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Christos Gage (writer), Tom Grummet (penciler), Cory Hamscher & Rick Ketchum (inkers), Chris Sotomayer (colorist), VC’s Joe Caramagna (letterer), Guiseppe Camuncoli & Jim Charalampidis (cover artists), Jon Moisan (assistant editor), Bill Rosemann (editor), Axel Alonso (editor in chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)
The kids from the Jean Grey Institute come over to California for a football game against those from Avengers Academy. It gives Gambit a chance to catch up with X-23 and Wolverine to get his own back on Hank Pym for throwing him out of the Quinjet earlier. It also provides a welcome opportunity to relax and for the kids to get to know each other. As the game gets underway, Warbird and Quicksilver have a go at each other, but that only serves to get Warbird interested in Pietro romantically. Kitty and Veil have discussion about their relative powers and Finesse admits to X-23 that it was actually she who killed Jeremy Briggs. Meanwhile, the teachers discuss the future of the academy, with Hank Pym having an idea which he wishes to run past the other staff members.
(Mar-Vell Field)Giant Man is standing at around, twenty feet high, with several X-Men, students from the Jean Grey Academy and students & faculty from the Avengers Academy gathered around him. He asks for their attention and then welcomes them to the inaugural football game between the two schools.
White Tiger tells their opponents that they’re going down. They’re gonna eat her dust and go home crying. Doop replies (via Doopspeak) that, if she gets chippy with him, he’ll suck her into the extradimensional void in his mouth and she can kiss the backup brain in his butt! She replies that smack talk is one thing but that sounded obscene. Rockslide asks her not to expect Doop to go easy on her because she’s a girl. He hears he made Dr. Doom cry once. “Mess with the bull, you’ll get the horns,” adds Doop as he floats away.
Giant Man explains a few rules which include the fact that powers can be used, so long as they don’t harm their opponents. Wolverine adds that if there is any unnecessary roughness then they’re out on their butts. Hank says that teachers will be participating, though he whispers to himself that he thinks it’s a terrible idea. Wolverine grins at him and reminds him that he owes Hank for sucker-punching him outta the Quinjet. Hank says that was during the conflict and that’s over now. He still doesn’t hold a grudge, does he? “Let’s play ball,” replies Wolverine.
Gambit sees X-23 and asks her to hang on a minute. He heard about her last fight and wonders since when does being on different coasts mean they can’t talk anymore? She tells him that there isn’t anything to talk about. She killed an enemy to save the lives of her friends and she would do it again. He says there’s a difference between that and what she did as an assassin. Laura tells him that she knows, explaining that this time she was barely conscious. She recalls none of it. It was the right thing to do, though, and it doesn’t disturb her. She heads off, adding that she wants to play football now.
Finesse listened in on the conversation but, before she can say anything, Reptil produces his phone and asks her to check out some footage of Joe Montana. Finesse turns her back on Humberto and informs him that she has made herself very clear. If there is to be anything between them, it will be on her terms. In the meantime, the best he can do is to give her some space. His refusal to do so is not helping being about the ‘destiny’ he insists they have together. “I-it was just a trick play,” replies Humberto, slightly confused at her response.
Gambit decides to offer him a little advice, but Humberto isn’t ready to hear it. “Grow my hair long and talk like Pepe Le Pew. Got it,” he sighs. Remy says it’s not what he was going to say but it works for him. What he was going to say is Finesse is a woman and needs her space. He should let her figure out what she’s got to figure out. If he crowds her, he’s just saying he doesn’t respect her boundaries. And, he adds, Humberto looks desperate, which is never a good look.
He tells Humberto that it’s never easy when you know what you want and she doesn’t. But, the best thing he can do is show he takes her seriously and has his own life going on. No one says he’s got to be a monk in the meantime. Humberto asks what if Finesse decides she’s better off without him. Remy reckons it could happen and it will hurt. But, if he really cares about her, he will want whatever is best for her, even if it ain’t him. Maybe, he adds, she ain’t the best thing for him. He isn’t saying one way or the other. The point is, while she is figuring it out, then so can he. He’s not the only one who stands to lose and he’s betting Finesse knows that. Humberto should remember it too.
