New X-Men (1st series) #143

Issue Date: 
August 2003
Story Title: 
Assault on Weapon Plus - part 2: The World

Grant Morrison (writer), Chris Bachalo (penciler), Tim Townsend (inker), Chris Chuckry (colorist), Virtual Calligraphy’s Rus Wootan (letterer), Warren Simons (assistant editor), Mike Marts (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Bill Jemas (president

Brief Description: 

Shortly after sneaking their way into the dome that houses artificial reality known as The World, Lou, an investigative reporter, and his mutant guide witness the arrival of a group of armed A.I.M. soldiers, bent on learning its secrets. When Fantomex, Cyclops and Wolverine arrive on the scene, motivated by similar goals, they find the A.I.M. soldiers dead, with the exception of one. The lone survivor speaks of the creature that massacred them and the reporter and his guide. Fantomex immediately knows what it is: Weapon Fifteen. The three mutants continue inside the dome and, through an immense door which leads to the heart of The World, they enter looking for answers and the creature called Weapon XV.

Full Summary: 

All of this is mine, he thinks. My home, my history… The World. Clad in a sealed environment suit, he watches over the city, with its people and machines going about their business. Some people walk along bridges from one side of the street to another, while others walk on air above them. Other people are also clad in environmental suits of varying designs. Still others, only brains in truth, traverse the city in small devices that float about. Taking all of this in, the suited man regards the great bells of the Euthanasium, welcoming the weak and the strange and the mis-bred of The World to their joyful reward. However, a terrible voice wonders something aloud in his brain: What if? What if there is no joyful reward in the fire?

Elsewhere, the guide grabs the hand of whom he is guiding with a gotcha! After finally gaining his footing with the help of his guide, Lou is welcomed to The World. Viewing the magnificently immense, white dome before him, Lou tells his guide, a mutant youth with green skin, that he didn’t believe him when he was told. To this, he asks his guide how do they hide this dome from the public? Hide it?, repeats the mutant incredulously; this is England in the 21st century… they’ve been performing illegal genetic experiments on homeless people and runaways for years, but nobody wants to know and nobody would believe it or care if they did.

Readying his camera, Lou gives a low “hmmm,” followed with the thought that people are too busy discussing who’s doing who on “Big Brother.” Switching back to business, Lou rhetorically suggests that they take a few incriminating pictures. He then notices a hole in the fence that someone seemingly left them. As Lou nears the hole, he is watched by a small, black bird. Its red eyes, in truth cameras, watch the two intruders intently and transmit the images it takes back elsewhere.

Elsewhere, a physician hovers over an operating table, occupied by a cybernetic individual whom he is dissecting. Narrating his actions, the doctor explains that, basically, the “Euthanasium” set-up allows them to fine-tune population levels in The World. After splicing human genetic material with Sentinel microtechnology, they’re able to sculpt the resultant strains through high speed realtime scenarios using artificial evolution technology… regular gamma bombardments induce new mutations and eugenic culls, like this one, maintain the herd at manageable levels. Artificial evolution, he continues, allows them to accelerate nature’s own processes to create highly-evolved and specialized super-soldiers. They’ll find it’s all nice and clean.

Addressing the physician as Professor Dalton, an assistant interrupts and draws his attention to two peculiar looking men at the perimeter fence. Returning to his work, Professor Dalton replies that he wouldn’t be too concerned about a couple of unarmed media snoops… security at The World dome is very discreet and efficient. On another monitor, unseen by both the professor and his assistant, a small squad of gun-toting AIM soldiers make they way through the hallway. On yet another monitor, two individuals who had recently entered the Euthanasium explode in a cascade of violent energy and are immediately frozen in the act of combustion, as if becoming a living snapshot.

Changing the subject, Dalton suggests lunch to his aide, during which he will take him through the finer points of man/machine fusion techniques. Asked about the two test specimens in the Euthanasium, Dalton replies that they froze The World just as microwave disintegration was beginning. They’ll burn in eternity together… at least until they press restart after lunchtime.

