X-Factor (1st series) #123

Issue Date: 
May 1996
Story Title: 
It Begins…Again!

Howard Mackie (writer), Jeff Matsuda (penciler), Al Milgrom (inker), Glynis Oliver (colorist), Richard Starkings & Comicraft (letterers), Malibu (enhancements), Matt Idelson (assistant editor), Kelly Corvese (editor), Bob Harras (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

Sabretooth lunges at Forge, Polaris, Valerie and Wild Child, only to attack the large being behind them - a mutant Hound. Sabretooth explains to Valerie that this is why he was sent here without the rest of X-Factor as he battles the Hound, Mystique’s attempted assassin. During this, Mystique remains unconscious. Polaris tries to stop the Hound with her magnetic powers, but he just passes right through them. Sabretooth and Wild Child tackle the Hound before he can get to Mystique, before Polaris drops a huge pile of rubble and equipment on the Hound. Forge decides to tap into the facility’s computer to find some more information about the Hound, while Sabretooth tells Valerie that his collar has been switched off, so he doesn’t have to so what she tells him. The Hound breaks through the rubble, and boasts that no mutant can stop him, which is why he was made into this thing. Polaris summons immense power, and takes control of the Hound, asking him various questions, he explains that he doesn’t know why he attacked Mystique, but that he cannot stop until all mutants are dead, and that he is a mutant also. Polaris incapacitates the Hound, though she is drained of energy. Forge gets to work on finding out about this Government facility, and learns that Rory Campbell is somehow involved, when he is discovered by some black-op Government agents, who end the goings-ons by taking the Hound into custody. Valerie is confronted by a man called Gladstone whom she has some sort of friendship with, and Gladstone persuades her to give this mission up, warning her that it is for her own good. X-Factor, including Sabretooth, then leave. Meanwhile, at Falls Edge, two unknown Government operatives break in, as they were informed the place would be deserted. As they try to steal Forge’s computer and files, they are stopped by Shard. Graydon Creed’s campaign for President of the United States receives a large sum of money from someone within the Government, and Graydon is warned that Mystique is going to be kept alive to keep him in check. Two days later, Valerie and Senator Kelly travel to the location of the Government facility on the border, only to find the whole place is gone, replaced by farms. They are confronted by a Government Scientist-cum-Farmer who explains that they are testing bovine diseases, and he claims he doesn’t know what Valerie is talking about when she mentions the complex that was supposed to be here. Senator Kelly is annoyed, but tells Valerie that this confirms some suspicions he has been having of late. Later, Valerie walks the grounds of Falls Edge at night time, and is confronted by Sabretooth, who hints that he likes his current situation, before warning Valerie that she might be the next person to end up with a restraining collar around her neck.

Full Summary: 

A top secret Government research facility, somewhere near the Canadian border, where X-Factor, the Government sanctioned mutant team, has come searching their shape-shifting teammate Mystique, who has once again gone rogue in pursuit of her personal agenda. En route, the U.S. Government’s mutant liaison, Doctor Valerie Cooper, informed the rest of the team that they were to utilize a mutant prisoner in the X-Factor program. Not one member of the team was overly pleased, and even less so when they found their new teammate standing over a fallen, wounded Raven “Mystique“ Darkholme.

Now, with all 275 pounds of muscle, claws and killer instinct of their new teammate driving straight at them…Forge…Polaris…Valerie…Wild Child…realize what it is like to be at the receiving end of a serial killer’s rage - and why he is called…SABRETOOTH!

Suddenly though, Victor “Sabretooth” Creed leaps past his new teammates, ‘Get out of my way and don’t look so surprised, kiddies!’ Creed exclaims, as he lunges at the large creature who has suddenly appeared behind X-Factor. ‘I tried to tell you, I wasn’t here to kill you. This is what I’m after - a genetically enhanced mutant hunter called the Hound!’ Creed explains as he begins fighting the Hound, only to be tossed against a wall.

Blood pours down his face as Sabretooth turns to the others, ‘You wanted to know why I was sent here without the rest of X-Factor? Well, there’s your answer’ Creed tells Valerie, remarking that the big boys in Washington didn’t want to risk losing all of X-Factor against this thing. ‘Figured they test how well I could obey orders’ Creed adds, remarking that he played by the rules, but that Mystique was a little too clever for her own good, that she had her own beef with this guy, and led the rest of them here. ‘So feel free to jump in and help anytime you want!’ Creed exclaims as the monstrous, deadly Hound stands before them all.

The Hound’s voice resonates around X-Factor as he exclaims ‘Mystique. She was the initial target designate…I completed successful tracking to Belle Fourche River Dam, but extermination fell short’ the Hound explains as he leaps towards Mystique, who still lies unconscious on the floor. The Hound remarks that, initial contact with Mystique, first blood, broke off layers of programming and sent him spinning out of control. ‘She may hold the answers to why this has happened to me. She might know who it is that turned me into this thing!’ the Hound exclaims.

‘Hold it right there!’ Lorna “Polaris” Dane orders as she flies towards the Hound, putting up a force field between the Hound and Mystique, telling the rest of X-Factor that she can keep the Hound away from Raven, but they have to take him down, now. ‘Target designate: Polaris. Mutant power to manipulate electromagnetic field. Counter measures programmed within and…initiated!’ the Hound exclaims as he somehow nullifies Lorna’s electromagnetic filed and walks right through it, his large hands reaching out for Raven’s unmoving body.

‘He’s walking right through my shield!’ Lorna gasp, exclaiming that she cannot hold him back. The Hound turns his attention from Mystique to Polaris, but Sabretooth interjects, ‘You just don’t get it, do you? There’s no stopping this guy!’ Creed shouts. ‘There’s only killing before he kills you!’. Creed pushes the Hound back, while calling out to Kyle “Wild Child” Gibney, asking him what he is waiting for. ‘Get busy!’ Creed tells him. ‘Tough guy’s gotten in over his head’ Wild Child snarls. ‘Smarten up, wimp…if this thing gets through me…the rest of your teammates are toast!’ Creed exclaims.

‘Okay…just don’t tell me what to do!’ Wild Child replies as he leaps onto the Hound’s back, despite X-Factor’s longest-serving member, Polaris, telling him to get out of there. Holding up a large device with her magnetic powers, Lorna exclaims that she is going to stop this thing right where it stands. ‘What about Sabretooth?’ Kyle asks. ‘I’m sure this will manage to stop him, too! Now move it!’ Lorna replies before releasing the large object from her hold. Wild Child, followed by Sabretooth, leap from the Hound. ‘Wild Child, do this…Wild Child do that!’ Kyle mutters, annoyed.

As the dust settles, Forge turns to Valerie and asks her if she has any idea what this thing is, or what this facility is being used for. ‘No. But I plan on finding out’ the glamorous young woman replies. Forge tells Val that she must have some clue. ‘How did you get us here?’ he asks, to which Valerie replies that she was given the coordinates and told it was an A-1 priority. Creed remarks that he hates to interrupt, ‘But you do know that the pile of rubble isn’t going to hold the Hound for long. I spent an entire day dancing with him before you showed up. And I assure you…he was built to last!’.

‘Long enough for me to do some investigating of my own’ Forge remarks, announcing that he should be able to use these computer banks to tap into the main database to this facility, and perhaps learn something about it and their Hound before he rouses. ‘Can’t let you do that, Forge!’ Creed exclaims, leaping at Forge and preventing him from tapping into the mainframe. ‘What are you talking about? You’re part of X-Factor now. You work with us!’ Valerie exclaims. ‘Not on this mission, lady’ Creed replies, warning her to back off or else he will gut her and Forge too.

‘The restraining collar…?’ Val reminds Creed, who tells the respected young woman that she is going places she isn’t supposed to. ‘Test the collar if you want to. Come on. Try me!’ Creed boasts, before announcing that his restraining collar has been turned off for this mission. ‘A no-holds-barred kind of thing’. Suddenly, the Hound bursts through the equipment, and grabs Creed. ‘The Hound is up!’ someone calls out, pointing out the obvious.

Meanwhile, at Falls Edge, the home and headquarters of X-Factor. The Compound is equipped with security systems, designed by the mutant techno-master, Forge, designed well beyond state-of-the-art. That just makes the job of the two intruders all the more interesting. Clad in black, and armed with an assortment of advanced equipment, they carry no identification which could be traced back to their employers in Washington. They are rendered all but invisible to the criss-crossing lattice work of laser-beam security network. They move through the corridors of Falls Edge with a single objective in mind: ‘This is it!’ one of them exclaims as they approach a computer.

‘Tap into Forge’s main data bank and download everything’ one of them exclaims. The other points out that the cryptography team can decode it later, when, suddenly, a voice exclaims ‘Tsk! Tsk! Tsk! I don’t think you fellows belong here…’. ‘Who the -?’ one of the wide-eyed intruders asks, as they turn to the sound of the voice, and a young woman materializes before them. ‘The name is Shard, but who I am is irrelevant’. Shard declares that what does matter though, is that the two of them are breaking into Forge’s data bank. ‘And, to me…somehow I don’t think that’s a good thing’.

‘Recon said the place was empty!’ one of the intruders exclaims, adding that no one was supposed to be here. ‘Forget it. We’ve got our orders…not witnesses!’ the other exclaims as they raise their weapons and fire. ‘So, you want to play, huh? Okay…let’s play!’ Shard exclaims as she dives into the middle of the intruders, then blasts them through a window with her energy powers. Once outside, the intruders make a run for it. ‘Hey! Where’re you going? Oh, man…I was just getting started!’ Shard exclaims, grinning.

Back at the top-secret facility, Wild Child exclaims that he will slow the Hound down while Forge, Lorna and Val can figure out how to stop him. He lunges towards the Hound, despite Valerie telling him not to. Kyle doesn’t listen. Val tells Forge that Kyle cannot handle the Hound on his own. ‘You’ve seen what it’s capable of. It’ll kill him!’ she exclaims. ‘We’re not going to let that happen, are we, Val?’ Forge replies as he and Val release plasma blasts from an accessory on their wrists, which strike the Hound in the back. Val declares that they have lost too many this year. ‘We won’t lose anyone else!’ she exclaims. ‘Even if we’ve got to stoop to Sabretooth’s level to stop this “Hound”!’ she adds. ‘You can’t stop me. No mutant can stop me. It’s why they made me into this thing!’ the Hound replies.

Lorna Dane, the Mistress of Magnetism, watches the goings-ons. The potential power that she wields could rival that of Magneto himself. Until now, she was always holding back, never pushing into those uncharted areas of her body, mind and spirit, which would draw from the untapped reservoir of genetic power within. Recently, Lorna has lost friends and lovers…but through it all she learned how to survive and move forward. Watching Wild Child struggling for his life, Lorna is determined she will not lose another person from her life. The air around her becomes charged with powerful magnetic energy, and Lorna reaches out to the Hound, who is swinging one clawed hand towards Wild Child, and holds the Hound’s hand in place, a short time ago though, the Hound walked through Lorna’s barrier, he is now held in check though.

The Hound stares at his newfound opponent, looking deep into her eyes, summoning all of his strength for one final attack. Lorna stares back. Valerie and Forge help Wild Child up, while Val remarks that it looks like there is a face-off between Polaris and the Hound. ‘ENOUGH!’ Polaris screams as she surrounds herself in a powerful magnetic bubble, and pushes down upon the Hound, forcing him backwards. ‘Who are you? Why did you attack Mystique?’ Lorna demands to know. The Hound replies that he doesn’t know. ‘I can’t stop until all mutants are dead! And the joke is…I’m a mutant too!’ he reveals. ‘A mutant designed to track and kill mutants!’

Instantly, the Hound becomes a focus for all of Lorna’s anger, all of her frustrations - all of her power! With a tremendous burst of pure electromagnetic force, Polaris blows the Hound through several containing walls, until he finally comes to a halt. Val, Forge and Kyle watch in awe. ‘What did she do? Did she kill him?’ Wild Child asks. Forge replies that he doesn’t know, but that, for Lorna’s sake, he hopes not. Suddenly, Lorna flies down towards then. ‘He’s not dead. Even I…don’t have that much anger…in me…’ she whispers, before collapsing. ‘I’ve got her!’ Wild Child exclaims as he and Val rush over to Lorna. Val tells Forge that they will take care of Lorna, while he goes and breaks into the files and see what this place is.

Forge makes his way to a computer, deciding that it won’t take much to break in, so long as there are no distractions. ‘I’m in!’ he exclaims. Forge realizes that the files are encoded, but that he thinks he can decipher enough of it to figure out what is going on here. ‘This place is a Government genetic research facility and the Hound was a mutant whose genetic make-up was altered, transforming him into a weapon to be used again…I can’t make it out, but….there! Mystique!’ Forge exclaims, reading over the files. He discovers that Mystique was the first designated target, and that the Hound was assigned to kill her back at Bell Fourche, but that something went wrong, and he went wild, and after returning here, was scheduled to be killed himself.

The rain in Spain falls

Mainly on the plan brown

Wrapper of natural Cuban

Missile crisis in our schools

Of fish food for the hungry?

Eat at Joes. Key player:

Professor Rory Campbell

Wears plaid pants and

Loafers, but he leaves his


Is the next file, and Forge realizes that Rory Campbell is currently working with Moira MacTaggert and Excalibur. ‘I should be able to decode this in its entirety’ Forge realizes, when, suddenly, there is a massive explosion, and several muscular men armed with weapons and disguised with masks appear. ‘You are in violation of the National Security Code. We have been authorized to stop X-Factor by whatever force necessary!’ one of the men announces.

Meanwhile, at the Presidential Campaign Headquarters of Graydon Creed, campaigners are manning the phones, while Creed’s assistant, Henry, tells Creed that they are taking their message to the American people, and the people are hearing it, as they are moving up in the polls. ‘Our message will no longer be denied!’ he exclaims. ‘Sound bites, Creed?’ a tall, gangly man with long white hair asks as he enters, carrying a suit case. ‘How pedestrian. I believe our good friend in Washington had hoped for much more’ he adds.

‘Who the -?’ Creed begins, to which Henry storms over to the newcomer, ‘Hey! What are you doing in here? Nobody gets this close to Mr Creed without being cleared by me!’ Henry exclaims. Graydon tells Henry to calm himself as he takes the case from the new arrival, whom he introduces as Mr Harper. ‘He represents a friend of mine’ Creed explains. ‘He can be trusted. Can’t you, Mr Harper?’ Creed asks. ‘That’s not for me to say’ Harper replies, opening the case, he remarks that he is simply the bearer of the latest campaign “donation”.

Creed smiles as he holds a cigar in his hand, telling Harper to thank their “friend” and assure him that when he is elected President of this great country, he will not forget all that their friend has done for him. ‘He is counting on that’ Harper replies. Graydon asks Harper how their “friend’s” Hound Program is coming along. ‘I hear there was some trouble up near the Canadian border? That the first hound is still giving him trouble? This, after he failed in his first mission…the attempt on Mystique’s life back at Belle Fourche’. Graydon announces that he is beginning to have his doubts about the entire Program, remarking that Mystique is in possession of information which could prove damaging to them all.

‘I know exactly how dangerous your mother is to all future plans, but all is progressing apace, Graydon’ Harper replies, suggesting to Creed that he keep his mind on his political campaign, and leave Mystique’s demise and other matters, to those who are qualified to attend to them. As Harper leaves the office, he reveals that, he has suggested to their friend that they keep Mystique around, just to keep Graydon in check. ‘Watch your back, Creed. You never know who is behind you’.

Meanwhile, at the Government facility, Val, Forge, Polaris and Wild Child have been gathered up by the government agents, and a man called Gladstone, who Valerie addresses, asking him what is going on. Gladstone apologizes to Val, telling her that he doesn’t know anything more than she does, and adds that he was sent here because the two of them go way back. ‘And they thought maybe I could assure your cooperation’ Gladstone adds. ‘What are you talking about? Who sent you? Who gave these orders?’ Val asks, fed up. ‘Doctor, neither of us is cleared for that information’ Gladstone replies, explaining that his orders are to see her and X-Factor vacate this area.

Gladstone informs Valerie that they have confiscated the device that Forge was using to break into classified files, and motioning to the Hound in stasis, remarks that they have the intruder in custody. ‘Val, just let it go and leave…now’ Gladstone suggests. ‘Intruder?’ Val asks, pointing out that the files show the Hound is the product of a Government genetic experiment. Gladstone gets into his transport ship, replying that he doesn’t know and doesn’t want to know anything about it. ‘For the last time…I’m saying this as a friend…let it go!’

‘We’ll be good Government employees and follow orders…but we’ll be back’ Valerie vows as she climbs into X-Factor’s jet, followed Polaris, Wild Child and Forge, carrying Mystique. Suddenly, a soldier exclaims ‘Excuse me, Doctor Cooper? But what do we do with him?’ he asks, motioning to Sabretooth who is standing behind him. ‘I’ve never seen him before in my life. Have you, Forge?’ Wild Child declares innocently. Forge just looks at Valerie, who replies ‘Nice try, Kyle. As much as it sickens me to admit it…he’s with us’. Valerie declares that she knows people in Washington who are going to want to know about this place. ‘We will get answers. I promise!’

Two days later, Valerie and Senator Kelly are inside a chopper, en route to the Government facility near the Canadian border. Val tells Robert that she appreciates him taking the time out of his busy schedule to look into this personally. ‘If even a small part of what you say is true, someone is far exceeding their authority!’ Senator Kelly replies, adding that he has looked into it, and there are no records of an authorized Government research facility like Val described to him. Motioning to the Federal Marshalls seated nearby and assures Valerie that they will help them get to the bottom of this.

One of the Federal Marshalls announces that they are coming up to the coordinates that Dr. Cooper gave them, and asks the Senator to prepare for landing. Moments later though, Valerie and Robert find themselves standing on expansive farm land. ‘Bob…I…’ Val mutters. ‘You what, Valerie?’ the Senator replies. ‘I don’t understand. This isn’t right. None of this was here tow days ago!’ Val exclaims, motioning to the various barns, paddocks an cattle around them.

Suddenly, a friendly farmer approaches them, ‘Hello there!’ Can I help you!?’ he asks, before recognizing Senator Kelly. ‘This is an honor, Sir. To what do we owe the pleasure of a visit by such a distinguished visitor?’ the farmer asks. Annoyed, Valerie asks ‘What’s going on here? This farm was the equivalent of an armed fort! There were troops, genetic research testing, underground bunkers!’ she declares.

The farmer replies that he doesn’t understand what she is talking about. ‘I’ve been on assignment here for the past eight months, and I never saw any of those things you just described’. The farmer replies, explaining that this is a Government sponsored research facility, within the Department of Agriculture and they are doing research into preventative measures against transmittable bovine disease. ‘I’d be more than happy to show you around, Senator. Actually, it’s fascinating work. If you have a mind for - ‘ the farmer begins, only to be interrupted by Senator Kelly, who, looking at his watch, remarks that he is sure it is fascinating, but a tour will not be necessary, as they have seen all they came to see.

Disgruntled, Senator Kelly tells Valerie that this confirms some suspicions he has had lately. ‘This whole “cover-up” is par for the course. We won’t find out anything else here. We should be leaving’ the Senator declares.

Later that night, at Falls Edge. Valerie wonders through the outdoor area darkened compound, when suddenly, a voice comes from the bushes: ‘You look nervous, blondie!’. Valerie is taken aback as Sabretooth bursts through the bushes, ‘Scared. You know what happens to scared animals? They panic. Freeze up. And then they pay the price!’ Sabretooth exclaims. ‘Creed, why are you wandering around free?’ Valerie asks, ignoring Creed’s comments.

‘You call this free?’ Creed asks, showing his deadly claws to Valerie as he remarks that he may be wandering, but he is anything but free. ‘Remember…restraining collar, perimeter barriers, automatic detainment devices. And of this ring a bell, Val?’ he asks, adding that for now, he likes it just where he is. ‘But let’s talk about you, boss. Been back up north, eh?’ Creed asks, remarking that he bets there was nothing there. ‘Admit it, babe. You’re in the dark and they plan on keeping it that way’. As Creed walks away from Valerie, he tells her to stay in line, ‘Or who knows…next week you might have a restraining collar around your neck’. Valerie just stares at Sabretooth as he walks away, a little wide-eyed, and showing concern is the good Valerie Cooper.

Characters Involved: 

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

Dr. Valerie Cooper

Senator Kelly

Graydon Creed


Mr Harper

Creed’s Campaigners


The Hound

Government operatives

Secret Government operatives

Federal Marshalls

Government Farmer/Scientist

Story Notes: 

The attempted assassination of Mystique occurred in X-Men: Prime.

Havok left the team in X-Factor (1st series) #118.

Rory Campbell’s connection with the Government facility was not exactly followed up on. This is obviously the Hound project, and we know that in the Days of Future Past timeline, Rory has become the mutant-hunting Ahab;events were set in place for that in Excalibur (1st series) #89.

Issue Information: 
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