Weapon X (2nd series) #16

Issue Date: 
January 2004
Story Title: 
Defection - part 1

Frank Tieri (writer), Jeff Johnson (penciler), Don Hillsman (inkers), Tom Chu’s Color Dojo (colors), Dave Sharpe (letterer), Stephanie Moore and Cory Sedlmeier (assistant editors), Mike Marts (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

Jonothon Starsmore has a recurring nightmare about the day he manifested his mutant powers, during which he not only crippled his then girlfriend but also blew up the lower half of his face and his chest. It changed his life forever. However, as of today, life has once more drastic changes in store for him, for the new Weapon X project has managed to restore Jono’s face and good looks. For the first time in years, he is able to brush his teeth and he enjoys it. The Director, Brent Jackson, picks Jono up for a tour around the complex. He is shown around the main control room, the hangar and the labs and introduced to other agents and operatives, such as Dr. Windsor, Sauron and Wild Child, who has been promoted to head of security. Later that day, Jackson takes Jono to a fast food restaurant, where the former X-Man enjoys his first meal ever since his face was blasted away. After doing some casual small-talk and ensuring that under his leadership the Weapon X project is no longer the nefarious place he must have heard about, Jackson starts cleverly playing young Jono. He questions him about the X-Men, particularly Wolverine, who seems to have dumped him, and also teases him by insulting his ex-girlfriend, Paige Guthrie aka Husk. Jono gets quite angry, which proves Jackson’s point – he isn’t quite over her yet. Whatever the case, Jackson tells Jono that he is an investment for Weapon X. They didn’t restore his face and erase his police records for nothing. To prove his loyalty, Jono is given his first mission: to kill the mutant organs dealer, John Sublime. Jono asks for some time to think about it and leaves. Unbeknown to the two men, Wolverine was standing outside the restaurant and overheard the conversation.

Full Summary: 

(several years ago / dream)

Somewhere in central London, Jonothon Starsmore and his girlfriend, Gayle Edgerton, are attending a hip party. However, Jono has some other fun in mind for tonight and urges Gayle to follow him somewhere, where they can have some privacy. He shoves her into the room, where the wardrobe is stored, telling her that he earlier slipped the coat-girl some extra-tip to make sure she wouldn’t disturb them. Gayle teases him that he is rather presumptuous. Once alone, the lovers embrace and start to kiss. Jono wants more, though, and, while the people outside are dancing, Gayle resists at first but then gives in to his advances.

However, suddenly, something goes wrong. Jono starts to sweat and is in pain and Gayle asks him what’s wrong. He struggles with himself to calm down, though at the same time worried about his lover, he tells Gayle to get out. Unfortunately, it’s too late and he can no longer contain it – his mutant powers manifest, blowing up the entire wardrobe and leaving a big hole where Jono’s mouth and chest were located before. As he stumbles out of the ruined room, Jono telepathically mumbles about the incredible pain, before he eventually collapses.


“Stop,” he says, “please stop,” once more having dreamed about the night that changed his entire life, when Chamber was born. Jono gets up from his bed and walks over to the bathroom. Fortunately, though, he tells himself while looking at his reflection in the mirror, a bad dream is all that it is now. His face fully restored, his chest is now intact, only a technological implant at it’s center reminding him of the incredible bio-energies stored within his body.

Jono starts brushing his teeth and looks at himself in the mirror while doing it. Halfway through, he touches his face, almost in disbelief – it’s really there; his face is really whole again. He smiles at himself and is happy. A buzzing sound alerts him to someone at the door and Jono tells the person to come in, while he finishes his teeth getting brushed. His visitor is Brent Jackson, who congratulates Jono on his restored looks. Jono thanks him and says he doubts Jackson would ever meet someone so happy to floss again. Jackson agrees. However, he tells Jono that he didn’t come there to watch him gawking at the mirror all day. Jono gets fully dressed and asks what today’s plans are.

Brent Jackson, currently the Director of the Weapon X program, replies that he wants to give him the big tour and, soon, the two are walking around the many corridors of the complex. Along the way, Jackson is greeted by several agents, all of them dressed in black and white, and he makes sure to greet everyone back, showing that he knows their names and all. Jono is somewhat surprised, this sure isn’t what he expected and it shows on his face. Jackson interprets his looks correctly and asks him that this is probably not the “dark creepy Weapon facilities” he must have heard about. Once Jono confirms it, Jackson reveals that he never got all that himself and the first thing he ordered after he became the new Director was for someone to turn the lights on. The old program is dead.

With that, Brent Jackson places his palm at a control panel in front of him, activating the door of the main control room of the new Weapon X project. Jono follows the Director inside and finds a large room with two levels. Below, there are dozens of agents, seated in front of computers and monitor screens, processing data from all over the world. On the landing above, there is a battalion of Boxbots, all armed with ray guns. Jackson and Jono proceed to one of the desks, where an agent named Amanda gives them a run-down of operations. She mentions that Agent Zero got a decent lead on Cable’s leftover rebel cells, otherwise there is nothing new. Unless, of course, one considers the cutie Jackson just brought in, she says, referring to Jono. The young man gets somewhat nervous, not used to flirting anymore, but he quickly adjusts and tells Amanda that he is sorry for being rendered speechless by her beauty.

Jackson congratulates Jono on his nice recovery and they continue with their tour, as there are some more people he wants him to introduce to. In what seems to be some sort of hangar bay, Jono and Jackson meets up with Agent Kyle Gibney. Jono immediately recognizes him as Wild Child but Jackson explains to him that Kyle will do, as codenames are only for field duty now. Gibney starts sniffing Jono and Jackson tells the young man not to mind, as Kyle does that to everyone since he made him head of security. Next, he tells Wild Child to stop, stating that Jono is clean; that is, not counting the residual stench of the X-Men.

The tour continues; Jackson and his new charge now being in a lab or infirmary. Jackson tells Jono to say hello to their resident “mad scientists,” Doctors Windsor and Lykos. Jono shakes their hands and, though not familiar with the name Windsor, Lykos does ring a bell. No sooner has he said that, than does the scientist change shape and color, transforming into Sauron. Jono backs away from the reptilian in respect and joins up with Jackson to continue their tour. On their way out, he says “Creepy sort, ain’t he ?” Jackson tells him that Lykos was just having some with him, though Jono corrects him, actually he was referring to Dr. Windsor.

(later that day)

Jono and Jackson are sitting in a fast food restaurant, Jono eating his first burger in years. Outside of the restaurant, there is a lone figure leaning against the wall, though neither man seems to notice him, and Jackson continues their conversation. He wants to know what Jono’s thoughts on the Weapon X project are and the former X-Man answers that it is an interesting place, to say the least. After all, it’s not often that one gets sniffed and shakes hands with a pterodactyl man in one day. Continuing with his meal, Jono says that the program doesn’t seem nearly as nefarious as Wolverine always made it out to be.

Hearing the name, Jackson rolls his eyes. Claiming to be honest with him, Jackson tells Jono that he didn’t exactly agree with everything his predecessors did, and that some of Weapon X’s bad reputation is justified, but the thing is that was... “...the old program”, Jono finishes his sentence. Jackson agrees, and now they have changed. These days, they are just another branch of the government, like the F.B.I., the C.I.A. or S.H.I.E.L.D. However, Jono points out the difference: they use mutants to do their dirty work for them. Jackson says that basically he is right, but then changes the subject, getting back to Wolverine. Some time ago, Jackson tried to make amends with him, but Logan is not exactly easy to deal with. That’s something that Jono can confirm, for he too doesn’t consider Wolverine a pal of him.

Sensing that they are finally getting somewhere, Jackson asks Jono a personal question; he wants to know what happened between him and the X-Men, considering the way they dumped him. Though Jono would prefer rather not to talk about it and put that part of his life behind him, Jackson pressures on, saying that his curiosity is aroused now. Randomly guessing, he asks wether it had something to do with Wolverine. Next, however, Jackson quickly ditches the thought, saying that if anyone in the X-Men would stand up to the man, it surely would have been Jono. Jackson guesses again, asking if it was because of a girl. Jono’s reaction shows him that he got it right this time. Jackson is still not satisfied and demands to know which one it was, surely not the “countrified corn-pone” their files had him with ever since his Generation X days.

Jono answers that her name is Paige and repeats that he doesn’t want to talk about the subject, though, rest assured, he is finally over her. Jackson has no intention of shutting up now and says that, if he asks him, Jono is better of without her. That girl was “white trash” if he ever saw it. Jono tells him that there is no call for such insults but Jackson goes on, calling Paige “trailer park trash” that even Springer would throw back. That last remark causes Jono to get very angry and he jumps up, preparing to punch Jackson in the face. However, the Director of the Weapon X program holds up his hands in defeat and tells Jono to calm down; he was just showing him that he isn’t as much “over her” as he thought.

They sit down again and Jackson tells Jono that he has a wild streak in him, which could be good or could be bad, very bad. The former X-Man smiles and answers that he never said he was getting a Musketeer, with Jackson replying that he never said he wanted one. He goes on, though, that Weapon X didn’t make the police stuff go away and fix his face just so that Jono can have some burgers and talk about old loves. For Weapon X, he is an investment, one that will be going to work for them. Jono understands that it is debriefing time now, Jackson will give him a chance to prove that he is willing to work for Weapon X. Jackson confirms it and pulls out a file, saying that it will be an easy on to start with.

Handing Jono a set of photos, Jackson explains to him that they show John Sublime, billionaire spokesman for the “transpecies” movement, someone the X-Men have already met and know how bad he is. Jono is somewhat surprised, as his last information was that Sublime was dead, but Jackson says the reports were wrong and based on assumptions. Whatever. Jono wants to know why Weapon X is interested in Sublime. Sure he is a “mutant parts” dealer but why do they care? Jackson tells him that it ain’t none of his concern; the agents are on a nee-to-know basis and this part of the job is something he doesn’t need to know. Jackson closes his briefing by telling Jono what he already expected: his mission is to kill John Sublime.

For a moment, there is silence, until Jackson tells Jono to make sure that this time Sublime stays dead. Jono tells him he understands and gets up. Preparing to leave, he asks Brent Jackson for some time to think this over. The Director is willing to give him that time, though not too much time. As Jono leaves the restaurant, he doesn’t seem to notice that the lone figure is still leaning against the outer wall. Apparently, the man overheard the entire conversation between Jono and Jackson. It is none other than Wolverine.

Characters Involved: 

Brent Jackson, the Director of Weapon X

Sauron, Wild Child (both Weapon X)

Dr. Windsor / Mr. Sinister

Amanda, Ms. August, Mr. Wilkinson and other staff and scientists of Weapon X

several Boxbots

Chamber (former X-Man)

Wolverine (X-Men)

in flashback:

Jonothon Starsmore

Gayle Edgerton

many teenagers

Story Notes: 

The manifestation of Jono’s powers left Gayle handicapped, as could be seen in Generation X #12.

The video screens in the main control room show a fight between Fantomex and Magneto. This battle occurred during the Planet X storyarc in New X-Men #146-150. The images are taken directly from #150.

Cable had organized an underground organization of many rebel cells to undermine and expose the Weapon X program. However, when he and his friends attacked Weapon X, they ended up captured and Brent Jackson had the knowledge erased from their minds. Only Marrow, a defected agent of the program, knows about this and she also happens to possess Cable’s files on the remaining rebel groups. [Weapon X #7-13]

Wild Child’s real name is Kyle Gibney. His last name is misspelled as “Dibney” in this issue.

Jono’s hunch about Dr. Windsor is quite correct. Unbeknown to anyone involved in the Weapon X project, he is actually Mr. Sinister in disguise.

Jerry Springer, the former mayor of Cincinnati, became nationally famous for his syndicated talk show, which features dysfunctional people in unbelievably dysfunctional situations. The societal class of people who appear on the show are often derogatorily referred to as “trash.”

John Sublime is the leader of the U-Men, an organization that is hunting down and dissecting mutants to transplant their organs to humans trying to gain their powers. Sublime encountered Cyclops and the White Queen in New X-Men #118-120 and was believed to have fallen to his death. The photographs Jackson shows Jono are actually panels taken directly from the New X-Men issues.

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