X-Force (3rd series) #3

Issue Date: 
June 2008
Story Title: 
Angels and Demons: Part 3 of 6

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

Brief Description: 

The Purifiers recover enemies of the X-Men—both alive and dead—from all over the world. Matthew Risman explains to Eli Bard the debt he owes to Reverend William Stryker, and why he cannot fully comply with Bastion’s orders to directly execute Wolfsbane. He later lies to Bastion and says he executed Rahne, when in fact he merely injected her with a non-lethal overdose of heroin. X-Force recovers Wolfsbane and takes her back to Angel’s Aerie for medical attention, while Angel departs to retrieve the young mutant healer Elixir. Meanwhile, at a Purifier base in Chicago, Bastion confronts Eli Bard about his identity—or complete lack thereof. After sparing Eli’s life as per Risman’s request, Bastion unveils to Risman his plan for total mutant extermination: techno-organic assimilation. He joins with Magus and infects all the enemies of the X-Men the techno-organic virus. Later, to Risman and the Purifiers, Bastion presents the end of mutantkind: Graydon Creed, Donald Pierce, Stephen Lang, Reverend William Stryker, the Leper Queen, Cameron Hodge, and Bolivar Trask—all under Bastion’s total control.

Full Summary: 


No matter how many times Donald Pierce screams at them, the people pounding at the door refuse to leave. They have chased him across two continents. He has no idea what they want, but fears the worse. He urges his cybernetic mechanic to finish working on his body as soon as possible, despite the mechanic's insistence that he's working as fast as he can. Finally, Pierce's patience runs out, and he fires his arm cannon at the door.

He walks toward the charred hole in the splintered door with his gun extended. They knew his name, Donald says; therefore they should have known not to mess with him. Once he steps outside, however, Pierce finds himself surrounded by men in dark robes imprinted with crosses. They point their guns at his head, lighting up his face with laser sights. "Donald Pierce," the Purifiers say, "...your presence has been requested."


A priest, speaking in Spanish, reads the Leper Queen her last rights. She sits in an electric chair, her head turned downward, her burned face betraying no emotion. Behind her, one of the prison guards asks the other if he thinks the Leper Queen "feared evil" when she butchered that little girl. “You mean girls,” the other guard says, correcting his associate; word just came in that the sister isn't going to survive.

When the priest finishes, the hooded executioner, who holds the switch in his hand, asks the Leper Queen if she has any last words. She only regrets not living to see the other mutant girl die. With that, the executioner pulls the switch. Instead of electrocuting the Leper Queen, however, the room goes dark. The sound of gunshots intermingled with screams reverberate through the execution chamber. When the lights return, everyone—including those in the mirrored viewing room—is dead. Everyone, that is, except for the priest. He places a plain, white mask on the Leper Queen's scarred face. She has been summoned, the priest says. She asks by whom. "The Lord," the Purifier says.

Mount Everest...

A jet with vertical lift-off capability approaches one of the peaks surrounding Mt. Everest, the world's tallest mountain. It lands near the edge of a large crater. Two Purifiers emerge. As they approach the ledge, Sister Mary, a blonde woman with a beautiful face scarred by two parallel slashes over her eyes, asks her traveling companion if he detects anything. He does indeed; their quarry is here. "The Oracle will be pleased," Sister Mary says. "It's time to come home, Mr. Hodge."

Washington, D.C....

A shovel goes ever deeper into the moist dirt of an open grave. "We've found him," the Purifier in charge of the grave-robbing operation says. "What's left of him, anyway." He tells his men to move the coffin into the van, and quickly. With their assignment complete, these Purifiers step away from the former resting place of Graydon Creed.


Matthew Risman explains to Brother Eli how he first met Reverend William Stryker. He was in the middle of a job when Stryker contacted him and claimed the Lord had sent him an urgent message, and that lives would be lost should Risman ignore his warnings. At first, Risman assumed Stryker was crazy, but after one of his prophecies saved the lives of Risman's wife and daughter, he agreed to follow him. Eli should now understand why he feels he owes Stryker everything, Risman says. Only Stryker could have saved Matthew Risman’s family, and now only Matthew Risman can complete Stryker's crusade. Stryker's plans against the X-Men are already in motion; Risman cannot allow them to be stopped. "But Bastion gave you specific orders," Eli says.

"And the Oracle's orders will be carried out—but not at the cost of William Stryker's mission," Risman says. Changing subjects, he asks Reverend Craig how it felt delivering Wolfsbane to the Lord. Craig answers with just one word: righteous.

East of Missoula, Montana...

My name is James Proudstar. I am Apache. These are Blackfoot lands, he says, referring to the gothic-looking village centered on a darkened church, ...and these lands are about to get a $#!^load of blood spilled on them. Purifier blood. Wolverine signals to his teammates, X-23 and Warpath, and they head toward their destination.

Inside, the Purifiers stand in tight, military formation in a large, empty room. The Purifiers have killed children—babies—just because they were mutants, Warpath says. They even killed his friend, Caliban. Warpath promised he would make them pay. The Purifiers, have made it even worse for themselves, because now, they've taken Rahne too.

Wolverine leaps through the grass and approaches a door under a large church. He and X-23 have killed and tortured their way across the Midwest in search of Rahne. Warpath has also done things in the last few days that he didn't think himself capable of doing. When Cyclops called them X-Force, Warpath held his tongue. The way he sees it, X-Force was a team of kids turned into soldiers. But this—what the three of them are currently doing—is something different entirely. At this moment, Warpath is okay with that.

The Purifiers stand at attention as Bastion enters. Through the video camera outside the door, he sees X-23 cutting the lock and Warpath waiting to enter. Bastion remains calm. He turns toward the large, metal door in front of him.

Warpath digs his fingers into the metal door. When he finds the Purifiers—when he finds the man who put a bullet in Rahne Sinclair—it will not be Wolverine or X-23 who takes him down; it will be him. With his fingers buried deep in the metal door, Warpath jerks his arm backward, ripping the door clean off its hinges. X-Force steps inside. In the almost cavernous room before them, they find exactly what they were looking for: Rahne Sinclair.


A jet lands at a private airport in Chicago. As it approaches the hangar, Bastion scans it for mutants, but finds no mutant presence. Rahne is not on board, he tells the Purifiers. One of Bastion’s men reports that only the three—Eli, Matthew Risman, and Reverend Craig—are coming.

The Purifiers address Reverend Matthew Risman as "Father" as he emerges from the jet. Risman greets Bastion and asks if this Purifier base meets his needs. Ignoring this divergent question, Bastion asks if the mutant is dead.


Warpath cuts Rahne free of her ropes. Not again, he cries.


"Those were your orders," Risman says in response to Bastion's query. Bastion repeats his question. Did he kill her?! "Yes," Risman answers.


Rahne opens her eyes after James cuts her free. She groans as the sweat pours down her face. Warpath takes her in his arms and runs for the exit. Rahne's alive, he says, but they need to get her medical attention immediately.


Bastion leads Risman and Eli down a long, sparse corridor. Risman asks Bastion where he is taking them. "Incorrect. The question is, where are we taking you? The outsider is not coming with us," Bastion says. Eli, stopping in his tracks, asks Bastion to clarify. Bastion pivots and steps right into to Eli's face. "Eli Bard," Bastion begins, "Real name: unknown. Former aliases: unknown. Identity: unknown. Legal Status: unknown. Place of birth: unknown. Marital Status: unknown. Base of operations: unknown. Group affiliations: unknown. First appearance: unknown. You call yourself ‘Eli Bard’ but we have no record of you, present or future." Bastion puts his hand around Eli's throat and lifts him off the ground. "We do not know you, and we do not trust you."

Risman interjects. He reminds Bastion that it was Brother Eli who led the Purifiers to Bastion. Bastion deems this fact irrelevant. Eli, meanwhile, grows worried as runs out of air. Risman continues. Since Bastion knows nothing about Eli Bard, why kill him now? He asks that Bastion let him discover Eli's true identity. If he discovers Eli is an enemy of the Purifiers, Risman vows to kill him. This, Bastion deems acceptable. He releases his grip.

Risman remains behind for a moment after Bastion and his escorts leave. He promises Eli, who kneels on the floor gasping for breath, that he will get him out of this mess.

Risman follows Bastion into a room that resembles a morgue. A series of bodies in black bags rests atop a row of steel tables. "What in Heaven's name..." Risman says as he enters, using a figure of speech. Bastion, taking his comment literally, informs him that heaven has nothing to do with this. This, Bastion says, is the work of man.

Near the end of the row, an irate Donald Pierce lies strapped to a table. He screams at Bastion as he passes; he has friends in powerful places! Bastion tells Pierce he knows all about his friends. Why else would he be here? The Leper Queen lies strapped to the table adjacent to Pierce's, but she remains characteristically calm. She asks if this is the Apocalypse again, and if so, if it will hurt. Horrified, Risman asks Bastion who these people are, and what Bastion has in store for them. The next thing he sees, however, takes his breath away.

An orb hangs suspended by several cables in the center of the room. Inside its glassy exterior, Risman sees a mass of black, shifting mass of cables and circuitry, its living structure highlighted by glowing yellow components. Bastion understands Risman's reaction; he forgets how unsettling it can be to see a techno-organic creature for the first time. "This is Magus," he says to Risman. "Or, perhaps more accurate, a mindless offspring of Magus." Bastion supposes it is best the creature does not possess its father's intellect; it will be much easier to rewrite its programming this way.

He grabs hold of the controls. The Magus-offspring squeals. "Now we/Self am/are in control," Bastion states, adopting the foreign speech patterns of the techno-organic creature. "Now Self/we are/am Technarchy/not Technarchy." Bastion then commands the techno-organic creature to infect the other bodies in the room. Using its tentacles, it reaches out and pierces each of the bodies lying strapped to the cadaver tables—including those of the agonized Leper Queen and Donald Pierce.

From behind a crack in the door, Eli Bard observes this ungodly scene.


Blanketed in the darkness of night, X-Force returns to their interim hideout at Angel's Aerie. Warren stands on the balcony awaiting their return. To his surprise, Warpath leaps out of the jet as it passes overhead, landing with Rahne held safely in his arms. Warren asks if she’s okay. “Does she look okay, Worthington?” James asks. “She’s seizing!” Rahne froths at the mouth while her eyes roll back in her head. Rushing her inside, James rushes her inside and holds her on the couch to restrain her erratic gyrations. Warren asks what happened. James explains that the Purifiers injected her with an overdose of heroin—but not quite enough to kill her. They should have realized it was not a lethal amount, he adds. As Logan and Laura enter, Warren asks how he can help. If he wants to help, Logan says, then he can go find Elixir right away. Warren takes off flying immediately. As he departs, his avian image is reflected in the watchful eye of Rahne Sinclair.


Matthew Risman questions the unholy thing Bastion has done. Bastion reminds him he explained that there was no terrestrial force that could guarantee the total elimination of the X-Men. However, he has created a terrestrial solution—one that will save the world from the global mutant threat. Now that the first stage is complete, the operation must expand, he says.

He leads Risman into a conference room and orders him to take his place at the table. “This is the future of humanity,” Bastion says. At the table sit the bodies of some of the worst enemies of mutantkind, reanimated by the techno-organic virus: Graydon Creed, founder of the Friends of Humanity; Donald Pierce, the Leader of the Reavers; Stephen Lang, the head of Project: Armageddon; Reverend William Stryker, the Archbishop of the Purifiers; the Leper Queen, leader of the Sapien League; Cameron Hodge, founder of the Right; and finally, Bolivar Trask, inventor of the Sentinels.

The Purifiers in attendance cheer and raise their fists. “This,” Bastion says, “is the end of mutantkind.”

Characters Involved: 

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

Angel (member of the X-Men)

Reverend Matthew Risman

Reverend Craig

Eli Bard

Sister Mary (Purifiers)

Various other Purifiers


Magus offspring

Donald Pierce (Leader of the Reavers)

The Leper Queen (Leader of the Sapien League)

Graydon Creed, Cameron Hodge, Stephen Lang, Reverend William Stryker, Bolivar
Trask (all reanimated vessels of the techno-organic virus)

Donald Pierce’s cybernetic mechanic

Guatemalan prison guards

Guatemalan executioner

Story Notes: 

When Bastion introduces his army of mutant killers reanimated by the techno-organic virus, he lists their total number of mutants killed as:

• Graydon Creed: 147

• Donald Pierce: 348

• Stephen Lang: 29

• Reverend William Stryker: 474

• The Leper Queen: 221

• Cameron Hodge: 178

• Bolivar Trask: 16,521,618

Trask’s kill count is so high because, as the inventor of the Sentinels, he gets credit for Cassandra Nova’s Sentinel attack on Genosha in NEW X-MEN (1st series) #115, among other things.

Donald Pierce is a mutant-hating cyborg. A former member of the Hellfire Club’s Inner Circle as well as the leader of the cybernetic Reavers, Pierce last appeared in UNCANNY X-MEN #454, in which he was decapitated by Sebastian Shaw after attempting to overthrow the Hellfire Club.

Cameron Hodge, Warren Worthington III’s childhood friend and the treacherous public relations expert for the first incarnation of X-Factor, first appeared in X-FACTOR (1st series) #1. He was secretly the leader of the anti-mutant terrorist group, The Right. Archangel beheaded Hodge after Hodge killed his girlfriend Candy Southern in X-FACTOR (1st series) #34, but Hodge survived due to a pact he had made with the demon N’Astirh. Hodge later waged an attack on mutantkind once again during the X-Tinction Agenda crossover, but seemingly died during the finale in X-FACTOR (1st series) #62. However, Hodge reemerged once again during the Phalanx Covenant crossover as part of the Phalanx Collective. He once again met his end in CABLE (1st series) #16, when he fell down the side of Mt. Everest along with the remains of the Phalanx’s Babel Spire.

The Leper Queen first appeared in DECIMATION: HOUSE OF M – THE DAY AFTER, which immediately preceded X-MEN (2nd series) #177. The leader of the mutant-hunting Sapien League, she attacked the Xavier Institute the day after M-Day. Along with Polaris, she was captured by Apocalypse while in Puerto Rico in X-MEN (2nd series) #181. The Leper Queen wanted so badly to be Apocalypse’s Horseman Pestilence that Apocalypse refused, and instead chained her up in his prison. She has not been seen since X-MEN (2nd series) #185. Presumably, she escaped Apocalypse’s prison after he fled. Her comment about “the Apocalypse” in this issue refers to her time in Apocalypse’s captivity.

Graydon Creed is the baseline-human son of Mystique and Victor Creed, a.k.a. Sabretooth. His mutant heritage—coupled with his abandonment by his parents—led Graydon to hate mutants with a rapid passion. The founder of the anti-mutant group Friends of Humanity, Creed ran for President on a largely anti-mutant campaign, but was assassinated in X-FACTOR (1st series) #130 by his mother, Mystique.

Stephen Lang was the inventor of the second wave of Sentinels. He first appeared in X-MEN (1st series) #96. After his return-shuttle crashed in X-MEN (1st series) #100, Lang merged his mind with a Master Mold, leaving his body, which S.H.I.E.L.D. recovered, in a vegetative state. Lang reemerged years later as one of the Phalanx. During a pivotal moment of the Phalanx takeover of Earth, Lang, still retaining elements of his humanity, betrayed the Phalanx and caused the destruction of its Babel Spire. As the Spire tumbled down the side of Mt. Everest in CABLE (1st series) #16, however, Cameron Hodge, Lang’s fellow member of the Phalanx Collective, grabbed on to Lang and pulled him to his death as well.

Bolivar Trask is the man who invented the Sentinels. However, shortly after their unveiling, Trask saw the error of his ways, going so far as to sacrifice to destroy their Master Mold in X-MEN (1st series) #16.

Reverend William Stryker and his Purifiers staged a multi-tiered attack on the Xavier Institute between NEW X-MEN (2nd series) #20-27, killing 45 students in the process. Previous to this attack, Stryker, the former leader of the Purifiers, targeted Professor X and the X-Men in MARVEL GRAPHIC NOVEL #5: GOD LOVES, MAN KILLS, and again during the “God Loves, Man Kills II” storyline in X-TREME X-MEN #25-30. His reign of terror ended in NEW X-MEN (2nd series) #27 when Elixir gave him a touch of death and filled him with the “black, cancerous tumors” Risman mentions in this issue.

Sister Mary resembles one of the Purifiers present during the attack on the Xavier Institute in NEW X-MEN (2nd series) #27. The parallel slash marks across her face suggest she is indeed this same woman, and survived her encounter with X-23.

The story of how Reverend William Stryker saved the life of Matthew Risman’s family was initially told in NEW X-MEN (2nd series) #22.

Elixir, formerly of the New X-Men, has the power to completely control organic matter and is therefore the X-Men’s default healer.

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