Young X-Men #7

Issue Date: 
December 2008
Story Title: 
The Other

Marc Guggenheim (writer), Ben Oliver (artist), Jose Villarrubia (colorist), Dave Sharpe (letterer), Anthony Dial (production), Daniel Ketchum & Will Panzo (assistant editors), Nick Lowe (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher), Terry & Rachel Dodson (cover art)

Brief Description: 

The Young X-Men are called to investigate the disappearance of a construction team on a remote and uncharted island. They split up into teams and each one is attacked by the island itself! They quickly conclude that they are dealing with a Krakoa island, which feeds on mutants. However, the island has no interest in the non-mutant among them: Ink. Later, Dust visits Donald Pierce once more and confesses a secret of her own. She is dying. Pierce in turns reveals to her that Ink is not a mutant but that his tattoo artist is.

Full Summary: 

Dust is walking alongside Donald Pierce in what appears to be a wooded park. He notes how interesting it is that she keeps coming to see him and asks her why. She evades his question at first but he persists and asks why she comes to talk with him. She confesses that she finds it interesting to talk with him. He points out that for over a month he posed as their mentor, Cyclops, and taught them as if he truly was. He suggests that he was only able to do so because he knows her and her friends better than they know themselves. Sooraya tells him that she has a “morbid curiosity” about him but if he has another theory on why she has come to see him, she’d like to hear it. He tells her flat out “You know that one of you isn’t a mutant. And you’re hoping it might be you.”

The day before her visit to Pierce, Dust was flying with her teammates towards a new mission. Rockslide was talking through a mystery that arose during the time they were working alongside Pierce. Pierce (in the guise of Cyclops) had given the team a set of Cerebrex units. At the time, these devices read the presence of five mutants. Santo counts through those present: Dust, Ink, Wolf Cub, Blindfold, himself and “Cyclops”. He points out that there was another mutant in range at the time: Graymalkin. Santo points out that Dr. McCoy confirmed that Graymalkin was a mutant and he said that he was there when they were checking the Cerebrex units. Dust is surprised to hear that Santo had spoken with Graymalkin and says honestly that she thought he was insane. Santo snidely replies “No more’n the rest of us.”
Early that day, Emma Frost spoke with Graymalkin about the very subject. She shared that she did not think he was crazy. “Crazy? Do you mean like a loon?” he asked. She replied that she thinks he is in his right mind. He thanks her and tells her that it is a comfort to hear. She tells him that she does believe that he has been traumatized in some way and asks if he thinks that’s the case. He tells her that he doesn’t know that word and she explains that it means he’s in pain. She then asks if he knows what a telepath is. He seems confused and she explains that it means that she can read minds and hear thoughts. This worries Graymalkin and she assures him that she wouldn’t do so without his permission. She then asks if she has his permission. He thinks about this for a moment before telling her “No.”
Back on the Blackbird, Dani Moonstar approaches Dust and Rockslide and asks what they’re talking about. Dust replies that Santo thinks that one of them is not a mutant. He glares over at Ink and says “Yeah. And I know who I’m rooting for.” Dani encourages him to keep his mind on the mission. Santo brushes this off, saying that a hunt for some missing construction workers hardly seems like a mission. Dani points out that it’s a favor for one of Roberto’s associates. Santo says “Right. So it’s not a mission.” Dani tells him that 56 construction workers don’t go missing unless something very wrong has happened.
The X-Jet lands on a secluded island where Sunspot’s associate was building a luxury resort. Ink declares it “Sweet” and asks Roberto if they get free rooms for life if they locate the lost workers. Sunspot reminds him to use codenames when they’re on a mission and tells him that they’re not going to find these men. Anole interjects and says that he thought that was the whole point of them being there. ‘Berto clarifies that they aren’t going to find anyone alive since, in his experience, it’s never a good thing when that many people disappear into thin air off an uninhabited island. Dani replies “Ever the optimist” before assigning the group to smaller search teams. Ink and Dust are the aerial search team. She teams with Santo and sends Anole with Sunspot.

Dust continues her conversation with Pierce who asks if she wants to know who isn’t a mutant. He says he knows exactly which of them isn’t a mutant and would be happy to tell her is she’s that person. But first, he wants her to answer a question: Why does she hope that she isn’t a mutant?

