X-Men (2nd series) #159

Issue Date: 
September 2004
Story Title: 
Day of the Atom - part 3

: 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) (All unaccredited)

Brief Description: 

In China, Havok manages to keep Xorn from opening another black hole by channeling his power through himself, though it is not a particularly viable solution. However, the Eight Immortals return and remind the X-Men of the helmet Xorn was kept in which prevents his powers from acting out of control. They reveal that it is being held at a nearby military base, and so while the Eight Immortals lead Wolverine, Polaris, Rogue and the blinded Gambit some of the way, the squabbling Iceman and Juggernaut remain to keep an eye on Havok and Xorn – until the Collective Man shows up with some military aid, informing the heroes that they will die for setting Xorn free. Wolverine, Polaris, Rogue and Gambit are also confronted by the Collective Man when they arrive at the military base. At the Xavier Institute, Jay Guthrie has a run-in with Mindee of the Stepford Cuckoo’s while Squidboy tries to warn the White Queen that Black Tom Cassidy is on campus, but she doesn’t believe him.

Full Summary: 

China, where one squad of the mutant super hero team known collectively as the X-Men have journeyed to in search of a powerful mutant – whom they have found, and has now opened a black hole which he is sucking them into. Alex Summers a.k.a. the handsome Havok, leader of this squad wrestles with the controls of the X-plane as it is torn to pieces. Lovers Rogue and Remy “Gambit” LeBeau, recently blinded in battle, cling on to each other as the beautiful Lorna Dane, sometimes called “Polaris” asks her reluctant teammates how one can stop a black hole. The rugged Wolverine a.k.a. Logan suggests they kill “Xorn’s body” and therefore stop the head, which Cain Marko a.k.a. the Juggernaut agrees to, and asks Alex what he thinks – then the plane explodes.

Moments later, Polaris and her former boyfriend Iceman a.k.a. Bobby Drake make their way to the ground on one of Iceman’s ice-sleds. Lorna asks if everyone is all right, and motioning to their teammates who are scattered all across the ground, Bobby tells her that it looks that way. ‘Speak for yerself, “Icepick”!’ shouts Cain, stuck in some debris of the plane. Wolverine turns to Havok, who is holding onto Xorn’s head and emitting his solar powered energy.

Iceman points out that it seems Alex has latched purposely onto Xorn, as Rogue tends to Remy, asking him if he is okay. Clutching his eyes, Gambit asks Rogue what is going on. Cain asks Alex if he is okay, to which Alex replies that he doesn’t know, but that his plasma energy seems to be holding Xorn’s black hole effect stable at the moment. As Havok exclaims that it hurts a lot and cannot seem to stop it, his ex-fiancee – Polaris – looks on, concerned.

Standing beside Bobby, Cain reminds everyone that Alex is the leader of the team, and that they have to do something. Bobby tells Cain to consider himself lucky that he is even on this team, “Bin-Head”. ‘“Bin-Head”? Oh, Iceman. How original!’ Juggernaut mocks Bobby by joking that his feelings are so desperately hurt he may cry. ‘Right after I kick your –’ Cain doesn’t have time to finish his sentence, as Iceman knocks him back with a huge surge of ice.

Logan turns to Bobby and tells him that this is not the time, but Cain asks Logan to back off, exclaiming that Frosty just wants to get to know him better. Cain breaks the ice residue left over from Bobby’s attack and declares that it just his way of saying he wants to break the ice. Iceman points at Juggernaut and tells his teammates that he doesn’t belong in the X-Men, or in their home. He exclaims that he is so sick of him, always around giving him grief. ‘We can’t trust the Juggernaut! He’s a villain!’

Havok tells Bobby and Juggernaut to cut it out and reminds the X-Men that they have a serious problem here, that the only thing stopping everything from being sucked into Xorn’s head, is Havok. He tells his team that he seems to be counteracting Xorn for the moment, but that even his powers have a limit and can already start feeling them fade – and when they do, Xorn’s black hole is going to start pulling them in again. Havok declares that the entire planet may collapse into him and die, so he needs some answers now! No one offers any. ‘Yeah. That’s what I was afraid of’ Alex mumbles.

Meanwhile, at the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning, Salem Center, Westchester, Sammy Pare continues his tour of the X-Men’s home for newcomer Jay Guthrie. Sammy points out the music room, and remembers that Jay likes music, so suggest to him that he goes and waits there while he goes and talks to Miss Frost about ‘that weird tree thing’ they saw in the yard. Jay agrees and thanks his younger roommate.

After Squidboy has left, Jay enters a room where someone is playing a piano – it is Mindee, one of the Stepford Cuckoos. Jay exclaims that he didn’t mean to disturb her, but Mindee tells him to shush, exclaiming that this is a very complicated piece and it is rude to interrupt. She tells him that if he had any respect for music, he would know that.

Mindee finishes playing, while Jay waits in the doorway. She asks him what it is that he wants, but Jay just stares at her, before slinking back into the corridor, exclaiming ‘Never mind’. Mindee looks crossly at the space he was just standing in before returning to her music and calling him a plebeian.

Back in China, night has come, and the effects of Havok’s plasma power casts an eerie glow over the area. Juggernaut suggests that because they cannot kill him then he thinks that to stop him from destroying the world they should shoot him into space. Iceman tells Juggernaut that they cannot shoot Alex into space, but Cain informs the younger X-Man that he was talking about Xorn and suggests that Bobby has water on the brain in more ways than one. ‘And yet we still managed to kick your butt once a twice a month for years on end!’ Bobby snaps back.

Rogue asks the boys if she is going to have to make them go to their rooms and tells them that they are not helping the situation. Gambit tells Rogue that he needs to get his eyes looked at, but Juggernaut tells Remy that they are not the priority at the moment. Furious, Gambit exclaims that they are burning up ‘you worthless lump of muscle’. Logan grins and tells everyone that he likes the ‘shoot-him-into-space option’ before asking about the helmet they found on Xorn.

Suddenly, the Eight Immortals appear near the X-Men and exclaim that they may be able to help with that. One of them informs the X-Men that the Immortals now realize the destruction here was not their doing and would like to offer assistance. ‘We had enough of your assistance already, thank you very much!’ Suddenly, Xorn begins to speak. Havok exclaims that he doesn’t understand if that is actually Xorn talking through all the craziness that is going on, and Rogue announces that it is him, but wonders what he is saying. One of the Eight Immortals translates for the X-Men, revealing Xorn is asking “My brother? Is that you, my brother Xorn?”

Back at the Institute, The Institute’s headmistress, Emma Frost a.k.a. the White Queen leans back in her chair, feet resting on her desk and is talking to someone on the phone. She declares that she didn’t realize how much she actually missed running an institute – ‘all these impressionable young minds!’ Squidboy enters her office, and grabs her attention, but Emma ignores him, pointing out the obvious – that she is on the phone.

Sammy asks Emma if she remembers that ‘dude who used to run around with Cain?’ back when they were bad guys and fighting the X-Men all the time. Emma looks at Sammy and asks him if he means Black Tom Cassidy, ‘what about him?’ and tells Sammy that this better not be an X-Men trivia question, for she really hasn’t got the time. Sammy doesn’t listen to Emma and asks her if Black Tom controls trees.

Emma is getting rather annoyed, but Sammy exclaims that he thinks Black Tom is here at school, because he just saw some kids talking to a tree outside – ‘why are you looking at me like that?’ Sammy asks as he sees the White Queen’s less-than-impressed expression. The White Queen leads Sammy out of her office, the young boy asking her if she doesn’t believe him.

Sammy exclaims again that he saw Black Tom, but Emma tells him ‘a talking tree does not a super villain make’. Emma closes her door as she thanks Sammy for the information, telling him she will look into it. Sammy exclaims that Black Tom was never found, but the door clicks shut. Sammy calls to Emma, ‘You know the way bad stuff happens around here on a semi-regular basis! You could be more open minded!’

In China, one of the Eight Immortals announces that there is no option, for their “friend” cannot control how his power behaves, but that there is a special containment helmet that can. Havok exclaims that this idea sounds good to him. Another of the Eight Immortals tells Tsao that they cannot lead the X-Men to it. Tsao asks Chung Li why they cannot, and Chung Li reveals that there are military men where the helmet is, and although they do not agree with each other’s methods, they are still their people.

Tsao realizes that Chung Li is right, and informs the X-Men that they will guide them to where the military base where the helmet is kept, but that they cannot take them inside. He suggests to the X-Men that they leave some of their number behind, for he thinks the military would have been alerted to this disturbance. Havok agrees, for as he is occupied at the moment he could certainly use extra protection. Polaris announces that she will stay, but Alex looks at her, and while he appreciates it, he cannot think of anyone better suite to go against a military base with lots of metal hardware around than someone with magnetic powers – namely her.

‘I’ll stay’ exclaim Bobby and Juggernaut in unison. ‘You!? He doesn’t need you to stay! What good can you do? I’m more powerful! You’re more powerful? What a joke!’ they both say. Havok tells Iceman and Juggernaut that they will both stay, before telling everyone to get on with it as there is not much time. Lorna asks Alex if he is sure he will be all right, and glancing back at her, Alex tells Lorna he will as long as she goes and comes back quickly.

Alex thanks Lorna for caring, telling her that he knows she has every reason in the world to want to see him vanish into a black hole after leaving her at the altar. Polaris smiles, ‘Oh, dear Alex. I would never want anything like that!’ Wolverine, Polaris, Rogue and Gambit leave with the Eight Immortals as Juggernaut tells Alex not to worry, for he has got his back. ‘You mean I’ve got his back, Juggy!’ Bobby snaps back. Rogue tells Remy that perhaps they should have stayed behind too, but Gambit, who now has a cloth wrapped around his eyes, tells Rogue that Bobby and Cain would then have to protect him as well as Alex and Xorn, so it is better that he is moving than standing still, as a dead-weight target.

Cain declares that he will handle the tough stuff and tells Bobby to just stand there and provide the air conditioning. ‘Oh please!’ mutters Bobby, putting a hand to his face, when suddenly, Xorn begins to speak in English.
He who stands on his toes does not stand firm. He who stretches his legs does not walk easily. And so, he who displays himself does not shine, he who asserts his own views is not distinguished, he who vaunts himself does not find his merit acknowledged and he who is self-conceited has no superiority allowed to him.

Cain asks what all that meant, to which Bobby tells Cain it means he is an arrogant, controlling muscle-bound jerk with self-important delusions of grandeur. ‘But of course I’m paraphrasing’.
The root of grandeur is humility. Loving others is the only real grandeur. The answer to loving others is to first be loved by learning to love oneself. Bobby and Cain point to each other as Cain asks Xorn if he is speaking to Bobby, when suddenly, someone exclaims ‘He is talking to no one!’

Alex, Bobby and Juggernaut look around to see and several duplicates of a red and blue clad man, as well as armed military. The handsome man declares that “Xorn” is a raving lunatic who was raised in isolation who should have stayed there for the safety of his people, before telling the X-Men that for releasing him they shall all die.

Elsewhere, Tsao tells Logan, Lorna, Rogue and Remy to follow the tunnel he points at until it ends, then they can enter the military base along the mountain ridge near the back. He adds that it is likely no one will be there when they arrive for it is not often used. Lorna asks if they just have his word for this and how are they to know that there may be an army waiting for them on the other side to finish their dirty work?

Chung Li tells Lorna that the Eight Immortals do not need others to finish her off. Tsao informs Lorna that although his teammate is brusque he speaks the truth, for they only desire to help her – there would be no honor in having her and the other X-Men defeated at the hands of others. ‘Oh, I'm so sure,’ Lorna remarks sarcastically before telling the Eight Immortals that the X-Men are confident they can handle whatever is on the other side of the tunnel, trap or no trap.

Rogue points out that they do not have much choice, or much time. ‘Let’s get going!’ Lorna tells the others as they enter the tunnel. Tsao asks Chung Li if he didn’t like the X-Men – even admire them. But Chung Li declares that he does not. Tsao puts an arm on Chung Li’s shoulder and tells him that they were fun. ‘When will you learn to use deodorant?’ asks Chung Li.

Walking down the tunnel, Logan leads the way as Rogue brings up the rear, holding onto Gambit, who tells her that she keeps bumping him into things. Rogue declares that she is trying not to but that it is so dark and hard to see. Remy tells her to imagine what it is like when it is impossible to see. Logan tells them to be quiet, as the sultry Polaris tells Gambit she is getting sick of his hostility and suggests he get a grip or else she will help him get a grip on it.

Suddenly, a loud creak startles Remy and he asks what it is. Rogue tells him it is just some timber creaking, but Remy thinks it sounds like they are going to break. Rogue tries to calm him down as Logan tells them to be quiet, as they have come across a padlocked door, to which he can smell fresh air on the other side. He slices the chain with his adamantium claws and as he pushes it open, standing before the X-Men is the Chinese army – and a red and blue clad man who has many duplicates and introduces himself as the Collective Man – ‘the instrument of your death!’

Characters Involved: 

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

Icarus, Mindee, Squidboy and other students

Xorn II

The Collective Man

The Eight Immortals

Chinese military

In Photograph

Mindee & Germaine

Story Notes: 

Black Tom Cassidy was last seen and thought dead in Uncanny X-Men #412.
It is odd that Emma Frost wouldn’t care about Squidboy’s warning as Black Tom once kidnapped her students and killed her [Generation X #25].

Havok left Polaris at the altar in Uncanny X-Men #426.

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