Mystique #20

Issue Date: 
December 2004
Story Title: 
Quiet - part 1

Sean McKeever (writer), Manuel Garcia (penciler), Raul Fernandez (inker), Chris Eliopoulos (letterer), Matt Milla (colorist), Mike Mayhew (cover artist), Stephanie Moore & Sean Ryan ( Assistant Editors), Mike Marts (editor), Joe Quesada (editor-in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

Mystique agrees on killing Xavier for Shepard and the Quiet Man in exchange for a device that will allow her to not be found by Home Security. Shortpack makes a video intended for Xavier, in which he explains that he resigns and intends to kill Steinbeck. The tape never reaches Xavier and he eventually calls Mystique and Forge back from a mission asking them to look for the vanished Shortpack. Their trail leads them to a casino in Monte Carlo, where, after a short tussle with Shepard, Mystique finds Shortpack’s friend, Fantomex. Fantomex tells her and Forge that Shortpack left, intending to kill somebody named Steinbeck. Hearing that name, Mystique flees. Xavier orders Forge to cut Mystique loose and leave her to Homeland Security’s mercies. Shortpack, in the meantime, has been imprisoned and finds out that Shepard’s employer, the Quiet Man, is Steinbeck.

Full Summary: 

(A self-made videotape by Shortpack / flashback):

Shortpack addresses Charles Xavier, confiding that he watched Prudence die. She meant a great deal to him, he continues. Not just as an agent but as a friend. She was so skilled and determined, a ray of light. Above, from a window, Shortpack helplessly had to watch as Prudence fought the arms dealer, Steinbeck, who then incinerated her with his mutant power.
Shortpack felt like he himself had been killed.

To forget, he threw himself into his work and hid the extent of his devastation from Charles Xavier. It worked for a little while but when the shock wore off… He had made a friend, Shepard, who had approached him with the prospect of avenging Prudence’s death.

He is against capital punishment, usually. But Steinbeck sells weapons of mass destruction. How many innocents have died because of him? He hates to admit it but when Mystique killed the mutant merchant Viktor, it gave Shortpack the strength to do what needs to be done. So he is on his way to one of Steinbeck’s vacation homes with very intention of ending Steinbeck’s life. When he sends this recording to Xavier, he’ll already have gone through with it. He knows Xavier would never approve, hence he is resigning his job as field handler. Xavier won’t see him again.

Shortpack recalls Prudence saying whenever she shifted her consciousness into another woman’s mind, no matter how vile, she always found a small part that was pure and good. He doesn’t know if the same holds for men, but he hopes… Charles can forgive him.


Shortpack finishes the tape and steps on the deck of the yacht he is on.

Unknown location:

Dressed like Alice in Wonderland, Mystique waves at her reflection in a small globe. So this is how Shepard always knows what she is up to, she asks. Through some kind of divining globe. So if she’s going to kill Xavier for them, what does she get? The Quiet Man replies that she will finally be free from Xavier’s beck and call. Mystique scoffs. She could just walk away from all this and not have a million X-dorks hunt her. They’d better have some better offer. The Quiet Man continues that Forge has built an interference device to render her adversaries’ tracking technology useless. He shows her a small device and explains that they have secretly replicated that device. With the flick of a switch, she could go underground, no longer dependent on Forge and Xavier. Mystique is impressed. But what does the Quiet Man get out of this? He grins evilly: In a word? Satisfaction.

Shepard and the Quiet Man watch her, as she seems to consider the situation. Finally, she states that Xavier has been nothing but a source of pain for a long time. He opposed her plans to help mutantkind. He’s turned her children against her. His son murdered her dear Irenie. Okay, sure. Why not?

The Quiet Man stars replying but suddenly winces in pain. Crying out ‘beloved,’ Shepard hurries to his side. The term of endearment is not lost on Mystique.

Weeks later, Tokyo:

Mystique is making her way through a laser maze in a high tech building, while Forge, floating over the city with some invention of his, contacts her. Is she even listening, he asks impatiently. Mystique tells him not to get his metal undies in a bunch. And here he was trying to figure out why Shortpack didn’t want to work with her anymore, he shoots back, before getting to business, namely telling her that there are two guards on the other side of the door she is approaching.

He is interrupted by an astral projection of Charles Xavier, ordering them to abandon this mission and come to Genosha straight away. Something urgent has come up. Mystique protests. She has come too far. What is so important that it can’t wait? Charles informs her that Shortpack has disappeared.

Later, on the ruined island of Genosha, Mystique and Forge are welcomed by Xavier and Callisto, whom Mystique quickly insults just for the fun of it. Xavier sternly tells her he is on his last nerve with her. She shouldn’t think that he wouldn’t have Forge cut her loose and leave her to Homeland Security. He’d do it in a heartbeat. Secretly touching the knife behind her back, Mystique replies that she knows that.

Xavier explains that Shortpack had Xavier arrange passage to Monte Carlo, where he was to meet a friend for vacation. That was more than three weeks ago He hasn’t heard from him since. He can feel him somewhere but not pinpoint him telepathically. He fears he is in trouble. Maybe he doesn’t want to be found, Mystique interjects. And Shorty won’t work with her anymore. Why should she care if he’s ok? Because he is telling her to, Xavier shouts. He curtly tells them to leave in an hour.

A casino in Monte Carlo:

Mystique enters in disguise, while Forge, who is in radio contact with her, waits outside. He informs her that Xavier didn’t know who Shortpack’s contact was, but that it was someone with the habit of spending large amounts of time and money at this casino. That really narrows it down in this place, Mystique mutters. She tells him to go silent for a sec, as she sees Shepard. Buy you a drink? he offers.

They sit down and he tells her that he saw her ex-boyfriend out there. Unbelievable, she scoffs. She’d never have pegged him for the jealous type. Shepard tells her she finally had the opportunity to hit Xavier. What happened? The timing was off she starts and then reminds him he knows this, as he saw it. Why is he pressing her? Touching the pendant he gave her, he tells her that he did see it. He sees everything she does, so whatever her plan is to weasel out of this, she can forget it. If she tries to fool them or take the necklace off, the deal is off and she’ll be up the creek without a scrambler.

Touching his face, she tries to calm him, but Shepard curtly tells her that her sleeping with him doesn’t cut her any slack. She starts pressing him about the ‘beloved’ remark. Is there something about him he is not telling her? Shepard says nothing. Considering the conversation finished, she gets up and calls Forge, assuring him it was nothing.

As she walks around, she tells him that there is still no sign of the person, before suddenly announcing annoyed that she definitely has found him. Can she vomit now? At a casino table, dressed in a white dinner jacket and wearing his ubiquitous white mask, sits Fantomex, self-styled French thief extraordinaire and Europe’s most wanted mutant criminal, who has just lost quite a sum. He slumps down in mock desperation. Another devastating loss for Jean-Phillippe. However shall he recover?

Still in disguise, Mystique sits down beside him. Well, isn’t she ravishing? he greets her. Even more so that that night in Madagascar, he continues, as Mystique watches, nonplussed. Now that was a night of insatiable passion… The way her yellow eyes shimmered under the moonlight. Mystique makes a disgusted noise before pointedly telling him that she really hates him. She heard he was dead. He got better. He always does.

Forge chimes in, not getting anything. Who is she talking to and why should he be dead?
Grabbing her face and pulling her close, Fantomex shouts into Mystique’s earpiece introducing himself. Mystique shoves him onto the roulette table, switches to her true form and says one word: outside.

Readjusting his dinner jacket, Fantomex walks out in front of her, complaining that that was quite rude. You Austrians are all alike. Bossy and -- Mystique kicks him in the back. -- and bossy. he finishes his sentence. Mystique attacks and Fantomex strikes her. He likes it when she spars angry. Not only is she sexier, but easier to beat. He tells her to put her back in it and she complies by creating a third arm coming from her back.

Suddenly, Forge intervenes, grabbing her third arm with his metal hand. He asks what this is about and Fantomex in turn wants to know if he is the ‘man from Mystique’s ear.’ Forge states that he is aware of Fantomex’s backstory and asks him what he has to do with Shortpack’s disappearance. He has disappeared? Fantomex asks. That’s not good. He likes little Shortpack. He is a good mutant, unlike others who may or may not be standing right next to him. What? Mystique asks annoyed.

Fantomex continues that he could not help Shortpack. He has killed. But he would never be party to Shortpack becoming a killer. Mystique spits at him to start making sense, adding ‘you fashion terrorist’. Oh, that is clever, Fantoemx shoots back. Forge breaks off their impending fight by reminding Fantomex that they need to know where Shortpack is. Last he saw him he had taken Shortpack by boat to his destination, the thief explains. That is when he revealed his plan to assassinate someone called Steinbeck--
Hearing the name, Mystique is electrified. With one movement, she hits Fantomex and kicks Forge and makes a break for it while mumbling an apology. Sitting on he ground next to Forge, Fantomex wryly observes that clearly he is missing some backstory. Forge uses one of his devices to get into telepathic contact with Xavier and relates what just happened. How is he to proceed? Xavier curtly replies that he has had enough of Mystique’s disobedience. Forge is to shut down the scrambler and cut her loose. Forge doesn’t reply.

Elsewhere, Shortpack is trapped in a glass cage. He telepathically reaches out but finds nobody. Suddenly, a voice greets him, ‘Hey, little buddy.’ Shepard adds that the place is shielded. Nobody will hear his telepathic cries. Believing Shepard to be on his side, Shortpack asks him to help him out. Now why would he do that, Shepard asks. Shortpack still doesn’t understand and wants to know who the person next to Shepard is. This is someone who would very much like to see Shortpack, Shepard replies and the Quiet Man takes off his robe. With glowing eyes and fiery breath, Steinbeck greets Shortpack.

Characters Involved: 




Charles Xavier



The Quiet Man / Steinbeck

Story Notes: 

Xavier’s previous agent Prudence was killed by Steinbeck in #1.

The ‘children’ Xavier ‘turned against’ Mystique are her estranged son, Nightcrawler, and her foster daughter, Rogue, both X-Men.

Irene Adler aka Destiny, the great love of Mystique’s life and her longtime companion was murdered by Xavier’s son, Legion, in Uncanny X-Men #255.

Fantomex was a reluctant alumnus from the Weapon Plus program who chose the identity of a French superthief, rather than become the antimutant weapon he was intended to be. Regarding Mystique’s statement about his purported death, it is not quite clear to what event she is referring. It might be to events in Weapon X #25 where Fantomex apparently was badly hurt.

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