X-Factor (1st series) #217

Issue Date: 
May 2011
Story Title: 

Peter David (writer), Emanuela Lupacchino (pencils), Guillermo Ortega (inks), Matt Milla (colors) VC’s Cory Petit (letterer), David Yardin with Sonia Oback (cover), Jordan D. White (assistant editors), Daniel Ketchum (associate editor), Jody LeHeup & Nick Lower (editors), Axel Alonso (editor in chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)

Brief Description: 

On his way to appear at a protest, New York City Mayor J. Jonah Jameson speaks with his head of investigation, Felicia Hardy, about his recent hiring of X-Factor Investigations to look into the murder of his friend, General Ryan. Much to her annoyance, Jameson gives details of his location and security detail over the unsecured phone line, which indeed is being monitored by Syl, a member of a three-woman assassination squad responsible for the general’s death. Unaware that Syl has transmitted this information to Ballistique, who is waiting among the assembled protestors, Jameson arrives at the protest, just as Monet and Guido are arguing with attendees about fear of all mutants and Muslims due to the actions of a few. Addressing the crowd, Jameson makes an impassioned speech for tolerance, explaining that they need to stop treating everybody like they’re the enemy, just because they are different or because you disagree with them. Watching from a rooftop high above, Felicia Hardy, costumed in her secret identity of the Black Cat, is impressed with her boss. Unfortunately, the vantage point which she has chosen is the same chosen by Rococo, from the team of assassins. Though the Black Cat’s skills impress her, Rococo’s strength wins the ensuing fight and she afterwards sets up her sniper rifle in case Ballistique is unsuccessful below. Meanwhile, in a cemetery in Richmond, Virginia, Madrox, Rictor, Longshot and Rictor find the grave of Ryan’s wife, where Ryan was murdered. There they find a rose, which Longshot psychically reads and describes the appearance of the woman who murdered him to Rictor, who uses a facial composite program on his tablet computer to recreate her image. While Madrox transmits the image to the team in New York, Rictor becomes irate at Shatterstar, who previously seemed to imply to him that there was a connection between him and Longshot, only now to pretend that he was just joking. Back in New York, Banshee received the transmitted image of Ballistique, just as she is about to assassinate Jameson from up close. Banshee tries to stop protect the mayor, but her actions are misinterpreted by an officer. The next closest, Guido steps to intervene but underestimates Ballistique, as she seems to be unarmed. However, a moment later, Ballistique fires a round from her finger at Guido, leaving him with a very large and very bloody chest wound. High above, in her sniper’s nest, Rococo prepares to finish the job on Jameson.

Full Summary: 

From the speakerphone on her desk at the mayor’s office in Manhattan, Felicia Hardy calls her boss, Mayor J. Jonah Jameson. Playfully playing with a Cat’s Cradle string, she asks if there is something he’s forgotten to tell her. Like that he hired some detective agency to look into the Ryan killing? Need she remind him that she is the head of investigation? Is he dissatisfied with her work? “Not at all,” Jameson replies via his mobile phone as he rides in the back of the mayor’s limo. But General Ryan is not a New York citizen, nor was he killed in New York. He won’t have the taxpayers’ dollars paying her to look into what is, for him, a private matter.

Felicia then asks if they can talk about this in person, but Jameson replies that he can’t. He’s on the way to the protest. A thought suddenly occurs to Felicia and she asks the mayor if he is on his cell phone. Told that he is, Felicia reminds him that that’s not a secure line. He shouldn’t be broadcasting his whereabouts. Rolling his eyes, Jameson asks Felicia if she could be any more paranoid.

Inside a surveillance van some a distance away, Syl listens to Jameson note that, first, his conversations aren’t all that interesting. Second, he has two security guards. And besides, who would be after him? He means, has she seen his polling numbers? Disconnecting the feed, Syl takes her radio mic and calls to Noelle and Rocky, informing them that she’s got Jameson’s twenty. He’s got two guards. Should be no problem for them.

Elsewhere, racing down the streets of Manhattan behind the wheel of her Mustang, Rocky at her side, Ballistique tells Syl that there’s no problem at all. If she asks for J. Jonah Jameson tomorrow… she will find him a grave man. As the pair of assassins speed on, high above them, the employee of their mark, Felicia Hardy is clad in the costume of her secret identity of the Black Cat and swings to her own destination.

(Richmond Cemetery, Virginia)
A thought suddenly occurs to Longshot as he, Madrox, Rictor and Shatterstar make their way through the grave markers. He notes that they seem to spend an inordinate amount of time in graveyards. Could be worse, Madrox rejoins, they could be fighting vampires. Scowling at this, Rictor remarks “mutants fighting vampires?” how weird would that be? When Shatterstar then reminds him that he’s not a mutant any more, Rictor sarcastically thanks him for reminding him.

Suddenly, Madrox spies their objective, the grave of Mary Ryan. He notes that, though they haven’t had a chance to bury the general yet, that’s definitely his wife’s grave. Referring to the bouquet of roses lying on it, Madrox instructs Longshot to do his thing. “On it,” he replies, and promptly picks up a single rose by its stems. His left eye begins to glow as he heads its psychic history.

As Longshot works, Rictor speaks to Shatterstar. He was wondering… he and Longshot look and even talk kinda similar. And they both have the eye thing, and come from Mojo World… Turning to Rictor, Shatterstar smiles and asks if he’s asking if they’re related in some way. He guesses he is, Rictor replies. They are, as a matter of fact, Shatterstar admits. It’s an odd story. Longshot is his…

“I got it,” Longshot interjects, interrupting the conversation. Still kneeling, he looks up to see the phantom image of Ballistique, firing her outstretched forefinger like a gun. The shooter was a woman, Longshot tells Madrox. She’s standing just to the right. Confused, Madrox asks whose right but, when Longshot asks if it matters, he admits that it doesn’t. The connection made, Madrox calls over Rictor. At first, Rictor balks, explaining that Shatterstar was about to tell him something, but Madrox tells him it can wait. Does he have that computer pad of his? Right here, Rictor replies, pulling it out of his satchel. Taking it, Madrox activates a digital facial composite program and suggests that they start with the shape of her head. “Let’s get a look at the woman who killed J. Jonah Jameson’s friend.”

Back in Manhattan, Ballistique, the woman who killed J. Jonah Jameson’s friend, remains calm and composed among a sea of angry and shouting protestors. “America for Americans!” “Keep the strangers out!” “We need to protect our borders!” “We don’t need more Muslim terrorists getting in here!” “Yeah! They’re as bad as mutants!” Suddenly, the crowd is silenced by an incredulous “Oh, really?” which comes from above. It is Monet, who floats a short distance above the assembly, which has been joined by Guido. Her arms crossed, she informs them that she’s a Muslim and a mutant… care to take it up with her?

Nearby, the mayor’s limo has arrived and Jameson has been joined therein, much to his annoyance, by Banshee. What he doesn’t understand, he tells her, is why is she there when he has two security guards with him? In contrast to Jameson’s annoyance, Banshee smiles playfully and, via a seductive, siren-like voice, tells him that they are concerned that, since he has a direct connection to the general… his murder might not be an isolated incident. So, she’s with him until they’re sure he’s not a target. Enchanted by her voice, Jameson’s demeanor is transformed. Right, right, he smiles. He forgot. What a great idea. I knowww, Banshee continues. Plus, they’ll have additional members of the team covering whatever public venues he’s heading to. Fully satisfied, Jameson leans back in his seat and crosses his hands behind his head. “Sweet girl,” he tells the aide next to him. “Yes, sir,” the aide affirms.

From the front of the limo, the driver announces that they’re almost at the protest site. When asked how it’s looking, the driver replies that, actually, it’s a lot quieter than he would have thought.

At the protest, Monet continues to float above the crowd, accompanied by Guido directly below. Still awaiting a response to her question, she reminds them that here she is. The face of the “enemy.” Say what they want, because she’s a Muslim. When Guido voices “yeah, me too,” Monet incredulously states that he’s not a Muslim. Guido explains that he figured they were doing’ a whole “I’m Spartacus” thing, to which Monet informs him that she really is a Muslim. Furrowing his brow, Guido asks that she is, to which Monet replies “of course.” This confuses Guido even more and he asks what she means “of course.”

At this point, Monet gets into Guido’s face and reminds him that her mother’s Algerian. Ninety-eight percent of Algerians are Muslims. Do the math. A thought occurring to her, she asks if he has a problem with… “No!” Guido replies defensively. “Not at… no.” As Monet returns her attention to the crowd, Guido laments to himself that he was just startin’ to wrap himself around the whole gay thing with Rictor…

Among the protestors, one finally steps forward, calling out to Monet. Has it ever occurred to her, he asks, that her type just brings tragedy and death wherever they go? When Monet asks which “type” he means, mutants or Muslims, he tells her to take her pick. Yeah, another protestor chimes in, people die wherever their kind shows up! Repeating “our kind,” Guido’s temper rises, prompting Monet to tell him to calm down. He tells the protestor to let him tell them about “our kind.” Sure they got some bad eggs! Guys who just wanna, y’know, kill people! But most of the, they’re just reg’lar joes who wanna lead reg’lar lives! And they don’t like what the bad guys do anymore’n they do! So how do they think they feel when they’re lumped in with ‘em? He’s right, Monet continues. Bad enough to be condemned for what you are. Imagine being hated for what you’re not.

Still emboldened, the protestors continue. One remarks that they can’t fool them. He heard that all mutants wanna take over the world, whether they want to admit it or not! To this, a second adds Muslims too. It’s in their sacred texts! They are at war with Christianity! And their mosques are really secret terrorist training camps! Hearing this, another protestor does a double-take and asks “What?”

Suddenly, a voice cuts through the crowd, causing all to listen. And if you elect a Catholic president, the voice bellows, he’ll be a puppet of the Vatican. At least, Mayor Jameson continues, that’s what they said in 1960 so people wouldn’t vote for JFK. Of course, that was one of the extreme views. Funny thing, though: extremists of all stripes get the most attention. When one of the protestors tell Jameson that’s the pot calling the kettle black, James retorts that he’s not the pot, kiddo. He just stirs it.

Another protestor speaks up, trying to convey his point less emphatically. Look, he begins, he’s just sick of people fighting for the rights of foreigners and not giving a damn about actual citizens. To this, Jameson replies that, from the way the crowd’s giving him the fish eye, he’d say they’re sick of guys like him steering the debate. The best ideas steer the debate, the man counters, not the people! Bottom line, they just want their country back!

Funny thing, James counters. He keeps hearing that from the far ends of both sides. “We want our country back.” Where’d it go? If neither side has it, then who took it? “Guess what?” James asks. “I did. Me and my big white ancestors. We came rolling in and took it from the people who were here in the first place. And right after we did that, we kidnapped people from Africa to help build it. And now we’re all worried that karma’s coming back to bite us on the keister. So we got to fight back because otherwise a hundred years from now, we might be the ones living on the reservations and dying of small pox. We can do that. Keep everyone we’re afraid of out. Send intruders back where they came from… or maybe put ‘em in camps like in World War II, ‘cause we’re afraid they’re terrorists. Or maybe… and it’s a crazy idea, I know… maybe we can stop treating everybody like they’re the damned enemy.”

Still unmoved, one of the protestors snarks so says the guy who hates super heroes. Darting his eyes coldly at the man, Jameson retorts so says the guy who believes that actions have consequences and that there’s the rules of law that should protect everyone… even the people they don’t like… people who, if you disagree with them, they’re not traitors, and if they’re new here maybe they deserve the kind of break they didn’t give others. Now, if he wants to argue facts and figures and impact on the economy, they can dance. But if he just wants to throw fear and dimwitted slogans at him? Then get out of his way, ‘cause he’s wasting his time.

Back in Virginia, Longshot declares the image on the facial composite program to be perfect. That’s her exactly, he declares. Taking the tablet, Madrox compliments Rictor and Longshot on the good job. He’ll transmit the image to the others so they know who to be on the lookout for. Also, they’ll run it through the FBI databank, see if they get a hit.

Finished with the tablet, Rictor returns to Shatterstar, intending to finish their conversation. However, Shatterstar plays dumb at first, forcing Rictor to remind him about the relationship between him and Longshot. Jokingly dismissing it, Shatterstar remarks that he was just kidding. Incredulously, Rictor repeats “kidding,” which Shatterstar confirms. He doesn’t actually have any connection to Longshot. None at all. Watching the two via his peripheral vision, Longshot grimaces.

In New York, from a rooftop above the protest, the Black Cat views her boss, Mayor Jameson, below. Impressed from what she sees, the Black Cat notes that the old man’s got some serious juice. Who knew? Still, she tells herself, considering all the grief he’s been giving Spider, he seems more like just a big ol’ hypocrite to her. He’s all for peoples’ rights unless they’re wearing masks. Well, whatever. He is her boss, bottom line, and she has to have his back.

Suddenly, the krunch of a heeled boot on the roof behind her draws her attention. With catlike reflexes, the Black Cat pivots and tosses a three-clawed grappling line toward its origin, telling the person that it’s bad luck for them that she heard that! However, Rocky is just as quick and dodges the hook. Bad luck for her, she tells the Black Cat, that she happens to be right where she wanted to set up. With this, Rocky grabs the grappling line and pulls with inordinate strength. Caught by surprise, the Black Cat is flung off of the edge of the roof and into a chimney.

As the Black Cat attempts to recover, Rocky compliments that she was able to disengage from the grappling line. Too little, too late, she adds. Understand: she’s got nothing against her, but if Jameson’s her boss, then she’s in the way. And she’s in more trouble than…

Rocky’s words trails as the Black Cat erupts from her crouched position, backhanding Rocky hard enough to draw blood. However, it is the Cat who clutches her hand and screams, noting that it’s like hitting brick… This time, the Black Cat’s words trail, as Rocky kicks her in the chin, quipping that, speaking of hitting the bricks… why doesn’t she? With her adversary unconscious, Rocky begins to handcuff her hands behind her back. Apologizing as she does so, Rocky notes that she has some good moves… and absolutely the sweetest little rump… but she’s on a schedule.

This completed, Rocky stands and strides to the edge of the roof. She calls via her headset to Syl, reporting a speed bump. Asked if she’s okay, Rocky replies that it’s all good. She’s getting into position. A few moments later, the rifle which had been slung over her back is rested on the roof’s edge, with Rocky peering through its scope. Still addressing Syl, Rocky tells her that, if she asks her, Noelle’s not gonna need her. She means, she’s happy to be Ballistique’s backup, but let’s face it… Jameson’s never gonna see it coming.

On the street below, as Ballistique closes the gap between her and the mayor, Banshee received an incoming image on her hip communicator. So that’s their murder suspect, she notes, looking at Ballistique’s image.

A short distance away, Ballistique has made her way to Jameson. Addressing him, she tells him she couldn’t agree more. On behalf of everyone who values the foundations of this country, he’s the man. Oblivious to the seriousness of the finger pointed at him by the blonde before him, Mayor Jameson grins. What can he say, he asks, she’s right on target.

Instead of a gunshot, however, a deafening SHREEEEEEEE from Banshee nearly bowls over both Jameson and Ballistique. Misinterpreting the action, a uniformed officer swings his baton at Banshee’s back, yelling that the mutant’s attacking the mayor! Luckily, Banshee quickly recovers and prevents another blow from the officer, calling him an idiot. She then yells to Monet over her wrist communicator, telling her that the blonde woman pointing at Jameson… she’s Ryan’s killer!

High above, Monet dive bombs toward the Ballistique, telling Banshee that she’s on it. Already at the woman, Guido tells Monet to fergit it and get Jameson to safety. He’ll take here. She ain’t even armed…

Closing her right eye and aiming with the other, Ballistique fires from her outstretched forefinger, the shot ringing in the air. Stunned into silence, Guido stares down at the bloody wound in the center of his torso and weakly notes that that aint’ right. Wide-eyed in shock, Monet calls out his name.

High above, as she centers the scope of her rifle on Jameson, Rococo reports to Syl via her headset that Ballistique’s hit a snag. Not to worry… she’s on it.

Characters Involved: 

Butterfly, M II, Multiple Man, Rictor, Shatterstar, Strong Guy, (all X-Factor)
Pip the Troll



J. Jonah Jameson
Mayor’s security detachment

Omaha hotel staff

Multiple Man
Mayor J. Jonah Jameson
Mayor’s receptionist

(in photos)
General Samuel Ryan
J. Jonah Jameson
Military medic

Story Notes: 

While speaking on the phone with Jameson, Felicia is playing a Cat’s Cradle string game, a two-person puzzle game involved with manipulation of strings wrapped around two hands.

Ballistique’s notation of finding Jameson the next day to be “a very grave man” is paraphrasing of Mercutio, a character from Shakespeare’s play, “Romeo and Juliet,” who has just been fatally stabbed and is jesting about his impending death.

Madrox and his gang were most recently in a graveyard in Latveria in X-Factor (1st series) #201-202.

Though Madrox is very aware, per his last case, Rictor seems unaware that the X-Men indeed recently fought vampires. [X-Men (3rd series) #1-6]

Guido’s reference to “I’m Spartacus” refers to the pivotal scene in the 1960 film “Spartacus.” In it, a Roman general offers leniency to a group of captured rebel slaves if they only identify Spartacus among their number. Rather than doing so, each man stands, yelling “I am Spartacus.”

When Shatterstar originally appeared [New Mutants (1st series) #99-100], it was stated that he was from the Mojoverse, one hundred years past Longshot’s time. However, a closer connection between the two characters has been theorized by fans since a playful half-inference was made in X-Men (2nd series) #11 when Longshot suggested Dazzler name their unborn child Shatterstar.

First appearance of Syl. It is unclear how she reunited with Ballistique prior to this issue.

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