X-Force (1st series) #127

Issue Date: 
June 2002
Story Title: 
Because Louise

Peter Milligan (writer), Michael Allred (artist), Laura Allred (colorist), Doc Allred & Blambot (letters), John Miesgaes (assistant editor), Axel Alonso (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Bill Jemas (president)

Brief Description: 

Despite the theories of the media back on Earth, the members of X-Force, so far, remain quite alive on the Mars 2010 space station. However, as Agent Wright of the CIA approaches with his strike team, he orders X-Force to fulfill their deal and purposefully allow the Bush Rangers to capture them. Meanwhile, the Spike who has shifted allegiances to the Rangers, begins to have second thoughts after learning of the Rangers' convicted crimes. When X-Force attacks the Bush Rangers, they find all of them looking like the Spike, having shapeshifted to mimic his appearance. Regardless X-Force goes into battle and the fighting is soon over, as the Spike switches sides again and rescues the Anarchist from the Bush Rangers. The calm is interrupted by the arrival of the CIA strike team, who obviously, intend to chalk up X-Force as casualties of "friendly fire". U-Go Girl manages to teleport herself, the Orphan, Doop and the Anarchist to a craft that's engines suddenly fire and rockets the craft into deep space. Agent Wright confronts the remaining members of X-Force and demands their surrender. A rise of tensions and a misunderstanding lead to the Spike killing Agent Wright. With nothing left to say, the remaining X-Force commandeering the CIA's space shuttle and head home, unaware that the Spike in their midst is not the real deal – it is a Bush Ranger, while actually the Spike is still lying on the space station heavily injured. Back on the deep space craft, Anarchist discovers a life-pod that could take them back to Earth. The only problem is that is has room for only two people and Doop. Rather than be forced to make such a gruesome choice the three decide to roll a die. One roll each with the two highest getting a ride home.

Full Summary: 

X-Force is dead. The Mars 2010 space station ripped apart and the precious air it once contained sucked into the void of space. Now exposed to the vacuum between the stars, the former members of X-Force have all died; killed by the alien invaders that they were sent to fight. At least this is the way it is looking to the news media back on Earth. An artist's rendition of this gruesome possibility is broadcast to the world on television. However, hope for the situation is still alive. A CIA crack squad is on it's way to rescue them. However, the network commentator voices, if she were you, she would keep hold of her X-Force merchandise, because it is about to go through the roof!
Microphone in hand, the reporter stands in front of the X-Force Café outside of South Des Moines where dozens of people hold lit cigarette lighters. Addressing her viewing audience, she tells them that she is witnessing a scene being repeated across the land, as fans hold solemn vigils for their heroes. Holding up a candle carved and painted in the shape of the Orphan, the reporter points out that if you are bored with plain old candles or lighters, you can chose to hold your vigil with these lifelike X-Force fire-lighters! Available at an incredible $9.99, one can chose their favorite X-Forcer, even a dead one!
Now turning to a vigil holder, she addresses Hank Zlotty, the franchise holder of the Des Moines X-Force Café and asks him how business is. Pointing out that it is always busy when there's news of death, he tells her that he's afraid that it is only short term. Grabbing the microphone and yelling into the camera, Hank tells the audience that when he bought the franchise he has promised that it'd be the only X-Café in town but now ... Hank's diatribe is cut-off as he is dragged away by security. Now back in control of the microphone and the camera's attention, the reporter continues. She says that as one can imagine, emotions are running high in Des Moines, but that our thoughts and prayers should now turn to X-Force, whether dead or alive. After wishing the CIA crack squad Godspeed she sends the story back to the studio anchors.
Agent Wright, whose face appears on multiple monitors, asks the Orphan if he can hear him. After Guy says that he can, Wright demands to know what the hell they are doing? Are they on a vacation? Safely sealed inside a room with an amazing view of the planet Earth below them, X-Force is lounging around. Reading a newspaper, Edie tells Agent Wright that they are just squeezing a little R&R in-between the relentless bloodshed and drama. Furious, Wright tells them that they should be captured by now so that the CIA can save them. Guy tells Wright that they are waiting for them to get closer, to which Edie adds that the Bush Rangers aren't the kind of folks you want to be captured by for too long. In his shuttle, Wright stares at a picture of a little girl and fumes. He tells Guy not to mess with him. He is the one who's stopping the multinational drug companies from turning the Orphan into the biggest hate figure since Osama Bin Laden.
Staring off into space, the Orphan tells Edie that Wright is right. Ignoring his words, Edie suggests to Guy that they go home. He did what he did with Paco and it wouldn't be the first time that a team of mutants has been unpopular. Ignoring her now, Guy tells her that they go ahead as planned. Now a little riled, Edie tells Guy that his problem is that he wants to be liked. With a half smile, Guy asks if that isn't what they all want; to be liked by them.
Elsewhere in the station, the Bush Rangers throw the Spike into a corner. The leader, Tray, stands cross-armed and demands that the Spike give it up. Leaning close to the Spike, Tray asks him why he dissed X-Force and joined the damned, condemned and otherwise irredeemably doomed posse? Sweating profusely, the Spike tells him what he told him before, that he has more in common with them than them knuckleheads. Unconvinced, Tray waves to two others who grab the Spike's arms, holding him tight. Addressing them, he tells Zippo to take his kidneys and says that Stanley can have his giblets. Confused, Stanley asks where does he find his giblets? In response, Tray tells him to use initiative. As Tray walks away, the Spike admits that he did have another reason. After being let go by the Rangers, the Spike admits to Tray that they whole idea was a setup. X-Force was to let the Rangers take them and then allow the CIA to save them. The only losers in the situation would be the Rangers. Turning to a window and looking to the stars, the Spike tells Tray that there might be a way for them all to win. Almost all. If the Rangers were able to escape back to Earth, the only one to be hurt would be the Orphan, who would be crucified. With the leader out of the way, X-Force would be needing a new leader. Sensing the Spike's line of thought, Tray mutters "someone a little... darker?" After an affirmative statement from the Spike, Tray suggests that before they go into business together he should inform the Spike of the crimes for which the state of Texas wanted him executed. Leaning into the Spike's ear, Tray whispers his crimes to the Spike. Now pulled away and sweating profusely, the Spike gazes at the Bush Ranger leader in horror. Holding out his hand in spirit of partnership, Tray asks the Spike if he still wants to hang with the bad boys.
Elsewhere, the rest of X-Force make its way toward the Rangers' compartment. Along the way, Edie continues her conversation with Guy. She tells him that he doesn't want to be liked. Adored from afar and envied, but not liked. Behind them, Dead Girl continues to profess to the Anarchist that she is in the dark about the afterlife. After asked by her why he is so interested in death, Tike answers that it is just forward planning. Trailing the group, are Phat and Vivisector. Talking quietly, Phat asks Vivisector how long they will have to keep it up? Vivisector answers until they get more recognition. Afterward, he continues, they can say it was just a phase experimentation. Phat points out that they are going to have to do... stuff... in public. Reluctantly, Vivisector admits to Phat that some displays of affection could be useful. That is if Phat thinks that he could manage that. Looking a little disturbed and sounding unsure, Phat says that he guesses he could, seeing as they are only pretending.
The Orphan cries out in surprise. As he led X-Force through the station, he expected to find the Bush Rangers and the Spike, but did not expect to find a dozen Spikes at once. All clad in the appearance of the Spike, the shape-changing Rangers are all playing arcade games. So consumed are they at their games and now the startled X-Force, none notice the space shuttle through the view port approaching the station. Cautiously, the Orphan asks which one is the Spike. At probably no more surprise to the Orphan, all begin to chime in, claiming to be the real X-Forcer. Bored with all of the talking, the Anarchist strikes, firing his acid and instantly killing a Ranger. Jumping into the fray, the Orphan tells Spike that he believes that he just killed the real Spike. Firing again, the Anarchist comments that he thinks that he gives a damn.
Hanging back a little, Dead Girl, Phat and Vivisector prepare to join the fight. Taking a moment to take stock of her situation, she tells the two teammates that she finally knows a way out of her existentialist maze. While her life was a mystery and her death makes no sense, her life after death after life might come to mean something. Despite the warnings of Vivisector and the mutant blasts of the Rangers, Dead Girl jumps into the fray. Watching Dead Girl and her powerful right hook, Phat does not notice a form behind him until a spike erupts through his upper torso.
With his friend now laid low, Vivisector jumps to his side. The Orphan, locked in combat with a Ranger, orders Vivisector to leave Phat and go help Dead Girl. Continuing his fight, Orphan adds that as part of X-Force, none of them are more important than another in the team. Reiterating his command for him to help Dead Girl, the Orphan punctuates it by stating that it is an order. In full beast form with fangs bared, Vivisector tells the Orphan to go forth and multiply with himself. Taking a moment to look back at his teammate, the Orphan thinly smiles.
Nearby, the Anarchist and U-Go Girl take a moment to watch in amazement Dead Girl. Torn apart limb from limb, Dead Girl continues to fight four Rangers. Her decapitated head bites one Ranger while her two arms and a leg wrestle and kick three others. Amazed at this, the Anarchist comments to Edie that if he comes through this, he would like to get to know Dead Girl better. A little curious, U-Go Girl asks him if it is because she can have parts of her face and limbs blown away yet still keep fighting? Possibly a little unsure himself, the Anarchist replies, whatever creases your trousers.
So distracted by Dead Girl's condition, the Anarchist fails to notice a Ranger moving in behind. With a spike in hand and declaring that he's damn if he knows what giblets are, the Ranger prepares to strike. Convinced that he is finished, the Anarchist mutters to himself, asking if this is it. Fortunately, for the Anarchist, the Ranger is blindsided by the Spike. In answer to the Anarchist's question, the Spike tells him that this is nothing, just the Spike saving the Anarchist's ass. Shooting the Ranger full of his spikes, the Spike adds that he's hoping that the Anarchist will accept his apologies. Continuing, the Spike confesses to the Anarchist that he never had anything against him. The talk was just talk.
Standing next to the view port, U-Go Girl calls X-Force's attention to the NASA shuttle docking with the station with the simple phrase, "got company". Moments later, Agent Wright opens the door and surveys the situation. The Orphan, standing next to U-Go Girl, Anarchist and Doop, points out that all of the Bush Rangers are dead or wounded, but he continues, the American public doesn't have to know that. The official line will be that they were saved by the CIA. Tight lipped, Agent Wright informs the Orphan that there is a change of plan. The official line will be that they tried to save X-Force, but in the heat of battle ... things didn't go according to plan. Agent Wright presses a button, opening a cargo door revealing the CIA's strike force, clad in body armor and sporting automatic weapons. As a grim punctuation to his intentions, Wright points out that X-Force always did have a pretty high mortality rate. On this cue, the troops open fire but miss their target when the foursome is teleported away.
Moments later, the foursome find themselves in a cramped area they don't recognize. After the Orphan asks where the hell they are, U-Go Girl admits that she took a chance and ported. Anywhere. The Anarchist begins to say that he's got a bad feeling about this, but is interrupted as their surroundings lurch forward with great velocity. To their horror, the team discovers that they are in a space capsule, now firing, and heading away from the station. Held tight to the bulkhead by the G-forces, the Orphan asks Edie if she can get them out of there. Edie responds negatively, unless they want all of their molecules scrambled together. Guy and Tike both decide to pass.
The rate of acceleration begins to slow, allowing the group to move about freely. The Anarchist takes a moment to ask where they are going. To the group's surprise, Agent Wright appears on a nearby monitor and answers Tike's question: Oblivion. He tells the foursome that their craft is heading for deep space. Resolute, Edie tells him that they will turn it around. Wright tells her that it is impossible. They are now in a metal coffin that will keep moving through space until it disintegrates or collides with something very solid. By which time, he adds, they will all be long dead. Dumbfounded by this, Edie asks Wright why he is doing this. Wright pauses for a moment and then tells her it is because of Louise. Louise, he tells them, was his daughter and was only three when she fell over. The hospital conducted tests, but all they could do was keep the young girl alive and hope that there was some kind of medical breakthrough. A breakthrough, Wright adds, like one Paco Perez might have given them. Grasping for a way out, the Orphan points out to Wright that there was no way of knowing if Paco had a cure for his daughter. Undaunted, Wright retorts that there was no way of not ... Abruptly, Wright disappears from the monitor, the connection broken.
Almost in acceptance of her fate, Edie exclaims that it was the Grim Reaper they saw at Dead Girl's graveyard and he was pointing at all three of them! Guy takes Edie's hands and asks her if she is scared. She says no, but Guy calls her a liar, reminding her that he is sensitive. Emerging from a hatch, the Anarchist apologizes for being a third wheel and tells them that he might just have found a way out of their tin can.
Back on the station, Phat, Vivisector, Dead Girl and the Spike finish off the last of the CIA's strike team. Now the last of his force, Wright tells them that it is too late; the popular members of X-Force are already dead. With two of the strike team helpless in his massive hands, Phat tells Wright that they're popular, just in a different way. Defending herself, Dead Girl tells him that she hasn't been around long enough to establish herself. More to the point, Vivisector says to Wright, if he doesn't find some way of getting them back, they are going to do some very unpopular things to his nervous system. Reaching into his pocket, Wright tells them that they can do what they want, there's nothing... Wright's words are cut-off when the Spike perforates him with his spikes.
Almost in a snarl, Vivisector asks the Spike to tell him why that was necessary. Reaching down for the object in Wright's hand, the Spike says that he saw him go for something. It might've been some type of laser weapon thingy. Standing back up, the Spike holds out a photograph of a three-year old girl. Showing it to the rest, the Spike tells them that Wright was trying to shoot them all with a cruddy photograph. Crumpling up the photo, the Spike suggest to the rest that they move their asses, as they don't want to be left behind. When Vivisector and Dead Girl ask about Guy, Edie and Tike, the Spike reminds them that Agent Wright said that they were dead. They're X-Force now.
In the escape craft, Anarchist shows the other three a small red vehicle similar in shape to a wheel-less automobile. Describing it, the Anarchist tell them that it is some kind of spacified life-boat thing with it's own independent controls. If the gods are smiling, he tells them, it might just get them back to the space station. But Whitney Houston, he says, they have a problem. Opening the door, Tike tells them that there's only room for two... and maybe Doop. Staring at the small cockpit, Guy reminds them that he is the one responsible for this. He made the decision to let Paco Perez go and will take the consequences. In a backhanded statement of praise, Tike tells Guy that he sure does wrap his ass around that moral high ground. Edie chimes in, telling Guy that he may be the leader of the group, but he's not going to decide which one of them dies. Like with Paco Perez, he doesn't have the right. At a loss, Guy asks her in turn what they should do. Stepping up, Tike tells them that they will do what all intelligent, thinking people do in times of extreme crisis ... leave it to luck. Holding up his hand, Tike shows Guy and Edie a simple six-sided die.
The NASA space shuttle rockets away from the Mars 2010 space station, on it's way back to the Earth. Meanwhile, inside the station the silence is broken with the sound of a groan, followed by the movement of metal. Moving a piece of debris off of himself, the Spike struggles to his feet. Almost inaudibly, he pleads for them to come back... he is part of X-Force too. His eyes now swollen and bleeding profusely, the Spike mutters that he was never serious about switching sides. He was trying to trick those mothers. He was no traitor, he's the Spike.
In the escape craft, Guy looks out of the window. Looking at the stars, he sees a new constellation, a gigantic skeleton pointing at him. Or Tike. Or Edie. Realizing that his eyes are playing tricks on him, he looks back into the craft. Edie, shaking the die in her hand, prepares to roll first. They will all roll, Guy thinks. The two highest scores get a ride home. The lowest... keeps the die. After Edie releases the die from her hand, the foursome watches it closely as it bounces along the floor, deciding for them their fate.

Characters Involved: 

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

X-Force café patrons

Hank Zlotty, X-Force café owner

Security guards
Agent Wright

Louise Wright, Wright's daughter, in a photograph

CIA strike team
Tray, Stanley, Zippo and other unnamed Bush Rangers

Story Notes: 

Paco Perez is the boy X-Force rescued from the government of Bastrona. 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)
Giblets are the gizzard, liver and heart of poultry.
Even though he was interrupted, the Anarchist says the phrase "I have a bad feeling about this". While it is a possible coincidence, this bit of dialogue could be a tip of the hat to Star Wars. In every episode of Star Was to date, at least one character has said the phrase "I have a bad feeling about this". While this could be a coincidence, given the fact that the characters are in space and that Episode II of the Star Wars series is in theaters at the time of the issue's publication, it would lend one of believe that it is intentional.

Issue Information: 
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