X-Statix #23

Issue Date: 
July 2004
Story Title: 
<BR>The Good and the Famous - part three: Vivisector vs. Hawkeye<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 (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

Vivisector and Hawkeye come to blows over the piece of Doop’s brain that fell in the revolutionary-torn African nation of Azania. However, when it becomes apparent that neither side of the conflict they have joined forces with will actually give them the brain, Vivisector and Hawkeye team up, even planning to leave their respective teams afterward and form a permanent duo. The twosome make short work of the rebels who possess the brain, but afterward Hawkeye makes his escape with the piece, Vivisector quickly recognizing that the Avenger was merely using Vivisector’s attraction and wishful thinking to cloud his judgment. Elsewhere, Venus arrives at the Antarctic facility where a piece of the brain landed. It seems to be an easy job, however Ant-Man has shrunk to near microscopic size and begins to wreak havoc with Venus’ innards. Unfortunately, for his, his actions draw the attention of Venus’ antibodies, which fight Ant-Man to a standstill. At an impasse, Ant-Man settles the matter with Venus’ subconscious over a coin flip, with Venus winning the toss.

Full Summary: 

There’s fierce fighting in the African Republic of Azania, where a fragile peace has been broken by the sudden arrival of a segment of Doop’s green brain. A group of rebels called the Revolutionary United Front (responsible for many outrages) has taken possession of the weird and potentially lethal organ. But other groups from Liberia, Sierra Leone and the Ivory Coast are eager to gain control of it. They say whoever controls the brain with soon control this part of Africa. To the north, refugee camps are the site of systematic rape and endemic HIV. To the south, tourists sit in air-conditioned safari trucks, waiting for their first glimpse of a lion. While, here in Azania, the government has a new weapon against the rebels… Vivisector.

Leaping through the street, followed by a cadre of Azanian soldiers, Vivisector has claws and teeth bared, ready for action. However, none of these weapons help against a well-aimed arrow to his shin. Collapsed to the ground, Vivisector looks up to see his assailant, Hawkeye, standing on the back of a pick-up truck with other Azanians and asks what he’s doing there. To himself, Vivisector thinks that it looks like the rebels have their own secret weapon.

Answering Vivisector’s call, Hawkeye calls out for him to get out of Africa, and stop hassling his new buddies. Angered by this, Vivisector leaps into action, following the moving truck with ease. Snarling as he does so, he informs Hawkeye that these “new buddies” of his are mass murderers. They’re turned Azania into a killing field. Spitting back with the same invective, Hawkeye asks Vivisector about his Azanian government, putting off elections, dissin’ native traditions… and… and other bad stuff.

In a flash, Vivisector grabs Hawkeye’s arm, pulling him off of the truck and into the dirt road. Admittedly, they’re no angels, Vivisector defends, but they’re the lesser of two evils. They’ll bring some kid of stability. Allow outside aid agencies to operate. In defense, Hawkeye states that he’s got a deal with the rebels. He helps them… they give him the brain…

Coming to a stop, Vivisector has Hawkeye pinned on his back, with Vivisector’s claws raised to strike. Calling him “Clinton,” Vivisector tells Hawkeye to start using his own brain. He’s being manipulated! Asked if he’s saying he’s a stooge, Vivisector says that he’s sure he has an innate cleverness but…

The moment of indecision was all Hawkeye needed to flip the X-Static off. Rising to his feet, he tells the mutant that there’s no buts. He’s gotta get that piece o’ brain. His whole rep depends on it. Drawing back his bow, he continues that he doesn’t have super powers like some Avengers. So it’s even more important that he brings home the bacon.

Hawkeye’s reflexes, however, are no use against Vivisector, who has the Avenger up against the wall a moment later. Fangs bared, he tells Hawkeye not to make him hurt him. He doesn’t want to mess up that handsome face of his. Defeated and dejected, Hawkeye relents, telling Myles to go ahead. He’s waiting. Myles pauses for a moment and then lets Hawkeye down. As he walks away, he tells him that he can’t do it. Hawkeye knows he can’t do it.

Smiling, Hawkeye replies that he didn’t know. But he’s sure glad he guessed right. In a blur, Hawkeye nocks an arrow and lets it fly, which hits Vivisector in the upper right arm. Shocked more than injured, Vivisector collapses to the curb, telling Hawkeye that he’s impaled him. Hawkeye tells him to just relax. It’s a special arrow, he tells him. Skin deep, a mild anesthetic. But… Vivisector stammers. He has to talk… about Doop… the African context. As Hawkeye fades away in a chemically induced haze, Vivisector hears Hawkeye tell him to go “context” in his dreams. And make sure the mosquitoes don’t bite!

Myles wakes up later in a government camp, lying in a bed covered in mosquito mesh. He immediately tries to dismiss his dreams of Hawkeye and Cupid’s bow. God help him, he thinks. A short time later, he makes his way outside to find something to eat. However, he finds something simply indigestible… a group of corpses, strung up.

Confronted by Vivisector, the Azanian official informs him that the men were hanged for the crime of carnal knowledge of another against the order of nature. Taking this in, Vivisector asks if he means that they were hanged because… they were gay? Homosexuality, the commander explains, is un-African. And imported Western practice. Now, he concludes, Vivisector should stop meddling in affairs he doesn’t understand.

Elsewhere, at the rebel camp outside the capital, a rebel leader tells Hawkeye that he doesn’t understand. Or maybe he thinks they’re stupid? Brandishing a rifle at Hawkeye, the leader mocks that they’re simple natives he can trick into giving big “white bwana” the Doop brain?

Hawkeye begins to stammer a defense, by the man continues, stating that their agreement was he help them take the capital… then they’ll give him the brain. To be honest, another speaks up, they’ve been a little disappointed in his… performance. Hawkeye replies that he’s doing his best, but the first interrupts, stating that it’s a pity they didn’t get one of those Avengers with super powers. He then asks Hawkeye if he’s sure he can’t get Thor to help them? Or Iron Man?

Replying that, no, he can’t, Hawkeye leaves the building, walking into the night air. He ponders the man’s words, thinking that he’s a guy who’s good with a bow and arrow. What more do they expect? Anyway, he also thinks, Iron Man doesn’t have super powers. Just an iron…

Hawkeye’s melancholic walk is interrupted by Vivisector, who calls out from the shadows. Hawkeye reluctantly follows, as Myles leads him to a place where they can talk, a much safer place: a half-demolished and abandoned UN building.

Reiterating their conversation, Hawkeye states that Vivisector wants him to show him where they’re keeping the brain, and then let him go in and take it. Myles confirms, telling Hawkeye that they’re in over their heads. Africa is way too complex for them to play with… In agreement, Hawkeye wonders what it is with these guys. Why can’t they be more like “us?”

In answer to a rhetorical question, Myles decides to give Hawkeye a brief history lesson. Most of Azania’s problems are caused by foreign interference. First off, its borders were drawn up by Queen Victoria and Kaiser Bill, with no regard for ethnic… Holding up his hands, Hawkeye interrupts, telling Myles that he’s already giving him a headache. He suggests that try to keep it simple. No everyone’s as smart as he is.

Okay then, Myles states, resting against a filing cabinet. Doop’s brain, he says, is just another outside factor, making things worse. The fighting could go on for years. The rebels are never going to give him the brain. And if the two of them fight each other… neither of them will get it. So, if Hawkeye just tells him where it is… he’ll get it on his own.

Wow, Hawkeye states. Myles is so much smarter than he’ll ever be. But… he’s got another idea. A much better idea… partner. Placing his hand on Myles’ shoulder, Hawkeye gives Vivisector a grin, which makes him grin with wide-eyed naiveté.

Stealthily, the two approach the heavily guarded rebel camp. Myles asks Hawkeye if he’s sure about this, to which the Avengers replies that Vivisector’s they brains of the team. What have the two of them got in common? Apart from good looks and style, he responds, as Hawkeye lets loose a boxing glove arrow, which takes out two men at once.

Apart from that, Hawkeye says, already having nocked another arrow. They both belong to teams. Very famous, kiss-up teams. But… sometimes… sometimes it’s like… they’re runts of the litter. It’s true, Vivisector states, having just knocked out a few rebels. They’re not as famous or even as popular as some of their more illustrious comrades. For Hawkeye, it’s Captain America… Iron Man… Thor… For him, Hawkeye says about Vivisector, it’s Venus Dee Milo, Mister Sensitive… The Anarchist, Vivisector yells, while tearing into a rebel.

