X-Factor (1st series) #225

Issue Date: 
November 2011
Story Title: 

Peter David (writer), Leonard Kirk (artist), 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: 

At the site of a condemned building, union-led protestors march against a building contractor who wants to use the union for demolition but refuses to employ more than is necessary to do the job. Just as it becomes clear that they are at an impasse, an earthquake suddenly rocks the site and the building collapses. Though seeming to be an accident, it is the result of Rictor using his recently restored mutant powers in the employ of X-Factor, who in turn is employed by the contractor. Back at HQ, Theresa tries to consol Rahne, who is still reeling from the loss of her child. Theresa tries to relate from her own experience, but Rahne only become enraged and then after that outburst somber again. She feels she was tested by God for her recent sins and rejected the chance given. When Layla returns at that moment, Rahne accuses her of doing nothing to prevent the tragedy. Rather than apologizing, Layla replies that she did nothing because, every time she does, she gets punished… then so does everyone else. Upon arrival back to HQ, Madrox receives a phone call from a Detective Crespi from Lawrenceville, Kansas, who is investigating a homicide. The victim is a woman named Sally Roland, on whose person was found Madrox’s business card. Presuming this to be the Sally he met at his old family farm, Madrox agrees to return to Lawrenceville to assist in any way he can. Upon arrival, they are escorted to the body, only to find suddenly animated by a demonic spirit upon the mention of her supposed son, Terry. Showing incredible strength, she tosses around Madrox and the rest of the team, even surviving a decapitation by Shatterstar. Instead of pressing, however, the undead Sally offers a cryptic warning to Layla, stating that she will be “ol’ BB’s” new best friend, and then bursts into flames.

Full Summary: 

At the site of a dilapidated building in Manhattan, clearly selected for demolition, a crowd of protestors have gathered. A man in a business suit and wearing a Bluetooth headset stands before the picketed horde of people and addresses them. Look, he begins, the place has been condemned. He has a contract with the city to tear it down! To this, the lead protestor replies that he also has a contract with their union to do the job!

Resolute, the suited man replies that he does need all of them! If he’d just accept the offer for half of… “No deal!” the union member exclaims. When the suited man then infers that he will proceed without the union, the union member scoffs. What’ll he use to take it down? Explosives? Wrecking ball? He can’t do that without union talent. Actually, the suited man rejoins, it turns out he can. With this, the suited man turns his head slightly and speaks through his headset to someone on the other end. “Okay. Do it.”

At first the union leader believes he is being ordered but, a moment later, he is more concerned with the earthquake which startles the crowd. Impotently, one protestor tries to use logic against the quake, citing that there’re no fault lines in Manhattan. Nevertheless, the quake continues on and, in the moments that follow, the edifice of the building begins to crack.

Watching all of this from a nearby rooftop, Jamie Madrox silently laments to himself that they’re not proud of every job they take. Not all of them allow them to seize the moral high ground. In fact... a lot of them don’t. Sometimes you just need to pay the bills. Having heard the woman’s protestation, Madrox notes that she is wrong. There’s a minor fault line running own 125th Street. At least that’s what Rictor says… and he’s the expert on these things.

Speaking up, Madrox addresses Rictor and asks if he’s sure he’s got this under control. Staring forward, his arms spread out and energy rippling from his hands, Rictor asks if he’s kidding. This is what he was born for. He then asks Madrox to clam up… and watch him bring down the house. In the moments that follow, Rictor uses his earthquake powers to emulate the actions of a controlled implosion. In short order, the process is complete and the building collapses in under its own weight. “BOOM shakalaka!” Rictor proclaims. “I’m back baby!

Back on the street, the suited man addresses the union leader and informs him that he has another demolition project coming up in three days. Are he and his boys in or out? Almost hesitantly, the union leader replies that they’ll, uh, check their schedule. You do that, the suited man rejoins.

Back on the roof, Shatterstar congratulates Rictor. This must be so exciting for him. No kidding, Rictor replies with a smile. He can’t wait it tell her. “Her?”Shatterstar repeats quietly and inquisitively. Rahne, Rictor explains. She’s so down in the dumps about the baby. Maybe this’ll cheer her up! As Rictor departs down the steps, Madrox notes that that’s the happiest he’s seen Rictor in ages. That’s… good, Shatterstar replies. He deserves happiness. Detecting the tone, Madrox asks Shatterstar if there’s trouble in paradise. To this, Shatterstar replies that feelings are many things… but they’re hardly paradisiacal.

Elsewhere, at X-Factor HQ, Theresa finds Rahne in the kitchen polishing off her eighth carton of ice cream. Asked if she cares to talk, Rahne replies no. She just wants to eat and eat and keep eating until she pukes. Asked how that’s working out for her, Rahne admits not as well as she’d hoped. She’s thinking of trying to drink herself into a stupor next. “Been there, done that,” Theresa replies. After she lost her baby, she wanted to crawl into a bottle and die there. Rahne wasn’t there when it happened. It destroyed her for the longest time… Interrupting Rahne replies that it’s not the same. Theresa tries to reply that it is but Rahne cuts her off. No. It’s not.

Rising from her seat, Rahne tells Theresa that she heard what happened with her. How her child was absorbed into Madrox ‘cause it wasn’t real. It felt real to her, Theresa replies. It grew in her body… And she rejected it, Rahne tells Theresa of her own baby. She rejected her child, her flesh and blood. She was freaked out, Theresa defends. It climbed out of her mouth, for God’s sake! That’s why she was invulnerable. She wouldn’t have survived otherwise. But she did survive, Rahne replies. Which means she was meant t’care for her child however he came into this world. She failed. She…

Rahne’s words trail as she realizes that there’s no more ice cream in the refrigerator freezer. Theresa tries to return the real subject, telling her it’s understandable that she’s… In an instant, Rahne has assumed the lupine form of Wolfsbane and, with a single swipe of her fist, breaks the table in half. The table now in ruins, a much calmer Wolfsbane mutters that she’s a terrible person. Theresa begins to state the contrary, but Wolfsbane presses. She doesn’t know the things she’s done… so horrible her own mind tries to block it, but they bleed through… in her nightmares… and she was being tested. The pregnancy was testing her. God was giving her a chance… and she rejected it. It and him. Whatever comes now, it’s not enough.

Transforming back to her human form, Rahne yells at the newly arrived Layla that she knew it would happen, didn’t she? She knew it would happen… and she did nothing t’prevent it. To this, Layla, who is holding a plastic grocery bag, asks what would she have had her do? Something! Anything an enraged Rahne yells.

Appearing suddenly behind Layla, Guido asks the lot of them to “shaddup!” They’re trying t’play cards. He’s down five hundred playing against a guy with luck powers and a chick who’s a mind reader. He doesn’t need a real life soap opera distractin; him! Okay? With that, Guido disappears again, leaving Theresa to wonder what’s got into him. Nothing, Layla replies with a wan demeanor. Nothing’s in him. Turning back to Rahne, Layla asks if she wants to know why she didn’t do anything. The real reason? Because, when she does, she gets punished. And sooner or later, so does everyone else. With that, Layla drops the grocery bag full of ice cream cartons and departs in silence, much to the shock of Theresa and Rahne.

In the front entrance to the HQ, Madrox, Rictor and Shatterstar find Pip the Troll at reception, reading an adult magazine. Asked by Rictor where Rahne is, Pip suggests he try the local petting zoo. The then tells Madrox that he has good timing. There’s a call for him on line one. A cop.

Wondering to himself what they did now, Madrox answers. The person on the other end introduces himself as Detective Crespi of the Lawrenceville PD. Madrox asks if he means Lawrenceville, Kansas, which the detective confirms. He used to live there, Madrox offers, to which the detective asks if he had cause to visit there recently? On a case, perhaps? Once again confirming, Madrox thinks to ask what division the detective is with. Homicide, the detective replies.

Immediately, Madrox mind reels at how he could possibly explain X-Factor’s recent trip to his home town. How he can explain how the reason one of his people decapitated an old woman is because she was a demon disguised in human form. Trying a different tack, Madrox tells the detective that they have rules about client confidentiality. Your client’s dead, Detective Crespi replies bluntly. Confused, Madrox replies that the old woman wasn’t their client, which in turn confuses the detective. What old woman?

Back up, Madrox replies. What homicide? How did he even know to call there? Detective Crespi explains that he’s investigating the death of one Sally Roland. When Madrox states that he doesn’t know anyone by that name, Crespi replies that that’s odd, since she had his business card in her pocket. Listening in, Shatterstar offers to face the justice over the fair slaying of a demon enemy and inquires if trial by combat is the standard practice. Madrox tells him to shut up, which confuses the detective on the other end of the line.

Not him, Madrox continues. Sure, he met Sally, but she wasn’t connected to his case. He happened to meet them because she was living in his old home. Squatting, Crespi corrects. The previous owner, a Mr. Tanger, dropped dead of a heart attack. Place was up for sale. No one knew she was living there. Then asked by Madrox if she was murdered, Detective Crespi confirms and adds that Madrox might have been the last one to have seen her alive. It’s a lot of ask, he then says, but how fast could he get there? Eying Shatterstar with a smile, Madrox replies that the detective would be amazed.

A little over ten minutes later, Detective Crespi greets Madrox at the police station in Lawrenceville, asking how the helldid he get there so fast. Trade secret, replies Madrox as he walks in, accompanied by Shatterstar, Longshot and Layla. Be honest, Madrox asks Detective Cresi, is he a suspect? Seems pretty amateur mistake, Crespi replies, leaving your card on somebody he killed. At the moment, he’s leaning toward innocent bystander. Less he wants to confess? Help ease his caseload. To this, Madrox suggests that maybe he can ease it by solving it. Whatever works, Detective Crespi replies.

Entering the morgue, Crespi orders the attendant to open up the body. Seeing the bloodied remains of Sally once the sheet is pulled back, Madrox curses and asks what happened to her. Blunt instrument, Crespi answers. A crowbar or something like that. Turning to Longshot, Madrox asks if he can get a read off her, or does he need an inanimate object. In a melancholy reply, Longshot points out that she is an inanimate object.

As Longshot goes to work, Madrox stands a short distance away, next to Layla. If this doesn’t work, he whispers to Layla, maybe she could reanimate her. She could tell them what happened. When Layla then replies that she doesn’t do that anymore and he knows that, Madrox asks “do I?” Then asked what’s that supposed to mean, Madrox point-blank asks her if she brought back Guido. Wide-eyed, Layla only inquisitively repeats Guido’s name. And don’t lie to him, Madrox tells her. He’d know if she lies. Considering this, Layla silently looks at Madrox for a moment and then turns away. No, he wouldn’t, she tells him.

“Well?” asks Detective Crispi. Nothing, Longshot replies, removing his hands suddenly from the corpse. Asked by Madrox what he means by “nothing,” Longshot replies the opposite of something. Hearing this, Detective Crespi quips that he never had much faith in the whole psychic business, to which Shatterstar defends that he’s more than psychic. What, Crespi asks, is he your boyfriend? No, Shatterstar replies, his boyfriend’s back home. He’s his…

Interrupting as his left eye flashes, Longshot suggests to Statterstar that they stay focused. The then tells Madrox that he did what he usually does but it’s like something was blocking him. Told by Madrox that he didn’t think anything could do that, Longshot rejoins that nothing on this Earth can. Well, that alone tells them something, Madrox replies, then admitting damned if he knows what.

Turning back to Detective Crespi, Madrox asks what does he know about her. Maybe something in her background… Does he mean her criminal background? Detective Crespi replies. She had a record as long as her arm. That’s how they ID’d her, through her fingerprints. Con games, graduated to bank robberies. Didn’t kill anyone, which is something, he guesses. LAPD finally nailed her, but one day she just disappeared from lockup.

Madrox then asks what about her son, which confuses the detective. He’s got nothing on a son. He met him, Madrox informs the detective. Talked to him. Asked for a name, Madrox replies Terry. His name was Terry.

“Terry!” the corpse of Sally proclaims, her eyes wide-open. “Where’s Terry!?!?

Detective Crespi curses as he recoils in shock, dropping his case file and scattering papers. Immediately, Madrox demands from Layla what she did but the visibly shocked Layla replies nothing, she swears. She was over here the whole time! She never laid a hand on her! Go ask Longshot! Then asked by Madrox if he did anything, Longshot replies that he didn’t think so, though her coming back is a lucky thing, so maybe. “Oh, shut up!” Madrox tells him.

Nearby, Shatterstar has moved at Sally’s side and asks her to calm down. He knows this is confusing for her… “You’re not Terry!” she tells him. No, he’s Shatterstar, he replies. They met briefly, though he was covered in monster gore at the time, so… Out of my way! Sally yells, tossing Shatterstar across the room with a single arm. She then moves to Detective Crespi and lifts him off of his feet by the neck, demanding to know what he’s done with Terry!

Together, Madrox and Longshot pull Sally off of the detective. Madrox does his best to remind her who he is, but Sally is unstoppable and pushes both away. What’s happened to her! She... can’t feel her heart beating! Why can’t she…? Because she’s dead, one of a host of Madroxes proclaims, as the entire group tackles Sally. Another adds that they want to know how she got that way, though one of the others replies that he doesn’t, actually. He’s just operating on herd instinct.

Despite their numbers, all of the dupes are easily tossed away by Sally, who proceeds to bleed from blood-red eyes. Well, well, well, she remarks, lookee what they have there. A conduit, a couple of genetic junkpiles and… ah, an acolyte. Eying astonished Layla, Sally orders her to stay out of “ol’ BB’s” affairs. This is her business and Jason’s. Erecting a forcefield, Layla tells the reanimated Sally not to give her orders. Undeterred, Sally reaches through the forcefield as if it were not there, much to the astonishment of and horror of Layla. How about she gives her a nice hole where her heart used to be? Sally asks.

From behind, Shatterstar leaps into action, the twin blades beneath each of his sleeves extended. With a single swipe from his right arm, Shatterstar decapitates Sally. To Madrox’s astonishment, the body does not even slow down and, acting of its own accord, grabs Shatterstar and tosses him into Longshot, taking them both down. This done, Sally’s body picks up its own head and places it back on its neck. This was a warning, kiddies, the reassembled Sally announces. Get in her way again… and she’ll kill them. All of them.

“Except for you,” Acolyte, Sally then says, looking at the horrified Layla. With that, Sally places a kiss upon Layla’s lips. Grinning, Sally tells Layla that she’ll be ol’ BB’s new best friend. With that, Sally erupts into flames, laughing as her body is consumed by the blaze. The crisis passed, Madrox asks Layla if she’s okay. “I’d be better,” Layla replies, “if she hadn’t used tongue.”

Characters Involved: 

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

Demolition contractor
Union protestors

Detective Crespi
Lawrenceville, KS Police
Morgue staff

Zombie Sally Roland

Story Notes: 

This story continues from X-Factor (1st series) #224.1, in which Madrox and the team met Sally Roland and her son Terry, who were living on the farm which once belonged to Madrox’s family.

Rictor recently reacquired his mutant powers in the Avengers: the Children’s Crusade mini-series.

Theresa has had problems with alcohol most of her life.

The child to whom Theresa gave birth turned out to be a infant dupe of Madrox, who inadvertently absorbed upon holding for the first time. [X-Factor (3rd series) #39]

When she states that she’s done horrible things, Rahne is cryptically referring to her time with Wolverine’s X-Force and the bloody missions they carried out. [X-Force (3rd series)]

Layla used her mutant power to bring back Guido from the dead, sans soul, in X-Factor (1st series) #219]

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