Notice anything? thinks the Anarchist to his non-existent companion. That’s right, the bad guys are all black. Running through a war torn town in sub-Saharan Africa, Tike Alicar, the Anarchist, leads X-Statix against soldiers, clad in both uniforms and civilian clothes. With skill honed from countless battles, just like this one, the Anarchist uses his acid-projecting powers to sever enemy combatants in two. Lost in his own mind as he conducts his task, Tike narrates his activities to a non-existent viewing public.
Sure, Tike continues, he’s black and he’s a good guy. But he’s also a member of the superteam of mutants called X-Statix, so his blackness doesn’t count. Noting his teammate, Venus, as she uses her energy blasts to take out several other soldiers, the Anarchist realizes the same goes for her. Hey, he thinks, he didn’t write this script. This is Africa. Who would they expect them to be killing? A rebel army of deranged Mormons?
Liquefying another soldier, Tike thinks that if it were a white face in front of him, he would gladly zap it with one of their sweat beams. Hell, maybe he’d add a little something so it hurt more… though, of course, officially, they, in X-Statix, are colorblind. As Phat uses his mass to pummel two soldier, Tike thinks that it would be cool to do an analysis of the suckas they fight; a racial demographic kind of thing. Hell, he thinks, some institute of races studies back in the states has probably already done one. One thing’s for sure, he broods, in the X-Statix movie, they’d better have a more ethnically diverse enemy than the one they’ve got today.
This is the kind of stuff you think about when you’re the new leader of X-Statix. This is the kind of stuff you think about when you’re Tike Alicar, also known as the Anarchist… less known as a recovering obsessive compulsive with irrational feelings of race guilt… The battle now over, all members of his team trying to catch their breath after the exhaustive battle, Tike calls out of the team’s teleporter, Venus, and suggests that they go home.
As he washes his hands with soap and water, Tike admits to himself that he’s doing his hand-washing thing a little more since he became Number One. His therapists says that’s natural. Really. It’s under control. Another thing that’s under control, Tike continues some time later at the team’s dinner table, is what you might call “intramural relationships.” Miles and Billy-Bob, aka Vivisector and Phat, are cool now. Both gay and neither interested in each other that way, which, he has to admit, he’s relieved about.
Eyeing Guy Smith, aka Mister Sensitive, being fed by his girlfriend, Venus, Tike thinks he seems downright relieved that he isn’t number one anymore. He and Venus, they’re like young lovers, soundtrack by Barry White. Turning his attention to Dead Girl, Tike surmises that they have it together too. Sure, his interest in her at first was probably a little to do with novelty value but… isn’t that how these things usually start? Fact it, Tike admits, they’re all one big, happy, colorblind, mutant family.
Edging his way into Venus’ room, Tike wonders to himself what the hell makes him sneak into her bedroom when everyone else is out for the evening? Finally admitting to himself, Tike knows: he has to see it. The suit. Opening the closet, Tike beholds the special, pink skin-suit Professor Xavier made that Venus gets into when she and Guy… Feeling the suit beneath his fingers, Tike thinks that, while it’s no business of his, she and Guy are happy together, but he had to touch it. He had to feel it. However, as soon as he does, Tike has his usual uncontrollable sensation that his hands are, you know, dirty.
Washing his hands again with soap in water in Venus’ bathroom sink, Tike thinks that he could go back to his room and wash them but… Okay, he admits to himself, he gets a kick out of seeing the soiled, soapy water swirling around the sink that Venus uses. Just as he’s thinking all this is getting perverted, Tike hears Venus and Guy come in, laughing and probably about to do what lovers do… with or without the Barry White soundtrack.
