X-Factor (1st series) #14

Issue Date: 
March 1987
Story Title: 
The Mutant Program!

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

Brief Description: 

Cyclops is taken in by two Anchorage cops for destroying his home, but they are all attacked by the Master Mold and one of the cops is killed in the process. The other cop and Cyclops work together to lure the robot into an oil refinery and destroy it there. Afterwards, the cop begins to tell him about the corpse they have found that appears to be Cyclops’ wife.
Back in New York, Angel, in his hospital room, is surprised by Trish Tilby, who demands an interview and collapses. He is taken to the operation room and, thanks to a court order that declares him incompetent, his wings are taken off.

Full Summary: 

Long ago, he was a Sentinel. Now he is simply the Master Mold. Once, he was a mutant-hunting robot, imprinted with the brain engrams of his creator, Stephen Lang. Once, he believed himself to be Lang. But Master Mold realized his mistake too late and Lang’s flawed human reasoning destroyed him. Now, Master Mold has recreated himself from the scraps of this world. He is a ruthless killing machine and all that remains of Lang is his obsession and his purpose to find the twelve mutants who will lead… around whom the others will gather. Lang discovered them. Master Mold will destroy them.

Minutes ago, a blast of incredible mutant power registered on his sensors. He compared it to his character profiles and knew it was one of the Twelve, the strong! He scans again and realizes his quarry is in Anchorage and that it is Cyclops. He widens his focus and realizes the terrible truth Lang could not accept. All humans are tainted with some mutated cells, some unharnessed energy. All humans possess that X-Factor – that fatal flaw hidden within them.

Nearby, a truck nears its homestretch. The two drivers are glad to be home soon, when, suddenly, on the road ahead, they see the giant robot. Too late, as the Master Mold disintegrates them, shouting ‘Die, Mutants, Die!’

Not far away, Scott Summers crouches in the rubble of what once was the home he shared with his wife, Madelyne, and their child. His current state of mind is not too stable, as he believes to see an image of Charles Xavier, who berates him for losing control and blowing apart the house. He had trained him in self-control.

He trained him to be a hero, Scott replies. Save mutants! Save humanity! Save the world! No task too difficult! If he’d been here, instead of in New York, playing mutant savior, none of this would have happened!

“Xavier” gets up from his wheel-chair, announcing that Scott cannot lie to a telepath. It was Jean who drew him to New York. Forget Jean! Scott shouts, insisting that there was important work to do in New York. And now his wife and baby have disappeared. He tells Xavier to get out. He is just a delusion, just like his programming. Xavier sternly points at Scott telling him to look around, at the mess he made of everything. Scott shouts at Xavier to get out and find himself another savior. He couldn’t even save his own…

He breaks off, blinded by headlight. It’s two armed police officers, who were alerted by the neighbors. They warn Scott not to make any funny moves while looking around themselves, astonished wondering how the house got blown to smithereens.

Scott just mumbles incoherently about everything being a mess. As they grab him, Scott asks if they are real. It’s good to talk to someone real for once. He shows them the baby rattle, exclaiming that they took his wife, destroyed all record of her existence, but they missed this. One cop thinks it’s a gun, the other states it’s just a rattle.

They cuff him. Do they think these things can hold him, Scot asks arrogantly. The image of Xavier warns him not to give himself away, causing Scott to shout that he’s no amateur. The two cops look at each other with one making a gesture that Scott’s clearly nuts. They frisk him and they find the visor.

The young cop believes he is some kind of biker. In Scott’s wallet, he finds the pictures of Jean and Madelyne and the younger cop informs the older, the lieutenant, that some guy reported his wife missing yesterday. Redhead like that one. He heard on the monitors that a redheaded corpse has been found. It’s at the morgue.

The older cop asks Scott if that is his wife. That’s Jean, Scott corrects him. His wife – Maddie – is the other one. They aren’t the same? Coulda fooled him, the lieutenant remarks. Him too, Scott replies, as he buries his face in his hands. Except that, now, he knows he was the fool. Work kept him away. He meant to give it up and stay with Maddie, but they needed him in New York. Saving them seemed so important then…

Back at the X-Factor Compound, Rusty is heating up some popcorn with his powers, as he Skids and Boom-Boom are waiting for Leech’s training session to end. Rusty asks if it isn’t Boom-Boom’s turn now and the new arrival replies she’s going to wait for the popcorn. Besides, she doesn’t need training. She can already control her power. Rusty turns around to give her an earful, while using his unchecked flame to cook the popcorn. He tells her she ought to be grateful; plus her power is even more dangerous than his.

Trying another tack to get rid of the other girl, Skids announces that she checked the roster; Iceman is going to be Boom-Boom’s trainer. Hearing that it is the guy she has a crush on, Boom Boom decides to skip the popcorn. She could use a little practice. She walks outside, and Skids looks in frustration at the utterly burnt popcorn.

Boom Boom calls the other two outside, Jean’s heading for the hospital to visit the Angel.

Downstairs, Bobby hugs the crying Jean, causing Rusty to marvel at how beautiful Jean is. No wonder Scott loves her. Skids reminds him that Scott is in Alaska, looking for his wife. Rusty states that Scott didn’t know Jean was alive when he married Maddie. Why does she think he married somebody who looks so much like Jean? Boom Boom interjects that it doesn’t matter whom Scott loves, as Jean now loves Angel. Or, from what she has heard, Angel loves Jean.

She becomes agitated, as she sees Bobby leaving with Jean. She decides to go stop him. He may have forgotten her session. She calls out to him, only to have a grinning Hank McCoy grab her by the arm and telling her that they switched schedule, as Bobby wanted to visit Warren.

No fair, Boom Boom announces, as she creates a time bomb behind her back. Drop it, he orders her and then kicks it out of her hand. He starts talking about his old teacher, Professor Xavier. He impressed on them that self-control is the most important step in controlling one’s power and that’s the main lesson she has to learn. Left behind, Skids mutters it’s Professor X this and Professor X that. That’s all they hear. Rusty agrees. You’d think he was the Lord Almighty, the way they talk about him.

Back in Alska, Cyclops is now in the police car, driving to Anchorage. One of the cops is starting to strike up a conversation with Scott when the driver shouts out in terror. Master Mold appears before them and grabs the car, tearing it open, babbling that he has deesn death for their kind.

Scott announces that it is a Sentinel but like none he has ever seen before. The younger policeman reminds Scott he is in custody and should get down. They will handle this.
As he pushes Scott down, he loses his glasses. The next moment the cop is disintegrated by Master Mold, who announces that the world may teem with mutant kind, but now there is one less. Scott realizes that Master Mold must think everyone is a mutant.

He aims towards the voice and opens his eyes, hitting Master Molds arm. So he is indeed one of the strong, the robot observes, but even the strong will fall before the Master Mold.

Cyclops shouts that he needs control and asks the lieutenant to give him his visor. The cop refuses, as he draws his gun and shoots at Master Mold. Scott blew that house apart! He isn’t human, he shouts. What is he? Does it matter? Scott asks. He can save him.

The Lieutenant shouts in panic that the robot is reaching for them. Scott shoves him out of the way and fires at the Master Mold, blasting away his handcuffs at the same time. The Lieutenant realizes that Cyclops’ eyebeams ricochet. Scott explains that, without his visor, he cannot control them and the cop finally relents, though he insists he will bring Cyclops in when this is over. What does it mean anyway, calling him ‘one of the strong?’ Taking off his clothes to reveal his X-Terminator outfit, Scott replies how would he know. Does he look like one of the strong? Who knows what he is?

He blasts at Master Mold’s leg. Xavier trained him to save others, but everybody is dying around him. He has failed, betrayed his programming just like that blasted robot. The Master Mold fires at him.

Meanwhile in Angel’s hospital room, Bobby tries to cheer Warren up by wondering how Hank’s attempt at training Boom Boom will go. When Angel… he breaks off … well maybe he can take a crack at it, he suggests lamely.

Suddenly, the door opens and reporter Trish Tilby, followed by a cameraman, enters She tells him to get things rolling and states that Warren received a subpoena for fraud concerning the manner in which his X-Factor holdings were hidden from investors. She wants to know why a mutant would back mutant hunters. Sweating, Angel replies ‘no comment.’ Trish continues that informed sources state that his wings have begun to gangrene. Yet he refuses to have them removed. What about the pending court order to …

Jean steps in front of Warren’s bed and tells Trish that will be enough. Who let her in? Tilby tells the cameraman to get some footage of Jean as well. Telekinetically, Jean takes out the camera, while Bobby buzzes for the nurses, who throw the two journalists out.

Warren states that this is just the beginning. He’ll have to take the stand in a trial and no matter what he does: X-Factor will be finished. And what did she mean about a court order? He collapses and Jean calls the doctors.

In Alaska, the lieutenant runs to Scott’s side. The Master Mold threatens the man rambling that he will die as well, but he is nothing! Cyclops will lead them all to glory.

Cyclops warns the lieutenant to move aside and shoots his optic blast at the Sentinel’s leg. It drops and the two men start running towards an oil refinery. Cyclops rambles that he knows he can stop the robot. It’s what he was made for. It’s his job. Still firing at the Master Mold, the cop replies if he thinks he’s got the market cornered on tough jobs? After Cyclops finishes him, he has to bring Cyclops in.

Cyclops fires another blast at Master Mold, hitting him straight in the face. Having a moment’s pause, the lieutenant asks Scott why he blew apart the house. Scott explains that, while he was in New York, somebody took his wife and son and erased all trace of their lives together. They had phony papers saying he had sold the house. He figured he’d die before he let them have it. The cop harumphes before observing that Scott apparently took care of it.

The next moment, the Sentinel slowly starts to pull itself together and fires at the men. The lieutenant leads Cyclops to the oil tanks. While putting his plan into motion, Scott asks him to go find Maddie for him, if he doesn’t come out alive. The cop starts to confide his fears about that to him, starting that this may be a rotten time for bad news. Scott takes him out with one punch and tells him to save it for later then. He drags the limp body to safety, stating there is no need for two dead heroes.

He plans to catch Master Mold between the tanks and trap him. He runs ahead, the Master Mold following, rambling about destroying them all. Grabbing Cyclops, he continues that he will kill the Twelve, the strong. He will scrawl their names across the world in blood and fire. Feeling how he is being crushed, Scott looks at the tanks. He has to ignite them and if he pays with his life… well, that’s in the program too. So easy to die. No more passion, no wife, no son, no commitment, no guilt. Only it’s too easy, he admonishes himself. Isn’t that what Xavier always told them? Any clumsy fool can die. Does he take Scott for an amateur?

He zaps the Sentinels’ hands, as well as its main cannon and breaks free, blasting himself a trench a moment later. The Master Mold wildly fires around and ignites the tank, blowing itself up as well, whereas Scott is relatively protected under the severed hand. See Xavier, no amateur, he mutters half in delirium. Xavier’s soldiers, they always get their man. Drowsily, he thinks of Maddie and the baby, his responsibility.

The lieutenant begins freeing him with a lever. Is he going to drag him in now, Scott asks. The lieutenant claims he has no idea what Cyclops is talking about as he helps him up. That house was destroyed in the battle with a giant robot. The two of them, they managed to stop it in the oil yard. Leaning on the cop, Scott begins to mention Maddie and the lieutenant somberly tells him that there is something at the station he has to see …

Meanwhile, in a specially equipped operation room at St. Vincent’s hospital, the doctors are fighting for Warren’s life, running into problems with his special mutant physiology. In the corridor outside, Jean and Bobby are waiting until finally a doctor steps out. Jean asks what’s going on and Dr Johnson asks if they weren’t aware of the court order that had come through. Mr. Worthington has been declared incompetent. And, in the absence of any living relative, the court ordered the hospital to take whatever measures necessary to preserve his life. The doctors are amputating his wings.

Inside, Johnson’s colleagues have just finished and pray Warren will forgive them for what they have done.

Characters Involved: 

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

Boom-Boom, Rusty Collins, Skids (X-Factor students)

Trish Tilby

Her camera man

Dr Johnson and other doctors at St. Vincent’s hospital
Two Anchorage cops

Master Mold

on Cyclops’ snapshots

Jean Grey

Madelyne Pryor and Nathan Christopher Summers

Scott’s delusions

Professor X

images of the Twelve

Apocalypse, Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Franklin Richards, Storm and others

Story Notes: 

The Master Mold was originally destroyed in Hulk Annual #7, thanks to the Hulk, Angel and Iceman.

The idea of the Twelve is first introduced here, though the eventual storyline that reveals the purpose of the Twelve is a lot different from what is hinted at here.

The cops found a badly decomposed corpse of a redheaded woman last issue. The real whereabouts of Madelyne Pryor were revealed in Uncanny X-Men #206 and the reason for that will be shown in Uncanny X-Men #215.

Issue Information: 
Written By: