X-Factor (1st series) #248

Issue Date: 
February 2013
Story Title: 
Being Monet St. Croix

Peter David (writer), Paul Davidson (artist), Rachelle Rosenberg (colorist), VC’s Cory Petit (letterer), David Williams & Jay David Ramos (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: 

Though he was shot in the head, Pip the Troll lives, though he is no longer in his own body. Instead, as part of a backup plan, he has transported his mind in to the body of Monet. Unfortunately for him, Monet’s mind still remains somewhere within, preventing his more perverted nature from taking over. Instead, Pip goes downstairs to explain to the rest of the team what has happened. At first they find the situation humorous, but sober to its severity soon enough and come up with a plan. After recovering the bullet which shot through Pip’s body, they use Longshot’s psyhometry powers in conjunction with Shatterstar’s teleportation ability to transport the team to where Vera, the lady who shot Pip, loaded her gun. They arrive at the New York Botanical Gardens, where they are confronted by demonic forces, including Vera, who declares to them that “X-Factor will fall.” Meanwhile, Madrox and Layla return to New York from their honeymoon. However, instead of being taken home, they are driven to the botanical gardens by a demon posing as a taxi driver. Before expiring, the driver notes that “X-Factor will fall,” and wanted the whole team together when it happened.

Full Summary: 

In a room with metal walls and ceiling, Pip the Troll is brought back to the land of the conscious by someone calling his name. Opening his eyes, Pip exclaims “Holy hell!!!” The inhuman voice reiterates that it’s time, to which Pip replies for what? For him to be dead? No way is he going through that again! Informed that he has no choice, Pip disagrees, noting that he’s got backups this time. To this, the voice reminds Pip that he was shot in the head. There are no backups for that. And there are no backups… for Thanos… and his lover… death.

Thanos orders Pip to his feet, so that he may stand up to his fate. He should be honored that he and Death have come for him personally... Defiantly, Pip replies that they haven’t. This is a dream. This is brain synapses firing before he makes the jump. They’re not really there. Incredulous, Thanos asks the troll to prove it. A moment later, Pip delivers a blow to Thanos’ crotch and darts away at top speed. Despite his escape, Lady Death calls out to him, telling him to come back. He cannot escape her. He can never escape her! Disagreeing, Pip counters that he did it before, and he can do it again. So they can take this whole “Time Bandits” riff and shove it right up their…

Pip’s words trail as a stab of the flood gives way beneath him, dropping him into a vast chamber below.

Suddenly, Pip finds himself in a bedroom, back in what seems to be the real world. It feels real, he thinks. Then again, so did that whole weird… Where the hell is he, anyway, he wonders. Vera, he then remembers. That cow… she shot him. When he gets his hands on… Suddenly, Pip realizes that his voice sounds weird. How come it sounds so weird? And he’s taller! Telling himself to keep it together, Pip goes to a mirror to see what’s going on… only to find the reflection of Monet St. Croix’s astonished face looking back.

Reeling at his apparent situation Pip tries to understand how this happened, but then remembers. He begins to go downstairs, but a thought suddenly occurs to him. Unzipping the front of his/her costume to reveal Monet’s ample bosom, he realizes he might as well check out the… Suddenly, Pip slaps himself, stopping him from proceeding any further. Okay, okay, he says aloud. He gets the message. Sheesh.

Below in the morgue room, Pip’s true body lies on a slab, with Polaris, Shatterstar, Longshot and Rictor looking over it. When Rictor asks why they aren’t getting him to a hospital, Polaris explains that a bullet went through his head. Rictor begins to voice that that’s a good reason, but Polaris points out that he’s still breathing. Does he seriously think New York-Presbyterian is prepared to treat someone who’s breathing with a hole in his head? It does seem unlikely, Shatterstar agrees.

When Rictor asks what’s the alternative, Longshot voices that they could use Monet to probe his mind. If he’s in there, she’ll find him. Her telepathy is quite dependable, as he knows. As does she, Polaris affirms. She then asks someone to rustle up Monet, fast, only to find her already present. However, Monet remarks that that might be a little tougher than they think. Noting something is amiss, Polaris asks what’s wrong, but Monet ignores her, instead announcing that they need the bullet. Receiving confused responses, Pip the Monet explains that he/she means the bullet which went through his head.

