Retro Reviews: New X-Men #20-46 By Yost, Kyle, Medina, Young, Brooks, Ramos & Others For Marvel Comics

New X-Men #20 – 46 (January 2006 – March 2008)

Written by Craig Kyle (#20-46), Chris Yost (#20-46), Christos Gage (#41), Mike Carey (#42)

Pencils by Mark Brooks (#20-23), Paul Pelletier (#23), Paco Medina (#24-28, 30-31, 33-36), Duncan Rouleau (#29), Mike Norton (#32), Skottie Young (#37-43), Niko Henrichon (#37), Scot Eaton (#40-41), Mike Perkins (#42), Humberto Ramos (#44-46)

Inks by Jaime Mendoza (#20-23), Jay Leisten (#21-22, 38), Juan Vlasco (#24-28, 30-31, 33-36), Duncan Rouleau (#29), Dave Meikis (#32, 46), Sean Parsons (#37-38), Niko Henrichon (#37), Skottie Young (#39-43), Andrew Hennessy (#40-42), Carlos Cuevas (#44-46)

Coloured by Brian Reber (#20-36), Dave McCaig (#22), Tom Chu (#23), Marte Gracia (#23), Skottie Young (#37-38, 40-43), Jean Francois-Beaulieu (#37-43), Raúl Trevino (#40-42), Edgar Delgado (#44-46)

Spoilers (from nine to eleven years ago)

No title was more affected by the House of M, “No more mutants” declaration than New X-Men.  It resulted in a new creative team, in Craig Kyle, Christopher Yost, and Mark Brooks, the deletion of the ‘Academy X’ tagline on the cover, and a huge shuffling of central characters.  Many of the central characters were depowered and moved out of the book, a large number of them unnecessarily killed off in a hurry, and other characters, like X-23, were moved in to help give the comics a sales boost.  I remember being very unhappy with the changes in tone and makeup of this title, although around the time that Skottie Young came onboard as the artist, that began to change and I began to love this title, as I did Yost and Kyle’s subsequent work on X-Force.  Let’s see if those opinions from more than a decade ago bear out…

Let’s take a look at who populated the title:

Students:

  • Wither (Kevin Ford; #20, 22, 32)
  • Specter (Dallas Gibson, depowered on M-Day; #20)
  • Stepford Cuckoos (Celeste, Mindee, and Phoebe Cuckoo, #20, 23, 27-28, 31, 37, 41-43)
  • Icarus (Josh “Jay” Guthrie, killed by Stryker; #20-25, 27)
  • Wallflower (Laurie Collins, killed by Purifiers; #20, 22-25)
  • Wind Dancer (Sofia Mantega, depowered on M-Day; #20-22)
  • Aero (Melody Guthrie, depowered on M-Day; #20, 32)
  • Elixir (Josh Foley; #20-28, 31-33, 35-44)
  • Prodigy (David Alleyne, depowered on M-Day; #20-24, 26-33, 35, 38-39, 41-44, 46)
  • Hellion (Julian Keller; #20-46)
  • Tag (Brian Cruz, depowered on M-Day, killed by Purifiers; #20-24)
  • Surge (Noriko Ashida; #20-33, 35-46)
  • Dust (Sooraya Qadir; #20-32, 34-36, 38-44, 46)
  • Mercury (Cessily Kincaid; #20-46)
  • Rockslide (Santo Vaccarro; #20-38, 40-44, 46)
  • X-23/Talon (Laura X; #20-36, 38-46)
  • Pixie (Megan Gwynn; #21, 23, 25, 27, 35, 37-44, 46)
  • Anole (Victor Borkowski; #21, 23, 25, 27, 29-30, 32, 34-35, 37-44, 46)
  • Loa (Alani Ryan; #23, 33-34, 37-39, 42-43, 46)
  • Wolf Cub (Nicholas Gleason; #23, 27, 37-39, 42-43, 46)
  • Onyxx (Randy; #23, 27, 35)
  • Trance (Hope Abbott; #23, 38-39, 42)
  • Armor (Hisako Ichiki; #23, 25, 44, 46)
  • Indra (Paras Gavaskar; #23, 39, 42-43, 46)
  • Quill (Max Jordan, killed by Purifiers; #23, 27)
  • Match (Ben Hammil; #23, 25, 28, 32, 37-40, 43)
  • Dryad (Callie Betto, depowered on M-Day; #23)
  • Network (Sarah Vale; depowered on M-Day; #23)
  • Rubbermaid (Andrea Marguiles, depowered on M-Day, killed by Purifiers; #24)
  • DJ (Mark, depowered on M-Day, killed by Purifiers; #24)
  • Bling! (Roxy; #35)
  • Blindfold (#37-41)
  • Gentle (Nezhno Abidemi; #37-39, 42, 46)

Faculty/X-Men:

  • White Queen (Emma Frost; #20-28, 31-36, 42-46)
  • Beast (Hank McCoy; #20-21, 23, 26-28, 33, 37, 40-46)
  • Wolverine (Logan; #20-21, 24, 26, 29, 41-46)
  • Cyclops (Scott Summers; #20-24, 26-29, 31-33, 35-36, 42-46)
  • Mirage (Danielle Moonstar, depowered on M-Day and fired; #20, 22)
  • Nightcrawler (Kurt Wagner; #24, 44, 46)
  • Psylocke (Betsy Braddock; #24)
  • Bishop (#24, 26-27, 46)
  • Cannonball (Sam Guthrie #24-27)
  • Colossus (Peter Rasputin; #25-26, 28, 35-36, 41-44, 46)
  • Rogue (#32, 46)
  • Kitty Pryde (#32, 35-36, 41-43)
  • Professor Charles Xavier (#44, 46)
  • Angel (Warren Worthington; #44)
  • Warpath (James Proudstar; #45-46)
  • Hepzibah (#45-46)

Villains

  • Reverend William Stryker (#21-27, 36)
  • Dr. Jack Abrams (Purifier; #21-22, 27, 43)
  • Purifiers (#22-27, 31, 42-45)
  • Matthew Risman (Purifier; #22, 25, 27, 31, 42-44)
  • Purifier Jacob (#24, 26-27)
  • Nimrod (#25-31)
  • Dr. Adam Harkins (Facility; #31, 33-36)
  • Kimura (#31, 33-34, 36)
  • Selene (#32)
  • The Facility (#31, 33-36)
  • Mammomax (Brotherhood; #34)
  • Predator X (#34-36, 42-46)
  • The Owl (#35)
  • Belasco (#37-41)
  • S’ym (#38-39, 41)
  • N’astirh (#39)
  • Dark Beast (Age of Apocalypse Hank McCoy; #41-42)
  • Mr. Sinister (#44, 46)
  • Scalphunter (Marauder; #44, 46)
  • Vertigo (Marauder; #44)
  • Lady Deathstrike (#44-45)
  • Exodus (#46)
  • Arclight (Marauder; #46)
  • Sunfire (MLF?; #46)
  • Riptide (Marauder; #46)
  • Scrambler (Marauder; #46)
  • Tempo (Mutant Liberation Front; #46)

Guest Stars

  • Forge (#21-22, 24-31, 44)
  • Valerie Cooper (O*N*E. Deputy Director; #24, 27, 30-31, 39-40)
  • Ms. Marvel (Carol Danvers; #28)
  • Iron Man (Tony Stark; #28)
  • Wolfsbane (Rahne Sinclair, X-Factor; #32, 45-46)
  • Jamie Madrox (X-Factor; #32, 44-45)
  • Amanda Sefton (#36-37, 40-41)
  • Darkchild/Illyana Rasputin (#38-41)
  • Spider-Man (#41)
  • Dr. Strange (#41)
  • Rictor (Julio Esteban Richter, X-Factor; #44)
  • Layla Miller (X-Factor; #44-45)
  • Cable (#45-46)
  • Hope Summers (unnamed baby version; #45-46)
  • Caliban (#45)
  • Mystique (Raven Darkholme; #46)
  • Gambit (Remy LeBeau; #46)

Supporting Characters

  • Alexander Lexington (Sentinel Squad leader; #24, 26, 34, 38, 40-41)
  • Colonel Miguel Reyes (O*N*E commanding officer; #24, 28, 30, 34-36, 39)
  • Gail Collins (Laurie’s mom; #28)
  • Lucinda Guthrie (Jay’s mother; #32, 42)
  • Dr. Kavita Rao (#40)

Let’s take a look at what happened in these books, with some commentary as we go:

