X-Force (1st series) #129

Issue Date: 
August 2002
Story Title: 

Peter Milligan (writer), Duncan Fegredo (penciler), Laura Allred (colorist), Blambot's Nate Piekos (lettering), John Miesegaes (assistant editor), Axel Alonso (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Bill Jemas (president)

Brief Description: 

X-Force and its fans reel at the loss of Edie Sawyer in the team's latest mission. Ever eager to push his hot commodity, Spike Freeman announces plans to change the team's name. Angry at seeing his lover's death being turned into a marketing point, the Orphan grows even more despondent against his boss. Elsewhere, a mutant public relations expert named Solomon O'Sullivan takes up the cause of representing Edie's family. Playing on the memory of Edie, he tells them that Edie would want them to benefit from her memory. Trying to bring the public into the team's recruitment process, Spike Freeman holds open auditions for prospective new members. At the tournament, Solomon O'Sullivan introduces himself to the team, and offers his services as an agent. Also at the tournament, Phat receives a question from a reporter. When the reporter asks about the rumors of the relationship between he and Vivisector, Phat goes wild, violently denouncing them. Later at the headquarters, the Orphan is visited by Lacuna who invites him on her show. Seeing an opportunity to bypass his employer, the Orphan agrees and announces to the world the new name that Edie wanted the team to go by: X-Statix. Later, as Vivisector and Phat argue about Phat's recent homophobic rants, Spike Freeman congratulates the Orphan on his media relation's coup. Sickened at his employer's personality, the Orphan hands him his revolver and challenges Spike to take his place in his daily ritual. After Spike does so, and survives, with enthusiasm and a laugh, the Orphan leaves, as disgusted as ever. Later at the ceremonial opening of the Doop Kiddies Hospital, the Orphan makes an announcement: Despite everything that has happened, they are still a team united ... and one with a new name.

Full Summary: 

"X-Statix", says the Orphan while holding a plastic action figure of the recently deceased U-Go Girl. Clad in his now trademark blue baseball cap, Spike Freeman asks what kind of made-up lousy name is that ? Still staring at the plastic likeness of his lost lover, Guy tells Spike that it was the last thing she said to him before she died. Putting his hand on the Orphan's shoulder, Spike says that he's sorry. He knows how tough this is for him and while he thinks that it's swell that Edie was thinking of the team at the end, they've already got a new name. After the Orphan walks away despondently, the Anarchist points out to Spike what it would mean to Guy if they used the name. Spike responds that he's had some very expensive focus groups liaising with a crack media consulting firm and they've come up with the name. Continuing, he says that it's already been put to a secret meeting of their biggest shareholders and it's a done deal.

Outside the X-Force headquarters, hundreds of people hold a candlelight vigil. Among the mourners, a television reporter speaks into the camera. She reports that the mood outside the X-Force building has grown increasingly somber as rumors spread of the death of Edie Sawyer, also known as U-Go Girl, the team's most popular member. Uncharacteristically, she points out, the normally media friendly X-Force machine has made no official statement. It has been confirmed, she continues, that the Spike has been killed in action, though he hadn't been around long enough to capture the American public's imagination. She then gives out the Internet address where viewers can find an obituary for the Spike.

Inside the headquarters, the Orphan reels in anger. Still holding his figure of Edie, Guy asks Spike why he has told them to not tell the media yet. Straightforwardly, Spike explains that they want to build up the tension and get the fans to wonder if she's going to come back. Incensed, the Orphan throws the figure of Edie, which misses Spike and breaks apart after hitting the ground. As Guy picks up the pieces of his broken figure, the Anarchist leads Spike away. After being asked by the Anarchist if he is trying to be the Antichrist or does it just come naturally, Spike replies that like it or not, they are a business and they have a lot of enemies. Taken aback, the Anarchist asks who ? Answering simply, Spike mentions X-Men, X-Factor, and the Fantastic Four and all the like.

Holding the pieces of Edie's figure in one hand and a bottle of vodka in another, Guy tells Spike that he doesn't care about competition and will not pretend that Edie is still alive. Holding up his arms almost defensively, Spike tells Guy that he doesn't have to, just say "no comment". The Anarchist suggests to Guy that he tell Spike to go to hell. When instead Guy turns away, Tike tries to stop him. Seeing his friend's pain, Tike asks Guy to talk to him, shout at him, or hit him. Do something about his pain. Dropping his bottle instead, Guy just walks away. From behind the protection of the Anarchist, Spike tells Guy that this is an order. If he is asked about Edie, reply no comment. As a warning, he informs Guy that if he even hints at the truth, he will be in deep %&$!?. When his threat is punctuated by the comment that Edie would have understood, Guy turns around and informs Spike that he is so close to having his neck broken.

Stripped to their boxers, Phat and Vivisector lounge in a bed, watching television. Almost thinking aloud, Phat says that he can't believe what's happened. Vivisector tells Phat that he knows how he feels, as it goes against the grain for him. However, he's trying not to think about it and trying not to analyze it. Sensing a misunderstanding, Phat tells Vivisector that he was talking about Edie. Vivisector replies that what's happened with them is just an everyday, totally predictable occurrence. Sitting up, Phat says that he can't get his head around anything anymore. Edie, of all people, he says, makes him feel... "Mortal", says Vivisector, finishing his sentence. Continuing, Vivisector muses that the Greeks would have said that she had a good death, in her prime, doing what she did best, but way too soon. When Phat muses about Edie being in love, Vivisector then asks what's the answer ? To cut yourself off from all that ? Cauterize the heart ? Changing the channel with the remote, Phat replies that he doesn't know. He's just a guy who can do things with his fat. Nodding to Vivisector, Phat replies that he's the clever one. Vivisector flatly replies that he wishes.

Walking outside, Guy is swarmed by reporters asking questions about Edie. Nearly enraged, Guy stops and informs them that he can give them news: Edie Sawyer is dead. Inside the X-Force headquarters, Spike sees Guy live on his big screen television look directly in the camera and repeat that Edie Sawyer is dead. Pointing to Guy's image, Spike calls him an insolent pup. After hearing laughter, Spike looks to the Anarchist and Dead Girl lounging on the couch. When he asks Tike what is so funny, Tike replies that he's just glad to be alive. With his arm around Dead Girl, Tike asks her if she is glad to be alive too. Slyly, she replies no comment. Tike asks her next if she fancies going out and getting into trouble. After asking what he has in mind, to which Tike answers that he has no idea, Dead Girl replies that it sounds too good to turn down. As they leave, Spike watches to reporter on television announce that it's official: Edie Sawyer is dead.

Outside their home, Edie's mother and daughter try to make their way through the crowd of reporters. Bombarded with questions of when she learned of her daughter's death, Mrs. Sawyer is in tears. Much to Mrs. Sawyer's surprise, she is escorted through the crowd by a man who yells to the media to back off and give her room. After asking if none of them have any shame, he tells them that Mrs. Sawyer has nothing to say at the moment. Escorting the now smiling Mrs. Sawyer through her front door, the man tells the crowd that she may be giving selective interviews at a later date when she's more composed. These interviews, he tells them, can be arranged through his office. Smiling from ear to ear, the man announces to all who have been living on Mars for the last few months, he is Solomon O'Sullivan and will be representing Mrs. Sawyer's interests from now on.

A little later, inside her house, Mrs. Sawyer looks at the crowd outside and tries to explain to Mr. O'Sullivan that they are just normal people. Holding a steaming cup of coffee, O'Sullivan explains that there are no such things as normal or abnormal people, just people who the media are interested in and not interested in. Moving the conversation to her, he tells Mrs. Sawyer that she is interesting, but without professional help, they will eat her up and spit her out and she will end up with nothing. Closing the blinds, Mrs. Sawyer explains that she has no intention of making a profit out of Edie's death. Talking a draught from his mug, O'Sullivan replies that while that is very commendable, X-Force does not have the same high moral standards and are making a mint. Have they contacted her ? Has she heard word from them ? After Mrs. Sawyer quietly answers no, she find O'Sullivan at her side. He asks her if she doesn't think that her daughter, God rest her soul, would have wanted her to benefit from this tragic event ? Answering himself, O'Sullivan replies that of course she would have. Taking Mrs. Sawyer's hand in his, he tells her that he knows what he's doing. He's Solomon O'Sullivan: fifty percent Jewish, fifty percent Irish and one hundred percent behind her.

Waving the cameras away from their faces, the Anarchist and Dead Girl emerge from their night in police cells. The narrator of the news story announces that the police have said that no charges will be made against the X-Forcers, but it is rumored that Tike will make a large donation to the LAPD benevolent fund. Showing now the Anarchist attacking a cameraman, the narrator reports that freelance photographer Ed Lance has reportedly filed a civil action against the Anarchist for criminal damages and emotional trauma.

As the news report ends, Guy turns off the television. Almost to himself as to the nearby Doop, Guy remarks that Tike and Dead Girl are maybe making a play at being the new golden couple. Turning his attention to Spike Freeman, Guy suggests that his marketing team should be able to run with that. Cross-armed and angry, Spike reminds Guy that he asked him ... told him ... not to tell them about Edie. Standing up, Guy states that he did and asks Spike what he's going to do about it ? Fire him ? Fine him a week's wages ? With an evil smile, Spike says that he could make some calls to those drug companies and tell them to go ahead with those commercials accusing Guy of ending the chance to defeat any number of terminal diseases. Guy asks Spike if he thinks that he cares if he's the most hated man in the world ? Walking away, he throws his vodka bottle over his shoulder and announces that he doesn't give a damn. Spike catches the bottle and pauses in thought. Calling to the departing Guy, Spike tells him to get himself cleaned up by tomorrow. He informs the team leader that they are visiting some farm teams to look at replacements. As it's open to the media they might salvage something from their mess. As Guy pauses, staring in thought at the reassembled figure of Edie, Spike exits the room from the other direction. Without a word, he tosses the bottle over his own shoulder. With no one to catch it this time, it falls on the floor and shatters into pieces.

The next day in an outdoor arena in the Mojave Desert, two mutants in X-Force uniforms combat each other before an innumerable crowd of spectators. One of the mutants is lobster-like in appearance, replete with a reddish, shelled skin, large eyes and huge mandibles. His foe, towering in size with bark-like skin, attacks with elongated branch-like limbs. Speaking to the crowd over a loudspeaker, an announcer addresses the crowd. He tells them that it is a rare privilege for them, the viewers, to be invited to witness the very process by which new members of X-Force are chosen. There in the Mojave Desert hopefuls from the various X-Force farm teams compete with each other to prove they're worthy of joining the big league. Allowing the next contestant to introduce himself, the announcer hands the microphone to an armored mutant with an exposed skull beneath his helmet. Microphone in hand, the mutant introduces himself as Arlo Summers, also known as Anti-Matter, and informs them that he operates out of the greatest city in the world, New York.

Watching in the sidelines, X-Force, along with the rest of the spectators, watch the competition. Looking to Guy, Vivisector asks what they are doing there ? Don't they usually just look at the reels ? Staring intently at his possible future teammates, the Anarchist answers that Freeman thinks it's good for P.R. as it shows the world that they're still a team. The group's conversation is interrupted when they are splashed by a wave of water. Looking to the source, they see one mutant with water-based powers knocking over another mutant with blasts of water. Gesturing in their direction, the Anarchist asks who or what in the name of everything that it holy is that. Consulting his drenched program, Vivisector informs them that he apparently operates under the name of Wash-out. Reading further, he tells them that as a chronic child bed-wetter he one day managed to harness the power of his nocturnal outpourings and use them against the tyrannical sect in which he was raised. In disbelief, Tike asks if that is for real. Walking by Tike's side, Vivisector tells him that you never know with this team.

Reading Vivisector's program, Dead Girl tells them that the other mutant, Sycamore, has a pretty good record. Almost aghast, Tike repeats the name Sycamore. Dead Girl tells him to think tree with brains. In jest, Vivisector tells them all that he's heard his bark is worse than his bark. Tike calls out to the nearby, but despondent Guy, asking if he thinks it was funny. Somber faced, Guy replies that he probably won't sleep tonight for laughing. Seeing Tike grow angry, Dead Girl holds Tike back and tells him to give Guy time. Seeming to refer back to the contest but not, Tike asks where Venus Dee Milo is. As she's a reported teleporter, he says, and pretty cute, in a little while they will hardly know that Edie isn't around. Guy whips his head around at the remark, his teeth clenched in a near snarl. Composing himself, he tells Tike that Venus is on a mission and they can check out her reel later.

A voice gets the attention of the team. He tells the group that they might be able to check out the reel later. Maybe. Introducing himself as Solomon O'Sullivan the man tells them he specializes in mutants and related matters. He tells them he thought they should know that he represents quite a few of the likely-lads they have been watching today. Venus Dee Milo, he informs them, is with him too. Brushing off the agent, the team continues on their way. Walking with them, Solomon tells them that he looks out for his clients. Just because they have uncanny super powers doesn't mean they know their ways around a legal contract. Continuing, he tells them he negotiates terms and conditions, images rights and so on. Tike waves Solomon off, and tells him they've already got agents. Not fazed, Solomon counters that they don't have agents who understand them and don't have the first idea what it's like to be different. Looking back, Tike asks if he does ?

Unbuttoning his shirt, Solomon says that it started when he was nineteen. Now bare-chested, Solomon reveals a torso filled with written words and phrases. Continuing, Solomon tells them that little messages, random words, peel off every day. Even though he doesn't know what they all mean or add up to, he saves them all. He tells them that whether they are occult signs or the great Jewish-Irish novel, he knows what it's like to be different. Studying intently, Vivisector pokes Solomon's chest and asks if his flesh peels off every day. As the youth pokes him, Solomon tells him not to worry. As an agent, he has very thick skin. Not in the mood, Guy waves the rest of the team on, suggesting they get away from the circus. Now clothed again, Solomon hands something to Tike. He tells him it is his card, in case he's needing a change of direction. Tike holds up the "card", only to see that it is a piece of Solomon's skin with his contact information "printed" on it.

As he makes his way through the crowd of media, Guy takes and dismisses questions. One asks if it is true that X-Force's new name is going to be X-Storm. Another asks if he has anything to say about Edie while another asks how exactly she died. Approaching Phat, one reporter asks if he has any comment about the talk that he and Myles are more than just friends. Growing angry, Phat asks what he is implying. Taken a little aback, the reporter begins to mention the gay press but is interrupted by Phat, who begins to rant. Bulking up his body, Phat grabs the man by his collar, yelling that he doesn't give a damn about the gay press. Shaking him, Phat tells the reporter that those "faeries" are just trying to diss him, and if he thinks that he's one of those he should send his sister around later so he'll know differently. As the team walks away, Myles, Vivisector, looks disgusted by the recent altercation.

With his revolver in one hand and the figure of Edie in the other, Guy sits alone in the X-Force headquarters. Talking to the figure, he tells it/her that he knows that she doesn't like him doing it, but it helps. It gives shape to a meaningless world. A bullet, a revolver, a spinning chamber, it is his own personal stations of the cross. Holding up the figure, Guy asks it/her if she remembers all the discussions she, he and Tike had about the arbitrariness of life ? What was it she said ? The figure, now moving on it's own with life, tells Guy that the meaning of life is to carve some kind of meaning out of an otherwise arbitrary universe. Purse-lipped, Guy tells Edie that he can be so Goddamn pompous. Kicking up her leg, the Edie figure tells Guy that it why she loves him. Retorting in her word game, Guy tells Edie that it why he has the toilet plunger in his hand.

Making a double take, Guy looks at the toilet plunger in his right hand where the revolver was moments before. Realizing immediately what has happened, Guy stands and yells out the name Lacuna and asks if this is her work. Lacuna pops back into the room, and the flow of time, with Guy's revolver. Smiling broadly, she tells Guy that she thought that he could do less harm with the plunger than the gun. Funny, she tells him, he never struck her as a gun type of guy. Grabbing the revolver, Guy tells Lacuna to back off, as it is none of her business. Quickly, Lacuna retorts that she has decided to make it her business. She tells him that he has to stop wallowing in self-pity. Less than a split second later, she has the revolver in hand and Guy has a rose instead. Continuing, she tells him that he is still the leader of X-Force. That means something. Angry, Guy replies that it meant so much to her than she turned down the chance to join them. Still smiling, Lacuna replies that it was because she realized that she wouldn't measure up. Grabbing back the revolver, Guy reminds her that it was because she was offered a show called Lacuna and the Stars. After he asks her to leave him alone, Guy returns to his chair and returns his attention to the Edie figure. Playing with his hair from behind, Lacuna tells Guy that there are rumors that he is less than happy with what everyone presumes with be the new team name, X-Storm. Continuing, she asks him why he doesn't come on the show and talk about it. Talk about Edie and get it all off of his chest. A little incredulous, Guy asks why he would divulge his most intimate details in front of millions of television viewers ?

A little later, on the Lacuna and the Stars show, Guy tells Lacuna that Edie whispered in his ear ... "X-Statix". Watching this on the television, but not really paying attention, Myles asks Phat if he is going to say something. As Phat thinks, on the television, Guy tells Lacuna that she could say that it was Edie's dying wish. Trying not to make eye contact with Myles, Phat asks about what. Angered into his feral form, Myles suggests that he outline his views on the influence of the reformation of modern art or maybe he could tell him why he came out with that cowardly, nasty, homophobic bull ! Raising his voice, Phat exclaims that he doesn't want everybody knowing. After Myles retorts that that was the idea, Phat answers that it was the idea when they were pretending.

Nearby, Dead Girl asks Tike if the reason they are going out is because he has never done it with a dead girl before. Before he can answer she tells him that she wants to be more than just a novelty. Finally answering, Tike tells her that she is. Dead Girl quickly retorts that she doesn't believe him and walks off. As she does so, Tike pulls out the skin-card of Solomon O'Sullivan and says softly that maybe they all need a little help.

Later in the headquarters, Guy asks Spike in amazement if he has changed his mind. His attention drawn to the X-Force hand-held game he is playing, Spike tells Guy that his performance on Lacuna of the Stars captured a nation's heart. With a sneer, Guy replies that it wasn't a performance. Dismissing this, Spike tells Guy that they have been inundated with calls, e-mails, and letters demanding that they call themselves X-Statix. Pulling one letter out of his shirt pocket, Spike says that he has one from his Holiness the Pope, but as it is from Seattle, it sounds a little improbable. Irate, Guy grabs Spike by the shirt and calls him a scumbag. A little confused, Spike tells Guy that he's giving him what he wants. Angrily, Guy retorts that it's for the wrong reasons. Once released from Guy's grip, Spike sits back in his chair and grins. He points out that despite his motives if he didn't give in, he would have been called a dictator. Pleading his case, Spike tells Guy that he's on his side and is part of the team too. Holding out his revolver, Guy tells Spike to prove it, to take his place for one day. With one bullet in the chamber he has a one-in-six chance. Taking the gun in his right hand, Spike unceremoniously holds it to his head and pulls the trigger. After the dry click is heard, Spike tosses the revolver back to Guy, declaring the experience a blast. In shock, Guy looks at his gun and comments that Spike is a freak, as big a freak as the rest of them.

Along with the rest of X-Force, the Orphan stand before the mob of reporters and declares that the Doop Kiddies Hospital open. Concluding his commencement, the Orphan announces that he wants to say that whatever may have happened, or what may have been heard, and whomever the team may have lost, he and the rest of X-Force are there today to show the world that they are still a team. Listening nearby, the rest of X-Force are silent, save for their grim expressions. Continuing, the Orphan tells the audience that they have no tensions or infighting and no bad blood ... but they do have a new name. Pointing at the cameras, Guy tells his audience that from this moment on, the team formerly known as X-Force will be known as ...

Characters Involved: 

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

Spike Freeman, X-Force owner

Lacuna, X-Force associate

Mrs. Sawyer, Edie's mother

Katie Sawyer, Edie's daughter

Solomon O'Sullivan

Unnamed female reporter, previously seen

X-Force fans


Ed Lance, cameraman assaulted by the Anarchist

X-Force tournament announcer

X-Force tournament spectators

Anti-Matter, Sycamore, Wash-out, several unnamed mutants

Story Notes: 

The unnamed female reporter outside of the X-Force headquarters has appeared numerous times in features on X-Force, most recently outside the X-Force café in Des Moines in X-Force #127.
Once again, the decision of the Orphan to not turn over biological wonder Paco Perez to the pharmaceutical companies in X-Force #118-119 is raised, this time by Spike Freeman.
The tournament X-Force uses to select members from "farm teams" is similar to baseball teams in the Major League to recruit from the Minor Ones. The means of the tournament itself is comically similar to the classic audition process DC Comic's Legion of Super-Heroes used to select their new members.
As stated in the letters page, this is the last issue of X-Force. The following month, the title becomes X-Statix with Giant-Sized X-Statix #1. This change originally started as a rumor when a poster, drawn by Allred, was distributed on the Net starring the X-Force team with a new title logo. Allred disavowed the change, saying that he drew the poster as a joke. Months later, it was announced that several of Marvel's X-genre comics were going to be re-launched under new names, including X-Force as X-Statix.

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