Launching a smokescreen arrow into the rebels’ HQ, Hawkeye states that it makes perfect sense that they team up. Break out on their own. “Vivisector and Hawkeye,” Myles tries out aloud. It does have a certain… postmodern resonance. Punching out a rebel with his bow, Hawkeye states that, with Myles’ brains and his bow and arrow… they’ll be huge. As the two continue their assault on the rebels, Hawkeye admits to Vivisector that he’ll have to teach him how to be smarter, to which Myles rejoins that he’ll teach him anything he wants. Voicing another thought, Hawkeye states that they’ll be spending a whole lot of time together. Tough work, Myles agrees, but someone’s gotta do it.

Through the smoke, Hawkeye grabs the rebels’ leader, and orders the general to tell him where they’re hiding the brain. The general is unaffected by Hawkeye, replying that he doesn’t scare him. Maybe he doesn’t Hawkeye states, but it’s a sure bet his partner does. The bared claws and fangs of Vivisector make the general relent, and he tells the two that it’s under the mortar shells in the storehouse…

Hawkeye runs back into the HQ, telling Vivisector to hold them off. Myles tries to stop him, to finish their discussion, but Hawkeye tells him later. A noise suddenly draws Vivisector’s eye upwards to the blur of an arriving Quijet. The call from Hawkeye next draws his attention to rooftop, where the archer holds aloft the piece of Doop’s brain and yelling that Hawkeye’s accomplished his mission! Stuttering a response, Vivisector asks if he doesn’t mean Vivisector and Hawkeye…

With a grin, Hawkeye thanks Myles for his help, and states that he’d have never got Doop’s brain without him. Nocking an arrow with a tethered line, he fires it at the still-moving Quinjet. Upon its connection, it yanks him into the air, the green brain in his free hand. Carried off, he tells Myles that he’s real sorry they can’t be a team after all. Guess he still has stuff to do with the Avengers. No hard feelings?

Left alone, Vivisector can only wave at the departing Avengers. No hard feelings, he states. It would never have worked out with them anyhow, he opines. Hawkeye’s way too smart for him.

At the Rothera Two research lab in Antarctica, Venus tells her host that she’s got a stomachache. The host, a parka-clad scientist, tells Venus that, until you get used to the place, it can do some pretty strange things to her body. When Professor Mott asks Venus if she wants to visit the sick bay, Venus tells her no thanks. She’s used to pretty strange things happening to her body. The professor replies that she can imagine.

Opening the door to the facility, she tells Venus that she’s the base’s atmospheric physicist. She spends ten hours a day in a metal box measuring density and temperature. So it was a pleasant change to see a piece of green, organic matter hurtling through the upper atmosphere. Finding the piece of Doop’s brain on the table inside, Venus again thanks the professor for calling X-Statix… rather than the Avengers, she means. Professor Mott dismisses it, stating that she’s a big fan of theirs. She guesses she’s just another frustrated super hero. As the professor returns to the snow-covered landscape outside, Venus tells her that if X-Statix ever needs an atmospheric physicist, they’ll know whom to call.

Suddenly, Venus doubles over in pain, her stomach in agony. Through the pain, she thinks that it’s getting worse… something hurting her. Attacking her. Swimming through the abdomen of Venus is Ant-Man… doing just that. Much to Venus’ surprise, Ant-Man emerges from her mouth, quickly growing to full size. Now looming over the prone Venus, he tells her welcome to her stomachache.

Venus tries to lash out, however Ant-Man quickly reduces himself in size. Of course, he states, he could easily kick off a headache, or backache or neck ache… Moving quickly enough, Venus makes to grab Ant-Man in an energy field between her hands. “How about a pain in the butt?” she asks. That too, she says, can be arranged.

A moment later, the two find themselves in a cornfield. When he asks where she has ported them, Venus tells him someplace far away. Saying good-bye, she teleports back the research facility to retrieve the brain. However, reality does not reaffirm and she teleports again, this time to an Asian city. With her is Ant-Man, who quickly informs her that it is he who is making her teleport.

Venus is in disbelief at first, but Ant-Man explains that he hitched a ride, then played with her circuitry until he hit the right buttons. Asked by her if it’s hit usual routine with the ladies, Ant-Man feigns a laugh, then reiterating that she can’t lose him.

Watch me, she states, tossing him away. Immediately, she teleports back to Antarctica, convinced that she’s given him the slip. However, she realizes that she still feels a little weirded out. When she gets back, she thinks, she’ll ask Professor Xavier to… Without another word, Venus loses consciousness and collapses to the floor.

Still pulling on her innards, from the inside, at first, Ant-Man is worried that he’s hurt her… really hurt her. He didn’t mean to… but this small stuff is something of a lottery. God knows he’s done to her. Releasing her insides, Ant-Man floats through Venus’ body, telling that if she’s just let him have the brain, he’ll stop this.

To his surprise, Ant-Man hears another voice with him, informing him that she can’t hear him. Turning to the voice, he sees a diminutive Venus Dee Milo, standing before him and telling him that she’s unconscious… which gives her more power. With ease, the diminutive Venus flips Ant-Man over, who quickly notes that this Venus has arms… real arms.

Trying to rise to his feet, Ant-Man asks her who she is, to which the Venus replies that she’s Venus’ sub-conscious self. And she’s got sistahs. As other Venus antibodies arrive, the first tosses Ant-Man away, informing him that he’s their prisoner now. They’ll keep him in there. Meanwhile, Venus will wake up and take the brain.

Hearing this, Ant-Man replies that he could grow. Enlarge and escape them all. However, the cadre of Veni dismiss the thought, pinning him down. They know that he wouldn’t want to kill her like that. All that nightmare of snapped intenstines, ruptured organs, blood and woman juices. A few others mock him to go ahead… if he’s got the guts. As Ant-Man struggled with his disbelief, the real Venus awakens on the floor of the facility.

Still not giving up, Ant-Man points out that, if he stays there, this small, he’ll start to rot. He’ll become a tumor, growing inside of her. He’ll metastasize, infect every part of their host’s body… Then they all die, one of the antibodies notes.

There is another way, a new voice states. When Ant-Man asks who the newcomer is, one of the Veni states that she is Professor Mott, the resident atmospheric physicist. Asked by another of the antibodies, Professor Mott replies that either she made such a big impression on Venus that she’s creating her in her subconscious world… or all those hours alone, staring at the upper atmosphere, triggered a latent telepathy. In any event… while they’re fighting, they are killing Venus.

The history of the Antarctic isn’t so different, she continues. The powers fought over this part of the world, while the Larsen ice shelf steadily shrunk. The Antarctic Treaty was signed by twelve countries to keep it free of nuclear tests and radioactive waste. To ensure it’s used for peaceful purposes only. If pig-headed politicians can come to an agreement, she thinks they two should be able to sort out who keeps this piece of brain… without killing them both.

Asked by the now-released Ant-Man what she has in mind, Professor Mott replies, “simple,” and produces a coin. Flipping it into the air, she says that, if one of them would like to call… heads of tails…

As the snow continues to fall outside, the real Professor Mott asks Venus how her stomachache is now. Though still clutching it, she replies that it’s fine and opines that she must have had a little bug. Noting that it seems to be gone now, she states that she should be as well… with what she came for. Taking the brain, Venus teleports away, once again thanking the professor. “Heads, I won!” she smiles. Hearing Professor Mott repeating the words in confusion, Venus replies that she’ll fill her in later. She’s gotta go. A moment later, she has gone.

Characters Involved: 

Venus Dee Milo, Vivisector (all X-Statix)

Subconscious of Venus Dee Milo

Subconscious manifestation of Professor Mott

Ant-Man Hawkeye (both Avengers)

Azanian soldiers & officials

Azanian rebels

Deceased Azanian citizens (lynched)


Professor Mott

Story Notes: 

While this depicted nation of Azania is fictional, the name has historical use. It seems to have been used by Rome to refer to certain parts of Africa and has been used in modern times to refer to South Africa, though mainly only by splinter groups.

Bwana is a Swahili word used in place of “Sir” or “Mr.” and has various other meanings as well.

Queen Victoria was the 19th century British monarch who reigned for a record 63 years before her death. “Kaiser Bill” refers to Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, who was Victoria’s grandson.

The Larsen ice shelf is part of the Antarctic Peninsula and is actually composed of three shelves, which occupy the coast. It was named after Captain Henry Larsen, who sailed the ice front in 1893.

The Antarctic Treaty is actually a series of treaties signed over the course of decades, the first of which was signed in 1959. It was signed by 12 nations, including the United States and Soviet Union , and was one of the first arms control treaties agreement established during the Cold War.

Issue Information: 
Written By: