X-Factor (1st series) #208

Issue Date: 
October 2010
Story Title: 

Peter David (writer), Emanuela Lapacchino (pencils), Pat Davidson (inks), Chris Chuckry (colors) VC’s Cory Petit (letterer), David Yardin with Edgar Delgado (cover), Jody LeHeup (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)

Brief Description: 

Having arrived back at X-Factor HQ, Layla is accosted by Monet, who is very unhappy about Layla’s return. At first she demands answers about Layla’s time with Doctor Doom, but Layla manages to slyly use her cybernetic gauntlet to make Monet lose consciousness and then blame it on her recent ordeal when Guido arrives. At this point, Layla informs Guido of Rahne’s return and how she just went up to see Rictor. Guido immediately realizes that this means she will run into Shatterstar, a possibility which becomes a certainty when, on the floor above, Rahne walks in on the two men in a state of half-undress. Convinced that Rictor is under a form of mind control, Rahne transforms into her Wolfsbane form and attacks Shatterstar, knocking them both out of the window. On the street below, Longshot and Darwin are returning from a night out with two girls, both of whom are with Longshot, when they see the erupting fight. As the girls flee, Longshot opens up a fire hydrant to separate the two combatants long enough for Rictor to convince Rahne that his mind is not being controlled. Rictor then asks Rahne pointblank if the baby she is carrying is his. After a moment of considering her answer, she heavily infers that it is, sending Rictor reeling. Elsewhere, Madrox and Banshee have successfully recovered Halja’s pendant from a man who has turned out to be a disguised Pip the Troll. Incensed, Pip threatens violence to Banshee unless Madrox hands it back but almost immediately gives up when he admits he cannot carry out his threat. Pip’s demeanor then turns to horror, as he realizes that she is coming; “she” being Halja, who arrives via a supernatural cloud of black smoke. Thanking Madrox for his assistance in locating Pip, which she could not do herself as long as he had the pendant, Halja – in actuality Hela, Norse goddess of death – teleports away with Pip, whom she calls her “jester.” Having seen the terror on Pip’s face as she took him, Madrox and Banshee agree to follow them to Las Vegas to intervene.

Full Summary: 

Climbing the stairs to the second floor of X-Factor’s New York headquarters, Layla Miller stops for a moment and looks back to the source of the voice asking what she is doing there. After asking “excuse me,” Monet St. Croix haltingly reiterates what… the… hell… is she doing there? Sarcastically, Layla replies that she heard Monet the first time, although she admits adding “the hell” gave it more oomph. To this, Monet orders Layla not so fence with her. She’s not in the mood.

Retaining her composed demeanor, Layla asks back if Guido knows Monet is out of bed. She’s not sure Monet’s strong enough to be… A slammed fist into the wall by her head is enough to stop Layla in midsentence and tell Monet that she’s listening. Satisfied but still angry, Monet asks Layla what her game is, only to be sarcastically told nude twister, though not with her. When Monet then speaks the name of Doctor Doom, Layla quips not with him either. And, if she may add: ewwww. Undeterred, Monet asks Layla what was she doing with Doctor Doom. Everyone’s gotta be some place, Layla rejoins. .

Sensing Monet’s rising anger, Layla becomes more serious. They were there learning from each other. She was helping him avoid a disagreeable future. Maybe he will. Couldn’t say. Then asked what she was learning from him, Layla returns to being coy, replying “stuff.” Still angry, though less than before, Monet notes to Layla that her being a kid was the only thing that stopped her from kicking Layla’s ass. Those days are past, and she is not welcome there. When Layla replies that Jamie said otherwise, Monet rejoins that Madrox can be an idiot sometimes. As can they all, Layla replies. Then again… she didn’t sleep with him. Much less with one of his dupes.

Incensed, Monet lifts Layla off of her feet, pressing her against the wall of the hallway. However, much to Monet’s surprise, Layla lifts her left gauntlet-clad right hand and places it on Monet’s forearm. A moment later, Monet’s head swims and her eyes lose focus. A moment after that, she has collapsed, the only thing saving her from a fall to the floor is being caught by Layla. .

At that moment, Guido appears, barreling down the hallway, shouting Monet’s name and declaring that she’s supposed to be in bed resting. Playing dumb, Layla replies that she couldn’t say. They were talking and suddenly, boom, out cold. As he lifts Monet in his arms, Guido notes that it was good Layla was there to catch her. Good thing, Layla affirms. Suddenly noticing the fist-shaped hole in the wall, Guido asks what happened. Again, Layla obfuscates, answering “termites” and suggesting that they should really call someone. .

Sensing he is not getting the whole story, Guido asks Layla if there’s anything she’s not telling him. To this, Layla admits tons, adding that she doesn’t know where to start. With a snap of her fingers, she suddenly remembers. Rahne. Asked what about her, Layla informs Guido that she’s back. She came looking for Rictor and she sent her up. For a moment, Guido is thrilled, declaring it terrific. However, a dawning realization crosses both his mind and face, as he asks if she meant Rictor and… Shatterstar’s room…? Acting as if the thought had not occurred to her, Layla states innocently that she hopes that’s not a… problem? A loud crash from above answers Layla’s own question, as Guido suggests that it might be. .

(five minutes earlier)
Standing in the doorway, a very pregnant Rahne Sinclair looks into the bedroom of Rictor, only to discover both he and Shatterstar in a state of half-undress. As all three look at each other in shock and astonishment, Rahne is the first to offer an “oh muh God…” which is followed by Rictor’s more emphatic one upon seeing Rahne’s distended midsection. Unable to break the shock with a coherent sentence, Rahne and Rictor are reduced to mere attempts. “You…” “I…” “It’s… I…”.

Stepping between the two, an oblivious Shatterstar innocently surmises that the two are having pronoun trouble. Turning to Rahne, he tells her he would offer her a drink, but he understands it’s not appropriate for someone in her condition…

Enraged, Rahne points a finger at Shatterstar, yelling that he did this!!!! Confused, Rictor turns to Shatterstar, asking for confirmation, which an even more confused Shatterstar repeatedly asks “I did? I did?” When Rictor reiterates that that’s what Rahne said, Shatterstar notes that he never slept with… A sudden realization crossing his mind, Shatterstar suggests that maybe, at some future point he travels back in time….

Interjecting by calling him an idiot, Rahne tells Shatterstar that she didn’t mean her pregnancy. This whole…! What has he done with Rictor!? Returning to his innocent act, Shatterstar looks away a bit and smiles nothing yet. But if she’d gotten there five minutes later

Rahne, no!!!” Rictor yells, his eyes widened in horror as he sees Rahne assume the lupine form of Wolfsbane. He tries to both warn and get between her and Shatterstar, but the latter pushes Rictor out of the way. A moment later, Wolfsbane has leapt at Shatterstar, propelling the two of them out of the window and toward the sidewalk, two stories below.

(one minute earlier)
Approaching X-Factor HQ, Longshot and Darwin are accompanied by two young women, both of whom hang on the arm of Longshot. When one of the girls – the redhead – asks “hotshot” where their super secret headquarters is, Longshot corrects his name and notes that it’s over there. When the other girl – the blonde – notes that it looks like a funeral home, Longshot replies that it’s a cunning disguise.

Though she continues to clutch the arm of Longshot, the blonde glances toward Darwin and asks why his friend is so quiet. Is he looking forward to his next big super hero fight? Answering for himself, Darwin replies that he really doesn’t look forward to fights. Slightly incredulous, the blonde asks him to come on. Isn’t that what super heroing is all about? Isn’t it all one big fight? Darwin begins to deny this, but at that moment Wolfsbane and Shatterstar crash through a second story window

Elsewhere, at the Magus Bar, Pip the Troll races down the bar, knocking over bottles and mugs of beer in his wake. Yelling to Madrox as he closes the distance between them, Pip yells for Madrox to give it back! Now! He needs it! However, before he makes it to Madrox, Pip finds himself in the grip of an enraged and immensely muscular bar patron, who grabs Pip by the hair and tells that he owes him a beer.

At this point, Banshee begins to step in, telling the towering, ponytailed man to pick on someone his own size, but she is not able to finish. Sidestepping deftly, Pip manages to twist the arm of the large man, escaping his grasp and inflicting pain. Then, before the man can recover, Pip follows the move with a head butt and then a left hook, drawing blood with each blow. Almost speechless, Banshee regards the unconscious man before Pip turns to leave, following Madrox. However, awaiting him in the alley is not Madrox, but six Madroxes, each sarcastically asking if he’s looking for something and offering their help, since they are a detective and finding stuff is what they do.

Recovering from his shock, Pip points his finger at the crowd of Madroxes before him and asks that she hired them didn’t she? Big, scary broad? Dresses in green. At first, the dupes begin to play dumb but finally one admits it. He further adds that she said he stole the dingus from her. When Pip doesn’t understand the reference, Madrox clarifies that he means the hammer. The one he was wearing… Interrupting, Pip counters that he didn’t get it from her. He got it from… a guy. Asked what guy, Pip replies that it doesn’t matter. The thing is, long as he had it, she couldn’t find him. Then asked why would she be looking for him, Pip replies that that there’s no time to explain and asks Madrox to give it to him. Give it! he repeats, launching himself to Madrox’s throat. Unluckily for Pip, however, the Madrox before him discorporates into thin air, leaving Pip without a target.

At that moment, Banshee sticks her head into the alley, asking what’s happening. Before he can reply, an irate Pip points an accusing hand toward the nearest remaining Madrox, noting that if he wants to play games, that’s fine. With that, Pip disappears in a cloud of reddish smoke and reappears a moment later in another such cloud, this time behind Banshee, whom he immediately has in a choke hold. Again, Pip yells for Madrox to give it back. He needs to give it back or so help him, he’ll break her neck! He’ll…

Slowly releasing Banshee, a growingly dejected Pip slides down her back to his feet, telling them just to forget it. He can’t… Before he can reach the ground, however, Banshee turns the tables and tosses Pip into a pile of trash. As he returns to his feet, Pip asks what the hell. When she replies that he was grabbing her throat, he notes that he was letting go. At first, Banshee scoffs, but Madrox notes that actually it looked like he was letting g… To this, Banshee asks Madrox is she was asking him, at which point Madrox points elsewhere and informs her that he will just be standing over there.

His threats having turned to pleas, Pip clutches Banshee’s wrist, pleading with her to talk to him. To them. He’s running out of time. She’s on her way there. He can feel it. How can she not? At first, Banshee begins to recoils slightly but a moment later she rubs her hands over her own arms, asking why is it getting so cold. Turning away as if looking for its source, Pip informs her that it’s her. It’s freakin’ her.

Turning back to Madrox, Banshee asks who the hell their client is. Reabsorbing all of his dupes, Madrox replies she said her name was Halja but… Before Madrox can finish, the client has arrived, appearing in the form of block smoke which coalesces into the forms of a curvy woman clad in an extremely revealing green dress. Not even deigning to comment on her method of arrival, Halja congratulates Madrox on a job well done.

Back at X-Factor HQ, Longshot notes to Darwin that he’s not sure what’s happening and asks why that well-dressed dog is attacking Shatterstar. Incredulous, Darwin notes that that’s not a dog; it’s Wolfsbane. At first, Longshot is satisfied that that would explain it… but then admits that he’s still confused. As Darwin races into action, Longshot turns to the ladies to inform them that it looks like they have a chance to see a fight after all, but much to his disappointment he spies them scarpering into the safety of the night.

Back at the fight, Wolfsbane is engaged in hand-to-claw combat with Shatterstar, accusing him of mind-controlling Rictor. That has to be it! She’ll tear his throat out… before she let’s… Still attempting to explain, Shatterstar begins to state that it wasn’t what she thought, but quickly has to admit that it was what she thought? Happy? He knows he was…

This only causes enrage Wolfsbane more and she begins to curse at him. Noting the emotional distraction, Shatterstar quips at her bad language and flips Wolfsbane off of him At this point, Darwin arrives asking her to wait, however Wolfsbane simply ignores him, informing Shatterstar that if he thinks this is funny, she’ll show him funny. However, before she can resume the fight, a vertical column of water knocks her off balance. At the source of the water stream, a smiling Longshot notes that it was lucky for him that she was standing right in the path of this hydrant.

Taking advantage of the temporary lull, Rictor asks Shatterstar if he’s okay. Replying that he’s fine, Shatterstar adds that this evening certainly took an odd turn. Asked if he didn’t hurt her, Shatterstar replies not at all. True to her word, she’s showing him funny.

Drenched but no less angry, Wolfsbane continues her threats until approached by Rictor, who pleading tells her that it’s okay. When she begins to ask how that could be, Rictor tells her that it’s not mind control. Not anything like that. Shedding her lupine form, Rahne asks how can he and him… when he and she were… Averting his eyes, Rictor replies that it’s complicated. But, before anything else, she needs to tell him… is he the father of that baby?

Not answering at first, Rahne looks first up at Rictor and then at Shatterstar. Finally, she replies that she wasn’t with anyone else seven months ago, so… Dumbstruck, Rictor’s eyes bulge as Rahne embraces him. He is unable to see her own eyes, which seem lost in the meaning of the information she just imparted. The only one in position to see this is Layla, who watches on a short distance away in silence.

Having resealed the hydrant, Longshot and Darwin look on a short distance away. All smiles, Longshot notes that now they got a show. Sitting on the curb, a slightly more melancholy Darwin wonders aloud what Madrox will say.

“I got nothin’,” Madrox announces, much to the anger of Theresa, who asks what does he mean and asks again who she is. Nearby, a terrified Pip attempts to race away from Halja, yelling back that he ain’t going back to Vegas! No way! Resolute, Halja informs Pip that he’s not being given a choice. When Pip answers this with a teleport, Halja calmly replies with an “Oh, no you don’t” and reaches within the dissipating red smoke. As she uses her now non-present arm to rummage around within the portal, Halja tells the non-present Pip that, now that she “sees” him, not all of time and space can hide him.

A moment later, as she pulls a cowering Pip back from the portal, Halja informs Madrox that his services are appreciated and no longer required. Stepping forward and holding the small hammer pendant, Madrox tells her to hold up. He promised to get her this, not to… Waving her hand, Halja interrupts and tells Madrox he can keep it. She has her jester back. That is all that matters… With that, Halja and Pip erupt into an ever expanding cloud of swirling, black smoke. As they disappear, Halja incants …to Hela! Goddess of death and queen of the underworld! A moment later, all that is left is a patch of pavement, scorched in the shape of a demonic head.

Left alone with Madrox, Theresa searches for something to say, finally settling on the fact that she didn’t really like her. Replying him neither, Madrox adds that Pip looked terrified. And it was his fault. Noting the tone, Theresa remarks more in statement than question that Madrox is going to Vegas, isn’t he? Going to throw down with a goddess. Still staring down at the piece of demonic art on the pavement below them, Madrox replies with a simple “yeah.” A moment later, he glances back up to Theresa with a grin and asks if she wants to be there. To this, Theresa replies that she guesses so. She means… everyone’s got to be some place.

Characters Involved: 

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

Hela (as Halja)

Pip, the Troll

Patrons of Magus Bar
Large patron of Magnus Bar

Longshot’s female companions

Story Notes: 

Layla stayed for many months in Latveria, advising Doctor Doom in an as yet unrevealed capacity. [X-Factor (1st series) #201-202] The “disagreeable future” Layla was helping him to avoid was most likely his addled mental state she witnessed in the future timeline. [X-Factor (3rd series) #45-50]

Monet slept with Madrox (or one of his dupes) in X-Factor (3rd series) #10 after a night of drunken celebration.

The bar in which Madrox and Banshee found Pip last issue was named “St. Mark’s,” but in this one seems to be named “Magus.” The name of “Magus” is significant to Pip’s character in that it was the name of the alternate, evil identity of Pip’s longtime ally, Adam Warlock.

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