X-Factor (1st series) #239

Issue Date: 
September 2012
Story Title: 

Peter David (writer), Paul Davidson (artist), Rachelle Rosenberg (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: 

In Ulster County in upstate New York, Havok and Banshee arrive at the house of Liam Macallister, explaining that they’re private investigators looking into the recent deaths in his family. As he introduces his family members, Banshee’s attention is drawn to the photo of Liam’s daughter, Alana, and she asks if she can speak with her. Finding her in her room, Banshee’s hypnotic voice draws an admission from Alana that she has been practicing spells of witchcraft, taught to her by her grandmother and which accidentally drew forth a demonic Morrigan who has proceeded to kill off her family. Banshee then convinces Alana to duplicate the spell of summoning, which indeed brings forth the Morrigan. However, the Morrigan admits that she actually comes and goes as she pleases, and has arrived solely to claims her prize. With that, she abducts Banshee, just as Havok arrives on the scene. When the Morrigan and Banshee disappear, Havok activates the tracker in Banshee’s costume to follow. Meanwhile, at a lighthouse by the shore, the Morrigan appears with Banshee. Though she mocks her for taking a name which mocks her, the Morrigan nevertheless offers Banshee a place by her side. When Banshee rejects it, the Morrigan tosses her from the tower and, with shredded airfoils, Banshee cannot save herself. Fortunately for her, help arrives in the form of Jezebel, who saves her from a fall and promptly instructs Banshee to direct her attacks at the Morrigan’s familiar, a raven. The destruction of her raven infuriates the Morrigan. However, before she can react, Havok arrives on the scene and uses his plasma blast to destroy the tower, which collapses around the Morrigan. Declining to provide any information as to her name or motives, Jezebel pauses long enough to warn Banshee that she will have to make a choice in the face of the coming apocalypse. Meanwhile, back at X-Factor HQ, the now soulless Guido no longer has the fear of rejection regarding asking out Monet. In a grand gesture, he shows up with a chauffeured party bus. At first, Monet seems to be annoyed, but Guido’s profession of emotion touches her, causing her to take him up on the offer.

Full Summary: 

Clutching her by the collar, Morrigan holds Banshee over the railing of the top of the lighthouse. Her eyes aglow in the night sky as lightening streaks beyond, Morrigan asks Banshee who she thinks she is, taking her name in vain? Her tragic posturing, snippet of an imitator. She, a banshee? Her pretention knows no bounds. Who is she, Theresa Rourke Cassidy, to display such a lack of humility in the face of a goddess?! In the face of the Morrigan? Who is she?

(the past)
(Ulster County, New York)
At the front door of a suburb house, Havok and Banshee introduce themselves as being from X-Factor to Mr. Macallister, who apologies that he doesn’t want that TV program. Dismissing the confusion, Banshee explains that they’re a detective agency and are looking into the recent deaths in his family. To this, Mr. Macallister replies that he’s confused; who hired them? That’s confidential, Banshee replies, before asking if they can come in.

Clearly disheveled, Macallister agrees that they can and apologies for the appearance. It’s been hellish lately. Third funeral in a month. Mysterious murders and the police have nothing. In the living room, he tells them that they tried to blame it on loud rock music. Can they believe that?

Catching sight of something, Banshee asks about a photo on the mantel. His mother, Macallister explains. She died the same way as his nephew, Ian, did. They should talk to his da. They did, Havok tells him. And the young lady. His little girl, Alana, he answers. It’s been the hardest one her. She was very fond of Ian. Now he’s gone and her mother – his wife – died while Alana was an infant. Her grandmother was the only mother figure she had, and now she’s gone too. They were very close, his mother and Alana. She was a huge influence on his daughter. Already having eyed the photo with suspicion, Banshee asks if she can talk to her.

Hanging over thin air, Banshee finds that she cannot breathe, much less use sonics, with Morrigan clutching her by the brought. So strong… Her eyes aglow, Morrigan asks her raven, Branwenn, which eye will she want to pluck out first. The right or the left? After the raven caws, Morrigan admits that she’s right. They both look appetizing.

Now speaking directly to Banshee, Morrigan asks if that appeals to her. To be raven food for Branwenn? It doesn’t have to be this way, you know. She can save herself. She, the Morrigan, can be gracious. She can walk by her side. All she has to do it two things: swear to worship and fear her, as her ancestors did… and apologize for having affronted her.

Sitting in her room, the young Alana begs Banshee’s pardon. Come on, Alana, Banshee reiterates. It’s just “us girls.” Her grandmother wore a triquetra, a classic Celtic magical symbol and she’s wearing her own now. Lots of women wear them, Alana counters with an unemotional reply. Doesn’t mean they’re… Witches? Banshee completes. Ordinarily, she’d agree. On the other hand… combined with deaths in her family, that could well be mystical. Could be a curse gone awry. Tell her the truth. Come on, she continues in her melodic, hypnotic voice: you knowww you want to.

Smiling devilishly, Alana smiles that she really does. Hell… let’s party.

At X-Factor HQ, Monet is incredulous after being informed that there is a party bus waiting for her outside. Confirming it, Pip informs her that the driver walked in and said it was waiting for her. Still incredulous, she asks again, at which point Longshot asks what about him. Now growing annoyed, Pip asks if they have pronoun trouble. No, not him. For her! Jeez!

Fine, Monet finally relents. She’ll check it out. Following her, Longshot adds that he should come too. There could be a trap… or girls ready to party. Either way. However, Monet stops him before he reaches the door, noting that no one invited him. Ooookay, he relents.

Reaching the bus, the driver welcomes “Ms. Saint-Croix” aboard. Entering it, Monet looks inside and opines that he can’t be serious. Within the short bus are lounge sofas and sitting on the far end is Guido, holding two flutes of champagne. Glad ya could make it, he tells her. Asked “what the hell,” Guido explains that he’s just trying to make a spectacular gesture. Would he like her to make a spectacular gesture right back?

Taken aback, Guido offers that he’s tryin’ here, okay? Trying’ to let her know how he feels. He doesn’t feel anything, Monet counters. He doesn’t have a soul. See, Guido remarks, that right there. She’s not allowin’ for the possibility that that’s a good thing. Asked how being soulless could possibly be a good thing, Guido rejoins that he’s nuts about her. Always has been. And he didn’t have the guts to tell her. But now… now he doesn’t have a soul holdin’ him back, making him afraid. How could somethin’ that makes ya more honest with people be bad?

Continuing as he removes his trademark sunglasses, Guido tells her that here’s the truth… he’s in physical pain, like constantly. And the only thing that ever made him feel better was bein’ around her. But now, the way she’s been lookin’ at him, even that hurts. And he thought, mebbe, if she’ll go out with him, he can get her t’look at him the way he’s always wanted to…

“Shut up,” Monet interrupts turning away. Without another word, Monet storms away to the front of the bus and the exit. Replacing his glasses, Guido is visibly distraught. At the door, however, Monet pauses and orders the driver to give her ten minutes to change into something more festive. Tipping his hat, the driver replies with a “yes, ma’am.” Monet then steps off the bus, but pauses a moment to yell to Guido, who is looking through the window. She warns him that if he takes her to a Mets game or a Chuck E. Cheese, she will personally disembowel him. “Yes, ma’am,” he beams through the window.

“Yes, ma’am,” Morrigan informs the helpless Banshee. That’s all she has to say to save her life. Really, all she’s asking her to do is accept her roots. Embrace her heritage. Indeed, what does she have as a result of this life she’s living? She worships a martyred god who turned his back on her. She thinks about drowning her pain in drink every day. Yes for all this and far more sins, she’d offer her salvation that no other would. Speak to her, Theresa, Morrigan tells her. She gives her leave to speak.

As Morrigan’s grip eases enough for her to do so, Banshee speaks, telling her captor that she can kiss her Emerald Isle ass… Have it her way, Morrigan decides. With that, she releases her grip completely and Banshee falls to the ground far below.

Banshee asks Alana to tell her everything. Okay, Alana replies. It started with her cousin, Ian. He was engaged to this girl, Emily, who was totally not good enough for him. And she was the only one who saw it. And her grandmother, she’d taught her the old ways. The Glam Diceann; the high curse. So she tried to summon one against Emily. She just wanted something that would scare her, but…

Finishing her sentence, Banshee asks that it backfired, didn’t it? As magicks, particularly curses, can do. Yeah, Alana admits. She accidentally summoned the banshee, one of the faces of the Morrigan. And she… instead of going after Emily, she went after her family instead. Asked by Banshee if she could summon her now, Alana replies no problem.

A few minutes later, Alana has drawn the Celtic mystical symbol, with a candle burning at each of its three points. From the center of the symbol, a plume of aqua colored smoke arises. Standing beside Alana, Banshee silently notes that this is getting out of hand. She was theorizing that Alana actually had some sort of latent power that was manifesting through the delusion of it being witchcraft. But she’s starting to feel… she doesn’t know… forces being unleashed. Old forces. She swears the symbol on the floor will contain the Morrigan but she wishes Layla was there. This is more her thing.

Suddenly, Mr. Macallister calls from the door, asking Alana why the door is locked. Waiting only a moment to hear a reply, he announces that he’s coming in there, and a moment later shoulders the door open. In the process, Macallister opening the door knocks over one of the candles at one of the points of the symbol. The next moment, the plume of smoke turns into a twisting cloud in the center of which appears a redheaded woman in Medieval garb. When Macallister calls out to God, Morrigan mocks not his God. No, his daughters. She is the Morrigan, summoned by his precious Alana… previously by accident. This time deliberately.

