Issue Date: September 2012
Story Title: Blank Generation part 3
Staff: Brian Wood (writer), David Lopez (penciler), Alvaro Lopez (inker), Rachelle Rosenberg (colors), VC’s Joe Caramagna (letterer), Jorge Molina (cover), Jordan D. White (assistant editor), Daniel Ketchum (associate editor), Jeanine Schaeffer (editor), Nick Lowe (group editor), Axel Alonso (editor in chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)
The giant mutant heading for Quebec City is stopped via a telepathic rapport established by Psylocke. After calming the proto-mutant down Pixie retrieves them both and gets them aboard the X-Jet. They place their new friend in a room while they discuss what to do with him. This causes Storm and Colossus to have another heated argument where things get nasty. Storm takes a call from Dr. Hunter and learns their lab was broken into and their files and hard drives were taken, but she still has the original proto-mutant sample. After the phone call the fight between Storm and Colossus continues, but ends when Pixie interrupts to tell them the mutant speaks Russian. Colossus leaves to speak with him and has Pixie collect his sister to help translate. They soon learn there was a mutant community in the Crimea which was wiped out by a nearby human settlement when they feared the mutants were the cause of the black plague. They also learn the name of the proto-mutant, Ister, and that he came from a lab. Meanwhile, in that lab, Dr. Gray talks to Ister’s sister in her test tube as he gleefully initiates the shutdown sequence on her brother. Back on the X-Jet, Ister’s body begins to fail and Storm orders Psylocke to access his memories and store them. She gets it done just in time and learns the whereabouts of Gray’s secret lab.
Quebec City, Canada
A furious storm blankets the entire city. Everyone within its limits is caught by surprise. Some are calling it the storm of the century, nobody is out in the streets and certainly nobody is stopping by for a visit. Though the residents don’t know it, it’s Storm who’s behind the mysterious monsoon, and she lets Psylocke know she’s bought her some time, but urges her to stop the eighty-foot man barreling toward the city before someone notices.
Psylocke is already chasing after the gigantic brute. She is on Storm’s side and knows they need answers in order to keep Cyclops and Colossus off Storm’s back. She tells ‘Ro she’s going to try and talk to it.
Once Psylocke reaches an open area of the forest she blasts the half-naked mutant with a mental pulse. She enters his mind, which causes him to finally stop marching. He turns to look at her and then reduces his size to that of a normal human. He approaches Psylocke and puts his hand against the side of her face. Psylocke’s gaze remains fixed on the man, but she telepathically tells Storm to send Pixie to pick them both up.
X-Jet, over the mid-Atlantic
The proto-mutant has been isolated in a comfortable room. He is also shirtless no more, an X-Men t-shirt with their X-logo across the center of his chest. Outside of his room, the X-Men discuss the situation.
Colossus reports that the guy is stable, though reminds them his medical training is mostly battlefield. He says he will continue to monitor his vitals. That still leaves the question as to why this guy didn’t turn into goo like the others. Storm figures it was Psylocke’s calming force that did the trick. The others were shot or punched before exploding, she reminds them.
Colossus defends his actions saying it was the right thing to do. That’s not what Storm was trying to intimate and says they should keep this guy from suffering any shock or trauma. She then orders Pixie to talk to him while the rest of them take a call. Pixie peers through the window into the room and gives the guy an awkward wave and smile.
Storm and Colossus leave for the comms room. She wants him in on the phone call so he doesn’t feel like she’s going behind his back. I’ll stand here out of the way to ensure you have plenty of room for going behind Scott’s back, Colossus snides. Storm urges him to calm down and admits her mistake in not including him from the start. She’s just not ready to bring Scott in on this, she explains, as she has the mandate to run the security team.
Piotr argues it was Cyclops who gave her that mandate. It doesn’t make him the ultimate authority, she rebuts. And you are, Colossus retorts incredulously. Of course not, Storm replies, backing off on the hostilities. This catches Colossus by surprise and he asks who, then, is the ultimate authority. The cause, Storm says matter-of-factly. And what is that exactly, Colossus inquires. Storm acts surprised, saying she can’t believe he doesn’t know. “Where have you been, Piotr?” she snipes before telling him they have to broaden their scope and protect the interests of any mutant.
As Colossus looms over the seated Storm she tells him they are no longer on Utopia or in a classroom, they are seeing things out in the world and are the first responders. Colossus concedes her point, but with the caveat that they have obligations to their friends. He swears on the soul of his mother that he will tell Scott if Ororo doesn’t.
Busy punching things into her laptop Storm doesn’t even look up at Colossus when she defends herself. She tells him this is something to study, to cherish and celebrate, but she doesn’t know how this will affect how mutants are treated or perceived. She doesn’t want this information to be used as a weapon or as propaganda by Scott or anyone else. She then threatens Colossus that if he speaks before she’s ready she’ll have Pixie drop him off 500 feet above Utopia.
No response from Colossus on that one which allows Storm to concentrate on her phone call to Dr. Hunter. She apologizes for the wait, but Hunter doesn’t care. With a worried look on her face she tells Storm their camp lab was broken into and everything was smashed except for the hard drives and files… they’re missing.
Storm asks where she is now and Dr. Hunter says she’s in an Internet café. Before she can give the exact location Colossus interrupts and tells her not to give it away. Storm then asks if she still has the sample, which she does. Hide the sample somewhere, Storm advises, suggesting renting a storage space or a public locker, and then tells her to go underground. When Hunter asks how they’ll find her Colossus replies simply that they’re X-Men, and tells her to go before ending the transmission.
Ororo thanks Piotr for his wise handling of Dr. Hunter, but he’s in no mood for platitudes. He leans over her desk, his hands lying flat on the table, and tells her whatever the “cause” she was talking of earlier does not include putting an innocent human in harm’s way. He then tells her if she threatens him again like he’s some underling she will have far greater problems than dealing with Cyclops.
A knock at the door interrupts the tense situation. It’s Pixie who tells them she’s been trying to talk to the guy, but he only speaks Russian. This brightens Colossus’ mood and he exits the room immediately. This does not, however, help Storm in any way. She remains at her desk, a dour expression on her face.
Moments later, Colossus is inside the proto-mutant’s room with Pixie and Domino watching from the door’s window. Storm finally makes her presence and receives some complaints from Domino about how boring it is standing by and watching them talk. Pixie chirps in agreement and suggests having Psylocke poke around the guy’s head. Storm reminds them he’s a mutant and they’re going to ask, not take.
The door opens to the room and Colossus pokes his head out. His mood has definitely brightened judging by the look on his face. He informs his teammates that the Russian their guest speaks is old-fashioned and rural, that it took him about 30 minutes to adjust his vocabulary. He tells them to bring Illyana immediately. When asked for clarification he replies “Spasibo!”, Russian for “please.” He then slams the door on the three of them.
The three ladies are a bit bewildered by Colossus’ actions. Nevertheless, he has a point and Storm asks Pixie if she’s up for a trip to Utopia. Pixie can’t believe they’re actually going to bring Magik onto the plane.
Magik has already arrived and spoken with the proto-mutant. It turns out his name is Ister, which is Slavic for “powerful river” or “to drive out.” He’s about 665 years old, Magik reports, and there were about 300 of these “proto-mutants,” most living in the Crimea. She then gives a detailed report of what happened to them.
They were living on the mountainside, keeping mostly to themselves. Then the plague came and as nearby humans were dying they blamed the mutant colony since none of them seemed affected. Ister’s sister was taken by the humans and killed. Ister thinks they drank her blood hoping for a cure.
That’s horrible, Domino interjects, but Pixie wants to know how he knows all this stuff if he’s just a clone. Colossus seems to think his DNA stored memory, at least that’s the only explanation he can come up with. He believes this Ister to be unique to his kind.
The story, as told by Magik, continues. More and more humans were dying and the mutants had to retreat further into the mountains to hide. This didn’t stop the humans from coming, though. The mutants didn’t know how to use their powers for offensive purposes and were slaughtered to extinction.
Magik figures they were all buried in a mass grave or left to decompose in the hills. Until they were found, Storm finishes for her. Colossus adds that Ister remembers being in a lab, though he lacks the word for it, and a man growing other proto-mutants and letting them loose.
Simply to die, Storm ponders. Magik promises that will not happen anymore. She even offers to go back in time to prevent the original slaughter. Storm hangs her head deep in thought. After a few moments she dimisses Magik’s plan, saying that even if Magik managed to get back there it could drastically alter the present day, which could make things worse.
This doesn’t bother Magik. She says she’ll keep talking to Ister to try and get a location on the lab and suggests they get a DNA sample to Dr. Nemesis and Cyclops in Utopia. Colossus agrees, of course, but Storm doesn’t, leaving them before an argument can take place.
The X-Men remain dumbfounded by Storm’s continued refusal to bring Scott in on this. Magik asks for clarification, but her brother tells her she and Scott have disagreements on tactics, and earlier they didn’t even know what they were dealing with. “Ister, his name is Ister,” Magik states matter-of-factly, “That’s who we’re dealing with.”
Storm joins Psylocke, who was listening to the meeting telepathically, in the cockpit. She takes off her headset and then gives the understatement of the day, “That was rough.” Storm sits beside her and admits that it’s complicated, now even more with Magik taking Colossus’ side on the matter.
Getting to the point, Psylocke asks what’s happening to the team. It’s as if they’re falling apart. She says a discovery like this should be bringing them back together. Storm thinks that it will, as soon as they figure out what’s happening. She tells Psylocke to get some rest and that she will take over. Psylocke tells Storm she’s doing the right thing, but ‘Ro cuts her off saying this won’t break them apart.
Now alone Storm mutters, “Ister… Where did you come from…?” Then some sort of psychic backlash enters her mind. She sees David Michael Gray working in his lab. He has a loaded syringe in his hand.
Gray is whistling with glee as he makes his way over to one of his test tube mutants. He taps on the glass of one that’s especially hairy. “Hey monkey, monkey, monkey,” he mocks. The mutant inside is angry, baring her fangs and flexing against the glass. This serves to make DMG even more pleased with himself.
Dr. Gray takes the syringe and squirts its contents into a tube leading to the mutant’s container. He says she’s going to be pure dynamite and her own brother won’t even recognize her. This gives the mutant pause and she looks concerned. “Ister, right,” Gray asks, then tells her he’s out and about, free of the tanks. He looks rapturously into her eyes and says she will have a turn too, once he’s perfected her.
Citing earlier failures, Gray explains he had to terminate the earlier tests, all trial and error he admits. He tells the mutant her brother is also a problem, that his aggression levels are too low and he’s become a liability. “I gotta shut him off,” he says cold-heartedly.
Dr. Gray pulls out a mini-tablet PC and brings up the shut off command. The girl’s apprehension is obvious, but that doesn’t bother the immoral David Michael Gray. He tells her not to look so upset as he’s the best friend she’s got in this world. Then after pushing the OK button he adds, “Well, now I am.”
This brings Storm out of her trance and she immediately gets up from her chair. She orders Domino to fly the plane saying she’s got a bad feeling. She opens Ister’s door and finds him sleeping. She then knocks on Colossus’ door to find out where Magik is staying. He says Pixie took her back to Utopia and asks why Storm wants her, but then Psylocke yells out Storm’s name.
The three of them gather together in the operations room. They both talk of how they felt something, but before discussions can continue Pixie comes flying in and tells Storm Scott’s on the phone and he’s pissed. Not wanting to deal with that right now in any way, shape or form, Storm says to take a message. That’s when a loud CRASH echoes through the plane.
They find Ister crawling from his room, a trail of fresh blood behind him. Colossus takes Ister into his arms and they see blood oozing from his eyes, nose and mouth. Storm tells Psylocke to save him, talk to him, save his memories. She emphasizes the importance of finding this lab where the proto-mutants are coming from.
Psylocke enters his mind without hesitation, but she only has a few moments before Ister breathes his last. It’s enough, and she slumps to the floor from the stress. Ister is dead, but Psylocke has what they need. She tells them his name is David Michael Gray and she knows where he is and what he’s doing. “Just what we feared,” she relates, “Let’s go put him down.”
Colossus, Domino, Magik, Pixie, Psylocke, Storm (all X-Men)
Dr. Hunter (grad student, Mutantes Sans Frontieres)
David Michael Gray
Ister, Ister’s sister (other proto mutants)
Ister’s lab designation is #5636.
Issue Summary written by: Milleniumcyke