Issue Date: February 1986
Story Title: A Snake Coils …
Staff: Ann Nocenti (writer & co-creator), Arthur Adams (penciler & co-creator), Whilce Portacio (Inks), Joe Rosen (letterer), Christie Scheele (colors), Louise Jones (editor), Jim Shooter (editor-in-chief), Bill
Mojo and Spiral decide to take over Earth, beginning with creating a church meant to raise worship for Mojo. Longshot, Dr. Strange and Quark find the catatonic Ricochet Rita in her home and learn what has happened. Strange promises to try and help Rita but urges Longshot and Quark to stop Mojo, who poses a great danger to the world. They have to destroy Mojo’s tower. The two rebels with their totally opposing outlooks on life have some trouble working together, but finally agree on a plan of attack. Longshot, who finds that he cannot kill Mojo, plans to banish him. They damage the tower and, with the help of a recovered Rita and Dr Strange, open a portal to send Mojo between dimensions. However, Mojo is joined by Spiral, meaning he has a way to return to his home dimension. Therefore, Longshot and Quark decide to follow, to help their people and let them know that they are meant to be free. Rita decides to join them and Strange hopes that together they will be able to save Longshot’s world.
Leaving the home of Ricochet Rita, Mojo and Spiral wonder what to do next. Why are they on this murderously ugly, dying planet? Mojo inquires. Spiral impatiently reminds him that they are here for the rebel slave, Longshot. They found a strong psychic imprint on that Rita-girl, but she refused to speak. Mojo recalls that and how traveling through the multiverse with Rita locked her in a permanent, soundless scream. Can Spiral imagine to scream forever and yet not make a sound? An interesting existence, better than most. A snake coils in his heart waiting to strike, but at what?
As they talk and float on, around Mojo the vegetation and smaller animals die. Again, Spiral reminds him of Longshot. Mojo decides he will own this planet. He brings fertility to this land. He will kill everything in sight, first, Spiral sighs. All will worship him, he continues, ignoring her. Did Spiral know that worship brings power? Oh, what would she know – she never worshipped him properly.
He orders her to dance allowing them to turn invisible and examine the streets of the small community they have reached. A family just is on their way to church. Mojo examines them and wonders why the people aren’t paying attention to him. Because they are invisible, Spiral sighs. He may be a genius but he is also an idiot. He must have pulled his brainwires too tight this morning. She orders him to stop touching her as though he owned her. He does own her, he reminds her. He touches a cat, which at once dies. How dare it die on him? he asks enraged. Doesn’t it know who he is?
Spiral admits he is clever, giving her all those extra arms and then bringing her to a planet full of two-armed creatures. What better way to make her hate humans than harness her hate for his petty despotism? Mojo may act completely psychotic, but she knows he is really thirty moves ahead of everyone. She shoves down an elderly woman and walks over her. Their attention is now focused on a church. Mojo figures it is his royal court. They are already worshipping him. But they need to make some minor adjustments in the building. He asks Spiral for help before reminding himself that she has no taste, especially not in men. After all, Longshot… of all the hearts to win, his is… Spiral warns him to watch it.
What color to paint it, Mojo wonders and then wishes Major Domo were here to help. Now what would Domo do? He’d get them in the proper frame of mind, he decides and uses his powers to twist the people’s brains. At once the people begin taking the church apart and worshipping Mojo. The Spineless One grins. Longshot can have his miracles and his luck. So what if he ruins Mojo’s slave trade and movie industry. Who needs that old dimension? No need of constructing slaves when there’s a whole planet full of them easily trained. His slaves shall build him a citadel to rival the one at home. After that he needs control of the world’s airwaves. His tower will zap everyone into worshipping him.
Elsewhere, Rita has been returned to her home. She is unmoving, locked in a perpetual silent scream. That’s the way Longshot finds her. He sees she is still alive but can’t awaken her. He wonders if they have hollowed out her mind like they did his. He snaps her loose and figures since his memories are slowly returning maybe he can help Rita by surrounding her with familiar things. He tries to awake her dog but finds his head is on backwards. Disgusted, he flinches. There are no wounds. It is as though it grew that way. Something is so very wrong here. He begins to ‘read’ Rita.
He sees a Spineless One and Rita strapped to the tow of a ship sailing through dimensions. She sees too much and retreats. He sees Mojo shouting at Rita threatening to keep her bound to the prow until it absorbs her.
The Spineless One did this to her, but he wanted him, Longshot realizes. So he is to blame. He hears a snapping sound and expects an attack but it is just Quark and Dr. Strange, who were following him. They didn’t trust his luck, he announces. Putting a hand on Longshot’s shoulder, Quark explains that it’s getting too dangerous. This is Mojo’s work. He must be furious his men couldn’t destroy Longshot. Now he’s come to do the job himself. Longshot agrees; Mojo tried to use Rita to find him. That spineless horror had her. His crazed eyes, his face … that face…
Quark perversely tries to comfort him, telling him that they are doomed if they are up against Mojo. Might as well give up. Dr. Strange in the meantime has begun to examine Rita who is suffering from severe psychic and physical shock. Whatever traumatized her, paralyzed her, bound her body and soul. This entity is an anti-nature force. The evidence outside, the red rain, the black lightning, the negative ion winds… All natural phenomena are either warped or destroyed. He intends to bring her to his sanctum in a protective stasis field while they search for…
A frantic Longshot interrupts: Strange has to heal her. It may not be possible… Strange trails off. He decides to listen to his intuition and let Longshot lead the way in this one. Healing Rita may be the only key… He promises to try.
Strange’s attention is drawn to a television set that is flickering on and off. The report is about a bizarre new religious cathedral. Longshot and Quark, in the meantime, have equipped themselves courtesy of Rita’s extensive weapon stash. Quark tells the doctor goodbye and hopes that next time they meet won’t be in the realm of the dead.
Quite a difference of spirit in those two, Strange muses. A headlong positive spirit and a diehard negative one. Perhaps the combination will create an effective force. This is one of those moments when the world seems to pause at a precipice of fate, but which way will it fall? Time for one of Longshot’s miracles…
Soon, Longshot and Quark are getting ready to face Mojo, though Quark keeps on muttering about his face. Longshot insists he has got a great face. Impatiently, Quark explains that it’s not like anyone else’s. Mojo probably saw it as some joke he could play on him. Chasing Mojo is futile. They are just a couple of fleas next to his power. Longshot tells him to cut it out. Nothing is ever futile. They have got luck on their side!
They become interested in a TV set in a electronics shop, where the anchorman is talking about religion. Longshot wants to know what religion is. The news report is about a community that has built a strange otherworldly church. There are also reports of a “new god.” Quark tells him to ignore it. He’ll just want to save somebody. That’s how he got mindwiped to begin with. He reminds Longshot that Strange told them to look for unnatural things. So can they just get this over with and die?
As they keep on running, Longshot asks what Quark meant about him liking to save people. What was he like before he got brain-wiped? Did Quark know him? Quark explains that he had heard of Longshot. He was legend, a rebel leader trying to free them. It was hopeless, of course. Sounds exciting, Longshot admits, What’s hopeless about it?
The secret meetings, the hiding, the fear. And the rebels were squashed by Mojo or turned inside out by wizards… or betrayed by a comrade. Longshot was branded a hero and then almost crucified for it. It doesn’t pay to be a hero. Then why is Quark one? Longshot retorts. After all, he decided to save Longshot. That was before he realized how hopeless it all is, Quark retorts. They’ll lose, then they’ll gut their minds or kill their families. Did he have a family? Longshot wonders. He wishes they’d wiped his mind, Quark whines. He wants his past back, Longshot replies. Then if he wants to forget it, at lest it’ll be by his choice.
A man runs into them. When he catches sight of Quark’s face, he runs away screaming. They notice that nature around them is decaying and figure they are getting closer to Mojo. Longshot is still playing-catch-up and Quark tells him that he is now stuck halfway between dimensions. Longshot decides that, once they get rid of Mojo, they can return and continue the rebellion. Quark moans He is fed up with Longshot’s eternal optimism. Plus, Longshot doesn’t remember Mojo. He looks at something and it dies. He rules their dimension. Quark wishes he were like Longshot and could forget who he is. Longshot urges him to remember who they are – the lucky ones. If they keep their motives pure and their hearts honest, they will win. They’ll save both dimensions!
But Quark has lost his faith in luck. It has a flipside. He feels their foes know that their luck will eventually turn on them. Longshot points out that, despite Quark’s constant moaning, he keeps on fighting. Maybe he’ll get lucky and die trying, Quark jokes grimly. As they pass a horde of sheep Quark mentions that that’s why he lost faith. Longshot at least was made in man’s image, but he was based on a mindless beast. People only see him as a freak.
Suddenly, laughter appears out of nowhere as does Mojo who agrees with Quark. As he mentions Rita, Longshot threatens he will cut out Mojo’s tongue if he speaks her name again. Referring to Longshot as an ‘it’, Mojo marvels that he has forgotten his place. Why even Rita…
Drawing his knife, Longshot jumps at him. He said he’d have his tongue. Mojo order Spiral to defend him and sew Longshot’s tongue into a pig’s mouth. She’ll have a better fate for him, Spiral replies. Longshot owes her more than his tongue. Longshot somersaults around her and attacks the weakened Mojo, weakened as he put his powers in his cathedral, his place of worship. Away from that place he is weak.
Longshot finds that he cannot simply kill a defenseless being and goads Mojo to defend himself as he hits him. He cannot simply slaughter him. Why not? War has no ethics, Mojo shrugs as he calls Spiral to his side.
Why couldn’t he kill him, Longshot wonders, and why did Quark let Spiral go? Quark explains that he feels sympathy for Spiral, as Mojo played the same trick on her as he did on him: made her a freak. Whose side is he on? Longshot demands. Spiral protests that Mojo told her Longshot was hers. Not now, he tells her and orders her to teleport them back to his power base.
They failed, Quark announces. If Longshot cannot kill Mojo, he’ll doom this whole planet. Isn’t that what he wants? Longshot snaps. This was their chance and Quark doesn’t even know which side he is on. Quark agrees he is a coward and Longshot hits him. A moment later, he apologizes. It’s just that Quark is always complaining and whining. His spirit is wrong. Can’t he rise above it? He is a beast, Quark states simply. Beasts have no spirit and he doesn’t trust this luck. It scares him. If they use their luck they shift it away from somewhere else. Someone somewhere … gets hurt.
Longshot states that something kept him from killing Mojo. He will have to get rid of him some other way. It is his fault that Mojo and Spiral are there. But he has no right to kill them. He can only banish them back to where they came from. He heard what Spiral said about the tower. They should call Dr. Strange and tell him what’s going on.
Later, the two of them decipher the mysteries of a payphone and manage to call the Doctor. Strange and Wong are busy taking care of Rita. While her parrot has already recovered, Rita is still catatonic. Strange senses from her aura that it is of the utmost importance that she survives.
Longshot explains to Strange what they have learned and Strange figures that Mojo is extending his metaphysical superstructure. He will be weak until it attracts more worshippers. Suddenly, Rita murmurs a barely audible ‘Longshot.’ Strange gives her the receiver and she cradles it as if it is her very lifeline. Strange informs Longshot that Rita will recover and tells him to destroy the tower.
At the tower, Mojo berates his followers that they should sculpt his face everywhere on the building, while Spiral makes fun of the exhausted workers. Suddenly, Mojo complains about them sculpting his face into the stone and Spiral mockingly reminds him that was his order. Agitated, he kills some of his followers, becomes disgusted with his own action and then admires the sunset. He owns the sun, doesn’t he? he asks Spiral. Sure he does, she sighs.
On a roof elsewhere, Longshot has created a glider from stuff he found at Rita’s place, while Quark is preparing bombs and catapults. He’s got a real death fixation Longshot tells him. The way he sees it you can either be dying or living, so why doesn’t Qark join the living for a change? Quark reminds Longshot that, if they destroy the tower, it means the power will be drawn back to Mojo and since Longshot refuses to kill him…
He can threaten to kill him, Longshot decides. Mojo will leave for his dimension then. Nobody has to die. Even if they deserve it? Quark asks. He doesn’t know who deserves to die, Longshot replies. He dragged everyone through the portal and into this mess. He stuck Quark between dimensions. Does he deserve to die for that?
They leave bombs and catapults. Longshot tells Quark to get ready when he sees him flying. He’ll be ready, Quark replies. Today’s a fine day to die, because he now knows what he is, an animal.
As Longshot runs towards the tower he sees a horse. He touches the animal and once again remembers something.
A younger Longshot is talking to his creator, Arize, who explains that it is all a matter of spirit. Forget you ever were a slave and you cease to be one. He didn’t create them for that. The Spineless Ones may have asked for a slave race but he didn’t give them one. He put some good stuff into their DNA like rebellion and willfulness. His people only know slavery, Longshot explains. It is hard to have a will.
Arize explains that he was born short, but always wanted to be tall. Now look at him. He is so tall he towers over Longshot. For a long time even with those legs he felt short. They are fake legs. He is short, but his head is in the clouds. Existence precedes essence – stop living like a slave and you no longer are one. Longshot has to get that message across to his people and he’ll seed rebellion.
Now he has a gift for Longshot. Arize leads him to a mechanical horse. His inventions have been changing lately, he explains. They seem to have evolved will and they are coming alive. And if they believe they are alive, then they are. Just like Longshot. He is like a man who woke up in the dark – everyone else is still asleep! He gives him the horse to ride fast and far – farther than any of his race has ever been before.