The game begins. The two teams line up against each other, with Finesse the first to take the ball. The idea is that, when their flags are removed, they are out of play. Hawkeye and Iceman both have the same idea. When the whistle blows, Iceman creates tiny ice daggers and throws them, skillfully removing their opponents’ flags and pinning them to the floor. At the same time, Clint does likewise with his arrows. Kitty tells them that they are both ejected from the game. “Oh, come on,” replies Hawkeye. “For what?” adds Iceman. “Excessive awesomeness?”
Kitty turns to Veil and recognizes her as the one who lost her powers. Veil replies that, no offense, but she looks at it as being cured. She would have ended up like a ghost in a few years. Kitty replies that she’s been stuck that way herself and it’s not fun. She congratulates her and then asks why she isn’t playing. Veil reckons that she’s back to normal now and it turns out that means more than not being a ghost. She isn’t as strong or fast as the others and believes she’ll need glasses again. She doesn’t mean to sound ungrateful. She’s happy that she won’t be untouchable, but she didn’t realize she’d go back to being the loser she was in school.
Kitty replies that she was trained to fight by Captain America. She’s been to other dimensions and saved lives. She’s not a loser anymore. She tells her to get out there and show them what she can still do. Veil informs her that the lines are full, so Kitty turns and sees Lyra holding up Quentin Quire by his shirt. She tells them they are ejected for unnecessary roughness.
Quire looks down at her and informs Lyra that his plan worked. He says she’s from a world with no men. Well, he’s the greatest lover on his planet so why don’t they sneak away so he can show her? Lyra replies that they do have men on her planet. They keep them as slaves. Quire smiles. “It’s official. This is the greatest day my life.”
After a play, Mettle glances over to Glob and asks Jenny if that ‘jello-headed punk’ hurt her. She assures him that she’s fine. He and Rockslide face each other. “Woman problems,” he says. “Dude. Lay it on me.” Ken replies that they were normal for half a day and got to touch each other. It’s tough for both of them going back after that. As he speaks, Rockslide flicks the ball back to Anole and Mettle realizes he’s been played. He thrusts his hands into Rockslide’s chest and the rock shatters. “Agh!” exclaims Rockslide. “You killed me, dude!” As Anole runs the ball in for a touchdown, Rockslide laughs, telling Mettle that he can control his body. He loved the look on Ken’s face. The bug eyes make it a million times funnier. Hazmat steps up to Rockslide, calling him Monster of Rock. She informs him that her boyfriend’s got PTSD from killing a Nazi. He’s totally scarring his psyche. “I oughta…”
Rockslide interrupts her and replies that he’s made of stone. Radiation doesn’t bother him. Hazmat swings her leg and kicks him between the legs. Her shin hits with a thunk and she screams before hopping backwards on one leg. Jocasta warns her that she’s risking ejection, but Hazmat warns Rockslide that she will spend the rest of the day thinking of ways to make him suffer. Mettle looks at Rockslide and asks if he doesn’t have any… “Junk?” replies Rockslide. “Nah. You?” Ken replies that he does. Rockslide leans into him and says he doesn’t want to act like he’s walked in his shoes, but he has an awesome party girl and all the parts he needs whenever he’s ready to go there. So, if it was him he’d stop whining around guys who’ve got none of the above.
(meanwhile)Reptil moves Striker forward to the line and informs him he’s up against Anole. Brandon reckons that’s stupid. Anole is a lot faster than him. What about Julie? Veil tells him to just do it. Brandon faces Anole who guesses that Brandon is the only gay kid in class. Brandon confirms it. “You too, huh?” he asks. Anole tells him it’s cool. They mean well once they figure out what your type is. They might even help him find a nice guy. As they start to run for a ball, Striker replies that he’s only just figuring out what his type is for all the good it’s doing him now. Anole presumes he means the scars. He points out that he has scales and one Popeye arm. He’s not saying it’s been easy but he’s had great dates with mutants and humans. Seriously, he asks. What kind of person is going to change their mind about him just because of his scars? “Me,” replies Brandon as Anole leaps high to catch the ball. He tells Brandon to aim higher than himself. With the ball in the opposition hands, Reptil tells Striker that he was right. He is terrible.
Later, Giant Man throws a ball which Reptil catches in his teeth, thanks to changing into an enormous T-Rex. Hank then shrinks to normal size and admits that this has been a lot of fun. Unfortunately, Wolverine hasn’t finished with him and he tackles him from behind, hard. He takes Hank down into the dirt and then gets up to flick the mud off his gloves. “Now we’re even,” he smiles.
“Ejected,” says Jocasta. “Both of you,” adds Kitty. Wolverine reckons it was worth it. Hank says that as much as he’d like to retaliate he isn’t going to, because unlike Logan, they have to set an example. Tigra decides to step in on Hank’s behalf and she leaps at Logan, calling him a Molson-drinking, aboot-saying troll. Logan pops his claws and asks her to bring it, but Hank looks on in astonishment. He asks her not to eviscerate people in front of the kids. Jocasta tells him that she’ll handle this. She charges up an electric taser in her hands and gives them a taste of her power. The fight comes to a sudden halt with Tigra’s hair standing on end and Logan’s costume smoking away. “Worth it,” he grins. Hawkeye and Iceman fist bump each other, with Clint saying that at least they were ejected for being awesome.
Lightspeed tries to cajole Quicksilver into playing but he tells her that he comes from a place where football involves a ball and feet. This sport is common and barbaric. “Just the air of unearned superiority I’d expect from the cuckolded former consort of a Kree princess,” says Warbird. Quicksilver looks at her and tells her that she is very Shi’Ar. He asks Lightspeed if the rules allow him to strike the woman. She begs him to try. An instant later, the two heroes charge at each other and sparks begin to fly. “Charging taser,” sighs Jocasta.
Giant Man wonders if they’re about to have a problem going forward, but Wolverine says there is no problem. They’re even now and he throws a good party for a nerd. Hank is pleased, because he thinks that Captain America is right about strengthening relations between the X-Men and the Avengers. “That’s what all this is about?” asks Wolverine. He tells everyone to change up. Now they’re all seen what they can do, he wants Avengers students and X-Men students on the same teams. Hank asks him if that’s what he wanted all along. Get the teachers kicked out to foster bonding among the kids? Logan said that Hank said that playing each other was a bad idea and he wasn’t wrong. But, he isn’t that smart. If he wants to know his plan it’s in the coolbox he has in his hand. He opens it up and grabs a beer and shouts, “Okay, grownups. It’s beer o’clock!”
After their brief skirmish, Warbird apologizes and tells him that the rumors were false. He is no coward, but a fierce warrior. She is impressed. “My day is made,” he replies, flippantly. She adds that his divorce is the subject of countless jokes in the Shi’ar royal court. He thanks her for sharing that. Warbird asks if she can ask one question. Why did he not slay his wife for betraying him? He turns to her and replies that it’s because he pushed her away. Because he was a poor husband and a worse father, which is why his daughter refuses to speak to him. It’s likely why he feels the inexplicable need to be at the academy, doing a job he’s ill-suited for and putting up with people who make him want to gouge his eyes out!
He asks if she’s satisfied. An admission of weakness so she can feel superior to him. He tells her to enjoy it. He’s not given to such talk but, as she is from a sociopathic culture that already despises him for who he is and who he had the misfortune to love, he doesn’t feel the need to make the effort to live a lie in front of her. Warbird places a hand on his shoulder. “Earther,” he says. Quicksilver asks if it’s a rematch she wants then so be it. Instead, she places her hands around him and unexpectedly kisses him on the lips.
(meanwhile)X-23 tackles Rockslide, who has the ball, but his heavy legs land on her, causing her to bleed. He reminds her that she only needed to grab his flag. She tells him she forgot but she will heal. As she walks away, Rockslide speaks to Herman Glob and says that the chick is hardcore, but he misses the sports bra.
Finesse asks to speak with Laura. Laura replies that she’s fine. Why can’t anyone accept that? Finesse tells her that she’s not fine. She is either punishing herself or being careless. Regardless, killing Jeremy has affected her. Laura bows her head and says she knows it was necessary, but it feels wrong. Finesse leans in towards her and admits that it’s because Laura didn’t kill him. She did. Laura is shocked. She looks at her hands and replies that his blood was on her claws. Finesse informs her that she was unconscious. “You used me!” she cries. “As a weapon?”
Finesse admits that she could have saved him and stopped his bleeding, but she knew that if she did he would endanger them again. She regrets that she was dishonest with her, but she doesn’t regret her actions. It’s her hope that she understands why she killed him and she accepts the necessity of the choice she made. And, she hopes Laura won’t tell anyone. Laura is furious and replies that she has killed everyone who has done to her what Finesse did. Finesse tells her that she made a choice. It seems that she has choices to make as well.
