X-Factor (1st series) #205

Issue Date: 
July 2010
Story Title: 

Peter David (writer), Valentine de Landro (pencils), Pat Davidson (inks), Jeromy Cox (colors) VC’s Cory Petit (letterer), David Yardin with Nathan Fairbairn (cover), Jody LeHeup (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)

Brief Description: 

In upstate New York, Colonel Moran’s squad of soldiers close in on X-Factor’s SUV, which they have just shot up with automatic gunfire, in order to confirm the KIA. To their shock, however, Rictor and Longshot turn out to be holograms, while Madrox is actually a disguised Darwin, whose mutant power saved his life from the ambush. Before the army squad can use their overwhelming force to kill him despite his abilities, Darwin’s power involuntarily teleports him a short distance from X-Factor HQ, where he runs across a disguised Rictor, who has been employing counter-espionage on those who have been staking out X-Factor. Together, they decide to find out the next part in the plan of Madrox, who actually has had no clue what to do after his initial response at figuring out that their latest case was a trap. Meanwhile, in South America, Guido and Baron Mordo briefly combine their strength and magic to escape the soldiers and rejoin Mordo’s men within the temple. Discovering both the catatonic Monet and her captive father within, Guido grows incensed at Mordo’s actions but has to give pause when Mordo notes that, if they are to survive this, they will have to do it together. Meanwhile, at the airport in Dublin, Theresa Cassidy is denied her ticket at the front desk, a puzzle which becomes more clear when two men come to take her away. At first, she moves to escape, but a squad of soldiers use darts to knock her out. However, before they can terminate her, Shatterstar and Laya Miller both come to her aid, making short work of the soldiers. Watching this remotely via a security camera, Bastion orders Bolivar Trask to take control of the situation and finish them.

Full Summary: 

Watching the building through the green tint of his night-vision goggles, Nash reports to his superiors that they have X-Factor headquarters covered. No movement from inside. So informed, Nash’s superiors order him and his squad to keep a close eye. When they find out they just took down their three pals, they’re sure to react. Asking back that the only one left is target Darwin, Nash is told that one never knows. The others should show up at any time. If so, he’s not to engage unless attacked.

Suddenly, Nash’s view is blocked by the disheveled form of an apparently homeless man, who obliviously inquires what Nash is doing wearing sunglasses at night. Instantly, Nash pulls a handgun and places it to the chin of the man, who quickly raises his arms and tells “soldier boy” to stand down. They don’t got no problem here, the man professes. None at all! Unsure himself, Nash orders a scan of the “new contact” but quickly calms when he’s able to report to the colonel that it’s not a mutant, just a slight distraction. Enraged, the homeless man asks Nash if he looks like one of them mutie freaks. That’s the problem, Nash replies. Sometimes they look just like you and he. Showing his fists, the transient asks the soldier if there are mutants around there. “Lemme at ‘em! Lemme at ‘em!”

After reporting to the colonel that there’s no situation, just him going a couple of rounds with “Pappy Yokum,” Nash orders the transient to move along. Asked if he’s gonna go in shooting, Nash replies that they’re not going in at all. The last thing they want is a firefight in a heavily populated civilian area. They won’t fire the first shot. To this, the transient replies that that’s good to know and then, with a salute, tells the solider to keep on keeping humanity straight. As the man walks away, Nash reports to the colonel that the distraction is gone and then confirms that his men are still on the station.

Excellent, the colonel replies as he and his squad close in on the SUV they have just shot up. They’re about to clean up on this end. Interjecting, another soldier reports that they are getting an update, that they have a twenty on Cassidy. About bloody time, the colonel tells Sylius, just before asking where their newly christened “Banshee” is. Smirking a bit, Sylvius replies that he’s gonna love this.

Elsewhere at the Dublin airport, Theresa Cassidy asks the woman at the check-in counter what the hell she is talking about. Told by the attendant that she would really be preferring if she kept her voice down, Theresa quips that the lady has no idea how much she’d prefer that.

