|New X-Men (2nd series) #25|| || |
Issue Date: June 2006
Story Title: Crusade - part 2
Staff: Craig Kyle & Chris Yost (writers), Paco Medina (penciller), Juan Vlasco (inker), Brian Reber (colorist), Dave Sharpe (letterer), Kate Levin (production), Sean Ryan (asst. editor), Nick Lowe (assoc. editor), Mike Marts (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)
While Stryker plots his next attack against the students guided by a mysterious device the New X-Men begin their training by squaring off against the X-Man Colossus. Their performance against the Russian mutant powerhouse is dismal at best and illustrates their lack of teamwork. Elixir takes his growing anger and frustration out on Colossus by attacking him from behind once her reverts to human form. Emma reprimands Josh forcefully and kicks him off the team. Laurie reaches out to Cannonball to figure out how to help Josh with his anger issues. Meanwhile Jay begins to realize his own role in the recent tragic events and sets out to make things right after confiding in Dust. When Laurie tries to reach out to Josh and assure him that the deaths of their classmates were not his fault, he rebuffs her attempts to help. As they’re arguing a sniper kills Laurie with a single shot to the head. Jay seeks out Stryker who he had trusted to save his friends. Stryker reveals that Jay is but a part of a bigger plan, one that is driven by the “divine visions” granted by Nimrod! Jay’s presence activates the mostly dormant Sentinel from the future.
A handful of students (Anole, Match, Indra, Pixie & Hisako) wait outside the Danger Room. Hisako is the only one not in uniform and asks the others if they didn’t get enough of the Danger Room when it tried to kill them. Match asks what’s going on and is shushed by Pixie who is trying to eavesdrop on the current training session. At that moment, Rockslide comes crashing through the wall and nearly bowls over Pixie and Match. He is missing a hand and looks downtrodden as he greets his fellow students before re-entering the Danger Room. Those outside look in and comment that Miss Frost is busy training her new team.
The New X-Men are facing off against the X-Man Colossus. Piotr informs Rockslide that he telegraphed his attack and dropped his hand, which he tosses at Santo. It hits him in the forehead and he meekly thanks the armor-plated X-Man. From the control booth, Emma provides simple instructions for this exercise: knock down Colossus. The New X-Men look confident as Piotr urges them to give it another try.
Outside the Institute, Matthew Risman, former assassin turned evangelical zealot trains the telescopic scope of his assault rifle on the school. He speaks into his communicator noting that the Sentinel units do not seem to detect his presence. His contact, Joseph notes that his implant is shielding him from the Sentinels and the campus’ telepaths as well. Stryker informs Matthew that his target will be in his sights within the hour. Stryker tells him to “Do the Lord proud.”
At his headquarters in Salem Center, Stryker orders his men to review the “vision” stating that only a handful of “Satan’s children” stand between them and Paradise. He notes that their “guest” will be returning soon. Joseph asks if that’s wise given how they barely managed to salvage the device the last time and Stryker interrupts him harshly and reminds his follower that God himself speaks through him and is not to be questioned. He speaks of how this is all predestined and that nothing will prevent it. He reminds Joseph that this in not the time to lose faith. As he says this, the perspective shifts and we see Stryker and his team through filtered pink lenses. Over each “eye” is the word “OFFLINE”.
In the Danger Room, Colossus easily smacks Rockslide with an open hand and notes that his moves are clumsy. Elixir does his best to enter the fray by whacking Piotr in the back of the head with a small I-beam. Piotr grabs him by his shirt and hoists him in the air as he reprimands him for not using his powers to attack him. Josh asks what he expects him to do to stop him and Colossus replies that he above all the rest could stop him with a single touch. As Piotr tosses Elixir away he tells him until he starts to think clearly he will only be a threat to himself.
As he does this, Surge jumps onto him and hits him with an electrical charge. Colossus does not even cry out a little and he tells Surge he’s been hurt by far worse and her concern should be for her teammates.
As Surge tries to make sense of this warning, Colossus grabs her gauntlet and directs her attack at Mercury who was attempting to sneak up on him from behind. As Cessily cries out, X-23 leaps at him. Surge begs him to stop and Piotr tells her that their enemies will never stop. He then directs her electrical charge at X-23 who is forced back by the brunt of the attack.
He tells Surge that she is running out of teammates and she asks what she’s supposed to do. He reminds her that she is the team’s leader and if she fails to fins a way, her friends will die.
Hearing this, Josh leaps onto Colossus’s back and yells at him to shut up. Piotr easily flips Josh over onto the ground and then pins him to a wall with a bent girder. Surge calls to Dust and Hellion to help and Hellion comments on the “bang-up job” she’s done so far as leader. Surge tells him he may not like her but to follow her lead and work together. Instead, he orders Dust to attack and she does. Piotr commends her on her abilities but tells her they are being put to poor use.
He punches into the ground and grabs a water line and uses it to overcome Dust with an aquatic attack. He tells her she chose to follow the wrong leader. Angered by this comment, Hellion attacks despite Surge’s urgings that they work together. Hellion proves to be no match for Colossus who pounds against his teke field and sends him flying into Surge.
Emma ends the session and tells the New X-Men that they are all dead. She thanks Colossus for his help and he notes that neither of them wishes to bury anymore students. As he turns to leave, he reverts to his human form and Josh attacks him from behind with a steel girder! Josh demands to know why he didn’t save the other students if he cared so much! He reminds Colossus that he once saved his life and demands to know why he couldn’t have saved theirs.
The others are shocked by Josh’s angry attack. Emma responds by shifting to her diamond form and grasping Elixir forcefully by the neck. She threatens to erase every happy memory he’s ever had if he tries something like this again. As Colossus notes the blood on his neck from Josh’s attack, Emma tells Josh that he is off the team effective immediately. She tells the others that they will continue tomorrow and she expects much better from them.
