X-Force (4th series) # 1

Issue Date: 
April 2014
Story Title: 
Offensive Acts

Simon Spurrier (writer), Rock-He Kim (artist), VC’s Joe Sabino (letterer), Rock-He Kim (cover artist), Phil Noto and Katie Cook (variant cover), Xander Jarowely (assistant editor), Daniel Ketchum (editor), Nick Lowe (X-Men group editor), Axel Alonso (editor-in-chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (Exec. Publisher)

Brief Description: 

Cable has created a new iteration of X-Force consisting of Psylocke, a mysteriously repowered Marrow and Dr. Nemesis, following the Alexandria event, a disaster that has been blamed on mutants with worldwide consequences. Apparently, it also caused Cable’s foster daughter Hope to be in a mysterious coma. Cable is after the cyberweapon used to launch the Alexandria event. To get that intel, they have to free his informant from the Chinese. Much to Psyloke’s horror, the informant turns out to be her former lover Fantomex, who explains the weapon is kept on a plane that is constantly in the air. X-Force cleverly mange to hijack a fuel plane and get the plane out of the sky. The cyber weapon turns out to be a comatose mutant woman who electronically asks them for help.

Full Summary: 

Somewhere in the jungle:
Cable is battling a monstrous muscled man who is carrying a prisoner / hostage on his back.

Music, Marrow, who watches the whole thing, thinks to herself. She was never really big on music, baby. Just never seemed important. She’s been thinking about that kinda a lot. What’s important. She wonders if the person she is thinking this to can hear this. It’s, her, baby. Sarah. She’s got a new job. It helped her realize, violence is her music, baby.

Marrow slowly takes aim with her weapon. Take the shot! Betsy Braddock aka Psylocke reiterates impatiently. Can’t, Marrow reminds her. They are here to rescue the prisoner off shouty man’s shoulders. Might hit him. Says the self-declared “crazy-good” sniper, Betsy mocks. Nasty crosswind, Marrow points out. Betsy wanted non-lethal. Can’t risk it.

Calling her a walnut-brained mistake, Betsy reminds her she’s psychic. She knows Marrow is enjoying watching two men kill each other. Busted, Sarah shrugs.

Violence, baby, she thinks. Like a beat. Faster, slower. Is that gross? Is she sick?.All she knows is it’s been a couple of years since she lost her powers and this *$/& got her right in the bones ever since. The thrill… the blood… the pain… right down there in her—

Psylocke interrupts her train of thought. Their taciturn leader is being ripped apart by a ten-foot Chinese ragemonster with exploding fists. Adjust for the crosswind, shoot to wound and enjoy it all she bloody likes, but for God’s sake take the sodding—

She doesn’t have to, as Cable takes his opponent out.

And Marrow figures jobwise she has found a keeper…Course one can’t have a song without an intro. She recalls how the old man launched the beat.

Psylocke and Marrow watch a news report with an explosion, which Cable refers to as the Alexandria incident. Three thousand dead. Biggest defense symposium ever held. Diplomats, military, civilians. All nations. All factions. Place goes up like a kerosene Krakatoa. And a month later, all anyone knows is there was a damn mutant in the middle. Thanks to Alexandria, rules’ve changed. Game’s changed. He wants to know who changed it.

Marrow figures the old man’s different, too. He talks in bursts like… saving ammo. She kinda likes it. Helps the beat.

Cable shows them another recording. Two weeks before Alexandria. Indian government tech base in Calcutta. One of the most secure facilities on Earth. 156 hrs. Whole thing rolls over dead. Sensors fail. Doors slide open. Unidentified nasties enter stage left.

1457: Indian superhuman operative Sthagati arrives to secure the facility. Powered by a radioactive garrotte. Whatever. Don’t get too attached.

1458 hrs: Auto defenses come online. Fry their own guy like an egg. Unidentified intruders are left unscathed. Spooks steal a bunch of data, abduct three scientists. Footage end. Questions?

Oooh, ooh question! Marrow shouts. Betsy groans. Who do they go creatively murder first? Marrow asks eagerly. Also: dibs on the hit!

On a less deranged note, Betsy interjects. She didn’t see any mutants there. Just one nation’s ops nobbling another’s. She hates to sound callous but what does that mean to them? Baroness Killjoy wants to know why he cares about Kaptain Krishna, Marrow translates.

Cable explains he got this footage from an informer who claims the perpetrators are connected to the Alexandria atrocity. But it’s more than that. They just saw some of the most sophisticated defense systems in the world turn against its own people. Inference? New toy, Betsy replies. Some *%§$ out there got a cyber weapon. Cable wants it for them. Betsy asks about the informant. He replies the guy lit up a distress signal but an hour ago. Looks like the Chinese got there first.

Boss needs help! Marrow cheers as she runs towards the two fighting men. She asks Cable to allow her to turn off her inhibitor or use the science *#%$. She does either, she is out, he warns her. Just get the damned informant clear.

Betsy attacks the monster. Cable tells her she needn’t kill him, just slow him down.

Marrow frees the informant and takes the bag off his head. A moment later, the monster’s head explodes, courtesy of a shot by the informant… Fantomex.

Don’t be embarrassed, he tells Psylocke. Always in her heart, she wants Fantomex to be the one who is doing the… finishing-off for her, oui? It is their bond, their fearful love. He forgives her for fleeing it. Betsy is speechless for a moment, then announces she wishes to temporarily renounce her vow of non-lethality. Somebody please lend her a gun.

Marrow recalls asking who the informer is. Cable is evasive, then tries to tell Betsy, who doesn’t want to hear. He knows she’s on board. He knows why. The only sensible question is: What’s X-Force for this time round?

He explains almost every nation uses superhumans as covert agents. Mutants have to be in this shadow game or &%/$ like Alexandria happens and blame gets laid. And their species fades out one sleazy cover-up, one funeral of rights, one secret mass grave at a time. Mutant nation needs a dirty tricks crew. They’re it.

Besty probes if there is nothing else going on there. Nothing more personal, say, to do with what happened in Alexandria? He tells her to get her damn sword. They leave in ten.

They enter a lab and Cable wistfully looks at the comatose Hope, his adoptive daughter, who according to Dr. Nemesis is theoretically alive.

Nemesis tries to explain a complicated device to Marrow, who is more interested in the shiny weapons.

Inside Fantomex’s ship, EVA Marrow summarizes skeptically that “Pepe le Pew” here’s got a detachable nervous system which turns into a spaceship. Which they are inside. Right now. God, she missed doing mutant /&%$/! He likes this one, Fantomex grins. That’s wonderful, Psylocke replies stiffly. They should move in together. She hears Mars is nice.

Cable brings them back on topic. After Alexandria, he went under the cover, as it were, Fantomex explains. In a secret listening post in Thailand. Just as Cable asked. The footage they have seen? He intercepted it there. But… attendez: it is not unique. Whoever hit that place in India, the single disruption was the very same used in the explosion in Alexandria. This cyber weapon? They have used it in at least five other countries since. In every case, the targets were data, equipment or les scientifiques.

And how did he come to be in the loving care of the Chinese? Marrow asks. He may have possible accidentally extorted them for fifty million dollars for this information then… ah… sent them a mildly racist Tintin comic instead. Broadly trustworthy, Betsy mutters disgusted. They have no sense of ‘umor, les Chinois, Fantomex continues. But never fear, he hams it up. By tracing back the aggressive signal and conducting some frankly astounding surveillance with EVA… Truly, he addresses Betsy, she would be moved by his brilliance. Perish in fire, she mutters stone-faced.

He has unknotted the naughty knot! The weapon they seek is kept aboard a mighty warplane. Always she is above the Antarctic – international airspace, yes? To launch les attaques. And always she is protected by the flock of drones. Whenever threatened? Zup, she has un teleporteur to jump away. Regardez: the only time her defense is lowered? It is for refueling.

