Publication Date: 7th Mar 2024
Written By: Monolith.
Image Work: Douglas Mangum.

Biography - Part 2

Crimson Commando, Stonewall and Super Sabre continued to operate as members of Freedom Force over the following months, with the Commando in particular eager to be available for new missions. They made sure that public heroes like X-Factor ultimately complied with the Mutant Registration Act. [X-Factor (1st series) #33] They also coordinated a sting operation with the Commission in an effort to trap anti-registration activists like the Resistants. [Captain America (1st series) #346] At Destiny’s urgings, Freedom Force also forced the issue of taking the young mutant Rusty Collins into custody, provoking another fight with the New Mutants. As a crack shot, Crimson Commando was able to graze the temple of Rictor while firing from a moving helicopter. [New Mutants (1st series) #78]

In his down time, Super Sabre was given the opportunity to test his limits as a speedster. The Runner, one of the Elders of the Universe, wanted to race the fastest beings in the universe. He held a marathon trial for the fastest people on Earth to qualify for later intergalactic races he would organize. Super Sabre competed against speedsters like Quicksilver, Whizzer, Speed Demon, Black Racer and Makkari of the Eternals. The race course was a cosmically generated warp tunnel covering the entire distance from the Earth to the moon. Although he made a good showing at first, Super Sabre was past his prime and a sprinter by design, not a marathon runner. He, along with several other racers, exhausted his stamina before finishing the race. [Quasar #17]

Freedom Force’s success rate came to sudden and terminal finish when they were tasked with aiding Forge in the defense of the Muir Island research center. With the X-Men missing, Freedom Force could garner support from the mutant community through these actions, and Uncle Sam might get Forge back designing weapons for them. Despite Mystique’s misgivings (and Crimson Commando, Super Sabre and Spiral unavailable due to other business), the team was deployed. Their ship was brought down by Muir’s attackers, the cyborg Reavers, scattering the team. The insane mutant Legion also interfered with the conflict, causing chaos. He killed Destiny when she was alone and also snuffed Pyro’s flame with his pyrokinesis. Stonewall tackled the Reavers’ leader Donald Pierce, only to receive a fatal dose of electricity. Forge saved those that remained with sniper fire, driving off the cyborgs, but Freedom Force had lost two of their own. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #254-255]

[Note: There’s some inconsistency with the minor hints dropped about Stonewall’s background. In UXM #255, Pyro referred to Stoney as a lawyer. However, when Freedom Force were playacting a court room drama for a sting operation in Captain America (1st series) #346, Stonewall only made an objection because he “saw it on L.A. Law”.]

Rusty Collins and Skids escaped from federal prison while trying to prevent their fellow prisoner the Vulture from doing the same. They hunted down Vulture and beat both him and Nitro, but were injured in the process. Crimson Commando led Freedom Force into taking all parties back into custody. Skids and Rusty had learned secrets the government didn’t want exposed, so the Commando oversaw a PR campaign declaring them co-conspirators with the two super-villains to discredit them. [New Mutants (1st series) #86] This media attention led the terrorist Mutant Liberation Front to begin executing bombings while demanding the release of Rusty and Skids. The MLF’s teleporter extracted the duo from federal custody, and a covert operative named Cable was injured and left behind trying to stop them. Crimson Commando and Freedom Force failed to extract useful intelligence from Cable before he made his own escape. During his flight, Cable set a wire which nearly decapitated Super Sabre, leaving him bleeding from the neck. Commando and the others pursued Cable, but they ultimately ran into the New Mutants and were overcome as Cable started directing tactics for Xavier’s students. [New Mutants (1st series) #88-89]

With the death of his old friend Stonewall, Crimson Commando began to seriously question his dedication to Freedom Force. Other men his age had grandchildren to think about, while Frank Bohannon had only “the mission.” The Commando was sent out to investigate a Hulk sighting with Blob and Pyro, and ran into the genuine article. Crimson Commando found it absurd that he even tried to grapple with the Hulk, given how extraordinarily out of his league he was. The fighting only ended when their conflict put a young boy in jeopardy, and Commando and Hulk joined forces to dig him out of their wreckage. Bohannon couldn’t believe that this was the culmination of his life’s worth. [Incredible Hulk (2nd series) #369] The divide between newer Freedom Force members and the original Brotherhood was also still apparent. During a mission to quell an uprising at the Vault, Blob continually expressed sympathies for the rioting super-criminals, much to Commando’s concern. There was even a moment where it appeared Mystique and her old comrades were going to betray the Avengers to the super-villains, although the moment ultimately didn’t come. [Avengers: Deathtrap – The Vault]

However, not very long thereafter, Mystique went deep undercover to root out the influence of the Shadow King. Her death was faked as part of her cover story, leaving Freedom Force leaderless. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #266] With Mystique indisposed, Crimson Commando officially stepped up as mission leader for Freedom Force. Ultimately, the mission came first and Crimson Commando hoped this new role would give him more purpose in life.

The remaining roster of Crimson Commando, Super Sabre, Blob, Pyro and Avalanche was deployed to the Middle East. Their mission was to retrieve a nuclear physicist named Reinhold Kurtzmann from the war zone, or else ensure he didn’t otherwise fall into enemy hands – Liberate or Terminate. Freedom Force moved like commandos through minimal resistance from the Republican Guard before reaching the intended safe house, only to find it bombed out. Crimson Commando sent Super Sabre on recon, and Martin found both the safe house and its hidden bolt hole empty. Sabre was on his way back to the rest of the team when he was suddenly decapitated in mid-stride. Frank and the others were in shock as the Iraqi super force known as Desert Sword emerged from the shadows. The mutant Aminedi, the Cutting Wind, had severed Super Sabre’s head from his shoulders, and next his lethal air form separated Commando’s wrist tracker at the wrist, leaving him bleeding out. Desert Sword was prepared to fight Freedom Force to retain possession of their captive, Kurtzmann. [New Mutants Annual #7]

Blob managed to scatter Desert Sword’s ranks, but only temporarily. He and Pyro went one way, while Avalanche’s powers created a fissure to carry Commando in a different direction. Blob and Pyro snagged Kurtzmann, and so Crimson Commando ordered them to meet up at the extraction point. Sirocco and Aminedi pursued them to an airfield, but pulled back as Avalanche’s ridge triggered a series of land mines in the area. Avalanche and Commando were severely battered in the blast, and the already injured Commando received the worst of it. Bohannon lost both of his legs and the left side of his face was brutalized beyond repair. [Uncanny X-Men Annual #15]

Avalanche’s armor partially allowed him to avoid the effects of the explosions, and he used his powers to temporarily detain the Desert Sword members menacing them. Crimson Commando was barely alive or conscious and needed Avalanche’s aid. After several long seconds of consideration, Avalanche chose to pick up his field leader and carry him. Dominic managed to get them to the secondary dust-off point, but Commando was fading quickly. Air cavalry contacted Blob and Pyro and learned they had been forced to terminate Kurtzmann to keep him out of enemy hands. Without their target, and facing a growing number of enemy airships, Avalanche made the command decision to leave the other members of Freedom Force behind in order to get Crimson Commando medical treatment. [X-Factor Annual #6]