New X-Men: Academy X #3

Issue Date: 
September 2004
Story Title: 
Choosing Sides - part 3: Grudges

Nunzio Defilippis & Christina Weir (Writers), Staz Johnson (Pencils), Ketcham & Parsons (Inks), Dave Sharpe (Letters), Pantazis, Chu & Sotomayor (Colors), Randy Green (Cover), Stephanie Moore & Sean Ryan (Assistant Editors), Mike Marts (Editor), Joe Quesada (Editor In Chief), Dan Buckley (Publisher)

Brief Description: 

The newly minted Hellions and New Mutants get into an argument outside, which quickly escalates into a fight. At the same time, Dani ridicules Emma for the codenames and squad name choices she made, which would just feed Julian’s ego. Rahne gets aggressive when she believes Emma is pressuring Dani into leaving, and Scott intervenes, telling Dani and Rahne to learn to trust Emma. He then notices the kids fighting outside, and puts an end to that as well. He tells them that they just volunteered to be the first teams to participate in the new Field Day exercises. After the kids and Scott disband, Dani admits that she needs Emma’s help to find the final member of her squad: Kevin Ford. In the garage, Josh and Rahne kiss, and soon they talk about Josh being a New Mutant, just like Rahne was all those years ago. Due to a reminder that she is a teacher, and should act like one, Rahne decides that they should break up, much to Josh’s dismay. Emma and Dani use Cerebra to track Kevin down, and eventually find him working in a junkyard in Staten Island. Dani tries to get him to come back to the school, but Kevin really doesn’t want to hear it from her. Emma decides to give it a try, and manages to convince him to come back to Xavier’s, though Dani has some concerns that Kevin may have been using his powers on animals. When they arrive back at the school, Kevin agrees to join Dani’s squad, mainly because of Laurie. Laurie and Sofia are happy to have Kevin back, though there is some animosity between Kevin and Josh. Dani asks Kevin for a suggestion for what his codename should be, and he decides on Wither. The leadership of the squad is the next issue to be discussed, and though Dani chose David, he declines, and Sofia takes the job. The first Field Day exercise arrives, and they are told that they must find an object somewhere in the grounds. Sofia sends Nori to search the grounds with her super-speed, while Cessily spies on the teachers and learns that it is located in the hedge maze. She is found out by the teachers, though, and eliminated from the exercise. She has Jay back her up, though, and he returns to the rest of the Hellions with the information. Right about then, Nori also arrives with the information, and they head off to the hedge maze. Unfortunately, they find Santo blocking the way, and he tells them that the rest of the Hellions have already gotten into the maze, and the New Mutants lose…

Full Summary: 

At the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning, Josh Foley, the newly minted Elixir, ridicules Julian on his codename. Hellion and the Hellions? He asks Julian if he’d like a little ago to go with that swelled head of his, but Julian just asks Josh if he is jealous. Miss Frost let them pick their own codenames, unlike that loser Moonstar. Josh tells him that he’s just about had it with Julian picking on Dani. Julian just asks him why he is so defensive, and then pretends that he just remembered that she’s not just his advisor. She’s his guardian because his real parents threw him out with the trash! He says that he wonders how Moonstar lucked into that, and asks if they drew straws and she lost.

David holds Josh back as he attempts to go after Julian, telling him not to do it. He’s not worth it. But Josh tells him to let him go. He’ll kill him! Santo agrees, and tells David to let him go, and suggests they do another dance. David tells Santo that he keeps looking for a fight, but he’s never laid a hand on him. He asks if Santo likes swinging and missing all day, but Santo insists that he’d hit, as he launches a fist up in the air. He says David can run, but he’s got plenty of body parts he can throw at him. He adds that since they are all made of rock, all it’d take is one hit to put a no-power loser like David down.

Jay turns and walks away, telling Julian that this is crazy. He doesn’t dislike these guys—he doesn’t even know them! And he says he is out of there. Julian says that he really hates that Miss Frost stuck them with that winged guy. He turns to Sofia and asks her why she doesn’t leave her New Mutant days behind and go where the action is and be a Hellion. Sofia says she thought he hated all of them, but Julian says it’s only her friends. Hates them. Likes her. Sofia says he really knows how to charm a girl, but no thanks.

David asks why Brian and Santo even follow Julian. He’ll only get them into trouble. Brian says that they don’t follow Julian. They hang with him. He suggests that maybe David bosses his friends around, but Julian doesn’t. Josh tells Brian that Julian doesn’t need to because they already kiss his butt on a regular basis. Santo tells the “jerks” to keep talking, because they are about three words away from being buried under a rockslide. Laurie asks Cessily why boys are always so… boy-like, but Cessily just takes the opportunity to mock her, saying that quiet girl speaks! Alert the media!

Sooraya asks Nori if they fight simply because they are on separate squads, but Nori says she doesn’t know. She just got there, but she knows she doesn’t like Julian. She adds that it looks like Sooraya’s taste in friends is almost as bad as her taste in fashion. Julian tries to persuade Sofia, telling him that she knows he wants her on his squad. David tells him that she said no and grabs his shoulder, so Julian tells him that if he touches him again, he’ll draw back a stump.

Inside the school, Dani demands what Emma was thinking. She says that it is bad enough her kids are called the Hellions, but Julian Keller has enough ego problems without naming the squad after him. Emma agrees that Julian has had some problems with authority here, but she sees great potential in him. He has the ability to become a great leader and she thought the codename would force him to step up. She tells Danielle that she needs to let go of past mistakes and give the boy a chance. Dani asks if she means give the boy a chance, or give Emma a chance. She tells Emma that she can say she’s changed, and she can even cozy up to Scott to convince him, but she doesn’t buy her reformed-villain-seeking-redemption act. And she never will. Emma suggests that she leave the school.

Rahne, from across the room, hears this with the telepathic link she and Dani share, and she morphs into her half-wolf form and demands that Emma don’t dare threaten Dani like that. She gave up a chance at being an X-Man to teach these kids. Dani starts to stop Rahne, but Emma interrupts and tells Rahne to put her claws away. She wasn’t threatening Danielle. She was merely suggesting that if she has difficulties with her being headmistress, then perhaps she would rather be somewhere else.

Rahne lets out a loud growl, but is surprised by Scott yelling her name as he drops his cake and runs towards the three girls. Rahne starts to apologize to Scott, but he cuts her off and explains to her that he knows she and Dani are close, but she can’t threaten Emma or anyone else there. If she is going to be a teacher at the school, she needs to keep her wolf powers and instincts under control. Rahne agrees and tells him that it won’t happen again. Cyclops then turns to both Dani and Rahne, and with Emma smirking over his shoulder, he tells them that they need to get past Emma’s history. She has proven herself to the X-Men—to all of them—on a number of occasions. She and he are headmasters of the school.

Something outside catches Scott’s eye and he sees Santo launch his hand at Josh. Cyclops tells the ladies that it looks like their feud has carried over to their students, and Dani starts to say that she’ll talk to them, but Scott says that he’ll handle it, and storms out of the room.

Outside, Santo demands that Josh give him his hand back, but as he sits on top of it, Josh asks if he means the one he shot at him, and says no way. Santo tells him to give it back or he’ll take it back, and David asks why this always has to devolve into a fight. He starts to say that they are gonna—but just then he spots Cyclops coming and finishes exasperatedly—get us into trouble. He adds that Mr. Summers is coming, and then Scott calls across the grass for them to break it up.

Scott tells them that they broke the student body up into squads to teach small unit tactics and teamwork, not to turn them into rival gangs. However, there is clearly energy to be worked off. He explains that they were going to introduce a new intramural training tradition. Two squads competing towards one strategic goal. He congratulates them, and tells them that the New Mutants and the Hellions have just volunteered themselves for the first Field Day exercises. And as Scott walks away, he tells Mr. Vaccarro to put his hand back on.

As Emma and Dani watch Scott and the kids disband, Emma says that Scott certainly has a way about him, and Dani says she supposes. Emma asks if this won’t be exciting, their two squads competing, and Dani tells he beating heart to be still. Emma comments that Dani’s squad seems to be short one student, and asks how she intends on resolving this. Dani tells her that she has someone in mind… a former student who really needs to come home. But she can’t find him. She needs Cerebra to track him down, and since Cerebra works by amplifying telepathy, she… she needs a trained telepath to use the system. Emma asks Dani if she is asking for her help, and Dani says she is, but tells her not to make a thing of it.

