X-Factor (1st series) #219

Issue Date: 
July 2011
Story Title: 
Lies, Damned Lies

Peter David (writer), Emanuela Lupacchino (pencils), Guillermo Ortega (inks), Matt Milla (colors) VC’s Joe Sabino (letterer), David Yardin (cover), Jordan D. White (assistant editor), Daniel Ketchum (editor), Nick Lowe (editors), Axel Alonso (editor in chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)

Brief Description: 

Still following the tracking device she planted on Rococo, the Black Cat drives into New Hampshire and straight into a trap by the three female assassins. Back in New York, Monet kidnaps Mayor Jameson and flies him to a balcony on which await Madrox and Banshee. Together, the three demand answers from Jameson, who eventually admits his knowledge that General Ryan once ran a black ops program called SCARS, a cybernetic update of the super-soldier program. From this, the group infers that the assassins were a part of the program. Jameson then unknowingly supplies the group’s next lead, mentioning the SCARS’ head surgeon, Doctor Young Soo Pock, on whom Rictor quickly finds a file in the FBI database. Rather than waiting for Madrox and Banshee to return, Shatterstar offers to take himself, Rictor and the just-arrived Monet to investigate a farm in New Hampshire registered to Doctor Pock. Joined by Longshot and Wolfsbane, the group teleports to the farm just in time to save the life of Doctor Pock, whom Syl, Ballistique and Rococo were about the hang. Monet immediately devotes her attention to Ballistique and enters her mind, a task made easier due to Ballistique’s willing participation weeks before. Once inside, Monet makes short work of Ballistique, burying her consciousness and placing her into a coma. Back in the physical world, Monet finds that the two other assassins have escaped. At first, Doctor Pock demands that she pursue but Monet declines. Irate at Pock’s responsibility with messing with the women’s lives, she reminds him that X-Factor was hired to catch Ryan’s killer, which they have done. Meanwhile, back in New York, an emotional Layla Miller expresses her remorse for her actions to the still hospital bed-ridden Guido, who is mystified as to what Layla might be talking about.

Full Summary: 

Crossing into New Hampshire in her convertible, Felicia Hardy continues to follow the tracking device she planted on Rocky. Her tracking device leads her further and further into the countryside. However, while racing down a winding, rural road, Felicia suddenly feels a mosquito bite to her neck. She curses a moment later when she realizes that it is not a mosquito, but a dart. As she struggles to maintain consciousness, Felicia bemoans her lack of spider-sense. A moment later, her vehicle runs off the road and through a wooden fence, coming to a complete stop right in front of an inquisitive cow.

Through supreme effort, Felicia opens the car door and crawls out, only to find two women waiting for her, Ballistique and Syl. Via her headset, Syl congratulates Rocky on the nice shot. Thanking the compliment via comm., Rocky adds that it’s nice to know she’s still got it. Asked by Ballistique what now, Syl replies that they go have a reunion with the man who made them what they are today. And they kill him for it.

Back in New York City, Mayor J. Jonah Jameson exits City Hall with an aide and two bodyguards. Speaking to the aide, Jameson notes that this has been one hell of a day. He asks where in blazes did Felicia go. Told no idea, he then asks about X-Factor. They were supposed to be guarding him. To be fair, the aide replies, they’re dealing with one of their guys being shot… Angrily repeating the word “fair,” Jameson asks who said anything about life being fair? If she asks him…

Jameson’s words trail as he is grabbed in the blink of an eye and flown into the air. Immediately, the two bodyguards begin to draw their weapons, but the aide yells for them not to shoot. The bullets won’t hurt her, just him! High above, held aloft by Monet, demands to know if she is out of her mind. She works for him! To this, Monet reminds him that he’s the mayor, and his salary comes out of her tax dollars, so he works for her. They’re even.

Changing subjects, Monet asks Jameson if he thought she was going to forget. Receiving a confused response, Monet reminds him that she warned him. She said there was something going on that he wasn’t telling them. That she’d rip it out of his mind if she had to. Well, now they’re going to have a meeting of minds.

After a short flight, Jameson finds himself being carried to a balcony on which wait Madrox and Banshee. Spying Madrox, Jameson demands to know what’s the meaning of this. “This,” Madrox explains, technically doesn’t have a meaning. It’s a proximal demonstrative, a word specifically indicating what someone’s referring to… As he is let down onto the balcony, Jameson yells that he wasn’t talking grammar.

Returning to seriousness, Madrox tells Jameson that they think there are aspects of his relationship with General Ryan that he’s been keeping to himself. He can either just tell him… Or, Banshee chimes in, she can sweet talk it out of him… Or, Monet then adds with bared teeth, she can do what she promised. Which, Madrox interjects, considering that he almost lost one of his people over this… is the directions he’s leaning on taking. Was he into something with General Ryan beyond the fact that he saved your life?

Rather than appearing cowed by the threats, Jameson remains resolute, thrusting his finger into Madrox’s face. He told him, he tells Madrox, everything he needed to know! So one of his people got hurt! He’s in a dangerous line of work and… Interrupting, Madrox replies that he doesn’t have time for this. Turning to Monet, he instructs her to crack Jameson’s mind open and scoop it out like a melon. “With pleasure,” Monet replies. His demeanor changing immediately, Jameson recoils and tells the two o wait, there’s no need. Look, he really thought Ryan’s death was an isolated case! He had no reason to think his program was involved! That was decades ago!

After he tells a disappointed Monet to hold off, Madrox asks Jameson what “program.” A black ops program, Jameson replies. He called it scars: Strategic Capture And Retrieval. A cybernetic update of the super-soldier program. A guy named Young Soo Pock came up with it. But Ryan couldn’t get the funding for it, so he came to Jameson. He owed Ryan his life, so… Interjecting, Monet asks if the shooter was part of it. When Jameson replies “possibly,” Monet notes that she’s older than she looked. A healing factor would explain why she got right up… “Wait,” Banshee cuts in, she missed something. “Who’s ‘Young Soo Pock?’”

He was a Korea medic, Jameson replies. Brilliant surgeon. In those days, the three of them were as thick as… Interrupting, Madrox realizes aloud that he was the third one in the picture Jameson showed them, which Jameson confirms. Asked where he is now, Jameson replies that he doesn’t know. This was all years ago. Sam never told them how the program worked out, and he never asked.

Considering this, Banshee and Madrox wonder if these women were part of this SCARs thing, they could be targeting this Pock guy. Jameson begins to object that this is none of their business but Madrox ignores, asking where the picture is. When Jameson replies in his office, Madrox suggests that they go get it. Jameson’s objections begin to grow more heated but they quickly cool when he is picked up by an even angrier Monet, who reminds the mayor that Madrox said “get it,” got it? “Got it,” Jameson replies.

Back at X-Factor HQ, Rictor sits in front of his computer and laments that this is getting him nowhere. Asked by Shatterstar if the FBI has no file on this woman, Rictor replies at least nothing that matches the picture he’s got to work with. Appearing in the doorway, Pip the Troll calls out to “Victor.” Rictor quickly corrects his name, though Pip replies that he doesn’t care. He then tells Rictor to pick up line 1; it’s Madrox. Picking up the receiver, Rictor nocks that his name, Pip remembers. Answering to Madrox, Rictor tells him he’s coming up empty on the search.

Sitting in the mayor’s office, Madrox ignores this and informs Rictor that he’s got a new one for him. A Doctor Young Soo Pock. Monet’s on her way with a picture of him; Terry’s busy keeping Jameson entertained. Nearby, Banshee asks with her melodious siren’s voice how Jameson makes his hair stand up like that. Told by the enchanted Jameson that he got hit twice by lightening as a kid, Theresa replies that that explains a lot.

Meanwhile, at the hospital, a bed-ridden Guido greets his newest visitor, Layla Miller, and asks if she can believe they want him t’stay there another day for “observation?” And here he’s feeling’ like… Asked by Layla “like what,” Guido smiles that a weight’s been lifted that he didn’t even know was there, y’know? He feels like… like he can do anything. Anything he…

Stopping in midsentence, Guido notices Layla demeanor and asks what the hell her problem is. In tears and trying to avert his gaze, Layla tells Guido that she’ll fix this. She swears it. She just couldn’t let him… she thought… at least he’d still be… And it’ll give her time to figure out a way to… She… Unable to speak more, Layla turns and runs out of the room saying, “I’m sorry…” Confused at what just happened, Guido mutters Wimmin. Go figure.

At X-Factor HQ, Monet is greeted by Longshot and Rahne, but rebuffs them, as she beelines to Rictor and Shatterstar, holding aloft the picture. However, Rictor replies that he doesn’t need it. He had an FBI file, including home address. He’s pulling up a satellite shot of it right now. Adding to this, Shatterstar notes that, once they can see it, he can bring them straight there.

Looking at the screen, Monet asks New Hampshire?, to which Rictor replies that Pock has a farm there. Sarcastically replying how nice of him, Monet instructs Shatterstar to get them there. Madrox begins to protest, noting that Madrox wants them to wait for him, but Monet is vehement. Through gritted teeth, she tells Rictor that she doesn’t give a damn what Madrox wants. She wants her head now. Turning to Shatterstar, she asks if he’s in. Absolutely, he replies. He also suggests that they go now; Madrox might try to stop them from killing her.

Chiming in, Rahne replies that she’s in also. Longshot affirms he is as well, but then is forced to ask what they are talking about. Rahne replies that they’re going after that bitch that hurt Guido, at which point Longshot replies that then he’s definitely in.

Meanwhile, on the second floor of a barn in New Hampshire, Felicia Hardy, wrapped in chains and dressed in her Black Cat costume, returns to the world of the conscious. Muttering as she awakens, she tells someone not to worry… she’ll save them. Chuckling at this, Ballistique wishes her good luck with that.

Ignoring the Black Cat, Syl regards the group’s other prisoner, a middle-aged doctor who stands nearby, his feet bound with rope and a noose hanging around his neck. Mocking his predicament and proximity to a drop to the floor below, Syl asks the doctor how’s it hanging. Addressing her as Sylvius, and the other two, Dr. Pock begins to plead with them to listen to him. Listen to him about what, Syl asks. About how Rocky and Noelle were dead? That what he told her!

Pock tries to defend that he was being merciful to her. To them! The changes they made to the tree of them… she came through it mentally unscathed… or relatively so, at any rate… but the other two… Ballistique, Rococo… they became increasingly unstable. They were designed to be a salvage and rescue team. Instead, they took off on their own, grabbing mercenary jobs… just to give them the opportunity to kill and keep killing. They had to rein them in… shut them down. The general, he just wanted to end them, and her too, just in case… but he convinced Ryan that he could wipe their memories. Give them new identities. A chance at normal lives. They’d be dead if it wasn’t for him!

Still furious, Rocky counters that they wouldn’t be freaks if it weren’t for him. When Pock reminds her that he warned them the changes might be unpredictable, she spits back that it was their fault? Calm in demeanor next to Rococo’s rage, Syl remarks that they’re just going to agree to disagree about that. Doctor Pock begins to ask Sylvius to listen but she interrupts, stating that she’s done listening. By the way, she doesn’t know if he’s actually met his murderer, the Black Cat. Still bound by chains and lying about their feet, the Black Cat quips that that’s gonna be real convincing, since she’s hogtied down there. At the moment, yes, Syl rejoins, but she won’t stay that way.

All smiles, Ballistique asks Rocky what she thinks – murder/suicide? She hangs him, then blows her own brains out, or maybe hangs herself with the chain? Asked by the amused Rocky if she thinks people will buy they were lovers, Ballistique replies that they’ll buy anything if it’s sick enough. Adding to the mirth, Syl places her arm around Pock and tells him that he’ll have quite the posthumous rep. He sees how hot she is? He’ll be the envy of every red-blooded straight guy in America. Ready or not…

With that, Sylvius pushes Doctor Pock to the edge of the loft, despite his cries to wait. Half a moment later, the doctor is in freefall, waiting for the moment when he literally reaches the end of his rope. Before that happens, however, a single, small blade severs the rope and a moment later Pock impacts into a pile of hay. Appearing from the open door of the barn, flanked by Rictor, Shatterstar, Wolfsbane and Longshot (who brandishes more throwing blades), Monet hovers a few feet above the ground, demanding that three assassins to go ahead and take a swing at them! She’s begging them!

From the upper floor, Rocky tosses a kerosene lantern onto the floor and proclaims that this is none of their business! He’s got it coming! Racing into battle and brandishing his two sets of twin blades, Shatterstar grits that they all got it coming, kid. As Shatterstar enters the fray, Monet flies to the upper floor and uses her super strength to rip apart the chain binding the Black Cat. As she does so, Monet orders Rictor to get Pock out of there.

Now freed, the Black Cat is anxious for payback. However, when she tries to attach Rocky, she is easily avoided and runs into Longshot, who had the same idea. Scowling at the two, Monet tells them to get it together. It’s embarrassing… Monet stops in midsentence when a shot fired from Ballistique’s forefinger hits her straight in her forehead, spattering blood. As she fires a second shot, Ballistique asks Monet if she hasn’t gotten the message yet. Her little cyber-bullets can kill anything!

Aye? Gods truth? Wolfsbane demands, leaping at Ballistique in her lupine form. Let’s test that, shall they? Replying with action, rather than words, Ballistique fires three shots at Wolfsbane’s torso, stopping her in mid-leap. A short distance away, a horrified Rictor pauses briefly in his rescue of Doctor Pock and yells her name. Ballistique ignores this, however, regarding the inert form of Wolfsbane at her feet and asks what part of “anything” was unclear.

