X-Factor (1st series) #22

Issue Date: 
November 1987
Story Title: 
If I Should Die...

Louise Simonson (writer), Sal Buscema (penciler), Bob Wiacek (inker), Joe Rosen (letterer), Petra Scotese (colorist), Bob Harras (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor in chief)

Brief Description: 

The Right soldiers storm the X-Factor complex and take down Artie, Leech, Rictor, Rusty and Skids. They fit them with power-dampening helmets. Then they meet Caliban and beat him down. They pump him full of tranquilizers and leave him for dead. They go about searching the rest of the complex. Outside, Boom-Boom busts through the entrance. She sees the Smiley soldiers and follows them. She ends up on a plane with the kidnapped kids heading for Arlington. Meanwhile, X-Factor finally reaches their base of operations and find the comatose Caliban. They manage to revive him and he tells them the Right are headed to Arlington. Also happening, on Apocalypse’s ship, is the first field test of the Horseman Death’s new wings. He blows through an obstacle course impressing Apocalypse. Apocalypse says the time to act is soon. Later, the plane carrying the mutant children arrives and Boom-Boom escapes. She manages to track the kids to the Arlington Space Museum. While there, she’s caught, but escapes into the vents where she finds Rictor getting tortured. She provides a distraction, frees him and is chased through the complex where Rictor almost kills them all. Trapped they finally come face to face with the Right’s leader, Cameron Hodge.

Full Summary: 

X-Factor Building, the basement:

Rusty opens the basement door to the Morlock tunnels expecting X-Factor on the other side. He couldn’t be more wrong. The Right swoop in overhead and start firing away. Artie is hit first and falls to the ground. Rictor starts shaking causing the place to start coming apart. One of the Right soldiers orders everyone after Rictor before he tears the place down.
Rusty throws some fire at one of the Right and scores a hit. The soldier starts screaming under the intense heat. Unfortunately, this leaves Rusty open to attack and he is hit from behind.
Skids tells Rictor and Leech to get behind her and she’ll see if she can extend her force field. Rictor’s not listening, he’s just trying to tear the place apart and he doesn’t care who gets buried. A large slab of concrete comes crashing down on one of the Right soldiers, but not before he could request reinforcements. Five more Right soldiers come flying down the tunnel.
Leech sees debris falling towards Rusty and Artie. He leaps at Rictor and grabs him, cancelling out his power. Rictor tosses Leech aside and tells him they’re better off dead than in the Right’s hands. Leech goes flailing backwards right into Skids and her force field disappears. Leech squeaks out an apology before both of them are shot down. Rictor is the last one standing, but not for long. He too is blasted.
The Right soldiers surround their fallen victims. They discuss their usefulness as weapons once they’ve been conditioned. One of the soldiers thinks they should’ve used real bullets like they did at the Worthington building. Another reminds him they have orders to tranquilize only.
They begin placing power-dampening helmets on the children that are attuned to each individual power type and brain wave pattern. Then they set off to search the rest of the complex. That’s when Caliban comes racing around the corner yelling at the kids to stop messing around. Then he spots what’s really going on and yells out. He leaps into a high kick, but the Smiley-face soldier he was aiming for ducks and Caliban connects with the wall. Then the soldier wallops him and Caliban goes crashing back into the wall.
A couple of the Smileys walk over to him and start talking about how ugly he is. They tell him that he’s useless. Caliban, still on the floor, tells them he’s not. The soldiers start questioning whether they should bring him back to Arlington with the others. They decide not to since he’s not on the list. So they shoot him up with a half-dozen tranquilizers and leave him for dead. Caliban cries out once more and then collapses into unconsciousness.
The Right search through the rest of the complex, room by room. They stumble onto a news report playing on the TV. It turns out seven people were killed and 23 wounded during the attack at the Worthington building. Reporter Trish Tilby was one of the wounded. After hearing Hodge’s speech about the dangers of mutants one of the soldiers says, “Make a believer outta me!”
Morlock Tunnels:

Meanwhile, X-Factor continues their trudge through the sewers to their home base. They come across an obstruction of metal salvage blocking their way. They question whether to turn back, but Scott has a better idea. He blasts through the mess with his optic beams. Bobby then freezes what’s left and Jean telekinetically lifts it out of the way. Hank picks up a stray piece of piping that Jean missed and receives words of a caution not to overdo it. Hank reminds them he’s just been in battle and traveled half the length of Manhattan with this illness. This leads them to discussing the purpose behind the attack by the Right.
Bobby thinks maybe the Right wanted them to reveal their powers. Jean says they were going to do it anyway to ruin Hodge’s takeover. Scott thinks maybe Hodge was behind the whole thing. After all he designed the X-Factor anti-mutant campaign and arranged for Warren’s wing amputation.
X-Factor Complex:

Boom-Boom tries getting into the building, but nobody’s answering and the doors are locked. She tosses a small timebomb at the lock and blows it up. She opens the door, steps inside and hears gunfire, followed by a crash. She pokes her head out into the hallway where all the noise is coming from. At first she thinks it’s another mutant they’ve brought home, but finds the Smiley soldiers traipsing down the hall, one of them randomly shooting at stuff.
Boom-Boom decides to follow them against her better judgment. She watches as they grab the captured kids and carry them off. She thinks to herself she should do something and lights up a bomb. She quickly extinguishes it when she accepts there are too many. She wonders where X-Factor is and spots Caliban lying nearby. With the Right soldiers gone she rushes over to him.
She tries shaking him awake, but it doesn’t work. She sees the needles in his chest and pulls one out. She realizes he won’t be any help and decides to follow them and see where they’re taking the kids, and then she’ll contact someone to help.
Half and hour later:

X-Factor enters through the basement and finds Caliban unconscious. Hank pulls out one of the tranquilizers and sniffs it. He tells them it’s a miracle Caliban is still alive. Scott tells Jean and Hank to get him to the infirmary and put him on the proper stimulants. He and Bobby will check for the kids.
Private Heli-Pad along Manhattan’s East River:

The Right soldiers and their captives cross over to a cargo plane. One of the soldiers is ordered to make contact with the commander and tell him they have the quarry and they’ll arrive in Arlington at around 1400 hours.
Hidden behind a crate, Boom-Boom hears this and thinks all she has to do is contact X-Factor now. Then she hears one of the soldiers mention the end of X-Factor and she starts to have doubts as to what to do, because X-Factor might be dead. She throws a bomb inside a nearby oil drum causing a huge explosion. The Right soldiers rush over to investigate allowing her to sneak onboard unnoticed.
Once aboard, Rictor spots her and asks if she’s going to rescue them. Boom-Boom tells him to be quiets and asks if he has mutant powers. He says he does, but can’t use them because of the helmet. Boom-Boom hears the soldiers coming back and tells Rictor to be quiet and not say a thing. She rushes to the back of the plane and hides behind another crate. She curls up into a ball pulling her legs in tight. A tear streams down her face.
X-Factor Infirmary:

Caliban has come to and X-Factor needs answers. Caliban explains how the Right kidnapped the children and left him for dead. Bobby starts shaking him by the shoulders and asks if he knows where they were going. Caliban says he heard them say Arlington. Bobby asks if they meant Virginia, but Caliban only heard Arlington. Scott tells everyone to suit up.
Caliban makes his way to Scott’s room and tells him he wants to go with them. Scott tells him he’s ill. Caliban agrees, but points by using his tracking powers it’d be a lot quicker finding the kids in a large city like Arlington.

The cargo plane lands and the children are offloaded. They’re shuttled onto two school buses. Boom-Boom takes off running hoping to find their location. As she makes it to the highway she sees the two school buses drive by.
Inside, one of the kids asks why they’re driving in a school bus. One of the soldiers tells him they’re going to a new school, and if they fail their tests they will pay with their lives. Leech asks Rictor who they are. Rictor tells him they’re the same people who captured him and tortured him in California, that was until X-Factor rescued him. He tells him their idea of testing is wiring your brain and shocking and sticking you with needles full of drugs. He adds that in the end you’ll do anything they ask. Tears start streaming down his face as he remembers Angel and what he did when he couldn’t take it anymore. Rictor says that if they start up with him again he won’t be able to take it anymore, either.
Several hours later:

Boom-Boom managed to hitch a few rides and follow the steady stream of buses that ended up at the Arlington Science Museum. She starts searching the area and stumbles upon a Smiley soldier. He asks her what she’s doing and she says she’s looking for the ladies room. He tells her to stick with her class because it could get dangerous. Boom-Boom takes off to go back with her “class”.
She enters the museum and starts messing around with the exhibits so as to look like every other kid. That’s her plan anyway until she finds a phone and is able to contact X-Factor.
Many levels below:

In a room filled with many monitors and a networked computer system, a group of techs take notice when a kid who tries on the psi-test helmet posts exceptional brain wave pattern. The controller next to him adds that she moved on to the muscle-pattern levers and is showing unusually high hand-eye lever-reactions.
The guy in charge tells them to put her up on the screen and to have the computer search for any patterns or likenesses. The controller says she’s already on file and relays her personal information as well as her powers. He stops explaining when he gets a message she’s trying to call New York from the telephone. The supervisor orders her to be captured or killed immediately.
Up above:

Boom-Boom tells the operator to connect her with X-Factor. Two guards approach her so she drops the phone and starts walking. Unsure of what to do she decides to drop a few bombs to scare people and cause a mass panic. Maybe then she will be able to evade the guards. Her plan works and she ducks inside a room marked “Personnel Only”.
Inside she finds not a room, but a walkway. She moves to the edge and looks down. She finds the museum actually goes very deep into the ground. She hears somebody coming, spots a ventilator shaft and crawls in.
Elsewhere in the building:

Rusty is tossed into a room filled with the rest of the captured children. Skids rushes over to check on him, obviously concerned. The bald-headed guy that brought him told her not to worry, that he tested out fine, including his first lesson in cooperation.
Rictor freaks out and starts yelling at baldie to just leave them alone. He calls them human monsters. He charges his captors and tells them he wishes he could kill them. Baldie wraps him up in his arms and tells him he’ll be next. The blonde-headed fellow with him reminds Rictor he can’t do anything with that helmet on and he’d be better off trying to figure out a way to kill himself.
Apocalypse’s ship, above Manhattan:

Apocalypse tells his shadowed Horseman of Death that his new wings are finished. He shows him an obstacle course he set up very similar to the kind he used to run through when he was younger. Apocalypse also tells his other Horsemen to watch him go through it. They’re not sure what to think since all he can really do is fly and they have their steeds for that. Death takes off down the course, and he tears straight through it, destroying everything along the way. Apocalypse smiles because Death did better than he had hoped. Apocalypse says he will make his move soon.
Many levels below the Arlington Space Museum:

Boom-Boom continues her journey through the ventilation shafts. She passes by a vent and hears screams of agony. She peers through and finds Rictor strapped to a giant machine. Rictor is telling the guards that he’ll never do it, to just kill him. Boom-Boom recognizes him as the kid from the plane. She questions whether she should try and contact X-Factor again, but figures them for dead. She tosses a bomb way down the shaft. The guards hear it and take off for the corridor leaving Rictor alone.
Boom-Boom opens the vent and drops down into the room. She blows the restraints on the machine and introduces herself. She helps pull him free and asks what he’s doing. Getting tortured he replies. She tells him he’s funny, but seriously wants to know why these guys are after the X-Factor kids. There’s no time for him to answer as they reach the door and take off running.
As they race toward freedom she asks Rictor what his name is. He introduces himself and then answers her previous question about everything that happened to them and how the Right want to use them as weapons. He tells Boom-Boom she should’ve killed those guys with her bombs. She tells him there’s no way she could’ve killed them all.
They round a corner and stop. Boom-Boom asks where the other kids are. Rictor thinks they’re somewhere below. Boom-Boom says she’s going to rescue them too. Rictor asks her to blow his helmet off so he can stop the goons. She voices concerns about his head getting blown off. Rictor tells her it’s better than being captured again. She acquiesces and luckily only his helmet is destroyed. She asks him what his power is and he starts shaking.
Boom-Boom tries calming him down seeing as he will probably crash the building on top of them. They’re interrupted by the appearance of three guards. She asks Rictor which way they should go and he shows her through a nearby door. They find themselves on another catwalk and with the guards gaining on them.
Rictor starts doing the seismic shuffle, which causes the catwalk to collapse. The three guards go falling to their doom, but Rictor manages to hang on to part of the connected railing. Boom-Boom grabs him by the midriff and they manage to hang on.
The door leading to the collapsed scaffolding opens and a shrouded figure tells Rictor not to let go, it will spoil the game. Rictor’s nerves are shot as he recognizes the voice of the Right’s leader. He stares up at the figure in horror. He tells Boom-Boom if they get captured they’ll be put in the torture chamber.
Boom-Boom says she recognizes the voice too. Rictor starts shaking again, trying to remove the catwalk from the wall. He tells Boom-Boom they’d be better off dead. Boom-Boom pleads with him to stop. She tells him suicide is never the answer and points out that Warren’s suicide only proved to make things worse for everyone close to him.
Rictor closes his eyes in resignation as he begins climbing towards the Right’s leader. They reach the top and find themselves surrounded by the Smiley-face soldiers and their leader, clad in a yellow uniform. The Right commander tells them X-Factor is useless. Boom-Boom finally connects the commander’s voice to who he really is... Cameron Hodge.

Characters Involved: 

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

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

The Right soldiers

Arlington Museum guards

Death III/Warren Worthington III, Famine II/Autumn Rolfson, Pestilence III/Plague, War II/Abraham Lincoln Kieros (all Horsemen)

Story Notes: 

This issue isn’t the first time Caliban’s felt useless/helpless. Caliban has suffered from low self-esteem ever since his people, the Morlocks, were slaughtered. It’s been brought up in previous X-Factor issues too. He finds a solution to his problems in X-Factor #24-25, much to the dismay of his teammates.
The Right attacked people outside the Worthington building last issue, leaving seven dead and 23 wounded as revealed this issue.
X-Factor wants Hank to take it easy due to an earlier altercation with Famine in X-Factor #19 in which he fell gravely ill.
Boom-Boom disappeared in X-Factor #17. While she was gone she appeared in the Fallen Angels Limited Series. It was in that same issue, following her disappearance, that Rictor was rescued. That’s why the two had previously never met.

Issue Information: 
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