Young X-Men #5

Issue Date: 
October 2008
Story Title: 
Fall of the Mutants

Marc Guggenheim (writer), Yanick Paquette (penciller) Ray Snyder (inker), Rob Schwager (colorist), Dave Sharpe (letterer), Will Panzo (asst. editor), Nick Lowe (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher), Terry & Rachel Dodson (cover art)

Brief Description: 

The mysterious Graymalkin confronts Pierce and their battle spills over into the Danger Cave. During their tussle, Dust’s crystallized glass form is knocked over and shatters. Magma joins the battle and drives Pierce off. She then superheats the shards of Sooraya’s body until they break down into sand once more. Dust is then able to resume her human form. Together, they head to the Hellfire Club and interrupt the other Young X-Men’s battle with Sunspot and Cannonball. After hostilities are ended, they explain how Pierce has duped the Young X-Men all these months. They all join forces to try and rescue Dani Moonstar and Blindfold. Ink provides them with their location and sidesteps explaining how he knows about Pierce’s hideout…for now. The group enters a series of nearby tunnels and the former New Mutants take the lead in searching them, leaving the Young X-Men behind to ponder how easily they were manipulated by Pierce into becoming killers. Graymalkin disappears and finds Dani and Ruth himself, with aid from an unseen ally who he has been conversing with since he first appeared. Pierce shows up and engages the Young X-Men in battle. They hold their own until he mortally wounds Wolf Cub. Rockslide tries to kill Pierce in retaliation but Wolf Cub begs him not to with his dying words, reminding him that “X-Men don’t kill” and that they are X-Men.

Full Summary: 

