X-Men (2nd series) #157

Issue Date: 
July 2004
Story Title: 
Day of the Atom - part 1: Black Holes

Chuck Austen (Writer), Salvador Larroca (Penciler), Danny Miki (Inker), Udon (Colorist), Rus Wooton (Letterer), Cory Sedlmeier & Stephanie Moore (Assistant Editors), Mike Marts (Editor), Joe Quesada (Editor in Chief), Dan Buckley (Publisher)

Brief Description: 

Havok and Annie Ghazikhanian get into an argument about whether or not she did anything with Iceman the night of Polaris’ bachelorette party. But the discussion goes unanswered, as Havok, now a team leader, has X-Men responsibilities to attend to, such as tending to Jay Guthrie, who at his mothers’ request is going to be attending the Academy. Jay is going to be roommates with Squidboy, and they show Jay around, eventually running into Iceman, angry that the Juggernaut is allowed to know certain X-Men secrets and is using the Danger Room, not to mention that Havok is his team leader. Havok thinks Bobby’s attitude has something to do with the fact he has permanently become ice, and on the way to see Cyclops, who is now headmaster, they run into Rogue and Gambit, who also want to be taken off Havok’s team, but won't say why. Upon entering Cyclops’ office, they discover that everybody else has some problem with their team, or in Northstar’s case no team, however Cyclops will not let anyone change teams. Soon, Havok and all his team – Polaris, Iceman, Wolverine, Rogue, Gambit and Juggernaut – meet with Emma Frost who has an assignment for them, hoping it may help them to work as a team, and the seven journey to China, where sometime ago a disaster happened. It was prophesied by the local monks as an “apocalypse”, but it went as far as to affect the Earth’s magnetic field, causing Lorna some pain. However as they search the rubble of the village, they discover someone who looks remarkably like…Xorn!

Full Summary: 

China, at a serene temple, someone suddenly panics, and begins to warn everyone of something in Chinese. An American Official, escorted by policemen is visiting the temple and asks one of the priests if something is the matter and about what the other person is saying. The monk replies that he does not think there is an equivalent in his language, but the man is referencing a local Chinese superstition revolving around the month of August, and the coming of the…Apocalypse.

As if on cue, part of a temple suddenly crumbles, then part of the surrounding area caves in as a policeman warns everyone to ‘look out!’, adding that the prophecy has been fulfilled. A man pulls a cart behind him, one of his children in the cart, while another runs at the side. But they can not outrun their impending doom, as the land is ripped up around them, the once placid lake becomes tumescent, and all three are sucked into a void, along with everything around them.

Meanwhile, at the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning, in Westchester, New York, an entire continent away is the home of the X-Men! In a kitchen, Alex “Havok” Summers is having a coffee with his lover, the school nurse, Annie Ghazikhanian. Annie strokes the handsome X-Man’s cheek and asks him if they can play hooky today, so they can go to the park, hide in the bushes and…’you know’. Alex smiles and replies ‘not today’. Annie reminds him that she is the school nurse, so she can write him a note. Alex informs Annie that Cyclops is setting up the new teams, and has put him in charge of one of them, so they need to make sure everyone is cool with the switch-ups and start drills and practices.

Alex looks away from Annie and tells her that it is a bad day to take off. After an awkward silence, Annie asks Alex if anything is wrong, adding that he seems rather distant. Alex sips his coffee and replies that nothing is wrong. Annie asks him if he is sure, before joking if this is the famous “Summers Brothers Aloofness” that everyone has warned her about. Alex still says nothing, until Annie leans across the table and tells him that she cannot fix it unless she knows what is wrong. Alex gives in and says to her ‘were you, you know…with Bobby?’ Annie is somewhat taken by surprise by this comment and asks him if he means the night before his wedding when he was with Lorna.

Alex gets up and puts some scraps into the trash as he reminds Annie that he and Lorna at least knew each other, before declaring that he is sorry he even brought it up. Annie tells him that it makes two of them, before asking him why he would even want an answer, or if he is even ready for an answer. Alex starts to walk out of the kitchen and Annie asks him where he is going, telling him that he cannot toss an emotional grenade into the room and then walk out like this. As Annie crosses her arms Havok replies that he has no choice, as the X-Men take precedence.

Outside the newly rebuilt Institute, a taxi waits for Lucinda Guthrie and Ray Jr. as Lucinda drops off her winged son, Joshua “Jay” Guthrie. Jay holds onto his guitar and tells his mother that if he had wanted to go to “Mutant School” then he would have said so, and that he wouldn't have kept his wings hidden from her and everyone else. Lucinda tells her son that she knows if he really wanted to keep his wings hidden then he would not have revealed them to everyone onstage to half the town during his rock concert. Lucinda tries to get it through to her son that on some level, he did want this.

Lucinda Guthrie informs her son that it is all right to be proud of what you are, and at the same time feel ashamed. Jay declares that he is not ashamed, to which Lucinda tells him whatever he is the Institute is better equipped to deal with it than she is, reminding him that it helped his brother and sister a great deal as they both became X-Men. Jay asks his mother who is going to help her without him there, especially taking care of Ray Junior and the other kids.

Lucinda tells her son that it is not his job to take care of her, as she is the parent, and it is her job to take care of him. She supposes she may have leaned on him too much when Sam and Paige left, but not it is time Joshua did something for himself, without having to worry about the rest of them. Jay tells his mother that if that was what she really wanted then she would have let him stay at home in Kentucky with his friends and the band, and as he walks through the gates to the Institute, he tells his mother that this is for her, not him, so it is not on her head when he gets hurt again.

‘Oh man, look at this zoo!’ exclaims Joshua as he looks around at everyone in the courtyard. Havok approaches Jay, who wonders to himself what he is doing here, and Alex introduces himself as one of the leaders of the X-Men before welcoming Jay to the Institute, before asking if he is ready for the tour. Accompanying Alex is Samuel “Squidboy” Pare who tells Jay that he has cool wings. Jay thanks Squidboy as Alex introduces the two and reveals to Jay that Sammy is going to be his roommate.

Squidboy tells Jay that Scott Summers asked them to show him around, and Jay asks who Scott Summers is, and as the three walk through the Institute, Alex informs Jay that Scott is the new headmaster of the school since the founder, Charles Xavier left, and that he is also his brother. Sammy tells Jay that Scott is pretty cool, and that most people call him Cyclops because he has ‘these eye powers, and a mask that has one opening’.

Squidboy adds that he doesn’t think he would like to be called “Cyclops” and Jay asks Alex if they are not going to give him ‘any kind of stupid nickname, are they?’ Havok tells Jay that that used to be Xavier’s province, and he is not sure if Scott is going to continue using the codenames. Sammy exclaims that he is thinking of “Sub-Mariner” for himself. Jay asks if someone isn't using that already, to which Sammy replies ‘Not that I know of’.

Continuing on the tour of the Mansion, Havok brings Jay to the Danger Room, to which Jay asks if it is ‘like a video game room or something?’ Sammy excitedly tells Jay that it is ‘waaaay better’, and entering the console room, they see below them Cain Marko, a.k.a. the Juggernaut one of the newest X-Men lifting weights. Jay is astonished, and checking the monitor, Havok tells Cain that he is not even at Colossus-level and asks him why he is struggling.

Cain grits his teeth and asks Havok ‘who says I'm struggling?’ before telling him to increase the weights. Looking down, Jay asks if that isn't the Juggernaut and declares that he has seen him on the news and thought he was a killer. Sammy informs Joshua that Cain has never killed anyone and now he is a “good-guy” and that the two of them are friends.

Entering the room is the handsome Bobby Drake, one of the original X-Men, codenamed Iceman, and Alex introduces him to Paige and Sam’s brother. Not too interested, Iceman gives Jay a brief ‘yeah hi’ before walking over to the console and seeing Cain down below, Bobby shouts that he knew he was in here showing Cain their stuff, and he shuts down Cain’s training sequence.

Alex tells Bobby that someone could get hurt by shutting the training sequence down and turning it back on, he asks Bobby what he is playing at. Bobby asks Havok what it is he is doing and declares that Juggernaut doesn’t get to use the Danger Room and doesn’t get access to any secrets of the school. Havok asks Bobby since when it was that he got to dictate school policy, while down below, Cain asks ‘who cut the juice?’

Leaning against a console, Havok reminds Iceman that Xavier trusted Cain to be a part of the X-Men and asks Bobby who he is to counter Xavier’s wishes. Iceman reminds Alex that Xavier abandoned the school and therefore no longer gets a say. He adds that Juggernaut is a known criminal, and as he is an original X-Man, he thinks he is better able to judge than anyone else.

Havok remarks that he had heard Bobby had become crankier since his body changed permanently into ice. Bobby raises his voice and reminds Alex that Cain is a criminal and has tried to kill them all many times in the past. Jay suggests to Sammy that they should go, but Alex tells them to stay, just as an irate Bobby tells Alex that he cannot fob off his concerns as some “cranky attitude”.

Alex replies ‘Maybe not’ before telling Bobby that he suspects there is more to his attitude and temper than just tension between the two of them. Juggernaut joins them in the console room as Alex suggests to Bobby they go talk to Cyclops about changing his team assignment, as he thinks they would both be happier then and Bobby wont have to worry much about Cain’s loyalties. As Jay and Sammy follow the three X-Men through the mansion, Jay mentions to Sammy that his brother and sister never mentioned the X-Men fight, and that it is awesome before asking Sammy what he Alex meant by “since you permanently became ice”.

Bobby asks Alex what he means about going to ask Scott to change him to another team, and tells Alex that he doesn’t have that kind of authority as he is not team leader. As they walk past Lucas Bishop and Rachel “Marvel Girl” Grey in the regular gym, Alex informs Bobby that as of today he is a team leader, before almost mockingly telling Bobby he is surprised that one of the “original students” doesn’t check the school bulletin board more frequently. Sammy tells Jay that Bobby used to be able to turn back and forth between human and ice, and Jay adds that he didn’t always have wings.

Bobby asks who can figure the bulletin board out since Sage made it all digital, to which Alex replies that he can, ‘but maybe that’s why I'm team leader’ he adds before informing Bobby of the public bulletin board for those who cannot use the website.

Entering the greenhouse, the men and boys are stopped by Ororo Munroe a.k.a. Storm, long serving X-Men team leader who, hovering above them in flight, declares that it was made quite clear that the greenhouse is not to be used as a shortcut to the other side of the mansion. Havok apologizes, claiming he was not aware and adding that it won’t happen again, he tells Storm that she should post it on the bulletin board. Hands on hips, Ororo frowns and tells Alex that it has been posted on the board for weeks. ‘Really?’ asks Alex.

Bobby smiles and laughs at Alex, who sheepishly claims that he must have missed it. The men and boys continue to walk through the mansion as Bobby tells Alex that they have reasons – lots of reasons – for not liking each other, but he doesn’t think he has the authority to shuffle him onto another team if he doesn’t want to be moved. Jay turns to Sammy and asks who the woman they just met was, as she was hot. Sammy replies that it was Storm, but if he thinks she is hot then he should wait till he sees Emma Frost. ‘Woof!’

Alex asks Bobby that if he doesn’t like him, then why would he object to going to a different team. Entering the school cafeteria, where the six-armed chef, Hannah is serving, the quintet see two more X-Men, Rogue and Gambit waiting to get some food. Gambit declares that this is not gumbo, as Rogue sees Alex and tells Remy LeBeau that they should go talk to him. Bobby tells Alex he has a good point – why would he object, and tells him to lead the way.

Rogue and Gambit catch up to everyone as they walk through the hangar and past one of the X-Jets, where Gambit tells Alex that he heard he and Rogue are part of his team. Rogue tells Alex that they do not want to offend him, but would like to be unassigned to it. ‘Welcome to the club’ mumbles Iceman. Alex asks Rogue why she and Gambit want to be unassigned, and Remy tells him it is nothing personal. Rogue declares that they just want some time to themselves and not be running missions for Cyclops just yet. Alex declares that he understands, but is not sure how he feels about it, and as he pushes open the door to Cyclops’ office, he suggests they wait and see what Scott says.

But maybe they came at a bad time – because every X-Man, Woman and Girl that they haven't already come across is trying to talk to Cyclops too! Scott sits at his desk, where framed photographs of Jean Grey – his late wife – and Xavier are, and stares ahead as everyone tries to say their piece – all at once of course. Sam “Cannonball” Guthrie thinks he would be happier on another team, as Kurt “Nightcrawler” Wagner tells Scott that none of this is going to work. ‘Oh dear Lord’ says Lorna Dane, a.k.a. the tempestuous Polaris as Paige “Husk” Guthrie is at the back of the group, waving her hands about to get Scott’s attention. Paige’s lover, founding X-Man Warren Worthington III a.k.a. Archangel complains that he has been assigned to go to Genosha, but that he doesn’t want to, while Wolverine tells Cyclops that he appreciates the faith in him, but that he doesn’t want to be on all three teams. Jubilee has sprawled herself across Scott’s desk in typical Jubilee fashion and begs to be put on the same team as Paige.

The handsome gay Canadian Jean-Paul “Northstar” Beaubier, highly annoyed that he is not going to be on any team asks if he is expected to just teach, while Scott’s best friend, Hank “Beast” McCoy tells Scott that ‘this is an untenable situation’. Tessa asks why she is even here at all as Kitty “Shadowcat” Pryde exclaims that she thought she was no longer needed anymore, and her dragon Lockheed hisses at Scott. Calmly, Scott tells everyone that he is only going to say this once ‘No adjustments will be made to the team assignments – period!’ Rogue and Remy look at each other, while Bobby frowns, and Alex seems almost equally disappointed.

The five assigned teammates leave Scott’s office and enter Cerebra, where Emma Frost, a.k.a. the White Queen, the co-headmaster of the Institute is waiting for them. ‘So much for that’ mumbles Bobby before asking Alex where Lorna is, as he thought she was on his squad too. Alex tells him that she will be here before greeting Emma. Emma turns and looks at the group before declaring that she doesn’t need to read minds to know that none of them are happy with the team assignments.

‘Says who?’ asks Cain, to which Emma tells him she knows he is happy just being fed regularly, before telling them that fortunately, she has an assignment that will take all their minds off the current nonsense. Addressing Sammy at the back of the group, Emma tells him she knows he is wondering what he is doing here, and tells him that he has come to observe the operation of Cerebra and to indoctrinate him into the inner workings of the X-Men. To put it simply, he is being fast-tracked because his particular mutant skill is rare, and potentially quite useful to the X-Men.

Cerebra is in operation now, and Emma informs everyone that a five hour flight on an X-Jet to China should bring them all together harmoniously, before mentioning that it is odd, for they have not had a mutant signature born for quite some time, then suddenly out of nowhere it appears – and to Emma’s surprise, it is the size of a small town!

Suddenly, the doors to Cerebra whir open and Lorna rushes in, her usually immaculate appearance oddly frazzled as she tells Emma urgently that something is tearing the magnetic fields apart. In pain, as she is being affected too, Lorna falls to the ground. Her two former boyfriends – Alex and Bobby – pick her up, she is alive, and Bobby asks what is causing this. Emma turns to the X-Men and tells them that that is what their team is going to find out. ‘So enjoy your trip’.

Later, in China, an X-Jet lands in the sunken village, which earlier suffered a long prophesied “Apocalypse”. Rogue looks around and notes that all the villagers are dead. Alex points out that it seems as if everything was sucked into the hole they see before them. Bobby tells Alex that that is a real helpful observation for those of them that are blind – ‘Oh, wait – none of us are, so that’s not really helpful at all!’ Rogue mumbles ‘Oh brother, five hours of this!’ before telling Bobby that he wonders why he is alone. Bobby says nothing, and looks away from everyone.

Polaris calls her six teammates over to where she is, and they walk over to where she is using her powers to clear some rubble away. Havok reminds her that she said the sensation of the torn magnetic field had passed, but wants to know how her powers can pick up anything from the hole. Lorna replies that all of the wreckage contains some metal trace and that there is some faint warping of the Earth’s magnetic field deep within the hole.

Alex asks Bobby if he can create an ice-slide to get them all down into the hole, and Bobby replies that he can. They all walk into the hole, and Alex points out that there are a lot more dead bodies around them, all whom are oddly distorted. ‘Another helpful observation Alex’ Bobby remarks. Alex looks at Bobby and tells him that is about to say something very obvious and not-so-helpful to him, when suddenly, everyone is stopped in their tracks – ‘that looks like Xorn down there!’

Characters Involved: 

Archangel, Beast, Bishop, Cannonball, Cyclops, Gambit, Havok, Husk, Iceman, Jubilee, Juggernaut, Marvel Girl III, Nightcrawler, Northstar, Polaris, Rogue, Sage, Shadowcat, Storm, White Queen, Wolverine (All X-Men)

Lockheed the Dragon

Nurse Annie Ghazikhanian

Hannah the School Chef

Joshua “Jay” Guthrie, Squidboy and other students

Xorn lookalike

Lucinda Guthrie

Ray Jr.

Citizens of China


American Official


In Photographs

Jean “Phoenix” Grey

Professor Xavier

Story Notes: 

With this issue the series changes back from “New X-Men” to “X-Men”.
Havok and Polaris were to wed, and at Lorna’s bachelorette party, Annie hooked up with Iceman, even though she was in love with Havok. However, realizing he no longer loved Lorna, and was in love with Annie, Havok called off the wedding as Lorna was walking down the aisle. [Uncanny X-Men #425-426] Since then, Havok and Annie have been going steady, however when Annie’s son was rescued from a demon, she kissed Iceman again. [Uncanny X-Men #434]

Joshua Guthrie is going to be featured in New X-Men: Academy X, and is going to be referred to as “Jay”, because there is already Josh Foley in that title.

The Sub-Mariner is of course the codename of Namor McKenzie, Prince of Atlantis, former Avenger, Defender and Invader and one of Marvel’s earliest characters.

Longtime X-Men enemy, the Juggernaut has been residing at the Institute since Uncanny X-Men #412 and joined the team officially sometime later, much to the annoyance of some of the other X-Men, including Iceman and Wolverine.

It was fully revealed that Iceman’s body was permanently becoming ice in Uncanny X-Men #429.

Wolverine’s comment that he cant be on all three teams is possibly a reference to the fact that he is starring in all three titles – X-Men, Uncanny X-Men and Astonishing X-Men, and that a lot of readers do not want him in all three books.

Archangel is going to be featuring in the new Excalibur series alongside Xavier.

Northstar was invited to join the X-Men and teach in Uncanny X-Men #414, however it seems now that he is no longer going to be an active X-Man.

Husk and Jubilee’s futures are uncertain at this point.
While the X-Men’s comments about their team assignments are amusing, they nevertheless seem odd as everybody on Storm’s team clearly joined her voluntarily just as nobody’s holding a gun to Kitty’s head forcing her to rejoin the X-Men.

Xorn first appeared in New X-Men Annual 2001, however he was later revealed to be Magneto in disguise [New X-Men #146], which begs the question: who is this “Xorn”?

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