X-Force (1st series) #19

Issue Date: 
February 1993
Story Title: 
The Open Hand - The Closed Fist

Fabian Nicieza (writer), Greg Capullo (penciler), Harry Candelario (inker), Chris Eliopoulos (letterer), Buccellato and Javins (colorists), Bob Harras (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor in chief)

Brief Description: 

X-Force is still under house arrest following the events of the X-Cutioner’s Song crossover. Boomer makes herself a new costume with a Shi’ar clothing synthesizer. Lila walks in and tells her Sam is back. Boomer’s a little perturbed because she thinks Lila and Sam have a thing going, but Lila assures her that Sam and her are just friends. Roberto is outside mulling things over. Stevie Hunter joins him and they talk about his past and how he feels directionless. Unfortunately, Stevie doesn’t know what to say. Meanwhile, Feral, Shatterstar and Rictor have some fun in the Danger Room. Beast is up in the control deck wondering about X-Force’s current situation. Seeing the three perform, he realizes that they are better fighters than the original X-men when they were at their age, though he wonders about their ethics and morals. Elsewhere in the mansion, Terry and James copy some files from the X-Men. James is trying to get an edge on fighting crime, but Theresa is a little nervous about the whole “stealing” thing. Inside the Professor’s office, he and Sam have a long discussion about X-Force’s status. Sam makes it clear that he wants his team to be able to leave. While Boomer equips the rest of X-Force with their new costumes, Siryn and Xavier chat outside. Xavier wants to know why she joined X-Force and she says she wanted to be with people like her. A little bit later Sam gathers up the troops for a full confrontation with Charles. He manages to use Xavier’s own words against him. Charles finally decides to let them leave. X-Force exits the mansion and finds Lila outside waiting. She offers to teleport them back to Camp Verde. Before Sam walks through, Charles stops him and they talk about his decision. Is it the right one? Only time will tell. In Massachusetts a confused Copycat is hiding in the apartment of her friend Tina. Above the Atlantic Ocean, Bridge is aboard a SHIELD Helicarrier. He’s getting censured for what happened during the Weapon Prime operation. Bridge, furious, quits.

Full Summary: 

Inside Xavier’s school for gifted youngsters, Boomer is using a Shi’ar clothing synthesizer. She’s admiring her new pink and yellow costume in a mirror. She really likes the way her butt looks. She wonders out loud if her other teammates will let her change their outfits as well. In walks Lila Cheney to tell Boomer that Cannonball’s back. Boomer mutters a snide comment saying why would Sam want her when he could have Lila. Lila hears this and tells her they need to talk. Boomer attempts to avoid the discussion, but Lila is determined. If Boomer doesn’t want to talk (she has a broken jaw after all), then she’ll just have to listen. She tells Boomer that Sam’s too young for her and she’s too busy to be in a relationship. They’re just friends. They only had a short fling together. She tells Boomer that Sam’s all hers. Lila turns and walks away. Behind her Boomer does a little dance and cheer. But before Lila leaves the room she makes a snide comment of her own. She reminds Boomer that it might be hard to have a relationship with Sam if they’re both in jail. Lila leaves, satisfied.

Outside by the boathouse, Roberto sits by the cove’s edge; firing plasma bursts into the water. Stevie Hunter walks up from behind and sits next to him. She’s concerned as to how he’s dealing with his new solar absorption powers. She recalls back when the New Mutants were younger they used to come out to the cove to think. ‘Berto tells her they didn’t really come out there to think. They used to come out to this spot because they knew the Professor hated pushing his wheelchair through the grass. They really only wanted to get some privacy away from him. Stevie takes this news as a signal that ‘Berto wants to be left alone. She asks if she should leave and ‘Berto tells her he’s not even sure if he should leave. He feels like he needs someone to tell him what to do again. He’s disappointed in himself for what he’s done over the past year. Gideon really messed him up. He asks aloud what he should do. Stevie puts her arm around him and tells him she doesn’t know.

Inside the Danger Room, Shatterstar, Feral and Rictor are honing their skills. Mechanical spheres are coming at them from all directions. Rictor vibe-blasts some of them and tells Shatterstar to take the point. Shatterstar yells out to Feral and she tells him she’s all right. Some of the spheres rain down from above, but the trio is able to destroy them with ease. One of the spheres fires a few laser blasts that land near Shatterstar’s feet. He quickly swings right and throws his sword at it, nailing it to the wall. From the control room, Beast watches over them. Rictor ends the program and congratulates everyone on a fine job. Both Shatterstar and Rictor are happy to have such a great workout. Feral rains on their parade by reminding them that if “they” go to prison they won’t be able to do this again. Rictor picks her up by her neck and asks her what she means by “they”. Where does she think she’s going to be. She tells him flat out, she isn’t going to jail. Beast, still watching from above, marvels at their fighting skills. They’re way better than the X-Men were when they were their age. However, he’s unsure of their ethical standards and wonders if and what the X-Men should do about it.

Elsewhere in the mansion, Siryn and Warpath are scurrying amongst the shadows. Siryn seems nervous about what they’re doing. Warpath assures that what they’re doing is not wrong. They’re only copying some programs. She agrees with his point, but interjects that they’re stealing from the X-Men. She wants to know if it bothers him in the least. He tells her how when the X-Men came into his life, they took his brother and now they worsen their relationship by putting him under house arrest. So, no, he doesn’t feel bad. After all the data they’re copying will help them catch the bad guys, just like the X-Men do. Terry persists that they become bad guys by stealing. Warpath tells her walking the fine line is what being in X-Force is all about.

In Xavier’s office, Charles is telepathically listening to the conversation between Warpath and Siryn. He seems disappointed. He’s also very tired, emotionally and physically. Stryfe really messed with his spirit and convictions. Storm and Cannonball enter the room. Sam wants to talk to Charles about X-Force’s current situation. He and his team are tired of being holed up in the mansion and want to know the next step. Storm butts in and reminds Sam that if the Professor didn’t put them under house arrest, Val Cooper would have taken them to a detainment center. Sam tells her “So what”. They’re not even being charged with anything. They haven’t done anything a fellow X-Men hasn’t done before. He doesn’t understand why they have to be held there. Charles grows angry and tells Sam that it’s not about the law, but choosing the right way. Sam cuts him off, knowing where the conversation is leading. He knows about the open hand, closed fist, because Xavier taught them him when he was with the New Mutants. Then he lays a guilt trip on Charles, talking about the past when Xavier left Magneto in charge of them. Then when he abandoned them, Cable took them over. He showed them a new way. Sam tells Charles that even though Cable is dead, they can handle things on their own. He asks Charles if he will leave them alone.

In Norwell, Massachusetts, near Boston, a young woman named Tina knocks on Vanessa’s (Copycat’s) bedroom door. She wants to know if Vanessa is hungry, but she won’t answer. Tina gives up and walks away. She tells Vanessa to buzz her over the intercom if she needs anything. Inside the room, Vanessa is naked, curled up in a ball on her bed. She’s shaking all over with a mild expression of insanity on her face.

Above the Atlantic Ocean, a SHIELD Helicarrier hovers. Inside, Colonel G.W. Bridge is looking for Nick Fury. A soldier tells him that Nick isn’t on board. Bridge wants to know who called him in if it wasn’t Fury. He enters his meeting room and becomes irate. Inside are General Clarke and Henry Gyrich. In G.W.’s hand is a set of documents. Bridge is being censured over the Weapon Prime operation. He wants to know how that’s possible, because SHIELD had no part in it. Gyrich steps over and points his finger in the colonel’s face. He tells him it cost them 33 billion dollars for that operation, including the stolen IPAC unit. On top of that, Grizzly and Yeti are missing, Tygerstrike is in a walking cast and Rictor switched sides to X-Force. Bridge turns around and barges out of the office. He tells them he quits and throws the documents on the floor.

Back at the mansion, the rest of the X-Forcers are using the Shi’ar clothing synthesizer. Warpath is the latest member to get a new costume. He’s pretty pleased with it. Boomer tells Sam he’s next. Sam doesn’t really want to, but Boomer pushes him inside. Boomer hits a few buttons and Sam comes out in a new blue and yellow uniform. Feral asks Boomer if she can be next. Boomer obliges and takes her over to the machine. James takes Sam aside and asks him about Xavier’s decision. Sam tells him he’s still mulling it over. They go on to discuss what they’re going to do if he doesn’t let them leave. Sam says he’ll fight for their freedom if he has to. James tells him he’ll be right by his side.

Outside the mansion, Charles and Theresa are having a chat. Charles wants to know why Siryn left Muir Island. She goes on to tell him that after the Shadow King violated them, Muir Island seemed like a dead place to her. She had to leave and be with other people. Xavier asks her why she didn’t come to the X-Men. Theresa tells him she wanted to be with other people like her, people who had problems like her. Now she’s even happy. She thinks everyone on the team is starting to come alive and she’s excited about it. Xavier wonders what will become of X-Force and Theresa says that is the best part of it, she doesn’t know. It’s wild, it’s free, it’s exciting and unknown.

Back near the boathouse, ‘Berto is now sitting on the edge of the pier. Sam walks over to talk to him. He wants Sunspot to head inside. He wants the whole team there when he tells the Professor his decision. Bobby starts walking away and sees Sam still crouching on the ground. He asks him if he’s coming with him. Sam tells him to go on. He’s looking for something.

Back in Xavier’s den, the entire team stands together, face to face with Charles. Sam tells him they’re leaving. Charles is still hesitant as to whether they can go. Sam argues the point that they still haven’t been charged with anything. They shouldn’t have to be stuck there. The Professor still isn’t sure what to do. Sam starts riding him pretty hard, going on about Charles’ “dream”, Magneto’s “separation theories”, Cable’s “get ‘em before they get you” attitude and how they need to be let free and take the best course, given what they’ve learned. Charles asks him simply, will they achieve their goals through violence or peace. He goes on to mention the “open hand, closed fist” and Sam stops him. Sam shows his fist to Professor. He opens it up and inside is a field mouse. He tells Charles the “closed fist” can be used to warm and protect as well. Then he opens his other hand and brings it quickly to Xavier’s left cheek. He tells Charles the “open hand” can be used to hurt too. Xavier grabs his hand and tells him he’s made his point. Xavier tells him he doesn’t want to be their judge. He will let them go, free to make their own choices and mistakes.

At the main entrance, Lila waits outside. Most of the X-Force gang comes out the front doors, accompanied by the Professor. Feral is still in Xavier’s den. She sticks one of her claws into the field mouse and holds it up to her mouth, licking her lips. A few seconds later she joins her teammates outside. Now that they’re all there, Lila asks them if they’re ready to leave. She opens a teleportation rift that leads to Camp Verde. Before they walk through, Charles stops Sam. He wants to make sure Sam is all right with what they’re doing. He tells him he’s not, but that’s one thing about life. You’re never too sure about your choices. Sam wishes the Professor well and hopes that he doesn’t get into trouble with Val. Xavier tells him not to worry, but maybe Sam should be the one to worry. He tells him that two of his people stole some data off him today. Sam becomes angry and wants to know who it was. Charles won’t tell him, but instead tells him that this is the path he’s chosen. Sam walks away a little disconcerted, but filled with hope nonetheless. He walks through the portal and disappears. Xavier is left alone. He seems saddened by the events of the day.

Characters Involved: 

Boomer, Cannonball, Feral, Rictor, Shatterstar, Siryn, Sunspot, Warpath (all X-Force)

Beast, Storm, Professor Charles Xavier (all X-Men)

Lila Cheney

Stevie Hunter

G.W. Bridge

General Clarke

Henry Gyrich

Tina Valentino

Story Notes: 

Boom-Boom changes her codename to Boomer.
Boomer’s jaw was broken during the X-Cutioner’s Song crossover.
As can be seen in New Warriors (1st series), Cannonball and Warpath accompanied Firestar to Nova Roma before this issue.
The Weapon Prime operation occurred during X-Force #13-14.
Tigerstryke is misspelled as Tygerstrike in the issue.

Issue Information: 
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