X-Force (1st series) #74

Issue Date: 
February 1998
Story Title: 

John Francis Moore (writer), Adam Pollina (penciler), Mark Morales (inker), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (letterers), Marie Javins (colorist), Jason Liebig (assistant editor), Mark Powers (editor), Bob Harras (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

While Siryn attempts to revive his body, Warpath finds himself in one of the many realms of the underworld. He soon comes across his family - only to discover that they are really demons posing as his family, and Stryfe then reveals himself to Warpath. Warpath does what he can to battle Stryfe, who reveals that he is going to return to Earth in his form, and Warpath’s soul will remain here forever. Siryn continues her attempts to revive Warpath’s body, while reminiscing about their history together. Stryfe is visited by Blackheart, who reminds him of their deal, while, on Earth, Moonstar also receives a visitor - Valkyrie - who informs Moonstar of Warpath’s current predicament, and offers to help Moonstar, Sunspot and Meltdown to rescue him, though they must leave their friend Richie behind. Unfortunately for Richie, with X-Force gone, his mob connections pay him a visit, threatening him as usual - until most of them are killed by someone who Richie thinks is Sunspot. Arriving in the underworld, Moonstar, Sunspot and Meltdown battle Stryfe and attempt to rescue Warpath. Blackheart is not happy that they are intruding on his turf though, and causes trouble for them also. However, Warpath is encouraged by his teammates’ arrival and musters the strength to take Stryfe down, seemingly permanently, before his soul leads Moonstar, Sunspot and Meltdown out of the underworld, while his body is revived, in part thanks to Siryn keeping him alive. X-Force are reunited, and with the information he has about the Camp Verde massacre, Warpath thinks that his family can now rest in peace.

Full Summary: 

Somewhere in Arkansas, in the wreckage of a twisted Doctor’s laboratory, James Proudstar a.k.a. Warpath lies unmoving. His heart no longer beats. His lungs no longer draw breath. Death has come far too early for this young man, whose life was fraught with pain and loss. But such is the price of being born different. Like his friends in the group known as X-Force, James was a mutant - a human gifted with extraordinary abilities. And, like his friends, he was sworn to protect a world that feared him for his genetic differences. In the end, it seems, the world got the better of him.

Lying motionless, James is surrounded by the various broken instruments and machines from the lab, destroyed by the sonic scream of Theresa “Siryn” Rourke, who is currently doing chest compressions on his bloody chest, to try and re-start his heart. ‘Oh, Jimmy, don’t go dying on me. It’s not yuir time d’ye hear me? It’s not yuir time!’ Siryn whispers. Theresa was only an infant when her mother died in a Belfast bombing. The pain and grief of that loss was something she never truly recovered from, so she built a wall around herself to keep the world at a safe emotional distance. Still, despite her best efforts to keep him out, James Proudstar broke through that wall.

‘C’mon, James. Ye’re an Apache. Ye’re a warrior. Fight for yuir life!’ Siryn exclaims. ‘Don’t let that bloody Doctor beat ye!’ she tells him, holding on to one of his hands. Across the laboratory, Dr Edwin Martynec has reverted from his transmutated form and lies unconscious, hie bones broken and his insides bleeding. At his side the Zero series android at his command lies inoperative, its gears and circuitry shattered. Both man and machine fell victim to Siryn’s devastating scream. ‘Blast it, Jimmy. I’m not getting a pulse - and ye aren’t breathing at all!’ Siryn exclaims, tears pouring down her face. Theresa tells James that he is going to have to work with her. ‘Now breathe!’ she exclaims as he re-commences mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Siryn continues her efforts at cardiopulmonary resuscitation - refusing to acknowledge the simple and sad truth…that James Proudstar is dead.

Many believe death is merely a transition between states of existence. As the final spark of life faded from his body, James Proudstar’s spirit was ripped from the earthly plane, dragged through the cosmic ether that separates the living from the dead - and forced into this harsh and unforgiving land of brimstone and sulfur, where he now finds himself, wearing only his yellow X-Force pants and carrying a large stick. ‘Wh - where am I?’ James asks as he walks over a red-colored stream. ‘If I’m dead, this is definitely not the place I’d hoped to find myself’.

Warpath tells himself that the last thing he remembers is wrestling with Martynec in his lab, trying to prevent him from using he and Siryn as guinea pigs in one of his sadistic experiments. ‘In the middle of the fight, he stuck me with a hypodermic…and I went into cardiac arrest’. James tells himself that was stupid, as Martynec was one of the men responsible for the massacre of his family and friends, ‘And I let him kill me, too. Some avenger I turned out to be’. James mutters, before deciding that he doesn’t feel dead, simply lost.

Suddenly, a voice shouts ‘James…’. It echoes through the cavern that James has entered with a familiar warmth. It is a voice he never thought he would hear again. Looking up, James sees her face - just as he remembered. Beautiful. Loving. Maternal. ‘Mother…?’ James asks. ‘I’m here, James. We’re all here…your friends…your family…’ James’ mother exclaims as she and others approach him. ‘We’ve all been waiting for you!’ she smiles as she and James embrace. But her touch is not warm and comforting as James expected, but cold and disquieting. ‘Something’s wrong!’ James exclaims, pulling away from his mother, he discovers that she is in fact a demon, with tentacles reaching out for him.

‘What’s wrong, Jimmy baby? Why are you pulling away from me? Don’t you want to give your dear, sweet mother a kiss?’. ‘You’re not my mother! And those - things - aren’t my family!’ James exclaims, motioning to the demons approaching him. ‘Don’t take that tone with me, young man!’ James’ “mother” exclaims, while the demons surround him, trying to touch him. ‘Get away from me!’ Warpath shouts, while the demon claiming to be his mother declares that it has been ages since they had such a fresh young thing with which to state their hunger. ‘Yum…innocent…blood…tasty…’ one of the demons exclaims.

‘Stay back!’ Warpath booms, waving his stick around, before one of the demons tells its brothers and sisters that they must savor this one, for a hearty soul like Warpath can last millennia if devoured slowly. ‘We are legion, foolish child. Surrender!’ one of them exclaims, while another suggests they let him fight, as it likes its meat flavored with resistance. Suddenly, a voice commands the demons to get away from Warpath. ‘He belongs to me!’. The demons part like a sea, creating a pathway between them, leading towards Warpath, who then sees the stranger: ‘YOU? I don’t believe it!’ James shouts.

‘Your senses do not deceive you, Proudstar - it is Stryfe you see before you! Stryfe the Chaos-Bringer! Stryfe the Demon lord!’ booms the foul being as he rides a strange two-headed demon which proceeds to eat some of the other demons. Stryfe was raised from infancy to be the heir to the despot Apocalypse - his purpose in life was to bring pain and suffering to the world - especially to the group of young mutants known as X-Force. Before his death, he released the means to that end - the Legacy Virus - a fatal disease bio-engineered to strike at mutants.

‘This must be Hell if you’re here, Stryfe!’ Warpath exclaims, announcing that Martynec told him Stryfe ordered the Camp Verde massacre. ‘How many people’s lives did you destroy when you were alive?’ James asks. ‘Not enough, Proudstar!’ Stryfe retorts, explaining that is why he brought him here. ‘It’s simple, really. Your soul buys my freedom from this accursed place. You are the sacrifice that guarantees my resurrection. Soon, Stryfe will live again!’

Meanwhile, on Earth, specifically, Missouri, Bobby “Sunspot” DaCosta, Tabitha “Meltdown” Smith and Danielle Moonstar are in a bar, along with their companion Richie Alegria, while a band is playing some rather un-liked music. ‘I don’t know how much more of this I can take, Tabitha!’ Sunspot remarks, leaning against the bar. ‘One more song about lying and cheating and drinking and I’m gonna go ballistic!’. Tabitha replies that It is not her favourite music either, and that when she was growing up her father used to keep the country station on twenty-four hours a day. ‘Is it any wonder I left home?’ she jokes.

‘Hey, excuse me for living, but I happen to like country’ Richie exclaims, revealing that he even went to New York to catch Garth’s concert in Central Park. ‘Richie, you are scaring me’ Meltdown remarks, while Sunspot turns to Dani, who strides towards them, and asks her if she had any luck trying to reach Theresa and James. Moonstar replies that she paged them all night, but they have not called back. ’I think they’re in trouble’ Dani tells her teammates. ‘You said they had a “thing”, right? Maybe they just gave into their animal urges’ Richie suggests, while Danielle declares that they should not have let them go to Nebraska alone.

‘After all we’ve been through as X-Force? Please. They’ll be fine’ Sunspot replies as he checks out a young woman standing nearby. ‘And speaking of animal urges…there’s something about a girl in cut-offs and cowboy boots…mmm mmm mmm…’. Meltdown hits Sunspot with her elbow and tells hi that he is such a dog. ‘Bow wow’ Bobby replies, smiling. Danielle clutches her head and strides to the door, announcing that she is going to go outside and that she has had a headache all evening. ‘Guess we might as well call it a night, folks’ Richie suggests.

Outside the bar, the sky suddenly opens up in a panoramic display of color and light. ‘Oh, no…Brunnhilde!’ Moonstar gasps as the long-serving Defender and one of Asgard’s most powerful warriors appears. Astride her winged horse, Brunnhilde is also known as Valkyrie, one of the Valkyror - the warrior-women chosen by the Norse all-father Odin to ferry the bravest warriors fallen in battle to Valhalla. For a time, Dani Moonstar became a Valkyrie, and though she no longer shares their otherworldly abilities, her bond with them remains. ‘Once again, I bear bad tidings, sister Moonstar!’ Valkyrie exclaims, informing Dani that her companion, Warpath, has died in combat with an evil changeling and his noble soul has been diverted from its well-deserved reward by infernal machination.

Valkyrie reveals that Warpath’s spirit is trapped in a demon’s inferno and there is little time to right the injustice. ‘Did I just hear right? Did Pippi Longstocking just say that James is dead?’ Meltdown asks, calling Valkyrie “Pippi Longstocking” due to the long braids she now sports. ‘That woman’s riding a flying horse. How -?’ Richie whispers, to which Sunspot tells him he will explain later, while Valkyrie remarks that the treaties governing the worlds of the after life prevent the Valkyror from acting directly. ‘However, you are not bound by these edicts, and can deliver your friend from a torment unimaginable’ Valkyrie tells Moonstar.

Dani tells her teammates that Valkyrie is asking them to follow her to Hell, and explains that it may be the only chance James has. ‘And it may only amount to a chance to say “good-bye” she adds. Bobby tells her not to say that, and exclaims that James can’t die. ‘Stuff like that can’t happen to us! We’ll go and we’ll bring James back’. Meltdown tells Richie that they have to leave him behind on this one. ‘This is one place you don’t want to tag along!’

Back in the Underworld, Warpath holds his staff out towards Stryfe, who stands some feet in front of him. ‘You’re responsible for the death of hundred of my people at Camp Verde. They were innocent. They were no threat to your “project”!’ James exclaims. Stryfe replies that, in his lifetime, he killed thousands, and asks what the simple eradication of one Apache reservation mattered. ‘They were innocent people! They were my family!’ Warpath shouts back. ‘You should thank me, boy. If I hadn’t ordered that massacre, you’d be nothing!’ Stryfe boasts.

‘I gave you real anger, I gave you real hate. I gave you purpose!’ Stryfe exclaims, inches away from Warpath, who smacks Stryfe with his staff, knocking the villains’ mask off. ‘You know nothing about who I am!’ James shouts. Stryfe grins, his face sickly and evil, while exclaims that James is wasting what little energy he has left. ‘Even a soul needs sustenance, and you will find this world barren. This is Hell, boy, and you are one of the damned!’ Stryfe exclaims. Suddenly, a wave of white-hot energy sears the air, and Warpath screams as it smacks into him while Stryfe boasts that nothing curtails his telepathic power here. ‘With this might, I will force you to beg for an end to your misery!’

A weary Warpath tells Stryfe that he is going to have to do better than that, and uses the staff to propel him towards Stryfe, shouting that he will fight Stryfe with every last ounce of strength and resolve that he has. ‘You’re not going to use me to get out of here!’ Warpath boasts, only for Stryfe to tell him that he lost the fight the moment he arrived. ‘You can’t imagine what it cost me to bring you here! Your soul will take my place for eternity!’. Stryfe smacks Warpath backwards before James can strike him, ‘Your suffering has only begun!’ Stryfe booms, while Warpath realizes that he has been knocked back towards a river of lava. James tells himself to twist just right, otherwise he will end up charbroiled Pompeii style. ‘Made it!’ he shouts with a grunt as he twists his body so that he lands on a small piece of island in the middle of the river.

Stryfe hovers over James, telling him that there is nowhere to run, and warns him that he is through toying around with him. ‘Once I break your spirit, I shall be able to leave this infernal place forever!’ Stryfe boasts, while James tells himself that the psi-blast Stryfe hit him with took more out of him than he cares to admit, but knows he cannot give up now, but realizes he doesn’t know how much fight he has left in him. Stryfe lands on the small island, standing over Warpath, he shouts ‘You call yourself Warpath? What do you know about war?’ as he grabs his face, and punches him hard.

‘I’ve levelled cities. I’ve firebombed forests. I’ve annihilated anything that ever got in my way. I’ve left rivers of carnage in my wake’. James falls backwards, his face blood-covered, while Stryfe stands over him, boasting that when he returns to the living world, in Warpath’s body, he will teach the world the true meaning of war. ‘Neither human nor mutant will be safe from the campaign of blood I will wage…and I will start by killing your teammates with you own hands!’

Back in Missouri, Richie sits on the bonnet of his car, gazing up to the sky, he thinks to himself ‘This is insane! First I meet a bunch of kids with super powers who agree to be my bodyguards…then they go off with some Viking angel on a harryhausen horse, and I’m stuck here with nothing to do but wait’. Richie wonders how long it takes to descend into the abyss and rescue a lost soul anyway, before deciding that this isn’t a bad idea for his first big-budget studio feature. “Hellstorm: This Summer, the Devil’s got Uninvited Guests…” Richie tells himself that with the right cast and promotion and merchandising, it could make a fortune.

Suddenly, a voice exclaims ‘Talking to yourself, Richie? That’s a nervous habit’. Richie spins around and shouts ‘What are you doing here? And how did you find me?’. A short man looks up at Richie and explains that they traced his cell-phone calls. ‘Digital technology makes it so much easier to keep tabs on a guy than in the old days’. Richie tells Jonas Blackshear that they had an agreement, and reminds him that he still has another week to pay back the money he borrowed for his film. ‘What can I say, Richie? What with the current fluctuations in the market, things have changed. Now you don’t’.

Blackshear’s thugs grab Richie by the collar: ‘Hey, there’s no need to get rough! I’ll get the money!’ Richie exclaims. ‘Not so tough without your mutie friends, eh, Richie?’ one of the thugs asks, to which the other warns him they are going to have to break some bones. ‘Nothing that won’t heal in a couple of months. But you get the idea’. Suddenly, the two thugs scream as they are engulfed by a mysterious flame. Blackshear runs away in the other direction, while Richie turns to the direction the flame originated from and gasps ‘Bobby…is that you…? Oh…geez…why did you…you didn’t have to…’ Richie exclaims, to which the mysterious being standing before Richie exclaims ‘You’re welcome, Richie. And don’t call me Bobby. Ever’.

Meanwhile, in Arkansas, Theresa “Siryn” Rourke Cassidy kneels beside the body of the unmoving Warpath. ‘C’mon, Jimmy. You’ve been out almost four minutes…I’m running outta time to get yer heart pumping again. After all we’ve been through together, I didn’t think I’d like to lose ye like this’ Siryn exclaims, before she begins to remember various moments she and James have shared over the years:

(Flashback illustrations, narrated by Siryn)

Siryn admits that when they first met - Warpath was fighting the Juggernaut - and she had him pegged as another musclebound hunk with a bad attitude. Attempting to give Warpath mouth-to-mouth once more, Siryn tells James that she was wrong, as underneath the anger was a deep, caring soul who watched out for his friends - even when they weren’t watching out for them selves. Theresa recalls how drinking made her ugly and hateful, but James still stood by her side. ‘Nobody ever done that for me. Everyone in my life’d always run when things got rocky’ Siryn exclaims. ‘But not you’ she whispers, listening for breathing.

Siryn remarks that she knows James wanted to be more than friends, but she did not want to risk spoiling their friendship. ‘My track record when it comes to romance has never been very good’. Siryn begins to continue chest compressions, admitting that when James started seeing Risque she didn’t like it. ‘Maybe I was jealous. She was taking away my best friend. Of course she was also setting you up, but that’s not me point’ Siryn remarks. Siryn clutches her head as she remarks that James is the person she is closest to in the world. ‘I cannae imagine what me life would be like if ye weren’t here’ she whispers.

‘Are you listening, James? I’m not ready to let ye go…’ Siryn exclaims, which causes Warpath, down in the underworld, to gasp ‘Theresa?’ while Stryfe lifts him up by his neck, telling him that he is beyond the help of his friends. ‘You’re alone’ Stryfe tells him, when, suddenly, a demonic voice exclaims ‘I’m disappointed in you, Stryfe’. Stryfe is confused, and turns to see a demon dressed in a suit, standing in a burst of brimstone. ‘I expected more from the self-proclaimed “Chaos-Bringer”. Instead, while you’ve been so enthralled with the sound of your own voice…the boy’s re-established a link…fragile though it may be…with the living!’.

Some claim that Blackheart is the son of the first angel to be cast out of Heaven for plotting against God. Others argue that he is a dark creature from another dimension who has adopted a devilish demeanour to prey upon the weakness and fears or mortal men. One thing is certain, he is malevolence and corruption personified…and in this inferno, his power is absolute. Blackheart tells Stryfe to move quickly as his window of opportunity is closing fast. ‘The terms of our arrangement are in effect for a limited time only’ Blackheart exclaims. Stryfe shouts that Blackheart promised him freedom if he delivered Proudstar to him with his spirit crushed and defeated. ‘And that time is at hand!’ Stryfe booms as he prepares to crush Warpath - only to be bombarded with plasma time-bombs! ‘What in the -?’ Stryfe exclaims.

Through Valkyrie could not herself venture into Blackheart’s infernal plane, she opened an interdimensional portal through which the three X-Force members could cross the hellish border. ‘Is that who I think it is, Sunspot?’ Meltdown asks as she sees Stryfe. ‘Cable’s evil clone. The monster responsible for the Legacy Virus. Do you think he had something to do with James’s death?’ Bobby replies, to which Moonstar declares that they will figure that out later, as right now they need to get James away from Stryfe, then they can figure out if there is any way to return him to life. ‘This is the one time I wish I were still a Valkyrie!’ Dani adds. Bobby tells Dani that she will figure it out. ‘I have faith’ he tells her.

‘I don’t know how you children found your friend, but his fate is already sealed!’ Stryfe booms, before Sunspot flies down and picks Warpath up, rescuing him from Stryfe, Bobby mutters that he didn’t think a disembodied soul would weigh so much. ‘But that probably has to do with the physical laws of this particular underworld’ Bobby realizes, to which Stryfe booms that Warpath’s soul will remain here, in his stead. ‘Not if we can help it!’ Meltdown exclaims as she throws more plasma time-bombs at Stryfe. Tab tells herself to make Stryfe think that this is no big deal and that she is not totally freaked out being smack dab in the middle of Hades.

Stryfe sees Moonstar approaching him and announces that he recognizes her. ‘You’d never have infiltrated the Mutant Liberation Front when I was alive!’ he tells her, boasting that he would have crucified her as an example to all who would cross him. ‘Seems to me that’s a big “what if” considering that Cable buried you!’ ‘You dare mentioning that name to me?’ Stryfe booms, while Danielle tells herself that she will do anything to keep Stryfe distracted and away from James. As she fires psionic arrows at Stryfe, she wishes they were having some effect on him. ‘Guess it’s time I tried something I haven’t done since I was in the New Mutants - reach into his mind and pull out his greatest fear!’ Dani tells herself.

But as she does so, Dani discovers that Stryfe’s mental defences are too strong, and he turns his telepathic power on her. ‘You’re not on my level, little Moonstar!’ Stryfe booms as he smacks Dani in the face, causing her to fall the ground. ‘And if you’re curious about my worst fear…it’s spending eternity here in this pit’ Stryfe tells her.

Nearby, Sunspot places Warpath on the ground while telling Meltdown that Dani is down and James is barely conscious. ‘Great. And add to this your update. Stryfe isn’t our only worry. I hope tall dark and spiked over there isn’t the biblical bad guy he looks like -’ Meltdown begins, motioning to Blackheart, who introduces himself, and informs Sunspot and Meltdown that they are trespassers in his realm. ‘So you’re mad that we gatecrashed your private inferno. Tough. We wouldn’t be here if you and / or Stryfe hadn’t hijacked out friend’s soul!’ Meltdown retorts defiantly. Sunspot tells Blackheart that he knows James Proudstar doesn’t belong here, and that he has to be violating some kind of afterlife accord by keeping him here.

‘You humans are insufferable. Not only do you invade my dimension - but you have the audacity to tell me how to conduct my affairs!’ Blackheart exclaims, suggesting that a taste of Hellfire till put them in their place. ‘You think yourself heroes? Hah! All your sins and hypocrisies are an open book to me. Hell is knowing the truth about yourself - truths the young so often avoid!’ Blackheart remarks as Meltdown and Sunspot find themselves experiencing new scenarios: ‘Tabitha Smith. Even your closest friends are unaware of the things you did when living on the street. But the whores and the junkies and the dealers and the lunatics know the truth…that you belong to them’ Blackheart exclaims. ‘No!’ Meltdown screams as she is pulled at every direction by the aforementioned street people. Moving on to Sunspot, Blackheart asks him how long can he keep his true self hidden from his friends. ‘Once you abandon this pretense of compassion and caring, and give in to the lust and greed in your heart - you have the makings of a fine demon!’ Finding himself naked on the ground, his body slightly twisted, Sunspot asks ‘What have you done to me?’.

Blackheart replies that he has shown them the truth about themselves, but Sunspot reaches out for Tabitha, shouting ‘This is not the truth! Tabitha, don’t listen to him! He’s the master of lies and deception!’. They reach each other, and are returned to their true selves. Sunspot holds Meltdown, who tells him that he if knew the things she has done he might not be so sure. ‘Whatever you did in the past isn’t as important as who you are now…’. ‘Oh, Bobby…’ Meltdown whispers. ‘How I despise the mortal capability for love and compassion’ Blackheart mutters.

Stryfe appears, holding Dani up by her long black hair, he exclaims ‘Behold, Lord Blackheart, I offer you the Cheyenne as an added bonus to our agreement. Perhaps you can use her to bargain with Hela when the Gods of the Underworlds convene’ Stryfe booms. ‘Put her down, you psychopath!’ a voice exclaims, and Stryfe turns to see Warpath crawling towards him. ‘Don’t you know when you’ve been beaten?’ Stryfe asks. ‘I won’t let you hurt my friends!’ James exclaims while Stryfe drops Dani to the ground, then sits over her body, remarking ‘If only I could have fostered this esprit de corps in my cadre. Maybe the X-Men and X-Force would be nothing but a memory. But we can’t live in the past, now can we, James. We have to live in the now. And now is the time you join your family in oblivion’ Stryfe sniggers.

Stryfe gets to his feet and tells James to think about it. ‘Soon your youth and strength will be in the service of my experience and mental acuity’ Stryfe remarks, bombarding him with energy. Perhaps it is the presence of his friends that has reignited Warpath’s spirit. Perhaps he is moved by the feeling that Theresa is by his side, as well. Or perhaps it is the simple realization that he has a life to lead…a world to explore…that gives him the strength to withstand an assault that should cripple him once and for all. ‘NEVER!’ Warpath shouts as he begins punching Stryfe in the face. ‘No, you can’t be doing this!’ Stryfe exclaims. ‘You took my family’s lives - but you could not steal their spirits!’ James exclaims, telling Stryfe that he will not take his spirit. ‘This is your Hell, Stryfe - rot in it forever!’ James exclaims as he holds Stryfe high over his head, and throws him at Blackheart’s feet.

‘Well, that didn’t work out as you planned, now did it?’ Blackheart remarks to Stryfe. With Stryfe’s defeat, the arcane and dire forces that held James prisoner in this world vanish - and a tunnel of pure and blinding light opens behind him - offering his soul passage back to the living. ‘I’m leaving, Blackheart. And my friends are coming with me. Unless you have any objections’ Warpath announces as he leads his teammates out. ‘Please don’t have any objections’ Meltdown exclaims, while Sunspot remarks that James is a spirit, so he doesn’t think they are supposed to follow him. Moonstar tells everyone that it will be all right, as James’s spirit will act as their guide back to Earth. ‘You’re the expert’ Sunspot replies.

At Blackheart’s feet, Stryfe tells him to do something. ‘You can’t just let them leave!’. But Blackheart replies that he can. ‘My world. My rules. Blackheart remarks that in case Stryfe hadn’t realized it, this game was never about X-Force. ‘It was about you. I gave you hope when you had resigned yourself to an eternity of despair…and now that hope has been dashed, your suffering will be all the more meaningful. Oh, how I love my work’ Blackheart grins, while Stryfe screams as he sinks into a river of lava, and demons reach out for him.

Back in Arkansas, ‘Seven minutes…please, God…bring him back!’ Siryn exclaims as she continues chest compressions on Warpath’s blood-covered chest. Suddenly, Warpath moans. ‘Terry…?’ he whispers. ‘James, you’re alive!’ Siryn exclaims. ‘Yeah, but I’ve felt better’ James utters, while Siryn smiles and helps James off the floor. ‘At least you’re feeling something’ Siryn tells him, while James asks ‘I was dead…wasn’t I?’. ‘For close to seven minutes’ Siryn replies, adding that those minutes felt like an eternity. ‘I was afraid I’d lost you forever’ Siryn tells James, touching his head and smiling. ‘I was…well…it’s a long story…but I thought I could hear your voice’ Warpath reveals.

‘It was like a lifeline. Without that and Bobby and Dani and Tabitha…’ James begins, to which Siryn tells him that he is not making sense. ‘Not that you have to, right now’. Suddenly, there is a blinding light, ‘Oh, give us a little credit. We did run defense in Hell’ Meltdown exclaims as she, Dani and Sunspot appear. ‘That light -!’ Siryn gasps, while Sunspot exclaims ‘Wow! That was some wild ride!’. Moonstar explains that moving between life and death is a profound experience under any circumstances, while Meltdown asks if next time someone dies can they at least try to end up in the better part of the after life. ‘So, where did we end up?’ Tabby asks.

Siryn explains that they are in the laboratory of the man Stryfe had kill James’s people. ‘He’s the broken bag of bones by the Zero droid’ Siryn adds, while James and Bobby shake hands, and James tells his friends that he owes them more than he could ever repay. ‘It was nothing, amigo…but the next pizza’s on you!’ Bobby replies, while Tabitha asks James if he found what he was looking for. Picking up some blood-covered files off the floor, James replies that he finally knows who was responsible for the deaths of his loved ones. ‘We know Stryfe’s paying for the atrocities he committed. And with the documents Theresa and I found, we can make sure that everyone else concerned with the massacre pays as well’ James declares, adding that his family can finally rest in peace. ‘Amen to that’ Siryn remarks as she, Dani, Sunspot and Meltdown gather around Warpath.

Characters Involved: 

Meltdown, Moonstar, Siryn, Sunspot, Warpath (all X-Force)


Valkyrie / Brunnhilde


Agent Martin Edwards / Dr Edwin Martynec


Richie Alegria

Jonas Blackshear

Leonard and another bodyguard

Various civilians

Various Demons

In Flashback:

Siryn & Warpath at various stages



Story Notes: 

Error: In X-Force (1st series) #73, Warpath’s Singlet was destroyed, but this issue he is once again wearing it.

Stryfe was seemingly killed in during the “X-Cutioner’s Song” crossover, during which he also released the devastating Legacy Virus.

The Garth that Richie is referring to is presumably the immensely popular country singer Garth Brooks.

Valkyrie’s appearance here takes place between the Valkyrie one-shot and Hellcat #3.

Moonstar became one of the Valkyror in New Mutants Special Edition #1. (Not New Mutants Annual #1, like the footnote this issue indicates).

The circumstances regarding Dani’s reason for leaving Asgard and departure from the Valkyror have never truly been explained.

Warpath discovered the massacred Camp Verde in New Mutants (1st series) #99.

Richie met X-Force in X-Force (1st series) #71.

Moonstar’s infiltration into the Mutant Liberation Front was revealed in X-Force (1st series) #67-69.

Issue Information: 
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