X-Force (1st series) #49

Issue Date: 
December 1995
Story Title: 
Target: X-Force

Jeph Loeb (writer), Terry Dodson (guest penciler), Lanning, Morales, Russell (inkers), Marie Javins (colorist), Electric Crayon (separations), Comicraft (letterer), Ben Raab (assistant editor), Bob Harras (editor)

Brief Description: 

Sebastian Shaw and Tessa give their new ally, Holocaust his new armor, he then proceeds to demonstrate his abilities by killing a Hellfire Club guard. Tessa is forced to telepathically take control of Holocaust when he turns his powers on Shaw. Meanwhile, X-Force are all out and about doing various things - Sunspot has ventured into the former Morlock tunnels with Caliban, and discovers they have a commonality due to their non-human appearances. They get separated though when Caliban senses some mutants nearby. Sunspot only finds him when he notices a surge of power nearby and follows it, only to discover Holocaust standing over Caliban’s unmoving body. Sunspot attacks Holocaust, but soon falls. Siryn and Warpath are en route to dinner at a restaurant, but Siryn sees a dress sale, and proceeds to try on numerous dresses, leaving Warpath to contemplate his feelings for Siryn, and tests out his heightened senses, during which he hears Siryn’s call for help. When he goes to rescue her though, he is confronted by Shaw, who proceeds to knock Warpath out. Shatterstar walks the streets, wondering why he hasn’t heard from Rictor, when he passes a nightclub, and a woman asks him if he wants to dance. He declines and keeps walking, till he comes to an alleyway where some thugs are beating up a young gay man. Shatterstar proceeds to knock the thugs out and rescue their victim, only to be attacked by Holocaust. Finally, Boomer has returned to her hometown to see her long-estranged father. He is pleased to see her and it is a teary-eyed reunion in Mr. Smith‘s trailer, during which Boomer learns that her mother abandoned her and is not in fact dead. Before further discussion can be made though, Shaw and Holocaust arrive and blow up the trailer.

Full Summary: 

‘What is mine…is mine!’ Sebastian Shaw, the Black King of the Hellfire Club thinks to himself. ‘I did not build Shaw Industries up from nothing and into a world-wide conglomerate to have it taken from me. I did not wrest control of the Inner Circle of the Hellfire Club - and become the undisputed Black King to allow another to succeed me’. Sebastian decides that, most importantly, he did not intend to turn over any of his wealth or power to his impertinent son, Shinobi. ‘So he murdered me’.

Shaw thinks to himself that what his son doesn’t know, and what the entire world will soon learn, is that Shinobi failed, and the price of his betrayal will be astronomical. To accomplish this task, Shaw has taken on two allies, one old, one new. The first is the ever-reliable Lady Tessa, Shaw’s familiar who stood by his side over the years in the Hellfire Club, offering yet again her loyalty and telepathic powers.

Here, in the Hellfire Club, soldiers mill about in the lab, where Shaw and Tessa stand before a platform on which a third figure stand ‘Yell me, my friend, are you pleased with your new armor’s design?’ SHaw asks. The large orange being replies ‘It is adequate’ as he clenches a fist. This being is known as Holocaust, a presumptuous name nevertheless for one who has possesses extraordinary powers. As Shaw recalls, Holocaust claims to come from an alternate reality - one where Apocalypse rules, and Shaw’s enemies, the X-Men, were outlaw reels, led by, of all people, Magneto.

Whether or not that is true though doesn’t matter to Shaw, who is only concerned with the fact that he has an instrument of enormous destruction, on a very short leash. Holocaust exclaims that he only needs to know if the armor is functional, and he turns to one of the Hellfire Club guards, ‘Stansfield, get out of the way!’ another of them calls out to his comrade. ‘NO!’ Shaw shouts out, but it’s too late, as Holocaust has moved too fast for him. ‘That’s a word I do not respond to, Shaw. Learn that well, “friend”!’ Holocaust exclaims as he murders the guard.

Shaw steps onto the platform and tells Holocaust that was totally unwarranted, ‘You’ve ruined good equipment that will take time and money to replace!’ he exclaims, motioning to the damage that the blast created. ‘He…he…killed Stansfield - just like that!’ the other guard exclaims. Holocaust shoves his powerful hand in Shaw’s face, ‘I don’t think I like your tone’ Holocaust exclaims. A frightened Shaw telepathically calls out to Tessa, who responds also telepathically, assuring Shaw that she will handle it: ‘Holocaust - lower your weapon! Good’. Tessa orders into Holocaust’s mind, and indeed, he lowers the weapon.

As Shaw had been informed, telepaths were quite rare on Holocaust’s world, which allows Shaw a modicum of control, when it becomes necessary. Shaw frowns at Holocaust as he tells him that they have completed only half the bargain. ‘You have your armor…now I get what I want from our partnership…’ he tells Holocaust. Shaw thinks to himself that he has been a patient man, and now his patience is about to be rewarded.

Meanwhile, in Jonestown, Pennsylvania, the X-Force heroine Tabitha Smith a.k.a. Boomer has returned to where she once lived, until she ran away from her so-called home. ‘What am I doing?’ Tabby wonders as she sits on her jeep on a road overlooking the small town. Tabitha has rarely spoken of the incident that drove her from this place, and is equally reluctant to discuss the incident which has brought her return. ‘I swore I’d never come back to this town. But after what happened with Sabretooth…’ her thoughts trail off.

Boomer drives into the city, past a group of youths playing basketball, she thinks to ‘And isn’t this just like me? When the going gets tough…the tough…run away’. Even though, Tabitha and her teammates have seen far too much battle for their age. Boomer, appropriately named, has the power to blow up just about anything, yet in the pit of her stomach, she knows this is the hardest thing she has ever done.

Nearby, in the yard of a trailer park, a man is trying to fix his car. ‘Dang…blasted…stupid!’ he mumbles, unaware that Tabitha is approaching him, after parking her car several feet away. Boomer thinks to herself that with Cable off “who-knows-where”, she needs someone who will listen to her. ‘Man, oh man, this was a really bad idea!’ Tabitha tells herself. Mr. Smith realizes someone is behind him now, and believing it to be Gus, he asks Gus what took him so long, ‘I could’ve built a new engine by the time -’ suddenly, Boomer interrupts him, revealing her presence, she exclaims ‘It’s not “Gus”!’ Mr. Smith spins around. ‘Huh?’ he asks, confused. ‘Hello Daddy…’ Boomer whispers.

Meanwhile, twenty stories below New York City, a maze of tunnels exists that once housed the mutant outcasts known as the Morlocks. Most of them are dead now, X-Force’s Caliban being one of the few exceptions. Trudging through the water, Caliban tells his teammate Bobby “Sunspot” DaCosta that he is pleased to have him here. Bobby, flying low in the tunnel replies that he is happy to be here. ‘Really?’ asks Caliban, surprised, as he would have thought Bobby would have wanted to go out with the others. Bobby is a young man trying to start his life over again, to look at he and Caliban, one would only see monsters of a sort, but to look deeper, one would see that they are actually two very lonely young men.

Bobby explains to Caliban that he cannot just “go out” as he used to, as his new powers create too much interference with the image inducers, and he cannot change back to a normal looking appearance. ‘Does that both Sunspot?’ Caliban asks, before remarking that he has always looked like this, except now of course he looks like a different version of himself after what Apocalypse did to him. ‘Right’ Bobby replies, before asking Caliban where it is they are going. Caliban replies that he likes to come down here, even though Cable gave him a new home. ‘It’s hard to let go of the old one’.

Sunspot thinks to himself that there is more to Caliban than anyone knows, and recalls a saying his Grandmother used to say: “Listen to the innocents for even they have something to say…”. Down below, Caliban suddenly senses mutants up ahead, and wonders if all the Morlocks didn’t die, like him. He runs off in the opposite direction from Sunspot, who suddenly realizes that Caliban has disappeared. Bobby calls out to Caliban, when suddenly, there is a burst of energy up ahead. Bobby races in the direction of the energy burst, calling out to Caliban as he flies, practically blind, down in the tunnels.

The deeper Bobby goes in the tunnel, the darker it gets, thus causing his solar charge to decrease. ‘Caliban, why don’t you answer me?’ Bobby calls out, when, suddenly, he rounds a corner, and discovers a limp Caliban in the clutches of Holocaust. ‘Sunspot! Can the traitor, Gambit be far behind?’ Holocaust asks. Sunspot, unaware that Shaw and Tessa are standing in a shadowy-alcove nearby, replies ’I don’t know how you know me - or why you would like me with Gambit - but if you have the power to take out Caliban - let’s see how you like it on the receiving end!’.

With that, Sunspot bombards Holocaust with solar power, causing Holocaust to remark that he was mistaken, as the Sunspot he knew would never have been so foolish as to give him what he needed. ‘I feed on the living energy of others!’ he exclaims. ‘Uh-oh’ Sunspot whispers, before he two falls victim to Holocaust via a massive energy burst. Thus, it has begun, the first two pawns have been taken off the board.

Meanwhile, in the Upper West side of Manhattan, specifically Columbus Avenue: James “Warpath” Proudstar and Theresa “Siryn” Rourke Cassidy walk side-by-side down the busy street. Warpath may be the physically strongest member of X-Force, but next to Siryn, he feels like a bowl of oatmeal, after all, he has a crush on the deputy leader of X-Force, but Theresa on the other hand, is oblivious, or not interested.

James tells Terry t hat he is really glad she wanted to go out with him, to which Siryn replies that it is no problem as she loves the city. ‘Oh’ James mumbles in reply. Siryn tells James that after being on a separate assignment for so long, she has not yet noticed his new hair style. ‘You don’t like it?’ James asks. Siryn replies that it isn’t that, but it just takes some time getting used to. Warpath reminds Siryn that, during the fight with Reignfire he nearly died, and it made him realize that he has been living in his brother’s shadow for so long - his costume, his look, his everything, so he knew it was time to move on and start appreciating what he has, here and now - beginning with X-Force and -.

Siryn interrupts James, ‘Jimmy!’ she exclaims as she stares a dress on a mannequin in a store window. ‘Hmm?’ asks James, puzzled. ‘Come with me!’ Theresa exclaims, grabbing James by the wrist and pulling him into the store. ‘Nothing makes a woman’s heart skip like a dress sale!’ Siryn gushes, holding up two dresses. ‘Oh’ James mumbles, before telling Terry that he thought they were going out for dinner. Siryn assures Warpath that they are, and tells him that this will only take a moment. ‘Oooh, and I have to try that one!’ Theresa exclaims, taking another dress from the sales woman.

James sits down next to a man, who turns to him and says ‘Welcome to the “Land of Abandoned Spouses”!’. James awkwardly replies that he and Theresa are not “spouses”, to which the man replies ‘Oh, you’re going through that nightmare: “If we’re not married, what are?” “Significant others?” “Soul mates?”’. He tells James that his own partner was partial to “Reason for living”. James glances away from the man and wonders ‘Why couldn’t I still be stuck in Siberia?’.

James suddenly recalls what it was that the Mimic said about him, that he had heightened senses, so he begins to concentrate, and indeed, begins to hear some of the women talking in the changing rooms: ‘- never fits right -’, ‘- need new shoes -’. This surprises James, impressed that he can actually hear people whispering. ‘This is incredible!’ he decides, when, suddenly, ‘ - help, Jim…!’ he hears. ‘What the -?’ he wonders, while another voice whispers ‘- lose ten pounds -’.

James realizes that Siryn is in danger and races towards the changing rooms, all the while more muttered speech forces its way to him: ‘ - wonder if I took this in -’, ‘- never eat again -’, ‘ can’t get away wearing -’. James calls out ‘’m coming Theresa!’ but as he rips open one of the changing room doors, he is greeted not by Siryn, but by a woman dressing, who screams. ‘Sorry! I’m really sorry!’ James whispers.

Suddenly, someone taps James on the back, causing Warpath to spin around, whereupon he is confronted by Sebastian Shaw! Shaw remarks that he had hoped not to soil his hands with this business, while Warpath is awfully surprised to see Shaw, and exclaims ‘That’s not possible! You’re dead!’ before punching Shaw hard in the face. Shaw recovers easily and just grins, ‘I got better, boy’ he boasts, before complimenting Warpath on his impressive punch, but remarks that for someone who can absorb and rechannel it back, it was nothing more than a waste of valuable time. With that, Shaw smashes James across the room into a pillar. Two more fall.

Meanwhile, in Lower Manhattan, the Soho District, home to the trendy and the clubs they attract. Shatterstar, X-Force’s very own man-from-an-alternate-world walks alone along the street, thinking that perhaps he should have accompanied Warpath and Siryn, but despite what James said, Shatterstar had the distinct impression that he did not want him to come along with the two of them. Passing a nightclub, Shatterstar recognizes it as one of the clubs Rictor brought him to, and wonders why he hasn’t heard from his friend. Suddenly, a scantily-clad woman standing outside the club calls out to Shatterstar: ‘You look lost. Want to get found?’ she exclaims. Shatterstar replies that he isn’t lost, to which the woman asks if he wants to go dancing. ‘I…thank you, but no’ Shatterstar replies as he continues on, walking past the club.

‘I miss Julio…’ Shatterstar thinks to himself as he passes a dark alley, where, suddenly, someone calls out urgently: ‘HELP!’ as three thugs loom over him, ‘No use crying for help’ one of them tells him. ‘Nobody wants your kind around here’ another remarks. ‘Enough!’ Shatterstar shouts, revealing his presence behind the thugs. ‘This your girlfriend, Mary?’ one of the thugs asks. Stern-faced, Shatterstar replies that he doesn’t know who he is referring to, but he does know, however, when the sides are unevenly matched, and announces that he will even them, pulling his swords from his duffel bag, he remarks that he will not need these to reach that goal, and sticks them into the concrete.

Entering the battle, Shatterstar decides that he is much more in his element now, but wishes the antagonists were worthy of a true contest, and easily kicks one of them other, before smashing the other two into each other. Shatterstar pulls the man who was being attacked up off the ground, and the man asks his rescuer why he helped him. ‘You…required it’ Shatterstar replies. ‘Sure, but this kind of thing goes on all the time and nobody helps -’ the man replies, when suddenly, he goes wide-eyed as he stares past Shatterstar. Shatterstar turns around to see what the man is looking at, before he becomes the victim, as another falls.

Back in Jonestown, tears fall from Boomer’s eyes - she and her father have talked for hours, neither of them saying anything of real consequence, but talking nonetheless. Holding a cup of coffee in her hand, Tabby smiles at her father and tells him that she knows he hates her, having a mutant for a daughter. Mr. Smith holds his head in his hands, quietly telling Tabitha that he doesn’t hate her, that he has never hated her. Sitting inside his caravan as the sunsets, Mr. Smith assures Tabitha that he isn’t trying to make excuses or anything, but that after the mill closed, and he started drinking…his voice trails off.

Mr. Smith tells his daughter that, looking at her now, all grown up, she has her mother’s eyes. ‘Anyway, after she left -’ Mr. Smith begins, until Boomer interrupts, ‘Wait! What do you mean “left?” You always told me Mom died!’. Mr. Smith tells Tabitha that her mother is still alive, somewhere, ‘Living a life free of you and me’. Tabitha is about to put a hand on her father’s hand to comfort him, when the doorbell to the trailer rings. ‘Hold that thought. I’ll get the door’ Tabby tells her father.

However, as soon as she opens the door, Tabby sees Sebastian Shaw, and Holocaust standing behind him, and urgently calls out to her father to get down on the floor. Shaw smirks and introduces himself to Mr. Smith. ‘You may have heard of me’ he remarks, before Holocaust blows up the trailer.

Standing in the orange-yellow glow of the explosion, Shaw thinks to himself that there is a certain beauty to a well executed plan - an elegance that only a few can appreciate. But knows that, ironically, for all he has accomplished today, it is merely the first step. ‘They have all forgotten. They all thought I could die so easily…that they could take what I so carefully built up over a lifetime. And there, in that cold wasteland, I made a vow as I lay dying…. Xavier. The X-Men. The Hellfire Club. Shinobi. They will all learn. Slowly. Painfully. What is mine…is mine. And what is theirs…is mine!’….

Characters Involved: 

Boomer, Caliban, Shatterstar, Siryn, Sunspot, Warpath (all X-Force)

Sebastian Shaw



Mr. Smith (Boomer’s Father)

Various civilians

Sales woman

Woman and other night clubbers

Gay guy getting beaten up


Hellfire Club Guards

Story Notes: 

Sebastian Shaw was supposedly murdered by his son, Shinobi, in X-Factor (1st series) #67.

Boomer’s reasons for leaving home were detailed in the classic Secret Wars II #5, her first appearance. More of her origin is revealed, much later, in X-Force (1st series) #94 which details what happened before she joined up with the Original X-Factor and became one of their trainees, in X-Factor (1st series) #12.

The incident Boomer refers to with Sabretooth is of course the mauling of Psylocke, which Boomer was involved in due to her relationship with Sabretooth. [X-Force (1st series) #46-48, Uncanny X-Men #328]

Holocaust links Gambit with Sunspot due to the X-Ternals team which Gambit leads in the Age of Apocalypse. [Gambit & the X-Ternals #1-4]

Warpath’s brother was, of course, the ill-fated original Thunderbird.

Siryn refers to being away from the team for a short time, this was a solo mission she undertook when the Age of Apocalypse ended.

Warpath fought the Mimic, who informed him about his heightened senses, in X-Force (1st series) #46.

Rictor quit X-Force following the end of the Age of Apocalypse.

Issue Information: 
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