X-Statix #18

Issue Date: 
March 2004
Story Title: 
Back from the Dead - part 6: The Disc

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

Brief Description: 

The team is saved from Mister Code’s death-caused explosion by the actions of Phat, who jumped on the bomb, taking the force himself. The team also realizes that they have lost another member: Henrietta Hunter. The news of Henrietta’s death reaches the executives of E Records, who hatch a plan to create a new song concocted from outtakes and interviews of the re-deceased star. As a result of how it is created, they will not have to pay any royalties. The song is called “Back from the Dead,” which becomes an instant hit and is almost immediately the source of an urban myth. Supposedly, if you sing or hum the song, you have one minute to recite all of the lyrics before you die, which is seemingly proved by inexplicable deaths across the country. After the funeral of Phat, the team decides to investigate the rumor and teleports to the executive boardroom of E Records, just in time to see the senior exec die from the record’s curse. In an attempt to stave the curse, the remaining execs are forced by the team to start paying royalties and organize fundraisers for several of Henrietta’s charities. However, the curse does not seem to be lifted, as El Guapo falls prey to it, losing control of his flying skateboard and impaling himself with it. Investigating further, the team has Dead Girl recite the lyrics incorrectly, knowing that any death of hers would not be permanent. Nevertheless, the ghost of Henrietta shows up and tells Dead Girl that she will not rest until her original murder is avenged. The team’s ensuing investigation leads them to Dicky, the Europan government official, who points them to the president of Europa himself. In an attempt at poetic justice, they force the president to recite the lyrics, which he flubs, and they depart, knowing that Henrietta will now appear. She does so and is finally able to exact her revenge.

Full Summary: 

Guy Smith’s victory over his latest foe, the enigmatic Mister Code, has become a Pyrrhic one. Moments after removing his defeated foe’s mask, his powers, which earn him the name of Mister Sensitive, detect the telltale chemical reactions from an implanted explosive device. Acting on instinct, he dives for the ground, waiting for an exploding lunatic to tear him apart. Not for the first time, he waits for death. And he waits. And death doesn’t come… at least not how he expects it.

Kneeling next to Guy, Dead Girl tells him to wake up, the show’s over – and it’s not the only thing. Back on his feet, Guy looks at the center of Mister Code’s explosion. To his amazement, he sees the remains of Phat, bulked-up larger than he’s ever seen before, his face and torso distorted from the blast and his movements as still as death. Looking upon his former teammate, Guy asks what happened.

At Phat’s side, Tike replies that it was the weirdest thing he ever saw. He “’phatted up” so quick, he could hear his bones crack. Then, Tike continues, he wrapped himself around the explosion again and again, just a blur of white flesh… and then he just took it. He swallowed the explosion, to save them. Examining the remains and noticing something amiss, Guy asks Tike what happened to the other foot. It blew off in the explosion, Tike replies, motioning into the sky. It took off into the sky like a rocket.

Crouching next to the remains of Phat’s face, Vivisector sheds a tear. Poor Phat, he laments, he knew him. He was his first. He was his first and only. In a weird way and hopeless way, he continues, he loved him. Comforting his teammate, the Anarchist gives the youth a hug, replying that he did too. He was white but he wanted to be black. And that’s what made him blue. But, he finishes, he died an X-Statix. Right on brother, Vivisector rejoins.

Trying to take stock of the situation, Venus asks if there were any other casualties. Yeah, Dead Girl replies, Mister Code – God roast his soul. In response to this, Venus asks aloud if anyone got a look at his face before he blew up. Pausing in thought, Guy lowers his head but does not answer. Nearby another corpse, the Anarchist announces that Henrietta didn’t make it either. When Venus declares that maybe she’ll get some peace now, the Anarchist retorts that maybe she’ll give them some peace now.

Somewhere in Europa, an executive at E Records announces the name of Elvis Presley in inspiration. Look at his record sales since he died, he continues, speaking to the rest of the people in the room; the corpse who laid the golden disc. Motioning to a oversized poster of Henrietta Hunter, the man suggests that they do the same with their dead pop sensation Henrietta, whose fame has soared since her unexpected return as a mutant super hero zombie. Getting the idea, another in the room announces that they re-release her records.

To this, the presenter exclaims that he’s wrong, because that’d mean they’d have to pay royalties to her estate. Now explaining his thoughts, he suggests that they create a new record; a record concocted from outtakes and recorded interviews with Henrietta. Taking a compact disc and entering it into the CD player, he tells the assembled group that some of their tech guys came up with it. It’s called “Back from the Dead.” Catch-ee! exclaims one of the others.

Later, in America, two elderly women sit on their terrace, drinking coffee and talking about world events. The younger of the two asks the other what she thinks about those X-Statix? On the one hand, they were in bed with Saddam Hussein. On the other… they killed Mister Code and stopped the random killers. So do they forgive them or… Interrupting her friend’s train of thought, the older lady laments her clumsiness, as she has bumped a potted plant that was sitting on the balcony’s ledge, causing it to fall to the ground below.

Below, three youths walk down the sidewalk, one of the lost in the song he is trying to sing along with, “Back from the Dead,” which is playing on his Walkman. Back from the dead. I’m back from the dead, baby baby yeah… The singer’s companion, a strawberry blonde, asks him to be careful. Hasn’t he heard what happened to that guy in her semiotics lecture? He started humming the new Henrietta single… and then he died. The third of the group, a youth with a mop of blond hair, asks how he died. Doesn’t matter how he died, the female rejoins. Thing is, he died. If you hum that song, he counters, you get one minute to recite all the lyrics or you die. Get the lyrics wrong, you’re dead.

Finally joining the conversation, the headphone-wearing singer asks what if you just hum the whole tune, without the words. You still die, the blonde announces. That’s bull, he replies. One o’those urban myths, like the one about the microwave and chi… The youth’s words are cut off, as well as his life, by the impact of the potted plant, which lands squarely on his head. Leaning over her fallen friend, the blonde calls out his name, Jamie, and ask if he is okay. When she turns him over, however, she sees his face contorted in death and she screams. Lying next to a pool of Jamie’s blood is the open Walkman, which reveals the Henrietta Hunter single, Back from the Dead.

In a small, darkened room, a son sits with his father. Questioning why they locked themselves in the panic room, the boy asks if they have burglars. Replying negatively, the dad tells his son that he did it. He started singing that song, then forgot the rest of the words. So he figured no one can hurt him in there… it’s just the two of them… father and son. Hearing this, the son begins to sing the words to the song. Back from the dead, back from the dead, dad’s lost his head! Angered by this, the father tells his boy to stop singing that song and to move away a little.

Obeying his father and stopping his singing, the boy asks if they can’t go outside. He has a date… No way, the father replies. The minute he lets him out he’ll… Angered by his father’s decision, the boy begins again to sing the song, with changed, mocking lyrics. We’re back from the dead… mom and dad in bed… His anger returning, the father repeats his instructions for his son to stop singing that song!

Outside the panic room, a fireman continues his work with his blowtorch, cutting through the room’s wall. As his partner works, the second fireman asks the lady of the house if she’s sure her husband and son are in the panic room. Too upset to answer directly, the mother replies that she just got home from work and reckons that they’ve been in there all day. Something musta scared them. Having finished his job, the first fireman declares that they’re in and begins to move the door. Calling out to her husband and son, Chester and Ethan, she asks if they are okay. Her worries turn to terror as she beholds the sight of her husband and son, both dead, with contorted faces and stuck in the position of strangling each other.

At Phat’s gravesite, the members of X-Statix are all dressed in mourning attire and all wearing black armbands. In a gigantic grave, the massive casket of Phat is lowered by a crane to its final resting spot. Hovering high above, Doop speaks his words, which Guy finishes: Dust to Dust. The task completed, Tike ponders the presence of several helicopters and asks Guy if it was really necessary to sell the syndication rights for Phat’s funeral. Sure, Guy replies. This is all part of being accepted again. Let them seem what price they had to pay to be an X-Statix.

Glancing over to the front gate of the graveyard, Venus asks what all the commotion is about. Positioned at the gate are two separate groups, both trying to mourn Phat as a slain member of their group. As the confrontation has grown violent, the police are forced to hose them down with a pressurized water hose. Reporting this spectacle, the news announces that gay rights and fat activists groups have both claimed the slain superhero as their own. One activist from the homosexual side, tells his opponents that Billy-Bob was, first and foremost, a gay American. His hormones made him gay, the oversized opponent counters, God made him fat.

Trying their best to avoid this spectacle, the team makes their way to their limousines. Trying to make the best of what is happening, El Guapo points out that at least they’ve stopped talking about Saddam Hussein. Or, the Anarchist adds, shady property deals in the Caribbean. Plastic surgery, Venus then includes, followed by “drugs” from Dead Girl. Right, Guy states, closing the door to his limo. While they’re arguing about what they mean… they ain’t arguing about what they are. Taking his own words into consideration, Guy turns to Dead Girl and rhetorically asks aloud what they are. Promptly answering his own question, Guy states that they’re filthy, ungodly mutants. But, Dead Girl counters, as their limo leaves the area, they’re their filthy, ungodly mutants.

