X-Force (3rd series) #26

Issue Date: 
June 2010
Story Title: 
Second Coming: Chapter 5

Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost (writers), Mike Choi (penciler), Sonia Oback (colorist), VC’s Cory Petit (letterer), Adi Granov (cover artist), David Finch, Matt Banning & Peter Steigerwald (variant cover artists), John Cassaday & Laura Martin (variant cover artists), Jody LeHeup (assistant editor), Jeanine Schaefer (editor), Nick Lowe (consulting editor), Axel Alonso (executive editor), Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)

Brief Description: 

While Cable and several X-Men create a diversion in Minnesota, Nightcrawler, Rogue and Hope teleport across the country toward the X-Men’s home in San Francisco. Bastion, however, intercepts them in Las Vegas, incapacitates Nightcrawler and nearly kills Rogue. As he moves to execute Hope, Nightcrawler teleports between the two of them—and fuses with Bastion’s arm. Mortally wounded, Nightcrawler makes one final leap to Utopia with Hope as his passenger. Having accomplished his mission, he dies on the shore, but not before telling Hope he believes in her. The X-Men are devastated to learn of his death. Bastion, meanwhile, recuperates and activates his secondary plan to eliminate Hope.

Full Summary: 

On his top screen, Bastion surveys the mutants who remain on Utopia: Scott Summers, aka Cyclops; Namor McKenzie, aka Sub-Mariner; Emma Frost, aka White Queen; Erik Lensherr, aka Magneto; Robert Drake, aka Iceman; and Megan Gwynn, aka Pixie.

On his second screen, he keeps tabs on two members of Cyclops’s secondary squad of X-Men—Samuel Guthrie, aka Cannonball, and Douglas Ramsey, aka Cypher—as they travel in a Blackbird over Omaha, Nebraska.

On his screen displaying New York City’s mutant threats, he monitors James Madrox, aka Multiple Man, and Layla Miller, aka Butterfly.

In San Francisco, he takes not of the positions of Neena Thurman, aka Domino, and Telford Porter, aka Vanisher.

On his next screen, he denotes the location of Cyclops’s Alpha Squad: James Howlett, aka Wolverine; Piotr Rasputin, aka Colossus; Elizabeth Braddock, aka Psylocke; Warren Worthington III, aka Archangel; and Laura Kinney, aka X-23.

His last screen displays his final two targets, who currently find themselves in Kansas City, Missouri: “Anna Marie”, aka Rogue, and Kurt Wagner, aka Nightcrawler.

From his position in Washington, DC, Bastion keeps an eye on all of these threats. He asks his assistant, Steven Lang, for a report. Lang tells him they’re still tracking Cable through the tech virus in his arm, as per his orders. He’s on the move, currently positioned in Indianapolis. Coldly, Bastion states that Cable is now traveling with a contingent of X-Men. Lang begins asking how Bastion knows this, but interrupts himself and instead says he has Mutant Response Division soldiers in the area who can intercept in five minutes.

Bastion doesn’t respond. Lang prods him. He finishes processing something; his red, glowing eyes widen, and he simply states that he will require transport.

Elsewhere, Karma screams. Her teammates, all former members of the New Mutants, try to subdue her bloody, writhing body, but Karma finds the pain of her severed leg too intense to lie still. While Magma orders Bobby to hold her still, she hopes what Dr. Nemesis said about the uniform stopping the bleeding proves true. Dani Moonstar, meanwhile, shouts at the squad captain, Cannonball, and tells him they need to move—now! Warlock looks on with worry.

Reporting to Cyclops, Cannonball tells him that Karma is in bad shape, and recommends they split up; half of them could head back to Utopia, while the other half could check out Bastion’s towers. Cypher completes Cannonball’s thought. “The data we found in Hodge’s computers, it’s not—”

Interrupting him mid-sentence, Cyclops orders Cannonball to bring his team home. The package is on its way, he tells them; they need to regroup at home. He begins issuing an additional order. The connection gives out mid-sentence, however. When Cannonball inquires what happened, Cypher tells him it just cut out. It doesn’t matter to Sam; Shan’s hurt. They need to get home.

Back on Utopia, Cyclops and Dr. Nemesis observe a 3D display of their base in San Francisco and the surrounding area. Five eerie towers pepper the simulated landscape in a triangular formation. Nemesis assumes it’s bad; Cyclops probably thinks so. He relays to Nemesis the information Cypher gleaned from Cameron Hodge: that these towers were important to him. Therefore, they’re important to the X-Men as well. After Nemesis reports that Jeffries is still repairing Cerebra—which failed for reasons currently unknown—Cyclops states that the towers are now a priority. Fine, Nemesis consents; anything else?

Prodigy suddenly barges into the room with urgent information. After Cyclops tells him he lost contact with Cannonball’s team, Prodigy informs him he already knows—and that communications have gone down island-wide. They’ve also lost contact with the Alpha and Beta teams, too. Scott spends a moment processing this. “…we’re being attacked,” he states.

Meanwhile, in Indianapolis, a flame-covered Wolverine leaps over the top of an overturned truck and plunges his outstretched claws into a mechanical soldier of the Right. Cable, also in the fray, fires his machinegun at a target while formulating strategies out loud. Their enemies have a bird in the air, Cable tells his allies; they’re going to try to flank them. Psylocke sees it. Picking up Cable’s implication, she tells X-23 she needs her help for a moment.

Behind them, a Hummer barrels through a traffic obstruction at full speed, heading toward the cluster of X-Men. Colossus stops it in its tracks, overturning the vehicle. Up above, Archangel asks if they even know who these foes are; Colossus doesn’t think it matters.

Meanwhile, Psylocke and X-23 take temporary cover behind an overturned Jeep. As she begins charging her telekinesis, Psylocke asks X-23 if she needs a minute. She doesn’t. “Good girl,” Psylocke tells her as she launches her upward toward the approaching jet. When X-23 collides with her target, she ruptures its engine and sends it plummeting to the ground in a smoking heap.

Colossus, having just dismantled another armored foe, says he’s had enough; they’ve done enough here. Logan agrees, but Cable doesn’t; he can tell that all Colossus cares about is finding his missing sister. Logan doesn’t disagree with that, but reminds Cable that Bastion appears to be sending everything he has after their squad; he must believe Hope’s still there with Cable. Nathan tells him not to be so sure.

At that moment, Nightcrawler, Hope and Rogue appear amidst a cloud of sulfurous smoke in a barren alleyway in Las Vegas, Nevada. Kurt grunts as he and his traveling companions hit the ground. Rogue, worried about Kurt’s depleting energy, tries to gauge if he is okay. He tells her he’s fine—just as he falls to his knees and tries to catch his breath. Rogue accuses him of lying; he’s clearly exhausted. He’s been performing too many jumps and going way too far. “Let me take your power,” she tells him. “I can help!”

Kurt, still struggling to speak, asks her to save her strength—just in case. Their other passenger is all that matters.

On that note, Rogue turns to Hope, who stands reeling against the alley’s wall. She’s gonna be sick, Hope says. After reminding her they’re almost there, and that it should only take a few more jumps, Rogue assures her she will get used to it. That’s not the problem, Hope replies; Cable’s timejumps are far worse. She just—she just feels weird.

Suddenly, Hope stands upright, totally alert; do they hear that? Nightcrawler doesn’t. Mere moments later, however, a large object hits the ground with meteoric force. The resulting wave of released energy sends Kurt barreling into his allies. He grunts as he collides with Rogue, who immediately galvanizes herself using mutant power borrowed from Colossus. “What the hell?” Hope asks, peering over Rogue’s shoulder. Wide-eyed, Rogue tells Hope to get behind her—right now. They’ve got trouble.

Before them, in the middle of the newfound crater, stands Bastion. His metallic body glimmers in the sunlight. His jagged, metal wings exude carnage. His gaze remains downward for a moment as he analyzes his new surroundings. A moment passes. He looks up and glares at them with his magenta eyes. He begins his threat assessment.

Hope, his primary target, he deems a threat of unknown capacity. After all, he has no idea what her powers entail at this point. His secondary target, Rogue, he considers a severe threat, due to the multiple mutant powers detected within her. Nightcrawler, he deems a medium threat—and a flight risk.

Hope, meanwhile, asks Rogue what this thing is. Bastion, she tells her. She orders Hope to get to Nightcrawler—right away. She can hold off Bastion while they escape. Refusing, Hope declares that she’s not going to leave Rogue behind. Do as she says, Kurt pleads.

With that, Rogue charges toward Bastion. Hope screams at her, but Rogue once again orders her to run! Nightcrawler picks himself off the ground and moves toward Hope. He does this just as Bastion raises his left arm, aims it at Hope, and executes his primary directive. A beam of high-powered plasma emerges from the palm of his hand and moves along its trajectory toward Hope at light speed. Luckily for her, Nightcrawler throws himself in the path of the beam and catches it on his shoulder. He groans and falls to the ground.

Rogue, meanwhile, reaches her target and plunges one of her steel firsts through its face. Before Bastion has time to recover from this catastrophic damage, Rogue unleashes a set of bone claws from her other hand and cuts an incision from Bastion’s torso up through his neck. The machine counters this by grabbing her claws and snapping them off. Rogue cries out in agony. Bastion, instantaneously repairing the damage to his head, backhands Rogue into the wall. “Enough,” he states. “The child is a clear and present danger to humanity and will be terminated.” Defiant, Rogue springs off the wall, sprouts a set of wings—as well as talons out of her feet—and tells Bastion to go to hell. “Not applicable,” he states as Rogue plunges one of her toe claws through his head. Bastion initiates a counter-attack. The resulting energy discharge forces Rogue upward and incinerates her wings. Again, she screams in sheer agony.

Teary-eyed, Hope cries out at Bastion lays waste to her protector. Nightcrawler, meanwhile, struggles to stay conscious.

“I’m not going to let you have her, machine,” Rogue says to Bastion with flames reflected in her metallic skin. She lunges at him and knocks him to the ground. “Do you hear me? You can’t have her!” Bastion stares at her with a blank expression on his eerily smooth face. Then, a moment later, a surge of pink-hued energy emerges from his chest and reverberates through Rogue’s body. Screaming a final time, she collapses to the ground, unconscious.

Behind them, Hope screams out her protector’s name. Bastion stands. Craning his neck toward Hope, he locks onto his primary target and resumes the termination procedure. “Get away from her!” Hope screams as she knocks Bastion over the head with a steel pole. The impact nearly separates its head from its body—but, as usual, Bastion quickly repairs itself.

Kurt, slowly regaining himself, observes this scene. He watches as Bastion’s head reconnects itself—and refuses Hope’s futile orders. Gasping for air, Kurt mutters Hope’s name.

Bastion, meanwhile, explains to Hope why she must die. They have seen her, the machine says. They have seen what she becomes. They have seen what the world becomes because of her. And they cannot allow her to live.

Nightcrawler, finally having gathered himself, prepares to teleport. His eyes glow pink and he disappears with a signature BAMF. Sensing this impending use of mutant powers, Bastion readies himself and calculates his counter-measure. He reaches his arm out toward Hope’s throat—just as Nightcrawler appears in-between them. BAMF. Kurt reappears on their plane of reality with Bastion’s metallic arm lodged through his heart. He lets out a gasp.

The three of them stand motionless for a moment. Bastion, his arm unable to function, releases his grip on Hope’s neck. Hope, meanwhile, looks at Kurt with tears in her eyes. Behind them, Rogue lifts her head and sees what will surely be her foster brother’s final moments of life. Kurt, meanwhile, lifts his hand and rests it on Hope’s shoulder. “O…O Luh—Lord…in this…this time of need,” he mutters, “…st—strengthen…me…”

Tears well up in Kurt’s eyes. Then, with a BAMF, he and Hope vanish, taking Bastion’s arm with them. The smoking remnants of Bastion collapse to the ground.

Moments later, on Utopia, Nightcrawler and Hope reappear on a rocky outcrop and collapse. Kurt lands on his back, with Bastion’s arm jutting upward out of his chest. Reaching over to him, Hope says they need to get him help. She crawls to his side and begs him not to die.

“Huhh…wuh…worth it,” Kurt manages to say. Hope takes his hand. Tears stream from the corner of his eyes. “I…I believe in you,” he says—the final words he will ever speak. Kurt looks upward into Hope’s eyes. With sun behind her creating the appearance of a halo, Hope appears almost angelic to Kurt. He beholds this image as the remaining life leaks out of his body.

From the structure on Utopia, Cyclops and the rest of the X-Men come running. He doesn’t immediately sense the lethal damage done to Nightcrawler. Emma does. After a moment, Scott stops in his track as he beholds the deadly tableau. Hope doesn’t move; she remains kneeling by her savior’s side.

Later, the Blackbird returns home with the Alpha squad. As the loading dock opens, Colossus and Psylocke emerge, engaged in conversation. Piotr intends to find Pixie and head to Limbo immediately to recover Illyana. Psylocke assures him they will get his sister back. She’s not listening to him, Colossus says; Illyana’s either hurt or dead. For all they know—

Psylocke, perceiving the awaiting figures of Emma Frost and Scott Summers in the foreground, interrupts Colossus mid-sentence. She doesn’t need telepathy to understand the forlorn expressions of Scott and Emma. “Who?” she asks coolly.

Cyclops doesn’t answer. He averts his gaze downward. Wolverine removes his mask and stares at him for a moment. Then, he unsheathes his claws. Blood drips out of his knuckles and down the cold steel like tears. He doesn’t need to hear it from Cyclops to know who it was. Looking ahead with his brow furrowed, Logan says aloud the name of the fallen. “Elf.”

Back in Las Vegas, meanwhile, the Purifiers and other associates of Bastion arrive at the site of their master’s defeat. As they rush into the alley, Bastion reboots himself and stands up as his body begins its repairs. He asks Steven Lang for a report. They’ve reached the island, Lang tells him; they can account for all the X-Men. Lang asks what happened with the girl. “She escaped. Inconsequential,” Bastion says, examining the arm it just rebuilt. With his bulky frame now resembling a Nimrod unit more than it does Bastion, he lifts his head toward h is subordinates and tells them to proceed with the secondary plan.

Characters Involved: 

Archangel, Colossus, Psylocke, Rogue, Nightcrawler, Wolverine, X-23 (X-Men Alpha Squad)

Cannonball, Cypher, Karma, Magma, Moonstar, Sunspot, Warlock (X-Men Beta Squad)

Cable, Hope Summers II

Steven Lang

On video display only:

Iceman, Magneto, Namor, Pixie (X-Men)

Butterfly, Multiple Man (X-Factor)

Domino, Vanisher (X-Force)

Story Notes: 

This is Chapter 5 of the Second Coming crossover. It follows X-Men Legacy #235 and continues in Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #524.

Bastion’s file image of Layla Miller is outdated; after spending several years in the future, as detailed in X-FACTOR (3rd series) #40-50, Layla returned to the present-day as an adult with an ‘M’ tattoo over her eye, similar to those that adorn Bishop and Multiple Man.

Bastion’s mysterious towers were first witnessed in X-FORCE (3rd series) #19.

Either Wolverine’s healing factor now allows him to re-grow uniforms, or the fact that he wears one in this issue after having it burned off in X-MEN: LEGACY #235 is an art error.

At the time of this writing, this issue is the final living appearance of Nightcrawler. However, he appears in the afterlife in WOLVERINE (4th series) #7.

Although Nightcrawler receives an impromptu funeral in the next chapter of SECOND COMING, Wolverine pays him a personal tribute in WOLVERINE: WEAPON X #16.

Apart from his death and almost immediate resurrection in SECRET WARS, this is the first time Nightcrawler has died since his debut in GIANT-SIZE X-MEN #1, back in 1975. See the UXN’s Death Chart for a complete summary of X-Men deaths.

Nightcrawler’s teleporting trick with Bastion’s arm was actually first used on Magus in UNCANNY X-MEN #192. In UNCANNY X-MEN #194, Rogue, after absorbing Nightcrawler’s powers, used the same trick on the same Nimrod unit that eventually became Bastion. Nightcrawler tried this technique on the same Nimrod unit later on—with disastrous results—in UNCANNY X-MEN #209; Nimrod’s counter-attack nearly killed him.

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