New X-Men (2nd series) #36

Issue Date: 
May 2007
Story Title: 
Mercury Falling – Part 4 of 4

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

Brief Description: 

X-23 and Hellion encounter a small army and Kimura in their efforts to rescue Mercury. Hellion defeats Kimura but refuses to kill her, insisting to X-23 that they have to be better than their enemies. They are then attacked by several “Predator X” creatures that were created at the request of William Stryker. Stryker learned of a “mutant antichrist” who would turn the tide in mutantkind’s favor. Predator X was developed using Mercury’s skin and designed to feed exclusively on mutant blood. The Predator X creatures quickly overwhelm the two young mutants and things go from bad to worse when a fresh contingent of Facility guards surround them. At that moment, the X-Men and remaining New X-Men arrive with a O*N*E Sentinel and quickly make short work of the remaining Facility forces. One of the Predator X creatures survives the battle and escapes. Upon their return to the Institute, Mercury reaches out to X-23 for support while Emma Frost deals with the continuing threat of Kimura. She confronts Kimura with her abusive past and the fact that she has becoming the same kind of bullying abuser she who victimized her in her youth. Emma erases Kimura’s memories of her grandmother, the only person who ever showed her any love or kindness. She then sets her on a mission to torment those who ran the Facility, starting with the man who tortured Mercury: Dr. Harkins. With one threat eliminated, another emerges as long-time X-Men ally Amanda Sefton returns to Earth in a blazing ball of fire with an ominous warning.

Full Summary: 

Three Months before M-Day…:

Dr. Adam Harkins is taking a video call from Reverend William Stryker. Stryker tells him of the “vision” he has received foretelling the impending decimation of mutantkind. He tells Harkins that he and his Purifiers will lead the charge to finish the Lord’s work. But he also knows that a powerful “agent of Satan” will rise up that they alone cannot defeat and that this mutant must be hunted down lest humanity lose its newfound dominance over the planet. Stryker asks Harkins if the Facility can create a weapon to help them combat this powerful new mutant. Harkins tells Stryker that if his check clears they can create any type of weapon he requires, even one that hunts and feeds upon mutants.

The Present…

A battalion of Facility troops try to take out X-23 and Hellion who have arrived to rescue their teammate, Mercury. They work well together, Hellion shielding X-23 from harm while she rips through the small army assembled to oppose them. Hellions drives away a trooper who gets too close to X-23 and stops to gloat for a moment. Suddenly, the two young X-Men are overwhelmed by a sonic attack launched a device wielded by Kimura.
She notes that she loves telekinetics because they are so overconfident, yet easily taken down with a device like this that disrupts their ability to think. She notes that this sonic barrage must be so much worse for X-23 given her hyper-senses. She grabs X-23 by the hair and yanks her up while she draws a blade. She taunts Laura by telling her how impressed she is with her pretty new boyfriend.
She then drives the knife into Laura’s chest and tells her “welcome home”. Julian cries out “NO!” as he telekinetic slams Kimura against a wall. He gets in her face and tells her that she’s dead and Laura urges him to kill her. She explains that he has to, since her indestructible body is proof against any attacks that she can manage. She tells Hellion to create a telekinetic bubble in her brain or heart and finish her. She adds that Kimura is evil and deserves to die.
Kimura tells him that X-23 is right but they both know he doesn’t have the stones to do her in. Instead, Hellion launches Kimura through the roof and telekinetically tosses her over 25 miles away. He tells Laura that they have to be better than their enemies and that they need to find Cessily.

They find her in a lab, her body dissolved into its natural liquid state. Julian telekinetically opens her containment tube and urges her to pull her body back together. X-23 sense that something is wrong as she can smell Cessily’s scent everywhere. Mercury begins to reshape herself and begs Julian to make them stop hurting her. X-23 tells them that they need to leave immediately. At that moment, one of the Predator X creatures emerges from nowhere and slices through Julian’s shoulder. He tries to shove it away with his telekinesis but it manages to bit his shoulder. X-23 jumps atop it and slashes at it with her claws. Cessily utters a garbled warning that there’s more than one of these monsters as two more emerge from the shadows.

From above, Harkins and his aide, Anderson watch the battle. Harkins notes that the creatures seem to know that they must feast on mutant DNA to survive. He notes that X-23 will provide a perfect test run for the creatures and that it will be nice to have her back, if she manages to survive. Hellion traps one of the creatures under some rubble, but it quickly morphs its mercury-like form to escape.
Harkins notes that Cessily probably doesn’t even realize just how powerful she truly is. X-23 slices one but it immediately seals the cut. Harkins crows that these creatures are their finest creation ever. Anderson begs Harkins to let them leave now and Harkins relents. He adds that once they’re finished the creatures will continue their quest for mutant blood to dine upon and eventually they will find Stryker’s “antichrist” mutant if he does indeed exist.

One of the creatures roars as they begin to circle X-23. She tells Hellion to take Cessily and go; she’ll hold them off as long as she can. He refuses to leave without her and Laura tries to argue that he won’t last much longer due to his bleeding. Hellion unleashes a huge TK blast to buy them some time as they leave the lab. They are pursued by a soldier who X-23 quickly subdues.
Hellion grabs Mercury and carries her out on his back. She sees the creatures approaching and weakly tells the others that they took part of her to make these things. She begs them not to let them take her back. X-23 stands her ground and tells Cessily that she won’t. She engages them and manages to decapitate one before the other two overwhelm her. Hellion telekinetically yanks them off of Laura but the attack leaves him weakened. X-23 yells at him to get up and run. Mercury edges closer to the beheaded Predator X and reclaims the part of her that was bonded to the creature. X-23 helps Julian to his feet and shouts to Mercury that they have to run! But it’s too late. The remaining Predators dive at Mercury as a blast door opens and a small contingent of soldiers raise their guns at X-23. She closes her eyes and pops her claws, ready to go down fighting against these overwhelming odds.

At that moment, there is a rumbling from above as a Sentinel rips the roof open. A team of X-Men consisting of Emma Frost, Colossus, Shadowcat, Rockslide, Dust, Elixir, Surge and Cyclops descends from above. Cyclops and Surge take the lead, barking orders and working together to destroy one of the remaining Predators. The other X-Men dive into battle with Rockslide commenting on how cool the evil robot grizzly bears are.
Colossus is surprised by Predator X as it bites through his armored skin. The Sentinel blasts it as Colossus leaps clear. Injured by the attack, Predator X retreats.
The X-Men regroup when they make it to Hellion, X-23 and Mercury. Shadowcat calls for Elixir to tend to Hellion’s wounds as Julian assures Cessily that they’re going to be okay now. She reaches out to her teammate in a silent gesture of thanks. Elixir makes his way to Hellion and tells him not to be scared. Julian’s normal veneer of cocky sarcasm springs back into place as he asks Josh if he looks scared. X-23 says to Emma that she was right and that she should have left the school. She blames herself for what has happened to Cessily and knows that her treatment at the hands of the Facility will change her forever.

Together, O*N*E and the X-Men scour the Facility. Colonel Reyes reports that they found various mutant corpses that were being tested and experimented on. Colossus comments that if this is true, they did not hurt these people enough.
Cyclops asks about Harkins. Who Mercury named as the man in charge and Reyes reports that they only captured lower level personnel. Surge is appalled that even after he’s dead, Stryker continues to hound them.
Nearby, Santo is giving Kitty Pryde grief and asking her how exactly she helped in the battle earlier. He says she “phased” and sarcastically notes how tough it must be being a real X-Man like her. Kitty tells Santo coolly “Don’t make me kill you.”
Julian covers Mercury with a blanket and she tells him that one of the Predator X creatures escaped. He tries to reassure her that they don’t know that for sure but she tells him she knows and can feel it. In the outlying woods, the creature growls and watches the mutants.

The next day, Mercury sits alone in her room, clearly still dealing with the trauma of her ordeal. Laura arrives at Mercury’s room having received a message that her teammate wanted to see her. Cessily tells X-23 that she wanted to thank her again for saving her life. She begins to cry and asks Laura if she really spent her entire life in the Facility. Laura replies “yes” and Cessily hugs her tightly. She cries out how much they hurt her and how it still hurts so much. At first, Laura does not know how to respond. But she allows Cessily to hug her and tells her that she knows.

At that moment, Kimura is targeting X-23 through the sight of her rifle. She gloats to herself, “You’re dead, clone.” She is startled when Emma Frost appears seemingly from nowhere. Emma asks her if she’s ever considered why she finds such joy in tormenting a little girl who she knows cannot fight back. Kimura rolls over and draws a pair of pistols on the headmistress before finding herself frozen in place.
Emma explains calmly that she’s shut down Kimura’s motor control so that she can pay close attention to what she has to say. She confronts Kimura with her own past: a childhood dominated by an abusive, alcoholic father and uncaring mother. The daily abuse she suffered from her peers at school. Emma sympathizes, telling Kimura that no child should have to suffer as she did. She reminds Kimura that she played the victim for years until her grandmother took her away and tried to repair the damage of her childhood. But her efforts were in vain because Kimura no longer had any hope or potential for good. When her grandmother died, Kimura found the Facility who offered her a chance for power and revenge. Emma points out that she begged for the chance to not be a victim and instead became what she herself had hated and feared growing up. X-23 was the unfortunate victim of her years of bottled up rage and anger. She derides Kimura for continuing the cycle of violence despite her own understanding of just what it feels like to be the target of such abuse. She tells her that the fact that she enjoys inflicting suffering on others is what makes her a bully.

Kimura asks Emma why she’s telling her all this and Emma coldly tells her that it’s because today, she goes back to being a victim. She tells Kimura that it’s a pity they didn’t perfect her mind as they did her body. She goes on to explain that some memories are woven into a person’s consciousness and buried so deep they cannot be excised. Laura’s brainwashing and reaction to Trigger Scent is an example of a memory set that she may never be able to undo. Some negative memories poison the mind, while others are like beacons that rise to the surface when they think of those they love or hate most. Like Kimura’s memories of her grandmother.
Kimura hears this and a look of panic washes across her face. Emma tells her that she’s taken X-23’s loved ones from her and that she is now returning the favor. Kimura begins to cry and asks what happened. Emma explains that she has erased all her memories of her grandmother, the only person who ever showed her love. In place of this, she’s left a deep void that will pain her for the rest of her life. Emma tells her that she also has a mission for her: she will find her masters at the Facility and “handle” them as she once did X-23, beginning with Harkins. Emma turns and heads back to the Institute, leaving a shattered and shaken Kimura behind.


Somewhere in Germany, a fiery portal opens up in the night sky and spits forth what appears to be a flaming comet. It impacts violently in the middle of a street and from the resulting crater emerges Amanda Sefton AKA the second Magik. She is clearly hurt and as she rises, she weakly call out for someone to help her. She utters the simple warning, “He’s back.”

Characters Involved: 

Dust, Hellion, Mercury, Prodigy, Rockslide, Surge, X-23 (All New X-Men)

Colossus, Cyclops, Emma Frost, Shadowcat (All X-Men)

Elixir (Xavier Institute student)

Alexander “Lex” Lexington, Colonel Miguel Reyes and other unnamed agents (All O*N*E Personnel)

Anderson, Dr. Adam Harkins, Kimura and other unnamed personnel (All Facility personnel)

Several Predator X creatures

Amanda Sefton/Magik II

Unnamed German citizens

In Flashbacks:.

Reverend William Stryker, Matthew Risman and other unnamed Purifiers

Adam Harkins


Story Notes: 

Stryker references visions from God. In reality, he has seen video-files from a temporally-displaced Nimrod unit. Stryker used this information to assemble his Purifiers and launch an attack on mutantkind and the Xavier Institute in particular as depicted in NEW X-MEN #20-27.

Kimura’s time as X-23’s handler and personal tormenter are depicted in the X-23: TARGET X Limited Series.
Amanda Sefton’s appearance on the final page of the issue leads into the next story arc entitles “The Quest for Magik” which spans NEW X-MEN #37-41. Sefton took over the inter-dimensional realm of Limbo and began wielding the Soulsword as Magik II in X-MEN UNLIMITED #19 and the X-MEN: MAGIK LIMITED SERIES.

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