X-Treme X-Men (1st series) #13

Issue Date: 
July 2002
Story Title: 
Strikeback !

Chris Claremont (writer), Salvador Larroca (artist), (uninked), Liquid! (colors), Tom Orzechowski (letterer), Lynne Yoshii (assistant editor), Andrew Lis (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Bill Jemas (president)

Brief Description: 

Before the X-Men leave to go to the transport, Sage and Rogue discuss their future plans. After Sage jump-starts Rogue's mutant powers, Rogue and Slipstream use them to destroy much of Khan's army on Earth. In an apartment building, Vargas, with his statue of Psylocke, watches Rogue fight the army and talks to himself about their need to kill Rogue. Elsewhere, the other four X-Men sneak past Gambit and his guards and onto Khan's space station. There, Lifeguard goes through a metamorphosis and transforms into more of an alien being. Using her own powers, Sage is able to hack into Khan's computers and find out where Storm is being held prisoner. Sage also finds information on what occurs when Khan actually conquers each dimension. In Khan's fortress, Storm is in her prison quarters being pampered by her attendants and talking to Khan about the X-Men. Khan leaves and later talks to Shaitan about their plans on capturing the X-Men and Khan's weakness for Storm.

Full Summary: 

(a little while ago)

In the catacombs of Madripoor, Rogue asks a big favor from Sage. She asks Sage if she is the supposed living computer, why she had not thought of jump-starting Rogue's power before now? In the past twenty-four hours, Rogue goes on to say, the whole island has been encased in a giant tower and they have now become the landing point of an alien invasion. Also, the local military is totally outmatched and only because they themselves have mutant powers they are able to stand up against the might of Khan's military. The trouble is, Rogue continues, the tower is protected by a forcefield that even the X-Men from the inside and the Avengers from the outside have tried to destroy to no avail. The worst part is, she says, is that now they are on their own and more and more bad guys show up every day.

Rogue walks with Sage to meet up with the other X-Men. Along the way, they talk about how that their attacks on Khan's forces are like a "skeeter stingin' an elephant". Sage agrees with Rogue, just as Thunderbird comments on how that the others have finally found enough armor that fits so they can disguise themselves as some of the alien invaders troops.

Rogue, after hearing that the others are ready to depart, tries one last time to get Sage to help her jump-start her powers. Sage tells Rogue that even she cannot predict what consequences it might cause for Rogue if she boosted her powers. It might not be a good thing for her to have so much power. When Rogue scoffs at this, Sage reminds her that she never tried to kill the X-Men. Rogue, however, has tried and on more than one occasion. Finally Rogue tells Sage to do it because they are at war and, in order to save the world, she is willing to take the consequences, whatever they are. With that said, Sage sadly looks at Rogue as electricity sparks from her eyes.


Rogue flies through the air, destroying every enemy vessel near her. Using the strength of the She-Hulk, the optic blasts of Cyclops, and the freezing power of Iceman she lays waste to Khan's army. Rogue uses them all to there fullest potential with complete control. At one time, Rogue felt her powers were a curse. Today, as she uses Storm's powers to call down lightning, she feels glorious.

Down below in the shadows of an apartment building, Psylocke's figure seemingly stares off at Rogue. Not of flesh and blood, but a lifeless statue, Psylocke is completely still, with her arms crossed at her waist in a graceful fight stance and holding a sword. Behind her, a shadowy figure wraps his arms around her with one hand to her neck and another draped across her stomach. The shadowy figure comments on how Rogue sounds truly happy and he hopes she enjoys the moment. As he wraps his arms around Psylocke, he says that soon after they are done with her, Rogue's statue will stand along side Psylocke's.

In the air, Rogue stares down at the army she has just devastated. As Khan's forces send more people after Rogue, the loadmasters frantically try to get the wounded through the portal to the neighboring dimension, while allowing reinforcements through as well. They are so busy that they do not notice four of the guards coming to the transport to travel to Khan's palace. As they walk by, they stare at Gambit, trapped in the forcefield.

Rogue knows Gambit is trapped and that she must try to save him, so she devises a plan to help her man. Rogue plans on using a power she has catalogued of a man she knows all to well. The man's name is Magneto and by using his power to disrupt the electronics of the invading army, she hopes to free Gambit and save the planet. As she releases the electro-magnetic pulse she thinks of how Storm will be trapped on the other side if her plan works, but she also knows what Storm would say if she could. She would say, "YOU GO, GIRL!"

As the electronics short circuit, the other X-Men are near where Gambit is, but not near enough. Bishop knows that there are too many guards to break Gambit loose. However, he comments to Thunderbird that while the forcefield is down, one of them could take a shot at Gambit to kill him, saving the entire planet. While the two debate, Gambit is having the same thought. Unafraid to take his own life, Gambit grabs a piece of stone from the collapsing chamber and charges it. His plan is to throw it at the building's support structure and allow the entire building to collapse, killing him and the members of the army around him.
Saying he will be seeing Rogue later, he throws the stone. His plan does not work though, as the forcefield comes back on, trapping the stone and causing it not to explode. "Dis is not my day." Gambit says as he looks at the charged stone stuck in the forcefield.

The day is neither Rogue's as she falls to the ground, exhausted from the force it took to use Magneto's powers. She collapses to the ground, much to the approaching guard's surprise and favor. As she recovers, Rogue finds that along with Magneto's power, also comes his personality. As Slipstream teleports in, he find's Rogue struggling to set Magneto's persona aside. Sitting in the crater she just created by her impact, Rogue screams that these invaders who threaten her family and the man she loves will pay dearly. Noticing that Rogue's hair has changed, Slipstream comments on it and asks her why her voice seems so different. As Rogue climbs to her feet, holding her head, she stutters that the voice is not hers. She tells him how strong Magneto's personality is, but admits how being like him feels so good. "Lose it later" Slipstream tells her as the soldiers have arrived. Quickly, Slipstream creates a warp field, grabs Rogue by the arm, and they teleport away.

Meanwhile back at the temple, Thunderbird comments that everything is back to normal. Sage notices however that all of the soldiers' faces have changed. Surprised by Rogue's attack they all now look scared. With this said, Bishop commands the others to follow him and Sage through the portal. On the other side of the portal, the four X-Men find a general telling the engineering squad to begin installing suppressers around the landing stage. He also tells them to tell General Gaafi that if they get blindsided like that again he will personally skin him himself! After overhearing this conversation, the X-Men believe that the invaders have been shaken because of Rogue's attack. Bishop comments on how the invaders never considered that they might lose. Looking out of the hangar window at the rest of Khan's base and the surrounding mass of fighter planes, Lifeguard comments that she can see why.

As she gazes at Khan's forces Lifeguard asks how anybody could hope to stand against such an armada. Recalling history, Bishop talks of a past event when Persia attacked the Greeks. He explains that at Thermopylae, a thousand Greeks and Spartans held out against the might of Persia. They nearly won, he tells them, had it not been for them being betrayed. "I wish I had your faith," Lifeguard comments as she removes her helmet along with the other three X-Men. Lifeguard is taken back at the other three's expressions as they stare at her in amazement and shock. Lifeguard asks them why they look at her so strangely? She comes closer to the Hangar window where she sees her reflection. She notices she has tattoos around her eyes, dreadlocks in a golden appearance and her appearance almost looks like an alien bird. Lifeguard grows angry and her wings burst from her side destroying the armor on her arms. Sage, hoping to calm Lifeguard down, tells her that they will find out what happened and help her. Angry with Sage for what Lifeguard thinks is one of Sage's jump-starts, she lashes out at her with her wings and knocks Sage to the ground. Worriedly, Thunderbird tells Sage that Lifeguard didn't mean it, and is only upset. Bishop goes over to Lifeguard. Placing his hand on her shoulder, he asks her to pull herself together for the mission, as they cannot succeed without her.

Storm and Khan are talking in her quarters. She tells him that when the X-Men took Khan prisoner, she knew he was special but she had not known till his personal guard showed up to rescue him that he was the commander of the entire invading army. With this said, Khan tells her though it was not Shaitan who brought her here, but it was he, because he desires her to become his queen. They kiss and Khan asks why Storm had told him that she would not be conquered, but she would surrender? Before Storm can answer, one of Khan's servants interrupts, telling him that his presence is needed in the War Room. Khan, hearing the proclamation, tells Storm that it is probably her X-Men that are causing another ruckus. He tells her that as he claimed her, so he will soon also claim her friends. Hearing this, Storm interrupts and tells Khan that he is welcome to try. Khan, surprised by Storm's words, asks her if that is a challenge? "Merely a statement of fact," Storm tells Khan. She also says that they will not yield easily and neither will the rest of Earth's heroes. Khan informs Storm that he has faced other planets' so called heroes, and he has defeated all of them. Earth's heroes, he says, will prove no exception.

One of Storm's attendants/guards calls in to her base saying that Khan has departed Storm's quarters. In her control room, the human guard calls back to the attendants to keep a close watch on Storm per Khan's orders. Storm, in her bed, knows that her attendants are actually guards and so she must maintain her ruse and wait for her time to fight back. She knows that she cannot make the slightest mistake. Using her powers in secret while apparently gazing far off, Storm is able to watch the molecules in the atmosphere. As she does so, she tries to figure out how to use the space station's atmosphere to her advantage when the time is right. For now though, she remains silent and allows her handmaids to pamper her. The entire time they do this, she continues watching the atmosphere and trains her mind for the perfect time to fight back.

