|Astonishing X-Men (3rd series) #22|| || |
Issue Date: October 2007
Story Title: untitled
Staff: Joss Whedon (writer), John Cassaday (artist), Laura Martin (colorist), Chris Eliopoulos (letterer), Will Panzo (assistant editor), Nick Lowe & Andy Schmidt (associate editors), Axel Alonso (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)
Despite being asked by Emma to kill her, Danger does not yet deliver the execution blow, though this is hardly a surprise to Emma. Rather, the request was made to prove a point – that Emma is aware of Danger’s secret: that her programming does not allow her to kill, hence the need for surrogates to try to kill the X-Men over the last few months. Danger’s secret now revealed, Emma makes the synthetic an alternate offer. Meanwhile, still guests of Aghanne and her people, Kitty and Piotr enjoy the respite in each others’ arms. Though much has still happened between them recently, Kitty has been reminded that life is short, and she wants to grab whatever happiness she can with him. The next morning, Brand and the Beast emerge from their snow cave to find the mass of dead citizens of the Breakworld, killed by Kruun’s indiscriminant snowstrike against the two of them. Angered, the Beast harkens on a new plan. Instead of taking the space craft they are about to confiscate directly to the weapon Kruun has constructed, they will use it to regroup with the X-Men and then attack the weapon from the other side. A short while later, the Beast and Brand have picked up all of the rest of the team, including Cyclops and Emma, who have instructed Danger to rendezvous with the remaining SWORD soldiers for another task. En route to the moon where the weapon is located, Kitty is reunited with Lockheed, though the reunion turns bittersweet when Brand coldly informs her that the dragon has been a spy for SWORD for months. Further disheartening, upon their arrival the team discovers to their horror that the moon of their destination itself is the weapon, the whole sphere an artificial construct. Worse still, the moon is guarded by Bruteships, which attack the X-Men’s craft. Attempting to distract them, Cyclops departs in a small repair craft and buys the time the X-Men need to reach their destination. However, as his smaller craft is eventually hit by weapons fire and disintegrates around him, Cyclops finds himself floating in the vacuum of space, all alone in the black.
Grinning toothily, Powerlord Kruun of the Open Hand muses what his subordinate, Sylatin, has just told him. Agent Brand has offered him Colossus. Affirming, Sylatin adds if he can stall him, keep him from firing the Retaliator, he is to have the metal man. And, of course, his throne. Stepping onto the floating skiff, which begins to rise in the shaft they have entered, Kruun sneers that she thinks them children. Like all outworlders, Band mistakes aggression for thuggishness. To kill the weak is the honored path. But to lie, to smile and scheme… this is why Ord failed. Tainted by human “diplomacy.”
And you, Kruun then says of Sylatin, he has forced him to become a player in their low game. Eyeing the ground over which they now pass, Kruun informs Sylatin that he is truly sorry, but when this is over he will rip out his other arm as a sign to others of his loyalty. As he says it, Sylatin replies, it shall be so.
Continuing their discussion of the “deception,” Kruun informs Sylatin that he will indeed “stall” him. The humans don’t yet know he has no control over the Retaliator. It will fire in two days’ time, no matter what happens there. Let the X-Men play for time they do not have, Kruun laughs as the skiff begins to soar over the capital city of the Breakworld. Let them see if Brand delivers them Colossus… Or a corpse to play with.
Elsewhere, Emma Frost kneels before the metallic form of Danger. However, though posed in a classic execution position, the death blow does not come – just as Emma expected. Grinning knowingly, Emma asks Danger if she’s confused.
A moment later, a taloned arm strikes against Emma’s chin, which she had transformed into organic diamond half a moment before. When she then produced a drill from the knuckles of her right hand, Danger asks Emma if she thinks she cannot piece a diamond. Still acting smug, Emma playfully pretends she was unaware that she had hardened. Defense mechanism; quite unconscious. Transforming back to flesh and bone, she asks if that it better.
Straightening, Danger looks down upon the prone Emma, declaring this a trick. To this, Emma tells her just to hush. Kill away. Now backing away, Danger informs her that Kruun will want them alive. Nonsense, Emma responds. He’ll be thrilled. Shower her with garlands and wear her skins with a shawl. Bridging the gap between them, Danger grabs Emma by her collar and demands to know what game she is playing. Resolute, Emma replies that she’s a terrible person and she’s wracked with guilt. Hasn’t she been following? Emma then advises that, if Danger shakes harder, her neck might snap… if that helps at all… Instead of doing so, Danger tosses Emma back to the ground and begins to walk away.
Standing up, Emma begins to dust the dirt from her shoulder. As she does, she asks Danger if she shall tell her why she hasn’t killed them yet. Before Danger can respond, Emma answers. “Because you can’t.” Sneering at this, Danger asks if Emma thinks she cares about a human life. To this, Emma tells Danger not to be dim. She knows she was programmed to kill and she hates mutants above all things and who could blame her, but honestly look at her scorecard to date.
Wing, Danger observes. Killed himself, Emma counters. She didn’t stop him, did a little coaching and that gave her a flush of power. Brought her change. This terribly original form. And she defeated the entire team! The fabled X-Men. Lying defenseless at her feet. And what did she do then? She walked away. And no B-villain crap about Xavier, or wanting to see them suffer: she scampered. She didn’t let her take her out that day because she knew her secret. She did it because she knew hers.
Continuing, Emma explains to Danger that she did need Kitty to explain the mechanics, but she was programmed to kill them and then saddled with a “parent program” that stopped her. The rogue Sentinel, the alliance with that non-wit, Ord… desperate attempts to get someone to do what she still can’t.
Having regained consciousness, Scott grabs a large rock and lifts it above his head. Still reeling, he tells Emma to get behind him. Instead of doing so, she smiles, stating that why she finds such patently idiotic chivalry a turn-on is truly a mystery… But, she continues, returning her attention to the grimacing and visibly frustrated Danger, she’s an open Blackberry. She never got over parent programming. If it’s any consolidation, nobody ever does.
Unsure of what is going on though finally understanding that a crisis has passed, Scott drops the rock and sheepishly asks Emma for a sit-rep. Helping to prop him up, she explains that she’s about to make their dread arch-nemesis an offer. And she bets she can guess what it is.
Elsewhere, Kitty and Piotr gaze into each others’ eyes, smiling all the while. Half covered beneath the sheets, Kitty lies atop Piotr, her nose lovingly touching his. “Whoof,” she states resolutely. When Piotr begins to speak, Kitty stops him, telling him to wait. She’s not done with “whoof.” Crossing her arms across his broad chest, Kitty tells Piotr her that he’s more than she could have imagined. And she’s imagined.
Interrupting the moment, a female of the Breakworld sticks her head through the break in the curtains of the bedroom. She informs the pair that Aghanne says they’re to leave at first light. Their scouts have made contact with their friend, Logan. To this she adds that they have about an hour, if they wish to continue fornicating. As soon as the female has departed, Piotr asks if that female is “Dafi,” to which Kitty replies “like the duck.”
Returning to their previous conversation, Kitty tells Piotr that he can ask her now. Sitting up, he asks her why. Why so soon… so suddenly? Considering, Kitty takes a moment to glance away in though. Everything is so fragile, she finally says, still looking away. There’s so much conflict, so much pain… You keep waiting for the dust to settle and then you realize this is it; the dust is your life going on. If happy comes along – that weird, undeniable delight that’s actual happy – she thinks you have to grab it while you can. You take what you can get, ‘cause it’s here, and then… gone.
Walking through the snow and ice-bound terrain, the Beast regards the frozen remains of citizens of the Breakworld, who had been killed by the order of Powerlord Kruun’s snowstrike on the area. Considering the corpses, Hank tells Agent Brand that he was in Genosha. The day after, they were all there, sifting through a continent of ash and bone. He made jokes.
Ignoring him, Brand tells the Beast that they need a ship. Now in turn ignoring her, Hank continues that it’s a natural enough response, he supposes to unimaginable horror… Interrupting him angrily, Brand suggests they think deep thoughts later. There will be survivors and they don’t want to meet them. They need to raid that shipyard and get to the damn moonbase. He thinks no, the Beast replies. They take the ship in the opposite direction. They go and find his friends.
Following him to the shipyard, Brand disagrees. Sentiment isn’t exactly useful right now. If he can’t think clearly… Interrupting, the Beast explains that Kruun knows they’re headed for the moonbase. He hit them with an ice age. Doesn’t she think he’ll have the base defended? They go back, pick up the super heroes she said she so desperately needed, and sling around to the moon itself while he’s waiting for them to hit the base. It’s safer and smarter. Adding in conclusion, he instructs Brand not ever to disparage sentiment… until she’s actually felt one… With this, he leaps up the height of several stories to the top of his chosen space craft.
Moving through a forest of the Breakworld, the SWORD squad commander instructs his men to stay low. If they engage, return fire and fall back in Alpha-Kree formation. The object of their concern, a gigantic mechanical insect, continues to converge on their position. When the squad commander hopes aloud that it might miss them, Sydren corrects him. It won’t.
A moment later, the thorax of the insect opens, out of which step Cyclops and Emma Frost. In disbelief, the commander tells the two that they thought they were toast. Replying likewise, Cyclops asks back how many of them are there. He reports that the whole squad is intact; thirty souls. But they’ve got no transport. He does now, Cyclops rejoins. Seeing Cyclops’ meaning, Danger emerging from the thorax, the commander asks to where would that transport be, exactly?
Sitting at his dining table and tearing a beetle in half with his teeth, Powerlord Kruun rages that the machine has failed him as well. Reporting further, Sylatin states that the X-Men are gathered on a transport ship. It came out of the strike-quad, half-frozen. A border droid clicked on the anomalous heat sig. Luck then, Kruun remarks, still eating. There’s more, Sylatin adds. When the X-Men rendezvoused, Colossus and some others were recorded with an unreg. One of Aghanne’s.
A moment later, the table at which Kruun was set is suddenly propelled out of the chamber’s window and into the air of the city beyond. Glaring through now shattered window with blazing yellow eyes and bared teeth, Kruun snarls that that woman is more dangerous than a hundred prophecies. If her madness spreads…
Returning his attention to Sylatin, he asks that the transport has eyes for them. Told that it does, Kruun orders to be shown. After a quick manipulation of a floating device, a green image is displayed before the powerlord. Among the images, Agent Brand asks Cyclops if he really put that thing in charge of her men. In reply, Emma asks if she can possibly do a worse job than her.
Nearby, Kitty holds out her hands to Lockheed, calling “dragon!” Holding him out at arms length, she remarks that she can’t believe he got dragged into this too! Where has he been hiding?
Still arguing, Brand reminds Emma that Danger is a killing machine. Actually… Emma begins to correct. Interrupting, Wolverine asks Brand if she didn’t say that her men were expendable? In his memory, she said that.
Still engrossed with Lockheed, Kitty notices something amiss and asks what is wrong. Is he hungry, little fella? Incensed at the situation, Brand turns to Kitty and tells her, for God’s sake, to stop simpering at him. Lockheed works for them. He’s been doing surveillance on their team since she rejoined. Dumbfounded, Kitty reels at this information, as Lockheed floats away, seemingly in shame.
Coldly, Emma tells Brand that she’s so unpleasant even she’s impressed. Does she visit orphanages to explain there’s no Santa? To this, Brand counters that this is exactly their problem! Infantilizing alien races… That dragon speaks more languages than the Professor, she explains. He’s not some starlet’s Chihuahua. Continuing, she then adds that Lockheed has some homeworld issues they’re helping him with. Pressing issues.
Nearby, Cyclops is studying one of SWORD’s handheld computers. When he announces to Brand that her files show no mention of this “Aghanne,” Brand replies that of course it doesn’t. If what Rasputin says about her is true, she’ll have been expunged. She’s amazed she’s alive at all.
At the controls of the craft, the Beast informs his teammates that they’re coming up on the moon. And that there’s a disturbing lack of security…
Continuing with Brand, Cyclops suggests that they need to talk with Aghanne. If her interpretation of the prophecy is true… if Peter is somehow involved in saving this race… Chiming in, Wolverine replies that he doesn’t know. The kid and he have been seeing this place at ground level… he kinda likes the version where Pete blows it up. Interrupting slightly during Wolverine’e statement, Hisako notes that he’s still not calling her “Armor.”
Breaking the conversation, Beast calls to the team, telling them they’ve got more bad news. Eying the view outside the front of the craft, Cyclops replies that they expected the moon to be fortified. Does he think they can land? To this, the Beast replies that he thought he’d have a lot more fun if he ever got to save this… Asked by Brand “say what?” the Beast answers. “That’s no moon.” Outside their viewport is an immense metallic sphere, with lines of what appears to be tubing running along its surface. Emerging from this sphere is the nose cone of a missile, illuminated by the light of the star of the Breakworld. Regarding this construction coldly, Kitty marvels that all of that is just to fire one missile. A missile ten miles long, Cyclops corrects. Well, Brand chimes in, she didn’t bring them there for nothing.
A moment later, the defenses of the missile moon are apparent, as Breakworld Bruteships emerge, prompting the X-Men’s craft to quickly change directions. Still at the helm, the Beast tells his teammates that they outrun these warships never. To this, Wolverine asks if they have a plan. He doesn’t want to play “Man who fell to Earth” again. In response, Cyclops notes that there’s a repair craft in the back that fits one.
When the team looks at him for meaning, he provides it. They go, he stays. Before they can object, Scott asks Emma to help, which she gives begrudgingly. “He’s right, it’s best.” Resolute, Scott tells the others that they’ll come after him. It’ll buy them time and, if anything happens, he’s the most… He’s the one with no powers. When Brand then points out that she’s supposed to be the leader, Scott rejoins that that’s why he’s acting like one. Still at the helm, Hank announces that they’re gaining…
Continuing his argument, Cyclops tells the team that the most important thing is to keep Kruun from finding out about their ace in the hole. Leviathan? Emma asks. To this, Cyclops adds that it’d their best hope now. The rest of them are to keep low until Leviathan shows up. Addressing Colossus, Cyclops tells him it’s too dangerous for him to make contact with Aghanne. Emma will go instead. Kitty instantly objects to this, to all of this, she then clarifies. He’s not going to throw his life away after… all of this…
Smiling at the thought, Wolverine guesses aloud that Emma’s running the show. That’ll be interesting. When Brand begins to object to that, stating her own position, Wolverine tells her not even to dream it.
Told good luck, Cyclops goes to the repair craft, giving his last order for the team to stay away from Kruun. Stay away from the prison – even if they take him alive. As a last thought, he calls Emma’s name. When she replies “darling?” he tells her they’re all hers. Make him proud.
A few moments later, Cyclops closes the hatch to his one-man craft and launches himself into the black. Immediately, he fired upon by the Bruteships, though his smaller craft deftly dodges. At least one Bruteship bears the brunt of the firepower of one dodged blast, exploding in flame. Meanwhile, the craft containing the X-Men continues on its course.
Aboard the craft, the X-Men watch in horror, Kitty asking aloud what have they done? Witnessing another two Brutecraft collide as that of Cyclops’ darts between them, Hank says, “Give ‘em Hell, boss.” Unfortunately, a moment later a Bruteship manages to strafe the repair craft, which disintegrates from the impact. His canopy coming apart around him, Cyclops – sans space suit – floats away into the blackness of space.
Aboard the X-Men’s craft, Emma remains in telepathic contact. He’s going… she tells the team. She’s so close…
The vacuum of space immediately begin to takes its toll on Scott Summers. His eyes redden as his capillaries begin to burst. The area around his eyes darkens. And his mind races and memory stirs.
A young Jean Grey, a bow in her red hair, tells him it’s nice to meet him too… Professor Xavier commends him, telling Scott what a future he has ahead of him…
However, in truth, Scott Summer is alone, free falling in the vacuum of the vastness of space.
Armor, Beast, Colossus, Cyclops, Emma Frost, Shadowcat, Wolverine (all X-Men)
Special Agent Brant, Agent Deems, Sydren (all SWORD)
Rebels of the Breakworld
Powerlord Kruun of the Open Hand
Soldiers of the Breakworld
Citizens of the Breakworld
Armor, Beast, Colossus, Cyclops, Emma Frost, Shadowcat, Wolverine (all X-Men)
Special Agent Brand
Though technically untitled, no doubt this is to be “Unstoppable pt 4.”
The Xavier student known as Wing died in the Danger Room after being convinced by a hologram (later revealed generated by Danger) to attempt to fly, even though his abilities had been removed by the recent “Cure.” [Astonishing X-Men (3rd series) #7]
In her newly created robotic form, Danger fought the X-Men to a standstill in Astonishing X-Men (3rd series) #10. The last to fall, Emma allowed Danger to knock her out after Danger threateningly informed her that she “knew the truth.” The rogue sentinel Danger utilized was the immense Mega-Sentinel left over from the destruction of Genosha. However, during the fight, the Mega-Sentinel achieved self awareness and departed the Earth. [Astonishing X-Men (3rd series) #11-12]
A “Blackberry” is a combination PDA & mobile phone device.
“Dafi” – “like the duck” – refers to the Warner Brothers animated character “Daffy Duck.”
Along with Jean, Hank visited Genosha a day after the island’s destruction in New X-Men (1st series) #116.
While it was first revealed that SWORD had a “mole” inside the Xavier Institute in Astonishing X-Men (3rd series) #8, it was not until #17 that the identity was revealed to be Lockheed.
Moments after being informed by Wolverine that she was now an X-Man, much to her surprise, she chose the codename “Armor,” though has yet to be called that by any of her teammates, much to her dismay.
“That’s no moon” is a line famously uttered by Obi Wan Kenobi as the Millennium Falcon approached the Death Star.
The “Man Who Fell to Earth” is a 1963 novel about an alien coming to Earth, seeking aid for his own people. At the time of this issue’s publication, two films adaptations had been made, with yet another version in production.
This Issue has been reprinted in:
Astonishing X-Men Vol. 4: Unstoppable (Trade Paperback)
Astonishing X-Men Vol. 2 (HC) (Trade Paperback)
Issue Summary written by: Douglas Mangum