Always airborne? At times and locations very exact. He got all this in his message, Cable replies gruffly. Earn his damn keep! Fantomex grins. He knows those times and locations. ‘old the applause. What he does not know is how it will help them. Forgive him, but who are they? They are one fabulously sexy thief, one weary old soldier, une demente without the powers and too much coffee, and the delicious dessert of his desire. She hates him. Betsy replies tonelessly.

How can they get aboard the monstrosity long enough to steal the device without also destroying it? They’ve got that part covered, Cable replies.

Hey, dull guys, Marrow who’s been looking out the window calls out. She thinks one of them fuel plane mamajamas is ahead. Dibs on going first! she shouts excited.

Who handles the fuelling runs anyway? someone asks. Different every time, Fantomex replies. Hired at random. But if it helps, they are undoubtedly very bad men. She can act against them with impunity.

EVA maneuvers above one of those planes and X-Force climb down upon the plane. Betsy admonishes to Fantomex that she’s not killing anybody. She cannot be ashamed of it, he goads. The desire to destroy… It is so human. Be quiet, be quiet be quiet! She snaps.

Marrow asks Cable if Frenchie is single now. He tells her not to even think about it and stay behind him.

With her sword, Betsy cuts a hole into the hull. As they enter the plane, Fantomex continues that lethality is in her soul. Shut up, shut up! she snarls. Firing at some attacking men, he rhapsodizes: Le violence! On the battlefield and in the bed! It is her nature. So what if it is you cheese-gobbling #*%&! she snarls as she attacks a man with her sword. That doesn’t mean she has to give in to it. She’s through with killing and that’s that. Belatedly, she realizes she has just killed her foe. Fantomex lamely suggests she start from the next day.

Marrow once again thinks of the music. She had no idea what music can do; how the beat can fill your world.

Rendezvous with the plane in five, Cable announces. Get set. He puts the autopilot on and tells Marrow it’s time. Lose the inhibitor. It’s like lightning inside, she hisses, the feeling of being part of the music. Give ‘em hell, soldier! Cable orders.

Marrow jumps out of the plane towards the plane they are after, bone structures gone wild surrounding her.

She figures she’s going to ignore the broken past, dodge the questions. Forget about “what really happened in Alexandria.” Forget about her not being supposed to have powers. Forget about who “Baby” is or was or whether she will ever see that persona again. Forget about the complications and concentrations and let the other losers do the explaining.

Inside the plane, Nemesis sighs that he tried to explain the principle of a controlled superpositional collapse to the ridiculous little simpleton but she’s just not— Cable interrupts. He’s got this.

Marrow lands on the plane, feeling like a living drum solo. Living for the beat. She attatches the device Nemesis gave to her to the hull. Cable explained to her it was a time freeze grenade, giving her half a minute. In that time, she’ll find the cyperweapon and plant the chute on it and get herself out. And then she can enjoy the /&%$/ rush

Marrow does her job. Soon the plane explodes. All of them land with their parachutes including a man-sized black box. The rookie ok? Cable asks. Psylocke comments she just voluntarily head-butted a plane. If she’s damaged her brain, it’s not so anyone will notice. Wanna go again! Marrow groans. She’s fine, Betsy translates.

What is it? Fantomex asks Cable. Inside the box, there is a window behind which the face of a dark-haired, sleeping woman can be seen. Help me scared what’s happening help help appear on the screen outside the box.

Characters Involved: 

Cable, Dr. Nemesis, Fantomex, Marrow, Psylocke (all X-Force)

Chinese agent
Abducted mutant woman

In footage

Story Notes: 

This is the latest incarnation of X-Force following the two different teams in Uncanny X-Force (2nd series) and Cable & X-Force.

The story is narrated by Marrow.

Marrow lost her powers on M-Day.

More about the Alexandra incident will be revealed in issues #5-6.

Pepe le Pew is a French cartoon character, a skunk, in the Warner Bros Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series of cartoons.

“The Adventures of TinTin” by Herge is one of the most Franco-Belgian comic series of the 20th century.

Psylocke and Fantomex have a complicated history. She broke up with him for good in Uncanny X-Force (2nd series) #8.

Written By: