X-Statix #14

Issue Date: 
November 2003
Story Title: 
Back from the Dead - part 2

Peter Milligan (writer), Mike Allred (penciler), J. Bone (Inker), Laura Allred (colors), Virtual Calligraphy’s Cory Petit (letters), Warren Simons & John Miesegaes (assistant editors), Axel Alonso (editor), Joe Quesada (chief), Bill Jemas (president)

Brief Description: 

Outside their new megastore in Times Square, X-Statix makes battle with a group of mutants called Euro-Trash, who are set on kidnapping resurrected pop-star, Henrietta Hunter. Despite the assist of Spider-Man, the new group of mutants manages to kidnap Henrietta and barricade themselves with her inside the megastore. Unwilling to risk the team in an unknown situation for someone they don’t like, the Anarchist has Venus teleport them pack to their HQ. After a few hours of downtime, during which the team contemplates rescuing Henrietta, Doop records a private phone conversation between Spike Freeman and Europan powerbroker, Reggie, during which Spike speaks of his manipulation of the team. When Doop replays the conversation later, the team is incensed and ties up their employer. Further, they plan to rescue Henrietta, killing her captors with a level or professionalism their employer seems to think they do not have. Using Venus’ powers, the team teleports into the megastore and begins killing the Euro-Trash, unaware that Henrietta has struck up a deal with them. Much to Henrietta’s shock, the Euro-Trash are all killed and she is rescued, very much against her will. At the press conference afterwards, Henrietta informs the press that she is planning to continue the charity work that she did in life … as well as reform X-Statix from the inside, as a member. Henrietta’s subsequent deeds include aiding a little boy, who was a victim of a landmine in Latin America, and showing off the initial designs for X-Statix’s new costumes, based off of 1970s fashions. With this, as well as the subsequent information that the X-Statix shareholders and marketing people are wanting to make Henrietta team leader, the team makes a fateful decision: Henrietta must die.

Full Summary: 

In Latin America, a young boy, not even a teen, walks through a field, formerly a site of battle where soldiers fought and died. His name is Jesus Diaz and he wears ragged clothes, one of which is an X-Statix T-shirt, bearing the likeness of Guy Smith. As he walks, Jesus is lost in thought, specifically of how he would like to be a mutant.

He would like to be Guy Smith, he thinks. Or Tike Alicar or even Myles Alfred, though he is his least favorite X-Statix. If he were a mutant, he muses, he would go to America and join X-Statix. Mutants don’t need visas or green cards. To be a mutant is to carry a passport in your blood. To join X-Statix is to hop a fast train to the good life. Passing a demolished tank, Jesus thinks of how he has studied these people and many of them died, not knowing they were mutants until about his age, when something big happened to them and they discovered their secret powers. Maybe it will be the same for him.

Continuing his barefoot trek over the grassy field, Jesus tells himself how he knows it is dangerous to walk across these fields. The soldiers have gone but the war is not over, his father says. Waving to this a legless man walking on balanced crutches in the distance, his uncle, Jesus reminds himself that his uncle trod on one of the gifts the soldiers left behind: landmines. He knows it is dangerous but Tike Alicar and Guy Smith would not be afraid. So neither should he. And maybe, when he is a mutant like them, he will find the buried land mines. X-ray vision. Super-senses. His face on a tee shirt. A hero of the people. To America.

With this thought coursing through his mind, Jesus Diaz does not notice the landmine upon which he steps. The fiery explosion which follows consumes not only Jesus’ frail form but the hopes and dreams contained therein.

In Times Square, the mutant media/super-hero group known as X-Statix fights a new foe: Euro-Trash. Euro-Trash, comprised of Blind Ali, Miz Tree, Oxford Blue, Surrender Monkey and the Wall, try to make good their escape, along with their prize, Henrietta Hunter, whom the gargantuan Wall holds in his giant, stone hands. Swinging into the fray from a nearby rooftop is Spider-Man, who has arrived to defend his home city.

Taking a moment to regroup, Guy crouches next to the Anarchist and asks if he is okay. Still taking stock of the situation, the Anarchist replies that he’s just wondering how the hell he ended up getting into this mess… risking his heiny for a… reincarnated pop star.

The moment passed, Guy rushes back into battle, using his levitation power to span the distance from the ground to the Wall’s hands, dozens of feet above. Calling out to the Wall’s prisoner, Henrietta, Guy informs her that it’s okay; they’re going to her out of here. Having managed to extricate herself from the Wall’s grip, Henrietta begins to fall. As she lands into Guy’s waiting arms, she asks if he wants to know what she’s been thinking. To this, Guy bluntly replies no and instructs her to keep her head down, her mouth shut and, for God’s sake, to stop waving at the cameras. Calling out to Venus, he tells her that it’s time to go.

The crisis passed for the moment, Henrietta takes Guy’s arm and continues her idea. She knows they’re all big stars and celebrities and all, but they could be more. They could use their fame and influence to do real good. To make a difference. Uninterested in what she has to say, Guy tells Henrietta to shut up and, calling again to Venus, asks if they are going.

A short distance away, Venus is in the arm lock of Surrender Monkey. To Guy’s question, she replies that they will, as soon as she stops being pummeled to a pulp. Seeing and hearing this, Vivisector injects an ouch and then tells the team that they are in trouble; their teleporter’s getting ironic! As Vivisector does not seem to be coming to the rescue, Dead Girl interferes, kicking Surrender Monkey in the back of the head, knocking him out. With a wry smile, Venus thanks her teammate, telling Dead Girl that she seems to be… warming to her.

Robbed of the rescue, Vivisector growls to Dead Girl, calling her a scene-stealer; he was just about to help Venus! Snapping back, Dead Girl retorts that he was too busy talking and thinking to act – as always. To this, the team’s wolfman supposes that there is a little of the Hamlet about him. Hamlet? questions Venus, as she blasts Blind Ali with her energy. Then maybe he should start wearing black tights. Not with his thighs, Vivisector retorts.

Elsewhere, Henrietta compliments Guy, admitting that he thinks it’s fabulous the way they can keep up such a riveting conversation while fighting for their lives. It goes with the job description, Guy responds. A voice from above informs Guy that he will take over from there. It is Spider-Man, who swings down to the ground, telling Henrietta to hang on. Henrietta’s following proclamation that Spider-Man is such a nice man does not sway Phat, who uses his mass to punch the web-slinger in the torso. Telling Spider-Man to butt out, Phat declares that this is their gig.

It doesn’t matter whose gig it is, Spider-Man answers back, as he scales a nearby wall. Eying him from below, Phat asks Spider-Man if he’s kidding; he should wake up and smell the insecticide. In an attempt to defuse the situation, Henrietta tells the two that they don’t have to fight over her. To this, Venus snipes a sarcastic right; like that would upset her.

Back in the fray, Surrender Monkey announces in his Gallic accent to his amis that he thinks they should quit. Slithering like a vine in fast forward, Mis Tree compliments her teammate on his perfect timing and then proceeds to snatch up the helpless Henrietta, knocking down Guy Smith in the process.

Having recovered enough to stand on his feet, Guy asks what happened. Answering, Venus replies that their foes holed up in their own megastore and that weird wall-creature has them bricked in. When asked about Henrietta, Venus supposes that she’s somewhere in there. After Guy immediately announces that they have to go in, Tike disagrees, saying that they have to do no such thing. To this, Guy states that they can’t just leave her in there and Venus agrees; even though she is a pain in the butt.

Undeterred, the Anarchist tells them to get real. They don’t know the first thing about those crazy mutants. It could be a setup. If they just barge in there, they could make complete fools outta themselves. In front of all of the cameras, adds Vivisector, smiling for the photographers. Adding to the motion, Phat suggests that they all go and chill in front of the TV until one of them has a better idea. Sounds like a plan, Venus then adds with a smile. Countered by such vocal opinions, Guy’s protestations are drowned out.

Declaring that they’ve had enough of her simpering, one of the Euro-Trash instructs Günter “the Wall” Gross to put a sharp brick through her brain. Disgusted by the remark more than fear, Henrietta tells her captors that she might have guessed: no class, no ambition. Not smart enough to want to be anything more than a second-rate joke mutants.

A little disgusted at this himself, Oxford Blue mocks Henrietta, telling her that that’s a bit rich. Undeterred, Henrietta rejoins that, if he had as much class has his name suggests, he’d tell Freenman, his American paymaster, to go take a jump. Flanking Henrietta, Blind Ali tells the group not to listen to her; she’s trying to confuse them. Returning to his original idea, Ali tells the Wall that, if he doesn’t smash her head open, he will.

Instead of acting, however, the Wall leans in closer, saying in his Teutonic accent that he wants to hear what she has to say. It’s quite simple, Henrietta continues. Rather than just kill her, they should try to improve their position. Telling the group to look around the place, this shrine to X-Statix, do they see any Oxford Blue dolls? Do they see any Miz Tree posters? No! Because, they are second-rate. Holding up a Mister Sensitive and a Henrietta Hunter doll, she tells the group that they have a choice: they can be known as the mutants who killed possibly the most beautiful woman cum-saint who ever was… or they can be clever. Intrigued, Miz Tree asks Henrietta what she suggests.

From the rubble that is the entrance to the X-Statix megastore, the channel 7 reporter details the breaking news; a ransom demand for ten million dollars has been made for the reincarnated pop-star, Henrietta. A worldwide “Save Saint Henrietta” ransom fund has been set up, ten percent of which will go to her favorite charities… Across the ocean in Europa, Reggie chokes on his drink, spitting out some. Continuing her report, the journalist announces that there’s still no sign of X-Statix, who seem to have disappeared. Having the story turned back over to him, Bob tells Tracy that it’s almost definitely a cunning tactical move of some kind.

Sitting in their lounge, watching the broadcast, Phat informs the team that he’s got a cunning tactical move: switch channels! Across the room on the couch with Venus, Guy reiterates his belief that they should be trying to save her. In his own chair and already returned into casual wear, the Anarchist tells Guy that it’s because the girl’s put a spell on him. Standing up, Guy counters that he thinks so because she’s one of them and because… because maybe she’s right about them too. Maybe they could be more than this. When Vivisector asks Guy where he got such a crazy idea, Phat chimes in a little faux confused. More than this? Doesn’t Henrietta know that he already has two Ferraris, one Porsche and a ranch in Aspen?

In his office in Europa, Reggie calls Spike Freeman on his mobile, asking what in God’s name is happening. Why isn’t she dead? If she’s not dead within twenty-four hours, he continues, their deal is off. And those documents her told him about, concerning his chemical shipments to a certain dictator, will be sent to the press. At X-Statix HQ in the U.S., Spike smiles a response, telling Reggie to cool it. It’s all under control, he says. Henrietta will be killed, like they agreed, but he wants to stretch things out first. Build up some heat before they throw her bloody corpse to the rabble.

As he continues to speak, Spike does not notice outside the window, hidden in the night by the internal lights of the lounge, Doop is floating with a recording device, hooked up to a stethoscope, which is pressed to the window.

Continuing, Spike tells Reggie that the great news is that they’ve got Vin Diesel interested in starring in the movie based on the true events. Nah, he replies to Reggie’s following comment, he shouldn’t worry about X-Statix. They aren’t going to save Henrietta. He’s not sure if they could even if they wanted to. They’ve gotten a little fat and complacent. Lost that old “killer touch.”

Both Guy and Tike, along with the rest of the team, are dumbfounded as they hear the electronically replayed voice of Spike Freeman declare that they’ve lost the old “killer touch.” The truth is, the recorded voice continues, if it weren’t for his careful manipulation of the media, they’d probably be all washed up.

Complacent, Tike repeats; he can live with that but… fat? And washed up? Vivisector states. Visibly distraught, Spike sits on the couch with Dead Girl, complaining that they heard it all out of context. Uninterested in such an excuse, Venus suggests that they should let Dead Girl have some fun with him before they kill him. To this, Dead Girl gives her employer a grimace and declares that it’s fine with her.

Leaning in to Spike, Guy announces that he used Henrietta, just like he’s used them. This time he’s not getting away with it. When Spike asks what they’re going to do, Guy replies that they’ll rescue Henrietta, keep her alive and show the world what a fat, complacent, washed-up team can do. Agreeing, Tike gives one exception: no messing around, no showboating. If they go in, they go in hard and go in mean. They take no prisoners. And to heck with how it looks on the news. They port out in ten.

Handing a length of rope to El Guapo, Tike instructs him to tie up the “Maggot.” To this, Spike informs the departing Tike that it’s Mister Maggot to him. Now left alone with El Guapo, Spike pleas with his newest employee, asking who he thinks got him on the team. When El Guapo replies that he can’t help him, Spike retorts that he can! And so easily! If that pretentious zombie doesn’t die, he declares, he’s all washed up. Taken back a bit, El Guapo asks if he is being asked to kill Henrietta. Accidents happen in the heat of battle, Spike grins, especially with X-Statix. This is his chance to fast track to the top. If he helps him out, Spike offers to El Guapo, he won’t forget it. Tike Alicar won’t be around forever and he’ll need replacing.

Seeing confusion in the youth’s voice, Spike appeals in a different way, telling El Guapo that, if he lets her live, it’ll be the same as killing him Does he want to kill him? The guy who gave him his big break? Having finished his task of tying up his boss, El Guapo pauses for a moment before standing up, announcing that he’d better go. As he departs, Spike yells to El Guapo that he’s counting on him. “Don’t let me down!”

Without warning, X-Statix appears inside the fortress that is the collapsed X-Statix megastore. Sitting comfortably and sipping her tea, Henrietta says hell to the team and tells them she was wondering where they were. Without a reply, the Anarchist tells the team to go to work.

Drawing first blood, Tike fires with both hands his acid blasts on Miz Tree, who cries in pain. Writhing in agony, she exclaims repeatedly that she’s on fire. Firing a single blast to the Wall, causing him to break into pieces, the Anarchist remarks, Me too, baby.

Horrified at this turn of events, Henrietta calls out to Phat, asking what they are doings. Using his mass to crush Oxford Blue, Phat replies that they are rescuing her lily-white butt. To this, Henrietta replies that her “lily-white butt” is not theirs to rescue. Having said this, Henrietta notices the closing forms of Blind Ali and Surrender Monkey, both of whom are wielding knives and murderous faces. Guy is able to stop one immediately, snapping the neck of Surrender Monkey, but Blind Ali manages to grab Henrietta by the hair and raises his knife for the killing stroke.

Watching this, El Guapo is conflicted. Appearing on his shoulder in the form of a demon-version of himself, Spike reminds El Guapo that fatal accidents happen in the heat of battle… especially with X-Statix. Help him out, the demon reminds the youth, and he won’t forget it. Tike Alicar won’t be around forever. And he’ll need replacing. I’m counting on you, kid. Don’t let me down, El Guapo. His decision made, El Guapo sends his flying skateboard toward its target. By design or by accident, it impacts with Blind Ali’s neck, killing him instantly.

Later, at X-Statix HQ, the assembled team gives a Q&A press conference. Calling out to Tike, one reporter from Entertainment Weekly asks what he has to say to those who claim their brutal attack on the mutant hostage-takers denied them their civil liberties and was a flagrant abuse of power. Too bad, Tike replies.

Asking the next question, this one to Henrietta from Horse and Hound magazine, the reporter asks what her plans are now. Smiling as always, Henrietta replies that she’d like to work within the structure of X-Statix to continue her work raising money and awareness for AIDS, landmines and eating disorders. Now producing a more sinister stare, Henrietta adds that she also intends doing something about the rather… passé costumes the team wears. She knows a fabulous man in London who designs for her dear friend, Elton. She’s sure he can create something macho yet refined for them.

Hearing this, Tike leans into Guy’s ear, stating that she has a feeling they’ve created a monster. Replying bluntly, Guy states that he has a feeling they’re not the first suckers to think that.

Watching the broadcast from his office in Europa, Reggie’s body is wracked with pain. Dropping his glass, he begins to gurgle and clutch his chest. Speaking haltingly, he tells his non-present aides that he needs help. Having collapsed to the floor, he stammers out incoherently. Freeman… documents… Saddam… Damn.

Speaking to the camera, Henrietta tells her audience hello and then introduces herself. Next, gesturing to the young, Latin boy in the bed next to her, she introduces her very special friend, Jesus. Jesus, she says, was recently a victim of a landmine. Now turning her attention to the boy himself, Henrietta asks him what he would like most in the world.

To be a mutant, he replies. He would like to be like Guy Smith. Or Tike Alicar. He would like to go to America and join X-Statix. Well, Henrietta smiles, she certainly thinks she could arrange honorary membership in X-Statix, just as soon as she gets him to America for the best possible medical attention.

Watching this in the team’s lounge, Tike curses, asking what the heck this is. This, replies the still-bound Spike Freeman, his idiotic bleeding-heart heroes, is the future. This is what they’ve done. She’s been running around the world like a cross between J-Lo and Mother Teresa. And the people love her! She’s doing real good. She’s actually raising awareness and money for these… these… these causes! And she gets more fan-mail than all of their sorry butts put together. And that’s not all…

Turning their attention back to the screen, the team sees Henrietta displaying the initial designs for the new costumes. Hanging from a rack, all of the costumes resemble updated leisure suits and other garb of the 1970s. As Tike asks for them to “say it ain’t so,” Vivisector remarks that he distinctly said he wanted crushed leather.

And it gets worse, Spike declares, or better, depending on which side you dress in the morning. Giving a faux apology to Tike, Spike informs him that his tenure as leader is about to come to a premature end. Shocked at this announcement, Tike tells Spike he has to be kidding him. Saying that he isn’t, Spike tells Tike and the rest of the team that it’s not only the common people who love her. The shareholders and the marketing people love her too. And they’re insisting – no arguments – that Henrietta is made team leader, just as soon as she gets back.

After a moment of stunned silence, Tike addresses the group, stating that, while he’s still team leader, he should make the decision. It seems to him there’s nothing else that they can do. Henrietta must…

After another moment of silence, Guy stands up from his chair and says the word that Tike could not. Die? Glancing at the man who said the word he would not, Tike simply reply is that it sounds like a plan. As the team leaves, leaving him still tied up and alone, Spike snarls a wry smile and remarks, “That’s my team!”

Characters Involved: 

Anarchist, Dead Girl, Doop, El Guapo, Mister Sensitive, Phat, Venus Dee Milo, Vivisector (all X-Statix)

Spike Freeman, X-Statix employer

Henrietta Hunter


Blind Ali, Miz Tree, Oxford Blue, Surrender Monkey, the Wall (all Euro-Trash)


Jesus Diaz

Jesus Diaz’s uncle

Tracy, the X-Statix reporter for Channel 7

Unnamed media reporters & cameramen

One television


Jesus Diaz

Tracy, the X-Statix reporter for Channel 7

Story Notes: 

A few plot points remain from the transformation of Henrietta Hunter from her original real-world personality of the late Princess Diana. For one, Diana was a vocal proponent of eliminating landmines from warfare, as they were the only weapons that lived on after a war was over. Another is that Diana was famous for her stylistic manner of waving at cameras.

Finally, almost two and a half years after her first appearance in X-Force #116, the blonde, female X-Statix reporter for Channel 7 received a name, albeit only a first name: Tracy.

Vin Diesel is a movie actor, known for his muscular body and action movies, such as in Pitch Black and XXX.

Henrietta’s Elton no doubt refers to singer Elton John, with whom Diana (Henrietta’s original imprint) was good friends.

J-Lo refers to Jennifer Lopez, the Puerto Rican/New York singer actress. Mother Teresa was a world-famous nun and humanitarian, who spent most of her life in Third World nations, helping the native peoples. She died on September 5, 1997 at the age of 85.

Tike's mocking statement of "Say it ain't so," is a reference to baseball legend Shoeless Joe Jackson. Jackson was an out-fielder in Chicago's team, the White Sox, who made it to the World Series in 1919. This particular World Series was mired in scandal, however, when it was learned that gamblers bribed eight of the team's players with deliberately losing the series. While Jackson did accept the money, it was never conclusively proven that he did anything to sabotage the team's chances of winning. Nevertheless, he was banned from professional baseball forever. According to legend, after the scandal broke, a disheartened boy approached Jackson upon hearing the news and asked him to "Say it ain't so, Joe."

On a table in X-Statix lounge is a copy of X-Statix #8.

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