X-Force (3rd series) #2

Issue Date: 
May 2008
Story Title: 
Angels and Demons: Part 2 of 6

Craig Kyle and Chris Yost (writers), Clayton Crain (artist), VC’s Cory Petit (letterer), Paul Acerios (production), Aubrey Sitterson (assistant editor), John Barber (editor), Axel Alonso (executive editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

X-Force stands down after Matthew Risman shoots Wolfsbane in the leg. As the Purifiers restrain X-Force, however, X-23 detonates the bomb she planted in the building. During the explosion, Risman escapes with Wolfsbane, with X-23 in pursuit. She fails to neutralize Risman and he escapes with Wolfsbane. Later, Agent Morales of S.H.I.E.L.D. investigates the charred remains of the Purifier church, while X-Force regroups at Angel’s Aerie with Cyclops. Wolverine scolds X-23 for her recklessness; she explains her mission was to kill Risman, not rescue Wolfsbane. Cyclops blames Wolfsbane’s capture on Wolverine. Eavesdropping, Angel suggests they ask the other X-Men for help, but Cyclops refuses. Elsewhere, Reverend Craig drugs the captive Wolfsbane and commands she confess her sins, while Risman confides in Eli that he does not trust Bastion. Bastion arrives, scolds Risman, and orders him to trust his mutant-extermination plan. Bastion explains that only one creature can guarantee the defeat of the X-Men, and he already sent the Purifiers to retrieve it from the bottom of the ocean: the extra-terrestrial, techno-organic entity Magus.

Full Summary: 

Outside Fargo, North Dakota. The Church of the Reverend William Stryker. Now...

"The Purifiers attack us inside our own base and when we catch up to them 76 hours later, this is what we find," Agent Morales says while examining the charred corpses in the burnt-out remains of the Purifier base. "I want to know why, and I want to know who's responsible." A fellow agent points out the heat from the fire liquefied the mortar in the walls—something that doesn't happen during regular fires. Whatever started this was government grade or better. Morales tells her men to spread out and find answers. While they scour the area for clues, she puts in a call to S.H.I.E.L.D. Deputy Director Maria Hill and informs her that they will not be able to identify any of the bodies in the church, including Risman's—if he is even there. Hill asks Morales to keep her updated. Director Stark wants the entire situation kept silent until they identify any other Purifiers planted within S.H.I.E.L.D. Suddenly, Agent Morales's operatives discover even more bodies underground—bodies that didn't die from the fire.

Eleven hours earlier...

Warpath screams when Matthew Risman pulls the trigger. Risman just laughs. After all the mutants he killed at their institute, did they really believe he wouldn't kill one more?

Wolverine narrows his eyes as Risman speaks. Risman is a dead man, he thinks. He recounts how Cyclops ordered X-Force to take down the Purifiers. Rahne wanted in, but Wolverine said she couldn't come. So, she came by herself, ahead of the rest of the team, and got captured. Now, she has a bullet in her knee. At best, she'll walk out of this situation with a limp. At worst, she won't walk out at all.

Lying on the floor in chains, Rahne groans. X-23 detects heroin in her blood system almost immediately. Again, Risman laughs. "Fortunately for your friend, I am a man of God and decided to show her mercy not deserving of your kind," Risman says. "But I am only human and have my limits. So, surrender now—or she begins her eternal suffering in hell tonight." He points the gun at her head.

Wolverine drops to his knees and puts his hands behind his head. He tells X-23 to do what Risman says. Laura still believes Risman is lying. Wolverine refuses to risk Rahne's life on a hunch. Stand down, he says. X-23 complies, but tells Risman he and all of his men will soon be dead. A Purifier approaches and clubs her in the stomach with the butt of his gun. Winded, X-23 doubles over—but keeps her eyes locked on Risman's. "You have the eyes of a killer, girl—not like Wolverine," Risman says. "No, he's just an animal. But you... you were bred for murder. And right now you're thinking of eleven different ways to kill me, aren't you?"

"No," X-23 says. "Twenty-seven." Risman chuckles; he believes her. X-23, on the other hand, still doesn't believe Risman. She knows he will not kill Rahne. Regardless, Wolverine curses at her and once again orders her to stand down. Even when she finally complies and sheathes her claws, she insists it is a mistake.

Crap like this is why I'm no leader, Wolverine says as a Purifier shoves his face into the floor. Any other time, this particular Purifier would have lost his hand for that move. Any other time, Wolverine would have succumbed to the beast within and ripped Matthew Risman and the Purifiers to shreds. Now, he can't do that; he's responsible for the safety of others.

The Purifier who binds X-23's hands notices her clutching something. By the time he realizes what the object is, it is too late. Despite Wolverine's objections, X-23 activates the hand-held detonator, inciting an enormous explosion that obliterates the entire church.

The Purifiers look up in time to see the bright flames of destruction heading their way. Wolverine braces himself. Meanwhile, X-23, having activated the mission's contingency plan, notices her target Risman alive and on the run. She picks herself up, grabs a nearby handgun, and follows in pursuit.

Meanwhile, Wolverine removes a shard of stained-glass from his chest. It hurts a lot more coming out than going in, he thinks. With Laura already after Risman, he decides to rescue Warpath. He finds him buried under a pile of charred timber and broken beams. Fortunately for him, the Purifiers absorbed the brunt of the explosion. "Well, at least they're good for something," Wolverine says as he helps Warpath out from under the rubble. They hurry after X-23, hoping to stop her before she gets Rahne killed.

Outside, Matthew Risman approaches his helicopter with Rahne in tow. He tells his men that X-23 is following him, and orders them to kill her. However, X-23 kills each of them with her handgun before they even have the chance to fire. With her targets eliminated, she keeps her eyes locked on Risman as he boards the helicopter. She fires at him, but one of his faithful Purifiers takes the bullet—Laura's last bullet. She watches helplessly as the helicopter lifts off. However, she takes note of its four occupants, two of whom she can identify, and two she cannot. She fails to even catch a visual on the remaining passenger.

Wolverine and Warpath finally arrive, screaming Rahne's name. "I failed," X-23 says.

"I'm gonna kill Summers," Wolverine groans.

Angel's Aerie. The Colorado Rocky Mountains. Now...

Now safely back at their base of operations, Logan berates Laura for her reckless contingency plan. Did she forget to mention she had wired the entire church to blow? Sure, she and Logan can survive explosions like that, but neither James nor Rahne can. They don't have healing factors. "They survived," Laura says. James asks Laura what her problem is. Risman still has Rahne, and now, he might kill her. "Saving Wolfsbane was not my mission," Laura states. Logan asks what the hell that is supposed to mean.

Cyclops steps in and explains. Laura means exactly what she said; her mission was to eliminate Matthew Risman, not perform a search-and-rescue for Rahne Sinclair. Besides, he blames the Rahne's current situation entirely on Logan. Logan asks how he figures that. If Logan had only let Rahne explain what she was after, he would have realized how determined she was to get inside that church. In Scott's opinion, if anything now happens to Rahne, it's on Logan's conscience.

Wolverine begins a rebuttal, but stops mid-sentence when Angel arrives. Logan looks up at the winged mutant and comments on his sneaky, downwind arrival. When his home is being used for clandestine meetings, he can do sneaky, Warren says. Now that he has their attention, he asks about whom they're talking. Logan tells him to ask Xavier Junior—referring to Cyclops. He's the guy calling the shots. Cyclops looks at Warren and tells him the situation is complicated. When someone's life is in danger, it can't get any less complicated, Warren insists. Once again, Cyclops asks Warren to stay out if it. Warren stands his ground. Lives are in danger and Cyclops won't even tell him whose—or even what's happening?

Warpath suddenly interjects; he tells Warren that Rahne has been captured by the Purifiers. "Dammit, Warpath," Cyclops says. In a panic, Warren asks why they are wasting time talking. They have to contact the other X-Men and find her! "No, we don't," Cyclops insists. At this point, they know the Purifiers only care about killing mutants, be they children, babies, or even former mutants. However, for some currently unknown reason, they have captured Wolfsbane yet kept her alive. Cyclops thinks they are dealing with something else entirely. Since Rahne is safe for now, they can worry about recovering her later. If they get the X-Men involved, however, they only put Rahne at further risk—and maybe even guarantee one of their own will die.

James wonders why Rahne would even do this. Why go after the Purifiers by herself? Cyclops asks his teammates what they know about Reverend Craig. "He's the sadistic bastard who raised Rahne," Logan says. "He beat religion into her and forced her to believe she was evil because she was born a mutant." Correct, Cyclops says. He informs them that Rahne just recently learned Reverend Craig joined the Purifiers. Laura concludes Rahne wanted revenge. James doesn't think so; the Rahne he knew would never indulge in a feeling revenge.

James recalls how, when he and Rahne first me, they used to share stories. James told Rahne about his older brother John, while she shared stories about Reverend Craig. Apparently, Craig believed Rahne was a test from God. To him, Rahne represented a living sin, sent to him for cleansing. She discovered the harsh truth about Reverend Craig on her own: that he was not just the man who raised her, but was, in fact, her biological father.


In the center of a dark room, Rahne Sinclair sits under a spotlight, strapped to a chair, her bloodshot eyes pried wide open by an inhumane device. She looks around the room to the best of her ability, but has no idea where she is.

Suddenly, a familiar voice splits the darkness. "Are ye awake now, sinner?" Reverend Craig asks. Rahne identifies the voice of her father, calls out to him, and tries to look his way. "No. Ye are not my flesh and blood. Satan's daughter ye are, demon. And ye will address me as Reverend," he says. Rahne asks why he came. What does he have to do with Purifiers? Craig answers by telling her he recognized her nature from the moment of her birth. He thought he was alone in fighting her kind. Now, he knows there are others on his side. He pulls out a syringe and injects it into her IV; Rahne asks what he is doing. "Now I've learned why I was made to suffer your existence," Craig says. "I am to be your Inquisitor. I will listen to your sins, and ye will make amends to the Lord for poisoning Eden with your wickedness.”


Eli notices Matthew Risman's anxiety. He asks what bothers him. Is it Reverend Craig? He does seem rather unstable, Eli says. Risman thanks Eli for his concern, but explains the cause of his concern is not Craig; they will get what they need from Craig without any hassle. No, the thing that bothers Risman is Bastion, who will not even meet with him, let alone speak to him. Bastion has effectively taken over the Purifiers, and isn't informing Risman, their leader, of his plans.

Bastion enters unexpectedly and commands Risman's attention. What does he think he’s doing with Rahne Sinclair? Risman explains that Reverend Stryker left very specific instructions for Rahne. “Kill the mutant,” Bastion commands. Risman asks for a moment to explain; the Purifiers have their own plan. Bastion informs him they have already analyzed the plan and concluded it has a 99.74 percent probability of failure. In fact, its failure has already begun. The X-Men have sent their killers—Wolverine, Warpath, and X-23—after Risman. They are currently raiding Purifier bases, torturing and killing every Purifier they encounter, all to recover their missing teammate. Eventually, Bastion says, they will find and kill Risman.

Meanwhile, X-Force travels from Omaha, Nebraska to Wichita, Kansas to Tulsa, Oklahoma, crippling every Purifier base they encounter and leaving a bloody trail of death. In Tulsa, Wolverine binds a Purifier to a chair and heats one of his claws over the torch of a flamethrower. While X-23 and Warpath watch in anticipation, Logan tells the Purifier it's going to hurt a little. The Purifier claims he is not afraid. "I wasn't talking about you, bub. You're not going to feel a thing," Wolverine says as his claw glows white-hot. "The claw... it gets so hot that when I slice off your ear, your nervous system will just... shut down. Your hands, your nose, an eye... the wounds will cauterize, and I'll keep you alive until you give me what I need. 'Course, getting a date after this is going to be a little rough."

Nearby, James Proudstar looks at the blood covering his own hands. He acknowledges that he will do whatever it takes to recover Rahne. However, he wonders how Laura and Logan can remain so indifferent to all this killing, all this blood. Laura does not understand his question. James tells her to forget it. Finally, Wolverine finishes with the Purifier. He extracted a location.

The Purifier Headquarters...

Continuing his confrontation with Bastion, Risman explains how Reverend Stryker entrusted him with two specific tasks: to protect the Oracle and to create the Choir. He intends to do just that. Bastion states that William Stryker was a flawed man. Risman reminds him it was that very man who engineered Bastion’s resurrection.

"Are you defective, Matthew Risman?" Bastion asks. He holds out his hand, pointing its deadly palm toward Risman. Risman asks what he means. "We know how to eliminate mutants," Bastion says, "…but you do not listen to us. Yet your mission is to eliminate mutants. Why will you not obey your own mission? Are. You. Defective?"

Eli grows nervous for his friend. In the face of this deadly machine, Risman concedes his point. He is not defective; he will listen to Bastion. As his eyes grow deep red with immense energy, Bastion outlines his analysis. They concluded, as did Reverend Stryker, that the X-Men are the greatest threat in their timeline, or any other. They also concluded that no existing terrestrial force can guarantee the total elimination of the X-Men. Risman asks if that means there is no way to stop them. "Incorrect," Bastion says. "We said there was no terrestrial solution, Matthew Risman."

Meanwhile, in a submarine on the bottom of the ocean, a group of Purifiers searches for something. They slow down as they near its coordinates.

Back at the Purifiers HQ, Bastion explains to Risman that before his restoration, he learned of a creature with the ability to infect and absorb organic matter, converting it into sustenance or infusing it with its own sentience. The X-Men, however, reduced this creature to a nascent form and left it the bottom of the ocean. It has remained there ever since, growing, evolving and replicating. Risman asks how they will find it. Bastion says it will find them.

On the ocean floor, the Purifier submarine comes across the alien life-form. They scream in terror as it attacks their vessel.

And if this creature is so deadly, won't it just kill whoever comes after it? Risman asks. No, Bastion says; he gave the Purifiers a beacon—a single word—to which the creature will responds: "Warlock".

The Purifiers on the ocean floor transmit the signal. The attack ceases.

Risman asks if Bastion's creature has a name. Oh, yes, Bastion says.

At the bottom of the ocean, the Purifiers shine their ship's light on their quarry. A thick blanket of techno-organic matter covers the ocean floor. The glowing black cables tether various marine animals, such as whales and octopi, to the ocean’s floor. Several yellow cables even reach out for the submarine. Elsewhere, life-forms infected with the techno-organic virus swim freely.

This creature indeed has a name: Magus.

Characters Involved: 

Warpath, Wolfsbane, Wolverine, X-23 (X-Force)

Angel, Cyclops (X-Men)

Agent Morales (S.H.I.E.L.D.)

Maria Hill (Deputy Director of S.H.I.E.L.D.)

Reverend Matthew Risman

Reverend Craig

Various Purifiers

Eli Bard


Magus (techno-organic entity)

Story Notes: 

Wolfsbane and Warpath have a fleeting friendship stemming from their days together on the New Mutants and the Hellions.

It was first hinted that Wolfsbane suspected Reverend Craig to be her biological father in EXCALIBUR (1st series) #93. Reverend Craig, who claims he only raised Rahne, has tormented her for being a mutant not only since her first appearance in MARVEL GRAPHIC NOVEL #4: THE NEW MUTANTS, but since her birth.

Magus is the ruler of the Technarchy, an extra-terrestrial race of techno-organic beings. The Technarchy subsist by infecting other beings with the techno-organic virus, then absorbing their life essences. As per Technarchy tradition, Magus’s son, Warlock, was supposed to defeat him in battle in order to take his place as ruler, but Warlock refused. Magus’s pursuit of his rebellious son led him to Earth, where he encountered the X-Men and Warlock’s friends, the New Mutants. For more information, see UXN’s Alien Races entry on the Technarchy, as well as the Spotlight On: Warlock.

Magus was last seen in WARLOCK (4th series) #7-9, when he once again attacked Earth to purge it of its Phalanx infestation. Warlock and friends rewrote Magus’s DNA to resemble Warlock’s mutant DNA, thereby transferring the humanity Warlock obtained from Doug Ramsey into Magus. Defeated, Magus fled. Before he left, however, Magus must have left his offspring on the bottom of the ocean, because in X-FORCE (3rd series) #3, Bastion refers to this techno-organic entity as “a mindless offspring of Magus”.

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