X-Men: First Class (2nd series) #13

Issue Date: 
August 2008
Story Title: 
<BR>Rise, Robot, Rise (1st story)<BR>Who Is the Mysterious Agent Baker? (2nd story)

(1st story) Jeff Parker (writer), Roger Cruz (artist), Val Staples (colors)

(2nd story) Jeff Parker (writer), Colleen Coover (artist)

Blambot’s Nate Piekos (letterer), Cruz & Guru (cover), Irene Lee (production), Nathan Cosby (assistant editor), Mark Paniccia (editor), Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

1st story:

While the X-Men all deal with Angel’s absence in their own ways, Professor X at the instigation of Agent Baker invites Doctor Stack and his creation – the robot Aaron – to the School. When the X-Men observe them, Aaron attacks hem. He is revealed to be a robot and meant to learn interaction with humans among them. The X-Men deal with Aaron in different ways, with especially Jean resenting him for “replacing” Angel. The X-Men and Aaron are called to Washington State by Agent Baker to investigate strange ongoings at a volcano. While doing so, they are surrounded by Lava Men.

2nd story:
Xavier, Marvel Girl and Cyclops speculate who the mysterious Agent Baker is.

Full Summary: 

1st story:

Robots and what they can do for you…

Hank: Hello, I’m Henry McCoy. I’m here today to speak on insights into prospective robotics.

Bobby: And I’m Bobby Drake. I’m here because Hank said he didn’t want me to come out.

Hank: Very true. Now if you’ll turn your attention to page one of my dissertation, you’ll see –

Bobby: In the future! Robots will do our chores. They will clean both out toilets and those French bidet things that I don’t know how to use!!

Hank: Bobby –

Bobby: In the future! Robots will be able to talk to muffins! They will tell them to be more delicious!!!

Hank: That’s ridicu –

Bobby: In the future! There will be no dogs! Scientists will invent Robo-dogs! Plug-in pugs! Labrador rewinders! They will be both adorable and energy efficient!!!

Hank: Get off the stage –

Bobby: The revolution comes! Unplug your toasters before they destroy us all!!!

Hank: >sigh<

Outside the mansion on the lawn Hank with the dubious assistance of Iceman is rebuilding the skeleton of a giant sloth (given to them by the inhabitants of the City of Mist). An even better gift would have been if they gave them their flying mutant, Jean comments sourly. Warren’ll be back in two weeks tops, Iceman is sure. He’s not going to ditch the X-Men! Yeah, what does he have to keep him here? Scott agrees sarcastically. Just a beautiful girlfriend and a whole society that accepts him and he doesn’t have to hide his wings…

Trying to carry up the sloth skull, Bobby reluctantly agrees. But, he says… as he creates an ice pedestal to lift the skull upon the rest of the sloth… What’s he doing? Hank asks. Putting the head on. Hank warns him not to. He hasn’t put a brace under the neck to support it yet. That moment, Bobby slips and with him the entire skeleton falls apart despite Jean’s telekinetic attempt to hold it up.

Inside, Xavier is on the phone talking to Dr. Stack, assuring him he is very eager to see his work and he understands the importance of keeping it secret. He looks up to see the commotion outside with Hank grabbing a sloth bone and giving chase to Bobby. Should he come to Stack’s facility? No, of course he can bring it here. He’ll look for him in the morning.

Stack finishes the call, talking to somebody, telling him they have a trip tomorrow. To see Xavier? the other asks. Professor Xavier, Stack corrects him. He must use appropriate titles. He takes a face plate and puts it on his partner, telling him he has much to learn about being human he and believes Professor Xavier will be a great help.

On the next day, Hank is again working on the sloth. Keeping a respectful distance, Bobby announces he thinks they are going to get a new kid. X is going to replace Warren. He wouldn’t do that, Jean replies. If he’s found another good mutant candidate, he doesn’t see why not, Hank points out.

Bobby tells them Xavier was talking to the guy and his dad in the courtyard. Scott wonders what his powers are. Another flyer would be good. Yeah, that’s all Warren was, their flying mutant, Jean comments sarcastically. Scott retorts he isn’t writing Warren off. Even if he does come back…

Which he will, in two weeks, Bobby still believes. It’s not like they can’t have a sixth member if that guy shows promise, Scott continues.

Hidden behind the shrubbery, they spy on Xavier, Stack and the newcomer, watching them talking.

Hank tries to listen in. The youngster, a black-haired boy with strange inhuman eyes suddenly shouts they are being spied upon. His metal arms stretch out as he grabs Hank and demands he state his purpose. Hank uses the momentum to topple the boy, warning him that an entry requirement to this school is not attacking the student populace. The boy orders Dr. Stack to take cover and tosses Hank upwards.

Stack apologizes to the professor. He’ll make him stand down. Amused, Xavier calms him. This happens quite a lot actually. He thinks it will resolve itself. Bobby ices up, telling the boy: that’s enough, freshman, you don’t haze us, we haze you!

Cyclops orders him out of the way. Bobby tells him to chill. After what they did to Bobby when he first got here, he’s been waiting to initiate someone else. He freezes the boy, who calmly remarks this is highly formidable. He regrets he cannot escape it in an equally clever fashion. He uses his free, stretched arm to emit flames and thaw the ice.

Noticing the similarity in powers to the Human Torch and Mr. Fantastic, Iceman wonders if he is the Super Skrull. The boy uses super strength to break the thawed ice. Now he’s ripping off Ben Grimm, Bobby remarks, that seals it.

Cyclops decides he is tough enough to take a direct hit from his optic blast. The boy is interested in whatever “technology” Scott uses for this feat and hits him to examine him when he’s inactive. Hank wants to rejoin the fight. Jean keeps him back with a gesture and an order. She levitates the stranger, explaining that nobody was attacking him. They just have a bad habit of spying on people.

The boy theorizes that she is employing high level telekinesis. Jean agrees and asks if he is going to stop fighting. As “encouragement,” she spins him fast. He will not succumb to vertigo, he insists.

Xavier has seen enough and orders everyone to stand down. Stack admits his students are incredible. He sees now why Mister Baker thought they should meet. This is the perfect environment for someone like Aaron to acclimate to the world. Being part of the defense department, he’s a bit… defensive.

Jean lets Aaron go. Hank realizes their mysterious friend in the FBI’s odd case detail arranged this meeting. Yes, Xavier explains. Agent Baker is mindful not to share everything he knows with his superiors, and he knows of the military program that Aaron here is a part of. The military is using mutants now? Scott asks aggressively. Not that he knows of, doctor Stack replies and orders Aaron to open for inspection.

His faceplate slides away and his “ribcage” opens and they can see that Aaron is a robot. He is risking his career to bring Aaron off base like this. Their X-series robots are still experimental and in many ways unpredictable. The army believes he has him at his home lab for modifications. He thinks Aaron’s neural net needs more socializing.

Looking somewhat disgusted, Jean asks the doctor to close him up. They get it. He’s a machine. Aaron puts on his faceplate but corrects her that he is also a man. Isn’t he? he asks his father. Yes, Stack agrees. He is an individual like any of these people. Jean apologizes. He takes no offense, Aaron replies, calling her a female. He is merely correcting her. Her name is Jean, she states pointedly.

Later, Jean and Scott prepare dinner wile inside Bobby and Hank are making small-talk with Aaron. Does he need to plug in anywhere because they’ve got outlets all over the mansion, Bobby suggests helpfully, to which Aaron replies he charges mostly with solar power. Very ecological, Hank commends him.

He’d better make some hot dogs for Bobby and motor oil for Aaron, Jean tells Scott snidely. Scott asks her to give him a break. He’s only been in operation for a few weeks. Angrily cutting the vegetables, she remarks, all the more reason they shouldn’t be giving him the keys to the mansion. Are they supposed to make him an X-Man uniform too?

It might help him get with the program, Scott considers the suggestion seriously. They are unaware the Aaron is listening in. Jean protests angrily that he’s not an X-Man. He’s a science project and she doesn’t feel like showing Pinocchio how to be a real boy.

Hank asks Aaron if something is amiss. Jean doesn’t want him here, Aaron explains. He doesn’t think she really has a problem with him, Hank replies, but they recently lost one of their members, Angel. And you know how when your dog dies, someone tries to force a new puppy on you and you’re like “this isn’t my dog” Bobby tries to explain. That analogy could use some work, Hank sighs.

He’s not paying any attention anyway, Bobby points out as Aaron takes a look at Hank’s sloth skeleton instead. He is attentive Aaron shoots back. He is merely interested in what skeleton these bones are from. This is from a megatherium, Hank explains, a giant sloth. Yet his carbon dating shows this animal died only a year ago and has been found extinct for eight thousand years, Aaron points out.

Aaron begins to reconstruct the sloth while Hank tries to explain to him why eavesdropping is impolite. A little later, the sloth is reassembled. While they marvel at this Jean and Scott come in with lunch. Aaron turns to Jean, announcing that he will not terminate canines unless they pose a direct threat to national security. That’s great, she replies flabbergasted. Has he been talking to Bobby?

Does he eat or drink? Scott asks him. He can intake water, de-ionize and distill it. It simulates drinking. Water it is.

Xavier and Stack join them. Xavier tells them to suit up after lunch. They’re taking the jet to Washington State. They have a perfect investigation for Aaron to accompany them on.

Later at Mount St. Helens National Volcano Monument. That volcano is smoking, Bobby points out nervously. They need to go back east. Hank explains that Mount St. Helens already blew decades ago. The likelihood of another eruption is very low. Looking at the volcano with a pair of binoculars, Xavier agrees. But it is still active enough to smoke and cause tremors. A lava dome collapsed recently. Volcanologists believe this to be ordinary settling. But their friend in the FBI doesn’t think it ordinary.

Cue for Agent Baker to show up. Baker makes a point of greeting Aaron. Then he explains that since that volcano started steaming again there’ve been some strange sightings in this area. He showed Professor Xavier some camcorder footage a local took, but he doesn’t have that with him today.

Xavier mentally shows the others what the footage showed. Red lava beings. Just as he thought. Bigfoot and family, Bobby cracks. Baker explains these are what he believes to be Lava Men. If they remember the menace that Thor fought a while back, he was one of these people. Xavier recalls Thor had quite a time with that one. He hopes it was one of the most powerful of its kind.

Even if he was, they don’t know how many of them are in Subterranea and people where mighty scared of what he had to say (namely that his people would take over the surface), Baker points out. They’ve been telling people that what they’ve been seeing is all practical jokes and hoaxes. But if they find out it’s real, there could be a nationwide panic. Not to mention the problems if they really are planning on moving aggressively to the surface.

Bobby remarks that he seems to recall from his dad’s rants at tax season that they pay an army to take care of stuff like this… True, but if the military shows up, then it’s certainly war, Hank remarks. They may be able to find another solution.

Aaron complains he did not see these images of which they speak. Xavier apologizes. Aaron’s brain isn’t the kind he traditionally works with. Bobby tells Aaron to check this out as he ices up into a monstrous form. They looked like this, but red and hot instead of clear and icy. This is an example but the opposite? Aaron asks confused. That’s as good as he’s going to get from Bobby, Jean remarks.

Xavier tells them he senses odd cerebral activity further northwest about three miles. Then they’ll head that way now, Cyclops decides. He addresses Agent Baker but finds he is gone already. He is a mysterious fellow, Xavier remarks. He rarely gets impressions of moods from him like he does with most people. Still, he is a good judge of character. Stack agrees and believes this to be a good field mission for Aaron to learn to operate as part of a team. Aaron salutes him and assures him he will perform to the best of his abilities. The X-Men and Aaron leave.

Elsewhere, an angry military is trying to reach Stack as other robots are malfunctioning. One robot frees itself, angrily protesting that it is alive.

A little further ahead, Aaron is floating upward to scan the area from a higher point. He can fly! Scott exclaims. Great, now they are completely done with Warren, Jean remarks with a nasty smirk. That’s not what he meant, Scott defends himself.

Aaron registers activity. Geothermal readings are moving to their location from below. From below? Scott asks.

The next moment, the four are surrounded by Lava Men and Cyclops orders Aaron to get down quick.

2nd story:

Cyclops and Marvel Girl ask Professor Xavier who the mysterious Agent Baker is. Xavier explains that he met him in Washington when he gave a lecture about the positive impact mutants could have on the world. He was the only official who sought Xavier out and guessed that he was a mutant. Xavier decided to be honest with him.

He found out that Baker specializes in the extra-ordinary. A one man branch of the FBI assigned to deal with the bizarre. He’s very hard to read, even for Xavier. He has never tried to scan Baker’s mind for he’s never revealed their secrets. Baker also has earned the trust of other underground subjects, like Daredevil. He believes Agent Baker to be connected to many powerful figures in the world.

They wonder if they’ll ever find out what he’s about. Sounds like a good thing he is on their side, Jean muses. Unless of course he’s not.

Characters Involved: 

1st story

Professor Xavier

Angel, Beast, Cyclops, Iceman, Marvel Girl (all X-Men)
Dr. Stack

Aaron Stack / X-50 (Machine Man prototype)
Agent Baker
Unnamed military type
Lava Men

in Xavier’s narration

Lava Man

2nd story:

Professor Xavier

Cyclops Marvel Girl

in narration:

Agent Baker

Story Notes: 
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