  • The new run opens two years before M-Day, with a disheveled looking older man going into an abandoned church in Dallas, speaking to a statue of Jesus and planning on killing himself without a sign.  As he’s about to shoot himself in the head, the statue lights up.  From there, we move to M-Day, where the school is thrown into complete chaos as a number of students realize their powers are gone.  Emma Frost goes running to help.  Kevin Ford is woken up by screaming, as an unknown kid runs past him and Dallas looks for his shadow.  The central hall of the school is filled with students, many unrecognizable or new, freaking out.  Emma calls on the Stepford Cuckoos to help her.  Keving thinks he’s cured of his death-touch, and grabbing Laurie’s arm, almost kills her.  Jay and Sofia try to help her, and Kevin despairs.  Emma realizes that Melody Guthrie (who I don’t think we’ve ever seen before) is about to jump off the roof to prove that she can still fly; Beast jumps out of a window and grabs her.  Wolverine pulls the dead Hydro, another character I don’t know, out of the pool.  In the dorms, we see that Josh is fine, David’s lost his powers, Julian’s fine, Brian’s lost his powers, Noriko and Sooraya want to help, Cessily despairs at still being made of mercury, and Santo sleeps through it all.  Kevin still feels that this is unfair.  In Cerebra, Emma discovers that the world’s mutant population has dropped by over ninety percent, and she and the Cuckoos put the whole school to sleep.  Two days later, we see Dani storm out of Emma’s office (this is probably the thing that most upset me about this run), having been dismissed for not having any powers (despite the fact that Dani’s a great fighter and her powers weren’t all that offensive or useful in the first place).  Scott disagrees with Emma’s decision, and she continues to say that anyone who is powerless should leave.  Logan listens outside the door.  Josh tries to heal Laurie but can’t for some reason.  Logan calls X-23, who is in San Francisco, to try to get her to come to the school.  Yost and Kyle had just finished a miniseries starring her, so it’s no surprise that they would put her in the book.  Two weeks after M-Day, Emma and Scott continue to discuss what to do when they are interrupted by the arrival of bloody Jay Guthrie, who has had his wings cut off. He passes out.
  • The second issue of this run begins a year before M-Day, as the Reverend William Stryker approaches a Doctor outside of a hospital in Chicago as he’s about to get into a cab.  Stryker wants to talk to him, and then they watch the cab get hit by a bus, which Stryker claims is because God believes in the doctor.  In the present, we see that the Xavier Institute is guarded by Sentinels.  Noriko receives a new set of gauntlets from Forge.  Most of the rest of the usual cast are watching TV together and talking about how Brian is likely going to have to leave the school now that he doesn’t have powers.  They also discuss how none of the healers are able to restore anyones’ powers because all trace of the x-gene has been erased in the depowered.  Nori joins them and they watch the news, where familiar reporters like Neal Conan and Trish Tilby talk about the changes caused by M-Day.  We also see an interview where Reverend Stryker claims some foreknowledge of this event.  Jay (who doesn’t yet have the injuries we saw in the last issue) questions whether or not M-Day is a miracle (which really doesn’t fit with his character), and everyone starts arguing.  Nori is upset, and when David tries to calm her, Julian interrupts, putting him down for being human.  Julian says David doesn’t belong at the school anymore, and Sofia gets upset about that and walks away.  It looks like Nori and Julian are going to fight, but they are interrupted by Wolverine walking in and introducing Laura (X-23) as his sister/genetic clone.  The New Mutants squad leave, and Cessily moves to join them, upsetting Julian, who lashes out at Laura.  Emma doesn’t want Laura at the school, thinking she’s dangerous, but Scott maintains that because Logan vouches for her, she stays.  David takes Jay, Noriko, and Josh into the tunnels under the school, where he’s built something called the Danger Cave, a Danger Room-like space that projects holograms and can replay all of the X-Men’s old missions.  Of course, it makes no sense that they would have recorded their missions in such detail, and while it’s a nice nod to the fans that the mission numbers match the issues in which they happened, that’s silly.  As David explains the device, the Hellions show up (everyone is in uniform, which is odd).  David turns on his machine and inputs the Fall of the Mutants, because it has so many X-Men in it.  We see the different characters as X-Men, but because Sooraya, who is playing Destiny, can’t see, David switches to a Brood attack storyline, but Brian balks at portraying Storm (because he’s black?) and Cessily doesn’t want to be Kitty to Santos’s Colossus.  We see that Laura is watching the team.  The story then jumps ahead by ten days, and we see Josh entering the infirmary, where Beast and Emma look after the injured Jay.  When Josh moves to help him with his healing powers, Jay freaks out and refuses to be touched.  The pacing is way off on these issues.
  • Six months prior, an assassin, Matthew Risman, receives a phone call while preparing to kill someone in Los Angeles, warning that he has less than an hour to get home and get his wife and child out of their house.  He rushes, and saves them just as a landslide destroys his home.  William Stryker is there, telling him that God wanted him to be safe.  We see the doctor from the issue before with Stryker.  In the present, the New Mutants and Hellions continue to cycle through some of the X-Men’s greatest hits in the Danger Cave, while continuing to argue as well.  Jay decides to leave the whole scene and Noriko and Julian start arguing some more again.  Julian also tries to bait Laura into an argument, but she remains silent.  As everyone argues more, David decides to shut down the system, just as Jay comes to tell them that Dani is leaving.  The New Mutants leave, and while Santo and Cessily talk to Julian about how he didn’t notice Brian leaving the room, they also talk about how Julian is uncomfortable around Kevin now, who somehow is hiding around a corner in a hidden cave under the Institute, even though we haven’t seen him for two issues.  When he hears this, he runs away.  The New Mutants are upset to learn that Dani was fired, and she spends more time comforting Sofia than she does Josh, who she is the legal guardian of.  Emma ushers the kids back into the school, and takes the opportunity to be mean to Laura again, until Scott intervenes.  Scott takes Laura to room with Sooraya, interrupting her prayers.  Apparently Noriko asked to move to a single room, but no explanation is given for that, and it’s weird, because before we saw that her and Sooraya got along.  Laura speaks for the first time.  Josh sleeps on Laurie, who is still hurt from Kevin’s touch, and she tells him that she loves him.  David and Nori make out in her new room.  Julian tries to speak to Sofia, who won’t let him into her room.  Cessily tries to get him to help her look for Kevin, but he refuses and she storms off.  We see that Sofia is packing.  Kevin emerges from the sewers in Westchester and runs away.  In Dallas, Forge listens to the radio talk about the Sentinels outside the Institute while he works on something.  This page is really out of place.  At the school, Laura hears someone calling her and goes to the hall to find the image of her dead mother, all zombified and asking her why she killed her.  Laura figures out that this is Emma messing with her, and Emma insists that she is going to make Laura leave.  Seven days from this point, we see the Purifiers loading up with weapons.  There is no further information on Josh’s wing amputation, and again, this issue feels very unbalanced and poorly paced.  The Danger Cave feels more and more like fan service and excuse to put a bunch of fan favourite characters on the cover, even though they aren’t in the issue.
  • I remember hating issue 23 when it came out, and reading it again now, I don’t feel any differently.  This issue creates a drastic break from the way this book worked before Yost and Kyle took over, and it all felt unnecessary back then, even within the context of the post-House of M status quo.  Today it still feels unnecessary, mean-spirited, and disrespectful of the work DeFilippis and Weir did beforehand.  Eight months before the events of the issue, Stryker has some Purifiers going through a ton of names on a big holographic computer screen, before finding the name of Julia Cabot.  He then goes to visit Jay, who is praying for Julia, his dead girlfriend, in a big church in Westchester.  He tells Jay that he is an angel, and that he has God’s message for him.  In the present day, Emma and Scott rehash the argument we heard them have four issues back, and they are interrupted by the appearance of the injured Jay.  They take him to the infirmary and call for Josh (who is now sleeping on the opposite side of Laurie’s bed to where he slept last issue), but Jay doesn’t want his help.  Emma makes Josh forget what he’s just seen, and then telepathically summons every student who still has their powers to the Danger Room, stipulating that they come in their uniforms.  A number of new characters, such as Bling! and Nezhno appear here for the first time, without speaking.  It seems odd, in the context of Marvel getting rid of most of their mutants, to greenlight the creation of a bunch of new characters.  They also incorporate some of the students that previously were in some of the main X-books, like Armor, Onyxx, and Ernst.  Emma tells the students that she’s doing away with squads and field days, and that she wants them to all fight each other right then, to decide who gets to continue their training.  She removes Wallflower, Blindfold, Nezhno, and Ernst from this mix, presumably because they don’t have offensive abilities, but then she insists that Josh stay.  Before the melee begins, she also tells Julian that she wants him to take out X-23.  The fight starts and it’s kind of chaotic for a bit.  Noriko attacks Julian, Laura cuts off Santo’s arm, before Emma uses her powers to freeze her.  Julian moves in to attack her, but then sees that Onyxx is going to flatten her, and rescues her, telling her that they are even because Laura had saved him in the Danger Cave.  Emma stops the fight, and announces that Mercury, Dust, Hellion, Elixir, Rockslide, and Surge are going to train as the New X-Men.  Cyclops, who has only just arrived, adds Laura to the list.  As a parting shot, Emma tells Julian that Noriko is the new team leader.  Fifteen minutes later, in an assembly, Emma begins a speech about how few mutants are left.  This is intercut with a speech Stryker gives to his followers, in which he talks about God and stuff.  At the end of her speech, Emma announces that all the remaining human students will be leaving in forty-five minutes by bus, while Stryker ends his by gathering his Purifiers and mentioning having to catch a bus.  Later, we see the kids emerging from the Morlock tunnels, and with Bishop and Colossus standing guard, the depowered kids say goodbye to their friends.  The only central character seen leaving here is Brian – I don’t know what happened to David and Sofia.  Our central characters are wearing new uniforms, which seems like a strange thing to worry about at this time.  As the bus pulls away, Laura notices a missile coming into the area, and we see it hit the bus and explode (despite the fact that Julian and any number of the bystanders should have been able to stop it easily).
  • The ‘Crusade’ arc begins with Nightcrawler presiding over Brian’s funeral.  While it continues, we see different main characters remembering the night of the attack on the bus, starting with Cessily.  Noriko came across Rubbermaid’s body, while Santo remembers collapsing in confusion.  Julian is the one who found Brian’s body, but a secondary explosion happened before he could get to him.  Laura found a student named DJ, and Josh tried to help him but he died before he could do anything.  Laurie reminds Josh that none of this is his fault at the funeral, while Sooraya prays.  Her attempts to put out the fire didn’t work.  Cessily protected Sooraya and Noriko from another burst of flame, just as one of the O*N*E. Sentinels found them.  At the end of the funeral, Forge comes to talk to Noriko, and reminds her that even though he’s in Dallas, she can contact him through her new gauntlets, which is a little creepy, and weird because it’s not clear yet why Forge keeps showing up in this title.  The camera pulls back and we see that there are thirteen more coffins to be buried, while the Sentinels look on.  In the school, Psylocke vents at the O*N*E. people installed there, Alexander Lexington and Colonel Miguel Reyes.  Betsy’s upset because the O*N*E. are supposed to be protecting them, and failed.  Reyes points out that the X-Men smuggled the kids out of the school and didn’t tell them what was happening.  Valerie Cooper lays the blame on Emma Frost, who is in her office looking at photos of the dead kids.  Cessily and Julian talk, and Cessily lets him know that Sofia left the school; he is upset to learn this.  David and Noriko hold each other, Santo pounds his fists into the ground, Laura watches Sooraya pray, while Julian throws a telekinetic fit in Sofia’s empty room.  Cyclops and Cannonball talk about how Jay is not getting better, while he learns of the various deaths at the school.  The New X-Men sit around together, and Emma tells them it’s time to start training.  In New York, Reverend Stryker prays, and is brought to a back room in his church, where Purifier Jacob tells him that, after their missile strike, only some obstacles remain.  Either Josh or Laurie is identified as an ‘omega threat’ (they are both in the picture we are shown).
  • While some students hang out outside the Danger Room, the New X-Men train with Colossus.  They are tasked by Emma to simply knock him down.  Outside the school, Purifier Matthew Risman has taken up a sniper’s position and informs Stryker that the tech that hides him from the Sentinels and telepaths is working.  In Westchester, Stryker talks to his men, and we learn a little more about how whatever he has planned has been predestined.  We also see that he has some sort of device that is offline.  At the school, the team fares badly against Colossus, but they also don’t work as a team.  When Surge tries to electrify him, he turns her energy against Mercury and X-23.  Josh keeps trying to attack him physically, and is generally in a rage.  Colossus stops Dust with a water pipe, and Julian’s telekinesis is unable to budge him.  Emma declares the exercise over and the team dead.  Colossus reverts to his human form, and Josh smacks him across the back of the head with a piece of girder.  Emma slams him into a wall and kicks him off the team.  In Dallas, whatever Forge is working on catches fire.  Laurie goes to Cannonball to talk about her concerns about Josh and his anger, and while they talk, Jay gets up out of his hospital bed and walks away.  Jay goes to Sooraya, and after Laura leaves the room, tells her that he’s done something awful and wants to fix it.  He leaves, and when Laura returns, she remarks that he smells “of death”.  He’s given Sooraya an address in Salem Center.  Laurie tries to talk to Josh out on the basketball course, and we learn how guilty and depressed Josh has felt since the bus attack.  He claims that part of him died when DJ died, and he states that he’s going to find out who is responsible for the attack and kill them.  Just then Risman takes his shot and kills Laurie.  Stryker learns of this, and sees that Jay is approaching his church.  As Jay comes closer, the device begins to power up, and while the Purifiers want to shut it down, Stryker stops them; he shows Jay that the device is the Nimrod sentinel, which he has hanging on a cross.
  • Stryker narrates his story to Jay, talking about how he woke up in the Mt. Haven Biowar Complex having lost his faith.  We see that two years prior, he was the man in the church that opened this run, and that it was the appearance of Nimrod in that same church that stopped him from killing himself.  We learn that he accessed Nimrod’s data to learn about the future, and began using it to try to chart a course where mutants are hunted down, with M-Day becoming proof that with motivation he can put in place the future he wants.  We learn how he manipulated Jay into telling him when the bus full of depowered mutants was leaving.  Jay argues back that Nimrod is not God.  Laura questions Sooraya’s faith, and Sooraya lets her know that she plans on rescuing Jay alone.  Laura believes it to be a trap, but Sooraya is willing to trust in God’s will.  David meets with Cyclops to discuss Scott’s decision that David should stay at the school, despite now being human, as it’s the safest for him and his family.  They are interrupted by Beast, who leads them outside to where Laurie lies dead and Josh is freaking out.  Logan restrains him, but Josh uses his powers to create boils on Logan’s hands so he’ll let him go.  He runs to Laurie, while Cannonball arrives to tell Scott that he can’t find Jay.  Sooraya watches this.  In Dallas, Forge watches television coverage that questions the purpose of the Sentinels around the school, and looks at the robotic figure he has under a cloth.  Stryker shows Jay a vision of the future wherein all the New X-Men lie dead, except for Sooraya, who stops the Purifiers.  He explains that originally the vision showed Laurie stopping them, but since they killed her, Sooraya has taken her place, which is why he had Jay set her up.  They see Sooraya approach on a monitor, and the Purifiers shoot her down.  Purifier Jacob is confused to see that the vision doesn’t immediately change, but eventually it does.  Stryker then turns to Jay and shoots him (although we’re left not being completely sure if Jay is dead).  An X-Men squad, along with one Sentinel, prepare to leave the school, while Emma, Bishop, and Cannonball stay to protect it.  Josh and David sit with Laurie’s body, while Santo and Cessily go to check on Sooraya.  They hear explosions.  Outside, the Sentinels confront Stryker and his Purifiers, but Stryker is wearing Nimrod’s arm, and is able to disable the Sentinels with it.  
  • Stryker and his Purifiers launch their attack on the school.  Beast lets Emma know, and she tells all the students to stay in their rooms.  Cannonball and Bishop defend the school (there’s no sign for this entire issue of the squad of X-Men that were departing to fight the Purifiers last issue), and Sam is brought down and shot.  In Westchester two Purifiers carry Sooraya’s body off the street, but it turns out to be Laura, and she’s not dead.  Neither, apparently, is Jay, who lies in a pool of his own blood while two other Purifiers stand over him.  Nimrod comes on-line and kills them.  It moves to kill Jay, but since it suffers from a lack of power, and determines that Jay is going to die from his injuries, it decides to instead proceed with its primary objective.  At the school, Victor and Meggan run towards the fight.  Max wants to wait in his room, but a Purifier sneaks up on him and shoots him dead.  David is brought up to speed by the Cuckoos, while a Purifier attacks Emma Frost with a knife that can cut her diamond form.  Julian and Noriko stop the Purifiers from killing her, but both Noriko and Julian get shot.  In Dallas, Forge works on his robot, installing protocols so it will protect mutant and human lives, and destroy Sentinels, and receives a message the Noriko’s gauntlets are about to be destroyed.  He tries to call the Institute with no luck.  Sooraya wakes up on her bathroom floor in her underwear, and finds Santo and Cessily fighting Purifiers outside her room.  She kills them.  Stryker and Risman make their way through the school, and Stryker is told that Sooraya is still alive, which he can’t believe.  Noriko is about to be shot by a Purifier when Laura arrives on the scene, and kills a number of them in front of her teammates.  She tells Sooraya that she didn’t think Allah wanted her to die, so she took her place.  Laura cuts up some of the anti-telepath tech that the Purifiers have been using, so Emma can read the mind of one of them, and learns that Stryker is behind all of the recent problems (except for the depowering of everyone, but never mind that).  No one notices Josh listening.  We see that Stryker has badly injured Onyxx, and he has Risman shooting at our other heroes.  Emma and the New X-Men stand before Stryker, and just as he’s about to attack with his Nimrod arm, Josh grabs him, making boils appear on his face.  Stryker falls, dead, while Josh, now all black except for his hair, screams.  Later, we learn that Quill is dead, while Cannonball and Onyxx are seriously injured.  Val Cooper wants to know what the Nimrod arm is, while Scott checks up on Emma.  We learn that Josh is basically comatose.  Scott and Forge talk on the phone, and Forge says he’s going to bring the X-Men something.  He hangs up as Nimrod arrives on the scene, calling him the Maker.
  • The police investigate the church, where they’ve found the Purifiers that Laura cut to shreds.  Ms. Marvel and Iron Man, in their role as the leaders of the pro-Registration Act community (this is the Civil War era) are on the scene, recognizing the former presence of technology from the future.  They also identify Jay’s body (I guess he didn’t warrant an on-screen death); he had died trying to write Nimrod’s name in his own blood, but only got as far as the ‘o’.  Carol offers to inform the X-Men of his death, given her history with the team.  At the Xavier Institute, Beast argues with Colonel Reyes that he should be able to look at the Nimrod arm that Stryker had used, but Reyes refuses, and also lets Beast know that the official story will be that Stryker died of natural causes, to head off anti-mutant sentiment.  Julian and Cessily talk outside, and try to process all that’s happened.  The Stepford Cuckoos use Cerebra to try to locate Jay for Laura and Sooraya, but can’t find him.  They let Cyclops know that Ms. Marvel has arrived to speak to him.  We see that Josh, in restraints in a hospital bed, is yelling.  David says that he can’t be sedated, and through his conversation with Noriko, we learn that Cannonball is going to be okay (they question if he’s actually immortal, which might be the last time his status as an X-Ternal is ever mentioned), and that they haven’t been able to tell Sofia that so many of her friends are dead.  Laurie’s mom comes, and slaps David when he tries to express his sympathy.  Carol and Scott embrace and go into his office to talk.  Laura listens through the wall, and tells the gathered New X-Men and David that Jay is dead.  Emma comes along, sending them to their rooms, and enters Scott’s office.  Emma makes it clear that Carol is there to talk about the Registration Act, and then walks her through the bus attack, the funerals, and everything that has happened at the school, making it clear that she doesn’t believe that mutants should do anything more to make their presence known.  Scott walks Carol out, and Emma collapses in tears.  The kids all talk about what’s happened, and David figures out that it was Nimrod that Jay was warning them about.  In Dallas, Forge refuses to help fix Nimrod, until it makes it clear to him that it has exactly enough energy left to teleport to Wakanda and kill Storm (who is about to get married) if he doesn’t help it.
  • Issue twenty-nine opens sixteen years in the future, as Nimrod shows up at Forge’s building in Dallas, and threatens to kill Storm, their preteen daughter, Orora, and their infant son, if Forge does not modify the Sentinel so it can go into the past.  In the present, Nimrod tells Forge about this, and Forge believes it’s possible, as his mutant power shows him how to do it.  David tries to convince Cyclops that Nimrod is around, but he is adamant that the robot was destroyed by the X-Men.  The X-Men, with Nezhno, who has yet to speak in this book, leave to fly to Wakanda to attend Storm’s wedding to the Black Panther, leaving the kids behind, after all of their friends were slaughtered.  Forge begins to work on Nimrod, and realizes that his future self was actually from a different dimension, and sent Nimrod to this one.  We see Nimrod’s memories of being found by Stryker, and how the robot manipulated him into believing that he would be victorious if he attacked the Xavier Institute.  Forge attempts to call the X-Men for help while Nimrod assimilates to new information.  Nori is woken by a holographic image of Forge being confronted by Nimrod, which is projected from the gauntlets that we were told were broken before.  She gathers the New X-Men and they decide that they need to go to Dallas, since the X-Men aren’t around and didn’t believe them, and they see O*N*E as completely ineffective.  Sooraya feels bad about having killed some Purifiers, while Laura tells her she did the right thing.  Cessily gets Victor to agree to cover for the team once they’ve left.  Nori tries to get David to stay, but he refuses.  They decide to try to use the old Blackbird tunnels that the X-Men used to use, despite their being sealed and filled with debris.  The plan is for Julian to blow out the rocks with his powers.  They leave, without being noticed by the O*N*E Sentinels, although they do notice that six mutants are not on their scans anymore.  Forge suggests to Nimrod that he can transfer its programming and AI into the robot he’s been building.  Nimrod looks through its database and “sees” the New X-Men coming, and lists the amounts of time (all around thirty-five minutes from now) when they will die.
