X-Force (vol. 3) #11-
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X-Force (vol. 3) #11-
Who the Hell is Eli Bard?
For those who didn’t join us last time out, Warpath just got back from the Arizona desert, where he was battling the Demon Bear alongside Ghost Rider. After determining the Demon Bear was stabbed with a Demon Blade, and removing it, the spirits contained within the beast showed Warpath visions of who was responsible for creating it, and everything he needed to know about that man.
And the guy’s name, is Eli Bard. The same mystery man who nearly killed X-23, and killed Matthew Risman back in issue #6.
Now, before Warpath can start his story, and explain to Logan, Vanisher, Domino, and Warren, X-23 and Elixir realize that Rahne isn’t in the house, and start searching for her (no details on that the rest of the issue).
First, Warpath’s tale:
Once, he was called Eliphas, back in Ancient Rome. Eli was a former soldier, wounded in the line of duty, who would become a respected and wealthy senator, married to a wealthy and powerful wife, Aurelia. But, that was what the people believed. His wife had a lover, a general named Mascius, and she was brazen with Eli about her infidelity. In fact, she lorded over Eli, who she sponsored back when he was a starving poet, and she was the real power in their marriage.
In spite of this, he was charitable, and kind, provided his wife didn’t see him being so. He even gave some of his wife's jewelry to a young innocent girl one day to make sure she could eat. He wasn’t an evil man. Not yet.
It all changed when a gal came along into Eliphas’ life by the name of Selene.
Selene claimed the city had corrupted him, and wanted to help find the man within him who was once filled with the ability to love passionately, before his wife twisted him up. She claims, she’s been watching his whole life, since birth. Selene promised Eliphas eternal life, the power to control the beasts of night and very elements, while being impervious to the weapons of man. And what did she ask in return?
Every soul in Rome.
Now, again, Eli wasn't evil. But, when he went to the Senate, and found out his seat had been given, supposedly at his behest to Mascius, the guy railing his wife, and that his wife had taken all his things and thrown them in the gutter in front of their home, to be set ablaze... well... he cracked. Selene's wishes, he would follow.
And so, Selene taught him a spell, that she wanted him to perform beneath the Coliseum. But, the day he was to perform the spell, Eliphas saw the beggar girl whom he gave his wife's jewelry to, and realized she too, would be killed. So, he told her to tell no one but her family of the carnage to come, and to flee the city.
Well, rather than flee, the girl's father went and warned Mascius, and the Senators who would be in attendance that day. So, when Eliphas was performing the spell, he was found by the Praetorian Guard.
Had the spell not been disturbed, it may have helped Selene ascend to godhood. However, without Eli, it didn't work. Instead, she was found by the guards, and shot full of arrows. When she still rose, again, Mascius put her to the sword, and ordered both her body, and the still alive Eliphas taken outside the city to be burned at the stake.
Selene, of course, regenerated quickly enough to free herself from her pyre. She would place a curse upon Eli, for his failure, that he would live forever, but without her. Forever, she would deny death to him, and he should pray that he never saw her again.
Seven centuries later, about 1310 AD, a man digging in the field where Eliphas was buried found his dessicated corpse, and like a vampire, Eli fed upon him, adding to some of his life force. His only thought, was of Selene.
And so, Eli began walking the Earth, searching out his dark goddess, eventually leaving the old world for the new world, where he killed Native Americans en masse to feed upon, and he would blame their deaths on diseases brought by colonists. After many more years, he would stumble across Nova Roma, and finally find Selene. He was terrified to approach her, though, and he felt he needed an offering to her, to offset his failure two millenia eariler. Finally, he found a sacrifice worthy of her. The Purifiers. Thousands of them. The Demon Blade pulled from the Demon Bear was meant to be used to cast the same spell again, and grant Selene all their souls.
And now, in New Orleans, Selene, with her own army of "children" (which, I'm saying it's a tiny panel, but one has pinkish skin, and a green outfit... is Blink-616 alive?) at first, orders her followers to kill Eli when he arrives.
But he makes her offering. At first, she is disgusted by the "foul science" that has brought forth Warpath's tribe (including a techno-organic infected corpse of the original Thunderbird!), but Eli Bard points out, they are not his offering to her. (Note, Eli's hand also appears techno-organic, absorbing Magus' offspring seems to have granted him the ability to impart the virus)
His offering is one techno-organic resurrected life form. That of a dead mutant named...
With him, he can track any mutant on the planet. In death, though, he can also find the dead ones. And as they find any mutant, alive or dead, Eli Bard can use the T/O power to resurrect them. Eli's offering their power, their souls, to her.
Thoughts: Wow. And you thought it was bad when the Purifiers and Bastion got access to the T/O Virus after issue #3! Now, Selene and her ancient lover, Eli have it, too. This book keeps executing a last page twist better than any one out there.
The implications of what this is? Remember that big 3 way battle from X-Force #6 between the Purifiers, the Choir, and X-Force? Well, somewhere down the line, we might be seeing X-Force vs. Selene, Eli, and resurrected mutants vs. Bastion's own crew of T/O nightmares. How cool is that?
While Eli's tale is heavy, and a tragic gothic horror tale, in its own right... it's a pity that we don't see much else but his backstory this issue. But hey, it's called, "Who the hell is Eli Bard?" so there you go. The art in the flashback tale was a lot less gritty than Crain's usual stuff, but it helped pose a different picture of a simpler time.
Curious as to who the people standing around Selene are, and seeing who else Eli's planning on taking Caliban to go dig up for her own personal army. Good times, though. 8.5/10