Weapon X (3rd series) #17

Issue Date: 
July 2018
Story Title: 
Sabretooth's in Charge, part 1

Greg Pak & Fred Van Lente (writers), Yildiray Cinar (artist), Frank D'armata (colorist), Virtual Calligraphy's Joe Caramagna (letterer), Rahzzah (cover artist), Jay Bowen & Anthony Gambino (graphic designers), Chris Robinson (editor), Jordan D White (X-Men group editor), C B Cebulski (editor-in-chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (president), Alan Fine (executive producer)

Brief Description: 

Inside a corrective labor camp in Siberia, two mutants find themselves mysteriously freed from their cells. They plan to make their escape, but are captured by Omega Red. Old Man Logan informs his Weapon X team that Sabretooth is going to be the new field leader. Sabretooth is pleased to take on the role, while Warpath objects. He and Sabretooth argue, before Logan informs the team that their next assignment is to go to Siberia, where Omega Red has apparently taken mutants hostage. Logan gives the team some warnings about Sabretooth, and when Warpath questions Logan about putting Sabretooth in charge, Logan tells him that if Sabretooth steps over the line, not to hesitate in taking him out. Warpath, Deathstrike and Domino interrupt Sabretooth on a video conference with the mercenary Foreigner who has an enticing offer for Sabretooth, but Sabretooth refuses to go into detail with the others. The four leave their jet and drop down into the correctional facility grounds, where Deathstrike notes how interesting it is that Russia denies the existence of mutants, then rounds them all up in one place. They break into the facility, and find no guards or prisoners. They split up, with Warpath and Domino going in one direction, and Sabretooth and Deathstrike in another, where Deathstrike tells Sabretooth that whatever his plans are, she wants in. Warpath and Domino start to make out down another corridor, before Warpath pulls away, he realizes that this facility should be full of mutants and remembers that they are supposed to be hunting Omega Red. He starts to feel dizzy, then picks up a scent, following it to a warehouse, where dozens of mutants are hanging upside down by carbonadium coils. Omega Red attacks Warpath and Domino and starts to drain their energies, before Sabretooth arrives and starts to fight Omega Red. Warpath realizes that Sabretooth used he and Domino as bait, while Deathstrike goes about freeing the mutant prisoners. Omega Red captures Sabretooth and orders the mutants of Russia to kill the foreigners, then he will return their life force to them. Domino, Deathstrike and Warpath are then attacked by the mutant prisoners, while Omega Red escapes the facility, with Sabretooth as his prisoner, draining his energy, he trudges across the snow, as Omega Red tells Sabretooth that true leaders make sacrifices.

Full Summary: 

Inside the Stranniy Corrective Labor Camp, Siberia, Russia:
'Lev!' a female mutant whose face resembles a short-nosed dolphin calls out to a young man whose arms glow with energy as he approaches her in a corridor. The lights in the corridor flash red and an alarm sounds, as the cells that line the corridor are all open. Lev calls the other mutant Tamara, and in their native Russian, asks her if she is free, too. They both were prison-orange jumpsuits, and Tamara tells him that she thinks they all are, that the power suddenly cut out, and she was cleaning the kitchen. Lev explains that he was running an errand for the guards, before asking where they – and the other prisoners – are. Tamara points out that it doesn't matter – all that matters is they are free. She remarks that she is amphibious, and that Lev can generate heat, so if they can survive the temperatures out there, they can make it to the West and tell people what is going on here.

Lev tells Tamara that he doesn't like it, and that she knows what a bastard the warden can be – so it could be a trick. 'Maybe' Lev agrees, adding that she doesn't think so, and points down past the cells, where a light shines up ahead. 'This is our chance! Come on!' Tamara exclaims as they run down the corridor.

'Been so long since I've heard from you, brother' a voice cries. 'Yes. Yes. I understand what you're saying' the voice adds, before Lev and Tamara come to a stop, and Tamara asks Lev if he hears voices. 'We all have voices in our heads' someone above them utters, and as the mutants look up, they find Omega Red handing from the rafters. 'Only some of them ours. My voices are bad. Very bad. You'll never believe what they've asked me to do' Omega Red snarls, as his deadly coils whip downwards and wrap around Lev and Tamara, who scream.

Elsewhere, a sleek black jet flies through the air, containing five deadly individuals who are collectively known as Weapon X. Old Man Logan sits in a hoverchair, shirtless, with several bandages wrapped around his body. He tells the others to listen up, and introduces them to the new field leader of their merry pack of scrappers – Sabretooth.

'Hell yeah' Victor Creed smirks as he stands next to Old Man Logan, and tells him that he won't let him down – by which he means that he is going to spend every waking moment showing him up.

'Sabretooth?' James Proudstar a.k.a. Warpath asks, surprised. 'Interesting' Yuriko Oyama a.k.a. Lady Deathstrike adds. Neena Thurman a.k.a. Domino does not look happy and asks Logan if he has lost his mind. 'Follow up question: Have you lost your damn mind?' Domino asks, raising her voice. Logan tells her that he is going to need time to recover from the monster mash that he and Sabretooth went through in New Mexico. 'Oh, before I forget again: Happy birthday' Domino smiles. Logan tells her that there is nothing too much to celebrate, pointing out that the world is still lousy with threats – renegade mutants as well as the usual suspects of demagogues and racists trying to make their kind extinct. 'As the X-Men's resident team of hunters, it's our job to track 'em down. We can't stop just because I need a time out' Logan adds.

Logan continues: 'Victor's got the same basic powers as I do -', to which Sabretooth smirks and interrupts: 'And I use 'em better' as Logan points out that he has as much experience as he does as a tracker, 'And I've taken down bigger game' Sabretooth smirks. Logan concedes that Sabretooth is the natural choice.

'This is like hiring a fox for henhouse maintenance' Domino suggests. Warpath agrees, and tells Logan that if he thinks he is going to take orders from Sabretooth, then his brain has bounced off his adamantium skull one too many times. 'You think you could do better, Proudstar?' Sabretooth asks, pointing a finger at Warpath, who stands his ground and replies 'Absolutely. In literally every single way'. Sabretooth raises his voice and, as Warpath's new commanding officer, orders him to drop and give him twenty. 'Yeah. No. Also, I can bench press a semi. If you're handing out punishments it should be twenty thousand push-ups' Warpath boasts.

'Don't think I'll forget this challenge to my authority, maggot!' Sabretooth snarls, raising his voice again as he moves closer to Warpath, who screws his face up and mutters 'You could use a mint'.

Deathstrike folds her arms and tells Victor that he is already enjoying this way too much. 'I was born to sit on the throne, baby. Just never really realized it until my ass came into contact with one' Creed smiles.

Logan tells everyone to can the chatter, and remarks that Kitty Pryde didn't give him this nifty new Blackbird because she wanted them to fight each other. Logan then announces that their latest target just busted out of a facility run by SICKLE, the Russian equivalent to SHIELD. Domino asks what “SICKLE” stands for, to which Deathstrike supposes it must be something strained and contrived. 'No, that's not enough letters' Domino tells her. Logan reveals that SICKLE took custody of Omega Red after the X-Men's last dustup with him on Russian soil, and stashed him in their version of the Raft, a super-human prison in Siberia. Logan touches a holo-screen and tells the others that the state news service says Omega Red got loose and turned on the other prisoners. He points out that there is a pretty nasty snowstorm there right now, so the latest intel is that Omega Red hasn't actually left the facility yet.

'Omega Red? He's the guy with the tentacles who beats you up all the time, right?' Creed asks, adding that this shouldn't be much of a problem. Logan frowns at Creed and tells him not to get cocky, explaining that Omega Red was a serial killer before he got is carbonadium coils, and that he has a mutant death factor that lets him suck the life force out of anybody, including him. Logan suggests that if they are lucky, they can intercept him before he escapes the island and starts Dracula-ing the countryside. 'Luck? You don't need luck when you've got Sabretooth, grandpa' Creed boasts. 'No. Just a truckload of patience. And several forklifts of beer to recover from talking to you' Logan mutters.

Warpath turns to Old Man Logan and informs him that when he was in college he had a housemate who tried to keep a wolf-dog hybrid inside – but he didn't walk that animal enough and it went stir-crazy – it just started tearing up the furniture until it finally ate through the door and escaped. 'You're basically letting Sabretooth out to keep him from chewing the furniture, right? That's why you're doing this?' Warpath asks. Logan frowns and tells Warpath that he doesn't know what he is talking about, that he is just trying to play the hand he has been dealt to the best of his ability. 'Though, Jimmy...  ever see Sabretooth losing it, or putting innocent lives in danger... or his teammates'... don't hesitate to do what I do best, you hear?' Logan adds, and Warpath looks at him, knowingly.

Soon, the Blackbird hovers above the Stranniy Corrective Labor Camp, which is surrounded by a high wire fence, contains only one obvious entry, and is a star-shaped building. Sabretooth is by himself in a room within the Blackbird, speaking to someone over video-camera on his phone. 'Victor. Have you considered my offer? Sick of wasting your time... “X-Menning” or whatever you call it? Are you ready to start accepting contracts?' a man asks. Creed responds by saying that he thinks he is going to have some good news on that front real soon, but he can't talk about it now, as they are about to do their GI-Mission-Joe-Possible nonsense, or whatever the hell this strike team is supposed to be. The man on the other end of the video conference informs Creed that the offer on the table will expire soon, and that he has twenty four hours to decide. 'You and me go way back, Foreigner. You know I'm worth the wait' Creed declares, quickly ending the video call as Warpath, Domino and Deathstrike enter the room.

'Who was that?' Warpath asks, to which Creed replies 'Your mom. Setting up our date for later'. Warpath frowns and remarks that, for the first time, he is glad his mother is dead.

A hatch opens and Creed tells the others that if they want to hang back and let him handle this second-rate Doctor Octopus himself, they can be his guests, adding that they are just going to get in his way. Creed leaps from the hatch, and Deathstrike follows, with Warpath flying after them, holding Domino. Creed tells thwem to go back, that he won't rat on them to Pappy Logan, and wil tell him that they were all vitally crucial components to the mission's success. 'So you know, lies...' 'Well, the “Sabretooth era of team Weapon X” is already off to a smashing start' Domino mutters. 'I demand a recount' Warpath tells her, as they land on the snow-covered terrain inside the compound. Deathstrike tells the others that this gulag should be brand-new – state of the art in x-gene contamination. She explains that the current regime recently declared that there are no mutants in Russia, then rounded up so many of them that they needed to build a whole prison just for them. 'I do so admire the human ability to contain two completely contradictory thoughts in one feeble brain at a time...' Deathstrike adds.

Shortly, Wapath tears open a set of doors, and the team enters the facility. Domino points out that they could have made a quieter entrance had he let her pick the lock, but Warpath sniffs the air and tells her that there is no need, as there is no one here. They walk into the red-lit area where the open cells line the corridor, and Sabretooth remarks that there are no guards or prisoners, that everyone has flown the coop, but as he checks one of the cells, he supposes that they haven't been gone long, a couple of hours myabe, but Sabretooth decides that Grandpa Logan was wrong about Omega Red still being here. 'What else is new?' he mutters, deciding that they had still better scour this dump and make sure. Creed puts the group into two teams, announcing that Deathstrike will come with him, and Warpath and Domino will paid up. 'Good guys and bad guys, huh?' Deathstrike smirks. 'Heh' Sabretooth smiles back.

Warpath and Domino aren't so happy, and Warpath declares that he isn't sure this is such a great idea. 'What's the matter, Warpath? Worried I'll go too far if you're not breathing down my neck?' Sabretooth frowns, before starting to walk off with Deathstrike, reminding the others that Logan sent them after a serial killer psychopath. 'Wouldn't have put me in charge of he wasn't okay with me putting him down by any means...and besides, I woulda thought you two would be happy to grab a little private time, if you know what I mean...' Sabretooth calls back. 'We're on a mission here, okay?' Warpath states. 'Is that what you kid are calling it these days?' Sabretooth asks, and Domino looks at Warpath and laughs.

Soon, as Sabretooth and Deathstirke walk down another red-light corridor, Deathstrike rakes her fingernails along the wall, creating a screeching noise as she informs Sabretooth that she knows he has been talking with someone. 'Yeah? I'm the dang leader. I talk with everyone. They don't like it, they can shove it' Sabretooth replies. 'Someone outside of the team' Deathstrike explains, reminding Sabretooth that she is a cyborg, and while she can't decode every radio or wireless signal, she can tell when calls are going out. Sabretooth turns to Deathstrike and and asks her why she is talking to him instead of ratting him out to the others. Deathstrike smirks and replies that the others are boring, and tells Sabretooth that the two of them have been sitting on their secret stash of Nuke pills way too long. 'Whatever you've got planned... I want in' she tells him.

Elsewhere, down another corridor, Warpath and Domino are lip-locked as they make out up against a wall, when suddenly, Warpath pulls away, telling Domino that this is a bad idea. 'I know. And I got some even worse ones' Domino smiles. Warpath walks away from her and explains that his head is getting fuzzy. 'I mean, what are we doing? We're not just hunting Omega Red. This prison's supposed to be full of other mutants we well...who could need our help – or be just as dangerous, or -' Warpath tells Domino, before clutching his head, he appears as if he is in pain. Domino asks him what is going on, and Warpath tells her that there is something in the air. 'You're not feeling that?' he asks. Domino starts to remind Warpath that she has luck powers, and suggests that she dodged whatever it is he is feeling, when suddenly, she clutches her head, too. Warpath starts running down the corridor, informing Domino that he smells something. He explains that there is some other odor, or perhaps an absence of odor, masking every other scent. Warpath is only recognizing it now, but it is in every inch of this place.

'... like death...' Warpath utters as he and Domino come to a large room, where dozens of mutants are hanging from the ceiling, bound by carbonadium coils. The odd-looking mutant called Tamara is still alive, and tells Warpath and Domino to watch out, as Omega Red could be anywhere. Domino understood the Russian language that Tamara was speaking. She is about to relay it to Warpath, but he assures Domino that he got the gist of it. They both pull out their weapons, just in time, as two carbonadium coils dart towards them, and a voice calls out 'Be quiet, just be quiet, for once!' Warpath is knocked backwards by one of the coils as the voice adds 'Not stalling', before the other coil knocks Domino's gun from her hand and slaps her back. 'Am not!' the voice exclaims, as Domino and Warpath find themselves tangled in several coils. Domino struggles to free herself and remarks that the coils are a lot stronger than Logan led them to believe. 'No...we're weaker' Warpath realizes. 'Shut up, I said!' the voice calls out, while Warpath explains that Omega Red's pheromones have infected this place, sapping their strength and making him stronger.

'X-Men. Always X-Men!' Omega Red snarls as he drops down next to Warpath, using his coils to lift Warpath into the air, Omega Red remarks that he is happy to see them, and explains that he is having an argument with a friend in his head, and needs their help – needs their life force to do what his friend wants. 'Sure... let us go and we'll back you up against any invisible people you want' Domino mutters, a coil wrapped around her neck, before the coils trapping the heroes are “super-charged” and glow bright with energy, zapping Domino and Warpath and causing them both to scream. 'Tasty' Omega Red grins, before telling them that they help just fine like this – when suddenly, Sabretooth appears, and slashes his claws across Omega Red's back. 'Ha ha! You're just as big a loser as I remember! I knew you'd show yourself eventually if I gave you the right targets!' Sabretooth declares as he rakes his claws across Omega Red's front.

Omega Red recovers, and wraps coils around Sabretooth, lifting him upwards, Omega Red declares that this makes him happy, as Sabretooth is so much stronger, tastier. 'You used us as bait!' Warpath calls out as he and Domino find themselves free. 'I prefer to think of you as land chum' Sabretooth replies, glancing at his teammates, while Deathstrike leaps into the air and slices her claws through the coils hanging from the roof that trap the Russian mutants. 'Concentrate your attacks! He can't hold us all off at once!' Deathstrike calls out, but Omega Red announces that he has energy now, and that it is time to go. Omega Red looks at the Russian mutants who climb to their feet once they release themselves from the coils and tells them to kill  these foreigners, then he will return their life force to them. 'I told you fools to run' Tamara exclaims. 'She said -' Domino begins, preparing to translate Tamara's sentence, but as the Russian mutants rush towards her, Deathstrike and Warpath, Warpath shouts 'I get the gist!' and knocks back one of the mutants.

Nearby, an outer wall is blown apart, as Omega Red escapes the facility, dragging Sabretooth behind him across the snow-covered terrain. 'Yo, team! To me... my Weapon X-Men!' Sabretooth calls out, tangled in the coils still, but gets no response.

Omega Red flicks the coils into the air, suspending Sabretooth above him as he trudges through the snow. 'Come on, don't just let the bad guy run off with your leader!' Sabretooth pleads. 'That is where you wrong, brute... true leaders sacrifice' Omega Red remarks, as he drains more of Sabretooth's energy....

Characters Involved: 

Domino, Lady Deathstrike, Old Man Logan, Sabretooth, Warpath (all Weapon X)

Omega Red

Lev, Tamara and other mutant prisoners

The Foreigner

Story Notes: 

The monster mash in Mexico that Old Man Logan refers to took place in Weapon X (3rd series) #15-16.

The X-Men tussled with Omega Red and captured him in X-Men: Gold #10-11.

Sabretooth has a history with the mercenary Foreigner as shown way back in Spectacular Spider-Man #116.

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