Astonishing X-Men (3rd series) #7

Issue Date: 
January 2005
Story Title: 

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: 

The X-Men race to the scene of a gigantic subterranean monster having emerged in Manhattan and begun a wave of destruction. Using their skills as best suits the situation, the X-Men save innocents, or telepathically compel them to move to safety, or use their powers to force the creature back into its hole. The team is soon joined by the Fantastic Four, who combine their powers with the X-Men, forcing the monster into the hole from which it emerged. Returning back to the mansion, the team is dismayed that their heroics played for less than thirty seconds on the news, while a star’s scandal garnered more than three minutes. As the group discusses whether they can ever get a fair shake with the media, one of the students, Hisako, arrives, worried about another missing student, Wing. She is joined by the Stepford Cuckoos and the telepathic Blindfold, who is only able to speak a cryptic warning. Elsewhere, in the Danger Room, Wing lies dead on the floor. Having been in a simulation of the ravine outside the school grounds, he tried to fly – despite having received “the Cure.” With his death, the simulation ends. Elsewhere, Special Agent Brand faces an inquiry into her recent action before a S.W.O.R.D. committee. Rather than apologetic, she states that she regrets nothing and would go to any means to safeguard the planet. She awaits their judgment.

Full Summary: 

Alone in thought, as well as in person, the young student called Wing strolls across the grounds of the Xavier Institute, away from the school itself and his fellow students. His eyes downcast and his hands placed firmly in his pockets, Wing is lost in thought.

It’s coming, he thinks to himself, then wondering if it’s odd that he can feel it. That he knows what form the change will take. When and how – while they know nothing. No matter, he decides. He accepts. It’s the beginning. It’s over.

Nobody says it, of course, he thinks, as he walks into the woods. They said he could stay there, still study. Dr. McCoy said he’d like to run some tests on him. Said maybe it’s just temporary, the “Cure.” Maybe he’ll get his powers back. He doesn’t believe it. They way they all look ay him. The pity… even Hisako, even Miss Pryde, with her big new muscle-buddy. “Poor pathetic human.”

Emerging on the other side of the woods, Wing carefully descends the slope to a rocky ravine below. Arriving at his destination, Wing closes his eyes and turns his face skyward to the sun. He’s not like that, he thinks. He can never be like that. He’s not a normal human. Now looking down at the ravine below, Wing tells himself he can fly.

Flanked by nothing but the clouds in the sky, Colossus rides atop the speeding Blackbird. With both feet planted firmly on the top of the fuselage, his left hand clutches a handle atop the cockpit, with a steely grip. The grimace on his face is just as stern.

In the cockpit below, Cyclops tells the rest of the X-Men – Beast, Emma, Wolverine and Shadowcat – that Colossus has said he felt boxed in. All those months trapped in the lab, he isn’t surprised. In agreement, Wolverine replies that there’s no harm in a little wind surfing. To this, the Beast retorts that Wolverine doesn’t have to steer this thing. With this said, Beast then wonders aloud whether it’s the jet that feels too close… or them. Almost in agreement, Cyclops notes that he has been quiet… As opposed to the wacky prankster he used to be, Wolverine reminds them. Look, he continues, he’s been a guinea pig in his day. Didn’t make him overly sociable.

Sitting further back in the plane, Emma turns to Kitty. Pointing out that she’s his bosom buddy, she asks what she thinks. Frankly, Kitty begins… she thinks they’re there. Looking outside the cockpit, the rest of the X-Men see what Kitty means. Standing dozens of stories tall, with the girth of several skyscrapers, is a giant monster, a reptile creature having seemingly been crossed with a giant ape. Along its back and down through its tail, a trial of fire dances menacingly. Its teeth bared and its eyes beading down on the arriving X-plane, it standings among the devastation it has wrought, clearly intending to do the same to the new arrivals.

Gazing upon this visage of destruction with his teammates, Wolverine promptly declares that it looked bigger on TV.

Ignoring his teammate, Cyclops moves the team into action. He reminds them that the thing came out of the ground, so their best bet is to drive it back in. Hank’s in the air, he states, and will deploy a little artillery, see if he can turn him around. Kitty and Emma are on damage control. Civilians out of harm’s way or calm enough to be getting there. Logan and he will flank it, work with Hank on keeping its movement contained.

Still sitting in back, Emma tells Kitty that she positively throbs when he gets that tone. To this, Kitty rhetorically asks whether she’s saying that would be nifty. Whether not hearing this or ignoring them, Cyclops calls back to Emma, telling her to patch him into Pete. Still atop the fuselage, Colossus replies to Cyclops’ telepathic order with a Da - and that he will try.

Launching himself off of the plane, Colossus is propelled like a missile at the monster. As he does so, he thinks that it’s strange to hear Scott in his head. He is different, Colossus notes, even as he uses his steel muscles to break the creature’s nose, spraying blood everywhere. Not just from the Professor… he is more… free? As the monster thrashes its head about, slinging both blood and saliva, Colossus finally notes his situation – that he is riding a monster’s nostrils… and that he really should concentrate.

Below, Kitty dives for a man, carrying a small boy. Touching them, she manages to phase them, allowing the falling debris to pass through them harmlessly. She scared him, she thinks, regarding Colossus. She came on too strong. What a dope… “It means something that I found you…” But doesn’t it? As the man and boy run away to safety, Kitty spots a lone woman and the red automobile that is falling toward her. Running toward her, Kitty continues her thoughts, noting that the X-Men didn’t find him. She did. She could never explain what that felt like. She just knows that feeling hasn’t gone away. Diving for the woman, Kitty is able to phase her, just be the car crashes in the ground below them.

Above, Wolverine has managed to reach the upper right arm of the monster. With his adamantium claws, the feral X-Men slices into the thick hide of the creature. In response, the creature swats at the nuisance, causing Wolverine to impact into a nearby building, crushing the metal side. Before he can fall, however, Wolverine uses his legs to propel himself back into the fray, his claws and teeth bared. As his six claws dig back into the green, reptilian hide of the monster, Wolverine thinks to himself that he really likes beer.

Inside a nearby buildings, the occupants, previously either watching or unable to leave, begin simultaneously to thinks that they want to leave in a swift and orderly fashion, which they promptly do. Below, Emma Frost, the originator of their thoughts, is flanked by Cyclops, who unleashes his optic blasts at the monster. Calling out that they’ve got his turned, he orders the team to keep hitting his back. Even as the monster begins to crawl back into the hole from which he emerged, Hank uses the X-plane to strafe it with artillery. While firing away, he reminds Cyclops that, if it goes down the hole, they might want to get Peter off of its face.

Suddenly, the Beast is distracted by another airborne object – the Fantasticar. Riding in the back, the Thing points to the X-plane and tells Reed that he told him they wuz in their soup. Ignoring his partner, Mr. Fantastic activates his radio. He apologizes to Cyclops for breaking into his frequency but he’s be grateful for a sit rep. Replying simply, Cyclops states Big monster came out of the ground. Thought we’d send it back. Taking the tone as sarcastic, the Thing radios back that they do big monsters in Manhattan. That’s their signature piece! Hearing this, Susan tries to diffuse the situation, suggesting to Ben that they can lend a hand.

Wing has not moved from his perch at the crevice’s edge. Silently, he states down into the ground far below, but his silence is broken by a familiar voice. Telling him that she knows what he’s thinking, Hisako reminds Eddie that he can’t fly. Hearing his real name, Wing begins to reminds her what he likes to be called but is interrupted again. Hisako tells him that “Wing” is not who his parents are asking for. Not even turning around, Eddie repeats the words – “his parents?”

Reminding him that he’s a normal human now, she tells him that there’s no reason to be at a school for the “gifted” if he doesn’t have the gift. His dad, she tells him, looked so relieved. Hearing him state that he can’t go back, Hisako tells Eddie that that’s great. Then he should take one step forward and he gets to fly. For three whole seconds before he dies. Finally turning, albeit a half-turn, Eddie yells to Hisako, “Who cares?” He can’t fly, he might as well just snuff it. She doesn’t know what this feel like. If she lost her armor, what would she do? Well, she replies, if she had any real guts at all… she’d jump off a cliff.

The X-Men and Fantastic Four move in concert with each other. While Mr. Fantastic wraps his elastic body around the legs of the monster, the Invisible Woman creates a lasso from her forcefield, trying to pull the creature down from the neck. At its head, Colossus and Wolverine continue their attacks in their own manner, while the Human Torch blinds the monster with flame to its eyes. At the base of the creature’s feet, Cyclops uses his optic blasts to disturbs its footing. After a few moments, their combined effort proves successful, and the creature falls on its face.

Noting that the monster is not staying down, Cyclops presses their advantage with another optic blast. In jest, the Thing declares that he just needs a little encouragement. Calling out to Colossus, albeit as Tin Man, the Thing gestures to a semi truck, asking if the X-Man wants to play Whack-A-Mole. Together, they grab the truck’s cab, flipping the trailer over until it impacts on the monster’s head, forcing it back drown the hole.

The crisis averted, Mr. Fantastic stretches to Cyclops, speculating that it was probably one of the Mole Man’s creations. They pop up from time to time, head straight for the Baxter Building. Almost as an after thought, Reed says that he’s still not sure what brought them out there; this is a little off their beat. Oughta be grateful, Wolverine gripes, as he approaches. When questioned by the Thing, Wolverine tells him that “monstro” was practically capped ‘fore they bothered to show. To this, the Thing asks Wolverine if they didn’t find a cure for their kind. When asked by the X-Man whether he has a problem with mutants, the Thing clarifies – he meant Canadians.

Having been ignoring the two, Cyclops continues his conversation with Reed, telling him that they’ve just been trying to get “out there” more. Do the work they should be doing. When Reed reminds Cyclops that the X-Men have saved the world more times than it knows, Susan points out that they haven’t with the Fantastic Four at their side and dozens of news cameras running. Glancing back over at Susan, Cyclops replies that, well, that wasn’t exactly a drawback, no….

Catching how her statement could have been misinterpreted, Susan apologizes that it came out all wrong. Of course, they’d be nothing but pleased if this helps the mutant community. Trying to look at the other possibilities, the Torch asks what if it backfires? What is the press brands them a menace? Standing nearby, Wolverine replies that he’ll get a much more interesting bunch of groupies. Taking this idea to heart, moments later, as the two team take to their air in their vehicles, the Torch asks Reed if they can be evil now. Maybe after dinner, he replies.

Meanwhile, Colossus has decided to return to the mansion on the inside of the X-plane, riding in a seat across the aisle from Kitty. However, rather than looking at her, he is lost in thought. Lost in her own thoughts while staring at him, Kitty once again thinks about how she scared him.

The only light in the room is a bright, green one, which descends from the ceiling straight down, like a spotlight. Sitting in a chair in the middle of the light is Special Agent Brand. Almost blinded by the light, she cannot make out any more than shadowy figures of those that sit in elevated chairs behind a tall, arena-like committee desk. Calling out from among the shadowy number, one fires asks Special Agent Brand if she has anything else to say to the board. He face stony, Brand replies that she surely does.

She states that they think that she’s crossed the line. In her collusion with Ord’s plans, her inaction when he spun out of control. She crossed a line. Standing up, she declares that there is no line. For the safety if this planet, there is no one she will not sacrifice, no monster she will not call friend, no enemy she will not sleep with.

There is a bullet pointed at this planet’s head, she continues. They all know exactly what she’s talking about. The Breakworld believes they as a species need to be put down and there are others not far from accordance on that score. They are waiting to see what they will do. Not just if they survive this, but exactly how. Like on Earth, they can stumble about like Laurel and Hardy, doesn’t make a dent. But out there… in the universe whole... Bullet. Head.

So, if she’s to be… demoted… Well, she’s left instructions on what to do with the body. But if she’s head of S.W.O.R.D.… then they shouldn’t look for her to change. An X-Man is destined to destroy the Breakworld. And her destiny isn’t thwarted by diplomats. Placing on her sunglasses, Special Agent Brand concludes her statement.

Bugger, Emma explains, watching the news. Thirty seconds, she then states. Thirty seconds of coverage after three minutes about that useless tart dancing topless at a party! As if that’s remotely remarkable… A little confused at the story in question, Piotr asks, “ Who is this ‘Hilton’ girl?” It doesn’t matter, the Beast replies, on a lot of levels.

Returning back to the issue of coverage, Wolverine bets aloud a C-note that their epic battle doesn’t even make the nationals. To this, Kitty wonders aloud how they can ignore something like that. Turning to her, Cyclops tells Kitty that she’s missing the point. The news isn’t there to tell you what happened. It’s there to tell you what it wants you to hear, or what it thinks you want to hear. Turning off the television, he states that they already have their stories worked out. They just wait for the events to fill in the blanks. When they don’t fit, they get sidelines or twisted till they do. “The Mutant Menace” is this story. Always has been.

Remarking at Cyclops’ tone, Logan asks the rest to check out the “Lone Gunman,” then adding that he didn’t think he saw it that clear. Still staring at the television, though it is off, Cyclops replies that he’s been at this a while. Stating that Cyclops is right, Emma tells everyone that J. Jonah Jameson will be tongue-kissing Spider-Man before the X-Men catch a little public favor. To this, Kitty asks Emma why she insists on saying things that she can never un-hear.

The conversation is stopped cold with the arrival of Hisako, who tells the group that they need help. When Emma begins to sarcastically reply that knocking is a still acceptable, Hisako again interrupts – she thinks something’s happened to Wing. He’s missing and she’s looked all over campus…

Hisako is quickly joined by the three remaining Stepford Cuckoos, the first of which informing the group that Wing hasn’t much longer to go. Asked by Emma what they are sensing that she is not, one of the sisters replies that she just isn’t listening in. A second clarifies that they didn’t sense it first, anyway. She did. The group’s attention then turns to another student, now standing in the doorway. A black-haired girl, wearing a purple shawl and a purple blindfold, states he cannot leave. Yes, thank you, she continues, beginning to speak in riddles. I like him well. I ache. And worse. If he goes away… Taking off her blindfold, the girl shows the flaps of skin, healed over where she should have eyes. Then, now thank you, she continues. Then the new one will come.

Elsewhere, at the bottom of the ravine, the motionless form of Wing lays. His limbs are twisted and broken from the impact and a pool of blood begins to puddle beneath him. His green eyes look out, until finally rolling back into his head, signaling his the last moment on Earth.

The moment passed, the rocks on which he fell begin to fade, replaced by smooth, gray floor. No longer the ravine, the corpse of Wing lies on the floor of the Danger Room, its gray color now added with blood red. On the screen in the Observation Room above, the words Danger Room Simulation, Environment: Campus Exterior is displayed. Below that, Exercise Complete is displayed.

Characters Involved: 

Beast, Colossus, Cyclops, Emma Frost, Shadowcat, Wolverine (all X-Men)
Blindfold, Hisako, Stepford Cuckoos, Wing

Human Torch, Invisible Woman, Mr. Fantastic, the Thing (all Fantastic Four)

Special Agent Brand
S.W.O.R.D. committee

Mole Man’s monster

Unnamed New Yorkers

Danger Room simulations
Unnamed Xavier Institute students

On television
News anchor

Story Notes: 

Wing was forcibly given the “Cure” by Ord of the Breakworld in Astonishing X-Men (3rd series) #4.

Kitty found Piotr in a sublevel of the Benetech facility in Astonishing X-Men (3rd series) #4.

Fighting monsters in New York City is indeed one of the things the FF is known for. In fact, they first did so during their first appearance in Fantastic Four (1st series) #1.

Whack-A-Mole is an arcade game of sorts, where players must use a mallet of some type to “whack” a mole that will pop up from one of five or more holes. It is a game of reflexes, giving score on how many the player has the speed to hit.

Laurel and Hardy were one of the most famous of film partners in early cinema history. Originally gaining fame on their own, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy were eventually paired up by their studio and went on to do dozens of comedy films together.

The “Hilton girl” of whom Colossus asks if undoubtedly Paris Hilton, heiress to the Hilton Hotel fortune. Paris became infamous after an erotic tape of her and her boyfriend was released on the Internet in 2004. Since then, she has become a focus of many who claim to detest the spectacle that she publicly portrays, but cannot seem to turn away.

A C-Note is slang for $100 dollars.

Wolverine’s “Lone Gunmen” reference is most likely alludes to the three characters from the X-Files, who believed in many conspiracy theories. They took their name from the JFK assassination mythos, where conspiracy theorists have been repeatedly told that there was no plot beyond Lee Harvey Oswald’s actions and that he was a lone gunman.

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