Agent-X #1

Issue Date: 
September 2002
Story Title: 
Dead Man's Switch - part 1

Gail Simone (writer), Udon – Erik Ko, Rhys Yorke, Arnold Tsang, Andrew Hou, Eric Vedder, Omar Dogan, TheRealT! (art team), Dave Sharpe (letters), Lynne Yoshii and Mike Raicht (assistant editors), Andrew Lis and Mike Marts (editors), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Bill Jemas (president)

Brief Description: 

An amnesiac man stumbles on Deadpool’s receptionist Sandi Brandenberg. She pulls him into her apartment, offers him something to eat and discovers that he has a healing factor. She decides to help him become the best mercenary in the world and asks her friend, the notorious mercenary Taskmaster, to train him. The Taskmaster dislikes the stranger, who unaware of his real name, adopts the alias Alex Hayden, but he follows Sandi’s request and beats up Alex utilizing the different fighting styles of Captain America, Spiderman, Wolverine and Elektra. Each session ends with Alex being injured, but he quickly heals. Trying a different approach, Alex gets taught to shoot by the female mercenary Outlaw and he turns out to be a natural. Alex is equally good with both hands and has perfect aim. Both the Taskmaster and Sandi think that Alex is actually Deadpool, who might have somehow survived his encounter with the Black Swan. They try to activate his memory by showing him the gravestones of Wade Wilson, but Alex Hayden doesn’t even want to remember his past. After several days of intense training, Hayden tries to establish himself in the business. His first job is to capture several escaped animals. Despite some misfortune, he succeeds and returns home. The Taskmaster decides to give Hayden a job that Taskmaster himself didn’t want to do. Across the city, a man called Higashi has a hard time proving himself as the heir of the late Eastern Wind, one of the four crimelords making up the Four Winds. The underbosses of the organization think him too weak, but he demonstrates that he is in control by killing the most obnoxious of them.

Full Summary: 

When Sandi was five years old, she fed a starving dog that lived behind her family’s house. The dog ate the food and bit Sandi. Yet two days (and seven stitches) later, young Sandi again tried to feed the same dog. When her mother asked if she had lost her sense, Sandi answered „But Mother – He knows me now“.

Today, Sandi Brandenberg gets her groceries from her car and is on her way to her apartment. A half-naked and badly scarred man jumps out off the stairway and after managing to say “hungry“, he falls unconscious on the young woman. Sandi takes a gun out of her handbag, but then puts it back and drags the man into her apartment. She says that she give him something to eat, but then he would have to go. Somewhat later, the man has made quite a mess out of Sandi’s kitchen, and eaten almost everything she had in the fridge. He thanks Sandi, who notices that the man is crying blood. The stranger actually takes it as a relief since he hasn’t been able to detect his pulse for the past ten minutes. He wipes away his bloody tears, apologizes for the mess he made and promises to leave now.

Sandi however asks him to wait. She thinks that the man resembles a man called Wade Wilson, a mercenary she once knew. The man doesn’t reply, because he starts bleeding again, which is pretty painful. Sandi takes him to the couch, gives him some clothes of her last boyfriend and asks him what he wants. He replies that he wants to be the best mercenary ever., and for that he will need her help.

Twenty miles away, in the Kenichi Building, Higashi, lord of a criminal organization talks to his right hand, a woman called Saguri. He asks her if she thinks the dead are aware of their actions, and she replies that he was only made their new lord based on the wishes of their late lady, the former Eastern Wind. However she believes that the other underbosses don’t trust Higashi’s competence and that they will soon ask her to kill him, which she would do. Then he could speak to the dead himself. Higashi then enters the boardroom and makes the error of apologizing for being late. Saguri whispers to him that he shouldn’t do that. One of the underbosses, known as Sonoda, tells him about some problems he had, but he can deal with them. He obviously doesn’t trust Higashi’s abilities. At the end of the meeting, the underbosses leave, muttering insults and contemplating rebellion. Higashi is furious, he is capable of killing any of them in a fight. Saguri advises Higashi to take some action soon.

