X-Statix #20

Issue Date: 
May 2004
Story Title: 
The Cure part two: One Angry Man

Peter Milligan (writer), Nick Dragoth (artist), Han Allred (colors), Virtual Calligraphy’s Cory Petit (letters), Jennifer Lee (editor, assisting), Axel Alonso (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

Dr. Alex Finlay has taken the Vivisector serum he has created, which has cured Myles Alfred of his mutant powers. Still, Dr. Finlay finds he is unable to transform into a Vivisector, until his girlfriend, Polly, helps him relive Myles’ childhood traumas, which does the trick. Unfortunately, his new lycanthrope form is out of control and runs amok. “Vivisector Two” proceeds to murder a photographer named Marco, with whom Polly had had a one-night fling. Finlay subsequently becomes confused, believing himself to be Myles, and races across the country to the sixtieth birthday celebration for Myles’ father – intending to do him harm. Meanwhile, Myles is adjusting to his non-celebrity life, which is made easier since he is still incredibly rich. He buys his father an obscenely expensive pen and gives it as a present. However, Mr. Alfred chastises his son for his extravagance, again showing his displeasure. Their conversation is cut short by the arrival of Vivisector Two, followed by the X-Statix team, who had tracked Finlay, believing that he was a rogue Myles. Seeing the truth, they allow Myles to confront Finlay, whom he slays by impaling him with the pen. To Myles’ surprise, when it is time to leave, X-Statix team invites him to rejoin the team, which he does, realizing that he still possesses his mutant powers. Later, accepted back by the public as a celebrity, Myles is approached by his former boyfriend, Brandon Cody, who has fallen on hard times after a box office bomb and his TV series being cancelled. The newly self-confident Myles, however, isn’t interested.

Full Summary: 

Sweat drips from Alex Finlay’s brow. He thinks how it’s been three hours since he introduced the Vivsector Serum into his bloodstream. He’s been sweating profusely as a result, but doesn’t know if it’s from the weird “X” chemicals inside him… or his intense anticipation. He is on the threshold of mutanthood, fame and fortune.

Alex explains these thoughts to his girlfriend, who reclines on the couch on which he is sitting. Her head is laying in his lap, her attention focused on the book sitting against her raised legs, while his attention wanders between the television before them and his personal experiment. All he has to do is get angry, he tells her. Fur up, become Vivisector Two… and take his place in X-Statix.

Pointing out to the team on the television, he tells Polly to look at them, his emotions rising. Another mission successfully negotiated. Now they simply come home, bask in the glory and collect the paycheck. Alex’s eyes widen in anticipation and through clenched fists he states that he’s going to be a part of it. Dr. Alex Finlay! He’s going to do something useful with his life… instead of wasting it on science!

Having heard enough, Polly cranes her heck back, looking up into her boyfriend’s eyes, and tells him they should do it. Get him hairy! Alex is hesitant at first, warning her that it is powerful magic. He has to learn how to control it… start slow. Saying okay, Polly suggests he gets a teensy bit annoyed at first. Maybe if he pokes him in the eye… or spits in his face. Alex thanks her for her offer but decides to handle it on his own. He then makes his way to a full-length mirror and tries to get himself upset about his hair in the morning.

Seeing him running his hand through his head, Polly tells him to stop, as it makes his bald spot visible. Alex protests, but Polly presses, playfully saying bald spot over and over again. Fixing his hair, Alex excitedly replies that it’s not a bald spot, but a crown, to which Polly replies that if it were larger he would be the king of England. Angered, Alex turns to Polly and tells her to shut up about his hair, which the defensive Polly apologizes for, asking him not to get snippy. A moment later, the two realize that the experiment has failed, and Alex realizes that his anger has not gotten him any hairier. Studying Alex’s hands, Polly states that she would pay good money to keep several parts of her anatomy that smooth.

As a plan B, Alex tries to get serious – getting stuck in Los Angeles rush hour traffic. He listens to Polly going on about her modeling career and all the fabulous people she met at the last shoot. Surprisingly, he has not one agitated follicle. Later, he takes her to the most expensive restaurant they can find and he lets Polly order. His bank account is severely traumatized, but there is no hint of lycanthropy.