Graymalkin and Donald Pierce crash through the “ceiling” of the Danger Cave. Pierce lands atop Graymalkin who takes the brunt of the fall. Dust’s crystallized body rests nearby on an infirmary bed undisturbed since her recent examination using the Danger Cave’s technology. The Danger Cave detects a mutant presence and begins to run through various X-Men battle files. Graymalkin is surprised by the holographic illusions and exclaims “What devilry--?” The computer AI replies that it is designated as the “Danger Cave.” As Pierce renews his attack he says “Let me show you why.” The two trade blows as Pierce taunts the mysterious, gray-skinned mutant. Pierce punches Graymalkin who soars through the air and crashes into the bed. Dust’s glass body falls to the floor of the Danger Cave and shatters into a million pieces. Graymalkin cries out “NO!” as Pierce gloats over Dust’s demise, saying that he was saving the pleasure of shattering her “for a rainy day.”
Pierce’s gloating is interrupted by a column of flame that strikes him from behind. Magma joins the fight and tells Pierce that it isn’t going to rain any time soon but the weather does call for “extremely high temperatures.” Pierce notes that she managed to escape her cell and Amara replies that it opened on its own. She says she has some questions for him, but he says simply “Another time perhaps” before teleporting away.
Graymalkin approaches and asks “What are your intentions, witch?” Magma tells him that she’s on his side and reminds him of what she just did to Pierce. She then bends down next to Sooraya’s shattered form. She tells him to be quiet so she can concentrate and he begins to warn her not to hurt Dust. Amara snaps back “What did I just say?” as she tries to use her heat to fuse the shattered pieces of Dust’s body together again. Graymalkin calls this “witchcraft” and Amara explains that she is just using her heat to force the glass pieces to break back down into sand particles. Magma explains that she used to be Dust’s teacher and thinks that once Sooraya has been converted back to sand she’ll be able to reform herself. Amara’s presumptions prove accurate. When the dust settles from her efforts, Sooraya lies before them in her human form once more.
At the Hellfire Club, Rockslide punches Cannonball and quips “That’s going to leave a mark” before offering to pay for Sam’s plastic surgery bill. Cannonball veers towards Ink and Wolf Cub and grabs them both by the front of their uniforms as he turns and ignites his blast field. He calls out to Sunspot, who was slashed open by Wolf Cub’s claws during the battle, to help out if he can. “Ah need you!” he urges, to which ‘Berto replies dryly “What else is new?” Sam replies that he’s “pretty cocky” given that his dealings with the Hellfire Club created this mess.
Sunspot is angry that he’s going to have to listen to Sam say “I told you so” for years to come and directs his anger on Rockslide. With a single punch, he knocks Santo down and sliding across the room forcefully. Sam launches himself into the night sky and commends Ink and Wolf Cub on their efforts to harm him while reminding them that he’s invulnerable when blasting. He asks if either of them is invulnerable enough to survive a fall from five thousand feet.
While the others clash at the Hellfire Club, Dust, Graymalkin and Magma have commandeered an X-Jet and are heading there to stop the fight now that they realize that it was all part of Pierce’s plan. Magma asks if they have any way of reaching the others and Dust says that Pierce gave them no way to communicate with each other in the field. Dust asks Graymalkin if he is okay and he replies that the X-Men uniform is unusual for him. Dust explains that it is what the X-Men and their friends have been known to wear and that Magma said he was a friend.
Magma expresses her frustration about the pace of their plane just as the onboard computer reports and unidentified bogie. It turns out to be Cannonball who assumes that the Young X-Men have brought in reinforcements. He blasts through the wing of the X-Jet and its occupants are sucked out into open air. Sam still has a hold of Ink and Wolf Cub and asks what it was their friend said. “That’s gonna leave a mark!” he laughs. Ink replies “So will this” as he punches Sam. This causes Cannonball to drop the pair of Young X-Men.
Nick says glibly to Ink “Thanks. This is a much better way to die.” Ink assures him he has a plan. Wolf Cub asks if it involves one of them growing wings. Ink recalls his last visit to his tattoo artist, when he asked him to ink some wings onto his back. Ink grabs Wolf Cub and flies the two of them to safety.
Magma uses her powers to melt the X-Jet to slag as they both fall towards the crowded city below. Sam sees her and asks what she’s doing and she replies “Trying to limit the property damage.” Sam catches her and clarifies what he meant “What’re you doing heah?” Magma begins to explain the situation as it truly is.
Meanwhile, Sunspot and Rockslide continue their tussle. Santo tells Sunspot that he better not have hurt his friends. Sunspot asks “Or what? You’ll kill me?” to which Rockslide replies that he was just going to give him a beatdown and wouldn’t have taken it that far. Santo vows that if anything has happened to his friends plans might change. Sunspot continues to challenge Santo’s motives and points out that it was the Young X-Men who attacked them.
At that moment, Graymalkin crashes through the roof and startles them both enough to cease hostilities momentarily. Graymalkin calls out at them to stop. The others arrive and Magma tells them to listen to Graymalkin. She warns that if they continue fighting they are playing right into his hands. Santo sees Sooraya among them and restored and rushes to give her a hug. She assures him she is alive but still a bit tender. Ink asks what’s going on and why they should all be friends now. Graymalkin explains that they were deceived and that Cyclops was not who he seemed. Ink asks “Who the hell is this guy?”
Sam interrupts and says that they don’t have time for all the details but tells them that they’ve been manipulated by Donald Pierce who was masquerading as Cyclops and recruited them. Wolf Cub is stunned and says that this means they aren’t X-Men --- just pawns. Santo adds “More like tools. How could we be so damn stupid?” Sam tells them that Pierce used their unquestioning loyalty and trust in Cyclops to play them. Roberto chimes in and points out that his becoming the Lord Imperial of the Hellfire Club had nothing to do with this conflict after all. Sam explains that it wasn’t the X-Men who were gunning for him and Sunspot realizes that Pierce went after him in an attempt to wrest control of the Club for himself.
Wolf Cub asks where Blindfold is, since they thought she’d been kidnapped by Dani Moonstar. Magma suggests that it’s only logical to assume that they are both being held captive. Cannonball notes that Pierce is the most likely culprit. Santo says that it’s simply a matter of finding them and busting them loose. ‘Berto points out that it’s only simple if they know where they’re being held. Ink pipes in and says “I do. I know where we can find Pierce.” Amara asks the obvious question, “How?” Ink is evasive and simply says it’s best for all if they don’t talk about how he knows at the moment. Sunspot challenges Ink on this and he simply replies “You wanna know where Pierce is or not?” Sam interjects and notes that they’ll have time for questions when this is resolved. He asks Ink where Pierce is.
A short time later, the Young X-Men and former New Mutants arrive at a series of tunnels dug by the Mole Man when he first attacked New York. These tunnels happen to be located in a strategic location near the Hellfire Club. Sam realizes that the place is enormous and that searching it will take time. Sunspot notes that Pierce has likely made his way back there and Magma notes that he had some type of teleportation device. Sam suggests they split up in order to cover more ground. Santo asks “What about us?” and Cannonball tells them to stay put. ‘Berto tells them to hide in the transport if Pierce shows up. Rockslide is dumbfounded and wonders why they left the transport at all if they were just going to “run and hide” at the first sign of trouble. Wolf Cub begins to answer and notices that Graymalkin has disappeared. He asks “Where’s the grey guy go?” and Rockslide says “I’m right here, dude.” He clarifies that he meant Dust’s new friend and she realizes that he’s gone.
As Graymalkin makes his way through the caverns, he speaks again to some unseen person. He says that he was worried about this “person” when the “flying carriage” fell. He stops and listens to the reply and then asks what the word “phased” means. The unseen friend apparently speaks to him once more and he agrees that they have more pressing concerns. His discussion continues as he makes his way through the caverns, guided by his unseen friend.
They come to a door and he asks “Are you sure?” He then assures his friend that he trusts them. He rips the door easily from its hinges, stating that it’s dark enough down here for him to handle it. Inside, he finds Dani and Blindfold. He introduces himself as Jonas Graymalkin and says that he’s there to rescue them. Dani bluntly asks “And what the hell are you?” Ruth tells her in her typically cryptic way “Later. We must be going. Time is leaving us. The future is now.” Moonstar is not swayed by this and says so.
Nearby, ‘Berto checks in with Sam and Amara. He reports that he’s seen no sign of Pierce and wonders if maybe he hasn’t returned yet. Sam notes that anything is possible with that “crafty bastard”. Sunspot mentioned that he really did a number on those kids but Magma thinks they’re handling it pretty well. Sam thinks they’re handling it “too well” and Magma agrees. She points out that they thought they were X-Men and killing for a good reason, when they weren’t. Sam says that it’s lucky they didn’t actually kill anyone. Amara asks if he honestly believes that makes them feel any better about all this.
The Young X-Men are sitting near the entrance of the caverns, feeling the sting of being manipulated. Wolf Cub laments that they weren’t truly X-Men and feeling used. Sooraya agrees, adding that it is hard not to feel violated. Nick is taking it the hardest and questions how easily he was willing to kill. He reminds them of what he did to Sunspot and Magma. Rockslide tries to convince him not to be too hard on himself and points out that they all thought they were following Cyclops’ orders.
Nick doesn’t let it go. He fully intended to kill Magma and Sunspot with his attacks. He should have known they weren’t truly X-Men because X-Men don’t kill. Butt he realizes that maybe he didn’t want to question those orders because he wanted to. Sooraya has to agree with Santo and assures Wolf Cub that he’s being too hard on himself.
At that moment, Pierce arrives and chimes in his agreement “I was very convincing” he sneers at the young mutants. Rockslide leaps to his feet and punches Pierce. Pierce smiles gleefully as he wipes the blood from his lip. He tells them that he’s going to savor each moment as he kills them all. He threatens to “peel the skin off your bones” and “use your skulls as a latrine”. Santo tells him “That’s totally gross” and Ink asks what a “latrine” is.
Wolf Cub tells Pierce that he’s outnumbered and Pierce adds derisively “By children.” Wolf Cub simply replies, “Children who outnumber you.” Pierce extends his cybernetic claws and leaps wildly at Nicholas. Wolf Cub cries out and the sound of his cry carries throughout the tunnels. Blindfold realizes what is happening due to her prophetic dreams and urges them to hurry. As she, Moonstar and Graymalkin make their way through the tunnels, they hear a sound that Dani recognizes as Dust using her sand-form. Ruth verifies this and adds that she just ripped Pierce’s face off.
They enter the cavern where the battle is raging and Ruth realizes that everything is unfolding just as she envisioned it. Pierce is surrounded by the Young X-Men, his robotic face revealed thanks to Sooraya’s sandstorm attack. He slashes wildly and connects. His target cries out. Blindfold screams “NO!” as the other mutants all converge on the battle simultaneously.
They all stand there in stunned silence for a moment as Pierce looks down at Wolf Cub, who he has just been gutted. Rockslide is the first to react. He lunges at Pierce, slams him into the wall and begins to pummel him. “You’re dead! You’re dead! You! I’m going to kill you!!” he shouts as he batters Pierce’s cybernetic form. “YOU… KILLED… MY… FRIEND!!!”
Santo’s rage is halted when he hears Wolf Cub’s weakened voice call out to him. Santo turns and says “Nicky?” to which Wolf Cub replies “I told you don’t call…” but he is too weak to finish his standard response to Santo calling him by that name. He weakly tells Rockslide not to kill Pierce and reminds him that they aren’t like him, despite his efforts to make them be. His final words to Rockslide are “X-Men don’t kill and we’re --- we’re X-Men…” and then he is gone.

