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(1st story) Sean Ryan (writer), Garon Parlov (artist), Veronica Gandini (color artist), VC’s Clayton Cowles (letterer)(2nd story) Gerry Dugan (writer), David Yardin (penciler), Cam Smith, Norman Lee, Terry Pallot, David Yardin (inkers) Andres Mossa (colorist), VC’s Cowles and Sabino (letterer)Jordan D. White & Nick Lowe (editors), Axel Alonso (editor in chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)
(1st story)On a routine swing through the city to pick up groceries, Spider-Man overhears a commotion and stumbles upon a battle between Psylocke and Japanese gangsters inside a restaurant. He quickly joins the fight to help her but is no use when a grenade explodes, critically wounding Psylocke. Spider-Man sorrowfully stays with her until her last breath but, just when all hope seems to be lost, the X-Men appear on the scene and take Psylocke’s body away. They assure Spider-Man that they’ll take care of things from here, leaving Spider-Man to return to his grocery shopping.
(2nd story)On Sagittarian Farms in South Dakota, Cyclops, Captain America, Emma Frost, Ant-Man and the Stepford Cuckoos finally encounter Cadre K. After a quick fight, the heroes realize that the band of mutant Skrulls represent no threat to Earth and are merely nomads seeking a peaceful life. They chose the United States because of what Charles Xavier told them about the country and to keep an eye on Skrull-bovine hybrids that exist due to Reed Richards turning Skrull invaders into cows many years ago. Just as Captain America says that he’ll do whatever he can to ensure that Cadre K is able to stay in the country, L.M.D. arrives on the scene and warns them of Doom’s arrival before exploding from a Doombot infection. Realizing that Doctor Doom isn’t done with his plans for the Skrulls, Captain America says it’s time for X-Men, Avengers and Cadre K to come together to defeat him.
(1st story)“A loaf of bread, a container of milk and a stick of butter,” Spider-Man reminds himself as he swings through the clear night sky of New York City to pick up groceries. He stops short when he hears a loud crash, followed by gun shots coming from a small Japanese restaurant. He swings down to investigate, crashing through the glass ceiling.
“There’s no need to fear,” he begins to say but becomes silent when he looks at the scene: Psylocke surrounded by a group of armed Japanese gangsters in a trashed restaurant. They all look at him wide-eyed but Psylocke quickly returns to fighting. “You could help you know,” Betsy tells Spider-Man as she kicks a gangster in the jaw, knocking his machine gun from his hand. “Right,” Spider-Man says and leaps into action, knocking away two gangsters with his “patented face-kicks.”
Back-to-back, Psylocke compliments Spider-Man as the two heroes fight their way through the gangsters without breaking a sweat. As Spider-Man finishes the last of the gangsters, Psylocke holds one against the wall, activates her psychic knife, and drives it into his skull. “Hey, what are you doing to that guy’s head?” Spider-Man asks. Psylocke ignores him, drives her psychic knife deeper and angrily asks, “Where is she?!” as her captive falls to the floor.
Suddenly, Spider-Man’s spider-sense goes off and he turns around to see one of the Japanese gangsters toss a hand grenade. With no time to yell out a proper warning, both heroes are caught in the explosion.
Spider-Man rises from the rubble with no injuries but a torn costume. He calls for Psylocke and is shocked to find her lying on the ground, impaled through the stomach by a shard of metal. “What do I do?” he asks himself as he approaches her. “What do I do?” Psylocke says, blood dripping from her mouth.
Spider-Man attempts to move her but she cries out in pain. Noticing how much blood she’s losing, he decides to go get help but she grabs his hand and tells him not to leave, saying that if he does then no one will be here for her.
Psylocke begins to tell Spider-Man to tell her brother something. “Tell him what? Who’s your brother?!” Spider-Man asks but Psylocke loses focus and closes her eyes, saying that she can’t hear anyone. She jolts awake for a brief moment, wide-eyed and asks, “Where is everyone?” before closing her eyes again and collapsing in Spider-Man’s arms.
Spider-Man holds her lifeless body and goes on to say how he didn’t think someone like Psylocke could die. “I didn’t even think you were a real person before tonight,” he says. “I always assumed you were created like the woman from Weird Science. I… I’m so sorry I’m the one here for this.” He embraces her body closely and holds her head to his chest.
Suddenly, a bright light shines from above and Cyclops, Wolverine, Beast and Gambit come grappling down from the rooftop. ‘Thanks. We’ll take it from here.” Cyclops says as he pats Spider-Man on the shoulder. “Is she going to be okay?” Spider-Man asks as he watches the other X-Men load Psylocke’s body onto a stretcher. “We’ll take care of it,” Cyclops says again and Spider-Man watches as the X-Jet takes off.
Standing amongst the rubble alone, Spider-Man lifts his mask and wipes away a tear. “Freaking X-Men,” he says as he swings back into the city, now forgetting what groceries he needed.
(2nd story)In Midland, South Dakota, the members of Cadre K, donning cowboy attire, sit around a night campfire on Sagittarian Farms. They discuss the events that happened at Bryson’s Bisons and wonder if they should run now that “people in costumes” are involved. R’tee claims to be tired of running but they decide to put it to a vote. “And if we vote to run, what would become of our four-legged friends?” one asks looking to the cows grazing nearby. “We’re no good to them in a S.H.I.E.L.D. prison,” another member responds. “Whatever our plan, we better do it fast. I reckon we’re due for visitors,” another Cadre K member says. “No…” Z’Cann says calmly. “They’re already here.”
Fiz immediately shrinks to match Ant-Man, who he finds sneaking around by his boot. Ant-Man warns Captain America that their cover is blown as Fiz says that he doesn’t want a fight. Ant-Man tells him that if Cadre K gives up quietly, they’ll all be deported to space and the infected cattle will be destroyed. “Never!” Fiz says as he punches Ant-Man across the face. “We’ll never let you hurt our family.” The two wrestle near the campfire before tumbling into it.
Above them, Z’Cann sits calmly as Captain America and Cyclops face off against R’tee, Nuro and Spunje behind her. Captain America deflects R’tee’s spikes as Spunje absorbs Cyclops’ optic blasts. After taking out R’tee with his shield, Captain America uses it again to deal with Spunje as Cyclops easily defeats Nuro with a heavy blast.
Assessing the battle with her telepath, Z’Cann manages to find Emma Frost and the Cuckoos, who she claims to know all about from her training days with Xavier. “Just remember, you started this fight,” Z’Cann says as she closes her eyes to engage them.
On a lush, green, telepathic landscape, the five telepathic opponents stand like giants. “Before we knock her on her ass, let me check under the hood,” Emma says as she glimpses images inside Z’Cann’s mind such as Xavier training her, her on the run, and Reed Richards doing something with cows… “She… is… strong…” the Cuckoos says together as Z’Cann stands firmly, not breaking a sweat. Emma tells the girls to stand down and the four of them find themselves in the palm of Z’Cann’s hand. “We could’ve taken her,” one of the Cuckoos says. “I doubt that very much,” Emma says as Z’Cann smiles down upon them.
Back in reality, Captain America and Cyclops stand guard around the defeated members of Cadre K as Captain America calls in L.M.D. to land the jet. Ant-Man and Fiz emerge from the fire and regrow while Z’Cann, Emma and the Cuckoos sit around the fire recuperating. “That was most unpleasant,” Emma says. “For me as well,” Z’Cann says as she passes around tissues to help the telepaths with their nosebleeds. “I didn’t get a nosebleed. Looks like I’m the most powerful,” Phoebe Cuckoo claims, not noticing that her ears are bleeding down her neck.
“Can we go home now? I’m cold and I’ve got blood on my leather,” Emma says after telling the others that Cadre K are not involved in any plot against Earth. Captain America asks Cadre K what they’re here for, if not revenge. Nuro says that, like all of their race, they’re nomads now but worse, even their people despise them and hunt them down. Wanting to live in peace, they chose to come to the United States because Charles spoke of his country as a place where you could succeed not despite your differences but because of them, a comment that cause Steve’s face to light up.
“Why hide on a cattle ranch?” Cyclops asks. “That’s a much longer story…” Z’Cann claims. She explains that these gentle creatures are no longer just cows and as they come closer, it’s clear that they are infused somehow with Skrull DNA, causing blotches of green skin. “Why would you do this?” Ant-Man asks. “We would never,” Z’Cann says and tells him that Reed Richards saw fit to turn some of their people into cows many years back, causing Skrulls to end up in the human food-chain. Cadre K has taken it upon themselves to protect these new Skrull-bovine hybrids and whatever form they end up taking. Ant-Man is shocked and wonders if Sue knows about this. Cadre K claims that they buy any herds that may come from Skrull stock and have been raising bison to eat, just to be safe. They say that this quiet life has become their home now. Captain America assures them that everything Xavier told them about the U.S. is true and that they’d make damn fine Americans, entitled to pursue life, liberty and happiness. Although it won’t be easy, he promises he’ll be in their corner in the fight to let them stay.
As Z’Cann and Captain America shake hands, L.M.D. arrives on the scene and begins to mutter about Dr. Doom being a resourceful person. He claims to be under attack by nano-Doombots and that Doom knows all. He warns them that there are Doombots on Captain America and Cyclops’ clothes as well and that Doom is on is way. His message given, L.M.D. bursts into flames. Ant-Man thinks he knows why Doom is so interested in the Skrulls and Captain America says he has a plan. “X-Men, Avengers, and Cadre K…” Captain America says as all the groups form around him to listen. “Gather round. Here’s what we’re going to do…”
(2nd story)Cyclops, Emma Frost, Stepford Cuckoos (all X-Men)Ant-Man, Captain America (both Avengers)
Fiz, Nuro, R’tee, Spunje, Z’Cann, Goroth (Cadre K)
(1st story)This is the first and only A+X story to take place outside of present-day continuity, presumably taking place during the “Gold/Blue Teams” era of the nineties.
Spider-Man's proclamation of "There's no need to fear..." is most likely a reference to the cartoon Underdog, as the titular character would regularly proclaim, "There's no need to fear, Underdog is here!"
(2nd story)This is a continuation of the story that began in A+X #13.
Reed Richards turned three Skrulls into cows in Fantastic Four (1st series) #2, in the classic tale, “The Fantastic Four Meet the Skrulls from Outer Space!” The storyline of the Skrull cows was later picked up in the 1995 miniseries “Skrull Kill Crew.”