X-Men Forever (2nd series) #22

Issue Date: 
June 2010
Story Title: 
Rise to the Challenge! – Into that good night (part 2)

Chris Claremont (writer), Rodney Buchemi (penciler), Greg Adams (inker), Wilfredo Quintana (colorist), Tom Orzechowski (letterer), Grummett, Austin & Quintana (cover), Taylor Esposito (production), Charlie Beckerman & Michael Horwitz (assistant editors), Mark Paniccia (editor), Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (Exec. Publisher)

Brief Description: 

The X-Men are still shocked by the revelation that Tony Stark is working for the Consortium. They figure out that the Consortium’s ant-mutant weapon has to be in space and develop a plan to attack. Aboard the satellite, Beast and Jean are to find the weapon and destroy it while the other X-Men distract the villains, which is easier said than done as they face Ziggy Trask’s Neo-Sentinels. Stark shows his true colors by helping Jean and Beast reach the weapon but he is taken out by a Neo-Sentinel. As the weapon system is activated, Hank realizes he will have to stay to make sure the charges work; in other words sacrifice his life.

Full Summary: 

Tony Stark is a jerk! a furious Kitty Pryde shouts and angrily asks her teammates and Nick Fury how they can just sit around talking. They have to get the word out to the Avengers and everyone else who ever trusted him!

Cyclops and Fury tell her to calm down. Cyclops summarizes that many of them counted Tony among their friends. But they can’t let emotions get the best of them. There will be time to deal with that later. The mission now is to save their species. Step one: they have to know what they are up against.

Cyclops asks Beast, who stresses that Scott is not being overly dramatic. Every single mutant is at risk if they fail. He’s continued to analyze the schematics of the Plague X weapon that Fury’s “Deep Throat” provided them with. The results are… disturbing to say the least.

He shows them a 3D image of the device. It’s essentially point and shoot. The good news is that given its experimental nature, the device is quite fragile. However it’s on the Consortium’s satellite. It has a vulnerability kind of like the Death Star. The projector is huge as is the station simply because the designers are thinking in planetary terms. Big gun for a big target. They need tremendous power for both their offensive weapon and for their local defenses. That power is nuclear. Eliminate the power by placing charges as indicated here – he shows them – you eliminate the weapon. The day hopefully is saved, he concludes.

Cyclops explains that they don’t have the time to prepare… to gather their friends and the Starjammers. For all they know, the Consortium is preparing right now to fire. They have to get up there now! Jean asks if he wants to go stealth the way they came against Magneto on Asteroid X. Not this time, he decides. They’ll be shorthanded as it is. He’d prefer her at the peak of her powers.

Kitty suggests the new X-plane that Kurt and Forge have been working on. Derived from Starjammer components, it flies like a rocket AND the thruster can get them there in no time. Cyclops tells her to get it ready to fly.

Fury announces that he feels as betrayed as they do and still hopes they are wrong about Tony. He saw something like this happen during WW II with the Japanese American internment camps at Manzanar. He hoped they’d learned their lesson and this would never happen again. He never dreamed they’d jump hard at something worse. This isn’t the America he signed up to defend. So he is with them, no matter the cost, to the end. Cyclops thanks him and hopes that when this is done it’ll represent something they will never have to do again.

‘Ro follows Gambit and Kitty and asks where her costume is. She is coming along, right? Gambit forbids it, making her angry. ‘Ro protests that Kitty is a kid and she’s going! Kitty points out that she has way more experience. And ’Ro’s powers are too unpredictable. On the satellite, they could do more harm than good. She asks her to look after the Professor. ‘Ro whispers she is afraid she will never see them again.

Soon they take off. Kurt points out it’s virtually impossible to sneak up on an orbital point as far out as a LaGrange point. They’ll see them coming. How do they get aboard without a fight?

Fury reveals his contact aboard the Consortium platform has given them clearance codes. As far as they are concerned, they are friendly. Kurt asks why the informant didn’t warn them of the Consortium sooner. It might have saved Logan’s life. Fury replies sometimes people make mistakes.

On the Consortium station, the staff notices the approaching spacecraft that is flashing proper clearances. However, Ziggy’s Sentinels recognize the crew as the X-Men. Amelia Trask gives order to blow them out of the sky. Tony Stark calls that a mistake. A staff member agrees they are too close. If they deflect their attack they may cripple the station. Tony suggests the Neo-Sentinels could attack them directly. Ziggy suggests instead they let the X-Men come aboard and greet them with a proper welcoming committee…

The X-Men land unhindered and are suspicious. Cyclops gives last instructions. Two basic teams: Fury should give his agent a heads-up for some help. Jean and Hank go for the generator to bring it down. The rest of them gets to make a ruckus. Get the bad guys’ attention and keep them busy, to let Hank achieve their objective.

Ziggy and her Sentinels gather around their ship, announcing their plan to kill them.

The X-Men attack the Sentinels while Hank and Jean make a run for it.

Fury faces Ziggy Trask and quickly realizes her armor puts her on a par with the robots.

Though still uncomfortable with her new teleportation power, Rogue nevertheless manages to teleport a Sentinel’s head off.

Kitty phases through a Sentinel’s energy blast and takes it with her new claw.

From the control room, Stark and Amelia Trask watch. Tony comments he expected better from these Sentinels. A guard asks if Amelia wants them to get involved. Amelia tells him to be patient. This is her daughter’s fight.

Another man alerts them to a problem. Two of the mutants are missing. Stark orders him to scan the station. He replies he scanned nothing. They must be cloaked but there are atmospheric anomalies that suggest they are heading for the power core. Shall he alert security or a Neo-Sentinel?

Amelia tells him to let the intruders be for now. The walls and blast doors are sealed and impervious to their super powers. Let them waste their time. When they give up, they’ll kill them later.

Beast and Jean reach a door to the core and wonder about the lack of guards. Hank examines the door and announces the entrance must be operated remotely. He can’t apply decent leverage.

Jean powers up but finds her telekinesis has no effect either. Beast figures some kind of sensor grid absorbs the kinetic force thrust against it and uses it to buttress the structure of the wall itself. The harder they try to breach the wall, the stronger it gets.

Elsewhere, Tony Stark wishes for his Iron Man armor. He had hoped it wouldn’t come to this. Trask and Stark are family. He draws two guns. Unsurprised, Amelia asks if he is showing his true colors. How totally unlike his father. She can’t really say she is surprised.

He should never have let things get this far, he replies. He orders the guards to lower their weapons or he will kill Mrs. Trask. Amelia tells them to obey. Tony orders them to unlock the vault door next.

Jean and Hank are surprised when the door suddenly opens. Guardian angel? Hank wonders. Works for her, Jean shrugs. Do they even need the explosives? Jena asks. Can’t she just use telekinesis to disrupt the power matrix and essentially pull the plug? He warns her that would make things worse. This was built by the same technological wizards that brought them the Sentinels. They have to assume redundancies galore. The bombs he designed turn the system against itself. But that’s why their placement and detonation demands absolute precision. There’s no margin for error. And did he mention, as icing on the cake, that this room stinks of radiation? She reminds him that’s pretty much how she became Phoenix and suggests they get to work.

In the control center, Tony announces this is over. Once the charges are set, they are calling the Avengers and evacuating this station. Smiling, Amelia tells him they will do no such thing.

The Sentinels identify Tony as a threat and call him an organic bionic hybrid. They take him out without lethal force. While Amelia is interested in the hybrid thing, there is no time at the moment. She gives orders to initiate the X-strike.

Back at the core, Jean asks how they are doing. She is using her TK to screen them both from radiation but the sooner they are out the happier she will be.

Any sign of the Sentinels? he asks. There isn’t any nearby. He wonders if they are susceptible to radiation. She reminds him the last batch of originals they fought came back after flying into the sun. He recalls the experience mutated their Master Mold. Almost done.

Suddenly, the order is given to initiate the operations system. Program Plague-X now active!

She tells him they’ve done their job, the charges are placed. Let’s get out! He can’t, Hank cries. If the charges blow while Plague X is running, it’ll create a huge energy surge through the beam matrix. Essentially, they’ll end up hitting Earth with all the energy in the reactor. Chances are it would strike the planet. He has to stay to make sure the firing system is disabled. The projector is offline until these charges go off.

But that means-- Jean stammers. He knows, but what the heck, nobody lives forever!

Characters Involved: 

Beast, Cyclops, Gambit, l’il ‘Ro, Jean Grey, Nightcrawler, Professor X, Rogue, Shadowcat (all X-Men)
Dr. Moira MacTaggert
Colonel Nick Fury
Lt. Daisy Dugan

Iron Man

Amelia Trask
Sigrid ‘Ziggy’ Trask

Story Notes: 

Kitty’s “jerk” comment is a homage to Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #168.

The X-Men met Ziggy in issues #7-9.

The Sentinels flew into the sun in X-Men (1st series) #59.

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