We open in the Blackbird, with Professor X trying to psychically sooth Stacy-X long enough for her to perform CPR on Angel. Sammy the Squid Boy is in such awe of this… that he breaks off into his own exposition-laden narration boxes. Fair play though, this is something comics used to… and in many case, still probably should do. Xavier loses contact with Stacy… and fears the worst. Hank says he’ll get them to Scotland STAT. Speaking of Scotland… X-Stacy (which, I mean – why didn’t they just call her that?) fears that the Juggernaut is about to kill them all.
See? In fairness to her – the Juggernaut is charging right at them with a furrowed brow while bearing all of his teeth… so, yeah – stands to reason she’d think that. Remember this, it’s going to be very important.
Oh yeah, one of the hallmarks of this run is that very few of Austen’s chosen characters are going to be portrayed in any way likeable. They also talk like they’re on The Howard Stern Show, and like to bang in public… but, we’ll get there. Anyway, Bobby blasts Juggernaut with an ice shaft, meaning he didn’t get the memo that Nothing Can Stop the Juggernaut*. The baddie even mocks Iceman, claiming that the ice thing never works**. Cain rushes over to Wolverine, who had been impaled on a wooden stake… and yanks the thing out of his chest.
Iceman then sends out another ice blast… and we learn that Nothing Can Stop the Juggernaut… except an ice blast. Meanwhile, Stacy-X wonders how she might keep the dyin’ Angel’s blood flowing. Err, doesn’t her mutant power sorta-kinda have something to do with controlling “blood flow”? Maybe tap into that?
Just then, a bunch of
Krakoan vines burst from the ground – grabbing poor Warren and nyoinking him to the down below. Nightcrawler just stands there, dumbfounded… while Bobby and Logan continue to fight the Juggernaut. If I’m not mistaken, Bobby even suggests that they retreat… which would mean leaving Warren (and Monet) behind. I’m tellin’ ya, Professor Xavier the X-Men are jerks.
Juggernaut has the sudden realization that Nothing Can Stop Him… and so, he begins punching his way through Bobby’s drip-drip. When he finally gets close enough to our heroes, he informs them that HE made the distress call to their “eight-hundred number”.
Well, those of us who have already learned to be X-Tra Safe, know that Xavier’s doesn’t have an “eight-hundred number”… it’s just a local call… well, international long-distance to those calling from Scotland, I suppose. I wonder if Cain used 10-10-220? Y’all remember having to dial that before making your long-distance call? Yikes.
Anyhoo, Juggernaut and the X-Men spend a whole nother page discussing the misunderstanding that’s eaten up the last several pages before that. Each side is calling out the other for being jerks… which, well… valid points are being made. This conversation is thankfully interrupted by more
Krakoan vines! Any guesses who are big-bad’s going to be? We’re in Ireland Scotland, we’re dealing with a plant-like threat, and our point of contact is Juggernaut. Any guesses?
We next shift scenes to Rosy Manor Convalescent Hospital in Upstate New York… not to be confused with the actual Rose Manor Hospital in Durham, North Carolina… which I only just found out about by Googling in attempt to appear more worldly and knowledgeable than I actually am. It’s here we meet Annie Gaz… Ghaz… Gharz… hold on, *ahem* it’s here we meet Annie Ghazikhanian. Ghazikhanian? Welp, that’s not going to be fun to type as often as we’re probably going to have to. Thank goodness this isn’t an audio offering… yet. If anyone out there wants to help coach me with this, I’m not too proud to beg! Anyhoo, Annie Gh… Annie, is a Nurse here at Rosy Manor – and she’s kind of fallen in love with a catatonic patient/resident… with a scar over his right eye. The other Nurses are torn between feeling bad for her… and, in a way envying her. We learn that Annie is a single-mother, which will hopefully not go on to be her sole defining characteristic***.
Annie wheels Al… err, her patient outside for some fresh air and natural light… and notices that anytime he’s in the sun he “Nnnnhh…”s a bit. It’s here we meet Annie’s son, Carter Gaz… a-hem, Carter, who is reading
The Daily Bugle Newstrack, which is running an article on the “Mutant hideaway” the Xavier School. There, as luck would have it, is a picture of… her catatonic boyfriend – he’s one half**** of the amazing flying Summers Brothers, Alex Summers!
Back in Scotland, the X-Men (+Juggernaut, -Iceman & Nightcrawler) are all wrapped up in the vines. Worth noting, there are also some humans and bones all strung up here as well.
Juggernaut finally reveals what we already figured out – the threat here is: Black Tom Cassidy. Upon learning this, Wolverine takes the opportunity to make a gay joke (because Austen+2002). Should we start keeping a running counter for all the lazy gay jokes we’re going to hear during The Austen Run? Remember, Northstar will eventually join the cast! Let me know in the comments!
Now, Black Tom is gone quite mad… and has grown quite powerful. Cain pleads with him to let the X-Men help… but Tom ain’t havin’ it. Instead he rams his thorny barbs into Juggernaut’s eye-holes and mouth. Kinky. So yeah, Nothing Can Stop the Jug… nevermind.
We shift down below, where Bobby and Kurt are walking through some catacombs. It’s here Bobby has an idea. Seeing the vines and roots, and knowing that they likely belong to whoever the big bad is… he decides to use his ice powers in a very unique way. He freezes the water in the green… which gives them a way to easily track them to their “trunk”. Ya know, this is actually pretty cool. Back in the day, people really seemed to struggle coming up with unique ways to make Bobby’s power appear to be useful… and to show that Bobby himself was something of a force to be reckoned with. This sort of use of his abilities is quite inspired.
Scene shift, back to Annie the G making call to Xavier’s. Since she’s upstate already, I don’t think it’d be such a big deal to just make the local call. Anyhoo, Xavier’s is closed… but, she leaves a message for Scott Summers, claiming that she might’ve found his thought dead brother. Scott is just shocked to learn that Alex was missing in the first place!
We wrap up back in Scotland, where Bobby and Kurt follow the icy vines to their source… ultimately discovering that they belong to Black Tom, and also that Tom’s got the team all tied up and/or about to sing the chorus to “Twist and Shout”.