X-Men (2nd series) #158

Issue Date: 
August 2004
Story Title: 
Day of the Atom - part 2: Immortals

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: 

In China, the X-Men, while continually bickering amongst themselves, throw around various ideas as to who this “Xorn” could be, Juggernaut informing everyone that the original Xorn had a star for a brain, and suggests that a leak in his helmet had something to do with the destruction of the surrounding area. The X-Men are about to take Xorn back to the mansion, despite several protests, claiming that they don’t know what should be done, considering the circumstances, when they are stopped by Eight Chinese Immortals. The Immortals attack, one of them seriously injures Polaris, while Gambit gets trapped in another Immortal’s controlled vines as his playing card blows up while he was holding onto it, and he is blinded. Havok manages to knock out any remaining Immortals and they board the plane, to get Gambit back to the Institute, when something leaks from Xorn’s cracked head and begins to tear apart the X-jet. Meanwhile at the Institute, Squidboy befriends Jay Guthrie, and they almost have a run in with a mysterious person lurking around the Institute, asking students about Juggernaut.

Full Summary: 

The Xavier Institute for Higher Learning, home of the mutant super heroes, the X-Men and over a hundred youths being trained in the use of their powers. Two of those youths are Samuel “Squidboy” Pare and Jay “Icarus” Guthrie. In the boys’ dorm room, Sammy asks Josh if he wants to play catch or something. Staring blankly out the window, Joshua tells Sammy to call him “Jay” as his life as “Josh” is over, and “Jay” is what the boys in his band called him. He thanks Sammy, but declines the offer, as he is not really into sports.

Sammy pauses for a bit before suggesting he take Jay down to the common room and introduce him, as there are lots of kids here and there might be some who are into the same things. ‘Or we could just watch TV or something’. Jay just declares that he is ‘fine’. Sammy is relentless and asks Jay if he wants to talk about “her”. Jay turns away from the window and asks Sammy why, to which the young mutant replies that it might make him feel better, and a tear begins to fall down Jay’s cheek.

In China, one of the X-Teams have a mystery on their hands, as the motley and squabbling team, some of whom have never worked together, were sent to investigate a new mutant detected by Cerebra, instead, what they found was Xorn, a man who turned out to be their deadliest enemy of all, but he recently died. Alex “Havok” Summers; Logan a.k.a. Wolverine; Lorna “Polaris” Dane; Bobby “Iceman” Drake; Rogue; Remy LeBeau a.k.a. Gambit and Cain Marko a.k.a. Juggernaut stand around the body of Xorn and those who were twisted when his power created a black hole.

Iceman jibes Havok by reminding him he is their new leader and suggests he touch Xorn to make sure he has a heartbeat. ‘He wont bite’ Bobby adds. ‘Then you touch him, Bobby,’ the new leader replies, before asking his ex-fiancee, the sultry Lorna if she still feels something here. The Mistress of Magnetism is using her powers and replies that all the lines of the Earth’s magnetic fields are bending right around the center of “Xorn’s” head.

Alex asks if anyone wants to guess what this is all about, to which the usually un-intelligent Juggernaut declares the way he sees it is that everything was getting sucked into Xorn’s head, and the deformed dead guy who has his hand clamped on Xorn’s helmet must have stopped it. ‘How do you get that Cain?’ asks Alex, and Cain reminds everyone that the original Xorn had a star for a brain. Alex cuts Cain off and asks him what he means by “original”, for all they know, this could be the same one.

Wolverine informs Havok that he cannot be, for his senses are telling him this Xorn is different, but similar somehow. ‘Xorn had a star for a brain? That’s crazy. How is that even possible?’ asks the handsome young Iceman. ‘This from a walking ice cube’ mutters Juggernaut. Alex asks Cain where he heard about the “star-for-a-brain thing” and Cain smiles as he announces it was on the school bulletin board. ‘Jerk!’ exclaims Iceman as he asks Cain where he really learned that. ‘I pay attention Freeze-n-eat,’ Cain snaps back.

The no-nonsense Lorna cuts the chitchat and declares that everything in the temple points to “Xorn”, all the bodies around him have been twisted and broken by some intense force. Alex asks Lorna if she is still getting sensations of gravity and magnetic distortions around Xorn’s head, to which Lorna replies that she is. Cain points out that it is almost like what scientists say might happen with a black hole. ‘Ain’t you the Einstein all of a sudden, eh, Marko?’ smirks Logan. Juggernaut declares that he is not saying he is a brainiac, but all he can tell them is what he thinks happened here. Alex declares that whatever did happen here seems to have subsided for the moment, but one thing is certain – this is definitely the mutant signature Cerebra picked up earlier, so they should probably get him back to the mansion as soon as possible.

Back at the Institute, Jay and Squidboy are walking through the school grounds. Jay reveals to Sammy that he is not entirely sure what happened, only that he woke up under water holding Julia in his arms, and then she was dead. Next, Jay reveals that he took some broken pieces of an old sign and tried to hurt himself, but couldn’t die. Sammy realizes that Jay has the same healing power that Warren does. Jay mentions that he and Archangel talked about it, but that he wasn’t very interested. Jay exclaims that he can’t stop thinking about her, that he misses her so much.

Jay tells Sammy that Julia was so beautiful even lying dead on the grass, he had never seen anything so pretty in all his life. ‘Sounds sick, doesn’t it?’ he asks, but Sammy tells him that it doesn’t, because he loved her. Jay reveals that he keeps thinking Julia is going to walk around the corner and look at him and say “Hey, just kidding!”

Noticing some students on the other side of a small grass reserve, Jay asks Sammy why they are talking to a tree, ‘is that some kind of mutant think I haven't heard about?’ Sammy replies that he has never heard of it that, and they overhear someone say ‘You mean Juggernaut? Are you talking about the X-Man?’ Someone else says ‘Okay, this is too weird, even for this school’ and after Sammy calls to them and asks them what they are doing, they run away. Sammy wonders what that was all about, and Jay replies that he doesn’t know and asks if there are any mutants around who look like tress. ‘Maybe they thought it was someone they knew?’ What the boys don’t see, is that there was someone lurking behind the tree.

Back in China, Iceman has created a ice-sled to carry everyone along back towards the X-jet, while Lorna flies on ahead. Bobby reminds everyone that there is a boatload of dead people around, as well as mass devastation, and doesn’t think it could be caused because of Xorn’s head warping Earth’s gravity, not to mention the fact that there is only a think metal helmet between it and the rest of them. Lorna smiles as she tells the young man that used to have a crush on her (and may still do) that he is starting to repeat himself.

The handsome leader, Alex, asks Bobby what his point it, and the rival replies that his point is that this is beyond any of them, and is stating on record that this is a bad idea. He asks how they plan on helping Xorn by brining him to their home and suggests they call in a scientist, someone who knows what they are doing, like Beast. ‘Man, what a whiny woman you are!’ exclaims Juggernaut. Gambit speaks up and declares that it is not like he wants to agree with ‘da snowman’ but is this really a good idea? Alex tells him he doesn’t think they have a whole lot of choice.

Alex leads the way back to the X-jet and tells his teammates that “Xorn” is alive and that there are too many questions that need answering. ‘Like it, or not, he is the X-Men’s responsibility’. Hands on hips, Lorna suggests that this could be another ploy of Magneto’s, reminding everyone that he infiltrated their home as Xorn before, so what is to stop him from doing it again? Havok announces that that is the possibility that really frightens him.

He seven X-Men all turn around when someone says ‘Now really American, there are more important things to be frightened of, don’t you think?’ ‘Us for example, Eight Immortals, chosen protectors of the ancient Chinese homeland’. The X-Men see eight Chinese people, armed and ready for battle, as the spokesperson informs them the man they are holding is their responsibility, and that they need to unhand him, or die. Havok starts to reason with them, telling them they do not understand, but he doesn’t get very far, as the Eight Immortals leap into battle.

One of them calls Havok a fool for being in China when he is not Chinese, and knocks him out with a nunchuck. A ferocious woman attacks Wolverine and manages to scrape her nails across his face, drawing blood. Logan smirks before unsheathing his claws – only for the savage woman to unsheathe her own set of claws. ‘Come an’ get me darlin`’ boasts Wolverine.

‘This is almost too easy’ declares Lorna as she traps her legless opponent within his own crutches, but as Cain is shot at by a small woman using a spit-dart, he tells Lorna to speak for herself. Polaris asks Juggernaut if he would like her to come and help him with his, when suddenly her opponent throws some green dust at Lorna. Wearied, Lorna tells him to stop whatever he is doing to her or she will turn him inside out, but she cannot, for she keels over, she feels so weak, like she is dying.

Bobby’s opponent blocks the young founding X-Man’s ice attack with his sword, which only causes Bobby to increase his attack until he freezes his opponent in an ice prison. Bobby walks over and tells the trapped man that he could have stopped but now cannot even twitch his eyeballs. The Immortal breaks free and begins to cut away at Iceman.

Another Immortal, this one with the power of nature, has trapped Gambit in some vines and tells him to just try and combat the earth. Gambit tries to coax his powers into charging his card as Rogue barrels her way though another opponent. Gambit’s opponent realizes he has no powers, when she is suddenly tossed off the cliff as Rogue and her opponent crash into her. The still trapped Gambit calls to his lover, and a gun is fired, with the bullet flying just past Gambit, ripping the edge off the playing card he is holding – which causes it to explode, while Gambit is still holding onto it.

At the sound of her lover crying, Rogue steadies herself after her tumble with the Immortals and calls to Remy. She sees him up on a rock, crying out that it burns and clutching his eyes.

Havok wakes up to see his opponent standing over him and he begins to ask him why he killed all these people. ‘Answer or I hit’ the Immortal exclaims. Alex declares that the X-Men didn’t kill anyone. ‘I suppose everyone just die from Global Warming hm?’ the Immortal smirks. Havok informs him it was something to do with the head of the man they were carrying, when Juggernaut throws his two opponents at Havok’s, freeing Havok, Cain tells him to stop gabbing with the enemy and blow something up.

Alex understands and calls to the X-Men to ‘hit the dirt’ as he unleashes a huge solar powered blast. Logan shields Bobby and Lorna shelters behind some rocks as the blast knocks the remaining Immortals back and also creates a huge crater in the surrounding area. With the Immortals all held beneath rubble, Alex exclaims they should be held for now, and Cain picks up Xorn as they make their way back to the X-jet.

Logan and Juggernaut load Xorn aboard as Bobby helps the still weary Lorna up the ramp. Rogue brings up the rear, holding onto Gambit, she informs Alex that he has been hurt. As they enter the plane, Alex replies that lots of them have been hurt, but they are lucky – Rogue cuts Alex off and reveals that one of Remy’s cards blew up in his face, and pulling her lovers hands away from his eyes, Rogue announces that Gambit is blind.

Alex apologizes to Remy and declares that they will get him back to the mansion right away. Cain steps forward and tells Rogue that he doesn’t mean to jerk her boyfriend around, but wants to point out that they have bigger problems, and motioning to Xorn, Cain reveals that Alex’s big blast has cracked the mysterious mutants head open! Gas begins to pour from the crack and Xorn distorts as he creates a black hole in the X-jet. Alex orders everyone outside as he remains in the X-jet, but as Logan points out, Alex will not be able to survive a black hole. As the X-jet is suddenly twisted, Lorna exclaims that they are being torn apart.

Characters Involved: 

Gambit, Havok, Iceman, Juggernaut, Polaris, Rogue, Wolverine (All X-Men)

Icarus, Squidboy and other students

Xorn II

Mysterious person lurking around the Institute

The Eight Immortals

Story Notes: 

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

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?

Jay Guthrie’s true love Julia Cabot died in Uncanny X-Men #441. For the full story, see “She Lies With Angels” [Uncanny X-Men #437-441].

The line “got any mutants around that look like trees?” is a joke / reference to Black Tom Cassidy, a former associate of the Juggernaut, and whose mustache and trademark collar can be made out on the shadow against the tree, even though he was thought dead after the events of Uncanny X-Men #410-412.

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