X-Men Forever (2nd series) #4

Issue Date: 
September 2009
Story Title: 
Strike-Back! Love—and Loss: Part 4 of 5

Chris Claremont (writer), Tom Grummett (penciler), Cory Hamscher (inker), Wilfredo Quintana (colorist), Tom Orzechowski (letterer), Tom Gurmmett and Moose Baumann (cover artists), Niko Henrichon (variant cover artist), Damien Lucchese (producer), Jordan White & Charlie Beckerman (assistant editors), Mark Paniccia (editor), Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)

Brief Description: 

The Consortium decides to abandon Storm, its agent within the ranks of the X-Men. Meanwhile, at Xavier’s School, Storm escapes from Shadowcat—who now bears one of Wolverine’s adamantium claws because of her encounter with Fabian Cortez—and heads into the sewers. Shadowcat frees the rest of the X-Men and Sabretooth from the Danger Room and they head after Storm. They split into two teams: Rogue, Gambit and Nightcrawler travel on the surface, while Jean Grey, Cyclops, Sabretooth and Shadowcat take to the sewers. Before they depart, Beast takes a sample of Storm’s blood from Shadowcat’s claw and takes it to the lab, where he, Professor X and Nick Fury enter it into the scanner grid to pinpoint Storm’s location. Surprisingly, the computer produces two different locations. They send Gambit, Rogue and Nightcrawler after one of the anomalous readings, while the other team closes in on Storm in the tunnels. Storm repels them and escapes to the surface, where several agents of the Consortium confront and threaten to kill her. Meanwhile, Rogue, Nightcrawler and Gambit arrive at their destination at the Brooklyn Bridge, where Gambit encounters their target: a de-aged Ororo Munroe.

Full Summary: 


Prompted by the biosignature of the mutant phasing through the wall of the Danger Room, the three shadowy figures of the Consortium examine their file on Katheryne Pryde—also known as the X-Man Shadowcat—whom they believe attacked their agent. One of the silhouetted men seems surprised; he did not believe Shadowcat had any offensive capabilities. The silhouetted woman assures him they have none listed on file. However, their long distance spectrometry overlaid with body-heat telemetry and combined with an intercepted S.H.I.E.L.D. transmission suggests a new theory: Shadowcat somehow now possesses Wolverine’s missing claw, making her possibly one of the most dangerous X-Men. The Consortium realizes letting Storm clean up her own mess may no longer be an option; it may be time to bring her in from the cold. They recommend having two teams stay in Manhattan. If “Storm” has outlived her usefulness and become a liability, then perhaps it’s time for the Consortium to cut its losses.

The Underground X-Complex, beneath Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters…

“You wretched creature,” Storm yells at Kitty, “you cut me!”

Shadowcat is just as surprised as Storm. She had no idea one of Wolverine’s adamantium claws would protrude from her hand! The claw, she realizes, is a part of her now, just like it once was with Wolverine. What has he done to her? She remembers asking Logan once if it hurt when he popped his claws. He told her it did—every time. While her vision of what that must have felt like was awful, the reality of it, which she experiences now, is so much worse.

Deciding to worry about that later, Shadowcat thrusts her single, adamantium claw under Storm’s chin. This is as far as she goes, Kitty commands. If Storm doesn’t give up, she vows to cut her again. Storm, bearing a diagonal gash across her face, looks at her in total disbelief. “What are you?” she asks Kitty. Still holding Storm at claw-point, Kitty says she intends to find out who made Storm turn against the X-Men—so she can make them pay. Storm sneers at her former protégé. Does she really think she’s a match for her? Kitty believes so. Storm, however, declares that next time they meet, it will be Kitty who bleeds.

Amidst a sudden influx of fog, Storm slips away, eluding Shadowcat’s grasp. Shadowcat follows. She notes Storm is heading deeper into the complex—a move she finds bizarre, considering Storm’s claustrophobia. She figured Storm would have rather taken her chances with Kitty, at which point Kitty planned to phase her back into the Danger Room so the team could have apprehended her together. Nevertheless, she pursues Storm, pondering the absurdity of the situation as she goes. Storm and Logan were like her godparents! How could this happen? The only way to know for certain is to capture Storm. As Kitty rounds a corner, however, she realizes that may be more difficult than anticipated. She notices a recently opened access hatch leading to the Morlock Tunnels. If Storm went entered, she’ll have a straight shot to Manhattan, although she won’t get to exit until the end. Plus, in addition to its length, the passage is also deep and tight. Storm won’t have much room to maneuver or generate speed. If they move quickly, they can catch her either along the way or at the other end. For that, however, Kitty will need the help of the X-Men.

