X-Factor (1st series) #245

Issue Date: 
December 2012
Story Title: 
Breaking Points: Day Five

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: 

Following the departure of Banshee after her transformation into the Morrigan, Madrox takes out his frustrating on Havok, accusing him of being a poor leader for the team, which has been hemorrhaging members in recent weeks. Eventually, Madrox is calmed down, though frustrated enough to need some time on his own. When Layla and Longshot accompany Madrox in his solitude, Havok decides he also needs time to think. Now alone, Polaris is the only person present when Rictor and Shatterstar return from their time with Rahne via Shatterstar’s teleportation portal. Shortly thereafter, Polaris goes to her and Alex’s bedroom, only to find him about to pack their things. However, while Havok has come to believe their membership in X-Factor is a mistake, Polaris disagrees and will be staying, even if Havok is leaving. It soon becomes clear to the two that they both need time apart. Meanwhile, in the kitchen, Madrox and Layla are sitting down for ice cream when Madrox suddenly proposes an immediately elopement which Layla quickly accepts. The two immediately depart, not bothering to put up their dishes. A little later, finished packing, Havok is dressed in his civilian clothes, but finds only Polaris to say goodbye. However, unknown to him, the rest of the team is waiting on the roof with water balloons to give him a true X-Factor sendoff.

Full Summary: 

Enraged, Madrox thrusts his finger forward and orders Alex to go ahead and tell him how much better things are with him in charge! Tell him how he’s such a screw-up and Havok’s brilliant leadership has turned them into a smoothly oiled machine! Tell him so he can laugh in his face!

Visibly taken aback, Alex asks Madrox to calm down, but it has the opposite effect. With Monet, Longshot and Layla watching, Madrox rejoins that he doesn’t think he will. Has he taken a head count? They’re dropping so fast, all they need is a lake with an empty boathouse and they could be the cast of a slasher film! Rahne, Shatterstar and Rictor gone! Theresa’s gone. Guido’s gone… Good riddance, Monet interjects from the couch, while rolling her eyes. Turning to her, Madrox voices that he was Guido’s friend before he was her whipping boy, so zip it! Taking this as an entry point, Alex steps forward, telling Madrox to knock it off. The only one he really gives a damn about is Theresa… which is a nice change of pace, considering usually he only gives a damn about himself.

Incensed, Madrox pushes Alex off his feet, yelling for him to shut up. As he rises to his feet, Alex remarks that he doesn’t need his plasma blasts to beat him. However, before the two can come to blows, they are separated by Lorna and her magnetic powers. She suggests that they both turn off the spigot on their testosterone flow before she shuts it off herself. And it’ll be way more painful if she does it. Clear? Yeah, Madrox replies. Got’cha, voices Alex.

Lowering her powers, Lorna remarks to Madrox that if he’s going to be angry at anyone, he should be at her. She’s the reason that Theresa… When she trails off, Madrox demands to know what the hell she did. One minute Lorna is on the slow boat to crazy town, no offense… Rolling her eyes again, Monet asks how could she possibly take offense at that? Ignoring her, Madrox continues that suddenly she’s all better and Theresa’s become one with the Force! What the hell? Closing her eyes, Lorna replies that she’s not “all better.” He has no idea what’s going on in her head. Great, Madrox bemoans, as he sits down. That’s gonna keep him up at night. As for Theresa, Lorna continues, she became what she had to become, in order to help Lorna… and herself.

But how, Madrox asks. How did she transform herself into… into whatever she is? She heard her name in her head, Lorna replies. She sang it. Called herself the Morrigan. That’s the what, Madrox notes, but how…? Layla begins to stand up to explain, but finds Havok placing his hand on her shoulder, keeping her down. Actually, it was him, Alex explains. The Morrigan was the thing Terry and he ran into in Ulster County. Some sort of Irish goddess or mythic warriors. She… summoned it at the time, and he helped. It was incredibly powerful. He was desperate, so he tried to bring it there now, hoping that Terry could force it to help Lorna. Godly healing powers and all that. And Terry… took the power for her own. She helped give Lorna… Balance, Lorna voices. Yes, balance, Alex agrees.

Asked that it was his idea, Alex confirms. Because he was selfish. After everything Lorna’s been through, he just wanted her to have some happiness. Everyone deserves some happiness. Looking down at Layla, Alex asks if she agrees. Placing her hand on his, Layla gratefully replies that she thinks she does.

For a moment, silence fills the rec room. Finally, Madrox announces that he’s going out to grab something to eat. He needs to be alone right now. Immediately, Longshot announces that he’ll come along, a sentiment agreed upon by Layla. Sure, why not, Madrox shrugs. Left in the room are Monet, still sitting on the couch, and Alex and Lorna, who stare at each other in silence. After a moment, Monet gets up and leaves, saying “ibn himar.” Surprised at this, Alex asks if that was Arabic and wonders aloud if she speaks Arabic. Still in earshot, Monet answers back, just the curse words.

Returning her attention to Alex, Lorna asks how he knew that Lorna was really responsible. He knew it was a two-person job, and Layla’s the only one there with any sort of mystic grounding. If Madrox weren’t so distracted by what happened to Theresa, he’d have realized it immediately. Hearing this, Lorna surmises that, if he had, Alex assumes he’d have been upset with Layla? He could have been torn, at the very least, Alex replies. Meanwhile, Madrox can hate him unconditionally. Lorna begins to touch Alex on the arm, but Alex rebuffs her. Not now, he tells her. He has to think, okay? Okay, sure, she replies, watching him go. Whatever you need, she adds, now all alone in the rec room.

Suddenly, a giant, luminous X appears in the center of the room, accompanied by a deafening BRAKOOM, all of which knocks Lorna to the floor. As the light subsides, Lorna finds among the ruins which was their rec room a smiling Rictor and Shatterstar, the latter of whom asks, “Did you miss us?”

Later in their room, Alex asks Lorna if he has this right. The “Hardy Boys” have returned, but Rahne decided to stay behind with her son. At least for the time being, yes, Lorna confirms, sitting on the bed while Alex rummages through their closet. Well, that should make Madrox happy, Alex quips. It should make all of them happy, Lorna replies. Won’t make much difference to the two of them, Alex counters.

Confused by the statement, Lorna begins to reply that she doesn’t understand, but then tells him not to make her start telling him to come out of the closet. Shatterstar might overhear and there’ll be a while thing. When Alex does indeed emerge from the closet, she becomes more confused by him carrying two suitcases, and asks if he is going somewhere. They are, he replies. Asked where that would be, Alex replies “anywhere but here.” Seeing Lorna still doesn’t understand, Alex explains that this was a mistake, their coming there. They should never have taken this gig, no matter how much Wolverine asked them to. Trying to lead X-Factor, their old group, it was a step backwards. They need to keep moving forward.

Okay, Lorna voices, pronoun trouble. He keeps saying “we” but she thinks he’s talking about himself. Because her, she’s been happy with X-Factor. When Alex points out that she was insane two days ago, Lorna counters that, sure, but he can’t go by that. A few years back, she had a psychotic episode at Comicon. Alex begins to reply but is suddenly distracted by his current costume which he is about to pack. Cursing, he tosses it aside, noting that Pip was right. He does look like Tron.

Returning to Lorna, he angrily asks if she wants to make this about him? It is about him, she counters. She’s just refusing to make it about them. Look, here’s the truth, he begins. They… he… was happier when they were out in space. It was simpler. To this, Lorna reminds him that they were surrounded by a crushing vacuum and aliens kept trying to kill them. Someone’s always trying to kill them, he points out. Maybe they’re just always trying to kill him and she just happens to be in the way, Lorna quips.

Growing angrier, Alex tells Lorna to stop screwing around, to which Lorna asks if he’s really yelling at someone who went insane two days ago. The world doesn’t make sense anymore! Alex proclaims, turning around. His brother’s a murderer! Alliances that go back forever are falling apart! And… Interjecting, Lorna adds that she killed her parents and was brainwashed into forgetting it. Does he think the world seems way more rational to her? Exactly, Alex agrees. Doesn’t he want to confront Magneto? Lowering her head, Lorna replies “depends.” Does he want to see her driven off the deep end again? ‘Cause that’s what’ll happen. She’s had enough confrontations with her father to last her a lifetime, thanks.

Downstairs, Madrox finds Pip the Troll reading a newspaper at the front desk. Pointing to the workmen replacing the front door, he asks what happened. When Pip replies that he doesn’t want to know, Madrox asks Layla, who agrees that Pip is right. He doesn’t. She then asks him if he wants some ice cream, to which Madrox agrees. Longshot complains that he’s still full from lunch, but Layla informs him that she didn’t ask him. Well, that worked out then, Longshot cheerfully notes.

Upstairs in their room, Alex and Lorna continue their conversation. Alex remarks that the fact is that they had no business staying there once Madrox showed up. Their leadership styles are too different. When Lorna replies that he could have just deferred to him and stepped aside, Alex rejoins that he couldn’t see himself doing that. Why, Lorna asks. Afraid Madrox might be better at it than he is? Told that she knows that’s not it, Lorna replies that actually she doesn’t. She doesn’t know what the hell he wants, and she doesn’t think he does, either. For ages he felt he was in Scott’s shadow as a leader. Well, he went right off the rails, didn’t he? They only fought on his side in that Avengers fiasco because he insisted. When Alex remarks that he needed him, Lorna demands to do what? Screw up? He did that fine himself!

Ignoring the question, Alex tries to close his packed suitcase, but finds that it’s too full. Ignoring in turn the evasion, Lorna asks if this is some kind of weird survivor guilt. He can’t possibly be a good leader since Scott blew it? He went down in flames, so he has to throw himself on the pyre? He tried, okay! Alex responds. Their race is teetering on the brink and someone had to try, and he stepped up! Asked by Lorna if that means he has to honor his brother by giving up, Alex defends that he’s not. He just needs to find something… somewhere… different. He doesn’t know where, he just… doesn’t know.

