Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #419

Issue Date: 
April 2003
Story Title: 
Dominant Species - part 3

Chuck Austen (Writer), Kia Asamiya (Artist), JD Smith (Colorist), Paul Tutrone (Letterer), Steve Uy (Cover artist), Mike Raicht & Nova Ren Suma (Assistant Editors), Mike Marts (Editor), Joe Quesada (Editor in Chief), Bill Jemas (President).

Brief Description: 

Near White Plains, Husk sheds her steel skin, having miraculously recovered from her injuries. She and the recovering Warren try to make their way out of the forest, but Warren is too badly injured to move very far. They begin to get into an argument when Paige predicts a different kind of war between mutant groups. Afterwards she tells him that Psylocke came to visit her in a dream, to tell her Warren was following the wrong path with her. Before they can continue the discussion, they are attacked by Maximus Lobo and his fellow werewolves.
Back at the institute Northstar rushes into the infirmary with the injured Wolverine, to find Annie being threatened by Polaris - Lorna sends him through the roof before they are joined by Xavier, Juggernaut and others. Xavier de-escalates the situation just in time to see Alex awake from his coma. Alex and Annie try to coax her son out of the void, and Professor Xavier enters the young boy's mind. He almost succeeds, until Carter is pulled out of Xavier's reach. As Iceman, Northstar and Juggernaut prepare to leave in the X-Jet, Iceman threatens to kill Northstar if anything has happened to Archangel, before a desperate cry for help is heard from Husk, before she is cut off.
Nightcrawler in the meantime reveals his problems to Father Whitney, including that he finds it difficult to believe in God these days, before he is told rather bluntly to leave.

Full Summary: 

At the home of the X-Men, the Xavier Institute, the team's newest member, former Alpha Flight member Jean-Paul Beaubier a.k.a. Northstar, rushes into the infirmary, carrying the wounded Wolverine. Rushing in and shouting for Annie's help, Jean-Paul sees his friend, the institute nurse, Annie Ghazikhanian kneeling beside her son. Northstar approaches his friend cautiously and notices scalpels hovering inches from her face. Finally he spots Lorna Dane, former X-Man, who arrived at the institute only moments ago and attacked Annie. Obviously confused, Northstar asks what is going on.

Meanwhile, near White Plains, New York, the badly injured Paige Guthrie lies still in her steel form, with Warren Worthington on top of her. She thinks she is having a bad dream. Paige stirs and tries to get Warren's attention. He doesn't wake. Paige rolls him off her body and checks whether he is breathing. She notices that neither of them are bleeding anymore from the wounds sustained while battling Maximus Lobo and his mutant werewolves. Paige is puzzled. She remembers that her cuts were deeper.

Back at Xavier's, Northstar has managed to put Logan onto a bed, and Annie is now standing up. Polaris tells Jean-Paul to step away as this is none of his concern. Northstar tells the green-haired mutant that he will do no such thing, as Annie is a friend of his and what concerns her, concerns him. He orders Polaris to drop the knives.

Polaris tells Northstar that Annie was beating Havok's head against the table when she came into the infirmary. Annie, still surrounded by scalpels, and still bleeding tells her friend that Lorna is lying. Northstar believes her, and tells Polaris that he doesn't know her well - Lorna cuts in, and her eyes flash a dirty yellow color. She tells the speedster that he doesn't know her at all. Northstar suddenly feels pain, and by controlling the iron in his bloodstream, Polaris throws him up, through the roof and into the sky above.

Lorna turns to Annie, and tells her that she accused her of lying - she does not appreciate being judged by a lesser species... Squinting her eyes, a disgusted Annie replies in a low voice that she cannot believe Alex ever loved anyone like Lorna. Lorna's eyes look startled, and suddenly, Professor Xavier, Iceman, Juggernaut and Squidboy run into the room. Juggernaut asks Lorna what the hell she thinks she is doing, and the Professor seems concerned to see Lorna like this. Juggernaut anxiously asks Annie if Lorna hurt her or her son. Annie says "no," but is cut off by Polaris, whose powers still run through the room Unbelieving, she demands to know what the hell Juggernaut is doing here.