Seeing Alex laying his head on their table, Polly suggests that maybe he’s just not an angry person. Maybe he possesses a natural Zen-like calm. To this, Alex denies, explaining he’s full of anger. In fact, he’d say that anger was probably his base element. He just needs to find the right kind of fury. Hearing this, Polly lowers her head. She says that she wasn’t going to tell him this… but it might help him. Asking him to remember that photographer, Marco – which Alex does (that creep) – Polly informs him that she said that nothing went on between them. That’s not strictly true. His anger rising, Alex asks haltingly if she had a… a thing with that “pompous piece of second rate Eurotrash…”

Elsewhere in the restaurant, Myles Alfred, formerly Vivisector, is unable to get a seat. No longer a member of X-Statix, he no longer gets a table at the best restaurants in town. However, he thinks, there are worse things in life. And there are benefits to not being part of the hottest mutant team in town… like being able to sit in a coffee bar with his mother without being mobbed by photographers and autograph-hunters.

Later, doing that very thing, Myles listens to his mother telling him that it’s his father’s sixtieth birthday party, and she’d… he’d really like him to be there. Taken aback at this, Myles counters that the only place his father ever really wanted him was far away. Ignoring this, Myles’ mother tells him that they were both very happy to see what he did – the Cure she means. When he then asks if she thinks he was right to turn his back on fame, she concurs. But they were also wondering if this cure… got rid of the other thing, too. His ire rising, Myles peers over glasses and asks what she means – what other thing? However, Myles control his anger, replying with a forced smile that, yes, it’s taken his “gayness” clear away. And tomorrow, he adds, he’s having an operation to have his skeleton removed – a statement which only confuses his mother.

Later, after coffee and placing his mother in a cab, Myles searches a local men’s store for a present for this father. But what can you buy a man who has everything except a heart, he wonders. Seeing a pen behind a glass case, Myles thinks it’s perfect. Outrageously expensive. Costs more than he earns in a year. He might not be a mutant anymore, but he’s still loaded and gay.

Later, at X-Statix tower, he packs the few things he wishes to keep. He finds a photograph of Brandon, the soap star who dumped him when he took the cure. He never loved him, Myles decides. He just loved a superstar called Vivisector. Myles takes the photo and dumps it into the trash before leaving.

Shirtless, Alex has strapped himself on a reclined table in a basement. Various wires are attached to the machine as well. He calls out to Polly, who descends a flight of stairs. He tells her that, to become Vivisector, he must use the same catalyst that triggered Myles Alfred’s wolfman. He must feel anger… his anger and his lycanthropy are inexorable linked. Alex then instructs Polly to strap down his other arm. As she does so, he explains that it is the room where he dug deepest into Myles Alfred’s psychology. The instruments around them are what he used to spoon out his demons. Or, rather, his demon.

Polly’s work completed, Alex instructs her to place the eye mask over him. It will project images of his father, and she is then to hit the tape, on top volume. Then, she’s to switch on the bed, top speed… In tears, Polly apologizes again about Marco, but Alex is uninterested. He tells her that they’ll deal with Marco later. As soon as Polly has placed the eye-mask on, he tells her to set the bed into motion. The bed immediately begins to spin, increasing in speed. Still, Alex tells out to Polly repeatedly to start the tape, which she does.

Moments later, a voice plays in the spacious chamber, the voice of Myles Alfred. He tells about how he remembers feeling so… worthless. Yelling out with waning sanity, Alex avows to no one and all that he is worthless! He was clever! Top of the class! It was never enough! As he professes what Myles had, Alex begins to transform, his teeth becoming bestial in nature, his skin darkening in color and auburn hair sprouting on his formerly bare chest. Still, the tape continues, as does Alex’s professions of unworthiness, which coalesces into a growl.

Watching all of this, Polly yells out that it’s working! Hearing about her and Marco didn’t do a thing… but now… now it’s… Before she can finish her statement, Alex’s transformation is complete. Using the power of his wolfman form, Alex breaks free of his bonds and swiftly makes his way up the stairs into the world outside. Unable to do anything but watch, Polly impotently and quietly calls out to him. Alex? Honey?

Two young women recline on a bed, wearing only their underwear. Nearby, a photographer tries his best to capture their images with the best studio light, all the while prompting them on with compliments. Smile, for Marco, he tells them. Smile nice and sexy for Marco…

A deafening krassh breaks the mood and Marco, very much annoyed by the interruption, asks who or what is disturbing him. Unfortunately, it is the enraged wolfman, formerly Dr. Alex Finlay, who races across the room and slits Marco’s throat before he can complete a swear.

The death of the famous photographer is soon broadcast over the television, along with a picture of the suspected culprit of the crime: former X-Statix member Vivisector, who was caught on the scene of the crime by a camera. The anchor also announces that a TV special highlighting celebs who can’t handle falling out of the limelight follows the news report.

The rest of X-Statix are aghast, especially Guy, who recalls aloud that Myles took the cure. Venus studies the image of “Vivisector,” voicing that he was never that nasty looking before. Behind the group, Tike remarks that the cure must have had the opposite effect… and made him even more monstrous. Kinda interesting, he then adds. Maybe if he took it, he’d end up even cooler and sweatier. Maybe she’d end up deader, Dead Girl supposes.

Either way, Guy states, they can’t have a rogue former teammate running around eviscerating fashion photographers. Ignoring him, Venus quips back to Tike and Dead Girl that, if Guy took the cure, maybe he would end up even more sensitive. Smiling devilishly at this, Doop replies in his language with his own quip, causing the rest to launch into uncontrollable laughter.

On the flight back home, Myles thinks of another downside to not being in X-Statix. Okay, though he is flying first class, it doesn’t compare with Venus Dee Milo teleporting him home. Not that New Hampshire ever felt much like home to him.

Arriving at his parents’ home, Myles finds his mother awaiting him at the front door. When she tells him that she’s so glad he could make it, he rejoins that he didn’t even need the help of a Xanax. Confused at the word, she asks if it’s another one of his mutant buddies. Her answer comes in the form of a friendly kiss on the cheek.

Later, as he mingles, Myles tries to make small talk. The gold pen, however, feels like a silver bullet against his flesh. He worries about what his father’ll think of it. He’s worried about what he’s going to say to the old lizard. Eventually taking a break, Myles sits, trying to regain his composure. He’s not that scared little boy wetting his pants because his daddy’s angry with him, he tells himself. He’s faced evil mutants, cruel dictators, sarcastic TV interviews – he can handle a sixty-year old university professor.

Myles’ musings are interrupted by a voice calling his name. Looking up, he sees a young man, extremely happy to see him. He tells Myles that he really enjoys his work, which causes Myles to wonder if he means the time he liquefied the stone-faced mutant people of Easter Island. On the contrary, he tells Myles that he means his work on Emily Dickinson. His two-thousand word treatise on her blanks was breathtaking.

Holding out his hand, the youth introduces himself as Raju, one his Myles’ father’s students. He can be a cantankerous old goat, can’t he, he asks. Taking Raju’s hand and shaking, Myles replies that the real question is whether he can’t be anything else. Introductions made, Raju tells Myles that he is really sorry about what happened… to Billy Bob. Phat. He’s the lucky one, Myles responds. You don’t usually get to walk away from X-Statix.

A new voice calls out to Myles, this time from his mother. She races to his side, pushing him away and informing him that his father would like to see him now. Before his mother can pull him away, Raju holds out a card to Myles, telling him it’s his number and for him to call him.

The wolfman form of Alex Finlay races down the desert highway, with automobiles and a tractor trailer pulled over to the ditch on the sides. It’s calling to him, he thinks, as he runs. He knows where he must go. What he must do with this anger. This firestorm of hatred. For a moment, Alex stops, impeded by three police cars, turned perpendicular to the road to form a barrier. Behind the barrier are half dozen officers, their firearms pointed at Alex.

He is Vivisector Two, he thinks to himself. Vivisector. What does that mean? To cut something open while it’s still alive, he then answers silently. Tear out the pulsing entrails. And then to kill. To destroy in pain. In illustration, he launches himself at the patrol cars, tearing into them and the officers with his claws and rage. When the carnage is over, Vivisector Two stands alone. It’s calling to him, he thinks again. New Hampshire. Home. Once again, Alex sprints into motion, propelling himself onward. I’m coming, father, he announces to no one.

In his father’s study, Myles watches his father examine the pen he brought and asks him is he likes the birthday present. Mr. Alfred repeats the question, almost mockingly, then announcing that it’s ostentatious, bordering on the obscene. A cheap biro would write just as well. But what should he expect from someone who prostitutes his perversions on television? Unconcerned with what he just said, Mr. Alfred then turns back to Myles. He looks down over his nose and coldly asks if there was anything else.

Angered, Myles states that there was something else he wants to say. Pointing his finger, he states that there’s something he’s wanted to say for years. He… he… Viciously, Mr. Alfred reminds his son that he’s sixty years old, and that he doesn’t have time to waste. So, if he’s something to say, he should say it. Myles tries again… but lowers his head in resignation. Nevermind, he whispers.

Suddenly, the wall to the study is transformed into splinters, with Vivisector Two crashing through it, claws and fangs bared. Myles immediately recognizes the form, asking timidly if it’s Doctor Finlay. Rather than answer, Alex swats the too-human Myles aside, setting his sights on Myles’ father.

Through a swirling purple teleportation portal, X-Statix emerges, bringing the Anarchist, Dead Girl, Mister Sensitive, Doop and Venus. Though Guy had guessed that this was where “Vivisector” would have gone, Venus had simply followed the trail of destruction.

The wolfen Dr. Finlay, however, fails to notice the team’s arrival, his deadly stare still affixed to Mr. Alfred. Facing the snarl of the new Vivisector, Mr. Alfred tries to reason with it, explaining that it’s his birthday. Finlay ignores this, pointing his finger accusatorily at Mr. Alfred, explaining that he’s got something to say to him, daddy. Still recovering from the blow, Myles is coherent enough to hear what the new Vivisector had said – repeating the word of interest it had uttered: “daddy?”

Nearby, the Anarchist is ready to join the fray, but is held back by Guy, who points out that this isn’t their butt-ugly wolfman. And he would like to see how this pans out…

Still unaware of them, Dr. Finlay grabs Mr. Alfred by the throat, pressing him against the wall. You made me feel so worthless, he accuses. So lousy and worthless! He was at the top of his class, he continues. He was smart, but it was never… never enough… Confused at this, Mr. Alfred tries to understand, but the new Vivisector continues, telling his “daddy” that he made him feel subhuman. A monster. Not worthy… not worthy of being his son. He’s a cruel, sadistic father, who took out his frustration on his own child. That’s a terrible sin, he tells him. One for which… he’s gonna die!

Hearing this, Myles leaps into action, finally drawing Vivisector’s attention. Calling out no, he tells Dr. Finlay that his father might be a cruel and sadistic father… but he’s his cruel and sadistic father. Vivisector throws Mr. Alfred aside and centers his attention on the new threat and knocks Myles back with a blow. Still, Myles continues. He tells the Vivisector that he doesn’t want to kill him. He’s Myles Alfred. Son of Professor August Alfred. He’s Myles Alfred! Dr. Finlay is undeterred. He grabs Myles with one hand, pinning him down, and ready to use his other hand to disembowel him. Almost unconvinced himself, he tells Myles that he is Myles Alfred.

Thinking quickly, Myles calls out to his dad for his birthday present, which his father quickly throws. Catching it, he yells that it might be ostentatious, bordering on the obscene, and a cheap biro might write just as well… but would a cheap biro do this as well? In punctuation to his last word, Myles plunges the pen into the Vivisector’s face, causing him to recoil in pain, clutching his face.

