X-Treme X-Men : X-Posé #1

Issue Date: 
January 2003
Story Title: 
Chasing Smoke

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

Brief Description: 

At the “Spotlight” headquarters a man named Paul show his journalists video clips of the X-Men. He plans on using the X-Men as his next story piece for television. After the meeting Paul has a short conversation with two of his journalists, Neal and Manoli. He tells them that their old-school style of journalism is out of date and that they should let the other four, who have fresh ideas, create the story. However Neal and Manoli don’t trust Paul and decide to make a better story then the four “newbie” reporters can, making Paul eat his words. Craig Damaski, one of the new reporters tries his luck in Paris at X-Corporation. He asks for a meeting with Charles Xavier, but as he has no appointment, receptionist Holly lets him wait for over nine hours. Getting upset, he storms out in disgust. Later he and his colleagues try to gain access to the Xavier Institute, but Emma Frost and one of her students teach them a similar lesson, and the four reporters end up in the pond. Meanwhile, Neal and Manoli spend two weeks chasing leads about the whereabouts of the X-Men. Finally, they receive a tip about the X-Treme team’s location in New Orleans. There they find Logan putting Storm through rigorous exercises in order to help her legs heal faster. Storm gives them an interview and explains that hers and Xavier’s methods differ from one another, and that is the reason the X-Treme team does not currently live at the mansion. Next, Neal and Manoli head towards California and continue their meetings, now with Bishop and Sage. The four sit down in front of a café. During the meeting, they are disturbed by a group of mutants who begin to terrorize the beach. A woman named Paint approaches Neal and the others, she apologizes for the other mutants‘ actions. She explains to them her powers and also demonstrates them so Manoli can get more footage for her story. Two police officers approach the thug group of mutants, but are attacked by them. Bishop and Sage intervene in the fight, saving the officers and restraining the group of mutant thugs. However one of the officers tells the X-Men to let the mutants go, as they fear acts of revenge on either them or their families. Reluctantly Bishop and Sage comply to the officer’s request. Sage, upset over the officer’s reactions, tells Neal and Manoli of how they all, mutant and human, need to work together, or else humanity won’t survive. Hours later, Neal sends the tape of the meeting with the X-Men to the headquarters of “Spotlight”. Paul congratulates Neal on his good work, but then edits the video, making it more negative against mutants.

Full Summary: 

In a meeting room in the building which houses the members of the television program called “Spotlight,” the new executive producer asks who these people are? Behind him, on five video screens, are Bishop, Sage, Rogue, Gambit, and Storm. In front of Paul, the new executive producer, are six journalists that work for him. A man named Neal Canon answers his question by telling him that they are the X-Men, an offshoot of the school in Westchester and they just saved the world a few weeks back. Stopping his answer, Paul tells Neal to ignore the uniforms of the X-men and the flashy names, because he wants to know if they are renegades, and are they a threat? He tells the journalists that he plans on making his hour on television become a story about the mutant threat. He finishes by saying that he wants to boost his career on the dirt and glamour that they can find on the X-Men.

Four of the six journalists get up and leave the room after Paul calls an end to the meeting. Confused, Paul asks the two Neal and Manoli why they have not left with the others? Neal answers him, telling Paul that they had not planned the show to be pitched that way when the two of them had come up with the idea for the new “Spotlight” series. Paul tells the two that they are old-school journalists and that new faces and a new approach is better, now, than their ideas. With that said, the two leave the office. As they walk, they discuss their dislike for Paul and his four new journalists. As the two walk straight out the building, to the streets below, Neal tells Manoli that their approach may be old school, but they will compete against the other four “newbies” style and still come out the victor.

At 8:53 AM, in Paris, one of the “Spotlight” reporters, named Craig Damaski, asks the young receptionist of X-Corps, named Holly, if he can see one of her bosses, namely Charles Xavier or Warren Worthington? She asks if he has an appointment, and he replies that he does not need one. He tells her that he is a very important person and that he is sure that any of the two of them, would love to speak to him. With a smile on her face, she tells Mr. Damaski that she will see what she can do. Mr. Damaski waits till 5:09 PM. When he finally can’t take the wait any longer, he speaks up, asking the lady where the other girl that he had spoken to earlier was. Holly replies that she is the same girl that he had spoken to earlier, and that her mutant ability is to change appearances. Mr. Damaski tells her that Xavier, Worthington, and also herself will pay for messing with him! Craig storms out of the receptionist’s area as Holly, sporting a new face, turns away while telling him to have a nice day.

