X-Force (1st series) #114

Issue Date: 
May 2001
Story Title: 
Epitaph, part 1

Ian Edgington (writer), Jorge Lucas (artist), VLM (colorist), Chris Eliopoulos (letterer), Frank Dunkerley (assistant editor), Matt Hicks (editor), Joe Quesada (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

After surviving apparent death in the Ural Mountains thanks to Bedlam’s force field, X-Force have gone even deeper undercover as they go about travelling the world and putting an end to organizations that are doing harm to mutants. In Buenos Aires, they destroy Gentechnic, a company which creates treatments for various diseases using the spinal fluid of infant mutants. While deciding on their next plan, Proudstar suggests they try and find out who tried to kill them, but it is agreed that it is easier if people think they are dead. In England, the destruction of Gentechnic did not go unnoticed by a mysterious woman. Her agents have discovered that five airline tickets have been purchased for Australia, and she orders Agent Corben be sent to intervene. At the airport, Domino has a bad feeling, so X-Force don’t get on the plane - just as well as the mysterious Agent Corben attacks it and causes it to crash on the runway. X-Force leap into action and fight her, bringing her down, although she is relentless in her defense. Bedlam’s electrical powers prove useful in hurting her so bad that she confesses everything. Bedlam places her in a coma after X-Force learn who is after them. Deciding that the story seems true, Cannonball tells his friends that it is time to finish this.

Full Summary: 

A desk is covered in files from SHIELD and various other organizations. Diskettes and CD-Rs, 3-inch discs and books.

Six months later, in Buenos Aires, people are going about their daily lives, while two very special people are seated outside a café. He is well-dressed and reading a newspaper, while she sips a drink. Vans driving down the street suddenly explode, and civilians are knocked into the air. ‘Happy, honey?’ Sam “Cannonball” Guthrie, disguised by a new appearance of black hair and beard. ‘Just peachy. Thanks, babe!’ Tabitha “Meltdown” Smith, now with longer hair, smiles back. ‘We needed this vacation - sounds like the rest of the kids are having fun, too’ Meltdown adds, while up in the air, James Proudstar flies skyward, carrying Domino and Jesse Bedlam.

Later, at a stylish hotel, Tabitha swims in the pool, while Domino and James sunbathe next to it, and Cannonball and Bedlam sit at a table. Reading from a newspaper, Sam calls out to his friends: ‘Gentechnic - the friendly face of the genetics industry, pioneered revolutionary treatments for Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s Chorea and several nasty forms of cancer - treatments derived from the spinal and brain tissue of mutant infants, harvested for a handful of bucks in the Favellas of Columbia’. Sam adds that the Favellas subtly irradiated by Genetech to specifically produce such mutations. Bedlam points out that the friendly face of the genetics industry is now a big steaming hole in the ground. ‘The shareholders won’t be happy’ he remarks.

‘They won’t be anything. There was a shareholder meeting today. They all went down with the ship’ Sam reports. ‘Doesn’t that make us murderers, Sam?’ Bedlam asks. ‘No, Jesse. It makes us even’ Sam replies, frowning. Jesse ignores that comment and enquires ‘So, where to now?’, to which Sam points out that they have pretty much worked their way down the USA, taking care of business, and asks X-Force how they feel about a trip overseas. ‘Mmm…sounds good. What’ve you got in mind?’ Tabby asks as she emerges from the pool in her very revealing bikini. Holding up some files, Sam tells everyone that Pete Wisdom was thorough in compiling the files. ‘My personal faves are Japan, Singapore or Australia’ he adds. James looks over and remarks that he knows this won’t be popular, as he suggests they try and find out who killed them.

‘Why? We’re all sick of playing spook games. We got scammed and played for fools right down the line. I for one don’t want to get into that again’ Sam states. Tabitha points out that everyone thinks they are dead, so they should keep it that way. ‘We just blow up bad guys who’ve done sick stuff to mutants and move on. Simple is good’ she decides. James frowns, and remarks ‘Speaking of which, being dead doesn’t come cheap’ and asks Domino if they are down to their last few thousand. ‘Oh, come on. Don’t make me. Not again’ Domino replies. Jesse smiles at her and points out that she is their lady luck. ‘I never figured why you didn’t use that probability kink of ours before’ he adds.

Domino reveals that she did, years ago, but that she learned there is more to life than money, as it causes nothing but grief. ‘Remember New York?’ she remarks. ‘Do I! How hard was that, to walk away from forty million?’ Tabby exclaims as she sips a drink. Sam points out that it was way too conspicuous, and that Domino is right. ‘No more lotteries. We play it safe and cautious. We have to keep a low profile’ he tells his team. ‘This is low profile?’ James asks, motioning to their luxurious surroundings. Tabitha wraps her arms around Sam, who smiles and replies ‘Perks of the job, Jimmy. I didn’t hear you complaining!’ and suggests they all enjoy it while they can, as they are leaving in a couple of hours.

Meanwhile, in England, inside a facility with a lot of radar dishes attached to it, ‘Ma’am, I may have something’ a man called Michael calls out, pointing out at computer screen with a news report on it, he announces that the South American office of Gentechnic, a major genetic research conglomerate was destroyed just three hours ago. ‘They’re on our red data book list, which means -’ Michael begins, but a woman covered by the shadows of the dimly-lit control room interrupts, ‘They experiment on mutants. Good work, Michael’. Michael continues, informing the mysterious woman that the data trawl shows a group of five fitting the search profile, who just bought airline tickets from Buenos Aires to Australia, in cash. ‘It’s them’ the woman announces, before asking who they have in the area. ‘Agent Corben’ Michael replies. The mysterious woman tells Michael to notify Agent Corben and to advise that it is a scorched earth protocol, but to make it look like an accident. ‘Yes, Ma’am’ Michael replies as he taps away at his computer console.

Buenos Aires Airport, where X-Force are waiting for their flight. ‘More fashion magazines? You’ve probably deforested half a continent for that lot!’ Sam tells Tabitha, who points out that they are supposed to be in disguise. ‘Not that you’d know it from those three’ she mutters, motioning to their teammates, whose appearances have not changed like hers and Sam’s. ‘I need to know what’s hot in Australia so I can blend in. It’s research’ Tabitha adds, to which Sam points out that it is also an excuse for her to get some retail therapy. ‘Maybe. I don’t hear you complaining when I’m wearing it, especially the underwear!’ Tabitha exclaims. An announcer asks passengers boarding Quantas flight 401 to Brisbane to make their way to gate nine. ‘That’s us. Time to roll’ Sam tells everyone.

A stewardess reaches out to take X-Force’s boarding passes, when James notices Domino looking somewhat worried. ‘You okay?’ he asks her ‘No…yes…I don’t know’ Domino replies. ‘What’s up?’ Jesse enquires as everyone gathers around Domino, who tells her friends that they cannot go, that something is right, they can’t be on the plane. ‘Can you say why?’ Sam asks, frowning. ‘I’ve just got a feeling…a very bad feeling’ Domino declares.

An instant later, the plane takes of, and the captain greets the passengers over the inter-comm, ‘Welcome to flight 401 to Brisbane, Australia’ he announces, adding that weather reports a good tailwind and fairly clear skies ahead, so they should make good time to their destination. ‘My advice is relax, sit back…and enjoy the ride’ - but the pilot frowns when he sees a bald woman clad in black leather down on the tarmac below She frowns, unimpressed. Her face is covered in piercing - eyebrows, nose, lip and ears. ‘Hello boys’ she calls out, suddenly smiling. ‘Should we call it in?’ the co-pilot asks. ‘What as?’ the captain declares, when suddenly, beams of energy burst from the woman’s eyes and mouth, and strike the pilot and co-pilot, before engulfing the plane mid-air.

The woman, Agent Corben, flies upwards, as the plane, now on fire, plummets to the runway below. ‘Oh my God!’ James gasps as X-Force watch in horror from the terminal, and suddenly, the plane crashes against the tarmac in a fiery blaze. ‘Easy money’ Corben mutters as she lights a cigarette - but an instant later, ‘WHAT DID YOU DO?’ Proudstar booms as he flies straight at Corben, knocking her through the air. Corben looks annoyed, and grits her teeth as she exclaims ‘You! You’re supposed to be bleddin’ dead!’, but Proudstar replies ‘You wanted us! You know how many people just died here?’, causing Corben to fire energy from her eyes and reply ‘Not enough’, but Proudstar’s body is resistant, and he head-butts Corben, ‘You want to fight me? C’mon, let’s dance!’ he shouts angrily, drawing blood from Corben’s nose as they fly even higher, above the clouds.

‘Mmm, you like it rough, puppy! Me too!’ Corben exclaims, before reaching out, she kisses Proudstar, ‘Gimme some tongue action, stud’ she declares, as she seemingly electrocutes Proudstar. ‘Just like I thought. All talk. Loser’ Corben mutters, as she lets Proudstar plummet to certain doom. ‘Oww - broke my nose’ Corben mutters as she presses her fingers to her bleeding nose, when suddenly, Proudstar flies up from behind some clouds, and grabs Corben from behind. ‘And your neck’s about to follow!’ he warns her, as he forces the woman downwards, through the clouds, and plummeting to the ground - where they hit the tarmac, hard, James using the aggressive woman to cushion his fall, shattering some of the ground.

‘This was a new jacket! I am so gonna kick your whitebread arse!’ the aggressive woman snarls. ‘You can try’ Meltdown exclaims as she, Domino, Cannonball, Proudstar and Bedlam gather around. ‘That’s for the people on the plane, you witch!’ Meltdown shouts as she kicks Agent Corben hard in the face. Cannonball demands to know who sent her, but Corben grins and replies ‘Oh yeah, like that’s gonna happen. What’re you gonna do. Get the little girl to kick me in the face again?’ Bedlam frowns, and tells her ‘Not quite’ and points out that what she needs is an incentive - so he uses his powers on her, causing Corben to scream as she clutches her leg. Bedlam explains that he made her brain think that her femur was broken in sixteen places - a spiritual break. ‘You probably think yourself a tough nut to crack, so I want to convince you that you’re not. That the best thing you can do is talk’ Bedlam declares.

Corben screams as Bedlam uses his power to make her think her other femur is broken in, and she clutches it. ‘Shall I continue?’ Bedlam asks. ‘Up yours!’ Corben snaps back. Bedlam looks at Cannonball, who tells him to do it, and Corben screams even louder than before. X-Force watch her, frowning. Tears stream from her eyes, and she utters ‘No…no more…I’ll talk’. ‘I know you will. Who sent you?’ Cannonball replies. ‘Who wants us dead?’ he asks her.

Moments later, Bedlam places his hands on Coben’s head, ‘Pain’s gone. Sleep now. Coma’ he tells everyone, while Meltdown exclaims ‘That came from out of left field!’, and Domino turns to Cannonball, asking him if he believes her. Sam replies that he does, and that strangely enough, it all adds up. Domino asks him what they do now, and frowning, Sam replies ‘Finish it’.

Characters Involved: 

Bedlam II, Cannonball, Domino, Meltdown, Proudstar (all X-Force)

Romany Wisdom (unseen)


Agent Corben

Various civilians

Airport personnel

Story Notes: 

X-Force were seemingly killed by a bomb explosion in X-Force (1st series) #113.

The airline that X-Force are supposed to use this issue is called Quantus - perhaps a spelling error, as Qantas is an actual Australian-based airline.

Issue Information: 
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