Wolverine and the X-Men (1st series) #21

Issue Date: 
January 2013
Story Title: 
The Greatest Freakshow on Earth

Jason Aaron (writer), Nick Bradshaw (penciler), Walden Wong, Scott Hanna, Norman Lee & Danny Miki (inks), Laura Martin (colorist), Chris Elipoloulos (letterer), Nick Bradshaw & Guru EFX (cover artists), Jordan D. White (assistant editor), Daniel Ketchum (associate editor), Nick Lowe (editor), Axel Alonso (editor-in-chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (Exec. Publisher)

Brief Description: 

The students at the Jean Grey School awake to find all of their teachers gone. In Salem Center, the robot Reverend Hail tries to seduce Oya away from the school, to no avail. Bad news for his creator, Maximilian von Katzenelnbogen, who isn’t allowed to leave the town until he has gotten Oya. Frustrated, he goes to the circus that has opened that day. So do the students of the Jean Grey School, who find their teachers brainwashed into being circus attractions. Other weird things are going on in the circus, as all grown-ups in town are falling under its spell in an attempt to lure in the last Frankenstein descendant. When they realize the last Franknestein has to be a kid, the X-Men turn against their students and Maximilian has to face Frankenstein’s monster, who wants to kill him…

Full Summary: 

Quentin Quire wakes up and realizes something is wrong. He’s thirty minutes late for class, but there is no Rachel Grey telepathically screaming at him. No Wolverine clawing his way through Quentin’s door, squealing about detention. Wearing a ‘Cyclops was right’ shirt, he sees the other kids acting out in a class room. No sign of any teacher. Quentin has a vision of a school in flames, the shackles of his oppression at last thrown off. Unfortunately, it’s all too good to be true, he decides. Nice try, X-tyrants! he announces. But he knows one of their moronic tests when he sees one.

He passes Glob Herman finishing a We Don’t knead no Edcukashun graffiti. No teachers! Riot at the Grey School! he shouts. “Shut up, you moron,” Quentin orders him. He mind-scans the grounds.

Genesis and Rockslide (covered by several bras) enter the lobby. Evan explains he’s been reading quietly to himself in an empty psychology class. For two hours. Did Dr. McCoy get trapped in his office by Bamfs again? Rockslide asks if anybody’s seen Professor Drake around. All the ice doors in the east wing are melting shut. He had to smash his way out through the girls locker room, it was horrible!

Still scanning, Quentin passes new arrivals Iara dos Santos and Trevor Hawkins (aka Shark Girl and Eye Boy). Iara complains she knew this place was different, but aren’t there at least supposed to be teachers somewhere here? Trevor adds he’s looked everywhere and, if there is one thing he’s good at, it’s looking. She can see, Iara replies and recommends he point a few of those eyeballs in another direction before she turns his face to chum.

Quentin reveals the entire staff is gone. But where are they? Evan wonders. What does this mean? Avengers vs. X-Men 2? Rockslide suggests. Return of the Skrulls? Children of the Corn? What it means is the front doors are open wide, Quentin replies and kicks them open. And he for one is walking through them.

In Salem Center, Idie Okonkwo walks with Pastor Hail, She feels guilty about sneaking out of school like this. She is confused. He tells her these are confusing times. Which makes it all the more important that she place her trust in him and allow him to guide her down her path to damnation.

Idie asks why her friend, Broo, was at his church. Who could possibly have shot him? It troubles him as well, Hail replies. As he’s warned her many times, she and her kind only invite this sort of trouble upon themselves by flaunting their physical failings as mutants. That den of iniquity and mutant flamboyance called the Jean Grey School will be the ruin of them, he warns and suggests she save herself while she still can. He has friends in a position to help her escape that place.

Idie refuses to hear anymore. She doesn’t care what happens to her. She’s not leaving her friend until she’s sure he’s okay. She turns away. She knows he means well, but she’d like to be alone now.

Until tomorrow, he calls after the girl, then wonders why he has absolutely no idea what to do until then.

Try shutting up! Max von Katzenelnbogen suggests to the robot and orders it to go back to camp and plug itself in. He wants it charged for tomorrow and ready to give it its fire and brimstone best. The sooner it can convince the little imbecile to accept their offer, the sooner he can get out of this suburban wasteland!

Max places a call to Kade Kilgore, who asks how Operation Oya is going. Sourly, Maximilan replies he’s giving the robot one more day to make her see the light and, if that fails, he’s lasering the girl and bringing her to Kade himself. Kade reminds him she must come of her own free will, it’s the only way.

Max passes a park bench with his flying cubes. An old man wishes him a good morning. Go to hell, is Max’s reply. If he has to spend one more day in this wretched place, there will be a body count, he promises.

He asks how operations are progressing on Kade’s end. Splendid, Kade replies from his flying limousine atop which a happy Mud Bug sits. They have made contact with many a promising candidate. And others as well. Manuel is building their operating space, which he thinks Max will find interesting. But he doesn’t want to see him there until he’s won over Idie.

Max snaps he is not his lackey. Kade reminds him where he was before: Disgraced, penniless, a life already in ruin by the age of twelve. No doubt soon to end in a filthy roadside ditch in the backwoods of Romania. To be remembered only as the pathetic final whimper in a long foul legacy of failure and shame. The legacy of the family Franken—Say that name, Max snarls, and he will slaughter this entire town, his precious mutants included. And then he will come for Kade! Come whenever he likes, is the amused reply. Just make sure he brings the girl.

Why the long face? Someone asks Max. He needs to feel something dying with his hands around its throat, he replies. Yeah, a scary looking clown informs him, he has come to the right place, and points at the circus.

Elsewhere, Ororo Munroe is chained in the dark, not sure where she is. “15 seconds!” a voice announces. She understands there is a countdown. She feels something in her hands and blindly stabs at the lock. The handcuffs come loose. But there are still so many chains! Suddenly, she knows that she is falling. The chains fall into a water tank filled with sharks and she flies above it, having freed herself in time.

The ringmaster of the circus asks for applause for the death-defying Windrider. She still doesn’t know who she is but her questions vanish.

The ringmaster tells the audience to look at the center ring, where the ferocious Beastmaster (Beast) is juggling wildcats.

Something tells him he should be embarrassed by this but nevertheless he can’t help himself. He tells the aide to toss him another panthera leo.

Another carny advertises the freakshow, among them Iceface, the living popsicle who is swallowing fire.

The fortune teller Starchilde, a bored Rachel Grey, informs a man why nobody likes him and why his wife is cheating on him right now. Unfortunately, he only wanted to know the way to the bathroom.

In another part of the circus, Warbird, dressed as a Native American throws her knives though her assistant Shadowcat, dressed as a cowgirl. Kitty feels like she is forgetting something. Teach school? That can’t be right. She guesses she’s better off having knives thrown at her face.

After the show, the X-Men/carnies leave, bitching about the lame audience. A clown shyly addresses them, asking if he knows them. Drop dead loser, Shadowcat announces. And he thought the elephants smelled bad, Beastmaster bitches. Do they know him? He asks fearfully before a clown orders him to stop bothering the talent and grab his gear. Get out there, you bum, he orders him. It’s show time! The amnesiac clown just remembers that he is supposed to be the best at what he does, and what Revolto the clown (formerly Wolverine) does best is make people laugh! Unfortunately in that case, it means getting beaten up by the other clowns for the audience’s amusement.

Only for Toad things haven’t changed, as he still has to shovel dirt.

Quentin, Evan, Trevor, Santo and Iara hide beneath the bleachers. Seeing Wolverine getting beaten up (and stabbed), an entranced Quentin admits he was wrong. He thought he was crazy for letting them talk him into coming into the circus, but this is… unbelievable. Evil, Genesis adds. Weird as hell, Iara remarks. The greatest thing he has ever seen, Quentin clarifies. Rockslide and the others run into the arena to stop that while Quentin pleads they should wait until the finale. Think of the children!

Outside the big top, a little girl asks her parents if they can go now. The parents enter a boat and the parents tell her not to be a killjoy. They order her to wait and be quiet while they have some fun for a change. Aren’t they supposed to be at work? the kid asks. Why are they even here? The mother replies they couldn’t resist. If they ask her this is the happiest place on Earth. The boat enters a tunnel whose entrance looks like a demonic face and the little girl suddenly hears her parents scream.

Inside the tunnel, strange tentacles drain the souls from the parents. Faster! the witch curses the clowns; they need more souls. They’ve got to stoke the power of this hex with more full-grown souls or they are doomed. The hotter it burns, the more people of this town fall under its spell. But now it’s nearly burning itself out just keeping those blasted X-Men in check.

One clown tells her not to worry… those mutants ate their biggest draw ever. The big top is packed. There are plenty more souls where these came from. But what about the real target? If they can’t find him soon, Big Frank is gonna wanna know why.

The witch replies the auguries say he’s close. For some reason, he hasn’t fallen yet under her spell. She can’t understand. The circus enchantments are designed to lure every adult into the area. What if he ain’t no adult? The clown asks.

The little girl has entered a strange caravan full of organs in jars. She announces that she has lost her parents. She finds Frank sitting in an electrified chair. He tells her that her parents aren’t here. Even if they were, she wouldn’t want to see them after they’d been in his hands.

She remembers him from her storybooks. He’s Frankenstein, isn’t he? He admits that was the name of the man who brought him into this world many years ago. Who gave him life from pieces of the dead? But all he’s ever been called is Frankenstein’s monster. The girl recalls he isn’t a monster, just misunderstood. Will he help her find her parents? She knows he’s really a good guy deep down and never wanted to hurt anyone, right?

He puts her in a cage. He isn’t the thing from her stories. Not anymore. As he gets dressed, he continues that he is something that should never have been born. An abomination. Every breath he takes is like spitting in the face of God. Yet, here he still is after all these years, still breathing. Her little mind cannot imagine what it takes every day for him to go on living. The depths to which he must sink. Just to keep this wretched body alive.

If her parents are here, they are likely already dead. Just as many before them and many yet to come. He kills to live. He steals limbs and bathes in blood and sends souls to hell in thousands. He will do this until the sun goes black, if he must. Fighting against the man who dared to give him life. Against every single of his descendants. For as long as Frankenstein blood shall flow, he will be there to spill it. No matter where on this world any of them may hide. And unfortunately for her and her family, today the last of the Frankensteins is here.

The witch Calcabrina announces that she has found the last descendant and mutters maybe now she can be free. The clown was right. He is a kid.

The students have found the X-Men, who aren’t interested in giving autographs. Genesis tries to tell them they are the X-Men under some sort of mind control.

Calcabrina calls on the power of the Darkhold and orders all the freaks under her spell to seize every child they see. Immediately, the X-Men turn against the kids.

Max wonders where everybody is. Who do you have to kill for a corn dog around here? The stand is smashed by Frank, who tells him he just became the main event of the Murder Circus!

Characters Involved: 

Beast, Iceman, Kitty Pryde, Rachel Grey, Storm, Wolverine (all X-Men)
Warbird II
Anole, Eye-Boy, Ernst, Genesis II, Glob herman Kid Omega, Match, Mercury, Oya,Rockslide, Shark-Girl (X-Men students)

Kade Kilgore, Maximilian von Katzenelnbogen (Hellfire Club)
Reverend Hail

Frankenstein’s Monster
Zombie clowns
Other carnies

Little girl
Her parents
Other guests and victims

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