In an incredible moment of clarity, Liam Macallister has the presence of mind to tell his daughter to send it back. Urged by Banshee to do the same, Alana chants repeatedly for the Morrigan to return, but the banshee seems only amused. Does she truly think her trinkets and drawings, she tells Alana, have dominion over her? She comes and goes as she pleases. In this instance, though, she will not resist her blandishments… but neither will she leave without her price. With that, the Morrigan reaches out and grabs Banshee by the collar and pulls her within the swirling column of smoke.

A moment later, the smoke dissipates, leaving behind an astonished Alana, Liam and Havok. Dumbfounded, Macallister remarks that he doesn’t understand any of this, to which Havok replies that something tells him he needs to have a long talk with his daughter. Macallister attempts to questions again, but Havok glances at his watch and announces that he has to go. As he darts down the stairs toward the door, Macallister calls out to him, Havok explains that they all have GPS locators in their uniforms for just this kind of situation. Asked by the still dumbfounded Macallister exclaims that that woman was just kidnapped by a goddess! What kind of situation is that?! “Typical,” Havok rejoins.

Elsewhere, the Morrigan and Banshee appear in a puff of aqua smoke in the lamp room atop a lighthouse. Immediately, Banshee attempts to attack with a sonic scream, but the effect is non-existent, other than generating a wry smile on the face of the Morrigan. Thinking that she can match screams with a true banshee, the Morrigan mocks. So many names has she, and all of them more potent than hers. Let her show her. With that, the Morrigan unleashes a sonic scream which shatters the lighthouse’s immense lamp and causes incredible pain to Banshee. Grabbing Banshee again by the collar, the Morrigan suggests that they take it outside.

Shortly thereafter, Havok finds himself at the base of the lighthouse, having followed Banshee’s tracking device. At first he doesn’t understand, as he doesn’t seem to be getting closer, but a look upward reveals the reason. Banshee is above him, though at the moment falling, dropped from the top of the lighthouse by the Morrigan.

On her way down, Banshee finds her airfoils shredded, not enough of them remaining catch sound waves. She can’t cushion fall… can’t… From out of the corner of her eye, Banshee spies the form of a red-skinned woman flying by means of immense black wings flying toward her. In short order, the woman catches Banshee, breaking her fall. Before Banshee can say anything, the woman instructs her to target the raven. When Banshee begins to reply, Jezebel clarifies. It’s her familiar. Her tie to the source of her power. Break it, then she’s vulnerable.

From atop the tower, the Morrigan recognizes Jezebel, declaring her a traitorous little… At that moment, Banshee unleashes a sonic scream which shatters the Morrigan’s raven. Yelling out the raven by its name in rage, the Morrigan returns her fury to Banshee. Declaring her a poor, wretched child, she tells her she offered her an opportunity to walk with greatness… to claim her heritage! To fill the emptiness in her soul! She offered her… a chance to love her. And this is how she repays her?

A moment later, however, a beam of plasma shatters the lighthouse in mid-tower. Watching as the tower collapses, Theresa silently wonders which is louder at that moment: the unleashed power of Alex’s plasma blast… or the Morrigan’s shriek as she falls. Bereft of her familiar, empty of any sense of love, she has nothing to hold her to this world. It’s a feeling that nearly stabs Theresa to the heart with recognition.

The danger gone, Jezebel flies near enough to ground to drop Banshee safely to the ground. Sensing their question, she tells them that there’ll be no use digging her out from under there. She’s gone, at least for now. Havok begins to ask who she is, but Jezebel interrupts. There’s only so long she can play the dangerous game of two masters. Sooner or later, choices will have to be made. In the face of the apocalypse, a new race of gods will walk the Earth. They could walk with them, or they could be crushed beneath their feet. They’ll have to decide.

Asked by Havok “decide what?” Jezebel glances back. She was talking to her, not him. She has decisions. He’s pretty much screwed. With that, the mysterious red-skinned woman takes to the night. As Banshee looks up at her rescuer, Havok asks what does she say to that. “I need a drink,” Banshee proclaims as she walks off.

Characters Involved: 

Banshee II, Havok, M II, Longshot, Strong Guy (all X-Factor)
Pip the Troll


Liam Macallister
Anabel Macallister

Party bus chauffeur

(in photos)
Liam Macallister’s mother
Alana Macallister

Story Notes: 

In saying that he “doesn’t watch that TV program,” Mr. Macallister’s is confusing X-Factor Investigations with the TV program X-Factor, one of many singing contest reality shows on at the time of the issue’s publication.

Like many in the Marvel office, Guido is well-established as being a Mets fan. [Madrox #5]

The significance of Banshee’s reference to needing a drink is meant to be punctuated by the fact that she is a recovering alcoholic.

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