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X-Factor (1st series) #238

Issue Date: August 2012

Story Title: untitled

Staff: Peter David (writer), Paul Davidson (artist), Rachelle Rosenberg (colorist), VC’s Cory Petit (letterer), David Yardin (cover artist), Jordan D. White (assistant editor), Daniel Ketchum (editor), Nick Lowe (X-Men group editor), Axel Alonso (editor in chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)

Brief Description:
In an amusement park in upstate New York, a police officer is killed at night by a banshee-like scream. The next day, back at X-Factor HQ, Madrox and Guido are holding vigil over the still-comatose Longshot when Shatterstar comes in and offers to keep watch for them. After they leave, Shatterstar’s eye glows as he stands over his immobile teammate. Inexplicably, and much to the astonishment of his teammates, Longshot later awakens as if had never been in a coma. Meanwhile, getting a refreshment at the kitchen, Guido reveals to Madrox that he’s noticed that he and Layla have begun having sex. Elsewhere, Havok receives a call from Wolverine, who hires X-Factor to investigate the recent murders in upstate New York via a killer with a banshee-like scream. When Banshee returns from her trip to Vermont, Havok briefs her on the murders and offers to go with her to investigate. Madrox, however, is more interested in following up on the suspicious suicide of Far Sight in Seattle. He asks Layla for insight, and surprisingly receives crucial information which she knows, but only because he will learn it on his own soon and tell her. However, the information indeed confirms Madrox’s suspicions. Meanwhile, Rahne has returned as well but only long enough to pack, so that she can search for her son. Much to her surprise, she is joined by Rictor and Shatterstar, who wish to help her in her search. Unfortunately, an offhand remark from Rahne leads to Shatterstar to use his teleportation power to open a portal to Hela’s domain. Meanwhile, the demonic Jezebel arrives at a lighthouse to alert Morrigan that Banshee is on her way. Already aware, Morrigan promises that Banshee will first be broken, then die.

Full Synopsis:
(Ulster County, New York)
A police officer runs through an amusement park at night. Visibly frightened, he pauses long enough to see if he’s being followed, but the only things around him are the park’s attractions, all of which seem to have a sinister demeanor: a poster with an evil-looking clown with a mouth full of razor teeth; a scythe-wielding skeleton with flowing eyes.

Clearly freaked out, the officer draws his pistol and aims it at a shadowed woman who walks toward him. He pleads with her, explaining that he’s engaged. H wants to start a family. He wants to live his life. I want to live! With that, he fires three rounds at the approaching woman. However, the scream that follows is not one of pain, but that of a banshee. Grabbing his ears, the officer drops his weapon and reels in pain. A moment later, he succumbs in agony, as his eyes rolls back in his head and he collapses onto the ground, a small pool of blood emerging from beneath his ear.

(X-Factor HQ)
They can have jackets made, Guido suggests. Having been focusing on the comatose Longshot, who lies immobile on a slab in the morgue, Madrox asks what he said. Guido explains that he was just thinking that the two of them, they could have jackets made. “Deathbeaters.” Kind of an exclusive jacket for anyone who’s died and come back. When Madrox asks if vampires get jackets, Guido replies of course not. They’re monsters. Madrox then asks what makes vampires monsters and not them, to which Guido replies that people don’t run from them screaming. They would if they knew them, Madrox counters. Vampires don’t get jackets, Guido reaffirms. Fine, no jackets for vampires, Madrox voices. Except Dracula, Guido voices. He can have one. Well sure, Madrox agrees. That goes without saying.

Stepping into the morgue, Shatterstar asks if there’s any change. Nope, Madrox replies. Whatever that creature did to him, he’s still in a coma. What was his name again? He fought him. He never said, Shatterstar replies. Why don’t they take off for a while, he suggests. He’ll keep watch. Taking him up on his offer, Madrox and Guido depart, leaving Shatterstar alone with the unconscious Longshot. In silence, Shatterstar regards the prone form of his teammate. As he continues, Shatterstar’s left eye begins to glow.

Meanwhile, in the kitchen, as he pulls two beers out of the refrigerator, Guido remarks that he was wondering: the other day, he was thinking that he’d love it if every politician, Liberal and Conservative alike, suddenly dropped dead. Or at the very least got terminal jock itch. Is that ‘cause he doesn’t have a soul? No, Madrox replies. They all feel that way these days. That’s a relief, Guido remarks. So… when did he start doin’ Layla?