Characters Involved: 

Blindfold, Dust, Ink, Rockslide, Wolf Cub (all Young X-Men)
Cannonball, Magma, Dani Moonstar, Sunspot (all former New Mutants)

Donald Pierce


In flashback only:

Leon Nunez, tattoo artist at Ink, Inc.

Via Danger Room computer imagery:

Callisto, Moira MacTaggart, Magneto, Storm (circa the Mutant Massacre)

Cyclops, Iceman, Magneto, Marvel Girl (circa Uncanny X-Men #1)

Banshee, Krakoa, Storm, Sunfire (circa Giant-Size X-Men #1)

Cyclops, Nightcrawler, Phoenix, Starbolt (circa The Dark Phoenix Saga)

Story Notes: 

Since this series’ launch, Cyclops’ presence and behavior have been suspect. Online speculation ranged from a Skrull doppelganger tied in to the SECRET INVASION storyline to guesses that he may be Donald Pierce or Sebastian Shaw in disguise. The final page of YOUNG X-MEN #4 revealed that the Cyclops who formed the Young X-Men team was actually Donald Pierce, as suspected. Readers were hardly surprised by this big reveal having guessed Cyclops’ true identity shortly after YOUNG X-MEN #1 was released.
Donald Pierce has a history of tangling with newly forged teams of young mutants. His villainous attacks against mutants played a pivotal role in the formation of the original New Mutants team as seen in MARVEL GRAPHIC NOVEL #4. He was also an early foe of the New Mutants training squad as depicted in NEW MUTANTS (2nd Series) #5-6.
Several scenes are shown in the Danger Cave during Graymalkin’s tussle with Donald Pierce. The first is in the X-Men’s infirmary in the aftermath of the Mutant Massacre. The next is the original X-Men’s battle against Magneto from UNCANNY X-MEN #1. The second generation of X-Men battled Krakoa the Living Island in GIANT-SIZE X-MEN #1. The final image shows the battle between the X-Men and the Shi’ar Imperial Guard that was the climax of the DARK PHOENIX SAGA.
This issue concludes with a montage of images with the text “In future issues of YOUNG X-MEN…” There are four images. A group of four men is shown, some with visible tattoos and identical to those who were recently shown escaping from prison in YOUNG X-MEN. One is saying “Yeah, well, I guess that makes us the Y-Men, then…” There is an image of Illyana Rasputin and another of Spider-Man. The final image is a blond-haired young man with what looks like scarring around his left eye. A speech bubble below him has the single word “…Doug?”, an obvious allusion to Cypher AKA Doug Ramsey. Art is by Yanick Paquette.
Ink’s tattoo artist Leon Nunez was not named until YOUNG X-MEN #8.
The Mole Man first attacked New York City in the classic FANTASTIC FOUR #1.

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