Issue(s): X-Factor #52, X-Factor #53
Archangel plays guardian angel to Charlotte Jones, the police officer he met last issue, protecting her from some "basehead" druggies that intended to rape her.
Archangel flies off, assuming that Jones is disgusted with him, but that turns out to be the opposite of the truth.
Jones was in the process of discovering the body of Wings, the Morlock that Sabretooth killed last issue. As Archangel is flying away, Sabretooth shoots him. Unusual to see Sabretooth with a gun, but not necessarily out of character. Reminds me of his earliest days as a mercenary leader.
When Sabretooth moves in to confirm his kill, Archangel is protected by his wings. You can tell that Warren didn't even know what was happening.
Sabretooth is apparently a Guns 'N Roses fan.
Angel gets hurt badly during the fight.
But his wings again protect him, and both characters wind up passing out at the end of issue #52.
Terry Shoemaker's art isn't terrible, and he's been filling in on the book for a while. He does a decent job of keeping the book looking vaguely Walt Simonson-ish. But despite the battle between these two violent and popular characters, this is no classic like some of Sabretooth's previous fights. Shoemaker seems to try to make up for that with increased violence, with Sabretooth's face getting slashed and both characters suffering disembowelments.
Meanwhile, Cyclops, Jean, Beast, and Trish Tilby go out to eat at the fancy Windows on the World restaurant (which was in the World Trade Center).
As the X-Factor characters try to adjust to their celebrity status, the restaurant is attacked by giant cockroaches.
It's probably a coincidence, but the scene reminds me of the "The Sentinels have returned!" scene from Uncanny X-Men #98 when the giant robots bust in on Jean and Scott during a similar fancy dress dinner date.
The former X-Men only vaguely remember Locust, but they guess that he might be responsible for the attack.
So they go to the roof and take him out in three panels. Adding insult to injury, they feel compelled to mention his full civilian name.
The noteworthy thing for the purposes of the current status quo is that no one blames X-Factor despite the fact that the restaurant was destroyed in what was essentially a grudge match. With the imposing arrival of their new headquarters last issue, it seemed like Louise Simonson was setting up a scenario where there was pull between X-Factor being public heroes and them being feared or hated by the public, but that doesn't really come up here.
Opal Tanaka continues to take care of the Morlock, Mole, that has been hiding from Sabretooth in the record shop she works at. He's developing a crush on her.
Don't worry about that Santa hat; Opal's boss complains that she's wearing it a month late.
Iceman, babysitting baby Nathan/Christopher with the help of a robot stroller from Ship, patronizes the record store and winds up asking Opal out.
Mole, peeping through the basement door, gets jealous. So he leaves the record shop and starts stalking them.
The public hero and its downsides theme does come up a bit between Opal and Iceman. It turns out Opal is pretty upset about the arrival of X-Factor's Ship, since it casts a shadow on the city.
Mole turns into a kind of joke, assuming all sorts of awful things about Iceman and then accidentally phasing out some construction equipment, nearly killing Iceman and Opal. It's a sad, pathetic kind of joke, and you can kind of feel sorry for him in an "ugly guy in love with the pretty girl" way, but we seem to have lost sight of the more pressing matter, which is that his friend Wings had recently been murdered by Sabretooth and that he himself is in danger. But we'll find out what happens to him at the end.
Before that, we have to get back to Archangel. Caliban arrives at the beginning of issue #53, noting the similarities between him and Archangel and being disappointed that Angel "allowed" himself to be beaten by Sabretooth.
Caliban is lamenting that he never got a chance to test himself against his master's former creation when Archangel's wings wake up and instinctively attack.
Even though Caliban recognizes that Angel made a mistake, Caliban is happy for a chance to fight him. Clearly a big change in Caliban's character here, in my opinion more than was necessary. I love the idea of him trying to track down Sabretooth. But seeing him getting into a pointless fight with his former friend is a bit disappointing.
Caliban's greatest weapon is fear.
Fear and surprise. His two greatest weapons are fear and surprise, and ruthless efficiency. His three weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency...and an almost fanatical devotion to Apocalypse. But he turns out to not be as invulnerable as he thought.
Angel winds up getting "rescued" by the police, including Charlotte Jones.
Also in this issue, Scott asks Jean to marry him. But she's confused and unsure of herself, because she's inundated with memories of the Phoenix and Madelyn.
