’t get there fast enough. He says he feels helpless, unable to help the kids who died or his brother. Scott tells him that he can’t blame himself. Sam notes that Jay isn’t getting any better and Scott says that they don’t know why Jay’s healing factor is inactive and that he still refuses to allow Elixir to heal him. Scott apologizes to Sam who is clearly upset.

The members of the newly-formed New X-Men squad gather and Emma comes to talk with them. She tells them she knows what they are going through and that they just want it all to go away. But this is their life and the X-Men must push on. She tells them to pull themselves together and meet her in the Danger Room for a training session. She adds that they have to be prepared because she fears this has only just begun.

At his church in New York City, Rev. Stryker prays to God and thanks Him for his strength and aid in vanquishing their enemies. His followers summon him to discuss his vision. They confirm that the predicted changes are as far-reaching as anticipated and as he predicted. His follower notes that only a few obstacles remain and they have identified another as an Omega threat. Stryker is pleased as he says they now know who their next target must be. On the screen is a picture of Elixir and Wallflower.

Characters Involved: 

Beast, Cyclops, Cannonball, Colossus, Emma Frost, Gambit, Iceman, Marvel Girl, Nightcrawler, Psylocke, Rogue, Shadowcat, Wolverine (all X-Men)

Archangel, Forge, Husk, Karma (all Xavier Institute affiliates)

Elixir, Surge, Dust, Hellion, Mercury, Rockslide and X-23 (All New X-Men trainees)

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

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

Anole, Match, Onyxx, Trance, Wolfcub and other unidentified students (All Xavier Institute students)
Dr. Valerie Cooper, Colonel Miguel Reyes, Alexander “Lex” Lexington (All Sentinel Squad O*N*E personnel)

Sentinel Squad O*N*E*

Reverend William Stryker

Dr. Jack Abrams and other unnamed members of Reverend Stryker’s Purifiers

Story Notes: 

Archangel appears in this issue with fully feathered wings. His status following M-Day has been questioned because he appears in the GENERATION M Limited Series where his wings are shown as falling out. It appears that this is a ruse of some sort based on his appearance here.

This issue confirms the deaths of DJ, Rubbermaid and Tag. Given the large number of confirmed deaths among the former students, it is presumed that the other de-powered students shown boarding the bus in NEW X-MEN #23, Dryad and Network were killed as well.

Josh Foley was already confirmed as having Omega potential in NEW MUTANTS (2nd Series) #12. It is left unclear whether Stryker was referring to Elixir or Wallflower as his next target.

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