X-Force (1st series) #54

Issue Date: 
May 1996
Story Title: 
Q & A

Jeph Loeb (writer), Adam Pollina (penciler), Bud LaRosa (Inker), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (letterers), Marie Javins & Bellman (colorists), Malibu (enhancements), Ben Raab (assistant editor), Bob Harras (editor & editor-chief)

Brief Description: 

Siryn, Sunspot, Domino, Meltdown and Shatterstar are interrogated by several detectives, including Charlotte Jones, about the deaths of Gideon, Absalom and Crule. The detectives try to make sense of what an “External” is, while X-Force re-tell, in their own words, the events that happened when Selene arrived on the scene: Siryn searched for Warpath, but couldn’t find him, they tried to save Absalom and Crule, but were unsuccessful. Cable arrived on the scene in time to take down Selene, who tried to absorb his life-force, but couldn’t due to the techno-virus in his system. Nevertheless, Selene still gets the upper hand, taking down the team, and revealing to Meltdown that the Externals outlived their purpose and now there is only she and one other left. Meltdown assumed this to be Cannonball, but Selene revealed that Cannonball is not an External, before teleporting away. Blaquesmith arrived erasing his presence from X-Force’s memory, before teleporting Cable away as the Police arrived. After X-Force finish pleading their innocence, Charlotte Jones releases them. Charlotte is then confronted by a mysterious stranger, who expresses his disappointment in her for letting X-Force leave, and giving her a very stern warning.

Full Summary: 

Sunday morning, New York City, at the interrogation room at the 53rd Precinct House - aptly nicknamed “The Box”, where currently, a member of the irrepressible X-Force - Bobby “Sunspot” DaCosta is under interrogation. All the cops really know is that Sunspot is willing to cooperate - for the moment. For in truth, most people have never even seen a mutant - only what they know from television - how mutants have extraordinary powers and “regular” humans could never stand a chance against one - and how they all carry this deadly disease called “The Legacy Virus”. How much, if any, of that is true, isn’t the point. It is being locked inside a room with a young man whose ebony skin broils like the sun - who could kill them with just a thought - that makes it hard to keep clear who the prisoner is….

‘So, how would ya describe your relationship with Mr. Gideon? Friendly? Not so friendly? What?’ a detective asks. Sitting calmly in a chair, Sunspot half-smiles, and replies that it wasn’t either of those things. ‘I had hoped that I would never see him again’ Bobby admits. ‘Then ya got your wish, kid’ the detective replies. ‘Not like this’ Bobby exclaims. ‘Nobody would wish what happened to Gideon on anybody…’. The detective replies ‘But didn’t you say Mr. Gideon was…what did you call him? An “External”? You told us that meant he couldn’t die’. Sunspot replies that is what they thought about all of the, ”Them?” the detective asks, asking Sunspot to tell her again what happened to “them”.

(Flashback, takes place between X-Force (1st series) #53 and #54, narrated by Sunspot)

Sunspot reminds the detective that X-Force were down on the ice-rink at Rockerfeller Center, and that Absalom and Crule had attacked them because they thought X-Force had killed Gideon. ‘You have to understand these Externals, they were never supposed to die’. Sunspot adds once again, before remarking that when you are young, you don’t think about it, but now, something…someone…was killing them - one by one - it was Selene!

‘X-Force! My quarrel is not with you today, leave while you can!’ the powerful villainess said to the young heroes. ‘This is a private matter!’ she exclaimed as she went about killing the Legacy Virus-stricken Absalom, ‘Selene! You traitorous -’ were Absalom’s last words. Siryn exclaimed that it was Selene who had been murdering the Externals, and asked Shatterstar if he can break through her protective aura. Armed with his sword, Shatterstar approached Selene, replying that he will try.


Sunspot explains to the detective that they were all a little shocked to learn that it was Selene they were facing, as they thought she had been rendered powerless - stripped of her life force draining powers, but this encounter proved that particular rumor to be greatly exaggerated. Even so, X-Force tried to save Absalom, despite the fact that he only wanted to bring about their deaths. ‘We did everything we could to save him!’ Sunspot exclaims, remarking that their world is growing more and more separated along the lines of race and religion, mutant and human. ‘And if the madness continues growing with each passing day, where will it stop?’.

‘Where will it stop?’ Bobby asks, slumping over, placing his hands behind his head. A detective tells Sunspot that he made a nice speech, but that they never saw this “Selene” person. ‘And that leaves us with an angry young mutant who maybe wanted to get even with the man he thinks killed his father!’. This comment angers Sunspot, ‘How can you not believe me?’ he asks, his powers flaring up, ‘Talk to the others!’ he exclaims, admitting that he did not care for Gideon, but assuring the detectives that he had nothing to do with his murder.

The detective backs up, assuring Sunspot that they will speak to the others and asks him to try and see it from their side. The detective points out that Gideon was a prominent Wall Street business man, and his being a mutant - much less an “immortal” one is news to them. ‘It is the truth!’ Bobby shouts. As Sunspot is lead out of the interrogation room, the female detective tells her colleagues that, perhaps they are out of their league here, ‘Externals…a serial killer named “Selene”…maybe we ought to bring in somebody like, I don’t know, SHIELD?’ she suggests.

‘What are ya worried about, Jonesy…? You’ve always been soft on the whole mutie thing!’ one of the cops exclaims. Indeed, Detective Charlotte Jones, ally of the original X-Factor, steps into the light, ‘”Soft”? Is that how you describe someone who has a problem with bigotry?’ she asks. ‘If so, I’m real soft. Just bring in the next one, okay?’ she snaps back.

Soon, Theresa “Siryn” Rourke Cassidy sits, confidently, in the chair, and even though she has not been deputy leader of X-Force for very long, her loyalty to her teammates is unshakable. Theresa explains that she did not see Gideon die, and that she was called to the scene by Bobby and Caliban, along with the rest of the team. ‘This “team”…”X-Force”? What’s that? Some kind of version of the so-called X-Men?’ a fat male police officer asks. Siryn ignores the question momentarily, recalling how she agreed to go along with Sunspot and answer the officer’s question, even though she does not like the idea of having a bright light aimed at X-Force, so she will need to be careful about what she says and what she doesn’t. Careful not to make them sound guilty…?

Siryn turns swiftly and, ignoring the question about the X-Men, tells the officer that if he has questions about this morning then he can ask away, but otherwise if he is going to charge them with a crime then to get on with it. The fat officer just grunts, muttering ‘Maybe we will, ya little mutie’, before his colleague asks Siryn to tell them what happened after “Absalom” was killed. ‘There was an explosion’ Siryn replies. Siryn then adds that it was more like an implosion up in the penthouse, Gideon’s penthouse. ‘Gideon himself had either fallen or was pushed from up there’. Siryn remarks, before mentioning that one of her teammates had gone to investigate.

(Flashback, takes place between X-Force (1st series) #53 and #54, narrated by Siryn)

Hovering above the penthouse, a concerned Theresa was worried about Warpath whom she had seen climb into the building, but now the metal and concrete are all twisted - as if they were nothing. A mighty scream comes from Theresa’s inner soul as she began the search for her dear friend, wondering where he can be.


Theresa states that she was concerned about a member of her team who had apparently vanished. Softly, upset, Siryn remarks that she doesn’t know where James is now. Detective Charlotte Jones asks Theresa if she needs some time to collect her thoughts, but Siryn replies that she is fine. Charlotte asks Siryn if the teammate who she thinks is missing she cares for him a lot, to which Siryn ignores the question, asking instead if she can go now. ’Soon as we find out what happened’ Detective Jones assures her. Siryn clenches a fist and declares that Gideon was an evil man, that he and his brethren, the Externals, have killed wantonly through the centuries.

Siryn declares that now, one of her team is in hospital and another is…gone. ‘Where is the justice in that?’ she asks. One of the male officers asks ‘What if they are telling the truth? What if these Externals exist and we don’t even know about it? What kind of world do we really live in?’. ‘NEXT!’ shouts the fat man.

Shortly, Shatterstar stands in the interrogation room, arms folded across his chest, he declares that he will not cooperate, and demands that his swords be returned to him and that this farce end. Shatterstar is a man who grew up on a planet, far, far away, bred only for battle, the concept of investigating the casualties of war is not only foreign to him - it seems more than a bit inane. One of the officers addresses Shatterstar as “Benjamin” ‘It’s okay if we call you “Benjamin, ain’t it?’ they asks, remarking that the rest of his crew refused to give their names. ‘I see no reason to call me a name which is not my own’ Shatterstar replies calmly.

‘Really? How come then this police report says otherwise?’ one of the officer asks, holding up a police report and some photographs. ‘Now, take a seat. Benjamin!’ the officer orders. Shatterstar goes wide eyed as one mystery unravels and another one begins to unfold.

By midafternoon, the cops are starting to grow anxious, having opened this Pandora’s Box, it may be too late to close it. The last thing they need is a suspect with an attitude like Domino. Her real name is…unknown. She has been a mercenary, an assassin and who knows what else. ‘You want to tell us your side of the story, Miss?’ the fat detective asks. Domino just smiles and looks at the officer’s gun attached to his belt. The officer remarks that they have no criminal record on her and points out that she hasn’t even offered them a name.

‘Why don’t you help us out like the rest of the gang?’ the officer asks. Domino just stares at him, after all, she has been held captive in China, Yugoslavia, Genosha…the list goes on. In other words, three New York cops in an up-town police station haven’t got a chance in Hell. The fat cop points at the door and furiously shouts ‘Get her outta here and find one of ‘em that feels like talking!’.

‘What’dya wanna talk about?’ asks Tabitha “Meltdown” Smith, creating a small plasma bomb as she sits in the chair, her turn now in the interrogation cell. ‘We didn’t kill Gideon or any of the other goons’ she declares. ‘You know it. I know it. And you couldn’t hold us if we weren’t letting ya!’. Tabitha Smith has thought of her life as one long nightmare. Bad parents, bad schools, bad times. She blamed it on a lot of things. However, since the day she decided to cut loose and call herself “Meltdown”, she isn’t blaming anyone anymore. ‘Kinda spooky, ain’t it?’ Meltdown exclaims, holding her plasma time-bomb up to her face.

Charlotte tells Tabitha that she appreciates what she is saying, before asking if that ball is going to blow up. ‘Relax, as long as you guys are cool, you’ll get the same from us’ Tabitha assures her. One of the male officers asks Tabitha to tell them about the last one, the one called “Crule”. ‘Whacked’. Meltdown replies. ‘Like the guy wanted to die…’.

(Flashback, takes place between X-Force (1st series) #53 and #54, narrated by Meltdown)

‘SELENE!’ screamed Crule, freaked after watching his friend Absalom be murdered by Selene. ‘Did you think you could betray us, cow?’ Crule exclaimed as he attacked Selene. ‘With my brothers all dead, there is no one to stay my hand!’ he exclaimed. ‘No one to keep me from beating you to death!’. X-Force rallied around the Eternals, despite the fact that Meltdown could care less if they wanted to bash each other’s brains out. Sunspot and Meltdown make a combo-move, hitting Selene and Crule hard, but Selene began to get way out of hand.

The two Externals collided once more, then Selene grinned, and announced that she had waited an untold time to make this move. ‘Never before could I have overtaken all of the Externals, Crule - but a dark cloud hovers on the horizon. The world will be divided between the weak and the strong - and I will not be denied!’ she screamed as she murdered Crule with her phenomenal powers. Crule’s body was drained of its life-force, meaning now, Selene had her power plus the power she drained from the other Externals. There was no way X-Force could stop her. Until, suddenly, there was a flash of telekinetic energy, powerful enough to take down a Mack truck, it smacked into Selene, causing X-Force to turn - and see their leader and mentor, Nathan “Cable” Summers.

‘Enough!’ demanded the warrior from the future, who is seen by some as a savior, but as the worst example of what is yet to come by others. Whatever, X-Force is his charge, and a pity to those who put them in harm way. Cable turned to Selene, telling her that he is unsure of what happened here, but that he is giving her a chance to walk away right now. X-Force didn’t know what card Cable was playing, and Meltdown wondered if Cable thought Selene was a little more maimed than she let on.

Selene told Cable that there is an untapped power within him. ‘Let’s see what someone with a little finesse can do with it!’ she exclaimed, using her powers on Cable, tearing off most of his costume, X-Force could do nothing but watch as Selene attacked Cable, they had never seen him in such pain. ‘And this guy wrote the book on it’. However, Selene fell to the ground, ‘WRETCH!’ she screamed, clutching her throat, she asked Cable what sort of man he is, exclaiming that his life-force was tainted.

The others were not sure as to why Selene couldn’t siphon Cable off like anybody else, but at least they had Selene on the ropes, and Cable ordered them to hit Selene with everything they had. X-Force had been taught a hundred times that if their opponent gives them an opening, to take it for all it was worth. But in this case - bad move, for as X-Force unleashed their collective powers on Selene, she repelled them in an awesome display of her powers.

‘You were given a fair warning!’ Selene declared to the fallen young heroes around her. ‘There is a war coming over the horizon, where only the strong will survive. These Externals have outlived their purpose. Now, there’s only myself and one other!’ she exclaimed. Meltdown had regained consciousness by now, and with a plasma bomb charged, exclaimed ‘Lady, you will never get to Cannonball! The X-Men will stop you before -’ Selene interrupted Meltdown, ‘Oh, please!’ she laughed. ‘You don’t honestly believe that the stripling Guthrie is actually an External?’