Longshot awakes from his reverie. So he is not a slave, but there are still thousands who believe they are. If they could see Earth, full of beings like them … but free. He’ll go back to his dimension and bring his people here, he decides. Mojo must be one of the oppressors he realizes. Maybe he should have killed him, after all…
Nearby, Mojo is on top of his growing power and rants, while getting on Spiral’s nerves. Suddenly, they see Longshot coming closer on his glider. Spiral warns Mojo not to unleash his full power until she has had her way with him.
Quark fires the catapults, giving the impression that Longshot is being aided by an entire army. Spiral reminds Mojo that his power is locked in the tower. If they destroy it, they cripple him. Mojo orders Spiral to attack Longshot. Longshot wonders how he can directly attack Mojo when he cannot even bear to look into his face. And why isn’t he using his magicks? He prays for some luck as he attacks Mojo and kicks him into the stomach.
That moment, Spiral appears on a rooftop behind the unaware Quark, who is agonizing whether or not to shoot Mojo. He decides to be optimistic. That moment, Spiral chops his head off, which has a less permanent effect than desired, for Quark is still stuck between dimensions. Instead, he just shifts his body to Longshot’s side.
Moments later, Spiral teleports in, reminding Mojo that he promised Longshot to her. What’s her problem? Longshot demands. What went on on that other world? Did something go on between them? Spiral vehemently denies it as she attacks him with his sword. Longshot deftly stops the blade between his hands and accuses her of lying. But he hopes she is right, for to know her is to be degraded.
Longshot intends to end this but Mojo surprisingly hits him and then takes both him and Quark out with steam. He orders Spiral to serve him their hearts. She is only too willing to comply when she is shot in the back courtesy of Richochet Rita, who is arriving with Dr. Strange. Strange engages Spiral and Mojo while Rita explains things to Longshot. Strange states that Mojo is an anti-life force. He’s turning nature inside out. If he stays on Earth long enough, the planet can only die. Yet he seems too powerful to kill him on Earth…
Longshot understands and begins working into Mojo’s psychosis, when he mentions that he knows all of his secrets. Mojo is enraged as he begins shooting at Longshot. How dare he know his secrets? Strange begins his spell and opens a dimensional portal and Longshot, with a deft kick, pushes Mojo through. Barely holding on, Mojo shouts for Spiral to join him. He can’t be alone in there. He will lose his mind. He needs her to steer him home. He’ll give her a kingdom.
Rita, still pointing her gun at Spiral, warns her not to move. Spiral shoves a handful of dirt into Rita’s face and joins Mojo. Following them is Longshot, who tells the others he has to go after them. Rita protests. He’ll get lost! He’ll die! He’ll never be back! Longshot tells her he has to go. With Spiral at his side, Mojo will be able to return to his world and may even try to come back here. He is ready now… to kill Mojo. Then he must gather his people and bring them to this planet where they can be free.
Quark steps forward. He may be walking to his doom but, if Longshot can put up with his bad odds, he’ll join him. Rita moves closer to Longshot asking who his friend is. Plus, they should make some room for her – she is coming, too! She’d never survive, Longshot protests. She is Ricochet. She always survives! Rita retorts. Besides, Longshot needs proof for his people. She is living proof that a race of free men exists. Is she sure? She’ll be risking anything, he warns her. That’s what makes it fun! she replies with a grin. Grinning back, Longshot agrees and together they brave the portal.
Strange calls after them, warning Longshot not to overuse his luck. Longshot thanks him. He’ll see him when he returns with his people. The portal closes.
How amusing. A whole race of Longshots, Strange muses. But somehow he thinks here isn’t more than one Longshot in the universe. He suspects Longshot will make his own world worth living in – with Rita at his side - and will have no need of this one.
The people begin to awake from Mojo’s hypnosis and Strange begins to repair the damages to the world. For now, the flowers bloom again. The natural world will not be destroyed after all. And perhaps… another world is about to be saved.
Originally, the tale of Longshot’s rebellion was meant to be told in a graphic novel or limited series by Nocenti and Adams, but for some reason that story was never printed.
Longshot next appears – amnesiac again – in Uncanny X-Men Annual #10. He goes on to join the X-Men from that point onward. Rita can next be seen as a prisoner of Mojo in Uncanny X-Men annual #12, before befriending the X-Babies [Excalibur Special edition: Mojo Mayhem].
More about Longshot’s home – the Mojoverse – can be learned from this article.
Issue Summary written by: Ruth