In the garage, beside Rahne’s motorcycle, Josh and Rahne kiss. Josh tells her that she missed the assembly. They made him a New Mutant! She tells “Slick” that it’s very impressive. Josh continues that it is just like she was all those years ago. Rahne, kneeling by her bike, repeats “all those years ago” slowly. Josh tells her that they should celebrate. Go out for dinner, but he notices something is wrong, and asks what it is. Rahne tells him that it’s just that… she’s so much older than him. Josh tells her that he’s sixteen, she’s nineteen: it’s three years! She tells him that that’s not the point and he knows it. This can’t work.

Josh tries to reason with her, telling her that she likes him, and she calls him Slick… and they’ve been kissing a lot. Rahne says that it’s been in secret. What does it tell him that they’re keeping it from everyone? She tells him that she is a teacher now, and Mr. Summers reminded her that she has to act like one. Josh, upset, asks if that’s it then, and they’re not even going to try to make it work. He tells her that he really thought she like him. She turns away with her head down and tells him that maybe she does… but it doesn’t matter. This is just the way it is. She tells Josh she is sorry, and he slumps off.

A computer voice says that the retinal scan is verified, and welcomes Miss Frost to Cerebra. Emma walks into the chamber, with Dani right behind her, and out onto the dais in the center of the chamber, where she puts on the special amplification helmet. Dani tells her that they are looking for Kevin Ford, a fifteen-year-old who was a student here last summer for a couple of weeks. Emma says that is good, since Kevin was at the school, Cerebra should be able to identify him easily. She explains that Cerebra was rebuilt with the school. It still enhances telepathy to allow them to recognize unique mutant signatures. She suggests that they start with places of importance to him. Even if he’s not there, Cerebra should be able to conjure up holographic images from the psychic residue of his emotional moments. They may provide them with clues.

Dani tells her that Kevin used to live in Atlanta, and as Emma searches there, she tells Dani that he isn’t there now… but she’s got strong emotional residue from some sort of trauma. Dani explains that Kevin’s mutant ability is to -decay organic matter. He can’t shut it off. As a a holographic image appears in front of them, Dani explains that he discovered his power when it accidentally killed his father. Emma suggests trying something closer to home, and an image of Kevin appears, and Dani explains that it was Kevin here at Xavier’s. It was an adjustment, but the thing that kept him going was his desire to be an X-Man someday. Emma says that it is a shame that he left, but he isn’t in town.

Emma asks where else he might be, and Dani suggests New York. She brought the kids there on a field trip. They were attacked, and Kevin went crazy. The image shows Kevin attacking Donald Pierce with his powers, but soon changes to him attacking Laurie instead. Emma is shocked and asks if he attacked his own friends, but Dani says that he didn’t. She had to stop him before he killed someone. She tells Emma that she knows how her illusion powers work. The most effective illusions she can project are drawn from the target’s worst fear or deepest desire. She had to stop him, so she showed him his worst fear. She showed him that he was a killer. And… and that’s why he left the school.

Suddenly, Emma tells Dani that she has located him! Staten Island. She says they should leave immediately, but Dani says not they, she. She tells Emma that she is not going with her. Emma tells her that it was she who used her powers on Kevin and he left the one place that could help him. Dani says yes, and Emma tells her that clearly she (Emma) is not the only one seeking redemption, and they leave.

In a junkyard in Staten Island, New York, a worker calls a kid and tells him that he is closing up and it is his shift. He tells him that he should do a couple of rounds, but it’ll probably be a quiet night. Kevin pokes his head out the door of a metal shed and tells him that they all are. The guy points to a pile of scrap metal, and tells Kevin that they aren’t using it, so if he wants to use it for his… whaddyacallit… industrial art, the help himself. Kevin thanks him and the guy tells him it’s no problem. He goes to pat him on the back, and tells him that he makes his life a lot easier, but Kevin jumps back and tells him to not touch him, please. The guy tells him that he wasn’t gonna hurt him, and apologizes to Kevin, telling him he didn’t mean nothin’ by it. He tells Kevin to have a good night and waves as he leaves.

As Kevin finishes up an art piece, from behind him, a voice tells him that she likes it. He turns to see Dani walking towards him. Dani tells him that she’s been looking for him. They need to talk. Kevin just tells her to talk, so she does. She tells him that he needs to come back with her. She knows he doesn’t want to risk anyone at the school getting hurt… but there really is no better place than Xavier’s for a mutant to learn to control his powers. Kevin repeats “control it,” and tells her it’s a death touch. You don’t control it. You never use it! Because if you do, you’re a killer! He asks her who taught him that, and tells her that she did. He says that he’s got a job, a place to sleep, and all the metal he needs for his art. He’s fine here.

Emma tells Dani that it didn’t go well, and Dani tells her to let her go after him. Emma puts a hand on Dani’s shoulder, and tells her that she doesn’t get it. Dani is the problem. Emma asks Dani if this is a personal thing for her, or if she is actually interested in Kevin’s well-being. There is a knock on Kevin’s door, and he tells, who he thinks is Dani, that he told her he isn’t going. Emma steps inside and tells him that she is not Dani, and she is not there to take him anywhere. She tells him that she just thinks they should talk about why he doesn’t want to go.

Emma sits on the bed beside Kevin, and tells him that she doesn’t think they met while he was at Xavier’s. She introduces herself, and tells him that she is the new headmistress. Kevin moves away a bit and tells her that she should be careful, but she tells him she knows he has a death touch. She’s seen worse. Kevin puts a piece of fabric to his face and it starts turning to dust, and he asks her if she really has. He tells her that he destroys everything he touches. He withers it. And he turns it to ash. Emma takes the piece of withered fabric and tells him that she’s seen worse. She’s been worse. She got better. She tells him that he doesn’t destroy everything… just organics. This, she supposes, is why he’s surrounded himself with metal.

Emma asks Kevin to tell her something. He left Xavier’s to keep people safe. She asks him if he is any closer to having his power under control, and if he has been practicing. Kevin immediately says no, and asks how he would do that. He asks if he is supposed to touch animals and see if they die, and tells her that he can’t do that. But at the same time, Dani notices that there are piles of dust outside on the ground. Emma asks him if he ever thought about practicing on lumber, and points out that it is organic, but Kevin admits that he hadn’t thought of that. Emma tells him that that is why he needs the school. They know how to teach young mutants. She tells him that she knows Dani did him a disservice. She was supposed to teach him to accept himself, but instead, she taught him to fear himself. To hide in his metal prison. Emma tells him not to let Dani’s mistake ruin his life.

A few minutes later, Emma and Kevin come out of the shed, and Emma tells him that he has made the right decision. As they come closer, Dani slowly lets a pile of dust fall to the ground, and she asks Kevin what happened. He tells her that it was lumber. He was practicing on lumber. Dani watches as Emma and Kevin head off, Emma telling him they are headed back to the school, and Dani clearly doubts Kevin’s honesty on the matter.

Later, at the Xavier Institute, Dani and Kevin are walking up the stairs to the doors, and Dani makes sure Kevin knows that she is happy he’s back. As they step inside, she explains that the school has changed since he was here… all the students are now in training squads with faculty advisors. She tells him that she would like to be his advisor. She wants to train him. He asks if Laurie is on her squad, and Dani tells him that she is, as well as Sofia and David, so Kevin says he’s in. Dani tells him that she called ahead, so the rest of the squad should be waiting in her office. As the door opens, Laurie happily greets him, and he greets her as well. Dani tells them to meet their sixth team member.

Laurie asks him where he’s been and if he is okay and then Sofia tells him that it is good to see him again and introduces Noriko. Kevin jumps back a little and tells them to back off, he might hurt them… Kevin spots Josh and says that the last time he saw him, he was working for Donald Pierce. Josh says that the last time he saw Kevin he was trying to kill him. Dani steps between them and decides to get a few remaining squad-related issues taken care of. She tells Kevin that he’ll need a codename. The faculty already gave them out, so she’ll need a recommendation. She then asks if he has any suggestions, and Josh asks why he gets to pick his own. Kevin suggests Wither, and Dani asks if he is sure. She says that it’s a little… negative, but Kevin says that Mr. Death would be negative. Wither is what he does. It’s not a problem.

Dani tells them that the other issue is squad leadership. This has been left to the advisors, and so she’s selected David. David says nothing for a moment, and then he thanks her, but says no thanks. He says that he is doing the training thing because he has to, but he has no desire to be an X-Man. The leader spot should go to someone who can use that experience in the field someday. Dani agrees, and says it is his choice. She tells them that they’ll need someone else, then.

Nori says not to look at her, but Laurie suggests Josh, saying she thinks he would make an excellent leader. Kevin doesn’t quite agree with her choice, but Josh says that it it’s not a bad idea. Dani tells him that he’s a healer, though, and in the field he has to focus on whoever’s hurt. A leader can’t afford to focus on any one person. Josh shrugs it off, saying it’s no big, and tells Dani that she’s the boss. Sofia steps up and tells Dani that she will do it. Dani asks if she is sure she wants that responsibility, and Sofia says she can handle it. Dani decides that it is good, and tells Sofia that the squad is hers.

The next morning, Cyclops welcomes the New Mutants and the Hellions to Field Day. He explains that they will be holding these regularly. Each is a small-scale mission. With Dani and Emma standing on either side of him, Cyclops tells the kids that the squad who wins the most will be rewarded at the end of the semester. Today they’ve hidden an object on campus. This is designed to simulate a mission in which a villain, say Magneto, has left a bomb somewhere and you don’t know what it looks like or where it is. There are clues on campus. Whichever squad finds the object and brings it to one of them will win. Cyclops adds one last rule. No offensive use of powers on members of the opposing squad. Break this rule and your team loses. He then tells them to go to it, to have fun, and bids the best team win.

Immediately, the Hellions all take off and leave the New Mutants behind. Sofia says they need to get into action, and tells Noriko that she is the fastest, so she should search the entire campus, starting with the school. Nori asks what she is looking for, and Sofia tells her she does not know. A clue to what it looks like or where it is? Anything. David suggests that maybe they need to narrow the search down a bit before they have Nori expend her whole charge on a sprint through the building. Sofia tells him that Julian and the Hellions have already left! They do not have time to argue. This is her squad, remember? She tells David that he did not want to lead. None of them have to worry about being the leader of the first losing squad! She says that she does not know what the Hellions are up to, but clearly they have already gone into action.

Cessily ducks down outside the cafeteria, and slips inside by turning into a puddle of mercury, and clings to the bottom of the table at which Scott, Emma, and Dani are sitting. Dani says that it is in the middle of the hedge maze, and asks Scott if he thinks he made it a little easy for them. Scott says maybe, but this is the first mission. Emma says that her squad is off to a fine start, then bends over and looks under the table, and asks Miss Kincaid if she agrees. Cessily’s head smiles back at her, and asks if she is in trouble for spying. Scott says not at all. If he were Magneto, spying would be a quick way to get information. However, if he were Magneto, Cessily would be captured right now. Spying is quick, but very risky.

Scott tells her that she is out of the exercise, and she looks slightly upset. As she stands near the windows, she asks if she can’t even tell her teammates that the object is in the hedge maze, putting emphasis on the last two words, and Cyclops says sorry, but ‘captured’ means out of the game. He then looks up to see Jay flying away, and says that he sees she brought backup. Not bad. Emma comments that it seems her squad has completed the first part of the mission… then she wonders aloud how Danielle’s squad is faring.

Outside, Nori arrives, and tells Sofia that she found it. Sofia asks if she found the object, but Nori, out of breath, tells her she found a memo left in the assembly hall. Mr. Summers told someone to hide the L.H. in the hedge maze. Sofia tells them that they have the information they need, and they should go to the hedge maze quickly. As they all run towards the hedge maze, David calls Sofia and tells her that Noriko is spent. She used her whole charge. Sofia calls back that the two of them should hang back. The rest of them will handle it. The entrance is right here.

Sofia tells them that they should assume it is at the—but she runs into something solid and rocky, and falls to the ground. It seems she hit one of Santo’s arms, because he is standing with his arms detached and dug into the ground. He finishes Sofia’s sentence, saying that it is at the center of the maze. Yeah, they know. He tells them that Hellion and the rest of the squad are already there, and it looks like the New Mutants lose.

Characters Involved: 

David Alleyne / Prodigy, Noriko Ashida / Surge, Laurie Collins / Wallflower, Josh Foley / Elixir, Kevin Ford / Wither, Sofia Mantega / Wind Dancer (New Mutants squad)

Brian Cruz / Tag, Jay Guthrie / Icarus, Julian Keller / Hellion, Cessily Kincaid / Mercury, Sooraya Qadir / Dust, Santo Vaccarro / Rockslide (Hellions squad)

Dani Moonstar, Wolfsbane (teachers at the Institute)

Cyclops, White Queen I (X-Men and Headmasters of the Institute)

Gambit, Nightcrawler (X-Men)

Junkyard worker

Story Notes: 

Kevin Ford was introduced and joined the school in New Mutants (2nd series) #3, and chose to leave the school again after using his powers on Donald Pierce and realizing it felt “right” in New Mutants (2nd series) #6.

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