Inside the prison where Shaitan waits in Storm's form for the other X-Men's arrival, Khan and Shaitan discuss Khan's love interest in Storm. Shaitan tells Khan that Storm will betray him. Next to him, the hologram of the real Storm sits so Khan can watch her no matter where he is. Khan defends her and tells Shaitan that he will make her his. Shaitan comments back that she might destroy him first. Khan, as he looks into the eyes of the hologram of the true Storm, asks Shaitan if he truly thinks she can destroy him. Shaitan explains to Khan that after being in so many conquests, with no woman ever truly gaining his heart, Storm is the most dangerous because she has. Khan, trying to explain his love for her as just another battle but different, explains to Shaitan that he will not lose. Angrily, Shaitan asks about what they are going to do about her friends who will surely come to save their leader. Khan touches the hologram and makes it disperse, he explains to Shaitan that as he awaits the X-Men's arrival. When they arrive, he, masquerading as Storm, will give the X-Men two options: join them or die!

Elsewhere in the tower, Thunderbird watches Lifeguard and worries about how she is taking the situation. She is now not only a mutant but an alien also. Bishop gives little comfort though as he tells Thunderbird that she will pull through. Confused in whether or not he did the right thing, he asks Bishop if, by not killing Gambit when he had the chance, he was in the right? Bishop tells Thunderbird that he had the same chance and if the X-Men have taught him one thing, it is that there is no shame in not killing, especially when that person is a friend. As Thunderbird and Bishop have been talking, Sage has been working hard on her computer trying to figure out where Storm is in the alien's station. Finally, she finds Storm in a maximum-security cell. She explains that while she was in Khan's computer system she also created names and faces for them in the system so if any security camera scans them, it will come back as them being just regular soldiers. The only two things that they have to worry about, Sage explains, are Khan and Shaitan as they have seen them physically.

Before the X-Men leave, Sage has one more thing to show them. As they gather around her to see the images she has for them, they put on their trademark red glasses. Sage explains that the tower manifesting itself on Earth is one hundred miles in diameter by twenty-two thousand six hundred feet high. She also explains, while showing images of hundreds of other Earth's behind her, that the same tower exists on every planet Khan has conquered. When fully established, they link in a chain of power and resources across scores of dimensions. The downfall of the system, she continues, is one must transport from one tower to the next neighboring tower. If one goes off-line the dimensions ahead of it and the dimensions behind it are cut off from each other till the tower is rebuilt. Sage finishes, saying that from each base Khan and his armies conquer the entire dimension and then they move on to the next.

Thunderbird holds is head and wonders out loud in shock and amazement of how Khan is so arrogant to believe he can conquer all dimensions. He also wonders why no one has rebelled before? Continuing, Sage explains what happens to the worlds that rebel. Showing more images, they see a utopian type world where Khan has conquered it and they have accepted his offer of leadership. Next they see a devastated planet with only a transport tower and no other life. Sage explains to the X-Men that the world they see now is what will happen to their world if they refuse Khan's rule. Faced with this horror, Thunderbird comforts Lifeguard in his arms while Sage and Bishop look hopelessly down at their feet.
Finally, Sage looks up and speaks. She points out that of all Earth's heroes, they are the only credible threat to the invasion and not the fate of the world and humanity in their hands. Now knowing the consequences of their actions, they have to decide is whether they need to surrender... or fight.

Characters Involved: 

Bishop, Lifeguard, Rogue, Sage, Slipstream, Storm, Thunderbird III (all X-Men)

Gambit, X-Men ally

Captain America, Iron Man, Wonder Man (all Avengers)

Madripoor army

Shaitan, in the form of Storm

Khan's harem

soldiers in Khan's army

Story Notes: 

The flashback shows in the first scene: the tower surrounding Madripoor, the teleport beam that is being powered by Gambit, the alien army destroying the civilian army, Slipstream trying to teleport through the forcefield, Iron Man and Wonderman trying to destroy the forcefield from the outside while Rogue attacks it from the inside, and lastly Captain America going over battle plans with, presumably, the Madripoor militia.

The battle of Thermypolae that Bishop cites was a real event. In 480 BC several hundred Greeks, led by King Leonidas of Sparta and his personal bodyguard of three hundred Spartans, made a brave and gallant stand against a vastly larger Persian force. Ordered to stand firm and hold the pass of Thermopylae against the Persians, the Spartans refused to retreat and held their ground for days. Only after an act of treason by a Greek, were the Persians able to surround and destroy the Spartans. The battle was not in vain however, as the holding action gave the people of Athens time to evacuate, saving their population.

The X-Men took Khan prisoner in X-Treme X-Men #10.

As we see how Storm is able to control the weather for the first time through her eyes. The narrator explains that Storm since birth was able to see two different views of the atmosphere. One as the normal human view that we see and the other as the electrons and different molecules that form the very air and weather events around us. By watching how lighting is formed, Storm is able to create the lightning herself by willing the molecules to move into place for her.

The shadowy figure holding the Psylocke statue is found in the next issue to be none other than Vargas.

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