  • Nimrod continues to transfer into the robot Forge built, while the New X-Men experience problems approaching Dallas.  David can’t actually fly the plane, and an energy blast fired by Nimrod causes them to crash.  At the Institute, Reyes and Cooper interrogate Victor about where the team went; Cooper says she’s going to call Cyclops.  The New X-Men walk away from the crash, thanks to Julian’s powers.  Nimrod, not quite ready to face them, takes over the various prototype robots Forge has lying around, and sends them to fight.  The kids are attacked.  Once Nimrod is completely in the new body, Forge uses a special protocol he’d installed to trap the Nimrod AI, and return the robot to its pro-mutant stance.  The kids keep fighting the other robots, and Forge’s robot takes out the last of the bad ones.  The kids immediately attack it, and only David can figure out that it’s on their side.  Forge comes and tries to stop them all from fighting, but Laura causes it a lot of damage, forcing it to reboot.  When that happens, Nimrod takes over, changes the look of the device back to his regular appearance, and then blows up all of Eagle Plaza, with the kids and Forge inside.
  • The Stepford Cuckoos use Cerebra to locate the team for Valerie Cooper, and also let Emma, who is in a Blackbird with Cyclops, know that they are fighting Nimrod.  We see that the team and Forge have survived the explosion, although many are hurt.  Julian was knocked out, Forge has a concussion, and Santo is struggling to hold up the collapsed building.  Nimrod tunnels to them, and Noriko orders David to run away.  Santo, remembering Brian’s death, jumps in front of Nimrod before it blasts Julian, and is pulverized.  Cessily freaks out, and Julian and Noriko attack the robot.  David runs to the downed Blackbird to get the guns Laura had brought along.  Santo isn’t reforming, and Nimrod almost kills Nori, except that David shoots it.  Forge realizes that the time device inside the robot is not as indestructible as the rest of it, and can be overloaded by Nori’s powers.  She takes off her gauntlets, and the team works together to defeat it.  Laura rips it open, and is badly burned.  Cessily holds the hole Laura cut open, and Laura puts her hands inside Nimrod and blasts it.  As the robot overloads, Nori tells David she loves him, but Julian pulls her away as Nimrod disappears in a burst of energy.  Cessily is very upset about Santo, but he is able to start putting his body back together.  It looks like things will be okay, except that Laura’s healing factor is not kicking in.  Julian grabs her with his powers and starts flying back to the Xavier Institute (from Dallas).  En route, Emma Frost taps into his brain and opens up the part of his mind that controls his powers, basically supercharging him.  We see him fly rapidly across the country; along the way he picks up an armored truck, which he flings through the Sentinel guarding the school.  He flies right to the infirmary, where he wakes up Josh, and insists that he heal Laura.  Josh does this, and as Laura gets better, his skin turns golden again.  As O*N*E bust into the room, Julian passes out.  In an epilogue, we see Matthew Risman, now leading the Purifiers, retrieve William Stryker’s body from the Governor, who we learn, was helped by Stryker.  Risman then talks to someone on a video screen about being unable to retrieve a sample of something; that person says that he has someone who can do this job, and we see that he’s with Kimura.  Nimrod shows up in the past, and we see his first appearance, in Uncanny X-Men #192, where he saves a guy from a mugger in the subway.  I like the way this ties up the mystery of where Nimrod came from originally.
  • The Statement of Ownership (I didn’t know they did these so late – it’s been a long time since I’ve seen one) for 2006 cites an average press run of 63 000.
  • Issue thirty-two opens with Kevin dreaming about kissing, and killing, Laurie.  He’s living in a squat in the District X area of Manhattan, and spending time with an old lady who tries to suggest Kevin return to the Xavier Institute; he refuses.  Cessily argues with Emma Frost that she should be bringing Kevin back to the school, but Emma insists that it has to be Kevin’s choice, and that she has people keeping an eye on him.  They finish their conversation because a guest has arrived.  David, Nori, and Josh talk about the changes to Josh, and how a black patch has remained on his otherwise golden body.  They are interrupted by Melodie Guthrie coming to say hi.  Cyclops and Rogue greet Lucinda Guthrie, Jay, Sam, and Paige’s mom, who has come for Jay’s memorial.  In Manhattan, we see that X-Factor, specifically Rahne Sinclair and Jamie Madrox, are keeping an eye on Kevin; Jamie wonders why Rahne would want to help Emma Frost, and Rahne thinks about kissing Josh.  Kevin and the old lady sit in the park, and while the woman encourages Kevin to embrace his path, she also points out how soon humans are going to be coming for her.  In a nearby apartment, police stand over some bodies that look like they were desiccated with Kevin’s powers.  Laura watches Julian sleep (which he’s been doing for over thirty hours).  Santo and Sooraya talk to Victor and Ben; Santo is screening them to take Josh’s place on their squad, since he is stepping down.  When Sooraya sees Lucinda walk by, she goes to meet her and apologize to her; Lucinda comforts her.  Kevin has another nightmare, and the old lady asks Kevin under what conditions he would take a life again.  She brings up his dead friends.  Kevin calls Cessily to find out what happened, and when Cessily asks him to come back to the school to talk about it, he figures out that Laurie is dead.  The police bust in to arrest the old woman, and she kills two of them.  Two more open fire on her, and Kevin comes up behind them and kills them.  The old lady reveals herself to be Selene, and takes on her usual youthful appearance.  She begins to seduce Kevin into embracing his powers, and kisses him.  At the Xavier Institute, Lucinda gives a moving speech about Jay to the students.  They go outside in a candlelight procession as Kitty Pryde reads the names of fallen X-Men; this is attended by most of the school’s students, various X-Men, and even Ms. Marvel.  I feel like this is the issue where Kyle and Yost finally clicked on the book, and returned it to the character driven stories we were used to under DeFilippis and Weir, and finally allowed the characters some space to grow.  Mike Norton’s guest art was a treat too.
  • The ‘Mercury Falling’ arc begins with a memo from the O*N*E red-flagging the team as needing closer surveillance, and mentioning that the 198, the mutants who were seeking sanctuary with the X-Men, have left the grounds of the Institute.  Beast works with Julian to test his new power levels, and reveals that Julian lacks a lot of control.  Emma finds Laura watching the session, and accuses her of having feelings for Julian.  She also insists again that Laura leave the school, citing the ‘trigger scent’ (which has never been mentioned in this book until now) as her reason.  Cessily overhears this conversation and confronts Frost.  Both students storm off, separately.  In some warehouse, a bunch of Facility goons are briefed on the New X-Men, and their target, who is very dangerous.  Cessily chases Laura to talk to her, and figures out that she has feelings for Julian.  Laura doesn’t want to discuss it, but Cessily insists that they go into town to get coffee and talk.  David and Nori meet with Cyclops, who apologizes for not letting them know that he had Cable hunting down Nimrod, wanting to keep it secret from O*N*E.  He praises them as leaders, and confirms that David is going to stay at the school despite being human now.  Kimura talks to Dr. Harkins about testing being done on the mutant Mammomax, and they learn that their target is off school grounds.  Josh asks Beast to teach him about human biology.  Laura and Cessily go to the Grindstone (and Luna even gets mentioned!), and Cessily talks about being one of the least human of the mutants.  She probes Laura to talk about Julian, but Laura realizes something is wrong and tries to get everyone to leave the coffee shop.  It suddenly explodes, and Laura attacks the Facility goons that come in.  Cessily moves to help her when Kimura shows up.  Laura tries to get Cessily to leave, but Kimura surprises her by letting her know that Cessily was the target all along.  She shoots her with some taser arrow thing.
  • Issue thirty-four opens with a flashback to when Cessily’s powers developed and her body turned into a melting Terminator T-1000 in the bathroom of her parents’ house.  Then we jump forward to the present, where we see her in a tube, being electrified or something by some Facility doctors.  Then we jump fourteen hours into the past, as Kimura and her Facility goons capture Cessily.  They load her into a van while Kimura fights Laura, until she is ordered to leave.  Back at the Institute, Santo, Loa, and Victor watch the news and Rockslide learns about the existence of the Young Avengers and wants to fight them.  Julian interrupts, looking for Cessily, and Loa says that she went into town with Laura.  Julian goes to Laura’s room, where he finds her covered in blood and suiting up.  She tells him the Cessily was taken by the people who made her, and that she doesn’t want Julian to come with her, but he insists, and flies them through the roof of the school.  Emma and Sooraya are talking about efforts being made to find Sooraya’s mother when Emma gets a call from Rahne, wanting to talk about Kevin.  This is interrupted by the sound of Julian’s escape and the Sentinels reacting.  We see Colonel Reyes order a head count of the entire Institute.  At the Facility, we see Mammomax get attacked by some kind of creature, and hear his screams.  Some typical mob types play cards when they are attacked by Laura, and their escape is stopped by Julian.  Laura asks the leader where the Facility is, and he keeps saying he doesn’t know.  He tells her to ask someone named Cadillac Jones, and Laura shoots him.  Julian is upset by the killing, and tells her she can’t kill anyone else.  At the Facility, Dr. Harkins begins his experimenting on Cessily, and we see Mammomax’s stripped skeleton.
  • As the police investigate the scene at the Grindstone, we learn that one of the O*N*E troops was killed there as well.  David and Nori talk to Bling! about her joining the team, but she refuses, saying that her and Onyxx had been thinking about leaving the school.  Colossus tells them that all students are to assemble.  Josh and Victor sit in Josh’s room looking at all the biology books that Beast leant Josh, when Santo comes to tell them to go to the auditorium.  Megan and Sooraya are talking about how Laura, Cessily, and Julian are missing when Nori and David come looking for them.  Julian rescues some guy in a suit that Laura, weirdly dressed as a sexy school girl, threw out a window.  Laura has one more lead on where the Facility is.  They go to a dockside warehouse, where they are surrounded by gunmen working for The Owl.  Dr. Harkins tortures Cessily with a laser, and we learn he is trying to excise some of her metal skin.  She breaks through the glass tube she’s in, and stabs one of the lab guys, but that only provides Harkins with what he needed, a living sample of her metal.  The Owl and Laura talk.  They had some issues from when Laura worked for the Kingpin (I never read her solo stuff before this point, so never knew that).  When he threatens them, she has Julian fly them through the roof, and they threaten to drop him.  Cessily tries talking to Harkins, and we learn that Stryker was supposed to supply him with a sample from her, and failed.  We also learn that they want her skin to cover the creature that killed Mammomax.  They call the creature Predator X.  He starts up some sort of laser process, and we see that she is screaming.  Cyclops and Colonel Reyes argue some, but Kitty and an O*N*E agent arrive to tell them that they have dead agent and missing kids.  Emma already knows this.  Nori, Santo, and Sooraya confront one of the Sentinels, but Kitty stops them before it becomes a problem.  Julian and Laura fly together.  In Cerebra, Emma locates Julian and Laura, but not Cessily.  She figures out that Cessily was captured, but as Julian and Laura enter Facility airspace, Emma loses them.  Cyclops prepares a Blackbird, and Reyes asks to send a Sentinel along.  Cessily wakes up to see that Predator X now has her metal skin.  Harkins makes it clear that the creature is for Matthew Risman, who runs the Purifiers now, and a loud noise alerts him that our two heroes are there for their friends.
  • Three months before M Day, we see that William Stryker hired the Facility and Dr. Harkins to create a biological weapon to hunt down and eat mutants, as part of Stryker’s quest to kill the mutant he sees as the coming anti-christ.  Laura and Julian fight their way through the Facility’s goons, but are stopped by Kimura.  Julian gets the drop on her, and Laura insists that he kill her, but instead he telekinetically launches her through the roof and far away, taking her out of the fight.  They find Cessily, who is in terrible shape, but get attacked by three Predator X constructs.  They try to escape, but their accumulating injuries take a toll on them.  Just when it looks like they aren’t going to make it, surrounded by the Predator Xs and the Facility goons, a Sentinel rips the roof open, and the X-Men (Cyclops, White Queen, Colossus, Kitty, Surge, Dust, Rockslide, and Elixir) show up.  They make pretty short work of their foes, but one of the Predator Xs escapes. Josh moves to heal Julian, while Laura tells Emma was right, that she should have never come to the school.  Later, the team begins to relax, while Cessily says she can feel the Predator X that’s still out there.  Later again, Laura visits Cessily, who is having a hard time adjusting to what was done to her.  Kimura is on the grounds of the Institute, watching Laura through a sniper scope, but before she can shoot, Emma confronts her, narrating Kimura’s story of unhappy childhood and brutal adulthood.  She takes away her only good memory, that of her grandmother, and programs her to go after the people in charge of the Facility, particularly Dr. Harkins.  In Germany, someone looking a lot like Illyana Rasputin falls through a portal, saying that, “He’s back.”
  • With issue thirty-seven, Yost and Kyle’s run enters its best, if short-lived, phase.  First, I see that Yost is credited with scripting, which is interesting.  Skottie Young comes on as the artist, and immediately starts adjusting most of the characters’ appearances in subtle ways.  This issue, which is a prelude to the Quest for Magik arc, also has full-page illustrations by the incredible Niko Henrichon, which go with a story Blindfold tells.  It’s a gorgeous issue.  When it opens, some of the students (Rockslide, Match, Wolf Cub, Anole, Pixie, Loa, and Blindfold) are sitting in front of a fireplace listening to Santo brag about exploits that never happened.  Blindfold begins to tell her story, which we quickly learn, is the history of Belasco and Illyana Rasputin.  She tells of how he stole her as a child.  The others get a little creeped out, mainly I think because of Blindfold’s weird diction.  Nori checks in on Cessily, who is being watched over by Julian.  Nori says she wants to talk to him.  Blindfold tells of Illyana’s years growing up in Limbo, and how she eventually defeated the demon.  Nezhno, who has shown up twice before in this book, but never spoken until now, tells the kids to be quiet because they are interrupting his meditation.  The Stepford Cuckoos and Josh look in on Beast while he sleeps, and against their better judgement, they transfer his medical knowledge into Josh, who says he “didn’t know.”  Belasco returns from exile and tries to take over Limbo, but is defeated.  While exiled again, he learns of the House of M changes to reality, and sees that in that changed reality, Illyana lived again.  Once things returned to normal, and Illyana disappeared again, Belasco began to climb his way back to Limbo.  Once there, the realm’s new master sent thousands of demons to stop him.  He fought his way through them, and eventually confronted Amanda Sefton, who had taken on the name and appearance of Magik.  Defeated, she fled to Earth two days prior.  Blindfold tells the students that now Belasco is targeting the students at the Xavier Institute, where there are faint traces of Illyana’s scent.  The students are freaked out by the story, but it’s Victor who figures out that they are in danger.  Blindfold apologizes to Megan for her loss, and then flames burst around them.
  • Issue thirty-eight begins seven minutes before the events of issue thirty-seven.  In a series of panels, we check in with the main cast – Cessily is sleeping fitfully, Santo and Victor are arguing, Sooraya is praying, Laura is practicing, and Josh comes to David, who is watching Julian and Nori go outside, and fixes his vision using his powers.  Lexington, in the O*N*E Sentinel Megaton checks in with command, who is worried that Julian and Nori are going outside.  Lexington stands up for them.  Nori hits Julian and tells him off for going off with Laura alone.  She is upset, but before they can talk about it, the school explodes (again).  Julian rushes into the flames, but isn’t able to get through, feeling physically blocked by something.  David wakes up to find himself in chains, in Limbo.  He, Cessily, and Sooraya are captive on a platform of some sort, while we see various other cast members (Laura, Bling!) being held by demons.  We learn that the telepaths (the Stepfords, Martha) were blocked away.  Cessily starts to freak out a little, just as Belasco and S’ym appear, standing by what looks like the X-Men encased in some sort of field.  Belasco asks where “she” is.  Laura wants Trance to send her astral form into a light in the sky, claiming that it is a portal to the Institute.  We learn that all of the kids from the previous issue (Santo, Victor, Pixie, Blinfold, Match, Wolf Cub, Gentle, and Loa) were transported somewhere else in Limbo.  They argue about what to do, and are approached by a bunch of angry looking demons.  They begin to fight back, and do well.  Santo ignores Blindfold’s warning to not fire off his limbs, and he explodes.  Victor’s arm is cut off by a demon, which is in turn decapitated by the Darkchild, wielding a big axe.  This looks like Illyana, in her hoofed form, but who knows yet?  Back at his castle, Belasco asks again where Illyana is, and when David tells him that Illyana is dead, he rips out his heart.
  • As David’s body falls, Laura frees herself and Josh, while Trance makes a run for the portal.  Laura also frees Cessily and Sooraya.  Josh revives David (we see his heart regenerate), but passes out from the effort.  Laura attacks Belasco, but he fries her, leaving her a pile of bones.  In the Wastelands, the group the was with Santo (who hasn’t regenerated yet) don’t know what to do about the Darkchild’s sudden appearance.  She sends N’astirh to grab Pixie, but Nezhno, who is suddenly huge, fights him off for a while, before his powers appear to short out and he passes out.  The Darkchild expresses surprise that they are fighting her, since she saved them.  She says she needs one of their souls.  Outside the Xavier Institute, Nori and Julian continue to try to find a way through the fiery maelstrom around them.  They see Trance come out of the portal, and she quickly tells them that Belasco has them and has killed David before disappearing.  Belasco talks to the kids about how he believes they know where Illyana is.  Sooraya and Cessily do their best to be brave, but he knows their fears.  They fight him anyway.  At the Institute, Colonel Reyes and Valerie Cooper discuss how to proceed, and learn that Amanda Sefton, who is in a coma in Germany, might have information for them.  Nori and Julian insist on being involved in whatever O*N*E do.  In Belasco’s castle, David revives Josh, and figures out that they have to free the Cuckoos.  Cessily and Sooraya continue to fight Belasco.  In the Wasteland, Victor wonders why he’s not bleeding or hurting after losing his arm.  The Darkchild (it’s still not clear if this is really Illyana or not) explains that to defeat Belasco she needs a soulsword, having lost her own.  Alani tries to help Pixie, but is blasted away.  The others also try to help her, but Darkchild stops all of them.  Megan, not wanting any more of her friends to die, agrees to give up her soul.  It looks painful.
  • In Germany, Nori uses her powers to force Amanda Sefton from her coma, and Amanda warns her, Julian, and Val Cooper that Belasco is after the X-Men.  When she learns that Nightcrawler is in space (something about him having Illyana’s soulsword), she feels that things are helpless; Nori doesn’t accept that.  Darkchild, who we now know for sure is Illyana, tries to pull Megan’s soul out of her, and we see one bloodstone formed from it.  Victor tries his best to get his friends to wake up and help fight, but Blindfold hints that it’s his role to take.  As Illyana forges a new soulsword, she narrates about its importance as a weapon.  Victor, sporting a new, gigantic and spiny arm, knocks Illyana down, ending her spell.  Santo suddenly re-forms, made of volcanic Limbo rock, and starts to fight Illyana.  Megan forms a tiny soul dagger.  Santo has Illyana pinned, and Victor tries talking to her.  We learn that she can’t teleport to Belasco’s castle because of specific spells he placed there, but that Megan can.  Belasco continues to fight Cessily and Sooraya.  Cessily finally admits that she knows where Illyana is, but only to distract him so that Josh can uses his death touch on him.  In Germany, Sefton begins to open a portal to Limbo, so Julian, Nori, Lexington, and his Sentinel can go save the others.  Illyana explains how when Belasco took over Limbo again, he pieced her back together (remember, she was dead), but because she lacks her soul, he didn’t need her.  She wants to teach Megan a teleportation spell.  Belasco, recovering from Josh’s touch, tells the kids that he doesn’t care about them, and that he will kill and revive them endlessly until he learns what he wants to know.  To demonstrate, he brings Laura back to life and then kills her.  Nori and her crew arrive in Limbo, but Sefton can’t tell if she’s brought them to the right time, and then she passes out.  Thousands of demons converge on them.
  • At this time, the Endangered Species back-up was running across the X-books.  In chapter four, Beast goes to see Kavita Rao in his quest to restore mutantdom, and learns that after M Day, all of her genetic samples were inert, proving that the x-gene was erased from the world.  
  • Illyana works to teach Pixie a teleportation spell, while Nori, Julian, and Lexington continue to fight off hordes of demons outside Belasco’s castle.  Lexington insists that they leave him and Amanda Sefton to go rescue their friends.  Belasco continues to beat on and interrogate the New X-Men, but the sudden arrival of Nori and Julian allows them to get the drop on him.  Nori is surprised to see that David is still alive, and that gives Belasco the chance to recover and attack them.  At that point, Pixie teleports her group, and Darkchild, into the castle, which makes Belasco very angry.  Darkchild armors up and begins to fight him, Santo gets in the way, and Belasco orders S’ym and all his demons to kill them.  There is a lot of fighting, with Laura saving Illyana, just as the Stepford Cuckoos, freed of their helmets by David, attack Belasco.  As they attack, they narrate and reveal the depth of Belasco’s true feelings for Illyana.  His rage causes his attacks to become more intense, and the page is bathed in green light.  Belasco begins to draw the whole Earth into Limbo.  Lexington can see the buildings of New York coming through, while Spider-Man, hanging out with Dr. Strange, sees the same thing happening from his side of the dimensional plane.  The kids press their attack on Belasco, the X-Men are freed, and Illyana either destroys or banishes him.  Pixie notices that all the demons are bowing to the Darkchild.  She says she wants the rest of Pixie’s soul, but she is interrupted by Colossus, asking if she is his sister.  She turns from him and teleports all of the X-Men back to Earth, including Lexington and his Sentinel.  Later, we see Megan and Victor talking about what they lost (part of a soul, a normal-looking arm).  Santo, who still glows and is made of Limbo rock, tells them that he’s insisted they join the team.  In Limbo, Darkchild tells S’ym that she wants to get her soul back.
  • In Endangered Species chapter eight, Beast and Dark Beast go to an old lab in New Mexico where Mister Sinister, Juggernaut’s father, and Destiny used to do research on mutant babies.  The two Beasts argue about ethics, fight an old SHIELD robot, learn there is no information in the facility to help them, and argue a little more.  Dark Beast has a source for information and samples of mutant DNA he thinks they can find.
  • Issue forty-two opens with a flashback to the Purifiers’ attack on the Xavier Institute, and we see that Sooraya sandblasted some of Matthew Risman’s face.  In the present, we see that Risman continues to lead the Purifiers, and that they are hunting the escaped Predator X, which is somewhere near Ottawa.  The core X-Men team meet to discuss how capable their students are, but also how they continue to fail to protect them from threats.  Scott wants them watched more closely.  Beast treats Sooraya, who has a dislocated shoulder but didn’t want to complain (or, apparently, shift to sand form and back, which I imagine would fix it).  Megan is there chatting away, as is Nehzno.  We learn that using his powers will kill him, which is why he has vibranium tattoos, to absorb the energy his size changes generates, and why he had a seizure in Limbo.  Cessily comes to ask how old everyone is.  Santo, Laura, and Victor play pool.  Santo encourages Victor to cut off his arms and legs so he will grow them back larger, but he refuses.  Santo calls him a sissy.  Josh sits alone in his room thinking about death; when Cessily comes to learn his age (as we keep seeing her do), his answer is weird.  She tries to go talk to Julian, but finds him struggling to control his powers.  Cessily explains to Julian and the Cuckoos, in Cerebra, that she is trying to figure out who the youngest mutant is, which is a concern now that there are no new mutants being born.  As they talk, Emma comes to summon Cessily and Julian.  Beast and Colossus wait for Santo, who shows up while in a brawl with Victor (Santo is apologizing for calling Victor a sissy, and saying he “didn’t know” which means that Victor’s coming out happened off-panel).  After things are calmed down, McCoy explains that he wants Santo explode and reform again, because he believes that Santo is actually a psychic entity that animates rock.  He does this, and when he reforms, he’s back to normal, instead of being made of Limbo lava.  Surge interviews Trance, Sooraya, Cessily, Josh, and Laura to find out what happened to David in Limbo; only Laura tells her the whole truth.  Megan pesters Nori, but Logan takes her for a Danger Room session.  Julian and Cessily tell off Emma for basically avoiding them after so many recent deaths.  Cessily brings up the fact that no one knows where Kevin is, and they storm off.  Kitty tries to talk to Josh, but he stays in a dark place.  Wolf Cub and Loa talk about how Nick is probably the youngest.  Later, the kids are all hanging out together when they figure out that Indra is the youngest, which they all assume means he’s the next to die.  David asks Nori about the meeting she had with Cyclops, and she refuses to talk to him, instead grabbing Julian and kissing him in front of everyone.  Somewhere, a pair of Purifiers leave bait for Predator X – one of Sooraya’s burqas (which are really abayas, but we can’t expect the Purifiers to know that), so it will get her scent.
  • In chapter 12 of Endangered Species, Beast and Dark Beast visit Lucinda Guthrie and her family.  Good Hank talks to her about being allowed to study her DNA to look for clues to help restart mutantdom (although really, wouldn’t Sam and Paige have the same DNA?).  She refuses.  While this goes on, Dark Beast chats with Lewis, one of the younger Guthrie kids, who dreams of becoming a mutant.  Dark Beast convinces him to be a test subject for a serum he has, but at the end of the chapter, we see that it killed him.
  • In a lot of ways, issue forty-three is basically the final issue of this series, as the three remaining issues of the series are part of the Messiah Complex event.  The issue opens with a discussion between Nori and Cyclops, where she asks him how he could lead Jean Grey into danger, and rejects his answer.  Then we see her kissing Julian in front of David, which causes David to storm off, Julian to push Nori away, and Laura to also run away in anger.  Pixie chooses this time to ask Nori what they should do about their belief that Indra is going to be the next mutant to die; she tells her to not let it happen.  Predator X moves towards the Xavier Institute, hunting Sooraya.  David packs to leave, but is visited by the Stepford Cuckoos, who tell him they can restore all the memories, and therefore abilities, he’d gained through his powers.  He tells them to do it.  Santo sits with Indra, who doesn’t want to be alone, but then Santo explodes to scare him, because Santo is a jerk.  Cessily checks on Laura, who has trashed a bathroom, and Cessily comforts her.  Sooraya goes to check on Julian, who is surprisingly open about how hard things are for him at this point.  Josh continues to sit and brood, and the dark patch takes over his golden skin.  The rest of the kids have a campfire, cooking s’mores over Match’s head.  Santo is actually a little inspiring, telling them that they will stick together and fight whatever comes, but then decides that the best way to bond as a group is by outing Victor (although everyone already knows he’s gay).  Beast comes with new uniforms, that look like the classic X-Men/New Mutants suits, but are bulletproof.  David comes to see Nori, who tries to push him away, telling him that she doesn’t love him.  She tries to punch him, and he restrains her, just as Julian comes in, and thinks he’s hurting her.  Julian attacks David, who uses Israeli Special Forces training on him.  Leaving the room, David tells Nori that they’re through.  The X-Men meet on the astral plane to discuss the level of trauma the kids have been through, and how bleak their outlook is now.  We see that the kids, except for Nori and David, are mostly lying around sleeping alongside each other.  Kitty raises how dark Josh’s mindset has gotten, and they wonder how to bring a broody teenager back to himself.  We see that Loa goes to him and asks if they can make out; Josh smiles and turns gold again.  The next day, the gathered New X-Men, in their new old-school outfits, are told by Cyclops that they are going back to daily training either with the X-Men or David.  A Purifier helicopter following Predator X reports that the creature stops at the edge of the Xavier Institute, and turns northwest.  Risman is angry about this, until Jacob points out that it might be because its original target (which I remember being the emergence of Hope) has appeared, setting the stage for the Messiah Complex event.
  • Issue forty-four is chapter four of Messiah Complex, and kind of throws us into the action.  The issue opens in the Canadian Rockies, where Predator X attacks and eats a random mutant sitting in front of a campfire.  Nori, David, and Julian discover that the Purifiers are involved in something that happened in Alaska, and that they might have the mutant baby that everyone is looking for.  Professor Xavier (who has apparently returned) defends the fact that Cyclops didn’t tell the kids about the Purifiers, but Nori gets mad at him, accuses him of abandoning them, and storms off.  Forge watches over Jamie Madrox, who has sent a dupe into the future, alongside Layla Miller, for information.  Nori talks to her team about going after the Purifiers and the baby.  Sooraya, David, and Josh object, but the rest of the team is in, and Armor asks to join them.  In Antarctica, a team of X-Men (Wolverine, Colossus, Storm, and Angel) wait for Nightcrawler to finish some reconnaissance.  Rictor, undercover among the Purifiers, discovers that many of them are gathering in Washington DC, and that the Purifiers have new allies.  Eighty years in the future, Madrox and Layla discover that mutants have been gathered and held in relocation camps.  The New X-Men begin to infiltrate the Purifiers’ church, while their friends back home discuss if they should be with them.  In Antarctica, Mister Sinister addresses a large group of Marauders and MLF regulars, when the X-Men show up.  Wolverine says they are there for Rogue and the baby.  At the church, Victor sneaks into a room full of computers and learns that they don’t have the baby.  He is grabbed by Rictor, who wants him to leave with the rest of the team, but they’ve already started fighting Purifiers.  Julian recognizes Matthew Risman, who baits him, when Julian is suddenly stabbed through with long claws.  It turns out that Lady Deathstrike is the Purifiers’ new ally.
  • The Statement of Ownership for 2007 describes New X-Men as having an average press run of 59 000.
  • Chapter eight of Messiah Complex opens in Northern Alberta, with Cable holding the mutant baby, facing Lady Deathstrike and a squad of armored up Purifiers.  We learn that Yuriko made a deal with Stryker, and is now honoring it.  The Purifiers are attacked by a squad of X-Men – Warpath, Hepzibah, Caliban, Wolfsbane, X-23 – led by Wolverine.  Madrox and Layla are taken into the mutant relocation camp in the future where they are told they will be processed.  The fight in Alberta continues.  Rahne takes out her anger on the Purifiers, while Logan passes off fighting Yuriko to Laura.  In New York, Predator X continues hunting.  At the Xavier Institute, we learn that Julian will survive his injuries, that Nightcrawler is in rough shape, and that Josh can’t be woken up to heal them.  Nori and Emma talk about why Emma picked her to be the leader.  Cyclops has a large group of mutants gathered (a couple are hard to recognize), and he tells Emma that they are leaving to back up Wolverine’s squad, and leaving Surge behind to lead the students.  It looks like Deathstrike has the upper hand, but Laura turns the tables, severing the cybernetics that power her arm.  Rahne fights a Purifier who makes reference to Reverend Craig before falling off a cliff.  Logan, Proudstar, and Hepzibah pursue Cable.  When a Purifier goes to shoot Warpath, Caliban jumps in the way and is shot dead.  Laura brings Deathstrike down.  Logan continues to chase Cable, but he manages to escape in a Blackbird.
  • Chapter twelve of Messiah Complex starts with Mystique attacking Mister Sinister as they both stand over Rogue, who is in a coma or something.  It looks like Mystique kills Sinister, partly by holding his face against Rogue’s.  Three hours later, Gambit, who has the baby, finds her still sitting there.  They hear screaming and know that means the X-Men have arrived.  Wolverine, Wolfsbane, Hepzibah, Bishop, and Warpath are surrounded by about a dozen enemies, made up of Marauders, some MLF, and others (including Sunfire).  They begin to fight, and Scalphunter shoots Logan through the head.  There’s a lot of chaos.  Logan begins to heal, but Scrambler messes with his powers until Laura (who was not on the big group establishing page) guts him.  Mystique tells Scalphunter to hold them off, when Cyclops and a group of about seven more X-Men show up and join the fight.  Gambit and Mystique talk, and we learn that Destiny had predicted everything that is happening.  Mystique holds the baby against Rogue’s face.  At the Xavier Institute, Santo is fighting Predator X, which gets away from him and into the school.  It is about to kill Indra when Nori shows up to save him.  Riptide has Rahne outside, and is about to kill her when Charles Xavier, who is with Cable, shuts down his brain.  Contact between the baby and Rogue causes a lot of light and sparks, and Gambit pulls the baby away, thinking that Mystique killed her.  Rogue doesn’t wake up, which upsets Raven.  Xavier comes in the room.  The fight continues.  Cable stops Tempo from taking out Bishop, and is summoned by Xavier to come to the baby.  At the school, the rest of the New X-Men join the fight with Predator X.  It moves towards the infirmary, where Julian and Josh are unconscious.  Armor and Nezhno try to hold it off, the rest of the squad arrives, and Pixie teleports everyone to where the X-Men, landing them, and Predator X, in the middle of the big fight.  Xavier gives the baby to Cable and tells him to escape into the future.  Bishop shows up to stop him, and Predator X comes after the baby.