As they begin their search for the missing workers, Anole asks Sunspot about his recent affiliation with the Hellfire Club. ‘Berto asks why he wants to know and Victor says that it should be obvious considering he was the Emperor of the HFC. Roberto corrects him: “Lord Imperial”. Anole adds that Dust seemed to think that Cannonball was a member as well. Sunspot cuts to the chase and asks if he’s worried they were turning “to the dark side together or something.” Victor is equally direct and says that he returned to the X-Men against his better judgment and right away he hears stories that both Sunspot and Cannonball were with the Hellfire Club. Roberto explains that his taking leadership of the Hellfire Club was complicated and involved a promise to a friend, not due to him becoming an “evil mutant”. Sam was merely trying to talk him out of it, plain and simple. Sam was concerned that his links to the Hellfire Club would give people the wrong impression and cause trouble for him. Sunspot says that now he has to listen to a lifetime of “I told you so.”
At that moment, the island itself seems to come alive. It takes the form of a huge monstrous entity composed of earth and vegetation. The creature attacks and Anole leaps nimbly out of the way. He says cheerily “The good news is… I think we found out who took those construction guys.” Roberto powers up and attacks the creature as he replies that he hates being right all the time.

Pierce asks Dust “It’s a terrible thing to be a mutant, isn’t it?” Sooraya asks if that’s what he expects her to say and points out that as a mutant and a Muslim, she knows a fair bit about bigotry. Particularly how much bigots like him enjoy hearing about the self-hatred of minorities. She tells him that she’s sorry to disappoint him but her desire to not be a mutant has more to do with being an X-Man than it does with being a mutant.

As they search on the ground for the missing construction team, Moonstar asks Santo why he wants to be an X-Man. He’s surprised by the question and she simply says they have some time to kill and she was curious. He asks why she’s curious about that. She points out that she is his teacher and team leader, so it seemed pertinent. She then adds that she also wanted to ensure that he wanted to be a part of the team and didn’t just stick around to cause problems for Ink. He asks her why she’d think that and she replies that he’s wanted to kill Eric several times in the last week. Santo declares that he’s over that and is with the team despite Ink being there. Dani points out that he’s still causing trouble.
At that moment, a fiery rock creature springs up from the ground and attacks the pair. Santo breaks into his customary banter with “You just had to say ‘trouble’ …” and adds as an aside that he hasn’t said a word to Ink as he punches the creature. Dani tells him that Ink is his teammate now and not speaking to him is a problem. Rockslide tells her he’s busy as he engages the rock creature. A voice from behind calls out to Dani and Santo to “Look out!” It’s Dust who flies in and attacks the creature in her dust form. This takes it down and Dani and Rockslide thank her for the assist.
With the threat dealt with, Santo asks Dani exactly what kind of trouble she thinks he’s causing. Dani replies coolly “I think you know.” Santo says “Let’s go out on a limb, say I don’t.” Dani points out that Santo has been on a “witch-hunt” to discover who among them is a non-mutant. He challenges her by asking “You’re not curious?” She replies that she isn’t because she knows who it is already. She confronts Santo with the fact that he’s hoping it’s Ink but asks how he knows that he’s not the one himself.
Elsewhere, Sunspot tells Anole that he recognizes the gigantic plant creature they are fighting. “Ex-girlfriend?” Victor teases and ‘Berto simply replies “Cute” before revealing that the island is a Krakoa. Dani makes a similar deduction and shares that with her team. Dust says that she thought there was only one. Dani replies “Apparently not” but adds that it makes sense since Krakoa was a living thing and how many living things on Earth are there only one of. Sunspot finishes his opponent off and tells Anole that his business associate discovered the island while looking for deep sea oil deposit and that it was previously uncharted. Vic points out that his pal’s “business venture” just tried to kill them and asks if it’s dead now. Roberto says that he thinks it’s resting and that the creature they just fought is like the island’s antibodies. Rockslide asks if it’s trying to make itself “immune” to them and wonders if the construction workers were “immunized”. Dani says that she hopes not.

Pierce tells Sooraya that he hopes she would be able to draw a distinction between being a “mutie” and being an X-Man. She asks him not to use that word with her. He tells her not to change the subject and says that just because she is a mutant she shouldn’t feel an obligation to be an X-Man. He notes that she did not have any hesitation when he recruited her to be an X-Man. She replies that this was before he killed her friend, Wolf Cub. He points out that she’s faced death before that and asks her what has changed.

Dani and Roberto both check in with each other via comlink and share the conclusion that they’ve both reached: the island is a Krakoa. Dani reminds him that the original Krakoa treated mutants as a food source. He replies that this may be good news for the construction team since none of them are likely to be mutants. Dani says that he’s assuming that the island’s instincts are to attack mutants only. He responds that it makes sense as Krakoa sees mutants as either a meal or a threat and if someone isn’t one or the other… Dani concludes his train of thought “The island doesn’t pose a danger to them.”
At that moment, this theory is tested and proven true by Ink who flies up to one of Krakoa’s manifested “antibodies” and the creature completely ignores him. Dani listens to Roberto’s theory and asks the obvious question: “If the island isn’t out to hurt non-mutants, where’d the construction workers go?”
Just then, Ink enters a cave and calls out “Hello?” to anyone who might be able to hear him. A crowd of construction workers emerge from within the cave, the lead carrying a shotgun. He levels it at Ink shouting for him to stay back. Ink tells him to chill out and the man threatens to blow his head off. Ink understands the man’s reaction and says that he’s with a group of X-Men and they’re here to help get them out of there. Eric tells the man that he has a choice; he can shoot him or get rescued. He adds that he has better things to do than have a gun pointed at him. The man relents and asks how he found them. Ink points to the lightning-shaped tattoo on his temple “Telepathy tattoo. Long story,” he says and asks if they want to get out of there or what.

Pierce again asks Sooraya what has changed and why she no longer wishes to be an X-Man. Sooraya hesitates and asserts that she doesn’t trust him. He points out that she has already revealed so much of herself to him. He knows that she feels that she has to be an X-Man because she is a mutant but that something has happened that has forced her to rethink this. He knows she has not shared this with any of her fellow mutants because, otherwise, why would she keep seeking him out? She turns away and says that it’s “Because you’re the only person who won’t care that…” She hesitates so he asks “Care that what?” and she replies through tear-filled eyes “That I’m dying.”

Dani stands near the X-Jet with Rockslide watching as Ink evacuates the missing construction workers. Santo asks “Does he know?” and Danielle seems surprised that he’s figured it out. Santo points out that Krakoa only attacks mutants and since Ink was able to get to the workers without any trouble from Krakoa’s “antibodies” then he must be the one who isn’t a mutant. Again Santo asks “Does he know?” Moonstar says that she doesn’t think so.
Rockslide asks how she knows. Dani explains that she had Emma do a scan with Cerebro and it concluded that Ink was 100% baseline human. He asks if she plans to tell him. Dani says that is indeed the question and equates it to someone telling her that she’s not actually Native American. She adds “Or that you’re not a stone cold pain in the neck.” Santo takes it in stride and admits he may have had that coming to him. He reminds her that Ink was working for Pierce. Dani seems unfazed by this and reminds Santo that she’s the one who Ink and Pierce kidnapped. Again she tells Santo that plenty of X-Men started out on the dark side. Rockslide gets this but can’t help but think that if Ink hadn’t been working for Pierce things may have been different. Dani realizes that he’s referring to Wolf Cub’s death and tells Santo that he’ll never know for sure if things would have been different or not. She tells him what he does know is that a teammate is about to get some very difficult news about himself. She asks him “So what are you going to do?”

Pierce asks this same question of Dust, who replies that it’s her business what she plans to do about her condition. Sooraya walks away, emerging from the holographic environment created within Pierce’s cell. She tells that she’s done answering his questions and wants an answer to hers. Pierce tells her that she is definitely a mutant, which is how he found her in Afghanistan. She asks who it is among them that is not a mutant then. Pierce replies “It’s Ink.” Dust asks how he found Ink if he’s not a mutant. Pierce reveals that Ink may not be a mutant but that his tattoo artist is.

Rockslide does the right thing and approaches Ink and asks how he’s doing, though it is unclear if he has been told the truth about himself or not.

Characters Involved: 

Dust (Young X-Men)

Donald Pierce

In flashback:

Anole, Dust, Graymalkin, Ink, Rockslide (all Young X-Men)

Dani Moonstar, Sunspot (both mentors to the Young X-Men)

Emma Frost (X-Men)

Donald Pierce


Leon Nunez

Unnamed construction workers

Story Notes: 

Sunspot became the Lord Imperial of the Hellfire Club in Uncanny X-Men #454 after Sebastian Shaw and Selene were defeated by the X-Men.
Krakoa was first introduced in Giant-Size X-Men #1 and was the foe responsible for the genesis of the second generation of X-Men that included Storm, Nightcrawler, Wolverine, Colossus, Banshee, Sunfire and Thunderbird. At the completion of that mission, Krakoa was launched into space. An offshoot of Krakoa similar to this one appeared in Excalibur (1st series) #31 and called itself Vega Superior. It is safe to assume that this version of Krakoa was also created from a spore released by the original.

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