X-Statix #8

Issue Date: 
April 2003
Story Title: 
The Moons of Venus - conclusion: The Dark Dimension

Peter Milligan (story), Michael Allred (art), Laura Allred (colorist), Blambot’s Nate Piekos (letterer), Warren Simons and John Miesegaes (assistant editors), Axel Alonso (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Bill Jemas (president)

Brief Description: 

In the deep woods at her family’s cabin, Venus learns the identity of Bad Guy, but it is not who she thought it was; instead it is her cousin, Jamal. As Venus reels from the shock of seeing a believed-dead relative alive, Jamal attacks, promising to deplete her energy and make it his own. Venus is saved by Guy, who had come to the cabin to reminisce about Venus. With his help, Venus escapes, teleporting them both away. At Xavier’s lab, the Professor reveals his discovery. The glob that emerged from the dimension machine is a akin to a placenta and belong to the creature that followed Venus from another dimension. Theorizing that the creature is bound to Venus’ experiences and past relationship with her cousin and taking his appearance, Xavier tells her she must face the past before defeating the creature. If this is not done, no one can predict the effect. Another discovery is made: Guy’s sensitivity has grown, causing his recent erratic behavior. To solve the problem, Xavier has created a new suit. To sidestep recent events, Spike Freeman proclaims to the media that Guy has been on a secret mission; a story that they believe. Still, Guy’s recent actions cause the team to turn to the Anarchist as the new leader, which is fine with Guy. The next day, X-Statix confronts Bad Guy/Jamal, who is on another rampage. Wishing to end the conflict, Venus teleports herself and Bad Guy to a desert, where, unfortunately, he gets the upper hand. Luckily, Dead Girl also made the trip and manages to make short work of their foe, mainly because Venus has come to grips with her past relationship with her real cousin. However as a side-effect of fighting side by side without any of their teammates, Venus and Dead Girl bury their differences. Later, at X-Statix HQ, Solomon O’Sullivan arrives with the barely living Sharon Ginsberg, whom Professor X rushes to surgery. With recent events managing to solve many personal issues, Venus decides to use the new suit the Professor gave to her, so that she can be more intimate with Guy. The rise of sensations makes her involuntarily teleport to another dimension, where she discovers, to her astonishment, her family. She did not kill them so many years ago, but teleported them there. Finally reunited, Venus is overjoyed.

Full Summary: 

Standing outside her family’s old cabin, deep in the woods, Venus stands before the now-unmasked Bad Guy. Her eyes wide in astonishment, beholding a sight much different than she expected, Venus finds the voice to exclaim his identity: Cousin Jamal?

Mocking Venus’ lack of enthusiasm, Jamal asks if she isn’t going to give her big cousin a hug, for old times sake? Still immobile from the shock, Venus does not react to Jamal’s suit’s tentacles, which stealthily snake around her sides. Her eyes fixed on her apparent cousin, Venus informs him that she thought he was dead; she went to his funeral. Now, Jamal says, launching a right cross, he’s going to hers. Having decked the X-Static, Jamal grabs Venus by the throat. As she gasps for air, Venus repeats that she can’t… Teleport to safety? Jamal finishes, That’s right, he tells her, holding her throat and lifting her off of her feet by it. Glaring up at her helpless form, Jamal informs her that he’s going to use her like a battery; swallow her whole and feed off of her powers. He’ll be the all singing, all dancing, all teleporting Bad Guy!

Opening his mouth widely close to Venus’ and beginning to inhale the ephemeral energies of the X-Static, Bad Guy Jamal hears a voice asking to be excused. That’s Good Guy, Guy Smith announces. Seeing Guy Smith emerging from the depths of the forest, Jamal drops the barely conscious Venus. Launching an attack against the new arrival, Jamal informs Guy that he’s doing him a favor. He doesn’t know what he’s getting himself into with his mixed-up cousin. Kicking Jamal in the jaw in mid-somersault, Guy retorts that he’s willing to take a chance on her.

Landing next to the recovering Venus, Guy suggests she should get them out of there so they can, uhm, regroup. And indulge in some expositional dialogue? Venus counter-suggests. As the two teammates disappear through one of Venus’ portals, Venus asks what he’s doing there now. He was desperate, Guy replies. He wanted to be closer to her and remembered her taking him to the cabin. And he’s willing to take a chance on her, Venus then asks.