In Tribeca, downtown Manhattan, Neal and his partner Manoli are trying to call different people to see if they can get a lead on the whereabouts of the X-Treme offshoot of the X-Men. Neal is on the phone with Alistaire Stuart, a friend of the X-Men. Neal asks him if he will meet him in town for a bagel and some coffee. He tells him that he will not tape their meeting, he just wants to use his words. The two agree to meet in an hour at, what Neal calls, the “usual place”. Beside Neal, Manoli is wearing a blue shirt that says Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters. She is calling Valerie Cooper, another longtime friend of the X-Men, but she only gets the receptionist who she asks to confirm the meeting between her and Cooper tomorrow.

After the conversation with Dr. Stuart, Neal calls Dr. Cortes in Spain, to ask her about Storm. In Spain Dr. Cortes tells Neal that the activities of her bureau are classified, but if he sees Storm to tell her that she said hi. Back in Tribeca, Manoli is still wearing her headphone speaker piece, talking to Colonel Alexi Vazhin in Russia about his relationship to the X-Men. Colonel Vazhin, in Russia, tells her that he does not know their whereabouts, but his government does hold them in the highest regard. Finally getting a lead, Neal tells Manoli to pack her bags because, after two weeks of searching, the two of them are headed to New Orleans.

At the Xavier Institute in Westchester County, Emma’s astral form greets two of the journalists from “Spotlight”, along with their two cameramen. She tells them that they are trespassing on private school grounds and that they cannot arrive unannounced, demanding total access and expect a welcome. One of the journalists tells Emma that they have every right to the knowledge of what goes on inside of the Institute, for the sake of the public. Emma smiles at the journalist and tells him, “Well since you put it that way”!

Inside the Institute, Emma places one foot on a nearby chair as she watches the astral projections of the four members of “Spotlight” outside the doors of the Institute. Emma tells Esme, one of her pupils that is seated behind Emma, that she is having to pay for her past sins in dealing with the press. She tells Esme to use her powers to run the reporters through a maze, but to not harm them, only to deposit them somewhere funny. Esme does as her mentor asks as she allows them access and mentally leads them into the mansion’s pond.

In the French quarter of New Orleans, Manoli and Neal walk from a café carrying beignets and coffee for their meeting with Storm. Manoli wonders a loud as they walk, why if these X-Men are truly who they say they are, why are they not living at the Xavier Institute as well? Standing infront of Rogue’s mansion they ring the doorbell, as Neal tells Manoli to ask them those questions when they finally meet them.

Opening the door, Logan tells the two that Storm is not who they need to worry about, he is! Logan leads the two journalists to the kitchen, where Neal sits down with his coffee and beignets. Logan tells the two that he does not like the fact they are there, but the commands are Storm’s to make and she made this call, so he will abide by her decision. Manoli asks Logan if he disagrees with her decision? He replies that he likes living in the shadows, because it gives him more freedom. Questioning Logan’s statement, Neal asks Logan if he has a problem with the X-Men’s decision to go public? “Charley’s school, Charley’s call. An’ that’s ALL I’m gonna say about it, on the record or off”, replies Logan.

Walking the two of them to the house’s roof, Logan meets Storm and tells her that her guests have arrived. Logan also jokingly tells Storm that if she gives him a good workout this morning, he may consider letting her eat them. Storm is dressed in a purple sports bra and blue shorts. As she moves her wheelchair closer to Logan and the two journalists, she tells Logan that he is a slave driver. Lifting the camera to her side, Manoli starts to tape the meeting between the two of them and Storm. Neal comments that he knew that the team had been injured during the battle with Khan, but he had no idea that she had been injured so seriously. Manoli tells the two mutants that the public thinks of the X-Men as untouchable and that gives them security, but to see her hurt, it almost makes them look “human”. Logan helps Storm to her feet as she begins her workout, holding onto two support beams, as she tries to learn to walk again. “We are like you”, Storm replies, as Logan tells her to take it easy and to make one step at a time.

Neal tells Storm that thanks to the recent public accounts of the X-Men, the public’s view on them is very good. With that said, Logan speaks up telling them that the X-Men are not in the hero business for the medals or fame. Logan stops his conversation to ask if Storm is okay, seeing how she just lost her balance and fell. She tells him that she is okay, but her recent injuries have made her so weak. Neal, still asking questions asks Storm why they battle evil everyday? She responds to his question by saying that the Earth is their home too. The X-Men, Storm goes on to say, protects the world not just for everyone else, but for themselves as well. “As Vigilantes”, Neal asks? Storm tells him that in the beginning they had to be, because people did not accept them. It is easier now, because more people accept mutants now then ever before. Neal, still questioning the X-Treme team’s motives, asks her if they just don’t think the government knows how to run itself? Logan replies to his question by saying that he has worked for many in the “service” of his country, so he thinks the X-Men can’t make anything worse in the world by just trying to help.

Neal next asks Storm, as she moves to a chin-up bar to start exercising, why her team has made itself more of an “offshoot” team of X-Men? Storm tells Neal that he can consider it a difference of opinion. Xavier believes in shepherding his so-called flock, while they believe that their should be made no distinction between human and mutants. Storm creates a sauna around her with her powers to clean her off. She finishes the meeting by saying that they didn’t believe in making a distinction before and they are not about to start now!

On a beach in Valle Soleada, California, on the pacific outskirts of Los Angeles, Sage is trying to teach Bishop how to wind surf. Where Bishop grew up, the seas were poison so wind surfing is a truly new experience for him. He thinks to himself that Sage must hate him, because she will not let him quit trying to surf. Many times during the day, Bishop falls off his board, and many times he gets back on, till finally he is wind surfing like a pro. Sage and Bishop hold their boards as they walk onto the beach to meet Manoli and Neal the two reporters from “Spotlight, for their interviews. Neal congratulates Bishop on his determination to master wind surfing, and how if it were he, he would have given up hours before.

A few minutes later, the four of them have made their way to a café table near the beach to have their meeting. Bishop thanks them for coming all the way to where they are to talk to them. Manoli tells him that they can thank Storm for setting the meeting up. Manoli and Neal express their shock on Bishop’s revelation that he has never swam in the ocean before, at least for the fun of it. Bishop explains as Manoli begins her camera recording, that his body has an exceptional kinetic memory. With that ability, he can learn and adapt to different situations extremely fast. It also has a special side affect; he can never forget what he learns. Manoli asks Bishop if that is his mutant ability? He replies that it is more like a survival skill then a power because, with his experience, if you do not adapt you will not live. Neal questioning Bishop, asks him if that is how he sees the world as a place of violence between humans and mutants? Sage answers for Bishop, replying that if he asks his own self “Are we one species, or are we separate.” How he answers that question, defines the rest.

Behind Neal, a man tells the woman with him, named Evie, that the “freaks” are coming out. Neal questions his comments and, as Evie and the man stand up to leave, he tells them that last summer these “freaks” came out and they have terrorized the real people ever since. In front of them, five mutants walk up to the man. One of the “freaks,” named Cutter, calls themselves “spikes” and the humans “static, ” as he scares the two humans with his power to grow metal spikes from his chest. Laughing, the five “spikes” taunt the “statics,” causing them to run away. Cutter walks over towards Neal and taunts him by telling Neal and the other three with him that as long as they stay out of their way, “the spikes” will not hurt them! The five mutants walk away from them, as Manoli asks Sage what they meant about “static” and “spike”? Sage explains that “static” is slang for genetic background noise, unable to evolve, while "spike” is noise changing and evolving. So to “spikes,” “statics” are just annoying noise.

A few seconds later, a mutant girl that calls herself Paint approaches the four at the table and apologizes for Cutter’s rudeness. The girl Pain, herself covered from head to toe in different colors of tattoos, asks Sage if she can copy her markins. Sage replies “no,” to Paint’s question. Paint explains to them that her mutant ability is to be able to change skin tones and make her body, or other’s she touches, into art. Paint asks Manoli if she wants her to demonstrate her powers on her by giving her tattoos? Manoli declines, saying that she is in charge of the camera, but her colleague Neal would love too.

Taking his shirt off, Neal asks Manoli not to let his wife know what he is doing. As he sits back down, Paint creates a mystical scene on Neal’s chest about a dragon following an angel. Neal explains that her power feels like little electric tingles going through his body, even though Paint’s fingernails are barely touching him. After Paint is done, she asks Bishop what his “M” tattoo on his left eye stands for. He tells her that a scientist figured that genetic branding was a nice form of being able to tell the mutants from the humans, so he was branded. Neal comments that the people that did that to him must think of mutants as cattle, which Bishop replies that the humans were just afraid.

A few feet away, a bystander is scared away by Cutter and his friends. As she runs away, Paint tells the four people at the table that if Cutter does not stop, he is going to ruin mutant reputation in the town. Cutter looks towards the street as two officers approach him. One of the officers, named Mendes, calls Cutter “Sullivan” and tells him that he and his friends have been warned for the last time and that maybe a few nights in county jail will teach them some manners. Cutter asks one of his friends, named Porous, if he will take care of officer Mendes, which he does causing the officer’s skin to shrivel up as Porous sucks the moisture form his body. While Porous finishes off Mendes, another mutant named Dervish causes the officer’s partner to spin in a whirlwind, shaking the officer badly.

From behind Porous, Bishop walks up and nerve pinches the boy, causing him to fall unconscious. Dervish turns to see what has happened in enough time to use her powers to cause Bishop to twirl around fast, just like she did to the officer’s partner. Dervish calls Bishop a “static” and, as Bishop twirls around, he falls into the girl, causing her to stop. Bishop tells her that he was not impressed. Cutter begins to jump towards Bishop, but luckily for him Sage stops him by knocking Cutter out of the way. While Sage gets closer to Bishop, another mutant blasts Bishop with an energy type beam. Bishop asks the others “whoever said we were statics”, and as Manoli records the proceedings, Bishop uses his mutant power to knock the unnamed mutant and Cutter to the ground.

As Neal finishes putting back on his shirt, he listens to Paint comment that the two of them are just like her. Bishop explains to her that they are mutants, but they are not like the other mutant losers they had just faced. They are the X-Men! “But I thought the X-Men protected mutant rights?” Paint exclaims. Sage tells her that the X-Men are about the law and justice, and also about protecting humanity.

Sage walks over to officer Mendes, asking him if he and his partner are okay. She explains that the two of them were exposed to the powers only briefly, so the affects should wear off quickly, but the two of them should seek medical attention, just to be “safe”. “Safe,” asks the officer? He tells them that they will never be “safe”! Officer Mendes turns to Bishop and tells him that he appreciates their help, but he is going to have to let the other mutants go. Why, Neal asks? The officer tells Neal that he has to let them go, because the mutants have friends and he has a family he does no want to see hurt. The town is turning into the “Wild West”, the officer tells them. He also says that the minute he gets back to the precinct, he is going to put in for a transfer or quit the force. Manoli tells Neal that she can’t accept the fact that society’s rules do not work. Who is going to protect the people in the town if even the law cannot be enforced? Bishop tells her that society’s rules do work, it just needs somebody to properly enforce those rules. Neal tells Bishop that if the world is now like the frontier, then the frontier needs “Marshals”.

Behind them, hundreds of humans and mutants are walking side by side on the beach. Sage tells them that the world is all theirs. If they do not share in the responsibility, there will be no future, but a wasteland for all their children.

Back at the “Spotlight” headquarters, Paul sits in front of a television screen with his four “newbie” reporters. They are watching the interviews that both Neal and Manoli did with the X-Men. Neal is feeding the footage via satellite. As he appears in a pic on the screen, he tells Paul that he only lacks a few more interviews before he finishes his story. Paul thanks Neal for his excellent work and tells him that he has proven him wrong and that he has done a good job.

Paul clicks off the call with Neal and he turns to Zach, one of his film editors. Paul instructs the editor to cut everything from Sage’s speech except for “This is our world”! Zach tells Paul that the change will make the X-Man’s speech from positive to negative, and Paul agrees. He tells them that mutants as friendly neighbors will not sell ratings, but mutants as scary creatures who may destroy them at any moment will. He approaches the other journalists and tells them that Neal and Manoli provided them with top-notch material, and he will reshape it to match what he pitched to the network. Paul tells them also that “Neal and Manoli will do all the work, while they collect the reward”.

Characters Involved: 

Bishop, Emma Frost, Sage, Storm, Wolverine (all X-Men)

Esme (a student at the Xavier Institute)

Holly, the receptionist for the Paris branch of X-Corps)

Three unnamed students from the Xavier Institute

Colonel Alexi Vazhin

Maria Pilar Cortes (Spain's Deputy Minister of State for Justice)

Paul, Executive Producer of “Spotlight”

Neal Conan, Craig Damaski, Manoli Wetherell, journalists for “Spotlight”

Two unnamed journalists, two unnamed cameramen, employees of “Spotlight”

Zach, Spotlight’s film editor

“Cutter” Sullivan, Dervish, Paint, Porous (Mutant civilians in Valle Soleada, California)

Evie, human civilian in Valle Soleada, California

Mutant and human civilians of Valle Soleada, California

Officer Mendes, and one unnamed officer, two officers in Valle Soleada, California

In Video:

Bishop, Gambit, Rogue, Sage, and Storm

Story Notes: 

This issue shows the character Maria Pilar Cortes, Spain's Deputy Minister of State for Justice, who is in reality Salvador Larroca's wife! Her first appearance was in X-Treme X-Men #1.

Among the interviewees called is Alistaire Stuart, an agent for Britains’s department, W.H.O. (Weird Happenings Organization) and former romantic interest for Kitty Pryde.

In the room with Craig Damaski in the X-Corps building as he waits the panels on the same page show Holly changing her hair color and partially changing her facial patterns as different visitors come to see her.

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