New X-Men (2nd series) #31

Issue Date: 
December 2006
Story Title: 
Nimrod - 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: 

The New X-Men continue their battle against Nimrod, determined to stop him before he can wipe out the rest of mutantkind. Working together, they devise a strategy to destroy Nimrod by overloading its temporal displacement equipment. Their plan is a success but in the final battle, Rockslide is pulverized into rubble and dust and X-23 is fatally wounded. Rockslide survives and reconstitutes himself in a more jagged, rocky form. Hellion is determined to save X-23 and flies her to the Xavier Institute. Desperate to save her, he begs Miss Frost for help and she removes the internal psychic controls on his powers. This amplifies his telekinesis to a level that allows him to break the sound barrier and get Laura to Elixir to be healed. Hellion forces Elixir out of his coma and the act of healing X-23 partially restores his golden skin. Meanwhile, Nimrod materializes in the past and the Purifiers plot their future moves to destroy the New X-Men.

Full Summary: 

At the Xavier Institute, Dr. Valerie Cooper coerces the Stepford Cuckoos to use Cerebra to track down their missing classmates, the New X-Men. One of the girls warns Val that she shouldn’t be in there and being in the Cerebra chamber while it’s in use could damage her mind. Dr. Cooper says she’ll take her chances and insists they locate the others. One of the sisters picks up the team’s thoughts in Texas and realizes they are under attack by Nimrod. She psionically informs Emma Frost who tells Cyclops that the New X-Men are defending Forge from an attack by Nimrod. She closes her eyes as she realizes that because they didn’t heed Surge’s warning, the New X-Men are about to die.

In Texas, the New X-Men and Forge have barely survived a cave-in caused by a massive explosion set off by Nimrod. Mercury and Rockslide hold the walls up as Nimrod ascertains their location and status.
X-23 tells them that Nimrod is cutting a path to them as they speak. Hellion is dazed and Forge has a concussion. He tells the kids to run or it will kill them as it did his family in the future. He tells them it will kill them all and then head to the Institute to kill the rest of the remaining mutants. Surge declares that if this is the case, then they have to find a way to destroy it. David tells her that the X-Men couldn’t do that and there’s no way they’ll be able to. Surge says that they’ll delay it then so they can warn the X-Men and buy them time to evacuate the school.

As the reality of their situation sinks in, Nimrod draws closer. It bursts through the ceiling as Julian finally gets his bearings. Surge strikes it with multiple lightning attacks and yells at David to run. Forge echoes the sentiment but David holds tight. Nimrod processes the electricity and strikes back by erecting a solid energy field around itself that knocks everyone away.
Julian is staggered by the force and struggles to get to his feet. Nimrod takes aim at Hellion as Surge orders Rockslide to get up and help. Seeing his friend in danger, Rockslide remembers how he hesitated to act when the missiles hit the bus carrying his other good friend, Tag. He cries out, “Not again!” as he leaps in front of Julian and takes Nimrod's blast square in the chest. This shatters Rockslide’s body into a million pieces. A chunk of his face lands near Mercury’s feet. She cries out his name in anguish.
Hellion curses at Nimrod and Surge tells him they have to hold it together. He tells her to back him up as he lashes out at Nimrod with a telekinetic attack. Surge leaps in from behind him and fights by his side.

Meanwhile, David makes his way to the Blackbird and bypasses the emergency crews to grab the stash of guns that X-23 brought along.
The battle rages on inside as X-23 joins the fray, slashing Nimrod with her claws. Dust attacks as well but Mercury is consumed with grief as she asks again and again why Santo isn’t reforming. Surge urges her to leave him and she and Hellion are hit by one of Nimrod’s blasts.
Nimrod moves in to kill Surge and David arrives with a rifle and shoots Nimrod in the head. Nimrod targets David and alters his identification of David from a human and a non-threat to an enemy combatant.
Surge tells him that that was a stupid move as he tries to help her to her feet. Nimrod powers up to kill both David and Nori. At the last possible moment, Hellion flies in surrounded by his telekinetic field. Dust and Hellion keep Nimrod occupied while the others try to come up with an idea.

Surge gets to her feet desperately trying to think of a way to stop Nimrod. She feels it is her responsibility. David tells her they’ve got to go but she insists that there has to be a way to stop Nimrod. Forge tells her that they should leave this to the X-Men. Laura tells him that he shouldn’t be walking around with a concussion. Surge tells him there’s no time for that. He asks Forge if there could be some weakness in Nimrod’s new form that the original didn’t possess due to the transferal into a new body. Forge says that it’s completely integrated all of its original systems but then realizes that the one thing different than all the rest is the time travel equipment his future self installed.
He tells them that if they can overload this device, it will destroy Nimrod from the inside out. Surge’s eyes spark with electricity as she says that she can do that. David tries to tell her it’s too dangerous, that she would have to breach Nimrod’s armor and keep him from self-repairing long enough to fry the device. He insists that Nori will be killed if she tries this. X-23 jumps in and tells him his plan is a sound one (which was not David’s intention at all). She volunteers to slice Nimrod open, Mercury volunteers to use her pliable form to keep it open. She is willing to do whatever it takes to destroy the machine that killed Santo. David tries to protest, but Surge has already removed her power-dampening gauntlets and is ready. She boldly declares that it has to end here.

Hellion and Dust are taken down as the other young women launch their plan of attack. X-23 slices open Nimrod’s chest and he fries her severely with a direct blast from his chest cannon. She hits the ground hard, her entire body burnt to a crisp.
Nimrod initiates repairs but Mercury moves in from behind and shoves her oversized, claw-like hands into the opening and rips it open. Nimrod rises into the air and casts a shockweb around his form that begins to electrocute Cessily. She weakly says she can’t hold on but Surge assures her that she’s here as she rams her hands into Nimrod’s chest and discharges all of her energy.
Mercury falls away but Nori continues her attack, praying that this works. Nori cries out in pain as Nimrod tries to compensate for the damage to its form and the temporal device in its chest cavity.
Nimrod realizes his form is in jeopardy as the temporal device overloads and his other systems fail. David calls out to Nori and Forge states the obvious: they have to get Surge out of there. Nori uses her final breath to tell David she loves him. As she begins to utter this, Julian tells her to shut up as he telekinetically pulls her free.

Nimrod disappears in a huge, pink implosion of temporal energies. As the dust clears, Hellion looks for his teammates. Forge is assisting Dust who complains of a burning feeling. Cessily is on her knees, desperately trying to gather up Rockslide’s pulverized form. She begs him to come back and apologizes for being so mean to him. Crying fiercely, she collapses in Hellion’s arms. He tells her that they’re going to be okay. Nearby, the weak voice of Santo can be heard telling Cessily not to cry, that he hates it when she cries. She smiles through her tears as Santo’s face starts to reform amidst the dust and rubble. Santo asks if anyone’s seen his body. Julian uses his telekinesis to draw all the dust and rubble to where Santo’s face is reforming and in moments, Rockslide has reformed. However, he looks dramatically different. Where before his rock form was smooth and reminiscent of the Thing, he now has many jagged edges and rocky, oversized arms.

Santo points to the fallen form of X-23 and asks what happened to her. Hellion cries out her name as Dust cradles her charred body. Reaching out with his telekinesis, Julian levitates her body and insists that they have to get her to the Xavier Institute so that Josh can heal her. Surge tells him that she’s not healing but he insists that they have to get her help. David tells him that the Blackbird is wrecked and there’s no way to get her home in time. Julian clenches his jaw and announces that he’ll get her there. He takes to the sky with Laura in his arms. At that moment, the police arrive and tell everyone to freeze. The stunned officer asks who they are and Surge replies, “We’re X-Men.”

Julian flies across the sky, yelling at X-23 to stay with him. He tells her that she’s not leaving him too. At that moment, Emma Frost contacts him telepathically and he begs her to help him save Laura. He tells the headmistress that he can’t fly fast enough and Laura’s dying. Emma offers her apologies but says there’s nothing she can do. He begs her to do something but she tells him it’s too dangerous. He tells her emphatically that he doesn’t want to bury another friend.
She relents and tells him that she’s opening the part of his mind that controls his powers and that this may hurt. Hellion cries out as his power increases exponentially. He pours on the speed, shattering windows and eventually breaking the sound barrier. He tells Laura to stay with him. As he draws near to the Institute he reaches out with his telekinesis and effortlessly grabs an armored car which he maneuvers in front of him. He comes into radar range of the O*N*E Sentinels mere seconds before he arrives at the Institute. He launches the armored car through the mid-section of the Sentinel and follows it through before crashing into the school. He zooms past his classmates and straight for the infirmary. The Stepford Cuckoos announce Hellion’s arrival to Dr. Cooper who orders in back-up.

Hellion lands forcefully in the infirmary and calls out to the still comatose Elixir to get up. He yanks him from his bed telekinetically and orders him to save Laura. He screams out “Heal her, dammit!” and grabs Josh by the throat. He tells him he’s not a murderer despite what he did to Stryker. He’s a healer.
Josh comes to and says that he can’t. Julian tells him that just because he couldn’t save Wallflower doesn’t mean that he can’t save X-23. He shouts at him to save her! Josh reaches out to X-23 and they are bathed in golden energy. As Laura begins to heal, Elixir’s skin once more begins to turn golden though some black splotches remain. X-23 comes to and Julian asks if she’s okay. She smiles and says “Hi.” Josh replies with the same and Julian says weakly that he knew he could save her before passing out. The O*N*E soldiers arrive and order them not to move.

Elsewhere, the body of Reverend William Stryker is returned to his followers, thanks to the efforts of the same governor who pardoned him for the incident at Madison Square Garden that landed the Reverend in prison. The governor was one of many who owed Stryker his life, having been saved from death in a fiery plane crash via Nimrod’s visions of the future. The governor is appalled that “those monsters” would kill the reverend.
Matthew Risman, the new leader of the Purifiers warns the governor not to underestimate the power of “Satan’s children”. He assures the governor that they will continue Stryker’s work and will not rest until the world has been purified.
He leaves the governor and places a call to an unnamed scientist. Risman reports that they were unable to obtain “the sample” and that the scientist will have to handle that himself. The scientist says that they have someone who can handle it and asks if Risman transferred the money they agreed upon. Risman replies that he has and warns the scientist not to fail them. On the view screen, a female assassin named Kimura, clad in body armor and wielding numerous weapons, assures the Reverend that she can handle this.

