X-Men (4th series) #7

Issue Date: 
January 2014
Story Title: 
Muertas part 1

Brian Wood (Writer), Terry Dodgson (Penciler), Rachel Dodgson (Inker), Jason Keith (Colourist), VC’s Joe Caramagna (Letterer), Terry Dodgson and Rachel Dodgson (Cover), Tom Brennan (Associate Editor), Jeanine Schaefer (Editor), Nick Lowe (X-Men Group Editor), Axel Alonso (Editor in Chief), Joe Quesada (Chief Creative Officer), Dan Buckley (Publisher), Alan Fine (Executive Producer)

Brief Description: 

A few months ago, the teenage Ana Cortes returned from her wealthy father’s funeral as the heir to his business and fortune. With her new wealth, she had a woman named Reiko track down the digital consciousness of Lady Deathstrike. Ana then let Reiko upload the consciousness into Ana’s own cybernetics and Lady Deathstrike was then reborn as a consciousness sharing the body with Ana. A few months later at the Jean Grey School, Storm tells Jubilee that Shogo is now legally hers. During the meeting, Monet St. Croix enters and thanks Storm for letting her stay at the school. In the labs, Beast puts Karima Shapandar through numerous tests to see how she is coping after the Arkea incident. Informed that her cybernetics are inert and she is virtually human again, she tells Beast she wants to get back to being a cop again. M enters looking for the gym and the two women meet and soon being bonding over their recent traumatic experiences. Deciding to go out for a jog together, they are passed by a number of black jeeps occupied by Ana Cortes and her bodyguards. Actually on the way to the school looking for Karima, Ana screeches her cars to a halt and has her guards attack, quickly injuring Karima. However, Ana has not accounted for M, who takes out the cars and men. She then confronts Ana and realizes that Lady Deathstrike is inside the woman. Before she can do anything, however, Ana escapes. Back at the school, the X-Men discuss the attack and M reluctantly joins the team. Meanwhile, Ana flies back home and contacts someone else to provide more powerful muscle. She then receives updated intel from Reiko regarding Arkea and decides she wants to acquire that technology instead of the Omega Sentinel tech. She then meets with Typhoid Mary and drafts her into the new Sisterhood. Elsewhere, Jubilee and Bling! talk and Bling! reveals she asked Mercury out but was punched for it. Jubilee tries to comfort her but Bling! says it doesn’t matter now as she likes someone else.

Full Summary: 

(Bogota, Colombia)
Three black jeeps drive through the sprawling city. Ana Cortes says that her father was born there and his brothers and sisters wanted for everything. Food, clean water, clothing, education and medical care. By ten years old, he was able to provide his family will all those things and more. By eighteen he was a millionaire and by thirty a billionaire, with diversifications in oil, shipping, real estate and weapons. And by thirty-two he was a father to her. His daughter and only child, Ana Cortes.

The black jeeps pull up outside a villa and all the workers on the estate gather in a line to greet the occupants. Ana Cortes steps out of the back of one of the jeeps. The young, beautiful girl has dark, shoulder-length hair and wears a tight t-shirt with a pair of small shorts. A few weeks ago, one day after his fiftieth birthday, she buried her father. Now she is back from boarding school, the heir to his kingdom. Another woman steps out of the car, dressed in a black suit and wears a pair of sunglasses.

One of the staff greets Ana and she asks how business is. They say they manage by the grace of God without her father. Ana strides past them and into the luxurious house. As armed guards stand at the door, she says God is not good enough and tells the woman she is to inform the council she will meet with them all eleven the next day. As the staff peer through the open door at Ana, one older woman exclaims that she brings the devil. A younger woman asks if she means Ms. Cortes but the woman tells her that she is referring to the Japanese woman with her. She calls her La Muerta, which means the devil.

In a bedroom, Ana sits in front of a mirror straddling a chair. She is leant forward and has moved her hair to expose the back of her neck. As Reiko removes something from her bag, she informs her that it will hurt. Ana asks if it means it will all be done but Reiko tells her it is an ongoing process but the hardest part is behind them. Ana exposes a small slot in the back of her neck. Reiko tells her to hold her breath as she sticks a device that looks like a USB stick into it. Referring to another person, Reiko tells Ana she will feel her and when she does exhale slowly and let her engage. Ana sits upright and looks in the mirror, exclaiming that she is there. Reiko informs her that their business is concluded for now as she packs away the device.

Ana turns around and tells her she has missed her. As Reiko packs to leave, she smiles slightly and calls her Yuriko. She tells her she has missed her too and will continue to do so until their mission is complete and Yuriko is whole again. As Reiko leaves and walks down the stairs, she tells Ana to make sure the final payment is transferred to her Grand Cayman account by midnight.

After Reiko has gone, Ana muses to herself and says she’s not a devil but rather an angel and now she is inside of her. Her name is Ana Cortes and her name is Yuriko Oyama. As Ana the billionaire heiress, she has the funds necessary to purchase the Yuriko consciousness. She can provide her with whatever she needs to resume her life as Lady Deathstrike. Reiko, an old friend of Yuriko’s, was the intermediary. Now they are one, Cortes and Oyama in a symbiotic relationship.

At a board meeting a group of men stare at Ana like she was a pendeja, destined to run the company into the ground. They can have the company as she has other challenges in mind. Afterward, Ana has changed into some different clothes and proceeds to inject herself in the hands with nanites. As she does so, Yuriko tells Ana she can feel her worrying but she doesn’t need to, as this is who they are now. She marvels at her body as she feels the nanites multiply inside her body from thousands to millions with each heartbeat. They are now Lady Deathstrike, back from the dead. Ana sits in a chair dressed in black outfit with gold aspects around the sleeves and legs. Her face is painted in the style of a skull and she extends her brand new fingernail claws.

(Jean Grey School, weeks later)
Jubilee sits in Storm’s office, across a desk from her. Storm tells her she has good news and Jubilee jokingly asks if it’s a suite with an adjoining bathroom. The dorms are not designed for single mums. Storm tells her Shogo’s adoption paperwork is being processed. With Shogo sat on her lap, a surprised Jubilee asks if it’s all legal and Storm confirms it is. Jubilee says she was worried there would be criminal charges given how she took him out of the country. Storm informs her that the Hungarian rend rseg aren’t interested in pressing charges and the courts are following suit. She then congratulates Jubilee, as she will soon be his mother legally. As Jubilee excitedly thanks her, a voice comes from behind them, saying she hasn’t heard that shrilling in a while.

Jubilee turns to see M, aka Monet St Croix, standing in the doorway with a bag over her shoulder. M tells her she’s forever the student and then says that Shogo is cute. M then thanks Storm for the hospitality and says she will stay out of the way. As she walks off, she shouts back and tells Jubilee she has nice fangs. A shocked Jubilee asks Storm if princess perfect will be living with them. Storm says M needed some peace and quiet and a place to stay and recuperate. Jubilee exclaims that she really is back in high school.

In Beast’s lab, Karima Shapandar is running on a treadmill as numerous machines record her vital signs. A little way off, Beast monitors the readings and congratulates Karima on a 5km run under her own power. Her cybernetic Omega Sentinel implants seem to be inert, thanks to Arkea’s presence. Beast says he can remove them in time, but she is effectively one-hundred percent organic. He points out her accent is even returning. Karima looks at her hand and says that her coloring is coming back but she still feels like one of those people who has to relearn how to walk after a traumatic injury. Beast says she is one of those people but her progress has been remarkable.

As he examines his monitors, he asks if she has any thoughts on the future. Karima says she wants to retake the police trails and re-qualify for service. She held the course record at Barrackpore, so she wants to match it or do even better. If she can get back to what she was then, she can start thinking about her future and her place in the X-Men.

A voice distracts them and they turn to see M standing in the doorway. Dressed in her combat uniform, she says this doesn’t look like a gym but Beast replies that it still qualifies and invites her in. Beast introduces the two women but Karima apologizes as she is still running on the treadmill. M tells her not to stop on her account and asks if she can join her. As M stretches, she says she is supposed to be staying out of the way. When Karima then asks why as she’s an X-Man, M says she is but she’s keeping a low profile at the moment by choice as she needs to get her head straight.

M asks Karima if she would believe her if she said she just came back from the dead. Karima retorts by asking if M would believe her if she says she knows exactly what it feels like. M says she thinks she would and then asks Karima if she wants to get some air and do a proper run.

(New York State Route 121)
Three black jeeps are driving along the road, which cuts through a forest. Ana Cortes sits in the back of one surrounded by bodyguards. One of them asks her for target details and she tells him it’s a school. He wants the lower level medical labs. He is after a stasis chamber holding a female body comatose. She says she needs the Omega Sentinel tech intact and functional. Another bodyguard asks about defense and she replies that it’s the X-Men. The place will be crawling with defenses and defenders. Let her worry about them; they need to get Karima Shapandar.

As she says Karima’s name, she trails off as she sees the woman in question running past her with M. She yells for the car to stop and the three jeeps skid to a halt in the middle of the road. Hearing the screeches, M and Karima stop and turn around and M comments that this isn’t good. Karima states that there are three vehicles so it’s a minimum of three targets and a maximum of twelve to fifteen. M uses her telepathy to identify twelve and she tells Karima she’s impressed and asks if she’s powered. Karima tells her she isn’t but she was a cop. With that, she pulls out a revolver she had strapped to her back and tells M it’s a Browning HP 9mm and it was her old service piece. M is a little surprised she works out with that strapped on.

From inside the jeep, Ana looks at Karima and is surprised that she is alive and asks when it happened. One of the bodyguards asks for orders and she tells them to take Karima down as the sentinel tech will still be functional post-mortem.

M uses her telepathy to update Storm and Karima yells for her to get down. The doors of the jeeps open and numerous men in black suits get out. Using machine guns, they open fire on the two women. Karima immediately returns fire, but is shot through the right shoulder and collapses on the floor. M says that she should get down as she can handle it.

Ana Cortes watches as M seemingly moves backwards and forwards several feet in a sort of flutter. Her enhanced optics pick it up but to a human eye she would appear to be standing still. The result is impressive. A burst of energy is unleashed and all the bodyguards and jeeps are blasted with a shockwave. Ana doesn’t know who she is. She paid good money on the black market for a current roster of the school and she wasn’t on it. Given the fact that Karima’s status is so radically changed, the information is compromised and possibly a misdirect. She has one thing in her favor, though. She doesn’t know who this mutant is but she will know who Ana Cortes is.

As the bodyguards lie unconscious on the ground, M runs up to the jeep Ana is in. She tells Ana she has just called her friends and in about three minutes she will be taken into custody and not by anyone who will read her rights and give her a lawyer. So she advises her to sit tight and not move. She then asks for the woman’s name and Ana tells it her. As Ana looks at her, she realizes that M is a telepath and she will soon know who she really is.

Ana kicks the door to the jeep, hitting M and catapulting her across the road. Ana steps out of the jeep and mutters that she hates telepaths. She starts to walk towards M but Karima opens fire on her. Ana narrowly dodges one and realizes she isn’t going to dodge the next. The Deathstrike abilities are still integrating and she shouldn’t have attempted the mission so soon. Not with these pathetic excuses for hired muscle and not without confirmed intel. Not at anything less than one-hundred percent body readiness. A bullet suddenly strikes her leg and she quickly gets into the driver’s side of one of the jeeps.

Ana speeds off before M can get to her. Karima wearily calls to M as she is bleeding profusely from the shoulder. M runs over and says the others will be there in thirty seconds. Karima apologizes and M says she thinks she knows who it was and she won’t get away next time.

(The Cortes Syndicate’s Lear 85)
As Ana sits on her private plane, she says that the billions of nanites in her body are now trillions. Her leg will be repaired by the time they leave American airspace. This sort of body modification can leave a girl feeling invincible. As Ana sits in her seat with a glass of wine in her hand, she sends a text message to someone. Some upgraded muscle who is a solid operator and is up to God-knows-what in NYC. But if she can get herself to Bogota by the time she lands, then she is worth hiring. Ana asks Mary not to let her down. With one text down, she proceeds to make a call to Reiko. She asks her to go back to the Jean Grey School’s systems and get some proper, current intel. Everything they have on Omega Sentinel and Karima Shapandar. Anything bio-cybernetic; there has to be more than she gave her. Ana tells Reiko she will triple her rate as she needs the mods.

(Jean Grey School)
Karima and M are in the medical bay with Storm, Psylocke and Rachel. Rachel doesn’t seem to believe what M is saying but the young woman says she can check her recall herself. It may not have looked like Yuriko but the consciousness was there. Psylocke asks what she looks like now and M tells her a teenaged Latina wearing Day-of-the-dead face paint. Psylocke sarcastically says it’s very hipster of her and comments that she didn’t think Yuriko could annoy her more. Karima chips in and mentions the jeeps and the bodyguards. She asks if a full frontal assault on the school with conventional weapons has happened before.

Storm says it hasn’t but it might not be so random. Lady Deathstrike would need a new body since her old one was destroyed. Storm says it doesn’t explain the assault and asks M to work with them. They need everything, the who, what and why. M says she is supposed to be taking some downtime and she isn’t sure how much use she would be to them. She isn’t looking to be the new team bruiser.

A voice comes from behind them and tells M no-one asked her to. They turn to see Jubilee carrying Shogo. As Jubilee sits down, M says she will do it but not because the queen of the Goths but because Karima took a bullet she should have stopped. Karima tells her she’s police and she can handle it. M says they will handle it together and then asks if the team has a name. Storm says it’s not really a team yet and doesn’t have a name. Rachel quietly mutters that she has a name for it. Storm continues and says they still have a few things to talk over. M says she doesn’t even have to read their minds to figure that out. She says they are just X-Men then and suggests they get to it.

Jubilee stomps out of the room and calls to her from behind. She reminds her that they were supposed to have lunch. Jubilee says she forgot and they were supposed to talk about her and Mercury. She apologizes and says something came up. Bling! tells her that she asked Mercury out on a date and she freaked out and punched her in front of everyone. She says she was so embarrassed, as no-one knew how much nerve it took to ask her out and Storm and Rachel think it’s all her fault. Bling! tells her that it’s okay but Jubilee replies that it isn’t. Mercury had no right to do that and it was completely unacceptable. Bling! says she doesn’t like Mercury like that anymore as she likes someone else now.

From her villa, Ana is speaking to Reiko over the phone. She tells her to upload the files whilst she is on the phone. Ana asks just how hidden the files were but Reiko says they weren’t. They were brand new and they weren’t there two weeks ago. She asks Ana what she thinks and Ana tells her she is in love. She can’t believe she was lusting after the Omega Sentinel tech when this exists.

Reiko tells her not to think of it as a thing. It’s not a mod or a simple software upgrade. She needs to look at the files and she will see what she means. Then Ana will pay her ten times her rate. Ana asks why she would do that but Reiko just tells her to read the files. Ana asks if it has a name and Reiko says she will text her, as she doesn’t want to say it over an open phone line. Ana calls her paranoid and tells her it had better be good. She hangs up the phone and walks towards a patio window.

Outside, someone calls out to Ana and asks if they have a target. Looking at her phone, Ana says they call it “Arkea” and they are going to steal it. She walks over to Typhoid Mary and asks if she is ready. Mary says she’s at her service and compliments her new look.

Characters Involved: 

Beast, Jubilee, M, Omega Sentinel, Psylocke, Rachel Grey, Storm (all X-Men)
Bling! (student)

Ana Cortes/Lady Deathstrike
Typhoid Mary
Villa Staff


Shogo Lee

Story Notes: 

The title “Muertas” is Spanish and roughly translated to “Death.”

Certain parts of this issue are narrated by Ana Cortez and Lady Deathstrike.

Karima Shapandar was inhabited by the sentient bacteria Arkea in issues #1-3.

M, aka Monet St Croix, has been in X-Factor (3rd series) since it began in 2006. She recently died in the “Hell on Earth” arc that acted as a swansong for the series. Strong Guy brought her back to life when he became Lord of Hell. She left the team and ended up in Las Vegas where she slept with fellow ex-teammate Darwin.

Lady Deathstrike was last seen in Secret Avengers #33-37. Her original body has long died and she now resides as a technological consciousness.

Typhoid Mary’s mutant status was in question for many years but she was confirmed to be one after the Decimation. She featured in Avengers Academy as Mutant Zero. Mary has acted as both hero and villain over time and even in her most recent appearances during the Shadowland crossover her loyalties are questionable.

Reiko is also the name of the Japanese assassin that killed Mariko Yashida and who subsequently committed suicide. Whilst it wouldn’t be entirely implausible for the Reiko in this issue to be her, it would be an odd choice.

This is Ana Cortes’s first appearance.

Monet’s display of power when she destroys the cars hasn’t been seen before. It would seem to be some kind of telekinesis. She has been stated at having telekinesis in X-Factor (3rd series) when she redirected a bullet back at an attack. But other than that she has not displayed such a blatant show of it. That said her power of flight could be her using the TK to levitate herself.

Karima was a police officer in India before she was turned into an Omega Sentinel.

Kitty is absent from this issue because she left the School at the end of the Battle of the Atom crossover.

Rogue is absent due to developments in the Uncanny Avengers series which she also features in.

The incident which Bling! is talking about happened in #1 of this series.

Pendeja is a Spanish word meaning idiot or moron.

When Storm refers to the Hungarian Rend Rseg she is talking about the Hungarian Police.

Jubilee and M both served on Generation X together and had a love/hate style relationship for much of it.

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