I always believed the City of Bedlam was more than a location, but another character in the story of A•Ten. This crime-ridden city had been the scene of corruption long before Mayor Ridley and the Full Circle gangs were glimmers in their parents' eyes. If A•Ten was to have real grounding, I believed that Bedlam needed to be real as well. Before I began writing my first story, I drew a map of Bedlam, divided it into its sections, and treated it as if each city area had its own individual personality. Issue Zero contained the origin of Bedlam. It needed to be revealed after A•X and Liz Watkins got together, because this would be the first time A•X could stop fighting and begin to reflect. He needed to know where he was in order to learn how he got there. Still, as vital as this story is, the issue needed to be apart from the rest of the story. That's why this is issue # 0 rather than issue #4.

THE MAN CALLED A•X #0 (this issue follows #3)

Liz Watkins watches The Man Called A•X unearth a being who looks very much like him, only with a belt buckle etched with "A•IX" instead of "A•X." Liz realizes the 'X' is a roman numeral. He was A Ten. But the tenth what? And what does the 'A' stand for? A•X can't help her. He doesn't know his name or where he came from. In a way, Liz envys him. She knows where she came from. She just hates how it's destroyed her.

Bedlam was born during a gold rush when its discoverer was murdered by Leeland Bedlam. Bedlam ruled the town with whips and bullets. Anyone who disagreed with him was forced to work the mines. When they played out he opened the city to any cutthroat who could buy his way in.

Nothing much changed in the 20th century, but with new Federal laws, Bedlam's descendants painted the city with a fresh coat of whitewash. Still, the rot beneath had a way of showing through.

Over the years, the city was divided into its natural sections, and each area was ruled by its own crime lord. For years the gangs fought each other. Warfare lasted until several gang lords were killed by what Liz realizes was A•Nine. Now the questions are - who is creating these assassins, and why is he sending them after the crime bosses of Bedlam?

THE MAN CALLED A•X #4

A•X fights his way out of Bedlam Police HQ with a videotape. The Police and the Silicon Peninsula Enforcers nearly destroy Bedlam to get it back. Jonathan Bradbury owns the Enforcers, but Bradbury is something more than the human being he used to be. He is now an immensely bloated being who is forced to live in a liquid environment or else die from his own weight. Still, Bradbury is a force that even the other Crime Families fear.

Liz Watkins remembers some of what happened in Iraq during the Gulf War. She was the only survivor when her copter crashed. As the other bodies were removed by mysterious strangers, she was left to die in the blistering desert.

A•X returns to Liz's house and they watch the videotape. It shows A•IX attacking Gage's transmitters which means Gage knew all along that A•X was not A•IX. The tape also shows A•IX reacting with sudden pain preventing him from killing Gage. A•X knows there is some kind of force that prevents him from killing certain people.

A•X and Liz use this knowledge to follow one man to Mercy Island. They also know their fates are somehow intertwined and the answers to both their questions are to be found here. As they get closer to their answers, they are attacked by A•Eight. A•X is left for dead and Liz is taken captive.

THE MAN CALLED A•X #5

Garrison Gage is in his underground complex working with The Cadre, an international group of criminals. For ten years they have been funding his development of human-cyborg killing machines. Liz Watkins, who was on the same Marine helicopter as A•X and many of the others who were Gage's early experiments, was left to die in the desert because her body was too small to accept the mechanical transplants. Gage has been testing his prototype warriors by having them eliminate his fellow Bedlam crime bosses. Two birds with one stone, so to speak.

The Cadre is pleased with Gage's results but they want to know why the Assassin Ten (A•X) prototype broke free of its programming. Gage assures the Cadre it will not happen again. The Cadre needs its soldiers ready for one massive coordinated world-wide terrorist strike.

Meanwhile, with incredible pain and effort, A•X saves himself and launches an all-out assault on Gage's complex. He manages to rescue Liz Watkins, kill Gage, and destroy the facility.

A•X now knows how and why he became what he is. He still needs to know who he is. Unbeknownst to him, though Garrison Gage is dead, Jonathan Bradbury has contacted the Cadre. He intends to continue their work.

So ends the Book One of the A•X saga. These plot summaries are by nature short and leave out much of the emotion and thrills of the full books. You may be able to find them at your local comic shop or through the internet. Perhaps some day we'll take these stories, as well as the eight issues of Book Two and print them in a graphic novel collection.

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