Uncanny X-Force (2nd series) #8

Issue Date: 
September 2013
Story Title: 

Sam Humphries (writer), Adrian Alphona & Dalibor Talajic (artists), Chris Sotomayor & Lee Loughridge (colorists), Virtual Calligraphy’s Cory Petit (letterer), Kris Anka (cover artist), Jennifer M Smith (assistant editor), Daniel Ketchum (editor), Nick Lowe (X-Men group editor), Axel Alonso (editor-in-chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)

Brief Description: 

Six months ago Fantomex tries to talk to Cluster and Psylocke, but they have locked themselves inside a bedroom, engaging in drinking and sex. Psylocke boasts that she can steal the “King Champagne” bottle, before they talk about Fantomex - Psylocke is mad with him because he is correct about her, she loves to steal. Fantomex, however, is feeling dejected as he sits alone. Psylocke breaks into the Louvre Museum, and is about to steal the “King Champagne” when security guards wearing Fantomex masks confront her, and one of them dies when a gas is released in the chamber where the “King Champagne” was stored. Returning to the apartment, Psylocke witnesses Fantomex and Cluster locked in passionate embrace. Fantomex sees her, and gives her a signal to be quiet, and Psylocke realizes that she was set up.
In the presen in Madripoor, Psylocke and Cluster are kept in cages, but Psylocke manages to free herself from the cage. Cluster tries to get close with Psylocke, and suggests that they find Fantomex and go back to Paris, so it can be the three of them again. Weapon XIII and Psylocke have a candle-lit dinner, and using his misdirection like Fantomex never could, Weapon XIII takes Psylocke on a magic carpet ride. He talks to her about his feelings for her, and about what kind of person he is, trying to convince her to be with him. They return to reality, and Psylocke is about to stab Weapon XIII in the back with the buckle prong, but instead tells him that she needs him to do something for him - so they can begin their new life together - kill Fantomex.

Full Summary: 

Paris, France, ‘Hellooo - Elizabeth? Cluster? It’s me, Fantomeeeex!’ the enigmatic vigilante calls out as he walks along the balcony of their top-floor apartment. His mask is raised over his mouth, and he attempts to open a door, but finds it is locked. He hears laughter on the other side of the door. He holds a tray with a bottle of champagne and three flutes, and presses his head to the door, ‘Laaaadies - you haven’t come out for two days, is everything all right? I brought champagne’ he tells them. Gold bars and other bottles of champagne are scattered about the floor, as a voice calls out from the room ‘You can leave the champagne!’ followed by more laughter.

Inside, Betsy and Cluster are in bed together, and naked, save for Cluster’s mask. Weapons and flowers are scattered about the floor, as are bottles of champagne. They clink their champagne flutes together, ‘Cheers… to you, hunny’ Betsy tells Cluster. ‘No, to you, darling’ Cluster replies. ‘Always so stubborn’ Betsy tells her. Cluster replies that she prefers “determined”. ‘As long as you get what you want?’ Betsy asks. ‘And I did’ Cluster points out. ‘Cheers to that’ Betsy smiles.

They lie down in opposite directions, but their heads are next to each other, as Cluster suggests that perhaps they should have let Fantomex in. ‘I can get more champagne myself. We don’t need him’ Betsy replies.

‘I can get you King Champagne! “The Billion Dollar Bottle”!’ Betsy exclaims as she turns over and looks down at Cluster, boasting that she can steal it right out from under them. ‘I’m pretty good now. Maybe better than you’.

Cluster looks concerned and tells Elizabeth that she is serious, that she feels bad. ‘Don’t you?’ she asks. ‘I mean, you love him’. Betsy glances sideways, then the women sit up, wrapping sheets around themselves, ‘Don’t you?’ Cluster asks again. Betsy avoids eye contact still and announces that right now, she hates Fantomex because he is so arrogant, spiteful and cruel. Betsy tells Cluster that most of all, she hates Fantomex because he is right. ‘He’s right about me’. Betsy admits that she loves to steal, that she wishes she didn’t, but can’t help herself. ‘I’m a low-down thief, and I love it’.

In another room, Fantomex sits on the edge of a bed, one leg resting on the windowsill. He looks down, then looks forward, sadness in his eyes.

Madripoor, Buccaneer Bay. Cluster and Betsy find themselves inside separate cages. Wearing her new “Fantomex” style costume, Betsy is slumped against the wall, while Cluster bashes herself against the bars of the cage that she is in. ‘You’ll dislocate your shoulder that way’ Betsy points out. Cluster replies that she can’t sit around, as Fantomex needs them. Betsy looks at the skeletal remains in the cage and tells Cluster that this pirate hideout was built to last, and these cells were built to handle some tough customers. ‘Your belt please, Sir’ she jokes as she removes the belt from the skeleton. She looks at the buckle and remarks that she will take good care of it. ‘Weapon XIII promised to “sweep me off my feet”. Can’t wait to learn what that means’.

Cluster tells Elizabeth that she is worried, as Weapon XIII is merciless. ‘If you have the opportunity… you must take it. You must kill him’. She reaches through the bars and strokes Betsy’s hair. ‘Cluster…’ Betsy utters, reminding her that she made a vow against that sort of thing. She then snaps the buckle so the prong is able to move freely, and shoves it into the lock on the bar doors. ‘If you won’t do it for you, do it for us. Weapon XIII will never stop!’ Cluster insists. ‘Sounds familiar’ Betsy mutters, before becoming frustrated that her lock-pick won’t work. Cluster declares that if Weapon XIII is gone, then they can rescue Fantomex and get back to Paris. ‘Just the three of us. Like before, but better’. Cluster tells Betsy that she loves her so much, and that Fantomex does too. ‘I know you love us too. What else could possibly matter?’ she announces, asking Elizabeth why the past can’t be the past. Betsy just narrows her eyes.

The Louvre Museum, Betsy lands quietly in one of the corridors. She swipes a fur coat from a statue. A security guard sees this, but his head drops sideways when Betsy uses her telepathic power on him. She leaps onto the glass container which houses the bottle of King Champagne and cuts a hole in the top of it. She drops through the hole and as she takes the bottle of King Champagne, she places a similar sized weapon on the pressure-sensor the bottle was sitting on. ‘Easy…’ she whispers, before looking at the bottle. “King Champagne” she quotes the name, while remarking that it is the most valuable champagne in the world. ‘I hope you’re thirsty, Cluster my love’.

Suddenly a voice calls out ‘Arretez!’. ‘Impossible!’ Betsy gasps, turning, she finds herself surrounded by security guards wearing Fantomex masks. ‘Put down the champagne! Hands up!’ one of them calls out in French.

Another guard tells Betsy that they have her surrounded and that there is no way out. ‘Never! As in, you’ll never know I was here’ Betsy mutters. The door to the glass container opens and two guards march in. ‘As soon as I edit your memories so - wait, what? My psychic powers - I can’t reach into their minds’ Psylocke realizes, before seeing the masks, and realizing that they shield the guards from her. ‘How did they know -’ she begins, before the guards start firing at her.

She ducks behind the podium, reaches up and takes the gun off the sensor, causing an alarm to sound. ‘Drop the gun! Come out with - huh?’ one of the guards calls out. ‘The alarm! Get out!’ another exclaims as he steps out of the container, gas filling up in the room, the first guard screams.

Betsy crouches down, her body entirely covered by the fur coat, when the gas has passed over her, she moves up, and the coat shatters. The guard is frozen with fear. ‘Hang on!’ Betsy calls out to him, but as she races over, he shatters as easily as the coat. ‘Nooo!’ Betsy gasps, looking at her hands.

‘I see now. The bottle of King Champagne’ Weapon XIII remarks as he sits across from Betsy. A candle-lit table is between them, a bottle of champagne in an ice bucket. A rug is laid out on the ground beneath them in what appears to be a storage room. “Drink it with someone and fall in love forever” Weapon XIII quotes, reminding Betsy that she left it behind in the Louvre. ‘I was in a hurry’ Betsy points out, before motioning to her surroundings and asking her captor if this is it. ‘You sure know how to impress a girl’ she remarks sarcastically. ‘Patience, Elizabeth. When two people are in love… anything is possible’ Weapon XIII exclaims as suddenly, the carpet they are on is flying, and they appear to be above the city. ‘WHAT?’ Betsy gasps. ‘Unbelievable! But how?’ Betsy whispers, as the landscape below changes, appearing much, much older. The moon shines bright and huge in the darkened sky.

Weapon XIII explains that when Fantomex, Cluster and he were one person they could never achieve misdirection on this scale, they had Nanites in their blood that prevented them from believing in a higher power than themselves, and it limited their imagination. He reveals that when they were split, the Nanites went to Fantomex, and the misdirection to him. ‘There - attire more fitting for out date’ he adds when their costumes change. Betsy is now dressed in a large pink dress, and he in an old-fashioned ruffled suit. ‘This is a date?’ Betsy asks. ‘Yes, but not our first’ Weapon XIII replies as the carpet hovers in the air. ‘When you fell in love with Fantomex, you fell in love with all three of us. Fantomex, Cluster… and me’.

Weapon XIII tells Betsy that their three brains were placed into three bodies, and it doesn’t change how he feels about her. ‘Does it change how you feel about me?’ he asks. ‘So… imprisonment is your idea of romance’ Betsy goads. Weapon XIII tells her that this is a rescue mission, to rescue her from them. ‘Fantomex and Cluster don’t love you. They love the idea of you’ he explains. ‘To them, you are a rare jewel. They want to steal you back and forth, in an endless game of possession’. Holding a rose, Weapon XIII tells Elizabeth that it devastates him to see how Fantomex and Cluster have treated her. ‘A token of my devotion. “A rose by any other name”… etcetera etcetera’. Betsy smells the rose and remarks that it even smells real, before telling Weapon XIII to continue.

Their landscape changes - they appear in a serious of caverns, the carpet hovering over a pool of water while a waterfall pours from above. Strange crystals grow in the cavern, while a lion rests on a rock and a unicorn walks around. Weapon XIII tells Elizabeth that he doesn’t want to change her for his own greed, that he doesn’t want to use her to fill a hole in his heart. ‘You’re Elizabeth. My one true love. My equal’ he tells her. Continuing, Weapon XIII tells Elizabeth that she is gorgeous, and intelligent and caring, that she has a beautiful heart, just chilled by the cold world that surrounds them. ‘You can be deadly. But I would never be so narrow-minded to think you a common murderer. And I would never ever pressure you into killing again’.

‘You what? I didn’t mean - I wouldn’t -’ Betsy begins, Weapon XIII tells Elizabeth to shush and assures her that the guard at the Louvre wasn’t her fault. ‘You’re trying to be a virtuous person. No one respects that. But I do. I want to take you where you can be the Elizabeth you want to be’. He tells her that the world is theirs, that they can go anywhere, live anyplace, they can escape this life, this endless cycle of betrayal and death. ‘Far away from people who say they love us, but manipulate us into being the worst of ourselves. Isn’t that what you want?’

Betsy returns to the apartment. She looks up, and a strange look falls across her face as she sees through a large window Fantomex and Cluster locked in passionate embrace, kissing. Betsy’s jaw drops, and Fantomex looks out the window, he sees her. ‘You set me up, you son of a #$%&’ Betsy utters. Fantomex raises a finger to his lips, as if telling Elizabeth to shush. Cluster doesn’t see Betsy, her face is pressed against Fantomex’s chest.

Betsy and Weapon XIII appear back in the storage room. A band plays music, and they dance. ‘Is this better, my love’ Weapon XIII asks, one hand on Betsy’s back, the other holding hers. ‘Your illusions were stunning, but… I prefer to keep it real’ Betsy replies, adding that string quartet is a nice touch, however. ‘Well, we must have music, to dance!’ Weapon XIII exclaims, as he dips Betsy backwards. Betsy tells him not to drop her. ‘Never, my love’ Weapon XIII replies. Betsy smiles and asks him how she can be sure - as with that mask on, she can’t read his mind. Betsy holds the prong from the belt behind Weapon XIII and raises it towards his head as she asks ‘How do I know I can trust you?’ ‘I’ll meet you half way’ Weapon XIII replies, raising the lower part of his mask. Betsy turns away and tells him that this is moving too fast.

‘I can be patient’ Weapon XIII replies, while Betsy points out that her heart has been through so much. Weapon XIII smiles and tells Elizabeth that she doesn’t have to worry about that anymore. ‘I’m here now. Memories only hurt if you let them’. He pulls Betsy close to him and runs a hand through her hair. ‘But the past can kill’ Betsy points out, lowering the prong in her hand behind Weapon XIII’s back. ‘I need - I need to tie up a loose end. I need something from you’ Betsy explains. ‘Anything, my love. Name it’ Weapon XIII replies as the string quartet continues to play. ‘One more execution. Then we will be free to begin our new life together’ Betsy explains. Narrowing her eyes and looking away, she tells Weapon XIII that she needs him to kill Fantomex….

Characters Involved: 

Weapon XIII

String quartet

Six months ago:

Security guards

Story Notes: 

Psylocke vowed not to kill at the end of the first volume of uncanny X-Force.

Fantomex’ three brains were mistakenly placed into three cloned bodies instead of one in Uncanny X-Force (1st series) #35.

Written By: