X-Factor (1st series) #221

Issue Date: 
September 2011
Story Title: 
Original Sins

Peter David (writer), Dennis Calero (artist), Brian Reber (colorist) VC’s Cory Petit (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: 

Feral attempts to take Wolfsbane’s unborn child by force, only to discover that she’s a ghost and thus unable to access the physical plane. Slowly remembering that she is in fact dead, Feral disappears as suddenly as she arrives. Now alone, Rahne and Shatterstar decide to leave the scene of the church massacre before authorities arrive. Along the walk back, they are rejoined by Feral, who has since remembered the purpose of her return. In return for a regenerated body, she is a spectral anchor for beings headed to this dimension in order to claim Rahne’s child. One such being is Cu Sith, a giant demon dog who pounces upon Shatterstar. Though Shatterstar manages to decapitate it, he and Rahne are shocked when both head and torso begin to regenerate into separate versions of the original beast. Now running back to HQ, they steal a taxi from its driver to get there faster. Nevertheless, they are accosted by Feral’s patron goddess, Bastet, who forces them out of the taxi. Unfortunately for Bastet, before she can claim her prize, she is attacked by two other demons, Okami and Kasha. In the ensuing chaos, Shatterstar and Rahne make a break for HQ, which is less than a block away. Meanwhile, at HQ, Rictor draws Madrox’s attention to Layla’s latest oddness. She is pouring salt along every entranceway to the building after having drawn wards with chalk on the entrance door or window. More exasperating to Rictor, she orders him to do the same, an order which Madrox affirms. Out of earshot of the others, Pip the Troll makes a call to his boss, urging them to hurry up, as there’s a lot interest in “the package.”

Full Summary: 

Leaping at the startled Wolfsbane in the middle of the church, Feral declares that she’ll have that child, even if she has to rip it from her cold, dead body! However, just as she strikes, Feral finds that she passes through her prey. Feral immediately assumes Wolfsbane has turned intangible but is quickly corrected by Rahne, who calls her a bloody fool and adds that she is the intangible one!

Recognizing his former teammate, Shatterstar asks Feral if that’s her. Feral confirms it, calling him an idiot in the process, and asks what they have done to her. Told that they’ve done nothing, Feral demands to know why then this is happening. Why can’t she touch them? How is she supposed to kill them if she can’t touch them? Replying that that is a bit of a puzzler, Shatterstar begins to offer a suggestion, at which point Wolfsbane silences him, telling him not to give her any blood ideas!

Speaking of which, Feral states, eying the bloody remains of the church’s congregation, what did they do to these people? Quickly replying that they didn’t, Wolfsbane informs Feral that she’s supposed to be dead. Sabretooth killed her. She was there! Now she’s some king of… of ghost! Incredulous, Feral quickly dismisses the idea, but only until she notices that she doesn’t have a shadow. Searching her mind, Feral realizes that it’s coming back to her now. Apologizing, she states that her thoughts keep fading in and… A moment later, Feral disappears in a flash of light, leaving Wolfsbane and Shatterstar once again alone.

Shrugging his shoulders, Shatterstar notes that people come and go so quickly there. As she grabs a coat, Wolfsbane votes that they don’t wait around for her to come back. Shatterstar immediately notes that the coat is blood spattered, but Wolfsbane counters that everything around is blood spattered and someone swiped the coat she left outside. So, she can either walk back to headquarters as a wolf, or wearing a coat with some stains on it… or stark naked. With that, Rahne returns to her human form and asks Shatterstar which he thinks will attract the least attention. That… makes sense, Shatterstar admits.

Not that she cares much these days, Rahne says as she puts on the coat, but he could have averted his eyes, just for form’s sake. As he seems to struggle for a response, Rahne prompts him to spit it out. Finally, he admits that he’s just never seen a pregnant woman before. It’s… beautiful. With a sigh, Rahne opens her newly acquired coat, allowing an unobstructed view beneath for Shatterstar, who looks on silently for a few moments. “Okay, I’m good”, he finally states, after which Rahne again closes the coat and suggests that they go.

In short order, as the two are back on the street returning home, Shatterstar notes aloud that Feral seemed rather confused. She’s not the only one, Rahne rejoins. She’d heard rumors that she was pulled from the grave during that whole Necrosha business, but this… Yeah, Feral agrees, suddenly appearing at the couple’s side; it’s a real poser. Startled, Rahne asks her to stop that, to which Feral replies that she’s just getting started. She’s got a gig, she explains. She’s a locator. Just a big, catlike GPS.

Rahne clearly does not understand but Shatterstar does. She’s serving as an anchor, he explains. Something… some things are heading this way, traveling between dimensions. But, they need something of both worlds to hold them there. Declaring Shatterstar a smart fellow, Feral adds that, if she does her job well… they promise to make her a real girl. Still struggling to understand, Rahne asks who “they” are. Pointing to the side without even looking, Feral replies him, for one. Looking toward the direction to which Feral had pointed, Rahne sees a giant wolf creature, claws and fangs bared.

Back at X-Factor HQ, Rictor asks Madrox if he’s busy. Reclining in a chair, his feet propped up as he reads a book, Madrox sarcastically replies that, yeah, he’s building a fusion reactor. To this, an annoyed Rictor asks if anyone answers a question around here without sarcasm. So chastised, Madrox closes his book and asks what’s up.

Two things, Rictor explains. First, has he seen Shatterstar? Jestingly, Madrox asks if he means naked, which Rictor deflects by clarifying that he means this morning. Madrox replies not that he can recall, though he is a big boy with swords, so he’s sure he’s fine. What’s the second thing? To this, Rictor replies that he kinda thinks he needs to see if for himself. Grinning, Madrox tosses his book over his shoulder and replies that, yeah, he’s not loving the sound of that.

As the pair passes through the kitchen, Teresa asks if they’re going to talk to her. Confused, Madrox asks that there’s a her? She was right in the middle of cooking, Teresa explains, and she grabs all the salt. At first, Madrox grows even more confused but quickly has an epiphany. Layla, he states, which Rictor confirms. Figures Rictor wanted to show him something with her, Madrox notes. A moment later, the two enter a room and find Pip sitting at a desk with several canisters of salt sitting upon it. Across the room, Layla is etching swirls of chalk on a door. When Madrox asks what they’re doing, Pip replies that he was hoping he would know. She just came in and started drawin’ that stuff on the door. And, just for the record, he ain’t cleaning it up.

Back on the streets, Rahne exclaims the name of the immense wolf-beast approaching her: Cu Sith! When he inquires, Rahne explains that it’s an Irish demon dog. Shatterstar then asks if it is a ghost too but soon finds the answer himself when the demon dog pounces upon him. Shatterstar allows himself a moment to recoil at the tongue and jaws of the beast as it leans in before propelling it away with his legs. Quickly back on his feet, Shatterstar informs the creature that if he wants to go… they’ll go!

As Shatterstar moves match to blade against fang, the Lupine-transformed Rahne tells him to watch out for its saliva! It’s acid! It’ll burn right through his… Before she can finish, however, Shatterstar impales all four of his blades into the demon dog with a fearsome HAH!!! Seeing the decapitated creature now motionless, lying in a pool of its own blood, the once again human Rahne supposes aloud that it’s moot now, she guesses.

Leaping to a spot a short distance away, Feral tells Rahne she can’t possibly think it’s that easy. At first, Rahne is confused but soon understands all too well. The body of the demon dog has begun to regenerate a head, while its head has begun to generate a body. Seemingly unconcerned at the regeneration, Shatterstar declares that he can keep cutting it apart all day, only for Rahne to warn against it. It’ll keep multiplying until it’s too much, even for him. She’s read about the hydra and she’s worked with Madrox! She can see where this is going! With that, she leads Shatterstar away and the two run down the street. Unfortunately, they have not gotten very far when a pair of fully regenerated demon dogs begin to give chase.

Back at X-Factor HQ, Rictor asks Layla if she wants to tell them what’s going on. Yeah, Madrox agrees, like with the salt. Continuing to pour a line of it across the windowsill of an open window, Layla explains that salt is one of the three elements of alchemy, the other two being mercury and sulfur. They have any mercury or sulfur around? Fresh out, Madrox declares. He then accepts a piece of paper she gives him and asks what it is. She explains that it’s the symbols for the wards she’s been drawing. Rictor begins to question what she means, but Madrox explains that a ward is a kind of mystic shield, which prevents demonic forces from entering. Taken aback, Rictor begins to question how he knows of such a thing but then guesses that he was Doc Strange’s disciple for a year. Close, Madrox rejoins. He was a gopher on “Supernatural” for six months.

Offering a stick of chalk, Layla instructs Rictor to take it around to every entrance (then emphasizing every entrance) and copy them exactly. Asked if she’s going to tell them why, Layla replies because she said so. That’s all he needs to know. Rictor looks to Madrox for instruction, only to find the team leader ordering him not to waste time and do as she says. Departing to do as instructed, Rictor mutters that nobody tells him anything around here…

Elsewhere, a taxi driver informs the man at his window that he is off-duty. Much to his surprise, however, he finds the door opening and the man outside – in fact Shatterstar – pulling him out. Scowling at him, Rahne reminds Shatterstar that it’s only twelve blocks t’home. They can make it! This way, they’ll make it faster, he replies. The driver begins to curse at the stranger in the white coat, but Shatterstar interrupts. Find shelter, he tells him. The creature probably won’t care about him but he can’t be too careful. He then turns to Rahne and asks for a reminder as to which side of the road does he drive on. Helpful despite his predicament, the driver replies that it’s all one-way streets, so “side” doesna matter. With an “oh good,” Shatterstar takes off, leaving the driver behind.

As the taxi takes off, Rahne curses aloud, not for her invulnerable self but for the innocent and very vulnerable pedestrians who leap from their path. To this, Shatterstar tells her not to worry. He’s an excellent driver. Appearing suddenly from the backseat, Feral quips that this is great: Rahne’s driver is Rain Man. Or “Rahne Man,” she then corrects. Immediately, Rahne begins to raise her voice to the interloper, only for Feral to spit back that she brought this on herself. Rahne defends that she’s sinned her share but she’s done nothing to warrant this. Grinning diabolically, Feral rejoins that nothing’s hidden where she comes from. What’s deep, dark secret for her is just water cooler chit-chat for them.

Chiming in, Shatterstar asks Rahne who she is talking to. Incredulous, Rahne informs him that it’s Feral in the backseat. Can’t he see her? Hear her? Almost immediately, Rahne regrets this line of questions, as Shatterstar averts his eyes from the road to double-check. Eyes on the road! Eyes on the road!

Ignoring Shatterstar, Feral tells Rahne that it’s just the girls this time. She can be straight with her; she sympathizes. Hell, the things she did to her stepfather, her mother… They’re practically soul mates, the two of them. Although she did stop short of cannibalism. Except… cannibalism means eating something of your own species. If either of them eat a human, is that really cannibalism, since they’re not human? Or is that simply… just desserts?

Angered by the line of thought, Rahne replies that Feral doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Confused by the one side of the conversation he’s hearing, Shatterstar asks what Feral is saying. Nothing, Rahne rejoins. She’s lyin’. Grinning again, Feral asks if she just said “lion.” On cue, a feline creature resembling a female, humanoid lion pounces atop the taxi’s hood, cracking the windshield in the process. Meet Bastet, Feral introduces. She’s going up the food chain, she tells Rahne. Now she’s got a goddess after her.

As Bastet begins to tear the windshield apart, Shatterstar and Rahne dive from their respective sides of the taxi. Ignoring Shatterstar, Bastet addresses Rahne, instructing her not to run from her. She won’t hurt her. When Rahne seems to doubt she can, Bastet admits that, actually no, she doesn’t think she could. She may not be all that she once was, back when all of Egypt worshipped her, but she’s more than enough to attend to her… “And me as well!!!” Shatterstar declares, as he leaps onto Bastet’s elongated, feline-back. However, Bastet is more than prepared and gleefully uses her prehensile tail to wrap around Shatterstar’s neck and slam him into the street’s concrete.

Returning to her attention to Rahne, Bastet begins to continue her conversation. However, she finds herself interrupted once again, this time by two newcomers, a white-skinned male and a red-skinned female, both with cloven hooves for feet. Striking in unison, they order her away from their prey, as Rahne and her spawn are for them, not her. Recognizing them, Bastet asks Okami and Kasha if they are insane. She then calls out to Cu Sith, who immediately falls upon one of them, forcing them both off of her.

As Rahne and Shatterstar use the chaos to make their escape, Feral watches it with a sigh. That’s the problem with gods and demons that have cat and dog roots, she notes to herself. Sometimes they lose focus on what’s impor… Interrupting her line of thought, Feral suddenly notices some string.

Encouraging Shatterstar onward, Wolfsbane notes that headquarters is less than a block away. When Shatterstar asks if she really thinks they’ll be safe there, Rahne replies that she hopes so.

Back at X-Factor HQ, Pip the Troll is on the phone. He verifies to the party on the other line that it’s him, calling to report… It’s happening. He tells his boss that they had better get over in a hurry… cause he has a feeling there’s a lot of interest in the package.

Characters Involved: 

Butterfly, Multiple Man, Rictor, Shatterstar, Wolfsbane (all X-Factor)
Pip the Troll

Cu Sith
Okami and Kasha

NY pedestrians
Corpses of the church’s congregation

Story Notes: 

Feral was killed by Sabretooth in Wolverine (3rd series) #54.

The “Necrosha business” refers to Selene’s attempts to use the Technarch transmode virus to animate an army of deceased mutants (including the entire slain population of Genosha) in a plan to ascend to godhood. [Necrosha crossover]

The book Madrox is reading seems to be the 19th century novel Sybil.

A Cù Sìth is a legend of Scottish origin (not Irish as Rahne proclaims). Translating to “barrow hound,” it is considered a harbinger of death.

Supernatural is a TV series which originated on the WB TV network (later on the CW). It follows the exploits of two brothers in their hunt against agents of the supernatural.

Rain Man was a 1988 film starring Dustin Hoffman & Tom Cruise in which the latter’s character, upon the death of his father, learns that he has a brother Raymond, of whom he has only the faintest of memories as a child and whom he has since believed was an imaginary friend named Rain Man. Hoffman played the older brother, who turns out to be autistic. A much remembered line from the film is when Raymond/Rain Man repeatedly remarks to his brother “I’m an excellent driver.”

Although Feral had nothing to do with her biological father’s death (he died of a drug overdose), at age 15, Feral killed her stepfather when he attempted to rape her older sister, Lucia (Thornn). Her mother’s attempt at revenge against Feral resulted in Feral killing her mother in a fit of rate. [X-Force (1st series) #41]

Bastet (one of many spellings and derivations) was the Egyptian goddess of cats (among other things).

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

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