Exiles (1st series) #24

Issue Date: 
May 2003
Story Title: 
With an Iron Fist - part 2

Judd Winick (writer), Kev Walker (penciler, inker), Transparency Digital (colors), Paul Tutrone (letters), Nova Ren Suma (assistant editor), Mike Raicht and Mike Marts (editors), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Bill Jemas (president)

Brief Description: 

Weapon X explains to President Stark, aka Iron Man, that their mission is to help him breach the force field around Attilan, enabling him to capture the Inhumans. It takes a little effort but, with secret information provided by the Tallus, they finally convince him of them really being reality-hoppers with a mission. They even know about a special key that Reed Richards left in someone’s care, just in case that his force field technology fell into the wrong hands. The problem is that this person is Wonder Man, who, after being close to this reality’s Hulk when he was killed by a gamma radiation bomb, absorbed some of the rays and the Hulk’s genetic material, turning him into an amalgam of himself and the green goliath, more powerful than ever. Weapon X secretly enter the home of him, the Scarlet Witch and Dr. Strange, unnoticed thanks to magical talismans created by Storm. However, the Spider gets careless and gives Dr. Strange an opening to rip off his magic necklace, thus setting off the fortification spell cast by Wanda. Now alerted to the team’s presence, Wonder Man immediately shows up to fight them. While Angel and Vision search the house for the strange key, the rest of the group fights Wonder Man. When the Spider threatens his lover, he gets mad and transforms into his Hulk state. The team has no other option than to use a portable gate to the Negative Zone, given to them by President Stark. “Wonder Hulk” is sucked in, but so is the Jen Walters, the Weapon X’s Hulk, because Spider refuses to save her with a webline. Instantly, the team gains a new member in some alternate reality version of Colossus. Weapon X returns to Iron Man with the key. Meanwhile, in Attilan, Black Bolt senses that things are coming to an end and decides that he’ll make sure his race will never be hunted again.

Full Summary: 

In the Oval Office in New York, Weapon X has just materialized in front of President Tony Stark, Iron Man. He denounces their story about leaping from one reality to the next as crap and charges up his armor, telling the newly arrived super-beings not to move or even blink. Some of the team are eager to fight but the Vision merely orders Stark to stand down before the situation escalates. Gambit tells everyone to relax – after all, they want to help. He then reveals that they are aware of Stark wanting to capture the Inhumans and that it is their mission to help the president in accomplishing that to move on. To back up their claim, Angel states that they have Iron Man outnumbered, anyway, so if they wanted to kill him, they could do it right away.

That, however, is where Weapon X is wrong, as Stark easily proves. Pressing one single button, the room suddenly fills with about a dozen of defense drones, all pointing their weapons at the team. They immediately know that this is enough firepower to kill them all. Well, not all, as the Vision accurately points out; all except himself, much to his team’s annoyance. Hulk asks Gambit if the Tallus is giving him some useful information, which he confirms. Then, addressing Iron Man, Gambit once more states that they are telling the truth, which he can prove by the information the Tallus gives him. Iron Man is not impressed, after all he is the President, so he is an open book. Any possible information about him could be researched. Gambit knows better though and asks Iron Man who knows who killed his father. Stark silently listens as Gambit explains that no one is aware that it was Stark himself, when he was just fourteen years old. Now convinced of Weapon X to be genuine, Iron Man lowers his charged repulsor ray and asks the team to accompany him on a walk.

A little bit later, Gambit and Iron Man are in the Presidential Rose Garden, with the rest of Weapon X following at a close distance. Stark narrates that he and his staff have tried everything to breach the force field around Attilan, to no avail. A nuclear strike might do the trick, but he needs the Inhumans alive, so they can’t be too aggressive. Much to his surprise, Gambit knows of a way to disengage the G barrier – Reed Richards created a key, just in case that the force field technology might fall into the wrong hands. Iron Man thinks that this is typical. Reed always had a contingency plan.

The conversation is interrupted Vision’s eye beams. Both men look around to find Vision and Angel most effectively dealing with two armed guards. Gambit too charges up his staff, though Iron Man claims it’s his fault. The Vision states that his sensors detected a guard activating a neural dampener, apparently trying to disable one or all of them. Asked why he was shooting, as he has no scanners, the Angel answers that he was simply following the Vision’s lead. Iron steps in, apologizing, for he forgot about his own orders about sneak attacks. However, the incident had a purpose, as he now finds himself impressed by Weapon X’s “willingness to act.” Spider finds this a funny way to describe killing a person, but Hulk tells him to shut up.

Getting back to the topic at hand, Stark asks if Weapon X has the key that lowers the field, but Gambit denies it. He only knows whom it was given to for safekeeping. Iron Man asks who that is, and he says that it’s Simon Williams, Wonder Man. Hearing this, Iron Man curses, as Wonder Man is a bit of a problem in this reality. Spider thinks he has to be kidding. After all, he is acting president; he could just drop a nuke on him. Iron Man says that this would only piss him off and fills the team in to what happened years ago. In an attempt to kill the Hulk, he dropped a high concentration gamma bomb on the green goliath. It created a radiation storm so intense that even he couldn’t absorb all the radiation and died, though at the time Simon Williams was only 20 feet away at the time. The gamma rays interacted with Wonder Man’s already screwed-up physiology and he absorbed some genetic matter from the disintegrating Hulk. Storm surmises that, by killing one Hulk, he ended up creating a new one, just as strong. Even stronger, Iron Man explains.

Weapon X is in awe. Stark continues, saying that they have come to an understanding, though, they leave each other alone. Even if he would try to find him now, he probably wouldn’t as Wonder Man’s companion, the Scarlet Witch, is masking their presence magically. This, again, is Gambit’s cue to reveal that the Tallus knows exactly where Wonder Man is right now. Stark is surprised by the amount of information the device contains, prompting Spider to warn him not to try to steal it from the team. In another world, Dr. Octopus tried to do that but ended up dead. Iron Man tells Weapon X that they will never be able to defeat Wonder Man, he will surely kill all of them. However, Gambit replies that they have no intention of fighting him, they are just gonna steal from him.

Somewhere on a Hawaiian island, in a secluded villa, Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch, interrupts her precious studying of ancient tomes and potions when she hears her lover, Wonder Man, coming in. She mentions that he mediated longer today than usual, to which he answers that he was having nightmares. Wanda asks if they might have been visions, but he is unsure, he never can tell the difference. Simon then tells that he will go swimming and, afterwards, paint. He invites her along and she accepts. Turning to the other inhabitant of the house, the legless Stephen Strange, Wanda asks if he would like to join them, but he refuses, not wanting to interrupt his mystic studies of an occult text.

The trio is unaware of Weapon X already being on the island and spying on them. The Spider compares them to a TV sitcom: “He’s a monster, she’s a witch and he’s a crippled sorcerer. They’re – Chillin’ In Paradise!” The others are more concerned whether the magical talismans will counter the Scarlet Witch’s fortification spell. She assures them that they’ll do the task. After all, she was raised on the knee of her uncle, who was a tenth generation shaman. Entering the house, they won’t alert anyone, at least not magically. Gambit orders the team into action while the lovers are still swimming. Vision’s sensors register an anti-matter signature below, in the buildings basement, when suddenly they are recognized by Dr. Strange. However, before he can act, he finds himself covers in red goo, part of Spider’s symbiont costume. The Weapon X members gets careless, though, and when Dr. Strange uses his one free hand to rip the magical necklace from his neck, the Scarlet Witch’s fortification spell goes off in a loud wail.

Gambit orders Angel and Vision to go after they key, while the others will split up and try to outrun Wonder Man. Too late, though, as the bulky Simon Williams, still wet from his swim in the ocean, is already in the doorway. The Hulk is the first to feel his power, as he sends her flying with one punch. While Gambit and the Spider prove to be only little resistance, Jen comes back, though, and this time manages to land a blow herself, sending both she and Wonder Man down a ledge to the beach.

In the sub-basement, Vision phases through a steel door and concurs that they have found what they are after. He reaches behind him and pulls his teammate through the closed door as well, much to his displeasure. The Angel is outraged, he wanted Vision to open the door for him, he hates being phased – it always makes him puke. No sooner did he say it than he actually commits the act, though at least he agrees with the Vision that the glowing object in front of them, encased in some transparent sphere, is indeed the key they are after. The Vision proceeds, stating that they must act in haste.

Topside, the Hulk is still duking it out with Wonder Man, yelling to her teammates that she surely could use some help. Gambit leaps into action, telling Wonder Man that they have no interest in fighting him, though at the same time throws some charged knifes at him. The blades hit Wonder Man in the back, exploding on impact, but he is unharmed. Hulk points out the stupidity of the attack and the speech coming at the same time. High above, Storm announces that brute force might not be enough to beat Wonder Man, though perhaps nature’s fury might, so she strikes at him with a lighting beam. She doesn’t get the chance for a second one, as she is blasted out of the sky by a force bolts from the Scarlet Witch.

Her hands and eyes still dazzling in energy, Wanda is confused. Storm was supposed to have died years ago. Gambit was always on their side, so who are these people? The Spider is more than eager to provide an answer and approaches the beautiful woman who wears nothing but a bikini. He demands to know where he in this reality is supposed to be. Did his counterpart die in the war, did he escape to Canada or Mexico? He catches the Witch and threatens her by holding up a dagger made of his symbiont costume to her face.

Suddenly, Wonder Man screams his lover’s name and bulks over in great pain. The Scarlet Witch urges Spider to let go of her before it is too late. All the time, Simon struggles to maintain control, but when someone threatens her it sets him off. Before the eyes of Weapon X, Wonder Man grows even bigger and his skin transforms to green color. In perfect “Hulk-smash” style, he leaps over to the man who has his lover in his clutches and, with one powerful punch to the ground, he sends the Spider flying.

Gambit realizes that they have no other option than to use the ”wild card” President Stark gave them. He throws a metallic sphere to the cliffside behind Wonder Man, where the strange object unfolds and starts to work as designed. It’s a portable, temporary portal into the Negative Zone. It’s surely working, as right after opening a vacuum vortex sucks in everything within range.
The Spider manages to stick to the ground, while Gambit rams his Bo staff into the ground and holds on to it. He orders the Hulk to push their foe through the portal, promising that Spider will toss her a webline. Jen does as told, but the tether line is not there. Spider explains that it was Gambit who promised the line, not he, and he watches slightly amused as she gets sucked into the Negative Zone too. Her final words, before the gate closes after her, are curses and promises to get back at him when she catches up with the team.

Now, with the danger dealt with, the situation calms. Gambit correctly assumes that Spider only nerve-pitched the Scarlet Witch, as he would never kill anyone who looks that good in a bikini. Hovering above them, Storm, now the single female member of the team has only one word to describe them... “pigs.” Gambit asks why he didn’t save the Hulk and Spider explains that she outweighs him by a ton and he would have been pulled in along with her if he tried. Besides, he didn’t like her because she tried to kill him during their mission involving the Morlocks. Behind them, Colossus materializes out if thin air, he’s Weapon X’s new member. Colossus tries to introduce himself, but Spider stops him – they know how he came to be here and what the Timebroker said to him. He then tells Colossus to wait, as it’s Angel’s turn to give the rundown to newbies. Gambit offers to do it, but Spider insists that rules are rules. It’s Angel’s turn.

(hours later)

Weapon X has brought the key to Iron Man, who is having the device examined by a group of scientists.

Meanwhile, in Attilan, Black sits on his throne, pondering their situation. He knew that it was unavoidable and that his people’s long journey would have to come to an end one day. He is aware of his people being tired, with so little joy left in their lives. The children already do not remember a time other than this. They never knew the majesty that was their kingdom or the pride the Inhumans once possessed. All they know is what it feels like to be hunted. Black Bolts picks up a book entitled “Masada” and walks to an observation platform, from where he has a good view on his citizens. He has only little hope to offer them, but the one thing he can guarantee is that the Inhumans will never be hunted again...

Characters Involved: 

Angel, Colossus, Gambit, Hulk, Spider, Storm, Vision (all Weapon X)

Alternate reality Weapon X visit in #23-25 :

Iron Man



Scarlet Witch

Wonder Man

Dr. Strange

Black Bolt (Inhumans)

in flashbacks:

Mr. Fantastic


Wonder Man

Story Notes: 

The scene about it being Angel’s turn to fill in the newbies establishes two things. For one, he was the last to join of the group, meaning he replaced Weapon X’s Iron Man (who was only seen in Exiles #13), while Gambit shortly before must have been the replacement for Sabretooth, who was left behind in the same issue.

The narration boxes on page 2 give a little backstory on some of the Weapon X members:

- The Hulk, Jen Walters, is a former mob bookkeeper. Her main Marvel Universe counterpart, She-Hulk, however, was a lawyer at the time she received the fateful blood transfusion from her cousin, Bruce Banner, aka the Hulk.

- Angel worked as a gun-toting assassin in his own reality. While his main Marvel Universe counterpart too, for a time, worked solo as the Avenging Angel, he only used a gun filled with gas bullets to stun his opponents.

- Storm is only sixteen years old, but she ruled half of her reality’s Africa and she has magical powers that with her main Marvel Universe counterpart have only been hinted.

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