In Sandi’s apartment, the amnesic man is annoyed with Sandi’s cat, as he tries to get some sleep on the sofa. Hearing someone at the door, he grabs a poker and waits behind it. A man enters the apartment and the amnesiac man attacks him. The “intruder“ easily grabs the poker and takes it from him. He drops his holographic disguise and his face changes to reveal the skull-like mask of the Taskmaster. He attacks the stranger, but Sandi enters and stops him. Sandi introduces the Taskmaster to the amnesiac, who by now calls himself Alex Hayden, as her new partner. The Taskmaster doubts Alex’s ability to become a mercenary, but Sandi stabs Alex with the poker to demonstrate that he can take it. Alex is wounded, the poker went clear through his stomach, but he doesn’t seem to be greatly disturbed. Sandi tells the Taskmaster that they both will help Alex to get into the mercenary business.

(the following days)

Taskmaster takes Alex to a gym and begins training him. He fights him in the style of a different persons, wearing different trademark T-shirts to tell the inexperienced Alex which hero’s style he is currently duplicating. After half an hour, Alex gets some time to regenerate and the Taskmaster gets changed to battle him as somebody else. Like suggested by Sandi, Alex keeps a training journal – in the first week, the Taskmaster fights him as Captain America, Spider-Man, Wolverine and Elektra, each time with the same result – the Taskmaster wins and Alex is injured and bleeding. The training is so intense that Alex deliberately bleeds on the Wolverine shirt to stop Taskmaster from ever wearing it again. By training day three Alex starts to suspect that Taskmaster doesn’t like him. A few days later, Taskmaster tells Sandi that Alex is a bad student. Sandi doesn’t want to hear it, but Taskmaster tells her that Alex is going to cause trouble and he doesn’t want to see her hurt.

In the Kenichi Building, Higashi calls Saguri and orders her to find out what problem Sonoda was talking about, and also whether Sonoda is expendable. Saguri notes that he did not apologize for waking her.

(the next day)

Taskmaster follows Sandi’s advice and decides on a new training method. The gun-expert Outlaw is called in to teach Alex how to shoot. Alex turns out to be a natural and Outlaw tells the Taskmaster that she thinks that Alex isn’t Wade Wilson, because this man is a far better marksmen and he can shoot equally good with both hands, while Wade was slightly better with his right hand. Alex is happier with Outlaw as a trainer, mainly because he doesn’t need to heal for an extensive time afterwards.

At night, the Taskmaster and Sandi take Alex to a graveyard. The Taskmaster tells Sandi that he did some research, but nobody heard of Alex before, and since no one has seen a sign of Deadpool since he got blown up in Germany, he thinks that Hayden is only acting amnesic and that he really is Wilson. Sandi however doesn’t want top go back to dancing, she liked running a mercenary agency and with a little help Alex will be great in the business. As they reach Deadpool’s gravestones, both of them, Sandi asks him if it brings back any memories, but Alex denies. Alex is thinking to himself that he doesn’t even want to know about his past, as being nobody is very liberating.

In the Kenichi building, Higashi has taken dramatic steps to increase his authority. He has killed Sonoda and gave every other underboss a box with one of his bodyparts. Higashi then gives orders: Wei will take over Sonoda’s territory and evict the tenants of a certain building. He then tells them that the organization has been adrift sine the death of their lady, but now the time for grieving is over. There are profits to be had, acquisitions to be made and enemies to bury. The Four Winds are returning.

The Taskmaster has become increasingly annoyed with Hayden. Out of precaution Hayden brought extra bandages and hid the Elektra T-shirt, so that at least he won’t get injured with the sais again. Taskmaster beats up Hayden, calls him Wilson and tells him that he wants him to leave. He says that Deadpool played some lame jokes before and he doesn’t buy the amnesia story. However, Hayden replies that he is not Wilson. The Taskmaster replies that this is just one more reason to shoot him. He could at least stand Wade Wilson, but he doesn’t give a damn about Alex Hayden. Finally having enough, Alex surprises the Taskmaster with a kick that knocks him over. He takes his gun and threatens to shoot him, but then Alex helps the Taskmaster up since it would be impolite to shoot him. Taskmaster is confused: his talents allows him to copy every move he sees, but he can’t get a read on Hayden’s last kick. Hayden is surprised too, he didn’t even know what he did. Taskmaster asks for his gun and then continues the training, being even more irritated and aggressive towards Alex.

Finally the day has arrived that Alex can go out to find a job, as he can’t sleep on Sandi‘s couch for the rest of his life. He puts on the costume designed by Sandi, and the Taskmaster comments that he looks like a crash test dummy on a hot date. The first bar where he tries to find a job, he just is laughed at. In some of the next bars, he only gets job offers by drunk tourists who were way too lonely. At the eleventh bar, he decides to impress the public to get some respect. He enters and offers his services. The people laugh at him, but Alex then breaks his own fingers. The guests are silenced and one man steps up to Alex. His name is Paul Steinen and he offers Alex a job. Alex is too busy to notice most details because of Paul’s ridiculous haircut. Paul turns out to be the owner of Alpine Park, but criminals (the Eastern Wind’s organization, as shown in previous scenes) are driving everybody out of the area so that they can continue their own plans for the land. They scared Paul‘s employees away and when he still was unwilling to sell, they set his show animals loose.

Alex accepts the job and the next thing he is walking on the edge outside a building to capture an ape. He slowly approaches the ape and tries not to startle him, but he slips on the ape's feces and falls off the building. Four disgusting hours later, he returns several animals to Paul – the ape, a trycicle riding poodle, a falcon and a pig. By now Alex is completely pissed off, but not all animals have returned yet. The next animal is a tiger. Alex goes to the subway, where the tiger was last seen. While Alex thinks about the usual horror movie concept of the chatty guy getting eaten after entering a dark tunnel, the tiger attacks at the same time as a train comes. Alex shoots the tiger with a tranquilizer, throws her out of the train’s way and rolls off the tracks just in time. The last missing animal is an elephant, who is swimming in the river. Alex is capable of getting the elephant out and storms the Kenichi building while riding the elephant. He tells them to leave Alpine Park alone.

In Sandi’s apartment, Taskmaster is taking to somebody on his mobile phone. He is offered a job, but refuses as he is not “messing with that guy“. Agent X enters, muttering that he won’t do no more animal jobs. He complains about the smell, but he proudly tells the Taskmaster that at least he succeeded. Sandi opens the envelope containing Alex‘ payment – it’s no check, but a deed to a theme park. The Taskmaster then tells to the person he was talking to on the phone that he has a friend who would be perfect for the job in question.

Characters Involved: 

Agent X / Alex Hayden

Sandi Brandenberg



Paul Steinen, owner of Alpine Park

Higashi, new Eastern Wind

Saguri, Higashi’s right hand woman

Sonoda, Wei and other underbosses of the Eastern Wind‘s organization

Story Notes: 

A narration box mentions that Sandi changed her first name, her parents had named her Sondra.

The former Eastern Wind, like the other three of the Four Winds, was killed in Deadpool (3rd series) #65.

Sandi and Taskmaster met in the Taskmaster Limited Series.

There are two gravestones for Deadpool. One, simply reading “Wade Wilson“ is from his funeral in Deadpool (3rd series) #61 / Deadpool : Funeral for a Freak #1, following his death in Deadpool (3rd series) #60 / Deadpool: Agent of Weapon X #4. However he was resurrected, only to apparently die once more when the Black Swan’s castle blew up in Deadpool (3rd series) #69. The gravestone displaying “Wade Wilson, again“ seems to have been erected in memoriam without an actual body being buried there, or else Sandi and the Taskmaster would know for sure that Agent X could not be Deadpool.

The scene in the eleventh bar may be a tribute to Watchmen character Rorschach, who used to break the fingers of criminals in bars to gain information.

The last page is a file on Agent X.

Issue Information: 
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