I think that Messiah Complex is one of the tightest and best written and coordinated X-Events after Mutant Massacre.  I remember being pretty excited by it, and enjoying the way it spread nicely across the various X-titles.  That said, I hated the way it took over New X-Men, which ended with issue forty-six.  Yost and Kyle didn’t even get a Yearbook Special like DeFilippis and Weir did, and so we didn’t really get a chance to say goodbye to these characters.  The long-forgotten plotline about Kevin Ford and Selene had to be addressed in X-Force, and I’m not sure if we ever saw some of these characters (Match, Wolf Cub) again.

I can’t emphasize enough how much I hated this series when Yost and Kyle took over.  I hated the way they dumped so many central characters by straight-up killing them, sidelining them off-panel (Sofia and Dani), or just pretending like they didn’t exist anymore (whatever happened to Karma at the Institute?  She just disappeared).  I can understand wanting to clear a crowded playing field, and that M-Day gave them a good opportunity to do that, but it was handled in a very mean-spirited and dismissive way.  For months I kept thinking I should drop the title, but for whatever reason, I kept holding on to it.

And then it slowly started getting better and better.  X-23 came onboard, which I didn’t love, but after all the stuff with Nimrod and Forge, this started to feel like a proper team book.  Most importantly, Yost and Kyle began to focus on the characters again, and we started to see changes in Nori, Julian, and David.  Cessily became more important to the book, although she never really got to be all that interesting.  Then, Skottie Young became the artist, everyone got sent to Limbo, and a lot of the minor characters were given the chance to shine.  Young’s art became a huge draw, but as he put more personality into the characters, I started to like them a lot more.  I think of the expression on Match’s face when Santo cooks a s’more over his head, or the way in which Victor deals with Santo, and I started to think that this could be a classic book.

