Astonishing X-Men (3rd series) #4

Issue Date: 
October 2004
Story Title: 
untitled (Gifted - part 4)

Joss Whedon (writer), John Cassaday (artist), Laura Martin (colorist), Chris Eliopoulos (letterer), Stephanie Moore & Sean Ryan (assistant editors), Mike Marts (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

Though Cyclops, Beast and Emma have a suspicion about what body Benetech has been using for its research, Cyclops does not inform Kitty or Wolverine, only that they are on a recon mission to the company’s lab. Arriving via the X-plane, the team quickly makes their way into the facility, thanks to Kitty’s phasing power. The search eventually leads to the corpse of a mutant, albeit an unknown one. Cyclops and Beast’s reaction, seeming to be expecting something more, arouses Wolverine’s suspicions. Before he can press them on it, however, the team is attacked by a group of gunmen, using heavy ordinance, who quickly gain the upper hand. Back at the Xavier Institute, Ord of the Breakworld steals into the mansion, only to find the X-Men gone. He does run into two students, Hisako and Wing. Though they put up a valiant struggle for their age and ability, Ord gains the upper hand and injects some of the mutant-cure serum into Wing, leaving him behind as a message for the X-Men. Meanwhile, Kitty has used her phasing power to reach a deep sub-level, which leads her to a giant, locked door. Her opening of the entrance draws the attention of the guards, though they are no match for the mutant who was held within: Colossus. Kitty’s shock is deep but short, as she quickly tries to calm down the enraged Piotr, who breaks down into tears at the sight of her, asking if he is finally dead.

Full Summary: 


He stands triumphant. Victorious. Covered in the blood of the foes he has slain, Ord of the Breakworld gazes upon the throngs of spectators in the multi-tiered stadium. I have come so far…


Returning his thoughts to the present, Ord stands in darkness, his eyes downcast. He ponders how he has worked for decades to reach his plan. Nothing could stop him. There were great warriors… and friends… left bloodied in the killing ground, so that he could fulfill his destiny… to be chosen for the great mission… to come there.

Moving through the darkness, Ord comes upon a locked cabinet. Staring at it briefly, he continues his thoughts. He came to this small stinking world… to work on for years without blood on his fists. Without release. Without respect. It is time all of that changed. Now reaching out, Ord opens the locker, not bothering with the bolted lock, but tearing the metal door effortlessly with one hand, revealing shelves, filled with vials stacked upon other vials. Taking one, Ord places it on a device on his wrist, locking it into place. Smiling as he does so, Ord thinks to himself that it’s time the X-Men paid for his patience.

Walking from the aircraft, Cyclops informs the rest of the team that the jet’s prepped. Standing next to Emma, who is still placing on her gloves, the Beast replies that the others are coming. When prompted by Cyclops as to whether he said anything, the Beast denies with an of course not. Benetech, he states, might be using a mutant for tissue samples, that’s all. He didn’t specify. Pleased at this, Cyclops adds that they probably won’t find anything conclusive. Like a warm body, Emma asks, snidely.

Before Cyclops can respond, Wolverine enters the hangar, flanked by Kitty, with Lockheed perched on her shoulder. Stating that he’s good to go, Wolverine tells his teammates to bring on the hurt. Placing his cowl into place, Cyclops reminds Wolverine that it’s a recon. Until they know what they’re dealing with, they’re just looking. In response to this idea, Wolverine replies that they know what they’re dealing with: animals.

As the X-plane flies silently over the heavily guarded Benetech facility, Cyclops give his orders. Kitty’s on point; they’ve got the deluxe detection package in there, so they’ll want to start from below. Reporting on his own intel, the Beast adds that the security mainframe should be housed in the basement, and asks Kitty if she thinks she can disable it without tripping anything. Replying simply, Kitty simply states that it’s done. Getting a little anxious from his seat in the back, Wolverine asks aloud when does he get to disable something. To this, Emma scornfully tells him to sheathe it, pointing out that, inspiring costumes notwithstanding, they’re not heroes tonight. The should try to be subtle for once.

As Kitty phases Emma into the facility, joining the waiting Cyclops, Beast and Lockheed, the Beast informs Cyclops that the place is a bit of a maze, but the main research center is definitely up top. Having finished the phased entrance, Emma shrugs off Kitty’s touch, which was necessary for the experience. Cursing aloud, Emma announces that it is unnerving. Sniping back, Kitty tells Emma that, if she wriggles like that next time, she’ll lose her grip in the middle of a wall and she’ll fuse molecules. As deaths go, she states, it’s not the funnest.

The point man of the team, Wolverine returns to the chamber, having scouted ahead. Reporting, Wolverine states that there are three guards on the floor. They came over all sleepy just now. Having heard what he needs, Cyclops addresses the group, now broken into teams, instructing them to work the floor.

Walking along the corridors of the Xavier Institute, Hisako is aghast at what her classmate called their teacher. No wonder, she states to Wing, he got detention. Miss Pryde’s a teacher! Just ‘cause he’s got the hots for her doesn’t make them equals. Floating beside and above Hisako, Wing replies in complaint that she got him so mad. That patronizing line that the mutants are all gonna stick together… she’s fought some of the… what does she mean “hots?”

Rolling her eyes until she reaches his, Hisako is incredulous. Like there’s five guys on campus who aren’t crushing on her, she states. “Oh, I’m a real X-Man only I’m young and cool and I know all about computers and maybe a cute senior would have a shot with me if he seemed really sensitive and superpowered…” Sniping back, Wing sarcastically tells Hisako that she’s a mind-reader. No, she retorts, but Blindfold is. Taken aback, Wing replies that that’s so against the by-laws… Interrupting her classmate, Hisako adds that she also says that the only reason he came there was he wants to make X-Man. When Wing reacts more shocked, Hisako tells him to join the club. Apart from the losers lining up for that bogus cure, who doesn’t wanna make the list?

Finally descending to the floor, Wing laments their classmate, Blindfold – no eyes, big mouth. Agreeing that she’s a blabber, Hisako adds that she’s okay. She just thinks that she’s really lonely. Think about it for a minute… Hisako suddenly stops in mid sentence. Standing before her and Wing is the towering form of Ord, who lurks in the shadows of the corridor. Speaking to Hisako’s now halted line of thought, Ord tells her that her minute’s up.

As they search through the company’s records, Emma asks Scott what he wants her to do. Pretend she doesn’t feel his heart race when he thinks of Jean? She’s a part of him, he informs Emma. Comes with the package, which she knows. Glancing back at her lover as she continues, Emma states simply that the woman was no good for him. As Scott begins to counter, replying that attacking her is never going to…, Emma interrupts. Right, right, she states. Base defilement. Jean Grey is a sacred cow. Now speaking lowly, to herself, Emma adds that at least they agree on half of that.

Elsewhere in the facility, Kitty begins her descent through the levels of the facility, by phasing straight down. Phased only to the waist, she turns to Lockheed, who is futilely trying to scratch his way through the floor, and tells him that this is weird. It’s metal, she informs her miniature dragon, but she can’t find the end. There’s no basement… it just goes down. Resolving herself to solving this mystery, she instructs Lockheed to stay there and to not eat anyone. She’s gonna check it out. With this, she phases the rest of the way into the metal floor, disappearing from sight.

Hope, Wolverine spits out to the Beast, as they continue their own exploration. That’s what they’re calling the cure now. “Hope.” It was on the news. Catchy, eh? Speaking to his teammate, as he follows close behind, Wolverine asks what he is hoping for. Lose the fur… nice girl. Couple of kids and a teaching job somewhere that doesn’t get blown up too often.

Replying coldly, Hank informs Wolverine that he’s not exactly talking him out of it. Undeterred, Wolverine asks Hank if he thinks he doesn’t get it. He’d be married today, if things had gone his way. Nothing wrong with that. It’s the part where he sits on the couch with the family and watch every mutant on the face of the Earth get lined up… get a little “hope” or get a lot dead. Tell his kids how proud he is to have helped start that off… assuming they’re not muties themsel… Wolverine’s words are cut short by the Beast, who asks his teammate if he caught that scent. Female, Wolverine states emotionlessly. Dead.

Okay, Kitty states, continuing her way downward into the darkness of solid metal. Definitely weird.

Rubbing his forehead in frustration, Ord asks the two students if they are sure they’re not there. Replying that it is so, Wing adds that he saw the x-plane take off, like two hours ago. When asked by Ord if he knows where they went, Wing replies one a mission – they don’t really tell them stuff like that. Upon hearing Ord state his frustration at this, Hisako asks if he wants to leave a message or… Oh, God, she states. That’s so stupid. Chiming in, Wing tells Ord that they’re not the X-Men. They’re just kids and… um… he could come back…

Now gazing down at the two teens, Ord looks at them with new understanding. The two of them are mutants, he states more factually than inquisitively. A little concerned at this, Wing retorts that they’re not, like, cool ones or anything… As Hisako begins to chastise her classmate, Ord announces to the two that they’ve helped him. They have his thanks for that. Now brandishing a devilish smile and wrist weapon containing the serum, he tells the two youths that, yes, he will leave the X-Men a message.

Closing her eyes tightly, Hisako calls out to Wing, telling him to get out. In punctuation to her words, Hisako manifests spectral energy, which wraps itself around her like armor. With an unexpected right cross, her armored fist impacts against Ord’s body, punching him backwards and off of his feet. Not giving the intruder time to get to his feet, Hisako presses her attack, lifting both armored hands above her for a double-fisted blow. Ord, however, having regained his composure, merely congratulates the teen for having startled him. Using his powerful legs, Ord kicks Hisako, thrusting her violently against the wall before he could deliver her blow.

Now rising to his feet, Ord directs his attention to Wing, who stakes but a moment to eye the skylight above before launching himself upward and through it, rising into the night sky like a rocket. Having achieved a safe distance, Wing looks down at the mansion below and says aloud the name of his classmate – Hisako. Speaking to himself, he asks what he is doing. He can’t just leave her there.

Without warning, Wing finds that he is no longer alone, the mysterious intruder appearing behind him. Glibly informing the youth that he was talking to him, Ord uses his wrist device to inject some of the serum within into the teen’s back. After a cry of pain from Wing, Ord turns him around, bringing his face close to his own. Now you will give them my message, he tells the teen. That the mutant abomination will never be a threat to the Breakworld. That man was not meant to fly. His message given, Ord releases the boy, who promptly begins to fall uncontrollably to the mansion below.

Entering the room, Cyclops asks who it is. Gazing down upon the female on the autopsy table, Wolverine replies that they don’t know her. Examining the female, who is yellow in color with swirls of blue about her body and possessing butterfly-like wings, the Beast reports that the striations on her wrist would seem to indicate that she took her own life. Or, Wolverine chimes in, someone made it look like she did. Frankly, the Beast states, he doesn’t care. Whether or not they had anything to do with her death… this is sickening.

Stone-faced as ever, Wolverine spits out that it’s all happening there. The cure. These little experiments. One well-armed missile from the jet and they all sleep easy. Still staring down at the corpse, Cyclops replies that they can’t torch Benetech. They still don’t know everything. This can’t be the only body. Taking this in, Wolverine asks why not. Pressing further, he asks Cyclops what are they after. The two of them had better tell him what’s going on. As in now.

Entering the room at that moment, Emma announces that she can’t reach Kitty. She doesn’t think she’s in the building. As Cyclops begins to ask where she would go, Emma doubles over in pain, almost collapsing to the floor. Caught by her lover before she can do so, Emma reports that her girls… the Stepford Cuckoos… they’re calling out to her… It’s so loud she can’t make it out… Suddenly turning to Scott, fear in her eyes, she tells him that they have to get back.

Without warning, the room erupts in gunfire, forcing the X-Men to scatter. Though they move quickly, both Cyclops and Wolverine are hit. Trying his best to remain a leader, Cyclops tell Emma that he’s just tagged and, with his voice failing, orders the X-Men to sound… sound off…

Taking less than an instance to transform into her diamond form, Emma looks upon the new arrivals with a snarl. The new arrivals are all clad in jumpsuits, with metallic chest plates, which support the enormous rotating machine guns attached to their limbs. Confident that they have swiftly gained control of the situation, the lead trooper tells Emma to make a move. Make just one move.

Appearing through the ceiling of a chamber, Kitty thinks to herself finally. As soon as she emerges, however, gravity take ahold of her, causing her to unceremoniously and violently fall to the chamber’s floor. The chamber is bathed in eerie red light and the floor, walls and ceiling are sloping in a surreal, alien fashion. Regaining her composure, Kitty thinks to herself that the floor must have been a hundred feet solid… and it felt… wrong…

Now rising to her feet, she begins her exploration, telling herself that she has a job to do. She’s got to keep it together. As she continues, Kitty realizes to herself that, whatever she phased through, it’s not from this planet. Or any she’s been to. The molecular structure is… she just hopes it didn’t do some permanent damage going through the… Before she can go further through that line of thought, she tells herself to drop it. She has a job to do.

Peering around a corner, she sees several armed guards, these with automatic rifles. One of the men tells the other three that the Alpha Team has the hostiles contained upstairs. No sign of breach, but they’re on red, just in case. No one gets near the subject.

As the small cadre continue their conversion, Kitty sneaks past them, going further down another corridor. Reaching a door, she phases her right hand into the lock, mentally reminding herself that, alien or no, there’s not a lock she can’t pop. And, if the “contained hostiles” means the rest of the X-Men… it’s up to her to find the truth about this place. Even though she’s not sure she wants to.

Kitty quickly finds success at her task and the massive door begins to open, sliding into a recess in the wall. The movement of the entrance, however, brings the attention of the nearby guards, who open fire. Nevertheless, their bullets miss their mark in Kitty, sailing unimpeded through her phased body, only to ricochet against a metallic form standing just inside the doorway. Turning to see what the bullet bounced off of, Kitty beholds the stoic visage of a towering man, clad only in underpants, leaving the rest of his silver, metallic skin exposed. Defying every ounce of logic in her, Colossus stands before Kitty.

As Kitty stands dumbfounded, her mind disbelieving what her eyes are telling her, the bullets continue to fly through her inert form. Colossus, however, is hardly inert, launching himself through Kitty’s still immobile self and at the gunmen behind her. Moving only slightly, Kitty touches herself where her former friend phased through, just a moment before.

Finally turning around, she beholds Colossus tearing through the guards, mercilessly, his anger uncontained in both his countenance and actions. Kitty’s pleas, however, finally stem the tide of Piotr’s rage, as he turns to her, transforming back to his body of flesh and bone. Katya, he says, questioningly, almost in disbelief.

His rage spent, Piotr collapses to his knees before Kitty, reaching out through his tears to her waist. Finally, he states, bringing his face to her stomach. God… am I… God, please… am I finally dead? Comforting her friend as much as she can, Kitty places her hands around his back and the back of his head, almost in an act of cradling him.

Characters Involved: 

Beast, Cyclops, Emma Frost, Shadowcat, Wolverine (all X-Men)


Hisako, Wing (students at Xavier’s)

Unnamed Xavier Institute students

Benetech security

Corpse of unnamed mutant at Benetech

Hundreds of mutants at Benetech

Ord, of Breakworld

Story Notes: 

First mention of a student at Xavier’s named Blindfold. She is, evidently, a telepath of some order.
Wolverine’s remark about almost getting married refers to his relationship with Mariko Yashida. They intended to get married, but Mariko was manipulated by Mastermind into aborting the ceremony (Uncanny X-Men #172-173).
Colossus died in Uncanny X-Men #390, in his successful attempt to cure the Legacy Virus, which killed his sister, Illyana. His body was subsequently cremated and his ashes were scattered by Kitty in X-Men (2nd series) #110.

Issue Information: 
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