Uncanny X-Force (1st series) #17

Issue Date: 
November 2011
Story Title: 
Opens a Window

Rick Remender (writer), Jerome Opena (artist), Dean White (colors), VC’s Cory Petit (letterer), Sebastian Girner (assistant editor), Jody Leheup (editor), Nick Lowe ( group editor), Axel Alonso (editor-in-chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (Exec. Publisher)

Brief Description: 

As Psylocke awakes transformed as Archangel’s new Death, McCoy and Genocide get everything ready to transform the world while Wolverine fights the evil Iceman from the Age of Apocalypse. Help comes when Fantomex brings more X-Men from the AoA, who help against Iceman. The AoA Nightcrawler uses Genocide as a weapon against Archangel and returns Pylocke to the others. However, brainwashed, she attacks Fantomex. While the others attack Archangel, who is carrying the Life Seed and plans to start the world’s transformation. Jean enters Psylocke’s mind, where she relives her first meeting with Warren Worthington and helps free her from her brainwashing. Afterwards, Jean too tries to stop Archangel but the Phoenix Force fails her, its nature possibly condoning the change Archangel promises. Finally, nobody is left to stop Archangel but Psylocke and Fantomex…

Full Summary: 

Flashback to the early days of the X-Men:

Professor Xavier and Angel walk through the mansion. Angel complains that the bazooka is making him look like a goon. He feels he is overcompensating for some not so great powers.

Xavier admits wings are not the most impressive mutation he has encountered. They watch the other X-Men hanging out outside. Angel mocks he figured Xavier could go the pep talk route first.

Xavier tells him he respects Warren’s intelligence too much to patronize him. He sees the man connected to the wings. Angel has the greatest power of all his X-Men: inherent courage. He will need it. Xavier predicts difficulty in the coming years. They will need to lean on Warren. He can’t know what form his true potential takes but he does know one thing. He will leave his mark on the world.

The Present:

She looks dazzling, Archangel tells Betsy Braddock as she rises transformed as his new Death. Does she understand now? he asks and they kiss.

Elsewhere in the Akkaba metropolis, Wolverine grimly figures that he always pushed Iceman to unlock his potential. Too bad for him the wrong Bobby Drake figured it out – in this case the renegade Iceman from the Age of Apocalypse reality.

The giant Iceman freezes the air, cutting off oxygen and Wolverine’s vision fades. He realizes that, if he doesn’t get through to him in the next ten seconds, they are all dead.

Iceman tells him he hopes he will forgive him for that, as normal-size ice dupes attack Wolverine. He is not going back to that festering turd world!

Not far away, Dark Beast and Genocide prepare the Life Seed and the World for the transformation of the entire planet. They’ll never see it coming! McCoy describes what is about to happen. Once the flames reach the upper atmosphere, they will spread, igniting the air, raining fire down on the world!

Wolverine finds he cannot hurt the Icemen avatars. He climbs up the giant Iceman in an attempt to get inside the World and kill Archangel. Iceman reminds him he cannot outrun him. He is everywhere! He is gonna freeze him and shatter his flesh, same as he did with Wade… painless… quick! He can assure him what they have planned for him, will be neither! Sabretooth snarls as the X-Men from the Age of Apocalypse reality (Sabretooth, Wild Child, Sunfire, Nightcrawler and Jean Grey) arrive.

Nightcrawler teleports to Wolverine’s side. Fantomex, who got the team, mocks that Logan couldn’t even hold the fort for ten minutes. Logan mutters he thought he left them. He did, Fantomex clarified, to get Gateway and bring friends!

Shivering, Wolverine explains what’s going on. Nightcrawler informs him they were briefed. A plan was formulated in his absence. Fortunately, he has faced this pig’s doppelganger and knows just the thing! He teleports atop Genocide and teleports both of them to the side of Archangel and his group, telling them to make peace with whatever devils they worship.

He opens Genocide’s suit and his essence explodes outwards, incinerating everyone save for Archangel and Psylocke who got to cover.

Nightcrawler grabs Psylocke and teleports her to her team, then leaves again with Wolverine.

She does so love a wardrobe change, Fantomex remarks. She wears the skin of Death, a servant of Celestial will, Psylocke replies. Who knew Celestial fashion tastes ran so “assy?” he mocks her skimpy outfit. He recognizes she’s sampled Archangel’s Kool-Aid. He only wants to talk for just a minute.

Archangel orders Genocide to draw in his flames so he can replace his helmet. The boy tries and succeeds. He apologizes. The devil came out of nowhere. It wasn’t his fault, Archangel tells him and orders the guard to see to the boy’s health. He will plant the Life Seed.

Looking upward, Wolverine remarks the doom fountain is still going. It will have to wait, Nightcrawler announces, the plan is in motion. They stop their Apocalypse and destroy the Life Seed first. There lies no other way through this.

Wolverine reminds the X-Men from the Age of Apocalypse that they don’t have to be here. Sabretooth is amused by Logan’s dislike of letting him help. He likes him to know he is the bigger man. Sunfire tells them enough talk. It is time to face the Beast.

Nightcrawler teleports the group (sans Jean) upwards to face Archangel, who is carrying the seed and is not impressed. Wolverine warns him he hesitated to pull the trigger when this first started. He won’t make that mistake again. He attacks, planning to kill. Archangel lashes out with his wings, injuring Wolverine and Sabretooth and killing Wild Child.

As he flies upward, Sunfire gets in his way. Both are propelled outside and captured by the huge Iceman. Archangel orders Iceman to contain Sunfire and allow nobody to follow him. The Seed must be planted! He flies towards the World.

In midair, Nightcrawler (disturbingly calling him “leibchen”), Wolverine and Sabretooth are cutting him off and attack again.

Atop Psylocke assures Fantomex that only through Death can their world reach its natural apex. Humanity is a stagnant failure. But he enjoys stealing their great works of art, eating their haute cuisine and bedding their fair maidens, Fantomex replies. Cradling her chin, he states they are more than their evolution. More than machines replacing and improving. Love transcends such cold processes. Love is a chemical reaction inspiring procreation, moving life towards its predetermined destination! she replies and extends a knife from her wrist. They live to this end and die to further it. She slashes his throat.

Only wanted to talk! he gurgles as he goes down. The horror of the situation reaches Betsy. She lowers her defenses and suddenly relives a memory:

Flashback / astral plane:

Years ago at the Hellfire Club:

Sebastian Shaw greets Warren Worthington (who at that time is already open about his mutation). Shaw offers his condolences on the murder of Warren’s father. If he ever needs the responsible parties repaid… Shaw offers. X-Men don’t kill, Warren replies curtly. Right, he studies with Charles Xavier, Shaw muses. They have mutual friends…

Save her! a telepathic voice reaches him. He sees a purple-haired beauty in a typical Hellfire style corset next to her blond twin who is patiently listening to Donald Pierce talking. He is looking right at her, she continues telepathically. Elizabeth. Pleased to meet him. Help a girl out of a very boring conversation?

Warren apologizes to Shaw and addresses Elizabeth like an old friend, abducting her from the conversation. Brian sarcastically thanks her for leaving him in the lurch.

Warren and Betsy sit down at a corner table. He doesn’t believe they have been introduced, Warren begins. Please, she sighs, she knows who he is. He knows she knows. False modesty is unbecoming. X-Man, aristocrat, playboy, yadda yadda. She is the mystery here.

Filling their champagne glasses, he replies that she is the second child of Sir James Braddock, who invented artificial intelligence, only to be killed by it. Still, it left them wealthy. Her twin brother Brian is Captain Britain. He is noble and grumpy.

So why is he here? Betsy asks. Infiltrating these rotten men to unearth misdeeds? Obligation, he explains. His parents were members. It was important to Dad he be a member as well. Here’s to obligations! he toasts. A redhead sitting nearby studies them unobtrusively.

