X-Factor (1st series) #254

Issue Date: 
June 2013
Story Title: 
Hell on Earth War part 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: 

Though the rest of X-Factor has decided to use him as a weapon against the remaining hell lords, Tier has begun to have second thoughts. However, before he can object, Shatterstar teleports the team back to Times Square, which they find in ruins. The team’s next objective is stymied as they decide how to react to Tier’s objections, but the situation is rendered moot when they are suddenly surrounded by a horde of demons. Much to their surprise, the demons are halted by Jezebel, who as the daughter of Mephisto orders them away. She is accompanied by Guido, who carries the apparently unconscious, demonically transformed Madrox. Revealing himself very much conscious, demon Madrox and an army of his dupes suddenly attacks the team. While they occupy the attention of most of the team, Monet directs her attention to Guido. However, in dealing a final blow to him, Monet accidentally opens up a fissure in the earth, into which she and Guido fall. Sometime later, Monet finds herself in a hell realm with Guido. Despite their surroundings, Monet only cares about continuing her conflict with her former friend. Meanwhile, Mephisto continues this assault against the other hell lords, managing to take out Satannish and, after she has taken out Asmodeus, he does the same to Hela.

Full Summary: 

Rahne finds her son standing a short distance from the edge of a cliff, lost in thought. Is he ready to go, she asks him, Polaris seems determined that… Not receiving a reply, she asks what’s wrong. He knows he can tell her…

He knows what she wants him to do, he replies. He knows what she needs him to be. No one except him has the opportunity, or the ability, to kill the hell lords. That’s what they’re expecting him to do. And so he has to do it. No, Rahne replies. No, he’s wrong. First and foremost, she expects him to remain true to himself… in a way that she was never able to. Don’t worry about what Polaris wants, she adds. Just tell her what he wants. Glancing up at his mother over his shoulder, Tier replies “to find another way.” Then that’s what they’re going to do, Rahne tells him. Come on. They should get back and tell the others.

At the ruined cabin, Polaris wonders aloud where the hell did he wander to? They have to get moving… it’s not safe to stay there. Speaking up, Rictor states that he’s still not sure about this. Star already has a busted wing. Do they really know if he’s up for this? Don’t worry about him, Shatterstar tells him. Can they please just get going already? Seeing Rahne and Tier return, Polaris announces “finally” and suggests they get moving. Definitely, Longshot chimes in. They wasted too much time already. The sooner the better, Monet adds.

Before they go, Rahne begins, looking uncertain, they need to discuss… Interrupting, Shatterstar announces it can wait for once they get there. Longshot is right: they spent too much time there already. As his blades begin to glow, Rahne yells for him to wait. They need to listen…! However it’s too late, as Shatterstar’s portal energy generates its aperture. Next stop, New York City, he announces.

Before his mother can say another word, the group vanishes, and reappears seconds later in a section of New York. As near as Tier can tell, it’s part of Times Square. Or at least it was. He’s not sure there are words to describe what it is now. All around them is destruction, the once great intersection now in ruins. This is what happens when hell lords fight, he muses. And there doesn’t seem to be any end to it. At least none that he can see.

Elsewhere in the city, Satannish calls out for minions, summoning them to him. Seeing them approach, he orders them to spread out. At least one of them is in the area. He can smell him. He thinks it may be Mephisto, but he cannot be certain. As Satannish proceeds to lead them, he turns his back on his minions, which immediately begin to lose color and then shape. The various minions then begin to coalesce into a single being. By the time Satannish realizes that they are not responding to his instructions, he turns to find not his minions, but Mephisto, who proceeds to impale him through the abdomen with his tri-blade spear.

Pulling the spear free, taking flesh and blood with it, Mephisto asks what’s wrong? Nothing more to say? No more forbidding declarations? He is his prisoner now. So he supposes he has nothing else to say about the subject. Instead, Mephisto continues, as wiry tentacles begin to drag him into a pit, he will be transported to his new domicile, where he will be kept helpless and chained. Which is as it should be. With that, Mephisto raises his spear and disappears in an explosion of brimstone.

Back in Times Square, Polaris reels at Rahne’s explanation of hers and Tier’s hesitation, asking in a raised voice if she is kidding her. Is she out of her freaking mind? Rahne tries to ask Polaris not to go off on a rant, but Longshot interjects that he thinks that ship’s sailed. Ignoring the jest, Polaris points her finger at Tier, reminding him that they nearly got their heads handed to them the last time and he’s going to… what? Stand aside next the time they get into a fight with a bunch of demonic creatures? Haltingly told that it’s not like that, Polaris interrupts. Then what is it like, pray tell? Because right now, it seems to her that he’s nothing more than a coward who…

Polaris stops midsentence as Rahne tosses her aside, telling her to shut up! Nobody asked her! Rubbing her jaw, Polaris replies that that was a mistake. No, Lorna, Layla interjects as she erects a force field around herself, Rahne and Tier. A mistake would be forcing him down the road he’s not ready to walk. It’s not something Jamie would do if he were there, and she doesn’t think…

Seemingly much calmer, Polaris interrupts, noting that Jamie isn’t there. And if they’re going to survive this, then she thinks they’re going to start improvising. But, hey, nobody stepped up and put her in charge. It’s not like she has to make all the decisions. If someone feels differently, they should say so now. Come on, she encourages everyone as she opens wide her arms. This is a team. Speak up.

For what it’s worth, Darwin interjects, he doesn’t think anyone should have to walk the path of death if they’re not ready to. Neither does he, Longshot affirms. Anybody else care to weigh in, Polaris asks. She means, it’s not like they’re facing the end of the world or anything like that. She’s sure they can just stand around and… Polaris’ words trail as she spies something from the shadows. Terrific, she mutters. Heads up.

From out of the shadows and rubble surrounding them, X-Factor finds it surrounded by a host of demons, out for their blood.

Elsewhere, in an icy desolation, Hela and Asmodeus trade sword blows with each other. Taunting her as “woman,” Asmodeus tells the Norse goddess of death that she has no chance. Strange, she rejoins, that’s exactly what she was going to say to him. Enraged, Asmodeus asks that she dare speak that way to him? The demon lord of all demon lords?! With a swipe of his arm, Asmodeus tosses Hela off of her feet and onto the snowy landscape. This is not the temerity that she should be displaying, he declares, and for this she must be punished… severely!

With that, Asmodeus plunges his sword downward… only to find it impaled in the ground. For a moment, Asmodeus tries to understand what has happened, but the answer comes soon enough. Slashing with her sword from behind him, Hela quips that she believes he was looking for her. Hiding behind a spell so simple that even an amateur should’ve been able to detect it. She’s surprise he did not see it coming. Grinning at her fellow hell lord, who cannot raise himself from the frozen waste, Hela asks if he has nothing to say for himself. So much for the great god Asmodeus.

Hela’s revelry is short-lived, as Mephisto’s spear impales her from behind. Yes, Mephisto smiles, that was rather sloppy of him to lose awareness of his surroundings and leave himself open for a fatal stroke. She, of course, would never do that, would she? Struggling to speak, Hela warns Mephisto that he will not win. She… she swears he…

With a plunge of his spear and a wet SPLUUUTCH, Mephisto ends Hela’s protests. He’s sorry, Mephisto smiles amidst the falling snow. He didn’t quite catch that. Was she saying something? Walking away, leaving his spear in the corpse of Hela which has already begun to discorporate, Mephisto states that he didn’t think so. She should go and await him in the trap that will be holding her at his new abode. There’s a good lass.

In Times Square, Polaris orders the team to get ready. Take them down any way they… Everybody freeze! yells a voice from above. Glancing up, Polaris spots the airborne Jezebel, who addresses not X-Factor but the host of demons. Nobody approach them! she proclaims. Back up! This way, towards her! Seeing their hesitation, Jezebel asks if they know who she is. Do they know what she is capable of doing to them if they should dissatisfy her? That’s it. Right this way. Now, she continues, she wants them to seek out her father. Bring their aid to him wherever he is, for she’s sure he is in need of it. Seeing their lack of action, Jezebel asks why they are standing there? They have their orders. Go. She said go!

