X-Factor annual #2
Issue(s): X-Factor annual #2
Now, to get from X-Factor to Maximus in a natural way, you have to play a little bit of Six Degrees of Franklin Richards. You see, X-Factor are currently responsible for the Morlock Leech, who is friends with Power Pack, whose membership includes Franklin, who Maximus knows through his encounters with the Fantastic Four and wants for his psychic abilities.
So we have X-Factor arranging a play date for Power Pack and Franklin to meet Leech (and Artie, more on him in a second) at Central Park, while Maximus sends his brainwashed agents Quicksilver and Lockjaw to kidnap Franklin.
Franklin is telling Power Pack that he's had one of his precognitive dreams, specifically that the "man in the moon" is coming to take him and cause the moon to fall apart. Even though Franklin's dreams are known to come true, Power Pack have to sort of work themselves up to believing him.
Not really loving Tom Grindberg not-quite-realistic art.
Anyway, that's when X-Factor show up with Artie and Leech.
Artie hangs back because he's worried because the Marauders are still at large.
Yes, why are the Marauders still at large, X-Factor? Why are you not at all interested in hunting down the group that killed most of the Morlocks and badly injured Angel, indirectly causing (as far as you know) his death?
Well, the answer, as readers of the regular X-Factor series know, is that they are too busy fighting amongst themselves. In this annual we see Scott and Jean still going at it about the Phoenix. We also have the obligatory "our whole premise sucks but we're never going to do anything about it".
Quicksilver shows up, but his kidnapping doesn't go as planned due to Leech's power-canceling ability. So we have a bunch of pre-teen kids holding down a grown man, which is pretty funny.
Katie is sent off to get X-Factor, but they take the time to run to the restroom to change into their costumes.
Because, hey, wouldn't want to ruin their X-Factor secret identities, right? I mean, that whole set-up is so great, we wouldn't want to jeopardize it.
They do eventually make it to the fight, and they use their powers from a distance to hold Quicksilver, and then tell Leech to back off. But they didn't figure on Lockjaw who winds up teleporting all the adults and Franklin away (by the way, that means including the Inhumans in the list of super-people affected by Leech. So far it seems to be everyone except Cloak & Dagger). Power Pack are left hoping that X-Factor will get Franklin home soon, so they don't have to tell his parents.
Or, um, you could go tell the Fantastic Four right now. I don't see how it would jeopardize your secret identity or anything, so why not? But they don't, and the rest of the issue focuses on the group on the moon. I'm not sure if the Fantastic Four even find out about this. Certainly no one goes and tells Crystal that she might have been mind-controlled.
Now, the original X-Men did meet the Inhumans in X-Men: The Hidden Years #16, which hadn't been published yet. So i'm looking at how well the meeting here works with that in mind.
The meeting in Hidden Years was a short and weird one, and the X-Men were wearing different costumes (and it wasn't on the moon). X-Factor are clearly aware of the Inhumans, but it seems mainly because one of them (actually two) had a higher profile as a member of the Fantastic Four.
In addition to it being a brief encounter a long time ago and a different costume, the Inhumans may not recognize the X-Men...
...because Maximus is currently plaguing all the Inhumans with his mind powers. It's said that the Inhumans have all been acting sluggish, and Black Bolt has a migraine. I don't have a similar explanation for the X-Men; i guess it's just been a long time and it's a very different environment than the last time they met.
Quicksilver and Lockjaw escape, adding Medusa alongside Franklin as a captive. While the two are held prisoner, Medusa realizes that Franklin is the little baby she knew from the time she replaced Sue on the FF.
It's a nice touch that Duffy throws this in (although it's a bit complicated by the fact that Fantastic Four #306 must take place before this story, since Franklin was there when the Inhumans arrived to pick up Quicksilver; see the Considerations section below for more).
In addition to that connection, Duffy uses the fact that the Inhumans live in the Blue Area of the Moon to continue the discussion about Phoenix, since this is where she died.
And i guess it's nice to see that it's not just Scott who can't keep Jean and the Phoenix straight.
On the question of whether or not Crystal has been mind controlled, we start with Medusa saying that Crystal leaving Luna a ward of the state is "so unlike her". Later, Medusa says that "My sister has hardly been behaving like herself recently... more like a selfish and destructive stranger.". That's all circumstantial. But then we have Maximus directly say that he's been controlling Quicksilver, Crystal, and Lockjaw.
So that seems to settle it. But later, Duffy leaves open the possibility that not even Quicksilver is really exonerated by the events here.
So it's all left open for future writers, or at least open for our interpretation.
Oh, did i skip right over the fight with Maximus? Well, the important thing is that everyone is insanely protective of Jean Grey (maybe it's being on the moon and the reminder of the death of Phoenix?). First, earlier, the Beast dives at Jean to protect her from Lockjaw, even though Lockjaw was nowhere near her, as she says herself.
Then, during the final fight, Maximus takes control of Black Bolt and has him blast at Cyclops. But Jean uses her telekinetic powers to shield him.
Seems like a normal sort of thing that happens in every fight, right? Except this time, it's proof that the Phoenix was trying to impersonate Jean, because it died for Scott.
Well, um, ok. Seems to work for Jean. Readers should keep in mind that there's a bit of a switcharoo going on here. The question of whether Scott really loved Jean or just loved the Phoenix is sort of secondary to the fact that he was married to Madelyne Pryor, who Scott dropped like a hot potato when he heard that Jean was alive again, and who (as far as he knows) died under mysterious circumstances, and with whom he shared a baby whose body has not been found. So it's very nice that Scott has proven that he really loves Jean (sort of?!), but that's not getting at the real problem. Still, if it'll stop their infighting, i'll go with it.
As for the idea that Crystal and Quicksilver were both being mind-controlled, i'll take that too. I don't have a problem, in theory, with the idea that any character might have an affair because their spouse has been neglecting them. That's a perfectly valid story idea. But the way Steve Englehart developed it for Crystal and Quicksilver was too fast, too clumsy, and it quickly got to the point where Quicksilver was clearly insane. Which, and i've been saying this too much lately, making someone insane does not count as character development. So if someone must be insane, let it be Maximus the Mad.
Maximus' hold on Quicksilver is broken when he sees Franklin and thinks of Luna, and thinks of all the good times that happened before the pain, not just for him but for the X-characters too.
I'm not sure about that bottom left flashback. Looks like X-Factor in their current uniforms but with Professor X.
Quicksilver says that Crystal may not quite be herself yet, but he's going to be a good daddy from now on.
Several times in this story i forgot this was an X-Factor annual and was surprised when the focus turned to them. That's not necessarily a knock on the book. There are a lot of characters here, and if anything it's to Duffy's credit that the Power Pack portion and the Inhumans and the focus on Franklin Richards all feel developed enough that i could forget who the nominal stars were. The flipside of that is that this is an Inhumans story that could have fit in anywhere. But if it was published in a Fantastic Four annual with the FF replacing X-Factor, i guess the story would have felt a bit more generic since they help fight Maximus all the time. And the original X-Men do have a tie to Quicksilver.
Along those same lines, it's worth noting how much mileage Marvel is getting out of the Crystal/Quicksilver break-up. In addition to the stories specifically about Quicksilver, like in the Vision and the Scarlet Witch series and last year's Avengers annuals and FF #304, you also have Steve Englehart using that their relationship problems to parallel the Ben/Alicia/Johnny situation and Mary Jo Duffy is doing the same thing here with Jean and Scott. For what was ultimately a pretty ill advised and poorly handled move, they sure got a lot of stories out of it.
Tom Grindberg's awkward art makes that panel with Scott holding out his arms look comically pathetic.
Two other little points. I like that the Inhumans continue to refer to Quicksilver as "cousin" despite all he's done. They seem to accept that he's family, no matter what.
And note that they say "bad dog!" to Lockjaw while he's possessed by Maximus. Something you say to a real dog, not a person that has been mutated into an intelligent dog-person.
I'm impressed with the various connections that Duffy found in this story. In terms of the basic writing, i expected it to be worse since it definitely seems like the remit of the issue was to clean up the Quicksilver mess, not necessarily to tell a great story. But Duffy gives us some fun scenes with the Power Pack kids and all the various ways that the characters here are more related than we first realize, and all with mostly natural dialogue. There are two things working against her, though. The first is the fact that a good portion of the characters here are just so damaged by recent events in other books, there's only so much she can do with it. And the second is Grindberg's art, which gives everything an overly earnest and awkward feel and that undermines the scripting to a degree. When you read a panel about Scott talking about how someone surely must have a wife that loves him and realizing that he's putting his foot in his mouth, it helps to not have him in a supplicating pose that really overemphasizes his words and makes the script feel more ham-handed than it is.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: The MCP place this during X-Factor #18. You could also read it as taking place directly afterwards. Scott and Jean are still arguing about Phoenix, but it seems like a somewhat more rational discussion than we saw in #18, and it ends on what seems like a real resolution, with Jean asking Scott to show her where Phoenix died on the moon. X-Factor #19 does start with Scott and Jean on the roof of their building inspecting the rubble from their fight in #17, but that doesn't mean they couldn't have taken a break. Either way, i'm placing this directly after #18. The MCP have Power Pack here between Power Pack #32-33. As for Franklin and the Inhumans, it's a little messy. It's sort-of implied that Quicksilver has been operating from the moon while under Maximus' control and has been using Lockjaw to get to Earth for his attacks on the Avengers and the FF.
But that can't be the case because Quicksilver was held prisoner by the FF after his attack on them, and at some point the Inhumans go to Earth to pick him up in Fantastic Four #306. And it wouldn't make any sense for that to happen after this issue. So it has to take place before. At least the Inhumans are aware of Quicksilver's attack on the FF.
It's weird that they follow that up immediately like "those sound not like acts that we would ever expect", like even though they're aware of it they're hearing about it for the first time. Chalk it up to Maximus' mental manipulation, i guess.
It's also weird that the Inhumans use Iridia here to watch Luna instead of Maya; there's really no explanation for why Luna is on the moon at this point if it takes place after FF #306.
But ultimately it has to take place after FF #306. See also the Considerations on that entry.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (5): show
This probably appeared in the Annual because of Bob Harras's wishes. Harras has a great love for Quicksilver and for some reason apparently liked his relationship with Crystal. Unfortunately, it was apparently not approved by the FF office, since they basically ignored this issue for a year. The result is writers have been inconsistent about whether Crystal, Quicksilver, both or neither were controlled by Maximus.
Posted by: Michael | April 5, 2014 7:34 PM
"Ugh" on that Beast thought balloon ("Like Scott left his wife and baby when he found out Jean was alive?" et cetera). Too much. It's like, the dialogue about the siren call of an old love wasn't enough, and Jean's pointed "Imagine that" wasn't enough, and the way Scott is drawn reacting to it wasn't enough, they were going to make SURE we got it via Hank. It's a kind of spoon-feeding scripting (not just in comics but TV shows and movies as well) that I hate.
Posted by: Todd | April 5, 2014 8:02 PM
Fixed my mistakes including two substitutions of Lockheed for Lockjaw.
X-Factor don't know where the Marauders are, but they have resources at their disposal. The Worthington wealth. A new team member that is a mutant tracker. Beast's ties to the Avengers. Heck, just trawl through the newspaper morgue to get info on Sabretooth, who recently fought Spider-Man, Black Cat, and Daredevil in the city. That might have led to his ties to the Foreigner or maybe info on the organization he used to run from his Iron Fist appearance, which might in turn yield the location of a secret hideout or something. Or they could call the X-Men and offer to pool resources!
I know most of these are geeky cross-title ideas that writers of individual books wouldn't like, but instead the group is just idling around in the aftermath of the worst attack on mutantkind that we've seen to date, and to the team personally. For meta reasons, it's the X-Men's problem, but there should have been something in the X-Factor book that explained why they weren't following up on this stuff, especially if they're going to bring it up here.
Todd, i wrote that the dialogue is "mostly natural", but you're right that there are a lot of stinkers in there too.
Posted by: fnord12 | April 6, 2014 12:04 AM
Well, X-Factor could be doing all of those things behind the scenes, but it wouldn't be dramatic to show it if they didn't get any results. I agree that Sabretooth should be somewhat traceable, but honestly, I can't say I'm missing the issue where X-Factor tracks down a very confused Montenegro, the Man From the Black Mountain and asks why he murdered all those Morlocks. The other lead that somebody should have followed up is Vertigo--at the very least, have Ka-Zar check into it.
But in general the X-books have been making a pretty explicit point that somebody is very effectively covering the tracks of missing mutant-connected figures like Madelyne Pryor and Karma's relatives. Around this time it seems like either Mr. Sinister or some human terrorist group could be responsible, or both together--but it's definitely an explicit plot point that all kinds of attempted investigations by the X-factions are running into brick walls. (Except, oddly, for that claim that Psylocke gleaned useful info from mind-scanning Sabretooth.)
Posted by: Walter Lawson | April 6, 2014 1:48 AM
I should clarify: at this point in real time, it seemed like either this mysterious Mr. Sinister guy or some new human threat, or both together, was behind all the recent attacks on the X-teams. We know Marauders targeted Maddie, Dazzler, and Polaris. It would be consistent with their MO if they also targeted Karma's wards and Sarah Grey, though we heard an anti-mutant message play just as Sarah's house blew up.
Around this time, the Avengers are getting unstable--they only have a brief respite between Zemo and Nebula/Terminatrix, and the big brawl in Olympus is in there, too--and SHIELD is starting to look untrustworthy. There aren't a lot of places for the C-teams to turn for help. (Mags does turn to the Hellfire Club, of course.) The Daily Bugle morgue isn't going to have any dirt on the Foreigner, who is still almost a complete mystery to Spider-Man.
X-Factor's investigations into the Right seem like they might be leading somewhere--I'm not sure there's as much inactivity on X-Factor's part as the monthly publishing schedule might make it seem. This is a pretty rapid-fire, action-packed era for the X-books, and whatever investigations might be going on in the background don't lend themselves to much storytelling until there's a break.
I do see the problem that Claremont and editorial let the Marauders mystery (not to mention the missing X-families) drag on, but from within the story-world most of what we've seen so far seems reasonable to me. Particularly in that we've had scenes in all the books of characters trying to make sure their families are secure first, and finding out that they aren't. The x-teams are playing defense, but they have to.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | April 6, 2014 2:17 AM
That should be "X-teams" not "C-teams."
I'd forgotten the Savage Land was destroyed at this point. That cuts off any easy investigations into Vertigo.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | April 6, 2014 3:12 AM
You wrote: "It's also weird that the Inhumans use Iridia here to watch Luna instead of Maya; there's really no explanation for why Luna is on the moon at this point if it takes place after FF #306."
Check out Vision and the Scarlet Witch #10: In the first scan on your analysis of that issue page there's a blond Inhuman woman with the eyebrows that go up into her hair holding Luna. I think that may be Iridia, which means she's acted as Luna's nanny before.
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | April 6, 2014 3:47 AM
Walter, i take all your points and i agree showing the team investigating a bunch of dead ends would not be dramatic. Some lines of dialogue indicating that someone on the team besides Artie remembers the Massacre would at least have sufficed. But the bigger issue for me is that the team is all wrapped up in that other stuff. It's really a complaint about Louise Simonson's plotting; after the huge event of the mutant massacre, she's just moved on because she knows that's an X-Men storyline, so it's of no concern to X-Factor despite the huge impact it had on them. If Simonson wanted to (or was allowed to) further the Marauder storyline, any one of my silly investigation ideas could have yielded the necessary clues.