Somewhen between the past and the present:

Nimrod’s form drifts about in time as it initiates repairs. Its databases have been wiped and it reaches out to connect to any available database. It makes contact and assimilates a new database. As it tries to initiate its temporal device, it malfunctions again further corrupting its memory systems. It backs up its prime directive: terminate all mutants before initiating a temporal jump. It arrives in a streamlined form in the past. It arrives near a man who is listening to a news report about mutants. Nimrod ascertains its location and realizes it has traveled to Manhattan which was not its intended location. The man listening to the radio is about to be mugged but Nimrod reacts and vaporizes his assailant. The would-be mugger drops a necklace into the mud nearby. Nimrod assists the man to his feet and assures him he’ll be okay. Nimrod’s programming kicks in and it concludes that mutants are a threat in this society and it should following its prime programming to seek them out and destroy them.

Characters Involved: 

Elixir, Surge, Dust, Elixir, Hellion, Mercury, Rockslide and X-23 (All New X-Men)
Cyclops, Emma Frost (Both X-Men)
Forge (Xavier Institute affiliate)
Anole, David Alleyne/Prodigy, Hisako, Loa, Match Stepford Cuckoos (Celeste, Mindee, Phoebe), Trance (All Xavier Institute students)
Dr. Valerie Cooper and unnamed members of Sentinel Squad O*N*E*
Matthew Risman and other unnamed Purifiers
An unnamed scientist in the employ of the Purifiers
An unnamed state governor
Unnamed firefighters and police officers
In Flashback:

In the past that Nimrod travels to:

Unnamed mugger and his intended victim, Jaime Rodriguez

Story Notes: 

During the battle against Nimrod, Rockslide has a flashback of the missile attack by the Purifiers that killed a busload of his former classmates. Among those killed was his former teammate in the Hellions training squad, Brian Cruz AKA Tag. The bus attack occurred in NEW X-MEN #23-24.
Hellion tells X-23 that she’s “not leaving him, too.” Julian has lost a number of people close to him since the Decimation including his closest friend, Tag who died in NEW X-MEN #23 and his girlfriend, Sofia Mantega AKA Wind Dancer who left the Xavier Institute after losing her powers.
The image on the TV screen when Hellion blasts through the mansion is Black Panther from the ULTIMATE AVENGERS 2: Rise of the Panther animated film. NEW X-MEN writer Craig Kyle is the executive producer and one of the screenwriters on the ULTIMATE AVENGERS direct-to-DVD animated films.
Elixir used his bio-manipulative powers to kill Reverend Stryker in NEW X-MEN #27.
The governor notes that he pardoned William Stryker for the crimes he committed at Madison Square Garden. After kidnapping and torturing several X-Men, Stryker killed one of his followers who was a latent mutant and was about to shoot Kitty Pryde. He was shot by a police officer though survived and was jailed for his crimes. These events took place in MARVEL GRAPHIC NOVEL #5: “God Loves, Man Kills”.
The epilogue with the Purifiers sets the stage for the next arc of NEW X-MEN which crosses over with the X-23: TARGET X Limited Series.
The final epilogue perfectly mirrors events first depicted in UNCANNY X-MEN #191. The writers’ intent was clearly to explain where the Nimrod unit that appeared in this issue of UNCANNY X-MEN originated. However, this contradicts previously published accounts of Nimrod’s origin that tie him to the “Days of Future Past” timeline from which Rachel Summers originated. It is clear in UNCANNY X-MEN #193 that Nimrod was sent to the past specifically to hunt down the time-displaced X-Man, Rachel Summers. This is followed up on in EXCALIBUR (1st Series) #66 in which Kate Pryde and Rachel Summers attempt to shut down Project: Nimrod and fail. This Nimrod unit follows Rachel into the past and is presumably the one who appears in UNCANNY X-MEN #191. To further complicate matters, the Nimrod unit that appears in NEW X-MEN states that Forge is its creator. Nimrod forced the Forge from its future to install a time travel device after it killed that Forge’s wife (Storm) and threatened their children. This makes it impossible for the Nimrod appearing in NEW X-MEN to have originated in the Days of Future Past future, since in that future Storm was killed by a Sentinel after spending years in a concentration camp for mutants. While online fans have attempted to reconcile these two distinct versions of Nimrod’s origins, there is not enough information presented in this story arc to conclusively tie all the dangling threads of Nimrod’s convoluted history together. Most theories center around Nimrod’s corrupted memory files somehow merging with those of the Nimrod unit from the Days of Future Past. Ouch… time travel stories make my head hurt! Hopefully, someday a clever writer will iron all this out.

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