X-Statix #22

Issue Date: 
July 2004
Story Title: 
<BR>The Good and the Famous - part two: Captain America vs. the Anarchist<BR>The Good and the Famous - part three: Scarlet Witch vs. Dead Girl

Peter Milligan (writer), Mike Allred (cover and pencils), Nick Craine (Inker), Laura Allred (colors), Blambot’s Nate Piekos (lettering), Jennifer Lee (editor, assisting), Axel Alonso (editor), Joe Quesada (chief), Dan Buckley (president)

Brief Description: 

Venus and the rest of X-Statix drop the Anarchist off near a Thai fishing village and teleport away, even while the Scarlet Witch drops off Captain America in a Quinjet. Cap and the Anarchist meet each other and quickly come to blows, though Cap ends up coming out on top, knocking Tike out. Cap then moves to Thai statue, upon which the piece of Doop’s brain rests, but a local Thai business man has local boys get it instead, giving him a few minutes to pitch a business deal with Cap for development of the beach area around them. Cap tries to politely decline but the return of the recovered Anarchist cuts it short. This time, the Anarchist comes out on top – but he still ultimately loses as the locals side with the Avenger, taking the X-Static down. His job done, Cap leaves in a Quinjet. Meanwhile, in the Atlantic, the Scarlet Witch arrives on a toxic ghost ship, where her piece of the brain came to rest. She descends into the bowels of the ship and finds the toxic liquid the ship is carrying has been emptied from their barrels and containers, killing some of the crew and flooding the lower decks. Using her Hex powers to form a protective bubble, the Witch dives into the murk and finds Dead Girl, who is able to swim unprotected in the goop with little ill effects. The Witch is able to use her Hexes to bind Dead Girl, but finds herself at the mercy of Dead Girl’s power to summon personal ghosts of others. Her concentration shattered, Wanda has to ascend to the deck, while Dead Girl retrieves the brain, which has begun to sprout tendrils that are feeding on the corpses of the crew. When they try to feed on Dead Girl, however, they find her not to their liking and expel her from the ship. Luckily, Dead Girl had still been holding the brain and has her own piece of the prize. She uses her wrist communicator to call Venus and ask for a pick-up.

Full Summary: 

On a sandy beach in Thailand, the mutant team known as X-Statix emerges from the dimensional portal of Venus dee Milo. Safely arrived, Mister Sensitive reminds Tike of their situation. Their intelligence indicates, he tells him, this is where part of Doop’s brain appeared. All he has to do, Venus adds, is to find it, secure it and call her. She’ll come and pick him up. Interrupting his survey of the land, Tike glances back at Venus with a smile, asking sarcastically if he has to find the brain all by himself?

Seeing that the Anarchist is prepared, the group departs again, through another of Venus’ teleportation portals. Calling back as they ascend through the vortex, Guy reminds Tike that they’ll be looking for the rest of the brain. There are five pieces that need to be found. In any event, he states, there’s no need for him to feel lonely… he’s got company. Some distance above Tike’s head is the arriving Avengers Quinjet, piloted by the Scarlet Witch. Ready at the jet’s hatch is Captain America, who tells his teammate that there will do just fine.

Before Cap jumps, Wanda tells the Captain that she would hang around and help, only she’s got a date with a piece of green cerebellum somewhere in the Atlantic. Eyeing his landing spot below, Cap replies that another jet will pick him up. And he won’t need any magic to get the better of Tike Alicar. “The Anarchist,” he mutters to himself in disgust. “I ask you… what kind of name for a super hero is that?”

Cap’s jump is witnessed by the Anarchst, who is waiting on the beach below, mocking to himself that there comes the cavalry. Upon landing, sans parachute, Cap addresses Tike by his surname, Alicar. He tells him that he knows they don’t exactly get along, but she doesn’t want to fight him or his team. Incredulous at Cap’s words, the Anarchist quips back inquisitively that he doesn’t… and then follows if with a left hook across Cap’s jaw. Then go find another beach, white boy, he quips.

Cap recovers quickly, but does not rise to his feet, instead glancing back over his shoulder in disgust. He tells Tike that he might not have any respect for him personally or the Avengers… To this, the Anarchist interrupts, telling Cap to keep going, he’s getting warm… But, Cap continues, he should respect what he represents. Tike asks back what, pray tell, is that? Good old-fashioned American values and napalm? Brushing aside the mockery, Cap tells Tike that that’s a one-sided point of view. He’s walking about something with depth, something solid. Let me demonstrate.

Without another word, Cap slings his shield in a lightening-fist flick of the arm. The shield impacts against the Anarchist, knocking him down. Now on the ground, Tike finds the good Captain standing over him, instructing him to stand down, or he’ll beat him black and blue. The Anarchist mocks Cap’s choice of words, “black and blue.” Nice one, he then adds, “Captain Sensitive.” Cap is unphased by Tike’s statement, telling him not to turn it into a race issue. Gritting his teeth and rising to his feet, Tike activates the sweat glands in his hands, spitting back that, with a black guy fighting a white guy, how can it not be a race issue?

With this, the Anarchist propels his acidic blasts toward the Captain, whose shield deflects it harmlessly. Speaking from behind his cover, Cap tells Tike that that’s bull. This is about Doop, pure and simple. That creature, he says, has the latent power to destroy the world. Continuing his blasts, Tike replies that, so far, X-Statix has kept him in check. So far, Cap rejoins, they’ve been lucky. Now it’s time for the professionals to take over the job.

As he speaks, Cap moves ever closer to Tike, still protected by his invulnerable shield. Upon reaching a close distance, Tike finds his own blasts being splattered back at him. Undeterred by Cap’s actions or words, Tike replies that Cap’s type has been doing the job for too long. This is a new age. New problems… they need new solutions. When the splatter of the Anarchist’s blasts finally causes him to recoil slightly, Cap takes advantage of it and strikes, flinging his shield at the X-Static. As he releases the shield from his hand, Cap tells Tike that his words are empty jargon. Adspeak. White noise. The Anarchist only has a moment to feign offensive at Cap’s use of the word “white” before the red, white and blue shield bounces off of his chin.

Cap does not wait for Tike to regain his senses, instead pressing the attack with a right cross. As he strikes, Cap tells Alicar to admit it. He doesn’t really want the responsibility. So he should let them take care of Doop. And they can do what they’re good at. Showboating for the cameras. Picking up his shield, Cap sees that Tike’s head is swimming. It only takes a tap to the temple for the Anarchist to go down. As he walking into the Thai village, Cap calls back to Tike more things that they’re good at. Getting into the gossip columns. Lying around on the beach.

As Cap walks away, Tike slowly begins to recover, returning to the land of the conscious. Okay, he thinks, beginning to right himself, he’s ahead on points. Though the “Cap’n” thinks he’s won the fight, he thinks, he’s never heard about rope-a-dope. Ali versus Foreman. The Rumble in the Jungle. Rising to his feet, Tike thinks about the famous fight, where Ali took everything George could throw at him, rolling back on those nice, loose ropes. Then, when he was ready, he looked down at the ringside and saw Normal Mailer. The moved off the ropes… and changed the world. Thusly inspired, the Anarchist stands on his wobbly legs and moves off of the beach in search of Captain America.

At the base of a giant Thai statue, upon which a piece of Doop’s brain sits, Cap talks to a local, asking if he is sure the others won’t mind him getting up on their beautiful statue and get what he came for. The suited man states that, even better, he’ll have one of the boys get it for him. While they do, he then continues, they can talk business. As two boys scamper up the statue, retrieving the brain, Cap endures the sales pitch of the man, who professes his vision of turning the meager unspoiled beauty beach into its untapped potential. They can change the local people’s lives, he says, giving them the benefits of modern technology. To make a handsome profit, Cap mocks sanguinely as he catches the thrown brain.

Surely, the man rejoins, Captain America doesn’t have a problem with free enterprise. Cap’s weak denial is followed by a hearty excellent from the man, who promptly adds that Cap can talk to his embassy for him and put in a good word. They need investors – the right kind of investors – and in return they can get him what he needs. Cap tries to dismiss the man, with a weak promise that he’ll think about it. Cap then turns to his phone and calls Wanda, telling her that his objective has been achieved and for her to pick him up on the beach.

The sound of a clearing of a throat, coming from the Anarchist, tells Cap that the task is not complete. Turning to the sounds, Cap is confronted by the Anarchist, who informs the Avengers that he’ll take that brain.

Before Cap can respond, Tike tosses a glob of acid. Calling Cap “George,” he asks Cap if he thought the fight was his and if he had him on the ropes. Cap easily deflects the acid with his shield, but is perplexed at the Anarchist’s choice of words. “George?” “Ropes?” He quickly assumes that that punch must have scrambled his brain – and he should let a doctor look at his… head?

Cap looks on in dismay, as he sees that some of the deflected acid has impacted on the neck of the Thai statue, decapitating it. Eying the massive stone head as it lays on the beach, Cap apologizes to the locals, telling them that he’s not some brash American, trampling over the customs of indigenous… Cap’s words are interrupted by the kick of the Anarchist, who strikes Cap unawares and across the jaw. Decrying Cap’s “white Liberal guilt,” Tike tells the Avenger that it’ll be the downfall of his kind.

With Cap down for the moment, the Anarchist uses some of his acid to solidify on Cap’s wrists, arms and legs, effectively tying him up. As Cap protests, the Anarchist informs him that the sticky, sweaty goo will keep him tied up long enough for him to chew over the imperialist crimes of his race.

Though victorious, the Anarchist finds that escape if much more difficult. The business suited-man calls to the rest of the locals for them to stop Tike and, moments later, the Anarchist finds himself tackled and beaten by a crowd of people. The suited man apologizes to Tike, informing him that this is business. They want the American dollar… The Anarchist protests that he is American, but the man only replies that, maybe, he’s the wrong kind of American. As the man picks up the green brain and returns it to the Captain, the Anarchist begins to lose consciousness, weakly stating that they are brothers… the yellow man and the black man… and they should stick together…

Some time later, as an Avengers Quinjet rises over the sea, the Anarchist calls Venus on his wrist communicator. Reluctantly, he informs her that Cap did get the piece of Doop’s brain he came there to get. Of course he tried, he then tells her. No, Cap didn’t beat him up, he lies. Pressed further, Tike tells Venus that Cap was sneaky and got the locals on his side by bribing them with offers of U.S. investment or something. She knows him – win at any price. He even went and played the race card!

So, Tike then asks, trying to change the subject, how’s the rest of the team faring?

On the rough seas and suffering under the torrential rains of a storm, the USS McKinley floats ominously. It is one of a fleet of “toxic ghost ships” being towed across the Atlantic, to be scrapped in the UK. Standing on the bow of the ship with the Scarlet Witch are five men assigned to the fleet, all wearing protective hazardous suits and masks. Trying to break the ice, one informs the Scarlet Witch that they don’t stand on ceremony on the ship, and wonders if they can call her “Scarlet.” Quite to the point, the Witch replies, “No.”

Well, anyhoo, the man continues, trying to diffuse the terse response, things have been pretty bad… ever since that green thing fell out of the sky. When asked by the Witch whether anyone else has shown up, he asks her if she means that “weird broad” who looks like a corpse. And sarcastic, another opines. Her countenance turning to one of slight worriment, the Scarlet Witch tells the men that that will be Dead Girl.

Pointing to an open hatch, the captain informs Wanda that she’s down there now. She said she had to find the brain. They tried being friendly, he continues, but she, well… she’s strange. Some distance down the hatch, the “strange” Dead Girl reaches a level with standing, green liquid, in which barrels of toxic substances float freely. Cool place, she mocks. Making her way further, she sees several bodies of men, all dead and floating face up in the toxic goo.

Above and looking down into an open hole into the bowels of the ship below, the Captain tells the Scarlet Witch that the hopes she finds their crewmates. They went down to see what damage the green thing did, and they haven’t seen them since. Peering down into the darkness, Wanda then turns back to the captain and asks what exactly they are carrying. “Plenty of stuff!,” he replies. For starters, there’s asbestos… and carcinogenic polychlorinated biphenyls… And then, another adds, there…

Cutting them off, the Witch tells them that she gets the picture. It can’t be dangerous one of the men tells her, or they wouldn’t let them carry the stuff halfway across the planet. As the Witch begins to jump into darkness, the captain asks her if she needs a flashlight. Nah, she replies, using her Hex powers to light the way as she descends. Moments later, the Witch finds herself standing on a crate, floating in an enclosed see of toxic goo. “By the gods…” she mutters.

The Witch’s thoughts are interrupted by another woman, who asks her what’s up with her light. It’s getting murkier. The Witch regards the woman, who has wrapped herself in a sheet, and her long hair covered for the most part by a doo-rag. The woman is pale with a sickly complexion. Still lighting the room with her Hex, Wanda tells the woman that the atmosphere is poisonous… evil… not conductive to healthy hexing.

Now asking her own question, the Witch asks the woman who she is. One of the missing crew? Answering with a question, the woman asks Wanda if she doesn’t remember her. The woman who raised her as her own child! Who sang gypsy lullabies by the campfire? Wanda is startled at the implication. Mom… Myra? Myra Maximoff…? She’s dead! So’s everything else down there, Myra states. Doesn’t stop it being alive! Too much in shock to keep her balance, Wanda begins to fall off of the floating crate and falls into the sludge below.

Luckily, the Scarlet Witch’s Hex power instinctively creates a protective bubble, which floats beneath the surface in a sea of luminescent green toxicity. In this surreal world, an unreal voice calls out to Wanda. More than a little unnerved, Wanda calls out, asking who it is. Who is down there with her? Out of the murk swims Dead Girl, her flesh reconstituting itself even as the toxic water in which she swims tears it apart.

Who does she think? Dead Girl mocks. Enjoy seeing her mama again? When Wanda asks if she did that, Dead Girl mocks again, telling Wanda that she should thank her. Some people would pay good money for a family reunion like that. As Wanda tries to stutter a response, Dead Girl adds that they “living ones” carry their dead in their skulls. Their memories, their imagination. If she tries hard, she can tease their reflections out for awhile…

Her composure regained, the Scarlet Witch kicks the non-permeable bubble against Dead Girl, knocking her back. As Dead Girl reels, Wanda informs her that that won’t stop her from finding the brain. Nonchalantly, Dead Girl replies that that hurt… but in a good way. Looking back at Wanda, she then playfully asks if her bubble just slipped. When Wanda angrily tells her to leave, Dead Girl warns Wanda to be careful – she’s got to concentrate to keep her Hexes up. If she gets diverted, her magic bubble goes pop! Then she’ll be breathing in the poison soup. Herself, Dead Girl says – she loves it.

As Wanda watches the X-Static dive deeper into the muck, she calls out, asking her what she’s doing. Doop’s brain is down there, she pauses long enough to explain. But she wouldn’t get any deeper if she were her. It’s way too nasty for a nice Transian girl like Wanda Maximoff. Angered by this a little, the Scarlet Witch indeed dives deeper, explaining as she does so that she’s seen plenty of nasty in her time. And Dead Girl shouldn’t worry about her powers or concentration – they’re just fine!

With these words, the Witch lets loose a Hex, which wraps around Dead Girl, immobilizing her. Though growing more incapacitated with every second, Dead Girl mocks with a question of what it is. A sexy little Hex sphere? A disturbance in the molecular level probability field… which means unlikely phenomenon are likely to… Dead Girl’s thoughts are interrupted, as the field becomes a winding sheet, effectively wrapping her up. Seeing what it is, Dead Girl announces that she wouldn’t be seen dead in one.

Bypassing the floating Dead Girl, the Scarlet Witch finds Doop’s brain, which has begun to sprout tendrils, which reach out into the sea of green goop. When Wanda wonders aloud what has happened, Dead Girl opines that, somehow, the chemicals in Doop’s brain have interacted with the compound of poisons already there… a dark miracle happened… and, wham!, it’s alive. Gazing into the undersea world of the toxins, Dead Girl sees that the tendrils are feeding on the crew, slowly feasting on their flesh... even their souls.

Seeing Wanda’s sorrowful reaction, the still immobilized Dead Girl ask her if she still wants to try for the brain. She tells her the ship would just love to get it’s teeth into her. Not the first, Wanda rejoins, nor the last. But it won’t happen… while she’s protected by her own Hex sphere.

Though still protected from the liquid around her, danger still arrives from the corpses, which float toward her, speaking to her through spectral voices. We’re burning, one laments. Another asks her not to run away from them, while a third says that their house is burnings. One man is familiar to Wanda, as he asks if she remembers the fire. Wanda defends that that was an accident! She was very young… she had no control over her powers! Anyway… she then realizes. No one died in that fire! The man from Wanda’s past presses his face up against her Hex sphere, asking if she was sure. Did she go back and look?

Suddenly, the Witch’s concentration lapses and she feels dizzy. She’s not sure. She’s never been sure. There’s always been a lingering doubt. The ghost of a doubt… that someone died in that long-ago house fire in Old Europe.

Wanda’s waning concentration is shattered when Dead Girl appears before her, startling her and asking where her bubble is. Completely gone, the bubble no longer offers protection and the Scarlet Witch is exposed to the toxic elements. Summoning what magic she can, the Witch tries to protect her delicate flesh as she ascends the long distance to the surface. Moments after breaking the surface of the liquid, the Scarlet Witch is on the deck of the ship, begging for water.

The captain offers the Scarlet Witch a bottle of water to drink, but Wanda instead pours it on her head, saying that she wants to be hosed down by it. As the Avenger empties the bottle, the captain asks where the other woman was, to which Wanda replies with a frown that it was somewhere she couldn’t go.

Down below, Dead Girl, now freed, tugs against the brain, which is held in place by tendrils. At the same time, other tendrils approach her, and begin to wrap around her. Dead Girl is apprehensive at first, but quickly realizes that the living thing closing around her, hungry for more living flesh, finds something not to its taste. As a result, it does what comes naturally… expelling Dead Girl from the ship into the stormy sea outside.

Moments later, Dead Girl finds herself floating in the turbulent waves… clutching Doop’s brain around under her chin. Using her wrist communicator, Dead Girl calls Venus, telling her that she can pick her up. Asked by Venus if she doesn’t sound weird, Dead Girl replies that it’s not surprising… it ain’t every day a girl’s rejected by a haunted boat.

At the same time, the Scarlet Witch reports back over the Quinjet’s radio, as it carries her away from the ghost fleet. She details that her mission was unsuccessful. It was all looking pretty good… then Dead Girl played dirty.

Characters Involved: 

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

Captain America, Scarlet Witch (both Avengers)

Thai businessman

Thai locals

Toxic ghost fleet captain & crew

Deceased crew

(in Wanda’s mind)

Myra Maximoff

Ghosts from Wanda’s past

Story Notes: 

Adspeak is simple-minded jargon composed for simplistic consumption by the masses, mainly in the form of advertisements or slogans. White noise can mean several things, but in this case it refers to background noise, which has become so loud that it drowns everything of importance out.

The Rumble in the Jungle, Tike correctly remembers, was a famous boxing match set in the then-named country of Zaire, on October 30, 1974. There, the then-heavyweight champion George Foreman faced former heavyweight Mohammed Ali. The fight coined the phrase “rope-a-dope” strategy, where Ali allowed Foreman to pummel him repeatedly, making it seem to the audience that Ali was losing, all the while allowing Foreman to tire himself out. With Foreman’s stamina used up, Ali came out comparatively energetic and ultimately won. Norman Mailer was a famous writer who was present at the fight, who later wrote in his book “The Fight” that a member of Ali’s camp had loosened the ropes, helping Ali’s strategy.

A “winding sheet” is also known as a shroud – a sheet for wrapping a corpse.

The fire which Wanda remembers is most likely the fire seen in X-Men (1st series) #4. Magneto saved Wanda and her brother from the angry mob, which formed in anger for the fire Wanda had inadvertently caused.

Issue Information: 
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