A little bit later, Venus is back at the Xavier complex. Pointing at the organism trapped in a transparent energy shield, Xavier tells Venus, this is what she might describe as a placenta, jettisoned by the creature of the dark dimension. Eyeing the black-tendriled, green glob, writhing beneath a large transparent dome, Venus thanks the Professor for the mental image. Changing the subject to recent events, Venus asks how the creature looks like her dead cousin, Jamal. Xavier replies that it is his belief that it took that form when it followed her over. But why Jamal, Venus reiterates. Speaking frankly, Xavier replies that he was hoping that that she’d answer that.

She re-lived something that happened to her, Xavier postulates to Venus; an earlier, real-life nightmare. The creature hooked onto that. He found a door in her mind and found her cousin, Jamal, waiting behind that door. She could say, the Professor tells Venus, that he found Jamal in her own dark dimension. Taking in Xavier’s words, Venus can only provide a weak defense; she doesn’t have a dark dimension.

Walking over to another section of the chamber, Venus looks into a giant, transparent sphere, filled with liquid. Floating inside the sphere is Guy Smith, who watches Venus in turn. Jamal was just a cousin she’d sometimes see at her grandparents’ place, Venus informs the Professor, her arms crossed in concentration. He was a few years older than she. He got shot in a drive-by in Atlanta a couple of years back; mistaken identity, that’s all.

When the Professor pushes Venus on, voicing his belief that there’s more, Guy interrupts. Venus has gone through enough as it is, he tells Xavier. Do they really need the psychological third degree? So what if that thing has taken on the shape of her dead cousin? They’ll just kill it and that’ll be that. It’ll be safer, Xavier counters, if the psychological link with Venus’ subconscious is broken. Hearing Venus’ confusion at the adjective of safer, Xavier explains that if they kill the creature while she’s still linked… while he is still the outward manifestation of some repressed memory… no one can predict what effect it will have on her.

Okay, Venus submits. So Jamal stole a little money from her when she was a kid. She was deeply traumatized by it. Is that enough? Can they go and destroy that thing now? Informing the Professor that he’s with Venus, Guy asks him when he can get out of this contraption. Soon, Xavier answers, checking the machine’s instruments. The tests are almost completed. And? Guy asks, anxious about the results. Informing Guy that he was right, Xavier replies that his sensitivity levels have been increasing. The old suit was no longer robust enough to correctly filter the physical and mental sensations he was experiencing. Hence, Xavier continues, the sympathetic wound he acquired when Venus thought it was he being sliced by Dead Girl.

Watching the Professor work more instruments at a control station, Guy asks how long it will take to fix the suit. He’d like to be prepared for all contingencies, Xavier replies. Referring to the new costume for Guy, which is raised next to Xavier’s console, Venus lets out a wry sex-ee statement. Anxious as ever, Guy asks if they can get back to work. We? Venus repeats. You…, Guy tells Venus. Me… the Anarchist… Phat… Dead Girl… Vivisector… Doop… Her face but a short distance away from the grinning Guy Smith, separated by the transparent bubble and the liquid inside, Venus lets out beaming smile.

Again somewhat later. X-Statix! Spike Freeman yells to the amassed news media. Yes, folks, he says, presenting the re-assembled team, they’re back together. Still short of their new member but they’ll be making an announcement about that soon and they won’t be disappointed! One of the reporters yells out to Guy with a question: Can he give any details about this… “covert, undercover operation” he’s been out on recently. Replying negative, Guy apologizes and calls on another reporter, Linda. Raising her Z-TV microphone, Linda asks Guy how he feels… knowing that a lot of people thought this maniac Bad Guy was actually him? Standing tall and proud, Guy replies that he never lost faith in the good judgment of the American people.

After the press conference, inside the X-Statix headquarters, the team wonders whether the public bought it. Bought it, ate it and asked for more, Dead Girl answers. But they know the truth. The truth is, Venus voices, Spike Freeman just signed Guy Smith’s death warrant. Stepping in to his own defense, Spike tells Guy that they thought he was crazy! A loose cannon! Spike was right to be worried, Guy tells them all. He had gone off the rails. He probably deserved to be taken out. “See!” Spike voices. It doesn’t make him a bad person! No, Vivisector agrees. The fact that he’s a mendacious, avaricious philistine does that.

Turning on a nearby monitor with a remote control, Guy suggests that they forget about what happened and concentrate on Bad Guy. Informing the team that he wants a full briefing of where they are with him, Guy asks who is first. Met by deafening silence and looks of contempt, Guy asks Vivisector what is going on. Stammering out an answer, Myles explains that it’s just that Tike was offered the position of Number One while he was… away. It was a rather popular move, he adds. Chiming in, Phat tells Guy that they’re ‘down with him… as a bro’, but… Interrupting the pleasantries, Dead Girl points out to guy that he flipped and ran away from the pressure. He showed himself to be weak, lacking in what one might call leadership qualities.

