X-Statix #6

Issue Date: 
February 2003
Story Title: 
The Moons of Venus - part 1: Good Guy, Bad Guy

Peter Milligan (writer), Michael Alred (artist), Laura Allred (colorist), Blambot’s Piekos (letterer), John Miesegaes & Warren Simons (assistant editors), Axel Alonso (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Bill Jemas (president)

Brief Description: 

At one of his secret complexes, Professor Xavier supervises Venus Dee Milo’s latest attempt to travel between dimensions to find her lost family, who may still be alive. The procedure ends in failure, with Venus almost dying and an alien lifeform from another dimension appears. Uncharacteristically fearful of it’s meaning, Xavier kills the creature immediately with a pistol.
After making sure that Venus is alright, Xavier shows Venus his latest containment suit, designed with her in mind to give her the capability to have much more intimate interactions. Unsure, Venus declines. Elsewhere, the Anarchist, Dead Girl, Phat and Vivisector appear on a show, hosted by Lacuna, called Good guy/Bad guy, where they debate Guy Smith’s qualities and let the audience vote on which he is. Guy is voted against, by 74%. That night, under pressure from his shareholders due to X-Statix’s dropping popularity and profits, Spike warns X-Statix that if Guy does not return soon, their next mission will be to eliminate him. Back at Xavier’s complex, several parts of the other suits Xavier has designed are stolen and amalgamated into a new, more powerful costume. Wreaking havoc on the city, the new super-villain declares himself… Bad Guy. Sent by Spike to take “Guy” down, X-Statix is no match for Bad Guy. Phat and Vivisector go down easily and the Anarchist is on the verge of being killed when Venus arrives. Despite the pleas of her teammate for help, Venus, unsure of whether Bad Guy is Guy Smith or not, cannot decide what to do.

Full Summary: 

In a cavernous room, a single, metal pole supports a monstrous device. The device, spherical in nature, sports a gigantic window, through which a swirling sea of red can be viewed. Dozens of wires lead from high above to strips of metal, which hover perfectly parallel to the curvature of the machine. The machine is known as IMA, which is an acronym for Interdimensional Matrix… and a third, long word beginning with “A” that Venus Dee Milo can never remember. Standing on a platform, supported by another single, metal pole, Venus stands with Professor Xavier. She comes here every couple of weeks but would come more often if the Professor didn’t say it was too emotionally wearing.

In fact, the Professor would be happier is she stopped coming altogether. He believes that she is wasting her time, hoping for some miracle of a chance. However, without hope, Venus thinks, she’d probably go mad and explode into millions of particles of distressed energy. Still staring into belly of the machine, whose purpose is to chart different dimensions, Venus prepares herself to go in for the fifth time that day. Once again, she will look for her family.

Placing his hand on Venus’ arm, Xavier suggests that she calls it a day. Her energy level is reading down to eight hundred cycles per cubic inch… and she has bags under her eyes. Undeterred, Venus tells him once more and then asks, what’s on the menu? Honoring Venus’ request, the Professor tells her Sector H Minor. Advising her to be careful, Xavier informs her that these minor realities are contiguous to some dark dimensions. Replying that she is a big girl and can look after herself, Venus dives through the porous window of the machine and enters.

Years ago, Venus had thought she’d obliterated her family when her terrible mutant energy powers first exploded on the scene. However, it was Professor Xavier who said that they might still be living, marooned on one of the many dimensions that exist alongside their own. Adrift in the sea of dimensions, Venus finds herself joined by countless black, hairy, tendril-like creatures, which begin to wrap themselves around her. Quickly realizing that this is not what usually happens, Venus begins to panic.

Back in the lab, Xavier calls out to Venus to come back now! They have a problem! There’s been some reality degrading. Below his platform, on the lab’s floor, a technician asks if that means the dark dimensions have spread. Responding excitedly, Xavier tells him it means Venus is in big trouble if they don’t… Xavier’s words are interrupted by an explosion of the window and the violent release of several of the tendril creatures.

Staring at the broken window of the machine, Xavier announces that they’ve lost her! They’ve lost her! An armed guard of the lab draws Xavier’s attention to a mound of flesh, from which black tendrils begin to flail. When asked by the guard what it is, Xavier replies that he thinks he knows. Kill it, he orders. Kill it. Quick.