A little later, outside the lab, the professor and his aid stand on a terrace of a tall building. They look over the technological marvel that is the capital of The World. Below the railing where the two look out into the city, Lou and his mutant guide listen in on their conversation. Struck by the beauty of the city, the aide compares it to Paolo and Francesca in Dante’s Inferno. A little taken aback by the analogy, the professor coldly replies that, inside the dome, time is completely under their control… that’s what makes all of it possible. They can speed it up, slow it down or freeze it completely like jelly.

Taking this in, the assistant asks if it is true then that The World’s Engine was developed from the “Alteration Chamber” research he took part in as a member of the Advanced Idea Mechanics organization. The professor quickly rebuffs the idea, dismissing his time as a misguided summer he spent while a student. Suddenly, a third voice chimes in, informing the professor that he made a pact with A.I.M. – and they’re there to collect. Security’s not that good, he informs the professor.

Still hanging below the terrace, Lou is splattered with some of the professor’s blood and narrowly avoids his falling corpse as it is thrown over the side. Quietly, Lou thanks his guide for the save. Returning to the events on the terrace, Lou declared that this is dynamite; all of these weird guys with bucket helmets are turning up with guns. Asked by his guide if he is getting the footage, Lou, holding camera over the terrace’s floor, replies that, boy, is he!

Inside the nearby lab, the A.I.M. soldiers peer down into the well of light in its center. The leader of the squad informs Team 3 that The World is theirs and instructs them to get time back on in there. Another soldier asks the others if they can find a live test. Yet another asks if that is not a specimen in the light below them, to which the earlier one replies that it is not a light, but an incinerator beam, which Dalton just explained. The soldier still peering into the light then asks innocently if that means that the thing there shouldn’t be… climbing through it then, should it? The others yell that something has gone wrong before being silenced forever.

Outside the dome, Fantomex informs Cyclops and Wolverine what they are looking at: a square mile of experimental micro-reality with its own culture, its own religion, its own history… a giant petri dish where the lives of unsuspecting human beings are used up in days, even moments. A torture chamber. They call it The World. Leading the two X-Men closer to the perimeter, Fantomex explains that, here, his mother was mated with machine and he was bred.

Calling out to E.V.A., his flying saucer, Fantomex instructs it to stay there until her needs him. Replying in a mechanical voice, E.V.A. replies that it might and then asks Mr. Summers if he has a hangover. Replying that he does not, Cyclops explains that he just feels stupid; he’s been pressured into this… Making his way down to the fence surrounding the dome, Wolverine tells Cyclops to shut up; he’s sticking to the deal. Yes, agrees Fantomex, the deal still stands.

Arriving at the fence, Fantomex wonders to the others who they think cut this neat laser hole in the fence. Once through the hole, Wolverine takes point with his claws bared. Immediately, he sniffs something and investigates, finding multiple corpses. Drawing Fantomex’s attention to the massacre, Wolverine asks him if he did this, to which Fantomex replies that he did not. When Wolverine identifies the men as “goons” of A.I.M., Fantomex asks to be told more about them. Nonchalantly examining the scene, Wolverine explains that it stands for Advanced Idea Mechanics. It is an organized group of international science-terrorists, like one of those Japanese techno-apocalypse cults. They recruit the kinda brilliant geeks and brainy outsiders who want revenge for not getting any booty.

Taking this in, Fantomex thinks aloud that the idea of stealing a few super-soldiers might fit in their profile. Wolverine replies that it goes without saying… but what messed ‘em up like this? Their ribcages, he announces, have exploded from inside. Recognizing the handiwork, Fantomex announces that it is the work of Weapon Fifteen. Suddenly noticing a figure moving in the distance, Fantomex calls out to the man to stop. In a flash, Fantomex is gone, hot in pursuit. Standing idle next to Wolverine, Cyclops informs his teammate that he should stop him from killing that guy. A little stunned at the suggestion, Wolverine questions why he should.

Running for his life, Lou is quickly brought down with a swift kick from Fantomex, who quickly points a gun at his temple. Almost as quickly, Cyclops is at the scene, telling Fantomex to leave him; can’t he see the guy’s a civilian? Drawing his attention to Lou, Cyclops tells him that it’s okay… he’s Cyclops; he’s been on TV. Rambling softly from fear, Lou announces that he loves mutants. Mutants are cool. Spilling his guts, metaphorically, Lou informs the three that the guy he came there with was a mutant rights activist but he’s dead now… it looked at him and he just died… He’s a journalist… He has a family in Baltimore. If they call his girlfriend, she’ll tell them.

As Lou continues to rant, Cyclops tries to calm him down, asking him if he saw any of what happened. Nearby, Fantomex, having found Lou’s camera, begins to play back its images, He saw The World, Fanotmex informs Cyclops; and so did A.I.M. On the LCD screen of the camera, the three see the A.I.M. soldiers staring into the well of light. The creature emerging from the shaft continues unabated, despite being shot with thirty mega-tranquilizer doses and five rail gun charges. As the creature begins to emerge, one of the soldiers instructs the others to not look into its eyes.

As the light fills the LCD screen of the camera, the camera itself begins to erupt in Fantomex’s hands, blasts tearing it apart. Scant feet away, Wolverine’s body also begins to erupt, as blasts impact on his form. Relaying the obvious, Cyclops announces that it’s an ambush. Replying with the appropriate sarcasm, Wolverine tells Cyclops to tell it to the dead guy and his girlfriend in Baltimore. Seeing Cyclops’ inaction, Wolverine yells at him to use his eyebeams, to which Cyclops replies that he’s trying… but nothing’s coming out! He can’t make it happen!

A small distance away, having sought cover behind a column, Fantomex tells Cyclops that it is not satisfactory. He didn’t bring him there to impress them with his chiseled features and perfect physique. Spitting back at the statement, Cyclops reminds him that he quit the X-Men! How many times does he have to say it before anyone listens? He’s sick of the stress! He’s sick of the drama! He’s sick of living up to people’s expectations… and he’s just thrown away his wife and career and just about everything that’s important to him!

Yelling back in anger, Wolverine, in turn, asks Cyclops how many times does he have to say this: this isn’t an X-Men mission! They’re mercenaries on a stress-relieving exercise, remember? To this, Wolverine suggests that they terrify these losers into submission and move on! “Terrify,” Fantomex states, is good; but he should point out that they appear to be using rail guns. To this, Wolverine asks what a rail guns is and why does he care? Seeing the snarling Wolverine run toward his position and A.I.M. soldier, having recognized him, asks God to guide his aim…

In a moment frozen in time, Wolverine manages to close the gap between he and the sniper, his claws and teeth bared in rage. Luckily for the sniper, he manages a few shots at this close range, causing Wolverine to fly in the opposite direction, heavily wounded. Seeing this happen to Wolverine, Cyclops mutters that he was just about to say it’s a high-voltage magnetic weapon that fires hypersonic projectiles…

Inside a nearby structure and having witnessed the events that just transpired, an A.I.M. soldier informs the squad that the X-Men are here. Appearing from above through the ceiling, Fantomex drops into the soldiers’ midst, firing is weapons. “X-Men,” he repeats, they should be so lucky. Seeing one soldier survive, Fantomex fires his pistol again, declaring that he comes in peace. After having successfully disarmed but not killed his target, Fantomex asks if he just said “peace.” He may have used the wrong word.

Still alive, the A.I.M. soldier lays on the ground, blood covering his solid yellow suit in blotches. Speaking in fear, but not near at Fantomex, the soldier rants that it didn’t notice him. It didn’t notice. It can stare so hard at things they explode, he continues, but it didn’t see him… the head was all smoke and lights and… people just… boiled inside…

Placing his gun at the soldier’s forehead, Fantomex orders him to stop babbling. In a non-sequitur statement, Fantomex marvels at the soldier’s classic design of the A.I.M. helmet and how he could clean up on eBay. Begging for his life, the soldier tells Fantomex that he just survived hellfire and judgment… he graduated magna cum laude. Finally having recovered, Wolverine considers the rail gun’s damage. His heart must have stopped for about thirty seconds that time…

Still holding his gun at the soldier’s head, Fantomex wonders aloud if bullet holes would make it more collectible or less. Taking it as the threat that it was, the soldier speaks. It was the process… that’s all… They had no right to keep it to themselves. A.I.M. says that’s wrong but… they had nothing to do with this… The specimen saw the outside. When he came in they’d all just stopped yelling… it went back there…

Understanding the soldier’s rant, Fantomex turns to the dome and regards the “specimen” that returned inside: Super-soldier ex-vee. Weapon Fifteen. To this he wonders how far they have taken it now.

A little later, inside, Fantomex shows the guts of the facility to the two X-Men. Time, he tells them, is synthetic inside The World. In theory, that means they can freeze it and seal Weapon XV into a moment, like a mosquito in resin. Still expecting the answers that Fantomex had promised him, Wolverine replies that this had better be going somewhere.

Turning the story to Wolverine, Fantomex replies that Wolverine was Weapon Ten. He, Fantomex, was Thirteen. Now, he continues, imagine the next generation… and the next… the product of rapid evolutionary engineering… Weapon XV – designed and perfected to exterminate the mutant species.

Understanding the significance of Fantomex’s words, Wolverine’s features turn darker and his brow furrows. Addressing Cyclops by his nickname, Slim, Wolverine tells him that he doesn’t have to go any further with this. Everything smells… wrong. Looking out at dome’s machinery, Cyclops addresses Wolverine, in turn, as Logan and replies that he didn’t bring him there for his chiseled features.

It’s James Logan, Fantomex announces as he leads the way through mist, which leads into the heart of The World. The Weapon Plus files gave his real names as “James Logan.” His healing factor, Fantomex continues, made his an ideal subject for vivisection… and false memory grafts.

From out of the mist, a gigantic door, door slides open. Inside, bathed in light, is the techno city of The World, which Fantomex welcomes the two X-Men to. Yelling out into the city within, Fantomex calls out to Weapon Fifteen, asking him where he is.

Characters Involved: 

Cyclops, Wolverine (all X-Men)


Weapon Fifteen
Citizens, robots and cyborgs of The World

Mutant guide

Professor Dalton
Dalton’s assistants

A.I.M. soldiers

Story Notes: 

Although it is barely inferred in the pages of this issue, the armored individual at the beginning of the story is indeed Weapon Fifteen, as is revealed next issue. This is his first appearance.

The Euthanasium is, presumable where euthanasia is carried out on a mass scale, euthanasia being the practice of ending the life or an individual suffering from a terminal illness or incurable disease.

Lou’s reference of “Big Brother” refers to the reality show where a group of people are sequestered in a house filled with cameras. While the American version runs on CBS, since the action of this issue takes place in the UK, Lou is most likely referring to the British version.

In Inferno, written by Dante Alighieri in 14th century, Dante is visited by two sprits named Francesca and Paolo in the Second Level of Hell, housed by those damned for lust. Francesca informs Dante that she was seduced by reading the Lancelot romance, leading her to kiss her brother-in-law and tutor Paolo and committing an act of adultery.

A petri dish is a shallow, circular dish with a loose-fitting cover, used to culture bacteria or other microorganisms. It was named after German bacteriologist Julius Richard Petri.

While Fantomex has spoken at E.V.A. before, this is the first time that E.V.A. has actually responded, proving that it is capable of speech and thought.

eBay is an online auction house, a website where people can buy and sell items of all types, including memorabilia.

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