Though Rictor and Polaris find his hilarious, Shatterstar remarks that he doesn’t. He notes that, obviously, Pip has transferred his mind into Monet’s body. He doubts he did it with her permission. This is a psychic violation of the most intimate variety. How do they find the humor in that? Duly chastised, both Polaris and Rictor apologize and then promptly demand “what the hell” from Pip. As Monet, Pip explains that they know how he can transport his body; in this case his mind jumped without his body… and since M here is a psychic, that was the natural landing point until he could climb back into his own body.

Incredulous, Polaris reminds Pip the Monet that the bullet went through his brain. However, Pip the Monet equally incredulously asks why they all assume that he’s got all his parts in the same place as they do. Asked by Shatterstar that his brain isn’t in his head, Pip confirms that it is not. What is? he asks.

A few moments later, Longshot reenters the room, holding the bullet in his hand. Got lucky, he announces. He found the bullet, though he had to pry it out of the sidewalk. As the group breaks out into laughter, Longshot remarks that he doesn’t see how this is funny, to which Rictor explains that Pip got shot in the head… and all it did was give him an appendectomy! Stunned, Longshot asks where his brain is and is told it’s in his chest.

Not finding any of the situation funny at the moment, Pip the Monet remarks that it’s conjoined with his heart, like all of his race, the Laxidazians. Half the time when humans land in trouble, it’s ‘cause their heart and head can’t get together on what t’do. Say what they will about them, but they don’t go to war. Their brain and heart work together so that they love partying, creativity and each other. So until they can top that, keep their snickering and opinions to themselves. Considering this, Shatterstar whispers into Rictor’s ear, asking if he isn’t starting to sound like… Ooooh yeah, Rictor grins.

Elsewhere, as they exit the JFK terminal, Madrox asks Layla uf they should tell them. Well, they kind of have to, wouldn’t he say? Layla rejoins. They did kind of just disappear on them. Yeah, Madrox agrees, but he called and left a message that they were just getting away for a while, so they wouldn’t worry. A short distance away, a cab driver calls out, asking if he needs a taxi. As they both get in, Madrox asks Layla if they have any reason not to tell them. She doesn’t think so, Layla replies. What does he think? When Madrox seems stunned at her question, she asks him what’s wrong. He’s just not used to her asking him what he thinks, he replies. Madrox then tells the driver to go to 23rd and Seventh in the city. Behind the wheel, the driver smiles ever so slightly. His unseen eyes glowing, he tells them not to worry. He knows a great shortcut.

Back at X-Factor HQ, Pip the Monet grows frustrated, not understanding why it’s not working. Still holding the bullet Longshot had found, he/she explains that it should let him transport himself straight to the bint that said “X-Factor will fall” and shot her. So why…? Interrupting Pip with a slap, Polaris reminds Pip that he’s not in his own body, and suggests that he climb back into his own body and take them to the per. Much to Polaris’ surprise, Pip backhands her right back. Polaris asks what that was for, but Pip replies that it actually wasn’t him. That was Monet. She’s still rattlin’ around in there. Ain;t happy with her right now. Asked by Rictor why he doesn’t just vacate the premises and “re-body” himself, Pip replies that his body ain’t had enough time to heal yet. That’s just great, he replies.

Stepping forward, Longshot tells Pip that it’s all right. He can do this. Taking the bullet, Longshot announces that he can see her loading the gun. And where. Turning to Shatterstar, Polaris asks, if she’s understanding his power correcting, he can bring them to wherever Longshot’s picturing in his head, right? Correct, he replies. Nearby, Rictor confirm, noting that it’s because they have a “relationship” – which he emphasizes with air quotes. He’s starting to wonder if there’s anyone around there he doesn’t have a “relationship” with. “Me,” Polaris announces, only to have Shatterstar lean in close and note “Day’s not over yet.”

Ignoring him, Polaris tells everyone to listen up. Wherever Shatterstar is going to take them to, they have to assume the worst. That Vera is part of a larger group that’s targeted them. That they’re pure evil. Maybe they’re behind a lot of what’s going on lately. Wherever they’re going… they have to be prepared for the worse and ready to come out fighting.

In short order, the team emerges from Shatterstar’s luminous “X” portal, only to find themselves in the middle of dense foliage. Shatterstar immediately attempts to attack it with both sets of twin blades, but Polaris and Rictor order him to calm down. Yes, he sees the problem, Shatterstar notes. Although in his defense, some of the shrubbery looked threatened. Where are they anyway?

Much to his annoyance, Madrox finds that their cab has stopped outside of the New York Botanical Garden. Cursing the driver’s supposed “short-cut,” Madrox tells the driver that they’re in the Bronx! Calling the driver “Ben Hur,” Madrox tells him to turn the chariot around. Rather than turn around the taxi, the driver turns his head, showing his glowing eyes. “X-Factor will fall,” he announces. And since the rest of them are there… it seems only reasonably they should all fall together.

Madrox decides it’s time to get “less affectionate,” but Layla tells him to hold on. Regarding the glowing sensor on her gauntlet, Layla notes that she’s not getting affectionate… she’s getting them out. A moment later, Layla’s gauntlet has generated a forcefield which she expands, rupturing the taxi from within. Spying the driver among the rubble, Madrox grabs a hold of him and, calling him a “Visine-challenged” piece of crap, asks who order him to bring them there. Tell him or he’ll stick his hand in his mouth and shove a dupe down his throat. Looking more demonic than ever, the driver replies “the Warders,” which Madrox mistakes to mean “waters.” Like… muddy waters? Madrox asks. War-ders, the driver snarls. With a “D,” you idiot.

Standing nearby, Layla explains that the Warders are a race of third-ranked demons, who supposedly pave the way for the end of the world and then keep watch… guarding against anyone who might stop it. Smirking at the explanation, Madrox quips that she’s just a little Witch-apedia, isn’t she? At Madrox’s feet, the driver snarls that Madrox killed one of their kind in Kansas. He owes them a debt and, in the end times, he will be the first to fall. He, and then his teammates in there…

Having had enough, Madrox kicks the demon driver in the mouth and walks to the garden’s entrance. Following him, Layla notes that that wasn’t very productive, to which Madrox agrees, though it was damn satisfying. Asked if he realizes they are walking into a trap, Madrox tells her to bring it on. Is she coming? Taking his hand in hers, Layla reminds him until death do them part. Not a lot of room for negotiation.

Within the garden, the rest of X-Factor sees a giant reflecting pool boiling. Polaris asks Longshot if he’s sure he brought them to the right place. Pretty sure, he replies, as he sees numerous heavily armed men appear out of nowhere. Ignoring them all but one, Pip the Monet points out to Vera, saying that she was the one. Calling his name, Vera sarcastically notes that he’s trading up, she sees. Won’t do him any good. And Shattershot… that was her sister he beheaded in Kansas. To this, Shatterstar bares his blades and tells the “hellspawn” to get ready to join her.

In the midst of the posturing, Longshot asks if he’s the only one wondering why steam is coming out of the water. Wonder no more, Vera replies, as her eyes begin to glow red. Hell on Earth is coming, she tells X-Factor… and they’re going to fall right into it. Right before the team, a miniature volcano erupts from beneath the water, spewing hellish black smoke into the night sky.

Characters Involved: 

Butterfly, Longshot, M II, Multiple Man, Polaris, Rictor, Shatterstar (both X-Factor)
Pip the Troll (in Monet’s body)

Demon cab driver
Airport patrons & staff

(in Pip’s mind)
Pip the Troll
Death (embodiment)

Story Notes: 

The title is probably a play on the movie “Being John Malkovitch”.
Pip indeed is not human and is from the planet of Laxidazia in the Dolenz System in the Milky Way Galaxy.

The New York Botanical Garden is indeed located in the Bronx.

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