Bending down next to Xavier, the lab technician suggests that it might have some scientific significance. They should discuss this before they simply destroy it. Borrowing the guard’s gun, Xavier tells the technician, Doctor Swaine, that he applauds his instincts and agrees that they must maintain a strict regiment of dispassionate scientific inquiry… after they’ve zapped the ugly son-of-a-… Xavier cuts off his own words with three shots from his pistol.

Returning his attention to the broken IMA, Xavier apologizes to the absent Venus. He never should have… A sobbing voice stops Xavier in mid-sentence. It is the voice of trembling voice of Venus Dee Milo, who lays in a fetal position, covered in green goo, pleading for anyone to make them go away. Bending down to Venus and touching her shoulder, Xavier asks her what happened to her over there?

It was horrible, she tells everyone. Really horrible, Lacuna says again, to know that she had been morally blackmailed into delivering the fatal dose of poison to Arnie Lundberg. Even though, he was a killer and a maniac with a bunch of mutant weapons of mass destruction… was Guy Smith right in asking her to do this? Or was this an action unfit for the leader of the so-called super team?

On a wider issue, Lacuna continues from behind her show’s desk, as she eyes the camera in front of her, should they want Guy Smith to return from his self-imposed exile and rejoin the X-Statix… or do they want to never see his sensitive face again? Turning the camera and its audience’s attention toward two oversized pictures of Guy Smith, one in which he is smiling, the other sporting a grim, sneering countenance, Lacuna asks, in short, do they think he’s a good guy… or a bad guy? Hovering outside his balcony with a bottle of beer, Guy views his own image on the television inside. Bad Guy, he replies. Definitely bad Guy.

Back on the set of the show, Lacuna tells the audience that, to help them reach a decision, she has some very special guests. In the bad guy corner… Tike Alicar, aka the Anarchist… and Dead Girl. And to argue the case for good guy, she continues, everyone’s favorite consenting adults… Billy Bob Reilly, aka Phat, and Myles Alfred, the Vivisector.

Watching this from his bed, Solomon O’Sullivan announces, with glee, that this is wonderful! Guy Smith is finished… and they don’t have to lift a finger. Also in the bed, Sharon Ginsberg, the other side of the “they,” suggest that, maybe, they can help the process along. When asked by Solomon what she has in mind, Sharon replies that it can wait for later. Right now, she says, Mister O’Sullivan, she’d like him to be that bad guy again. Again? Solomon exclaims. He’s not sure he can be that bad again… so soon. Lifting the bed sheet to cover them both, Sharon reminds Solomon that they are mutants… anything’s possible.

When the Professor begins to ask, Venus replies that she is fine. Perfectly fine. But what did she see in there, the Xavier asks. Nothing, she replies. She doesn’t know. It was like… like a nightmare but it’s gone now. The truth is, she tells him; she hardly remembers anything about it. In that case, Xavier states, he has something to show her that might cheer her up. Regarding the platform of dummies that Xavier is showing her, all wearing a different costume/uniform, Venus replies that she doesn’t need cheering up. If she did, how would a room full of weird costumes do it?

Motioning to the costumes, Xavier replies that he’s not referring to these. Some of them are prototypes, others created for mutants not yet in the public eye. Running her hand along one armored costume, Venus responds that they are just like the suits he created for her and Guy, which enabled them to live some kind of life. Pulling Venus further down the corridor, Xavier that she is exactly correct. This, he tells her, is one of his many… workshops. He’s been busy on her other suit. Her special suit.

Now in another chamber, Xavier grasps one of the many suits hanging from the ceiling. It is a nearly translucent suit, almost a second skin, obviously for a female. It’s nearly complete, he tells her. What does she think? He’s sure it will work wonderfully. The problem with sensitivity has pretty much been solved. Standing some distance away, Venus stammers that she doesn’t know. Walking over to Venus, the Professor holds his hands in hers and tells her to remember… they discussed this. They agreed. She’s a young woman.

Replying contrarily, Venus tells the Professor that she’s a muddled bunch of unstable energy that would blow all over the place if it weren’t for this suit. No, replies Xavier. She’s a beautiful and remarkable, young woman and there will be a time… She doesn’t think so, Venus interrupts. How can she be so sure? Xavier asks. Come on, there must be someone. Some young man…

Cursing loudly, Spike Freeman asks the rest of X-Statix, sans Guy, if he has this straight: they are attempting to destroy, debilitate and otherwise screw-up the entire commercial and military operation known as X-Statix? Chomping on a burger that he has in one hand, with a soda in another, the Anarchist tells Spike to cool it. It was just a TV show. Grabbing the soda from the now-upset Anarchist, Dead Girl replies that he is right; any publicity is good publicity.

That, Spike voices, is one of the many lies spread by homespun so-called wisdom. Bad publicity, he says, is thirty cents knocked off their share price… and Tokyo hasn’t even opened yet. Bad is takings at the X-Statix cafés down to two percents since they appeared on the dumb TV show. Vivisector, gazing down at his own picture on the cover of Time magazine (with the caption of “Clever. Mutant. And Out”), tells Spike that it was no dumber than any of the other dumb shows they appear on. They live in a dumb world. He thought that’s how he liked it.

Descending from a teleportation portal high above the others’ heads, Venus announces that she agrees with Spike. Bolstered by his new ally, Spike compliments her back, saying that at least she had the sense not to go onto the Lacuna Show. Eyeing the descending Venus with a sneer, Dead Girl announces that she doesn’t recall Venus being asked.

Snapping back, Venus retorts that she was asked. And, she adds to the others, she thinks it just so… lousy of them. They make her sick. Guy was their leader. He was one of them. He would have died for them. They were a team. Anything could have happened to him. He’s sensitive, she reminds them. Guy could be dead, for all they know, and his so-called teammates are going on TV, playing along with some ridiculous good guy/bad guy thing. Turning specifically to the Anarchist, whose mouth is full of a bite of his burger, Venus reminds him that he was supposed to be Guy’s friend.

Venus’ rant completed, the others consider her words for a moment. Breaking the silence, Phat asks Spike what he’s sweatin’ for? They’ve been down in the ratings before. They do what they usually do: find some nice juicy mission, whup up some bad boys’ butts and wave to the crowd! Maybe not this time, Spike replies. He’s getting a lot of pressure from his shareholders. They don’t like a former team member - especially a former leader – floating around. They say he’s a loose cannon. He’ll come back, Venus predicts, when he gets his head together. Right, the Anarchist agrees. He always was a touchy Prima Donna type. Noting Venus’ displeasure at his choice of words, the Anarchist adds that he meant it in the coolest and most likeable way, right?

Not convinced himself, Spike informs the two that they’d better hope the does. Because, if he doesn’t… his hands are tied. Not wishing to leave things unsaid, Vivisector asks Spike if he could stop the cliché-fest and get to the point. Turning away so as not to face the group, Spike tells them the point: you don’t retire from X-Statix. It ain’t a nine-to-five job. If Guy Smith doesn’t want to be a member anymore… their next mission will be to eliminate him.

It is night at Xavier’s Los Angeles laboratory. Making their nightly rounds, two security guards walk down the hall that contains the Professor’s variously designed costumes. Referring to the recent good guy/bad guy show, one guard tells the other that he voted for bad guy… how about him? In disbelief at what he just heard, the second guard asks the first if he actually phoned in to vote. TV phone votes, the first replies, are the new democracy. Pretty soon they’ll be voting for president that way. Stopping in his tracks, the second guard asks the other if he saw that. Done this patrol so long, the first replies, he doesn’t see nothin’. The green suit, the second says… it moved.

The first tells the second, Larry, that he needs a vacation. It’s a suit, he says as he approaches it, how can it… Suddenly, the suit moves, inhabited not by a mannequin but an individual. Catching the guard off-guard the green suited individual slaps his down, drawing cries for Larry to shoot it. Still silent, the green suited person fires green blasts from the costume’s helmet, scattering the two guards. Larry, responding to his friend’s pleas, tells him to shoot it himself.

Elsewhere in the facility, Xavier and Doctor Swaine are dissecting the interdimensional creature, which is sealed in a transparent, environmentally sealed box. Stopping his work, Xavier regards the alarm, which has suddenly sounded. Investigating it, Xavier finds one of the guards being bandaged by another, with still more investigating the scene. The room is a shambles and all of the costumes are lying, scattered about.

Reporting to the Professor, the guard explains that Larry’s being operated on as they speak. They think he’ll pull through but he’s going to need plastic surgery. Reeling at the news, Xavier swears at the tragedy and asks how many suits were taken. Standing up, the guard replies that they won’t know until they’ve made a complete inventory. The Green Dragon’s gone, though, he tells Xavier. And Iceclops. There could be more. Continuing, the guard postulates that it must have been a mutant. Someone hypersensitive enough to locate and either destroy or evade all of their surveillance and security. Considering the guard’s words, Xavier repeats them; Someone… sensitive enough?

Repeating the breaking news, Morry Morrison of Channel 6 News announces that L.A. has a new, terrible super-villain to contend with. The menace is wearing an amalgam of suits apparently stolen from a secret complex run by the famous – some might say infamous – Professor Xavier. As footage of the villain, using various aspects of his amalgamated suit, is shown, Morry continues. Striking at the heart of the city, he says, the creature descended upon Paramount Studios, causing several million dollars worth of damage and injured countless others. The fact that no one died was, according to one extra, a miracle.

The footage continuing, the villain is shown breaking into the set of Lacuna’s show, somersaulting into the studio. The two guests of Lacuna attempt to avoid the green-suited newcomer, who moves so fast he blurs. Narrating this video, Morry informs his viewers that Lacuna managed to escape with her life by disappearing into thin air. Then, Morry continues, the self-styled super-villain addressed the camera and the nation. Posturing dramatically for the camera, the green-scaled visage of the villain tells the viewers that they wanted him… now they’ve got him, and this is just the beginning. Things are going to get really bad now on. Moving close to the camera, filling the screens of countless television sets, the villain declares that he is… Bad Guy!

Levitating upside down in his apartment, Guy Smith watches LA’s newest super-villain on the news. They asked for it, he thinks. They voted for it. Seventy-four percent bad. Twenty-one percent good. Five percent didn’t know. Now, Guys wonders to himself, what is X-Statix going to do about it?

As the team surveys the rubble of what was once Paramount studios, Spike Freeman tells them that, in some ways, this makes it easier. Sneering back at her employer, Venus asks for clarification. Does he mean easier to eliminate Guy? He’s out of control, Spike counters. And Xavier has given them the responsibility of getting those suits back. In the wrong hands, they’re highly dangerous. Picking up a clapboard from the rubble, Venus announces that she doesn’t believe that Guy did this. She doesn’t believe Guy is Bad Guy. He wouldn’t endanger lives like this.

The old Guy wouldn’t the Anarchist replies. The Guy before the pressures of being leader cracked him. The Guy whose life hadn’t fallen apart when Edie Sawyer dies in his arms. Grasping Venus’ arms, the Anarchist tells her to get real and stop kidding herself. That’s a luxury she can’t afford in this profession. He doesn’t like the idea any more than she does but this is just another one of Guy’s suicide bids. He’s been trying to put himself out of his agony for a long time. He can’t do it, so he wants them to do it. He knows what they have to do to him now that he’s…

Tike’s words are interrupted by spraying contents of a soda cup, which has hit him on the back. Turning to confront his assailant, the Anarchist discovers a mob of people, all yelling various anti-X-Statix statements and throwing fast food products. Wiping the contents of a slice of pizza off of his face, Vivisector exclaims that it’s nice to see the people behind them.

Finishing up a call on his mobile phone, Spike announces to the team that they are on. He just received a call saying that Bad Guy is on the rampage in Rodeo Drive. Impressed at the news, Dead Girl cites that he has expensive tastes. Continuing to impart his news, Spike tells the team that now is the time to put this whole thing to bed. Now’s the time they can end it… and start moving forward as a team and start making serious dough again! Turning to Venus, who is somber from hearing the news, Tike asks her if she is in this team. After a quiet moment in thought, Venus tells the others to hell with them… of course she is. As Venus summons one of her teleportation portals, Spike gives her the thumbs up, telling all that that’s his girl!

Firing an energy blast from his right-hand gauntlet, Bad Guy destroys part of another Rodeo Drive building. Watching this nearby from cover, Phat asks Vivisector where the others are. Eyeing the hovering Bad Guy, Vivisector responds that they are evacuating distressed millionaires from a luxury undergarment outlet. Not missing a beat, Phat rhetorically tells Vivisector that he just made that up, didn’t he? Emerging with Phat from their cover, Vivisector suggests they say he embellished the truth a little. They don’t need the others. Word! Phat exclaims.

Rushing into battle, Phat tells their foe that it’s two to one! Agreeing with his teammate, Vivisector tells Guy that he can’t win. Guy? asks the green-suited villain. He’s not Guy. He’s Bad Guy! Activating a switch on one of his gauntlets, Bad Guy asks the two X-Statix if they don’t watch TV? As numerous mechanical tentacles emerge from Bad Guy’s suit, flailing menacingly at he and Phat, Vivisector replies that, actually, he prefers books. Having been knocked down, Vivisector, barely conscious, defiantly announces with a trembling voice that he will not go quietly into the night.

The final, killing blow does not come, however, as a booming voice announces that that’s enough! Looking upward, Bad Guy sees the Anarchist, standing on a nearby building. Jumping to the street below, the Anarchist fires his acid blasts, which impact squarely on the side of Bad Guy’s face. As Bad Guy screams in pain, Tike announces that he doesn’t want it to end like this. He hates all this alpha male crap. Bad Guy now collapsing, the Anarchist tells him that he hoped they could really make a team. Maybe they still can, he continues, standing over the unconscious form of Bad Guy, if they both stop being jerks. Telling “Guy” to give up, Tike orders him to leave this junk behind and join the team again. X-Statix needs him.

Reaching down to take off Bad Guy’s mask, the Anarchists hands are suddenly impaled by spikes, which have suddenly extended from the costume’s collar. As Tike being to ask “Guy” what is going on, the Anarchist’s former foe, very much conscious, declares that he doesn’t watch much TV either. It’s Bad Guy! Knocked down by one of Bad Guy’s tentacles, Tike pleads with Guy, if it’s he, please…. Lifting a large piece of rubble, Bad Guy declares that if it’s he, it makes no difference. He was going to kill him, so…

Crying out in relief and praising God, the Anarchist calls for Venus, who’s just arrived, to hit Bad Guy with all she’s got! Her hands raised but not using her power, Venus looks on in silence. His voice trailing off, Tike asks her what she’s waiting for. What if it’s Guy? she asks. Exclaiming that it isn’t, Tike reminds her that she doesn’t think it is. But he does, Venus reminds the Anarchist in turn. His voice still trailing weakly, the Anarchist announces that he’s changed his mind.

Turning his head just enough to see Venus through the one goggle not destroyed by acid, Bad Guy asks Venus what she thinks. Below Bad Guy, the Anarchist holds his arms up defensively, as if to deflect the mass of debris about to be dropped on him. Pointing out Bad Guy’s voice, he tells Venus that it doesn’t sound like Guy. His voice might be muffled by his mask, points out Venus. Who gives a !@#$! Tike yells. Obliterate him! Energy now percolating from her hands, Venus remains motionless, sobbing that she doesn’t know what to do.

Characters Involved: 

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

Orphan (former X-Statix member)

Spike Freeman, X-Statix employer

Professor Charles Xavier, X-Statix associate

Doctor Swaime

Larry, one of Xavier’s complex’s guards

Several other guards of Xavier’s complex


Lacuna’s guests

Lacuna’s cameraman

Bad Guy

Solomon O’Sullivan

Sharon Ginsberg

Morry Morinson, Channel 6 News reporter

Paramount Pictures actors

Anti-X-Statix mob

Interdimensional creature

Story Notes: 

The title of this story, Moons of Venus, is interesting, as the planet Venus, along with Mercury, has no moon, singular or plural.

As explained in X-Statix #1, Venus‘ family vanished when she first manifested her mutant powers.

Judging from her on-air confession in a successful conspiracy to commit murder, Lacuna is not worrying about charges being brought against her.

Like in X-Statix #5, Arnie’s last name is referred to as being Lundberg, while it was established as Lunt in X-Statix #3.

Although it is not stated, Lacuna’s guests at the time of Bad Guy’s arrival seem to be David Cross and Bob Odenkirk from, HBO’s original series, Mr. Show.

The concept of Guy Smith going bad and becoming “Bad Guy” seems to be a tongue-in-cheek spoof of Phoenix becoming Dark Phoenix.

Rodeo Drive is a street connecting Wilshire Boulevard and Santa Monica Boulevard in Los Angeles. Only three blocks long, the shops along Rodeo Drive comprise the most famous shopping district in America and are probably the most expensive three blocks in the world.

After his brief battle with Bad Guy, Vivisector is defiantly quoting from the poem “Do Not Go Gently Into That Good Night” by Dylan Thomas.

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