New X-Men (2nd series) #27

Issue Date: 
August 2006
Story Title: 
Crusade - part 4

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

Brief Description: 

Driven by what he believes to be “visions from God” delivered by the mutant-hunting Nimrod, Rev. Stryker launches a full-scale assault on the Xavier Institute. Armed with anti-mutant weapons and future tech gleaned from Nimrod, the Purifiers and Stryker take the mansion by storm, nearly killing Cannonball and easily overcoming the few X-Men at the school as they try to take down Frost’s students. Unbeknownst to Stryker, X-23 has thrown a wrench in his carefully laid plans by replacing her teammate Dust and corrupting the prophetic vision that is the basis of his plans. She proves key to the survival of her teammate, Dust who turns the tide of battle inside the Institute. The Purifiers manage to kill Quill but are stopped from further carnage by Dust, X-23 and the rest of the New X-Men team. Stryker’s team is defeated and his role in the recent deaths on campus is revealed. Enraged, Elixir uses his powers to kill Stryker. This turns Josh’s skin from gold to ebony and leaves him catatonic from the shock to his system. In the wake of this destruction, the Nimrod unit that had been “guiding” Stryker is fully re-activated and goes to seek its maker, the mutant called Forge.

Full Summary: 

Dr. Henry McCoy races down a hallway in the Xavier Institute telepathically urged on by headmistress, Emma Frost. Beast informs Frost that he can hear multiple timers ticking down. As he relays this information, a blast goes off behind him and sends him flying forcefully through the air. The explosion knocks McCoy out as Emma tries to telepathically coordinate the X-Men’s defense of the mansion. She reports to Bishop that the intruders are masked from her telepathy and orders Cannonball to cover the main entrance. He reports that there are a lot of them, some headed for the 198 encampment. Emma telepathically orders the student body to remain in their rooms or suffer her eternal ire.

Outside, Bishop and Cannonball do their best to route Stryker’s Purifiers. Sam is hit by a blast from Stryker’s Nimrod gauntlet which disrupts his blast field. Stryker tells him that he was next on God’s list to be eliminated once the children are dealt with. With Stryker smiling over him, Sam is shot by Dr. Abrams. Emma feels Sam’s pain and through his eyes, sees that it is Stryker who is behind this attack.

At Stryker’s church, two of Stryker’s Purifiers (Paul and Joseph) dispose of Dust’s body. They note that they also have to deal with Icarus’ corpse when they return for the cleansing at the Xavier Institute. To their utter disbelief, Dust revives and attacks them. After killing one Purifier, “Dust” removes the hood of her burqa to reveal that she is really X-23 in disguise.

Inside, the remaining Purifiers sense that something is wrong since their compatriots are taking too long in disposing of Dust’s body. They’re also concerned about “the device” whose power levels are off the charts since the recent power surge.
As they worry about this, Jay Guthrie lies bleeding on the floor from a gunshot wound to the head. He is still conscious and saying weakly how sorry he is. As the Purifiers try to figure out what’s going on, Nimrod activates. With a single blast of energy, he kills the Purifier named Jacob.
Crackling with power, the Nimrod unit comes online and quickly identifies the Purifiers. It labels them as “Threat to Primary Objective” and proceeds to terminate them. Still near death, Jay cannot do anything to save himself and begs his beloved Julia for forgiveness for all he’s done. The Nimrod unit identifies Icarus and begins to move towards him, dragging its legless form across the floor with its upper body.
Nimrod’s systems recommend “TERMINATION” but issue a systems warning that discharging its weapons would jeopardize its primary objective. It notes that its target is suffering from massive internal bleeding and that death is imminent. As it reaches Jay’s body it crackles with energy and decides to proceed with its Primary Objective.

At the Xavier Institute, Pixie and Anole are racing down the hall to see what’s going on. As they pass, they urge Quill to join them. Quill says that he thought they were supposed to stay in their rooms and that he heard gunshots. As he says this, a Purifier comes up behind him. The Purifier lifts his finger to his lips to silence the startled mutant before shooting him point-blank.

In the infirmary, Prodigy tells a grieving Elixir to stay with Laurie while he finds out what’s going on. As he enters the hallway, he comes across the Stepford Cuckoos who relay what little information they’ve managed to pick up telepathically. They report the same difficulty in identifying anything specific that Emma noted earlier. They can sense the screaming and fear but cannot perceive the threat itself.
David thinks quickly and instructs them to look through the eyes of someone they know. As they enter Bishop’s mind, he is hurt on the battlefield and they cry out in pain. They share this with Prodigy and report that Cannonball is dying. They identify Stryker as the source of the attack and tell David that he is inside the school!

At the same moment, the Purifier called Mary has attacked Emma Frost and managed to pin her to the ground. Emma assumes her diamond form as Mary gloats that Stryker has prepared them against all of their “demon powers”. She takes out a blade made of vibranium and drives it into Emma’s shoulder. Emma bleeds but does not cry out. She glares up at Mary and vows that she will pay for that.
Mary reports in that she has “the teacher” and Stryker orders her to bring him Frost’s head. At that moment, Hellion arrives and telekinetically throws Mary across the room and away from Emma. Surge is with him and attacks the Purifiers at super-speed as they begin to fire on the students. Surge is hit in the back by a bullet. Mary turns her fire on Hellion who is shocked when the bullet passes through his telekinetic field and tears across his shoulder.

In Dallas, Forge is hard at work on his latest project and has programmed in its four primary directives: 1) Protect mutants 2) Protect humans 3) Destroy Sentinels 4) Preserve self. He is about to give it its designation when an alarm alerts him that the energy regulation gauntlets he built for Surge are about to be destroyed. He initiates a remote shutdown and prepares to teleport to the Xavier Institute. His computer system reports that all communications with the school are down, much to Forge’s dismay.

Back at the Institute, Dust wakes up on the floor of her bathroom. She is wearing only her undergarments and immediately realizes that X-23 must have subdued her to prevent her from going in search of Icarus. She opens the door to the hallway to see Rockslide and Mercury engaged in combat with a pair of Purifiers.
Mercury warns her to get back and Rockslide is stunned to see her out of her burqa. One of the Purifiers sees her and is shocked to see that she’s alive. Dust assumes her sand form and unleashes her full fury against the Purifiers. As she travels through the hallway, her sandstorm flays the skin from their bones, killing them in a torrent of sand. One of them tries to report in to Stryker but is consumed by the sandstorm before he can relay a warning.

Stryker is receiving other field reports at the time from those encountering the 198. He reminds them that the 198 are not the primary target and to simply keep them engaged. He orders someone to get a visual report on Mary who has gone radio silent. Dr. Abrams says she’s either dead or engaged and Stryker encourages him once more to have faith, their victory is assured by God. He says that he has Frost and will find the healer (Elixir) and eliminate the rest of “the seven” while the Purifiers deal with the other students.
Stryker’s confidence is shattered when he gets a report that Dust is alive. Stryker cannot believe it until he hears the reporting Purifier killed by Dust. He tells Matthew to proceed with God’s plan as intended. Nearby, David and the Cuckoos overhear his orders.

Elsewhere, Surge is without her gauntlets and trying to reign in her errant energies as Hellion chides her. Mary arrives and aims her gun at Nori’s head. At that moment, X-23 arrives on the scene. X-23 is everywhere, poetry in motion. In seconds, she guts Mary and takes out the pair of Purifiers with her. She does this in a flurry of graceful moves that leaves her new teammates stunned. Covered in blood, she tells Sooraya that it was a trap. Dust asks if she took her place and Laura replies that she did not believe that Allah wanted Dust to die. With this brief reprieve, Hellion removes the blade from Emma’s shoulder. She thanks him and suggests they get going. One of the Purifiers is still alive and X-23 mercilessly drives one of her claws into the back of his head. The others are shocked, thinking she has killed him. In reality, she has merely disabled a psionic baffler device implanted at the base of his skull. She says that Icarus had one, too and that they smell like death.
With this disabled, Ms. Frost is able to read his thoughts. She learns that Stryker has been behind their recent casualties from Jay’s wins to the bus explosion to the murder of Wallflower. She senses that there was something else hovering over all this, a “device” but the Purifier dies before she can clarify its full meaning. Unbeknownst to Emma, Elixir is nearby and hears the totality of her revelation.

Down the hall, Prodigy sends a psionic message to Emma via the Cuckoos. He asks for her help as they’ve been engaged by Stryker and Dr. Abrams. David takes a bullet in the leg as Onyxx is taken out by Stryker’s Nimrod gauntlet. Stryker orders Abrams to find the Cuckoos and David and to kill them, especially Prodigy. He notes that Alleyne cannot be allowed to live. Abrams agrees and stalks off after the fleeing students. Onyxx moans as Stryker declares that he must fulfill his destiny.
Frost and her team arrive to confront him. Stryker is surprised to see “the Muslim” still alive and wonders how this is possible. He has seen God’s vision and assured that she was killed himself. Dust shouts back at him that no God would condone the horror and hatred he has unleashed. She tells him that he is the abomination.
Stryker rants that he is being tested and will not fail the Lord. He raises the Nimrod gauntlet and prepares to strike. He does not see the golden hand of Elixir as the young mutant healer reaches around and grabs Stryker’s face. Josh’s hands turn black as coal as boils spring up across Stryker’s face. Stryker cries out in pain as a tearful Elixir screams out that he killed them all. “Die, you bastard!” he cries out and Stryker falls dead. Josh cries out in shock, his entire body save his hair has turned from golden to deep ebony.

In the aftermath, O*N*E Soldiers and medical teams respond to and assess the situation. Colonel Reyes reports to Dr. Valerie Cooper that they lost nine soldiers, Cannonball and Onyxx are in critical condition and one student is dead. A coroner is shown pulling a sheet over Quill’s face as medics treat Cannonball. In addition, Emma Frost, Beast and Bishop sustained minor injuries. Several Purifiers managed to escape before the Sentinels re-activated, Matthew Risman was among those who fled. Val confirms that the incursion was stopped by Frost’s squad but that the one who killed Stryker is not doing so well. As they confer, technicians emerge with the Nimrod gauntlet and Cooper vows to find out exactly what it is.

Cyclops checks in on Emma and asks if she’s okay. Emma replies that every time she tries to save lives, she fails and now she has one more dead student. Clearly, she is not okay.

Inside, the others watch over Elixir who is in a catatonic state of shock. They are surprised at this new application of Josh’s power and the physical changes it has wrought in their friend. David notes that he doesn’t think Josh was ever supposed to use his powers in that way, despite the potential. David wonders why Stryker struck with such certainty. Surge writes it off as complete insanity but Prodigy is not so sure.

Later, Forge checks in with Cyclops and tells him he’ll be there in a week and is bringing something he thinks Scott will like. Scott says he could use some good news and then asks if Forge is going to be coming to Ororo’s wedding. Forge replies that he can’t make it but sent a card. As he ends the transmission, the Nimrod unit arrives outside Forge’s Aerie. It declares that its primary objective is complete. It has found The Maker.

Characters Involved: 

Beast, Bishop, Cannonball, Cyclops, Emma Frost (all X-Men)

Forge (Xavier Institute affiliate)

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

Icarus, Prodigy (both former New Mutants Squad)

Anole, Indra, Onyxx, Pixie, Quill, Stepford Cuckoos (Mindee, Phoebe & Celeste), Wolf Cub (All Xavier Institute students)
Colonel Miguel Reyes, Dr. Valerie Cooper and unnamed O*N*E troops (All members of Sentinel Squad O*N*E*)
Reverend William Stryker
Dr. Jack Abrams, Matthew Risman, Jacob, Joseph, Mary, Paul and other unnamed members of Reverend Stryker’s Purifiers
Emergency medical personnel

Story Notes: 

The cover to this issue pays homage to the classic cover of NEW MUTANTS #38.
Vibranium is a unique metal found primarily Wakanda. It possesses several special properties, most notably the ability to absorb vibratory energy such as sound and kinetic force directed against it.
The Purifiers all have names with Biblical significance: Mary, Paul, Joseph, Matthew, Jacob, etc.
It was established in earlier issues of NEW X-MEN that all of Forge’s devices have internal communicators that communicate with his computer systems and each other.
Emma notes that she always fails to save innocent lives. Frost has a long history of burying her students. Many of her original students, the Hellions, were killed in battle against Sentinels in UNCANNY X-MEN #281-282 including Beef, Bevatron, Catseye, Jetstream, Roulette and Tarot. Her second set of students, Generation X also suffered several fatalities, notably Synch who was killed by Emma’s sister Adrienne in GENERATION X #70 and Skin who died at the hands of the Church of Humanity in UNCANNY X-MEN #423. Since assuming control of the Xavier Institute, her students have suffered many more fatalities, particularly during the destruction of the Institute by Xorn and the recent attacks by Stryker.
Storm is engaged to marry the T’Challa, the Black Panther and king of Wakanda. She and Forge have had an “on-again/off-again” romantic relationship that dates back to UNCANNY X-MEN #186.
It is interesting that this issue hints at forge being the creator of Nimrod, as back in X-Force (1st series) #35 he remarked that even with his abilities the technology to create something like Nimrod should still be several decades in the future.

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