Issue Date: August 2004
Story Title: Earn Your Wings - conclusion
Staff: Tony Bedard (Writer), Mizuki Sakakibara (Artist), JC (Colors), Dave Sharpe (Letters), Cory Sedimeier and Stephanie Moore (Assistant Editors), Mike Marts (Editor), Joe Quesada (Editor in Chief), Dan Buckley (Publisher)
The Exiles battle the Fantastic Four and Namor. Nocturne decides that she needs to end the fight, so she possesses the Invisible Woman and uses her force fields to stop the battle by imprisoning her fellow Exiles. Reed is suspicious when Sue suddenly wants to work with the Exiles and asks her a question that “Sue” is unable to answer. Mimic, who has already seen through Nocturne’s rouse, tells the Fantastic Four that they need to talk. Nocturne lets the Invisible Woman go and Blink explains to the Fantastic Four about the Timebroker and the purpose of the Exiles. She also informs them on their riddle. While Namor and Namora both dismiss the riddle, Reed quickly realizes that Nocturne must be left behind and Beak must join the Exiles. The team protests, but the Timebroker confirms this, though Reed is confused as to how the Fantastic Four and Namor can see the Timebroker, when he claims to be a figment of the Exile’s collective consciousness. At the school, Angel can no longer see or hear Beak and thinks that he has run away. With his bat and Xorn’s helmet, Beak joins the Exiles. The team has a tearful goodbye with Nocturne before the team teleports to the next reality. Nocturne heads over to Xavier’s school to reintroduce herself, but she is intercepted by a mysterious figure, who tells Nocturne that there are other options for mutants other than Xavier’s school.
As the Exiles and Fantastic Four begin their heated battle, Nocturne looks on from the side and thinks about how there is one unwritten rule when it comes to super-heroics: if two groups of super people meet, they should punch first and ask questions later. Tonight, the home team is the Fantastic Four and Namor. Nocturne is with the Exiles, the visiting team. They are always the visiting team. They go from one messed-up reality to another one, fixing things that went wrong. So far, they have had a winning record - if you don’t count the four Exiles they lost along the way.
Sue comes back to consciousness and asks Beak what is going on. Beak explains that he never meant to hurt anyone. He is not with the Exiles; he just sort of met them. Nocturne sees this and recalls how Beak was caught up in this mess. He is not an Exile, though she is a founding member. Nocturne asks Beak if Sue is all right. Beak is not sure, as he is no doctor. All he knows is that she was hit in the head. Sue glares at Nocturne and tells the girl that she is fine, but asks that she tells her friends to stand down. Nocturne agrees but, in her haste to help Sue, she forgot one other rule: Do not mess with the Fanstastic Four. The Human Torch sees Nocturne by Sue and, thinking that his sister is in danger, he throws some fireballs at T.J. Nocturne shrieks and instinctively blasts the Torch out of the air.
Angered over the attack on her brother, despite Johnny attacking Nocturne first, Sue erects a force field around Nocturne’s head and another around her hands. Nocturne is about to unleash another blast, but Sue warns her not to as she will only just blow her own hands off. Once Nocturne passes out from lack of air, Sue will let her breath again. Maybe when she wakes up she will be ready to – Sue is cut short as Nocturne displays one of her other tricks.
Nearby, the Thing grapples with Sasquatch, who asks Ben if he is going to let a girl outmuscle him. Most days he wouldn’t touch a lady, admits Ben. However, she is an exception. Thing crushes Sasquatch’s hand and then kicks her in the gut. Close by, Reed tries to wrestle Morph to the ground, all while telling the others to fall back, as they do not have to fight. He says the same to Namor, who is still fighting Namora, claming her to be an imposter.
Blink teleports by the two, as Namora gains the upper hand, momentarily. Mimic tells Blink that she has to teleport them all out of the city before Namor and Namora take their fight to the streets. Blink agrees and is about to throw a dart at the Atlanteans, when Sue suddenly tells her not to. It is too late, though, as Blink has already thrown the dart, but luckily Sue is able to block it with a force field.
Suddenly, Mimic, Blink, Namora, Sasquatch, Beak and Morph are all trapped within force fields. Sue asks them if they mind not fighting, as she does live here after all. Reed compliments Sue on ending the battle, but notices that the dark blue skinned female is missing, though he at first thinks it is Namora. Sue tells Reed that Nocturne ran away, though the building’s security should catch her… right? Right, says Reed lowly, suspecting that something is wrong. In a hushed tone, Blink tells Mimic to get ready, as she can teleport them out of the force fields one by one, but Mimic stares at Sue and tells Blink to wait a minute.
Sue tells Reed that she agrees with him about not fighting the Exiles. She actually thinks that they should work with them. Beak begins to say something to Reed about Sue that is amiss, but Sue tells him to keep quiet. Shocked, Namor reminds Sue that these people were here to rewrite their future and act on orders from an unseen master. They do not know what the Exiles intend to do. They cannot allow them to go on with their business.
Reed tells Sue that this reminds him of their last trip to the Negative Zone. Does she remember? As Johnny and Ben look at each other, puzzled over what Reed is talking about, Reed asks Sue who was it that they fought last time, as he cannot remember. Was it Blastaar or Annihilus? Sue looks at Reed, worried and silent. Mimic breaks the silence and tells Nocturne not to bother with a guess, as Reed knows that it is not his wife. They need to talk now. Sue pauses and then agrees with Mimic.
Angered, Reed asks the Exiles what they did with his wife. Thing and the Torch get ready for battle again, but Mimic assures them that Sue is fine. Nocturne has the ability to occupy bodies and use the powers of her host. They call it possession and it is temporary. There are no harmful side-effects, save that Sue will be asleep for a little bit when Nocturne is done. Sue turns to Reed and apologizes, as she does not like taking over people’s bodies spontaneously like that, but she only wanted to end the violence. When she releases Sue, the force fields will come down. Can they all trust each other not to fight again? Nocturne tells them to catch Sue as she leaves the woman’s body.
As the Exiles are all freed, Reed catches Sue with his elongated hand and then asks the computer to med-scan his wife. The computer does so and reports that Sue is consistent with the signs of sleep. Reed hands over Sue’s slumbering body to Thing and agrees to talk with the Exiles. Namor protests, but Reed tells him to stop arguing. Reed turns to Blink and asks them what their mission is about. Blink explains to Reed that they are not there to affect some huge change. In truth, they do not understand their current mission. She shows Reed the Tallus and explains that the Timebroker sends instructions, which are usually pretty clear and entail the team save some person or stop this other person, but this time the Tallus said, “Leave you possessions and earn your wings.” What does that mean?
No one says anything and, after a moment, Namora breaks the silence and asks Reed if he finally sees what nonsense this is. They should not waste more time on riddles and should figure out a way to free them all from the Timebroker. Mimic tells Namora that the Timebroker isn’t a real person, but Namora already knows the story of how he claims to be a figment of their collective unconscious or some other nonsense. He probably said that to keep the team from turning on him. Reed asks them all to quiet down, as they are still trying to figure out the first mystery. Namor tells Reed that the riddle means nothing. Namora is right about at least one thing. This is all nonsense. Unless, says Reed, you consider the obvious solution.
Reed turns to Nocturne and recalls that her power is called possession and it is when she assumes control of someone else’s body. “Leave your possessions” could mean that Nocturne must give up that talent... or the team must leave her behind. While Nocturne is distraught, Morph quickly explains to Reed that it does not work like that. There always has to be six of them when they move on to another reality. Sometimes one of them gets killed or is called back by the Timebroker, but they do not pick and choose members, which is obvious as Namora wouldn’t be with them if they could.
“Earn you wings,” says Reed, as he lifts up Beak’s feathered arm/wing. He knows Beak said that he isn’t with the Exiles, but maybe he is meant to be. No way, says Beak. He has kids, classes and a beautiful girl back at Xavier’s. Beak pulls his wing back from Reed and tells him he belongs at the school. No, says Blink, who raises the Tallus. According to the device, Reed is right. Nocturne is supposed to stay behind and he is to come with them.
Morph, though not wanting to offend the “funky chicken,” asks what kind of power he packs. Morph shapes his arms into machine guns and argues that Nocturne can hold her own against the Brood or Sentinels. Beak is going to get plucked on the first mission. Sasquatch agrees and admits that it is cruel to mix Beak up in their business. Not to mention Nocturne is a lot easier on the eyes, says Morph, as he eyes the girl flirtatiously. Besides, they cannot leave behind an original. Nevertheless, you will take him, says a voice from behind the group.
Everyone turns to see the Timebroker materialize. Timebroker explains that Beak has an important task ahead of him one day. He cannot get into the specifics, but several worlds hang in the balance and he needs every harsh lesson he’ll learn as an Exile in order to pass the ultimate test. Namora tells Reed that the being is the Timebroker. Reed asks the computer to analyze the new arrival, but the computer tells Reed that there is no new arrival. Confused, Reed tells the computer that the Timebroker is in front of him, but the computer tells Reed that there is no one in front of him. Reed deduces that the Timebroker is either shielded or perhaps he truly is a mental construct. Maybe Namora has no secret master to turn against, though Reed is not sure why the Fantastic Four and Namor can see the Timebroker too.
Beak yells at the Timebroker and tells him that he has children. How can he leave Angel to take care of them all alone? The Timebroker touches Beak’s shoulder to console him and tells him that he is now unhinged from time. His family now thinks that he has run away and they will survive without him. Only by serving as an Exile can Beak win his family back. The Timebroker turns away and hopes that it is some consolation that, by coming, he will one day save their lives and the lives of everyone they know. The Exiles have until morning to move on. With that said, the Timebroker fades away. Beak grabs Blink desperately and tells her to take him back to the school now.
In her small house on the school property, Angel kicks over some books in rage and wonders where Beak is. Wolverine had better not have taken him to a strip club. Angel then falls to the ground and starts to sob, as her children fly around her. Angel wonders how Beak could have done this to her. The children ask her what is wrong and where their father is. Angel tells Tito that she does not know. Men are no good, even geeks, especially when you consider that they should thank the Heavens that they even get love. Sooner or later, they all walk out. Sitting on the bed next to Angel is Beak, who screams that he is right there. Why can’t she see or hear him?!
As the sun sets, the Exiles wait outside for Beak. Eventually, he comes out with his Xorn helmet and baseball bat. Beak puts on his helmet and tells the team that the Timebroker is right. He is unstuck in time. Unhinged, corrects Morph. “That, too,” replies the disheartened Beak. He supposes that the only way to get his life back is to go with them. Mimic consoles Beak and tells him that they will fix this. In the meantime, Nocturne will keep an eye on Angel and the kids.
Nearby, Nocturne thinks to herself that she has gotten the best part of this bargain. They have been to this world before and it is the least screwed up world she has seen. As she watches Beast greet a passing Northstar, Nocturne realizes that this team of X-Men has their problems, but they live well up to Xavier’s dream. Nightcrawler teleports next to the Beast and scares him. Nocturne remembers that their Nightcrawler knows that she is his daughter from an alternate reality and is cool with it. That could have turned out worse, when one thinks about it.
Blink, tearing already, asks Nocturne if she will be okay. Will she be okay, wondering if her friends are getting themselves killed on some nightmare Earth, asks Nocturne. Will she ever stop worrying and missing them? Not a chance, says Nocturne. Both women are now crying and Blink tells her that after all that has happened with Magus, Thunderbird, Sunfire, and Weapon X, and Magik, maybe fate cut her a break. Lord knows she deserves one. The two best friends embrace one last time and Blink whispers to Nocturne that they will meet again. She knows it.
Nearby, Namora tells Morph that it goes against her every fiber to follow a being as a puppet but, if Reed Richards could not discover any other solution, then she must comply. You’re going to be a lot of laughs aren’t you, asks Morph. As Nocturne says her goodbyes to Heather, Mimic and Morph, Blink wipes her eyes and tells the team that it is time to go. The six Exiles begin to teleport away. With tears running down her face, Nocturne waves goodbye and tells her friends that she loves them and, whatever they do, they must stay alive. Just as the Exiles are about to disappear, Beak suddenly tells Blink that there has to be a law against this.
The portal closes and that is how Nocturne went from first-string globetrotter to being traded for a rookie with a bat, and probably some other future Exile further down the road. Nocturne wipes her face of tears and walks to the remains of the front gate of the school. She wonders if she can make it on the X-Men as a walk-on, or will she end up in the bush leagues among the Secret Defenders of the New Warriors.
Nocturne presses the buzzer at the gate, but it falls apart when she does so. A familiar voice apologizes to Nocturne and tells her that the intercom is still broken. Nocturne greets the figure and admits that she didn’t know that that person was an X-Man in this reality. “It takes all kinds, doesn’t it?” asks the mysterious figure. The figure apologizes for startling her, but there are some things that should be discussed. Would Nocturne mind taking a stroll? Nocturne walks with the mysterious figure, but points out that the mansion is in the other direction. Yes it is, says the mystery figure. “Nevertheless, there are other options open to a mutant, aside from joining Xavier’s crew…”
Blink, Mimic, Morph, Namora, Nocturne, Sasquatch (Exiles)
Angel IV, Beak (Students at Xavier’s)
Children of Beak and Angel
Human Torch II, Invisible Woman, Mr. Fantastic, Thing (Fantastic Four)
Magnus died in Exiles #2, Thunderbird was left in a coma in Exiles #10, Sunfire was killed in Exiles #37 and Magik was killed in Exiles #44.
The school was destroyed in New X-Men #146.
The Exiles first came to this reality in Exiles #28-30.
Nocturne will be seen next in X-Men (2nd Series) #161-164 as part of a new Brotherhood of Mutants, under the leader of Exodus, though she would only join this group in order to learn more about their schemes.
This Issue has been reprinted in:
Exiles Vol. 8: Earn Your Wings (Trade Paperback)
Issue Summary written by: Redguard (Mandeep Jangi)