X-Factor (1st series) #20

Issue Date: 
September 1987
Story Title: 
Children’s Crusade

Louise Simonson (writer), June Brigman (guest penciler), Randy Emberlin (guest inker), Joe Rosen (letterer), Petra Scotese (colorist), Bob Harras (editor), Jim Shooter (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

X-Factor returns from the battle with the Horsemen in Central Park. Beast is ill from being touched by Pestilence and Iceman’s powers continue to rage out of control. Rusty and Rictor argue and end up in a fist fight when Rusty wants to sneak out and melt the icy mess left in the park by the team. Rusty ends up sneaking out on his own, but winds up in trouble with some gang members. Artie wakes Rictor and Skids after having a vision of Rusty’s troubles and they take off to help him. Skids saves Rusty from the gang’s gunfire and Rictor’s shaking scares them away. They work together as a team and manage to clean up the icy mess in the park.

Full Summary: 

The X-Factor students are in the kitchen at headquarters, preparing lunch. On the television, they watch Trish Tilby’s report of the fight between X-Factor and Apocalypse’s horsemen in Central Park.

Skids laughs at all the ice in Central Park, as Iceman really cut loose during the battle, encasing their enemies in ice. Rusty points out that Bobby has frozen himself solid again and the team should be back at the complex soon, via the secret tunnels.

Rusty uses his fire powers to heat a pot of soup, as Skids makes sandwiches for the battle-weary team. Rictor reminds them that Iceman said people should know mutants by what they do, so won’t everyone think X-Factor are villains after wrecking Central Park? Back in Mexico, Rictor’s mom used to say the only thing a man can trust is his land.

As Artie tries to convince her to put sardines in the sandwiches, Skids understands Rictor’s point. Mutants can’t seem to trust anybody and as for the mess in the park, they may be able to trust the land but the land can’t trust them>

Rictor says that is his point and X-Factor’s deeds are so mixed up. X-Factor, as the X-Terminators, rescued him from being tortured and saved an entire city, which means they’re good. But the iceberg that Iceman created in the middle of Central Park is breaking trees and killing grass, which means they are bad.

Rusty angrily tells Rictor that he just doesn’t get it. X-Factor is the team’s public persona as bad-guy mutant hunters, while their secret identities of the X-Terminators are good guys, mutants like Rusty and Rictor.

Rictor tells Rusty that it’s him who doesn’t understand. Ordinary people think X-Factor is good because they are human and the X-Terminators are bad because they are mutants. Bobby said you must know mutants by their deeds and as X-Factor and the X-Terminators, they both destroy!

Rusty warns Rictor to chill out as his powers are going out of control, but the soda bottle Rictor is holding explodes, shooting pop all over Rusty. Mortified, Rictor apologizes to Rusty. Blinded by the soda, Rusty drops the hot pot of soup but Skids comes to the rescue, catching the pot with her force field.

As Skids congratulates herself on her save, she suddenly cries out as the whole building starts to shake. Rictor says the shaking is starting again, just like it did in Mexico. Mutants, he says, all we do is destroy!

Leech rushes over to Rictor and wraps his arms around the shaking boy, saying “No Powers”. Rusty thanks Leech for keeping the whole building from shaking down as Rictor flees from the room. Rusty calls out that they all have had accidents with their powers but Skids wonders what Rictor meant about Mexico.

Through the secret maze of tunnels below New York City, X-Factor returns to the complex. Rusty, Skids, Leech and Artie meet them at the entrance. Jean warns them to stay back, as Pestilence has infected Beast and they don’t know yet if he is contagious.

Cyclops and Caliban carry Beast to the infirmary and Jean asks Rusty if he can thaw out Iceman. Rusty uses his powers to melt Bobby back to human form and Skids can’t believe how out of control Bobby’s powers are and what he did to the park.

Thawed and shivering, Bobby says the last thing he remembers is worrying about Pestilence releasing a plague in the park and trying to freeze the Horsemen. Rusty tells Bobby he can see what happened for himself, as they keep showing it on television like it is entertainment.

Later in the kitchen, Bobby tries to warm up with some soup. Bobby can’t believe what he did to Central Park and says it’s enough to make him anti-mutant! Skids tells him that there are more good apples amongst the humans than rotten ones and he saved Beast and maybe all of New York with his actions.

Still shivering, Bobby feels like all mutants like him have to do is exist to cause destruction. Skids cries that Bobby is shaking worse than ever and they had better get him down to the infirmary.

As the kids help Bobby into the infirmary, Scott and Caliban are trying to hold down a feverish Hank. Jean remarks that one of them is burning up with fever while the other is freezing. Scott says that Hank may be sick, but he’s stronger than ever and calls for Jean to get him a hypo to knock Hank out.

Jean asks Leech to pull his damper field close around himself so she can use her telekinesis to grab the needle. Bobby starts to ice up again but Leech moves in close and stops him from freezing up.

Jean wonders where Cameron Hodge is during all this and Rictor sticks his head into the infirmary, telling Jean that Cameron has disappeared. Jean snarls that he left because the team recognized his anti-mutant schemes and good riddance to bad rubbish!

Rictor says that X-Factor rescued him and asks if there is anything he can do to help the ill team members. Cyclops brusquely informs him the adults can handle it and tells the kids to go practice their powers or something.

Miffed, the students start to leave the infirmary. As Leech leaves, Bobby immediately starts to frost over. Jean calls Leech back and tells him he’s the best chance Bobby has right now of getting well. Bobby wonders if all mutants can do is destroy, even in a good cause, why should he bother to get well at all?

In the hallway, Rictor hopes Bobby isn’t so sad that he wouldn’t try to get better. Skids tells him not to be silly, but Artie flashes a picture of Angel. Skids agrees that Angel did kill himself, but that was only because his wings were cut off, not because he thought being a mutant was bad.

Rusty says that it’s not bad and they have to prove it to Bobby. Skids asks where Rusty is going and he replies that Bobby said they should know mutants by their deeds. Rusty plans on sneaking out and melting the ice to undo the damage that was done to the park. It should prove to Bobby and the world that being a mutant is good and make Bobby want to get better.

Rictor says Rusty can’t melt all the ice and being a mutant is bad! With his power, Rictor did something terrible and the situation in the park is nothing compared to what he did.

Rusty replies that he hurt someone with his powers once, but it was an accident! He has a chance to do some good, but Skids warns him that he’s still wanted by the government. Rusty sarcastically asks if he should stay inside, where they are nice and safe, while Hank and Bobby suffer.

Rictor tells Rusty to stop being a jerk and that an empty gesture can cost him his life and the lives of those he holds dear, as Rictor knows himself. He says Rusty is living a child’s dream if he thinks Bobby is like Tinkerbell and he can just make him better by clapping his hands.

Rusty shoves Rictor away, shouting that he would rather live in a dream than as a coward! He’ll show him who’s a coward, says Rictor, and then punches Rusty in the face!

As the boys exchange blows, Rictor tells Rusty that his power is dangerous and he is scared of it. If Rusty knew what Rictor had done and seen what he’s seen, he would be scared of Rictor’s power, too!

Jean approaches the battling teenagers and tells them that is enough. She telekinetically separates them and orders Rictor to stop his shaking. She admonishes Rusty for being too old to behave like that and orders all the students off to bed.

Several hours later, Rictor tosses in his bed, unable to sleep. He feels like a coward and understands why Angel killed himself. Rictor fears that if he went with Rusty to the park, the Right would find him and torture him again, perhaps killing him this time. Rictor is thankful that both he and Rusty are safe in their beds tonight.

Down the hall, Artie is crying in bed. He thinks of Rusty and wants a hug from him, but when he heads to Rusty’s room he finds the bed empty and his friend missing!

In the promenade of Central Park, Rusty stares at all the ice that Iceman created. He doubts that he will ever be able to melt all the ice, but he owes it to Bobby to try. He uses his powers to start melting the ice of some trees but is startled by a loud noise behind him.

Gang members are beating up a homeless man and one of them sees the light from Rusty’s flame. Believing it to be a rival gang, they run towards the area and their leader fires a gunshot, hoping to cause an avalanche of ice that will bury his enemies. The trees rumble loudly and a shower of ice pours down on Rusty, knocking him unconscious.

Back at the complex, Artie frantically wakes Rictor and shows him a projection of Rusty buried in the snow and the gang leader with the gun. Skids sees the projection and thinks that Rusty is at the park and knows he is in trouble.

Rictor thinks they should wake Scott and Jean, but Skids says they are exhausted and are nursing Bobby and Hank. Skids understands that Rictor feels he can’t go, so she and Artie will manage just fine. Rictor put on his clothes, as there is no way he’s letting a girl and a little kid go into Central Park alone.

They use one of the secret tunnels under the complex and hop on the subway. On board, they see a bunch of Cameron Hodge’s anti-mutant posters. They run through the train, happily ripping down the posters.

Artie tugs on Skids’ shirt as a policeman approaches. He yells at them for destroying city property and they are under arrest! The kids quickly exit the subway and take off, with Skids trying to calm Rictor down before he starts shaking too badly.

They reach the street level and Rictor is amazed by all the city lights and giant buildings, as he has never seen anything like it before. Skids interrupts his sight-seeing and they rush into the park to find Rusty.

Inside the park, the gang members argue amongst themselves. One of them shoves the leader and he falls backwards, tripping over Rusty. As Rusty regains consciousness, his body engulfs itself in flames, terrifying the gang members.

They pull their guns and start to fire at Rusty, but Skids leaps in front of him and protects him with her force field. The ground starts to tremble around them and the gang members take off as the ice begins to fall from the trees.

Skids asks Rusty if he’s okay and he replies that he is just wet and cold. They notice Rictor still shaking and Skids gets him to settle down since they saved Rusty. Rusty thanks Rictor and says now that they all are here, they can help him clean up the park.

Rusty tries blowing fire around to burn the ice, but manages to set the park on fire. Skids tells them to run and call the fire department. Rictor stands shaking and Rusty thinks he is too scared to move.

Rictor says that fire department won’t get there in time, as Rusty’s unnatural fire is hot enough to burn everything, even in the wetness. Rictor concentrates and controls his shaking, causing the ice from a tree to fall and extinguish the fire.

The others run over to him, congratulating him on his success. Rictor sadly replies that his time he saved a bunch of trees, but last time he destroyed a city! It was back in Mexico and he didn’t even realize he had done it until the Right came after him. They tortured him to get him to do the same thing to San Francisco.

Rictor cries that he was a coward, that he gave into their torture with drugs and needles and he just couldn’t stop shaking. Rusty tells him that anyone would have reacted the same way Rictor did, but Rictor feels guilty because his shaking has caused buildings to fall and people to die. Rusty tells Rictor that he burned a lady once and it nearly ended him, so he feels horribly for Rictor who destroyed a whole city.

Rictor looks at the tree he shook and notices how tall it is standing without the weight of all the ice. Rusty says all the trees should look that and Rictor decides to try shaking another one. With Skids shielding him from the falling ice, Rictor shakes the ice off the trees and Rusty melts it when it lands. They keep working, but Rictor asks Rusty to save some of the ice, as he has an idea with what to do with it.

The next morning, Artie wakes the others up and leads them to the infirmary. X-Factor sits watching the television report before heading to Illinois to confront a giant grey mutant. The television shows that in Central Park, all the ice has been melted except for letters which spell out “By Their Deeds You Shall Know Them - Mutants Were Here”.

Bobby says it warms his frozen heart, but wonders who could have done it. Rusty replies “Mutants?” Bobby laughs at the joke but is upset because he wants to go to Illinois with the others. Rictor tells him to go, as with the kids here to handle stuff, X-Factor’s in good hands!

Characters Involved: 

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

Artie, Leech, Rictor, Rusty Collins, Skids (X-Factor students)

Wolf gang members

On TV:

Trish Tilby (news reporter)

Story Notes: 

X-Factor and Apocalypse’s horsemen battled in Central Park in X-Factor #19.

Bobby’s out-of-control powers were caused in Thor #377-378, where Loki amplified his ice powers to use him as a pawn against Thor.

Bobby made an impassioned speech about mutants to the police in San Francisco which was broadcast over the television (X-Factor #17).

The Right tried to use the mutant Rictor to shake down San Francisco before being thwarted by X-Factor (X-Factor #17).

Jean helped Leech learn to control his damper field in X-Factor #19.

Rusty accidentally burned prostitute Emma LaPorte in X-Factor #1, when she kissed him in an alleyway and his heightened emotional state triggered his mutant power.

Angel is believed to have committed suicide in a plane explosion in X-Factor #15. The explosion was actually caused by the Right, but Apocalypse teleported Warren to safety to begin his transformation into Death.

The character Tinkerbell is from “Peter Pan”, written by J.M. Barrie. After ingesting poison, she is brought back to life by the clapping of children who believe in her.

X-Factor head off to Illinois to battle the Hulk in Incredible Hulk #336.

Issue Information: 
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