X-Factor (1st series) #119

Issue Date: 
February 1996
Story Title: 
The Best Offense

Howard Mackie (writer), Steve Epting (penciler), Al Milgrom (inker), Glynis Oliver (colorist), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (letterers), Rob Piotrowski (assistant editor), Kelly Corvese (editor), Bob Harras (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

Forge, Polaris and Mystique are getting ready some security device for the permitter of Falls Edge, due to the recent arrival of Roma and the Adversary’s imminent return, bur Forge, exhausted, is being cryptic with his teammates. Roma approaches them and explains that Forge’s technology cannot work against the Adversary, before passing out. Wild Child gets a surprise visit from Shard, who tells him that she wants to go and have some fun, so they leave Falls Edge on Wild Child’s motorcycle, and zoom past Forge and the others, so Forge sends Polaris after them, as he needs their help. But when Polaris catches up with them and confronts them, it results in an argument with Wild Child, who says cruel things about Havok to her. Wild Child feels bad, and wishes that Valerie Cooper was here so he could talk to her, but he and Shard soon arrive at a rave party, where they have fun, and Shard reveals she likes Wild Child, until her system malfunctions, and she is confronted by the Friends of Humanity. Wild Child tries to protect her, but eventually she frees herself, and they leave. Shortly, Shard reveals how scared she is to be here, and wishes she could see her brother, Bishop. They are about to kiss, when Shard vanishes. Wild Child returns to Falls Edge and apologizes to Polaris, who tells him that it is time both of them got on with their own lives - which means she needs to move on from Havok. Meanwhile, Valerie Cooper meets with Dr. Pole for a progress report on Sabretooth, who is being held in stasis - but Sabretooth breaks free, and attacks Valerie, until he is shot by some guards, and Valerie reveals that she wished Sabretooth was dead, like she told her superiors he should be. Finally, the Adversary prepares for his attack on Forge, and is unaware that Naze may have just returned.

Full Summary: 

It has been said “music has charms to soothe a savage beast”. The young mutant Kyle Gibney, a.k.a. Wild Child, has always taken the old maxim quite literally. For him, cranking the music up to the max and hitting the super-bass is the only way to drown out the incessant chatter of his own mind, so that, buffeted by the wall of sound, he can forget about his past. Everyone has a different way of dealing with their emotions. And jumping around his quarters at X-Factor’s Falls Edge headquarters, in nothing but a towel, and picking up a tennis racket, pretending it is a guitar, this is Kyle’s way.

‘Yeah!’ Kyle shouts, telling himself that he has got to get over it. ‘Put the stuff with Aurora behind me!’ he thinks, referring to his former Alpha Flight girlfriend and teammate. Kyle puts the tennis racket down and strides into his bathroom, telling himself that it is time to start fitting in with the rest of X-Factor, ‘New team…new country…new day’ he tells himself as he steps into the shower before he plans to go meet up with the rest of the team - only to find the holographic Shard standing in the shower.

‘Hey there, Gibney! Whatcha doing?’ Shard asks. ‘Uh, Shard…SHARD!’ Wild Child gasps as he rushes out of the bathroom, dropping his towel in the process. ‘Hey! Wait!’ Shard shouts, before going after him. ‘You forgot your towel!’ Shard exclaims as she finds Wild Child, covering himself with his skateboard. ‘You forgot your towel’ Shard remarks, holding up Kyle’s towel. ‘What are you doing in here?’ Wild Child asks. ‘Forge told me you weren’t supposed to spontaneously appear!’ he exclaims. ‘Well as much as he’d like to think so, Forge doesn’t know everything!’ Shard declares, smiling as she tells Wild Child to put some clothes on, ‘We’ve got things to do!’ she tells him. ‘Er…I…er…’ Wild Child mumbles.

Meanwhile, at the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, outside X-Factor’s home and headquarters, Wild Child’s teammates - Polaris, Forge, Mystique, are already busy in the early hours of the morning. Polaris, a.k.a. Lorna Dane the Mistress of Magnetism, tells Forge that she has this thing stabilized in a magnetic field, and asks Forge where he wants her to put it, and if he can tell her what it is, as she motions to the large device, floating above them all.

