X-Factor (1st series) #244

Issue Date: 
November 2012
Story Title: 
Breaking Points: Day Four

Peter David (writer), Leonard Kirk (penciler), Jay Leisten (inker), Matt Milla (colorist), VC’s Cory Petit (letterer), David Yardin (cover artist), Jennifer M. Smith (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: 

Over two thousand years ago, a woman confronts the Morrigan who killed her father. However, when the moment comes to kill the witch, the woman is tempted with another option, that of replacing her. In the present, Polaris’ recent mental trauma has caused her to snap and it is only with the intervention of Monet and her telepathy that she’s stopped from hurting everyone. Meanwhile, having a personal crisis of a different sort, Banshee considers the suggestion of what seems to be the ghost of her father, the original Banshee. Before she can consider what to do, she’s joined by Layla, who not only knows what Banshee is considering, but offers to help. Together, they once again summon the Morrigan, from whom Banshee hopes to request a boon to aid Polaris. However, the Morrigan offers a different exchange, where Banshee will take her place, allowing her two millennia of time as the Morrigan to come to an end. More concerned with the welfare of her friend than her own, Banshee become the new Morrigan and cures Polaris of her dementia. After doing so, she appears before Madrox, letting him know that she never really stopped loving him, and that if he ever requires her presence, he can just pray. With that she leaves Madrox, and the rest of X-Factor.

Full Summary: 

Dromberg Stone Circle, near County Cork, Ireland. 150 BC:
Bearing a spear in one hand and a one-bladed war axe in another, a redheaded female warrior angrily regards another woman, who is bloodied and unable to stand from her wounds. As the rain powers around them, lighting striking multiple spots in the distance, the redhead tells the other that she shouldn’a done it. She shouldn’a take her da! He didna deserve t’die! Unable to stand the other woman, whose skin tone reflects her as being the current incarnation of the Morrigan replies that deserving is neither here nuh there. She thinks slaying her will bring him back? Nay, the redhead replies, but it’ll help him tuh rest easier! And she’ll ne’er hurt anyone again!

Though down and bloodied, the Morrigan is unbowed. Calling the redhead a “foolish girl,” she replies that time’ll take care of that all too soon. World’s changing and she canna feel it yet, but it’s coming. And when she dies, none’ll be ‘round t’protect th’old ways. If that were not th’case… then how came she to the spear of Lugh?

Pointing the spear at her foe, the redhead replies that she traded with a creature of greater evil than she, who wants her gone more than she does. Traded what? the woman asks. Her soul, she imagines. Worth it if it will avenge her dad, the redhead rejoins. And is that what her da would want for her? the fallen Morrigan asks. An eternity of torment? His little girl’s flesh sizzling while she screams in rivers of lava… The redhead tells her to shut up, but the witch presses. There’s a way to avoid her fate, she tells her. They’re more alike than she knows. Look into her heart, the witch tells the redhead. She knows what her father would want. She’ll use her spear to finish it, but first… take her hand. The redhead regards the witch’s outstretched hand for a moment, even as the witch presses her with greater emphasis to take it.

In her room, Theresa Cassidy asks what they do now. However, an inhuman voice corrects that she means what does she do. She knows only she has the power t’do it. Addressing the voice as her “da,” Theresa replies that she’s scared. Everything she’s been through… everything she’s seen, done… and she’s still scared. Don’t worry, my sweet little girl, the vision of Sean Cassidy explains as he gazes at his daughter through the mirror and from beyond the grave. It’s no reflection on her.

Still unsure, Theresa asks how does she now know she’s losing her mind? Or that he’s not some trick? Years ago, Mastermind drove poor Jean Grey insane with trickery… Interjecting, the vision of Sean Cassidy replies that her heart tells her true. Listen to it. And considering the fact that she has a genuine victim of Mastermind downstairs… she may want t’make her decisions sooner rather than later.

Downstairs in the kitchen, a visibly distraught Lorna Dane stands in the middle of a literal tornado of swirling cutlery and blades. From a safe distance, Havok asks Lorna to put them down, but Madrox (one of several) says he doesn’t think she’s hearing him. Standing among the group, Longshot interjects that she needs to give him his knives back.

In the center of the maelstrom, Lorna asks if she is really there. Are they there? Is anything she believes real? Stepping forward without fear, Longshot remarks that those are all good questions. Very profound. Maybe they can answer them after she’s returned his knives. Angered by the suggestions, Lorna yells “Have them then!” and uses her powers of Polaris to hurl them all toward Longshot.

Suddenly, the hands of Monet appear at the sides of Lorna’s face from behind, and the next moment Monet has taken control. With Lorna at her mercy, Monet quips that she should just… tear her head off… like putting down a rabid dog… It’d be safer… more merciful… But Alex would get all pissy about it and she’s just not in the mood for that. With that, Monet releases Lorna, who collapses unconscious on the kitchen floor. Everyone else okay, Monet asks. Perfectly, Longshot replies as he begins to replace his flechettes in the sleeves of his costume.

Dumbfounded by what he has seen, Madrox notes that Longshot actually caught all of the knives, just plucked them out of the air, like he had a dozen hands. Shrugging off the feat, Longshot replies that they belonged to him. Madrox quips for Longshot to remind him not to touch his stuff, but Longshot counters that he’d think Madrox would remember this. Probably, yeah, Madrox replies.

Picking up Lorna’s unconscious form, Havok announces that he’ll get her back up to their room. Sneering at this, Monet asks how that will help. Lorna alternates between going fetal and full-on “Carrie.” Asked what she would suggest, Monet replies that she doesn’t know. A bucket of pig’s blood? Growing defensive, Havok reminds Monet that this was her fault, but Monet defends that she was doing what Lorna asked. No, not asked. She threatened her if she didn’t do what she wanted. And he didn’t have the nerve to man up and interfere, so don’t start dumping all his… Interrupting, Havok replies that she’s right. He’s sorry. She’s right about everything. He’s not going to argue with her. Taken aback, Monet asks if he’s really not. When he confirms, she asks what fun is that?

Upstairs in her room, Theresa tells her dead father that what he’s suggesting… It’s… Scary, he knows. The last time she saw her, Theresa continues, she barely survived. And she couldn’t help but feel that she was holding back. She was, Sean replies. That wasn’t a fight. It was a test. She was feeling her out. Looking into her soul. Seeing what she was made of. Asked why she did that, Sean’s ghost replies that she’ll have to ask her that. He then adds that things will work out. Asked how he knows, her father asks her to remember when he first showed up a couple of days ago. And she was terrified and didn’a know what to do. Well, that worked out, didn’t it? Now? He hasn’t steered her wrong yet.

Picking up a bottle of liquor, Theresa notes that if she’d gone back on the booze, she’d be more inclined to think he was a hallucination. But she hasn’t eliminated the idea that she’s imaging him. Aye, she has, her father replies from within the bottle. Because if she thought that she were losing it, she’d have told the others. She’d be seeking help; instead she’s keeping it all t’herself. Close to her heart. That alone tell her all she needs to know. Theresa begins to reply that that’s not all she needs to know. She’s not sure she will survive what he’s suggested, or even how to start, or even if she should. How does she know?

Because she knows, a voice replies. Startled, Theresa looks up to find Layla, standing in her doorway. Layla, Theresa says aloud, the girl who knows stuff. The very same, Layla replies. Turning away, Theresa asks her to close the door, and then asks if he is… does she know about… Her father? Layla asks. She knows she believes he’s there. Beyond that, she’s got nothing. Then asked if what he’s suggesting will work, Layla replies that it’s up to her. Theresa defends that that tells her nothing, but Layla counters that it tells her all she can. She can facilitate it. Put her in a position to make it happen. Everything else is in her hands. For a moment, Theresa considers. Then, with clenched fists, she tells Layla they’ll do it.

In their bedroom, Alex sits in a chair while he watches a near catatonic Lorna writhe on the bed. Gently, he speaks to her, whimsically suggesting that they go back to outer space, where things were less complicated. It was simpler. Quieter. He didn’t have to worry about all the mutant craziness. “No more mutants.” Maybe Wanda had the right idea. He doesn’t know what he’s doing. He’s trying to act like a leader and that’s not the same as being one. It used to come so easily… and now he keeps biting everybody’s heads off so they don’t know he’s making this up as he goes alone. X-Men split from X-Men, and now the Avengers fight them like they’re terrorists. The world’s changing and he doesn’t know what his place is in it. And she was the only person he could talk to about it… and he didn’t. And now he’s alone. A headquarters filled with people and he’s alone.

In her room and in her full Banshee costume, Theresa stands in circle of stones of various sizes. Behind her sits Layla, with a very tall candle burning between them. When Theresa remarks that it’s not working, Layla tells her to give it time. Asked if she is sure she said the words right, Layla replies affirmatively. She also takes a moment to ask if Theresa is sure she wants to do this, noting that there’s still time to step out of the circle. When Theresa relies that she is, Layla asks why. Because she thinks she’s supposed to, she answers. Taken aback a bit, Layla notes that that’s circular. Has she…

Suddenly and much to Layla’s surprise, the candle’s flame goes out. Remarking with an “uh-oh,” Layla is asked if that is a good or bad “uh-oh,” to which Layla asks if one is ever good. Yeah, Theresa replies, she guesses she really didn’t think that one…

At that moment, a bright light and resounding fwooooooof fill the room. When they subside, Theresa finds that the room is gone and that she is outdoors, in a downpour and in the presence of the Morrigan. When Theresa exclaims with a “holy,” the Morrigan agrees. So, Theresa, daughter of Sean. After her earlier misadventure of summoning her, she does so again. This time, however, she would change the venue of their encounter.

Continuing, the Morrigan notes that Theresa knows she cannot defeat her. She did before, Theresa counters. She can again. Is she sure, the Morrigan replies, suddenly appearing behind Theresa, and placing her clawed hand around Theresa’s neck. She can say that all she wants, the Morrigan continues, but they both know the truth. Now… with what may be her last words… tell her why she has called her. “I crave a boon,” Theresa answers. Suddenly before Theresa, the Morrigan asks if she does, now? A daughter of the Isle, asks the Morrigan, the warrior goddess of many faces, for a boon? When Theresa replies that she does, the Morrigan surprises her with a kiss on her lips. Breaking the kiss, the Morrigan replies how sweet.

Stepping away, Theresa remarks that it’s not for her. It’s for… Nonsense, the Morrigan interrupts. She already knows what she desires. She may think it’s to help her friend… but it’s really for her. Her and her da. As lightening flashes behind her, the Morrigan notes that, if Theresa asked her, the bond between an Irish lass and her da is like no other. But she’s biased, of course.

Continuing, Theresa explains that her da told her that just because she’d used her powers primarily for destruction doesn’t mean she can’t use it for healing. That you would soothe Lorna’s mind. Told that is true, Theresa asks if it is because of her that she’s seeing her da? Aye, the Morrigan replies. It is. See? An example right there of her beneficence. What it means of course, is for her to discover. Pointing her finger at Theresa, the Morrigan summarizes that she wishes for her to help her friend, who’s driven near to madness over unresolved issues with her father. That strikes to the core. She might consider talking to God about such matters, but she still harbors some resentment for the God of her church. When faith waivers, embrace certainly.

Growing annoyed, Theresa remarks that she’s getting a chill and her underwear’s starting to ride up. Is she going to help her? Yes or no? When the Morrigan bemoans that they don’t say “please” anymore, Theresa asks “please, please, you murderous psychopathic loon. Please help Lorna.” Smiling at this, the Morrigan proclaims it a pretty prayer, but then adds that she won’t. She can’t… because Lorna doesn’t believe in her. But she can. Because she believes in her.

Asked what she’s saying, the Morrigan’s white skin tone begins to turn pink for but a moment. She’s saying she’s tired. She’s had two millennia to serve the needs of the mundane and divine. To expiate her sins while creating new ones. Her burden grows heavy, and she would lay it down. And most of all… she still misses her da. Theresa begins to reply that she doesn’t understand, but the Morrigan remarks that there’s no reason she should. She’s had many names, many faces… because she has been many women. Her predecessor fought to her death to lay down her mantle. But it was a different time. A time when gods walked the earth. Now gods remain in their heaven, and the Earth slowly burns. Let it be the concern of the new gods. This old one would rather move on. If she would bring peace to her friend… if she would be closer to her da… then take her hand.

Immediately, Theresa clasps hands with the Morrigan, surprising her. Noting that she had hesitated so long ago, the Morrigan wonders aloud if that makes Banshee wiser… or more foolish. In reply, Banshee notes that she’s trying to save a woman who, if she gets nuts enough, could disrupt the Earth’s magnetic field. She doesn’t have time for hesitation. As she wishes, the Morrigan replies. Focus her voice into a spear and then hurl it. Let her end be the cry of the Banshee. Her instructions given, the Morrigan asks Theresa if she thinks her da will embrace her as his little girl once more. They always do, Theresa answers. Ready? Closing her eyes, the Morrigan replies, “For a long time now.” A moment later, the scream of the Banshee cleaves its way through the Morrigan’s torso.

In the center of the circle of stones in Theresa’s room, where Theresa once stood, the scream erupts like a geyser and its sound carries through the building. Alex covers his ears in pain, but the catatonic form of Lorna does not react. However, when a green-gloved hand gently touches her forehead, Lorna sits up immediately. All alone in the room except for Alex, Lorna softly remarks that there was this song… the most beautiful song she’s ever heard…

Elsewhere in the building, Madrox finds himself bathed in green flight. The source of the green illumination is Theresa Cassidy. No longer either Siryn or the Banshee, she is the Morrigan. On her left shoulder sits a raven, with luminescent red eyes. Addressing him as “James,” she tells Madrox that she wants him to know that, deep down… she never stopped loving him. And she knows he felt much the same for her. But now they can both move on. Don’t worry, though, she tells him. If at some point he requires her presence… pray for her.

With that, the Morrigan which was once Theresa Cassidy dissipates before him, leaving Madrox alone. Dumbfounded, Madrox can only ask her name to the empty air.

Characters Involved: 

Banshee II, Butterfly, Havok, Longshot, M II, Multiple Man, Polaris (all X-Factor)

Previous Morrigan
Redhead who becomes the Morrigan

Story Notes: 

“Lugh” was a mythological diety/hero of Irish origin.

Though it was not revealed until this issue, Banshee began hearing her father’s voice in X-Factor (1st series) #241.

Mastermind drove Jean Grey to madness and eventually to the identity of Dark Phoenix during the Dark Phoenix saga. [X-Men (1st series) #122-135] To the more accurate, however, it was actually the Phoenix entity, which believed itself to be the true Jean Grey.

Carrie was a novel (later adapted to films) written by Stephen King, about a super-powered young girl who lashed out to her classmates, after a prank in which she was doused with a bucket of pig’s blood.

Monet is slightly to blame for Polaris’ condition, as she used her telepathy (in conjunction with Longshot’s psyhometry powers) to show Polaris that she had inadvertently been the cause of her own parents’ deaths when she was three.

Havok and Polaris indeed spent quite a long time in space. They departed with a team of X-Men to the Shi’ar Galaxy in Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #475 (Sept 2006) and returned in X-Men Legacy (1st series) #258 (Jan 2012).

In a moment of psychosis, Wanda Maximoff reduced the number of mutants worldwide from millions to hundreds. [House of M, Decimation]

Havok’s thoughts of a conflict between the X-Men refers to the Schism storyline, splitting camps between those who follow Cyclops & those who follow Wolverine. The conflict between the X-Men and Avengers refers to the Avengers vs. X-Men miniseries.

Written By: