X-Force (1st series) #128

Issue Date: 
July 2002
Story Title: 
Someone Dies

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

Brief Description: 

Traveling in their commandeered space shuttle back to Earth, Vivisector, Phat, the Spike and Dead Girl come to terms with their apparently dead teammates. They soon find new hope when their sensors pickup a life-pod returning to the Mars 2010 space station. Arriving back at the station, they discover to their horror that only Doop, Guy and Edie have returned. Back on the escape craft, the Anarchist gloats at his deception at losing their roll of the die on purpose. Unknown to Guy and Edie he sweat enables him to make the die fall whichever way he wants and he got a lower score than the others two. To the Anarchist's surprise, he himself is rescued by the rest of X-Force who manage to gain control of the craft and return it to the space station. Dead Girl discovered to be able to read the corpse of Agent Wright and learned that he lied too them. The shuttle’s controls were not busted, only encoded and the Orphan could sense which numbers had been typed last. The team's jubilance is short lived when the real Spike turns up, revealing the Spike in their midst as being the Bush Ranger leader, Tray. The imposter using a version of Spike's powers, quickly kills the true Spike and attacks the rest of X-Force. After a short skirmish, the Orphan manages to kill Tray, but not before one his spikes goes wild, impaling Edie. Before succumbing to her wounds, Edie asks to be buried in space with the stars. Leaning into the Orphan's ear, Edie, with her dying breath, suggest a new name of the team. As the team watches Edie's wrapped body float away from the station, in the next room, Guy restarts his daily ritual of russian roulette with his revolver and one bullet. He spins the chamber, holds the gun to his head and squeezes his finger. The revolver click – the chamber was empty and Guy lives another day. After the death of his friend and lover, this dangerous game is the only thing that makes sense of the hours and the pain.

Full Summary: 

On their commandeered CIA space shuttle, Vivisector, Phat, Dead Girl and the Spike make their way back to Earth. Attempting to gain the attention of the rest of the remaining team, the Spike comments that he guesses they need a new leader. Not listening to the Spike, Vivisector tends to the wounded Phat. Trying to think of ways for his teammate to use his powers to help himself, Vivisector asks Phat if he could reconstitute his molecules in some way to heal his wounds. Wrapped in bandages and his head swollen, Phat says that he's trying but it only makes it hurt worse. Not giving up, Vivisector turns to Dead Girl and asks if she can do anything to stop someone from dying. Crouched in a corner, she tells him that she doesn't know.

As Vivisector tirades about how he considers Dead Girl's answer insane, the Spike interjects again with the thought that they need a new leader. Enraged, Vivisector turns into his feral form and bares his fangs. Snarling, he scoffs that the Spike wants to have an election when Guy, Tike and Edie aren't even dead and Billy Bob is fighting for his life. Pointing his finger in the Spike's face, Vivisector theorizes that he doesn't give a damn about Billy Bob. That kind of concern, he continues, that one man has for another, turns his stomach. Growing angry himself, the Spike tells Vivisector to get out of his face. Before the two can go to blows, Phat stretches and enlarges his hand, separating them. Vivisector turns to his friend in surprise. Returning to normal, Phat tells him that while he still feels lousy, the desire to stop listening to the two of them bitching made some kind of natural healing process kick in. From the cockpit, one of the shuttle pilots notifies the team that they are picking something up. Something that came from the ship their teammates were stuck on is returning to the space station. Looking at the controls himself, Vivisector smiles and mutters that they made it.


Guy, Tike, Edie and Doop examine the small cockpit of their newly discovered life pod. Almost thinking aloud, Guy asks if they couldn't bunch up in there. Edie, he says, could sit on his lap. Bringing his teammate back to reality, Tike tells him that if they all try to ride that crate, none are going to get back to the station alive. Wanting everything to be over, Edie suggests that they stop talking and get the damn thing done. She points out that as X-Force, they knew they were going to die young. Whoever gets out of this alive ... will get over it. After a brief touch from Guy, Edie takes the die from Tike's hand and recalls the rules: the lowest score gets to stay behind. With a small gesture, Edie releases the die, which falls to the floor.


Back on the Mars 2010 space station Vivisector speaks into the station's communication console. Collapsed on the floor nearby is the corpse of Agent Wright, perforated by the Spike's spikes. Attempting to raise his teammates, Vivisector calls to Guy, Edie and Tike, telling them that X-Force has returned to the station to pick them all up. When silence is his only answer he turns to Dead Girl. He informs her that he can't make radio contact and that the ship is coming in too fast. Wondering aloud, he asks who is driving that thing? Assuredly, Dead Girl suggests Tike. He is the Anarchist. Guy would be more careful. Thinking differently, Vivisector suggests Edie as she is very incautious behind the wheel. Nearby, Phat asks the Spike what is wrong. Noting that he is not as cheery as before, Phat asks him if he has a problem with them coming back to pick up their teammates. Defensively, the Spike asks if he said he had a problem, to which Phat responds that he didn't have to. Back at the control console, Dead Girl notes that the ship seems so little. Vivisector dismisses the observation; saying that it is an optical illusion, as in space there is nothing to relate to. He does add afterward his wish that they would slow down.

Elsewhere in the station, the Spike, the real Spike looks out a port window. As he sees the small life pod returning he gains hope and spirits. Still beaten and bloody with swollen eyes, the Spike rejoices that they are coming back. Coming back for the Spike. Suddenly, the Spike is thrown off of his feet as the life pod violently docks with the station.

Back in the control room, Vivisector comments that the pod has not burst into flames. This, he reminds them, is always a positive sign. Hearing the doors open, Phat exclaims that they are alive and begins to run with Dead Girl to greet them. As the four look through an enormous window, looking into the docking bay, they see the small life pod. Exclaiming in horror, Vivisector sees Doop emerge and announces that there are only two others. Someone, he announces, has been left behind. Unable to make out their images, Phat rhetorically asks who? Who?


Edie curses aloud as she looks at the 3 dots on the topside of her die. Making a fist in frustration, she notes that she never was lucky with dice. Grasping Edie's shoulders, Guy suggests that they make it two out of three, an aggregate score. Edie dismisses Guy, telling him he is ridiculous. Somber, Tike tells them he doesn't know why they are even worried as everyone knows he's the one who dies. Angered, Guy grabs Tike by his space suit, telling him that if he doesn't shut up about that, he will kill him himself. Half-raising his hands in surrender, Tike asks why he does not. Together, Edie and he could have a pretty good chance of whipping his ass. Smiling wildly, he tells them that he is the one they want to see dead so their sweet love story can continue to beguile a swooning nation. They could get away with it. Kill him, and say he lost the dice game. Who would know the truth? Almost in answer the three look at Doop, who silently examines the small cockpit alone.

Grasping the die, Guy says that he will throw next. A quick toss later, Guy has thrown a 4. Noting the score, Tike tells Edie that it is between he and her. Edie comments that it is as it should be. Guy is too good to die. The two of them on the other hand ... she trails. Grasping Guy by the shoulder, Tike tells him that whatever happens next, he wants them to know that it's been a blast and he wouldn't have changed it. Guy and Edie concur. With this said, Tike picks up the die and blows on it. A little confused, Guy asks Tike what he is doing. After answering that he is blowing on it for luck, Tike follows up that he thinks he's going to need it. With a deft toss and a smile, Tike rolls his die.


Vivisector turns the wheel of the hatch leading to the docking bay. As the seal is broken, a dark gas escapes into the room. The hatch opens wide enough for a person to climb out, and that person is Guy. Crouching close-by, trying to see behind Guy, Vivisector asks what is going on? Still climbing out, Guy informs the group that the emergency craft was too small. One of them had to stay behind. One of them had to die. Now fully extricated, Guy turns to the hatch and, with tears in his eyes, reaches down to help the next person. After Dead Girl notices Guy's tears, Phat says that it can mean only one thing. Speaking to the next person, he asks them if it is Tike. He and Guy left Edie behind, he snarls. Quickly, Phat's expression changes from that of anger to surprise.


Guy sits against the hull of the escape craft with head in hands. He tells them that it doesn't seem right. The end of a life, decided by the roll of a die. It just seems too arbitrary. Close eyed and somber, Edie asks if it is as arbitrary as the genetic glitch that makes her capable of teleporting great distance, or Tike capable of doing weird stuff with his sweat glands? As arbitrary as that Agent Wright's daughter, Louise, was the one in ten thousand who has an incurable illness? Gazing out a window, Tike agrees with Edie. Everything is arbitrary. Defending his position, Guy remarks that the point of living is to try to make sense... carve some meaning out of what seems to be an arbitrary universe. Turning the conversation to Guy himself, Tike asks him what he thinks they should do, allow none of them to get out of their coffin-ship? Not deterred, Guy says they should stick together. Someone will save them. Impossible, remarks Tike. They might get the control to work, theorizes Guy. "Ain't gonna happen," says Edie. She addresses him as sweetheart and asks him to admit that there are some things that even he cannot work out. They agreed on this and threw the die. They all had an equal chance of dying. Staring at the die that has decided their fate, Tike mutters, "True dat". The die, Tike's throw, is a 1.


As Guy helps her out of the hatch, Edie comments that the sad thing is... that he knew it all along. Tike, she says, kept saying all along that his time was up and they kept saying that he was paranoid. When Guy comments that he was right all along, Vivisector agrees, suggesting that Tike was predicting a self-fulfilling prophecy. When Guy asks what he means, Vivisector asks Phat to elucidate. Unsure of how to do this, Phat instead explains. He tells the team that awhile back, he and Vivisector were gambling with Tike on the dice table. Even after he had lost all of his money, Phat says that Tike kept winning. After breaking the bank, Tike gave all his winnings to a poor, ugly hooker and told her to retire. Continuing the story, Vivisector tells them that Tike had later explained that it wasn't good fortune, but his sweat, which made the dice fall whichever way he wanted. So, he continues, if Tike threw a 1, then he intended to throw a 1.

As Guy and Edie look at each other in horrible realization, the Anarchist sits on the escape craft gloating. With his feet propped up, he studies his die, thinking that his teammates will never know how close he came to throwing a big, bad 6. Or maybe a 5, he thinks, less obvious. It was easy for Guy and Edie as they had luck. For him... he had to make a decision. Popping the die in his mouth, Tike thinks to himself that he has enough water and food to last four days, maybe a week. Despite this, Tike thinks that he will not wait that long. Having grown up in the white snow in the white world of the north, his whole life has been a journey to blackness. The Spike was probably right. Soon, he thinks, he will suit up, go for a walk like he used to in the snow and keep walking until he runs out of ...

Tike's thoughts are interrupted by the lurch of the craft, which makes a U-turn in space. As he returns to consciousness, Tike's blurred vision sees several inhuman faces staring down at him. With his wavering voice, Tike asks the aliens who have abducted him to please say that they aren't going to internally investigate him. After his vision clears, Tike sees not a group of aliens, but all his X-Force teammates. Guy promises Tike that they aren't aliens. Edie adds to this that they have no intention of investigating him, internally or otherwise. As Tike's fingers probe his bandaged and throbbing head, Guy explains that they got control of the ship and brought it back. They did so, Guy admits, probably a little too fast, hence the mild concussion.

Turning his attention to the sheet covered corpse of Agent Wright, Tike recalls that Wright said that the controls were busted. Cross-armed, Guy tells him that Wright lied; he had just overrode them. When Guy asks Dead Girl to fill in the rest, she explains that she was thinking how alive Wright's corpse was. The different bacteria, the disintegrating tissue, the plucky follicles and the rest of the warm cuddly stuff made her realize something: it was talking to her. She could read the skin, the face, and the smell. The corpse was like a book that contained all of the information of the life that had left it. All this led Dead Girl to a revelation: she is a corpse reader. Returning to his part of the story, Guy tells Tike that after Dead Girl managed to see that Agent Wright had been lying to them, all he had to do was make a sensitivity check on the space station controls. Based on how the heat from Wright's fingers had cooled, he could reverse his keystrokes and get control of the ship. After blessing God for Guy's mutant gene, Tike tells him that he might not want to be saving his life. When he was as good as dead, Tike explains, Guy and Edie were in the clear. Now that he is out of the hole, the game is back on again and they still don't know which one of them is going to die.

Laughing at his paranoia, Guy and Edie exclaim that no one dies, they all live. A wavering voice from the hall tells the group that maybe someone dies. The group turns to the voice and sees the beaten and bruised Spike. Continuing his prediction, the Spike says that maybe a whole lot of people die. With stark realization, the team turns their attention to the Spike among them. As the Bush Ranger begins to adopt his own form, he laments that this happens just when he was starting to feel part of the team. Jumping to the attack, the Bush Ranger, Tray, attacks the Spike with a version of his own powers. Slumping to the floor, impaled with half-dozen spikes, the Spike curses at being attacked with his own weapon. Bleeding profusely, he tells Guy and Tike that he feels like a young Samuel L. Jackson, or was it Lawrence Fishburne, in Apocalypse Now when he was killed by a spear. Trailing off, the Spike dies.

With two handfuls of acid, Tike tries blasting Tray. Singed, but still alive, the Bush Ranger attempts to flee. Ordering his team into battle, Guy yells that their enemy is still alive. Swiftly, Vivisector intercepts Tray, cutting him off. Fighting in close with Vivisector, Tray exclaims that he hasn't been alive for years, and probably never was. Launching spikes toward the team, Tray exclaims that he was born dead, but will die living. Tike manages to deflect his incoming missiles, while Edie teleports hers away. Somersaulting into battle, the Orphan tells Tray that he will die like everyone else. With a sneer, Tray asks if he doesn't get a last meal before he's executed. The Orphan responds that he does, and supplies the sole of both his feet to Tray's skull, killing him.

With the battle ended, Guy turns to the team to see if there are casualties. Checking the Spike, Dead Girl announces that they have lost him. The team's loss is compounded when the shaky voice of Edie tells them that she is scared. To the team's horror, they see Edie sitting on the floor grasping the spike that is protruding from her abdomen. Guy attempts to comfort Edie, telling her that she will be okay after they get her back to Earth and a hospital. Edie dismisses Guy, telling him that they both know that it isn't how this is going to end. With tears in his eyes, Guy tells her that he doesn't want to lose her, as she is the only really good thing that's ever happened to his life. As he says that he doesn't know what he's going to do, she interrupts him. She tells him that he will be strong, for her, and will keep on being a great leader. Better than she could ever have been. As she looks through a window to the stars outside, Edie asks Guy to do one last thing: bury her out there ... with the stars. Still in disbelief, Guy continues to say no, refusing to believe Edie's fate. Continuing her request, Edie says that a grave back on Earth would only become a kind of tourist trap and plastic glowing replicas of her gravestone would be sold in the X-Force stores. Still refusing to accept reality, Guy grabs Edie's shoulders and begs for her to not give up and to fight. Her voice still trailing, Edie tells Guy that she has nothing left to fight with. When she begins to smile, Guy asks her why. She replies that it is because she just thought of a great new name for the team. As words become more difficult to form, she asks Guy to lean in. Almost in a whisper she speaks the new name in Guy's ear. Still bent in, he tells her that it's great. When she doesn't respond, he straightens and calls her name. In horror, he realizes why she did not hear him, as she moves and breathes no more.

The remaining X-Force, minus Guy, watches solemnly as Edie's wrapped body floats away from the station. As she floats away toward her stellar grave, Tike mutters that he should have died, not her. Blaming himself, he says that he pushed the spike her way. Lifting his glasses and wiping away the tears beneath, Vivisector tells Tike not to blame himself. It could have hit anyone. Unmoved in his opinion, Tike tells him that it didn't. It hit Edie Sawyer. Calling out her name, Tike tells Edie that he's sorry. As a sort of personal farewell, he tells her, "You go, girl." Looking around the room, Phat notices that Guy is not around and asks where he is. Turning away from the window, Dead Girl tells him that Guy said he needed to be on his own for a while.

Elsewhere in the station, Guy sits on his own looking out of another window. In the reflection in the glass, he sees not his own image, but that of Edie's smiling at him. In his hand, Guy holds his prized revolver. Silently, he thinks about the one bullet, the one gun, and the six chambers. They are his friends and will be faithful. They will not desert him. With a swift motion, Guy spins the chamber of the revolver, which whirs in the motion. As he hold the gun to his head he thinks how the gun and the bullet will join him in his daily ritual. The squeezing of his finger brings the sound of a stark click. His daily ritual completed, he realizes that it has become the only thing that makes sense of the hours and the pain.

Characters Involved: 

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

CIA shuttle pilots

Agent Wright’s body

Tray, Bush Ranger leader

Story Notes: 

For reasons that are not exactly clear, in the panel where Dead Girl and Phat rush to see the returning life-pod, the artists have drawn not the door to the docking bay, but part of the image engraved on the gold-anodized aluminum plate that NASA attached to the Pioneer 10 spacecraft. The plate was designed by Jon Lomberg and Carl Sagan to be a message to possible intelligent extra-terrestrials, inviting them to Earth and, through knowledge of math, physics and chemistry, show them the way. While the spacecraft has little chance of running into such beings, as it was the first manmade object to leave the solar system, it probably seemed like a good idea at the time. Almost as inexplicably as putting the image into this issue, the artists have actually reversed the image.
To “elucidate“ means to give an explanation that serves to clarify.
It was Laurence Fishburne, not Samuel L. Jackson, who starred in the classic film Apocalypse Now. At the time, however, the 17 year old actor went by the name Larry Fishburne. Although Fishburne's character Gunner's Mate 3rd Class Tyrone Miller, aka Mr. Clean, was killed in the film, it was by gunfire, not a spear. During the same scene however, another character, Chief Phillips played by Albert Hall was indeed killed by a spear.
When the Orphan found out several years ago that his parents were not dead but went into prison for attempting to kill their mutant son, the Orphan started his dangerous game of russian roulette that he performed each day. He only stopped after Edie found out about it and they started their relationship. (X-Force #117-118, 120)

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