‘But we all saw Sam die and come back to life!’ Meltdown exclaimed, holding back her time-bomb. ‘Did you now? Ask your mentor about that…’ Selene suggested, before vanishing, gone as quickly as she arrived. Meltdown woke Cable, asking him what Selene meant by Cannonball not being an External. But Cable just passes out, while the rest of X-Force regains consciousness.

Suddenly, Blaquesmith appeared, hovering over Cable he exclaimed telepathically that this is precisely what he feared - that Cable no longer has the strength for a battle such as this. Domino asked Blaquesmith what he had done to Cable, but Blaquesmith exclaimed that there is no need for anyone to remember his presence here, when they should be more concerned about what lay ahead. X-Force’s mind’s go blank for a few seconds, their memories wiped, then, suddenly, an entire platoon of cops arrived, ‘Get your hands up - and in plain sight!’ the commanded.


Later, Siryn, Sunspot, Domino, Meltdown and Shatterstar, are in a holding cell, all clad in green overalls, Meltdown exclaims that they made like good little campers, and answered all the questions the cops had for them. ‘Now I got a question for you, Dom - when the heck do we get out of here?’ she asks Domino. Domino replies that she doesn’t know, and explains that, given Caliban’s condition, and the thought of them mowing down the NYPD to escape, that this was their best course of action. Sunspot assures Domino that no one is blaming her, and Siryn agrees, pointing out that they all went into this with their eyes wide open. Shatterstar remains silent throughout the conversation, wondering if the police report can be true.

Suddenly, Charlotte Jones appears at the cell door, ‘Everybody up!’ she exclaims, opening the cell door. ‘Just like that…you’re letting us go?’ Domino asks as they exit the cell and before remarking that she knows Detective Jones has worked with the X-Men in the past. ‘Let’s leave that aside for now’ Charlotte suggests, before telling X-Force that they have a friend, but that they should watch their backs , because with what is coming down, even she cannot protect them.

Later still, in the Police station garage, Charlotte walks towards her car, ‘So, in the end, it all adds up to…what? Fear?’ she asks herself. ‘Us afraid of them. Them afraid of someone else. Like that kid said - “where does it stop”?’ she wonders. As she puts her key into the door, someone appears beside her, hidden in the shadows, he whacks it out of her hand. ‘Detective Jones!’ he exclaims. ‘Hey!’ Charlotte retorts, kneeling down to pick up her keys.

‘We do not understand’ the man begins. ‘You had those…mutants…under lock and key. Where they belong. Where they all belong’. Charlotte tells the man that she doesn’t know who he is, or how he got inside here, but that she is in no mood to take any lip from the fringe. ‘So unless you want to be arrested -’ she begins, until she is interrupted by the stranger, who assures her that will not be necessary. ‘We merely wanted to make a point’ he remarks, explaining that they have very little tolerance for this kind of injustice. ‘Zero Tolerance, in fact!’.

Characters Involved: 

Domino II, Meltdown II, Shatterstar, Siryn, Sunspot (all X-Force)

Detective Charlotte Jones

Police Officers

Bastion (in shadows)

In Flashback

Cable, Domino II, Meltdown II, Shatterstar, Siryn, Sunspot (all X-Force)


Absalom, Crule (both Externals)

Police Officers

Story Notes: 

Gideon was found dead after being pushed from his high-rise penthouse apartment in X-Force (1st series) #53.

Sunspot’s father, Emmanuel DaCosta, the first White Rook, was poisoned by someone associated with Gideon. [New Mutants (1st series) #98]

Detective Charlotte Jones first appeared in X-Factor (1st series) #51, and became a recurring character until the Original X-Men departed that book. She has appeared infrequently since then, with her most recent appearance prior to this one being Uncanny X-Men #323-324. She next appears in X-Force (1st series) #59.

Cannonball was believed to be an External after the events of X-Force (1st series) #7-9.

Selene next appears in X-Man #16.

Shatterstar’s origin is further explored in X-Force (1st series) #59-61.

Bastion’s comment ‘Zero Tolerance, in fact’ is of course an early reference to the upcoming Zero Tolerance program which appears in X-Force (1st series) #67-70, among other X-titles at the time.
The Externals were killed (and the “Cannonball as an External”-plot was nixed) because Marvel were afraid of getting into trouble with the producers of the Highlander TV show.

Issue Information: 
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