Weapon X (3rd series) #25

Issue Date: 
January 2019
Story Title: 
Weapon X-Force, part four

Greg Pak & Fred Van Lente (writers), Luca Pizzari (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: 

Sabretooth returns to Reverend Stryker's citadel to put an end to the madman's schemes. Stryker is confident he can defeat Sabretooth – but Sabretooth isn't alone. The rest of Weapon X-Force, Deadpool, M, Sauron, Pyro, Hairbag and the other rescued mutants are with him and they dog-pile on Stryker in an attempt to destroy him. Mentallo tries to escape during the battle, but Mystique returns and stops him. When someone delivers the fatal blow to Stryker though, his soul floats down into the death-pit of blades, where his body reforms in flames and he curses Weapon X-Force, warning them that he will come for them. This frightens the other mutants, who use this as their chance to escape. Weapon X-Force consider their options and they realize they need someone with a little pull in Hell. In Washington DC, a corrupt congressman has a meeting with a mysterious being eating snakes. The congressman needs continued support, and offers the mysterious man some money to help keep him in power – and s shocked when Azazel reveals himself and sets the money up in flames, a sacrifice. He then takes what appears to be part of the congressman's soul. The congressman leaves, and Azazel confronts a female assistant, who he realizes is Mystique, his one-time beloved – well, at least he loved her. Mystique tries to convince Azazel to help her, when the rest of Weapon X-Force burst into the room. A minor fight breaks out, during which Azazel expresses his dislike of Sabretooth. Monet tries to tell him that Sabretooth has changed, but Azazel's jealousy does not inspire him to Weapon X-Force with their quest to get to Hell – until he changes his mind and decapitates Sabretooth!

Full Summary: 

Aspen, Colorado, the secret murder arena in the basement of Reverend William Stryker's church. Stryker, now a monstrous cyborg, laughs as he is trapped in a pit of whirling blades. Flames dart around him and the arena.

Marvin Flumm a.k.a. Mentallo approaches Stryker, asking him if he is all right, while shielding his eyes from whatever the blades are doing to Stryker's body. 'I'm more than all right, fool. Those stupid mutants thought they could damage my earthly form...but I am reborn once again in the flames of our master!' Stryker declares as he emerges from the pit, his cyborg body strong, energy glowing around his hands. 'Oh, good... 'cause I'd have been real disappointed if there wasn't enough of you left to kill!' Victor Creed a.k.a. Sabretooth, leader of Weapon X-Force, snarls as he leaps at Stryker and slashes his claws across Stryker's face. Stryker wipes his face and asks Creed if he thinks his little claws can defeat his hellfire. 'Eh, maybe not...that's why I brought some friends' Sabretooth replies.

Suddenly, Stryker looks behind him as the rest of Weapon X-Force – Neena Thurman a.k.a. Domino, Yuriko Oyama a.k.a. Lady Deathstrike and Arkady Rossovich a.k.a. Omega Red, along with their mercenary Wade Wilson a.k.a. Deadpool and ally Monet St Croix lunge at him. With them are the many mutants and other prisoners of Stryker's basement arena including Hairbag, Pyro, Sauron, Agent X, Snare, Turk and many others. The mutants dog-pile on Stryker, using their combined powers, strengths and abilitites against him, preventing him from fighting back, they overwhelm him. Mentallo uses this moment to make his getaway, rushing to where a guard stands near a staircase. 'Shouldn't you be helping the Reverend?' the guard asks. Mentallo replies that he thinks the Reverend is doing just fine and claims that he is going to head into the back for reinforcements. 'I don't think so' the guard declares, dropping her disgusise, Raven Darkholme a.k.a. Mystique, the missing member of Weapon X-Force, replies, kicking Mentallo in the face and knocking him backwards.

Sabretooth sees this and calls out 'Nice one, Raven! I knew you'd show!' to which Sauron adds 'Once the job was pretty much done'. 'We showed 'em, didn't we?' Sabretooth grins, warning Stryker not to mess with Weapon X-Force, as someone's foot smashes into Stryker's cyborg body breaking it open and releasing what appears to be his soul, which quickly floats down into the pit with the blades, and begins to laugh.

'That... sounded like Stryker' Domino remarks. 'He put a “mouu” before a “ha ha ha”. That’s definitely Stryker' Deadpool remarks. Sabretooth goes over to the pit and looks down into it. 'Dammit, Stryker! We killed you, man!' he exclaims, but Stryker's voice can be heard telling Sabretooth not to flatter himself. Within the pit, skulls and bones line the ground and walls, as flames begin to break through and form up around Stryker's soul, giving him a new body. 'I've been dead for years! But I cut a deal with Satan to finish my work! I spit at you from Hell, Weapon X!' Stryker exclaims. 'Weapon X-Force' Sabretooth corrects him. 'Whatever' Stryker mutters, warning the mutants that he will come for them – with all the powers of his master. 'I will come for you!' he shouts, before the pit erupts in flames and collapses inwards.

