X-Factor (1st series) #138

Issue Date: 
October 1997
Story Title: 
Fear walks amongst us

Howard Mackie (writer), Mel Rubi, Rob Hunter and Steve Moncuse (pencilers), Hack Studios (inkers), Richard Starkings/Comicraft’s EM (letters), Glynis Oliver (colors), Kelly Corvese (editor), Bob Harras (chief)

Brief Description: 

Sabretooth is working for the hound program, but isn’t interested in taking his finds back to his employers. He wants to murder every last one, and he begins with Marlena Petrokova, a low-level telepath working as a palm reader. Outside, he meets Stone, his liaison with the program, who warns him to behave or his leash will be put back on. Creed isn’t interested, and threatens Stone. As they speak, he notices a familiar silhouette on a nearby roof and departs. He makes his way to his next target, a priest at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament. As he attacks the priest, he is caught in the coils of Omega Red, who wishes to use him as a bargaining chip. He wants to give Creed to Epsilon Red’s daughter, Elena, who wants to avenge Sabretooth’s murder of her mother. In return, she’ll provide Omega Red with the carbonadium synthesizer, which will stabilize his body and neutralize his death factor. Creed isn’t willing to give up so easily, and their battle is hard and brutal. Ultimately, Sabretooth’s viciousness wins out, and Omega Red makes his escape. Meanwhile, Havok cares for his former teammates. He chats with Dark Beast about why he’s helping him. McCoy replies that he knows his place, and sees the seeds of greatness in Havok. Havok doesn’t let on that he knows full well McCoy’s secret agenda, and that it will soon come to an end. Over in Arizona, Mystique disguises herself as the kidnapped wife of Senator Miles Brickman, and when rescued and asked by her new husband who did this to her, she informs him that it was Sabretooth. As expected, the senator promises all the government’s resources to track him down and bring him to justice.

Full Summary: 

(New York City)

A customer visits Madame Marlene’s palm reading shop, and she asks for his hand so that she can foresee his future. He offers her a gloved hand, so she asks him to remove it. The man replies that he’s pretty good at predicting future’s too. Surprisingly, he knows her real name, which is Marlena Petrokova, a recent Russian émigré and mutant! Her eyes widen in horror as his glove rips apart, revealing a huge clawed hand. Sabretooth stands up and throws the table away with ease. Her future suddenly looks none too rosy.

(a very short time later)

Victor Creed leaves the shop, carrying a part of her dress. This is the life he was meant to lead, he thinks. Maybe this hound gig is going to work after all. Killing new recruits instead of bringing them in should show the top man he can’t be messed with. However, they didn’t seem too bent out of shape about his bucking his orders and trying to off X-Factor.

Some kids throwing a football around throw it too far, and it lands at Vic’s feet. He picks it up, and one brave kid tells him to give the ball back. “Come here, kid,” he grins; “I’ll give you something real nice!” A voice behind him tells him not to even think about it. The kid grabs the ball and runs, as Stone approaches Sabretooth. He informs Creed that killing the girl wasn’t too smart. She was a low level telepath, and could have been used. Creed says he used her real nice.

Stone, towering over Creed, informs him that the hounds are not killers. They locate mutants, bring them in on a leash and train them to get with the program. Maybe they’ll put that leash back on you, he adds. “You going to try?” threatens Creed. Stone replies that he’s only walking free because the hounds say so. One word from him, and…

Creed is itching for a fight, but Stone warns him he doesn’t want to do this. Before he can argue, Creed notices a pony-tailed figure on the roof above. Stone asks him if something’s wrong. For a moment, Creed almost looked scared. Creed replies that he’s not afraid of anything, or anybody. He has work to do, but before he leaves, he warns Stone to watch his back. He never knows what might sneak up on him.

As he leaves, Stone’s suspicions are confirmed. Victor Creed cannot be contained. There’s nothing he can do for him now.

(midtown Manhattan)

Beneath the sewers that cross-cross the city, in a series of secret tunnels and caverns, dwells the Brotherhood. Havok and Fatale have brought his former teammates back there to recover from their encounter with Sabretooth, and to protect them from the hounds. He wonders how they drifted apart. Dark Beast watches him looking at his friends, and says she’s a real beauty; meaning Polaris. How he could ever forsake a woman like that is beyond his ken. Alex replies that his little mindwipe helped him along the way.

Lorna slowly comes to, and asks where she is. Alex tries to respond, but Lorna has a fit when she sees him, ripping the monitoring cables from her body and calling Alex a traitor. McCoy is quick to sedate her, and Alex asks what’s wrong with her. McCoy tells him that he’s certain the trauma is caused by her extensive wounds. However, he did spy an irregularity in her brain patterns, which warrants further testing. He assures him that, aside from her injuries, she’s in perfect health. All of them appear to be in good shape.

Alex asks McCoy why he is helping them. McCoy smiles, pathetically, and says it’s because he told him to. He is but his humble servant. He explains that he’s come to see the seeds of greatness in Havok, and to realize that he works best in a subservient position. In his own time and place, he was Sinister’s right-hand man, who in turn served their lord Apocalypse. Now, he has just come to find his place. Alex asks why he always refers to him as Prelate Summers. McCoy replies that, on his world, it’s an honorific given to a man of great power. He then questions Havok’s reasons for trusting him. “I don’t,” Alex replies, but doesn’t tell McCoy that he knows more than he thinks. He knows McCoy’s true agenda, and he’s going to stop his twisted genetic experiments very soon.

(The Church of the Blessed Sacrament)

Father Vincent Bloch is making preparations for a wedding ceremony later that day, but his peace is disturbed by Sabretooth, who reclines on one of the pews. Sabretooth informs him that he knows he’s a mutie, and suddenly leaps at him. To the father’s surprise and relief, Sabretooth suddenly stops and sniffs the air. A long-forgotten memory is stirred, and the fear in Bloch’s eyes is nothing to that which moves through the pit of Sabretooth’s stomach as he is garroted by a coil of carbonadium steel. In that instant, he knows that Omega Red has arrived.

Omega Red yanks the coil, as Sabretooth struggles to maintain his balance. As Creed struggles, Omega Red says it’s been a long time. He, more than his two comrades, he has dreamed of killing in the most imaginative ways - but not right away. Creed, like Logan and Maverick, will prove useful to him. He asks Creed how it feels to be used yet again. They have been the tools of others - he to his fallen Soviet government, and Creed to whoever holds his leash. Through gritted teeth, he informs Creed that times have changed, and it is only Logan and Maverick who have freed themselves from the leashes of others. As Creed squirms, Omega Red asks Father Bloch why he stays. He points to the exit and orders him to run, and leave him alone with his old enemy to discuss how he will serve him.

Despite being wrapped up in super-tough coils, Sabretooth is ever defiant. He tells Omega Red that he’s got it wrong. No one holds his leash. Red says that from where he’s standing, it appears someone does. Sabretooth then swivels, and frees his arm enough to slash at Omega Red’s face. “Then maybe you’re standing in the wrong place!” he cries. He follows up the initial slash by defenestrating his opponent.

(beneath midtown Manhattan)

Forge is semi-conscious, but caught between two worlds. The world of science and technology is supported by his mutant ability for inventing mechanical devices. But, long before he entered the realm of science, he was being trained to be the shaman of his Native American people. As his body recovers from its wounds, Forge returns to the lessons of his childhood. He dreamwalks.

(Forge’s dreamwalk)

Wearing his X-uniform, covered by a traditional garment that flows in the breeze, Forge walks through the desert. This barren wasteland foretells a dark future… a world gone mad existing just around the corner of the here and now. Forge senses that he plays some role in that future. A large, black bird appears on the horizon. It is Forge’s spirit guide in this realm, and he calls for it to speak to him. What does this all mean?

The bird turns to Forge and replies that this is the place of his destiny. He asks if he’s to prevent this thing from coming to pass, or is he to journey there? The bird lands on the arms of a woman, silhouetted in the bright light. She tells him it is for him to decide. Forge is desperate for help, and asks how he is to learn which course to take. She replies by telling him to stop looking into his own heart, and to explore the true hearts of others. She disappears into the light, leaving Forge to wake from his slumber. “Raven!” he utters.

(a small town in Arizona)

At that moment, federal agents arrive by helicopter, and focus its light on a beaten up car parked up next to a truck stop. Three agents step out and open the trunk. The tip they received was correct. Lying in the trunk, gagged and bound is the wife of Senator Brickman - Mallory.

(a short time later)

At the hospital, the doctor shakes Mallory’s hand, and says he’s amazed at how well she’s held herself through her kidnap ordeal. She says that makes two of them. All she wants now is to be reunited with her family. Her daughter shouts, “Mommy!” and Mallory turns to see her daughter running towards her. She embraces her daughter, and also her husband, Senator Brickman. The senator tells the doctor he can’t tell him what this means both to him, and their daughter, Gloria.

The senator asks Mallory who did this to her. He’ll have every government resource working toward apprehending him. Mallory puts her face in her hands, and replies, “It… it… it was Sabretooth.” She apologizes, but tells her husband it’s all too fresh, and she’s still shaken. He asks her to freshen up, and then they’ll head home.

In the restroom, she looks at herself in the mirror. “Mallory Brickman,” she says; “I never thought I’d see your face again!” The reflection looking back is Mystique’s, and she’s out to get Creed.


Sabretooth and Omega Red continue their vicious battle. At each other’s throats, with the Russian using his coils to keep Sabretooth’s claws away from him, Creed asks how he found him. He thought he was keeping a real low profile. Omega Red informs him that, in the short time he’s been there, Sabretooth has left a bloody trail across the city, making it easy for him to follow. He now plans to allow his death factor pheromones to keep Creed in a weakened state by keeping his healing factor busy. Creed is slammed to the ground, but defiantly replies that he’ll never be weak enough for his purposes - whatever they are.

In a brief respite from their fight, Omega Red explains that he wants Creed alive. He needs him to use as a bargaining chip for the carbonadium synthesizer, which will neutralize his death factor and stabilize his body. The synthesizer is currently in the hands of Elena Ivanova. Creed repeats the name, punching the Russian as he does so. It’s a name he knows well. Omega Red tells him Elena’s the daughter of Epsilon Red and one of the many women whose blood stains Creed’s hands.

He continues to inform Creed that she appears to want to avenge her mother’s death. As he sees it, it’s a simple exchange. He gives her Creed, and she provides him with the synthesizer from Maverick. Once again, even in death, Sabretooth will become a useful tool. Creed strains to free himself of the tightening coils, and is angry enough to do just that. He apologizes, but replies that the only tool he’s gonna be is the spade that digs his grave! He hurls Omega Red over his shoulder, smashing him against the church wall. The growing brutality is enough for the Russian and he makes his escape, leaving Creed battered and bruised, but victorious. He enjoys being this free. “Let’s keep the blood flowing and the body count rising,” he growls.

(a short time later)

Stone is stepping out of the shower and, as such, has reverted to his human form. Though his time with the hound program has been limited, he has learned enough to know that once a hound, always a hound. His mutant ability to transmute his flesh to stone is little help to him, now that his own destiny is also cast in stone. It’s a destiny he secretly hopes Sabretooth can escape.

As he switches the light on in the room, the ragged remains of a football drop at his feet with a thud. “Hey Stone! Let’s play catch.” Before he can react, Sabretooth slashes at his vulnerable flesh, and takes him down easily. He wants Stone to take him to Bowser after he’s done bleeding. He works alone - it’s that simple, and he kills whom he wants. The hounds can feed him information if they choose, but his bloodlust will win out every time. He warns Stone that if any amateurs like him come hunting for him, they can add their names to the hit list.

Characters Involved: 

Forge, Polaris, Wildchild (all X-Factor)

Dark Beast, Havok (all Brotherhood)


Marlena Petrokova


New Yorkers

Father Vincent Bloch

Omega Red

FBI agents


Senator Brickman and Gloria Brickman

Hospital staff

Story Notes: 

Mystique calls Senator Brickman Ralph here, making his full name Miles Ralph Brickman.

Epsilon Red’s wife was killed by Sabretooth on the day her daughter was born.

Issue Information: 
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