X-Men Unlimited (2nd series) #7

Issue Date: 
April 2005
Story Title: 
Double Feature (1st story), The Boy Who Wasn’t There (2nd story)

First story:
Arvid Nelson (writer), Lewis Larosa (penciler), Tom Palmer (inker), Transparency Digital (colorist), Dave Sharpe (letterer), Paul Smith (cover), Sean Ryan (editor), Mike Marts & Stephanie Moore (consulting editors), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher) with special thanks to C.B. Cebulski

Second story:
Mike Raicht (writer), Carlo Pagulayan (penciler), Sean Parsons (inks), Transparency Digital (colorist), Dave Sharpe (letterer)

Brief Description: 

First story:
Nightcrawler leaves the theater after watching a sci-fi double feature. As he leaves, his features covered by a hood, he is abused by some gang members before coming across a woman being preyed upon by three thugs down a dark alleyway. Kurt teleports in, and takes out two attackers with ease. The third flees, and his two friends stagger away, leaving Kurt to pick the frightened woman up. He then realizes she is blind, and offers to walk her home. As they walk, Kurt comments how quickly New York recovered after Magneto attacked. The woman, Grace, says she’s almost glad she couldn’t see the destruction. Kurt remarks that some say it shows mutants are out to destroy normals. Grace doesn’t reply, but asks if he’d like to know how she lost her eyesight. She explains that she was living in Rwanda when some men slaughtered her family. She lost her eyesight after being hit with their rifles, but she was lucky; the rest of her family died. Their assailants weren’t mutants, and neither were the men who attacked her tonight. It makes her wonder if mutants are worse or better than ‘normals.’ She suddenly senses something, and asks Kurt to shush. Kurt is then hit by a rock, thrown from above. The gang who abused him earlier prepare to throw more rocks at them. Surprisingly, Grace creates hallucinations, which cause them to flee. Kurt can’t believe she is a mutant. She removes her headscarf to reveal a third eye. She informs him she is a telepath, but her power only works when those she uses it on aren’t prepared for it. He is a little upset that she didn’t tell him, but she replies that he had no right to conceal his identity from her. As she says goodbye, she thanks him again for saving her, and hopes someday, they won’t have to hide who they really are. Kurt departs for home, only this time, with his hood down.

Second story:
In the Danger Room, Kitty Pryde is doing her best in trying to help a young student named Jacob. He has a similar mutant phasing power to her own, but is struggling to make physical contact with a fizzy drink can. She doggedly gets him to try again and again, but nothing seems to be working. She joins Hank and Emma in the observation room, but they have bad news. Jacob is literally becoming air, and there’s nothing they can think of to stop the process. Kitty cannot accept this, and returns to the Danger Room. She tries using dummies to help focus his anger but, although it works for her, Jacob doesn’t want to end his days being angry. He has been thinking of all the things that he’ll never do, such as going to college or watch the sun come up with a girl. He’s okay with that, and only wants Kitty to be okay with that too. He leaves, and Kitty finds him hovering above the jetty. He knows his time is short, and is grateful for all that Kitty has done. He thanks her for coming out there with him. The first date he’s ever had, and it’s with his teacher! He jokes. They hug, and time passes. As the sun rises, hours later, Jacob is gone, leaving only Kitty to mourn his passing.

Full Summary: 

First story:
Nightcrawler, dressed in blue jeans and a red hooded top to cover his blue features, exits a theater in Manhattan’s lower east side. Attack of the Mutants and Plan 9 from Outer Space are showing in the double feature, and Kurt eyes the poster for Attack of the Mutants. It shows a monstrous mutant attacking a helpless woman lying on the ground.

As Kurt wanders away from the theater, a gang calling themselves the Misfits, all wearing identical red T-shirts, hurl abuses at him. Kurt is used to this kind of treatment, and knows well not to react. As he passes an alleyway further along the street, he hears a call for help. He takes a peak, and sees three males, one carrying a chain and the other two bearing clubs. They are standing over a black woman wearing a headscarf. The scene is similar to that in the poster. They warn the woman to shut up, and they might let her live. His friend says she doesn’t deserve it.

Nightcrawler teleports immediately, and appears in the air right above her assailants. With speed and agility, he easily takes out the first two men, leaving the third to consider his options. Despite carrying a club, he knows his best option is to run. He drops the club and turns, joining his friends who stagger away, nursing their bruises.

Kurt kneels, and asks the woman if she is all right. She replies that she thinks so, but then puts her hand out. “Who… where are you?” she asks. Kurt realizes that she is blind. She stands and puts both hands out, thanks Kurt for saving her, and asks if she can touch his face. Kurt is reluctant, but the woman insists she didn’t mean anything. Kurt apologizes, but says he just doesn’t like to be touched. She asks if her cane is nearby, and Kurt retrieves it for her.

She thanks him, and introduces herself as Grace. Kurt does likewise, and tells her he’ll walk her home. As they walk the now empty streets on a warm evening, Grace tells Kurt that she doesn’t know what she would have done if he hadn’t shown up. She asks where he came from. “Oh, I just… dropped in,” Kurt replies. Grace asks what the noise was, and the smell; like sulphur or something? Kurt grins, and replies that New York is a wonderland of unidentifiable sounds and smells.

The head to her place, and Kurt remarks that it’s hard to believe how quickly New York got put back together after ‘that Magneto guy’ attacked… like nothing ever happened. Grace is almost glad she couldn’t see the destruction. Kurt adds that some say it shows mutants are out to destroy normals.

Grace stops in the middle of the street, and asks if Kurt would like to know how she lost her eyesight. She explains that, ten years ago, Africa witnessed the worst genocide since Hitler. In Rwanda, almost a million people were killed while the rest of the world just… watched. Kurt replies that it’s sad, but what does that have to do with her. She continues to say that she was there. The men who came to slaughter her family beat her so badly with their rifles, she lost her sight. But, she was lucky. Everyone else died; her whole family.

She bows her head in remembrance. Kurt says he’s sorry. Grace tells him that the men who killed her family weren’t mutants. Neither were the men he just saved her from. So, she’s not exactly sure mutants are any worse or better than ‘normals.’ She has a good point, he concedes. Suddenly, she asks him to shush. They’re being watched. He wonders how she can tell, but his concentration is broken when a stone connects with his skull. He looks up to see several members of the Misfits standing in a bay window above them, each baring a rock. Grace says she’ll handle this.

To Kurt’s surprise, she places her fingers on her temples, and concentrates. He looks up at the gang members, who suddenly look out, as if they’d seen something they didn’t like. They quickly turn and flee. With the danger over, Kurt asks what she just did. Grace replies that she just scared them off with a little hallucination.

“You… you’re a…” Kurt stutters. Grace removes her head scarf, and replies, “Why do you think those guys were after me?” With the scarf removed, Kurt can see that she has a third eye in the middle of her forehead. “You’re not the only mutant here, Kurt.” Grace explains that she is a telepath, but her powers only work on people she catches off guard; like those kids, or like him. She calls him by his codename. “You read my mind? You knew all along and didn’t tell me,” he says. “You had no right to make me think you were…” Grace cuts him off mid-sentence. She tells him that he had no right to hide his identity from her. She reads minds to stay alive. How does he think she survived Rwanda?

Grace takes his hand, and tells him she knows he’s a good person. She can feel it. She knew the moment she read him, and knows what it’s like to look different. She doesn’t blame him for wanting to pass as normal. She finally touches his face and smiles. “There now. You’re not so scary.”

She puts the headscarf back on her head, and walks up the stairs to her apartment. She thanks Kurt once again for saving her. You’re welcome, he replies. As she says goodbye, she adds that maybe someday, they won’t have to hide who they really are. Kurt heads for home, only this time, he walks proudly, with his hood down.

Second story:
(Xavier Institute for Higher Learning - Danger Room)
Overseen from the observation deck by Emma Frost and Hank McCoy, Kitty Pryde is trying her best to help one of the pupils with a particularly worrisome problem. As her mutant power is having the ability to phase through objects, she is the best qualified to help out Jacob. Inside a special pressure chamber, he hovers slightly above the ground, trying to bring his hands together around a fizzy drink can. He knows what he must do, but doesn’t appear to have the ability to do it.

She urges him to try again. Sometimes, she suggests, some good old-fashioned visualization is all a mutant needs in order to get some control. She recalls how, when her own powers kicked in, she woke up downstairs and had no idea how she got there. She continues speaking until Jacob asks her to stop. He finds it hard to concentrate with her talking all the time. She apologizes, but still manages to ask Jacob to once again mentally bring his hands together.

In the observation room, Emma Frost says that she thinks they’ve heard enough. Kitty’s doggedness would drive anyone mad. She wonders if maybe someone else should work with Jacob. Hank McCoy asks whom she would suggest. The boy’s abilities seem to mirror Kitty’s, and the rest of them have come up empty trying to figure out exactly what his mutant powers are. Emma replies that the boy isn’t the one she’s worried about.

Kitty takes time out, and floats up through the observation window. She asks if the pressure chamber is helping Jacob, or not, because it’s definitely preventing her from phasing in there. With no response forthcoming, she asks what’s going on. Hank informs her that it looks like Jacob’s integrity breakdown has continued. His molecules haven’t slowed any, but they’re still slamming together with great force. The attractions between the compounds are weakening. He’s basically undergoing sublimation.

Kitty looks at the data, and asks Hank if he means that Jacob is going straight from a solid to a gas. He’s afraid so. She asks how they fix it, but Emma replies that they can’t. The boy is literally becoming air. That’s his mutation. He doesn’t have more than a few hours left. She thinks it’s amazing that he’s kept himself together this long. She informs Kitty that, if it’s any consolation, Jacob is becoming difficult to read, but he’s calm. He’s accepted what’s happening to him, even if she hasn’t. Kitty is upset, and cannot accept Jacob’s fate.

She phases back into the Danger Room, and Hank suggests they should contact his parents. Emma informs him that he’s an orphan. Hank wonders if he shouldn’t talk to Kitty alone, but Emma says no. They should have their time together.

Kitty asks Jacob to come out of the pressure chamber. They’re going to change strategy. Four mannequins based on four of the X-Men’s opponents ascend from the floor, and Kitty tells Jacob that sometimes the best thing for her to do is to get angry. The dummies aren’t very hi-tech, but they’re good to practice on. When she was having trouble, they helped her focus.

Kitty launches herself at the first dummy, Emma Frost, smashing it with a left-footed kick. Jacob asks what this does for him but, truth be told, it’s Kitty who’s getting the benefit; unleashing her own frustrations out on the dummy. Jacob, looking fairly transparent at this stage, guesses she doesn’t like Miss Frost much. Kitty has proven that anger makes her solid. It focuses your anger into one spot, then Bam! Now, Jacob must try.

He stands in front of the Sabretooth dummy, but doesn’t feel any anger. Kitty tells him that he should, then. He’s not going to baby him anymore. His condition is serious, and isn’t getting any better. “Baby me?” replies Jacob. “You think I don’t know what’s happening to me? That I’m disappearing?!” He swings in anger at the dummy, but he goes straight through it without making any contact whatsoever. Kitty apologizes, but didn’t know what else to try. She’d do anything to help. Jacob smiles and appreciates it, but he doesn’t want to be angry. He doesn’t want it to end that way.

He tells Kitty that he’s been thinking lately, about how he’s never been out on a date. He’s never going to college. He’s never going to go on spring break and watch the sun come up with some girl… like in those cheesy movies. He’s just going to be gone, but he’s okay with that. He just needs Kitty to be okay about it with him. He begins to float away, and she asks him not to leave. She smashes the Sabretooth dummy in frustration.

Outside, the night is still, and Jacob floats just above the jetty. Kitty joins him, and he asks what time it is. It’s about two-thirty in the morning. Jacob tells her he isn’t going back in the chamber. It wasn’t helping any. Kitty admits to him that she knows, and that they don’t know what’s happening to him. They can’t stop it. Jacob actually apologizes for not being able to figure out this ‘solid thing’ himself. “You’re sorry,” replies Kitty. Jacob feels like Kitty’s put in all this time and effort with no reward. She tells him not ever to be sorry. It’s just his mutation, she adds; it’s just…

“Stupid,” answers Jacob, in her place. “Yeah,” Kitty replies.”

As he floats above her, he thanks her for coming out there. It’s no problem, she tells him. Their hands interconnect, only without touching. Jacob says it’s the closest thing he’s had to a date; and it’s with his teacher. She smiles, and asks him to call her Kitty. Most dates go better if you use first names. They hug, and Jacob thanks her again. He didn’t want to go through this alone. Kitty tells him he’s never alone.

Hours later, as the sun rises, Kitty is still sitting on the jetty, looking at the reflection of the sky in the water. Jacob is no longer there.

Characters Involved: 

First story:

Misfit gang members

Second story:
Beast, Emma Frost, Shadowcat (all X-Men)

Story Notes: 

(First story)
Attack of the Mutants isn’t a real movie, but is based on several B-movies from the 1950’s with similar titles, such as Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957) and Attack of the Giant Leeches (1959).

The name on the poster is Richard J. Carlson. Richard Carlson appeared in several movies in the period, such as It Came from Outer Space (1953) and Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954).

Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959) was directed by Ed Wood Jr., and is often credited with being the worst movie ever made, but so bad, it’s good. The director was fondly portrayed by Johnny Depp in Ed Wood (1994).

New York City was devastated by Magneto, or his lookalike, during the Planet X storyline, running through New X-Men #147 - 150.

The civil war in Rwanda in 1994 did indeed cause the deaths of around one million people. Events are highlighted in the Don Cheadle movie, Hotel Rwanda (2004).

(Second story)
Kitty’s was first shown phasing through the floor in her sleep in her debut issue; X-Men (1st series) #129.

Kitty had a similar problem to Jacob, when her own body began to disappear after being hit by one of Harpoon’s energy spears in Uncanny X-Men #211.

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