X-Force (1st series) #82

Issue Date: 
October 1998
Story Title: 
The Gryphon Agenda

John Francis Moore (writer), Jim Cheung (penciler), Mark Morales (inker), Marie Javins (colorist), Richard Starkings & Comicraft & EM (letterers), Brian Smith (assistant editor), Bobbie Chase (editor), Bob Harras (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

In a nightclub, Domino is approached by a man called Jesse Aaronson, who reveals that he can help her locate Ekatarina Gryaznova, so long as she aids him in finding his missing brother. Domino agrees, and they make their way to the Aguilar Institute. Aaronson reveals that he has access to a lot of classified information, which is why he knew how to find Domino and that the Aguilar Institute is involved in bio-tech weaponry, and that Gryaznova is on their payroll. Before they can infiltrate though, they are attacked by armored security guards. Domino is captured, but Aaronson manages to escape. Meanwhile, Siryn, Proudstar, Moonstar, Sunspot and Meltdown have been enjoying an evening at the movie theater, only to arrive home and find the mysterious Aaronson in their living room. Aaronson reveals that he is a mutant and has come to ask their help as Domino is in trouble. He also expresses a lot of awe at meeting the young heroes in the flesh, before revealing his story about how he and Domino became involved, up until her capture. However, Aaronson remains vague on all other aspects about him and X-Force’s questions, and X-Force only agree to get involved out of concern for Domino. Domino, meanwhile, has been taken to a woman known as the Gryphon - who is really a transformed Gryaznova. Gryaznova reveals her fate following Bastion discovering she was a double agent, and how she plans to destroy Domino once and for all. X-Force and Aaronson arrive at the Aguilar Institute and are immediately attacked by the guards, while Aaronson makes his way into the lab where Domino is being held, and frees her - before Gryaznova attacks them. They battle ferociously, during which Aaronson frees Domino of the device Gryaznova placed in her that restricts her abilities. Domino and Aaronson’s combined effort eventually take Gryaznova down, before X-Force arrive after Moonstar disabled the guards with her psychic arrows. With the Aguilar Institute in self-destruct mode, X-Force, Domino and Aaronson make their escape. Upon returning home, Domino swears to uncover what the Aguilar Institute is involved in, and re-joins X-Force, while Aaronson is still as vague as ever as to how he knows what he knows. Elsewhere, someone searching for one called “Bedlam” has located him in San Francisco….

Full Summary: 

Situated in a remote part of the Northern California Coast, near the Oregon border is the Aguilar Institute. It is a research and development facility specializing in bio-technology and its military application. Trespassers are not welcome here, such as the one being dragged through a corridor lit by green light. ‘Where are we taking this one?’ an armored security officer asks his colleague. ‘You know the drill. Any intruder exhibiting even the slightest hint of extra-normal ability belongs to the Gryphon the second guard replies. ‘Man, that woman gives me the nightmares. I can’t believe she let the doctors transform her into that…creature’ one of the men remark as they enter the Gryphon’s laboratory. ‘She’s not even human anymore!’ he adds.

‘Don’t let her hear you saying that. She put Lou in the infirmary for looking at her sideways during the big man’s last visit’ the other guard remarks. Standing up on a platform, the woman called the Gryphon tells the guards that they had better have a good reason for interrupting her regeneration session. One of the guards addresses her as Commander as he apologizes for the intrusion, before remarking ‘We thought you’d like to see this’. ‘Well, well, well. Look what the cat dragged in’ Gryphon snarls, grinning as she sees the unconscious intruder held up before her - Domino!

Meanwhile, in San Francisco, where after two weeks in Hawaii, the young mutant heroes of X-Force have returned to their new home, settling here after a harrowing cross-country journey prior to their Hawaiian vacation. The five friends walk past several civilians and out of a cinema which was playing The Big Sleep and To Have And Not Have. Danielle Moonstar asks her friends if they are glad they saw that instead of Immortal Rampage II. Dani tells her friends to forget Leo and Kate, as nobody sizzles on screen like Bogart and Bacall. Theresa “Siryn” Rourke tells Dani that she was right, as the films were absolutely brilliant.

Siryn adds that she can’t believe that Lauren Bacall was their age when she made To Have And Have Not. ‘I wish I was that cool’ she exclaims, before quoting “Ye do know how to whistle, don’t ye Ye just put your lips together and blow”. She then whistles, while Tabitha “Meltdown” Smith exclaims that she has never been to a theater with a cute little man who plays the organ before the show. ‘It makes you feel like it’s still 1940’ she tells her friends. Bobby “Sunspot” DaCosta, Tabitha’s boyfriend, puts his arm around Tabitha as he exclaims ‘What did I tell you, Tabitha, this’ city’s got everything’. The friends approach their convertible, and James Proudstar remarks that the city doesn’t have parking. ‘This is definitely not the place to be driving a tank like our Eldorado’ he exclaims.

As the friends get into their car, Siryn remarks that it is not as bad as New York City. ‘Ye have to be a maniac to drive there’ she exclaims, while Tabitha declares that she is glad to finally have a place to crash, as she was getting pretty tired living out of her suitcase. The heroes begin driving back to their new home while Siryn points out that it is not as if they had much to pack after Zero Tolerance confiscated all their belongings when they cleaned out the Mansion. Sunspot tells his friends to wait until he gets a construction crew to start work on their warehouse. ‘It’s gonna be great’ he exclaims, boasting that they are going to have the X-Men wanting to crash with them instead of the other way around.

Siryn tells Sunspot that just because he got his trust fund back, doesn’t mean he has to pay for everything. ‘Excuse me for wanting to live in a little big to style’ Sunspot remarks, asking who wants to go back to living in underground bunkers again. ‘Not me’ he exclaims. Meltdown frowns while looking at her boyfriend, She tells herself that Bobby means well, but she wishes he would stop flaunting his money like that. ‘I can’t help thinking he’s turning back into the arrogant rich brat I met when I joined the New Mutants - and that’s not someone I want to be romantically involved with’.

Soon, they pull up at the warehouse. Siryn remarks that they would be on the street if DaCosta International didn’t agree to rent the warehouse to Bobby for next to nothing. She asks Bobby if he knows what real estate is going for in this city and exclaims that it is insane. Moments later, they enter the warehouse, but Siryn exclaims that the door is wide open. ‘I dinnae like the looks of this’ she remarks as they walk into the area set up as their living space, only to find an African-American man, about their age, sitting in a chair. ‘Hey, kids. It’s about time you got home’ he remarks, turning to them. ‘Thank God for syndication. I’ve seen this episode of The Simpsons a hundred times and it still makes me laugh’ he exclaims, adding that it is the one where Bart insults Australia’s honor. ‘He’s such a scamp’ the mystery man remarks, while Homer Simpson can be heard saying his famous “D’oh!” on screen.

X-Force look concerned about the stranger in their home. ‘Pardon us f’r interrupting yuir viewing enjoyment, but what the bloody hell d’ye think ye’re doing here?’ Siryn asks. ‘Why be polite, Theresa? This guy broke into our place. I say we throw him out!’ Meltdown exclaims, while Sunspot tells the intruder that he picked a bad place for a burglary. ‘Relax. If I wanted your stuff, I’d be gone. Not like you have much to take anyway’ he remarks, standing up, before Siryn tells him to explain himself and asks how he got past their alarm system. ‘You’re Theresa Rourke. The team leader. The Irish accent gives you away. It’s really sexy’ the stranger remarks, but an unimpressed Siryn just tells him to answer her question.

The intruder apologizes, pointing out that they were not home and that he didn’t feel like waiting outside, so he jammed the alarm and lock with a bio-electric field that he can generate. He explains the field disrupts mechanical and electronic devices. ‘My name’s Jesse Aaronson. I’m a mutant just like all of you’. Meltdown readies a plasma time-bomb as she tells Jesse that the fact he is a mutant does not give him the right to waltz into their home uninvited, while Sunspot powers up and points out that since Jesse knows who they are, he knows what they can do. ‘Think you can handle the heat, Aaronson?’ he asks.

Aaronson smiles as he exclaims ‘You’ve got to be Tabitha Smith and Roberto DaCosta, Sunspot and Meltdown, right?’. He declares that it is so cool to see other mutants use their powers. Aaronson turns to Danielle and James and exclaims ‘That makes you two Moonstar and Warpath’. ‘Who is this guy?’ Dani asks, while James announces that he doesn’t use Warpath anymore. ‘No offense. I didn’t get the memo’ Jesse replies, gape-jawed, while exclaiming that he is amped to finally meet them. Siryn frowns and folds her arms, telling Jesse that he is trying their patience. Meltdown tells him to get to the point as she asks him if he is here for a reason, or if he is just the first mutant groupie stalker.

Aaronson calms down as he admits that he almost forgot, before revealing that their friend Domino is kind of kin a ham up North and that he could really sue some help. ‘Umm ‘cause it’s kinda my fault that she was captured in the first place’ he announces. ‘Excuse me? Domino‘s a prisoner and ye‘re responsible?’ Siryn asks, before suggesting to Aaronson that he start from the beginning. ‘And if you’re lying to us in anyway, you’re dead’ Bobby warns him. ‘Heh…that’s what she said’ Jesse replies, before explaining that through his sources he learned that Domino had been released from a New York hospital following a nasty beating by an assassin named Blockade. ‘I found her recovering in a bar in the Lower East Side called the Violent Overthrow’….

(Flashback, takes place after X-Force (1st series) #76 and Cable (1st series) #56)

‘Don’t bother, pal. I got my drink and I’m not looking for conversation’ Domino exclaims as Aaronson approaches her in the nightclub, where Domino turns and looks out over the dance floor. ‘What if I told you I can help you find Ekatarina Gryaznova?’ Aaronson asks. ‘What did you just say?’ Domino asks, spinning around. Aaronson leans over the bar as he reveals that he knows that Domino for the past month has been making discreet enquiries about a former Zero Tolerance Sentinel who is not in SHIELD custody. ‘You must need to find her pretty bad’ he remarks.

Domino grabs Aaronson by his shirt and asks him who he is and what agency he works for. Aaronson replies that he is a free agent and does not work for anyone. ‘Then what’s your angle, kid?’ Domino asks, before letting Jesse go as he replies ‘A straightforward business exchange. I give you something you want, and you return the favor’. ‘Don’t keep me in suspense, kid’ Domino mutters, arms folded. Jesse explains that he wants Domino to help him locate his brother. ‘You tracked that rock star down when the whole world thought he was dead’ he reminds her, but Domino narrows her eyes and explains that the rock star owed her money. ‘First you’re going to take me to Gryaznova. And if you’re not on the level…’ her voice trails off, threatening to kill Jesse.

Domino and Jesse catch a redeye to California and head up the coast to the Aguilar Institute, a heavily guarded research compound that George Lucas apparently wishes he owned, according to Aaronson. Hiding in some bushes near the Aguilar Institute’s perimeter, Aaronson tells Domino that the Aguilar’s involved in some really scary biotech development, and that Gryaznova is on the payroll. Domino asks Jesse how he knows all this, to which Jesse explains that he has access to a lot of classified information, which is how he found Domino. ‘Sometimes knowing too much can get you killed’ Domino tells him.

‘That can be arranged!’ a security guard with high-tech armor exclaims as he drops down beside Domino and Aaronson, telling them that perhaps they did not see the sign back there, but that they are on private property. ‘Trespassers are target practice around here!’ he announces. Three other security guards wearing phaeton series III smart armor surround Domino and Aaronson. According to Jesse, the battle suit’s computerized sensor array actually adjusts the suit’s defenses and offences according to opponent - or in this case, target. Jesse and Domino raced through the bushes, and Domino moved like nothing Jesse had ever seen. But unfortunately the phaeton system was faster, and Domino was struck down. Aaronson did what he thought was the only sensible thing, and ran - his cowardice saved his life, though. When one of the guards got close enough, thinking Jesse was harmless, Jesse proceeded to use his mutant powers to crash the phaeton armor system.


‘Wait. Time out. Are you saying you just left Domino there?’ Tabitha asks angrily. ‘What kind of man are you? Don’t you have any sense of honor?’ Sunspot asks. ‘For a tosser who claims to know so blasted much, why didn’t you know about these guards and their armor?’ Siryn asks. Aaronson replies that the Aguilar Institute does not exactly post their security stats on the internet and claims that he knew as much as he could. Jesse declares that he would not have helped Domino by sticking around, which is why he came to X-Force. ‘Well actually, I tried to find Cable first, but, man, he’s impossible to track down’.

Moonstar tells Jesse that he seems to know a lot about Domino and them, but they don’t know a thing about him. ‘How do we know you didn’t set Domino up, and are trying to do the same to us?, she asks. Jesse tells X-Force that if they do not want to believe their friend is in trouble, then whatever happens to her will not be all his fault. Jesse reveals to X-Force that his brother vanished off the face of the planet fifteen years ago, and that Domino is the best - maybe the only - hope he has of ever finding him. ‘The emotional pitch. Guilt and sentiment. A hard combination to ignore’ Moonstar remarks, while Siryn exclaims that if Gyraznova works for Aguilar then Domino may be in grave danger. ‘Remember what she did to Domino last time’ Siryn adds, while James remarks that, for what it is worth, he thinks Aaronson is on the level. Tabitha points out that there is one problem - ‘How are we going to get up North?’ she asks. ‘Let me take care of that!’ Bobby exclaims.

Forty minutes later, on top of the DaCosta International Office in downtown San Francisco, X-Force, all in their team costumes, and Jesse approach a helicopter. ‘Oh, how I long for the PACRAT. Life was so much easier when we had our own souped-up stealth jet’ Meltdown mutters. Sunspot tells his friends that it pays to have an international corporation’s air fleet at your disposal, before turning to the man standing beside the chopper and asking him ‘Are you Weaver?’. The man tips his cap and tells Bobby to call him Zeke, before asking what the flight plan is. Bobby explains that they are going to Humoldt County and tells Zeke that this is not company business, so he is going to need his discretion.

‘Half of my passengers are execs who aren’t traveling with their wives, if y’know what I mean’ Zeke replies, opening the door to the chopper, he tells Bobby that so long as his credit is good, then he is the king of discreet. Once inside the chopper, Siryn remarks that ordinarily she would not worry about Domino as she is the most self-reliant and capable woman that she knows, but that Domino has not been the same since Gryaznova implanted that device in her brain that interferes with her nervous system. ‘You mean she’s helpless?’ Jesse asks. ‘No, but the implant drastically reduced her reflex and reaction time’ Siryn explains. Jesse replies that Domino didn’t say anything and announces that he never would have asked her if he had known that was the case. ‘It’s a little late for regrets’ Dani tells him coldly.

Meanwhile, three hundred miles to the North, Domino is being held in a stasis tank, while Gryphon exclaims ‘I assume you came to see me, Domino’. Gryphon steps into the light, and remarks that Domino is a resourceful woman. ‘My affiliation with the Aguilar Institute is a closely guarded secret’. ‘Gryaznova!’ Domino exclaims as she sees her nemesis standing before her. ‘Call me the Gryphon - after the mythological beast who enacted retribution upon the deserving guilty!’ Gryphon declares.

Domino stands up, but Gryaznova tells her not to, explaining that the energy field surrounding her is quite inescapable. ‘In case no one’s said anything, you look awful’ Domino tells Gryaznova, referring to her transformed appearance. Gryaznova replies that it is the unfortunate result of her time as a Prime Sentinel. Gryaznova reveals to Domino that shortly after she was left incapacitated on the side of the road by her teammates in X-Force, Bastion discovered that she was a double agent planted in the sentinel corps to monitor the Zero Tolerance program’s activity.

Ekatarina reveals that, as punishment, Bastion reprogrammed the Prime Sentinel nanotechnology in her body, effecting an agonizing transformation into a monstrous abomination. She frowns as she explains that her employers brought her here and began a radical genetic treatment to counter the rampaging nanotechnology. ‘Just as the Gryphon in mythology was half-lion and half-eagle, I’m now a hybrid of nature’s most efficient predators. ‘You should have stayed at home, Domino’ Gryphon declares.

Outside, the helicopter approaches the Aguilar Institute, and Zeke remarks to Sunspot that he couldn’t help overhearing that he and his friends are not exactly on the guest list here. ‘The less you know the better’ Sunspot replies, to which Zeke tells them all to be careful. ‘When I was your age I thought I was invincible. I got scars to prove otherwise’ he reveals. ‘Thanks for the concern, Zeke, but we can -’ Sunspot begins to reply, when suddenly, the armor-wearing security guards appear hovering around the chopper, and one of them calls out ‘Attention helicopter, you are in restricted air space. If you do not turn around you will be shot out of the sky’.

‘We’re under fire! I didn’t sign up for combat duty!’ Zeke exclaims, to which Sunspot tells him to stay calm and to turn around like ordered, but at the same time get them as low to the ground as possible. ‘Once we’re out of the copter, get as far away as you can, and wait for our call!’ Sunspot tells him. Zeke does so, and when the chopper is low enough, Moonstar, Proudstar and Meltdown leap out, while Siryn flies herself and Jesse down, and Sunspot follows. ‘We’re flying! You’re amazing, Theresa. If I could do this, I’d never come down!’ Jesse exclaims. ‘It’s a lot more fun when someone’s not shooting at ye’ Siryn replies, before wondering where Domino would be held.

Meltdown exclaims that it looks like they don’t want visitors, while Jesse declares that Domino will be in the main compound, but that he didn’t get to take the tour. Siryn tells Sunspot and Meltdown to give James and Dani cover while they try to get into the compound. ‘I’m gonna see how immune this state of the art armor is to me singing voice!’ she exclaims. Meltdown begins throwing her time-bombs about, muttering that she wants to know why everybody and their sister has body armor except for them. ‘Remind me to sign up for Tony Star’s intern program when we get back home’ she jokes.

One of the armored guards follows Sunspot, ‘You’re going down, kid!’ he exclaims, while Sunspot remarks that Jesse was right, as the soldiers’ armor compensates for their powers. ‘Nothing we do seems to slow them down’ he remarks. ‘I hate being forced to play defense’ he adds, while Jesse takes cover around the corner of the Aguilar Institute building. ‘I don’t know how Theresa and the others can act so calmly under fire. It’s all I can do not to panic and bolt!’ he exclaims. Suddenly, Theresa realizes that Jesse is missing. She exclaims that she shouldn’t have taken her eyes off him as she doesn’t think he knows the risks he is taking with all of their lives.

Meanwhile, inside the Aguilar Institute security office, one of the security monitor guards tells his colleague that the cameras have gone off-line. The other guard suggests that it is probably just a power surge from one of the labs.

In truth however, the source of the surveillance system malfunction is not mechanical in origin, but human. For after gaining entrance to the Institute, Jesse disabled the cameras with a touch. ‘Hey, Domino, how’s it going? Did you miss me?’ Jesse asks as he approaches the stasis field where Domino is being held. ‘I thought you were dead. Why’d you come back?’ Domino replies. Jesse uses his powers on the stasis field, disrupting it while he reminds Domino that they have a deal. ‘I need you in one piece. So I went out and got help. X-Force’s outside’ he adds, before the field shuts down. Domino steps off the stasis field platform as Jesse asks her if she found the woman she was looking for. ‘She found me’ Domino replies, explaining why she was in the stasis field. ‘Now that I’m out, however, it’s time I paid her back for what she did to me’ Domino exclaims.

‘Right. The thing in your head. I can help you with that’ Jesse tells Domino as he puts a hand on her neck. ‘What the heck do you think you’re doing?’ Domino asks, to which Jesse tells her that she should have told him about the implant that is screwing with her nervous system. Jesse remarks that it is a mechanical device, so he can shut it down. Domino tells him to wait, as he doesn’t know what will happen, but too late, as she screams when his powers interact with the device inside her. Domino passes out, ‘Uh-oh’ Jesse mutters, before placing Domino on the ground, relieved that she is still breathing.

Suddenly, a voice exclaims ‘I don’t know who you are, boy, but if you broke her out of the containment field, you’re most likely her friend - and that makes you dead!’ With that, Gyphon reveals herself, and she slams Aaronson across the laboratory. She begins attacking him again, ‘I don’t recognize you. Are you one of those X-Force brats?’ Gryphon asks, punching him again, before he can answer her. Gryphon wacks him again while remarking that the Institute can always use another mutant specimen to dissect, unaware that Domino has regained consciousness.

‘I’ve got an electric taste in my mouth like I just French-kissed a nine volt battery’ Domino tells herself, while clutching her head, before realizing that the dull buzz in the back of her head is gone. She smiles, and lunges at Gryaznova, telling her to get away from Jesse. Gryphon spins around: ‘You’re conscious, Domino? All the better. This has always been about you and me’ Gryaznova declares, she pushes Jesse to the ground, and grabs some piece of machinery, ‘You’re not match for me, Domino. I’m stronger, faster and more deadly than you’ll ever hope to be!’ she boasts as she swings the lab machinery at Domino, who is knocked back.

Domino tells herself that the equipment must weigh a ton, and supposes that now might not be the best time to go head-to-head with Gryaznova. But Gryaznova bursts through the equipment with her enhanced strength, exclaiming that she has hated Domino ever since she put her in a coma in El Salvador. Domino dodges, thankful that she is starting to get her speed back, ‘But Gryuaznova or whatever she wants to call herself now is just as fast’. Gryphon slams Domino up against a wall, ‘I took away your legendary luck once before. What can I take from you this time? Your life?’ Gryaznova snarls, before deciding that as much as she hates Domino, she is more valuable to the Aguilar Institute alive. ‘Your friends, on the other hand…’ she begins.

Domino, with Gryaznova’s hand around her neck, manages to utter that she should respond in an appropriately witty manner, but as she grabs a loose electric cable, she shoves it against Gyraznova’s face: ‘But why bother?’ she remarks, before Gryaznova screams in agony. ‘You’re going to have to do better than that, Domino’ Gryphon exclaims. ‘I told you, I have been bio-engineered to be the ultimate predator’. Domino finds Jesse and asks him if his power permanently disables the devices it scrambles. ‘Not always’ Jesse replies. Domino remarks that she was hoping for a more definite answer, before racing towards a console, remarking that she will have to cross her fingers and hope that the force field generator still works. ‘Don’t move, Gryaznova!’ Domino exclaims, seeing Gryphon standing half on the stasis field platform.

Domino slams her hand down on the activation button, which energizes the force field around the Gryphon’s body, pounding her with the commensurate force and pressure of a falling building. Gyraznova screams once more, while Domino helps Jesse up, telling him that he needs to find X-Force and get out of here. ‘Can you walk?’ she asks. Jesse replies that he thinks he can, while remarking ‘So that’s Gryaznova, huh? Did she get up on the wrong side of life or what?’. ‘She’s a real charmer. No doubt about that’ Domino smirks, before telling Jesse that she and “Miss Congeniality” are going to have a little chat about the Aguilar Institute and who has been signing her pay check.

Despite her injuries, Gryphon painfully slides over to the control console, ‘This isn’t over, Domino!’ she exclaims as she presses a button. A recorded message suddenly announces that the emergency destruction sequence has been activated, and that exits will be sealed in one minute, with detonation in two minutes. ‘That’s the last thing I wanted to hear!’ Domino exclaims. ‘You’re going to die with me, Domino!’ Ekatarina snarls. Domino turns to Jesse and asks him if he can stop the triggering mechanism, but he replies that all he can do is shut down the computer that relayed the order. ‘If the detonator were in front of me, that would be different’ he explains.

Domino tells Jesse that they need to get out of here fast. ‘See you later, Gryaznova!’ she exclaims, when suddenly, the armored guards enter the lab. ‘Halt. Surrender or we will open fire!’ one of them warns Domino and Jesse. Domino asks them if they can do this another time. ‘In case you weren’t listening, the building’s about to explode!’ she tells them. ‘We’re not going to make it, are we?’ one of the guards asks his colleagues, when suddenly, one of them is struck down by a psionic arrow, courtesy of Moonstar. The rest of X-Force are with her, costumes torn and bruises plentiful, while Siryn exclaims that they would have been here sooner, but it took them a little while to realize that the guards’ armor lacked psi-shielding. Dani remarks that makes the guards vulnerable to her psionic arrows, while Meltdown tells Domino that it is good to see her again. ‘We were worried Aaronson got you killed’ Sunspot adds, while the computer announces that all exits have been sealed and there are sixty seconds to detonation.

‘Ten seconds to detonation’ the computer announces as X-Force make their way out the front entrance - presumably after busting the sealed exits down. Siryn flies above her teammates as she remarks that she hopes the soldiers’ armor protects them. ‘I’d hate t’think we were leaving them to die!’ she exclaims. Domino tells her that there was nothing they could do for them, as the phaeton armor becomes electrically charged if the wearer loses consciousness, so they couldn’t get close to them. Sunspot assures Siryn that they will call 911 when they get clear of this place. Suddenly, there a massive KABOOM, and the young mutants are blasted clear across the grounds.

Moments later, they are gathered in the nearby trees, and overlooking the ocean, Tabitha asks why it is that the bag guys always have the spread with the great ocean view. ‘What could this place possible have to hide that they’d rather blow the place to kingdom come instead of risking exposure?’ Siryn asks, adding that she would like to sift through the rubble and see what they find. ‘Me too’ Domino tells her, but that right now she thinks that is a bad idea as an explosion of this magnitude is bout to attract the authorities. ‘We can investigate the Aguilar Institute later. Right now we should disappear’. Domino adds that the last time she checked they were still wanted by the feds, while Sunspot tells his teammates that he will radio Zeke. ‘We’re gonna owe him a big, big tip’.

Later, back in San Francisco, X-Force, Domino and Aaronson are gathered in the living area, ‘Then the implant in yuir head’s out of commission?’ Siryn asks. Domino replies that until she sees a doctor she cannot be one hundred percent positive, but that thanks to Jesse she is definitely back in the game. Domino adds that she is curious about the Aguilar Institute and their research, as Gryaznova said it involved mutants. ‘Forget about the anti-mutant hate groups. They’re fanatics. We need to worry about the multi-nationals who see mutant kind as a resource to exploit and co-opt’ Jesse exclaims.

Siryn remarks that she hates to admit it, but that Jesse has a point. ‘Domino if you need help with any of this, we’re there for ye’ she tells her. ‘You’re practically family’ James adds, while Sunspot asks her if she is going to call Cable in on this. ‘No. Cable and I have gone our separate ways’ Domino reveals, before she and X-Force have a group hug. Domino adds that she has all the back-up she needs with X-Force beside her. ‘Wow, the new touchy feely Domino. That woman is full of surprises’ Meltdown remarks.

‘Don’t I get a hug, too?’ Jesse asks, standing nearby. Everyone turns to him as Domino tells him not to push his luck. She assures him that she is going to help him find his brother, as that was their deal. ‘But first, you’re going to have to explain how you know so much about all of us’. Jesse flops down on a sofa, ‘Before I give you the four-one-one on my life story, could we order a pizza first? I’m starving’ Jesse replies. ‘Can ye believe this guy?’ Siryn asks, turning to her friends.

Elsewhere, ‘We’ve located Bedlam in San Francisco, sir’ someone reveals as they hand over an aerial shot of San Francisco. ‘After all we’ve done for that boy, you’d think he’d show a little more gratitude’ a grey-skinned man remarks, stubbing out a cigar, while declaring that they are going to have to find their prodigal and bring him home before he destroys everything they have worked so hard to create….

Characters Involved: 

Domino, Meltdown, Moonstar, Proudstar, Siryn, Sunspot (all X-Force)

Bedlam II / Jesse Aaronson

The Gryphon / Ekatarina Gryaznova

Odysseus Indigo (unnamed and seen in shadows only)

Indigo’s associate (possibly Doctor Chandra)

Zeke Weaver

Aguilar Security Guards


In Flashback:


Bedlam II


Aguilar Security Guards

In Illustrative Flashback Image:

Ekatrina Gryaznova


Story Notes: 

First appearance of Jesse Aaronson a.k.a. Bedlam II, at least in this reality. Jesse and his brother first appeared in the Age of Apocalypse”Factor X “ issues, also written by John Francis Moore.

Bedlam I is Bedlam the Brain-Blast, one of Alpha Flight’s enemies.

Jim Cheung takes over as penciler with this issue.

X-Force’s adventure in Hawaii took place in X-Force (1st series) #81.

The Big Sleep is a rather well-known 1946 film starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. It is directed by Howard Hawks and is based on the 1939 novel by Raymond Chandler. The film was remade in 1978.

The Leo and Kate that Moonstar refers to are of course Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, who portrayed an on-screen couple in the 1997 feature Titanic.

To Have And Have Not is a 1944 film also starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall and again directed by Howard Hawkins.

Lauren Bacall was aged 19 at the time of To Have And Have Not, which is in keeping with the approximate ages Siryn says she and her teammates are. Additionally, the film was Bacall’s debut film.

Immortal Rampage II appears to be a made-up movie.

Zero Tolerance cleared out the X-Men’s Mansion, where X-Force were living, in X-Men (2nd series) #70. X-Force were residents at the Mansion during that time.

Sunspot had his trust fund unfrozen in X-Force (1st series) #80, after it was frozen in X-Force (1st series) #71.

Meltdown (then Boom-Boom) joined the New Mutants in New Mutants (1st series) #76, along with Rusty, Skids and Rictor.

The episode of The Simpsons that Bedlam was watching is episode 16 from season 6, “Bart vs Australia”.

Domino’s encounter with Blockade can be seen in Cable (1st series) #55-56.

Domino and Gryaznova’s rivalry was first revealed in X-Force (1st series) #68, but stems back long before then.

This story takes place before the Psi-War in X-Men (2nd series) #77-78, which disabled all psionic abilities.

Issue Information: 
Written By: