Fear Itself: Uncanny X-Force #3

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

Rob Williams (writer), Simone Bianchi (artist and cover artist) John Lucas (inking assistant), 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: 

The Purifier whose bomb went off thinks he has reached Heaven - in truth, Fantomex used his power of misdirection to make the Purifier think he detonated his bomb. Psylocke in fact stops the bomb and using her psionic power, learns what she needs from him. Fantomex then shoots the Purifier. Civilians have gather nearby, and become frightened, despite Fantomex attempting to assure them that X-Force is here to help. X-Force regroup and head to New York, where Standish is also en route, armed with his large bomb. Air force jets fire a missile at Standish’s plane, but X-Force intercept the missile, although EVA is damaged in the process. Archangel goes after Standish, while Wolverine, Psylocke and Deadpool fall to the city below, and Fantomex crash-lands EVA. Archangel forces Standish’s plane to the city street, landing it without the bomb exploding. Standish survives the crash and believes that God saved him for a purpose. Archangel attacks him, but Standish manages to shoot Archangel. He prepares to press the detonator to the bomb, but Wolverine slices his hand off. Standish claims that he just wants to save lives, but Wolverine decapitates him.

Full Summary: 

‘Is…is this really…Heaven?’ a Purifier asks as he stands before a glowing gateway. Clouds are all around him. Suddenly, Deadpool with the wings of an angel steps forward and informs the Purifier that this is Lady Gaga’s crushingly subtle Bevery Hills home. ‘Of course it’s Heaven. Not the smartest genocidal fundamentalist on the block, are you?’ Deadpool declares. The Purifier smiles and thanks God. ‘I doubted…never doubted…when the bomb went off I knew I was taking the lives of the two mutants and I prayed that my holy sacrifice would be rewarded’ the Purifier exclaims. ‘Yeah. Nice job with that’ Deadpool replies, adding that he has known the God of Love a long time now and that there is nothing he digs more than people who blow themselves up in his name.

Holding a long scroll in his hand, Deadpool checks the list, assuring the Purifier that it is a done deal, before he shouts ‘Disaster! Debacle! Nay, spiritual calamity of biblical proportions!’ and tells the Purifier that he is not going to believe this, but that he is not 100% in yet. ‘Seems the Big Man needs a final show of faith to prove your worth’ Deadpool tells him. ‘Anything!’ the Purifier exclaims. ‘Okay. He’s got one question for ya. And I suggest, for your sake, you answer it truthfully’. Deadpool remarks. ‘Yes! Of course!’ the Purifier pleads. Motioning to the gates to Heaven, Deadpool tells the Purifier that for the big prize, eternity in the glory of His heavenly kingdom, plus the sports car - where, exactly, can they find Jonathan Standish and his Purifiers and what are his forthcoming plans.

‘Got it!’ Betsy “Psylocke” Braddock exclaims as she sits on the Purifier, plucking through the wires attached to the bomb on the Purifier’s chest. ‘What, pray tell, is going on?’ Fantomex asks his teammate. Betsy gets up from the Purifier and reminds Fantomex that he misdirected him into believing that his bomb exploded killing him and them. ‘Then I went into his mind and gave him his own little Faustian pact. Betrayal of secrets for that which he most desired’ Betsy explains, announcing that the Purifier did not hesitate to sell out Standish. ‘It’s good to see a man stand up for what he believes in’ Betsy remarks as she walks away. The Purifier steps up and remarks that this is not Heaven. ‘No, it’s Missouri’ Fantomex tells him, before wondering if killing the Purifier will weigh heavily on his conscience. Fantomex then turns his weapon on the Purifier, before noticing several civilians gathering nearby.

‘Uh…there is nothing to be afraid of. The danger is over. We’re here to -’ Fantomex begins, when one of them woman raises her hands and exclaims ‘Please…don’t hurt us’. Fantomex was going to say “save you”, but he realizes these people do not see heroes, they see only killers. Of course, they are correct in this, for it is X-Force’s raison d’etre. But he sees the fear in their eyes, and realizes that the fear cannot tell X-Force apart from those whom they hunt. Their fear marks X-Force as monsters, and even though Psylocke’s telepathy ensures that the civilians won’t actually remember X-Force being here, Fantomex cannot help but think Standish would feel validated by this.

A short time later, X-Force have regrouped, and are now inside EVA. Warren Worthington III a.k.a. Archangel and Wade “Deadpool” Wilson look at Betsy as she reveals that Standish’s splinter group of Purifiers were based in an abandoned air force base in Nebraska, but that they were flying out in a C-130 when the Missouri Purifier left. ‘If I lived in Nebraska I’d move out, too’ Deadpool remarks, while Betsy declares that Standish knows time is running out, and he wants to save as many souls as he can in one event. Betsy informs her teammates that Standish was a top neurosurgeon who has created a bomb that emits a specific electromagnetic pulse, and he believes that this will shut down the human brain, sending souls to Heaven before the “Devil” can get his hands on them.

Wolverine a.k.a. Logan is looking at a monitor depicting Jonathan Standish, and Betsy remarks that it is Standish’s farewell video broadcast to the world. She adds that the blast will have a radius of 25 square miles and will ostensibly take millions to Heaven. ‘The Devils is here for our souls…the super folk have brought Armageddon down upon us…we “ordinary people” are just pawns in the wars…etc…etc…’ Betsy’s voice trails off. Looking through the Holy Bible, Deadpool remarks that there doesn’t seem to be any mention of a city-wide neurologically engineered brain bomb in it. ‘Maybe it’s in the appendices’ he supposes. Betsy adds that Asgardian monsters ripping this world apart isn’t in the Bible either, and wonders if that would be happening now if Thor hadn’t joined the Avengers.

Wolverine tells Betsy that “ordinary people” are pretty damn good at ripping the world apart. ‘Trust someone who saw World War II firsthand’ he declares. Logan adds that even if Standish has a point, he is responsible for the deaths of thousands and now he wants to add some more. ‘He wants to send a message to the world by taking out super-people? Then it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to work out where he’s heading’ Logan points out.

New York, where several jets filled with Purifiers streak towards the city. ‘Keep them back! Get the bomb to the heart of the city and all will be saved!’ a Purifier exclaims as they open fire at EVA who flies after them. Inside the cargo hold, Standish kneels beside his bomb. He tells himself that all he ever wanted was an ordinary life, and that he became a surgeon because he wanted to help normal people, so he trained for years to gain the skills needed to save them. ‘But, do you have any idea how many would come into my hospital as a result of the actions of superhumans?’ he asks himself. ‘Do you know how much human blood I wore as a result of these “marvels”?’ he asks, deciding that the more heroes that rose up, the greater the human suffering.

The more powerful the heroes became, the more powerful the monsters they brought to this world. ‘We, the ordinary people, just want a life of peace. The superhumans took that from us. And in the end, they took our world away from us. I just want to save people’ he tells himself, while nearby, a military jet fires a missile towards Standish’s vessel. ‘They’re going to shoot it down before it hits Manhattan!’ Fantomex announces. ‘They don’t know about the bomb. If Standish is right and it will affect everyone within 25 square miles…’ Betsy remarks. Wolverine shouts at Fantomex, ordering him to intercept the missile. ‘With what?’ Fantomex shouts back. ‘With you!’ Wolverine orders. ‘I truly hate you’ Fantomex mutters as he moves EVA into the line of the missile, and the two collide an instant later.

The resulting explosion sends shockwaves to Standish’s plane, knocking some Purifiers out of the cargo dock. ‘The bomb!’ Standish calls out as he is jolted about. EVA begins to fall downwards, and Fantomex shouts out in annoyance, while Archangel points out that EVA is falling apart. He then sees Betsy fall from her seat, while Wolverine tells Archangel to stop Standish’s plane from crashing, or else everyone will die. ‘But Betsy -’ Warren calls out as he watches Wolverine, also fallen from his chair, grab on to Betsy. ‘Go!’ Wolverine orders Archangel, who speeds towards Standish’s plane.

Wolverine tells Betsy to close her eyes, as she has an adamantium skeleton protecting her (referring to himself, of course). ‘I bet you say that to all the girls’ Deadpool mutters as he, too, falls nearby. ‘Look on the bright side. At least we’ve got the tops of these buildings to cushion our - OW! OW! OW!’ Deadpool shouts as he lands on top of one of the buildings, but he skids along it, and falls off the edge - though he manages to reach out and grab on to the edge of the rooftop. He sighs, and mutters ‘It’s a living’. Betsy looks horrified as she and Wolverine prepare to crash into another rooftop. Betsy tells Wolverine that they cannot survive this. ‘Guess we’ll find out’ Wolverine replies as he lands first, and Betsy on top of him.

‘The French, of course…have a famous saying related to exactly this kind of predicament’ Fantomex declares as he controls EVA down towards the ground. He remarks that it is extremely difficult to land a wounded flying saucer in the middle of midtown Manhattan without causing considerable consternation to many. Up above, Archangel arrives at Standish’s plane, and releases several razor-sharp “wing-knives” at the plane. Standish knows Archangel is near, and thinks to himself ‘And in the skies above Manhattan. The home of “heroes”. A dark Angel cuts ordinary people to pieces with razor sharp blades from its wings. Angry gods…but they are not my God’ he tells himself. ‘Less shooting, more flying!’ Warren tells the pilots as he bursts through the front of the plane, slashing through the pilots with his wings, Warren takes control of the plane.

‘The world is ending. Time is running out’ Standish tells himself, while one of the wings of the plane explodes. The plane falls towards a busy street below. ‘No good’ Warren tells himself as he bursts upwards, through the roof of the plane. ‘Only chance is to get everything that could explode away from that bomb’ Warren declares as he slices the wings off of the plane with his wings - the plane the nose-dives into the street below, causing cars and cabs to toss about. Standish tells himself that when the fuselage hits he is convinced he is going to die, and he feels a fear like he has never known. Standish boasts that he is not afraid for himself, but he is afraid for others. ‘I’m a doctor. I save people. And I fear I may not be able to save the good souls of this city. I believe in humanity’ Standish tells himself.

‘I believe in the goodness of the soul. Please, Lord, let me alive to save your people’ Standish pleads, before emerging from the wreckage of the plane. ‘Alive…and the bomb intact. Impossible. I am the only one left…alive…oh Lord!’ Standish declares as he looks up and sees a cathedral, sprawling over him. ‘If I ever harbored doubt…I see that you have saved me for a purpose’ Standish remarks when suddenly, several wing-knives are thrown his way, some of which pierce his arm. He cries out in pain, while Warren declares ‘You’re the only one I can see here acting with purpose’. Warren steps towards Standish and tells him that he knows what evil looks like. ‘I’m looking at it right now’ Warren adds. ‘MONSTER!’ Standish shouts. ‘Don’t you see the damage you do?’ he asks, before firing a weapon which strikes Warren in the side.

Warren falls to his knees, and Standish declares ‘You and yours have opened doors that should have remained closed. You brought Armageddon down on us! We didn’t ask for any of this!’ Standish walks closer to the fallen Archangel, weapon still in his hand. ‘You are not heroes! You are horrors!’ Standish shouts. He turns from Archangel and exclaims that the good people of this world would have been so much safer if super-heroes had never emerged. ‘Endless battles. For every one of you “heroes” that emerges, a greater villain rises to face them. All you do is create suffering!’ Standish shouts as he re-enters the cargo dock of the plane.

‘We could’ve told our own stories. Instead, you have pulled us down to Hell. And I will send us to Heaven. We are coming to your Kingdom, Lord!’ Standish shouts as he accesses the bomb. His index finger is very close to the detonator button, and he shouts ‘YOUR WIL BE DONE!’ - but before he can press the button, a sword is brought down, and slices his hand off, sending blood flying everywhere. ‘Lemme ask you something. And I’ve never claimed to be a theological scholar with the answers to all the great questions…but if that bomb going off is God’s will…then how come, despite fighter hets shooting missiles at it, the impossible plane crash through skyscrapers, the fire-fight with killer mutants and all…the %$&#&% thing still hasn’t gone off?’ Deadpool asks as he holds a sword close to Standish’s neck. v

Standish sits clutching his wounded arm, blood pouring down. Betsy, Wolverine, Fantomex and Archangel approach Standish, and Fantomex calls out to Deadpool, telling him that he is an erudite and heroic philosopher of rare and learned wisdom. ‘Word’ Deadpool replies. ‘I just want…I need to save…’ Standish utters. ‘You wanna save people? Remember that terrified super hero boy you shot in the head? He wanted to save people, too’ Wolverine snarls as he leans in close to Standish. ‘You can’t tell me this world’s not a better, safer place without you in it’ Logan declares, before he decapitates Jonathan Standish. X-Force look up at the cathedral, and Wolverine comments that it is a beautiful building.

Characters Involved: 

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


Jonathan Standish


Various civilians

Story Notes: 

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

Lady Gaga is a well known singer / performer, famous for songs like Just Dance, Paparazzi, Bad Romance and Born this Way.

Issue Information: 
Written By: