X-Factor (1st series) #261

Issue Date: 
October 2013
Story Title: 
The End of X-Factor part 5

Peter David (writer), Neil Edwards (penciler), Jay Leisten (inker), Matt Milla (colorist), VC’s Cory Petit (letterer), David Yardin (cover artist), Jordan D. White (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 fall of Mephisto and the scattering of the team by Guido, Darwin has gone to Las Vegas to search for Hela, the Norse goddess of death, and make her return him to what he was before. However, the warehouse to which he tracks her turns out just to be a stolen car chop shop. After dealing with the gang, Darwin is found by Monet, who has come to Las Vegas looking for other members of X-Factor. After a bout of violence, brought on by mutual distrust of their recent histories, the two go to a lounge bar to catch up. There, Darwin finally confesses his love for Monet, causing her to call him an idiot and storm out. Rejected, Darwin himself leaves, only to find Monet outside waiting for him. She kisses him, explaining that she has not felt anything since her return from being dead and asks him to make her feel anything. The next morning, as Monet sleeps in their hotel room, Darwin is visited by Hela, who has heard that Darwin has been looking for her. To her surprise, Darwin informs her that he is happy how he is. After Hela departs, Darwin decides to accept what happiness he can when he can and spoons Monet, who smiles to herself as he does so.

Full Summary: 

Night in Las Vegas, away from the light-filled Strip, the mutant called Darwin approaches an array of rundown buildings in the warehouse district. One, which seems like any other warehouse, is more than it seems. He knows it purports to be a secret gathering place for the city’s elite to party down. But what it is… what it really is… is a place where Hela, the Norse queen of death, her Viking companions reside. They reside there… party there. And, oh, ruined his life there. Now he evens the score.

With a powerful kick, Darwin kicks in the door and steps inside, his massive rifle already drawn. Nobody move! he yells. However, much to Darwin’s surprise, inside he finds not Hela, but a stolen car ring.

Undeterred, Darwin yells for Hela, exclaiming that he knows she’s hiding there somewhere! When his only response is handguns pointed at him by the criminals within, Darwin begins to reconsider and sheepishly suggests that the whole thing is just a big mistake. Yeah, yours, one of the men replies. A moment later, he and his companion open fire on Darwin. The slugs pass through Darwin, knocking him off his feet and onto his back. As Darwin’s apparent corpse begins to smolder, emitting thick, black smoke, the car ring gang begin to gather around.

Is he dead? one asks. Of course, another replies. They put a hundred bullets in him… The man’s words trail as they both, in disbelief, watch the intruder stirs and then rises to his feet. Jello-O? Really? Darwin thinks to himself as he regards his latest automatic mutation. He can’t turn into a man of steel, he silently bemoans; he becomes a man of Jell-O. This is the unfortunate lot of a man named Darwin, who evolves to survive.

Though shocked, the men of the gang keep their weapons raised and order Darwin to put his hands above his head. When Darwin responds that he doubts he’ll be doing that, the man replies that he doesn’t get a vote. He doesn’t get… The man’s words trail as he sees Darwin’s eyes begin to glow. No, Darwin tells the man, he doesn’t get a vote. This isn’t about them at all. It’s about him, and Hela. She changed him, made him into a harbinger of death. Not his most favorite status in the world. And he’s there looking for her because he wants her to change him back. He wants her to make him feel, for lack of a better word, human again. He thought she was there, but he was wrong. Instead they’re there cutting up cars.

Before the gang can respond, Darwin changes subjects. They are to go to the police and turn themselves in. Or he’ll kill them. Go now. Despite his order, the gang remains unmoving, resulting in Darwin urging them more emphatically. NOW! Yelling as they do so, the entire gang of half-dozen men run screaming from the warehouse and into the night. Darwin follows them to the door and watches as they flee. As he does so, a voice from above greets him with a “well, well.” Looking up, he spies Monet, standing on the warehouse’s roof. Very impressive, she tells him.

In disbelief, Darwin inquisitively speaks Monet’s name, which she whimsically confirms. Flying down to the ground, she asks him if he has anything to say. When he doesn’t reply, she begins to repeat the question, only to be knocked back by a powerful left hook. What is she? Darwin demands.

Quickly, Monet recovers, yelling if Darwin is out of his mind. With that, she launches herself at Darwin, propelling him skyward. Again, he asks what is she? Shape-shifter? Zombie? What? In response, Monet belts Darwin, asking if her blow feels like a zombie to him?! Forcibly, Darwin lands on the ground, bouncing several times before coming to a stop. Don’t screw with him! Darwin yells. Monet’s dead!

Obviously not, Monet rejoins, as she lands next to him. Asked how, Monet explains that Guido brought her back. Happy? When Darwin inquisitively repeats Guido’s name, she confirms, adding that he’s the king of hell. So now, she’s what? Darwin responds. She’s some soulless thing spat up from the depths of perdition? For a moment, Monet considers how to respond, finally settling on “bite me.” With that, she walks away.

Wait, Darwin says, softly at first. Monet, wait!! Briefly, Monet pauses as Darwin tries to catch up to her. What is she doing there? Did she just wind up there? Why does he care? She asks back. Isn’t he just worried that she’s just some thing that hell spat up? Yes, frankly, he replies. Yes, he is, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be… Be what? Monet asks. Civil, he replies. For a moment, Monet takes a moment to consider Darwin’s reply, her face scrunched up as if in deep thought. A moment later, she breaks out in mocking laughter. Calling him a moron, she turns around and waves him on. C’mon, she tells him. She’ll buy him a drink.

As they depart, a green swirl of energy coalesces within the warehouse. The energy grows ever brighter and larger until it becomes the form of Hela, the Norse goddess of death, and her undead henchmen. Find him, she orders.

In a night club, Darwin and Monet sit at a small table, their discussion tuning out the lounge singer’s rendition of the theme song to the Love Boat. Tunisia? Monet asks inquisitively. He came to in Tunisia? Had a hell of a time getting out, he confirms. She’d think so, Monet replies. Asked where she came out, Monet answers New York City. Everything was normal. People going on about their business. No one had the slightest idea that a war had been fought. She went back to their HQ, though, and that was still nothing but rubble. No sign of anyone around. She waited there for two days. No one showed up.

Asked that she then came there to Las Vegas, Monet confirms. Asked why, Monet counters with a “why not?” Any one of a dozen reasons, Darwin counters. Because, Monet explains, aside from Manhattan, for whatever reason, Vegas is where they seemed to spend the most time. So she thought maybe she could find someone there, which she obviously did. Kind of.

When Darwin repeats “kind of,” Monet explains that she’s not sure who he is anymore. She means, he spent months trying to track down a kid so he could kill him. What was up with that? He had a vision, Darwin explains, that he would bring about the end of the world. He was… misled. Gee, Monet mocks, he thinks? Snapping her fingers, Monet calls to the waitress to bring her another bottle of beer.

More than misled, Darwin explains. He was somewhat possessed. He wasn’t himself. He hasn’t been himself for a while. Yeah, Monet asks, and who is he? Who is she? he rejoins. She never told him. Guido brought her back from the dead? Told “yeah,” Darwin asks what happened in the meantime. Seeing she doesn’t understand, Darwin clarifies: she was dead. What happened? Where did she go?

Heaven, I’m in heaven,”  the lounge singer croons inopportunely. Incensed, Monet is at the singer’s side in a moment and orders him to shut up! There’s no heaven, okay? There’s no nothing! Presenting first a fist and then an accusatory finger, she tells the shocked singer that she knows because she didn’t see anything! That’s what’s waiting for him when he dies! The emptiness of nothing! No angels! Just blackness and eternity, unless he’s lucky enough to wind up in hell so he can suffer forever! He got that?

Suddenly, Monet finds a massive hand places on her shoulder from an equally massive bouncer, telling her to “siddown.” To his surprise and pain, Monet grabs the bouncer’s hand with hers and squeezes until he yells aloud. Say goodbye to his hand, she tells him. Let him go, Monet, Darwin tells her. Or what? Monet asks. What’s he gonna do? Hunt her down? Try to kill her? That’s what he does, right? He would never do that to her, Darwin replies, tenderly. Asked how does she know that, Darwin replies that he loves her. He always has. From the first moment he saw her. He… never had the nerve to tell her before he… changed. And now it’s probably too late. But… there it is.

Silently, Darwin smiles slightly and places his arm around Monet, who at first is too shocked to reply. Finally gaining her thoughts, she declares him an idiot and begins to walk away. A total and complete idiot. Darwin watches in silence as Monet goes to the door and can only close his eyes in rejection once she is gone.

Now very much alone, Darwin leaves himself. However, a short distance from the club’s front door, a powerful hand grabs him by the collar and he is soon pushed up against an outdoor tree. To his shock, he finds that it is Monet and he sheepishly asks if they are fighting. To the contrary, Monet pulls his lips to her and kisses him. Breaking the kiss but not pulling away, she tells him that, since she got back, she’s felt nothing. Nothing. She wants to feel something. Anything. Can he do that for her? When he replies that he’s not sure, Monet replies “close enough” and brings him back in for another kiss.

As the sun rises the next morning at the Hatt hotel & residence, Darwin lies in bed with Monet, who is still sound asleep. Despite being in bed, Darwin silently bemoans that he doesn’t sleep at night anymore and not during the day much either. He also notes that Monet snores, which is something he never thought she’d do. She doesn’t love him, he thinks. He knows that. Right now she doesn’t… couldn’t… love anyone. But maybe…

Well, well… A spectral voice interrupts. Sitting up in the bed, Darwin takes in the coalescing form of Hela. Is this a bad time, she asks him. She understands he was looking for her. No, he replies. She heard wrong. Her understanding, Hela continues, is that he was quite strident in… Everything’s fine, Darwin interrupts. He’s happy the way that he is. He wouldn’t change a thing.

For a long moment, Hela regards Darwin. Eventually, she replies “my mistake” and disappears into the shadows, leaving him along with the still-slumbering Monet. Lying back down, Darwin turns with his back away from Monet. However, a moment later, she changes positions, draping his arm around her. Monet wakes just enough from the spooning to offer a silent smile which she keeps to herself.

Characters Involved: 

Darwin, Monet

Hela’s minions

Car ring gang

Lounge singer
Lounge bouncer, patrons & staff

Story Notes: 

The war to which Monet is referring is the Hell on Earth War. [X-Factor (1st series) #250-256]

X-Factor’s HQ was destroyed in X-Factor (1st series) #250.

X-Factor first came to Las Vegas to located Pip the Troll, who had been kidnapped by Hela. [X-Factor (1st series) #209-213]

Though Monet’s obviously did not accompany them, Madrox and Layla spent their honeymoon there in #247.

“Heaven, I’m in heaven” are the first lyrics from Irving Berlin’s song “Cheek to Cheek,” made famous in the 1935 Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers movie “Top Hat.”

“Hatt hotel & residence” seems to be a fictional lodging establishment, though it is possibly meant to be a fictional version of “Hyatt” chain of hotels.

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