X-Factor (1st series) #12

Issue Date: 
January 1987
Story Title: 
Boom Boom Boom!

Louise Simonson (writer), Mark Silvestri (penciller), Bob Wiacek (finishes), Joe Rosen (letterer), Petra Scotese (colorist), Bob Harras (editor), Jim Shooter (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

Already overcrowded, X-Factor receives a call by a young girl who feels threatened by a mutant. Iceman and Beast decide to check it out. The call is by Boom-Boom, a mutant herself, who is sick of the Vanisher always demanding so a big a slice from the money she steals. Vanisher manages to get on her better side again though and, so, when Hank and Bobby arrive, she makes excuses. However, she can’t resist putting one of her time bombs down Bobby’s pants, which leads to the two men giving her a merry chase, until finally Boom-Boom tells them her story and they decide to take her in. In the meantime, the doctors tell Warren that his wings have to be amputated or he will probably die. Angel refuses. Already facing charges because of fraud, he asks Cameron Hodge to draw up a new will for him, making X-Factor the sole beneficiary of his fortune. Jean Grey, in the meantime, fears for the safety of her sister, Sara, as she is making herself a public target with pro-mutant statements. Jean and Scott visit Sara’s home to find it empty. Moments later, it is firebombed. They figure that Sara got out in time, but Scott is now worried about something similar happening to his estranged wife, Madelyne, and he decides to go back to Alaska and see if he can patch things up with her. In Cleveland, Apocalypse recruits his third Horseman: an anorexic girl named Autumn Rolfson with the power to turn organics to dust.

Full Summary: 

Sr. Vincent’s Hospital. Dawn. Warren Worthington screams out in despair and denial. He won’t let them cut off his wings! The doctor is taken aback by his furious reaction and supposes it’s the pain killers making him act that way, Jean Grey who along with Scott Summers is in the room tries to calm Warren and tells the doctor not to kid himself. That’s his heart talking. His wings were shredded and crushed when he saved some people who would have died otherwise His powers make a difference and now the doctors want to take that away?

Tossing several newspapers with revelatory articles about Angel and X-Factor at the doctor, Scott asks how he expects Warren to react. The doctor tries to be understanding but Mr Worthington’s wings were crushed… That kind of injury is almost impossible to heal, even if he weren’t a mutant. It is made more difficult by the fact that the doctors at St. Vincent’s aren’t trained to treat mutant physiology … let alone wings. They brought in a bird specialist, but there’s nothing he can do. The wing bones are hollow and in a thousand splinters and the infection isn’t responding to medication. Even if the wings healed, Angel would never fly again. Better to cut them off and make him an ordinary human. The two of them are human mutant hunters. Is being merely human really so unthinkable for those people that death would be preferable? Because if the wings stay he will die. So if he could just be convinced to sign then consent form…

No! Warren refuses. He’s the Angel now and forever. He’d rather die than lose his wings.

Meanwhile in the X-Factor complex, Beast and the Morlock, Erg, are preparing breakfast for the Morlock refugees currently housed in the building. Taking the opportunity, Erg asks Hank why X-Factor pose as mutant hunters. Beast and Bobby explain that the idea was to have people report mutants to them so they could save them and help them control her powers. Skids observes that she could use some training, as she literally wrestles with her toast, having trouble to get it through her forcefield.

Caliban tells Iceman that he has scanned the Alley - the main Morlock Tunnel - with his powers, but there seem to be no survivors. All the Morlocks are slain. Not all, Ape, who has taken on the shape of a serving car to transport some food replies. That moment, they are joined by Artie and his new friend, Leech, whose presence negates powers. Tarbaby and Ape shout their warning too late; a moment later they are covered by food and suggest X-Factor should maybe start with teaching Leech how to control his powers.

Another phone call. Hank has trouble making it out, due to the background noise. It’s sounds like the caller is calling from an arcade, which, in fact, she is. Boom-Boom explains that she is being harassed by an evil mutant and she though that maybe they could help her.

Afterwards, she smiles in anticipation. That’ll teach the Vanisher to mess with Boom-Boom. She places a small time bomb into the slit and, a moment later, the phone explodes enabling her to get all the coins. What about his percentage, a voice behind her asks. Vanisher! Boom-Boom shouts.

Back at the X-Factor complex, Bobby and Hank are getting ready to check out the call, though Bobby protests it sounds like a crank call to him. The last thing they need right now is to locate another mutant. It’s getting crowed. It’s their job, Hank reminds him, and it’s nearby. The Morlocks wave them good-bye and one thanks Hank for the new clothes. The suit Vera conned him into buying, Hank reminds Bobby. Caliban stops them telling them he could help. He is a mutant detector. Hank thanks him but refuses. They are pretending to be ordinary humans. Caliban can’t pass. Plus, he is hurt - he should rest. He can’t rest as long as the Marauders who hurt his people are running free, the Morlock glumly answers.

Back at the hospital, Scott and Warren are dozing. Only Jean is listening to the news report, at first discussing Warren’s involvement in X-Factor and then switching to a crime scene, as a lower Eastside apartment belonging to relatives of an alleged mutant was firebombed. As the name of mutant spokeswoman, Sara Grey, is mentioned Jean is startled at the mention of her sister’s name.

On TV, Sara makes her statement condemning attacks on mutants. Jean tells Scott to wake up. Her sister is on TV. She thought that Jean had become the horrible Dark Phoenix, but still she is standing up for mutants. Jean becomes frantic. Somebody’s bombing people because they may be related to mutants and Sara is making herself a public target.

Scott tries to calm her, telling Jean it is just media hype. But if she’s so worried, why not call Sara? Isn’t it about time Jean contacted her family? Jean reacts nervously before lashing out, accusing Scott that he hasn’t even spoken to his wife in … He tried, Scott retorts, but there’s no answer, no forwarding address, nothing. Maddie’s left him. She’s turned her back on him, like he deserves. Besides… There is no ‘besides.’ Maddie is his wife, Jean tells him. He has to call her.

She doesn’t want to call Sara or her parents, she admits. She feels so disconnected from them now. Everybody thought she was dead and, in that time, she has changed; Scott has changed. Why shouldn’t they have changed as well? She thought she didn’t need them anymore, but now she has the horrible feeling something terrible is happening. Finally, she dials Sara’s number, but doesn’t get an answer either at Sara’s or her parents’ home. Scott points out they could be anywhere. Jean still senses Sara is in trouble. Scott tells her he’ll accompany her over to her sister’s.

In Midtown-Manhattan, Vanisher butters up Boom-Boom, trying to convince her she is the best of his thieves. Boom- Boom is softening up and starting to regret calling X-Factor, as Bobby and Hank come waltzing in. She tells Vanisher to duck back over, while she gets rid of them. Thinking that Bobby is a hunk, she makes up some excuse and tells them the mutant ran over there. While pointing in one direction, she creates a small time bomb and drops it into the back of Bobby’s overall and starts running. A moment later, it explodes and Hank points out with a grin that Bobby’s X-Terminator outfit is practically hanging out. He thinks Boom-Boom loves Bobby.

As Bobby starts running after Boom-Boom, Hank reminds him that she is just a scrawny little kid And he is going to wring her scrawny little neck, his friend shouts back.

The crowd admires Boom-Boom. A mutant and a great arcade player. How lucky can you get? The mood turns against X-Factor, while Boom-Boom runs to Vanisher, asking him what to do. First, he pretends that he doesn’t know her, then he angrily tells her she called them and made them chase her. Does he have to think of everything? He orders her to kill them. Boom-Boom is horrified. While Hank jumps at him, Vanisher tells Boom-Boom it’s her or them. With that, he vanishes before Hank can grab him. Bobby and Hank recognize him but of course too late.

Bobby grabs Boom-Boom and the crowd start rioting turning against the ‘dirty mutant – hunters.’ While they throw insults at them, Boom-Boom gets free and starts running.

Later, on a roof, Hank and Bobby change into their X-Terminator outfits. If Boom-Boom wants to play evil mutants, two can play at that game, Iceman announces. They’ll check every arcade in town. Eventually, they’ll find her. Hanks suggests reconsidering. They already have enough trouble. They don’t need anymore. He needs to wring her little neck, Bobby replies. He has an idea. She is a compulsive exploder, right? They just have to be quiet, and…
Indeed, a short while later, they hear a boom from an alley.

Hank sighs and asks why they are bothering. She doesn’t need to be taught control of her powers. She has plenty of control. Of her powers, Bobby agrees. But no self control. Down below, Boom Boom has detonated anther phone booth and collects the change.

Meanwhile, in Cleveland, Ohio, the Rolfsons, a normal family, are sitting at the dinner table. The mother urges her skinny teenage daughter that she has to eat. The doctors say she is anorexic. If she doesn’t eat, she’ll have to go to the hospital again. The father angrily reminds that her grades will slip in that case. Then, there won’t be a college scholarship and she will get a lousy job, like her parents. Having enough of them, Autumn announces that she has their food and everything they make her do. Energy crackles around her and all the food on the table turns to dust. He father puts his foot down, angrily shouting whether she wants the neighbors to see that and call X-Factor on her. He sends her to her room.

Autumn runs up, complaining that she is not real to them. But she is real to him, Apocalypse, who is waiting in her room, tells her. Very real and very special. He offers her dominion, control of others. He takes her hands an promises she will be reborn, as Famine, third Horseman of Apocalypse.

Several hours later, Jean and Scott have arrived at Sara Grey’s home. While Jean knocks Scott tells her there is probably some normal reason why Sara didn’t answer the phone. Just like Maddie? Jean retorts. Why won’t she talk to him? Jean telekinetically opens the door. Inside, they find that clothes, books, toys - all personal efforts are gone.

A moment later, the phone rings and Jean telekinetically grabs the receiver, hoping it’s Sara. Instead, the speaker, clearly believing her to be Sara, shouts that they got their warning. Too bad she didn’t listen. X-Factor should go after her kind too. Jean wants to know what warning.

A moment later, the house explodes. Scott loses his glasses in the process. While grabbing his visor, he orders Jean to cover them telekinetically. She does so and transports them out. Standing in front of the burning rubble, Jean once more asks where her sister is. She berates herself for not letting Sara know she was back. If she’d been available this might not have happened. And Scott starts thinking of Maddie who isn’t at home either…

Back at the hospital, Cameron Hodge informs Warren that Worthington stock is falling as a result of his revealed tie-in with X-Factor’s activities. He blew it, Angel berates himself. The docs think he will die soon anyway. Cameron is a lawyer, Warren states, and he wants him to help him get his papers in order. He wants to change his will to make X-Factor the sole beneficiary of whatever’s left of his fortune.

Several miles away, Boom-Boom walks off with the money she pilfered, until Beast and Iceman land next to her. She starts running through the doors of a fancy restaurant, throwing around plates. Of course, the two heroes follow while Beast worries about the mess. They don’t have to save her, he suggests. She can take care of herself. He doesn’t want to save her, he wants to kill her, Iceman shouts.

Boom-Boom has run through the back exit, only to find that the back alley has been closed off, due to a construction site. She turns around, creates a big time-bomb and threatens to kill them all. As she covers her face and start counting backwards, Beast kicks the bomb away, Iceman shoves it even farther off with some ice and finally covers all three of them with an ice-shield. They wait for an explosion that doesn’t come.

They look at Boom-Boom, who explains that the bomb was a dud. They didn’t really think she’d explode them, did they? They can’t fool her. They are those X-Factor guys. What are they doing in that get-up? Silly question, huh? They are going to kill her.

Taking off her glasses and sniffing, she seems like a little girl for the first time, as she rants she wishes she had exploded them all. Her daddy hit her when he found out what she could do. Probably when she put one of those things in his pants, Bobby suggests sardonically.

Boom-Boom sniffs on that she ran away and met the Beyonder. Beast recalls hearing of her. She was the kid who called the Avengers and turned him in. It was a big mistake Boom-Boom confides. He was the only one who ever cared about her. She… loved him. And then the Vanisher came along and yelled at her and made her steal and then they knocked her down and now they are going to kill her.

Feeling guilty, Bobby promises they didn’t want to scare her. No, he just wanted to kill her, Hank reminds him. Bobby replies that he knows they are overcrowded but they have to take her in. He turns to Boom-Boom, explaining what X-Factor is really about, namely that they take in and help mutants. Boom-Boom had heard about a similar place in Westchester, but when she went there they ignored and scared her. She starts crying again.

That place isn’t good anymore, Bobby agrees, but she is going to love it with them. ‘You’ll love it with us’ Hank sings along sarcastically. Bobby continues that there are already a couple of kids her age. Asking her with a ‘please,’ Boom-Boom replies that she can’t remember the last time somebody asked her something politely and agrees.

Bobby creates an iceslide to transport them and Beast adds that things are a little crowded right now. She always heard ‘three is a crowd,’ Boom-Boom replies and tosses a little bomb at Hank’s section of the slide causing him to break off. ‘Bad idea, Bobby! Really bad idea,’ he sighs.

Back at the hospital, Jean waits at the sleeping Angel’s bedside. Scott assures her she shouldn’t worry about Sara. It’s pretty clear she got out in time. He continues that he has decided to go back to Maddie. Maybe Maddie is facing the same threats that drove Sara away or maybe something has happened to her. Their marriage, the baby… all of it was out of his own free will. Whatever happened, he is responsible. He will find her if he has to tear Alaska apart. Jean sadly thinks to herself that she has lost him, but then that was already the case when he married Madelyne. Putting on a brave face, she tells Scott that he is doing the right thing.

Characters Involved: 

Angel, Beast, Cyclops, Iceman, Marvel Girl (all X-Factor)

Rusty Collins, Artie Maddicks (X-Factor students)

Ape, Caliban, Erg, Leech, Masque, Skids, Tarbaby and other Morlock refugees

Cameron Hodge (X-Factor’s P R Manager)




Autumn Rolfson

Autumn’s parents


On TV screen

Sara Grey (Jean’s sister)

Story Notes: 

Angel’s wings were horribly injured during the Mutant Massacre.

Actually there are more Morlock survivors, who are staying with the X-Men.

The firebombing talked about in the news report refers to Karma’s apartment. [see New Mutants (1st series) # 46]

Jean returned to the Morlock tunnels to help Cyclops in Power Pack #27.

This issue begins the mystery of Sara Grey’s whereabouts that isn’t solved – sort of - until the Phalanx Covenant crossover.

Boom-Boom briefly met the X-Men in Secret Wars II #5, when she befriended the Beyonder. She did not leave with a good impression of them.

Issue Information: 
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