X-Men (2nd series) #165

Issue Date: 
February 2005
Story Title: 
Hark, How the Bells!

Chris Claremont (Writer), Salvador Larroca (Penciler), Danny Miki (Inker), Rob Ro (Colorist), Chris Eliopoulos (Letterer), Stephanie Moore & Sean Ryan (Assistant Editors), Mike Marts (Editor), Joe Quesada (Editor-in-Chief), Dan Buckley (Publisher)

Brief Description: 

The X-Men help rescue survivors of a major car crash that happens near their home. X-23 gets into a fight with one of the boys she is trying to help, and later, Wolverine places her as roommates with Shadowcat and Marvel Girl. Hellion, much to his annoyance, is forced to go on a trip with other students to help at a hospice, and Archangel and Husk come home for Christmas, also go to help. Iceman, Gambit, Kitty, Rachel, Beast and X-23 play a prank on the students at the Institute, resulting in a huge snowball fight. Lila Cheney puts on a concert for the students, while Storm teaches Wind Dancer about her powers. Archangel and Cannonball play a prank on Hellion while Polaris surprises Iceman by kissing him. Elixir and Sage come up with a plan to restore Gambit’s eyesight, and it works. Rachel gets an interesting gift in the form of getting to meet Jean Grey’s parents - John and Elaine Grey. Xavier and Magneto watch the Christmas party via astral projection, and when a family that the X-Men rescued from the crash come by, including the boy who hit X-23, the family are invited to join the party by the forgiving X-23. Charles and Magneto see that moment as representative of this season of joy, and hope.

Full Summary: 

In the vicinity of Salem Center, New York…it was barely over in a single minute. The accident happened pretty much on the X-Men’s doorstep. The telepaths heard the psychic screams, the spikes of alarm and terror, and Magma sensed the seismic crash of the vehicles coming to rest. In seconds, everyone knew where to go and what to do. Before local police and rescue units had even begun to roll, the X-Men were on the scene, helping rescue the human civilians trapped in their cars after a major pile-up.

X-23 slashes her way into a upturned car, where inside, someone declares that she has spikes coming out of her hands. X-23 tells the trapped family not to be afraid, as they are here to help. Danny Miller exclaims that their rescuers are mutants, and therefore they must have caused the crash. He punches X-23 as he climbs out of his car telling his family that they are here to kill them. Of course Miller is wrong, but lucky for him, before the deadly X-23 can get to him, Wolverine gets to her.

Wolverine pulls X-23 away from Miller and asks her what she is doing. X-23 exclaims ‘I just - he was - I wanted -’ Logan grits his teeth and tells X-23 to stop reacting and to start thinking, to move with the right purpose, before she makes things any worse.

Flying overhead, one of the senior X-Men, Storm orders the others to get the civilians clear of the sight, and informs Iceman that the propane tanker is the primary danger. The cocky Bobby Drake replies that he is on it, and by coating it in ice, he should eliminate the risk of sparks or fire.

Kurt Wagner hurries the civilians aside, carrying one in his arms. The woman introduces herself as Callie and exclaims that she has never met a mutant before. Storm speaks to Rachel Grey via comm-link and asks her if she can handle the load. Rachel lifts a huge load up using telekinesis, boasting that as it is a function of mind and will, if she can imagine it, then anything is possible. ‘Show off’ declares the equally (if not more) powerful Lorna Dane a.k.a. Polaris, who uses her powers to magnetically deconstruct as much of a car that is possible, giving them access to the children trapped at the back. Nightcrawler applauds Polaris and teleports the parents out of the car.

An elderly man is amazed when one of the Xavier Institute’s students, Josh Foley touches his bruises and they heel. Nightcrawler asks Elixir what he can do for the parents, but Josh replies that if he focuses on heeling them, he may not have enough energy left for the rest and asks if he can teleport them to a hospital. Nightcrawler knows that he can take one of them and asks Rachel to take the other, which she does. Polaris hopes to Bobby that Rachel is right about her mutation, to which Bobby, as he creates an ice-sled for some children, asks if she means about anything being possible, and points out that the fact Rachel exists pretty much proves that.

Later, inside the Xavier Institute, Wolverine comes up to Rachel and Katherine „Kitty“ Pryde a.k.a. Shadowcat and informs the two good friends that he is assigning them a new roommate. ‘Excuse me?’ both girls say somewhat surprised. Logan points out that it took courage for X-23 to come to the school, as it goes against her every instinct and all that she has been taught. With her pet dragon, Lockheed, on her shoulder, Kitty asks why it has to be them. Logan tells Kitty that she and Rachel have the space, and that X-23 needs role models, as by nature she is a loner.

X-23 and Lockheed smile at each other as Logan informs Kitty and Rachel that 23 needs socialization with people who cannot be hurt by her claws. Wolverine adds that since he is more senior than both of them, he is pulling rank. ‘We’ll see about that’ mumbles Rachel. Logan tells Kitty that 23 trusts him, and he trusts her, so thinks this is for the best. End of story. With that, Logan leaves the girls quarters. ‘I so hate it when he does that!’ exclaims Kitty, before Rachel asks her if she has any bright ideas.

Shadowcat smiles and waves at X-23, introducing herself, but Rachel tells her to watch out, as X-23 seems to take it as some kind of threat, and unsheathes her claws before lunging towards Kitty. Kitty declares that X-23 will learn that an intangible adversary is virtually impossible to harm - but as X-23 rushes through Shadowcat, both girls begin to choke, and once separated fall to the ground. Rachel jokes that Logan was serious when he said that 23 wasn’t housebroken, and asks Kitty if she is going to hurl. Via their telepathic connection, Kitty tells Rachel that this kind of reaction only happens when she is phasing through adamantium. Rachel points out that to have a skeleton like Wolverine’s - Kitty knows what Rachel is talking about, and finishes her sentence - it means that 23 would have had adamantium bonded to her bones like Logan. Looking at the shaken X-23, they see she is just a kid.

Meanwhile, at the Grindstone, a coffee shop in Salem Center where one of the Institute’s students, Noriko a.k.a. Surge works, Noriko is visited by one of her New Mutant Squad’s opposing team - the group leader of the Hellions, the aptly named „Hellion“ a.k.a. Julian Keller. Noriko’s teammate, Elixir is at a booth in the corner of the café and Julian asks him how it feels to be hero of the week. Elixir tells Julian that they could have used his telekinesis at the crash site, to which Hellion mutters ‘nobody asked me’. Noriko tells Hellion to leave Josh alone, before the cocky Hellion tells Surge that he doesn’t even know why she is teammates with a loser like Elixir. ‘You gotta ask, you’ll never know’ replies Noriko.

Hellion mockingly tells Elixir that he has nice sunglasses and pulls them off, adding that they are too nice for him. As Josh tells Julian to give them back, Nightcrawler suddenly teleports in, informing Hellion that he has been looking for him, as they teleport away, Kurt informs Julian that he is on a mission from God now.

Nightcrawler and Hellion bamf into a van filled where the X-Man Lucas Bishop, Institute teachers and former students themselves, Danielle Moonstar and Xian Coy Mahn, as well his fellow students, Laurie Collins, Sooraya Qadir, Sofia Mantega-Barrett and David Alleyne are all seated in the van too. Hellion tells everyone that they cannot do this, as Miss Frost is his advisor. Dani into her rear-vision mirror and tells Julian to yell all he wants, to tell Emma that he had his chance to do the right thing for once, but couldn’t be bothered. ’She’ll be so proud’.

As the group of mutants walk up to a large house, Hellion asks Nightcrawler what the sign on the truck „Mutantes Sans Frontieres“ means, which Kurt translates as „Mutants Without Borders“ and reveals that it was Beasts idea. Inside the large house, Dust asks what kind of place this is, and Kurt informs her that it is a hospice, and tells the children that sometimes saving the world is not about fighting super-villains.

As Danielle and Bishop gather supplies from the truck, they are greeted by former X-Men Warren Worthington and Paige Guthrie. Moonstar hugs Paige as she welcomes the lovers back, asking them if they are tired of hanging on the coast. Inside, as Warren and Paige serve up food to the ill, Warren points out that it is the season, and reminds everyone that looking after their own means more than just the X-Men, or mutants in general.

At the Grindstone, Kitty, Rachel and X-23 enter, wanting coffee and food. When the three girls sit at a table, Kitty boasts that they deserve a medal for single-handedly jump-starting the local economy. Rachel reminds Kitty that she has never needed an excuse to shop. ‘So many sales, so little cash!’ mutters Kitty. 23 just looks at them confused. Noriko brings over some hot cider and biscotti, Kitty thanks her and declares that she had forgotten what time of year it was. Rachel points out that she has never had much use for Christmas, as she never had a lot to celebrate.

Suddenly, Remy LeBeau and Iceman walk up to the girls table. Gambit tells Rachel that what she said is a shame, and Iceman declares that the two of them are here to change all of that. ‘Do tell’ mutters Kitty. ‘We’re looking for babes’ states Gambit bluntly. Rachel tells the guys that they have got to be kidding, and as the guys sit down at the girls table, Surge tells Iceman that it is cold enough without him making it any worse.

Elixir is still at the Grindstone and walks over to the others, handing Gambit some cyber-glasses he tells him that he left them behind after their last healing session. Gambit thanks Josh, and Josh says that he is sorry things could not work out, that he couldn’t heal his blindness. ‘You play the cards you’re dealt’ states Gambit, but Josh says ‘Or you start over with a fresh deck’.

Iceman declares that they may all be great at saving the world, but that off duty, most of the X-Men are stiffs. Gambit exclaims that they are going to change that, and asks the girls who of them are up for some fun, handing them some cyber glasses. Kitty and Rachel smile, ‘count us in!’ Kitty exclaims before Rachel shoves a pair of glasses on the confused X-23.

Back at the Institute, an alarm goes off, causing the students to rush from the buildings, ‘Which alarm was that?’ ‘Is there are fire?’ ‘Intruder alert?’ ‘Is it a drill?’ ‘Are we under attack?’ ‘look at the teachers!’ ‘Betcha its one of the Hellions yanking our chain’ ‘Hey! The courtyard is totally ice!’ Several students fall over each other before the Institute’s headmistress, Emma Frost the White Queen, followed by her lover, teammate and co-headmaster Scott ‘Cyclops’ Summers enter the courtyard. The ever-sultry Emma tells everyone to calm down, declaring that it is obviously someone pulling a prank, that it is of extremely dubious humor and guarantees retribution.

Suddenly, Emma is hit square in the face by a snowball which knocks her to the ground. Sheltered behind a wall of snow is Bobby, Gambit and 23. Bobby tells Emma that talk is cheap, and that if she wants a piece of them, ‘Bring it on!’ Cyclops tells Bobby and Gambit to be careful what they wish for, and shoots an optic beam at them, which Bobby blocks with an ice-shield, telling Scott that to play fair, with no powers - they can settle it the old fashioned way. ‘For you, Iceman, it’ll be my pleasure!’ exclaims Scott as he throws a snowball, hitting Bobby in the face. A mass snowball fight ensures, even Emma gets in on it.

Suddenly, one of the students points up to the sky, as Beast, dressed in a Santa Claus costume, and Kitty and Rachel decked out in green elf clothing drop into the courtyard. ‘Ho! Ho! Ho! Seasons greetings to one and all!’ exclaims the Beast, who jokes that he has checked his list, and checked it twice, so he does really know who has been naughty or nice. Beast turns to Cyclops and Emma, telling them that as the co-heads of the Institute, they deserve the first gifts - and pulls from his sack to bright red round noses, which he places over their real (or rather in Emma’s case fake) noses. Cyclops laughs, while Emma sort of laughs. Beast begins handing out gifts to everyone, making sure that no one goes empty handed.

One of the students hears music, and rushes to the back, where a crowd of students and teachers have already gathered, and are watching Lila Cheney, who is an inter-stellar rock star, and girlfriend of Sam Guthrie, who is leave from X-Force and here for Christmas. A surprised student tells Rahne Sinclair that the air is not cold, that no one needs coats. Rahne smiles and informs the boy that Storm is controlling the weather, so he can thank her for making things so comfortable.

Storm is busy with Wind Dancer though, informing the co-leader of the New Mutants squad that control is the key, that the winds she creates affect the local air mass, like stones casting ripples across a pond. Kitty, a former bar-tender herself is manning the bar with Lockheed and tells the approaching students that if anyone wants the hard stuff they need to talk to the dragon. She jokes that Lockheed knows who is legal, and that he breathes fire.

Amara Aquilla, a former New Mutant and current member of X-Corporation asks Gambit how her fire is, to which Gambit, who is cooking, suggests that she turn it down a little bit. Prodigy brings Gambit the barbecue sauce as Elixir is speaking on the phone to someone. Quietly, he declares that he has done his own part, and asks the other if they are sure there is no other way. In the queue of students lining up for food, Hellion cuts to the front of the line, when a student protests, Julian declares that he doesn’t care, that he just wanted to see if old wings fly as well as young ones.

Husk smiles as Archangel lifts Julian up, asking him if it is a challenge. Hellion declares that he is not impressed and exclaims that Icarus has got way better moves. Warren admits that he has yet to see those skills, and high above the Institute, drops Julian, calling to Cannonball to finish off the little Hellion’s ride. Cannonball catches Julian in his arms and informs him that he used to lead the New Mutants. ‘And we loved to kick New Mutant butt!’

Elsewhere on campus, Iceman is setting up some mistletoe in a large tree as X-23 watches. Bobby asks her what kind of name “„X-23“ is, telling her it is too much of a Star Trek thing. He asks her if they can call her “Trudy“ or something, and asks her what the point of having new clothes is if she is going to sped the party in hiding. Suddenly, ‘There you are, Bobby’ exclaims the beautiful Polaris as she sneaks up behind Bobby. Lorna kisses Bobby, surprising him. Bobby asks his former girlfriend what she did that for, to which Lorna tells him he is a bright boy, so can figure it out, before flying off. ‘Polaris! You can’t just kiss and run! Wait up!’ Bobby screams after her.

Also in the forest, Gambit, calls to Rogue, his girlfriend and teammate, declaring that Elixir said she was out here waiting for him. Gambit senses someone under Bobby’s mistletoe tree, and tells Rogue that he likes her style. Gambit and Rogue embrace, Remy telling Rogue that he has missed her, then they kiss. ‘I’m sorry Remy…but I’m not Rogue. And this isn’t what you think’. Gambit is thrust back, and Tessa a.k.a. the powerful Sage stands over him. ‘Joyeux Noel, mon brave’ Tessa says before disappearing. On the snow covered ground, Gambit calls to Sage, telling her not to walk away from him, and asks her if she was playing with his powers, if it was some kind of jump-start again. Taking off his glasses, Gambit realizes that he can see again.

Back at the party, Emma and Scott embrace as they say it is great news about Gambit. Emma doesn’t think Josh should have kept things secret though, but Scott smiles and says that Sage is a hard woman to resist. Rachel comes up to her „father“ and Emma and asks if they want presents. Emma opens a package, inside it is a pair of white pants with ‘X-Men’ printed on them. Emma declares that they are ‘utterly perfect’, but Scott tells her she has to be kidding, before asking if it is silk. Emma turns to Rachel and tells her that it is now their turn to give her a present, and introduces Rachel to her grandparents - John and Elaine Grey. Jean Grey’s parents smile at Rachel, and embrace their possible future granddaughter.

