“WHO KILLED HAJI BIN BARAT?” We will discuss this question later when I get to the one volume of Cable & Deadpool I have so far, but for now we shall continue our X-Studies with Astonishing X-Men #19, in this, the second installment of The Briefcase Collection Files (reviews on all the comics I own, stored in an old briefcase).
In my last article, we checked out Astonishing X-Men #18, where Ord — an alien entity from the Breakworld — and his partner in crime, the robot Danger, attacked the X-Men in the X-Mansion. Emma Frost (White Queen) finally sent the parasitic entity Cassandra Nova into a slimy green blob, in an effort to get it back to the Breakworld, and off Earth, where Nova had been possessing different bodies, and creating all sorts of havok, often in affiliation with Sebastian Shaw and the villainous Hellfire Club. Kitty Pryde (Shadowcat) was also quite angry at Emma. She felt the White Queen was assisting Nova with her ill motives.
This all went down in Astonishing #18… but previous to that, here’s some insight into why Ord came down to Earth from the Breakworld in the first place. Breakworld oracles called “augurs” prophesied that a mutant from Earth would destroy their planet. Ord came down to investigate, and resurrected the deceased mutant Colossus as a research subject. Ord developed what he called a “cure”, which he intended to wipe out Earth’s mutants with. S.W.O.R.D (Sentient Worlds Observation & Response Department), led by AGENT BRAND, incarcerated Ord. Then S.W.O.R.D. precognitives discovered that Colossus would be the one destined to destroy the Breakworld.
Ord escaped from imprisonment with the help of sentient robot DANGER, and attacked the X-Men, which brought us to the beginning of the previous episode. At the ending of the episode, S.W.O.R.D. operatives teleported Ord, Danger, and the X-Men (including X-student Hisako [Armor]), aboard a starship headed for the Breakworld. As the flight departed, a fight broke out between Ord, Danger, and the X-Men…
… which brings us to the beginning of … Astonishing X-Men #19 …
This issue opens with two Breakworld natives performing a funeral ritual over a dead baby, sending it out across the dunes toward the red horizon in a hovering craft reminiscent of a sci-fi viking ship. Aghanne, the male figure, clothed in red robes, intonates this over the ritual:
“Hope. A child is the greatest symbol of hope. Of will. The will to survive. The right to exist. We all have that right. This is not blasphemy. It is our revealed truth. All who begin the voyage… …should travel safely through.”
The female figure, Dafi, then expresses her fear about their situation. There is a law of the Open Hand regime, enforced by a despotic dictator, that funerals cannot be held, and that there are hundreds of dead children from one nest alone. They feel the impending doom of a bleak future, with only a glimmer of hope. “…And who in all the worlds can save us?”
Cut back to the Breakworld spacecraft, where Ord is still fighting the X-Men, Colossus in particular. Agent Abigail Brand, a woman wearing a green suit with green hair and lipstick, watches this, then activates a gravity increaser that drops everyone else in the room to the floor. Next, she tells Ord that if he starts anything, she’ll “turn the gravity so high it will liquefy” him.
He stands up and shouts at her, telling her to finish Rasputin (Colossus), but she replies that Colossus is an asset, and that Ord is a prisoner. She then revealed that she has planted 700,000 viruses into the robot Danger who was assisting Ord, and that Danger will shortly be in a convalescence cell.
Cyclops asks Brand why she brought the X-Men here, and Brand then tells him they are on a course for the Breakworld, one day away from landing. We see the other X-Men adapting to their current environment. Armor, who is in training as an X-student, asks, “Why is everyone so calm?” Logan says, “Suck it up, kid. We been off-world lots.” Then Beast adds, “And I’m not sure I’d characterize us as “calm”. Assuming the term is still in the popular vernacular…? …I’d go with “fried”.
Next page: We see Powerlord Kruun, tyrant of the Breakworld, with an assistant. The assistant tells Kruun there is an urgent message from Ord, who then speaks in a holographic transmission, telling Kruun that he is aboard a S.W.O.R.D. warship, heading directly for the Breakworld, and that Colossus is aboard. Kruun then places an order: “Reroute the bruteships. Intercept and destroy the vessel. We have the world… Let us rule destiny as well.”
Back to the S.W.O.R.D ship. Emma Frost is seen lying on her back on a hospital table, with a red-skinned S.W.O.R.D. psychic who looks almost like a minotaur checking her for signs if she is currently possessed by the evil Cassandra Nova. He says, “Cassandra Nova is not here. The Mind is clouded…”
Cut to a different room in the ship where we see Kitty and Peter talking. She’s upset with him. She’s mad that he killed himself after they first started dating. He says, “It was a fantasy.” Kitty says, “I’m just gonna need some time.”
Next, we see Kitty and Colossus rejoin the group in the War Room of the S.W.O.R.D. spacecraft, where Agent Brand is seen standing over a lime-green and yellow holographic map table, briefing the X-Men on what is currently going on. She assumes Rasputin is as mystified about this accusation that he is destined to destroy the Breakworld as the rest of the group is. He responds that he’s not mystified by it. He’d been planning to destroy the Breakworld since he was a child. “This is why I don’t make so many jokes,” he says. “I never know when is good.”
Brand cuts to the chase. Her fingers touching her forehead, she says, “Right. Great. Let’s skip to why you’re here.”
She says the reason she was so specific about their coordinates in front of that guy Ord was that she needed to draw the Open Hand armada away from Earth, which it was approaching. Now the best way to avoid them blowing up their ship into fragments, is to reach the Breakworld before the armada does. “At current speed, we should just make it.”
Emma finally joins the group, apologizing that she is late. She says Brand is terrified. Brand goes on to explain that she’s not terrified of Emma and the X-Men, not terrified even of Powerlord Kruun. It’s something else…
She explains that the Breakworlders have built a failsafe missile, possibly on one of their smallest moons, which is believed to have the power to crack Earth right in two. The Earth nor S.W.O.R.D. has the ability to attack them based on a superior military force. “Right now, I need superheroes,” she continues. “Plan A is we land before they find us, find this missile and then disable it. Then we can figure out why –” She is interrupted as we see out their spaceship window the entire Breakworld armada encroaching. “No.”
The lead armada ship fires what appear to be five missiles, which strike the S.W.O.R.D. ship.
“What’s plan B?” Cyclops asks.
“We all die now,” she replies.
“What’s Plan C?” he asks next.
Last frame of Astonishing X-Men #19: The Breakworld fleet has unleashed a BARRAGE of missiles, heading straight for the S.W.O.R.D. spacecraft! Will our heroes survive to see another day?
…To Be Continued…
Stay tuned for the next installment of reviews on the comic books I store in my briefcase! The Briefcase Collection Files #3: Astonishing X-Men #20, then after that, Astonishing X-Men #21, before we move on to CYBERFORCE X-Men #1, featuring Wolverine. Following that, we got more X-Men titles coming up (including Ultimate X-Men and Uncanny X-Men issues), some issues of Spiderman, a Cable and Deadpool issue, an Iron Man issue, some Bat coverage (including THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, by Frank Miller), several Gambit issues, V for Vendetta by Alan Moore) and more!
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