The Transparent Fox:
Issue(s): X-Factor #21, X-Factor #22, X-Factor #23
The slow but definite shake-up in this book continues. Cameron Hodge returns to X-Factor headquarters and gets tackled by the Beast, who is reprimanded for using his strength (which is causing his brain to atrophy thanks to the touch of Pestilence from last arc). Hodge is then passed to Marvel Girl and Iceman, who keep him bound. But, even after admitting that he's always been jealous of his schoolmate Warren Worthington / Angel, Hodge manages to talk his way out of being held by X-Factor. He says he's returned to the HQ because Warren's will is being read today. X-Factor seem powerless to do anything about him, especially after they can't reproduce the hologram of Phoenix that was (or was blamed for) making Scott crazy.
They still blame him for the paranoia caused by X-Factor's ads, but as he points out, they had no problem with them at the time ("we had our own problems", says Cyclops). Hodge also snarks that they surely can't hold him responsible for Warren's death. There's also the matter of Rictor having recognized Hodge's voice as that of the leader of The Right, but no one else seems to have noticed when he said that. Wrapped up in their own problems again, i guess.
They do try to fire Cameron, at least, but we'll see how that goes.
Caliban arrives in the aftermath of the fight to lament the fact that his passive powers haven't been a help to X-Factor or to his fellow Morlocks.
Hodge is told to clear his desk and get out, but we later see him in his video lab spying on the team.
Candy Southern doesn't show up to the will reading, and besides X-Factor and Hodge, only a very distant cousin is present. But Warren has left all his money to X-Factor, and under the control of Hodge.
Outside of the court room, Trish Tilby reveals that Hodge has been behind the fast-tracking of Warren's wing removal. And she's figured out that X-Factor are the mutant X-Terminators.
Hodge is unperturbed by X-Factor's promise to bring him to justice, and he might have just left things there and gotten away with everything.
But he has a different plan, and summons the armored troops of The Right. They show up just as X-Factor are about to publicly announce that they are in fact mutants.
The Right troops are claiming to be mutants. Of course, to readers like us, we know that's ridiculous. Mutants wouldn't wear matching battle armor! They have their own powers. But to regular citizens of the Marvel universe who don't know any better, especially in the current anti-mutant climate, who can say?
X-Factor use their powers to fight back against The Right...
...but just causing a scene is what the group was after, so they soon withdraw and instead go after X-Factor's wards back at headquarters.
X-Factor withdraw as well, hoping that the TV cameras didn't catch them using their powers. Cameron Hodge remains behind to further stir up anti-mutant sentiment.
Apocalypse finds all of this terribly amusing.
The X-Factor kids (sans Boom Boom, who hasn't returned from Fallen Angels yet), are unable to defend themselves against The Right (it doesn't help to have Leech around).
The Right troops are kind of schizo, with one guy scoffing at the kids calling themselves Homo Superior and then immediately commenting approvingly on their fighting abilities.
The kids are fitted with helmets that neutralize their powers. While The Right is doing that, Caliban shows up and tries to stop them.
He is again ineffective.
X-Factor took the Morlock tunnels back to HQ, and they are a little slow in getting there because they are worried about Morlock booby traps (which i would have thought would all have been set off or destroyed in the Massacre and subsequent fire-cleansing by Thor). So it's actually Boom Boom, returning after her time with the Fallen Angels, who gets there first. She finds a poisoned Caliban, but doesn't spend time trying to help him (to be fair, The Right are still in the building).
It's another half-hour before X-Factor arrive and find Caliban and learn that the kids have been taken. Boom Boom, meanwhile, has trailed the Right troops to their plane. She stows away on the plane and tries to help with an escape, but she gets captured too. And it's confirmed that Hodge is The Right's leader.
Eventually X-Factor stages a rescue at the Right's headquarters in a secret offshoot of the Arlington Interactive Museum of Science.
The kids, meanwhile, manage to escape their prison, and even though their powers are neutralized, they fight their way out. They're led by Rictor, who apparently picked up some machine gun skills in Central America before destroying that city in Mexico.
During the battle, The Right get a power-dampening belt around Iceman...
...but all it does is help him control his Loki-enhanced powers.
Which is good because Cyclops needs help against Hodge, who has ditched his Star-Lord outfit (or Walt Simonson has changed it; see the comments below)...
...for a ruby quartz battle suit.
Turns out Hodge is just a robot, though.
Holograms, battle-suits, power dampeners, ruby quarts armor, robots. The Right are definitely well funded. Has it all come from Warren's fortune?
X-Factor do manage to rescue their wards and get out of The Right's base, but it looks like the experience is bringing Cyclops around to Magneto's way of thinking.
Meanwhile, we continue what's been a very slow build towards revealing that Warren is still alive and has been rebuilt by Apocalypse.
You can see the other Horsemen being a little dismissive of "Death", so Apocalypse has him fight them.
This is the first full image of the new Archangel, but it's not yet confirmed that it's Warren. Walt Simonson will go through a couple variations on the face at first.
After that, Apocalypse sees Jean arguing to Scott that they need to reach out to humans, and that triggers Apocalypse to kick his plot into action.
The adult members of X-Factor are teleported to his Ship, but we'll leave things there for now as we transition into Fall of the Mutants.
Definitely some major changes. Cyclops and company all but gave up their secret IDs and they've also abandoned their original premise now that Cameron Hodge controls X-Factor. But we're not really even going to explore that premise before things change even further in Fall of the Mutants. This book desperately needed some changes, and they've been too long in coming, but it's good to see them starting. We'll look more at the implications of it all after Fall of the Mutants concludes. In the meantime, this continues the frantic pacing of the book, with these three issues dealing with the Right going directly into the next three issues. The Right, with its technology and its ironically smiley-faced troops, is great fodder for Walt Simonson (and Sal Buscema on #22)(my scans of issue #23 are of rough quality; don't let it affect your opinion of Simonson's pencils or Bob Wiacek's inks).
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: This is continued directly in X-Factor #24 but i'm pausing this to start up the other parts of Fall of the Mutants.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (7): show
You've got the publication dates down as Oct-Dec 88 rather than Oct-Dec 87
Posted by: Stephen | May 9, 2014 5:00 PM
Posted by: fnord12 | May 9, 2014 5:33 PM
Hodge-bot is wearing the "Starlord" costume, but not the helmet (admittedly, the most Starlord-y bit), under his ruby quartz armor. Check out the boots and shoulders.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | May 9, 2014 6:49 PM
Hmmm. The second most Starlord-y bit was the way the front flap folds over from the side (there's probably a name for that style but i don't know it). The costume seems to have been updated for issue #23. I added another scan of Hodge from that issue before the ruby quartz is activated.
Posted by: fnord12 | May 9, 2014 7:00 PM
Ok, looking at my Star-Lord sample, i see there's no flap. I guess it's the buttons!
Posted by: fnord12 | May 9, 2014 7:02 PM
Caliban's "shadow power", which would make him a formidable foe, is ignored in these issues- it seems like Simonson didn't remember it until later.
Posted by: Michael | May 9, 2014 9:21 PM
X-Factor as a book has really picked up in the past year. It's building towards a climax, and I was expecting things to continue to improve. However, the quality of the stories decline after Fall of the Mutants because of various ill conceived missteps. These issues though represent the height of the title.
Posted by: Chris | May 9, 2014 9:31 PM
BTW, that's Sal Buscema doing a decent Simonson impression on X-Factor#22.
Posted by: Vincent Valenti | May 9, 2014 10:03 PM
Thanks Vincent! That also explains the differences in the "Star-Lord" costume.
Posted by: fnord12 | May 9, 2014 10:57 PM
I agree with Chris. I think from the start of the Mutant Massacre storyline to Fall of the Mutants was the best period for X-factor. Judgement War is OK but it never had that er, X-Factor that the previous storylines I mentioned had.
Posted by: JSfan | May 10, 2014 3:48 AM
That scan of Iceman crackling with cold right before the Right troopers slap the power damper belt on him is one of my favourite images of him. This is where my real-time (as opposed to back-issue) collecting of X-Factor began.
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | May 10, 2014 3:51 PM
We get a preview of Rusty's rarely-used, awful codename in that panel where he zaps the smiley goon, who refers to Rusty as the "fire fist."
Am I right in thinking Rusty only uses that name in New Mutants, or does he adopt it in X-Terminators?
Posted by: Walter Lawson | June 14, 2014 9:33 PM
I don't believe he's ever used it himself or been referred to it other than by The Right.
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | June 14, 2014 10:20 PM
It's interesting to see Plague looking much younger here than we've seen her previously. Maybe that was what Apocalypse did for her? Rejuvenated her body? That seems to have reversed itself when she died because Katie Powers notices she's an old lady.
Autumn seems to have been given a life support suit so that she never has to eat again and Abraham's War armour overcomes his paralysis and allows him to move.
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | June 14, 2014 10:51 PM
The only downside to these issues is that we now begin the really long slog of Cameron Hodge, the unkillable evil genius.
Posted by: Erik Beck | July 24, 2015 11:56 AM
It's not really fair to call the Hodge storyline a slog. He only really shows up twice more before X-Tinction Agenda and then gets a minor role in Phalanx Covenant before being written out.
Posted by: Red Comet | July 24, 2015 1:23 PM
I guess that's true. It just seemed that way because he lasted all the way until X-Tinction Agenda and then becomes unkillable in a ridiculous way. Along with the powering up of people like Wolverine and Sabretooth, we also get people like Hodge, who start out as normal people and then become Apocalypse level villains for no reason whatsoever. The use of Hodge in Agenda was so annoying that, for me, it brings down his other appearances. But that's just me, I suppose.
Posted by: Erik Beck | July 24, 2015 4:18 PM
After X-Factor #34 his unkillable status makes sense because he cut a deal with N'Astirh for immortality.
I always liked the twist on this deal where he stayed alive even as a severed head. Pretty good take on the old horror trope of some character having a wish granted by a demon/monkey paw/whatever only to have it turn around on them.
Posted by: Red Comet | July 24, 2015 8:52 PM
Hodge would have been better as an ordinary human with a small core following, but fanatical ans highly trained, with limited super technology. I agree the unkillable head attached to a machine version was not very appealing.
I am heavily skeptical of genre mixing, and making a deal with the devil for a villain in a book that should be more sci-fi than occult/fantasy was a bad decision.
I would have enjoyed him as a mastermind/plotter type character who could be assisting other normal humans in the "defense" of humanity. An alliance with Nimrod would have been good.
Posted by: Chris | July 24, 2015 10:25 PM
I started reading "X-Factor" in the Mutant Massacre, when Hodge was obviously an unlikeable administrator who has a secret agenda, but making him a villain really comes out of nowhere.
He's a marketing executive. He's Warren's college roommate. Yet his hatred for mutants is so overwhelming that he's the one setting up X-Factor, and he's built a paramilitary force on the side to eliminate mutants, complete with his own military uniform. And when that doesn't work he'll make a deal with a devil as the logical next step. Then he'll somehow gain unquestioned trust by the leadership of a foreign nation and manipulate them into a war on the United States and the X-Men?
Posted by: ChrisW | July 26, 2015 3:30 AM
I think the reason Simonson decided that Hodge was anti-mutant was because she couldn't believe that a PR guy would be too stupid to realize the negative affects of the X-Factor ads. You're right, though, in that it's a big leap from "Hodge secretly hates Warren" to "Hodge is the head of the Right."
Posted by: Michael | July 26, 2015 8:52 AM
"I started reading "X-Factor" in the Mutant Massacre, when Hodge was obviously an unlikeable administrator who has a secret agenda, but making him a villain really comes out of nowhere."
To be fair you can also say the same thing about Maxwell Lord. Or (to keep it in the Marvel Universe), William Stryker who went from evangelical hate-monger archetype to robot consort creating his own high-tech militia (complete with psuedo-Archangels.)
Posted by: Jon Dubya | July 26, 2015 9:29 PM
Oh, don't get me started on the horrible things DC has done to Maxwell Lord...
Posted by: Thanos6 | July 26, 2015 10:49 PM
At least Maxwell Lord was introduced as a villain with a supercomputer built by Metron. That gave him a leg up right there which Hodge didn't have. Max also grew and changed as a character to reach that final panel of "I Can't Believe It's Not Justice League" where he and Blue Beetle are smiling and laughing together. We see exactly what Kevin Maguire intended when he drew that page.
I know even less about what's happened to Stryker than I do about Max, so I can't comment there.
Michael, you may be right about why Simonsen made the change, but (a) PR people aren't infallible either; the world had just been told to drink New Coke and look how that worked, and (b) X-Factor are persecuted mutants themselves and they obviously thought it was a good idea. The concept itself was unworkable, and blaming Hodge for everything is about as stupid as, well, blaming Maddie for hiding the truth about X-Factor from the X-Men. Just an ever-increasing series of bad decisions which compound on each other, with increasingly-negative consequences.
Actually, I think Claremont's issues of "X-Tinction Agenda" are the best treatment of Hodge. He's an utter raving lunatic so far divorced from reality that he made a convenient villain. Why Warren never noticed this back in college or why he thought this guy would be perfect to head up the mutant hunting business is never really explained, but it worked for those three issues.
Posted by: ChrisW | July 27, 2015 8:42 PM
PR people aren't infallible, no, but the sheer stupidity of the X-Factor scheme should have been obvious to the dumbest of PR flacks. And no,blaming Hodge for everything didn't work but it made more sense than blaming Maddie for hiding the truth about X-Factor from the X-Men since (a) the X-Factor scam was Hodge's idea and (b) Maddie was clearly surprised to find out Jean was alive in Uncanny X-Men 232.
Posted by: Michael | July 27, 2015 10:18 PM
Maddie at least has the excuse of being a long-running part of the extended X-Family, Jean's clone, the reborn Phoenix Force and corrupted by Limbo. Even if her actions [and the actions of those around her] often don't make much sense, there's at least a little leeway to blame the Phoenix Force, or S'ym, or the pain of losing her entire life - husband, baby, career, home, other family she believed herself to have, friends - or that she's clinging desperately to Storm, Wolverine and co. in an attempt to maintain some semblance of sanity. Dying and being reborn surely didn't help.
Even at the beginning of this storyline, Hodge [who had first appeared as Warren's old buddy less than two years ago in publishing time] is still just the unlikeable administrator with an agenda. Granted that agenda is pretty obvious by now, but he's suddenly surrounded by endless highly-trained mooks in flying battle armor. He's wearing his own suit of ruby quartz to personally battle the founding X-Men in a match where they've got as much of grudge against him as he has against them. And then when he loses, he turns out to be a robot duplicate??? Where else was he getting funding, SHIELD? Tony Stark? Apocalypse? The Kingpin [just spitballing here]?
I think I called it earlier, "an ever-increasing series of bad decisions which compound on each other, with increasingly-negative consequences."
Posted by: ChrisW | July 28, 2015 6:06 PM
The fan consensus is that Hodge got funding by embezzling from Warren.
Posted by: Michael | July 28, 2015 8:48 PM
In one of his confrontations with Warren (or maybe in a villainous soliloquy) Hodge says that he's from an older family and higher class than the Worthingtons, and resentment at being upstaged by Warren, who is more than a human can be, is one of Hodge's motives.
Just because he claims to have a better artocratic pedigree doesn't mean Hodge would have financial resouces comparable to Warren's, but I think it's a fair bet that he has considerable resources of his own.
Enough to fund the Right, in addition to whatever he siphoned from Warren? I wonder if Louise S. might have shown there was more to the Right, maybe a government connection, if she'd been allowed to pursue her Inferno babies storyline.
As a fan fix, though, I would propose that the Right is a successor to and division of the Secret Empire, which had plenty of money and tech and was deeply interested in mutants both when it was run by Professor Power and in its earlier, Richard Nixon(!) phase.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | July 28, 2015 9:42 PM
I've never read the "Secret Empire" story, but it's the sort of example I was looking for when asking where else Hodge gets his funding.
Because making Hodge into this ultra-villain is one of those places where the only alternative is giving up, shrugging and saying 'it's a superhero comic' if you want any chance of believing in the story.
Stealing from Warren makes perfect sense and I've got no problem with that. But Warren never even noticed the drain on his resources. Wouldn't he have someone somewhere who can tell him that fifty million dollars went missing from a line of funding which he went to considerable effort to set up? Sure, he was having problems after his wings were cut off, but for his entire life before that, wouldn't he have paid the slightest attention, or had people around him who would? At the very least, for dramatic reasons, Candy would have walked in screaming that her credit card was shut off. Even rich people, even in the Marvel Universe, can't just ignore the sudden disappearance of enough money to build a suit of ruby quartz and a power-blocking belt directed solely at one man, capable of overcoming Asgardian magic, never mind the hundreds/thousands of mooks flying around in body armor. They aren't going through all that training and flight school without a regular paycheck, right?
Likewise with Hodge having his own family fortune. It works if he's the villain-of-the-month who spent his fortune to destroy all mutants, even if he can steal Warren's money too. But there's a limit to how far he can believably go. How much has he sunk into that island with the lunatic building animal monsters? When did he first contact Genosha? What was he doing with those babies the first time Archangel confronted him? At least Genosha might return enough profit that he can hide the transfer of funds, but how much money did they spend on Bird-Brain? How did he find N'astirh? Did the Right have a section devoted to exploring mystical ways to kill mutants, or was Hodge just the kind of guy who suddenly gets visited by a demon and sells his soul on the spot because that's how he rolls? Yeah, that's a good PR man. No wonder Warren called up his old college buddy for a job. The guy can create an autonomous robot duplicate on a shoestring budget, let's hire him.
Posted by: ChrisW | July 28, 2015 10:12 PM
"X-Factor" #32 does say that Hodge's organization has acquired notes from Belasco, explaining how he meets N'astirh. Really? Out of all the other things Hodge must be juggling, how did he wind up as a lowly PR guy for a rich blond playboy, while still being the leader of this paramilitary force, and in league with the islands of Genosha and Dr. Moreau, when he's so willing to sell his soul on the spot? How did he know those notes from Belasco weren't laundry instructions from 15th century Egypt?
From a PR perspective, if you want to seduce people and betray mutantkind by setting them up for destruction, I would think Dazzler would be a better bet. She needs a good agent, right?
Posted by: ChrisW | August 10, 2015 9:17 PM
Perhaps it would've worked better if Hodge weren't the sole leader and funder of the Right, but rather one of many, or maybe a very highly placed operative or something.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | October 25, 2015 7:07 PM
A stray thought: Hodge should be played by Jeffrey Combs in any movie / TV adaptation of the character. Don't you think?
Posted by: Piotr W | November 10, 2017 9:12 PM
It depends on the casting. Combs has probably aged out of the stories done with him in X-Factor. An older Angel confronting his old enemy, though....
Posted by: Brian C. Saunders | November 11, 2017 3:35 AM
Ah, right. I keep forgetting that Combs might not be young these days.
Still, just look at Hodge in the fourth scan. This *is* Combs!
Posted by: Piotr W | November 11, 2017 5:22 AM
@Piotr W: Yes, now that you mention it, I could see Jeffrey Combs playing Hodge. If he's too old for a live action version, Combs could still voice him in an animated adaptation.
Posted by: Ben Herman | November 11, 2017 2:02 PM
In the X-Men: Grand Design adaptation of the X-Men's origin, Hodge is part of a team of anti-mutant leaders that founds the Right that includes Stephen Lang, Donald Pierce, Bolivar Trask, Larry Trask and Robert Kelly. This is problematic for several reasons- Kelly never did anything illegal to get at the X-Men and at least a few weeks passed between Larry's change of heart and his death, so you'd think he'd have warned Warren about Hodge.
Posted by: Michael | December 24, 2017 9:09 AM
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