X-Force (1st series) #52

Issue Date: 
March 1996
Story Title: 
Bad Girls

Jeph Loeb (Writer), Adam Pollina (Penciler), Bud LaRosa (Inker), Richard Starkings (Letterer), Marie Javins (Colorist), Ben Raab (Assistant Editor), Bob Harras (Editor and Editor in Chief)

Brief Description: 

Siryn, Domino and Meltdown have returned to Camp Hayden where they intend to follow up on their recent involvement there and the “Nimrod” project – however, they find nothing but an empty facility. They wonder what the word Onslaught scrawled across one of the walls means but before long the Blob, somehow even fatter and more hideous than before, drops in on them – literally. With new abilities, he faces off against the X-Force girls, only to meet his match in Meltdown, who is also demonstrating her new personality and control over her powers. She is ready to kill the Blob, until Domino calls her off. Wondering what to do with him, they are surprised when the thought missing Mimic, who, for once, displays control over his abilities, comes and lifts the Blob away. Warpath and Shatterstar have a training session in which Shatterstar fears he may be becoming less killing machine and more human, while sunspot and Caliban reply to Gideon’s call for help – when Gideon is thrown out of his building and lands, dead, in front of them.

Full Summary: 

Camp Hayden, Kentucky. They have come down here before – when the United States government was conducting experiments into the next phase of it’s Sentinel Project. Code named Nimrod, the project was developing an android hunter of incredible technology built for only one specific purpose: To locate, detain and if necessary, destroy all mutants. As the first line of defense for a panicked humanity, the Sentinels offered a shred of comfort, against a growing and seemingly hostile mutant population with strange and often frightening powers. A comfort, unless of course you happened to be a mutant. But just as all humans don’t hate or fear mutants, there are mutants who believe that both peoples can coexist peacefully.

Three of those mutants, Second Generation Children of the Atom – Theresa Rourke Cassidy a.k.a. Siryn, Tabitha Smith a.k.a. Meltdown and the mysterious Domino otherwise known as “Beatrice”, comprise the female members of the pro-active X-Force squad. They approach a set of doors at Camp Hayden, and as Tabby picks the lock, Domino asks her if she would like any help. ‘What I need is for you to get off my back and give me some room’ Meltdown snaps back, reminding Domino that she was a crook long before her mutant powers kicked in. Siryn flies down to her teammates and asks them to keep it down, for she could hear them miles back.

The struggle for peace often comes at the expense of war – a war needs soldiers. Meltdown smirks and tells her teammates that if it were up to her, she could have handled the situation on her own. The door opens, revealing an empty facility. After their last investigation here, X-Force was promised that the Nimrod research was too dangerous and would be curtailed. To make certain of this, the young women have returned to have a look. This is not what they expected to find, and scrawled across a wall is the word Onslaught.
Heir to former X-Man Banshee’s sonic scream and deputy leader of the team Siryn asks Domino ‘who or what is “Onslaught”’ as Meltdown - whose new attitude has not gone unnoticed – declares that it seems as if the whole place has been picked clean but nobody knows it.

Team co-leader Domino picked this group and specifically wanted Meltdown along, for she is something of an expert when it comes to young women on the edge. Domino smiles, agreeing with her team that something is wrong. Domino starts to suggest they may have stumbled upon some cover up when suddenly a loud rumbling is heard. Tabitha declares ‘Earthquake’ but the intelligent Siryn points out that it is not coming from below – and seconds later the gigantic mutant known as the Blob drops into the room.

Not all mutants believe in the cause X-Force fights for – case in point: Fred J. Dukes. ‘Chicks!’ he exclaims after gazing upon Terry, Tabby and Dom. This man’s obese condition has made him into an impenetrable mountain – and he knows it too. Siryn tells Blob that she doesn’t know what connection he has to this “Onslaught” but that if he thinks they will wait for the rest of his Brotherhood to catch them unaware – ‘Think again!’ Eeeeeeeeeeeee Siryn screams at Blob, causing his flabby body to ripple as he tells her that she may as well get up to date – that he is not part of the Brotherhood, or Freedom Force anymore, but it doesn’t mean he hasn’t got a whole new bag of surprises – for anybody that wants a piece of him. As he says that, his hideous gut rebounds against Siryn, knocking her back.

With Theresa down, Domino knows has to make a choice – she can continue this confrontation, meaning Meltdown will be in the center of it – or she can try the unexpected and find a diplomatic solution to the situation. Holding a very large gun, Domino tells Blob that she doesn’t know what he is doing here, but thinks that if their agendas do not conflict then ‘what say you go your way and we’ll go ours?’

‘You’re kidding right?’ replies the hideous mutant who reveals that he may have been sent here to snatch whatever Nimrod technology he could. However, he informs the girls that this is the first night he has been out since he was … cranked up … and while he was hoping to get a shot at the A-team – ‘those X-Men chumps, you femmes are gonna be the appetizer’. Domino smiles and sarcastically says ‘Looks. Charm and self-confidence. I can’t imagine why you don’t have a date tonight; she exclaims before firing her weapon at him.

Blob tells Domino that she has no idea who she is dealing with and as the bullet pulses towards her, he extends an arm and grabs it with his hand, revealing that he got his powers jacked and learned things – like mass shifting. He tells Domino that if she wants to try and blow a hole in her with some armor-piercing shell she should go ahead and grinning he tells her ‘yer the ones who are gonna haveta eat it!’

Blob received more than just a boost in confidence – for he has always been a braggart, but he is now showing a level of ability that which simply put, is stunning. ‘Coming back at ya, babes!’ he tells the girls before throwing the bullet back at them, causing an explosion. But as the dust clears, Meltdown looks up to see Blob running towards her, exclaiming if the bullet didn’t kill them then he is here to clean the plates. Meltdown tells Blob that he has been blowing a lot of hot air about how they have no idea who they’re dealing with and tells him that the same goes for him when it comes to her – in spades!

At that moment, at Xavier’s Institute for Higher Learning, where under the guise of a study for genetic mutations, members of two teams – the Uncanny X-Men and, for now, X-Force use this mansion as their home. Although it no longer functions as a school, it does not mean lessons cannot be learned. James “Warpath” Proudstar and the extra-dimensional Shatterstar are about to face off against one another, teammates who approach everything very differently.

Proudstar is a Native American who is coming to terms with a newfound surge in strength and speed, while Shatterstar believes himself to be a born warrior from an alien world, who of late senses a diminishment of his killer instincts. ‘Ha! Gotcha!’ declares James as he knocks Shatterstar’s swords out of his hands using his spear. James grins and exclaims that he doesn’t believe it – ‘after twelve times I finally beat you!’ On the ground, Shatterstar asks James to forgive him for not sharing in his enthusiasm, for losing is not something he is accustomed to.

James reminds Shatterstar that they have all been through a lot really, for after what happened with Sebastian Shaw and company taking over X-Force’s minds and reminds him also that he ran Domino through. He helps Shatterstar off the ground, and rubbing his face, Shatterstar tells James that in an odd way he has only made his point. He asks James why should the single incident with Domino haunt one who was trained to be a warrior and who has seen death a thousand times? The men leave the Danger Room and Warpath suggests to Shatterstar that it is a sign he is becoming human. ‘If that is so ... then … what will become of me?’ asks Shatterstar, almost scared.

Back at Camp Hayden, Meltdown has thrown many time-bombs at the Blob – but his overwhelmingly disgusting body just sits – flab in a crater. Blob asks Tabby if that is her only trick – to blow out the floor beneath her before joking that she is not even as old as that trick. His flesh extends, his large fist coming towards Tabby as he declares he will enjoy beating her into a little bit of paste.

Meltdown dodges him, exclaiming that no one is going to do that to her again. ‘Ha! Sez you!’ Blob remarks. The Blob laughs at her – like the kids growing up, her father and Sabretooth – they all laughed. But he doesn’t see her run over to him and jump on him, straddling his neck with her legs. The laughing used to make her feel small, worthless and dismissed. Blob starts to choke as Tabby tells creates a time-bomb and tells him he thinks nothing can hurt him from the outside in, but he is going to find out if it works from the inside out. Shoving the time-bomb down his throat, she tells him he just swallowed a grenade – and she just pulled the pin.

Siryn and Domino have regained consciousness, and Siryn is surprised to see Meltdown means to kill him. Before she can react, Domino asks Siryn to wait so she can see how it plays out. Nobody is laughing anymore, but Tabby smiles as she tells the Blob that in ten seconds he will blow. ‘Nine’. She tells him to try and cough it up and she will set it off before he can cough it up. ‘Eight’. Siryn declares that Cable would not allow this to go on, but Domino tells her to shut up. ‘Seven. Six’. ‘In five. You’re not alive,’ Blob begins to sweat and mumbles that he gives in. ‘You win,’ he shouts.

‘What about next time?’ Tabby asks. Exclaiming that if she kills him now then they will have one less evil mutant to kick around. ‘Get this witch offa me!’ Blob declares as Tabby smiles and says ‘Four’. Domino tells Tabitha that it is enough and that she has made her point – dramatically. Tabitha asks Domino if they are not supposed to stop the bad guys before they can hurt innocent people, and points out that it is what she is doing. She tells Domino to back off as Siryn whispers to Domino that she can knock her out with one sonic scream.

Again, the choice falls to Domino and the wrong decision could cost the Blob his life. But Domino knows that when she opted to take Tabby along – it was to see how she would fare in the field. ‘Do what she says!’ screams the Blob, while Domino realizes that if Meltdown is bluffing, then X-Force have gained a very crafty “new” player…and if she’s not….

Domino holds her arms out and asks Tabitha to turn off the time-bomb. Meltdown informs Domino that all she had to do was ask nicely, and as she pulls the time-bomb from the Blob’s throat she exclaims that there is ‘No point in wasting energy…3, 2, 1, yum!’ and the time-bomb dissolves. Siryn is surprised and tells Domino that she doesn’t remember Meltdown being able to do that. Unimpressed, Domino folds her arms and replies that there is much they have learnt tonight that their “little Boomer” has not shown them before. What goes unsaid is that Domino cannot determine whether this is good – or bad.

As Meltdown walks down his flabby body the Blob declares that he cannot believe he was beaten by a bunch of women. ‘Life’s tough, Mr. Dukes. Deal with it’ says Tabitha as she snaps her fingers and creates twin explosions, bursting Blob’s eardrums. He cries out, before falling backwards with a loud WHOOMPH. ‘Now what do we do with him?’ asks Meltdown. ‘It’s an interesting problem. None of us has the power to lift him’ Domino remarks monotonously. The more reasonable Siryn tells the others that they cannot leave him here. ‘Why not?’ asks Tabby, reminding the others it is not as if they came looking for him.

Domino has to keep telling herself that when you are out with X-Force you should expect the unexpected. Case in point: The Mimic. Who, upon contact with any mutant can “Mimic” his or her powers. He has permanently absorbed the powers of the Original X-Men and is currently using Angel’s wings and Phoenix’s telepathy and telekinesis. However as Domino watches the Mimic use Jean Grey’s power to lift the obese Blob from the ground she notices something disturbing - he has gained a new power – control.

Telepathically, Calvin Rankin tells the Blob that their “employer” is not going to be very happy with him. On the ground, after the two villains have left, Meltdown tells Domino that Siryn could follow them, or that she could blast them out of the sky – ‘No!’ exclaims Domino as she crosses her arms and reminds Meltdown that the Blob’s powers were seriously enhanced, and she suspects the Mimic’s as well. She reminds the girls that the Mimic allegedly disappeared from Siberia.

Domino declares that she doesn’t care how much power the three of them have, they are not rushing headlong into a confrontation without more information and at the very least, the rest of the team. Meltdown looks to the ground and exclaims that she is not so sure about this “team” anymore. It has been a long Saturday night for these women, and one not any will forget soon.

Sunday. Dawn. Manhattan. During the week, New York’s Rockefeller Center is teeming with people – for now, it’s quiet. There are two other current members of X-Force – Caliban, whose enormous size and strength belie his childlike mind, and the handsome Bobby DaCosta, a.k.a. Sunspot, who is a living battery powered by solar energy. A manhole in the middle of the road is opened and Caliban informs Sunspot that they are here, just as he promised.

On this team which looks remarkably human, their “uniqueness” has led to something neither of them counted on – friendship. Sunspot moans that they need to find another way of getting around, but Caliban replies that he likes the sewers and asks Bobby why he doesn’t. Sunspot begins to say that he feels like Bugs and Daffy when suddenly an explosion grabs the heroes’ attention, both turn to a building, Caliban asking if that is Sunspot’s friend’s building. Bobby informs Caliban that he is not a friend, but merely someone who impacted upon his life, someone of great power and cunning. Bobby tells Caliban that even the fact he was contacted suggests this is a trap, or his “friend” is in serious danger.

Just then, a figure plummets from the building and lands, hard, on the concrete in front of Bobby and Caliban. ‘Dear God! Caliban, that’s…’ ‘Sunspot’s friend?’ asks Caliban cutting off Bobby. ‘Gideon, his name is Gideon’ Bobby informs him. Caliban apologizes to Bobby as he informs him that Gideon is dead. Sunspot is shocked, but realizes Caliban probably doesn’t understand and informs him that Gideon is an External and cannot die. Caliban declares that he doesn’t know what an External is, but that Gideon is most certainly dead.

Characters Involved: 

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

Blob, Mimic (both Brotherhood of Mutants)


Story Notes: 

The Nimrod fiasco occurred in X-Force (1st series) #35 - 36.

The incident with Sebastian Shaw occurred in X-Force (1st series) #50.

The Mimic allegedly disappeared from Siberia in X-Force (1st series) #46.

Sunspot’s reference to “Bugs and Daffy” are of course the classic Loony Tunes characters.

Gideon and the other Externals are all being killed off by Selene.

This issue is one of the first X-issues with the hints of the coming Onslaught.

Issue Information: 
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