X-Factor (1st series) #224.1

Issue Date: 
November 2011
Story Title: 

Peter David (writer), Valentine de Landro (penciler), Pat Davidson (inker), Jeremy Cox (colorist) VC’s Cory Petit (letterer), David Yardin (cover artist), 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: 

At the farm which was once his family’s home, Madrox and Layla find that it is not as uninhabited as he had previously believed. At first, the two are accosted by a young boy with a shotgun but they soon convince him and his mother that they are no threat. The foursome return to the main house’s kitchen, where Sally and Terry asks about Madrox and his detective agency, X-Factor Investigations. Over a few beverages and Sally’s soup, Madrox tells Sally and Terry about their teammates, including their personalities and powers. He also tells them about the case the rest of the team is working on, the investigation of a suspicious old lady in town who looks out her window without ever moving, never departing for food, sleep or other bodily needs. Back in town, the rest of X-Factor investigate the old lady in question and realize that she is a monster of some sort. When they move in, she reveals herself to be a gigantic, tentacle creature. Nevertheless, the team prevails and finds Madrox at the farm, after which they return home. Unfortunately, after they depart, Sally is murdered, left in a pool of her own blood, which is used to write a cryptic message on the wall by an equally enigmatic “B.B.”

Full Summary: 

In a barn, Jamie Madrox and Layla Miller find themselves on the business end of a single barreled shotgun, the owner of which demands to know who they are, where they came from and what they are doing there.

Good questions, the startled Madrox thinks to himself. The oldest ones pondered by mankind’s greatest philosophers and thinkers for as long as there’s been a mankind. Though Socrates, instead of a shotgun pointed at him, was forced to drink poison because he was accused of corrupting young people. People were oversensitive about their kid’s welfare, but nowadays… kids are pretty capable of taking care of themselves. “Put your hands in the air! Now!” the young man with the shotgun exclaims.

Seeming unconcerned, Madrox folds his arms across his chest. Calling him “kid,” Madrox tells him they’re not a threat. He swears. They were just… “Sightseeing,” Layla offers. He doesn’t care, the kid proclaims. Put their hands up! Still unmoved, Madrox calls the kid “son” and tells him, first, to put the gun down. His hands are shaking. He wouldn’t want it to go off accidentally. He’s not his son! the kid counters. Does he think he’s an idiot, he then asks. He knows how to use it! No way it could accident…

Suddenly, the kid is thrown backward off his feet when the shotgun goes off.

A short distance away in the main house, a woman is at the sink doing dishes when she hears the shot. Yelling the name of the child, “Terry,” she grabs a knife and races out the door and toward the barn. As she spans the distance to the barn, the woman prays for him to be all right. She’ll kill him if he’s not all right.

Appearing at the barn door, she finds Terry lying on the ground and races to his side. She asks him what happened, but Terry only manages to complain about his shoulder. The woman is confused but Madrox announces his presence by explaining that the recoil probably sprained it. The surprised woman immediately raises her kitchen knife at the sight of the two strangers: a man and a blonde woman, both of whom are enveloped in a sphere of light generated by the woman’s gauntlet. His arms still folded, Madrox informs her that this is all just a misunderstanding. He didn’t even realize anyone was living here. The “for sale” sign was out there and he didn’t see any vehicles…

Stopping in mid-thought, Madrox asks the woman about the cutlery in her hands, to which the woman asks back if the man with a force field is asking her about a knife. Fair point, he agrees. Trying a different tact, Madrox notes that saying they got off on the wrong foot is understating it. He is Jamie Madrox and his companion is Layla Miller. As Layla collapses the forcefield, Terry asks if they are with a gang. Receiving a confused reply, Terry points out the tattoos on their faces. He figures they were part of a gang. Uneasy at the question, Madrox sidesteps it, replying that that’s a… different thing. Returning to an earlier question, the woman asks Madrox why he’s there. Actually, he replies, he used to live here.

In short order, the four return to main house where Madrox relates his story, being careful to pick and choose which detail to leave out. He doesn’t see much point in telling her that his parents were murdered by an artificially created tornado… manufactured by one Mr. Tryp, who wanted to isolate him and observe the development of his mutant powers. So instead…

Placing her cup onto the table, the woman takes in Madrox’s story – that a tornado killed his parents and he just lived in the barn for… Years, Madrox replies. People just assumed he’d been killed, the body never found. When Terry asks how he ate, Madrox quips “with his mouth,” but the boy explains he meant where’d he find food to eat. To this, his Madrox explains that his dad built a fallout shelter He was, uh, kind of paranoid about nuclear accidents. It’s actually in the barn, under a trap door. There were enough canned goods in there to last years.

When the woman then suggests to Terry that they should check that out, Madrox notes that her boy’s named Terry. The woman confirms, adding that her name is Sally. Why? Is that funny? No, Madrox replies, he just knows another Terry; a woman. She works for him, actually. Sally then asks what sort of work, as he hasn’t said. Although that energy field thing they were waving about certainly caught her interest.

It’s a detective agency, Madrox replies. They look into… unusual cases. That’s why he happened to be in this neck of the woods. Someone in town contacted them. Asked if there’s something dangerous, Madrox replies no, not at all. Chances are it’s probably nothing. Their client is a young guy – a conspiracy theorist, near as he can tell – who’s convinced there’s something wrong with an old woman living in an apartment over the hardware store.

Asked if he means she’s sick, Madrox replies in the negative; nothing like that. Basically, he swears that this woman sits at her window and just starts out, twenty-four/seven. Never budges, never eats, never goes to the bathroom… Anyway, their client’s gone to the cops, talked to them about it… and obviously they haven’t done anything because it’s not illegal to stare out a window. And no other detective agency wanted the case because there doesn’t seem to be done, plus the client is kinda poor. So, he found them because, honestly, people like him always find them. They’re who people go to over stuff that nobody else understands… or, for that matter, wants to understand.

As Madrox explains, a portion of the team – consisting of Rictor, Monet, Longshot, Wolfsbane and Banshee – sits in a stretched vehicle a short distance from the location in question. While Strong Guy eyes the building with the hardware store from the shadows of an all across the street, Shatterstar surveys the entire location via binoculars on the elevated position of a roof down the street. Through the lenses, he spies the old woman in question, sitting at the window, just as described. However, as Shatterstar continues to observe, he sees the old woman looking back at him, at which point her eyes begin to grow green and her lips drawn back to reveal curved, pointed teeth. Looking up from his binoculars, Shatterstar calls the others over the radio and, a moment later, the team leaps forth from its vehicle and races down the street to the hardware store building.

Back at the farm, Sally tells Madrox that it all sounds exciting. It can be, Madrox admits, though most of the time it turns out to be routine stuff. And, if it’s not, his people can handle it. He wouldn’t be chatting with her if he didn’t have faith in them. Madrox then tries to change the subject away from him, but Sally is genuinely interested. He’s super hero investigators and she’s just a single mom with an ordinary ten year old. He’s so interesting and they’re so… not.

Interested himself, Terry asks Madrox if he’s super… what are his powers? Like, do the two of them join hands and turn into a bag of M&Ms? To this, Layla replies that she knows stuff. Told that’s not a power, Layla counters that it depends on what you know. Unconvinced, Terry asks Layla what does she know about him? Looking over her cup, Layla replies that he should have hid better. Taken aback, Terry asks what’s that supposed to mean. Instead of answering, however, Layla simply sips from her cup.

Silently considering this, Madrox thinks to himself that that’s not her only power. There’s the one that she doesn’t talk about. That she can restore the dead to life, but at the cost of their souls. Not long ago, their teammate, Guido, was shot, killed, then “miraculously” came back to life. He didn’t see Layla anywhere around there but, what is she was? What if she did it? What if she saved Guido’s life, but at the risk of him being an immoral… thing? And worst of all, what if she knows what he’s… thinking…? Madrox’s train of thought ends as Layla suddenly glances his direction.

At this point, Terry has given up and turns to Madrox, asking about his power. Funny he should ask, Madrox replies, punctuating it with a stomp of a foot. Half a moment later, a duplicate Madrox appears, startling Sally into dropping her stirring spoon. Declaring it “awesome!,” Terry asks how he does that. It just happens from enough of an impact, he replies. Terry then asks how it works. He means, a clone he gets but where does his clothes come from. He doesn’t really know, honestly, he admits. He’s afraid someday he’ll find out and won’t like the answer. When Terry then asks if he’s just like him, Madrox confirms… kind of…

Nearby, the dupe has recovered the dropped spoon and is washing it off. Sally tells him that he doesn’t have to do that, but the dupe snobbishly replies that he’s cleaning it to use it. Someone has to save the soup. Sally begs his pardon, only for the dupe to press. He saw the ingredients. If he acts quickly, he can salvage it… Growing more offended, Sally points out to “Ratatouille” that the recipe was her mother’s. To this, Madrox asks if “mommy” was Lucrezia Borgia. No? Then she should grab the tarragon and marjoram and they can get to work.

Back at the table, Madrox face-palms and tells Terry that it’s hard to explain. Like the clothes, Terry asks? Just like, Layla grins. Now thinking of the rest of the team, Terry asks what their powers are. Starting with the “other” Terry, Madrox explains that she goes by the name of Banshee. She’s been through a lot. Lost her dad, lost her… lost a lot. She doesn’t take crap from anybody and has a real mind of her own. Regarding her power, she has a sonic blast that hits you like a hundred anvils.

Back in town, the rest of X-Factor runs toward the hardware store. In the apartment above, the old woman’s eyes glow green, an action which is mirrored by Banshee’s. Seeming to lose control, Banshee lets loose a sonic scream, which is aimed toward Longshot. Luckily, Longshot leaps out of the way and into a bin filled with mattresses.

Longshot, Madrox continues explaining to Terry, throws knives with hyperaccuracy, can get psychic reads off objects… and also has incredible luck. Then there’s Wolfsbane, who’s kind of like a werewolf, but totally in control of the changes. And Rictor, who used to be able to create earthquakes, now has no powers, which he hates… but it also makes people underestimate him.

Back in town, Wolfsbane leaps into the air, drawing the attention of the psychically-controlled Banshee. Now distracted, Rictor approaches her from behind and clasps his hand over her mouth.

Then there’s Strong Guy, Madrox continues. Told that’s a stupid name, Madrox replies that that’s not something you argue with a guy who can shotput a tank. Then there’s Shatterstar. And, yeah, he knows, that’s also a stupid name. No, Terry replies. That’s kinda cool. Oh, okay, Madrox replies. He’s a warrior, who’s having a love affair with… swords. And last but not least… there’s M. Interrupting, Terry asks if he means the old lady from the James Bond movies, which Madrox denies. Her powers are basically pretty much do whatever she sets her mind to.

Back in town, Strong Guy lifts Shatterstar and prepares to toss him “fastball special” through the window of the old lady’s room. However, just before Strong Guy throws him, Shatterstar is grabbed by Monet, who flies him toward the window and throws him through it at point-blank range. As Shatterstar crashes through the window above, Strong Guy crashes through the front door of the hardware store.

That’s a lot of people on his team, Terry opines. Compared to a basketball team maybe, Madrox counters. But, when you put them all together… there’s really no challenge they can’t handle.

In town, erupting from what was once a hardware store, the old lady reveals herself to be a gigantic blob of writhing, green tentacles, in the center of which is a massive, toothy face. Together, the assembled team fights it with ever weapon and power at their disposal.

Swearing aloud, Sally informs the culinary dupe that she hates him. She means it. Serious hatred. The soup’s that good, he asks. Yes, she answers. It’s that good, damn him. He’s amazing. Still sitting at the table, Madrox tells Sally not to say that. It just encourages them… With that, he absorbs the dupe from across the kitchen, sucking the translucent dupe into his own body. Amazed, Terry asks Madrox how he did that, but receives a non-specific “little hazy on the mechanics” answer. Terry then asks if it hurts to absorb the dupe and, at first Madrox replies that it doesn’t, but then realizes that, actually, once. One time it hurt.

Suddenly, there is a knock at the door, with the voice on the other end yells within, asking if Madrox is there. He said this is where he would be! A few moments later, Madrox opens the door and begins to ask how’d it go, but quickly finds the scene before him not to be what he expected. As she and the rest of the group are dripping with green bodily fluids, with Shatterstar holding the severed head of the old lady, Banshee remarks, “Same old, same old. Pretty routine, actually.” To this, Guido adds that Madrox is lucky he missed it. He’d have been bored. Grinning at this, Longshot remarks that he missed it too. Lucky him. Just so he knows, a visibly annoyed Monet informs Madrox that, just so he knows, she’s spending the next week in a spa and sending him the bill.

Later, back at X-Factor HQ in New York City, Rictor remarks that they wind up fighting some kind of creature for half an hour while he’s chatting it up with a single mom. Dismissing the accusation, Madrox counters that he wasn’t chatting her guy. Mostly, he talked about all of them, actually. Speaking of “some kind of creature,” what kind was it? What did it want? Theresa answers, stating that it wasn’t exactly forthcoming with its goals. However, when it took over her mind, she could sense… it was old. Really old, and it was waiting for something. Asked what kind of something, Theresa is forced to reply no idea.

Entering the room in a bath robe while toweling her hair, Monet pronounces the upstairs shower to be free. Took long enough Rictor complains. As Rictor goes for his turn, Guido asks Madrox about the single mom… did he do her? Incredulous, Madrox replies that the most intimate it got was he gave her his business card. Asked how come, Madrox replies that she seemed nice and he figured you never know when she might need X-Factor.

At that moment, back in the kitchen of the farm house, Sally lies in a pool of her own blood. The kitchen itself is in shambles and, on its wall, is written words in blood: BB SEZ U SHOULD HAVE HID BETTER.

Characters Involved: 

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

Old lady monster

Sally & Terry

Story Notes: 

This issue falls between issues #224 and #225.

Madrox and Layla both received their “M” tattoos on their faces in the future during their time in a mutant concentration camp. [Messiah Complex crossover, X-Men (2nd series) #206]

Madrox’s parents when he was young with an artificially created tornado, generated by the elemental powers of Damien Tryp. [X-Factor (3rd series) #11-12]

Following the death of his parents, Madrox worked the farm on his own, his only companion a teaching computer left behind by an earlier visit by Charles Xavier. [Giant-Size Fantastic Four #4]

Guido was shot by Ballistique in X-Factor (1st series) #217. He was subsequently pronounced dead and then discovered alive and fully healed in X-Factor (1st series) #218.

Ratatouille is a 2007 animated film about a mouse who dreams of becoming a chef.

Though there was a 15th/16th century Renaissance figure of the same name, this reference to “Lucrezia Borgia” refers to the name of the cook in the 1957 novel Mandigo.

A Shot put is a track and field event in which the athlete throws (or “puts”) a heavy metal ball (or “shot”) as far as possible.

“M” is a character from the James Bond franchise. In his several incarnations in prose and film, he is the head of the UK’s MI6.

Madrox has experienced pain several times upon absorbing a dupe. However, most likely, in this instance he is referring to his inadvertent absorption of an infant dupe, whom Madrox had believed to have been his biological son.

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