As he steps into the bathtub and draw the curtains around him, Tike thinks that, if this were a movie, he’d probably be stuck there all night while Venus and Guy made love. It would be both comic and tragic. They’d laugh. They’d cry. They’d… As Guy opens the curtains to reveal his presence, Tike realizes, with stark reality, that this isn’t a movie. Acting calm given the circumstances, Guy asks Tike with simplicity what the hell he is doing in Venus’ bathroom. Caught red-handed and facing two of his teammates, Tike barely manages to ask Guy how the hell did he know he was there. Replying dryly, Guy informs Tike that he’s not that drunk and he is still sensitive enough to pick up on the signals of his body; erratic heart rate, profuse sweating…
Finally speaking up, Venus announces that there must be a good explanation. Of course, there’s a good explanation, Tike declares while simultaneously making it up. Stammering out a hastily concocted defense, Tike announces that, since being made team leader, he’s been obsessed with security. He keeps checking all the rooms. His therapist says it will pass, he then adds. To this, Tike begins to tell Guy he would appreciate it if he… you know… Speaking up, Venus informs Tike that it won’t go any further than this bathroom, right Guy? As Guy gives a curt right, Tike thinks that, if Guy picks up the signal that he’s lying, he isn’t saying so…
It’s the truth, Solomon tells the bed-ridden Sharon Ginsberg. Professor Xavier saved her life. He and his assistants operated on her through the night. It was touch and go but she’s alive. Speaking weakly, Sharon asks for confirmation that Xavier saved her wings. Placing his hand on her shoulder, Solomon informs Sharon that he couldn’t. Refusing to believe, Sharon defends that she can still feel them… they hurt. To this, Solomon responds that Xavier said that she might experience “phantom wings.”
As Sharon sits upright, Solomon adds that Xavier tried grafting her wings on again but said that it was impossible and could’ve cost her her life. Her demeanor changing from disbelief to rage, Sharon announces that they did this to her… X-Statix. Because of them… she’s… she’s grounded. Trying to calm her down, Solomon declares that they can’t blame them. He’s already decided that they’re okay. He’s made a truce with them.
Announcing in turn that she hasn’t, Sharon finally notices that her arms are strapped to the bed by leathers strips. When she demands an explanation, Solomon informs her that Xavier thought there might be some psychological fallout from losing her wings. He said she could be unstable and that this might force her mutant powers to manifest themselves in… Solomon O’Sullivan’s words are cut short as Sharon Ginsberg’s lithe hands suddenly grow in strength and appearance, now appearing claw-like, and promptly snap through the leather straps. As Sharon proceeds to break the other strap, Solomon tries to calm his lover down, declaring that this is not such a good idea and to remember that he loves her… they’re on the same side.
When a scream emanates from Ginsberg’s room, a doctor and Candy striper investigate. They find Sharon Ginsberg perched atop her bed, hovering over an eviscerated Solomon O’Sullivan, whose blood is splattered across the bed and on the wall. Snarling malevolently, Sharon Ginsberg, in an inhuman voice, informs the doctor and nurse that she’s checking out.
On the silver screen of a private theater, an image of Guy Smith bouncing on an absurdly bloated Phat is projected. Far from reality or even truly Guy Smith or Phat, this is but a movie. Or it will be. Transfixed by this image as well as ones they have been seeing from the “dailies” of X-Statix: the Movie, the team takes in their first glimpse of a movie being made about them. Having not even been allowed to see the script, this is the first time that they have been allowed on set.
Viewing the image of himself using his power upon the screen, Phat asks Lennox Capriati, the actor playing him, how’d they manage the effect. Citing the magic of cinema, Lennox replies that it is a computer generated image, which was based on a template created from Phat’s own “fatting up” power. Leaning into Guy and Venus, the director points out that this scene comes in late in the second act, when the team’s falling apart and Guy Smith is trying to re-assert his authority. When Guy points out that he is no longer the team leader, that Tike is, the director dismisses the fact; not in the movie he isn’t. This said, he suggests that they go visit the set.
On the set of a “ruined village,” X-Statix watches actors portraying them prepare for the scene. Explaining the scene, the director informs X-Statix that, in it, Tike and Guy really hate each other because Tike falls head-over-heels for Guy’s true love and steals her from Guy. Taken aback at the premise, Venus declares that that’d never happen. She and Guy are real close… and Tike’s just a buddy and a teammate. Right, concurs Tike, adding that he having a thing for Venus is taking things way beyond believable. Asking who said anything about Venus, the director knocks on an actor’s trailer, asking the team to meet the movie’s leading lady, Rimi Withnail. Stepping from her trailer, Rimi looks very much like the person she is to portray: Edie Sawyer… U-Go Girl!
As Guy and Venus reel at this revelation, Rimi approaches Guy with enthusiasm. Declaring that it is so fantastic to meet the real Guy Smith, Rimi tells him that she is his biggest fan. How does she look, she asks. Not too disappointing? Stammering with him answer, Guy replies that she looks fine but… it’s wrong. Edie’s been dead for over a year now. Dismissing the facts, the director points out that this is the movies. Their research suggests that the public is more interested in seeing Edie than Venus. Nodding to Venus, who is standing but a few feet away, the director tells her no offense. Speaking curtly, Venus replies that none is taken.
Taking one of Guy’s arms in hers, “Edie” says that, while she knows it’s pushy, she’d really appreciate it if they got together sometime and he gave her some help to, you know, get under her character’s skin. Recoiling from Rimi’s embrace, Guy suggests that maybe it’d be best if she just acted. A lot of Edie’s life, he informs her, was just acting anyhow. Taking her boyfriend’s hand in hers and leading him away, Venus thanks Guy even as he continues to eye the faux-Edie in disbelief.
Still speaking with the director, Tike calmly asks what is the final make-up of the team. Guy, Tike and Edie, of course, the director states, then Billy Bob… Miles… Dead Girl, who, the director adds, will be driven insanely jealous by Tike’s love affair with Edie and, finally, El Guapo. El Guapo? repeats Tike. The Handsome One? Interjecting himself into the conversation, Guy states that there’s never been an X-Statix or X-Forcer called that. Shrugging his shoulders, the director replies that he wanted a surprise. And some of their investors wanted a Latin presence.
Clearing his throat to gain attention, the mutant called El Guapo declares his presence. Dressed in kaki shorts and a long shirt with an X-Statix logo, the Latin youth announces that his real name is Robbie Rodriguez. This, he announces, is a blast. Sidling next to his star, the director tells the team that the great thing about Robbie is that he is one of them; a fully paid-up member of the mutant club whom he discovered himself on Venice Beach. Pointing to the skateboard that Robbie has in hand, the director declares that the things he can do with the skateboard will blow their mind. Turning to each other, Myles and Billy-Bob seem to attempt to both read each other’s mind, while projecting their own thoughts.
Punching deeply into Phat’s mass, Guy causes his bloated opponent to heave forward, visibly hurt by the blow. As Vivisector pulls back Phat and the Anarchist pulls back Guy, reporters flash their cameras and film for television. Watching this scene in the X-Statix briefing room, Phat tells Guy that it was a good punch. Taking the compliment, Guy replies that he pulled back at the last minute so it wouldn’t hurt. Leaning on the back of Guy’s seat from hers in the row behind, Dead Girl playfully declares that she doesn’t think the punch was as realistic as the one in the movie. To this, Guy gives a dry, hah hah.
It was perfect, declares Spike Freeman. The media have picked up on it and everyone’s talking about the in-fighting in X-Statix. And that’s good, asks a confused Venus. It’s what their fans are interested in, Spike replies. Not bothering to lift his eyes from his book, the Screentrade by William Goldman, Myles suggests that they should take another leaf out of the screenplay and have Tike fall in love with Venus. Grabbing Myles by the collar, Dead Girl forms a fist with her other hand and announces that that’s not funny. Instantly transforming into his feral mode, Vivisector snarls that he very much disagrees.
Separating the two teammates, Guy tells them to save the fight for the cameras. Declaring that Dead Girl is right, Venus tells Myles that it was a stupid thing to say. Good, retorts Vivisector, he’s decided to say more stupid things. He believes it should make him more popular. Isn’t that what he wants, he asks Spike. Not rising to the argument, Spike replies that he didn’t say more stupid, he said more accessible. Look at the X-Men, he says, they ain’t stupid but they have a bigger fan-base than them and he’d just like to think about why they might be. Declaring that the comparison is not fair, Tike tells Spike that they never set out to be like those guys.
Changing the subject, Myles announces that he has an idea. They need a seventh team member, so they should head-hunt Wolverine. If it were possible, Spike smiles excitedly to Vivisector, it would be the smartest thing he’s said all day. Disgusted, Guy tells the team that this is giving him a headache. When Venus asks him if he would like a massage, Guy replies that he just wants some fresh air. Telling the group that he won’t be long, Guy exits the X-Statix briefing room, much to the confusion of Venus.
After a quick drive in his Lamborghini, Guy Smith finds himself on the set of the X-Statix: the Movie and in the trailer of Rimi Withnail. Telling her that that’s very good, Guy tells Rimi that it’s not quite right. Defending her performance, Rimi replies that she’s studied hours of footage and Edie moved her head like this when she smiled. But, Guy adds, she lifted her nose a little, like that… Like this, Rimi asks. That’s perfect, Guy declares. In fact, he adds, it’s scary.
Excited by Guy’s critique, Rimi asks if he means that she passed her audition. A little confused, Guy replies that he thought she already had the part. Replying smoothly, Rimi/Edie states that she wanted his… seal of approval, for lack of a better expression. Countering that she has it, Guy asks Rimi what scene are they meant to be rehearsing next. Rubbing her hand over Guy’s chest and smiling, Rimi/Edie mocks a search of her thoughts before replying seductively that she believes it’s the big love scene. Faced with a woman the spitting image of his dead lover, Guy can manage only a smile, accompanied by a worried expression and quivering antennae.
Entering the stage’s lot, the four men of the cast of X-Statix: the Movie laugh aloud. The faux-Vivisector, adorned by sunglasses, despite the lack of sun, begins laughing about the ‘ho who plays Dead Girl… Jenny? Inquires the faux-Anarchist. Right, announces “Vivisector,” Jenny. Continuing his story, Vivisector tells the others that he invited her to his trailer last night and, man, she really is a dad girl. Not even first base, asks the faux-Guy Smith. Gotta be a lesbian, replies Vivisector. It’s the only explanation.
Eyeing a deranged and semi-inhuman woman emerging from the shadows, the faux-Anarchist says hello and calmly states that she must be one of the villains. After “Guy” compliments the woman on her makeup, “Vivisector” bets that she’s pretty cute underneath it all. The woman, in truth the deranged Sharon Ginsberg, eyes the four men with hate. Believing them to be whom they are impersonating, Sharon tells them that they have destroyed her and, now, she will destroy them. Not aware that they are in danger, the group continues to believe that Sharon is an actor. Viewing the bloody wound of her recent amputation, Guy declares it to be creepy. Vivisector eyes it as well, telling the rest that he doesn’t remember reading that line in the script. Speaking directly to Sharon, the Anarchist asks her what’s up with her back.
It’s too weird, Guy tells “Eddie.” And, he adds, it wouldn’t be right. Pulling Guy back by his arm, Rimi retorts that she didn’t think that guys were too hung up on right and wrong. Asking directly, Guy asks Rimi if she isn’t worried that he’s only doing this because she looks like her dead girlfriend. Rubbing her finger gently across one of Guys antennae, “Eddie” tells him that he has low self-esteem. It’s a boost of self-confidence, she says, that he thinks she’s so like her. And, she continues, if it makes it any easier, she looks quite different with her clothes off. The proposition officially made, Guy begins to stammer, trying to find a response.
Guy’s response is suddenly rendered moot as the actor playing the Anarchist crashes through the window of Rimi’s trailer. Briefly believing it to actually be Tike, Guy sees the hairpiece and glasses fall off, revealing the deceased actor. From outside the trailer, pleas are heard from another actor, this one portraying Guy Smith. Repeating no, the actor tries to tell Sharon Ginsberg, who is choking him, that he’s not who she thinks he is. Dismissing his words with black humor, Sharon asks who is. Who is? Nearby, the actors playing Vivisector and Phat are both dead. “Vivisector” has been savagely disemboweled and “Phat” has had his head crushed in the pavement.
Scant moments from committing yet another murder, Sharon Ginsberg is knocked down by a surprise blow from the real Guy Smith. Immediately recognizing Ginsberg, Guy asks her, in God’s name, what has happened to her. Tossing Guy away with lightening speed and surprising strength, Sharon tells Guy that he happened to her. He and the rest of his team of mutants! Looming over the helpless Guy Smith, Sharon mocks him, sneering that he is happy, successful and at peace with hi mutant side. He convinced her to come out… to spread her wings, not to hide what she was any longer. That was her one big mistake.
Ignoring Sharon’s rantings, Guy focuses in on another sound. It is the kind of low whistle, the air being parted, the pitch rising… Then, he knows that he’s leader of this team anymore but… he’d like to nominate the new member of X-Statix. Hovering above him, and several feet off of the ground, Guy sees El Guapo standing atop his floating skateboard and holding the very unconscious Sharon Ginsberg. Breaking the silence, El Guapo glibly tells Guy that he hopes he isn’t cramping his style.
Viewing images of El Guapo flying on his skateboard on the team’s silver screen, Myles bluntly states that he’s like to exercise his franchise in his direction. Replying likewise but in his own way, Phat announces that El Guapo’s el coolo wid’ him. Agreeing with his two employees, but for very different reasons, Spike says that he does only if they don’t manage to head-hunt Wolverine. Turning his head upward to the ever-silent and every-floating Doop, Guy remarks that Doop and Wolverine go back some and suggests they get the green fella to put in a good word for them with Logan. Maybe he has some incriminating photos he can use to blackmail him into joining, Tike suggests. This idea elicits a response from Doop, as ever in his own language. The answer, in turn, brings forth a roar of laughter from the team.
Changing the subject, Venus tells Guy that one thing still puzzles her. He hasn’t told them what he was doing on the movie set when Sharon Ginsberg attacked those poor actors. His eyes downcast by his answer, Guy replies that he thought he knew someone on the set. He was wrong and realizes that now. Changing the subject once again, Spike Freeman draws the attentions of the team with raucous clapping. Okay, boys and girls, he announces, there’s a press conference in thirty minutes. They’ll be talking about their little African adventure. Telling Tike that this’ll be his first as leader, Spike asks him if he’s up to it. Grinning broadly, Tike asks Spike what he thinks.
(45 minutes later)
Standing on stage next to a large, plasma flat-screen, Tike thinks that all is going well. Okay, he admits to himself, he washed his hands five times before he came on stage but these are special circumstances. Speaking loudly enough for the crowd, The Anarchist tells them that, for security reasons, they can’t go into the exact nature of the operation. Suffice it to say, Tike continues, pressing the remote control for the monitor, that their security and that of their friends would have been compromised if they’d stayed at home.
On the screen, edited footage recorded by Doop during the recent battle is shown. It always gets them juiced, Tike thinks. Of course, they massage it a little first, using wonders of modern technology. Computer generated images, that kind of thing. As footage of their enemy comes into focus, Tike thinks that they might not control reality but they sure as hell control the version of reality that they put out.
On the screen, the images of X-Statix’s African foes, formerly Black men, are now Caucasians. Now having turned to the question and answer section of the briefing, the team fields their first question from a reporter. The first one asks if it is true that there was a dissident Mormon group involved in the uprising. Stealing a glance to Guy Smith, who has a barely visible smile himself, Tike recalls to himself that he and Guy had a two-hundred dollar bet that they’d swallow that little rumor. Deeming to answer the question, Tike gives a wry no comment.