New X-Men (1st series) #145

Issue Date: 
September 2003
Story Title: 
Assault on Weapon Plus - part 4: The Devil

Grant Morrison (writer), Chris Bachalo (penciler), Tim Townsend w/ Vey & Sowd (inkers), Chris Chuckry (colorist), Virtual Calligraphy’s Rus Wootan (letterer), Anne Thornton (assistant editor), Mike Marts (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Bill Jemas (president)

Brief Description: 

After his quick ascent into orbit, Weapon Fifteen finds his way to the Weapon Plus space station and enters, followed soon thereafter by Cyclops, Wolverine and Fantomex in Fantomex’s living spacecraft, E.V.A. Once inside, the threesome fight their way to the control room and plant charges, intending to destroy the whole operation. After the countdown is set, Wolverine decides to lag behind, as he has found the Weapon Plus files and intends to learn everything about his past that has been denied him. Meanwhile, Cyclops and Fantomex move further inside the station after learning that E.V.A. has been captured. They arrive too late to save the spacecraft, however, and it is destroyed, as well as Fantomex’s nervous system, which was linked to it. Having no other choice, Cyclops carries Fantomex toward the shuttle bay to escape. Back in the control room, Wolverine is confronted by the deadly but confused Weapon Fifteen. Although it seems to wish to have a life other than that for which it was created, Wolverine realized that this could never be. He activates the explosive charges, which destroys the whole space station.

Full Summary: 

What is the purpose of life? he asks. Protected by the cold vacuum of space, Weapon Fifteen continues his orbital ascent and approaches the space station headquarters of Weapon Plus. Regarding the monstrous craft, Weapon Fifteen thinks to himself. I have come to this house as if drawn to a light inside my mind. I have come from The World to find answers to my questions. However, as he approaches the airlock, Weapon Fifteen thinks that there are too many questions. Too much emptiness. Too much everything. Entering through the lock, he thinks of how all of this is his… but it’s all too much. He wishes someone would just tell him what to do.

After entering, Weapon Fifteen walks past a security guard, who lets him pass without a word. Once Fifteen passes, the guard radios to the doctor, letting him know that it is on its way in… exactly as planned. After traversing the upper deck, Weapon Fifteen descends to the control room below through an open shaft. He then crosses the room, passing two scientists silently, even as one calls out to him, calling him son and welcoming him home. Ignoring the man, Weapon Fifteen walks into another shaft and descends to the next level.

Concerned, the doctor’s associate asks if they can evacuate. Dismissing his associate’s fears, the doctor tells him not to worry. Weapon Fifteen is just a little confused. War trauma can do that. Mutants, he continues, just obliterated The World where he was born and raised. Hellish business. Turning his voice toward Weapon Fifteen itself, the doctor informs him that he shouldn’t worry… he’ll get his revenge soon enough.

As Weapon Fifteen walks through the laboratory the level below, he hears the words of the doctor. The doctor informs him that this is the mansion they have prepared for him and his kind… super-sapiens, as they call them; part-man, part-machine. Looking up at large vats, each filled with a genetic experiment enhanced by technology, Weapon Fifteen hears the doctor tell him that he was made to serve as the protectors of humankind against the menace of mutations. He’s part of a biological arms race. When asked by the doctor if he remembers his primary function, Fifteen replies almost interrogatively, almost surprised that he knows it. “Destroy all mutants?”

Outside the station, the entity known as E.V.A. approaches the airlock. Speaking to its master, Fantomex, as well as to the other two guests inside, Cyclops and Wolverine, E.V.A. declares that the space station is still under construction and operating on ten percent power… defenses minimal… and the door is open. Sitting at the control within, Fantomex thanks E.V.A. and asks his two guests if they shall complete their campaign of righteous destruction.

Changing the subject back to their confrontation with Weapon Fifteen on the surface, Cyclops asks Fantomex why it didn’t kill him. It, Weapon XV, it was like… it was like running a fight program… like pro-wrestling… Leading Cyclops and Wolverine out of E.V.A., Fantomex jests aloud that Cyclops is complaining? Sensing that his question will not be answered, Cyclops comments to Wolverine that he always wondered what he got up to outside of X-Men hours… now he knows. Oh, Cyclops then says, changing the subject once again, the X-jackets come off. The Professor, he says, wouldn’t want to be associated with vandalism on this scale. “Whatever,” mutters Wolverine, as he grudgingly complies.

As the three mutants float to the physical docking bay, Fantomex tells the two X-Men to stay back; E.V.A. senses fifteen armed targets. Now taking the point, Fantomex descends a ramp to the level below, firing his pistol and evading the return fire with his blinding speed. Seeing Wolverine hold back and let their enigmatic partner do most of the fighting, Cyclops remarks to his partner that he seems pretty restrained. Snapping back almost playfully, Wolverine replies that, while the smell of blood is driving him half-crazy, somebody’s gotta watch his back!

After making short work of the fifteen soldiers, whom Fantomex declares to be a skeleton staff in a bad pun, he produces several explosive charges. Once in position, he suggests that they blow it all to hell and leave without a trace. Nearby, however, Cyclops has become engrossed in a journal he has found. Reading from it, he informs the two others that the station was to become fully operational within two weeks. Weapon Plus was going public with designer supermen. Examining one of the charges, Fantomex corrects him: he means designer mutant-killing machines.

Finished in his work and having moved to a console, Fanotmex begins to work its controls. As promised, he announces, he’s opening the complete Weapon X database. Talking to Wolverine, Fantomex informs him that he has ten minutes to browse… this is his life. On the large monitor above the console, so large that Wolverine must crane his neck to read, words begin to appear. Since the dawn of the mutants, humankind has searched for ways to match their uncanny powers. The Weapon Plus super-soldiers initiative has led the field in human enhancement technologies…. Taking this in, Wolverine tells the others to go on. He’ll catch up. So engrossed in his answers, Wolverine does not even turn to look at them as he speaks.

Next on the screen appears the image of Captain America. Weapon I trials, it continues, still remain the most successful application of the technology to date but the quest for the perfect soldier, equipped to win the evolutionary war, goes on… It’s the whole history, Wolverine mutters, taking it all in. Weapon 0 all the way to Weapon XV. And the lost Weapon X files, right? Still transfixed, Wolverine again tells Cyclops and Fantomex to leave without him.

So focused is he that he does not detect the arriving station security begins to fire. Covering their ally, Cyclops and Fantomex launch into a counter-attack. All the while, Wolverine continues to read.

The image of Nuke, former patriotic themed foe of Daredevil, appears on the screen. …Use of criminals, psychopaths and violent mutations in later super-soldier trials yielded some experimental advances but no reliable or repeatable procedure… attempts to control the aggressive response of subjects using medication proved unsuccessful and beginning with Weapon Ten trials a radical new behavior was devised using false memory implants.

Having finished with the security force, Fantomex informs Wolverine that they are done and need to get back to E.V.A. Wolverine reiterates his wish that they leave. He has to see this Weapon Ten stuff... this is about who he was before Weapon Plus found him… this is everything he can’t remember about who he is…

Suddenly, Fantomex begins to convulse in pain. In this state, he yells out to E.V.A. Outside the station, the flying saucer/sphere has become impaled with multiple spikes. Back in the console room, a small face appears on an even smaller monitor. It is a bald man with red glasses so large that it doubles as a mask. His nose is hawkish and he grins with devilish teeth. Calling out to Fantomex, the man chides that they know his weakness. His nervous system is stored outside his body…

As he begins to protest, Fantomex is wracked by another spasm of pain, causing him to fall into the arms of Cyclops. Speaking more to himself than anyone else, Fantomex declares that he’s switching to his back-up nervous system. Having regained a little composure, Fantomex informs Cyclops that he can only see in black and white… but he can’t leave E.V.A. to be tortured. Realizing that they must flee, Cyclops yells out to Wolverine, who is still standing before the large monitor, taking in everything, that they’re moving on. To this announcement, Wolverine replies that he won’t be long. He just found what he was looking for…

Up on the screen is an image of Wolverine himself, as he was when “recruited” by Weapon Plus. In front of the image, text is displayed… mutant test subject/“James”/lethal variant genetic anomaly/subject designate: Weapon “X.” First recipient of multiple memory implants… Reading this, Wolverine clicks on the “Open” icon.

Elsewhere, Cyclops and Fantomex happen upon a room, which seems to be a conference room of sorts. In the middle is a circular table with a large plus sign painted with a circle around it. Clearly, it is a symbol for the group that was to meet there. Speaking to Fantomex, Cyclops inquires what the place is. A meeting room? It looks like a movie set, he continues. It was to be their headquarters, Fantomex replies.

Pointing out a chair with him name on it, Fantomex says that he was supposed to sit there, brooding under the spotlight while they targeted mutant nests for extermination. An unbeatable team of living Sentinels, custom-grown in The World. Pointing at a chair across the table, labeled “Ultimaton” (God help him live that down), Fantomex says was for Weapon Fifteen. Weapon Twelve was to be the “Huntsman. See what they were planning, he asks Cyclops. Market research. How better to introduce new stains of highly controversial, genetically-engineered supermen to the public? How else to unleash these hybrids on an unsuspecting population? This genetic cleansing operation disguised as a comic book fighting team.

