X-Men (3rd series) #26

Issue Date: 
May 2012
Story Title: 

Victor Gischler (writer), Jorge Molina (penciler), Jorge Molina w/ Cam Smith (inkers), Guru EFX (colorist), VC’s Joe Caramagna (letterer), Jorge Molina (cover), Jordan D. White (assistant editor), Daniel Ketchum (associate editor), Jeanine Schaeffer (editor), Nick Lowe (group editor), Axel Alonso (editor in chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)

Brief Description: 

The mercenaries out for the Kodo bounty are scattered all over the island. The X-Men’s first objective is to get Deadpool to their side, which Domino does by promising him a date. Next, the rest of the vampires and X-Men have been dispatched to fight certain foes. The fights are evenly matched for the most part, the only ones in question being Visigoth v. Black Axe, and Warpath v. Bruiser. However, these mercs were part of a more elaborate plan. Back at the Forgiven HQ, in the midst of a heated spat between Kodo, Storm and Jubilee, the power goes out. Then, almost as quickly, Psylocke, Inka and Storm are taken down. Right after, Raizo is staked, a piece of it actually nicking his heart. The assailant then reveals himself, Lord Deathstrike. However, just before the killing blow, Jubilee challenges him to a duel.

Full Summary: 

an island in the South China Sea

The Merc with a Mouth is running through the island forest, narrating his escapades as if he were part of some documentary. With handguns in each hand and a large golden cross swinging from a chain around his neck he’s out for the bounty on Raizo Kodo.
That is, until, a friendly voice calls out to him from amongst the trees. He turns his head and sees Domino coming toward him from the rear. She yells at him for thinking out loud again, something she’s talked to him about before. Wade thought his words were going up in one of the little boxes.
Stopping mid-ramble, Deadpool comes to the insane realization that Domino being on the island means she’s been turned into a vampire. He shoves the cross in her face and reaches behind his back for a sword.
“Knock it off, idiot,” Domino states matter-of-factly. She then grabs his fist holding the cross and tells Deadpool she’s there with the X-Men and they need his help. “Help with what,” he asks. She grabs his chin and turns it toward the beach, pointing at Fifolet and his numerous guild members.
Of course, Deadpool saw them on his way in, but he’s only interested in collecting on a bounty and not going up against those guys. He has no plans to throw away an easy kill. But when Domino offers to go on a date with him in exchange for his help he quickly changes his mind.
Forgiven’s Command Center

There are five remaining in the command center, Storm, leader of the X-Men, Raizo Kodo, leader of the Forgiven, Jubilee, Psylocke and Inka, who is manning the computer system. They are pleased Domino has recruited Deadpool, but the task at hand is dangerous and they’re not celebrating yet.
In fact, Storm and Raizo are in the midst of a battle of egos, Storm’s distrust of vampires is clear as day. It takes Jubilee asking Storm if she distrusts her too, since she is now a vampire to snap the longtime X-Man out of it.
Both are cautious at dividing their numbers, but since the mercenaries are coming from all sides they have no choice. They’ve dispatched someone to deal with each of the threats before they get too close.
Speaking of, Warpath was sent after Bruiser, Nighteyes was dispatched for Lady Bullseye, Quickshot was tasked with Scorpion and Visigoth was given Black Axe. Raizo believes they should all be in position to take on their target, which will help cover their withdrawal.
Storm is surprised to hear the Forgiven is running. “Not all of us are lucky enough to have a Utopia,” Inka snipes back, then wishes she knew more about their foe. Storm agrees and asks Psylocke if she has anything. Probing the weak minds of the Zapata Brothers doesn’t yield any new information, she reveals.
Storm returns to bickering with Raizo. She doesn’t like that so many people are being kept in reserve. He tells her the same thing he told Sun Tzu all those years ago, no battleplan ever survives contact with the enemy. He wants to keep people back to “plug the leaks.” Also, he’s getting a weird feeling about these attacks. Something’s off, he thinks.
Inka draws their attention to the monitors where Domino and Deadpool have engaged with Fifolet and the Assassin’s Guild. The two are surrounded, but doing a good job of fending them off. Deadpool sticks to the sword while Domino makes with the guns. In the midst of the battle Domino does her best to explain Jubilee’s vampire situation, but the concept is lost on the bat-crazy Deadpool who thinks they are going to stake Jubilee. Domino does find out the source of the bounty, Craigslist.
The battle is almost over, most of the assassins dead, but then a huge elephant of a tank rears its ugly head on the battlefield. Deadpool gets clipped in the shoulder by gunfire while Domino makes it out just in time. The gunfire continues, but now it has a different target, a new entry to the field, Colossus.
The armored mutant charges the tank, despite getting hit by round after round. When he reaches the vehicle one clean punch rocks it up into the air, crushing the front end and knocking it out of commission.
Colossus’ victory proves short-lived as an intangible Fifolet flies through the middle of his body. Piotr yells out in agony as electricity courses through him. Fifolet sarcastically apologizes, but says Colossus deserves it for destroying his very expensive tank.
Elsewhere, Warpath makes his move on Bruiser. He actually offers the gun for hire a chance to turn around and leave. Of course, Bruiser doesn’t take the offer and proceeds to take a swing at James. Warpath blocks it and returns the favor, sending Bruiser flying backward.
He’s slow to get up, wiping the blood from his mouth, but Bruiser is determined to take him down. He says he’s adding Warpath to his list. James asks if that means he’s turning around and leaving, but Bruiser says it’s only so he can feel good about crossing him off. And with that, he charges Warpath and plows him through a tree.
Also elsewhere, both “Eyes” face off on the jungle ground. Lady Bullseye draws the tsais from her back and makes the first move. She tries stabbing Nighteyes, but the vampire proves very swift. Using her bo staff, Nighteyes is able to block most of Lady Bullseye’s attacks, but an elbow to the face shows Nighteyes she’s not dealing with any mere mortal.
And yet somewhere else, the battle rages on between Black Axe and Visigoth. Both are face to face, sneering at each other. Visigoth boasts that the Roman Empire couldn’t destroy him, so what chance does “Axe Boy” have. Black Axe says he’ll take that bet and, pushing off of Visigoth, rears his axe over his shoulder and slices Visigoth across the chest at a diagonal, breaking the skin.
However, Visigoth was mid-swing with his own weapon just as the cutting strike was delivered. As he drops to his knee in utter shock he brings his powerful mace to bear, slamming it on the ground near Black Axe’s feet.
Though he misses his opponent, Visigoth’s strike has the unintended effect of fracturing the cliff face on which they are fighting. Both men go plummeting into the cold waters below.
Lastly, and also elsewhere, Scorpion charges Quickshot, intending on breaking him in half. Seeing the vampire reach for his gun Scorpion mocks his weaponry and threatens to use his skull as a pen holder. An unperturbed Quickshot loads one bullet inside his revolver, snaps the spinner shut, takes aim and fires.
The bullet enters Scorpion’s open mouth. He falls to the ground, foam building around his lips. Quickshot kneels down next to him and explains he used a capsule filled with the toxin of the viper orchid found in the swamps of Borneo. Patting Scorpion on the chest plate he says the paralysis should last about 12 hours, and the capsule, he got it on E-Bay.
Forgiven’s Command Center

As Storm watches the battle’s progress her doubts strengthen over Raizo’s plan. She once again says she shouldn’t be kept in reserve while her teammates are out there. Inka snipes that her teammates are out there too. Raizo intervenes and explains the Klaw sect has been after him for two centuries, but this is nothing they would have come up with, it’s too clumsy for them. It must be some kind of ruse.
Her hatred of vampires already well known, Storm has had enough. She tells Raizo she’s pulling her people out, including Jubilee. Once again, Jubilee has to come to her own defense and asks Storm to trust Raizo, who’s really helping her cope with her new vampire life.
Saying Storm doesn’t know what the vampire life is like gets Jubilee a death glare. Storm defends her actions, saying she knows vampires all too well, which is why she doesn’t trust them. Jubes backs down from her statement, but explains what the Forgiven are about, and how they’ve helped her control her impulses, that they’re the good guys, the yin to Dracula’s yang. She tells Storm she once felt like an outcast as a mutant, and she doesn’t want to feel like one as a vampire too.
Placing the tips of her fingers on her forehead, Storm leans her head forward and sighs. Of course she wants to help Jubilee, but-- and she stops mid-sentence because the power suddenly shuts off.
Raizo asks Inka for a status, and she says someone on the inside must have done it. Psylocke agrees, saying she senses someone nearby. A small, metal ball tunks its way toward Psylocke’s feet. When it opens Psylocke’s psyche is under an immediate assault. She grabs her head as the pain rips through her mind.
the beach

Deadpool is excited to see Fifolet, referring to him as Mercenary Monthly’s Assassin of the Year in 1997 (though he immediately admits to making that up). Domino tells him to save the crazy for later and empties both of her clips into the man. His intangible state prevents him from getting hurt so he mocks her instead.
However, the intangible state does not protect him from Ghost Blade, who uses his mist form to match Fifolet’s intangible state. The vampire tackles him, driving him through the air. This allows the other three to drive the remaining guild members back into the ocean. With the Assassin’s Guild on retreat Domino tries connecting to Storm for a status report, but can’t seem to reach Psylocke.
Forgiven’s Command Center

The aforementioned Psylocke is crumpled on the ground. Storm rushes to check on her, kneeling at her side. Psylocke figures it was some kind of psionic white noise generator, but she’s still very groggy.
Everyone’s so focused on Betsy they don’t notice the noose slowly descending from above Inka’s head. It’s too late as it snags around her neck and lifts her into the air. The noose generates some sort of electrical shock, incapacitating her, before setting her back into the chair.
The next hero to get attacked is Storm. A bolo rope comes flying out from somewhere and wraps around her neck. The white nodules on each end open up, releasing a knock out gas.
Three are down, leaving Raizo and Jubilee. Their attacker is still unknown, remaining well-hidden. Raizo draws his sword, ready to fight whoever it is. However, he, too, is caught by surprise. A stake is jammed through the back of his chest plate, and pops through to the front. He falls to the ground, almost mortally wounded.
When Raizo looks up his attacker is standing in front of him, though he doesn’t recognize him (Lord Deathstrike). Though the assassin doesn’t speak, Raizo commends him on his speed. He says he only barely avoided the attack, some of the stake actually nicked a piece of his heart.
Lord Deathstrike remains silent, but crouches down to Raizo’s level. As the vampire lord admires the elaborate scheme, loosing a gaggle of random killers on the island to either draw him out or draw off his teammates, he still doesn’t believe Klaw sect is behind the attack. He only wishes he would be around to find out the truth.
Bringing his sword to level Lord Deathstrike is ready to decapitate Raizo. However, there’s one person he didn’t incapacitate, Jubilee. Armed with a sword of her own she tells Raizo his swan song is a bit premature, “because right now, me and this Kabuki-looking loser are gonna have us a sword fight!”

Characters Involved: 

Colossus, Deadpool, Domino, Jubilee, Psylocke, Storm, Warpath (all X-Men)
Ghost Blade, Inka, Raizo Kodo, Nighteyes, Quickshot, Visigoth (all Forgiven)
Black Axe, Bruiser, Fifolet, Lady Bullseye, Lord Deathstrike, Scorpion, Zapata Brothers (all mercenaries)

Story Notes: 

Sun Tzu was a famous ancient Chinese philosopher credited for writing a collection of military strategies titled The Art of War.
Craigslist is a website where users create ads for selling good or requesting services.
Bruiser once compiled a list of heroes and villains who would be tough to beat in a fight and then proceeded to fight them. This is what he was referring to with James.
E-Bay is an auction website where users can bid on pretty much anything.
Storm’s history with vampires stems from her encounter with Dracula. He wanted her as a bride, and it almost happened, but the X-Men were able to break her free of his influence. (Uncanny X-Men [1st series] #159 & Uncanny X-Men Annual #6)
Quick bio on the new (to this issue) merc:

Lord Deathstrike is a character who first appeared in recent issues of Wolverine. He is an assassin by trade and employs high-tech weaponry to take down his targets.
Lord Deathstrike’s mask is something you would find being used in a Kabuki production, a type of Japanese theater where the actors sing and dance in ornate outfits.

Issue Information: 
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