X-Factor (1st series) #223

Issue Date: 
October 2011
Story Title: 

Peter David (writer), Emanuela Lupacchino (penciler), Guillermo Ortego (inker), Matt Milla (colorist) VC’s Cory Petit (letterer), David Yardin (cover), Jordan D. White (assistant editor), Daniel Ketchum (editor), Nick Lowe (X-Men group editor), Axel Alonso (editor in chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)

Brief Description: 

Madrox and the rest of X-Factor are worried at the sudden disappearance of Rahne, who vanished following the siege of mystical beigns hunting her. They turn to Pip the Troll for locating her, but he claims both reluctance and an inability to use his powers to find her. Luckily for the team, Pip is susceptible to Banshee’s vocal entrancement and she urges him to locate her. As Pip and Banshee work, Monet informs Madrox of her concern over Guido’s recent behavior, specifically him kissing her at the hospital. A chance choice of words from Banshee causes Madrox to come to a horrifying possibility, that Layla used her ability to resurrect people, albeit without souls, on Guido, explaining his apparent miraculous recovery. However, before he has time to think on it further, Pip announces that he has divined Rahne’s location: Oneonta, New York. Meanwhile, in Oneonta, Jack Russell is driving Rahne to safety. At first, Rahne is interested in their destination but, with the arrival of the spectral Feral, Rahne informs Jack that it’s not safe to say aloud. However, the issue is rendered moot when the car is attacked by the gigantic Cerebus, which trashes the car and flings it off road into the woods. The Cerebus then transforms into a giant warrior to claim his prize, only to face Jack’s Werewolf by Night form. The Werewolf quickly learns he is outmatched by the Cerebus warrior but help arrives in the form of Monet, Shatterstar and Guido. Unfortunately, they too seem to be outmatched. The tide quickly turns with the arrival of the mammoth Fenris Wolf, ancestor of Hrimhari, who easily dwarfs and bests the Cerebus warrior. Watching from a distance, the rest of X-Factor continue their search for Rahne. Meanwhile, Rahne is found in the woods by the Cerebus warrior’s master, who is in the form of a young man. Seeming to be nothing more than an innocent youth, the teen introduces himself as “Agamemnon” and suggests that they go to his nearby cabin. Once the door is closed, however, a blood curling scream bellows through the night.

Full Summary: 

At the top of a flight of stairs, the shadowed figure of a youth speaks down to the basement below. Addressing three pairs of eyes which watch from the shadows below, the youth tells them that he knows they’re upset. They’ve ever reason to be. They want to go home. He gets that. However, he’s going to let them out. They can’t hurt him, so they shouldn’t bother trying. But… do they know what he requires in return for their freedom? This question is met with a low, long growl. Taking this as an affirmative, the youth descends the stairs and places a key into a locks, which binds a set of chains. Okay, boy, the youth voices. Fetch.

At X-Factor HQ, Madrox sits behind his desk and addresses Pip the Troll, who is sitting in a reclining position in a chair before him. What does he mean, he can’t find her, Madrox asks. He found her last time! Pip replies that it’s different this time. When asked how, Pip replies that there’s a mystical, y’know, thingy blocking her. He’s just not sensin’ it. Incredulously, Rictor repeats “mystical thingy,” to which Pip again confirms, adding that it’s complicated and Rictor should ask him to explain it.

Not backing down, Rictor reminds Pip that Rahne took off. One minute she’s on the roof, and the next she’s gone. They need to find her. Wish he could help, Pip rejoins. As a non sequitur, Pip pulls a long, cigar-shaped pretzel from his slobbery mouth and notes that he can’t believe the non-smoking rules in this city. Pretzels. What he’s been reduced to… Interrupting with a pointed finger, Rictor threatens that he’s going to be reduced to a pulp if he doesn’t start helping. Unmoved, Pip replies that this ain’t no interrogation room and then reminds Rictor that he’s on his side, remember? Sometimes it’s hard to, Rictor counters.

Chiming in next, again with an accusatory pointed finger, Monet asks Pip how he’d like her to strip-mine his brain? Find out what’s going on in there? Raising an eyebrow, Pip asks what’s with all the hostility? He thought she didn’t even like the she-wolf of Scotland. Gritting her teeth, Monet rejoins that she likes being lied to even less. Especially when it’s being done badly. Okay, fine! Pip states, raising his arms in frustration. She’s bad news! When she first showed up, she was there for five minutes and defenestrated “Shutterstep.” Then, she brought a mythical petting zoo down on them. Now she’s gone? Good riddance, sez he. And that’s the end of…

Suddenly, Pip’s train of thought trails as Theresa, with her melodic, trance-like voice seductively tells Pip that she’d be evvvver so grateful if he could take them to Rahne. Sure, no problem, a thoroughly entranced Pip smiles.

(Oneonta, New York)
Along a rural road, Rahne is being driven by Jack Russell. Stating that it’s a lovely car, she asks what kind it is. Whimsical in his reply, Jack notes that, finally, she speaks, to which Rahne counters that she didn’t have much to say. Now incredulous, Jack asks if a stranger showing up, telling her to come with him, she goes, and that’s not worthy of comment? In reply, Rahne reminds Jack that he got her away from her friends so they’d be safe. And he… smelled right. When Jack then replies that at least she didn’t stick her nose up his butt, Rahne reminds him that the day’s not over.

Immediately, Rahne apologizes, stating that she was trying for a joke but it came out sounding kind of slutty. She’s stressed, Jack replies. He gets that. To answer her question, it’s a ’57 Chevy Timber Wolf. Asked “really?” Jack confirms. Then asked if he doesn’t think that’s a wee “on the nose,” Jack replies that he has no idea what she’s talking about. So… any other questions?

Returning to the subject of the demon wolves, Rahne asks why the Cu Sith didn’t form more of themselves when he spilled their blood. To this, Jack explains that that only happens when metal weapons are used and he used his claws. Which isn’t to say they won’t be after them again. Rahne then asks about this “call” that he mention but Jack replies that that’s harder to explain. What’s happening to her, what’s growing inside her, it’s sending out a sort of “call” to him and others like him. He was just close enough to answer it. Pressing further, Rahne asks what kind of call, to which Jack asks if she knows the song “Adeste Fideles.” Recognizing it as “Oh, come all ye faithful,” she replies of course. “Come and let us adore him,” Jack recites from the lyrics of the song. There she goes.

Suddenly, Feral appears over the seat from the back and mocks the messianic nature of the song’s meaning. When Rahne recoils, Jack asks what’s the matter. Is it the baby? When Rahne replies that “it’s Feral,” Jack misunderstands and states that there’ll be some wildness to its nature but… Interrupting, Rahne explains that she doesn’t mean that type of feral. There’s a… there’s a ghost in the back seat. Pausing for a moment to take this in, Jack replies “Sure. Why not?” causing Feral to grin to herself.

Glancing away, Rahne asks Feral if she’s tracking them again. Leading those… those monsters to them. Leaning forward, Feral replies that they’ll be back when they’re done licking their wounds. They’re not the ones she has to worry about. The big gun is coming and her invulnerability won’t help her this time. She’s going to be his chew toy. Feral then asks Rahne if she wants her advice. Though she’s told no, Feral offers it anyway, suggesting that Rahne just roll over now.

Back at HQ, Monet asks Madrox how it’s going with Pip, to which Madrox replies that Pip says he’s working on it. Now sitting behind the desk, Pip looks upward as one hand is clasped in one of Theresa’s, while his other is resting on a Bible. Noting the Bible, Monet asks about it, to which Madrox explains that it’s Rahne’s. Pip says that having personal possessions is how he tunes into the cosmic ether or some weird stuff like that.

Speaking of weird… Monet begins. Immediately, Madrox inquires about Layla, only for Monet to correct that it’s not her, but Guido. He’s acting… differently. Asked differently how, Monet tells Madrox, if he must know, Guido kissed her. Then asked where, Monet replies in the hospital. Still wide-eyed, Madrox corrects that he means on the lips. Was there, y’know… tongue? Enraged, Monet emphatically reminds the quickly recoiling Madrox that she could kill him just by thinking hard, he knows that, right? He does now, Madrox replies.

Adding her own thoughts, Theresa tells Monet that she hears what she’s saying, but the guy’s been through a lot. He was shot, he was even dead for a short time. If he’s acting a little different, it’s understanda… Theresa’s words trail as she sees a wide-eyed look pass over Madrox’s face. Stirred by Theresa’s words, Madrox tells himself that she couldn’t have… she wouldn’t… However, in his mind’s eye, Madrox recalls a conversation with Layla.

You don’t understand, Layla tells Madrox. With a bug or a seal… no one notices. But with a person… with Fitzroy…

Madrox is returned to the here and now with his name being called out by Theresa, who notes that Pip’s got something. Hearing this, Monet snarkingly asks if she means something other than a social disease, which earns her a rebuke from Theresa. His entranced eyes black as coal, Pip proclaims that she’s in upstate New York, some place called Oneonta. Pressed for more details, Pip answers Route 88. There’s forests… lots of forests…

Hearing this, Madrox calls out for Rictor. He tries his best to stay focused on the problem at hand. He doesn’t have time to think about… about…

They don’t have souls, Layla explains. No conscience or morality.

Rictor arrives, asking if Madrox bellowed. Ignoring the quip, Madrox instructs him to go online and get photoref of Oneonta, New York. Then rustle up Shatterstar. They’re going after Rahne.

Still on the road in Oneonta, Rahne asks Jack if he has any plan as to where they’re going. He does, actually, Jack replies. He has a safe house in… Before he can finish, Rahne interrupts, telling him not to say it aloud. There’s a shrew in the back ready to rat them out. Sounding insulted, Feral reminds Rahne that she’s sitting right there. Ignoring her, Rahne tells Jack that it’s enough for her t’know that he knows.

Jack begins to accept the seeming compliment but stops in mid-sentence when he spies something in the rearview mirror. Hearing him curse aloud, Rahne turns her head and does the same. Is… is that what she thinks it is…? CEREBUS?!?! Galloping behind them, a gigantic, bus-sized three-headed dog snarls and gnashes the teeth of its various heads. Well, Jack rejoins, it’s not that dog from “Harry Potter,” he can tell her that!

Immediately, Jack comes up with a plan and instructs Rahne to grab the wheel. When she replies that she can’t, he asks if she can’t drive. Replying no, she corrects that she just can’t fit behind the bloody thing! Before Jack can respond, the car shudders as the gigantic dog catches up to it, grabbing the vehicle with the jaws of two heads and flinging it like a rag doll off of the road. As Jack and Rahne are tossed about inside, Feral merely smiles, quipping that “now it’s on!” Without further ado, the Cerebus flings the car into the night sky and into the woods some distance away. It lands with an immense thud and flips over onto its side.

Back on the road, the Cerebus suddenly changes in form, transmogrifying into an immense male humanoid, clad in armor and a multi-horned helm and wielding a massive, spiked, war hammer. Bellowing into the night, the Cerebus-turned-humanoid yells for Rahne to give up. There are forces at play here that she cannot begin to understand!

His proclamation made, the gigantic Cerebus warrior begins to make a direct path toward the flung automobile, knocking down trees along the way with his battle hammer. As multiple trees fall with ever swing, the warrior asks Rahne, whom he calls “child,” if she can hear him. The spawn she carries is a key piece in the chess games of the gods. He will have it out of her. She will…

GO BACK… TO HELL, proclaims Jack Russell, in his Werewolf form, as he slashes the warrior from the back with his claws. Shocked only for a moment, the Cerebus warrior swings his hammer, knocking the Werewolf away. Hades, you fool, he corrects. Hel is the province of the damnable Norse. Attempting to follow up this blow with a coup de grace, which the Werewolf deftly avoids, the warrior explains that he’s of no interest to him, save as a source of information. Where is the girl? Where is the girl carrying Hrimhari’s bastard?

A short distance away, Rahne does her best to climb with her unwieldy form away from where the Chevy landed. As she clutches her swollen midsection, she suddenly realizes… he’s coming. The baby’s coming. She should be helping Jack, she admits aloud to herself, but… can… can barely think, much less… fight. At least… the rest of the team… is safe.

Back on the road, the Cerebus warrior has grabbed the Werewolf in one of his massive hands. Through gritted teeth, he asks if he seriously thought that… Suddenly something races by at high speed, distracting the warrior. Mistaking the Werewolf for Rahne, the source of the voice, an airborne Monet, announces to the other that that thing’s got her and follows it up with a powerful left hook to the warrior’s chin.

Monet’s attack is quickly followed by Shatterstar and Guido, with blades and fists at the ready. Shatterstar orders Monet to signal the others and tells them that they found her and this… this thing! Mocking the need for help, Guido replies that they’ve got this under control! Unfortunately, a moment later, both are knocked back a great distance by a single blow from the hammer of the warrior, who proclaims them both to be idiots.

Nearly, Monet attends to the Werewolf whom she believes to be Rahne. However, she quickly realizes this is not the case and asks who he is. Still shaken from the blow, the Werewolf replies that he’s a friend… part of her… pack… Mocking the word “pack,” Cerebus the warrior opines that two middling werecreatures don’t constitute a pack. How pathetic they…

Suddenly a brilliant light shines from a short distance away, distracting the warrior and, a moment later, filling him with horror. The Cerebus warrior manages to mutter a fearful “No!” before a gigantic wolf, so large it dwarfs the warrior’s prodigious form, erupts into the night. Grabbing the comparatively tiny warrior in its mammoth jaws, the Wolf asks if he seeks to take the son of Hrimhari… He dares to threaten the child of one of his descendants? No one crosses Fenris Wolf, Greek! No one!

Watching this from a short distance, Guido furrows his brow and notes that this is getting way above their pay grade. Her attention focused on the Werewolf, Banshee asks him where’s Rahne. As he transforms back into his human form, Jack replies that she’s gone on ahead… He was trying to… distract Cerebus.

Hearing this, Monet activates her ear communicator and calls Madrox. She reports that Rahne’s last known position is due west of her. Is Pip still leading him to her? On the other end of the channel, Madrox stands among a host of scattering dupe and tells her not to worry. He’s got enough dupes out to find a needle in a proverbial haystack. When Monet then warns that they’re not always reliable, Madrox rejoins that they can get this done. Think of them as cheap labor.

Elsewhere in the woods, Rahne has come to a stop, resting herself on a boulder. Suddenly, she startles at the sound of a voice, who states that she looks like she needs some help. Ignoring her question as to his identity, the source of the voice, a youth, replies that his parents’ cabin’s right back there. He should get her inside.

Rahne begins to protest that it’s too dangerous, that she can’t stop… As her words trail, the youth remains undeterred. He places her arm around his shoulder as he places his own around her back. With all due respect, he replies as he lifts her to his feet, he doesn’t think not stopping is an option for her. As Rahne begins to reluctantly accedes, the youth asks her name. When she gives it, he asks “like rain must fall?” When she confirms, the youth then adds that she’s sure out in the middle of nowhere, Miss “Rain-Must-Fall.” P>

As they approach the cabin, Rahne notes his youthful age and then finally asks the his name. “Agamemnon,” he replies. And trust him, he then adds, he’s older than he looks. As he closes the door behind them, the youth suggests that they make her comfortable. A moment later, a blood-curling EEEEEEEEYIIIIIIIII fills the night air.

Characters Involved: 

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

Jack Russell, “Werewolf by Night”

Feral (as a ghost)

NY pedestrians

Butterfly, Multiple Man (both X-Factor)

Story Notes: 

Pip located Rahne “last time” in X-Factor (1st series) #213, after Rahne took off when her deception regarding the father of her child was discovered.

Pip’s musing about the city’s non-smoking rules is a reference to the increasingly anti-smoking regulations by New York City, especially during the previous decade under the administration of the Mayor Michael Bloomberg. It’s possibly also a reference to Marvel’s own policy of not showing any character smoking, something which caused an art correction in Madrox #2 to avoid showing Madrox with a (chocolate) cigarette.

Wolfsbane defenestrated (tossed out a window) “Shutterstep” (Shatterstar) in X-Factor (1st series) #208.

Adeste Fideles is the original Latin name of the 13th century hymn, known to English speaking audiences as “O Come, All Ye Faithful.”

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

Although not the mythic character Cerebus, Harry Potter and his two friends, Ron & Hermione, encountered a three headed guard dog in “Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone.”

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