What is this, Venus asks, a mutiny? Or, even worse, Myles asks, a democracy. Enraged, Venus tells Vivisector that the team has never been democratic and he knows it. Guy’s their leader! Was Phat counters, closing his eyes in resolution. Turning to the Anarchist, Venus congratulates him; he’s obviously been working real hard, greasing palms, making himself the popular, fixing elections. He should go into politics. Raising his arms defensively, Tike replies that he has nothing to do with this. And, Venus adds, he’s an excellent liar. He should definitely go into politics. Placing his arms on Venus’ shoulders, Guy tells her to wait. It’s touching, he tells her, to see how loyal she is, but he can only lead with the respect of the team and it looks like he’s lost that. Maybe, he says, for good reason. If a majority wants Tike to be leader, so be it. Asked by Tike if he really means that, Guy replies that, the truth is, he never wanted to be number one in the first place. Throwing his book in the air, Vivisector declared that the king is dead, long live the Anarchist!

Reaching out his hand in friendship, Guy asks Tike what does he say? Can he interest him in sleepless nights, bureaucracy and more multimedia public relations B.S. that he can sweat over? Well… the Anarchist hesitates, when Guy puts it that way… he’d be glad to! Reaching out his own hand, Tike hesitates, reconsiders and embraces Guy in a hug. Seeing Dead Girl’s reaction, Venus notes that she’s shivering. Replying that she went cold looking at those two, Dead Girl states that it’s like someone walked over her grave. That’s bad. Dismissing Dead Girl’s response, Venus suggests that she just hates the idea of giving to share Tike with anyone. She’s definitely the most possessive zombie she’s ever met. Ignoring Venus’ accusations, Dead Girl continues to watch Guy and Tike’s jovial demeanor with worry, barely managing a non-committal “right.”

Standing in the darkened hallway, Guys gently cups the chin of Venus. Okay, Venus thinks, here comes the part where Guy Smith kisses her, her heart melts, she remembers what happened with cousin Jamal and everything’s okay, right? Wrong. Turning her head away from Guy’s hand, Venus apologizes. She can’t do this. A little confused, Guy tells her he’s only kissing her goodnight. Replying that she knows, Venus apologizes again. Moments later, inside her room, Venus stomps the floor in anger, mentally replaying her words. Years of expensive American education and all she can come up with is, I know. I… I’m sorry?”

Staring at her own reflection in her dresser mirror, Venus asks herself what is she so scared about? Is she scared that she’ll open the door and remember what happened with Jamal? A door marked “do not open” like Professor Xavier said? Turning on her television, which displays images of the costumed Bad Guy, Venus wonders why the creature that is Bad guy is impersonating her cousin. Well, to quote an ancient piece of wisdom, she tells herself, I know. I… I’m sorry.

(a day later)

X-Statix is engaged in battle against Bad Guy, as he tries to crash a cast and crew screening of some latest would-be blockbuster. The movie’s about a guy who saves America, wins the girl and kick his drinking habit. Venus tells herself that he doesn’t know how people get off on that kind of farfetched escapism. Bounding out of the way of one of Bad Guy’s gauntlet-blasts, Vivisector announces to the rest of the team that Phat is down and deflated. Unconscious and very much out of the fight, Phat indeed lies among the rubble nearby. Taking stock of the rest of the team, the Anarchist asks about Dead Girl. Leaping through the air, high above, the Orphan notes that Dead Girl has been torn asunder by a tentacle and characterizes her status as “sausage meat.”

Trying to keep a hold of one of Bad Guy’s tentacles, Venus examines the team’s foe in deep thought. This all come down to her, she thinks. She can feel it. He’s drawing his power from her repression. The more she can’t face her dark dimension the stronger it gets. Seeing Venus leap toward the center of the whirling hurricane of tentacles, Guy calls out to her. Undeterred, Venus yells back that these are her demons. Jamal was her cousin and she has to face them alone. Seeing Venus open a portal as she approaches her prey, Tike yells to her that they’re a post-modern super hero team! There’s no room for bravery here! This isn’t bravery, Venus replies… it’s desperation. The last thing Venus hears before she and Bad Guy disappear is a snide remark from Dead Girl, saying that it’s the same thing.

No longer in Los Angeles, Bad Guy and Venus are in a parched wasteland, filled with sand, sparse foliage and a yellow sky. Taking in their new surroundings, Bad Guy unmasks and asks where they are. The desert, Venus says, pointing out of the obvious. It’s always a good place to face a devil. She’s got to face him… then she can defeat him. Dropping the now-unneeded helmet onto the sand, “Jamal” calls Venus’ words half-baked Christian and Freudian mumbo-jumbo. Even if she does remember, he tells her, the devil’s still going to destroy her. Charging her hands with her energy, Venus asks how a creature from another dimension knows all that stuff? Jumping into action, leaping over Venus’ blasts, Bad Guy replies that he surfs the Net. And, he adds, she’s the first human to stumble into their domain.

Grabbing Venus with his tentacles, Jamal wraps them around her form, like a constrictor coiling around its prey. Continuing his rant, Jamal tells Venus that she’s just the first to allow one of them to follow her over here. Opening his mouth wide, Jamal begins to suck out Venus’ energy, which pours uncontrollably from her own mouth. When she’s about to die… when he’s finished consuming her… then he’ll tell her all about naughty cousin Jama… Bad Guy’s words are interrupted by the arrival of Dead Girl. Once again in one piece, she drops onto the shoulders of Jamal and begins to claw him. Informing the now-freed Venus that she hitched a ride, Dead Girl tells Venus she hopes she doesn’t mind.

Continuing to claw away at Bad Guy, Dead Girl adds that she seems to be the one who can hurt him the most. Dropping to the ground, Dead Girl then slices Bad Guy’s side, causing him to finally squeal in pain. As Jamal staggers away, Venus holds out her hand, telling her teammate that she thought she had a problem with her. She might be dead, white and dating a black guy, Dead Girl replies, and she might be black, alive and getting hooked on a white guy… but they’re still sisters in a world dominated by men with big muscles and x-ray vision. Helping Venus to her feet, Dead Girl tells her to stop being so precious and remember: she’s trying to piece together the events leading to her death. How bad can her memories be? Several feet away, Bad Guy has collapsed, his blood spilling onto the desert sand.

(at night)

Insects? What kind of insects Guy asks. Anything he could find in the yard, Venus replies. Jamal would sneak into her bed at night… she was only about four or five… and he’d put these insects on her. She’d wake up, feeling them crawling and creeping all over her. She’d say, please, Jamal, stop it. However, he would only laugh and threaten her with a beatin’ if she told grandma. That’s what she saw over there in the dark dimensions. The nightmares again. All those squirming, slimy insects…

Despite the serenity of the night, sitting on the edge of the X-Statix’s HQ swimming pool, their legs dangling in the water, Guy can see that Venus’ words are trailing off into despair. When she places her hand onto his, Guy moves. And as soon as you remembered, Guys tells Venus, lifting her out of the pool, Bad Guy lost most of his power? Her spirits already lifted, Venus tells Guy that Jamal turned into just another ugly alien. They buried him by a Joshua tree. The coyotes, she says, will find him before long.

The sound of a throat clearing interrupts Guy and Venus, who turn to see Vivisector descending the staircase. Apologizing for disturbing the two, Myles tells Guy that there’s someone who wants to see him. Descending the staircase behind Myles is Solomon O’Sullivan, carrying the lifeless form of a leather-winged woman. With great humility and pain, O’Sullivan states the obvious: it’s Sharon Ginsberg. She’s dying.

As Sharon is wheeled away on a gurney, O’Sullivan asks what about her wings. Already prepped for surgery, Doctor Swaime, accompanied by Professor Xavier and another doctor suggests that, first, they save her life. Now left alone, O’Sullivan bows his head before Guy and thanks him. Stating that he knows that they… that X-Statix and he have not gotten along… Interrupting the somber Solomon, Guy replies that that’s just business. Nothing personal. Ms. Ginsberg, he tells him, is in very good hands. Wishing Solomon good luck, Guy leaves, accompanied by Venus.

Changing the subject, Venus informs Guy that Professor X is not only good at creating suits that enable mutants to better enhance their superpowers. He’s been working on a special suit for her. A little confused, Guy repeats the word special. Her eyes a little wider in hopes of Guy’s comprehension, Venus elaborates that it’ll allow her to do that thing… that thing that most women, when they reach a certain age, think about doing… unless they’ve joined a nunnery. Finally understanding her meaning, Guy declares the suit Professor X’s greatest achievement. Seeing Guy’s excitement, Venus tells him that it’s waiting for her back in her room. She hasn’t even tried it on yet. With a wink and a smile, Guy asks Venus how fast can she teleport.

Telling Guy that he can look now, Venus anxiously asks Guy what he thinks. Gazing upon the new form of Venus, Guy is awestruck. Venus’ dark, red skin is replace with a light pink. Obviously now much more anatomically correct than he previous suit, Venus wears petite lingerie, which is, in turn, covered by a translucent negligee. Her eyes narrowed in anticipation and her mouth pursed in pensiveness, Venus awaits Guy’s reaction. Think, Guy stammers and then adds he’s afraid his thought processes have all been used up. When Venus asks if that means he likes it, Guy gives a wry smile and replies that he hates it. Smiling at his jest, Venus says that’s good.

From outside the door to their bedroom, Venus and Guy’s words can be heard. The words are, in fact, being heard by someone; a diminutive, green creature, who floats in silence next to the door. It is Doop, who listens on. Venus, Doop hears, tells Guy that just because she’s wearing the special suit doesn’t mean she’s not, like, scared. Soothing her fears, Guy replies that they can go as slow as they like. They can stop when she likes. She’s Number One on this little team. For her information, he then tells her, it isn’t easy for him either. It’s the first time… the first time since… Edie, Venus says, finishing his sentence. Hearing Guy’s quiet affirmation, Venus informs Guy that he can… stop if he likes. No, Guy replies, telling her he thinks he can go on. Good, Venus replies, now beginning to verbalize the sensations she is feeling. Professor X was right, she coos, the special suit is sensitive.

Satisfied that all is going well, Doop gives himself the thumbs-up sign. His silent proclamation is short-lived, as he hears a cry from Guy, wondering what is happening. Returning to the keyhole, Doop investigates. Curses are heard from Venus, who complains that, just when it was happening…

…She had to go and spontaneously teleport, Venus continues. Riding through her teleportation vortex with Guy, accompanied by their bed sheet and trailed by Guy’s sensitive suit, Venus is aghast. Moments later, their ride is finished, as the two are deposited in an ethereal world, with multiple spheres, possibly planets or moons, floating through the hazed sky. When asked by Guy where they are, Venus replies that she doesn’t know but it sure ain’t L.A.

Spying a familiar face, Venus wonders if it is really she. Yelling out to the approaching figure, Venus calls out, questioningly, to mom… dad… grandma? Strolling down a hill, Venus’ mom asks her what she has done and done to herself… and who’s that young man with the antennae? It’s a long story, Venus tells her mother as she hugs her, her father and her grandmother. She’s changed, Venus tells her family. Everything’s changed but she’s still her and they’re alive. ‘Course they’re alive, Venus’ mom proclaims. Her brothers are down by the yellow lagoon, fishing for supper.

Finally noticing Venus’ companion, Venus’ father announces that he didn’t catch his name. His name is Guy, Venus announces, grabbing Guy’s hand. They might be in love and she didn’t kill her family, Venus declares; instead, she teleported them to another dimension. Another dimension? Venus’ grandmother questions. She thought they were in heaven. Her heart bursting with joy, Venus hugs Guy, pronouncing that she too believes they are in heaven. Realizing he is receiving such affection from Venus while her father is barely feet away, Guy gives the man a feeble wave, for which he receives a stern stare. Taking the scene in themselves, Venus’ mother cries with joy while her grandmother grins broadly.

Characters Involved: 

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

Spike Freeman, X-Statix employer

Professor X, X-Statix associate

Doctor Swaime

Xavier complex doctor

Bad Guy

Solomon O’Sullivan

Sharon Ginsberg

Linda, reporter for Z-TV

Media reporters

Venus’ father, mother and grandmother

Story Notes: 

Venus revealed her belief that she killed her family, accidentally, at the manifestation of her powers in X-Statix #1.

Exposition is a writing tool used to convey complicated plot material, integral to the story, to the reader/viewer by having characters discuss it during seemingly normal dialogue.

A placenta is an organ used by female mammals during pregnancy, which lines the uterine walls and partially enveloping the fetus, which is attached to an umbilical cord. During the gestation period the placenta serves both nutritive and excretive functions until birth, when it is expelled.

Joshua trees, also called Yucca brevifolia, is a tree-like plant found in the southwest United States. It has sword-shaped leaves and greenish-white flowers grouped in large panicles. It was named after the Biblical character Joshua, from the book of Joshua, for the resemblance of its branches to Joshua’s outstretched arm as he pointed with his spear to the city of Ai (Joshua 8:18).

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