‘Yeah, we’ve been working on this defense perimeter since dawn and you still haven’t filled us in on who the Adversary really is’ the sultry Raven “Mystique” Darkholme points out as she holds up some cabling for Forge, adding that Havok has apparently gone AWOL. ‘And no one but me seems all that concerned - and I thought I was the uncaring one of this bunch!’ Raven exclaims. Polaris, Havok’s long-time girlfriend, replies ‘Alex is…he had to…please…let’s just drop it’ she asks. ‘Well excuse me for breathing!’ Mystique mutters.

‘Okay, enough. This is serious!’ Forge tells his teammates, before asking Lorna to ease the field disruption generator into place. ‘Mystique, if you’d hand me the -’ Forge begins, dropping a tool that his is holding. Raven sees this and tells Forge to look at himself. ‘You can’t even hold your own tools!’ she exclaims, pointing out that he hasn’t slept all night, not since Roma arrived. Raven suggests to Forge that he go get some sleep, assuring him that she and Polaris can finish here, and that when he wakes up he can tell them what this is all about.

Forge doesn’t respond, he just stares at the blue-skinned mutant, who asks him ‘What? What are you staring at?’ Forge replies that, for a minute, he thought he caught a glimpse of the real Raven, the woman behind the masks. ‘Oh, I can be whoever you want’ Mystique replies, shifting her form into a stodgy yet sensible housewife, then a high-fashion super-model, ‘Or even a certain white-haired goddess of the Storm…oops! Don’t want to go there!’ Raven smirks as she returns to her default form, pointing out that she might get a headache from the inhibitor device Forge implanted in her, preventing her from transforming into anyone X-related. Raven tells Forge not to go picking out curtains just yet, and once more suggests he go and get some rest.

Getting to his feet, Forge replies that he appreciates the offer, but that he cannot afford to sleep right now. ‘Why not? If I am part of X-Factor, and not just some indentured slave, you’ll tell me what this is all about!’ Mystique retorts. Forge replies that the answers may come sooner than any of them would like, when suddenly, ‘Forge! We must speak!’ shouts Roma, daughter of Merlin, master sorceress and Guardian of the Multiverse, as she rushes towards her ally. The power that Roma wields is incalculable by human means, yet, today, fear is etched on her face….

Roma exclaims that the Adversary’s dark mind proves the Earth, searching for Forge. She explains that she has erected a mystical shield around Falls Edge, but that the Adversary’s power is great. Roma adds that it takes a great toll on her, which is why she has been in a state of equipoise, all of her energies are being devoted to keeping the Adversary from Forge. Forge tells the Goddess to relax and drop her shields, explaining that he is taking his own steps to face the Adversary. ’No! You do not understand!’ Roma exclaims. ’It is why I roused myself…you must know…this technology of yours cannot work…against him…’ Roma whispers, before passing out, Forge catches her before she hit’s the ground.

Meanwhile, Wild Child puts his clothes on while watching Shard and asking ’Now let me get this straight - you’re a hologram, yet I can talk to you and touch you and…’ his voice trails off. ’Weird, isn’t it?’ Shard replies, explaining that she is solid most of the time, but that Forge has got to finish her holo-matrix programming so that she doesn’t keep fritzing out. Wild Child smiles at this, while Shard remarks ‘I guess I can’t complain too much. Phasing through walls is kind of a perk!’ she jokes.

Wild Child remarks that he hates to say this, but that Forge is rather preoccupied right now. ‘Tell me about it - I’ve been so bored lately waiting for him to get back to me - I’m glad when you came crashing through Forge’s lab window!’ Shard replies, telling Wild Child that he is the only one who knows how to have fun around here. Grabbing his arm, she strides out of the room, telling him to come along, as they have places to go and people to see. ‘I…er…I…er…sure, why not!’ Kyle replies.

Outside, Forge places Roma up against a tree, while Lorna and Raven stand nearby, as Roma explains that she must return to equipoise in order to keep the Adversary’s psychic probes at bay. Roma asks Forge to believe her and explains that his teacher Naze’s quest was to help him look inside himself and return to his roots. ‘Therein lies the path to defeating your enemy!’ Roma explains. ‘I’m sorry, I can’t. It’s been to long since -’ Forge begins, when suddenly, a loud motorcycle zooms overhead, interrupting him.