Nearby, Kitty tells Jocasta that she heard that she left the academy due to philosophical differences. Would she mind if she asked how that worked out? Jocasta replies that she’s not sure she has. She still has significant concerns about whether Avengers Academy is helping or harming these children. Case in point… She looks over to Mettle and gives him a final warning for fighting with Glob. “Don’t tase me Jo!” he replies. She mentions to Kitty that she is reevaluating based on new data, but there are too many unknowns. Kitty asks if she minds an observation. She believes the kids are carrying a lot. They seem tired, body and soul. Jocasta admits that it’s partly her fault, but also the result of what has happened at the school.
Giant Man, who was flying past in his tiny Ant-Man form, grows to normal size. He tells Jocasta that she is right, but he’s not sure what to do about it. He asks for forgiveness. He wasn’t eavesdropping. He was just coming to see if they wanted anything from the grill. He knows full well that they seem jaded. Kitty reckons it comes with the territory. They should have seen her a year into the X-Men. Fourteen going on forty. Hank says he wanted to give them a sense of hope for the future, not resignation. Iceman joins in the conversation. He informs them that when they were kids, the X-Men all had identical uniforms. Ugly yellow things. The day that Professor Xavier gave them their own costumes it was like they’d won the lottery. He felt like a man for the first time.
Jocasta points out that their students already have their own costumes. Kitty doesn’t think that clothes are the point. They should have seen the fashion disaster that was her first costume. Iceman smiles and says he has a picture on his phone. He’s not sure what he likes more. The roller skates or the leg warmers. Kitty asks him to put it away. It’s not about the uniforms. It’s about what they symbolized. It meant Professor Xavier recognized what they accomplished. Iceman agrees. It was like you’d earned a new level, sort of that you were growing up. Hank finds that interesting. He says they’ve accomplished more than he thought possible. They’re not ready to be full-fledged Avengers yet, but they could do something. A new outfit always made Janet happy. Jocasta, however, doesn’t feel that it would work in this case. They need something different. Hank has an idea and wishes to run it by the others.
(elsewhere)The game continues, though no one appears to know the score. Mettle looks over to their teachers and asks Rockslide if they’re always like that. He replies that they’re worse usually and asks about his. Mettle says they’re the same. But, he accepts, they’ve been through a lot lately and they’re really trying. All any of them can do is try, right? He then tells Rockslide and Anole that it’s been great meeting them. It’s nice to know they’re not alone and that the family next door is as crazy as theirs. They should make this a regular thing.
Finesse, Hazmat, Lightspeed, Mettle, Reptil, Striker, White Tiger, X-23 (full-time students)
Lyra (part-time student)
JocastaVeilGiant Man, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, Tigra (faculty)
Gambit, Iceman, Kitty Pryde, Rogue, Warbird, Wolverine (all X-Men)Lockheed
Anole, Bling!, Doop, Frenzy, Glob, Quentin Quire, Rockslide (all Jean Grey students)
Doop is paraphrasing Richard Vernon’s line to Bender, “Don’t mess with the bull, young man. You’ll get the horns,” from the 1984 movie The Breakfast Club.
Joe Montana was the San Francisco 49ers quarterback during their successful run throughout the 1980’s, winning four Super Bowls.
Pepe Le Pew is an amorous French skunk who preyed on any available female cartoon character he could catch. He appeared in many cartoons in the 1940’s and 50’s.
PTSD stands for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Popeye is a cartoon character known for his love of spinach, Olive Oyl and having overly large forearms.
Molsen Coors is a large long-standing brewing company based in Canada. “Aboot” is another way of saying “About,” only with a Canadian twang known as Canadian raising.
Mettle’s comment, “Don’t tase me Jo!” appears to refer to an incident in 2007 at the University of Florida when Senator John Kerry gave a speech there. Andrew Mayer, a student there, started asking questions and was led away by security before being arrested by police. When resisting, he said ‘Don’t tase me bro’ when police piled on top of him.
Janet is Hank Pym’s former wife, also known as the Wasp, who died at the hands of a cloned Thor during the Secret Invasion storyline.