Cain threatens Lorna he is here to "pulp her brains out" if she hurt Annie or Carter, and Lorna snaps back he should put his helmet on and she will give him a demonstration of the power of magnetism. Juggernaut shouts that she and Magneto on their best day couldn't - but Xavier intervenes, and asks his step-brother and Polaris to both calm down.

Xavier slowly approaches the Mistress of Magnetism, and she asks her former teacher what Juggernaut is doing in his home. Putting a hand on her shoulder, Charles Xavier explains that he invited him, and that they can discuss it later. He asks Lorna to power down, but Lorna seems to stare right past him, her brow furrowed and eyes narrowed. Suddenly the room returns to normal, and Xavier tells Polaris that they will sort it all out. Lorna tries to apologize, saying that seeing Alex in that state, after missing him so much, and they were away from each other for so long...
Polaris wants to run over to Alex's bed, calling for him to come back to her, but Charles holds her back He tells Lorna not to get worked up, as they are doing everything they can to help him.
Without warning, Alex's body tenses, and he begins to cry out.

White Plains again, where the remaining light of the setting sun filters through the trees. Paige has taken Warren's shirt off, and thinks that she is proud of what she is. She is part of an elite group of people, who are not the inheritors of the Earth she once believed they were, but a worthy branch of the human line. Mutants all have "gifts" as Professor Xavier calls them, powers if you will. Paige's gift has to do with her skin. Paige thinks that most people do not realize that the outer layer of skin is dead, but it is. It is the "continuous upwelling of cells from beneath the surface ending in a keratinized death." Paige's power allows her to alter the density of her inner layer of skin. By peeling away the outer layer of skin she reveals a new form of skin underneath.

Something unusual about Husk's power is that the bioelectric discharge that dislodges the old "husk" of skin is that it also destroys her all her clothing. Which means that when she "runs around fighting bad-guys" she is completely naked.
Warren begins to wake and silently watches Husk as she sheds the steel layer of skin. She thinks that fighting naked is like a guilty thrill, but her little secret. Her bit of fun. Husk puts on Warren's shirt, thinking about how awkward her situation can be once the fight is over, especially when sometimes she gets so used to being naked, that she forgets there may be others around when the fight is over, and she reverts back to normal. Looking over at Warren, who has closed his eyes again, she thinks that in some cases, she wouldn't mind being seen.
She thinks that it is too bad Archangel slept through it, and turns away from him again, thinking that it may have lead to something. Warren opens his eyes again and looks at her. Then closes them and smiles...

Back in the infirmary Alex sits up in the bed, looking around in disbelief almost that he is out. He asks where Carter is. Lorna asks who is Carter? And Annie explains he is her son. Trying to get his attention, Lorna tells Alex she is here only to be ignored, and Annie tells Alex that Carter is in the bed next to his. Annie helps Alex walk over to her son. Alex is surprised to see Carter, as he is younger than Alex thought he would be. He tells Carter that he looked like some "big-time super hero" in the void. Alex puts his hands on Carter's head, and lifts him up slightly, urging him to follow his voice, that he was almost there. Annie asks Alex what is happening to her son, and he admits he doesn't know. Alex tells everyone that his mind was being held in some kind of dimensional void by another consciousness, and Carter managed to come in and rescue him, but now he is too tired to pull out.

Alex tells Annie that Carter needs encouragement, and she starts calling to her son, telling him his mother is here, and to follow her voice. Alex raises his voice, and asks the Professor to do something, as Carter is too tired and way too young for this, not to mention that there is something inside the void trying to stop him!

White Plains again, Paige and Warren have managed to walk a while, Paige holding Warren up somewhat. She tells the older mutant that they should stop as he is not steady enough yet. Archangel tells Husk that he is so weak and doesn't know what is wrong with him. Paige assures him that it is all right, and whatever caused him to heal probably made him lose a lot of blood. Warren tells Husk that he thought she was dead, and that he feels so guilty about getting her into this. She is a wonderful person and he would have felt terrible if he had been the cause of... Paige shushes him, after all, she knew the job was dangerous when she took it.