Returning to the issue at hand, Theresa asks the attendant why she won’t issue her boarding pass. Told that there’s a problem, Theresa logically asks what kind of problem. However, before the attendant can answer, two men come up behind Theresa, one of which asks if she would mind coming with them. Growing more annoyed, Theresa replies that yes, she would mind. She has her passport, her… Interrupting, the man informs Theresa that she’s on the “No-Fly List.” A moment later, Theresa bursts out laughing.

Told by the second man that this isn’t funny, Theresa removes her sunglasses and rubs her eyes. Having regained her composure, she tells the man that there’s just a certain irony to her being told she can’t fly, is all. To this, the man coldly rejoins that they understand all too well. Shocked into seriousness, Theresa asks what that is supposed to mean, after which the man replies the US has enough mutants to worry about. A moment later, both men have locked their arms around those of Theresa’s and are forcibly leading her away.

Told to come with them now, even as they are forcing her to do so, Theresa replies that that’s not going to happen. When the second man begins to tell her that she’s making a mistake, Theresa quips that it’s not as big as theirs. And she’s got their “No Fly” right here. With that, Theresa Cassidy screams the wail of the Banshee and takes to the air, dragging her two escorts with her. As all passengers recoil at the ear-splitting cry, every piece of glass in the terminal shatters.

From one of the terminal’s upper levels, three armored soldiers point stand revealed from behind one of the shattered windows. Immediately, they lock on their tracers and open fire but, luckily, Banshee has already seen them and twists her two former escorts in the air, tossing them toward the four fired darts. Unfortunately for her, the darts zip around the two men, now falling to the ground below, and zoom in on Banshee like directed missiles. All four find their mark and a tranquilized Banshee loses first her sonic scream and then her power of flight. A moment later, she’s on the ground, very much unconscious.

As the soldiers close in on her, one reports that the target is down. Banshee is down. When another asks if she is dead (because she should be dead), the first soldier replies that he doesn’t see blood. He thinks she used her sonics to absorb some of the impact. Then asked if they apprehend, the lead soldier puts his rifle to Banshee’s neck and replies that their orders are simple: no one walks away.

The team leader’s choice of words prove to be unfortunate, as half a second later twin blades are sprung from a casing, easily slicing through his back and emerging from his chest. The wielder of these twin blades, uses them and his strength to lift the soldier off of his feet like a rag doll. As the remaining men look on in horror, Shatterstar instructs them, yes by all means, no one walk away. Instead… they should run. Run very, very quickly. Chiming in on this, a cloaked Layla Miller adds “or… y’know… don’t. She’s good either way.

In upstate New York, the squad opens the door to the SUV, attempting to confirm via that the three members of X-Factor therein are indeed dead. However, as Colonel Moran reaches to touch the apparent corpse of Rictor, his hands pass right through, revealing him to be a hologram.

On the other side, Sylvius stops short of checking the driver, Madrox. If they’re not really there, she wonders aloud, then who drove the car? In reply, the corpse of Madrox kicks her in the face, replying that he did. However, a moment later, the hologram depicting the form of Madrox gives way to that of Darwin, who snarls to Sylvius that his body’s evolved to absorb their bullets. Basically, he’s eating lead now. So, thanks for that, he tell them. As an afterthought, he asks what they think of the Danger Room tech they installed in the car? Makes realistic, reactive holos. Pretty cool, huh?

On the other side of the SUV, Colonel Moran raises his rifle, announcing to the others that it’s Target Darwin. Replying that they bet their ass it’s him, Darwin steps from the driver’s side and places his boot on the neck of Sylvius. Doing so, he yells to the others to stay down. If they so much as twitch, he’ll crush her throat. Before they can reply, he then adds that if they’re gambling that he wouldn’t kill her…

His weapon trained on him, Moran interrupts, telling Darwin that he knows he would. Incensed at this, Darwin counters that he doesn’t know jack. Not about him, not about any of them. About anything! They’re not people to them! They see them as less than human. They think a guy with his skin color can’t wrap himself around that? Told that it isn’t about race, Darwin bites back that they’re trying to exterminate his people. How the hell is this not about race? He could kill them all. Don’t think he couldn’t. His power is to evolve in order to survive… and if surviving means he evolves into a creature that reaches down their throats and rips out their guys while their toys have no effect on him… fantastic.

