Mystique #1

Issue Date: 
June 2003
Story Title: 
Dead Drop Gorgeous - part 1

Brian Vaughan (writer), Jorge Lucas (artist), Paul Tutrone (letterer), StudioF (colorist), Joseph Michael Linsner (cover), Nova Ren Suma (editor), Mike Marts (supervising editor), Joe Quesada (chief), Bille Jemas (president)

Brief Description: 

Prudence, one of Xavier’s secret agents, is killed by the pyrokinetic arms dealer, Steinbeck, when she is trying to steal a disk in Moscow. When Xavier learns of this, he pays a visit to the former X-man, Forge, in Baltimore, asking for his help in locating the one woman who could finish Prudence’s mission: Forge’s onetime lover, Mystique. Reluctantly, Forge agrees to try and find her. In Washington D.C., an agent disguised as a hooker enters the apartment of one Dr. Conolly after a device of his. After she locates the safe, her prisoner, Connolly, turns out to be Mystique, who’s after the device herself. She quickly disarms the other woman and, learning the other agent is from her home country, Austria, she chooses to spare her. However, both women are surprised when it turns out that the invention – a device supposed to help locate shapeshifters – is no longer at Connolly’s apartment. At that moment, the apartment is crashed by a team of US Soldiers, intent on capturing or executing Mystique.

Full Summary: 

Moscow, the Kremlin. 5:24 AM [MSK]:

A young woman, dressed in an evening gown, jumps through a second floor window. She gasps in pain as she lands on her high-heeled shoes and starts running, suddenly stumbling as one of her heels snaps off. She looks up to see that a man in a trenchcoat is standing in front of her. Calmly, he tells her that it is over and that he wants the plans back. “You can’t always get what you want, Steinbeck,” she replies as she gets up. But, she quips, sometimes you get what you kneed, as she kicks him in the unmentionables and follows this move up with a punch to the chin. She continues punning that she never really liked the Stones. She’s more of a Beatles fan, she continues, as she draws a gun and holds it to his head. And he knows what the Beatles say about happiness…

She hasn’t got the guts, he states. He can burn in hell, she retorts. His eyes begin to glow as Steinbeck states evilly why don’t they all burn here? The woman shouts, no, holding up her stolen disk. She’s got the only one. He wouldn’t. Flames emit from Steinbeck’s mouth, engulfing and instantly killing the woman and destroying the disk in the process. Idiot, he states…

Westchester, New York 11:39 [EST]

Watched by Jean Grey, Charles Xavier is giving a live interview to Nightline via Satellite feed. Xavier answers Ted Koppel’s questions on whether conditions are better for mutants than one year ago when, suddenly, he receives an urgent telepathic call by someone calling himself field handler Shortpack. Shortpack is hesitating, as he doesn’t know if the telepathic channel is secure, but says they have a situation in Moscow. Xavier excuses himself to the Ted. Something has come up. Jean Grey quickly kills the feed and inquires if the professor is all right. Xavier calms her and politely asks her to give him a moment alone. Jean shoots him a suspicious look, but agrees, telling him she’ll wait outside.

Alone, Xavier resumes his telepathic conversation with Shortpack, who briefs him that Agent 16 has died. Shattered, Xavier buries his head in his hand, muttering what has he done?

Baltimore, Maryland 2:54 AM [EST]:

The annoyed mutant inventor Forge opens the door of his apartment-cum-workshop, fully expecting to be annoyed by an over-eager Jehova’s Witness with a death wish but is faced by Professor Xavier instead. Xavier apologizes for waking him, but this is important. Forge asks him into his apartment, which is filled with a mess of strange machinery, telling him he wasn’t sleeping anyway. He’d had a dream about a perpetual motion machine and had to see if it would work in real life. His mutant gift allows him to build pretty much anything, but free energy is still his Moby Dick. How did Xavier find him anyway?

Xavier alludes to certain sources, though some of them suggested Forge might be at a Cheyenne reservation, resuming his studies in shamanism. He was, Forge agrees, reaching for a high-tech gun, but it didn’t take. “Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side,” he quotes. But certainly Xavier didn’t fly up here to discuss theology?

Xavier cuts to the chase: as Forge knows, he and his students were recently outed as mutants to the world. A largely positive development, but in some ways it has complicated their battle. Occasionally, certain politically sensitive missions will require a certain degree of … deniability which is why he started to use clandestine operatives, who cannot be traced back to him in case of their death or capture – spies, in other words. Xavier asks Forge for utmost discretion. What he’s disclosing now, he hasn’t even told his students. A few hours ago, his top operative, Prudence, was killed in the line of duty, murdered by a pyrokinetic mutant arms dealer named Steinbeck. Prudence didn’t have a chance to complete her mission, which might save countless lives. He’s telling this to Forge because someone has to finish Prudence’s mission. Forge interjects, telling Charles that he is just an aging war vet. If he needs someone to invent stuff, he’s the right man, but he’s useless in the field.

Actually, he wasn’t talking about Forge, Charles replies and takes out a picture from his folder and hands it to Forge. He was talking about her. The picture is a snapshot of Mystique. Forge anxiously asks Xavier if he is insane. She’s a terrorist, a heartless mercenary. Xavier interrupts the other man’s rant: Forge loved her once, didn’t he?

Forge silently stares at the picture for some moments. Turning his back to Xavier, he replies that he may have the power to fix anything, but he couldn’t fix her. And neither can Charles. Mystique’s a shapeshifter. There’s a reason why Forge’s people call her kind tricksters. She may alter her appearance a million times a day, but she’ll never really change. He has no illusions about reforming her, Xavier agrees. Mystique’s a vicious woman who’s hurt people Charles loves. But, thanks to her expertise in espionage, she is the only mutant with the skills and abilities to successfully complete Prudence’s mission. And in the process, she may unwittingly repay society for some of her past crimes.

Still looking out of the window, Forge insists that she’ll never agree. In Godfather-like fashion, Xavier states that he can make her “an offer she can’t refuse,” but first he has to find her. Mystique eludes most conventional forms of detection and he’s unable to get a lock on her ever-shifting gray matter. Forge, being the person who knows her better than anyone, Xavier was hoping he might be able to locate her. Forge reluctantly agrees to do what he can, but he hasn’t heard from Mystique in ages. She could be anywhere.

Westlake apartment complex, Washington D.C. 3:12 AM [EST]:

A nerdy looking, middle-aged man is admitting company of the very scantily clad female persuasion; clearly a prostitute. When the man complains that he had asked the agency for a brunette, the redhead playfully kisses him and tells him that hair is going to be the last thing on his mind once they get started. The man is warming up to the girl, who snoops around the apartment a bit and, seeing his workstation, asks if he is some kind of scientist. Claiming men with brains are sexy, she asks what he s working on. Testily, the man replies that his projects are highly classified and, pointing to the bedroom, he asks if they can just get started. Oh, but she loves secrets the hooker insists. If he’ll show her something cool, she’ll let him do anything with her. As an incentive, she dangles a pair of handcuffs in front of him. The scientist is tempted but refuses. His employers would kill him… Yeah, well, the woman replies harshly and draws a gun, she’ll kill him if he doesn’t.

She quickly handcuffs him, telling him that he just blew his one shot to make this easy. Now she wants the combination to the safe. The man plays dumb. What safe? The woman slaps him with the gun, stating a little birdie told her how to find it. Quickly, she finds the safe by moving what looks like a sports trophy aside. Suddenly, Conolly’s eyes start to glow as he smirks and states finally. With that word, he changes into Mystique. She’d been looking all over for that safe.

The other woman is momentarily shocked and Mystique uses her surprise: she jumps and kicks the gun out of her opponent’s hand. With one fluid movement, she alters her hands and wrists making them impossibly thin, allowing her to slip them out of the cuffs. The other woman finally has found her tongue again, stammering out that she is Mystique, the assassin, as Mystique threatens her with the gun she took from her. She adds that she kissed a mutant? Disgusting!

But she didn’t mind kissing a woman, did she? Mystique asks. She loves open-minded girls. The other woman inquires after the real Dr. Connolly. Unconscious in the closet, Mystique replies. She arrived a few minutes before the girl did and pegged her for a spook the moment she heard that fake American accent. She mocks the other woman with her bad wig, slutty make-up and her lack of muscles, stating that every chick who watches an episode of Alias thinks she can be a secret agent these days. But what third rate outfit would actually hire her?

The girl refuses to tell until Mystique holds the gun to her head. She gives in and states that she’s from the Austrian Intelligence Division. Mystique’s taken aback. Lowering her gun she tells the other woman that she gets a momentary stay of execution, because Mystique is nostalgic for the fatherland. But what does the A.I.D. want with Dr. Connolly’s device? They hope to use it to hunt down shapeshifters like Mystique, the girl replies. Good thing she got here first, huh, Mystique replies. Her life would be a lot less fun if that gizmo fell into the hands of the two people who hate her: anyone and everyone.

Holding her ear to the safe door, she enlarges her tympanic membrane, enabling her to hear the tumblers fall into place and find out the combination. Inside, she finds… nothing. Wondering who has the device if Connolly doesn’t, Mystique’s train of thought is interrupted as a voice from outside announces that they know she is in here and she is to come out in neutral form, with hands up. Friends of the girl? Mystique snarls. Genuinely frightened, she denies it. Unusually merciful, Mystique tells her to beat it – she’ll buy her some time but, if she ever sees her again, she’ll put a bullet between her pretty eyes. She’s not cut out for this game. She should leave. Stammering her thanks, the girl leaves.

Mystique draws a knife, still holding a gun with her other hand and sure that she can beat whoever it is. Suddenly, an entire team of soldiers, armed up to the wazoo, crashes into the house through the windows, telling her that the president of the USA has provided them with written legal authority to execute her where she stands. "Ah, hell," she swears.

Characters Involved: 

Mystique/ Raven Darkholme

Professor Xavier, Phoenix IV (both X-Men)

Forge (former X-Man and onetime lover of Mystique)

Prudence / Agent 16 (a secret agent of Xavier’s)

Unnamed A.I.D. agent

A team of US soldiers

Steinbeck (a pyrokinetic mutant arms dealer)

On satellite feed:

Ted, anchorman of nightline

in telepathic conversation with Xavier:

Field handler Shortpack

Story Notes: 

While it is not implicitly stated, Xavier is no doubt speaking to Ted Koppel, while appearing as a guest on ABC’s primetime news show, Nightline. Ironically, Nightline is a pre-recorded investigative news program and not a live show.

“Happiness is a Warm Gun” is a famous Beatles song. So, incidentally, is “Dear Prudence.”

A Perpetual Motion Machine (that could run on the energy that is supplied from its function) would violate either the first (The energy of an isolated system is constant) or the second (The entropy of an isolated system increases in the course of a spontaneous change) law of thermodynamics and is, thus far, considered impossible. But, apparently Forge considers the laws of physics to be challenging, rather than immutable.

Forge is quoting Han Solo from Star Wars – A new Hope with his “hokey religions” comment.

Xavier’s comment that Mystique’s hurt people he loves is something of an understatement. Mystique is responsible for the death of Xavier’s onetime lover and close friend, Moira MacTaggert (as told in the Dream’s End crossover, where Mystique also de-powered Wolfsbane - another student of Xavier’s) and, more recently, she slit Banshee’s throat (possibly crippling him) in Uncanny X-Men #405.

At the end of Uncanny X-Men #406, Mystique was sucked into a dimensional void by Abyss. It is unclear how she escaped.

While it has often been suspected that Mystique hails from some German-speaking country, this is the first time it is actually confirmed that she is from Austria, same as the love of her life, Irene Adler AKA Destiny.

Alias is a popular TV show about the adventures of a young woman in the spy trade.

Issue Information: 
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