Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #414

Issue Date: 
December 2002
Story Title: 
Fall Down Go Boom

Chuck Austen (writer), Sean Phillips (penciler, inker), Hi-Fi Design (colors), RS & Comicraft's Saida! (letters), Mike Raicht and Nova Ren Suma (assistant editors), Mike Marts (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Bill Jemas (president)

Brief Description: 

At a farm in Ontario, a teenage boy is beaten by his father, only for the boy to manifest a mutant power, energy which radiates throughout the farmhouse. In Quebec, Professor X has a meeting with Northstar, inviting him to teach at the Xavier Institute, specifically due to his sexual identity. Northstar is amused by the offer, and they discuss it for some time. Northstar declines the offer, but agrees to go and assist a squad of X-Men, investigating a powerful mutant energy in Ontario. Archangel, Iceman, Nightcrawler and Stacy X arrive at the farmhouse, and are annoyed when Northstar shows up, arguing with them. Archangel and Stacy X continue to have problems towards each other, and as the mutants search the farmhouse, they find furniture and belongings strewn all over the place. They soon locate the young children, and then their older brother. The X-Men prepare to take the children someplace safe, but the older boy explains he can’t go on the plane and announces he is going to explode once more. He does so, and knocks Northstar backwards. Northstar is annoyed, and scolds the boy, before deciding that he will fly the boy back to Westchester, as he is the only one who can withstand the boy’s energy. Northstar begins the journey, and after wanting to know why the boy’s father was angry with him, he reveals to the boy that he is gay. This concerns the boy, who struggles and tries to jump from Northstar, but he releases more energy, and falls. Northstar is knocked back by the blast, but manages to fly down and rescue the boy before he hit’s the ground. In the X-Men’s jet, Stacy continues to try and talk with Archangel, before suddenly her skin starts to turn into scales. Northstar learns that the boy’s name is Peter, and that he was fighting with his father because he liked this girl at school who liked someone else, and he cried about it, which angered his father. The boy unwillingly explodes once more, and the energy knocks both he and Northstar into a field. Xavier telepathically contacts Northstar and tells him to get the boy to the Avengers, who have a special chamber. But Peter is very badly injured. Northstar begins to cry, disturbed that neither he nor Xavier have the power to save the boy. Northstar assures Peter that he won’t leave him. Peter knows he is going to die this time, and shortly, he does after exploding once more. But Northstar did not leave him. Northstar soon wakes in the infirmary at the Xavier Institute, and learns that Peter’s brothers and sisters are safe with extended family, before assuring Northstar that there was no way to save the boy. Northstar announces that he has given the idea some thought, and would like to teach at the Institute.

Full Summary: 

Outside Fort Albany, Ontario. ‘What are you crying about? Huh? A girl? Just some girl? I’m fed up with this garbage! Fed up with you!’ a man shouts as he smacks his son, while several other children look on in shock. The man holds his son up by the collar of his shirt and declares that he was sorry the day his son was born and has been sorry ever since. ‘You make me sick, crying over some bubblehead twit you don’t even know!’ the man shouts. ‘Daddy, please..’ the boy cries, but he simply receives another smack, which can be heard outside of the farm. The man raises his voice even more, and asks what kind of wimp did he raise. ‘What kind of crybaby? The kind that…what…what’s wrong with your eyes?’ the man asks as his son’s eyes glow blue - and suddenly, blue energy erupts throughout the house.

Meantime, in Montreal, Quebec, Professor Charles Xavier sits at a boardroom table. At the other end is former member of Alpha Flight Jean-Paul “Northstar” Beaubier. Xavier informs Northstar that recent events have left the school somewhat understaffed - the Shi’ar attack, the incoming Genoshan refugees for example. ‘So I was hoping there might be some way I might convince you, Jean-Paul, to take a position with us. Help educate the children at the Institute’. ‘Education… children. And what might convince me to do something so…magnanimous?’ Northstar inquires. Jean-Paul adds that, after all, he is certain Xavier can hardly provide the salary and lifestyle to which he has become accustomed.

‘Not likely’ Xavier replies, before remarking that Northstar might find the experience beneficial. ‘An opportunity to share your unique point of view with open minds willing to learn’ Xavier adds. Northstar replies that he has no deep-rooted urge to make mutant unity his personal mantra, to which Charles declares that he was not referring to Jean-Paul’s mutant point of view. The sun shines in through the large windows in the room, and Jean-Paul sits in silence as Charles explains to him that he has devoted his life to aiding those whose genetic differences set them apart. ‘We both know that “sexual preference” is a misnomer. The term should more accurately be termed “sexual determination”’ Xavier states, adding that there are those with that determination who need support and guidance.

Northstar says nothing, he just stares at Xavier and frowns. ‘Have I interested you?’ Charles asks. Northstar folds his arms across his chest and replies that Xavier always interests him. ‘You are a fascinating man’ Jean-Paul declares, before asking what he would have an Olympic athlete teach. ‘Boy’s gym?’ Jean-Paul jokes. ‘Even you could not be so progressive’. ‘No, indeed not’ Charles replies, explaining that he was thinking of something more suited to Northstar’s less obvious talent: Business and economics. Northstar’s frown suddenly turns upside down, and he declares ‘You do intrigue me’.

‘If that’s all I have done, Jean-Paul, then this meeting was a failure. But I tried’ Xavier announces. Northstar gets to his feet and remarks that he is not known for his “humanitarian” side, so promises nothing, other than to give the idea some serious thought. ‘The sooner you can answer the better. We have an urgent need to rebuild stability at the school’ Charles announces, to which Northstar replies that he will most likely say “no”. Xavier claims that he is aware of that, and thanks Jean-Paul for his time. Xavier gets to his feet and shakes Northstar’s hand, he tells Jean-Paul that, in the meantime, he was hoping he might be able to help with something.

Xavier informs Northstar that some of the X-Men are investigating a very powerful mutant energy spike near Fort Albany. ‘I can’t join them as I have a meeting in New York - and this particular squad is on the lower end of the power spectrum, some are injured’. Northstar asks ‘”Papa worries”, eh?’ and adds that it is a small thing to “back them up” as Northstar, but that it might even be fun - once. Suddenly, Northstar realizes that Xavier is walking. ‘The only constant in life, Jean-Paul, is change’ Charles tells him.

‘Mein Gott. What has happened here?’ Kurt Wagner a.k.a. Nightcrawler asks as he and several other X-Men arrive at the farmhouse. ‘Your guess is as good as mine, Kurt’ Warren Worthington III a.k.a. Archangel remarks, before pointing out that it looks like it was recent, so everyone needs to stay close and be careful, while he checks inside. ‘Says the man with broken limbs, no super-strength or bullet-proof skin’ Stacy-X mutters, before calling out to Warren as he approaches the front door, telling him that he can’t be serious. Warren replies that he is absolutely serious, and points out that he is no more vulnerable than any of them. He orders Stacy to wait back with the others, when suddenly, a voice asks ‘Didn’t you used to be blue, Warren? I could have sworn you used to be blue. Or am I imagining that?’ Northstar asks as he arrives, wearing his costume.

‘Ha! I got jealous and made him change. I was blue first, after all’ Nightcrawler declares, while Bobby “Iceman” Drake smiles and asks ‘Is it a pleasure to see you?’, Northstar walks to the front door and tells Iceman that is supposed to be a statement, not a question, while calling him “otter-pop”. ‘Not with you, Northstar’ Bobby replies, before asking him what he is doing here - ‘Alpha Flight kick you out for good?’ Northstar looks around the living room and informs the X-Men that the Professor felt they might not be able to handle this situation on their own. ‘And it would appear he was right’ Northstar declares, before remarking that Archangel should really be home in front of the television with his injuries. ‘The rest of you may come with me’ Jean-Paul states.