Later, Emma opens the front door and as a police officer enters the hall, Emma telepathically informs Scott that they have a visitor. Cyclops, Wolverine and Storm gather around as the police man apologizes for intruding, but informs them that some of the people they saved in the car crash wanted to thank them in person. Outside at a car, the Miller family wait for the X-Men. Lara Miller tells her husband that this is insane, that they should send them a note as mutants are monsters. Jerry reminds his wife that they owe the X-Men everything.

The police officer introduces Jerry to Cyclops and Emma. Jerry stutters, as he declares that thanks to the X-Men, his family is alive. Cyclops shakes Jerry’s hand, telling him that they are glad they could make a difference. X-23 walks up to Danny and apologizes for scaring him, and points out that they are having a celebration and asks if they would like to join them. X-23 quickly turns back to Logan and asks if what she asked was wrong, but Wolverine smiles and tells her it was exactly right. Scott tells 23 that she took the words right out of his mouth. Lara declares that they don’t want to be a bother and tells her husband and oldest son that they should just go. But Danny apologizes to X-23 for hitting her, and declares that he would like to stay.

Watching from a distance, is the astral projections of Professor Charles Xavier, the Institute founder and Magneto. Magneto tells Charles that he should join them, as they are his students, it is his house, his legacy. Charles tells his best friend that this is not the time as there are too many questions he is not prepared to answer. As some fireworks go off, Charles suggests they each in their own ways savor the moment and what it represents. ‘That this is indeed the season of joy. And…of hope’.

Scott and Emma embrace as Cannonball and Lila kiss, Lorna and Archangel fly over to the group where the Miller family and police officer stand amongst Storm, Logan, 23, Tessa, Bobby, Nightcrawler, Lockheed, and Rachel lifts Elaine and John Grey up with her telekinesis - everyone watching the fireworks - created by Jubilee! ‘

Characters Involved: 

Beast, Bishop, Cyclops, Gambit, Iceman, Marvel Girl III, Nightcrawler, Polaris, Sage, Shadowcat, Storm, White Queen, Wolverine (All X-Men)

Archangel, Cannonball, Husk, Jubilee (Former X-Men)

Karma, Moonstar, Wolfsbane (Teachers at the Institute)

Dust, Elixir, Hellion, Icarus, Prodigy III, Surge IV, Victor, Wallflower, Wind Dancer, X-23 (Students at the Institute)

Elaine & John Grey (Phoenix IV’s parents)

Magma (Member of X-Corporation L.A)

Lila Cheney (X-Men Ally, Cannonball’s girlfriend)


Jerry & Lara Miller and their children Danny and three unnamed

Callie and other crash survivors

Patients at the Hospice


Via Astral Projection

Professor Charles Xavier


Story Notes: 

Of the core casts, both Havok and Rogue are not present from the adjectiveless X-Men, while Colossus is not present from the Astonishing X-Men title. Northstar, currently teaching at the Institute is also not present.

Claremont is a great fan of Magma, while other X-Corporation LA members, are not present. Magma’s ties to her former New Mutants teammates make her spending Christmas with them a realistic reason for her being there. Presumably her fellow X-Corp branch members, Skids is spending Christmas with her former college roommate, or fellow former X-Terminators Rictor or Meltdown, and Empath would hardly be welcome at the Institute. Sunspot’s un-appearance can be assumed because he is tied up with the Hellfire Club.

Archangel and Husk (along with Jubilee and Northstar) were dropped from the core casts following Reload. Moonstar’s comment about Archangel and Husk being on the Coast would allow one to assume they had been on vacation on the Coast after being without a team. However Archangel at least is scheduled to appear in upcoming issues of Excalibur

Gambit was blinded in X-Men (2nd series) #158.

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