Issue(s): X-Factor #17
Unfortunately, Loki's manipulations have left his powers out of control. He gets some help for the moment from Rusty. Rusty and Skids are both demonstrating increased control of their abilities after their sexytime last issue.
We have the funeral for Angel. Cyclops complains that the X-Men don't show for it.
Were they invited? How about the Champions (minus the comatose Hercules, of course)? How about Candy Southern; was she so mad that she wouldn't even attend Warren's funeral? The thing about Simonson's pacing is it's so frantic nothing ever gets explored. It continues to heighten the sense that the team is not in control of their lives which may be the point, but it's at the expense of characterization and, in some cases, common sense.
The funeral is a bit of a circus anyway. Large crowds, the annoyingly persistent Trish Tilby, and a church defaced by anti-mutant graffiti.
Then, a call from the governor of California. Cameron Hodge very loudly and obviously declines the request for help, helpfully repeating everything the governor says out loud so that X-Factor can't help but follow the entire conversation.
Amazingly, they take the bait.
The story is supposed to be that the X-Terminators are threatening to trigger an earthquake in San Francisco. X-Factor of course are the X-Terminators, so that isn't possible, and the scheme turns out to be the work of an organization called The Right, who have captured an earthquake-generating mutant teen named Rictor.
X-Factor manage to fight off the faceless Right...
...and rescue Rictor. When Iceman first sees Rictor he has a freakout about evil mutants and his powers go wild again. It's possible he was also reminded of his recent captivity at Loki's hands.
Jean Grey prevents him causing an earthquake by stopping his heart and the flow of blood to his brain. The fact that Rictor survives without brain damage seems like a miracle to me.
X-Factor allow Caliban to join them on the journey to California, and give him an X-Factor costume as well.
Caliban's helmet is possibly inspired by John Byrne's original design for the character.
Scott continues to have hallucinations (i am surprised Boom Boom knows who Phoenix was)...
...and also accidentally calls Jean "Phoenix" this issue.
If there was any doubt that Cameron's behavior on the phone was suspect, it's confirmed at the end of this issue that he's an out-and-out villain. He feels free to act now that Angel is out of the way.
The speech Cameron is reacting to is Iceman sending out a broadcast that gets picked up by the media.
We also have Apocalypse inspecting his newest recruit. It's worth noting that people writing into the lettercol for this and the last few issues are assuming that Apocalypse is adding the Horsemen to his Alliance of Evil but that's not the case. Apocalpyse (and Simonson) have dropped that group entirely.
Finally, Boom Boom departing for the Fallen Angels.
With this issue, Louise Simonson has "resolved" all of the problems with the original premise of this series. Scott Summers is not a dick, he's a raving lunatic. Madelyne is (assumed) dead, freeing the way for a romance with Jean once Scott "recovers". And X-Factor's mutant hunting scheme isn't a stupid premise, it's a plot by the mutant hating Cameron Hodge, who has been misleading the group from the beginning. We've even seen that the problem of Warren Worthington keeping a secret ID while his Angel identity has been public in the past was really just a stupid move on his part. None of these resolutions make the team look very smart, or (in Scott's case) likeable. But by at least acknowledging the reality of all the original problems, the series was at this point potentially poised to turn the corner.
Quality Rating: B-
Chronological Placement Considerations: The scene with Thor returning Iceman will be repeated in Thor #379. As Thor drops Iceman off, he says that he has "little time now for the concerns of mortals", with a footnote for Thor #379-380. But before getting to that he must get the call to appear in Avengers #278. Boom Boom leaves this series in a scene expanded upon in Fallen Angels #3. X-Factor returns from their operation rescuing Rictor at the beginning of next issue, so they shouldn't appear elsewhere in between.
The fact that Thor #379 and Fallen Angels #3 are both dependencies causes some problems with other books and requires a little bit of creative interpretation. Describing the problem gets a little convoluted, so bear with me. Thor #379 is where he gets his new armor. He then returns to Earth (shown here and Thor #379) and spends some time with the Avengers (Avengers #281-285) during Thor #379, and then gets his bones crushed in the rest of Thor #379-380, which then ties in with Mephisto vs.... #4. Rogue is in Mephisto's realm between Mephisto vs.... #3-4, and Mephisto vs.... #2-3 take place before X-Factor #13. So that means that Rogue has to be trapped in Mephisto's realm when Thor returns to Earth in X-Factor #17, and that means that the X-Men vs. the Avengers series (which features armored Thor and Rogue) has to take place after Mephisto vs.... #4. Now getting to the Fallen Angels side, New Mutants annual #3 references X-Men vs. the Avengers and takes place before Sunspot and Warlock leave the New Mutants in Fallen Angels #1. That means that Thor's return in X-Factor #17 has to take place before Fallen Angels #1. But X-Factor #17 also has the scene with Boom Boom leaving for the Fallen Angels #3. Barring a resolution involving time travel or magical scrying pools (and they have been considered!), that means we have to find a gap in X-Factor #17, so that Thor can return home and then enough time passes that we can get to Fallen Angels #3. And... well, there really isn't one. But if we ignore a "A little less than an hour later" caption at the top of page 4 and assume that Angel's funeral got delayed a number of days, maybe as Beast tried to find a cure for Iceman (we see that he's already got a lab set up when they get back from the funeral), then we have our gap.
If you were able to follow that, go ahead and lie down for a little while; you deserve it. If you skipped it, the executive summary is that this issue spans a period of time and doesn't conclude until you get to the Fallen Angels miniseries.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (6): showAngel, Apocalypse, Ariel (Fallen Angel), Artie Maddicks, Beast, Boom Boom, Caliban, Cameron Hodge, Cyclops, Famine (Horseman of Apocalypse), Iceman, Jean Grey, Leech, Pestilence (Horseman of Apocalypse), Rictor, Rusty Collins, Ship (Prosh), Skids, Thor, Trish Tilby, War (Horseman of Apocalypse)
I really liked that Caliban became part of the team, and I was really hoping this trend would continue and establish X-Factor's different trajectory from the X-Men team.
The creative team was told that the original X-Men needed to increase their power which is why we have the plots where Iceman's power is increased, the Beast gets stronger (but dumber) as a side effect of Plague's touch, and Angel becomes Archangel.
I don't like these changes for the most part. First, I don't agree with the concept that characters can only be cool by being more powerful. There is room for all sorts of power levels.
Second, most of these changes are ill conceived or unnecessary. Iceman's powers are increased, but he then wears an inhibitor belt. The Beast is already super strong, and the team doesn't need a Thing/Colossus/Thor type figure to work. What happened to Angel makes no sense once he returns to being a hero.
Of all the characters, perhaps only Angel can be considered to be truly weak because his power of flight is easily duplicated. However, other powers have crept in over the years that made him somewhat more versatile (he has excellent control over his flight, hollow bones, fantastic eyesight, incredible stamina) and could make him more valuable given better writing.
Third, the strong point of the entire team is that they have highly toned teamwork and great rapport. what they may lack in power they make up for in being an excellent strike force that can take on foes seemingly more powerful than themselves. This should have been more played up. It would make fights more exciting and cinematic rather than relying on shear force to overcome their villains.
Posted by: Chris | March 9, 2014 7:03 PM
The scene with the X-Men's and Lorna's and Alex's absence at Warren's funeral make no sense. Shouldn't X-Factor have contacted them anyway to tell them about the deaths of Maddie and the baby? Apparently they didn't, since Alex and Logan clearly don't know that Scott thought Maddie was dead in X-Men 221.
Posted by: Michael | March 9, 2014 7:21 PM
The X-Men are stuck in Mephisto's Inferno, aren't? So it could explains their absence at the funeral...
Posted by: Midnighter | March 9, 2014 8:04 PM
Except that it's not that simple, since Rogue, at least, should be stuck during Thor 379 but X-Men vs. Avengers 1-4 is supposed to take place during Thor 379 and Rogue appears.
Posted by: Michael | March 9, 2014 8:10 PM
You have Trish Starr listed under characters appearing instead of Trish Tilby.
Posted by: Michael | March 9, 2014 8:30 PM
It's part of my long running "Bring her back as a new Egghead" campaign. She's really behind all of this. Thanks, Michael; fixed it.
Regarding the funeral, it's less about where the X-Men might have been... it doesn't seem like X-Factor actually tried to contact them. They don't seem at all concerned about the fact that it would have revealed that Jean was still alive.
Posted by: fnord12 | March 9, 2014 9:43 PM
A lot happens during this story. The main story of Marvel Fanfare #50 has to take place during this issue (though the framing story takes place after they return from their "Judgement War" storyline). This also crosses over with Fallen Angels #3 and of course Iceman's kidnapping in Thor. I thought Louise did a pretty good job considering all the plot threads she was juggling.
X-Factor Annual #2 takes place during X-Factor #18 when they return with Rictor and get him settled. The 2nd half of X-Factor #18 story takes place the next day so there is a gap that the Annual story can take place during.
As for Iceman's power increase... I actually enjoyed seeing him struggle with the overload. It was interesting character development for him. You could in subtle ways that it is a nightmare for him. He was always holding back and using his power in really the most basic ways and this is some of his worst fears realized.
I also found Beast's upcoming tragic storyline well written and heartbreaking.
As for Angel, yea, I always though he was the weakest link. I felt he should have had gadgets that Beast built for him, things like his old gas gun from his origin story or when Hercules lent him his mace during the Champions. That would have made him a more effective, powerful and interesting hero for me.
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | March 9, 2014 11:59 PM
You're going to need to do a bit of re-arranging, fnord12. This issue crosses over with Fallen Angels #3 but you've got NM 52, the issue where Sunspot leaves the New Mutants (and joins the Fallen Angels in issue #1), placed after this currently.
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | March 19, 2014 5:17 PM
In regards to how Boom-Boom (ugh, what a horrible name)knows who Phoenix is, perhaps the Beyonder told her when she met him in Secret Wars II.
Posted by: clyde | March 20, 2014 11:29 AM
Going over the connections between X-Factor, Thor, X-Men, New Mutants & Fallen Angels, I think Angel's funeral here may take place...
Shortly after the New Mutants arrived back home where Sunspot & Warlock leave the New Mutants for the Fallen Angels as seen in Fallen Angels #1-3 (after New Mutants #52 and probably during #53).
They may not have been able to get ahold of Alex & Lorna if this takes place between #218 & 219 where Havok makes his 2 trips to the X-Mansion and Polaris is being stalked by the Marauders (who may have cut off their phone sometime after Havok's first trip. It's not working when Havok tries to call Lorna during his 2nd trip to New York as seen in #219).
It's possible Rogue is trapped in Mephisto's realm in Mephisto vs.... #3-4 between Havok's visits (with the rest of the X-Men trying to figure out how to get her back) during this period.
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | March 24, 2014 3:49 AM
But that makes the lack of communication between the teams even more senseless. The X-Men know that Jean Grey's sister and her children are missing. They know that Karma's brother and sister are missing, or Magneto certainly does and it doesn't seem like the sort of thing he'd neglect to tell Storm and Wolverine in this time of increasing danger towards mutants.* They'd just gone through a long scare where the New Mutants were missing for quite a while, and the last information they had was that the kids were in the Morlock tunnels when everything exploded. [Or at least Magneto did, the remaining X-Men never seemed to give the New Mutants any thought after the Mutant Massacre.]
Hell, he recognized Scott, Bobby, Hank and Warren with some redhead back in UXM #210. That would be information worth passing along.
And frankly, didn't any of the X-Men (or Magneto, or the New Mutants, or Alex and Lorna, or even the Hellfire Club after their new alliance) pick up a newspaper or turn on the television in all this time? If they had, they might have seen the report that famed millionaire mutant Warren Worthington died in what authorities believe to be a successful suicide attempt. Worthington's wings had been amputated even as it was being revealed that he bankrolled mutant hunters X-Factor...
Rational human beings would at least have picked up the phone and called their close friends to provide sympathy, or to deliver a warning, or ask WTF, or *SOMETHING.*
BEEP "Scott, this is Ororo. I understand you and Madelyne have left Alaska and are doing this mutant hunting thing with Hank and Bobby. Where is your son? Is he being protected? You see, the X-Men have just experienced a series of disasters where our loved ones have vanished. That is Madelyne wearing the costume, right? She still looks just like Jean, even after childbirth. Call Xavier's as soon as you get the chance."
But of course, these aren't rational human beings. These are mutants. At any point after X-Men #211/X-Factor #11 one side would have contacted the other.
"Sunspot, since your powers have failed, start working the phones and call every Xavier alumnus in the book to warn them about the Marauders. Also call friends like Lila Cheney (Sam can give you the number) Dazzler (I think she's working for Lila so two birds with one stone) Betsy's brother Brian, even Colleen Wing, just in case. Better to be over-prepared than under-prepared."
"*GASP* Jean, I found out about *OW* the Morlocks when they kidnapped me and *PANT PANT* the X-Men rescued me. They need to *BLACK OUT* be told what's happened in the tunnels and *OWIE OWIE OWIE* Storm might like to know you're still alive."
*It occurs to me that Magneto never actually believed the X-Men were dead in the first place. Storm encouraged him to join the Hellfire Club for access to their resources when the X-Men initiated Plan Omega in which they pretend to be dead (New Mutants #51, X-Men #219) so when he saw them die on television, he simply assumed Storm and Wolverine had figured out that part of the plan to give him plausible deniability.
Posted by: ChrisW | July 3, 2014 9:06 PM
"Storm was talking about visiting Forge to get her powers back. Forge is an inventor. He created this simulacrum in Dallas and it worked. Now all I have to do is put the New Mutants on Double Secret Probation and victory is mine!"
Posted by: ChrisW | July 3, 2014 9:18 PM
The X-Men appear to have *legitimately believed* that the original 4 became villains,so I understand them being wary. But X-Factor thinks Magneto is tricking the X-Men so just leaving him to do whatever he wants with them makes no sense.
Posted by: Michael | July 3, 2014 9:43 PM
I never understood that the X-Men believed the founding X-Men became villains. There was doubt and wariness there, but at the very least, it would be worth a phone call. Send Logan to walk around the block where X-Factor's headquarters is located and sniff for unexpected scents. Back when Nightcrawler or Kitty were healthy, send them to teleport/phase through the area and check things out. Illyana, Warlock or Magneto could achieve similar goals, or Doug Ramsey could tap into their computers while Psylocke or Rogue find ways to get into X-Factor's minds. It would be a perfect use for Alex. They've already mind-controlled him, why not use the opportunity to have him contact his brother and get a few answers? And that's just the X-Men side of things.
I'm reading the "X-Factor" pages on this site now, and for all Scott's whining about the training Xavier gave him, it's incredibly strange that he never contacts the X-Men. If Magneto can't be trusted (and I'd agree with that, although the reformed Magneto is my favorite version of the character) then maybe the X-Men need rescuing. What if Hank had the same reaction back when Mesmero had taken over the X-Men? Doesn't say much about Scott as a leader or strategist that he just shrugs and leaves his chums to Magneto, especially considering he was there when Magneto showed up to defeat Mesmero. Did he like Nanny that much?
With Jean coming back, I find it difficult to believe that Hank, Bobby and Warren (and Jean herself) never ever thought Ororo, Logan, Peter or Kurt might like to know this, just as a passing fact.
And how did they know Magneto had taken over the school? Did they call? Did they ask? Did they worry about the New Mutants? What about that Rachel person who seemed so obsessed with Scott and insisted on calling herself "Phoenix"? Did Scott shrug, say it's not his problem and walk away, and never mentioned it to the others?
Did Hank, Bobby and Warren have any passing thoughts about Xavier's School in the early parts of X-Factor, or after the Mutant Massacre? Granted I have 30 years of genre savvy on them, but it just makes sense to call the people who taught you how to be mutant superheroes and give them a heads up that you're going to pretend to be hunting mutants, so if we ever run into each other in the future, it's probably some manipulative villain's fault.
If nothing else, they met the New Mutants at Scott and Maddie's wedding, and Xavier would have told them that Dani is on a par with Scott himself as a strategist (cited in one of the Bill Sienkiewicz issues, dunno which one) so they might want to find her and get her help before the Marauders do.
As much as I love the mutant titles and Claremont's in particular, this is where Xavier loses the argument. Mutants do not think or behave like normal people. I won't say they're inferior. They may be superior, but they're clearly not equal. They don't behave like the rest of us.
Posted by: ChrisW | July 3, 2014 10:25 PM
Fnord, a little surprised you didn't consider that maybe Ariel's power had her moving in time a little, so Boom Boom was plucked slightly out of the past - that solves the Fallen Angels problem right there.
As for most of the discussion here, well, it's clear that the powers that be didn't want X-Factor intermixing with the X-Men and they were prepared to do whatever they had to, no matter how stupid it made the characters look, to keep that from happening.
Posted by: Erik Beck | July 12, 2015 1:20 PM
And what is the deal with increasing the characters' powers as a way of dealing with problems? Every single member of X-Factor went through it sooner or later. Here, Bobby has increased ice powers after a fight with Loki. Scott had increased eye beams after returning from Krakoa. Hank got super strength after Plague touched him, and though it meant a long storyline where he turned stupid, he got his brains back and kept the super strength. Jean lost her telepathy when she came back from the dead, but her telekinesis was increased, and then she got the telepathy back. Warren became Archangel.
And this is just the founding X-Men. Nightcrawler gained new powers, Colossus got stronger, Wolverine became Wolverine, Kitty became Kitty, an old Claremont-Byrne "Marvel Team-Up" revolved around Hank Pym giving the Wasp a power upgrade, the Thing got stronger, the Human Torch got stronger, everybody just gets stronger. No impact on their lives, just a generic 'oh, you're more powerful now.'
Posted by: ChrisW | July 28, 2015 11:51 PM
Is the generic oh i am more powerful now maybe a sign of the times. "ME ME ME" was pretty big in the 80s so the writers and editors all race to upgrade their characters ("mine is the coolest!") instead of putting them through trials, putting in effort, and actually making them better rather than stronger?
Posted by: PeterA | April 17, 2016 2:17 AM
And by the way, hey Scott, if you really want to find Madelyne, you're flying over the hospital she's in right now.
In publishing time, she had woken up a couple months earlier, but in fnord's timeline, she wakes up shortly after X-Factor visits the city. Coincidence?
Also, between Bobby and Boom-Boom, Hank really doesn't care when teammates mysteriously vanish around him, does he?
And I notice that Rictor never really sought revenge against the Right for what they did to him. Makes you wonder what Cable did that was so much worse. And what happened in Mexico?
Posted by: ChrisW | April 17, 2016 2:41 PM
As we'll see when fnord gets to 1993-1994, Stryfe murdered Rictor's father and Rictor thought it was Cable.
Posted by: Michael | April 17, 2016 3:00 PM
And what on earth is Jean talking about when she mentions that the X-Men go off into space sometimes? During her entire time on the X-Men, did she ever get closer to space than Asteroid M and the SHIELD orbital platform? So why would the new team be any different?
Now if she'd been in recent contact with the X-Men to find out what had been going on in the world while she was sleeping in that cocoon - and maybe get more details on this Phoenix character than Scott, Hank and Warren are willing to divulge - that would make sense. But mutants are not sensible people, are they?
Posted by: ChrisW | April 17, 2016 3:27 PM
Michael, I guess that actually works. I've been checking Rictor's early appearances, and was wondering if Cable had been the one to 'make kids into soldiers' since that's what he did with the New Mutants.
Posted by: ChrisW | April 17, 2016 3:29 PM
ChrisW, they were "in space" just before Jean turned into/was replaced by the Phoenix. Maybe she assumed they do stuff like that all the time. And of course Scott could have told her about his space exploits off-panel (lots of important stuff happened in space. Like Scott finding his father. And it's where Professor X is now.)
I definitely agree that Angel's "funeral" would have been good time for the teams to reach out to each other...even of their still suspicious about each other.
Posted by: Jon Dubya | January 6, 2017 11:21 AM
A late response to ChrisW's earlier complaint about the increasing power levels: I totally agree with your complaint, though I don't blame Louise Simonson for increasing the power levels of the X-Factor characters as she said she was doing so specifically to keep up with the "inflated power level of other characters". Ever-increasing power is a very common issue in mutant teams, most of which can be traced back to Claremont liking a character so much that he keeps on increasing their power (though it becomes even worse after Claremont leaves & everything becomes 90s "kewl").
X-Factor's team "strongman" Beast could only lift about 2 or 3 tons, a lot less than other team's strongest characters. When Beast had been in the Avengers he was often portrayed as the comedic weak link of the team. (Not complaining about this, I thought he was actually written more entertainingly in the Avengers than he usually was in the X-Men.) And Angel's only real power was flight. Compare to X-Men where Rogue could lift about 60+ tons, was invulnerable, could probably fly faster than Angel (she certainly was drawn with more speed lines than Angel usually was), and could also absorb people's powers. Who needs an Angel or Beast when Rogue can do everything they do better, & other stuff as well?
Under the circumstances I think Simonson was right to increase the team's powers to keep up. Otherwise that X-Factor vs X-Men fight in Inferno would have been very onesided, for a start.
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | January 6, 2017 3:04 PM
Jon, the problem is that (with the possible exception of guest-appearances) the X-Men didn't go into space when Jean knew them. Her personal experience is that they don't go into space all the time, beyond attacking Asteroid M and her kidnapping to the space platform.
Why didn't she suggest that they traveled back in time to make two people fall in love and have kids? ["Jean, you mean like in 'Back to the Future'?" "I have no idea what you just said. In the world I live in, people's lives aren't ripped off of popular movies!"]
As for anybody telling her about these things, that's where the problem with "X-Factor" really starts. Never mind Scott leaving Maddie, Jean is [stupidly] expecting to pick up where she and Scott left off. And nobody is willing to tell her the truth, that it's been years and Scott moved on with his life, the whole point of Claremont's post-"Death of Phoenix" Cyclops. It's just not possible that they could fill Jean in on some of the details and she wouldn't ask very obvious questions.
"So Scott left the X-Men? What did he do? You don't know, you just met him again on Magneto's Island? What was he doing there? Was Magneto's Island weird like Asteroid M, or Muir Island? Wait, none of you know anything about Muir Island, so forget I said anything. Was anybody with him? Ok, what happened next? They were kidnapped by the Brood? Wow, that sounds horrible. So what did Scott do afterwards? Drop off the face of the earth?" "Yeah."
Posted by: ChrisW | January 6, 2017 11:37 PM
I actually had a much longer stream of obvious questions Jean would ask if anybody tried to tell her the truth about Scott's life since the shuttle flight, but fnord has reduced the number of characters we can post.
Posted by: ChrisW | January 6, 2017 11:40 PM
Jonathan, I don't disagree about the increase in powers. My comment was meant to point out that all five original X-Men got power boosts, and that this was the overall trend for superhero comics. I loved the point in Alan Moore's "Supreme" where someone describes Supreme as an early-90s character whose powers are so generically-defined that they're effectively limitless. Jack Kirby did the same thing with Reed Richards inventing/discovering a gadget that would save the day by the end of the story, or with Orion or Mr. Miracle using their powers to do... whatever, but their stories had a sense of wonder and excitement.
Claremont wasn't the worst of the lot, but he and Weezie did their part in escalating the characters' powers.
And I haven't read the comics, but the Beast was the Avengers' weak link? On a team with Hawkeye and the Wasp? Wow, how times have changed.
Posted by: ChrisW | January 6, 2017 11:47 PM
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