Agent-X #10

Issue Date: 
June 2003
Story Title: 
If At First You Don’t Succeed.... Die, Die Again !

Evan Dorkin (writer), Juan Bobillo (pencils), Marcelo Sosa (inks), Chris Chuckry (color), Cory Petit (letters), Andrew Lis (editor), Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief), Bill Jemas (president)

Brief Description: 

When Alex gets home after a hit on a death cult, instead of Sandi, he finds Taskmaster. Taskmaster tells Alex that Sandi has taken an assignment, since Alex wasn’t there, and the two fight as usual. Sandi calls a moment later and says she needs help but, by that time, Taskmaster has become incapacitated. Alex goes to the rescue but finds out that Sandi simply was incapable of pulling the trigger on her target, Frank Bigelow. It turns out that Sandi has been in love with Alex and tried to impress him by killing Frank. They decide to kill him together and, after shooting him, they have sex. The next morning, Alex discovers that Sandi has been kidnapped by their employer, Beverly Lacoco, because Frank isn’t dead yet. Unless Alex succeeds by midnight, Beverly will kill Sandi. Alex tries killing Frank, but it turns out that Frank is the ex-superhero, Fight-Man, and, for all intents and purposes, completely invulnerable. Franks tells Alex that he has nothing to live for and decides to help Alex in killing him, but every attempt to kill Frank fails. In the end, Alex has taken a liking to Frank and is incapable of killing him. While trying to make a new plan, Alex is attacked by three robots/monsters, probably former enemies of Frank.

Full Summary: 

The first page, instead of the usual synopsis of previous issues, is instead a fax to Beverly Lacoco from Kenny Liebman (aka the Hooded Eye). Kenny tells her that while the Taskmaster is unavailable and he recommends Agency X to do a hit for them. (Apparently the conversation with Taskmaster went through a third party called the Shiv). They need Agency X now to kill an unnamed person who could be a threat to them, especially with the upcoming election. The fax also makes it pretty clear that Kenny and Beverly are in love and that Kenny is soon to undergo a surgical operation, the nature of which is unclear.

Alex returns home to Sandi’s apartment, heavily injured. He is covered in blood, misses a large part of his arm and his back is filled with knives. Instead of Sandi, he notices Taskmaster on the couch, watching TV. Taskmaster asks him what happened to him and Alex replies that he took on a Chupacabra death cult, complete with virgins and monster. He would have been home earlier, but he needed time to re-grow a foot. Taskmaster is sceptical, but Alex shows him the head of the Chupacabra, causing Tony to throw up.

Alex then asks what Tony is doing here. Tony replies that his cable is out and Sandi said that he could watch the wrestling at her place while she was on assignment. Alex is shocked that Taskmaster let Sandi on assignment since she is a secretary, not an assassin. Taskmaster replies that he couldn’t do anything about it and Alex could not be reached (according to Alex himself because the monster swallowed his cell-phone). Taskmaster and Alex then start to fight again, but are interrupted a moment later, when Alex’s cell phone, inside the monster’s head is beeping. The sight of Alex trying to remove a cell-phone from a monster’s head is enough to let Taskmaster vomit again. The call is from Sandi, telling Alex that she has a problem and needs help. Alex tells Taskmaster that they need to help Sandi, but Taskmaster’s leg was broken during the fight. Alex steals Taskmaster’s car-keys and goes off, leaving Taskmaster about to vomit again as he sees Sandi’s cat eating an eyeball of the monster.

Alex runs into Sandi’s motel room, with a gun in each hand, but Sandi is not in danger, she just has a problem. She points out of the window and hands Alex a sniper-rifle, telling him that their target lives across the street. He is name is Frank Bigelow and, apparently, he is a violent ex-felon. They were hired by his ex-wife, Beverly Lacoco, to take him out. Alex is unclear of the problem, but when he looks through the scope, he sees that Frank is sleeping with a teddy bear. Sandi tells him that she couldn’t do it. Alex is confused why Sandi wanted to do this and she tells him that she saw how he looks at Outlaw when she kills somebody. Alex admits that people shooting people turns him on and Sandi is even more depressed. Alex then decides to do it, but he also can’t do it because of the teddy bear. They decide to do it together, Sandi puts her arms around him and together they squeeze the trigger and shoot Frank 3 times. Sandi then asks Alex to have sex with her.

The next morning, Alex wakes up to find Sandi gone to get their payment and his cell-phone beeping. It turns out that Frank is not dead yet and that Beverly has kidnapped Sandi and will kill her if Alex doesn’t kill Frank before midnight. Alex threatens Beverly, but she is not impressed. She lounges in her office, which is filled with costumed humans, presumably all super-villains.

Alex breaks in into Bigelow’s apartment and finds cases gilled with memorabilia and costumes. While he checks out the stuff, Frank enters. Alex shoots Frank several times, but the bullets bounce off him and hit Alex. Frank tells him that he is bullet-proof. A shot-up Agent X replies that he noticed that. Frank’s muscles swell and he tells Alex that he is Fight-Man. Alex tries to behead him, but his sword breaks. Frank tells him that he is an ex-superhero and ties Alex up to the roof and shows him pictures from his career. As a superhero, he protected Delta City and took the equipment of criminals to sell it on E-bay.

When Alex asks him why he stopped being a superhero, Frank replies that he went to prison. He was charged with child endangerment after 14 of his teen sidekicks got killed. He also was charged with destruction of public property and flying while intoxicated. He is on parole now and not allowed to use his powers or go near children. Alex explains his situation to him and Frank tells Alex that he better kill him then. Alex thinks that Frank is joking, but Frank replies that he has nothing to live for and the only reason that he hasn’t committed suicide is that he has a code against killing. Frank does add that he is pretty impossible to kill, but Alex is optimistic.

Attempt 1: Alex drives his car at high speed into Frank, but he is not even bruised.

Attempt 2: Lots of explosives.

Attempt 3: Bath of acids.

Attempt 4: High voltage.

Attempt 5: Alex tries to saw of Frank’s head (a notepad makes it clear that there were more attempts).

Attempt 6: Alex sets Frank on fire. Frank clearly is in pain and runs straight into Alex, igniting the gas-tank of Alex’s flamethrower. The neighbors are awakened by the explosion and tell each other that they hope somebody kills him soon.

They decide to take a break for dinner. Frank tells Alex that ever since he got his superpowers, life has been miserable for him. Alex tells Frank about Sandi. They share a laugh and leave to resume the murder attempts.

Attempt 7: Frank is pushed of a bridge with a metal cable around his neck, but the bridge just collapses. Alex is wounded in the destruction of the bridge and his lost arm is added to Frank’s collection.

Attempt 8: Alex feeds Frank a lot of poison, but Frank just feels lousy. Alex asks Frank for ideas, but Frank tells him that guys like him always survive, while chocking on a donut. Frank is starting to suffocate and Alex is suddenly confused: some feeling inside him tells him to help Frank and he kicks Frank in the stomach. Frank spits out the piece of food that was blocking his throat, straight into Alex’s face. Frank asks him why he did that and Alex replies that he got to like him during the day. He decides to figure out something else, but first he goes into the kitchen to wash himself.

He asks Frank if he knows any robots. Frank replies he knows about fifty robots and all of them except one are pure evil and asks Alex why he is asking. At that moment, Alex is dragged out of the kitchen by a robot, biting his knee. Another robot or costumed criminal (named Atomic Lou, apparently from the weapon he is carrying and the label on a similar weapon seen in Fight-Man’s collection) is trying to choke him and is followed by a slime-like monster with big claws.

Characters Involved: 

Alex Hayden/Agent X (mercenary)

Sandi Brandenberg (secretary)

Taskmaster/ Toni Master (alias) (mercenary)

Frank Bigelow/ Fight-Man (ex-superhero)

Beverly Lacoco (Fight-man’s ex-wife)

The Hooded Eye / Kenny Liebman (costumed criminal)

Atomic Lou and two other monsters/robots (enemies of Fight-Man.)

Story Notes: 

The Chupacabra is a mythical figure, comparable to a vampire. It translates as “the goat-sucker.”
Outlaw is Alex’s ex-girlfriend, who left several issues ago to visit her dying father.

Unlikely as it seems, this is not Fightman’s first appearance. He only previous appearance was in his one-shot Fightman issue, published by Marvel in June, 1993.

Issue Information: 
Written By: