In Astonishing X-Men #6, writer Charles Soule and artist Mike Del Mundo manage to pack some big surprises into one of the series’ most anticipated moments. Along with the return of a major X-character, another ally is apparently lost for good – and a powerful enemy may finally be defeated.
Spoilers ahead for Astonishing X-Men #6.
Astonishing X-Men kicks off with Professor X and the Shadow King once again squaring off, but this time, Shadow King is claiming final victory over his opponent. In the course of his gloating, Shadow King cryptically hints at finding a source to empower his psychic abilities, leading Xavier to accuse him of cheating - which Shadow King admits. However, at this moment, Xavier turns the tables, revealing the X-Men he’s managed to hide from Shadow King in the Astral Plane - Rogue, Mystique, and Fantomex - all of whom have powers that involve altering themselves or the perceptions of others.
Back in the real world, Archangel takes to the skies to take down the Shadow King-dominated Gambit and Wolverine, who are running amok in London. As they fight, the British military orders its personnel to clear the area for an airstrike. Psylocke discovers what’s about to happen and alerts Archangel.
On the Astral Plane, Professor X takes advantage of Shadow King’s divided mental state, breaking free of his chains and striking a deathblow against Shadow King - apparently killing him. However, even though Shadow King’s hold over Wolverine and Archangel is broken, most of the remaining soldiers are still under his control and threatening the X-Men. As Archangel hurtles toward the incoming airstrike, Psylocke desperately tries to fight the Shadow King’s control.
In the issue’s final moment, Fantomex appears back in the real world, telling Psylocke “Everything will be fine.” Startled, she exclaims “You’re back!” Fantomex removes his hood, finally showing his face, and says “Yes, I am back… But I’m not Fantomex.”
”I’m Charles Xavier,” he continues. “But you can call me X.”
It is implied that Fantomex’s body is now entirely inhabited by Professor X, with Fantomex having volunteered to let Xavier mindwipe him and take his physical form, Xavier’s having long since been destroyed. Fantomex’s words seem to imply that the one-time Weapon XIII views his sacrifice as an act of redemption.
The story continues in Astonishing X-Men #7, on shelves January 3.