X-Factor (1st series) #148

Issue Date: 
August 1998
Story Title: 
Sorry is the Hardest Word

Howard Mackie (writer), Lee Moder (penciler), Scott Koblish (inker), Glynis Oliver (colorist), Richard Starkings, Comicraft & EM (letterers), Jason White (assistant editor), Frank Pittarese (editor), Bob Harras (editor in chief)

Brief Description: 

While waiting for Polaris to meet him in the middle of nowhere, Havok thinks about his current situation with Polaris, before being ambushed by Henry Gyrich, who has a platoon of agents, soldiers and Mandroids. Gyrich proceeds to arrest Havok for various crimes he committed as a member of the Brotherhood. Havok and Gyrich argue for a while, before Gyrich puts some mutant power dampeners on Havok. Suddenly though, metal wires and cables rip through the ground, and pull Havok down into the underground mining tunnels - and eventually, Havok comes face-to-face with his timely rescuer - Polaris! Polaris expresses her hurt at how Havok left her and what has happened to them since then, before they are attacked by a Mandroid. Polaris takes the Mandroid down, and they make their getaway, while soon after, Gyrich and his cronies find the Mandroid, and he furiously sends the other Mandroids after Havok and Polaris, who have now returned to the surface, and are once more having a heart-to-heart about their lives, when Gyrich and his cronies find them. Polaris uses her powers to disable all the electronic equipment - Mandroids and weapons included - but one of the Mandroids begins firing uncontrollably, and takes Gyrich hostage. Havok manages to disable the Mandroid and free both Gyrich and the soldier inside the armor, before Gyrich proceeds to arrest Havok once more - until the timely arrival of Dr. Valerie Cooper. Valerie puts Gyrich in his place, and rescues Havok and Polaris in a helicopter, where Havok and Polaris cut their ties with each other, though neither seem happy about it.

Full Summary: 

‘What was I thinking?’ Alex “Havok” Summers asks himself as he paces around a small wooden shack in the middle of seemingly nowhere. ‘Lorna is never going to show up. Why should she after the way I’ve treated her in the past?’ Alex tells himself, recalling that whenever he has felt the urge to “find himself”, he takes off and leaves Lorna a note. ‘I’ve done it twice now. At least I’m consistent’ the handsome mutant hero jokes. Havok tells himself that he and Lorna have a lot to talk over. ‘And what do I do?’ he asks himself: ‘I find a nice, out-of-the-way shotgun shack in the middle of the desert in a misguided attempt to recreate the kinder, simpler times we spent on archaeological digs‘.

‘Oh yeah, this’ll make everything better…’ Alex mutters sarcastically, telling himself that Lorna is an hour late and he has been reduced to pacing and talking to himself. ’Maybe it’s my voice? Never noticed how it can get a bit nasal and -’ Alex begin, when suddenly, there is a knock on the door. Havok checks his hair in a damaged mirror, ’Guess I’m still irresistible after all’ he boasts, before opening the door: ’Lorna, I didn’t think you’d…who the -?’ Alex asks, surprised when he is not greeted by Lorna.

‘Hello, Summers, remember me?’ Havok’s “guest” asks, smirking, as Henry Peter Gyrich reminds Havok who he is, adding that he is with the National Security Counsel. Gyrich boasts that he has been looking forward to this day for a long time. ‘I knew one of you X-Men would screw up big time. Might as well make this official!’ Gyrich exclaims, flanked by bodyguards, soldiers and men in armored suits, while helicopters line the sky, Gyrich announces that Alex Summers is under arrest for acts of terrorism against the United States Government. ‘Under the law…that’s all you’ve got to know, mutant. Resist if you’d like…please! The bigot Gyrich exclaims, pointing out that he has a squadron of N.S.A. Agents, a team of specially designed Mandroids, and a platoon of army operatives, all of who are ready to take a chunk out of Havok’s “mutant butt“. as Gyrich puts it.

As Gyrich places some restraints on Havok, Alex replies that he wouldn’t think of resisting, adding that he assumes the restraints are designed to dampen his mutant powers. ‘Of course’ Gyrich replies, before reminding Alex that he ripped the top off a 747 and jeopardized the lives of hundreds of people. ‘And, as I understand it, tossed your big brother out to catch some sky!’ Gyrich adds, asking Havok what he was thinking. ‘You wouldn’t believe it if I told you’ Alex replies, while the bodyguards / agents all aim their pistols at him. ‘It involves time-traveling bad guys who were out to destroy the human race, subterfuge and other stuff like that!’ Havok reveals, adding that he is a mutant, he is different. ‘That’s always been enough for you, Gyrich’.

Gyrich frowns and points a finger at Alex ‘You’re right…I don’t buy it and I don’t want to hear it’ he tells Alex, remarking that he, of all mutants, is a walking time bomb. ‘You go off over and over again and then cry “persecution”. But this time I’ve got you. The terrorist attack on the airplane occurred before dozens of witnesses. I always knew it’d be you that would foul up, Summers!’ Gyrich yells. Gyrich is about to say something else, when suddenly, some dirt on the ground is raised, as if something is tunneling underneath it: ‘Some sort of animal, Sir?’ one of the agents suggests. But Gyrich urgently replies: ‘That’s no animal…it’s an ESCAPE!’

Indeed, as suddenly, several metal wires and cables burst through the ground, and wrap themselves around Havok, who exclaims that he doesn’t usually make a habit of contradicting a man with a gun pointed at his face, ‘But being engulfed by a mass of wires, cables and pipes that have burst up through the ground is not exactly my idea of an escape!’ Alex exclaims, before calling for help as the wires and cables shove him into the shack, the door slams shut behind him. ‘Help?’ Gyrich asks. ‘BULL!’ he shouts, before ordering all units to open fire, declaring that he wants the structure in front of them and Alex Summers to be nothing more than a memory and a stain on the ground when they finish.

‘Come on! This is ridiculous!’ Havok calls out as the pipes and wires drag him into a hole inside the shed, moments before the shack explodes in a massive display of gun power. Havok looks up and sees the red glow through the top of the hole, realizing what he narrowly escaped. Havok lands in an underground mine, and falls into a mining cart which begins to roll along the tracks. ‘Wonderful! Now I’ve fallen into a Harrison Ford movie!’ Alex jokes, still with the power dampener on and covered in wires and cables, Alex sees that the tracks up ahead lead right off an underground cliff. ‘This is not good!’ he tells himself, before rocketing off the tracks.

‘It’s been a short, but interesting life. Too bad it’s got to end so…so…what’s going on here?’ Alex exclaims as he finds himself hovering in mid air. ‘Hello Alex…you wanted to talk!?’ asks Lorna “Polaris” Dane, hovering in front of Alex, keeping her former lover aloft with her powerful magnetic abilities. ‘Er…yeah, Lorna, but…um…could we do it somewhere…anywhere else?’ Alex replies. Lorna and Alex drop to the ground, another railway track nearby, Alex thanks Lorna and remarks that he should have figured it was her powers controlling everything, but admits that Gyrich took him by surprise.

‘Sure. No problem’ Lorna, wearing a blue one-piece spandex outfit with a knee-length white trench coat, replies, before asking Alex what he wanted to talk about. ‘I don’t have all day’ she tells him. Holding his encased hands up, Alex asks Lorna if he could have a hand with these, to which Polaris replies that she doesn’t think so, as she would like to hear what he has to say first, and then she will think about freeing him from the power restraints. Lorna reminds Alex that one of the last times they had a face-to-face like this, he almost killed her with his powers. ‘Come on, Lorna. Don’t be this way’. Alex replies. ‘Don’t be this way, Alex?’ Lorna snaps back, surrounding herself with a magnetic bubble, asking Alex how she should be. ‘You tell me, oh master of relationships’. Lorna mocks that perhaps she should write Alex a note about how she is feeling, ‘That’s the way you would handle it!’ Lorna exclaims, telling Alex that she thought they meant more to each other than that. ‘I guess I was wrong’ she exclaims.

‘You have every right to be upset, Lorna, but I didn’t write that second note!’ Alex tells Polaris, explaining that the Dark Beast from the future had Fatale and Random kidnap him, and that it was Fatale who actually wrote the note. Suddenly, Alex finds a magnetic gag around his mouth so he cannot speak anymore, and Polaris tells him that he doesn’t get to speak this time. ‘You don’t get to explain. Don’t get to blame everybody else in the world for your actions!’ she exclaims, telling Alex that he is going to listen for a change.

‘You see, this is not about poor Alex Summers living in the shadow of his big brother Scott. You just have never figured out that your actions have consequences!’ Lorna exclaims. Alex goes wide-eyed, which Lorna notices, and tells him that there is no need to look so scared, as she is peeved, but not going to hurt him. Lorna proceeds to remove the magnetic gag, and as she does so, Alex shouts ‘Mandroid!’ Slightly confused, Lorna asks ‘Mandroid?’ while slowly turning around, where upon she sees the Mandroid approaching them.

Lorna pulls Alex to safety as the Mandroid blasts at him. ‘Thanks, Lorna! Now if you’ll remove these restraints…’ he begins, but Lorna tells him not to worry, as she will handle it, and creates giant iron hands, which burst up from the ground and pull at the Mandroid. ‘The restraints?’ Alex asks to which Lorna replies’ Later. Gyrich is going to have his troops flooding this chamber in no time at all. Besides…this is kinda fun!’ with that, Lorna takes flight, pulling Alex behind her with an electromagnetic pulse.

A short time later, Gyrich strides through the chamber, flanked by bodyguards, soldiers and Mandroids, while some of the soldiers work on freeing the other Mandroid from the metal hands which, although not moving, continue to hold him. ‘This is unacceptable! Mandroids are specifically designed to handle this sort of operation!’ Gyrich exclaims. One of his bodyguards replies that the agent inside the armor was only expecting Havok. ‘When Polaris shorted out his armor with an EM pulse and manipulated the ore, she -’ the agent begins to explain, before Gyrich interrupts: ‘I can see what she did, Agent Saunders!’ and orders the Mandroid to be freed.

Gyrich turns to the other Mandroids and remarks that he assumes they will not be so ill prepared. Gyrich declares that Havok and Polaris are dangerous and constantly armed. ‘They are not allowed to escape the area!’ he exclaims, boasting that they have full sanctions for extreme action against Havok and Polaris. ‘Have I made myself perfectly clear?’ he asks. ‘Yes, Sir!’ the Mandroids reply in unison, before Gyrich orders them on their way, and the Mandroids take flight to search the caves.

A short distance away, a hare is eating some grass on a slope, when suddenly it hears a rumbling noise and bounds away - just in time, as Polaris bursts through the ground, with Havok in tow. ‘This should buy us some time!’ Lorna exclaims. Dropping to the ground, Alex tells Lorna that she looks exhausted. Indeed, and Lorna points out that tunnelling through rock is something new to her. ‘It takes a lot of concentration to find the metals in the rock and reconfigure them’ Lorna explains, asking Alex to give her a minute, and she will be fine.

Alex and Lorna sit side-by-side, and Alex remarks that just sitting out here with Lorna, staring out across the desert, reminds him of better times. ‘You and I were going to give up on Xavier’s dream, forget we were born with a genetic difference and live our own dreams. Just you, me, the desert, one archaeological dig after another and -’ Alex reminds Lorna, who interrupts: ‘Ancient history, Alex’ she tells him as she picks up some dust in her hand, then lets it blow away: ‘Gone with the wind…like so many other things’ Lorna remarks. They stand up now, a few feet between them, silhouettes on the star-lit sky, ‘Can I talk?’ Alex asks. ‘That is why I came’ Lorna replies, before Alex tells her that it really had nothing to do with her. ‘None of the things I did…none of it was about you or us’.

‘And that’s what hurts more than anything, Alex’, Lorna replies. ‘More than betrayal, more than the physical pain you inflicted…after all we’ve been through together…after all we’ve supposedly meant to each other…you couldn’t trust me. It all should have been about us!’ Lorna exclaims. ‘I’m sorry’ Alex announces, telling Lorna that anything else he says is just explanation or rationalizations. ‘I really am sorry’ Alex tells Lorna, who replies ‘Me too. For both of us’. Suddenly, Lorna notices something wrong with the wind, and shouts ‘RUN!’ as a helicopter reveals itself and begins firing weapons at Lorna and Alex.

Havok and Polaris dive behind a small rise, and Alex remarks that it looks like Gyrich is not in the mood for negotiating. ‘He’s a swell guy, isn’t he?’ Lorna replies sarcastically. Alex suggests that it is time they show their opponents what they can do, and Lorna asks Alex to give her his hands. ‘Thank you, Ms. Dane!’ Alex replies as Lorna destroys the power dampener ‘You’re not going to do anything stupid, are you, Alex?’ Lorna asks. ‘Like kill them? No’ Alex replies as he begins to unleash his powers, telling Lorna that a wide burst of plasma energy should overheat their engine and force them to land.

‘Besides…it’s time they all remember why I’m called Havok in the first place!’ Alex replies - but as his energy begins to spread, several Mandroids appear, and one of them blasts Havok over. ‘ALEX!’ Polaris screams, ‘Mandroids cam out from nowhere! If they hurt him I’ll -’ she thinks to herself, but before she even finishes her thought, Lorna’s rage is transformed into an instinctive eruption of her mutant powers - one tremendous and exhausting electro-magnetic pulse issues forth from her body. All electronic equipment within a fifty-yard radius is disrupted - the helicopter, Mandroids and all other weaponry are instantaneously rendered useless - and the battle abruptly ends.

One of the Mandroids suddenly informs Gyrich that the electromagnetic pulse has taken out his onboard computer. ‘I’m no longer in control of this battle armor!’ the soldier exclaims as his weapons blast uncontrollably. ‘Initiate emergency over-ride and power down!’ Gyrich calls out. ‘It’s not!’ the Mandroid begins to shout back, before it picks up Gyrich, who yells at it: ’Let go of…you’re crushing…me!’ Gyrich pleads.

Havok and Lorna find each other: ’You okay?’ Alex asks Lorna, who replies ’Yeah, but remind me never to do anything like that again’ and reveals that her powers are down for now. ’What are you doing?’ she asks Alex as she sees him slide down towards the Mandroid. Alex calls back that, as big of a pain as Gyrich is, he cannot let him die. ’I’ve got to try something!’ Alex shouts as he powers up, and begins blasting at the Mandroid’s leg, telling Gyrich to hold still while he tries to cut him free. ‘I’d hate to accidentally take off a limb or anything’ Alex tells Gyrich.

Havok proceeds to cut open the chest of the Mandroid armor, then helps the soldier out. ‘Thanks, buddy. I was frying in there!’ the weary soldier replies as Alex grabs one side of him, while Gyrich grabs the other. ‘Don’t thank me yet. That hunk of metal is on a serious overload!’ Havok and Gyrich carry the soldier away from the Mandroid armor, and just in time too, as an explosion follows.

When the dust settled, and Havok, Gyrich and the soldier are safe, Gyrich pulls a pistol out: ‘Thank you, Summers. You under arrest. Resist…and you die!’. Gyrich shouts. ‘You’re welcome’ Alex mumbles as he holds his hands up. Suddenly though, a new chopper arrives on the scene, and a familiar voice shouts over the comm. ‘Holster that weapon, Gyrich!’. A moment later, the chopper lands, and the glamorous Doctor Valerie Cooper, X-Factor’s nearest and dearest, steps from the chopper. ‘What are you doing?’ Gyrich begins to ask, annoyed.

‘You have no jurisdiction here!’ Valerie tells Gyrich, holding up a Presidential order saying that this is a mutant affairs situation. Valerie announces that she will be conducting a full investigation into all matters concerning this situation. ‘Mr. Summers is coming with me!’ Valerie declares. ‘This isn’t over, Cooper!’ Gyrich snarls, telling Valerie that she is making a serious mistake going up against him. ‘Stop…you’re scaring me’ Valerie replies sarcastically, before smiling, and suggesting to Gyrich that, if she were him, she would work on an explanation to SHIELD for how he managed to destroy five of their Mandroid units.

A short time later, Havok and Polaris sit on a seat behind Valerie in the chopper, and Alex thanks Lorna for saving his life. ‘Forget it’ Lorna tells him. ‘Like the rest of our life together…it’s already in the past’ Lorna tells Alex, informing him that she didn’t really want to come here, that she didn’t really want to see him again, or be put in the position of hating, loving, being angry about any of it. ‘I wanted it to be done. I wanted to forget about you’ Lorna reveals. Lorna slightly hangs her head as she tells Alex that now it is over, she realizes that they are through. ‘Whatever we had once…is gone. All is ask, if it’s even possible, is that we will not be enemies’ Lorna tells Alex. Alex closes his eyes and hangs his head, turning away from Lorna. ‘If that’s what you want…’ he tells her. ‘Yes, Alex…that’s what I want…’ Lorna replies, gazing out the window, somewhat uncertain….

Characters Involved: 

Havok & Polaris

Dr. Valerie Cooper

Henry Peter Gyrich

Saunders and other Security Agents



Story Notes: 

Polaris refers to two notes, they would be: the note Alex received in X-Factor (1st series) #117, the one from "Scarlet" inviting Havok to meet with him, where he then ended up fighting Random. Lorna knew of this letter, but Alex wouldn't say what it contained before he left. And, while he was gone, Fatale placed the second note in their quarters in X-Factor (1st series) #118. Both notes were written by Fatale, which Havok knew, and apparently he thought that Lorna still thought that the "second note" was his, when actually that wasn't Lorna's point. It was rather that he had indeed been shutting her out, making it even possible in the first place for Fatale to get away with that fake letter. Because of Alex' previous behavior, Lorna had no reason to doubt the note's credibility. [Special thanks to Peter Luzifer for this note]

The 747 incident and throwing Cyclops out of the plane took place in Uncanny X-Men #339.

The Dark Beast had Fatale and Random kidnap Havok in X-Factor (1st series) #117-118.

Havok and Polaris attempted to retire from the X-Men in X-Men (1st series) #94, but were drawn back to super heroics not long after.

Issue Information: 
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