Paige tells Warren that he is kind of an enigma to her. On one hand he is an X-Man, handsome, sweet and charming, Warren thanks her, but Paige says that on the other hand, he is an ecologist's worst nightmare. A wealthy "fat-cat" polluter of the environment, who allowed a mutant like Maximus Lobo to form a power structure, right under his own nose!
Husk continues, telling Warren that he has completely shook her faith in the concept of "Homo-Superior". Warren narrows his eyes and automatically corrects her that it is "'Shaken' my faith".

Paige angrily shouts at Warren to shut-up; just because she is from Kentucky doesn't mean she is stupid. Warren tells her to relax, that he never meant to imply she were stupid.
Paige turns her face away so as not to look at him. She confides that other people have called her stupid, and she has worked so hard to lose her accent, just to improve herself. She begins to walk away from Warren, and tells him that if "Homo Superior" is supposed to inherit the Earth, then they should be "superior" shouldn't they? Warren admits he doesn't know... Paige says that mutants should be above the petty in-fighting and prejudices and backward thinking of Homo Sapiens, in other words follow a higher set of ethics. But they don't... In the end it all boils down to basic evolution. Mutants are preying on one another because they are supposed to prey on one another, until one group rises to the top or achieves equilibrium.

Warren tries to calm her down and say something, but Paige tells him that the "wolf-people" have banded together and soon enough all of the "Angel people" and the "Husk People", the "Wolverine People", all the "Ice people" will do the same and then everyone will be at war. "Survival of the fittest"...

Warren asks her if she is finished so he can talk, but Paige continues. She tells Warren that when she was unconscious, she had this dream about his old girlfriend, Betsy. She asked Paige to say good-bye, and to tell Warren that he had been following the wrong path with her. Paige is about to tell him what that symbolizes to her, when a slightly nervous Warren asks Paige to repeat what Betsy said to her. Suddenly, high above the treetops the haunting voices of the mutant werewolves can be heard. Paige and Warren both say something, which the beasts repeat, then one of them says "Survival of the fittest" as they leap towards the helpless mutants...

Back at the Infirmary, Alex and Annie are still trying to coax young Carter Ghazikhanian out of the void. Professor Xavier sits at the boy's side, and asks Carter if he remembers who he is. Samuel Pare, Carter's friend, asks Juggernaut what is happening to Carter, and Juggernaut tells the young mutant that he is asking the wrong guy.

In the void now, Professor X's astral form appears, and Annie and Havok continue to call out to the lost Carter. Suddenly, Carter's frightened voice is heard, telling his mother that "it" has almost got him. Xavier tells Carter that he is coming, and that he will get him out of this. Xavier"s form floats closer to Carter"s, who tells him that he is so scared. Carter screams out "Pleeeeeeease", and Xavier reaches out to the boy, but Carter cannot seem to grasp Xavier. Charles gives Carter some encouragement, and the two finally reach each other.

Without warning though, Carter is violently pulled away from Xavier, and darkness begins to surround the Professor in the void. Xavier shouts out to whomever is in the void that they will not have the boy, when suddenly Charles starts screaming, and continues to do so when he re-enters the real dimension, much to the astonishment of those present.
Northstar rushes into the infirmary, and asks Squidboy what is going on. The young mutant just tells Jean-Paul that it is getting weird. Juggernaut asks Northstar if they are going to stand around and watch the "freak-show", or are they going to go on his mission?

At St. Michael's Church in Brooklyn, sitting on one of the pews, Kurt Wagner a.k.a. Nightcrawler tells Father Whitney that it is an odd situation to be in. That is studying to be a priest, when he is a living symbol of evolution. Father Whitney tells Kurt that "Spirituality doesn't preclude science".

Kurt says that he knows that, and he knows too that a priest can have views that are different from standard Church doctrine. Kurt says that he has been having nightmares as of late, and confesses to not reading his daily office, his breviary, in almost a month. The priest rubs his chin and says "I see". Whitney reminds Kurt of the saying "the first thing to do when a priest is in trouble, is the daily reading of the breviary". Nightcrawler tells Father Whitney that he is in trouble - because he can no longer justify the repression of desire.

Father Whitney asks if it was the recent troubles of the church that had helped to bring up "this line of introspection". Looking to the floor, Kurt says it has. He looks back up at the priest, eye to eye, and tells him that the church has given him so much, and meant so much to him. But the nightmares he has been having, and the path he is on as a leader of the X-Men, have come to make him question everything he once accepted on faith.
Father Whitney narrows his eyes slightly, and Kurt grits his teeth. A statue of a crucified Jesus bares down on them.
Nightcrawler asks why God would give him the desire to be a priest, and the desire to be with women? Why would God give uncontrollable powers to an innocent boy? Powers that would ultimately kill him, in a horrible way? And why would God evolve mankind into something new, something different, but not ultimately better?

Kurt continues, saying that these are acts of a capricious and cruel God, not the loving God he was raised to believe in. He asks Father Whitney where is the God whom he was hoping to get closer to the by joining the Church? "The God that is appalled, and angered, and steps in to protect the helpless? when his priests act out sins of aggression against innocent children?"

Father Whitney shoots Kurt a filthy look, and turning his back on him telling Kurt that he knows where the door is, hinting for the mutant to get out of his church immediately.

Kurt sits on a gargoyle, watching the darkening city of Brooklyn. He taps the communicator on his collar, and calls for Warren and Bobby. He asks if there is any X-Man with a communicator on, to which an urgent sounding Northstar replies. He asks Nightcrawler how far he can teleport, and in the hangar bay at the institute Northstar hears the reply "About a half-mile if I push it, why?" Running with Iceman and Juggernaut towards one of the X-Jets, Jean-Paul tells Nightcrawler not to mind, as in that case he is useless to him.

Iceman wonders why Archangel and Husk didn't contact them on their intercoms, and then tells Jean-Paul angrily that he should never have left them alone. Then he accuses Northstar of the situation being his fault because he didn't get a group moving quickly enough.
In his defense, Northstar tells the mutant that he has a not-so-secret crush on that Logan needed safety to heal, and that he is as fast as any intercom transmission, not to mention that everyone else needed someone to guide them to Warren and Paige. Besides, Jean-Paul mentions, Warren is trained for these sorts of things.

As they run up the ramp into the aircraft, Iceman turns around to face Northstar. Pointing a finger at the French-Canadian mutant, Iceman tells him that Warren is like a brother to him, and trained or not, if anything happens to him, he will kill Northstar. Jean-Paul stops in his tracks and asks Iceman to repeat what he just said.
The X-Men's intercoms go off, and it is Husk. She calls for help, and in a very urgent voice, says that Warren is down, and the wolves are killing them Bobby turns back around to face Jean-Paul. Paige tries to say something else, but she is quickly cut off, and Iceman looks very intensely at Northstar... if looks could kill...

Characters Involved: 

Archangel, Iceman, Nightcrawler, Northstar, Professor X, Wolverine (All X-Men)

Husk, Juggernaut (Residents at Xavier Institute)

Havok, Polaris (Former X-Men)

Nurse Annie Ghazikhanian

Carter Ghazikhanian


Father Whitney, a priest

Maximus Lobo

Werewolf mutants

Story Notes: 

In the past Husk was naked after using her powers during some instances, but that was far from the rule.

It is unknown how Nightcrawler came to his strong Roman-Catholic faith; as neither his foster mother Margali Szardos nor his sister Amanda Sefton seem to be particularly religious (and are more likely to be Wiccans than Catholics).

Nightcrawler refers to the incident in Uncanny X-Men # 414, where a young abused boy named Peter was killed by his own uncontrollable explosive powers.

Father Whitney and Nightcrawler refer to recent incidents, where it became known that Roman-Catholic priests had been molesting young children.

Nightcrawler's statement that he can only teleport half-mile if he pushes it contradicts many earlier displays of his powers, where he could teleport between 1-3 miles (depending on the direction).

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