Storm (3rd series) #9

Issue Date: 
May 2015
Story Title: 

Greg Pak (writer), Al Barrionuevo w/ Neil Edwards (pencils), Tom Palmer with Ed Tadeo (inkers), Ruth Redmond (colorist), VC’s Cory Petit (letterer), Stephanie Hans (cover artist), Daniel Ketchum (editor), Mike Marts (X-Men group editor), Axel Alonso (editor-in-chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)

Brief Description: 

Storm’s life has become more mundane again, as she helps Beast in trying to fix the school’s plumbing and electricity. Luckily, Gambit arrives and asks for her help in a private mission. He tells her how he has become Head of the Thieves Guild and how his rival, Nil, is trying to steal a potentially magical prize from the gods that might make on the best thief. The two journey to a Mediterranean island and confront Nil’s people in the remains of an old temple. After taking them out, Storm and Gambit use their skills to move past several traps. When they reach the last lock, Nil, who used them to disarm the traps, catches up. Gambit and Storm disarm him at the last moment. What they find is a mirror, a reminder that getting the prize proves they are the best thieves. They realize they used this adventure to shirk their responsibilities and decide to return to them. In the meantime, Beast has a phone conversation with former student Marisol Guerra, who decides to give the Jean Grey school another chance.

Full Summary: 

The bowels of the Jean Grey School:
Storm has to join Beast to check what’s wrong with the plumbing. She illuminates the way with a small ball lightning and they find the leak. Ridiculous! Hank protests. They overhauled the entire infrastructure when they built the new school. And so close to the electrical and data centers. They are going to have a mold problem.

Storm thinks about the excitement of the last few weeks and wonders how to settle back into a normal life. Hank notices her spacing out. She knows this is an important part of the job but is happy when a big shiny distraction shows up, namely Gambit.

He asks her if she is up for a mission that is a little more exciting than mucking about down here. Ororo grins.

A little later, the two board the X-jet. Hank asks how long this is going to take. They’ll be back before he knows it, Gambit promises, unless they get killed. Hank is not amused. He reminds Storm she has two hours of unanswered voicemail and one thousand two hundred and twenty eight unread emails. Generously, she gives him full permission to handle it all. When he sulks, she asks him not to be like that. It’s a life and death situation.

Alone with Gambit, she asks whether it is a life or death situation. He likes this new version of her, he laughs. But yeah, it probably is. He informs her he is now master of the Thieves Guild. Carver of smoke, she snorts, herder of cats. He agrees, and times are changing, so it’s become an extra pain in the derrière.

Why the long face? she asks. He’s got to be the best person on the planet for the job. He admits he is a rogue, not a leader like her. That part’s not exactly easy for her either, Ororo points out. There are always consequences you cannot predict. Decisions you have no business making.

That’s exactly the kind of stuff he is trying to avoid. But it won’t let him. The Guild’s credo has always been to steal from the rich and powerful. But that’s more a goal than a rule. So some of the local guilds have started to branch out into more serious crime. Kidnapping, drugs, assassination. And they are being led by this jerk called Nil. He’s a technomancer. Thinks he knows everything. Snotty little hotshot!

Sounds like a good time for sneaking around and butt-kicking, she smiles. What’s the problem? Well, he admits sheepishly, things get a bit more complicated, when the gods get involved.

Soon they are on a small island in the Mediterranean:
Welcome to the temple of Hermes, god of thieves, Gambit informs her. Just looks like some old ruins but, according to the forbidden files he gets access to as guildmaster, somewhere underneath the temple is the greatest treasure a thief could claim. Storm asks what it is and Gambit admits he doesn’t know. The language of the ancient texts isn’t precise but, whoever steals, it will become the greatest thief in the world. Magic? she asks. He sure hopes so. She warns him he can’t trust magic. He doesn’t trust anything, but he needs an edge and a nice hero type like her sure doesn’t want something like that falling into the hands of those jerks, right?

She doesn’t reply but through her binoculars sees Nil’s people working at the temple site. They don’t look so tough. What does he need her for? He needs someone old school. She’s not that old, she smiles. He meant mature, sophisticated, seasoned… Hole’s getting bigger, she warns. Okay, here’s the point; he tries a different tack. Besides, whatever Nil brought with him, there’s nothing electronic or high tech in the temple. Nothing you can hack into. But there are a million things that can kill you. Young thieves rely too much on their tech. This job needs someone with real talents. The two of them were raised as thieves and learned all the old skills and tricks.

The two of them attack the guards stationed around the dig site. Afterwards, they dive into the hole in the ground.

Beast calls former student Marisol Guerra, who had tried to reach Ororo before. Marisol asks if Storm is all right. She saw the news reports about her being captured by the FBI. Beast assures her Storm’s fine. She took a big risk to stand up for people and in the end some of those people stood up for her. Marisol understands he can’t get into specifics. Hesitatingly, she wonders if she should return to the school. That’s something they can definitely consider, Hank begins but a blackout cuts off the phone.

On the island, Gambit and Storm attack Nil and his people. Gambit suggests he don’t steal form his boss. Okay, he got him, Nil admits, but technically Gambit isn’t his boss, more like a union president. Not amused, Gambit hits him and states that makes it even worse.

Looks like they got the first door open, Storm informs him. Not bad for a punk, Remy admits. Nil warns him he doesn’t want to go in there. Whatever he says, Brer Rabbit, Remy mocks. They look through the door to see several of Nil’s people dead, hit by arrows.

The Jean Grey School:
Beast reconnects the wires and calls back Marisol. They’ve had some electrical issues, he explains. He knows the last time she was at the school she felt restricted, pushed into a role. She reminds him they didn’t even let her pick her own code name. That’s his fault, he admits. He has a certain idea of what the X-Men do in his head, but the world’s changing. The school should be here for its students, not the other way around. If she wants to give them another shot, they’ll find out what she wants to do and help her develop her talents to do it.

That sounds awesome she admits. Good, he smiles, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy… No matter what she ends up wanting to do, she is still a mutant…

Back on the island, Storm figures Nil’s men fell victim to poison darts. Pressure sensitive tiles in the floor. Anything inside could be a trigger. Gambit wonders what to do. Storm uses her wind power to set them all off, meaning afterwards she and Gambit can enter the room without any danger.

Suddenly, she groans. She is trying to fly but there is something about the atmosphere down here… Magic, Remy figures. The gods don’t want them cheating. Storm isn’t so sure. She has a sensitivity to magic and this is not what she’s feeling. But she’s not going to be able to affect the weather from here on out. Old school, they both agree.

At the end of the room is an opening, leading to a large chasm. There are high stalagmite-like stepping stones, but bats attack them as they make their way to the other side. Gambit loses his balance and is about to fall until Storm pulls him up, causing her to lose her balance herself but Remy pulls her up as well.

The next room is a hallway and a large globe rolls through it threatening to flatten them. The two have to press against the walls. Finally, they reach a temple-like doorway.

A moment later, an explosion coming from behind them flattens them. It’s Nil and his people, who used them to get rid of the traps. His companion threatens Storm with his weapon, while Nil walks to the doorway. Storm is ready to fight.

Gambit tells her maybe this is a good thing… like Raiders. Let the Nazis open the vault and get their faces melted off. When did that movie come out again, grandpa? Nil scoffs as he finds a panel to open the door. Suddenly, the temple begins to rumble and caves in.

Storm and Gambit use the distraction to overpower the guards and run past Nil, who is trapped beneath some of the rubble. Gambit rubs it in, remarking it is one of those movies that totally lives up to the hype. Nil should check it out.

They find one last lock in what remains. Storm takes a lockpick from her glove. Gambit points out she is only here because of him. If anyone gets his face melted off, it’s him. With a smile, she offers him the lockpick. He gets busy, while Storm ties up Nil.

He opens the lock and finds what he figures is a magic chalice or disc… or plate or…With a smile, Storm tells him it’s a mirror. Fantastic! he enthuses. A magic mirror. How’s it work? She laughs and reminds him of her sensitivity to magic, and there is no magic here. It’s a kind of a joke. A lesson from the gods. Because there are no shortcuts. Anyone who got here so far got here because of their skills. That’s what the mirror means. The prize… is you.

Nil laughs, while Gambit sulks this is not a good joke. He’s not ready for this. He’ll do fine, Storm assures him. Nil interjects Gambit is weak and stupid. And when they get back into the real world, they will find the Guild has left him behind. Gambit wonders whether he could tie him up and dump him in the ocean. He could but probably shouldn’t, Storm offers. So he’s got to take him back to the Guild, Remy sighs. Do his damn job. What about her?

She was looking for a shortcut too. That’s why she came here with him. Find something to fight and punch. She realizes he is right. So she has to return home and do her job too. Plumbing? He grins, she groans. They both look into the mirror and he tells her they can both do it.

In Mexico, Marisol thanks Beast for the offer. She will think about it.

Not a bad day’s work, he muses when there is another blackout. This is getting ridiculous, he mutters and begins working, unaware of the small tentacles coming from the sewers…

Characters Involved: 

Beast, Gambit, Storm (all X-Men)
Marisol Guerra (former student)

Nil’s crew

Story Notes: 

Gambit became Patriarch of the Thieves Guild at the end of his fifth series.

Nil also first appeared in Gambit (5th series).

Br’er Rabbit is a trickster from the Uncle Remus stories. Gambit’s use in replying to Nil’s warning refers to the Br’er Rabbit story regarding the Tar Baby, in which Br’er Rabbit is captured by his enemies and convinces them through reverse psychology through feigned fear to throw him into the briar patch, where he will be safe from them.

Storm displayed a sensitivity to magic especially during the 190ies issues of Uncanny X-Men (e.g. #160,187).

The “Raiders” comments refer to the first Indiana Jones movie Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Marisol left the Jean Grey School in issue #1.

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