X-Treme X-Men (1st series) #3

Issue Date: 
September 2001
Story Title: 
Hell to Pay !

Chris Claremont (writer), Salvador Larroca (penciler), (uninked), Liquid! (colors), Tom Orzechowski (letters), Frank Dunkerley (assistant editor), Matt Hicks (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Bill Jemas (president)

Brief Description: 

Following their battle with Vargas, Psylocke is really dead and Beast mortally wounded. The rest of the team search the city all over, but can’t find the killer, who is neither mutant, nor superbeing, yet something more than human. To save the Beast from dying Tessa uses a never before seen power. She can perceive mutants' full potential and temporarily bring it forth. It strains her a lot, but she boost Hank McCoy’s healing factor so that he is able to survive his injuries. Later Psylocke’s coffin is brought to the airport to be flown to England. Storm also sends the Beast back top Westchester as he is too weak and would only be a liability. Unbeknownst to them Vargas watching them say goodbye. Throughout the issue various flashback are made; they mention Betsy’s days as a supermodel, her S.T.R.I.K.E. training, Tessa preventing her geeting drawn into the Hellfire Club, Psylocke’s desire for action and battle and her choice to enjoy every single moment of life as it might be the last. Also Storm quotes the diary to mention a threat to the X-Men from within.

Full Summary: 

The X-Treme X-Men find Psylocke dead in the Beast’s arms. The Guardia Civil arrives trying to place them under arrest, needing someone to blame for the dozens of dead scientists. Storm’s anger reflect in the weather pattern outside, within second the perfect sky is filled with clouds and lightning. Bishop prevents Ororo from unleashing her anger against the spanish police. On the other side Maria Pilar Cortes, Deputy Minister of Justice, too provides a voice of reason and keeps the Guardia’s commander Diego Sandoval from any more actions against the mutant “terrorists“. With their differences put aside, medical crews are allowed onto the scene, they check on the Beast and diagnose him to be in deep shock with multiple injuries and many bone fractures. Psylocke on the other hand is gone. Rogue, who could barely stand after Vargas’s attack is coming around (thanks to Wolverine’s healing factor) and fills the others in on their attackers : Vargas, the unbeatable leader and the back-up twins Thais and Thaiis. Neal freaks out, when Psylocke is put in a body bag. He can’t believe that this is hapopening for real. He questions the whole purpose of the X-Men if this is what they will receive in the end; Bishop comforts him and says that the important thing is to make ones lifespan counts and also to prevent that this needless killing will not be repeated. Thunderbird, now calmer, holds Betsy’s hand one last time, and Bishop notices some scrapings under her fingernails. He takes some samples and runs an analysis on them. Tessa receives the transmission in a safe hotel room and sorts out the data, Vargas is neither mutant nor superbeing, genetically he registers as human though is yet much more. Tessa remembers her first meeting with Psylocke :

By day, Betsy Braddock was a famous fashion model, though at night she secretly trained to become s special AGENT FOR S.T.R.I.K.E., the british version of S.H.I.E.L.D. One of her assignments involved the Hellfire Club in New York, where Tessa was currently undercover for Charles Xavier. Betsy was too young and arrogant and did not realize that she was getting entangled by the Club, and though it meant possibly exposing her cover, Tessa confronted her when they were alone. She ordered her to go home and when Betsy tried to use her psychic powers on the enigmatic Tessa, she found her psi-bolt redirected against herself. Frightened Betsy left. The flashback ends and Tessa feels sorry that she could not have prevented Phoenix getting seduced by the Club too.

The team searches Valencia for Vargas, they use a scanner keyed to his unique bio-signature, but even though they manage to capture some local gangsters, they find no trace on the murderer. The gangster‘s leader is called Gomez and since he might hold some clues, Rogue interrogates him by threatening to pop her claws through him. The man willingly starts to talk to the Guardia, but Rogue’s teammates are not so happy. They wonder what she would have done, if he would not cooperate, and her reply is that she would have kissed him. Finding Betsy’s killer would have been worth the price of having one more psyche inside her head. Again reminded about the slain teammate, Bishop states that he wished to have known her better, in the jhistory text that survived till his era, Psylocke was hardly mentioned. Neal is really annoyed by that remark, as if it was important, who would make it into the history books some generations down the line, yet he falls quiet when Bishop replies that Thunderbird himself did make it into the history charts. They remember training in the Danger Room, shortly before leaving the mansion :

Rogue and Psylocke were training in the Danger Room, and Betsy easily defeated Rogue by enforcing her ninja material arts with telekinetic energy and later keeping Rogue stuck in a wall of bricks. She then trained with Neal, who easily falls for the old playing-possum trick. Being defeated Neal can only admire the beauty and elegance of Psylocke.

Gomez tolf the Guardia Civil everything he knew, but has no knowledge about Vargas‘ location. He had the X-Men fooled again, making them follow a false trail. Storm angrily blasts in the skies and Thunderbird pessimistically states that if they will find Vargas, it will only be because he wants to kill another one of them.
The Beast is being cared for in a nearby hospital. His condition is fatal, they have already called a priest, but Sage sends him away, claiming that her services are needed now. She takes of her glove and uses a never before seen power on Hank. She is able to perceive the full potential of mutant powers and also can temporarily boost / awaken them though it is very straining for her. The Beast glows in Tessa’s energy, a ghostly image of his final mutation (ressembling him in current issues of New X-Men) appears and also his healing factor is augmented to such a degree that his condition stabilizes and he starts to recover. During the process Tessa thinks about Xavier, who found both Hank and her at the same time, yet chose one to become an X-man and the other his spy, and wonder why he made that decision. Storm enters, she seems to have seen the whole event. After checking on Hank, Sage pulls Ororo aside to alert her to some findings in her database, or actually lack of findings. She has been unable to locate any information on Vargas, yet she thinks that there are certain parallels between the Xavier Protocols (information how to kill each and every X-Man, should they turn bad) and Vargas, as if he was the protocols made flesh.

The X-Treme X-Men came to Valencia to start their quest. Destiny, the author of the diaries, has a house in the town, and so they think it’s a good place to start. It’s the evening before the team get‘s ambushed (X-Treme X-Men #1) and while Storm and Rogue discuss a quote from the diary about a threat to the X-Men from within, Neal admires Betsy, who dressed herself in indian garments for him. She explains that her take on life is to live for the moment, because as a warrior she might not see tomorrow.

Brian and Meggan Braddock arrive in a private jet to pick up Psylocke‘s coffin. Neal puts a rose inside to bid his love farewell. Also the Beast will leave, he is still too weak and sitting in a wheelchair. Storm says that he will only be a liability to the team like this and sends him back to Xavier’s mansion in Westchester. From a tower at the airport Vargas watches them say goodbye.

Characters Involved: 

Beast, Bishop, Rogue, Sage, Storm, Thunderbird III (all X-Men)

Psylocke’s body

Diego Sandival, commander of the Guardia Civil’s action force

Maria Pilar Cortes, Deputy Minister of State for Justice

Brian and Meggan Braddock, brother and sister-inlaw of Psylocke


Thais and Thaiis, Vargas’ servants

Gomez, a local gangster
Flashbacks :

Beast, Bishop, Psylocke, Rogue, Sage, Storm, Thunderbird III

Sebastian Shaw, Tessa (both Hellfire Club I)

Story Notes: 

Though not known by many readers, Betsy’s time as a supermodel and her activities for S.T.R.I.K.E.‘s psi division were already established history. All of this happened in various Captain Britain titles released by Marvel UK.

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