X-Force (1st series) #125

Issue Date: 
April 2002
Story Title: 
One Of Us

Peter Milligan (writer), M.D. Allred (artist), Blambot (letters), Laura Allred (colors), John Miesegaes (assistant editor), Axel Alonso (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Bill Jemas (president)

Brief Description: 

X-Force returns from a mission that went badly. Along with their bruised bodies there is very apparent tension within the team and morale is very low. Sensing this, Spike Freeman sends Guy, Edie and Tike to a graveyard to inform a new recruit that she has been accepted into the team. Once at the graveyard, the trio witnesses the formation of an amalgamated creature formed of mud, stone, worms, maggots, bones and skulls. The creature silently points at the trio's general direction. Before they can decide to whom the creature is pointing, it explodes, covering them with its parts. Later, the full X-Force team is briefed on their new mission by Agent Wright of the CIA. He reveals that several pharmaceutical companies were upset that Guy didn't hand over Paco Perez to them and now want revenge against him, and by extension, X-Force. However the Cia sorted out a deal and there won’t be any consequences if X-Force does them a favour. Wringht continues that a genetics experiment has led to the creation of mutant-like altered humans. These humans, who were formerly death-row inmates, have taken control of the Mars 2010 space station where they were being trained. The plan is for X-Force to try to free the hostages being held, and intentionally allow themselves to be captured. The CIA would then rescue X-Force and resolve the situation and restore its tarnished reputation. When the team votes on the mission, it results in a three on three stalemate. To everyone's surprise the stalemate is broken with a vote for the mission by the team's newest member: Dead Girl, who apologizes for arriving late. As the team approaches their launch vehicle, which will take them to the space station, Guy cannot shake the feeling that the death monster that pointed to them earlier was giving them a sign that one of them would soon die.

Full Summary: 

As the members of X-Force return to their headquarters they are accosted by reporters asking about their recently completed mission. When a reporter asks the Orphan about the number of reported civilian deaths, U-Go Girl takes the microphone. Bruised and battered, she explains that it was a nasty, messy business where the bad guys didn't wear badges identifying themselves as bad guys. When asked by a reporter about the personal conflict between him and the Spike, the Anarchist merely replies "No Comment". The Orphan begins to reflect on the recent events. The last thing he hears is a reporter asking Myles if he has ever had a girlfriend before he is drawn back to hours before.

X-Force is tearing through soldiers, surrounded by burning buildings and tanks. The mission was supposed to have been nice and simple: a surgical strike into a Central American state to find and arrest a general wanted for crimes against humanity. The operation was just the kind of mission to counter the team's reputation as champagne mutants. What the Orphan was not prepared for was the real-life situation of beaten and battered locals. During the battle the Anarchist and the Spike escalated their rivalry while Phat and Vivisector performed like a team within a team. Guy found his feelings for Edie influencing his decision, as he tried to keep her out of harm’s way by ordering her to teleport away, yet she realiozed his intention and angrily told him to never do that again. After the battle X-Force was shocked when the locals, rather than supporting their actions, protested their involvement and held signs telling them to go home. Depending on your politics there were between six and eighteen civilian casualties.

Guy and Edie are in Spike Freeman's office talking about their situation. He recommends restoring the team's image through a name change. Freeman admits that a name change would benefit him very well as he reveals that he doesn't own the X-Force name. Changing the subject from the royalty checks he has to pay every month, Spike asks Guy if he has decided on the new recruit yet. Marketing, he points out, could always use fresh blood.
Later, through Edie's teleportation portal, Guy, Edie and Tike arrive at a graveyard. As they search the grounds, they discuss possible new names for the team: X-Division and X-Heroes, both of which they agree does not sound good. Guy finds the correct mausoleum and, talking through the open door, announces himself. Calling to the unseen Dead Girl, he congratulates her and tells her that she has been chosen as a new recruit. Silence is Guy's only response until the ground nearby begins to move. From the ground a creature arises, forming before them. The creature many times their height is composed of mud, stone, worms, maggots, bones and skulls. As the amalgamated creature silently stands before them, Tike tells the others that he knows what the creature is: it's Death. The creature, still silent, gravely points in the direction of the trio. Tike, now nearly wracked with panic, exclaims that the creature is pointing to him. Edie and Guy disagree, both believing that they are the ones being pointed to. Without warning the Death-creature explodes, covering them with its parts.
Shortly afterwards, Guy, Edie and Tike wash themselves in a communal shower. Tike tells the others that it was a sign. He reminds them of what he said when the Spike joined X-Force that he would become the older brother who would get wasted. Guy, in his special shower for his sensitive skin, tells Tike that his theory is full of crap, as well as is his obsession with the Spike. Further he points out that as the "Anarchist" he must believe in free will and a future that doesn't exist yet. Anyway, he points out, the creature was pointing toward him. Edie puts an end to the debate by coldly pointing out that the creature could have been pointing to all of them.
In the viewing room Spike Freeman addresses the team. He informs them that in their next mission, they will be going up against aliens, who are not really aliens... and they'll lose. Spike then introduces Agent Wright of the CIA to continue the briefing. Agent Wright starts off by telling the team that he hates them and everything they stand for. He considers them the underbelly of American society and nothing would please him more than to see them eradicated from God's green Earth. Finishing his open statement he tells the team that he hopes they can work together.
Rising to his feet, the Spike objects to playing house servant to the CIA. When the Anarchist agrees, Agent Wright tells them both to sit down and listen. He tells them that their whole operation would have been shut down if not for him and they should all kiss his one-sixteenth Native American ass. Pointing to the Orphan, he tells them that he is the individual that he had to save the group from. To everyone's surprise the Orphan backhands Agent Wright, knocking his sunglasses off. Edie asks Guy if he is all right. The Orphan replies that he is, but something had just snapped. As Edie and the agent argue about the situation that just occurred, Phat and Vivesector continue the debate about a new team name. Vivisector suggests the X-Foliates. Phat asks if that name isn't "too gay", to which Vivisector asks in turn if anything can be "too gay". The two high-five each other at their joke. Two rows back the Spike seethes in anger.
Deciding that her argument with Agent Wright has reached an intolerable point, Edie teleports both herself and the agent away. High above a desert canyon, possibly the Grand Canyon in Arizona, Edie and Agent Wright begin their long fall. As they fall, Edie tells Wright that X-Force is not a bunch of tinsel-town lightweights that can be pushed around. She also tells him that if he does anything to harm Guy Smith then he will have to contend with her. To Edie's surprise Agent Wright turns the conversation around by telling her that if she is worried about Guy, then she should be thanking him.
Later in X-Force's lounge, Edie relays to the group what Agent Wright had told her. She tells them that several powerful multinational pharmaceutical companies were upset that Guy didn't hand over Paco Perez to them. Defending himself, Guy reminds the group that they had no choice as the boy was to have been murdered and sold as a commodity. Edie continues her tale, explaining that the multinationals want revenge on Guy, and by extension, X-Force. Their plan is to discredit Guy by airing commercials starring kids with terminal illnesses who would explain to the viewer that they'd have had a chance if not for Guy's decision.

Guy is back in the team's last mission. There, he remembers, he faced an opportunity. He entered a room full of dead adults and a live kneeling little girl. The room stank of urine and feces and... onions. Guy looked at the young girl whose praying he had interrupted with his entrance. At that moment he could have picked her up and carried her away. He had the power. The decision of Life and Death. And he walked away. Leaving the shattered building, he walked back into the street and rejoined the battle. Now he wonders to himself, is this why Death pointed at him?

Agent Wright snaps Guy back to the present, reminding him that what he has been telling him is important. They are all back in the viewing room and the briefing that had ended with Edie's teleportation earlier has resumed. Agent Wright explains to Guy that he had made a deal with the multinational companies, as they had owed the CIA in turn. In the previous year there had been a fire at the Texas State Penitentiary's death row cells, killing eighteen condemned inmates. The CIA, Wright explains, faked the fire and the inmates did not die. All of the inmates had signed up for a secret experimental procedure. The point of the procedure was to manufacture mutants that the CIA could control. The CIA's top scientists set about altering the structure of the inmate's bodies. A few died during the procedure but, by the end, thirteen of the subjects were successful. The CIA named the thirteen subjects the Bush Rangers and began to train them to be a rapid deployment crack division.
Unfortunately, Wright tells them, the work on the Rangers brains to turn them into compliant, obedient soldiers was not as successful as the one on their bodies. The Rangers revolted and took over the Mars 2010 space station where they were being trained. Since the revolt, the CIA has been able to keep a news blackout of the situation, but now plans to go public with the story that aliens have taken the station. The plan is for X-Force to try to free the hostages but intentionally fail and get captured. After that, the CIA will save the day and restore its tarnished reputation.
With the briefing finished the team begins to debate their option. Anarchist, Vivisector and Phat all believe that they shouldn't risk themselves rectifying a decision that Guy made on his own. Each votes against the mission. Edie votes for, wanting to help square things for Guy. Guy also votes in favor. The Spike votes in favor as well, boasting that he's not afraid of anything. With three votes in favor and three votes against, Guy laments at the stalemate. His observation is corrected by a spectral voice. The team turns to the voice and sees a zombie-like female standing in the door. She says that she is voting for Guy. As an afterthought she introduces herself as Dead Girl and apologizes for being late.
Agent Wright is overjoyed at democracy winning again. His last directive for the mission is the Agency's desire to have Edie replace Guy as the team leader. When he asks if there is a problem, Edie angrily retorts that they do. She points a finger at Wright and tells him that Guy is their leader and will stay their leader. The CIA gets X-Force with Guy as their leader or not at all. With this resolved, Edie gives Guy a smile.
Later, at a mountain shuttle launch pad a television news reporter updates his viewers. He informs them that they are still awaiting the appearance of X-Force who is about to do battle against aliens who threaten the very existence of humanity. He then points out that the mission is proudly sponsored by American-European Pharmaceutical Incorporated in association with the New -Chem Group.
Inside the facility the team suits up in space suits, only Dead Girl is still in costume, apparently not needing a spacesuit. Guy takes a moment to thank Edie for turning down the chance to be team leader. What she did made him feel special. Edie laughs, saying that while she loves him, that doesn't mean she doesn't want to be team leader one day. Also, she's not stupid enough to take over on the very mission that they are going to deliberately screw up. Finished suiting up and walking away, she tells guy that their space ship is waiting.
As the team, all suited up, walk to their ship, Guy ponders to himself the purpose of X-Force. The team is going to save the world from aliens who aren't aliens and is going to intentionally lose. He wonders which one of them have been pointed to by Death. Tike Alicar? Edie Sawyer? Or himself, Guy Smith? He guesses that he will find out soon enough.

Characters Involved: 

Anarchist, Dead Girl, Doop, Orphan, Phat, Spike, U-Go Girl, Vivisector (all X-Force)

Spike Freeman

Graveyard/Death creature

CIA Agent Wright

Various Reporters
Through video footage :

Bush Rangers
In flashbacks :

Anarchist, Doop, Orphan, Phat, Spike, U-Go Girl, Vivisector (all X-Force)

Soldiers of a Central American state

Locals of a Central American state

Young Girl of a Central American state

Story Notes: 

The subject of changing the name of X-Force could be a result of the recent rumor of Marvel's decision to change the name of the comic to X-Statics. This rumor was started when a poster, drawn by Allred, was distributed around the net starring the team with the new title logo. Allred disavowed the change, saying he drew the poster as a joke.
The statement of Spike Freeman paying royalties could be a slight stab at Rob Liefeld who created X-Force. Even though the current team bears no resemblance to his creation, since he created "X-Force" Marvel must still pay him royalties.
Paco Perez is the boy X-Force rescued from the government of Bostrona. After realizing that the Coach wanted to exploit Paco's body for profit, the Orphan took Paco to Argentina and gave him to father of the recently deceased X-Force member Saint Anna. (X-Force #118-119)
Doop apparently is not a full team member, he doesn’t get to vote on the mission.
This is the first appearance of Dead Girl, however she had been mentioned in X-Force #121 and #122 as a possible recruit.

Issue Information: 
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