This misses the opportunity that was presented by Inferno. There should be no drama to Jean's multiple memories. The whole point was just to get rid of all of that, and just let them all retroactively be Jean. We shouldn't bring it up any more, and we should let Jean and Scott get on with their lives.
At the very end of this issue, after what still feels like a comical goodbye for Mole...
...we're left one panel away from him getting murdered by Sabretooth as Bobby and Opal continue their date.
Tonally, the various plots running in these issues are at odds with each other. On the one hand you have these violent fights between characters that range from vicious killers to morally ambiguous. On the other hand you have the jokey fight with Locust and his giant cockroaches. And the cutesy date between Iceman and Opal, which treats Mole like a joke until he's murdered at the end. That said, these issues (including #51) have felt like a turn back in the right direction after Judgement War (which i enjoyed as a story in its own right, probably more than these issues, but which was a strange tangent in the larger X-Factor storyline). It does make me feel like Simonson was held back by the crossovers and waiting for Claremont.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: This issue opens with Archangel sulking outside, and it may seem like a direct continuation after his departure during the press conference last issue. But Jean later says that Angel was invited to go out to eat with them, and that couldn't have happened if he hasn't returned home since last issue (it would also mean that he hasn't been home at all since returning from space). Either way, due to dependencies in New Mutants this can't take place too long after last issue. Caliban and Sabretooth appear next in New Mutants #90.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showAngel, Beast, Cable (Baby Nathan Christopher Summers), Caliban, Charlotte Jones, Cyclops, Iceman, Jean Grey, Locust, Mole, Opal Tanaka, Sabretooth, Ship (Prosh), Trish Tilby
Was this the first time it was stated that Sabretooth has a healing ability? Because, it didn't seem to be working in his Spectacular Spider-Man appearances. Also, how did Archangel know that?
Posted by: clyde | April 21, 2015 2:36 PM
Since i have my 1986 X-Men RPG book out, i'll note that in that book a healing factor was not listed among Sabretooth's powers. It's the sort of thing that i always sort of assumed that he had but i never tracked mentions of it, so this may very well be the first.
Posted by: fnord12 | April 21, 2015 3:11 PM
No, Wolverine mentioned it when he stabbed him when they fought in San Francisco on the Golden Gate Bridge back in Uncanny #221 or thereabouts.
Posted by: Erik Beck | April 21, 2015 7:33 PM
Sabertooth DOES mention a healing factor during his Mutant Massacre appearances.
Also I like the "dating" scenes and thought they were sweet in a "super-hero romcom" kinda way, although you'd think Weezie would want to resolve a few outstanding plot lines first before getting to it, like dealing with Rusty & Skids and the Inferno babies. Even so I generally approve of this direction for X-Factor as the "acceptable" face of mutant heroes. (Also note how this is explored around the same time that 3/5th of the team gain human girlfriends.)
Posted by: Jon Dubya | April 21, 2015 8:04 PM
Sabretooth's healing factor is first mentioned in X-Factor 11, when Plague infects him.
Posted by: Michael | April 21, 2015 8:57 PM
I'm not up for jean becoming a half naked demon queen unless silvestri gets to draw it again.
Posted by: Jonathan | April 26, 2015 1:48 PM
Come on Michael. These are the SAME people that are going to shortly give their teenage charges over to a complete gun-toting stranger (a decision that require so little internal debate and angst that it could happen off-panel) simply on the approval of a women that numerous characters (including her own boyfriend) say is "not quite right." That "Foster Parent of the Year" throphy is practically theirs!
Nevertheless, I kinda still like the "dating" scenes, as X-Factor interacting with the rest of humanity is a good way to establish their "acceptable" face of mutantkind Status Quo.
Posted by: Jon Dubya | May 11, 2015 2:24 PM
I don't know if Cable would be considered a stranger, if you know what I mean. After all, everybody else has had dealings with him in the past, so why not X-Factor?
[What did you think I meant?]
Posted by: ChrisW | May 11, 2015 2:58 PM
Interesting that Mole is created in almost the same role that Caliban was created (the "ugly" Morlock in love with the pretty girl) just as Caliban starts out on his vengeance tour.
Posted by: Erik Beck | October 2, 2015 8:57 AM
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