I actually did think you meant C-Teams at first, like X-Factor and other C-list super-teams didn't have the ability to call on the A-list groups for help at the moment!
Jay, i'm not sayings it's weird that Iridia would take care of Luna. Just that for placement purposes, it's odd that it's Iridia and not Maya if this takes place after FF #306 which prominently introduced Luna's new nanny. I guess during the Diablo attack Luna was sent back to the moon for safety but Maya stayed behind to set up the new nursery at Four Freedoms Plaza.
Posted by: fnord12 | April 6, 2014 10:06 AM
Oh sorry! That sounds like a good solution.
In the aftermath of this, it's interesting if you trace back to the beginning of Quicksilver & Crystal's bad behaviours, you can work out Maximus's plot... Why would Quicksilver be interested in taking over organizing the non-altered Inhuman militia in the Vision & the Scarlet Witch second series? Why would he be so obsessed with it that he neglects his wife and child? That makes no sense. If Maximus wants to use them in a plot to overthrow the royal family, suddenly it does make sense. Quicksilver's behaviour just gets more and more erratic and insane from that point on and the people hurt by it were pretty much all involved in stopping Maximus's plots at some point.
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | April 6, 2014 6:52 PM
Englehart's idea was that Pietro had become obsessed with the milita because the Inhumans had been treating him badly since he was a non-Inhuman, so he was trying to prove himself to them. This isn't a bad idea, but as fnord pointed out, we needed to actually be shown the Inhumans treating Pietro badly and him overcompensating.
Posted by: Michael | April 6, 2014 7:04 PM
Well, if Medusa's "I doubt it... He has ever been a hard and arrogant man..." comment is anything to go by here, it's possible Quicksilver was treated badly by the royal family too. It looks like all of those problems were magnified out of proportion by Maximus's machine.
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | April 6, 2014 9:41 PM
Wow, this is the third time in a very short period (since FF300) that Franklin's been kidnapped. And Reed and Sue want to retire and go live in the suburbs? (As I recall, when Orphan Maker abducts Franklin, Reed didn't seem to have installed any high-tech security into their house.)
And fnord, I read "C-Teams" in the exact same fashion.
Posted by: Erik Robbins | April 8, 2014 1:00 PM
If you moved FF 306, then you should move this issue after it.
Posted by: Michael | April 11, 2014 7:50 PM
Thanks, Michael. I've shuffled this and X-Factor #18 down.
Posted by: fnord12 | April 12, 2014 1:53 AM
"•Triton tells Franklin that Mr Fantastic developed the suit that allows him to exist out of water, but that's not true! Maximus designed that suit in Fantastic Four #54. How did Reed Richards trick Triton into giving him credit for that?"
Easy solution - Maximus doesn't want any good deeds attributed to him. Therefore, he brainwashed Triton into believing that the suit was designed by Mr. Fantastic.
Posted by: clyde | June 10, 2015 11:54 AM
This was just another X-book Annual that didn't fit very well anywhere - it had problems with the stuff going on in FF as fnord points out, and this seems to resolve the Scott / Jean argument over Phoenix, which seemed to have been simultaneously resolved in #18.
But aside from that, anyone else find it odd that Hank never mentions meeting the Inhumans? He went to Attilan when it was still in the Himalayas back in Byrne's run after rescuing Wanda at Wundagore. Seems like the kind of group you would always remember meeting.
Posted by: Erik Beck | July 20, 2015 5:20 PM
This is the first appearance of Quicksilver in an X-title since 1969.
Posted by: Steven | December 30, 2016 9:47 PM
Michael, how can Harras have a "great love for Quicksilver" when he spent the majority of his Avengers run trying to hook up his wife with the Black Knight (who seems to be Harras's true "pet" character)?
And of course X-Factor was looking for the Mauraders a much as the X-Men were 😆
Posted by: Jon Dubya | January 7, 2017 11:11 AM
Harras does seem to enjoy Pietro as a character. Remember, Crystal ends up with Pietro in the end. He was the first writer since Roy Thomas to use Pietro as a regular character in the Avengers. During Onslaught, he spoke specifically of wanting to explore how Pietro would react to losing Crystal and Wanda.
Posted by: Michael | January 7, 2017 12:53 PM
I read this a few days ago, and I must say, I was expecting it to be far worse than it is. It definitely feels out of place, both being a largely non-mutant-related story in an X-Factor annual AND not really fitting well around XF 18-19 (however you want to place it WRT XF 18, it still doesn't quite work because of the double resolution of the Scott-Jean fight). Add to that the fact that I generally have just never much cared about the Inhumans, know nothing about what Quicksilver has been up to prior to this, and typically find Power Pack (including Franklin in this era) pretty annoying. But the story itself is surprisingly quite readable.
I always liked Quicksilver as an ancillary X-character. I always thought it would have been cool to get him to join the X-Men proper at some point. Too bad that'll never happen. (I hate you so much, Axis #7.)
Posted by: J-Rod | March 22, 2017 6:23 PM
You can't blame Maximus for Quicksilver being a miserable SOB to begin with. In the emerging era of retcons here's one I have to dislike. Comic characters have to stand back and think "Well, He's a dick but not a CRIMINAL dick because it's ALL Maximus's fault. What a cop-out and a new lease on life for a character undeserving of it. And I don't even own this comic! The equally dreadful FF Annual 21 led me here.
Axis #7? Quicksilver gets killed finally? I'll have to seek this one out.
Posted by: KevinA | June 14, 2018 10:49 AM
I don't remember this issue being anything but a pointless muddle - and at this point X-Factor's problems should barely be including Power Pack, much less the Inhumans - but I always liked the little peck on the cheek Jean gives Scott at the end.
Nothing has been resolved between them, except in maybe the most overwrought types of superhero comics, but it's a sweet human gesture rarely seen in the superhero genre. Jean even says she's not making promises for tomorrow, but right now it makes sense to her.
After this, I took it as a given that sooner or later Scott and Jean would be back together and from there it was just a matter of how long until they got married and the issue with Madelyne was cleared up.
Posted by: ChrisW | June 14, 2018 7:58 PM
Also, I rather like Tom Grindberg's art in the scans here. It's awkward in places, but feels more natural, particularly with body language, which makes up for that.
Posted by: ChrisW | June 14, 2018 8:00 PM
I have to apologize for my Mary Jo Duffy comment whose work I now admit to not being all that familiar with. In my haste and after being PO'd about Quicksilver after re-reading FF Annual 21 I made the error of attributing her work to that of Ann Nocenti. Just realized it now and there's no 'edit' feature.
Posted by: KevinA | June 14, 2018 10:26 PM
@KevinA- no, Quicksilver didn't get killed in Axis 7- it was retconned that he and Wanda were not Magneto's children. Except they didn't stop there and in the Avengers storyline that followed it up, it was retconned that he and Wanda weren't really mutants- the High Evolutionary altered them so they show up as mutants on scanners because, um, reasons.
Posted by: Michael | June 15, 2018 12:18 AM
I thought Franklin was about 4 or 5 here (I think he wears a jokey FF T-shirt saying "4 and a half" during Byrne's FF) but he says he hasn't learned how to read... I guess those "world's smartest man" genes may not have been passed down from his father & grandfather. You kind of expect Reed had already mastered several disciplines by the time he was Franklin's age.
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | June 15, 2018 3:14 AM
@Michael- Can I at least enjoy when his and Crystal's marriage got annulled? Where can I find that? Or has some MF wiped all that out too?
Also I don't think Franklin's 4 1/2 shirt necessarily represented his age but that he was just a kid. Member 1/2 !! :-)
Posted by: KevinA | June 15, 2018 10:37 AM
Quicksilver's and Crystal's marriage got annulled in Silent War 3.
Posted by: Michael | June 16, 2018 9:00 AM
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