‘Oh may we, Northstar? May we follow you? Gosh, you’re so strong!’ Iceman mocks. ‘His cologne certainly is’ Nightcrawler adds while pinching his nose. ‘WHO is THAT?’ Stacy-X demands, and asks since when is it that Xavier does not trust the X-Men to handle thing. Warren explains that Northstar is another mutant, a local, and used to run with Alpha Flight, Canada’s own version of the Avengers. ‘Like that helps me at all’ Stacy mutters. ‘Right. Anyhow, my guess is Xavier has some reason for mixing us together’ Warren replies. Northstar adds that he knows Xavier would like Jean-Paul at the school, before telling Stacy he is sorry, and that he should have introduced her.

Stacy tells Warren that it is all right, and that she didn’t mean that kiss the other day, the way he thinks she meant it. ‘No problem. No apologies necessary’ Warren tells her. Stacy quickly declares that she is not apologizing. ‘I just wanted to -’ she begins, before Warren suggests they forget it, as he thinks that is best. ‘Yeah. Whatever you say’ Stacy mutters as she follows Warren, a look of anguish on her face. Inside the living room, Northstar remarks that Nightcrawler used to be so somber, so repressed, as if that priest’s collar had strangled all the fun right out of him. ‘I miss that’ Northstar declares. ‘As much as I miss you being someplace else?’ Nightcrawler mutters, while Bobby calls out ‘Hellooo? Is anyone home?’

Examining the overturned possessions and mess throughout the house, Warren states that this was either a horrible accident, or someone was very, very angry. ‘Olly-olly-oxen-free!’ Iceman shouts, while Northstar stands over a bookcase that is lying on the floor, and announces that he thinks he has found someone. He sees a pair of hands sticking up through the planks. ‘Or rather, parts of someone’ Northstar realizes, while the others look away. Suddenly, they hear a loud wailing noise. Nightcrawler teleports into the nearby room, with the others arriving soon after. ‘What has happened here?’ Northstar asks, as they see several children lying on the floor. Warren tells the Northstar and Nightcrawler to check for pulses, and orders Stacy to search the rest of the house.

‘This one’s alive!’ Kurt announces as he holds up a boy. ‘Here, too’ Warren declares as he tends to the little girl,’ Hello there, sweetheart. How are you feeling?’ Warren asks her. ‘Wow. A real angel!’ the little girl smiles. In another room, Stacy enters and finds the room engulfed in darkness. ‘Hello?’ she calls out. Suddenly, ‘I didn’t mean to do it! I didn’t mean to! It just happened!’ the older boy cries out. Stacy just frowns at him.

Soon, Nightcrawler is carrying the older boy outside, and he exclaims ‘You are so cool looking!’, to which Nightcrawler replies that he knows, and thanks the boy. ‘You have pretty eyes’ the girl tells Archangel as she stares up at him as he carries her in his arms. ‘Thank you’ Warren tells her, while Northstar holds a younger girl away from his body and asks ‘What do I do with this?’ Stacy reaches out for the girl. ‘Give her to me’ she tells Northstar. ‘With pleasure’ he replies, handing the girl over. Bobby is with the other boy, while the older girl asks Archangel if he is taking her to see her mommy. ‘Where is your mommy, sweetheart?’ Warren asks. ‘Heaven’ the girl replies. Warren just frowns.

Stacy overheard, and declares ‘This angel doesn’t know where Heaven is yet, sweetheart. But, don’t worry, we’re taking you someplace fun’. Suddenly, the older boy announces that he cannot get in that plane of theirs. Jean-Paul tells him not to be silly, as it is the only way to get them all out of here. ‘No. I can’t. I can feel it inside me. It’s - it’s - I’m going to explode!’ he shouts. ‘Are you afraid to fly? I can assure you, you are just being silly’ Northstar tells the boy, adding that they are only trying to help the boy and his family. ‘So just get on the plane like an obedient child -’ Northstar orders, when suddenly, Archangel calls out to Northstar and his teammates, telling them to get the children to cover. ‘Northstar! Move away, NOW!’ Warren orders. ‘Don’t yell at me, bird -’ Northstar begins, while the older boy begins to glow once more - and suddenly, Northstar is knocked backwards, eventually landing against a tree, where he falls to the grass.

The boy’s glow fades away, and Northstar speed over to him. ‘You miserable - what was that? What do you think you’re trying to do?’ Jean-Paul demands, holding the boy up by his collar. ‘I didn’t mean to. I didn’t…’ the boy exclaims, when suddenly Archangel grabs Northstar by his neck and tells him to let the boy go. ‘Don’t you see what’s happened here? He didn’t do this on purpose. His powers are manifesting for the first time - and he has no control over them!’ Warren declares. ‘Let! Go!’ Northstar retorts, before releasing the boy as Warren relaxes his grasp. Archangel announces that he will fly the boy back to Xavier’s himself, as he cannot go on the X-plane unstable like this. ‘You can leave now, Northstar. Thank you’ Warren declares, adding that the X-Men will handle it from here.

‘No. I’ll take him’ Jean-Paul announces. ‘I said we’ll handle it. You can go back to your corporate office and leave the selfless stuff to the rest of us’ Warren replies. ‘Right. And do you have the strength to withstand one of this boy’s explosions up close?’ Northstar asks. Warren doesn’t reply. ‘I didn’t think so, Worthington’ Jean-Paul declares, announcing that leaves him as the only option currently available. ‘I will fly him to Xavier’s’ Northstar declares, before extending his arms to the boy and tell him to wrap his arms around his neck. Archangel states that the X-Men will fly close, to track them. ‘Your top speed could rip him to shreds, so -’ Archangel begins, but Northstar announces that he knows the limitations of his powers, before taking to the air with the boy.

‘I hope he’ll be…’ Stacy begins, to which Archangel suggests they get on the plane, as they need to get the other kids some medical attention. Stacy watches as Warren walks towards the X-plane. Up above, Northstar streaks across the sky, while the boy explains that it all started when his dad started yelling at him, hitting him and stuff. ‘Why was he so angry?’ Northstar enquires. ‘Well - it was so stupid. I don’t really want to say’ the boy replies. Northstar tells him that it could not have been any worse than the last conversation he had with his father. ‘Why? What did you talk about?’ the boy asks. ‘I told him I was a homosexual. He nearly killed me’ Northstar replies calmly. The boy’s eyes go wide and he utters ‘You…you’re a fruit?’ before he begins to struggle in Northstar’s arms, demanding to be put down.

‘Stop moving! You’re throwing me off balance!’ Northstar tells the boy, before the boy manages to fling himself out of Jean-Paul’s arms - luckily, Northstar grabs the boy by his shirt, preventing him from falling to his death. ‘Idiot! Look how high you are! Stop being stupid and climb onto my back’ Jean-Paul tells him. ‘I’m not a queer and you can’t make me!’ the boy shouts. ‘I’m not trying to make you into anything, you little fool. I’m trying to save your life!’ Jean-Paul declares. ‘For what lunatic reason at the moment I cannot recall, and -’ Northstar begins, before the boy’s eyes glow blue once more, and energy erupts, knocking Northstar back and causing him to lose hold of the boy.

After falling backwards, Jean-Paul regains composure, and immediately speeds downwards, while the boy falls, unconscious. The boy is several feet from the ground - when Northstar grabs him and swoops back up, just in time. He resumes course for Salem Center, and the boy eventually wakes. ‘I’m not gay, you know’ the boy tells Northstar. ‘And I’m not into little boys. I prefer men with hair on their chests’ Jean-Paul tells him. The boy smiles and declares ‘That’s pretty funny’, before bursting into laughter. Jean-Paul tells the boy that they need to keep him calm so he doesn’t ruin any more of Jean-Paul’s clothing than he already has, and continues onwards through the air.

‘They’re back in the air again’ Nightcrawler announces from inside the X-plane. ‘I suppose this was the best way, but -’ he begins, until Archangel interrupts, stating that he would have rather found another option also. ‘Why, don’t you trust the French guy?’ Stacy asks. Warren hangs his head and replies ‘No. Not really. He’s a little unpredictable’. Stacy tells Warren that he can look at her when he talks to her, reminding him that she has already apologized a hundred times for insulting Miss Universe. Stacy adds that she didn’t do anything wrong when she tried to kiss Warren, either, explaining that she just wanted to show him her gratitude for saving her life.

‘Stacy…your ears!’ Warren exclaims as Stacy’s ears begin to scale over. ‘Nng! Nnggh! Don’t look at me!’ Stacy shouts as she covers her scaled-face with her hands. ‘Don’t look at me!’ she shrieks.

At that moment, Northstar asks the boy what his name is. ‘Peter. What’s yours?’ Peter replies. ‘Jean-Paul. Nice to meet you, Peter’ Northstar tells him. ‘Nice to meet you, too’ Peter replies, before telling Jean-Paul that he is sorry he called him a fruit, only he has never met a gay person before. ‘I’ve been called worse. I’ll survive’ Northstar assures him. Peter then asks Northstar where he is taking him. ‘Can they help someone like me? Someone who explodes?’ he enquires. Northstar replies that he has been quite amazed by what Xavier can do, as his power and reach seem limitless. ‘I truly doubt there is anything he cannot do with that mind of his’ Jean-Paul declares.

Northstar looks down at Peter and asks him to reveal why he fought with his father. Peter looks away and declares that he might as well have told his father he was gay given the way he reacted. ‘Really, all I was doing was crying. Sort of stupid’ Peter remarks. ‘Crying? Why?’ Jena-Paul asks. Peter explains that there is this girl form school he likes, Nikki, that she is cute but in love with someone else. ‘She broke your heart?’ Northstar asks. ‘No, she - just fell in love’ Peter explains, adding that Nikki barely knows him, and doesn’t even know he likes her. ‘But I found out she loves someone else’ he adds, declaring that it is a stupid thing to cry about, and doesn’t really matter.

‘Of course it matters. Affairs of the heart always matter. No matter how silly or stupid. The heart knows no logic’ Northstar declares. Peter looks at Jean-Paul and asks why his father couldn’t just say things like that. ‘Maybe I should have been gay’ he adds. ‘You are what you are, my friend. There’s no changing sides once God places you’ Northstar declares, when suddenly, ‘Umm - Jean-Paul? It’s happening again -’ Peter announces, as the blue energy lights up his eyes, before he releases the energy, knocking Jean-Paul through the air - then, there is only darkness.

‘Jean-Paul? Northstar?’ a voice calls out sometime later. ‘Peter?’ Northstar asks as he opens his eyes and looks around. Instead, lying in a field, he finds Xavier’s astral form looking down at him, Peter’s unmoving body lying a few feet away. Charles informs Jean-Paul that the boy has massive internal damage and needs immediate medical attention. ‘He wasn’t angry - we were just talking’ Northstar explains. Xavier tells Jean-Paul that the explosions are not the result of anxiety, but automatic. Charles reveals that he has been trying to work with Peter’s mutation during their flight, to siphon off power and release it slowly, only it is in every cell Peter’s his body. ‘The Avengers have developed a special chamber -’ Charles begins, to which Northstar declares that he can be in New York in thirty minutes.

‘Jean-Paul?’ Peter calls out as he begins to rouse. Northstar informs the boy that they have to get him up, and fly very, very quickly. ‘No…it hurts too much’ Peter utters. Jean-Paul lifts the boy up and states that he knows, but that they have no choice. ‘Aaaah…they’re coming again. The explosions!’ Peter exclaims. ‘No!’ Jean-Paul declares, before calling out to Xavier, shouting that he needs more time. ‘Do something! Stop this! I promised him you would help! You are the greatest mind on the planet, for God’s sake!’ Northstar exclaims. His astral form still floating overhead, Charles replies that he is not a god, ‘And neither are you’ he tells Northstar.

But, ‘I AM a god! I ALWAYS win!’ Northstar screams. Jean-Paul remarks that he may not be able to reach the Avengers, but that he will take the boy back to the hospital they just passed. ‘No. I’ll kill people’ Peter utters, dangling in Northstar’s arm. ‘I can’t - it doesn’t matter - you…’ Jean-Paul replies, his voice trailing off. Peter tells Northstar that it is almost time, and asks him to fly away. ‘Please. I don’t want to hurt you’ Peter declares. Northstar begins to cry, and replies ‘No. I won’t leave you’. Peter replies that he is glad, as he didn’t want Northstar to. ‘I’m going to die this time - aren’t I, Jean-Paul?’ Peter asks.

Northstar does not reply, he then looks at Charles’s astral form, but Charles offers no response. Northstar looks back down to Peter and then replies ‘Yes’, before looking away. Jean-Paul looks back at Peter when the boy asks ‘You suppose Nikki will ever think about me? You know - maybe wonder what happened to me?’ he asks, before there is another burst of blinding blue energy, which engulfs both Peter and Northstar.

Later, Northstar opens his one good eye. The other is taped up as he lies in a hospital bed. ‘Worthington’ Northstar calls out when he sees Angel standing at the side of another bed, where someone lies, wrapped in bandages. Charles enters the infirmary while Archangel smiles and turns to Northstar, asking him how he is feeling. ‘How do you think?’ Jean-Paul asks, before noticing the patient wrapped in bandages, he asks if that is Peter. ‘No. This is Stacy. The woman you saw us with at the house. I’m sorry I never introduced you’ Warren explains. Jean-Paul looks up to Charles and asks ‘The boy…Peter?’, but Xavier replies ‘No, Jean-Paul. I am sorry’, before explaining that Peter’s brother and sister are all with extended family, and that they seem to be fine and healthy at the moment.

Charles informs Jean-Paul that they have asked the Avengers for a duplicate chamber in the event that any of Peter’s siblings manifest the same power. ‘Was there any way - could we have saved him?’ Northstar asks. Charles hangs his head and turns away, before replying ‘No’. Nurse Annie Ghazikhanian busies herself at a monitor, while Charles adds ‘No. I don’t believe so. You were flying him as fast as his body could handle’. Xavier assures Northstar that there was nothing nearby to help him, that everything was just too far away. ‘But that doesn’t mean I won’t replay it endlessly for the rest of my life - looking for what I might have missed’ Charles states.

‘That’s going to have to be all, Charles’ Annie tells the Professor, who replies ‘Of course’, and begins to turn away. ‘No, wait. Xavier’ Northstar calls out. ‘Yes?’ Charles asks, turning back to Jean-Paul, who announces that he has given some serious thought, and that he would like to take him up on his offer. ‘I would like to teach here’ Northstar declares.

Characters Involved: 

Archangel, Iceman, Nightcrawler, Stacy X, Professor X (all X-Men)


Nurse Annie Ghazikhanian

Peter, his siblings and their father

Story Notes: 

Until recently Professor Xavier was confined to a wheelchair, but new X-Man Xorn healed his crippled spine in New X-Men #126.
Northstar was a member of Jean Grey’s Interim X-Men Team during the “Eve of Destruction” saga.

Given Alpha Flight (with the team consisting of Guardian, Sasquatch, Snowbird, Shaman, Puck and Earthmover) was active at this time, one must wonder why they did not investigate the accident at the farm house, given it happened in Canada.

Northstar announced he was a gay in the classic Alpha Flight (1st series) #106, although there were hints regarding Northstar’s sexuality much earlier than that.

Northstar’s comment about telling his father he was homosexual and nearly being killed for it is misleading. Northstar’s birth parents died shortly after his and Aurora’s birth, and their adoptive parents when they were six. [back-up story in Alpha Flight (1st series) #10]

Stacy-X refers to insulting Miss Universe - this refers to her mean and vindictive argument with Husk in Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #413.

Archangel reverted to his Caucasian appearance in Uncanny X-Men #412, after he barely survived a plane crash and being drained of his lifeforce by Black Tom.

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