Betsy makes fun of the other members and what things drive them. Power, one-upmanship, anger towards their fathers… Does he have daddy issues? Dad was supportive, intelligent, read to him as a kid, left him a trillion dollars. It’s hard to complain.

Betsy retorts that’s just something he tells regular people so they don’t hate him. It’s a tremendous burden overseeing that much money and the lives that are connected to it. Don’t sell short the responsibility of such fortune!

Brian joins them, telling Betsy he wants to go home and bathe. Joining her brother, Betsy smiles back at Warren. It was a pleasure meeting him. He kisses her hand. Until they meet again, she tells him.

The redhead gets up, asking Elizabeth for a moment. Brian replies they were just on their way out. The woman continues that Betsy is reliving a memory that brings her happiness. In reality, Warren has been consumed by evil. He placed a demon in Betsy’s mind. She can help her defeat it before it takes root. She’s done it before, but needs her help.

Calling her a lunatic, Brian orders her away but Betsy begins to realize none of this is real.

The Phoenix effect surrounds Jean Grey as she traps Warren in a fire cage. She can contain the Death persona but Betsy must reveal it. Warren changes to Death Psylocke. They can’t kill her! she screeches She is all that’s left!

Does she have a cue, something to bring her out? Jean asks. She does, Betsy replies, looking at a pair of dice in her hand. She will deal with this, Jean tells her and orders her to go.


Wake up, Jean tells her in real life and Betsy awakes, held by Fantomex. She realizes he tricked her. It’s what he does, he admits. He needs her to help him do something. It isn’t going to be easy.

The others still fight Archangel. Teleporting atop him, Nightcrawler observes in his world Worthington was a tool of Apocalypse as well. And in his world, Archangel snaps, Nightcrawler is dead! He pierces his back with his wings.

Surrounded by the Phoenix flames, Jean orders him to turn around and face his demise. He is not the only cosmic force to corral life and death. Face the power of the Phoenix! She blasts Archangel, who neither impressed nor harmed. The Phoenix betrays her, he points out. She seeks to use it to stop that which it desires most, death and rebirth! He returns the blast at her and she staggers.

Wolverine jumps at him ready to strike when Warren briefly gains dominance and begs him to do it while he is in control. Kill him! Logan hesitates and Archangel attacks him, leaving him close to death. He is surprised he fell for that, Archangel muses as he looks down on him. He is undeserving of his reputation.

As is he, he informs Sabretooth, who tries to blindside him. Instead, Archangel’s wings slice his guts. Not on his belly, Sabretooth mutters, not like this. Exactly like this, Archangel replies coldly and strikes again.

Holding the Life Seed, he flies upwards towards the World where Fantomex and a restored Psylocke are waiting for him…

Characters Involved: 

Fantomex, Psylocke, Wolverine (all X-Force)

Deathlok (X-Force ally)

Jean Grey, Nightcrawler, Sabretooth, Sunfire, Wild Child (all X-Men from the Age of Apocalpyse)


Dark Beast


Age of Apocalypse Iceman


in Psylocke’s memory / astral plane:
Betsy Braddock


Captain Britain

Age of Apocalypse Jean Grey
Donald Pierce, Sebastian Shaw

in flashback:

Professor Xavier


Story Notes: 

It’s unclear when the flashback is supposed to take place. Betsy and Warren only first learned of each other’s Hellfire Club membership in X-Men (2nd series) #29, which this memory contradicts.

The scene with Warren asking Wolverine to kill him is a shout out to Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #136. You’d think Wolverine would learn eventually.

The reference to “Kool-Aid” refers to the tragedy caused by religious leader Jim Jones, who in 1978 convinced his 900+ followers to commit suicide by drinking cyanide-laced beverage. Though the drink was actually a generic “Flavor-Aid” brand and not Kool-Aid proper, the incident has entered the vernacular to describe someone blindly obeying a leader as a “Kool-Aid drinker.”

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