Fear Itself: Uncanny X-Force #1

Issue Date: 
September 2011
Story Title: 
Before the Devil Knows We’re Dead, chapter one

Rob Williams (writer), Simone Bianchi (artist and cover artist) Simone Peruzzi (color artist and cover artist), Virtual Calligraphy’s Joe Sabino (letterer), Jared K Fletcher (design), Jody Leheup (editor), Nick Lowe (group editor), Axel Alonso (editor in chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)

Brief Description: 

Wolverine and Archangel watch reports about the fear that is taking hold of the world thanks to the Asgardian Serpent God. They learn that the anti-mutant group Purity is in operation again, and one blew up an airport. Another report is of an unnamed superhuman whom Purity is holding prisoner. Psylocke and Fantomex gate-crash a high-society party, and apprehend a Purifier called Benedict Ryan. He tries to escape, but they capture him and take him back to Cavern-X, where they interrogate him about the Purifiers and the missing superhuman. Jonathan Standish is revealed to be the leader of a splinter group of Purifiers who believe that super humans - all super humans - are responsible for bringing the Devil to Earth, and he wants to help save ordinary people. Standish goes into the room where the superhuman is being held captive, and continues to record the young man. In Baltimore, X-Force arrive at the Purifier’s base, and take the Purifiers down, but Standish is nowhere to be found. He is safe at another location, and continues his internet feed - as he shoots the terrified superhuman at close range.

Full Summary: 

Somewhere. Sweat pours down the face of a man. His eyes are covered with a piece of cloth, tied around his head. But just because his eyes cannot be seen, the fear still shows.

At an airport, a man wearing a heavy trench coat enters a busy ticket counter area, then rips his trench coat revealing an assortment of bombs. ‘PURIFY!’ he shouts. A woman tries to shield her daughter. Fear can be seen in the eyes of the girl, and an instant later, the bombs explode, and the airport is in ruin.

‘I got a joke for ya…man walks into an airport. He shouts “Purify!”Hey…I never said it was funny’ Wade “Deadpool” Wilson remarks as he sits at a desk. ‘Sorry. I got a problem with humor. I’m wired wrong. Black humor, I can do though’ Wade remarks, explaining that when you have a face like his and you are in an outfit like X-Force, black humor is kind of a staple. ‘I mean, we do the dirty work so the “all-ages” X-guys and gals don’t have to’ Deadpool adds. He clasps his hands together and blathers that when he says “dirty work”, he doesn’t mean giving the Blob his biannual bed bath. ‘Yeesh, never again. But I was a young mercenary and I needed the money, y’know’ Wade claims, before asking if that can be off the record, as he doesn’t want that getting out in the interview. ‘I’ve got an image to uphold, y’know. Action figures to sell’.

Deadpool gets back on track, and remarks that when he says “dirty work”, he means going stabby stabby on the really nasty bad guys, and doing it in a covert, sneaky, top-secret kind of way. ‘Because no one can ever know X-Force exists. That’s kind of our mission statement. Make sure you write that down’ Wade exclaims. Suddenly, ‘Wade? Who ya talking to?’ Wolverine a.k.a. Logan asks as he and Warren “Archangel” Worthington III appear behind Deadpool. Deadpool motions across the table to where a stuffed bear and a Bamf doll are seated. ‘Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein here. They tracked me here and demanded I reveal all about the existence of X-Force’ Wade tells his teammates.

Deadpool adds that it is a feature about the declining ethics of the modern super hero and what that says about 21st Century American society. ‘For People Magazine’ Deadpool claims. Warren and Logan carry on past Deadpool, and Warren tells Logan that he likes knowing that in a combat situation, a complete madman has got his back. ‘You hired him to hunt down Apocalypse’ Wolverine reminds Warren. ‘The fourth estate will not be denied!’ Deadpool shouts out to them. ‘Guilty’ Warren replies, while Wolverine remarks that Wade is crazier than a bag of snakes. ‘But considering what’s going on in the world right now…crazy’s the way to go’ Logan declares as he and Warren stand inside a communications chamber, and switch on a monitor.

Various images of utter chaos are displayed - with the servants of Sin doing the bidding of their mistress. ‘People are freaking out’ Warren remarks. Logan tells him that they are right to. ‘Fear sells. Makes us do strange things. Extreme things’ Logan declares. Archangel explains that is the reason why he called him here, and akss Logan if he has seen the security footage of the airport bombing. An image of the Purifier appears on a screen, and Warren explains that the tech is nasty and advanced. ‘He called out “Purify!” before going off, apparently’ Warren points out, before asking ‘The Purifiers? Although no records of mutants being present, so doesn’t fit their genocidal MO’ Warren states. ‘Yeah, that’s what I thought’ Logan agrees.

Warren switches the screen, which now shows a man tied up and blindfolded. Warren announces that it has become big news on the internet, and that people think it is going to be an online, public execution - some unknown new superhuman tied up like a hostage. Wolverine tells Warren to saddle the team up and declares that just because the world is coming to an end, doesn’t mean they don’t have a job to do.

Meantime, in New York City, on a rooftop balcony, several well dressed men and women are enjoying a party under the darkening sky, lit up by the lights of the surrounding buildings. EVA hovers in the air above, while X-Force’s Betsy “Psylocke” Braddock and Fantomex walk across the rooftop. ‘Erm…do you think people will notice my flying saucer parked there?’ Fantomex jokes. Entering a glass room on the rooftop, Betsy tells Fantomex that her telepathic suggestion to look elsewhere helps, but that with people this self-absorbed she is not sure they need it. ‘An end-of-the-world party for Manhattan’s elite. Eat, drink and play with what you can while you can. Very decadent’ Betsy declares.

Betsy sees a man and points him out to Fantomex. ‘Benedict Ryan. Popular TV news pundit, author and millionaire businessman. Secretly a Purifier, according to Logan’s government contacts. Raises secret corporate funding for them. Speaks at underground rallies. Hate monger’s his hobby’. Betsy and Fantomex move towards Benedict Ryan, who sees them, and backs out of the glass room. ‘You…you’re some of them, aren’t you? Mutants’ he snarls. ‘Happy to disgust you’ Betsy replies. ‘Please, by all means say something racist’ Fantomex tells him. Benedict climbs onto the barrier of the rooftop, asking them what it is they want. ‘Some healing mutant to mutant-hater dialogue’ Betsy replies. ‘And more Almas caviar. It’s delightful’ Fantomex declares. Betsy tells Benedict that he is going to tell them what the Purifiers are up to, and where they have that super hero boy tied up.

‘No…you’ll never take me, mutie scum! You will not touch this holy body. I’d rather die!’ Benedict exclaims as he lunges from the rooftop, plummeting towards the street below. Fantomex and Betsy lean over the edge of the rooftop, and Fantomex remarks that he did not see that coming. ‘Dammit’ Betsy mutters, while Fantomex announces that they have to give Benedict Ryan his dues - for there is a man who is firmly committed to his belief system. ‘There’s also a man who was our one and only lead to the Purifiers’ Betsy points out. ‘Fantomex…’ Betsy calls out. ‘You know, one of my brains really wants to see what happens to that holy body when it hits the pavement’ Fantomex replies. ‘The greater good’ Betsy tells him.

‘One-and-a-half of my brains…’ Fantomex mutters. ‘NOW!’ Betsy shouts. ‘Oh, alright then. Spoilsport’ Fantomex replies, as EVA appears overhead, and soars down towards Benedict Ryan, who shouts ‘No! Don’t touch me! Unclean!’ - but that doesn’t stop EVA, who swallows him. ‘Admit it. You’re impressed’ Fantomex tells Betsy, who remains silent.

Soon. ‘You hate mutants, right. That’s your small-minded prerogative, I guess. First amendment and all’ Wolverine says to Benedict Ryan, whom they have strapped down to a table. Benedict looks up at the team of mutants, as Wolverine tells him that he starts murdering people, blowing up innocents and putting a young kid on show so everyone can see how terrified he is. ‘That’s different’ Logan mutters. Wolverine’s claws are ready and Betsy has a psi-knife charged, while Deadpool has his hands on his swords, ready to use them. Wolverine tells Benedict that he is forcing them to make some ethically questionable choices. ‘Some really painful decisions for you. What are the Purifiers up to, Ryan? Where’s that boy being held prisoner?’ Wolverine demands.

‘Stabby stabby imminence!’ Deadpool exclaims, swords still at the ready. Benedict Ryan stares up at X-Force and declares ‘Look at you…are you meant to be “super heroes”? You threaten torture. You are plainly monsters. Demons. The world burns around us. The Devil is here and it is your sort who have brought his wrath…’, Wolverine cuts the Purifier off before he can continue: ‘Yeah, yeah. Words hurt but adamantium claws hurt more’. Logan tells him, looming over Benedict’s face. ‘Spill the beans or spill yer lower intestines’ Wolverine suggests. ‘No…never’ Benedict replies, so Wolverine tells Betsy that he is all hers now. ‘What…is that?’ Benedict asks as Betsy holds up her psi-knife. Wolverine tells Benedict that it is a psychic blade and that it will stab right through his mind - and it will hurt. Betsy holds the psi-knife over Benedict’s head and exclaims ‘All those nasty little secrets. All the insecure reasons why you ended up being the hateful pig you are…I’ll see them all’ she tells him. Benedict looks scared, and tells her ‘Don’t. I’ll talk. I’ll tell you what I know. I will not allow you to contaminate my mind!’ he declares, before announcing that their leader’s name is Standish.

Elsewhere, a man in a suit sits in a room. ‘I am Jonathan Standish. And I am terrified’ he thinks to himself. Jonathan long believed in the noble work of the Purifiers. A war to protect humanity from the children of the Devil (for he now sees that the Devil is real) - mutants. ‘A war to save the souls of humanity’ Standish thinks to himself. He is watching the attack on the planet, and thinks that he now knows that he has failed. ‘The seventh seal opens before our very eyes. My epiphany…the Devil himself is here. Come to steal the souls of man before they can ascend to Heaven’.

Standish sees now that the Purifiers were wrong, that it was never just mutants - it was all of them. The super folk. Ungodly idols who kept meddling with unearthly forces. ‘They brought this upon us’ he tells himself, deciding that the Devil is here. Standish holds a gun in his hand and wonders what an ordinary man can do to save humanity at a time like this. ‘Lord. I so wish to join you in Heaven. Here. Now’ Standish thinks to himself as he raises the gun to his head. ‘But I know you still have work for me’ Standish tells himself as he pulls the gun away and enters another room, where several high-tech Purifiers are waiting. ‘You have work…for us’ Standish thinks, before turning to where the young mutant is being held captive. A camera stands on a tripod before the mutant, who wears a black spandex costume with bright blue accents. ‘Soon…we will give the world out sign’ Standish decides.

Meantime, Fort Carroll, Baltimore, an abandoned military base. Several Purifiers stand on the shore of the base, and look out to the water. ‘Huh?’ one of them utters. ‘What the hell is that?’ another asks as something begins to rise from the water. An instant later, each of the Purifiers is struck and taken down from behind - by X-Force. ‘A misdirection’ Fantomex tells one of the Purifiers. Down below, several Purifiers are concerned when their comrades no longer answer any calls from above. ‘Everything okay up there?’ one of them calls out. ‘Not for you. No’ Archangel declares as he appears overhead, followed by the rest of X-Force.

Betsy announces that Benedict Ryan had no knowledge of the boy’s kidnapping, but that he was sure this is where the Purifiers would be keeping him. ‘Man, you guys bring guns to church?’ Deadpool asks as he approaches the Purifiers. ‘That’s my kind of church’ Wade exclaims, before telling the Purifiers that he is actually sorry that they have to kill all of them. Wolverine tells Betsy to shut the door and lock it, to which Betsy asks him if he is sure, pointing out that they will not be able to get out. ‘Ain’t us I’m worried about, darling’ Wolverine replies as he lunges at the Purifiers. The rest of X-Force follow. They are all skilled fighters, and take down the mutant-haters with ease.

Shortly, Fantomex announces that he is afraid he is the bearer of some disappointing news. ‘There’s no sign of the boy’ he states. ‘Dance off winnah!’ Deadpool exclaims. Wolverine has his two outer claws against the neck of one of the Purifiers, and asks him where the kid is that they have tied up on the internet. ‘I…I…’ the Purifier stutters. ‘TAKL!’ Logan shouts. The Purifier replies that he doesn’t know, as it is now them. ‘It’s Standish’s people. A splinter group’ he reveals. Wolverine slowly releases his middle claw, as the Purifier exclaims ‘They think superhumans have brought the end of the world!’ Despite this claim, Wolverine’s middle claw stabs through the Purifier.

‘Children of God…look out your windows. You see what I see. Armageddon is come to planet Earth!’ Standish declares as the camera records him standing beside the mutant. Standish claims that the super-people have brought it down upon them. ‘Brought “them” upon us’ he claims. ‘The Devil’s minions are here. They have many names, but only one purpose. They will take out souls if we allow it. They will prevent us from reaching Heaven…if we allow it’.

Standish continues, telling the viewers that they must not allow it. ‘We must deny them their victory!’ he exclaims. ‘If we take our own lives now we can ascend before he can intervene. This sacrifice will be a sign!’ Standish proclaims, before begging to his viewers, wherever they are and for their own sake, for the sake of their immortal souls, to take their own lives now. ‘Take the lives of those you love now. Save them! Save yourselves! I promise…you don’t have to be afraid anymore…’ Standish announces, as he puts the gun to the head of the fearful mutant. Everything goes black, and there is a lout BANG!

Characters Involved: 

Archangel, Deadpool, Fantomex, Psylocke, Wolverine (all X-Force)


Benedict Ryan

Jonathan Standish


Various civilians

Daniel Chilton (unnamed super hero)

Story Notes: 

This storyline takes place before Uncanny X-Force #10.
This is a tie-in to the “Fear Itself” crossover event.
Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein were the young journalists who uncovered the Watergate affair.

Issue Information: 
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