A moment after the demons have departed, Jezebel asks if everyone is okay. She got there in time, yes? Maybe, Polaris remarks, or maybe it was just in time to get rid of a bunch of demons she sent after them in the first place. Like she said, Rictor adds, how are they supposed to trust her? They don’t even know who the hell she is. Her name is Jezebel, Guido announces, carrying a body over his shoulder. She’s the daughter of Mephisto… and they better start trusting her ‘cause she’s the one chance they have of getting out of this in one piece.

The first to reply, Layla yells calls out “Jamie!” having recognized his clothes. Before she can go any distance, Layla finds herself held back by Darwin, who tells her that it’s not him. Not exactly… Confused, Layla asks what he’s talking about, but the answer comes before anyone else can reply. The demon-transformed Madrox acts too quickly for Guido to act and escapes his grasp, launching himself at Layla. Acting quickly, however, Layla erects a force field, upon which demon Madrox slams with a guttural, inhuman exclamation. Immediately, a multiple demon Madroxs pop into existence, attacking the rest of the team. From above, Jezebel orders X-Factor to rein them in! They don’t have time for this! They have to get Tier to the front line immediately!

Moving herself between her son and Jezebel, Wolfsbane proclaism that he’s not going to any front lines. Not with her, not with anybody. Cleary confused, Jezebel asks what she’s talking about, earning a “welcome to my world,” from Polaris. Apologizing as she does so, Jezebel tosses Wolfsbane aside with little effort, noting that they simply don’t have time for this. There’s places he has to be, she adds, and this isn’t one of them. Jezebel proceeds to grab Tier by the wrist, but Wolfsbane attacks again, leaping in the air and yelling that she said no! However, once again, Jezebel deals with Wolfsbane, this time with a vision of flame, which seems to burn Tier’s mother alive.

Reiterating that they don’t have time for this, she asks if they think she was kidding. Calling out to Guido, Jezebel asks for a little help. Leaping into the air, his fists clenched for double-blows, Guido replies that he thought she’d never ask. Oh, no he doesn’t Monet yells, flying like a missile at Guido. Making impact, she rockets the two of them straight up. With a snarl, she informs him that she’s been waiting forever to take a real swing at him. Answering Monet’s blows with his own and driving them back to the ground, Guido remarks that he’d hate to think after all that after all that waiting, that this is what it’s gonna amount to!

Nearby, Tier uses the opportunity to flee. However, it does not go unnoticed, as Jezebel takes to wing and dives to grab him. Unfortunately for her, just before she is able to grab hold, Jezebel finds one of Layla’s force fields in her way. Oh, fantastic, she mutters in her realization. What does she think she’s doing? She’s not helping him! She’s just protecting him from what she has to do. She knows, Layla replies, but he’s not willing to do it. So she has to protect him. Unleashing her fiery vision, Jezebel responds that Layla really needs to get her priorities in order.

Nearby, Darwin and Shatterstar make their way to Monet, who is still trading blows with Guido. As they approach, Monet replies that they don’t have anything to worry about. She has him under control. With that, she slams him into the ground, which to her shock begins to crumble under the impact. A moment later, Monet and Guido disappear into the chasm she has created, Darwin yells Monet’s name. As they stop at the edge, peering down into the blackness below, Shatterstar remarks that this is unfortunate.

In the darkness, Monet regains consciousness, slowly at first and then completely. When she mutters “where,” a voice inquires if she really has to ask. As Monet takes in her infernal surroundings, Guido says she thinks it should be kind of obvious. Standing amidst magma eruptions, Guido asks if she wants him to find a way to bring her back upstairs? Or is she still anxious to have a throwdown with…

Oh, yes, indeed, Monet confirms, launching herself again at her former teammate. Landing her first blow, she tells him she doesn’t need his help getting out of there. She’ll do fine on her own, thanks. And when she does, she assures him, it’s going to be without him once and for all!

Characters Involved: 

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

Strong Guy

Asmodeus, Hela, Mephisto, Satannish (all hell lords)
Mephisto’s demons

Story Notes: 

The team has not seen Madrox since he and Jezebel were apparently incinerated by Pluto in #252.

Monet has felt violent animosity to Guido since learning he had been resurrected by Layla without a soul. [X-Factor (1st series) #219, 233]

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