As the wolfman form of Dr. Alex Finlay howls in pain, Mr. Alfred picks up his son, telling him that he never realized he was so brave. Myles begins to deny it, saying that his actions today proved it, but Mr. Alfred is unconvinced. The vile stuff the creature was saying to him: where the devil did he get that vitriol from? It was true, Myles states. Every word. It’s what he would have told him… if he’d had the guts. If he’d really been brave.

Looking at the now human Dr. Alex Finlay, Myles tells his father it took a febrile wolf monster under the delusion he was him to saw what he couldn’t. Raju calls out to Myles, telling him that Dr. Finlay is dead – but Myles is hardly emotional. He grasps the expensive pen he has used and returns it to his father. Happy birthday, father.

The situation defused, Guy tells Venus that it’s time they were going. Hearing this, Myles walks up to his former teammates and tells them he’ll see them later. But to his surprise, however, Tike asks what he’s talking about. He’s coming with them! Smiling slightly, Myles asks if he is, then finding Dead Girl’s finger in his face, with her asking him if he’s a mutant, isn’t he. Myles glances down at his wrist and sees a tuft of auburn hair emerge from the smooth skin. I guess I am, he states, amazed.

Later, back at X-Statix HQ, Myles formally states his wish to be re-admitted into X-Statix. Do they want him to put it in writing? God help them, no, Tike replies, But they do require one thing, Guy informs him. Tike finishes the sentiment – Myles has to prove he can still do it. Go Vivisector on them, Dead Girl snarls, feigning faux claws. Myles struggles for a moment, much to the concern of the team, but his exertion pays off. He furs up again – the Vivisector reborn!

The team is impressed, Guy even stating that it was scarier than before. Tike concurs, saying that his hair has a certain luster it didn’t have previously. He must have found something to get angry about, Dead Girl supposes aloud. Guy asks Myles what his secret is, but he replies that it’s no secret. But he has changed. He didn’t use anger to fur up. He thought of a poem by John Donne. A painting by Monet. A guy called Raju. Might not be so dramatic, he states… but it’ll do wonders for his blood pressure.

Later, Myles joins the rest of his teammates at the first charity gala for distressed mutant, where the X-Statix are the guests of honor. Tonight, the announcer informs the crowd, they are re-formed with everyone’s favorite lycanthrope, Myles Alfred… aka “Vivisector.”

As Myles walks down the carpet, he is stopped by Brandon, his former boyfriend. Acting coolly, Myles apologizes to his former beau that his movie bombed. And that they’re canceling his TV show. Ignoring this, Brandon tells Myles that he thought that they might, like, go out sometime… Try to start over again. Myles apologizes again, informing Brandon that a man in his position has to be careful who he’s seen with. His agent doesn’t like him stepping out with failures.

Incensed at the statement, Brandon demands from Myles who he is calling a failure. Lousy mutant! Unphased, Myles shrugs off the slur with a smile, and tells Brandon to calm down. No need to get like that, he says. Anger is such a negative emotion.

Characters Involved: 

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

Dr. Alex Finlay / Vivisector Two

Polly, Alex Finlay’s girlfriend

Restaurant staff and patrons

Los Angeles citizens

Brandon Cody


Gala attendees



Edward Alfred, Myles’ father

Mrs. Alfred, Myles’ mother


Party attendees

On television:

Doop, Dead Girl, Mister Sensitive, Venus Dee Milo (all X-Statix)

Dr. Alex Finlay / Vivisector Two

Story Notes: 

Xanax is one of several products named under which the drug alprazolam is sold. Most regularly it is used to reduce anxiety.

Emily Dickinson was an American 19th century poet, who actually did not become famous until after her death. Raju’s reference to Myles’ treatise on her “spaces” is most likely a joking reference to her frequent use of dashes in her work.

Billy Bob, the former X-Static known as Phat, died in X-Statix #18.

A biro is any ballpoint pen.

John Donne was a famous English poet of the late 16th & early 17th century. He is best known for his love poetry, sermons & religious poems.

Claude Monet was a famous French painter who, among others, founded the style of Impressionism.

Doop Translation:

When Venus wonders if Guy could become more sensitive, like Vivisector has become more feral, Doop laughs, “Like that’s possible.”

Issue Information: 
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