Astonishing X-Men (3rd series) #26

Issue Date: 
October 2008
Story Title: 

Warren Ellis (writer), Simone Bianchi (artist), Simone Bianchi and Andrea Silvestri (ink washes), Simone Peruzzi (colorist), Joe Caramagna (letterer), Will Panzo (assistant editor), Axel Alonso (editor), Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

The X-Men come to Chaparanga. Emma senses Subject X in a partially floating spaceship above them. Armor tosses Wolverine up there. Wolverine confronts the Pyrokinetic up there working on some kind of box. Subject X has no intention of surrendering. Wolverine gets help from the team. When they notice the box starting up Cyclops orders Storm to fry the electricity. Storm to all intents an d purposes blows the ship up. Afterwards they look for Subject X and Storm feels scruples about possibly having killed a man, while Cyclops tells her to get her priorities straight. They find a furious Subject X very much alive, but rather than becoming their prisoner he kills himself.

Full Summary: 

The X-jet has reached Chaparanga. Cyclops orders Emma to set them up. When Ororo asks what that means, �field protocol,� comes the reply. All team members get a one-day download of the language local to the mission theater. That�s new. She likes it, Storm approves. Scott adds that he and Emma had to improvise during a situation in China once. It worked so well that they made it text book. So, if everyone can keep their hands off their brains for a moment, Emma�s going to set them up with� what?

Bahasa Indonesian, Emma explains, the national language, holding a Sulawesi dialect in reserve. Local tips: Don�t make extended eye contact, don�t put your hands on your hips, don�t take or offer anything with your left hand. And in the name of all that is sacred, do not use the toilets! And yes, she is a massive snob, and there was no need for all of them to think it at once!

They land at the beach where spaceships go to die and locals are busy scuttling the wrecks. The X-Men exit their jet. This is horrible, Hisako admits. There are kids out there! Ororo understands. She spent a lot of time in places like this as a child in Cairo. There are tiny villages inside Cairo�s garbage dumps, recycling trash, metal and even bones to survive. People do what they must to live.

So how do they do this? Hisako asks Cyclops. Should they ask the locals? Telepathic search, comes the curt reply. Hisako doesn�t get it. Miss Frost looks for the one guy who�s thinking about the guy he killed back home? One, Emma replies, Hisako�s an X-Man now, so it�s �Emma,� not �Miss Frost.� Two, they�re in the field anyway, so it�s codenames, he insists. Three, she tells Armor to focus. She�s looking for the one person who�s not thinking in Indonesian!

And he�s up there! she shouts a moment later and points at a certain shipwreck floating above the ground.

How the hell did he get up there? Armor wonders. Besides the point, Cyclops decides. If the ship�s still up there, it has intact systems and no one�s going to bother him up there. Except them. Can Storm give them a lift? In two stages, she replies. Wolverine�s a little heavy.

Hisako armors up and offers to move Wolverine. She�s been watching old training recordings. There was this thing he and Colossus used to do?

She�s kidding him! he swears. Cyclops commends her good thinking and orders Wolverine on point. Armor lifts him, complaining that he is heavy. Adamantium skeleton, he grunts. Not the beer? she asks and fires him up at high speed. Nice shot! Scott tells her. A little fast, but it probably won�t kill him. He�s sure Wolverine�s survived being thrown at a parked spaceship at five hundred miles an hour before.

Wolverine lands more or less elegantly and tears off the door. A moment later, he is covered in green slime and asks Emma via telepathic link why that is the case. She replies that Scott thinks it�s to protect the crew from radiation in space. It�s probably only the teensiest bit toxic. So he shouldn�t try to drink too much. They are right behind him.

Wolverine moves inward, announcing he has Subject X�s scent. Hard to keep his bearing in here. He thinks he�s south. A moment later, he tells them to shut up the telepathic conversation. It�s loud up here and he wants to focus.

He finds Subject X sitting on the ground, working on what looks like a cube mad of circuitry. Hello, Subject X remarks without looking up. He�s an unhealthy, almost withered looking individual with greyish skin, red eyes and a buzz-cut of grey hair. Does he want to put that torch down? Wolverine asks. Okay, kneel down, hands on your head, ankles crossed.

Does he mind if he doesn�t? comes the reply with a cadaverous grin. Honestly, this place is making him feel a bit sick.

They already know he�s a firestarter. If he even gets warm, he�s gonna gut him, Wolverine warns him. Oh he�s not the kind who can set things on fire just by looking at them, Subject X remarks, gets up and moves closer to Wolverine, his hand emitting fire. Wolverine warns him to stay put. He touches Logan�s arm. He has to touch! As Wolverine�s arm burns, Subject X kicks him to the ground, then sets fire to the ground.

He turns back to the box. Another five minutes, is that so much to ask? Another five minutes and he would have been gone. All he had to do was calibrate he power feed to the Ghost Box. Now he has to rush. That�s just rude as hell!

Again, Wolverine tries to attack but Subject X sets fire to the air around him. The next moment, though, he is sent to the ground by one of Storm�s gusts of wind. The cavalry has arrived.

Cyclops warns Subject X that Wolverine had orders to take him unhurt and alive. That can change pretty quickly. Stand down or his girlfriend will rip what they need right out of the front of his dying brain. Leave me alone! comes the furious reply as Subject X attacks with his flames.

Wolverine warns the team that this is no ordinary flame. He could feel his damn cells exploding when he got him. Sticks like napalm.

Can Emma get into his head from here? Cyclops asks. Emma tries, but he has screens up.

Subject X returns to working on the Ghost Box which begins to glow.

Wolverine warns Cyclops who can�t fire a shot in these confines that he�s powering something up off the ship�s batteries. They need to skrag the electricity. She can take care of that, Storm announces hesitantly, but�

Something is happening with the Ghost Box. As it glows suddenly, antique pillars and naked beings appear around it. Cyclops fires a shot and orders everyone out. Storm is to strike as soon as they are clear.

They get out and Storm complies and the ship goes down spectacularly, exploding on the ground. Below, the Indonesians flee.

As they all fall Cyclops shouts for Stom. Now aren�t they glad she came to visit? she asks teasingly as she lowers their descent with her wind powers. She adds critically that she said Logan was heavy as he keeps on falling. It�s the beer, Armor remarks helpfully. Shaddap! Logan shouts before hitting the ground spectacularly. Emma asks if he is okay. Sure, he growls. Just let him regrow some organs and he�s all set.

Scott looks at the wreck, telling the others he wants the box he was building and the body.

As they search the wreckage, Storm asks if Cyclops thinks she killed him. He thinks they have several new problems, if she didn�t, comes the reply. Shouldn�t they be going faster? she replies. If he can be saved� He�s not carrying a medical kit, comes the reply, is she? The issue was stopping him from powering that thing up, whatever it was. She doesn�t want to have killed him, Ororo insists. No one enjoys killing Scott replies, not even Logan really.

But his first responsibility is to keep mutants alive, everything takes second place to there being enough mutants alive to protect the new generation. If that means electrifying a spaceship and dropping it three hundred feet with a murderer inside, then that�s what he does. He�d rather Subject X was alive too, because he doesn�t like killing and because he wants him to talk. But if it turns out Storm killed him, he won�t lose any sleep over it and neither should she.

It�s different for her, Storm insists. No it�s not, he shoots back. She�s queen of Wakanda. If Wakanda declared war on Zimbabwe tomorrow, which isn�t beyond the realm of possibility � he�s read the papers � she�d have to sign the declaration of war too. And that�s killing people. They grew up. These are the jobs they do.

She�d find another way, Storm disagrees. So did he, comes the reply. He didn�t have Logan just gut him on first sight, and he didn�t obliterate him, when he had the shot. If she never wants to be put into a situation where someone might have to be killed, she should go home now.

And don�t start with that �you�ve changed, Scott,� he warns her. He hasn�t changed. All he�s done is accepted who he is, and what the job is. He killed a man once. So did she. She killed in self-defense. He killed by accident. Neither of them will do it lightly again. That�s the way it goes.

Bastards! a very much alive Subject X hisses at them. If they think he�s going to let them make him tell them things, they are insane! One of them will get through! They can�t stop the annex! They�re all dead already! He touches his face and his head explodes.

Characters Involved: 

Armor, Cyclops, Emma Frost, Storm, Wolverine (all X-Men)
�Subject X�

Story Notes: 

Cyclops refers to the mission when they found Xorn in New X-Men Annual 2001.

Storm killed a man in self defense when she was 12 years old.

Cyclops accidentally killed Berzerker in X-Factor (1st series) #11, during the Mutant Massacre.

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