X-Factor (1st series) #256

Issue Date: 
July 2013
Story Title: 
Hell on Earth War finale

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: 

At the castle fortress of Mephisto, his place of rule on Earth, an army of demon Madrox dupes are led by Polaris and Jezebel. While the army attacks the front, Tier and the rest of X-Factor sneak in the fortress unseen. Before their presence is known, Tier kills the mortal bodies of the other hell lords, whom Mephisto had been keeping prisoner. With Mephisto’s possible allies now dispatched, Tier and X-Factor converge on the remaining hell lord’s throne room, just as Polaris and her army have arrived. At first the team and army seem outmatched, but to their and Mephisto’s surprise, Tier once again gives way to berserker fury and seems about to kill the last hell lord. However, much to everyone’s horror, Tier is speared in the back by Guido, who declares himself the winner of the contest. Wolfsbane is enraged by the murder of her son by her former teammate, but it is too late. Bestowed by the powers given to the winner, Guido destroys the castle fortress and restores the world to its status just before the war began. As a final act, Guido uses his powers to restore Monet to life, but angrily orders her to get out before settling into his hellish throne, on which he begins to brood.

Full Summary: 

Somewhere on Earth sits Mephisto’s castle fortress, the place from which he intends to rule the mortal plane. Manning the ramparts of the wall are hosts of demon soldiers, wielding bows, arrows and tri-bladed spears. All of these weapons these sentries bring to bear as Polaris of X-Factor walks up the winding road to the front gates. With tears in her eyes, Polaris reaches out with weapons of her own – those of her mutant magnetic powers – and tells those “sons of bitches” that this is for Monet. A moment later, the entire façade of the front gate explodes in magnetic fury, crumbling into rubble.

Sitting on his throne within, Mephisto proclaims to his guards that it is doubtless X-Factor announcing their arrival. He then orders them to get out there and greet them accordingly. Turning to his captive Satana, who stands manacled and bound by the neck some distance away, Mephisto tells her that she might still be of use to him, assuming her offer is still open. He knows it is, Satana replies. She would do anything to help him. He very much doubts that, Mephisto rejoins. However, she would do anything to help herself… and so here is her opportunity.

Raising his hand, Mephisto projects a beam which disintegrates Satana’s bonds. Does she know the room where he has the other hell lords imprisoned? he asks her. Told that she does, Mephisto orders her to go and tell them that he is looking for allies against X-Factor. Anyone who pledges themselves to him, he will release from imprisonment so that they can aid him. With wide-eyed astonishment, Satana replies that he can’t be serious. Does he look serous? Mephisto asks, his demeanor showing no sign of levity. All right, Satana replies, turning to do her new master’s bidding. She’s on it.

Outside, at what was once the front gate of the castle, Mephisto’s creatures come charging out en masse. Awaiting them is Polaris, accompanied by a virtual army of demonic Madroxes out for blood and under the command of Jezebel. Without delay, the battle is joined, though most of X-Factor’s group is missing from the fray.

In the dungeons of the castle, Satana bursts into the dungeon, proclaiming to the imprisoned lords of hell that she brings news. However, to her horror, Satana finds only the bloodied remains of Pluto, Asmodeus, Hela & Satannish. They’re dead, she stammers. What the hell happened there? “I did!” Tier proclaims, slashing at Satana’s back with his claws. Though startled, Satana manages to respond with a demonic blast but Tier easily evades it. Accompanied by Darwin, Shatterstar, Longshot and Rictor, Wolfsbane tries to warn her son to back away from Satana, but it’s not use. Tier cannot hear them and leaps at the hell lord. With a slash of his claws, the encounter has ended, as well as Satana’s corporeal form. Blood dripping from his lips, Tier speaks the name of Mephisto. He is next. And then it’s over.

Back at the front entrance, Polaris, Jezebel and the army of demon Madroxes erupt into the throne room. Seeing Jezebel at the vanguard, Mephisto mocks that his own child leads the charge against him. To think that his triumph would come on so dark a day. Already airborne, Jezebel manages to dodge a blast from her father, though in doing so condemns several demon Madrox dupes to annihilation. Hardly the time for him to start getting sentimental, Jezebel replies. And he hasn’t truly won yet. That, my dear, Mephisto counters as he obliterates more dupes, is merely a matter of time. There is no point in delaying the inevitable.

Some distance away from the castle, the prime demon Madrox is on the ground, clutching his chest in visible pain. Leaning down to him, Layla asks if he lost more of his dupes. Calling him Jamie, she tells him she knows how hard this must be on him, but if he… Suddenly, demon Madrox lashes out at Layla and then takes advantage of her surprise by feeling. Unfortunately for what was once Jamie Madrox, he promptly finds himself within one of Layla’s forcefield domes and runs into its side. She’s sorry, Layla tells Madrox, but he’s the original and he’s not going anywhere. Not ‘til this is all over. And what’s frightening is… even she’s not sure how this ends.

Inside the castle, Tier leads his group of X-Factor up a winding staircase, dispatching armed demon soldiers along the way. Suddenly, the stairwell ends and opens up into Mephisto’s throne room, where they find the hell lord in personal battle against Polaris. Well, well, Mephisto smiles, he sees the young one has finally decided to take his place in the midst of battle. What a crying shame… that will not be happening anytime soon. With a gesture, Mephisto conjures arcing flames, which surround Tier in a spherical prison. As Wolfsbane looks on in horror, Mephisto supposes aloud that Tier has sent his competition back to the hells from whence they came. He believes that he will find that he will not be so easily disposed of.

Reacting first, Shatterstar launches himself and the extended twin blades of his right arm at Mephisto, yelling for his teammates to free him while he attends to Mephisto. However, before he can bridge the gap between him and his foe, Mephisto calmly raises his arm and with a deafening FWOOM blasts Shatterstar into ashes. Dumbfounded, the rest of X-Factor looks on in silent disbelief. Next? Mephisto quips. Come now. Don’t be shy. Incensed, Rictor curses at Mephisto, announcing that he’ll kill him himself. Will he now? Mephisto asks, just before he too annihilates Rictor without a trace. This is getting boring, Mephisto voices. Far, far too simple.

A short distance away, Tier finds the flame-sphere in which he is imprisoned almost too much to bear. The flame, so intense, he thinks. Even still, though, he refuses to give up, knowing that he has to keep pushing. However, when Tier sees Mephisto turn his attention next to his mother, Tier suddenly finds the strength he needs. Driven berserk and knowing he has seconds before his mother is blasted from existence, Tier pushes himself through the flame bars of his prison. Though the infernal flames nearly incinerate him, he doesn’t even feel it. All he knows is that his mother is in danger… and he’ll be damned if he’s held back from helping her. Before Mephisto can realize what is happening, he finds Tier already upon him. In his hand, Mephisto coalesces his demon fire into his tri-bladed spear, but he is too late. Tier launches himself at the hell lord, tackling him off of his feet.

From the floor of the throne room, Polaris orders the rest of the team to form ranks and take the demons. They must not let them help Mephisto.

Up on the throne’s dais, Tier and Mephisto grapple, but it is no contest. As Tier wrests his spear from him and tosses it aside, Mephisto curses, proclaiming that it’s not possible. He’s a child! He was, Tier rejoins, raking Mephisto across the face with his claws and then following it with slash upon slash upon slash. In another life, maybe he could have lived as an innocent. But his kind took care of that. And now… now the rules of their game will finally be taken care of! Finally the Hell on Earth War will be… over?

Tier’s words trail as suddenly looks down toward his chest. Oh, well… that’s… that not… right… As Tier weakly collapses, Mephisto whispers “no,” having seen the cause of his salvation. Before Mephisto stands Guido, holding Mephisto’s discarded tri-bladed spear, on the end of which is the corpse of Tier. Yeah, ‘fraid so, Guido replies. Whoever kills Tier wins. He guesses he won.

Guido! Ye BASTARD! the grief-stricken Wolfsbane yells. Seeing her race up the steps to the dais, Guido tells her to shut up. She doesn’t know anything. She… Guido stops in midsentence as Tier’s corpse begins to glow on the end of the spear. Still on the floor from his mauling, Mephisto proclaims what he’s seeing is impossible. He’s no one! He’s… Mephisto’s words disintegrate, as does the flesh off of his bones, and then his bones themselves. Regarding the ashes which were the hell lord mere moments ago, Guido counters that he’s wrong. He’s the guy in charge. And they’re gonna be doin’ things his way from now on! Though the corpse of Tier dissipates, the light that was from within him does not, and it begins to respond to Guido’s command.

From her position outside, Layla can tell that the fighting’s stopped, but she’s not sure if that’s bad or… What the hell? Suddenly, the entire castle fortress collapses in on itself and, a moment later, Layla finds herself on the ground. As she makes her way to her feet, she sees that the hellish day from a moment before has given way to night. More astonishing, however, is that she’s standing on the roof of a building, in a completely restored New York City. Scanning the cityscape, she mutters to herself that it’s gone. They’re gone. The castle… Jamie… Everyone. She’s spent most of her life knowing stuff, so she’s picked a hell of a time to be clueless.

Elsewhere, the corpse of Monet St. Croix lies inert. However, after a massive hand with claw-like fingernails touches her forehead, the corpse begins to stir with life. Monet struggles to take in where she is, but the answer is given to her. She’s in hell. Recognizing the source of the voice, Monet quickly rises to her feet and asks what was done to her. Told that her life was saved, Monet is dubious. He saved her life, the voice reiterates. All he had to do was kill a kid and become the king of hell, at which point he had the power to bring her back to life. But hey, no trouble when you don’t have a soul, right?

Stammering her response, Monet voices that she doesn’t understand. He’s the… King of Hell, Guido replies from his infernal throne. Yeah, and he did this to save her. And now here’s his first order. Get out. Still struggling to understand, Monet searches for a way to reply, however Guido only more forcefully reiterates his order. GET OUTTTTTT! he yells through a mouth with inhuman teeth, accompanied by pointed ears and demonic, red eyes.

No needing to hear it a third time, Monet takes to the air, leaving behind Guido the hell lord, who sits and broods on his throne.

Characters Involved: 

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


Strong Guy

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

Story Notes: 

Finale of the Hell on Earth War storyline.

Though not revealed until next issue, Mephisto’s fortress (and where Layla finds herself after the war is over) is in Marrakesh, Morocco.

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