X-Force #86:
"Experimental Living"

In this issue, X-Force returns to the town of Almost Reno, New Mexico. They find the town practicaly deserted. A young mutant whose body seems to be composed of fire, leaps at them. James Proudstar hurls him away, and the mutant is dead. The mutation was out of control, and he had been burning up inside as well as out. Domino explains that the mutated kids had a genetic instability linked to their mutation, and that the whole town is part of an experiment by the Aguilar Institute. X-Force is outraged and Dani realizes that SHIELD is not part of this as they were lead to believe the last time they were there. They split up to search the town for anyone, the children or their also missing parents. Meltdown, Dani, Warpath, and Siryn find Mary, the girl they helped before and another young mutant in a diner. Siryn decides that it's best not to startle them, so she goes in and pretends to be a waitress who works there. When Meltdown sees that nothing bad happens she goes in and gives Mary a hug. Mary tells her friend Tabitha that she and Zak hid which is why they weren't taken away. Some good interaction is seen when Meltdown tells Siryn to give them a couple burgers and fries. Dani is the one who ends up cooking, because she worked fast-food before and implies to a smug Terry that her cooking stinks. So Proudstar and Meltdown get the story about how the other kids and parents were taken away from little Mary. She says they went home from school and these men started loading everyone into hekicopters. Mary's mother told Mary to hide from the men and not to use her powers so they couldn't find her. Mary seems to think this is her fault for having made those men's noses bleed the last time X-Force was there. Her X-Force friends tell her that she must never think it's her fault, as they leave the diner.

While all that was going on, Cannonball, Jesse, Sunspot, and Domino are searching the other part of town. They notice things like full grocery baskets that indicate that the people left in a hurry. Jesse shoots his mouth off as usual and irritates Sam again, by saying it must be hard for the teams former leader to follow orders now, and mentioning Meltdown's and Sunspot's relationship. Anyway, they find a man who had tried to hide in the freezer and met his death in that cold chamber. On the outskirts of town, in what looks like a decript old gas station, they find a room full of video equipment which was used to monitor the whole town.

Outside the diner, the others run into the men who were after Mary the last time X-Force was there. They tell Mary that her mother wants to see her and tell her to go with them. Dani gets in the leaders face about his telling them that they were a SHIELD operation, and he points a gun at her and demands that they give him the girl. Meltdown holds Mary protectively and says: "No way, Creeps. She's staying with us." So the supossed Agent Briggs tells his men to eliminate them. As they fire, Zak the other mutant jumps in the way and shields Mary and X-Force. With her scream, Terry takes them out of action, and they rush to see if Zak is ok. It looks like he is begining to turn rock solid inside, and he tells Mary that it hurts. Mary begs Tabitha to help her friend. Dani doesn't think she can do much to diminish Zak's pain because he psi powers were diminished (that Psi-War stuff), but by some miracle, she heals him. They ask her how she did it and she says that it felt \ like she tapped into some elemental force.

Then Domino and the rest show up, and Dom tries to get some info out of Agent Briggs. By reading his mind, Mary tells them that he is thinking that he must not say anything about the Damocles Foundation. X-Force starts to wonder, and a limmo approaches. Mary says that: "Someone bad is coming". A grey, somewhat dragonlike, man comes out. He introduces himself as Odysseus Indigo and says that he represents the Damocles Foundation. He claims that it is an organization dedicated to the betterment of the future (why do all these nasty groups think they'll benefit the future?). He wants to discuss their similar interests. Siryn demands to know his connection to the Aguilar Institute, as Meltdown comments that he reminds her of Ulysses, the Deviant they met in Kentucky. Sam comments that Ulysses and Odysseus are the greek and roman names for the same person. He replies that the Aguilar Institute is part of his company and that Ulysses is his traitorous brother. Mary is very mad. She calls him a very bad man and says she's going to make him go away and leave them alone. Mary collapses, and in response to Meltdown's angry demand to know what he did to her, he tells them that he shut her down and that his power is to neutralize extra-normal abilities. Meltdown throws a bunch of her time bombs at him, angry at what he did to Mary, and he demonstrates that her powers are useless against him and that it is painfull for her to attempt to do so. He then expresses an interest to get down to business, and put the past behind them (to forget his operatives in KY, and CA) X-Force doesn't like this too much, especially Domino who ran afoul Gryphon. He goes on to explain that radiation testing near the town made all the people in it infertile. His company offered to fix their little problem and ensure future genrations. Through genetic engineering the introduced the X-Factor and the Deviant equivilant into the children. The mix proved to be unstable, and they were forced to quarantine the population so they could figure out the problem. X-Force is mad at this manipulation of lives. He tells them that the adults are safe and will be released ASAP. He also asks them to turn Mary over because she is the only one who seems unaffected by the de-stabilization. Domino refuses. She says that she will see that Mary and Zak get the care they need. He gets a little angry and asks them to join him, that he can save them. They just stand there staring at him. He then leaves them with Mary and Zak, but says that he'll be back and that next time they won't stop him.

He leaves. X-Force expresses concern over the other people. Domino says that they should be fine, because he was only interested in the children. She says the need to get Mary and Zak where they can get the help they'll need after all this and turns her back on the town.

The art was good. It could have used a little more definition in a few panels, but I only demand perfection from myself. The story was pretty interesting. What I didn't like though is that it left us with Dani glowing eerily in the last issue and they didn't do much about it in this issue. In fact, no one really commented on it much. Dragging it out isn't what would happen if these characters were real and alive. You'd think that they'd want to figure it out right away! I know I would. It's nice to see Mary again and to see that X-Force's adventure with her last time taught her to be a fighter and a survivor. You may find it a little weird that X-Force didn't express concern over her before and didn't follow up on the town, but I figure that in this case Moore can get away with it. X-Force thought that SHIELD would handle it, and of all government organizations SHIELD at least has been pretty good to mutants. I like the way the characters interacted, especialy between Terry, Dani, Meltdown in the diner; and then Sam and Jesse and their disagreements. Quite frankly I don't like Jesse much. As I see it, he's only there because Domino said she'd help him. Still he brings out the frustrations in Sam that is pretty good in showing how Sam's character has changed and is still developing. Another thing everyone seems upset about(I mean readers) is Sam's leaving his mother. The way I see it, his mother doesn't want him there. She wants him to be a kid, and not a father to his siblings. She's a strong woman and I think she wants him to know that she can handle it, and therefore prove that he can handle anything. I imagine that this is bothering him a lot. Leaving his mother like that is probably tearing him up. But if our writer handles this well, we could learn a lot about Sam and see his character become stronger. Well, that's my take on X-Force #86.

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