Ultimate X-Men #39

Issue Date: 
January 2004
Story Title: 
Blockbuster - part 6

Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Dave Finch (pencils), Art Thibert, (inks), Dave Stewart (colors), Chris Eliopoulos (lettering), MacKenzie Cadenhead (assistant editor), Nick lowe (assistant editor). C.B. Cebulski (associate editor), Ralph Macchio (editor) Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

The other X-Men find a hysterical Jean near the helicopter she’s destroyed; her telepathy seemingly out of control. Nightcrawler teleports her to Xavier, who calms her. Wolverine tells the others he now knows where his attackers are and the other X-Men insist on joining him.
In the soldiers’ headquarters, they learn via videoconference that they are being let go by their mystery employers after screwing up their mission. As the X-Men attack, Tara first kills her men, than herself, before Logan can learn anything. The X-Men are joined by a displeased Dugan, agent of SHIELD, who tells them they messed up and warns them of a possible conspiracy within the government. Back at home, Jean is being consoled by a mysterious voice.

Full Summary: 

Jean Grey lies in the grass after she blew up a helicopter, her clothes torn, her eyes closed – still there seems to be a faint smile on her lips. She comes to as she hears the voices of her fellow X-Men, who have been looking for her. They see her and the wreckage of the helicopter nearby. Her boyfriend, Cyclops, worriedly calls out, asking her what happened. He gives her his coat, while she starts babbling, ordering the others to stop talking about her. Scott is confused. Nobody is talking. She cuts him off, shouting that she can hear them, their thoughts. Burying her head in Cyclops’ chest, she shouts for them to stop it. Scott contacts Xavier and Jean begs him to do something. Xavier orders Cyclops to get Jean back to the mansion.

The team’s teleporter, Nightcrawler, is unsure about this – it’ll take e few leaps. Cyclops just says “please,” and Kurt complies. After several jaunts, he has reached Xavier’s office with Jean in his arms. Jean hysterically runs to Xavier, telling him that she killed those men. Xavier hugs her, calming her and telling her it didn’t happen. Nightcrawler asks if she is going to be ok. Xavier brushes him off, telling him to rejoin the others. Hesitatingly, Kurt complies.

In the meantime, the other X-Men have been examining the wreckage of the chopper that had been manned by some of Wolverine’s mystery assailants. Suddenly, Logan announces that he knows where they are. It’s someplace he’s been before. Nightcrawler wants to know if those men were truly from Weapon X. Because, if that is the case, he wants to come with Wolverine. There are issues he has to address… Cyclops announces that they are all coming. He doesn’t buy Wolverine’s brush-off routine. This is a mutant hatecrime, so they are all coming. Wolverine gives in.

Woodstock, New York

In some sort of army barracks, Tara, the leader of Wolverine’s attackers, is in video discussion with her mystery superior, who announces that it’s over. They’ll have to fold the mission… for now. “Coward!” Tara snarls at the man. Her superior angrily reminds her that he wasn’t the one who made a disaster out of this. Roughly, he orders her to shut her hillbilly mouth and reminds her that, despite her unlimited budget and her unlimited access to equipment, she did not only not manage to capture Weapon X. Instead, she risked civilian lives in a public display of firepower. When she protests, he shouts that she botched the job. She got all revved up about going after the animal and she blew it. And she got Logan to run right back into the arms of Xavier, who, for all they know, may be right outside her door. She protests one final time: This is a war! Yes, the man agrees. And she is a casualty. The screen goes black.

Her remaining men ask the dejected woman what they are going to do. Should they get out or fight or-? Suddenly, it gets icy-cold. So cold that the computer screen cracks. In panic, they reach for their guns as Tara orders them to go into two beta formations. She can’t even finish her sentence before Cyclops’ optic beam crashes the door and the X-Men rush in.
Tara trains her gun on Logan, who tells her to put it down or he’ll put her down. Cyclops backs him up. With a last scream of rage, Tara shoots several times, not at the X-Men but at her men. Finally, she trains the gun at her right temple and shoots before Logan or Nightcrawler can stop her. Looking at her corpse and another chance of getting answers gone, Logan’s scream echoes the previous scream of Tara.

Suddenly, they are joined by several helicopters. Several men approach them, their leader a wizened old warhorse asking them what they think they are doing. Who are they? Cyclops demands. Dugan. SHIELD Commander, mutant ops division, the scarred solider replies. So they’d better get used to the face. And he wants to know what part of “stand down” it is they don’t understand. Is there a special mutant word for it?

Who told them to stand down, Cyclops inquires. Fury, Dugan replies. Apparently, he only informed the professor. He turns to Logan, greeting him as James. Do they know each other, Wolverine asks. Dugan tells him that he really made a mess of this, he and the kids. Six dead bodies and all their equipment destroyed. The X-Men protest that she shot them. Yeah, well done, Dugan states sarcastically.

And what could they have done better? Cyclops snaps. Well, being a decorated SHIELD agent and all, he probably could have come up with something a little more covert than blasting the front door open with red laser eyes, Dugan shoots back. They have a whole lot to learn. They’ve pretty much screwed up all chances they have of tracing her communications. She was not the point of this. He decides to tell the X-Men more: those rogue Weapon X guys were just the appetizer. They’re sure that they were the first wave of what looks like a coup d’etat against the president. The only people with access to Wolverine’s flies are high-ranking government officials. And, if high-ranking government officials are disobeying the order of the president… attacking mutant on American soil, that is a treasonous coup.

Why were they attacking Logan, Storm asks. Because if there is a weak link in mutant-human politics it’s him. Wolverine is a trained mutant military assassin. His very existence could be twisted into proof of a mutant conspiracy inside the government. They went on a world tour and put him on a magazine cover. For every person they won over… five guys clenched their cheeks together in such utter hatred for them that they dedicated their lives to destroying them. All because Logan was on the cover of a magazine, Storm asks incredulously.
Well, Dugan states, he’s sure Logan has done a few other things. Logan shoots him a silent filthy look.

As Dugan leaves, he reminds them of how slavery split the country in two. Who knows what mutants will do to it? No offense.

Later, back at the mansion in Jean’s room, someone inquires how she is feeling. She’s killed two people, Jean states dully. Anti-mutant terrorists, the other reminds her, who would have killed her if they could have… Jean wonders if they had families. She doesn’t know if she can live with what she’s done. Yes, she can, the other person tells her. “That’s what the professor is here for. And I’m here.” Jean doesn’t answer.

Cyclops comes in carrying a tray of food. He looks around. Wasn’t she talking to someone? “No,” Jean replies. Both look out of the window. They see Logan sitting there motionlessly. Cyclops wonders what he’s thinking about. Jean tells him that this has been hard for Logan. He’s looking for something to hold onto. Sitting in the garden Logan just stares at the wedding ring in his palm.

Characters Involved: 

Beast, Cyclops, Colossus, Marvel Girl, Nightcrawler, Professor Xavier, Shadowcat, Storm, Wolverine

Tara and other former Weapon X agents

Tara’s mystery employer

“Dum Dum” Dugan and other SHIELD agents

Story Notes: 

Nightcrawler also was a long-time prisoner of the Weapon X project. Rogue was also a member who, during this story arc, has only shown up in a few panels (see issues #7-12)

Fury ordered a displeased Xavier to stand down last issue.

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