'I guess... he'll be in touch later, then?' Deadpool asks. One of the mutants floating above the others, a woman in a black and white costume with long hair, remarks 'He... just said he was coming for Weapon X, right?' to which Sauron, Pyro and Hairbag looks at each other. 'Riiiiight...' Sauron agrees. 'See ya!' he calls out as he takes flight back out of the remains of the church, followed by Pyro, Hairbag and the other mutants.

'Hey!' Sabretooth exclaims, but gets no response. Weapon X-Force, Deadpool and Monet regroup as Domino mutters 'So... we're gonna get killed by an actual factual demon'. Monet runs a hand through her hair and tells Victor that this isn't good. 'I know' Creed replies. 'I mean, unless anyone happens to know someone with some pull in Hell...' Mystique begins, before she and Creed look at each other and smile.

Washington DC, in the dead of night, a nervous congressman walks through an empty building, he calls out 'Listen here, Mister... I know you're the hottest thing on K Street – every single person in my caucus says you're some kind of damn miracle worker – but I've heard that song before, and more often'n not, I end up paying through the nose for advice that ain't no better than my wife's latest fad diet!' He looks around the shadows of the building and claims that his situation is serious, that he can't use no one-size-fits-all solution. He reveals that polling says he is trailing by sixteen points in his district, which he carried by six last election. Sweat beads form on his face, he wipes them with a cloth as he explains that someone spilled his Begas video, which is nothing but consenting adults minding their own business in private, and now he has a holier-than-thou primary challenger peeling away his PAC money, while every loony is out there picketing his office every time he so much as breathes funny. 'I mean, what the hell! I just say what everyone's thinking!' the congressman adds.

At a table obscured within the shadows, someone is devouring a plate of...snakes. 'Congressman. Trust me. Now that you have retained my services... you have nothing to worry about' the mysterious man remarks as he brings a forkful of snakes to his mouth. The congressman turns to the sound of the other man's voice, 'Well, as Saint Ronnie said “trust but verify” I'm not buying this mystery man act!' he exclaims, telling the mystery man that for the amount of money he is demanding, he needs to know that this isn't just some hail Mary pass. 'Now if you don't mind, I'd like to see who I'm talking -' the congressman begins, holding up his phone, the flash lights up as he attempts to take a photo of the man sitting in the shadows eating snakes – but there is a larger flash of light as candles on the shelf behind the man in the darkness light up, revealing the man in a suit, with a red tail whipping behind him, a plate of half-eaten snakes on the table behind him, he assures the congressman that it isn't Mary he will be hailing.

The congressman falls backwards as the mysterious man known as Azazel walks towards him. 'No – I don't – I mean – I didn't know!' the congressman utters. Azazel, leader of Neyaphem, tells him to shush and not to speak. Azazel grins wickedly as he tells the congressman that his initial reaction is “how is this possible”, and tells him to contrast it with this – to think of all the times he stamped his boot down on the oppressed and scorned because it made him feel good to win an easy victory – because the wealthy and corrupt let him stand by their side for a time, it almost felt like he was as important as them. 'When you did all those things...you already served me. Now we're just putting it in writing' Azazel smiles, kneeling down beside the congressman.

Azazel stands up and helps the congressman to his feet as the congressman remarks that he is curious about something. 'Yes?' Azazel asks. 'What's someone like you... need money for?' the congressman enquires. He opens a briefcase full of money and explains that it is a pretty significant chunk of his campaign war chest, and that there are lots of other things he could put it to. 'I know. That is why I  need it. In a transaction such as this... it is customary to make a sacrifice' Azazel explains as he takes a candle and drops it onto the briefcase full of money – which goes up in flames right before the shocked congressman. 'Noooo! Not the money! It hasn't done anything wrong!' he utters. A woman walks over to the congressman and starts to escort him away. He brushes his sleeve where the flames darted around him and Azazel tells him to fear not, that those who plan to vote against him will find their IDs have gone missing, their names suddenly vanished from the rolls, their cars breaking down on the way to the polls. 'You will retain your power, congressman. And I, in return...will retain mine' Azazel declares as the congressman is led from the room, he walks down some stairs, a gaping hole in his chest – as if he has sold his soul.

Inside the other room, Azazel places a red block – presumably the congressman's soul – in a cupboard with other red blocks and calls out 'Gail?' to which the woman who escorted the congressman out enters and asks 'Sir?' to which Azazel asks her if she wouldn't mind staying for just a moment. He closes the cupboard and tells Gail that he was wondering why she wpuld make all this effort to spy on him, and then not even speak 'You were once my beloved' he reminds her, looking at her with a forlorn expression on his face. 'Was I? I don't know if that would be the word I'd use' Mystique responds as she drops the disguise, and tells Azazel that, regardless, she needs help – of an infernal nature. Azazel goes over to Mystique and takes her by her wrist as Mystique explains that firstly she wanted to see if, in his exile, he had become more or less trustworthy. 'And what is your verdict?' Azazel grins. Mystique smiles and tells Azazel that she sees he will always keep his promises, in ways that benefit only he.

'But you're gonna help us, hot stuff -' Sabretooth calls out as he charges into the room. 'Uff' Mystique mutters, unimpressed, as Sabretooth warns Azazel that if he doesn't, they are going to make this Hell on Earth for him. Domino, Deathstrike, Omega Red, Deadpool and Monet are with him. 'Seriously?' Azazel asks, glancing at Mystique, who slaps her hand to her forehead and apologizes to Azazel, explaining that her new associates only have so much patience for the subtle approach. 'Unhand her, demon -' Omega Red calls out as he rushes towards Azazel. 'Idiot. He's the world's greatest teleporter. Don't let him -' Mystique begins, but as Omega Red attempts to grab Azazel, he vanishes. '- do exactly that!' Mystique snaps at Omega Red as Azazel teleports over to Monet. 'A St Croix?' he asks. 'I've had many dealings with your family ever the years -' Azazel begins, to which Monet tells him that this shall be his last, but he quickly teleports away with Monet, and throws her at Lady Deathstrike. 'Eh? What is this? An Oyama?' Azazel asks, before punching Deathstrike in the face and telling Mystique that she has gathered such a collection of sinners here.

Deadpool attempts to slice Azazel with his sword, 'Almost gotcha! Wow, this game is fun!' Deadpool calls out, while Monet almost kicks Azazel, who tells Deadpool that he is not so good at obeying orders, and teleports onto Omega Red's shoulders, explaining that not following orders is how he was damned in the first place. He then teleports over to Sabretooth, who knocks him back and points out that their sins make them immune to his pacts and temptations, so he better give them what they want, if he knows what is good for him. Azazel teleports again, and looks up to see Domino standing over him, aiming her guns at him. 'Oh, look. You just happened to “bamf” into where I was pointing my guns. Lucky' she jokes, while Deadpool stands beside her, sword in hand, he tells her that it is easy and to just follow the smell of farts. 'That would be the invigorating scent of sulfur and brimstone, Wade Wilson' Azazel smiles, before telling Deadpool to get used to it as he quickly teleports behind Domino and Deadpool and slams their heads together. 'For it is the odor of your eternity' he adds as Deadpool and Domino drop to the ground. 

Sabretooth moves closer to Azazel and asks him what he is saying. Azazel then reveals that he has been permanently exiled from the lower realms. 'I could not return even if you were not so inept at dispatching me' he explains, quickly teleporting over to Sabretooth, and telling him that it warms his heart to know that is where he will end up. 'Quit hopping around for one dang minute!' Sabretooth calls out, as Azazel disappears again, re-appearing on the chandelier above. 'I'm trying to tell you – we wanna go to hell!' Sabretooth explains. 'And you're well on your way, monster' Azazel responds. 'Hey! Victor has changed!' Monet snaps. 'Changed. But not redeemed' Azazel points out as he teleports down to Sabretooth and punches him in the face. Sabretooth falls to the ground and Azazel stands over him, revealing that even with Creed's “inversion” he can see into his soul, the fingerprints of the evil he often committed still remain there. 'If you think you've washed any of them clean... you are a fool' Azazel declares, surprising the wide-eyed Sabretooth.

Domino, Deathstrike, Mystique, Omega Red, Deadpool and Monet move in towards Azazel, as Mystique points out that they are talking in circles. She tries to explain to Azazel that they are in pursuit of an enemy who has swoorn to strike at them from beyond the grave Azazel telepors away from the mutants, and Mystique turns to him again, informing him that they have to take the fight to him in Hell, otherwise he will just come after them until the deed is done. Azazel tells Mystique that if it were just her making this request, he would fulfil it gladly, but since she chose to approach him with one whom she has also coupled and spawned children, she has inspired his jealousy. 'Seriously? Grow up. I don't have time for this' Mystique replies. Sabretooth grins and declares that Mystique knows the real deal when she sees it – and when she doesn't. 'You know what I'm saying, Azzy? Hah!' Sabretooth laughs.

Azazel goes over to where a sword is displayed on a wall, he takes the sword and tells Mystique that she has transformed jealousy into wrath, and informs Creed that he will grant his request – 'GO TO HELL!' Azazel shouts as he teleports over to Sabretooth and uses the sword to slice off his head!

Characters Involved: 

Domino, Lady Deathstrike, Mystique, Omega Red, Sabretooth (all Weapon X-Force)

Rev William Stryker
Agent X III, Hairbag, Pyro I, Sauron, Snare, Turk
Unidentified mutants


Story Notes: 

This issue has the legacy numbering of Weapon X #53.

Azazel and Mystique's history has been chronicled in Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #428.

Azazel was last seen in Amazing X-Men (2nd series) #1-6.

Mystique and Azazel are the parents of Nightcrawler, while Mystique and Sabretooth's son is Graydon Creed.

“Saint Ronnie” refers to former US President Ronald Reagan.

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