Placing her hand on his, Lorna tells him that if he doesn’t know what he’s running toward… then all he’s doing is running away. She loves him, he knows that, she tells Alex. But she likes it there. She likes these people. They don’t hide behind walls or on floating cities. They say “Hi, humanity. Here we are, ready to prove a service that can help you. Call if you need us.” Being a mutant isn’t the be-all, end-all of who they are. It’s nice. They’re nice. They’re what she needs right now. Asked if she needs them more than she needs him, Lorna replies that, actually, they both need each other… a little less. They both have to get their acts together… and she doesn’t think they can do that as a couple. With that, Lorna uses her powers to force the metal clamps on his suitcase to klik shut. Good luck on his journey, she tells him. And please… if he does find something run toward… don’t let it be Scott. That won’t end well for anyone. With that, Lorna leaves their room.

In the kitchen, Madrox and Layla eat from their respective bowls of ice cream. Suddenly, inspired, Madrox looks up and breaks the silence. Speaking her name inquisitively, Madrox asks, “wanna get married?” Playfully asked if he means to him, Madrox confirms. Then asked when, he replies “right now.” Layla takes another spoonful of ice cream to consider, and then replies, “Yeah, okay.” A moment later the two are gone, not even bothering to put up their bowls or the large tub of ice cream sitting on the counter.

Up in his room, Alex puts on his jacket and then picks up his sunglasses. However, after putting them on and looking in the mirror, he visualizes them as being made of ruby quartz. Taking them off, Alex tosses them onto his now-discarded costume and leaves, suitcase in hand.

Passing by the front desk, Alex is asked by Pip (still looking down at his newspaper) if he’s outta there, to which Alex confirms. Pip makes a quip about Havok leaving on a “light cycle,” but Alex rejoins that he ditched the Tron costume. Happy? Ecstatic, Pip replies. Now he can put it up on eBay. Pip then hands Alex some money from “petty cash” and suggests he grab a cab. Alex asks if he wants to know where he’s always getting money for petty cash, but Pip replies that he’s betting he doesn’t. Returning to his paper, Pip offers a s’long and says it was nice having him around. Incredulous, Alex replies that he didn’t think he gave a damn about him. Pip agrees that he doesn’t, but adds that his girlfriend’s easy on the eyes. He’s got a thing for green girls. When Alex then informs him that she’s not coming with him, Pip replies t’hell with him then, and then returns to his paper.

Before Alex can reply, he hears Lorna calling her name and finds her standing before him in a new costume. When he compliments it, she replies that she’s been working on it for a while. Got tired of having a costume that looked like a throwback to 1968. Ignoring another quip about Alex’s costume from Pip, the two embrace one last time, with Lorna asking him to be careful. After they part, Alex asks if the others are not seeing him off, to which Lorna remarks that they probably didn’t want to get all sentimental. Not even Madrox, Alex asks. He thought he’d be doing a happy dance. Actually, Lorna replies, she hasn’t seen him or Layla since the afternoon. They’re big kids, Alex replies with a smile. They can take care of themselves. As for the rest of the team… he bets they won’t miss him. As Alex walks out the front door, Lorna remarks that she bets he’s right.

Unseen by Alex, on the roof, Monet and Longshot prepare to drop a whole net, filled with water balloons, while Rictor and Shatterstar prepare simply to pour a whole bucket of water on him.

Characters Involved: 

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

Story Notes: 

Rictor and Shatterstar decided to accompany Rahne when she left to search for her son. [X-Factor (1st series) #238] Guido left after being called a “soulless creature” by Monet in #241 and Banshee departed the previous issue after being transformed into the latest Morrigan.

Havok and Banshee encountered the Morrigan in Uster County in X-Factor (1st series) #239.

“Ibn himar” means “son of a donkey” in Arabic, which Monet probably learned growing up in Morocco.

The Hardy Boys series began as a children’s pulp novels in the 1920s, eventually adapted into several TV series and animated series. It depicted young brothers Frank and Joe Hardy, who solved mysteries.

Tron is a science fiction franchise originating from a 1982 film about a computer programmer who is transported into a computer, where programs are given form as people. The outfits these anthropomorphized programs wear is similar to the current costume worn by Havok.

The story being the workmen replacing the front door (and the source of Pip’s “petty cash”) is revealed next issue.

Much to the surprise of all (except Layla), Madrox returned from the dead in X-Factor (!st series) #233.

Polaris’ assessment of Cyclops going “right off the rails” is a subjective assessment of his actions during the Avengers vs. X-Men crossover event.

Pip’s “thing for green girls” most likely refers to Gamora, Adam Warlock’s onetime love interest.

Polaris’ reference to her costume being a “throwback to 1968” most likely refers to its similarity to her original costume, which debuted (like her character) in the late 1960s.

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