In his workshop in Dallas, Forge is testing what appears to be some form of armor. He is clearly frustrated with his progress. The chest piece is engulfed in flames and sparks and he quickly extinguishes the small blaze. He curses and moves over to something that is draped with a cloth.
Outside the infirmary at the Institute, Laurie Collins has sought out Sam Guthrie to express her concern for Josh whose anger and frustration is getting the best of him. As they talk, Jay can be seen in the Med Lab where he is still refusing treatment following the loss of his wings. She tells Sam that with Dani gone she wasn’t sure who to turn to and Sam assures her that he’s there to help. She shares with Sam how much Josh has changed since the attack on the bus carrying the depowered students and that she’s really worried. As Laurie begins to cry, so does Sam as her pheromones project her intense feelings onto Cannonball. Sam realizes the effect she’s having on him and asks her to tone it down. He suggests that she talk with Josh herself and share how she feels about the changes she’s witnessed.
Sam and Laurie fail to notice when Jay leaves the infirmary. He makes his way to Sooraya’s room. She is surprised to see him up and about and urges him to return to the Med Lab. She tells him that h must let Josh heal him so that he has a chance of fully recovering from his grievous wounds. He ignores this and tells her that he thinks he’s done something terrible.
He then realizes that X-23 is in the room and asks Dust if they can speak alone. Laura rises to leave and Sooraya thanks her. Jay takes Sooraya’s hands as he tries to explain that he was trying to save everyone and didn’t mean for this to happen. Sooraya doesn’t understand and he simply tells her that he’s going to figure out what went wrong and fix things. He then asks Dust to tell Paige and Sam that he loves them if he doesn’t return. She tells him that he is scaring her with this talk and he simply replies that she is a beautiful person.
As he leaves, X-23 returns and takes a visible sniff of him as she passes. She promptly tells Dust not to trust him because he smells of death. Sooraya then realizes that Jay has handed her a crumpled piece of paper with an address in Salem Center scrawled on it.
Outside, Wallflower catches up to Elixir and tries to talk with him about what happened in the Danger Room. She asks what’s going on with him and why he’s shutting her out. She tries to accept the blame because she urged him to train but realizes that he’s too good to be a part of Miss Frost’s new team. She tries to explain that the violence and fighting isn’t him and that he’s meant to be a healer. He responds by asking why he can’t heal her arm if he’s so wonderful.
She tells him that there’s nothing left there to heal because Wither held on for too long. She then tells him that her arm and what happened to the bus is not his fault. He gets angry and tells her that she has no place to tell him about the bus since she wasn’t there. She says that Sam told her how he tried to save everyone and he angrily tells her that everyone was already dead except DJ and he gave it all he could to try and save him and still failed. He explains that when DJ died a part of him died too. Now he feels cold, dead and empty and there’s a piece of him that he’ll never get back. He vows revenge on whoever did this to him and that it will be him who kills the one responsible. Laurie tries to protest and he tells her that she doesn’t know anything about him and to stay out of his way.
As the two argue, Laurie is being targeted by Matthew Risman, the Purifiers’ sniper. He shoots her in the back of the head. Her blood splatters across Josh’s face as she crumples to the ground.
Via telephone, Stryker commends Matthew on a job well done and tells him that once the Muslim (Dust) is eliminated the vision can come to pass. As he hangs up, he notes that they boy (Jay) has insured her arrival. As he awaits Jay, Dr. Abrams marvels at the fact that Jay is still alive after the surgery. Stryker warns him never to underestimate a mutant. That was a mistake he made once and never will again. As Stryker leaves to greet Jay, his technicians begin to panic as their monitors signal a change in the mysterious device they have been using. The screen reads: “Mutant life signs detected – Target: Jay Guthrie – Protocol: Terminate Terminate Terminate”.
Stryker greets Jay on the steps of the church and Jay immediately says that he had promised to help save his friends and questions the reverend. Stryker tells him that all will be explained and leads him inside. The technicians are now fully panicking and give orders to shut the device down and kill the power. Jay asks where Stryker is taking him and they enter the room where the device is. Stryker belays the order to shut down the device as he wants Jay to bear witness. As he does so the system begins to try and reboot.
Stryker tells Jay that he is a part of the Lord’s plan and it’s time he see it for himself. Jay is shocked when he sees the cannibalized body of Nimrod stretched across the cross that looms over Stryker’s computers and connected to the system. As Jay enters, the Nimrod unit successfully reboots and comes online.
Cannonball, Colossus, Emma Frost (all X-Men)
Forge (Xavier Institute affiliate)
Elixir, Surge, Dust, Hellion, Mercury, Rockslide and X-23 (All New X-Men trainees)
Icarus, Wallflower (both former New Mutants Squad)
Anole, Hisako, Indra, Match, Pixie (All Xavier Institute students)
Sentinel Squad O*N*E*
Reverend William Stryker
Dr. Jack Abrams, Matthew Risman, Joseph and other unnamed members of Reverend Stryker’s Purifiers
The cover to this issue pays homage to the classic cover of UNCANNY X-MEN #210
Hisako refers to the Danger Room’s attempt to kill all the students at the Xavier Institute when it gained sentience in ASTONISHING X-MEN (3rd Series) #7-12.
Elixir used his healing abilities to save Colossus’ life after an attack by Danger in ASTONISHING X-MEN (3rd Series) #11.
This Issue has been reprinted in:
New X-Men: Childhood's End Vol. 2 (Trade Paperback)
Issue Summary written by: Binaryan