Captain Universe: X-23

Issue Date: 
January 2006
Story Title: 
Double Threat

Jay Faerber (writer), Francis Portella (pencils), Raul Fernandez (inks), Impacto Studios (colors), VC’s Rus Wooton (letters), Tom Valente (production), Nathan Cosby (assistant editor), Mark Paniccia (editor), Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

X-23 created by Craig Kyle

Brief Description: 

The Uni-Power has been malfunctioning of late, and is searching for answers. Following a battle with a Uni-Powered Daredevil, A.I.M. operatives, pretending to be surveyors, are scouring the area for any signs of the mysterious entity. Watching them is the new Scorpion, her boss and several S.H.I.E.L.D. troopers. As the A.I.M. operatives rough up some innocent youngsters, X-23 of all people leaps to their defense. An all out battle begins with the surveyors, who are backed up by three cloaked A.I.M. soldiers. During the fight, the Uni-Power appears and enters X-23’s body, enhancing her already formidable powers. Scorpion also joins the fray on her side and, between them, they successfully defeat the A.I.M. operatives and prevent the Uni-Power from being taken captive. The Uni-Power then asks X-23 to visit their lair and destroy any information they might have on it. She agrees, and Scorpion tags along at the insistence of Khanata. They discover the hideout, thanks to S.H.I.E.L.D.’s interrogation of Lombardi, a captured A.I.M. soldier. There, X-23 takes out an A.I.M. scientist and smashes the computer, which is transferring information to his masters. Scorpion then allows her to depart quietly, whilst informing her boss that she didn’t make it. The Uni-Power then thanks X-23, but takes off in search of more answers to its problem.

Full Summary: 

Surveyors working for A.I.M. are checking a street for signs of the Uni-Power. One of them remarks that the science division has been tracking the Uni-Power for decades. He’s unhappy that he signed on to see the world, and he finds himself running tests for a bunch of nerds. His colleague agrees, but needs to help the forensics guys sift through some broken glass.

Watching the surveyors from a nearby rooftop is a man named Khanata. With him is the new female Scorpion and several armed S.H.I.E.L.D agents. Scorpion asks what they’re doing down there. Khanata replies that they’re still running tests; looking for any trace of the Uni-Power, he bets. She asks what the Uni-Power is exactly. Khanata reminds her that she’s already been briefed, but Scorpion asks for a refresher.

He explains that the Uni-Power is some sort of cosmic entity, or object, or something. It can bestow anyone it contacts with powers on a cosmic scale. Lately, something’s happened to it, causing it to malfunction. Its power levels aren’t consistent, and its memory appears to be faulty. So far, it’s bonded with both the Hulk and Daredevil in an effort to replicate their own superhuman abilities and track down the cause of its problems.

S.H.I.E.L.D. learned that A.I.M has been studying the Uni-Power for years now, and the street down below is the site where Daredevil fought four A.I.M. class three commandos with the help of the Uni-Power. He managed to capture one of them and turn him over to them, but the other three escaped. Those city workers are actually an A.I.M. detachment, sifting through the remnants of Daredevil’s fight, hoping to find any trace of the Uni-Power.

Scorpion asks why they are there, exactly. Khanata informs her that the only thing worse than something of the Uni-Power’s calibre being compromised, is if it falls under the control of A.I.M. They can’t let that happen. So, they need to determine if the workers below can find the Uni-Power and prevent them from containing it. Scorpion asks, in that case, if it’s okay if S.H.I.E.L.D. manages to contain it and put it to work for Uncle Sam. Khanata asks her to hold on. Something’s up.

Down below, two men and a woman approach the workers and say hi. They wonder if they might be able to spare a little change. The woman asks what it is they’re doing. One of the workers shoves her away from their equipment firmly, and her friend becomes angry, asking why he had to hit her, when all they wanted was a little spare change. The worker pulls out a weapon and points it at the guy. “How many times do we have to tell you?” he asks.

Scorpion reacts quickly, but Khanata tells her to hold on and give it a minute. Another S.H.I.E.L.D. operative points to the scene and asks them to take a look. Out of nowhere, X-23 leaps into action with four of her claws prepped for action. She makes one of the surveyors bleed with her initial strike, and his comrade orders a code red. As X-23 takes him out, three A.I.M. commandos appear, cloaked to render them invisible. X-23 has enhanced senses and she sniffs them out as soon as they arrive. She swings her claws in their direction and catches one of them, slicing his weapon in two. They wonder how she knows where they are.

The guy wanting change asks his friend who the chick is. She replies that she doesn’t know her name, but she’s seen her around the shelters. Maybe she was following them? X-23 continues her assault, narrowly missing one of the cloaked commandos, and dodging attacks from his colleagues. Scorpion wonders what the hell’s going on down there. Khanata informs her that they’re the commandos from Lombardi’s unit. They have cloaking abilities, and the girl doesn’t stand a chance.

One of the commandos grabs X-23 by the hair but, as he pulls, a strange phenomenon takes place. The Uni-Power instills itself into her young body, and she is suddenly supercharged. She picks up the aggressor and holds him over her head. She then swings him around and hurls him at one of the others, before slicing the edge off a fire hydrant to allow the pressurized blast of water take down the third. She is shot at, but leaps behind the worker’s truck for cover.

One of the workers grabs a weird-looking device that will pull the Uni-Power out of her once it’s been charged up, but he doesn’t get the chance to use it. Scorpion appears beside him, and smashes her fist into the equipment, rendering it useless. She then places her gloved hand on his face, which shocks him unconscious. X-23 continues her assault on the cloaked commandos, whilst Scorpion proceeds to take down the surveyors with her exceptional fighting skills.

As they fight, they bump into each other with their backs and both turn to face the other. With X-23’s claws at the ready, and Scorpion’s glove ready for action, Scorpion tells her to back off. She’s on her side. X-23 looks at Scorpion, who points at the commandos and reminds X-23 that they’re the bad guys. They shoot at the two women, but X-23 shoves Scorpion out of danger and slices one of them. Scorpion manages to get close enough to lay her glove on the other, and he falls the same as the surveyor did.

With the commandos down and the workers either unconscious or having run away, the Uni-Power speaks to X-23. Only she can hear its voice. It informs her that it is the Uni-Power, and it means her no harm. It has amplified her natural abilities and seeks her assistance. It adds that the men she’s been fighting have been collecting information about it; information they should not have. It asks if she’s willing to venture into their lair and destroy their records before they can use them to do it harm. X-23 recalls being tested upon herself, and agrees to cooperate, speaking out loud.

Scorpion asks what she said, but X-23 replies that it was nothing, before heading away from the fight scene alone. Scorpion asks her to wait, and asks where she’s going. X-23 replies that she needs to find the lair and destroy it. Scorpion fancies a road trip, and counts herself in. As X-23 climbs a fire escape, Khanata talks to her through her earpiece and orders her to stay with the youngster. Scorpion asks if she knows where their lair is, but X-23 admits she doesn’t. Scorpion replies that she must join her, because guess what she knows that X-23 doesn’t?

Meanwhile, two S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, Nagayoshi and Sareva, are interrogating the A.I.M. commando captured earlier: Lombardi. They need to know the location of the A.I.M. stronghold from where he and his crew were deployed. Agent Nagayoshi adds that, if he doesn’t feel like cooperating, then they’ll turn him over to Agent Morrow from their telepath division. He can go into his mind and retrieve the information, but he’s been told it isn’t exactly pleasant. Lombardi looks over at Agent Morrow, a large angry-looking black guy and decides to give them what they want.

Outside, Nagayoshi thanks Agent Morrow and Nagayoshi’s fellow interrogator asks if they really have a telepath division. Nagayoshi replies that Morrow has trouble reading a John Grisham novel, much less anyone’s mind. He gets on the phone to control and asks to be patched through to Scorpion’s earpiece. He has the Intel she needed.

It’s nighttime and both Scorpion and the newly empowered X-23 are surfing a train on the way to the A.I.M. hideout. “This is an interesting way to travel,” comments Scorpion, but her attempts at conversation fall flat. She asks for a name at least, informing her companion that she’s the new Scorpion; the good one. She’s not the one who fights Spider-Man. X-23 offers her codename before Scorpion spots their destination and they leap from the train.

Scorpion didn’t expect the building they approach to be her idea of a terrorist stronghold, and figures they need to find out a way in. X-23 solves that problem by kicking the door through. Once inside, X-23 states that no one is there, and heads to the stairs leading to the basement. Scorpion follows, feeling like she’s pretty much superfluous to this mission.

The steps lead down to a hi-tech series of tunnels. They notice a man’s head poking out of a door ahead of them. He slips back inside the room and the door slides closed behind him. “Well, that was rude,” says Scorpion, and the two heroes quickly follow the man inside. They find him sitting at a control desk tapping something into the computer. He warns them that they’re too late. He’s the only one left. The whole place is set to self-destruct in three minutes.

X-23 wastes no time is kicking his face in, leaving him unconscious. Scorpion notices that there’s some kind of data upload going on. She reckons it’s all their Intel on the Uni-Power thing. Through her earpiece, Khanata asks if she can throw it on a disk, and redirect it to one of their servers. They need that information.

As she listens, X-23 reaches over and smashes her fist into the computer, causing it to malfunction. Scorpion is sent sprawling to the floor, and asks what happened. X-23, with tears welling up in her eyes, replies that the Uni-Power made her stronger. She can hear things better, and she’s been listening to Scorpion speaking with Khanata. She doesn’t like the fact that they wanted the information for themselves, so they could force the Uni-Power to do what they wanted. She won’t let that happen.

Khanata tells Scorpion to bring her in, but she doesn’t respond. Instead, she grabs the scientist and put him over her shoulder. As she leaves the room and heads for the exit, X-23 follows. However, Scorpion asks where she’s going, and informs Khanata that X-23 just took off for another part of the plant. She says she can’t follow her, as the place is gonna blow any second. X-23 follows her silently.

Once they’re outside, the whole place explodes and Khanata asks what’s happened. Scorpion lays the scientist down between herself and X-23, and replies that she made it out, but X-23 didn’t make it. She was inside when the place blew. She then points to X-23, motioning for her to leave and, with a hint of a smile, she does as asked. Khanata is glad Scorpion’s all right, and tells her they’ll be with her in five minutes.


X-23 watches the sun setting, as the Uni-Power removes itself from her. It tells her that the data collected by A.I.M. is now lost to them. She has its thanks. X-23 asks where it will go. The Uni-Power, now a floating blue sphere, says it isn’t certain. This planet has many great minds. Perhaps one of them will be able to produce the solution to its problem. Regardless, it is now able to safely continue searching for answers without fear of being exploited. X-23 wishes it good luck, and watches as it disappears over the horizon.

(meanwhile, somewhere other than Earth)

Lilandra Neremani informs Gladiator that the Shi’ar has determined that the Uni-Power has become dangerously unstable, and could pose a serious threat to any populated planet. As such, it needs apprehending and brought back to their planet for evaluation. She trusts Gladiator is up to such a task. He crosses his arm over his chest, and tells her that he will not fail her.

Characters Involved: 


The Uni-Power

A.I.M surveyors

Khanata and his troops


Three youths

A.I.M commandos including Lombardi

Three S.H.I.E.L.D. operatives; Morrow, Sareva and Nagayoshi

A.I.M. scientist

Lilandra Neremani

Assembled Shi’ar dignitaries


(in flashback)


Story Notes: 

This is part three of a five-part story. The other Captain Universe team-ups were with Daredevil, Hulk, the Invisible Woman and the Silver Surfer.

A.I.M stands for Advanced Idea Mechanics.

To bring us up to date with this story, the Uni-Power was shown to be malfunctioning. It needed a willing host to bond with before it could make the dangerous cosmic journey to discover who or what was weakening it. It first found Lt. Gabriel Vargas, a former U.S. Marine and paraplegic. It made a deal to restore his legs if he lent his body to the mission. Before they could bond, the Uni-Power needed to quickly bond with, copy and download the powers of a group of heroes. Only then could it endow Lt. Vargas with the tools he would need to survive the hostile environment of space and confront the entity responsible for its deadly misfortune. [Amazing Fantasy (2nd series) #13 - 14]

It located the Hulk and entered his body, which changed him back into plain old Bruce Banner. It then asked him to travel to Manhattan to find Dr. Wiles, an expert on its power. He found the doctor, but A.I.M. scientists monitoring his laboratory determined that Banner had the Uni-Power inside him. Wiles’ assistant, David Garrett, then turned on them, as he was secretly working for A.I.M. He tried using a device to remove the Uni-Power from Banner and then contain it. Fortunately, the Hulk persona was brought to the fore and he managed to defeat the A.I.M. robots that accompanied Garrett. Garrett himself was taken down by an unseen assailant. The Uni-Power then left Banner and headed for someone new. [Captain Universe/Hulk #1]

It soon found Matt Murdock, a man better known as Daredevil. It entered his body as he fought four cloaked A.I.M. soldiers on a rooftop. His costume changed, and he was temporarily granted his sight back. The soldiers escaped, but Daredevil later helped the Uni-Power locate their hideout. He defeated them, and managed to capture one of them, a man called Lombardi. He called the Black Widow, who had Lombardi brought to S.H.I.E.L.D. detention. Matt Murdock then helped clear Dr. Wiles of killing his assistant, which turned out to be Lombardi’s doing all along. The Uni-Power then went on its way. [Captain Universe/Daredevil #1]

Following this story, the Uni-Power made its way to the Baxter Building where Reed Richards began to investigate its problems. Gladiator appeared, and in his haste, forewent any pleasantries and tried to take the Uni-Power by force. The Uni-Power merged with the Invisible Woman and she proceeded to knock him clean out the building. He returned, but after a skirmish with the Thing and the Human Torch, Sue opted to remove Gladiator from the vicinity of innocent bystanders and fought Gladiator until he was a beaten man. Sue then received a call that their battle had caused a tsunami which was headed to the Northern California coastline and she had the Uni-Power merge with Gladiator in order to get them there quickly. Once there, it returned to Sue and she saved San Francisco from certain disaster. Gladiator apologized for his actions, and Reed agreed to allow him to take the Uni-Power to his homeworld for their scientists to take a look. On the way, however, he was ambushed by unseen forces. [Captain Universe/Invisible Woman #1].

Gladiator woke to find himself held in some kind of prison alongside many other aliens, and the Uni-Power wasn’t able to breach the stasis field. His captor, Krosakis, fed off the energies of others, and he decided to take the Uni-Power for himself. He became super powerful, but the energy created when they merged caught the attention of the Silver Surfer who sensed that something was wrong. He found Krosakis and demanded he release the Uni-Power. They fought on a cosmic scale, until the Surfer overloaded Kroaskis’ ability to absorb any more power. The Uni-Power took its chance to leave his body, and then merged with the Silver Surfer to allow him to save all the innocents aboard his craft, which was in danger of being destroyed. Gladiator and his fellow captives were freed, and the Surfer informed him that the Uni-Power was now temporarily healed due to the fusion of their cosmic powers. Gladiator trusted the Silver Surfer to take the Uni-Power to Earth in order to complete its mission, and they said their farewells. On Earth, the Uni-Power led the Surfer to Gabriel Vargas, where it merged with him, restoring his legs and changing him into the new Captain Universe. [Captain Universe/Silver Surfer #1].

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