Fear Itself: Uncanny X-Force #2

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

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: 

At Cavern-X, X-Force learn that the unnamed super hero was nineteen year old Daniel Chilton, and that he is now dead thanks to Jonathan Standish. They continue their interrogation of Benedict Ryan, who reveals that Standish is a surgeon. At an undisclosed location, Standish is performing surgery on a Purifier, who goes into cardiac arrest. Standish rants and raves about super heroes being responsible for bringing the Devil to Earth, and that he has decided they must save as many ordinary people as possible. EVA hovers over Earth with X-Force ready inside, waiting for Standish’s next attack. X-Force discuss Standish’s beliefs in depth before Fantomex picks up another attack - several, in fact, as Purifiers appear in small towns around the United States. X-Force split up to take the Purifiers down, although they need to take one of them alive. Wolverine slays his opponent with ease, while Deadpool’s opponent blows himself up. Psylocke and Fantomex attack their opponent, and Psylocke prepares to disarm the bomb attached to the Purifier, but he explodes, while Jonathan Standish has eight Purifiers connected - he has created a large bomb.

Full Summary: 

Cavern-X, where Warren Worthington III a.k.a. Archangel soars across a brightly-lit sky in his Angel form. Betsy “Psylocke” Braddock and Wolverine a.k.a. Logan watch him, and Betsy remarks that he looks at peace up there. ‘We ain’t got that luxury. Drag him down’ Wolverine tells his friend. The duo enters a console room, where Fantomex and Wade Wilson a.k.a. Deadpool are monitoring a dire situation. ‘Well, Captain Barnacles had to move the Octopod and the Vegimals were all being thrown around which gave them tummy aches and then Kwazi Kitten -’ Wade exclaims. Wolverine tells him to stop using the computer system for children’s TV. ‘I’ve warned ya’ Wolverine reminds Wade. ‘Spoilsport’ Wade mutters.

Fantomex motions to a screen where emergency services are carrying a body on a stretcher. Fantomex explains that the young super hero’s body was found, his name was Daniel Chilton of Madison Wisconsin, and that he was 19 years old. Daniels parents said he could create light holograms and that he wanted to be an Avenger. He adds that they are still correlating the final numbers of the dead, and that some families and people who live alone will not yet have been discovered. Betsy then asks how many people have killed themselves as a result of Standish’s internet broadcast. Fantomex replies ‘Almost 3,000 dead in the US alone. But it was a global broadcast. 102 in the UK. 130 in France. A lot of international numbers aren’t in yet’ he reveals.

‘Turns out there’s a lot of crazy people out there’ Deadpool remarks. Betsy and Wolverine both frown at him, before Betsy announces that she cannot believe people are that scared. Angel enters the room, and passes into the next where the Purifier called Benedict Ryan is strapped to a table, imprisoned. ‘What are you scared of, Ryan?’ Angel asks. ‘Ah…an angel…has…my time come…to enter Heaven?’ Benedict asks. ‘No. That’s not where you’re heading’ Angel replies, as he transforms into Archangel. He spreads his razor-sharp wings outwards, extending them towards Benedict’s horrified face, demanding he divulge everything he knows about Jonathan Standish. Wide-eyed, Benedict replies that Jonathan Standish is a surgeon.

Meantime, Jonathan Standish leans over a table where a man has countless wires plugged into his body. Standish holds a scalpel towards the man’s head, and tells himself that the human brain generates 25 watts of power when you are awake, enough to illuminate a household light bulb. An ordinary, mundane, practical light bulb. He thinks that yet, all memories, knowledge, personalities and souls are, somehow, contained within the brain. He thinks that is extraordinary that the gateway to Heaven is somehow hidden within these neurons, dendrites and axons.

It was this thought that drove Standish towards becoming a neurosurgeon, and despite his spiritual beliefs, he never saw science as being the enemy. The scalpel draws blood as it slices across the man’s brain. Standish simply believes that some answers are yet to be found by science, and that it was his responsibility, as chosen by God, to look for them. To seek the keys to the divine. To reveal the extraordinary in the ordinary. All within those 25 watts. Standish attaches another cable to his “patient’s” brain, when a doctor nearby, monitoring a computer, announces ‘Cardiac arrest. He’s in V tach!’ The doctor rushes over to Standish and tells him that he has to step away. ‘We can use the defib panels to save this man’ he points out. But Standish replies that there is no time. ‘Jonathan!’ the doctor exclaims. ‘There’s no time!’ Standish shouts as he turns the scalpel on the doctor.

The doctor backs away, and in a raised voice, Standish exclaims ‘Don’t you understand? We didn’t save enough! Our message was insufficient!’ He declares that too few answered their call in a world populated by billions - just a few thousand is failure. ‘The Devil is here! The super-powered have summoned him!’ he shouts. Turning to go into another room, Standish declares that the Devil has come for their souls, all humanity’s souls. ‘We asked the people to sacrifice their lives willingly but the majority refused’. Entering the next room, where a camera is set up, Standish remarks ‘Now it’s up to us to save them. To take them to Heaven before the Devil knows they are dead’.

Standish looks at a monitor depicting a Purifier holding several explosives, and tells himself that he thought Garrity was a selfish fool to disobey his orders and act alone when he detonated that airport ‘He took the lives of the non-powered, which at the time, I did not understand’. Standish boasts that he sees now that Garrity’s actions were a sign - humanity’s time as simply run out. ‘We must save as many as possible. We must send a message that will be heard across this country. And then across the world’, he tells himself.

Meanwhile, EVA soars high above the Earth, transporting X-Force. ‘Hover in Earth orbit and just…wait for Standish’s men to hit somewhere’ Warren states, declaring that he has possibly been involved in more complex plans. Wolverine replies that Standish’s latest video clip said a message is coming “in the next few hours” and that “many souls will be saved”. Logan points out that they have no idea where they will hit, but can guarantee it will be one major American city or other. Fantomex adds that from here, EVA can be ground level anywhere in the US in seconds. ‘Won’t that be fun’ Warren mutters, adding that it is hard to believe that things are that bad down on Earth. ‘When you look at it from up here…from the Heavens…’ his voice trails off.

‘Getting spiritual on us, Warren?’ Wolverine asks. Warren points out that people are so scared that they are willing to kill themselves to avoid what’s coming. ‘Can what’s coming be that…horrible?’ he asks. ‘If it is, it is. We deal with it when it arrives’ Logan tells him. Betsy points out that Standish believes that super-people will bring about the end of the world, that they have brought the Devil himself to Earth. ‘How many times have we all saved the day at the last minute from one abomination or other? We can’t win every time. Stands to reason that sooner or later…’ Betsy’s voice trails off, and Wolverine asks her if she has a point here. ‘What if Standish is right? What if we have brought the end of the world down on humanity? What if the world would’ve been a far better, more peaceful place without super heroes?’ Betsy suggests.

‘How many lives have we saved over the years, Bets? I don’t know about you, but I’ve lost count’ Archangel retorts. ‘How many genocidal lunatics have we stopped? We’re the good guys, remember’ he tells her. ‘Ermmm…excuse me! I could’ve sworn we were a kill crew’ Deadpool declares, adding that is one of the reasons he joined up. ‘That and the promise of a plethora of covert ops groupies. Which I have to tell you, I am gravely disappointed at the subsequent lack thereof’ Wade adds, before remarking that the Uncanny X-Force fan club newsletter has not gone out yet. ‘Justin Bieber’s people are tight with that kinda #$%& and that’s our competition, people!’ Deadpool declares.

‘It’s as though Bertrand Russell himself were in the room. While I’m loath to interrupt such erudite musings, I think Standish is making his move’ Fantomex announces, telling his teammates that EVA’s picking up myriad emergency signals. ‘Which city?’ Wolverine asks. ‘It’s not a city’ Fantomex tells him.

At that moment, civilians are going about their daily business. Shopping, loading goods from a truck, spending time with friends, when a heavily-armed Purifier appears on the street. They all stare at the Purifier, who releases his weapons at them.

Fantomex announces that he currently has eight reported incidents in small towns spread right across America, from Louisiana up to Portland. ‘Single Purifier soldiers opening fire randomly. Mine reported incidents. Ten!’ Fantomex declares. ‘%$#&! We can’t get to all of them!’ Wolverine replies. Betsy announces that she needs one alive, that is all, then she can retrieve Standish’s location and they can end this. Wolverine orders Fantomex to get them down to the nearest target, now.

‘I obey’ Fantomex replies as EVA speeds towards Earth in a burst of flame. Wolverine asks if there are other targets nearby, to which Fantomex replies that they are hitting Texas in twelve seconds, and that targets are also in Oklahoma, Missouri and Arkansas. As EVA gets closer to landing, Archangel soars from the transport, and Wolverine tells him to get to Texas, while asking Betsy to psychically hone in on him. Wolverine tells Fantoemx to bring them in low as he can over Arkansas on the way up to Oklahoma and Missouri. Wolverine orders Fantomex not to break speed, as there is no time. He tells Wade that he is going to Oklahoma while Betsy and Fantomex have Missouri. ‘We take one of these *$%&# alive. The rest? Open season. Gimme a door’ Wolverine declares as they approach Arkansas.

Down below, ‘PURITY!’ the Purifier shouts as it carries on down the street, shooting at anything and everything. ‘Pur…’ his voice trails off, as Wolverine leaps from EVA. ‘…it…’ the Purifier continues. ‘…y’ he concludes as he raises his weapon towards Wolverine, too late though, as Wolverine slices the Purifier in half as he is hurled towards his opponent. ‘Damn. That looks like fun! Me next!’ Deadpool declares, as EVA opens up at Oklahoma. He sings ‘Ooooooohhhkahoma! Something troubling’s keeping up Dean Cain’, before staring ‘Just let that greatly underrated actor sleep, y’all. The Purifier looks up and readies his weapons, as Deadpool leaps down towards him, just like Wolverine - only Deadpool doesn’t strike the Purifier, he lands in a heap behind his opponent instead.

‘You are unclean!’ the Purifier shouts as he starts firing at Deadpool. ‘I just travelled 200 yards along an Oklahoma street on my face, pal! If I’m unclean don’t blame me, blame the town council!’ Wade shouts as he leaps back towards the Purifier, knocking him to the ground. ‘I kinda dig your fetching body enhancements. MTV do that? “Pimp my Racist”?’ Deadpool asks, before remarking that Wolverine says to take one of them alive, and that he is the one who managed it. ‘Who’d a thunk…it’ Deadpool declares, before wondering why the Purifier’s chest has suddenly turned a deeply troubling warning red. The Purifier was armed with explosives, and sets a bomb off, blasting Deadpool backwards.

Psylocke and Fantomex have arrived in Missouri, and Betsy remarks that for all the ethical questions inherent in X-Force’s continued existence, she doesn’t know if she has ever wanted to kill another “human being” so much in her life. ‘Stay…stay back!’ the Purifier warns her as she strides towards him. ‘Yet I need to keep you alive. I find that pretty ironic’ Betsy declares. The Purifier presses down on an explosives timer, but Betsy extends her sword and slices the detonator off the Purifier’s chest. ‘You don’t get out of this that easily!’ Betsy screams. ‘What are you doing?’ Fantomex asks her as Betsy kicks the Purifier to the ground, she replies that she is keeping him alive. Fantomex tells her that the bomb will go off any second, and points out that unlike the rest of X-Force, Betsy doesn’t have a healing factor. ‘Then run’ Betsy tells him, pulling at the wires attached to the bomb, she declares that she will not allow any more innocents to die because of this insanity. ‘I’m going to save this man and then I will burgle his brain and he will tell me where Jonathan Standish is’ Betsy states. She looks at the wires, and announces that she will then put this walking horror show out of his misery. She yanks at one of the wires, then the Purifier explodes, blasting Betsy and Fantomex backwards.

‘Is this on?’ Jonathan Standish calls out. ‘Yes’ a voice replies. ‘Really? Are you sure?’ Standish asks as he stands over eight Purifiers, hooked up to a very large bomb. Standish states that he needs to show the Devil what 25 watts can do….

Characters Involved: 

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


Benedict Ryan

Jonathan Standish


Various civilians


Story Notes: 

This storyline takes place before Uncanny X-Force #10.

Dean Cain is an American actor well-known for playing Clark Kent / Superman in the TV series “Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman”.
Bertrand Russell (18 May 1872– 2 February 1970) was a British philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, and social critic.

Issue Information: 
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