Ultimate X-Men #9

Issue Date: 
October 2001
Story Title: 
Return to Weapon X - part 3: No Safe Haven

Mark Millar (writer), Tom Raney (pencils), Scott Hanna (inks), Transparency Digital (colors), Richard Starkings & Comicraft’s Wes Abbott (letters), Pete Franco (assistant editor), Mark Powers (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Bill Jemas (president)

Brief Description: 

Armed up to his wazoo with ingenious gadgets, Nick Fury, agent of SHIELD is supposed to take out an illegal genetics operation in Delhi. Things go wrong and he gets captured. His superior, General Ross, asks John Wraith, head of Weapon X, to have his agents find Fury and complete the mission. Wraith shows Ross his newest recruits: the imprisoned X-Men, who are being put through tests and – in Beast’s case – through operations to maximize their potential. Ross isn’t happy with this but if it means getting Wolverine back… it doesn’t, as Wraith has to admit; Wolverine is the one X-Man still free. Disgusted by his incompetence Ross leaves, ordering Wraith to get back Fury. The X-Men and the other imprisoned mutant agents of Weapon X are, in the meantime, arguing as the others accuse the X-Men of being race traitors. If they hadn’t stopped Magneto they’d all be free now. Jean, in the meantime, uses her telepathy to mentally talk with Nightcrawler who only understands German. Later, one half of the X-Men is briefed by Sabretooth and are told that they are to free Fury. The other half is to complete Fury’s mission.

Full Summary: 

Nick Fury, agent of SHIELD, is being lowered down from the SHIELD orbital HQ to Delhi.
Incongruously, appearing as though he were floating and impeccably dressed, Fury asks SHIELD via their radio contact whether they know of any good Indian restaurants around here. Agent Crowley, somewhat taken aback, suggests two restaurants that both take American Express. Nick pops a special wad of chewing gum into his mouth and tells the agents to book him dinner for one, if it is on company account – make that dinner for two, just in case he bumps into any American-friendly Hindu girls.

Having landed in the middle of Delhi, Nick compliments the tech-division on theses Para-shoes he used to glide down but could they use Caporicci or Gucci next time, please? Wearing Armani on a shoot-to-kill mission is just asking for bad karma. He inquires whether the button-camera is working while he enters a temple like building. He is greeted by a cross-legged Yogi, who welcomes him to Birla Temple and asks him why he came coming. Is he in search of inner peace? No, Nick replies and puts on his sunglasses. Actually he’s come in search of an illegal genetics operation in violation of the Superhuman Test-Ban Treaty.

Suddenly Nick finds himself surrounded by heavily armed temple acolytes who mock him as an “unarmed man”. Reaching for his sunglasses, he replies that “unarmed” is a relative term these days. His sunglasses glow with a blinding light and a moment later everyone except for him is quite dead.

Nick asks SHIELD for the necessary telemetry: what have they found? They answer that, according to PSI-division, the missing mutant DNA is a mile beneath him. He can activate the door mechanism by pulling Ganesha’s trunk. As he does so, a huge trapdoor opens revealing stairs. Nick grabs two guns and races downstairs, noticing how advanced theses tunnels are. This faction isn’t just experimenting on mutant embryos, they seem to be military and on the verge of superhuman status.

Noticing someone coming around the corner, he asks SHIELD to feed him fifteen seconds of intangiblity He phases into the wall while SHIELD tells him that due to budget cuts they can only grant him nine seconds. Nick exits on the other side of the wall and ends up in a nest of armed soldiers who open fire on him. Nick shouts ”invisible,” while SHIELD reminds him that the budget allows him only three seconds of invisibility. Three seconds prove all he needs to finish them.

The only man left standing, Nick asks SHIELD to identify the corpses – at least four of Interpol’s most wanted and two fundamentalists from last year’s airplane hijack, it turns out. Incidentally, control reminds him, he hasn’t forgotten that his strawberry boom gum is programmed to activate after two hundred chews, right? Nick spits the gum a t the security door and it explodes. Gazing at what lies behind it, Nick exclaims “oh my god” and orders a dozen heavily-armed agents down. They’ve got to torch this dump. Nick breaks off mid-sentence as SHIELD loses contact.

At the Weapon X HQ in Finland, SHIELD Commander General Ross discusses Fury’s fate with Colonel Wraith. All they know is that Fury must have been neutralized and in the subsequent 24 hours the entire faculty was moved one step closer to the Kashmir border and they’ll sell every secret in Fury’s brain. Not exactly SHIELD’s finest hour, Wraith gloats. No, Ross admits, that’s why he’s talking with him. They want Fury back, the mission completed and the man behind this Indian genome thing on SHIELD’s payroll by midnight.

Well, ordinarily he’d moan and bitch about their lack of manpower Wraith replies but they’ve just gotten some talented new recruits and he shows Ross the X-Men undergoing training and endurance tests. Ross is horrified. Do they want to risk their secret operations by kidnapping mutants who are on a first name basis with the president? That only goes for Xavier, Wraith points out and him they already shot. Too dangerous with his psychic powers … and anyway, what were they supposed to do? Create a SHIELD response unit from a 14-year old teleporter, a human Juggernaut, a Marilyn Manson fan with a killing touch and a poor man’s Wolverine? This comment that doesn’t go down well with the present Sabretooth.

Even under present arrangements, that wouldn’t be enough, Wraith stresses, if not for Dr. Cornelius little surgical makeovers. Ross wants to know what Cornelius is just doing on the operating table. Modifying the Beast, Wraith explains, to maximize his strength and agility… nothing too gruesome. Wraith stresses that with all the political correctness on Capitol Hill people seem to forget why Weapon X was founded in the first place – to fight fire with fire.

Ross admits that this will at least mean they have Wolverine – their best agent - back, right? Wraith is caught red-handed. Embarrassed, he has to admit that Wolverine is the only one they didn’t catch. Ross leaves in a huff and tells Wraith to free Fury. He misses intelligent conversation.

In the meantime, the X-Men and the other Weapon X prisoners find themselves in a row of clinical cells, seemingly open to the hallway, except for an energy barrier. Juggernaut and Rogue who are sharing one cell remark loudly that they ought to complain to Wraith for making them look at those turncoats all day. Colossus starts arguing with them: how dare they call the X-Men turncoats, when it was them who helped capture the X-Men? Rogue and Juggernaut shoot back that if it hadn’t be for the X-Men stopping Magneto, they could all be sipping milk and honey in Magneto’s promised land now.

Storm tells the to get a grip on reality - that madman was about to eliminate an entire species, remember? Only so he could replace it with something better, Juggernaut replies. If only they knew about the blueprints he’d put together or the ten mutant commandments tattooed on his back. Cyclops knows what he’s talking about, right? Magneto’s Savage Land utopia must have been more fun than rotting here for the rest of his life. That won’t happen, Cyclops replies cockily. Discounting the fact that he’s already worked up three potential escape plans, he reminds them that Professor X struck a deal with the Oval Office. Juggernaut calls him naïve. These black-op units are budgeted way above presidential clearance so the president doesn’t have a clue about this operation.

Jean tells Scott not to let them bait him, as she concentrates on their sleeping cellmate Nightcrawler, a kid younger than any of them, who only speaks German. Jean bypasses the language problem by conducting a pre-verbal thought-exchange. Nightcrawler is astonished: all of a sudden he and Jean find themselves in an idyllic Bavarian landscape. The happiest memory of his she found, Jean explains and, incidentally, he shouldn’t worry about picturing her in her underwear. The others do it all the time. Kurt is ecstatic. All that time in that horrible place and nobody ever tried to communicate with him. Well, he can talk with her as often as he likes now, Jean comforts him, but first she’d like to fill him in on the escape plan she and Scott have been concocting.

Scott tells her to be quiet in the real world; someone’s coming. Sabretooth walks ahead, followed by two guards dragging in Beast, who, after Cornelius’ work on him, is now completely covered in blue fur and is more bestial-looking than ever. The guards toss him in Storm’s cell and Juggernaut tells the others they must be really proud now of saving the human race. Idiots.

Later, several helicopters are on their way to India. In one of them are Sabretooth, Beast, who’s still horribly embarrassed by his new look, Iceman and Colossus, as well as several heavily guarded arms. Sabretooth debriefs them: Fury is being transported to Nepal where his secrets are to be sold. It’s their mission to intercept the kidnappers and bring Fury back alive. Just in case anybody considers escaping, they have all been fitted with bug-sized neural implants. Since they are all such heroes, should they try anything, the teammate they are closest to will buy it. Colossus intercepts: Where are the rest of their teammates? Finishing Fury’s assignment, of course, Sabretooth replies.

At the Weapon X HQ Dr Cornelius asks Wraith why he told Ross that Xavier is dead. He’s rather uncomfortable about lying to his employers, especially when they are expert in psychological torture and pioneering surveillance tactics. Because those reformers intend to shut Weapon X down, Wraith explains. Charles Xavier is the ace on their sleeves, he adds, while putting on the helmet of a Cerebro-like device. In the meantime, they’ll use Xavier’s equipment to track down those Brotherhood freaks, starting with their friend with the adamantium claws.

Somewhere else, where it is bitterly cold, Wolverine stands clad in some sort of leathers and furs, surrounded by snowstorm and thinks.

Characters Involved: 

Beast, Colossus, Cyclops, Iceman, Marvel Girl, Storm, Wolverine (all X-Men)

General “Thunderbolt” Ross (commander of SHIELD)

Colonel Nick Fury (SHIELD’s deputy commander)

Agent Crowley and other agents on SHIELD’s orbital HQ

Colonel John Wraith (head of Weapon X)

Dr. Cornelius

Juggernaut, Nightcrawler, Rogue, Sabretooth (prisoners / agents of Weapon X)

Story Notes: 

A Hindu deity in the shape of a man-sized elephant, Ganesha is the god of education, knowledge, wisdom and the fine arts. More importantly he is considered the destroyer of obstacles and is worshipped before any new venture is started.

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