On the radio, the deejay announces the latest song he’s playing, “Back from the Dead” – number three with a bullet! A bullet that’ll kill you, Tike states, catching the compact disc that Guy has just thrown to him like a Frisbee. Adding to Tike’s thoughts, Guy ponders the kids and adults dying in hideous, unexplained circumstances. Catching the disc from Tike’s toss, El Guapo flies around on his skateboard, declaring the song a catchy tune that catches you out. Hum it, Guy continues, and your final destination’s a backlist catalog. Dead dot com, Tike muses.

Interrupting the humor, Dead Girl announces to the group that it’s haunted. Henrietta’s dead, she tells them, but she’s twisted with hatred at how she’s been exploited by her record producers. So, Tike ponders aloud, she’s taking it out on anyone who hums her stupid Frankenstein single. When Guy asks her if she’s sure about this, Dead Girl narrows her eyes and grins that she’s only guessing. Good enough for him, Guy rejoins, then suggesting that they go to Europa. Smacking his a fist into his other, open hand, the Anarchist suggests that they kick some old-world butt. The decision made, Venus opens one of her teleportation portals, taking the team out of their HQ.

In celebration, the E Record executive pops a bottle of champagne, announcing that they’ve done it. Their sources tell them they’ll be number one in America and Europa-wide by next week. And no artist around to ask for royalties. Sipping his flute of champagne, another executive declares that that’s what he calls music. As he pours his other associate his glass, the executive begins to sing. Back from the dead, yeah, yeah, baby. Making lots of bread, blah, blah, blah…

Hearing this, the executive’s associate asks if he isn’t a little worried about the story. Laughing at the thoughts, the executive asks if he means the one that says he’s got one minute to recite all the lyrics… or he dies? Asking them both to “come on,” he points out that they’re thirty floors up in a secure building. How the heck is he going to die? In answer to the man’s question, all member of X-Statix come crashing through the window, which shatters into thousands of shards of glass.

Despite avoiding all of these deadly shards, the executive begins to clutch his chest, trying in vain to complete the lyrics of the song. Before he can do so, however, he collapses on the floor and is immediately declared dead by Dead Girl. When Guy asks how, she answers that his left aorta exploded and his right aorta collapsed. Blood went everywhere it shouldn’t be and nowhere it should be. And she won’t even get started on the ventricles.

Looking on in terror of his own, the executive’s associate points out the contorted visage of the recently deceased. It’s just like out of that movie, another declares. The Japanese one that Hollywood remade? the other asks. Looking up from the deceased, Dead Girl points to Venus, declaring quickly that the movie is the “Seven Samurai,” to which Venus announces that that’s the one. Examining the deceased’s form, Vivisector states that the only question now is… how do they make Henrietta a blithe spirit?

Some time later, the three remaining executives sit with their mobile phones and laptops in bunker-like location, which lies deep in X-Statix Tower. It is a place known only in whispers, a place built by Doop, originally for his relatives to sleep in when they come to visit. Not that Guy is convinced that Doop or any of his relatives ever actually sleep. Informing the team of the status of the imprisoned execs below, Guy tells them that he received a letter from Henrietta’s landmine trust. They’ve received the royalty check from the sales of “Back from the Dead.”

Floating nearby, El Guapo begins to sing the song, having it just popped into his head from Guy’s announcement. Back from the dead… let’s go to bed… yabba yabba… As El Guapo continues his aerial dance, Tike asks Guy about the music execs. Fundraising for the rest of Henrietta’s charities, he replies. They’ll keep them at it for the rest of the month. Taking this news in, Venus states that Henrietta’s spirit must be at peace now.

Even as Venus concludes her statement, El Guapo begins to lose control of his skateboard. His lack of coordination is watched by a ghostly female figure, who goes unseen by the rest of the group. The impact of El Guapo against the wall draws the attention of the rest of the team, who find him dead, his skateboard imbedded into his chest. When they examine his face, they find it contorted with horror.

Back from the dead… I’m back from the dead… Standing around with the rest of the team at the tower’s swimming pool, Dead Girl stops her sings, asking if anyone else can’t sing it. She feels a little ridiculous, her being Dead Girl! That’s the whole point, Guy rejoins. They can’t afford to lose any more members. There used to be seven of them. To lose two X-Statix is unlucky, Vivisector mutters. To lose three makes them… the Fantastic Four.

Vivisector halts his tear-filled statement as he notices a flaming object falling out of the sky. A moment after he asks what it is, the object impacts Dead Girl in her head shattering it. Venus’ subsequent worries are mocked by Dead Girl, whose head has begun to reform. When Dead Girl asks what hit her, Guy picks up a charred mass of flesh and swears aloud. It’s Phat’s missing foot; it finally came back to earth!

Almost ignoring her teammate, Dead Girl speaks to the spectral visage approaching her. It is the female figure present earlier during the death of El Guapo. Calling out to her, addressing her as Henrietta, Dead Girl tells her that she knows this stuff doesn’t scare her. Lacking Dead Girl’s senses, Guy asks he what’s happening; what can she see? With a wink, Dead Girl tells the group to leave them alone for a minute. This is Dead Girls’ talk.

In a theater in Europa, the team investigates the spot where a star was born… and electrocuted. One the spot of the stage where Henrietta died the first time, Dead Girl announces to the team that it is where the young Henrietta was murdered. Examining the spot, Guy states that her spirit won’t rest until those responsible are punished.

Talking about a completely different subject, Vivisector asks how long it was up there. Receiving the confused looks from his teammates, Vivisector asks about Phat’s foot. How long was it floating around in space? Replying bluntly, Guy tells Vivisector to forget about the foot; the foot’s history. Agreeing with Guy, Venus tells Vivisector that they’re interested in her story. Returning to the subject at hand, Tike leans into Dead Girl and asks if she knows who killed her. No, Dead Girl replies, but when she was in hell with Spike Freeman, he told her about a man who does know.

Dressed only in his tank top t-shirt and boxers, Dicky yells out in panic, as he is hung out of a window. Yelling out to Guy and Tike, who are the ones holding him, Dicky confesses that he was just carrying out orders. He is merely a humble civil servant. To this, Guys asks “Mr. Civil Servant” who gave the order. Who wanted Henrietta dead?

Still hanging, Dicky replies that she was becoming too popular. Her charities, her good work, her common touch. It made her powerful. Too powerful… she had to die. Repeating Guy’s question, Tike asks who gave the order. Who killed Henrietta? Ready to give the answer, Dicky asks for forgiveness.

Sitting behind his desk, the president of Europa hears his title being called out. Turning to the voice, he sees X-Statix climbing into the room, over the balcony. When asked by the president who they are, Guy is surprised that he doesn’t recognize them. Shame, states Dead Girl, their publicity machine is obviously not doing its job.

Finally recognizing them, the president declares that they are those idiotic American mutants. How did they get past security? When Venus replies that that was the easy part, the present asks another question: what do they want? Turning on his boom box, Tike replies that they’re there to share the music and he should listen to this catchy number. As “Back from the Dead” begins to play, Tike leans in threateningly to the president. Telling him that he has a nice voice for a politician, Tike tells the president to sing a few bars.

Leaning in as well, Guy asks the president if he recognizes the voice. It belongs to the young girl he had killed. As the president tries to stammer a defense, Venus adds her own accusation, telling the president that he did it because he was scared that the people loved her more than they loved him. As the Anarchist presses the issue further, ordering him violently to sing the song, the president complies, fumbling over the words as he does so. Back fr-from the… I-I’m… back from the… d-dead. I’m back from… the… the… dead….

Their task completed, Tike tells the president that that wasn’t so hard, was it? This said, he and the rest of the team begin to disappear in a swirling pool of purple light, the side effect of Venus’ teleportation powers. As the team departs, the frightened president asks what they are doing and to now leave him alone.

A spectral voice immediately informs the president that he’s not alone. Turning to the voice, the president beholds the ghostly visage of Henrietta Hunter. Snarling through the death mask that is her face, she points out to the president that he stopped singing. Doesn’t he like her song? Frightened beyond belief he stammers out an apology, telling her he’s sorry for what happened to her. He’s sorry.

Sorry? she replies, growing more incensed at the word. It’s a little late for that now… This countenance, filled with hatred, is the last sight the president sees before leaving the world of the living.

Characters Involved: 

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

Mister Code

E Records music executives

Debating women

Jamie & his two friends


Chester, Ethan and their wife/mother

Gay rights activists

Fat activists


Onsite news reporter


President of Europa

Story Notes: 

The identity of Mister Code is puzzling, as Guy seemed to know who he was in both the previous issue and this one but does not reveal it. It is possible that it is a subplot from the original storyline, where Henrietta was to have been Princess Diana, and was subsequently dropped.

The film to which the E Record execs were referring was not “the Seven Samurai,” which actually was made into a Hollywood movie called “the Magnificent Seven,” but “the Ring,” the remake of the Japanese “Ringu.” In this film, people have seven days to live after watching a short, several-minute movie, which was cursed.

This is the first mention of Doop having any family. Whether they have ever visited, will visit or even exist is unknown.

Vivisector’s statement of losing two X-Statix is a confusing, as they have actually lost three in the last three. It is possible, however, that he was not considering Henrietta to have been an actual member. His statement regarding them having four members if they lost one more is a little more based in history, as on multiple occasions Doop has been seen to have not been a full member.

When being hung outside his window, Dicky inexplicably asks Dicky to forgive him. This is most likely an editorial error.

Doop Translation:

At Phat’s funeral, Doop says, “Ashes to ashes,” which Guy follows with “Dust to dust.”

Issue Information: 

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