X-Statix Presents: Deadgirl #3

Issue Date: 
May 2006
Story Title: 
Dead a Long Time part three

Peter Milligan (writer), Nick Dragotta & Mike Allred (artists), Laura Allred (colors), Blambot’s Nate Piekos (lettering), Michael O’Connor (assistant editor), Warren Simons (editor), Axel Alonso (executive editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

The Pitiful One and his undead cohorts are desperately searching for Doctor Strange in order to force him to resurrect them. Currently, they can only return for 24 hours at a time, using the crème de profundis. Their most likely option is via Wong, Strange’s manservant, whom the group has kidnapped. Despite torture, however, Wong has refused to betray his master. Faced with their 24 hour period being up, the group decides to take Wong back with them to Hell. There, the Ancient One and the Pitiful One take Wong to the Hall of Self, where he will be confronted, albeit existentially, by himself. Left behind at their lair, the Anarchist and Miss America attempt to make their existence in Hell more bearable by physical intimacy, only to learn that the physics of Hell make such physical contact revolting. The Anarchist next plans to use the crème to return to Earth, only for Miss America to attack him. The resulting exertion of the battle, they find, is almost as pleasurable as kissing. Meanwhile, Guy Smith is still considering Doctor Strange and Dead Girl’s request for him to aid them. His mind, however, is still preoccupied by Edie Sawyer, his former teammate known as U-Go Girl. They are joined by the returning Phantom Rider, who has brought a new recruit, a formerly unknown super-powered individual called Piano Player. Reluctantly, Doctor Strange accepts the newcomer and together the group descends into Hell via an elevator operated by Harry Osborn. On the way, they are attacked by Kraven and Mysterio. However, escape arrives in the form of U-Go Girl, who has finally been located by Moira MacTaggert, one of Dead Girl’s “dead sisters.” Meanwhile, in the land of the living, Wong has been broken and leads the Ancient One and the Pitiful One to the secret room in Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum wherein lies the unconscious and extremely vulnerable body of Doctor Strange.

Full Summary: 

Standing before the president of the United States in the Oval Office, the Pitiful One reminds the president of the sudden appearances during a Major League ball game in Yankee Stadium by the Anarchist and Miss America, both known to be thoroughly dead, which led to foreseeable panic, chaos and death. He also reminds him that Kraven the Hunter’s bloodthirsty exploits led to similar, if not more revolting scenes on Wall Street… and the biggest crash in the market since the 1920s. This, he tells the president, is just the beginning.

In reply, the president holds up a bathtub rubber ducky and informs the Pitiful One that Mr. President can’t hear him. His name’s Ducky Wucky. Rolling his eyes, the Pitiful One replies of course and asks Ducky Wucky to forgive him and tell the president things will get worse. They can’t be killed, because they’re already dead. They can’t be threatened, because they’re already in Hell. He then instructs Ducky Wucky to tell the president he has to agree to their terms. They want life.

Grabbing a golf club from a golf bag propped against the Resolute desk, the Pitiful One continues that there’s one man alive with the occult skills to bestow upon them the joys of the living. And the president’s going to help them find him…

Elsewhere, in a small room in great disrepair, Wong hangs upside down from a non-moving ceiling fan, his hands tied behind his back. Crouching slightly to hover over his prisoner, the Ancient One asks to be told where is Doctor Strange’s body. Though clearly wounded from his interrogation, Wong refuses, replying that he musn’t tell. Standing behind Wong, Mysterio checks his watch and notes that it’s twenty-three hours and countin’. Their time in the Land of the Living is almost up.

Suddenly, the Pitiful One enters the room and asks if they’ve had any luck with their prisoner. To this, the Ancient One replies that Doctor Strange obviously cast an occult spell, making Wong impervious to physical pain. When the Ancient One then asks about the president, the Pitiful One reports that he told him, through his official aide-de-camp Ducky Wucky, that all available manpower, police, National Guard, boy scouts for all he knows, will be searching Manhattan. As soon as they find Strange, they’ll hand him over to them.

Replying “excellent” and returning his attention to Wong, the Ancient One notes that it was he who taught Strange how to leave his mortal body behind, how to have a small death. He suggests they do the same with Wong. To this, the Pitiful One asks the Ancient One if he can do that. He means, he’s a shade… a ghost. To this, the Ancient One replies that he might be dead but he is still the Ancient One, master of all occult arts, teacher of Strange and a real tough guy when he needs to be. Drawing his attention to Wong as he caresses his head with his long-nailed fingers, the Ancient One states that he wants to take this Chinese gentleman to Hell

Meanwhile, in the afterlife, Mister Sensitive is incredulous. Hell? Tike’s in Hell? Addressing him by his first name of Guy, Doctor Strange replies that he’s afraid so. But why, Guy rejoins. He wasn’t all that bad. A loose cannon, maybe. Cynical, yes. But is that enough to get you damned? Dead Girl’s matter-of-fact reply of “guess so” causes Guy to become even more exasperated. Shrugging his shoulders, he remarks that they should see some of the specimens around this place. He caught Richard Nixon playing golf the other day. Nixon’s in Heaven, Tike Alicar’s in Hell. Explain That!

Shrugging herself, Dead Girl counters that life’s not fair. Why should death be? Slightly calmer, Guy notes that Dead Girl and Tike had a thing going, didn’t they? Before… the end. Ignoring the question, and not noticing Strange’s bemused look upon hearing the inquiry, Dead Girl places her hand on Guy’s shoulder and tells him that, if he helps them… he might get promoted out of there… then he can help Tike out of the hole he’s in… Chiming in, Strange adds that, if Tike continues to keep such bad company, he’s bound to slide even deeper down.

Turning away, Guy remarks that Strange makes the whole mysterious wonder of Heaven and Hell sound like a game of Snakes and Ladders, to which Strange replies that it’s as good a metaphor as any. Turning back to Strange, Guy asks how does he get promoted? Who gives you promotion? Curious herself, Dead Girl turns to Strange and inquisitively calls him “Doc.”

No one actually gives it, Strange replies. But sometimes… through a mystical process of osmosis… through the will of the people… if an individual is missed or wanted back badly enough… all the laws of physics are broken. Logic is turned on its head. And the dead live again. His eyes now filled with hope, Guy asks if he will get to see Edie. Edie Sawyer? He’s looked all over for Edie but can’t find her… Now he knows that Edie can’t be in Hell.

Meanwhile, in Hell, Mysterio kicks Wong down the flight of stone steps toward the group’s chamber. His hands tied behind his back and his feet bound, Wong falls forward, coming to a stop on the floor. Gesticulating with glee, the Ancient One tells the group that they have dragged their prisoner through the pit of imaginary scabs. The dungeon of sexual inadequacies. And the halls of boredom. And still he won’t break. With piercing eyes, the Pitiful One examines the terrified Wong closely and wonders aloud if he is human.

Ignoring the question, the Ancient One tells his pitiful counterpart to wait. With an outstretched hand he conjures a puff of smoke in which an image of Dead Girl, Guy Smith and Doctor Strange begin to appear. Spying the trio, the Ancient One announces that Doctor Strange gathers his forces… while his mortal body lies in the living plane… his spectral shade moves ineluctably through the land of the dead… and gets closer…

Unfazed by the news, the Pitiful One replies that Strange’ll never have the stones to come this far down into Hell… He knows these hero types… fundamentally lazy and gutless… As he disperses the scrying smoke, the Ancient One counters that he shouldn’t be so sure. He suggests that the Pitiful One dispatch Kraven and Mysterio to go watch the baleful elevator shafts of Gehenna. Further, noting that without the crème du profundis they have no way of traveling to the land of the living, he reiterates that Strange must be stopped. It must not be left unguarded. Come, Pitiful One, he then says. They must attend to his erstwhile student and his pale little helper.

Speaking to Miss America, whom he addresses as Madeline, the Pitiful One asks if she hears that. She stays home and looks after the makeup. Miss America begins to object to the apparently sexist remark but the Anarchist tells her not to worry. He’ll keep her company. Give her time to show him how sorry she is for being a racist. Reformedracist, she corrects. Interrupting the two, the Ancient One tells them that he thinks the sooner they find his erstwhile pupil’s mortal body the better

Elsewhere, Guy, Dead Girl and Doctor Strange make their way across the barren landscape of the afterlife. Guy asks Dead Girl if she’s sure Edie isn’t in Hell. Dead Girl replies that with some women… part of their being in heaven is having no men around. Maybe that’s why he could never find her. Gesticulating in frustration, Guy rejoins that Edie liked men. Sometimes she liked them too much.

Interjecting, Strange opines that if Guy helps them… maybe they can help him find her. Pivoting to Strange, who had been walking a short distance behind the two, Guy suggests that Strange find Edie Sawyer… and then he’ll join Strange’s team. Before Strange can respond, Dead Girl places her hands on Guy’s shoulder, telling him that her dead sisters can search for Edie… while they go after the Pitiful One. As Dead Girl then walks over to Strange, Guy closes his eyes and smiles to himself. “Edie Sawyer. My beloved Edie.”

A short distance away, the diminutive Ant-Man tugs on Strange’s boot, trying to get his attention. After making his way to his shoulder, Ant-Man whispers into Strange’s ear, asking if this Guy Smith is worth all this trouble. There are a lot of other dead heroes around there, he adds, and he’s never even seen Guy with a vacuum cleaner in his hand… He means, how’s Smith gonna react when a really big carpet bug comes his way? Resolute, Strange crosses his arms and replies that he’s banking on Smith controlling Tike Alicar. He used to be the Anarchist’s team leader.

Suddenly, Ant-Man spies the Phantom Rider approaching from the horizon and launches himself into the air, yelling in glee. As Ant-Man runs toward the approaching Phantom Rider, Strange leans toward Dead Girl and remarks that, to be honest with her, he’s a little worried about the state of Ant-Man’s mind. When Dead Girl points out that he’s a doctor and asks if he can do anything about it, Strange quips with a question, asking if she means apart from praying to mighty Vishanti?

A moment later, the Phantom Rider halts his horse by the two. Addressing Strange as “sheriff,” the Rider reports that he’s found another member of their posse. Name of the Piano Player! So introduced, a redheaded youth leaps from behind the Phantom Rider. Wearing neither a shirt nor trousers, the man is clad only in boots, trunks (adorned with a musical note), a conductor’s coat and a domino mask, all in black. The necktie he wears is also black, or at least half of it. The other half, segmented along its length, is fashioned like the keyboard of a piano. All smiles, the Piano Player waves his white gloved “jazz hands” and in a playful manner repeatedly asks them not to shoot him.

From behind, the Phantom Rider informs Strange and Dead Girl that that’s his tagline. “Don’t shoot the Piano Player,” geddit? Ain’t he th’ rootin’ tootinest? Gesticulating differently, the Piano Player summons a piano keyboard in mid-air and asks if anyone would like a tune. Ragtime? Classical? Modern jazz? Replying not right now, Doctor Strange returns his attention to Dead Girl, noting that he thinks they should get moving. Which way is down? Grinning slightly, Dead Girl replies that she thought he’d never ask.

In the lower levels of Hell, the Anarchist and Miss America sit on a dilapidated and unadorned single bed. His head in his hands, the Anarchist notes that Hell’s cold. It’s painful… or it’s boring. It’s… oh, it’s Hell. Sitting a short distance away, Miss America replies that he’s right, it’s awful. She shouldn’t even be there. She was the nation’s sweetheart. To this, the Anarchist replies that he was his nation’s sweetheart. Slowly and methodically, the two begin to inch closer to each other, wondering if two people like them can’t make the eternities of despair a little easier to swallow…

A moment later, the two are locked in a deep kiss. The moment after that, however, the two separate violently, trying their best to spit out the horrific taste in their mouth.

On her feet, Miss America notes that that really, really hurt. Agreeing, the Anarchist adds that it stunk too. It made him wanna throw up. Realizing immediately what it means, Tike laments that the one good thing that people like them might find to make their time in this awful place more bearable… and it’s turned into something painful. And stinky, Miss America adds.

Taken with an inspiration, the Anarchist glances below the bed and spies the container of crème de profundis. Considering it, he tells Miss America that there’s plenty of that magic clay left… she and he could have themselves a vacation in the land of the living. Miss America reminds Tike that they’re supposed to be guarding it, not stealing it. They’re in Hell, baby, he responds. What can they do to them?

With this, the Anarchist grabs the small, corked pot. However, before he can move to uncork it, Miss America moves to stop him, knocking it from his hand and following it up with right cross to the Anarchist’s chin. Upon recovering, the Anarchist is incensed and powers up his acid from his hands. A moment later, the battle is joined.

Sometime later, both combatants are exhausted, Miss America laying her head on the Anarchist’s chest. Grinning as he enjoys the aftermath, Tike remarks that that was… intense. Agreeing, the smiling Miss America adds that it was almost as fun as… kissing. “Wanna go again?” the Anarchists asks.

Elsewhere in Hell, the Pitiful One watches as the Ancient One attempts to push Wong down a chute. Struggling as he does so, the Anarchist remarks that he really had to pull some strings to get Wong in there. But it should finally break him. Noting the industrial nature of their surroundings, the Pitiful One asks what this place is. The Ancient One grins at this, remarks that the Pitiful One does well to tremble like a girl. Wong has entered… the Hall of Self!

With that, the Ancient One pushes Wong through the chute and into the shaft. A few moments later, Wong lands with a thud. Immediately he is greeted but someone who states that he’s been waiting for Wong. Jean-Paul Satre was all wrong, the man states. Hell isn’t other people. Demonstrating his meaning, the man crouches down to the ground and thus Wong’s eye level, allowing him to see that Wong’s newest tormenter… is Wong himself.

Meanwhile, Doctor Strange and his group (including the Piano Player) are packed into an elevator, operated by Harry Osborn. “Going down,” Osborn states. When Strange begins to whisper into her ear, Dead Girl confirms the elevator man’s identity. Poor guy’s fallen on hard times, she whispers back. It’s really not polite to stare and whisper. Smiling at this, Strange remarks that he’s glad to see that decent manners are maintained down here. Make the most of them, she rejoins. When they get to the lower depths, bad etiquette will be the least of their problems.

High above in the elevator shaft, Kraven the Hunter eyes the descending elevator containing his unwitting prey below. Speaking to Mysterio, who is above him, Kraven proclaims that he’ll tear out their carotid arteries; Mysterio will clean up after. To this, Mysterio remarks that Kraven really does belong down here…

Inside the descending elevator, Strange asks Dead Girl to listen. It’s going to be dangerous from now on… there’s a real chance none of them will return from where they’re going… Amused, Dead Girl tells Strange that he’s such an irrepressible optimist. That’s what she loves about him. Considering her choice of words, Dead Girl corrects that she didn’t mean literally. She means, in a manner of speaking.

When Strange replies with nothing more than an odd look, Dead Girl asks what that’s for. He’s not putting a spell on her, is he? Amused, Strange replies that he rather thinks she’s the one who’s put a spell on him. When Guy Smith mentioned that she’d had a thing with Tike Alicar, he felt it. A twinge. A stab in the heart. Incredible as it seems, he… he thinks he w-was… Je… je… “Jelly?” Dead Girl tries to guess jokingly. “Jealous,” Strange corrects.

Suddenly, the roof of the elevator is ripped apart by Kraven, who leaps down into battle. He is followed by Mysterio, who announces that the Pitiful One sends his greetings… The Phantom Rider responds first, firing his revolvers into the air from the back of the horse, declaring their attackers “Injuns.” Second to act is Ant-Man, who attempts in vain to break the domed head of Mysterio with his fists. Ignoring the two, Kraven makes his way to Guy and spins him around with a right cross.

The Piano Player next tries to act and creates his keyboard in the air. However, halfway into his first verse of “Ebony and Ivory,” he receives an accidental kick in the chin by the Phantom Rider’s bucking horse. Within a moment, Strange is by the Piano Player’s side, joined by Dead Girl. Regarding the immobile youth, Strange asks Dead Girl if you can be killed down here. And if you’re killed, what happens to you? However, rather than answering his question, the visibly smitten Dead Girl repeats Strange’s earlier word. “Jealous? Of Tike and me?”

Spying Kraven attacking from behind her, Strange asks Dead Girl to excuse him one moment. “So polite,” Dead Girl mutters to herself. Extending his fingers, Doctor Strange invokes the power of the weird Watoomb and generates a multi-colored dome surrounding himself and Dead Girl. Back, barbarous fellow, Strange orders their attacker. Smiling, Kraven mocks that the Ancient One said his powers would not be so great in the land of the dead.

Shocked at the mention of his old master, Strange drops the forcefield, causing Kraven to fall on his face. However, Kraven recovers quickly and delivers a right cross to Doctor Strange, which is followed by a kick to Kraven’s face by Dead Girl. Immediately, Dead Girl tries to help Strange back to his feet, only to pause as she notices an odd energy effect in the air. She asks Strange what that stuff is, but Strange does not know. It’s nothing to do with him.

Guy Smith, however, recognizes it and declares that he’d recognize that teleportation matter anywhere! A moment later, the matter coalesces into a spiral portal through which steps Edie Sawyer, known in life as the X-Forcer named U-Go Girl. A short distance behind her, Edie is followed by Moira MacTaggert, Mockingbird and Gwen Stacy. Ecstatic, Dead Girl calls to Moira, amazed that she found U-Go Girl. Aye, Moira replies, and she wouldnae believe where!

Still holding the portal open but not stepping through, Edie calls to them all to hop in. This elevator’s getting crowded. Without delay, all of Strange’s group leaps through, though Strange himself has to be dragged. As Dead Girl pulls him in by the hand, he asks herto wait… he needs to hear about the Ancient…

A moment later, they are all gone and Kraven, who had been in mid-leap to follow through the portal, falls on his face. Marveling at the manner of their quarries’ exit, Mysterio remarks that that’s some party trick.

Meanwhile, in the land of the living, Wong pleads for his non-present master to forgive him. He is draped over the shoulders of the Ancient One and the Pitiful One and held before a wall painting in Doctor Strange’s mansion. Speaking weakly, Wong recites the incantation. “The… the world is blue… like an orange…” With that, the wall ripples like a wall of water and the three make their way to the chamber inside. Within moments, the Ancient One hovers over the prone but floating body of the sleeping Doctor Strange. “Ah, Stephen…” the Ancient One gloats. “You always did have a vulnerable quality.

Characters Involved: 

Dead Girl

Mister Sensitive


Phantom Rider

Piano Player

Doctor Strange


The Pitiful One

The Anarchist

Miss America

Kraven the Hunter


U-Go Girl

Moira MacTaggert

Gwen Stacy


Harry Osborn

US president


Anarchist, Kraven, Miss America

Yankee stadium players & attendees

Story Notes: 

Though not explicitly stated, the US president of the United States is an obvious pastiche of then president George W. Bush.

Richard Nixon was the 36the president of the United States, who resigned amid the Watergate scandal.

Dead Girl and the Anarchist were never an official couple, at least on panel. However, the Anarchist did refer to Dead Girl as “babe” in the last issue of X-Statix. [X-Statix #26]

Snakes and Ladders is the British name of an ancient game imported from India in the 19th century. It was later adapted and imported to America by Milton Bradley in 1943 as “Chutes and Ladders.”

Strange’s explanation of people being resurrected due to the “will of the people” is a breaking of the fourth wall description of fictional comic book characters being brought back from certain death by writers after as a result of the demands of fans.

Gehenna is an ancient Hebrew word, which is synonymous with “Hell.”

Miss America referred to the Anarchist by a racist pejorative last issue, seemingly unaware that such a thing was frowned upon in the decades after her death.

First appearance of the Piano Player.

Jean-Paul Satre was a 20th century French existentialist philosopher. The line “Hell is other people” comes from his 1944 play, “No Exit.”

Harry Osborn died in Spectacular Spider-Man (1st series) #200, a death which was later retconned into a “faked death” as a result of the Brand New Day storyline in Spider-Man in 2008.

“Ebony and Ivory” is a song first performed by Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder in 1982, the message of which was regarding racial harmony.

“Watoomb,” whose name Doctor Strange invokes, is a mystical deity in the Marvel Universe. Strange has actually used the “wand of Watoomb” on several occasions.

“The world is blue like an orange,” the pass phrase invoked by Wong, is from a statement made by French poet and author Eugène Emile Paul Grindel, one of the founders of the Surrealist Movement in the early 20th century.

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