Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #450

Issue Date: 
December 2004
Story Title: 
The Cruelest Cut

Chris Claremont (writer), Alan Davis (penciler), Mark Farmer (inker), Frank D’Armata (colors), VC’s Rus Wooton (letterers), Stephanie Moore & Sean Ryan (assistant editors), Mike Marts (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

At the Xavier Institute, Kurt Wagner (Nightcrawler) and Rachel Grey (Marvel Girl) complete a Danger Room training session and share a short yet passionate kiss. They are interrupted by Logan (Wolverine) and Ororo Munroe (Storm) who are headed out for a “night on the town.” Meanwhile, on Manhattan’s lower east side, a terrorized girl named Jade Parisi runs through the streets screaming for help. She is brutally attacked by four young men who are promptly and violently dispatched by a clawed mutant seen only in shadow. After killing the four would-be attackers, the silhouetted mutant stares ominously at the hysterical Jade who screams out in fear. In the Xavier institute’s library, Tessa (Sage) shuffles through old photographs as she remembers her days in the Hellfire Club. Her reverie is interrupted by the sound of an argument between Marie D’Ancanto and several mutant students. Sage promptly ends this argument. Logan’s and Ororo’s night on the town is interrupted by a page from the medical examiner in District X’s morgue. The M.E. reports that four slaughtered young men, mutant-bashers, were discovered in District X. The slash marks on the bodies indicate claws very similar to Logan’s. The X-Men also learn that Jade Parisi, daughter of a powerful mob boss is missing and believed kidnapped. Later, outside a night club in District X, the X-Men interrogate an informant for information on Jade. Logan investigates the night club and discovers a young girl with a familiar scent. After a short scuffle, the girl pops two claws from each forearm and stabs Logan through the chest.

Full Summary: 

Kurt Wagner and Rachel Grey are all smiles as they wage a swashbuckling “Danger Room” war against an unbelievably large band of cutthroat pirates. “Pirate-prince” Kurt, carrying swords in hand and tail, goes up against a large number of pirates in various stages of decay. Rachel, who is dressed more like Errol Flynn than Marvel Girl, grins as she blocks a thrust from an Emma Frost pirate-doppelganger wearing an eye patch and one ruby-colored eye. Rachel owes this “no powers allowed” session to her unfortunate revelation that she had never seen any of Kurt’s favorite pirate movies.
Kurt fondly recalls the pirate world they once visited as members of Excalibur. Of all the dimensions they visited, he liked that one best. Rachel pointedly replies that, the way she recalls it, what he liked best, was the pirate princess... Kymri, Kurt agrees. He wonders what became of her.
Rachel makes quick work of the Emma pirate, but is overcome by a large, multi-limbed, amphibianesque creature. Kurt saves the day by blocking the pirate’s blow, kicking him the face, and ‘porting Rachel to the top mast of the pirate ship. With great drama, Kurt slashes the ropes holding the sails and buries the remaining pirates beneath a sea of fabric.

Kurt, the pirate hero, impulsively pulls his rescued damsel in for a smooch. The kiss is more than a peck, however, as both Kurt and Rachel are rendered momentarily speechless by its effect. When they finally do open their mouths to speak, they find themselves drawn again to each other’s lips…

Logan (Wolverine) and Ororo Munroe (Storm) suddenly step into the Danger Room and interrupt the moment before Rachel and Kurt can kiss a second time. Ororo notices their embarrassment and encourages Logan to quell his sarcasm. Rachel sees Logan and Ororo’s formal attire and wonders if they are going on a date. Ororo informs the two that they have plans for the evening and will be gone for the remainder of the night.

As Logan and Ororo depart, Rachel contemplates the lost moment between her and Kurt and wonders about his feelings for Ororo. Simultaneously, Kurt considers the contradictions of his waltz with Ororo and his kiss with Rachel.

On Manhattan’s lower east side in the area referred to as District X, a scantily clad young woman named Jade Parisi runs for her life. She tries desperately to make a call on her cellular phone, but is unable to make a connection. Jade frantically bangs on doors and screams at people she sees in windows to help her, but no one will help. Uncaring mutants who hear her scream assume that she is a human and do not get involved. Uncaring humans determine that the best course of action is to “let the muties take care of their own.”

Jade’s screams are cut short as she is nearly run down by a speeding SUV. The stunned and wounded girl struggles to get up off the pavement as four young men surround her and begin to make lewd and violent comments about what they intend for “the little skank.” Jade denies being a mutant, but the men do not care. As they reach down to grab her, the men are attacked from behind by a silhouetted figure. The shadowy figure displays what appear to be dual forearm claws and proceeds to literally carve the men and their vehicle into pieces. After killing the men, the figure turns to Jade. The terrified girl begins to recite a “Hail Mary.”
As the still shadowy killer approaches her, Jade screams.

Meanwhile, at the Xavier Institute, Sage passes time in the library reviewing a dossier containing photographs and notes on the Hellfire Club. She speaks aloud to herself as she remembers her years as a spy within the organization. She comments on the irony that both she and Emma Frost now serve on the X-Men after having been together in the Hellfire Club for so many years. She makes a reference to her having saved Professor Xavier’s life in Afghanistan as well as Sebastian Shaw’s. According to her logic, this makes her responsible for both their fates. She wonders aloud what Sebastian is now planning.

Sage’s monologue is interrupted by an argument elsewhere in the library. Four mutant students are harassing Marie D’Ancanto and accuse her of being a mutant-killing terrorist. Marie tries to explain that she didn’t kill anyone and that it was all a mistake, but the students’ anger continues to rise until one of the students calls her a “flatscan.” It is at this point that Sage interrupts and stops the argument. She makes it clear that she finds the term “flatscan” to be offensive, and the hostile students quickly clear out of the library. In their brief conversation after this, Sage encourages Marie to follow her and Emma’s example. Work hard when given a second chance and prove the others wrong.

The neon lights are bright on Broadway as Ororo and Logan exit a theatre after having seen The Boy from Oz. Logan comments that the star of the show (Hugh Jackman) reminds him of himself quite a bit. Without warning a paparazzi member begins taking pictures of the two X-Men as if they were there for his own little photo-shoot. Logan is tempted to react, but Ororo calms him by posing for the now ecstatic photographer as she discretely explains the effect of a hyper-ionized patch of air on a digital camera’s memory card to Logan. Their evening is suddenly interrupted by the “bip bip” of Ororo’s pager. “Fun’s over,” Ororo declares.

In District X’s City Morgue, the medical examiner comments to Logan and Ororo that the bodies of four murdered humans have been found. The dead humans were mutant-haters who enjoyed filming their attacks. He also discloses that evidence found at the crime scene implicates Logan in the murders. The M.E. (who is also a mutant) is especially concerned since it seems that these murders are connected to the disappearance of Jade Parisi, daughter of the North Jersey mob boss.

After inspecting Logan’s claws, the M.E. determines that the slash marks could not have been created by his three-clawed strike since the cuts were created by a dual-clawed attack. Additionally, the spacing of the claws indicates a hand much smaller than Logan’s. The M.E. asks Logan if he has a younger sibling. Logan balks at this suggestion. The M.E. cautions them that whatever the answer is, the X-Men had best figure it out before the story hits the media.

Without warning, one of the deceased’s fathers bursts into the lab and demands answers. Ororo tries to calm the grieving father, but in his hysterical and bigoted state, he lashes out at her and punches her in the face. An enraged Logan pins him to the wall and yells at him to back off.
Logan catches his breath and sympathizes with the grieving father who continues to accuse the mutants of killing his son. Just outside the lab, a group of “wiseguys” discuss the disappearance of Jade Parisi. Jade’s father seems to understand that the mutant attacker killed his daughter’s assailants, but is still concerned about her whereabouts. He directs one of his men to put “Geech” on the job. “If she’s so much as scratched, Tony, tell Geech it’s scorched earth.”
Later, outside Wannabees in District X, Logan, Ororo, and Kurt look on as Lucas Bishop interrogates an informant named Carl about the whereabouts of Jade Parisi. Just as Carl indicates that Jade may have had a mutant boyfriend, Logan picks up a familiar scent and follows it into the night club. Inside Wannabees, everyone is dressed like a mutant “superhero” or “supervillain”. This is convenient since it allows the X-Men to fit right in. Logan spies Rachel partying on the dance floor, but continues to follow the scent. He also notices a group of female Bacchae sitting in one corner and wonders if this gang is involved in the murders.
On the dance floor, Rachel inadvertently bumps into a waitress and sends her drinks and tray flying. She uses her TK to save the booze, but in the process picks up a reading on the waitress. She realizes suddenly that the girl is the killer that they are looking for. She calls out to Logan, but is knocked over by an unbelievably quick kick from the waitress. Logan grabs the girl’s shoulder in an attempt to talk with her, but finds himself suddenly in a kickboxing match with a very agile mutant.
Fleeing the club in panic, the crowd begins to trample the nearly unconscious Rachel. Logan continues to defend himself from the attacks of the mutant girl, but is taken by surprise as she pops dual-claws from both her forearms and rams them through his chest.

Characters Involved: 

Bishop, Marvel Girl, Nightcrawler, Sage, Storm, Wolverine (all X-Men)
Marie D’Ancanto

Four unnamed mutant students

Jade Parisi

Unnamed human and mutant bystanders

Four human thugs
Dual-clawed female mutant / X-23 (unnamed)
Paparazzi photographer

Theatre patrons
District X Medical Examiner

Thug’s father and mother (Lois)

Various police officers and bystanders
Tony, Domenic and two other unnamed members of the
North Jersey mafia
Carl, a mutant informant

Various partiers at Wannabees

Sabine and three other members of the Bacchae

Story Notes: 

Rachel was without question enjoying the fight against the Emma Frost pirate-doppelganger. This scenario serves to further develop Rachel’s dislike for Emma. Also interesting to note the doppelganger’s similarity to Scott Summers: one eye (Cyclops), ruby-colored eye (ruby quartz lens)
Kurt and Rachel visited several otherdimensional worlds as members of Excalibur. The visited pirate world they refer to, where they met Kymri, in Excalibur (1st series) #16 - 17. Interestingly enough, according to X-Men: the End, also written by Claremont, Kurt will eventually marry Kymri.
Kurt shared a tender moment and a waltz with Ororo in issues #445 - 446.
Marie D’Ancanto tried to bomb a nightclub frequented by mutants, after her family was killed by young mutant thugs in X-treme X-Men. She is now trying to make amends.
A young Tessa saved Charles Xavier after he was crippled by his battle with Lucifer as seen in X-treme X-Men #44.
Australian movie star Hugh Jackman has, of course, played Wolverine in the two X-Men movies.
“Wannabees” is a popular night club in District X where humans can dress as mutants and party until they puke.
The letters page suggests that the clawed mutant may indeed be X-23, the much hyped “daughter” of Wolverine from the X-Men: Evolution series, although this is not confirmed in the issue itself.
In mythology the frenzied followers of Dionysos the Bacchae shown here are a gang allied with underworld god Pluto. They showed up before in Fantastic Four (3rd series) #21, also written by Chris Claremont.

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