A moment later, Wolfsbane rises to her knees and through her bared teeth asks back what part of “gods” did she not understand? Like the one that made her invulnerable so long as she carries his baby in her belly? She wants SCARS? Here’s her scars! With that, Wolfsbane rakes her claws across Ballistique’s face, lacerating it.

Enraged, Ballistique knocks Wolfsbane away with a roundhouse kick, promising to kill her for that. Before she can do so, however, Ballistique finds herself elsewhere, in what seems to be a desert environment, barren saved for some floating rocks. Taken aback, Ballistique wonders where in hell she is, to which Monet replies that hell would have been appropriate, but this will do. She said she wanted in her head, and now she has it. The inside. She could never do this if Ballistique hadn’t willingly let her in the first time. But, since she’s already walked her neural pathways, she could find her way back in. Her body will recover from physical damage, Monet then adds, but not all the healing factor in the world will save her from this.

As Ballistique finds herself being pulled down into the ground, she calls out for Monet to stop. She… Amused, Monet asks what… she can’t? Go ahead and tell her, she asks Ballistique. Tell her she can’t. It will be funny. She will laugh like this. “Ha ha.” To this, Ballistique becomes resolute, resigned to her fate. “Yeah?” she asks. “Laugh in hell, you…”

The next moment, Ballistique is gone, disappeared beneath the surface of the desert dreamscape. Now alone, Monet St. Croix takes a moment to regard the place where Ballistique’s mind disappeared before returning to the physical world, summoned there by Shatterstar’s calling of her name.

Once back, Monet finds herself standing over the unconscious Ballistique and her teammate suggesting that they vacate the blazing inferno that was once a peaceful barn. Still unmoving, Monet asks where the other two are. Took off, Shatterstar replies. Longshot, Rahne and the Black Cat are in pursuit. What did she do to this one, he then asks, referring to Ballistique. Buried her consciousness, Monet tells him. Put her into a permanent coma. Considering this, Shatterstar notes that he’s not sure how comprehensive her healing factor is but he doubts she could survive being incinerated. Shall they just leave her to burn?

Still regarding the unconscious Ballistique, Monet considers the question.

A short distance away, Wolfsbane races after Sylvius and Rococo, followed by Longshot and the Black Cat. Her eyes blood-red, Wolfsbane voices that she still can’t believe they let them get away. In reply, Longshot tells the Cat that he and Shatterstar had the cold - she’s the one who got in the way! With his good luck powers… Interrupting, the Black Cat asks that he has good luck powers? She has bad luck powers. Then asked if she thinks they were messing them up, the Black Cat rejoins that it would explain why they were banging into each other. They should make sure never to start dating. Pausing in their pursuit, Longshot suggests that they wait. They shouldn’t make any hasty decisions.

In short order, the Black Cat catches up with Rahne, who has transformed back into her human form. She begins to ask why she stopped but immediately answers her own question as she spies the helicopter above. Well… she mutters. That’s just not fair.

Back at the barn, Rictor calls out to Monet, who has emerged from the flaming barn, followed by Shatterstar, who is carrying the inert form of Ballistique. Approaching tentatively, Doctor Pock asks if she’s dead, to which Shatterstar replies in the negative. He then asks the returning Rhane, Longshot and Black Cat if they got the others, to which Rahne replies that they had a helicopter. Immediately, Longshot suggests that Monet could fly after them, which is ecstatically confirmed by Pock, who pleads with her to stop them for good so they won’t…

Interrupting, Monet asks “won’t what?” Kill him for messing with their minds? Destroying their lives? Doctor Pock begins to reply but Monet interrupts. They were hired to catch Ryan’s killer. They did that. Job’s over. Besides… they’re probably too far away. She could never catch them. With that, Monet turns… and walks away.

Characters Involved: 

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

Black Cat


J. Jonah Jameson
Mayor’s security detachment
Jameson’s aide

Doctor Young Soo Pock

Ballistique, Rococo (SCARS)
Middle Eastern militia

Story Notes: 

Jameson showed Madrox a photo of himself, Sam Ryan and Doctor Young Soo Pock in X-Factor (1st series) #216]

Layla resurrected Guido off panel last issue. As her power only brings back life and not the soul, Layla is understandably upset at her own actions.

Wolfsbane determined her mystical invulnerability due to her pregnancy after her obstetrician appointment with Doctor Callisto in X-Factor (1st series) #210.

Monet was inside Ballistique’s head in X-Factor (1st series) #210.

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