The Danger Room…

Nightcrawler assesses the locks and reports they cannot open the door. In a way, Cyclops admires this move of Storm’s: the Danger Room is the one place in the entire complex designed to resist their powers. Rogue decides to keep pounding on the door, hoping something will give. Her efforts have made several significant dents in the door already. Sabretooth, bound and blindfolded, laughs at the futility of Rogue’s plight. What’s the matter? Her stolen strength isn’t cutting it?

The X-Men and Sabretooth suddenly feel the presence of Charles Xavier in their minds. “Xavier! Get the hell out of my head!” Sabretooth shouts. Xavier reports that because Storm has interdicted both the locking network and Cerebro, he and Beast can neither set the X-Men free nor track Storm as she escapes. Gambit mentions that Kitty could phase them free, and although Nightcrawler agrees, he reminds Gambit Kitty is nowhere to be seen. Rogue asks Kurt why he doesn’t just teleport them out of the Danger Room. Storm activated the power dampeners, he informs her; he’s stuck there with the rest of them. If that’s the case, Rogue asks, then how did Kitty manage to get free? Kurt tells here that’s merely a difference between phasing and teleporting. Kitty’s powers aren’t affected.

Just as Rogue begins to complain about their current embarrassment, the team hears something slicing through the electric circuitry in the wall. They turn to see a single claw cutting through the wires, emitting loud noises and sparks. After the door slides open, Kitty, now sporting an adamantium claw on her left hand, enters. She tells the X-Men Storm escaped into the Morlock tunnels. Although she can’t fly at jet-speed down there, they still won’t be able to catch her unless they hurry. Nightcrawler, meanwhile, as the most obvious question: what happened to Kitty’s hand?

Observing through the computer monitor, an astonished Nick Fury wonders the same thing. He asks Hank McCoy if that’s even possible. It must be, Hank says. He wishes he could perform a remote scan on her, but her intangibility would make that difficult. Plus, she doesn’t appear to be in the mood for a thorough examination. The answers will have to wait.

Professor X, sitting behind them in his wheelchair, informs them Kitty is in considerable pain. Logan was too, Fury says—but he had a healing factor to help strike a balance. He asks how this could have possibly happened. Beast informs reminds them that during the fight with Fabian Cortez, Kitty attempted to phase Logan free of the villain’s grasp. Obviously, something went wrong. The combination of their powers, in addition to Cortez’s amplifications, must have caused an overload of the physiologic and mutagenic processes. In short, the whole mix went crazy. He posits that pieces of the mutants must have been left behind after Jean broke them free. Xavier asks Hank if he thinks they can remove the claw, but Hank has no idea—especially if the claw integrated itself into Kitty’s skeletal structure as well as it did Logan’s.

Meanwhile, back in the Danger Room, Sabretooth breaks free of his shackles and slaps aside the X-Men. After thanking Kitty for opening the door, he says his goodbyes. Cyclops, however, gets in his way and tells him he is not going anywhere. “I got no beef with you, boy—today—so I’ll explain myself, just this once. I’ll even talk slow, so you’ll understand,” Sabretooth says, clenching his teeth. “Storm killed my boy. I aim to kill her. End of story. Anybody here got a problem with that?”

Cyclops does. Sabretooth tells him not to push his luck. “You going to make me—old man?” Cyclops challenges. Although Sabretooth says he will, he won’t today. He tells Cyclops he admires his brass; he sees now why Logan respected him. For now, he will do the same. He asks Cyclops to make his case. “This isn’t about revenge. What we need are answers,” Cyclops says now that he has everyone’s attention. Either Storm conned them from the beginning, or something happened to her along the way. They need to find out what happened, and why—unless Sabretooth is the type who’s satisfied believing Storm accomplished this all on her own. Sabretooth sneers at him, surprised Cyclops isn’t satisfied with that answer. Scott says he wants answers, and he doesn’t intend to stop until he gets them—until he’s satisfied. If Sabretooth wants to take part, he has to follow Scott’s lead and play by the X-Men’s rules. Sabretooth asks what happens if he refuses. That’s his choice, Rogue says. Although having that fight would be fun, Sabretooth admits the teamwork option sounds better. If Cyclops maintains this style of leadership, Sabretooth might actually be impressed.

With that conversation out of the way, Sabretooth asks what they do next. Cyclops decides to split into two teams: one airborne unit to cut ahead of Storm, and a ground unit to confront her in the tunnels. Shadowcat informs them she cut Storm’s face earlier, which must be impeding her progress. After ordering Rogue, Gambit and Nightcrawler to take the high road, Cyclops tells the rest of them to follow him into the sewers. If they make noise as they go, they might attract Storm’s attention and slow her down even more.

“How about having someone along to increase your speed?” someone asks. “Not to mention, improve the odds.” Cyclops turns and is taken aback when he sees Jean Grey, now wearing a sleek new costume, enter the Danger Room. She is accompanied by Beast, Professor X and Nick Fury. Cyclops runs to Jean right away, embraces her, and asks if she is okay. She says she’s fine. Logan said the same thing, Cyclops reminds her—and they both knew he was lying. Jean reminds him she isn’t Logan. Professor X, meanwhile, informs Jean he is very much against the decision to send her into the field. Just thirty minutes earlier, she was in a coma. Cyclops reminds him that miracles are no stranger to the X-Men. Besides, they can use her help.

Before they depart, Beast sheepishly asks Kitty if he can examine her new caw. She reluctantly agrees. While taking a swab of blood from the claw, Beast explains that a sample of Storm’s blood might provide insight into the day’s events. He asks Kitty if the claw hurts. “That’s what I asked Logan the first time I saw his claws,” Kitty says. “You haveno idea.”

“He survived, kid,” Sabretooth chimes in and says. “So will you.”

“Like I should care what you think?” Kitty asks.

“You will,” Sabretooth says.

Meanwhile, Fury suggests to Xavier they let S.H.I.E.L.D. handle the situation. Responding via telepathy, Xavier tells him the X-Men need to handle this one. They need to learn if the woman they thought of as a friend deceived them. That kind of thing happens far too often in Fury’s world, the jaded S.H.I.E.L.D. Director says. Xavier had hoped they would build something better with the X-Men.

As the X-Men begin their pursuit, Jean begins to have the conversation about Logan with Scott. They will talk later, he tells her. Sabretooth remarks that they don’t seem too happy. Kitty, on the other hand, doubts she’ll ever be happy again.

Beast remains behind with Xavier and Fury, although he wishes he had gone with his teammates. Xavier reminds him they all have their responsibilities. Beast concedes that’s totally rational, but unfortunately, his feelings at the moment are anything but. “He was our friend too, McCoy,” Fury says, referring to himself and Xavier. “We both owe Logan our lives.” Over the years, Fury came to believe Logan would survive anything. Xavier recalls how Logan once told Jean he would be there to keep her company until the very end of time itself. He doesn’t think it was hyperbole, either; Logan really meant it. Xavier can’t stop hoping Logan might somehow emerge intact.

Ever the rational thinker, Beast tells Xavier hope is for dreamers. They need answers, and as a scientist, he plans on getting them. Xavier, however, has been to the stars, and the woman he loves comes from another galaxy. Dreams are part and parcel of their very lives, Xavier says. Hank reminds his headmaster that Logan’s life is over, and the woman who killed him was someone they trusted. Presenting the vial of Storm’s tissue sample for emphasis, he says he intends to find out why that happened. Xavier asks what he intends to do once he discovers why. “Then, Charles—that woman I called my friend, and anyone connected with her,” Hank says as he bounds out of the room, “—is going to learn why I’m called the Beast!”

Hank gets to work rewiring the mansion’s power grid. Fiddling with the wiring beneath the monitor using his feet while he simultaneously enters commands into the keyboard, Hank begins to envy Kurt’s prehensile tail. Professor X admits he cannot help in that regard, but he can help in other ways—like by providing Hank with an extra set of eyes. Beast gleefully accepts the offer; there’s nothing better than an external sense of perspective.

Curious, Professor X asks exactly what it is Beast is doing. He informs him he’s completing the work Kitty started and hot-wiring the power grid, which will give them full access to the orbital scanner grid. With this upgrade, the scan should provide enough focus to allow them to slip through the weather patterns behind which Storm is hiding. Nick Fury looks at the live map on the monitor and—if he’s reading it correctly—thinks he can see Storm’s location. He points at another marker on the map. “But if that blip over Harlem is her, Charles,” Fury asks, “…who’s this?”

Charles sends out a telepathic message to Rogue, Gambit and Nightcrawler, reaching them as Rogue carries them through the air over New York City. Kurt admits that feeling Xavier’s voice inside his head always makes him feel nervous. Surprisingly, Rogue admits it feels kind of nice at the moment because she doesn’t have a crowd of personas bouncing around inside her head. She can actually hear Xavier! Gambit asks what she means by “crowd”. Rogue explains that when she absorbs someone’s powers and memories, she retains little fragments of that person after the link ends. When Cortez zapped her, however, he wiped away a lot of that clutter. All of a sudden, Rogue feels like she has room to breathe. Kurt asks if she doesn’t miss the abilities. In response, Rogue asks if he’s kidding. It’s her head, after all; it’s not a place for crowds.

Getting back on track, Gambit asks what Professor X wants. Fury speaks up and tells them they detected an anomalous contact they want them to investigate. They ask about their pursuit of Storm, but Fury informs them the other team is closing in on her. They have no one else who can check out this other anomalous reading, though.

After the connection ends, Gambit remarks that it didn’t take long for Fury to become the boss. “You don’t trust him, Remy?” Kurt asks. Remy turns this question back on Kurt: does he? “I—don’t know,” Nightcrawler answers. “Everything about the X-Men’s world seems suddenly to be changing.”

Meanwhile, Jean telekinetically ferries Cyclops’s squad through the sewers while they all discuss the news of the two separate Storm readings on the map. Sabretooth wonders what it means. Kitty is surprised he even cares. Sabretooth admits he doesn’t like mysteries. If that’s the case, then he came to the wrong place, Cyclops tells him; the X-Men seem to be nothing but mysteries at the moment.

Sabretooth remarks to Kitty that he thinks he detects a little bit of an edge to her leader’s voice. Does she think he maybe has something on his mind? If there is, it has nothing to do with him—unless it is him, Kitty tells Sabretooth. Turning to Kitty, Jean says she can mute the pain her arm. Kitty insists she needs no one’s help; she’ll be fine. Jean points out that Kitty is obviously angry. Kitty responds by telling her she’s intruding, and asks her to go away.

Moving near Cyclops, Jean tells him Kitty is not in good shape. What did she expect? The kid has a claw in her arm, Scott says to Jean. Jean asks how he’s doing. Although he doesn’t say it aloud, Scott feels like he has a claw in his heart. He tells Jean to quit worrying about everyone and keep her telepathy alert for any signs of Storm.

Cyclops’s warning comes just a moment too late: the team is struck down by an immense bolt of lighting. Fortunately, Jean’s telekinetic shield absorbs the brunt of the blast. While alerting Xavier that they made contact with Storm, Jean cushions Scott’s descent to the ground. Annoyed, he tells Jean that a little warning on Storm’s attack would have been nice. Although she doesn’t quite take offense to Scott’s comment, she claims he must have forgotten the degree of Storm’s power.

The lightning blast scatters both Kitty and Sabretooth as well. Kitty’s body instinctively goes intangible and her momentum carries her through one of the sewer walls. She scolds herself for speeding right into that trap. However, she intends to return the favor.

Sabretooth, meanwhile, crashes into the dirty water in the center of the sewer. If Storm’s attack hadn’t caught him by surprise as well, he would have raked the X-Men over the coals for their ineptitude. Storm’s that good. Hooray for her, Sabretooth says as he finds his footing in the running water of the sewers. I’m the best.

He stands up and, despite being blind, turns to face the airborne Storm. He notes that Storm tries to manipulate the weather into cloaking her scent and sound. However, Sabretooth has tracking skills she could never even fathom. Attacking with confidence, Storm’s hands crackle with electricity as she vows to ends Sabretooth’s life—just like she ended Logan’s.

“Blah blah blah!” Shadowcat says as she descends from the ceiling and clutches onto Storm. “Don’t you get it? You’re done!” In a panic, Storm flings Kitty away with an electricity-laden jet-stream. The electrical surge wreaks havoc on Kitty’s control of her mutant powers; she worries she may be solid when she collides with the wall. She braces for impact. To her surprise, she lands safely and softly in the arms of Sabretooth, who tells her to relax. He does add that she owes him for the rescue, though. “I do not!” Kitty shouts.

Meanwhile, Jean and Cyclops recover and charge at Storm. Jean hits her with a powerful telepathic attack. Storm clutches the sides of her head in agony and begs Jean to get out of her head. With pleasure, Jean does as Storm commands. She didn’t intend to stay in her mind anyway—as she cannot stand the stench. Besides, she would much prefer to finish with fists and blood, as Logan would have done.

Storm tells Jean that if she fights like Logan, she will die like Logan! All the X-Men will, for that matter! Do they think her vulnerable merely because she’s underground? If so, they should think again! She summons a vortex of water that envelopes the X-Men.

Shadowcat, Sabretooth, Cyclops and Jean Grey all anchor themselves until the water surge passes. Once it ends, Kitty remarks that buried streams—some natural, some from ruptured water pipes—line the walls of the Morlock catacombs. Storm must have blown them in the direction of the X-Men, which is why the flood was so short-lived. Even so, it gave Storm time to escape. Cyclops turns to Jean and asks if she’s all right; she tells him she isn’t even close. Inside her head, she’s screaming. Sabretooth, meanwhile, remarks that he still has Storm’s scent, and intends to continue his pursuit. Kitty tells him she’s going to follow him wherever she goes. Sabretooth welcomes her to try.

As Storm puts distance between herself and the drenched X-Men, she wishes she could have drowned them, but there was not enough water; she only delayed them at best. A delay, however, is all she needs. Finally arriving at an exit hatch, Storm reprimands herself for not keeping mum. Her terror of confined spaces almost led to her undoing. It doesn’t matter now, though; the X-Men will never catch her. She climbs the access ladder leading to the street and emerges in a rain-soaked Manhattan alleyway. Immediately upon arriving on the surface, she finds herself in the company of three armored Consortium agents. They call out her name; they’ve been looking for her! Storm asks if they were sent to retrieve her. “Not quite,” one of the agents says. He pulls out his pistol and aims it at Storm’s head. “We’re here to kill you.”

The Brooklyn Bridge…

Gambit, Rogue and Nightcrawler arrive at their destination, without knowing why Fury sent them there. As Gambit and Rogue bicker about what they’re supposed to do next, Nightcrawler teleports down to the bridge to get a closer look. He asks them to calm down and argue later when things aren’t so serious. While abruptly dropping Gambit off on a ledge, Rogue tells Nightcrawler she’s plenty calm already. If she weren’t, Gambit still wouldn’t be in once piece.

“The lady sounds—upset,” Gambit says as Rogue flies back into the sky. “I seem to have struck a nerve.”

“So what else is new?” someone asks from around the corner of the bridge’s support tower. Gambit perks up; he knows that voice! “I would hope so, Remy,” the speaker says, “—considering all we’ve been through together!” The hidden speaker—a dark-skinned little girl with snow-white hair—emerges from around the corner.

As he beholds little Ororo, Gambit can barely speak. Is it truly her? How can that be? He takes ‘Ro in his arms and gives her a hug. ‘Ro says Wolverine found her and helped her escape, but then something awful happened to him. “You jus’ hold me tight, chere—no need t’ cry,” Gambit says as he embraces the preteen Storm, “—you be safe now.” Unbeknownst to both of them, someone observes this joyous reunion through the infrared scope of a sniper rifle.

Characters Involved: 

Beast, Cyclops, Gambit, Jean Grey, Nightcrawler, Rogue, Shadowcat (X-Men)

Professor X


Nick Fury


‘Ro (young Storm)

Three silhouetted figures (The Consortium)

Consortium agents

Story Notes: 

Kitty’s costumes in the beginning. The first panel of this issue shows Shadowcat wearing three of her costumes. The first image depicts Kitty in her current Shadowcat garb she has sported ever since UNCANNY X-MEN #193. The second image is a headshot of Kitty in the school uniform she wore upon joining the team in X-MEN (1st series) #139. The third image depicts Kitty with the facial markings she bore as part of her green and yellow costume she debuted in UNCANNY X-MEN #169 and wore in MARVEL GRAPHIC NOVEL #5: GOD LOVES, MAN KILLS.

Early in this issue, Shadowcat recalls the first time she saw Wolverine unsheathe his claws. This scene she describes, however, has more parallels to a scene from the first X-Men movie between Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine and Anna Paquin’s Rogue than any scene from an X-Men comic.

The “stolen strength” of Rogue’s that Sabretooth mentions refers to the superpowers she permanently absorbed from Ms. Marvel back in AVENGERS ANNUAL #10.

As Beast explains, Shadowcat must have absorbed the claw from Wolverine back in X-MEN FOREVER (2nd series) #1 during their fight with Fabian Cortez.

Xavier’s girlfriend from another galaxy refers to Lilandra Neramani of the Shi’ar, with whom he’s been romantically involved since their first telepathic encounter in X-MEN (1st series) #97. Professor X has made several trips to the stars, the longest of which took place between UNCANNY X-MEN #200 and 277.

The panel on page 17 of Sabretooth emerging from the water and flexing his arms in the sewers pays homage to the iconic, final panel of X-MEN (1st series) #132 that depicted Wolverine in a similar position.

After being captured and de-aged by the Nanny in UNCANNY X-MEN #248, Storm reappeared as a small child and fled the forces of the Shadow King. Her journey brought her into the path of Gambit in UNCANNY X-MEN #266, after which the two of them acted as a noble thieving duo. The events of X-Tinction Agenda returned Storm to the age-appropriate body seen so far in this series.

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