Weapon X (2nd series) #9

Issue Date: 
July 2003
Story Title: 
The Underground - part 3

Frank Tieri (writer), Georges Jeanty (penciler), Dexter Vines (inker), Tom Chu's Color Dojo (colors), Chris Eliopoulos (letters), Nova Ren Suma (assistant editor), Mike Raicht (associate editor), Mike Marts (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Bill Jemas (president)

Brief Description: 

Garrison Kane receives another upgrade, allowing him to download different superpowers into his system, all save one: the ability to shape and alter technology, which would interact with his own cybernetic bodyparts. After startling everyone with his restored face, the Director sends Kane to accompany another transport to Neverland, prompting his lover, Aurora, to ask about what is really going on there, but the Director gives an evasive answer. Marrow begins to suspect that they aren’t told everything, and Brent Jackson uses her doubts to make her join his little subgroup that is undermining the Weapon X program. Mesmero confides in Dr. Windsor that he has lost his powers. Apparently, when he failed to stop his mother’s death, his ego took too big a blow, affecting his confidence-based abilities. Windsor promises not to tell anyone, but Sabretooth has already overheard their conversation and realizes that, with Mesmero’s mental inhibitors no longer working, he is once more free to escape. Meanwhile, Washout visits his old neighborhood, wanting to tell his father that he is about to die, but then decides otherwise. His joining of the Weapon X project was the only time that his father was proud of him, so he doesn’t want to destroy that. In Utah, Domino and Maverick chase Wildside and Reaper, but they take Domino hostage. Maverick doesn’t care and shots all three of them. Domino is only minorly injured, but pretty peeved, while the two terrorists both pass out though are not mortally wounded.

Full Summary: 

At the Weapon X compound, Garrison Kane is in a training exercise against about a dozen of Boxbots, testing the latest upgrade of his system. His right arm transformed into an energy blaster, he keeps some of the robots busy, though one of them grabs him by the throat. Kane returns the gesture with his left arm and uses his latest ability – to download several different superpowers into his system. Choosing “increased superhuman strength” it takes only mere seconds until his cybernetic bodyparts have downloaded the required data and activates this power, enabling Kane to easily rip of the Boxbot’s head. Both hands transforming into claws, he slashes through another opponent before deciding to test another ability. Kane downloads “subzero temperature gas” and uses it to freeze all of the remaining robots.

The exercise at an end, Kane smirks; the field test was a full success. He is unaware of being watched from a landing above, his observer being somewhat surprised by Kane’s new ability to download different powers into himself and wonders when he got it and where exactly he got access to all these different powers. But, whatever the case, the hidden person thinks that Kane is still a class-A jerk. He hardly interacts with the other agents anymore, spending more and more time with the Boxbots, as if he was forgetting what it is like to be human.

Down below, a Boxbot hands Kane a towel, which he uses to wipe of the sweat on his face while he is congratulated on his upgrade. For Kane, it’s still not enough though, as he cannot download any power in his database – the ability to manipulate technology is still beyond his range, with him being partially tech himself. The Director walks in, finishing Kane’s explanation that, if he tried to access that ability, he’d be destroyed. To illustrated his point, he knocks over one of the still frozen Boxbots and, hitting the ground, the metal smashes into pieces.

Up on the landing, the silent observer is as surprised and impressed by their leader’s restored face as Kane is. Aurora walks in too and, broadly smiling, tells Kane how handsome the Director was under all that mess. Her lover jokingly replies that she probably says that to all formerly disfigured Weapon X program directors and they kiss. Up above, the unseen person is slightly offended by this turn of events. As if watching them kiss all the time wasn’t enough, now they have to watch the Director prance around like he’s Leonardo freaking DiCaprio.

Kane has not much to say about the change, though, calling it a remarkable change, but he is more interested in the reason for the Director’s visit. The Director tells Kane that he is needed to escort another detainee transport to Neverland shortly and the cyborg immediately leaves to board a helicopter, accompanied by several Boxbots. Hearing the term Neverland again, Aurora wonders out loud why the Director never takes her there, asking if he surely isn’t doing something wrong there as the media suggests. In their thoughts, their observer congratulates her on asking a good question, as besides Kane none of the agents have ever been to Neverland, surely with good reason. Down below, the Director dismisses Jeanne-Marie’s concerns, saying that it’s ridiculous. Neverland is a very complicated matter and, above that, a classified one, which is why he can say no more on the subject. They leave the training center, arm in arm.

Above, the observer is not convinced. Watching the couple leave, Marrow says that she is starting to think there is not much they can trust that’s told to them, not about Neverland or anything else. Turning around, she asks Brent Jackson is he would happen to know anything about that. Brent grins, telling Marrow that she is “always the rabble rouser,” and then proceeds that it’s long overdue for them to have a little conversation in private. Placing his arm around her shoulder, he leads Marrow away.

Meanwhile, a figure wearing a baseball cap, sunglasses, a big scarf and a long coat is watching Yankee Stadium. Despite his best efforts to hide his appearance, still some of his skin and the cracks therein can be seen – it’s Washout. He recalls the afternoon games his father used to take him to as if it was yesterday. Looking around, seeing the happy people in the crowd, several fathers and sons among them. He thinks about the things that made such days complete, like hot dogs and cotton candy. Washout turns and thinks that he’d sell his soul to go back to one of these days, but he realizes that he can’t sell what he no longer has. Looking back to the stadium one more time, he supposes that is why he has come her today – to say goodbye before the devil comes to collect.

He wanders off into some poor neighborhood and thinks that it’s just his luck. He finally gets some super powers, courtesy of the Weapon X program, but then finds out that these powers are killing him. Suddenly, he is hit in the head with a ball. A kid runs over, apologizing for it, and Washout gives him back the ball without directly looking at the boy, fearing that he might catch a glimpse of his skin. The children continue their game and Washout is reminded of his childhood friends who used to play with in these same streets. However, there are none of these friends left who are not dead in jail or should be in jail. Washout thinks that he is to die without friends or family; that is not counting his Dad.

Within the Delta Center in Utah, Domino and Maverick are following the trail of the two mutant serial killers. Domino points in one direction, saying that she thinks they went that way, to which Maverick dryly agrees. She turns around and tells him she knows he is screwed up because he used to be involved with the Weapon X Program and that’s whom they are fighting now, but she would want him to lighten up a little and to give her more than two-word answers now and then. Still focused on their task, Maverick suggests perhaps they should split up and cover more ground that way, before stating that those were ten words. Domino gives him an annoyed glance.

She proceeds into the direction she pointed, telling herself not to mind him. She then wonders out loud where she would be hiding if she were a mutant psychotic killer like Wildside and Reaper. “How about here,” Wildside asks, leaping from the shadows, his claws aiming for Domino’s face. She fires two shots straight at her attacker but, using his limited control over reality, Wildside makes the room spin and Domino falls to the ground, her shots missing their aim. Wresting the gun from her hand, Wildside grins and thinks he has won this fight.

Looking up, Domino knows better, though. Her luck has kicked in and her bullets have hit a neon lamp instead, which now comes crashing down on Wildside, knocking him over. Reclaiming her gun and pointing it at the mutant, Domino fails to notice Reaper sneaking up on her until it is too late. He holds up his scythe against her throat, stating her luck has just run out. “Funny,” Maverick replies, “I was just about to say the same thing to you,” the red targeting laser of his weapon appearing on Reaper’s forehead.

At the Weapon X compound, Mesmero stares at Dr. Windsor and orders him to kneel before him, to no avail. Mesmero fears he has lost his powers, as he just demonstrated to the scientist. Dr. Windsor confirms the former hypnotist’s suspicion: his ability of mental persuasion is gone. The green-skinned mutant asks how that could have happened. Windsor explains that his powers are based on his confidence and, since before he never lacked that quality, this was never an issue. However, his unsuccessful attempt to stop his mother’s death proved to be a great blow to Mesmero’s ego, apparently more than his psyche could handle.

Hearing this, Mesmero covers his face in shame and despair. The doctor suggests to give it some time, perhaps the problem corrects itself, but Mesmero panics about what if it does not. As he leaves Windsor’s office, Mesmero urges him to keep his powerloss secret, as it wouldn’t be a good idea to let the program know that he has outlived his usefulness. The scientists gives him his word.

No sooner has he left the room, than Sabretooth starts snickering, as he emerges from his hiding place in a dark corner of the office. He overheard the entire conversation and asks Dr. Windsor what Mesmero’s powerloss means for him. The scientist answers that he believes Creed already suspects the answer – it means that Mesmero, and therefore the Director, no longer has a mental hold on him. Sabretooth holds his claws up to Windsor’s face, asking what would stop him from tearing up his windpipe now. The scientist, though, knows that Creed is bluffing; he needs him to disengage the compound alarm system for him. Letting him go, Creed agrees, though also points out that, with him gone, Dr. Windsor’s dirty little secrets would be safe again. That is, unless he comes back.

In Utah, the two Underground members are in a Mexican standoff with Reaper and Wildside. The terrorists have Domino in their clutches and use her as a human shield, knowing that Maverick can’t shoot them without harming her. Without even flinching, Maverick fires a salvo of gunshots, felling all three mutants before him. Both Reaper and Wildside pass out, due to their injuries, and Domino holds her shoulder, from which she is bleeding. Rather shocked, she sums up that Maverick shot them ... and her. Her partner justifies his actions by saying that all of them will live and that their mission is accomplished. As he helps her up, he even tells her she is welcome, by the way, as if he was expecting her to thank him.

Night falls over the Bronx and Washout is still wandering around the streets that once were his home. He looks up to a certain window of a worn down house. It belongs to the apartment of his father, the only thing he got left of his poor excuse for a life. He knows that they aren’t as close as they were back then when he was still a boy, but he blames it on his father spending so much time in jail and in rehab. Washout comes to the conclusion that his Dad turned out to be a loser... like father like son. Still, he knows it will break his heart to tell his father that he is about to die soon, especially as he was so happy when they last met. His father was actually relieved when he accepted the offer to work for “The Man,” and suddenly he comes to think that he just can’t take that away from his old man. Why take away the only time his father was proud of him? Washout takes off his disguise and drops it on the floor, revealing his cracking body to the night. Several plasters are all that keep some larger chunks from breaking off, including his fingers. He looks to the window, where his father is watching TV, not noticing his son outside, and waves him goodbye, before walking away.

Back at the Weapon X compound, on a terrace overlooking a lake and the nearby mountains, the Director embraces Jeanne-Marie, who says she was never happier in all her life. Admiring the view, she hops that nothing comes along to change that. They are not aware of the quartet of Weapon X agents standing on a balcony overlooking the terrace – Sauron, Marrow, Wild Child and Brent Jackson. “Uh-huh, like that’s gonna happen” Brent whispers, in answer to Aurora’s wish.

Characters Involved: 

The Director

Brent Jackson

Aurora, Kane, Marrow, Mesmero, Reaper, Sabretooth, Sauron, Washout, Wild Child, Wildside (all Weapon X)

Dr. Windsor (aka Mr. Sinister)

several Boxbots

Domino, Maverick II (both The Underground)

Washout’s father

people at the Yankee stadium

several children

Story Notes: 

It’s not quite clear whose thoughts are displayed in the narration boxes on the first six pages, Marrow’s or Jackson’s. The constant use of “us agents” seems to point to Marrow, but the phrase “kewpie doll,” referring to Aurora, seems more likely to have come from Jackson.

Apparently, the files within Kane’s database are based on the mutants held and experimented on in Neverland, Weapon X’s mutant concentration camp.

Leonardo DiCaprio is a Hollywood actor, most famous for his lead role in Titanic. He is also considered one of the most beautiful men alive, at least by his female fanbase.

Domino’s comment about Maverick having been involved with the Weapon X program puts an end to fan speculation that it is actually Shatterstar behind the mask. Or does it? It could still be the case that Shatterstar was involved with the program off-panel, or that Domino doesn’t know about the Maverick identity being used by someone else.

After unsuccessfully applying for X-Force membership, Washout was approached by the Director, who offered him to join the Weapon X project and receive a power upgrade at their hands. As a side effect of that treatment, his body is slowly dehydrating. [X-Force #129, Weapon X Wizard Special #1/2]

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