X-Factor (1st series) #247

Issue Date: 
January 2013
Story Title: 
Rising Again

Peter David (writer), Leonard Kirk (penciler), Jay Leisten & Ed Taded (inkers), Matt Milla (colorist), VC’s Cory Petit (letterer), David Williams & Dan Brown (cover artists), 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: 

On the first morning of their honeymoon in Las Vegas, Madrox and Layla are visited by an LVPD detective, who informs them that the Abraham Lincoln impersonator who officiated their wedding the previous night was murdered. During the course of their conversation, the detective admits that this is not the first “Lincoln” which has been murdered, and he unofficially asks if they can help. Checking out the scene of the crime, Layla discovers a piece of dead human flesh, which the police missed and which she believes does not belong to the victim. Returning to the hotel room, Layla uses the piece to cast a location spell, leading Madrox to a convention center where a Civil War reenactment is to take place. Searching within, Madrox finds the reanimated corpse of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, who explains that the constant reenactments over the years has summoned him from the grave and that he has dedicated his undead life to punish those who would make light of a horrific conflict in which so many died. At first, Madrox finds that nothing can stop the zombie Lee, until he drops a stage lighting rig on the undead general, whose corpse indeed burns up in the resulting fire. The mystery solved and zombie stopped, Madrox returns to the hotel and to his matrimonial bed with Layla… and a dupe?

Full Summary: 

On a hotel dresser sits a photo of Madrox and Layla’s wedding at the “Heart of Vegas” chapel. Madrox is dressed in a nice tuxedo and Layla a strapless, white wedding dress, with her hair up. However both are overshadowed by the Abraham Lincoln impersonator, who officiated the ceremony. A short distance from the dresser and the photo in general are James and Layla Madrox, who lie asleep on a heart-shaped bed, with an accompanied heart-shaped headboard.

Suddenly, the silence is broken by a knock at the door, after which Madrox is immediately awake and produces a pistol. Asked where he had it, Madrox replies that it was under his pillow. In at least one world, maybe more, Vanora rips them into shreds on their wedding night! It won’t happen here! To this, Layla points out that it’s daylight, so they survived their wedding night… Although it was touch-and-go for a while, she then adds, calling him “you, wild thing.” Also the safety’s still on, plus she doesn’t think Vanora would knock.

From the bed and under his pink sheets, Madrox asks who it is. LVPD, a voice calls out. They’re looking for Mr. and Mrs. Madrox. Sheepishly replying that that’s them, Madrox asks what they did. Nothing, the voice replies, but he might be able to help them with a murder investigation.

A short time later, an LVPD detective examines the Madroxs’ wedding photo as he explains that they were the last people to be married by “the Prez.” Since they checked and saw they were “X-Factor Investigations,” they thought maybe they observed something unusual. Other than being married by Lincoln? Layla quips. To this, Madrox reminds her that he wanted to go with Beyoncé. Smiling slightly, Layla asks for him to excuse her for not wanting to sit through ten minutes of “Put a ring on it.”

Returning to the detective, Madroix asks what happened to him. The detective replies that he was heading to his car. Someone apparently accosted him in the parking lot… and decapitated him. Wide-eyed, Madrox asks if he means they cut his head off, to which Layla replies that that’s what she always understood “decapitated” to mean. Asked by Madrox what was used, the detective reports that, as far as forensics can tell, somebody used a sword. One stroke. Helluva coincidence, a PI being the last person this guy sees. To this, Layla corrects the last person aside from his murderer, he means. Yes, that’s odd. So… how many other Civil War figures have been murdered in this manner, she asks.

Clearly suspicious at the question, the detective approaches Layla, asking how the hell did she know any others had. Smiling slightly, Layla replies that she’s psychic. When the detective replies that that’s bull, Layla asks if he wants her to tell his wife what’s he’s been up to? Taken aback, the detective recoils and sheepishly replies three. Three Lincolns in the past two weeks. Lincoln’s been big this past year. Plus the Elvis Estate’s been cracking down on the impersonators, so… Fortunately, they’ve been able to keep this under wraps. At least for awhile. But their luck won’t last forever.

Considering this, Madrox asks if he’s asking for their help. Officially, the detective begins, if he doesn’t have any useful information, he should finish his honeymoon and take off. Unofficially… well, whatever happens here, stays here. So he’s heard, Madrox retorts as the detective and his accompanying officer close the door behind them. Turning to Layla, Madrox asks if this was her “knowing stuff” again. Forensics wouldn’t get back to them overnight, she explains. The only way they’d have the information is if it was identical to recent, previous murders. And telling this wife…? Madrox asks. Lucky guess, he replies. So… should they get back to where they left off?

A few moments later, Layla can’t help but note that Madrox seems distracted. They’re gonna investigate this case, aren’t they? Pulling his robe tight as he races to get dressed, Madrox notes that it’s “Highlander” with Lincoln. How can they not? Sighing slightly, Layla mumbles “nerts.”

Shortly thereafter, outside of the Heart of Vegas chapel, Madrox and Layla regard the taped outline of the assassinated Lincoln impersonator, as well as the bloodstain where his head had been removed. With them is an employee of the chapel, who asks who would do something like this? It’s like she told the police: Abe didn’t have an enemy in the world. Asked by Madrox if his name was really “Abe,” she confirms it was after he legally changed it. Of course, Madrox replies. They were so lucky to have him marry them, she tells the two, placing her hands on their shoulders. He had a huge success rate. That’s good to know, Layla replies. With that, the woman walks back to the chapel, noting that the phone’s ringing in the office. Probably someone else wanting an appointment. Poor “Beyoncé” is going to be working overtime.

Examining the bloodstain more closely, Madrox supposes it’s not as simple as that Beyoncé wanting the extra work. Replying that she doubts it, Layla adds unless you believe she was jealous of his huge success rate. Considering this, Madrox asks Layla if she thinks them getting married was a mistake. To his surprise, she replies with a “maybe.” He begins to ask why she went through with it, but she beats him to it, explaining that she’d rather make a mistake with him than play it safe with anyone else.

Before Madrox can reply, Layla asks him to check out something she has found a short distance away. Picking it up with tweezers, she shows it to Madrox, telling him that it’s dead, human flesh. When Madrox asks if it’s from the victim, she opines that it’s been dead longer than that. Madrox begins to lament that it’s too bad Longshot’s not there to use his powers on it, but Layla interjects that, though she’s not Doctor Strange, even she can do a locator spell. She needs four blue candles, water, and some myrrh. Considering the last of the group, Madrox asks if she means the same stuff the three wise men brought as a gift to baby Jesus. To this, Layla replies that it wasn’t a gift. What did he think they used to find him? Asked “a star,” Layla tells him not to believe everything he reads.

Sometime later, from their hotel room, Layla’s eyes glow white as she holds her mobile photo to her ear and speaks with “Madrox.” Taken aback at this, Madrox notes that it’s not
“Jamie” or “Honey,” to which Layla replies that it’s business now, playtime later. Sitting in front of a map with lit candles to either side of her, Layla informs him that she’s got a location. Las Vegas Boulevard and East Flamingo Road. Replying that he’s got it, Madrox asks what happens if whoever or whatever they’re tracking goes elsewhere. To this, Layla explains she has a map on her phone. She can follow movement using that. Asked if she’s sure, Layla asks him to trust her. She’s on top of… Owwww!

Concerned over her exclamation, Madrox asks if she’s okay, to which Layla replies “peachy,” though she leaves out that she has tripped over a chair. Nevertheless, she affirms that she’s on her way, but in mid-sentence the door to the room opens and the housekeeping matron accidentally slams the door into Layla’s head. As the housekeeper exclaims in Spanish, the barely conscious Layla remembers her suggesting they get married in Delaware, to which Madrox asks who wants to get married there. Let’s go to Vegas, he said. It’ll be fun, he said.

Speaking to Madrox on the phone again, Layla informs him that they have a problem – God hates her. If she doesn’t lose consciousness, she’ll get there to help him find… Interrupting her, Madrox informs her that he actually has a fairly good idea where to look. In front of him is the Allan Convention Center, hosting a Civil War reenactment, with people in period costumes entering the building. Suddenly considering what his new wife had said, Madrox asks what she meant by “don’t lose consciousness,” but it is too late, as Layla has done just that.

Inside the convention center, as a man dressed as Abraham Lincoln announces to the assembled crowd, Madrox make his way backstage. Passing by a wall with clipboards handling up, he takes one and immediately runs into a security guard, who asks what he’s doing back there. Madrox quickly replies “safety inspector” and presents his clipboard as proof. When it soon becomes clear that it’s not going to work, Madrox uses the clipboard as a weapon, knocking the guard out with one blow. Stepping over the guard, Madrox muses that usually clipboards command more respect than that.

Suddenly, a voice calls out over the radio, asking somebody to go down and check the generals’ dressing room. They’re supposed to be up there. Picking up the radio, Madrox replies with a “Roger that.” The voice on the other end asks if that’s Milton, which Madrox confirms. The voice begins to ask further questions, but Madrox tosses the radio aside, noting to himself that it was a boring conversation anyway. As he approaches the dressing room, he then notes the stench in the hallway. What could be causing… Madrox’s voice trails and his eyes go wide as he finds over half a dozen men in period costume, lying in pools of their own blood. Standing in the midst of the carnage is a man in a Confederate general’s uniform, blood dripping from his saber.

Instinctively, Madrox exclaims “Oh, my God!” Hearing this, the Confederate general replies that God has nothing to do with this abomination, young man. He was there, in the stink and the much and the mire. He saw thousands of good men march to their deaths under his orders. Half of them, they didn’t even know their names. Their bodies, stacked up like cordwood. Their wives and children would wait for years, hoping against hope they’d return. Never knowing… And now people, in the guise of “honoring” the war that set brother against brother… have turned it into a dress-up game. Into a joke. Now moving to face Madrox, the Confederate general shows his undead face and asks if it looks like he’s laughing at the joke.

Producing his own weapon, his pistol, Madrox asks the general who he might be. General Robert E. Lee, the undead general replies. He assumes he heard of him. Well, he’s heard of the Dukes of Hazzard’s car… Madrox replies. Deciding he could use a little help, Madrox stamps his foot, creating a likewise armed dupe, to whom he notes that he nailed the Highlander thing. Seeing this zombie Lee remarks that he must be one of those mutants he’s heard tell of. His return from the dead is their fault! He’d make the whole world as unnatural as they are!

With that, zombie Lee lunges at Madrox and his dupe, both of whom promptly open fire. Boy, talk about pot, kettle, black, the prime Madrox rejoins at Lee. However, Lee is hurt by neither words nor bullets, and asks if they doubt him. They cannot kill the dead! Merging his dupe with himself, Madrox darts up the steps, telling Lee that he thought he’d give it a try. When he then asks zombie Lee how it is the fault of mutants, the general replies that they have no respect for the dead! They die, they come back! As if death is simply a challenge to overcome and not God’s final judgment! It’s blasphemous! One of his kind brought them back by the cartload! Asking if he means Selene, Madrox replies that it’s not like the rest of them signed off on that!

Continuing to give chase to Madrox, zombie Lee adds that every time one of them returns, it rips a hole in the natural order. When Madrox then points out that he is there, zombie Lee rejoins that his resurrection is worthy. Over and over, his greatest loss is played out as a game, as the soul of his brethren cry out in outrage. He’s there on their behalf, not his own.

Reaching the stage level, Madrox rushes out onto stage, where the Lincoln figure announces that Madrox is not in uniform. To this, Madrox announces that he’s gonna love the guy right behind him. A moment later, the zombie General Lee emerges on the stage as well, announcing that there’s another Lincoln impersonator! The man wants him to command the union forces. That was how much he trusted him. And Lee had to turn his back on Lincoln. And how is he portrayed? As a shill for automobiles! As a vampire hunter! They should all be ashamed!

With this, the zombie Lee raises his sword to strike down the fake Lincoln. However, as the blade comes down, Madrox clasps the blade with his gloved hands, holding it in place. Incredulous, the undead Lee announces that Madrox has a death wish, to which Madrox sarcastically asks him to look who’s talking. For what it’s worth, Lee rejoins, he does appreciate the irony of the mixed message. Railing against those who cannot simply allow the dead to stay dead. Replying that he’s glad they’re on the same page as that, Madrox stops his foot a half dozen times, creating a half-dozen dupes, each with their own copy of Lee’s saber. Noting this, zombie Lee asks where the multiple weapons come from, along with the seemingly endless supply of his duplicates. Still working that out, one of the dupes replies. To this, another dupe swings his sword, decapitating the undead General Lee, noting that the South really needs to stop rising again!

However, though without a head, the undead corpse of Robert E. Lee delivers a devastating right cross to the dupe, creating another in the process. Seeing this, the crowd – which had previously thought it was part of the show – begins to panic and make for the nearest exit. As Lee’s torso goes to retrieve his head, Madrox realizes that he’s going to keep coming, as long as he has a body. Fortunately, he believes, there’s a way to take care of that. Raising his pistol at the rafters, Madrox fires at the cables holding up the stage lights. A few moments later, the whole lighting rig crashes down with such force that it almost goes through the stage. The electricity sizzles through the body and the corpse of Robert E. Lee goes up in flames.

Though seemingly happy at his own destructions, the burning zombie Lee informs Madrox that this is not the end. Nature’s seams have been tattered… and the seven billionth ripped it wide! Hell is coming and heaven’s backing out of the way. He’ll be on his own. And he… will… fail… With that, the corpse of Robert E. Lee literally gives up the ghost.

Later, back in their hotel room, Madrox and Layla are once again in bed. Seeing her hold an ice pack to her head, Madrox asks Layla if she’s sure she’s okay. Just a minor headache, she replies. It’s fading fast. She then asks what else did the zombie Lee say? About where he came from? About… Leaning in, Madrox kisses Layla on the check, suggesting that they not worry about it now. Okay, if he’s sure, she smiles. Interrupting the two, a fully clothed dupe sits at the edge of the bed, incredulously asking if they are starting without him.

Characters Involved: 

Butterfly, Multiple Man (both X-Factor)

Zombie of Robert E. Lee

LVPD detective & officer
Heart of Vegas employee
Housekeeping matron
Alan Convention Center security guard
Civil War reenactment attendees

(in photo)
Butterfly, Multiple Man
Abe Lincoln impersonator

Story Notes: 

While technically dead, Madrox visited another reality where his alternate self had just been murdered by Wolfsbane’s daughter, Vanora. [X-Factor (1st series) #228-229]

Beyoncé Knowles’ hit song “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” was released on her third album in 2008.

Highlander is a movie and TV franchise series in which immortal characters are decapitated in an attempt to become “the One.”

Myrrh is an oil used in early history and one of the gifts (along with gold and frankincense), which according to the Bible were brought by the Magi to the baby Jesus.

The housekeeper’s question in Spanish literally translates to “Do you find yourself good?” which is an accurate (though idiosyncratic sounding compared to English) equivalent of asking “Are you okay?”

Although the “Allan Convention Center” is fictional, the roads of Las Vegas Boulevard and East Flamingo Road do intersect, at which location one might find the Bellagio, Bally’s and Caesar’s Palace.

Madrox’s quips that it was a “boring conversation anyway” refers to Han Solo’s musing after his impersonation of an Imperial military officer in the Death Star did not go as well as expected.

In the TV series “The Dukes of Hazzard,” Bo and Luke Duke drover around in a Dodge Charger which they named the General Lee, after the famous Confederate general.

Selene temporarily resurrected millions of mutants during the Necrosha crossover.

“The South shall rise again” was a phrase prophesized by some in the defeated Confederate States following the American Civil War.

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