Taken aback, Madrox takes half a moment to consider several responses, from outright denial to a joke, but settles on asking how Guido knew. Still grinning, Guido explains that not having a soul makes him notice stuff ‘cause he ain’t wrapped up in caring about his own crap no more. It’s kinda liberatin’ actually. Asked what has he’s noticed in this case, Guido replies that when she thinks no one’s looking, she smiles at him. “Ah,” Madrox replies.

In another room, Havok sits with his feet propped up on a desk and the office phone to his ear. With Monet standing a few feet away, Havok ask Logan, the party on the other end, if he’s absolutely sure about this. No, not remotely, Wolverine replies from the other end. But since it may or may not involve one of his people… plus it’s the kind of weirdo thing they discussed that X-Factor is perfect for… Okay, fine, they’re on it, Havok replies. With “good” as the only reply, Wolverine hangs up before Havok can say anything else.

Mocking the rudeness, Monet quips that it’s hard to believe that Havok’s brother and he had a falling out. How does ol’ laser gazer feel about him taking Wolverine’s side. He’s not taking his side, Havok tells Monet. Scott understands that. Asked “really?” Havok admits “no.” Didn’t think so, Monet remarks.

Entering the room, Madrox tells Havok that they need to talk. Asked if she needs to be there for this, Madrox asks Monet back that if it would matter if he said yes. Told “probably not,” he replies in the negative, at which point Monet departs with a simple “later.”

Now alone with Havok, Madrox leans over the desk and tells him that he keeps coming back to the thing in Seattle. Asking if it’s about the guy named Far Sight, Havok remarks that they’ve been over this. He knows this creature Shatterstar fought was killing these wannabe mutants… but didn’t the police rule Far Sight’s death a suicide? To this, Madrox sarcastically retorts that the cops always get it right. When Havok counters that sometimes coincidence is just coincidence, Madrox replies that it’s not in his experience.

Changing tact, Havok asks how would he go about investigating the link, assuming there is one? Though he actually doesn’t have the faintest idea, Madrox replies that there’s several avenues he’s mulling over. He doesn’t have the faintest idea, does he? Havok asks. Dammit, Madrox thinks. Love the confidence level there, Madrox instead voices. Look, Havok may have more leadership experience than he does, hell he might even be better at it. “Might be?” Havok interjects. Ignoring the quip, Madrox replies that not only has he been doing investigative work longer than he has, his instincts are also better. Havok goes with his head, but his guy hasn’t steered him wrong.

Smirking incredulously, Havok asks Madrox if he’s kidding. His gut steers him in a hundred directions at once, and he goes in all of them. When he does solve something, it’s as much blind luck as anything else. To this, Madrox counters that he prefers to think of it as making him own luck.

Changing tact again, Havok reminds Madrox that he doesn’t need his permission to do anything. Investigate it, don’t investigate it, it’s up to him. He knows, Madrox replies, but he prefers to think that Havok’s got his back while he’s doing it. He hasn’t want Havok undermining him to the rest of the team. Does he think he’d do that, Havok asks. After their history together? To this, Madrox replies that he thinks that history was awhile ago, and they’ve both been through a lot… and he keeps wondering whether he’s there because he genuinely wants to be a part of their goals… or if he’s helping big brother keep an eye on them. Narrowing his eyes, Havok replies that he’s pretty sure big brother doesn’t give a crap about him. And he can’t say he’s too thrilled about his questioning his loyalty just then. If you can’t trust your teammates, who can you trust?

Interrupting that thought, Pip the Troll sticks his head into the room, reminding Havok that he wanted t’know when the chicks came back t’roost. Thanking Pip, Havok rises from the desk and asks Madrox to excuse him. He has to go ask Theresa if she’s been going around killing people lately. Left alone with that thought, Madrox can only offer a “huh?”

Upstairs, Rictor enters Rahne’s room, having heard that she was back. However, finding her packing a suitcase, he asks what she’s doing. Continuing to pack, Rahne remarks that she’s already told Polaris that she’s taking a leave of absence… but she wasn’t going to take off without telling him good-bye. Not this time.

Taking this in, Rictor asks her to backup. Where is she going? Told that she’s going to look for her son, he asks if this is some weird post-partum depression thing. This is her takin’ responsibility for her actions, she replies. This is her growin’ the hell up. And she hopes that eventually he can find it in his heart to forgive th’ way she’s treated him. The lies, the… Hell, she knows what she did. No point in belaboring it. Ultimately, she just appreciates that he’s been there for… her? Rahne stops in mid-sentence upon seeing Rictor turn and walk away.

“Me?” Theresa asks. Logan thinks that she’s going around killing people? Turning the question around, Havok replies that, no, he wants to make sure that she’s not going around killing people. That’s a subtle distinction that’s going right past her, Theresa replies. When Havok then adds that he’s gotten work of something weird going on in Ulster, Theresa sarcastically retorts that, of course, if it’s happening in Ireland, she must be responsible…! It’s not that Ulster, Havok counters, it’s Ulster in New York. Asked if there’s an Ulster in New York, Havok confirms.

Listening to this from nearby, Madrox thinks back to what Guido said earlier and glances over at Layla, who manages to remove her smile and glance away from him before he can see.

Back at the conversation, Theresa asks if there’s a Dublin too. Not in New York that he knows of, Havok replies, though Polaris points out that there’s one down in Pennsylvania, though. And Texas. And some others, she thinks. “Bloody Yanks,” Theresa mutters.

Could they focus? Havok asks. God, it’s like herding cats, sometimes. When Madrox then welcomes him to his world, Havok deflects it by noting that he’s the one he blames for it. His management style is chaotic. That’s rich from a guy named “Havok,” Madrox rejoins.

Returning to Theresa, Havok asks if the name “McAllister” rings any bells. Told not offhand, Havok informs her that there’s an extended family in Ulster. Three of them have died in the last month, their skulls practically shaken apart by vibrations… like sonics. And at least one witness reported hearing a high-pitched, sustained female screaming before finding the body. Having heard enough, Theresa states that she’s in. They’re in, Havok corrects. She and he. They’re a team and there’s no reason for any of them to fly solo.

Leaving via the front door, a somber Rahne finds herself startled by Rictor and Shatterstar. Carrying a visibly packed backpack, Rictor asks where do they start. Taken aback, Rahne asks what they’re doing. Rictor explains that they are coming with her; he packed some stuff real quick. Chiming in with a smile, Shatterstar explains that he packed nothing. Warriors travel light. That, and he doesn’t own anything. Rahne tells them that it is so sweet of them but… Interrupting, Rictor remarks that he has a stake in this too. He’s the fake father. And, Shatterstar chimes in, he’s apparently the fake weird uncle, at least that’s how Rictor explained it.

When she goes to hug the two of them, Shatterstar assumes aloud that it means they’re going. Looks like it, Rictor remarks. So… they are off to upstate New York? Aye, Rahne replies. It’s the only thing she can think of, although it’s thin at best. Guido and Longshot said they last saw her son in Hela’s arms, right before everything blew up. So maybe he escaped and is running free up there. When Rictor agrees that it’s big maybe, Rahne remarks that it’s not like they can go t’Hela’s domain and look there.

Sure they can, Shatterstar replies, extending the sets of twin blades from each sleeve. He just hopes the repairs on his blades hold. Instantly understanding his intention, Rahne attempts to warn Shatterstar to hold on a minute, but it is too late. After a flash of light, the trio are gone, teleported via one of Shatterstar’s portals.

Elsewhere in the building, Polaris finds Monet sitting at a table, reading a book. Told that she missed a fun road trip, Monet replies that she skipped it. She didn’t miss it a bit. Voicing a “whatever,” Polaris sits onto the couch. She was wondering, she continues, any further developments with Longshot? Receiving a “nope,” Polaris says that she thought Monet was going to do a scan on him… She did, Monet confirms. She performed a surface mental probe. He’s withdrawn so far into himself that she would have had to go more deeply into him than she cared.

Searching for a reply, Polaris remarks that she wouldn’t want Monet to go beyond her comfort zone. So, what would she recommend? Well, Monet replies, the truth is, he could stay like that forever. At the moment, Longshot walks by, waving at the two women. Returning to her book, Monet clarified, “Or, y’know… not.”

On the roof, Madrox finds Layla with a putter, trying to putt golf balls into a cup. When Madrox remarks that this is new, Layla replies that she takes it up. Asked when, she replies “now.” Changing subjects, Madrox asks if she remembers her whole “we’re going to be lovers and I’m going to be truthful with you” thing. Replying in the affirmative (along with a chastisement about his use of pronouns), Madrox asks about Far Sight… did he commit suicide or…? He was murdered, Layla replies, not even looking up from her putt. Asked by whom, Layla replies that she doesn’t know. How does she know he was murdered if she doesn’t know who did it? Madrox asks. Because he doesn’t solve the case, she replies. But Far Sight had a secret that Madrox uncovers so that he figures out he didn’t kill himself. Asked what that is, Layla replies that he’s completely illiterate. Completely.

For a moment, Madrox is confused but then comes to it himself. He couldn’t have written the suicide note. Exactly, Layla replies, but he has to go find that out first. When Madrox replies that he just did, Layla returns to her putt, explaining that Madrox finds out from questioning his high school English teacher. If he doesn’t do that, then she doesn’t find out and can’t tell him. Still confused, Madrox points out that she already told him, which Layla confirms is proof that he finds out from the teacher. With that, Layla kisses Madrox on the cheek.

She’s driving him crazy, he tells her as they begin to walk back to the stairs. That’s how he knows he loves her, she points out. Wanna have sex before he goes to talk to the teacher? Only if she’ll smile for him, he tells her. No promises, she counters.

Meanwhile, Havok drives the Mustang along the interstate. Sitting in the passenger seat, Banshee sarcastically asks that he does know it is a convertible, right? Admitting that he does, Havok explains that he spent too long in a spaceship. I feels like, if he cracks open the top, they’ll be yanked out in a vacuum. A vacuum, Banshee voices, that sucks. Very funny, Havok replies.

Lorna was right there with him, Banshee points out. She didn’t have any trouble with having the top down on their road trip. She also made it fly. That was cool. When he points out that she flies, Banshee replies that it’s not the same thing. She then asks if everything is okay with the two of them. Asked why, she replies that she doesn’t see them holding hands, or just doing those little touches on the shoulder or leg that happy couple do. To this, Havok replies that it’s just… they’ve been on-again, off-again for so long… He just sometimes has trouble remembering where they are at any given moment. He has to admit… sometimes it can be hell.

Elsewhere, along the coast, Jezebel flies on immense black wings toward an old lighthouse. Landing on the rocks at its base, she enters and calls up the circular stairwell for Morrigan, telling her that it is she. When Morrigan replies that she’s aware, Jezebel replies that she just thought she’d want to know: she’s coming. Her and one of her teammates.

Atop the tower in the lamp room, Morrigan stands in Medieval attire: a green, flowing dress, a fur coat on which sits a raven and a bejeweled tiara. She knows, Morrigan tells her visitor. She will come to her, this imposter of a banshee. She thinks herself the storm… but she will break against her. And she will die

Characters:
Banshee II, Butterfly, Havok, M II, Longshot, Multiple Man, Polaris, Rictor, Shatterstar, Strong Guy, Wolfsbane (all X-Factor)
Pip the Troll

Morrigan
Jezebel

Police officer

Notes:
Both Guido and Madrox have indeed died and come back. Guido was killed by Ballistique and subsequently resurrected by Layla in X-Factor (1st series) #218, while Madrox was killed by Bloodbath in #227 and subsequently returned through unclear means in #232.

Shatterstar’s mysterious foe actually did reveal his name: Scattershot. Shatterstar’s silence on the matter most likely deals with another piece of information gleaned from his foe: that he was from the Mojoverse.

Madrox & Layla’s physical relationship began upon his resurrection in #232.

Cyclops and Havok’s relationship has been rocky at best over their long relationship. Their most recent split has been the result of Havok taking Wolverine’s side in the X-Men Schism.

Far Sight supposedly killed himself at the end of Madrox & Shatterstar’s investigation into the mysterious deaths of amateur vigilantes, the X-Ceptionals. [X-Factor (1st series) #235-236]

Though Guido & Longshot last saw Rahne’s son in Hela’s arms, they were unaware that she left without him when she departed, or that he was found by Jack Russell, the Werewolf by Night.

Havok and Polaris indeed spent quite a long time in space. They departed with a team of X-Men to the Shi’ar Galaxy in Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #475 (Sept 2006) and returned in X-Men Legacy (1st series) #258 (Jan 2012).

Issue Summary written by: Douglas Mangum


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