Mephisto vs.... #2
Issue(s): Mephisto vs.... #2
It's here that we learn that Mephisto's attack on the FF wasn't motivated by revenge on Franklin Richards after all, and it's all part of a scheme to claim "one truly noble spirit". He quickly tells the Invisible Woman that he's not after Silver Surfer, despite his past attempts on that front. "Eternity is mine, so the Surfer can wait. But in his place I now crave another spirit to torment... one possessed of an angelic quality akin to his".
Since this is the X-Factor issue, that's one of a few red herring references to Angel, but we'll see that Angel isn't who he's really after and in fact, he's not really after anyone appearing in this issue, and in fact his stated goal here isn't exactly consistent with his claims in the final issue of this series. Since Mephisto is literally the lord of lies, it's hard to know the degree to which Mephisto is just lying to us vs. Al Milgrom not keeping the story straight, but either way it will result in an unsatisfying conclusion.
Regardless, we move on. Back on Earth, Mr. Fantastic has been working hard to try to find a way back to Mephisto's realm. Somewhat surprisingly, especially considering the false revelations given in the previous issue, there's no talk of potentially going to Dr. Doom for help, since Doom has been trying for years to rescue his mother's soul from Mephisto's realm. There's really an interesting point here, which is that Mr. Fantastic and the other heroes have known about Doom's attempts to save his mother's soul but no one's ever tried to help him, and now Reed finds himself in a similar situation. I know Doom probably wouldn't have accepted help but it's still an interesting parallel that you'd think could have been explored.
Thanks to a stray comment from the Thing, Reed realizes that even if the FF could get back to Mephisto's lair, they wouldn't have the power to fight him. And then he remembers Mephisto's "unknown quantity" comment, which was so overt that it must be an intentional clue, and he makes the wild but correct assumption that Mephisto was actually telling him that the team X-Factor, whose name is another word for "unknown quantity", would have the power to defeat him.
Of course, Mr. Fantastic doesn't know how X-Factor can help them, and when he contacts them, Cyclops says that the whole thing seems a little, well, "fantastic" even for people in their line of work.
It's worth noting that Mr. Fantastic was aware of X-Factor's fake mutant hunting scheme.
Conveniently, while Reed is talking to X-Factor, they get a report of a possible mutant that matches the description of the Invisible Woman. X-Factor head off to investigate, but Mr. Fantastic is waylaid by the messenger, who turns out to be Mephisto.
When X-Factor arrive on the scene, they find that it is indeed Sue. And Mephisto shows up to tempt each of them. He tries to convince X-Factor that he is more of a cosmic policeman, punishing those guilty souls that deserve it. And if they join him, he can offer them some benefits.
He offers to restore to the Beast the pheromones that made him sexy to the ladies when he was in his blue and fuzzy form (i didn't realize he was missing that!).
He offers to restore Angel's wings, and he brings Angel onto the scene.
And he offers to merge Jean Grey with Madelyne Pryor, thus resolving Scott's love dilemma and also in a sense restoring the years that Jean lost when she was replaced by the Phoenix. He also says that it's "admirable" that Scott is so torn by his commitment to Madelyne and his love for Jean.
Finally, Mephisto offers to fix all the damage that X-Factor has done to human/mutant relations. And all he wants in return is the soul of one of them. Iceman seems least susceptible to Mephisto's temptations, but he rallies the others to fight him. But they do turn out to be powerless against him. Iceman is melted...
...the Beast is turned into a real monster...
...Cyclops is tricked into blasting an illusion of Madelyne and the baby, and Angel is pursued by demons...
...and falls out of the sky.
As mentioned above, it's assumed that Mephisto is after Angel but that turns out to not be the case.
He really claims to be after Jean, who "by all rights... shouldn't even be alive right now" and "much like a biblical angel" she died and was replaced by a loftier, more powerful form. He promises that if she'll give up her soul, he will restore the rest of X-Factor. He also releases the Invisible Woman, who he says he never had a legitimate contract with anyway. Mephisto considers it a trade-up anyway, since he's getting a homo superior soul for a regular human ("albeit super-powered") one.
We're definitely in confusing territory here. Why was his contract with Sue not "legitimate"? Why is a mutant soul better than a human soul? This might have been fine if it were explained in later issues, but we'll see that isn't the case at all.
Some of Buscema's art specifically recalls images from his earlier work on Mephisto's first appearance.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: This issue takes place after Angel has been hospitalized but before Cyclops leaves for Alaska in X-Factor #13. The Angel story in Marvel Fanfare #40 (described only as "an upcoming issue of Marvel Fanfare" since that issue has an Oct 88 cover date) takes place during this (after Mephisto restores the rest of X-Factor, Angel is shown back in his bed, which would be after the events of the Fanfare issue). Doctor Strange is said to not be available, which makes sense considering his status all throughout this year.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showAngel, Beast, Cyclops, Human Torch, Iceman, Invisible Woman, Jean Grey, Mephisto, Mr. Fantastic, Thing
Actually, as soon as I saw how Mephisto got Sue last issue, I thought, "That shouldn't be legitimate." But I'm not sure what "rule" I sensed was being broken, if any. Sue was being self-sacrificing, which is heroic and thus normally not the kind of thing that gets you taken to hell--but I think it was actually that Mephisto had to lie to seal the deal: normally the devil is strict ful faithful to the letter of the deal in those kinds of stories, but there's some ironic twist, either for the human or the devil himself. I think its a fundamental genre requirement: the devil has to be true to his word, in some fashion, to uphold his side of the bargain so he too gets what he's honestly owed: the mortal's soul.
Now, has that ever been stated in a Marvel comic? Is it a rule that seems to apply across mediums? I dunno, but I think that's why I instantly thought a cheating devil shouldn't be able to win, not like that.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | March 1, 2014 9:53 PM
DC's rule seems to be that people end up where they believe they're meant to be. So, if someone is a good person, but believes they belong in Hell, that's what happens.
In a roundabout way, I really mean to say that this entire story seems like Milgrom's just making it up as he goes along. The fact that it all ends with a joke about the mentality of comic collectors doesn't help.
Posted by: ChrisKafka | March 1, 2014 10:38 PM
One of the mistakes in this story is that Angel is shown with his wings already amputated here when that doesn't happen until Scott is in Alaska. They should be still wrapped in bandages and in traction.
Yes, the odd little Angel story in Marvel Fanfare 40 does take place during Angel's battle with the demons in this story.
I have a theory that, during this series, most of them are actually asleep and Mephisto doesn't physically kidnap anyone, just their spirits while they're dreaming.
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | March 2, 2014 3:17 AM
One thing i didn't note in these reviews is that it's emphasized that when Mephisto is bringing his captives to his realm during this series, he's bringing their physical bodies and not just their astral selves. That means Franklin's mental blockers are still in place, and Sue and Jean are more vulnerable to the dangers of the demons in Hell than they would have been if they were just spirits. I don't know if that conflicts with your dream idea (they could have just been dreaming that it was their physical bodies) but i thought it was worth mentioning.
Posted by: fnord12 | March 2, 2014 2:48 PM
Again, it's possible he could have been lying about that... ;)
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | March 3, 2014 1:22 AM
The fuzzy Beast had pheromones? I never knew that! When was that revealed, in the original Amazing Adventures stories?
Posted by: S | March 20, 2014 10:49 PM
S, check out Avengers #164.
Posted by: fnord12 | March 21, 2014 7:40 AM
I'm pretty sure this is the first time anything was mentioned about pheromones. Before the issue was just about how the Beast looked. He thought he was ugly, but when he finally ventured out in public it turned out the some women liked the way he looked. It was actually a nice metaphor for learning to accept yourself the way you are. The introduction of mind altering chemicals just makes the whole thing creepy.
Posted by: Andrew | March 10, 2015 9:15 AM
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