Leading Cyclops down another shaft into another chamber, Fantomex shows the X-Man tubes containing the gestating bodies of experiments. Stopping at one that is empty and labeled with his name, Fantomex raises his hand and touches the tube that he was born in. Glancing down, Cyclops asks if this is war, then. Humans, he stated coldly, never trusted them. They never will. They won’t rest until they’re all dead.

As Cyclops begins to speak more philosophically, Fantomex interrupts, suggesting that he should go now. His aid has been invaluable and his company stimulating but he should go now… there are still shuttles he can escape on… Rather than complying, Cyclops continues to follow Fantomex, declaring that he can’t walk away from this. Chuckling at this, Fantomex replies that he hopes they all find what they’re looking for… “Cyclops.”

Emerging into an expansive room, Fantomex finds E.V.A. Impaled repeatedly, the living spacecraft is visibly unwell, bordering on mortally wounded. Despite this extensive damage, it manages a playful “Ouch” to convey its condition.

Reappearing on a local screen, the Weapon Plus official from earlier tries out the name “the Super-Sentinels.” How does that sound, he asks them. Too corny? Sure it does, he says, answering his own question, but it’s corn they understand. When asked by Fantomex who he is, the official replies that he was there when they pulled Fantomex out, soaking wet, out of The World and put him on that train. He’s his boss. He’s been running this show for as long as he can remember. He’d have scripted him to be the kind of character people love. Multiple brains for independent parallel processing. An external nervous system. Nano-active blood and an attitude to die for. They gave him everything… and he chose to go faux French!

Punctuating this remark, E.V.A. explodes, filling the chamber with light and noise. Mirroring this action, Fantomex is wracked with pain and yells out to his friend. As Weapon Thirteen attempts to regain his composure, the Weapon Plus boss continues. The Super-Sentinels, he declares, area Saturday morning cartoon come to life… scripted and sold as a 24-hour reality soap opera. Everybody’s going to love them, he says, and nobody will mind one bit when a few creepy mutants find themselves on the receiving end of hardline Super-Sentinel justice.

Their informant within the Xavier Institute, he continues, tells them of a buildup of arms and soldiers and a major new mutant threat to human security… this station will survive their inept assault. Weapon XV will eliminate them in accordance with his programming. Then… in less than two weeks from today… the sleepers will wake from their tanks and mutantkind will be eliminated, humanely.

Already on the move, Cyclops carries the inert form of Fantomex through the station’s complex, declaring resolutely that he doesn’t think so.

Back at the console room, Wolverine has finished watching his recording. Now no longer distracted, he is very aware, yet calmly so, of a new arrival; the armored figure of Weapon Fifteen. Regarding this hulking figure, Wolverine asks if he wants something. He’s got him at a real bad time. Crackling with energy, Weapon Fifteen stands stoically and resolutely asks his former question: “What is the purpose of life?”

Smirking slightly at this, Wolverine asks if he looks like a philosopher to him. Replying in his surreal voice, Fifteen tells Wolverine that Doctor Sublime has told him this purpose is to exterminate all traces of the mutant genetic line on Earth. But there are millions of living mutations and… he wonders… if he could have been a painter.

Nah, Wolverine replies. See, he just found out who he is and what he is… and… let’s just say some of them were born to kill and raised to kill and that’s the only damn thing they’re any good for. Everything else is just lies they tell themselves. He’s asking him about the purpose of life? It’s like this…

Holding up a small control pad with one hand, Wolverine presses the red button in the center. After an innocent “beep!” chimes, the space station explodes violently, exposing its innards to the cold vacuum of space.

Characters Involved: 

Cyclops, Wolverine (all X-Men)


Weapon Fifteen
Weapon Plus security soldiers
Weapon Plus staff

On monitor
Weapon Plus “boss”
Captain America I

Story Notes: 

The original Captain America (designated as part of Weapon I) was created by the American Super Soldier during World War II. It is unclear whether this project eventually evolved into the Weapon Plus project or whether the Weapon Plus project predates the early 1940s.

Nuke was a super soldier who came into conflict with Daredevil some years earlier. (Daredevil #232-233)

Fantomex’s escape from the transport train and the events that followed were related in New X-Men #128-130.

Weapon Fifteen’s “Doctor Sublime” seems to indicate a relationship with the man known as John Sublime. John Sublime is the leader of the movement known as the U-Men, who desire to become a “third species” by taking mutant organs and implanting them into baseline humans. It is unclear if this is as coincidence or the same man. If it is, then it would indicate an unlikely connection between the U-Men and the Weapon Plus project.

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