And then the whole thing got swallowed up into Messiah Complex, and that was the end of it.  Of course, some of these characters have continued to have big careers at Marvel.  X-23 is Wolverine now.  Pixie had a high profile role in Fraction and Gillen’s X-Men runs.  Victor and Santo show up from time to time, mostly as comic relief.  Julian got some play during the Age of X, but isn’t seen much anymore.  David was a Young Avenger, which was cool.  Surge, Mercury, and Dust though?  I have no idea where those characters are now.  Elixir has been treated pretty badly.

I feel like most of these characters deserve more of a role in contemporary X-Men books.  They shouldn’t still be portrayed as students, but should have something to do, as they are all full of potential.  As I say that, I also wonder what Kyle and Yost are up to now.  It’s been a long time since I’ve seen their names anywhere, and that’s too bad, because they are also good.

In the end, this was an interesting run to go through, as it showed how a book can really come together when given some time and space to be its own thing.  I didn’t like the art that much, pre-Young, but that’s because Paco Medina tends to bring out the worse decompression tendencies in writers, and each issue felt very slight.  

I started this recent run of Retro Review columns by reading the original New Mutants series, through X-Force, and then into the resurrected New Mutants title that became New X-Men.  After this came Young X-Men, which I read a few issues of and hated (plus, we’ve moved to books that are less than ten years old, so I’m really stretching the definition of ‘retro’).  Since then, there was another New Mutants title, but it portrayed the original cast of that book as adults, with their own X-Men squad.  The focus on the school/training aspect of the X-Men moved into Wolverine and the X-Men, which wasn’t all that good, and is now being addressed in the current Generation X series, which I’m not reading.

It was interesting to see how the original characters changed and grew over the years, and the way in which various X-eras addressed the teaching, training, and protecting of new generations of mutants.  It was very cool to see Dani and Xi’an become teachers, but it was also very cool to see the evolution of Emma Frost from villain to teacher (I know that missing the original Generation X series leaves a big part of that out, but I never really felt that title).  

Now that I’ve spent months on this, it’s time to check out a few shorter runs of some DC titles.  I want to dive into more Christopher Priest comics, but before I do that, it’s time to look at a classic but under-appreciated post-Crisis run of a book that I have been meaning to read in totality for years.  My next column will appear in a flash…

If you’d like to see the archives of all of my retro review columns, click here.

If you’d like to read any of the stories I talk about here, you can follow these links for trade paperbacks that encompass some of these issues:
New X-Men: Childhood’s End, Vol. 1 (v. 1)
New X-Men: Childhood’s End, Vol. 2
New X-Men: Childhood’s End, Vol. 3 (v. 3)
New X-Men: Childhood’s End, Vol. 4 (v. 4)
New X-Men: Childhood’s End, Vol. 5 (v. 5)
X-Men: Messiah Complex

 

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