X-Force (1st series) #28

Issue Date: 
November 1993
Story Title: 
The Axe Falls

Fabian Nicieza (writer); Antonio Daniel (penciler); Kevin Conrad (inker); Chris Eliopoulos (letterer); Martin Thomas (colorist); Bob Harras (editor); Tom DeFalco (editor in chief)

Brief Description: 

X-Force’s attempt to rescue Henry Peter-Gyrich has gone disastrously awry, and Reignfire gloats over a fallen Cable. Cable recovers and battles Reignfire, while Feral tries to get Gyrich out of the MLF citadel to safety. As they work their way to X-Force’s IPAC rendezvous point, Gyrich continually taunts Feral and tries to goad her into attacking him, thus justifying his views on mutants. Meanwhile, Wildside tricks Shatterstar into surrendering his sword and allowing Reaper to escape, but Shatterstar turns the tables using a hidden mutant power and causes Wildside to inadvertently kill Reaper. On the beach outside the citadel, Gyrich finally prods Feral into attacking him, but she is stopped by Tempo, who switches sides while a scrambled teleport by Locus brings the rest of the combatants to the beach. As a mass conflict breaks out, Reignfire convinces Feral to join the MLF, while denouncing Tempo as a traitor and kicking her out. Moonstar and Locus make one last-ditch attack on Gyrich as the MLF evacuates, but Sunspot manages to use his powers to fly and intercepts the attack. His powers cause feedback with Locus’ and, as a result, Sunspot, along with the entire neo-MLF, are caught in a massive burst of Locus’ “phase-shifting” and sent to parts unknown. In the wake of X-Force’s losses, Gyrich only feels more convinced he has the right viewpoint, leading Cable to realize just how pointless their sacrifices this day have been.

Full Summary: 

X-Force’s attempt to rescue Henry Peter-Gyrich with a covert strike upon the new Mutant Liberation Front’s compound has met with disaster, and Reignfire now stands triumphantly over Cable’s prone body. Reignfire points out that Cable has fallen before him and his overwhelming onslaught that is symbolically made from the righteous anger of every mutant born on the planet. By choosing to fight against the MLF, he announces, Cable and X-Force have chosen to die.

And, of all people, muses Reignfire, he can’t believe it’s Cable trying to stop him - Cable, who has seen both the past and the future. With great effort, Cable asks Reignfire who he is, to which Reignfire replies he is the future, the coming storm, the harbinger of mutant liberation… even if it must be squeezed from the clutches of humanity one drop of blood at a time. Noting that Reignfire’s tirades are giving him a headache, Cable grabs Reignfire’s cloak and pulls him in for a headbutt. While Reignfire reels, Cable dives for his energy rifle, wondering how many times idiots like Reignfire will make the same mistakes. Blasting Reignfire through the wall and off a balcony, Cable mentions Stryfe, Magneto, and Apocalypse as all being incorrect in the notion that the subjugation of humans means liberation for mutants.

Reignfire’s tumble ends with him landing directly in front of Feral and Gyrich, who are trying to make their way out of the complex. Feral tells Gyrich to look out for himself, because she’s not going to put her neck on the line for a mutant-hater like him. Gyrich points out that she came there to rescue him, so, like it or not, she already has put her neck on the line. Reignfire, recovering, assures Gyrich that Feral will also regret having done so. Feral notes that she regrets it already and Reignfire is quick to offer her a chance to stand with the MLF -- to use this opportunity to send a message to the oppressive human cows -- to flay Gyrich alive right now!

Cable, leaping down to continue the fight, asks Reignfire to help him out here: he’s trying to teach these children the difference between right and wrong, and all along he’s stressed that there’s a time for flay, and a time for work, and right now X-Force has a job to do! He then clocks Reignfire a powerful blow across the jaw.

Meanwhile, as Gyrich and Feral continue their escape attempt, Gyrich asks Feral if she has any idea where she’s going. Reignfire’s entrance turned them around, and he’s certain that they should be going… Feral interrupts him with the command to Shut Up, then lectures him, noting that the very thing he hates her for -- being a mutant -- is exactly what tells her where she’s going. She can smell where she’s been and she can hear everything around her, so Gyrich should shut up and let the “mutie” do the work.

Gyrich wants to know why she’s helping him if she thinks he hates her so much, to which Feral retorts that, if it were up to her, she’d let the MLF tear him apart. Then, asks Gyrich, how can she and X-Force claim to be any different than the MLF? Beginning to crack, Feral screams that maybe they aren’t different… and isn’t that what suits and ties like Gyrich are always saying anyway? If X-Force rescuing him doesn’t change his mind, maybe they shouldn’t bother, and she should just kill him right now!

Elsewhere in the citadel, Shatterstar is still trapped in a stalemate with Wildside, who holds Siryn hostage, claws at her throat. Shatterstar notes that Wildside thinks he has him in a very difficult position. Wildside replies that it’s only as difficult as Shatterstar would like it to be. If Shatterstar puts his blade down and lets Reaper escape, Wildside might stop mind-warping Siryn and let her go. It’s a simple choice, notes Wildside… unless Shatterstar doesn’t trust him… because then he’d be putting himself and Siryn in a bit of a mess. So, asks Wildside, as he and Shatterstar stare each other down, what’s it going to be? Shatterstar grimly lowers his blade and forcibly inserts it into the ground mere inches from Reaper’s head. Wildside quickly instructs Shatterstar to back off, which he does.

Wildside then announces that he’s kind of disappointed; he thought Shatterstar would have shown more chutzpah than that. As a strange humming fills the air, Wildside grabs Shatterstar’s sword and gloats - he has his blade, he has his girl, and it looks like (except for Reaper missing another hand) the MLF has just about everything! … And, uhm, he continues, is Shatterstar humming?

There’s no time for a reply, as the blade Wildside is holding suddenly lets out a burst of explosive energy, blowing Reaper apart and sending fragments of his bones cascading through the air. Wildside, in abject shock, can only stammer, asking what just happened. Shatterstar leaps through the air and announces that he just used a mutant power that he rarely displays: the power to resonate a vibratory shockwave through the metallurgic properties of his blade! He notes that he doesn’t often use it, for he prefers to rely solely on his own skills, but he was happy to endure the exhaustive state it leaves him in just to see the look on Wildside’s face as he killed his own troopmate!

Smacking Wildside aside with a heroic blow, Shatterstar reclaims his sword and asks for the chance to show Wildside why he prefers to employ cold steel over subterfuge. Wildside encourages him to give it a go, it should be fun -- but their fun is interrupted by Forearm’s massive body exploding through the wall next to them! From the massive hole created by Forearm’s entrance steps, Warpath is curious if he interrupted anything. He announces that he was playing around with Forearm for a while and whoops, hit the boy too hard… and then look at the mess he made!

Wondering if “little Wildside” got hurt too, Warpath solemnly notes that he is such a klutz before announcing to Shatterstar and Siryn that X-Force has exceeded their mission specs and that it’s time to head back to the ship. Finally, he asks them what’s up. Siryn, with a look of displeased perturbance upon her face, explains that Shatterstar surrendered himself to save her… then risked both of their lives by springing a booby trap.

And, elsewhere still, Cannonball is still reeling from Moonstar’s psychic arrow. Sunspot incredulously asks if it’s Dani … Danielle Moonstar… who has done this. Moonstar caustically notes that wouldn’t Sunspot like to know? Having arrived upon the scene, Locus asks Moonstar if she should “shunt” the three X-Forcers opposing them to Poughkeepsie. Moonstar notes that Locus is suggesting a fate worse than death, adding that she’s so cruel. Boomer interrupts this by demanding that Moonstar take off her mask and show the X-Force members who she is. Boomer then adds that, if Moonstar is Dani, she was once Mirage, one of them, a New Mutant, one of the good guys for Pete’s sake! It doesn’t make any sense! Moonstar retorts that little does in this life and proceeds to strike Boomer to the ground with a psychic arrow, decommissioning her with flashbacks of her abusive father.

At this point, Sunspot has had enough, announcing that that does it: he doesn’t care who Moonstar is, she’s not going to hurt another one of his friends! Moonstar leaps clear of the solar blast he fires, as Locus notes that his blasts pack quite a wallop. It’s a shame, continues Locus, that she has to ice a bod like his… but everybody has to make compromises, right? So she’s going to let herself keep his gorgeous bod by only teleporting the top half of Sunspot away!

Sunspot grabs Locus’ arm and announces that, wherever he goes, she’s going there as well! Moonstar, swinging upside-down from a chandelier, tells Locus not to hurt him… she’ll take him out with a mind-shaft! As Moonstar fires, Sunspot jerks Locus into the path of the arrow and, as she is struck, the familiar high-pitch squeal of her teleportation begins, engulfing everyone in the room!

Outside, Feral tugs Gyrich along, both of them racing along the coast toward X-Force’s ship. Feral tells him that they’re seeing the IPAC in the distance, which Gyrich correctly deduces is X-Force’s interpersonnel carrier. Feral notes that Gyrich would like to get his hands on it, wouldn’t he? She then tells him to stop licking his chops, or she’ll have to blindfold him or bust his head or something. This is interrupted by a massive burst of energy appearing behind them -- Locus’ signature teleportation burst. Feral, irate, shouts that it’s great… she has to worry about them on her tail and Gyrich in her face! Shoving Gyrich toward the IPAC, she tells him to move!

Gyrich’s only response is to ask her why she’s even worried about him, calling Feral by her proper name, Maria. He thought he was the enemy? Feral, eyes narrowing, notes that Gyrich just wants to push all her buttons, push her over the edge so he can prove his point that all mutants are killers and maniacs. Gyrich replies that he needn’t prove anything as far as Feral is concerned. After the incident at the World Trade Center, he learned all about Feral and her fellow X-Force “soldiers.” He knows all about her, he continues, calling her by her full name of Maria Callasantos.

Feral quietly asks him what he knows. Gyrich explains that he knows what happened to Feral’s little brother and sister. He knows why her older sister, Lucia, let her run away. He knows why her mother will never see her again. He knows that being a mutant has nothing to do with Feral being a cold-blooded killer as well… but being a mutant just makes the fact she is one all the more dangerous. Snapping, Feral lunges for Gyrich with murderous rage etched into her expression, informing him he’s going to see just how dangerous she can be…

Yet, Feral suddenly finds herself tumbling sluggishly through the air, as Gyrich is yanked to safety. Tempo stands over him, announcing that by slowing down Feral’s perception of time, she gave herself the chance to save Gyrich. She adds that Gyrich shouldn’t bother thanking her… as if his kind ever would. Gyrich is perplexed by Tempo’s actions because she’s a member of the MLF. Tempo replies that it shows how close-minded Gyrich is, then adds that she doesn’t want him killed, just stopped. Feral demands the chance to do Tempo’s job for her, leaping at her and calling her a coward. Tempo, struggling to hold her back, says that if Feral believes stopping Gyrich and killing Gyrich are the same thing, she’s proven his point for him.

Above the trio’s heads, Moonstar is blasted through the air by one of Sunspot’s bursts. Tempo announces that the fighting is getting out of hand, that they have to find a way to stop it… the question is, what method will they employ to do so? Gyrich pipes up again, asking Feral what her choice will be… is killing him or saving him the best way for the violence to end?

Elsewhere, Cable is thrown into the jungle surrounding the citadel by an enormous blast of Reignfire’s energy power. Hitting the ground below, Cable continues to flee, as Reignfire announces that he won’t escape alive. Cable simply cannot run from the road he’s chosen to take, screams Reignfire; Cable has set a course for himself and the children he took under his wing. Reignfire continues, all the while pressing his attack, that Cable once said he would fight the dirty fight and make the hard choices that the other mutants were unwilling to make. Well, explains Reignfire, he is now here, offering Cable the chance to join the MLF in walking that road together, and he is incredulous at Cable’s refusal.

Dodging through the burning jungle, set aflame by Reignfire’s blasts, Cable shouts back that there’s a difference between walking a road and rolling a tank over it. Cable explains that he’s trying to teach X-Force to use their powers to fight for what’s right, not to think that just because they have their powers they have the right to fight. He then throws in the jab that this is a concept that would-be demagogues like Reignfire never seem to be able to figure out! Reignfire quickly retorts that, in that case, Cable’s own weakness will doom him to repeat the sins of his past… then calls him Nathan Dayspring!

Shocked, Cable asks Reignfire how he knows his name, but any reply he may have received is cut short by Siryn’s sudden entrance. She knocks Reignfire to the ground with a full-force sonic scream and asks Cable if he’s all right. He replies that he’s fine, but he wishes Siryn had waited about ten seconds before doing what she did. She asks if Cable would like her to bring Reignfire back, to which he replies “No, thank you” and then requests instead that she clear out the surrounding underbrush so that they might locate the others. As Siryn’s scream blows away the burnt trees and foliage, a scene of full-out battle between the MLF and the rest of X-Force is revealed.

Meanwhile, Gyrich notes that it’s all coming together and it’s all coming apart, while Tempo warns Feral to stay back, standing between her and Gyrich. Feral asks why Tempo is protecting him, and Tempo replies that maybe because, clichéd as it sounds, two wrongs don’t make a right. Reignfire, rising from the water where he landed, calls Tempo a traitorous witch and asks her about the billion wrongs spread throughout countless centuries before striking her down with a rain of his fire. Extending his hand to Feral, Reignfire asks: what if the killing of one man could help prevent the deaths of thousands, even millions, over the coming decades? What if killing Gyrich right now could save the future for all mutants?

What if it could, questions Gyrich rhetorically… what if it couldn’t? As Reignfire directs Feral’s attention to the battle raging nearby, he tells her that she knows in her heart the path she wishes to take. She has looked at her teammates and found them lacking. They don’t understand her. They don’t accept her. He tells her to be a part of something better, something harder, something stronger… to join the MLF, kill Gyrich on the spot, and let the road she takes be bathed in blood. Feral, at the breaking point, screams her affirmation and lunges for Gyrich. This time she’s stopped by shots in the back, courtesy of Cable.

Cable curses Reignfire for twisting Feral around, while Siryn asks if Cable killed her. He replies in the negative, noting that his gun was set on a low-level plasma charge! Flying into the air with Feral’s prone form in one hand and a stunned Gyrich in the other, Reignfire tells Cable to listen to himself. He continues that it’s better for Cable to curse himself for denying Feral the right to be what she was meant to be, and for denying himself the right to fight this war the way Cable knows it should be fought. Cable replies that he’s fought that war with himself already, and he won’t fight it again. Not wanting to kill Reignfire doesn’t mean that he’s not going to stop him. Cable then opens fire, but Reignfire deflects Cable’s assault with his cape and commands Locus and Moonstar to come to his side.

Moonstar notes that it looks like the MLF is clearing out, while Locus announces that they should just nuke the whole stupid island and be done with X-Force for good. Moonstar apologizes for hitting Locus with a psyche-arrow, to which Locus ominously replies that she’ll get Moonstar eventually… she shouldn’t worry. For now, Locus continues, she just wants Moonstar to get Siryn off their backs. Moonstar efficiently does as requested, knocking Siryn to the ground below.

Reignfire orders Locus to locate Forearm, Reaper and Wildside, because they’re teleporting out. Moonstar asks about Tempo and Gyrich… to which Reignfire replies that Tempo is a traitor, and no longer one of the MLF. Gyrich, he continues, whilst releasing him and sending, him plummeting toward the sea below, is target practice. Moonstar and Locus both open fire upon Gyrich, as he tumbles downward.

Sunspot, desperate, says that, after everything they’ve been through, he cannot and will not allow Moonstar to kill someone in cold blood. Focusing his powers, he manages for the first time to take flight. Rushing to intercept the energy projectiles, he tells Gyrich to cover his eyes, since things might get rather explosive. He plans to intercept Locus’ beam and pray that his powers can disperse her attack. The combination of Sunspot’s solar blast and Locus’ energy beam causes a strange feedback to occur that Locus can’t control, and the entire MLF, along with Sunspot, is caught up in a massive and warped version of Locus’ signature teleportation burst.

Gyrich plummets to the waves near the beach, as Warpath notes that the MLF is all gone. Siryn asks if the rest of the team heard Sunspot, and everyone else caught in the feedback, screaming. Rictor adds that it sounded like they were being torn apart. Cable further adds that Locus said she could teleport anywhere she had been or anywhere her target had been, and this means that, if they survived, considering the places Sunspot has been, the vanished group could literally be anywhere. As Gyrich is recovered from the surf, Cable tells him that this had better been worth losing two members of his unit for.

Gyrich responds that, if anything, he is now even more convinced than ever that Cable and his kind pose a threat to humanity. Cable’s only reply is to deal Gyrich a cripplingly powerful blow across his jaw, knocking him to the ground. Staring off into the sunset with the rest of his team, Cable can only mutter that this wasn’t worth it at all.

Characters Involved: 

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


Henry Peter Gyrich (National Security Advisor and leader of Project: Wideawake)

Forearm, Reaper, Tempo, Wildside (all members of original MLF)

Locus, Moonstar


Story Notes: 

Rictor, despite his presence alongside Cannonball, Boomer and Sunspot when they were confronted by Moonstar in X-Force (1st series) #27, seems to have mysteriously disappeared from the fray for nearly all of this issue.

Reaper’s death in this issue can basically be ignored, because he would appear infrequently many times after this with no reference to the incident in the citadel or explanation whatsoever of how he survived.

The World Trade Center incident that Gyrich speaks of occurred in X-Force (1st series) #3-4 and Spider-Man (1st series) #16.

Moonstar is an old teammate of Sunspot, Boomer (then Boom-Boom) and Cannonball, hence their shock and confusion.

The fact that Reignfire knows Cable’s real name was a heavy foreshadowing of his original identity as a time-traveling future Sunspot-gone-bad. It was later revealed that Reignfire was an experimental creature created by Gideon and injected with Sunspot’s blood, who had the power to take over Sunspot’s body when he chose to and had Sunspot’s appearance and memories inadvertently grafted onto him.

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