‘What the -?’ Forge exclaims as he and the women turn to the commotion, ‘What is Kyle doing?’ Forge asks, before suddenly seeing Shard on the back of the motorcycle. Wild Child and Shard speed past the senior members of X-Factor, as Forge exclaims that this is no time to be joyriding. ‘Polaris?’ he exclaims. Lorna takes flight, ‘I’m on it, Forge!’ she exclaims, adding that she will be back in five minutes.

Meanwhile, in the desert of the south-western United States, a powerful being, known throughout the ages by many names - the Trickster, the Enemy, the Adversary - stands, as winds howl around him in the darkened sky. ;It was here that you fell before me, Naze! And now all that remains is this talisman of yours!’ the Adversary exclaims, holding up the charm, and remarking that, of all those who have opposed him through time, Naze was the most laudable. ‘And now, after all these eons, the game, to which I have devoted myself, draws to its inevitable conclusion. I shall destroy this universe of yours and create a new one born out of chaos!’ the Adversary boasts.

However, the Adversary exclaims that, to accomplish his task, there is one final player who must also die. He drops the talisman to the sand at his feet and takes his leave, declaring that Roma cannot hide Forge from his sight forever, and assures Naze that he will soon be sending his student to join him in eternity. ‘There can be no other way!’ he boasts. But as the Adversary disappears into the darkness from which he was born, the arid desert winds stir…and with the wind comes…hope - as a hand bursts from the sand and grabs the talisman….

Back at Falls Edge, the motor cycle hit’s the ground, ‘So does this thing fly, or what!?’ Shard exclaims. ‘With the right rider…uh-oh…we’ve got company!’ Wild Child replies as he brings the motor cycle to a screeching halt, as a stern-faced Polaris hovers above them. ‘Kyle, what are you doing?’ Lorna asks, telling him that he cannot take Shard out of the Compound like this, and informing him that Forge wants him back now. Wild Child tells Polaris that he is sorry, but that Forge had his chance, and he doesn’t have the time for Shard right now, ‘And I need to cut loose for a bit myself’ he explains.

‘If this is about Aurora…’ Lorna begins, before telling him that she knows he wants to have some fun for once, but Forge really needs them right now, as something very serious is going on with him. ‘I know things were tough with Aurora, but you’ve got to get past it’ Lorna remarks. Kyle replies that he doesn’t really need a lecture on relationships, ‘Especially from you!’ he exclaims, asking if X-Factor business was more important than Alex. ‘Is that why he left?’ Kyle asks. Annoyed, Lorna replies ‘That’s none of your business’, before telling Kyle to come back if he wants, she doesn’t care, she just came to give him the message. With that, Lorna takes flight back to Forge.

‘Boy, she sure is miffed at you’ Shard remarks, before asking where Havok went anyway. Kyle replies that no one seems to know, not even Lorna, while thinking to himself that he is an imbecile, that Lorna didn’t need to hear that from him. ‘God I wish Val was around to talk to!’ Kyle tells himself, wondering where she is.

The “Val” that Kyle refers to is of course Doctor Valerie Cooper, member of the Commission on Superhuman Affairs, and one of the government’s experts in mutants. She is currently fifty miles away, in the Georgetown district of Washington DC. The brownstone looks like any one of the dozens which diplomats, lobbyists and politicians call home. But beneath the classic architecture and the tasteful décor, this building is much more different than the rest. For beneath the stairs, cloaked in shadows, is a black door - a door with no visible handles or locks, which can only be opened from the inside - and from a sub basement three stories below ground level.

It is down here that the glamorous Valerie, who also holds the position of X-Factor’s Government Liaison, stands in this scientific-medical research facility, exclaiming ’Why am I still here, Doctor Pole?’, reminding him that she delivered Sabretooth to him for medical rehabilitation as ordered, and since then she has been kept out of the loop. The Doctor replies that he couldn’t tell Valerie why, remarking that they both just follow orders. ‘Though it has been pleasant to once again have your company’ Dr. Pole tells Valerie, who ignores his comment. Sabretooth floats naked in a vat, hooked up to a breathing tube.

The Doctor turns to a monitor and tells Valerie that he cannot thank her enough for bringing him such an interesting subject to study, and tells her that the extensive trauma inflicted upon Victor Creed’s body has caused Sabretooth’s mutant healing factor to operate at an accelerated rate. ‘He is truly a marvel to behold!’ Dr. Pole exclaims as he and Valerie turn their backs to Sabretooth and look at the monitors. ‘Yeah…he’s wonderful’ Valerie replies sarcastically, before asking Dr. Pole what is next on the medical agenda. The Doctor replies that Creed remains in stasis until his body has completed its healing cycle.

Suddenly, Creed’s hand flexes, and his claws tap the glass tank, before he smashes the glass, and lunges at Valerie. Fluid from the vat spills all over the floor, but the quick thinking Valerie jumps backwards, ‘Looks like he’s healed and moving fast!’ Valerie exclaims, telling Dr. Pole to get out of and call security. ‘I’ll hold him for as long as I can!’ Valerie exclaims as she grabs a pistol from the holster under her mini-skirt - but Creed whacks it from her grasp, and growls at her as he places his clawed hand to a wide-eyed Valerie’s face.

Suddenly, Creed falls backwards as a barrage of bullets hits him in the back. ‘What do you want us to do with him, Doctor Cooper?’ a security guard asks as he enters with Dr. Pole and several other guards. ‘Too bad your tazers weren’t set to kill - if what I wanted counted…Creed wouldn’t be breathing and we wouldn’t be having this conversation!’ Valerie replies.

At that moment, ‘Trekkin! A rave! Have you been here before?’ Shard exclaims as she and Kyle pull up outside a warehouse in a rather dodge area. ‘Er…not really. I don’t get out much’ Kyle replies, explaining that girls are not lining up to go out with a face like his. ‘Get out of here, Gibney! I think you’re cute!’ Shard exclaims as she begins running towards the warehouse. ‘Huh?’ Kyle asks as he follows the grinning Shard down the stairs to the warehouse. ‘All right!’ Shard exclaims as she sees the crowd of people. ‘A mush pit! Or is it a mosh pit?’ she asks as she leaps into it. ‘Mosh’ Kyle replies, following his companion.

Dancing, Shard exclaims that she always had a soft spot in her heard for oldies clubs, and drags Kyle into the crowd. ‘Let’s do it!’ she tells him. Kyle asks Shard if she means what she said earlier. ‘About me being…you know…cute’. Not looking at Kyle, Shard replies ‘Yeah. Where I come from you would be a prize glitch!’. Kyle begins to dance with Shard, in amongst the ravers, and asks her where she comes from. ‘About eighty years in the future’ Shard replies. ‘You’ve got to be kidding!’ Kyle replies. ‘Nope. My brother Bishop and I worked for the X.S.E. and -’ Shard explains, before Wild Child interrupts her - ‘Bishop? Of the X-Men? He’s your brother?’ Kyle asks, shocked.

‘Yes, of course he is!’ Shard replies, before telling Wild Child that he is really out of the loop, and exclaiming that is enough about her for now, as they need to party. ‘Dive for it!’ Shard exclaims as she leaps up into the crowd, who reach out to hold her up. Grinning from ear-to-ear, Shard exclaims that she needed this, when, suddenly, static appears around her form. ‘Oh no - it’s happening again!’ she calls out, worried. ‘Kyle? Help me! I’m breaking up!’ Shard exclaims urgently. Pushing past people, Wild Child calls out to Shard, but he cannot see her. ‘Where are you?’ he asks.

Suddenly, the crowd separates: ‘Look at her!’ someone exclaims as Shard lies on the floor, fading in and out. ‘What’s happening to her?’ someone asks. ‘She’s got to be some sort of mutant!’ someone else exclaims. Suddenly, three big burly men walk over, ‘Did someone say mutant?’ one of them asks, before turning to Shard and asking her if she is a mutie as he picks her up by her collar. ‘Who’s asking?’ Shard snaps back. ‘We belong to the Friends of Humanity and we don’t like freaks like you!’ the man replies. Shard, worried, tells the man that he doesn’t want to mess with her. ‘Just put me down and I’ll go’ she adds.

‘You ain’t going anywhere until we’ve had some fun and stomped your face, mutie!’ the man replies, when suddenly, Kyle leaps past the ravers, and growling, shouts ‘Put her down!’. Shard is stunned, ‘Wild Child?’ she exclaims, while the Friends of Humanity narrow their eyes. Kyle lands a few feet in front of them, ‘Another one?’ one of the men asks, telling his cohorts that it looks like they are hitting the jackpot tonight. Shard tells Wild Child that she doesn’t want to fight, and remarks that it is bad enough she is breaking up. ‘Let’s take off!’ she exclaims.

But Wild Child explains that the Friends of Humanity will not let them leave without a fight, ‘He, and his kind, think that mutants are a blight…something that should be wiped out!’ Kyle tells Shard. ‘You got that right, freak!’ the thug mutters. Shard declares that she knew men like this in her time, and tells Wild Child that there is only one way to deal with them. ‘Like…this!’ she exclaims as she fires a blast of energy at the thug holding her, causing him to release her. The men have no time to react, for in the space between two thoughts, Shard’s plasma blast ends the confrontation. Wild Child watches Shard intently. Shard frowns and narrows her eyes, ‘You’ve been asking about who I am…what I did…where I came from…well, that was just a small sample of what I can do’ Shard tells Wild Child, before telling him that they need to get out of here as the Friends of Humanity will wake up in a few minutes.

Later, Wild Child and Shard park up near some woods, and Shard tells Kyle that she is sorry about fizzing out on him like that. ‘I just don’t seem to know what it’s going to happen’ she explains. Kyle tells her that she has nothing to be sorry about, as it is not her fault. Shard replies that she knows, but that it feels so bizarre, remarking that this isn’t her world, her time, even her body. ‘I feel pretty much alone right now’ she adds, before announcing that she wants to see her brother, Bishop.

Kyle tells Shard that she isn’t alone, and assures her that he will make sure she sees her brother soon. Kyle crouches down beside Shard and puts a hand to her chin. Shard turns to his face, and thanks him. ‘You have no idea how much…that…means…to…’ she replies, before vanishing, her lips just inches from his. ‘The story of my life…’ Kyle mutters as he gets to his feet.

Falls Edge, a short time later, Lorna sits on a ledge, gazing off into the distance, when Kyle returns. ‘Lorna?’ Kyle calls out, before telling her that he is really sorry about what he said. ‘It was so far out of line it’s not funny’ he tells her. Lorna tells him to forget about it. ‘I pushed you. I shouldn’t have’ she admits, before Kyle supposes that Forge is upset too. ‘Boy, do I really know how to make new friends, huh?’ Kyle mutters. Lorna drops down from the ledge, and tells Kyle not to worry, that things will settle down soon, before asking him where Shard is.

‘She disappeared - literally’ Kyle replies, looking forlorn as he tells Polaris that it seems like every time he tries to get close to someone, they just don’t hang around too long. Kyle asks Lorna if she has any idea what that feels like, to which a teary-eyed Polaris replies that she does. Kyle realizes this of course and apologizes quickly, but Lorna wipes her eyes and tells him that it is okay, and reveals that she has been staring off into space all day trying to figure out what she did wrong, and how she could have kept Alex around. 'After everything we've been through, he just leaves. Just like that!' Lorna exclaims, remarking that she doesn't care if Alex has his own problems to deal with, they were together and he should have come to her. 'Well, he made his choice!' she exclaims.

Polaris declares that she loves Havok, but right or wrong, she is tired of crying over the pain that he keeps causing her. 'He'll be back when he wants to come back just like always - but I won't be sitting around waiting for him like a good little girlfriend. Kyle, I think it's time we both got on with our lives!' Polaris declares assuredly.

Characters Involved: 

Forge, Mystique, Polaris, Wild Child (all X-Factor)

Dr. Valerie Cooper





The Adversary

Doctor Pole

Security guards

Friends of Humanity members

People at rave

Story Notes: 

Wild Child and Aurora broke up in X-Factor (1st series) #116 [Not #117 as the footnote this issue says].

The Adversary’s return can be seen in X-Factor (1st series) #117-118.

Havok left the X-Factor, involuntarily, in X-Factor (1st series) #118, now the prisoner of the Dark Beast.

Roma unexpectedly arrived at Falls Edge in X-Factor (1st series) #118.

Wild Child crashed through Forge’s lab window in X-Factor (1st series) #117 [Not #118 as the footnote this issue says].

Naze fell from a cliff in X-Factor (1st series) #118.

Sabretooth was wounded at the end of the Sabretooth one shot.

The X.S.E. that Shard and Bishop worked for in the future is the Xavier Security Enforcers.
It is odd that Mystique questions Forge about the Adversary, considering she is the only member of the team who was present when he attacked last time. (Uncanny X-Men #225-227)

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