New X-Men: Academy X #5

Issue Date: 
November 2004
Story Title: 
Choosing Sides - part 5: Above the Law

Nunzio DeFilippis & Christina Weir (Writers), Michael Ryan (Pencils), Rick Ketcham with Avalon (Inks), Dave Sharpe (Letters), Pete Pantazis (Colors), Randy Green (Cover), Moore & Ryan (Assistant Editors), Mike Marts (Editor), Joe Quesada (Editor In Chief), Dan Buckley (Publisher)

Brief Description: 

FBI agent Justin Pierce asks Kevin Ford to turn himself in for the death of his father. Though the agent is sympathetic, Emma Frost and Dani don’t believe Kevin can get a fair deal and refuse. Later, Pierce meets Dani in the coffee shop and explains that they have to show that mutants aren’t above the law. Dani considers his words and Noriko eavesdrops on their conversation. Later, she and her teammates decide to smuggle Kevin off-campus. They are stopped by Pierce and Dani makes up an excuse for them. The next day is hard for Kevin, as all students gossip about his accidentally killing his father and he further isolates himself. Fed up with everybody’s behavior, Hellion holds a speech in the cafeteria, telling them they should be ashamed of their behavior. Later, Dani calls Kevin, and explains she has decided he can best be helped if he turns himself in for now, thus killing any trust the boy still had in her. After Kevin is taken into custody, the Hellions decide to spring him. Only the newest member, Icarus, protests and leaves. Hellion asks Wind Dancer to come instead and she agrees.

Full Summary: 

The grounds of the Xavier Institute: Josh ‘Jay’ Guthrie is enjoying the evening and stretching his wings. Below him, he sees a figure dressed from head to toe in black crossing the square and carrying a tray of food. It is Sooraya Quadir, who, next to Jay, is the latest addition to the Hellions.

Jay swoops down to greet her and asks whether she is eating alone. Sooraya explains that she doesn’t eat in mixed company, as it would require for her to take off her hood. Does it bother her that he is talking to her, he asks. He doesn’t bother her, she replies, but she is not used to talking to men alone. It is not her custom. And why isn’t he eating with their squad? Jay confides that he isn’t a fan of their little Hellions squad. Particularly of their esteemed leader, Julian. Dust agrees.

It’s a beautiful night for flying, Jay points out and offers to take her for a ride. Sooraya politely declines. Wishing her a nice night, Jay takes to the air again. From above he sees several black limousines parked before the school gate. That can’t be good, he figures.

Inside the headmasters’ office, Dani Moonstar, Kevin Ford’s advisor, introduces F.B.I. agent Justin Pierce to the boy, adding that the agent has some questions regarding his father’s death. Kevin refuses to say anything. Pierce assures him he intends to help, but Kevin doesn’t believe him.

Co-headmaster Scott Summers chimes in, pointing out that Kevin may not understand the gravity of the situation. Co-headmaster Emma Frost disagrees. Besides, Kevin has the right to say nothing. That right does apply for mutants as well as baseline humans, doesn’t it? she asks Pierce pointedly. Pierce agrees, but the same goes for the laws regarding the death of another person, accidental or otherwise.

Emma lays her hand on the boy’s shoulder and assures him he doesn’t have to say anything, if he doesn’t wish to. Ushering him out of the room, she tells him they will discuss this with Agent Pierce and see if they can take care of it. Cyclops tells her that they need to present an unified front on this. That would be impossible, considering they clearly don’t agree, Emma shoots back.

Pierce assures Emma that he is not the enemy. But he needs to know what happened in Atlanta between Kevin and his father. He has his theories, but he needs to talk to the boy. Really? Emma scoffs pointing an accusatory finger at Pierce. A theory? He? An F.B.I. agent who has never dealt with mutation? She orders him to tell her his theory.

Pierce replies that he thinks that Kevin has a dangerous mutation. And, when it manifested, he couldn’t control it. He thinks Kevin’s father died by accident. Is he close? Very close, Scott agrees. What can they do to make things better for Kevin? Kevin has to come with him, Pierce explains. This needs to be handled officially. By the law.

So he is there to arrest Kevin all his promises that he is on the boy’s side notwithstanding, Emma rants. He fled the state, Pierce point out. He should have turned himself in and told the truth. Does he think a grand jury of his peers will dismiss the charge? Emma asks scornfully. What world does he live in?

Dani, who has listened to the exchange, quietly chimes in, telling Emma this was her fault. She brought Kevin to the school months ago, instead of telling the authorities. And she was right to do so, Emma commends her. It is most unlikely a mutant would receive a fair trial. Dani knew that at the time and brought him there.

Pierce turns to Dani as Kevin’s advisor, asking her to tell him to cooperate. Looking at Emma, Dani replies that she can’t do that. And she hopes the school won’t cooperate either.

An arcade in Salem Center. Josh Foley is playing a video game, watched by the admiring Laurie Collins. After boasting a bit, Josh asks her what she was saying and Laurie explains that, from what her mom told her, Laurie’s dad uses his pheromone powers to make people do what he wants. She doesn’t want to be like that. When she came to school she didn’t have her powers under control, so it was easier to avoid everybody.

A group of local high school jocks begin to eye the pair critically, as Josh reminds Laurie that she has her powers under control now. A girl like her doesn’t need pheromones. She’s cute! She should be dating.

Laurie looks disappointed and Josh realizes his faux pas. This is a date. And there he goes, telling her to hit on other boys. Is this a date? Laurie asks. Sure, why not, Josh replies, forgetting his game until he has lost. Laurie apologizes. Josh takes her by the arm and tells her this is a terrible place for a first date. They should go somewhere else.

The two jocks block his way, asking what he thinks he is doing and calling him freak. What gives him the right to come in here and put his mutie hands on a nice-looking normal girl? A hairy-clawed hand taps one of the jocks on the shoulder and a voice suggests they take off. They turn around to see Wolfsbane in her bestial transitional form. She waves after them playfully as they run.

How did she find him, Josh asks. She knows his scent, Rahne replies. He just bets she does, Josh replies aggressively. And she just had to come and interrupt his date, didn’t she? Rahne tells him not to flatter himself. This is about their teammate Kevin. He is in big trouble.

The Grindstone coffee bar in Salem Center. Dani enters and asks her student, Noriko, who works there whether her shift is over before curfew. Noriko assures her that her shift is pretty much over and notes that Dani looks terrible. She offers her some coffee.

Dani takes the cup and sits down at a table, only to be joined by Justin Pierce who informs her to forget the donuts. In law enforcement, the most important thing is a good cup of coffee. May he sit down? She can’t stop him, Dani replies coolly. Justin assures her she s wrong. He really knows how to charm a woman, she replies wryly. Does he have kids? she asks him. She has a group of students who rely on her. She brought Kevin to Xavier’s when he had no place else to go. How is she supposed to turn him over and watch him be tortured? People are afraid of them and this particular mutation is only going to make things worse.

They are afraid, Justin agrees, but if her school shields Kevin, then they are saying mutants are above the law. And then they’ll have every reason to be afraid. The death of Kevin’s father was a horrible accident and Kevin’s the one who suffered the most for it. He doesn’t deserve to be punished. Pierce knows that and believes the law will reach the same conclusion. He’s asking her to trust him. He’ll take care of Kevin.

In the meantime, Norko, who has been watching them, leaves at superspeed.

Dani admits that her connection with Kevin is… tenuous as it is. He might not listen to her. If he doesn’t, he’ll have to come and arrest him, Pierce replies. That could make things worse for mutants everywhere. He asks her to think about it.

Soon on the grounds of the Institute, Sofia uses her powers to peer over the wall at the F.B.I. agents stationed outside, while also eavesdropping on their conversation with her control over the wind. She hears several agents express their impatience and their desire to just take Kevin that night.

She tells the others that some of those agents aren’t as sympathetic as agent Pierce. She asks David if he can tell them anything. David has picked up all sorts of F.B.I. procedures from the men’s minds. They are probably using standard deployment to watch and contain. If that’s the case, there’s probably just a single car guarding the gate by the stables.

The kids start moving towards the stables, with David expressing some doubts to Sofia. They could be facing serious trouble. Then why is he telling them the best escape route? Kevin demands. Because Sofia asked him to and she’s in charge, David retorts. But he doesn’t know if this is such a good idea. Noriko adds that he didn’t hear what she heard at the Grind Stone. Dani’s under some major pressure. Laurie agrees. She doesn’t want anything bad to happen to Kevin.

They have reached the gate and Sofia assures Kevin they will take care of him. They are not just walking through the gate, are they? David asks. They’ll be spotted in a second. Sofia reveals that she will take Kevin over the fence with her wind and Nori offers to distract the men. She throws lightning bolts past the car. Frightened, the agent asks for back up, as he looks at the result of the blast.

In the meantime, Sofia lifts up herself and Kevin over the wall. As they land, a voice orders them to stop. It is Agent Pierce, his weapon drawn.

Dani comes running towards them, shouting at him not to shoot. Pierce protests that Kevin was trying to leave campus. Dani makes excuses. She is sure that the kids just planned a late night trip to the Grind Stone, isn’t she right? Sofia agrees. Pierce leaves reminding Dani of what they talked about earlier.

Dani asks Sofia and Kevin to come with her. Joining the others, she informs them that they just made a horrible mistake. Nobody wants Kevin to get into may trouble. Good to hear, he states tonelessly. Dani continues that this is an issue for the school and for Kevin. The others can’t involve themselves. They will only make things worse. Sofia puts her foot down. Kevin is part of the squad and therefore their responsibility. David advises her not to be so emotional. Sofia snaps back that she will not apologize for this. That is who she is and she is team leader. He didn’t want the job, after all. She strides away angrily, followed by Laurie. Kevin glumly remarks that he really knows who to bring the house down. Dani stresses this is not his fault.

The next morning, Kevin goes through his school day, only too aware that he is the object of everyone’s scrutiny, as his fellow students whisper about his father’s death and his death touch. In the cafeteria, instead of joining the New Mutants at their table, he ignores Laurie’s invitation and walks towards an empty table.

Over at the Hellions’ table, Cecily pities him and Julian Keller agrees. The whole school is talking about Kevin. Santo wryly points out that up till yesterday they were talking about him. He’s dangerous. Brian Cruz agrees, adding that they should stay clear of Kevin. Julian has had it. Stepping up on the table, he shouts at everyone to listen up.

He tells the others they’ve been gossiping about a classmate possibly going to jail. They should be ashamed. He’s a mutant just like them. Some flatscan from the F.B.I. shows up, claiming he is dangerous and they believe it? They are all dangerous. They are the next step in evolution and others want to shut them down and all they can do is gossip. He tells them to take a good look at Kevin because he could be them.

Kevin starts to smile weakly, as Hellion continues his rant. He turns to a flameheaded boy named Ben, reminding him that his first power manifestation torched his town park. Did they send him to jail? If Kevin goes, he might be next.

He reminds them how Noriko was homeless and robbed a coffee shop. They come for her yet?

He tells a boy named Dallas how his grandfather had a heart attack when he went into his shadow form. And Sofia trashed her dad’s store. She got to avoid jail because she came there. This is the place they go to be safe and all they can do is gossip. They are terrible mutants. They are not fit to be called homo superior.

Who thought Julian had it in him, David comments. Josh adds that he though a lot of this makes sense, whereas Sofia wryly asks whether that speech reminds them of speeches someone else made before he tried to wipe out humanity?

Later, Kevin has been called to Dani’s office and she asks what happened in the cafeteria. He explains that Julian showed his support. He didn’t know he was such a good guy. Julian is wrong, Dani argues. They can’t put themselves outside society and its laws. Kevin gets agitated as Dani continues. The school will do anything to help him through this. He didn’t do anything wrong, he protests. He loved his dad. She knows that, Dani assures him and the sooner they make that clear to the authorities, the sooner this will be over and he can come back. This is the only way to resolve this. Kevin walks away telling her he hates her.

Somewhat later, Agent Pierce leads Kevin away, watched by Dani, the headmasters, the New Mutants, Hellion and Mercury.

A little later, the Hellions have a meeting, the objective of which causes their newest member, Jay Guthrie, to burst out that this is insane. They can’t do this. Julian reminds him that he is in charge of this squad. Tag, Mercury and Rockslide agree. Dust does not but defers to Julian, as he is their leader. Jay protests that she doesn’t have to do this. Yes, she does, Sooraya replies calmly. Well, he doesn’t, Icarus decides as he walks out on them.

Hellion smirks, announcing that he knows where they can get some extra firing power. A little later, he knocks on Sofia’s door. ‘Hey beautiful, how you doing,’ he asks lazily. Not good, Sofia replies, explaining that Laurie is upset about Kevin. They all are but she cannot find her. How about he fix her problem, Hellion suggests and explains that they are going to take Kevin back from the F.B.I.. By force. So, is she in? Yes, Sofa decides. She is.

Characters Involved: 

Elixir, Prodigy, Surge, Wallflower, Wind Dancer, Wither (New Mutants)

Dust, Hellion, Icarus, Mercury, Rockslide Tag (Hellions)

Karma, Dani Moonstar, Wolfsbane (teachers at the Institute)

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

Other Students at the Institute

Justin Pierce (F.B.I. agent)

Other agents
Jocks at the arcade

Story Notes: 

Agent Justin Pierce was introduced in New Mutants (2nd series) #13. He is the nephew of Donald Pierce, and aided in the recapture of his uncle.

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