Incredulous at this, Colonel Moran asks back if he can evolve to handle… overwhelming force. As if on cue, a giant tank-like machine of war towers over the tree line. Extending from its mass is a arm with a gigantic spinning saw which nears closer and closer to Darwin. “Oh crap,” he mutters to himself. However, a split second before the saw slices him in two, Darwin shimmers with purple light and is gone. Not taking a moment to even think, Colonel Moran yells for everyone to sweep the area in case he turned invisible. So ordered, the squad forms a circle and begins firing outward into the trees.

Back in New York, the transient who had been bothering Nash recoils in astonishment as a shimmering Darwin appears next to him out of thin air before finally coalescing into his normal self. Having recovered from the shock, the transient begins to chide Darwin, who explains that it’s not his fault. This happened when he fought the Hulk. His stupid body decided the best way to survive was to teleport him out of…

Darwin’s voice trails as he finally takes a moment to really look at the transient, whom he recognizes as Rictor. Pulling the fake beard, wig and other accoutrements, Rictor explains that he wanted to do some intell gathering; see what they’re up to. Referring to the arm, he explains that they’ve got HQ locked down, but they don’t want to start a major throw down in the city. Not if they can help it, anyway. His story told, he asks Darwin how they holos worked out. If he had had more time, he could’ve programmed one to drive the car… Darwin dismisses it, stating that it was fine. A little hairy, but fine. Heartened, Rictor tells Darwin that they should get to the safe house… and hope Madrox has their next move lined up.

I’ve got nothin’, Madrox silently admits to himself, as he stands on a pier overlooking the Atlantic. Sure, he was smart enough to have Longshot take Creel’s wad of cash, which he then got a read off of. And Longshot saw that Creel got it from a member of the Mutant Response Division. That whole thing was a set up. So they played along, bought some time, drew them out, saw what their plan was. But now what?

Walking down the pier, Longshot inquires to the phone call just received by Madrox, who confirms that it was Darwin calling in. His power shunted him away from the site. Asked if he’s okay, Madrox rejoins that he’s more pissed than anything. The MRD’s plan is to execute them. Pure and simple. This is what it’s come to. Here… and in Scott’s Utopia. They smell blood, he tells Longshot. Mutantkind is at its lowest ebb, and they want to finish them off. Asked by Longshoit who’s “they” exactly, Madrox sanguinely replies that they’re all “they.”

Now thinking about Monet and Guido, Madrox laments that they should never have let Guido and Monet head out after Monet’s dad. When Longshot replies that it’s not as if he had a choice, Madrox rejoins that that’s not the point. The point is they’re stronger together than separately. Receiving a “hunh,” Madrox inquires to its meaning. Well, Longshot replies, isn’t that what Cyclops basically said back in Utopia? And Madrox thought he was being foolish? Asked how did he know what he said to Cyclops, Longshot replies that Madrox told them. He wasn’t there, Longshot reminds Madrox. He was off having sex with Allison. Repeatedly. Yeah, he knows, Madrox rejoins. He kept telling them that every since he finally wandered back. Enough already.

Returning to the subject of Guido and Monet, Madrox tells Longshot not to worry. He’s sure they’ll be back any time now. And they’ll want to know what their next move is. Asked by Longshot as to whether he does have a plant, Madrox replies “Oh, yeah. Got it covered.”

In South America, Guido races toward the three soldiers who loom over the fallen Baron Mordo, whom they prepare to finish off. Before they can react, however, Guido grabs Mordo and races away, even though a wall blocks their way. Fortunately for them both, Mordo is both conscious and strong enough to cast a spell, opening a portal at the wall, through which Guido and Mordo disappear. The portal closes behind them, leaving the army soldiers without their targets.

Within the temple, Guido and the baron fall from the portal, falling onto the floor. They are greeted by Mordo’s men, who at first assume that Guido has hurt their master, but are held back by the baron, who tells then that he did nothing and orders them to stand back.

Taking in their surroundings, Guido sees a catatonic Monet lying on the temple floor, tears trailing down her face. Enraged, Guido grabs Mordo by the collar and pushes him against the wall, demanding to know what he did to her. Receiving only orders from Mordo’s men to put him down and accusations of being a fool from Mordo himself, Guido repeats the question. However, it is the voice of Ambassador St. Croix who diffuses the situation.

At first, the ambassador himself is just as surprised at his own voice, having spoken before realizing that his mystic gag was gone. Asked by Guido if he is Monet’s dad, St. Croix confirms. Then informed that they were looking for him, the ambassador rejoins “mission accomplished.”

Guido begins to ask what the hell is going around, but St. Croix interrupts to explain. That… creature over there, he begins, referring to Baron Mordo, is dying of cancer. Apparently Monet’s life essence has a unique quality to it that makes her attractive to certain… parasites. Mordo was using it to put his cancer in remission.

Still clutching his wounded shoulder, Mordo confirms, explaining that he was given a new lease on life thanks to some… temporal shenanigans… that need not concern them. But as he returned, so did his cancer. HE’s not about to let his body’s weakness doom him a second time.

Disgusted, Guido begins to curse and berate the baron, who interrupts, pointing out that he appears to have soldiers trying to kill him. What is his crime, other than wanting to live? Well? Receiving no reply, Baron Mordo presses. That’s what he thought. The lengths they will go to may differ… but ultimately they’re both just fighting to survive. Against greater odds than a more generous God would have allowed. And if they’re to accomplish that, they will have to do it together.

Back in the Dublin airport, the squad of soldiers have surrounded the Layla Miller, who huddles to herself beneath her cloak. The squad leader recognizes that she is with the others and orders his men to take her. Now! Despite warnings to the contrary from Layla, the squad opens fire at Layla, who has already activated a forcefield with her gauntlet. The resulting ricochets impact the soldiers, all of whom a moment later are down. Glancing down at those who would have done her harm a few moments before, Layla informs them that she’s Layla Miller. She knows st… Ahhh, forget it, she reconsiders. They don’t care.

A short distance away, Shatterstar continues to use his blades to make short work of the other soldiers. Watching this via a security camera placed high above, Bastion contacts Trask and informs him that the Dublin airport situation is unacceptable. Targets Shatterstar and Miller are liberating target Banshee… sanguinely. Replying that he knows via their comm. link, Trask adds that it’s embarrassing. They seem to be having trouble killing a half dozen mutants total, none of whom are Wolverine. Perhaps they should just give u…

Nyaarrrrhhhh! Trask suddenly screams, his reply to Bastion transformed from words to expressions of agony. The source of this pain, Bastion, orders his newly chastised pawn to take control and finish them. Yes, sir, Trask replies. Taking control… sir.

Characters Involved: 

Banshee II, Darwin, Layla Miller, Longshot, M, Multiple Man, Rictor, Shatterstar, Strong Guy (all X-Factor)

Baron Mordo

Doctor Bolivar Trask

Colonel Moran
Army soldiers (unnamed)

Absorbing Man

computer simulation: Banshee, Multiple Man, Rictor, Shatterstar (all X-Factor)
Captain America (Bucky), Iron Man, Ms. Marvel, Spider-Man, Spider-Woman, Stature, Thor, Vision, Wasp II (all Avengers)
Human Torch, Invisible Woman, Mister Fantastic, the Thing (all Fantastic Four)

US Army soldiers

on computer monitor: Dr. Bolivar Trask
Cameron Hodge
Angel, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Wolverine

Story Notes: 

This is a side story of the Second Coming crossover running through the X-titles.

The disguised Rictor’s quip of “Lemme at ‘em! Lemme at ‘em!” is most likely a reference to the Cowardly Lion in the 1939 film “the Wizard of Oz.”

“Pappy Yokum” refers to the father of the eponymous character of Al Capp’s newspaper series “Li’l Abner.”

Longshot had sex with Alison, repeatedly, in Nation X: X-Factor.

Mordo’s recent “temporal shenanigans” occurred during his time allied with the Red Hulk’s team, the Offenders. [Hulk (2nd series) #10-12]

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