X-Factor (1st series) #262

Issue Date: 
November 2013
Story Title: 
The End of X-Factor part 6

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: 

Having made it back to the Madrox family farm, Layla Madrox keeps her husband, who has been transformed into a demonic version of himself, chained in the cellar of the barn. Very much alone, she is still reeling at the discovery that she is pregnant when she is suddenly visited by the spectral form of Damian Tryp the Elder Bitterly, Tryp explains that he does not have much time left, as his double from a parallel dimension is about to rid reality of him. However, before he goes, he intends to exact his final revenge by summoning local authorities to the farm to arrest Layla as a trespasser and imprison the creature her husband has become. His warning delivered, Tryp disappears in a flash of light, seemingly in agony as he departs. Following Tryp’s departure, Layla goes to check on her Madrox. To her surprise, he breaks free of his chain and quickly overpowers her. However, to her equal surprise, he immediately backs off when she announces to him that she’s pregnant, after which he returns to the barn cellar. In the darkness of the cellar, the demon that was once Madrox begins to pray. As Layla begins to digest what Madrox’s actions mean, the police arrive, as Tryp warned. Accompanied by a “man in black” with high tech weaponry, the police begin to arrest Layla as a trespasser but are prevented by the Morrigan, the divine being that was once Theresa Cassidy and who has been summoned by the prayers of Madrox. The situation is then ultimately diffused by Madrox, who has had his humanity restored by the Morrigan. Once the police are satisfied and depart, much to the annoyance of the mysterious man in black, the Morrigan informs Madrox and Layla of the location of all of their teammates. However, when she asks if he would like for her to bring everyone together to reform X-Factor, Madrox and Layla agree that they plan to stay on the farm and raise their child, leaving the responsibility of saving the world to others. They’re done.

Full Summary: 

Kneeling on the bathroom of the farmhouse of the Madrox family farm, Layla Madrox silent tells herself it’s not fair. It’s just not fair. She shouldn’t have to go through this along. No one should. Then again, she supposes that she shouldn’t be surprised. That’s the whole thing. She knows stuff. She should be aware of everything. Nothing should come as a surprise to her. But every so often she’s reminded that she knows a lot… but not everything.

Picking up the pregnancy test lying on her knee, she eyes the plus on its indicator, denoting its positive results. It’s not like the baby that Madrox absorbed, she thinks. The father of that child was a dupe. This one’s dad is the original, flesh and blood. It’s not going to disappear; it’ll grow up. But she’s not supposed to get pregnant for two years yet. What is she going to do?

Well, well, a voice interjects. You have a problem. In wide-eyed shock, Layla looks up and sees a spectral Damian Tryp the Elder. emerging through the bathroom door. He can sympathize, he tells her. Continuing, the spectral Tryp notes that it’s been a while, and apparently she’s been busy in his absence. Madrox is the father, he takes it. Congratulations to them both.

Rising to her feet, Layla tells Tryp not now. She means in: not now. He’s afraid it will have to be now, Tryp tells Layla. She sees, he does not have a later. Opening the door through Tryp and exiting the bathroom, Layla tells Tryp she doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Why then, he will explain, Tryp responds, following her into the kitchen. There is another him. Good, Layla rejoins, because she was becoming well and truly sick of him. Perhaps she’ll find the other more tolerable. To this, Try tells her that he has no doubt she will. He’s from a parallel dimension. She’d doubtless perceive him as a “good” version of him, although to Tryp he just seems weak and unfocused.

She’s sure he does, Layla absentmindedly replies, beginning to make a peanut butter sandwich. He captured him once, Try continues, referring to his alternate self, but he managed to escape. It’s only temporary, though. Even now, his alternate self is working at a point in the future to rid reality of him. And he is going to succeed. Good for him, Layla remarks, continuing making her sandwich. Yes, but bad for her, Tryp adds.

Asked how he figures that, Tryp replies that he is not without resources in this time. Helpers, devotees… Cut to the chase, Layla interrupts. Police, Tryp states. Yes, the police can be most helpful. Meaning? Layla asks. Meaning, Tryp continues, that once upon a time this farm was the home of the Madrox family. But they are long gone… and she is in this place illegally. Her… and the thing that used to be her husband. They won’t know what to make of him, he suspects. She’ll be arrested for trespassing… but him, he’ll be tossed into wherever they put things like him.

Asked why is he doing this, Tryp tells Layla because he can. Because years from now, mutant will overrun this world. Humans will be hunted into extinction… and it will be all her fault. Enraged, Layla hurls her sandwich, and its plate, through Tryp’s ephemeral form.

As if wounded by the act, Tryp turns away and clutches his chest. Grunting in pain, he mutters that it’s time… He feels it… Shut it down, Layla instructs him. What he’s doing to her… stop it. Contact his “people.” Hurry. Couldn’t, Try replies. Even if he wanted to, which he doesn’t. They are enemies and always have been. He may be hers, Layla counters, but she’s never been his. Damn you, Tyrp rejoins, growing agitated. Damn you straight to…!

Suddenly, Damian Tryp erupts in a flash of light and a scream of pain. Despite the apparent explosive force of the eruption, Layla feels nothing, no concussive force. The event takes but a moment and then Tryp is gone, leaving Layla to wonder if her was ever there in the first place. Well, she thinks to herself, if Tryp was telling the truth, she should know soon enough. Picking up the sandwich from the floor, Layla supposes that she could make another, but there’s no point. Besides, it’s not as if he can tell the difference any more.

With that, she places it back on the same plate she hurled and walks outside toward the barn. Along the way, she wonders if he can distinguish her anymore. If he knows she’s his wife. If he knows anything, or if his mind is just sort of on hold in his head. Once in the barn, Layla kneels on the ground and opens a door on the floor, leading to a cellar. Into the darkness below, she calls Jamie, letting him know that she’s brought lunch. Peanut butter. She hopes that’s okay.

From his corner in the darkness, the demonic creature that was once Jamie Madrox sits with his back toward the open hatch, his leg shackled. However, with the hatch now opened, the demon Madrox hurls himself at the entrance and at Layla, growling as he does so despite his lack of a mouth. Reality, though, stops his advance, as the chain shackled to his leg draws tight and pulls him back into the cellar.

Watching as the thing that was her husband begins to pull at the chain wrapped around a support beam, Layla realizes that he’s getting worse. She’s sure of it. She doesn’t even know if any of this personality remains. Maybe… maybe she should just abandon him. No reason not to. Maybe he should just be locked up. He’s not the man she married. Not the man who started X-Factor. He’s just a… a thing. A man transformed by Mephisto into a demonic creature. And she hasn’t been able to find a means of changing him back.

Having buried her head in her hands, Layla is roused from her thoughts as she hears a resounding SNAP. She only has a moment to muse that that’s not good before the form of demon Madrox bounds through the hatch, forcing her down and pinning her with his weight. Trapped beneath him, she impotently regrets that she should’ve been wearing her force field glove. Then she’d be protected. But she never put it back on after her shower this morning and now… Now she’s dead. She’s dead. She’s…

“Pregnant,” Layla voices. “I’m pregnant, Jamie, Pregnant with your child.” As suddenly as she’s said it, demon Madrox is off of her and gazes inquisitively at her through his inhuman eyes. Sheepishly, Layla speaks the name of her husband and then asks if he understood that. Did he get what she’s saying to…? Wordlessly, what was once her husband leaps back into the cellar, slamming the hatch behind him.

Guess that’s a yes, Layla muses to herself. She thinks he understood, she clarifies to herself as she walks back to the farmhouse, accompanied by their dog. But that could fade away at any time. She has to find another way to restrain him before… Layla’s thoughts halt as she spies two approaching police cars, their lights flashing. Oh crap, she thinks. Tryp wasn’t exaggerating. Darting to the house, she realizes she has to get ready. Fast. And just has to hope that she can keep them so distracted that they don’t find Jamie. Or worse… that he attacks.

Within the cellar of the barn, the words of Layla Madrox reverberate through the mind of the demon that was Jamie Madrox. I’m pregnant. Pregnant. Pregnant and you’re the father. Physically distraught by the memory of her words, demon Madrox slams on his knees. At first, he spreads his arms wide and then clasps them together as if in prayer. Silently, he lowers head and touches it against his clasped hands.

Back at the farmhouse, an officer knocks on the door, instructing those inside to come out immediately with their hands up. Opening the door as if uncertain, Layla asks the officer if she can help him. Asked who she is, Layla replies Layla Madrox. Who is he? Next asked if she is living there, she replies yes. Is that a problem? According to their records, he replies, no one lives there. Obviously his records need updating, she rejoins.

Ignoring her, the officer informs Layla that she’s going to have to come with them. He then orders the other officers to search the rest of the farm. See if they can find anything else. No, Layla interjects bluntly. Asked for her pardon, Layla reiterates that she said no. Leave this farm immediately, she instructs them. They don’t have permission to be there, she tells them. Neither does she, the officer replies. Ignoring him, Layla informs the officer that this farm once belonged to her husband’s family. Then fine, the officer rejoins. They’ll talk to him. He’s unavailable, Layla explains. Okay, that’s it, the officer states, producing his handcuffs. She’s under arrest.

Raising her gauntlet-clad left hand, Layla informs the officer that she really wouldn’t. Lady, he replies, she is not in charge of this situa… The officer’s words turn to pain as a force field erupts between him and Layla. Sternly, Layla replies to all of the officers that they don’t get to tell her what to do. Get off this land, she orders them, or there’s going to be trouble. In reply to her, a suited man carrying an enormous, technologically advanced rifle emerges from the group of officers. From behind his sunglasses, he tells her that she has no idea how true that is. Though still resolute, Layla can’t help but think to herself that she doesn’t like the looks of that.

In the barn’s cellar, demon Madrox continues to kneel in silence. Well, well… a voice interrupts. Glancing over his shoulder, demon Madrox finds the woman who was once Theresa Cassidy, now the supernatural Morrigan. When she told him to pray to her if she had any problems, she tells him, somehow this isn’t what she expected.

Back at the farmhouse, the suited man orders Layla to drop the field and let the men do their job. That’s not going to happen, she replies. Actually, the man counters, it is. With that, he opens fire, emitting a massive beam of green energy from his rifle. Immediately, Layla reels from the attack, feeling it in her teeth. Her whole body shakes, down to the core. Struggling to process what is happening, she wonders what the hell the gun is. Who made it? SHIELD? Reed Richards? Whoever did, she thinks, it’s pounding away at her… She’s doing everything she can to keep it intact but…

Suddenly, Layla finds her “everything” is not enough and her force field collapses. She has only a moment to mutter “no!” before she is knocked back with enough force that she hits her head against the door behind her and collapses. Before she can recover, the lead officer is upon her, cuffing her hands behind her back. As he does so, the officer asks if she thinks they didn’t know what they were getting into? Did she think that they didn’t have a heads-up? Layla does not reply to the officer, instead directing her thoughts to her husband. If they were packing weaponry to deal with her, she realizes, they’ll certainly have whatever’s necessary to deal with Jamie.

As the other officers begin to close in on the barn, the suited man orders them to look everywhere. It should be around there somewhere. Asked what they are looking for, the man tells him to trust him. They’ll know it when they see it. Suddenly, before the advancing officers stands the Morrigan, who advises them that they had best put their guns away and go home. Or matters will not end very well for them. Responding with actions rather than words, the suited man opens fire with his weapon. However, the projected energy is of no effect to the Morrigan, who whimsically mocks his weapon, asking how worrisome is an earthly weapon to a goddess. Allow her to respond, she then adds. With the screen of a Banshee, the Morrigan hurls the suited-man and the officers away.

A short distance away, the original officer is dragging Layla toward his squad car. When Layla objects, the officer orders her to “shut up, lady.” Suddenly, the two stop in their tracks as they are faced with the very human Jamie Madrox, or rather a half dozen of him, the lead of which informs the officer that Layla is no lady. She’s his wife. Pointing his finger at the officer, he informs him that he’s Jamie Madrox and the officer is trespassing on his farm. He certain hopes he has a damn good reason… or his lawyer will be in touch.

Beaming in her smile, Layla asks how? Deus ex machina, with his own personal deus, Madrox replies. Bounding into his arms, Layla replies that she can’t believe it… she’d given up hope… No, she didn’t, he tells her. Not really. Not deep down. By the way, he smiles back at her, he hears she’s pregnant. Yeah, Layla smiles. Nearby, the five other Madroxes each reply in their own way. That’s terrific! I’m so happy! Have they thought of any names? As if the world isn’t overpopulated enough.

It takes nearly an hour for Jamie to prove to the cops’ satisfaction that he is who he says he is. It’s possibly the longest hour of Layla’s life, she thinks, and the man in a black suit just keeps string at them. Even when they leave, he’s watching them the whole time. She doesn’t like him. At all.

Sometime later, at the kitchen table of the farmhouse, Mr. & Mrs. Madrox sit with the Morrigan that was once Theresa Cassidy. Monet and Darwin? Madrox asks aloud. Really? He never would have seen that coming. And that’s everyone, the Morrigan concludes. He now knows where everyone is. So… what’s next? Asked what she means, the Morrigan explains that she’s told him where all his teammates are. Does he want her to bring them to him? Gather them up? So that X-Factor can continue?

For a moment, Jamie and Layla look at each other and smile. Then, hand in hand with his wife, Madrox replies that they have a child to raise. A farm to get back up and running. And a world to leave to other people to save. “We’re done,” he says with a smile. “We’re done.”

Characters Involved: 

Butterfly, Multiple Man

Morrigan (Banshee II)

Man in black suit

Police officers

Story Notes: 

The previous pregnancy to which Layla refers belonged to Theresa Cassidy, who learned she was apparently pregnant with Madrox’s baby. [X-Factor (3rd series) #28]

However, the baby was revealed to have actually been a dupe when Madrox inadvertently reabsorbed the baby in #39.

This story possibly (more or less) closes the story of the version of Damian Tryp seen to date. Born in the mid-14th Century as a pseudo mutant (or possibly a “Killcrop”), the boy who grew to become the nigh-immortal man named Damian Tryp had the ability to time travel along his own timeline. As an old man, Tryp lived in a future where X-Factor had been instrumental in returning the powers of all depowered mutants, which in turn led to an apocalypse. To prevent this, Tryp traveled back to the “present” and worked with two versions of his past self, posing as father and son (Damian Tryp Sr. & Jr.), to stop X-Factor by any means necessary. Unfortunately for him, Layla Miller proved to be a variable in the timeline and whose interference unexpectedly led to the deaths of both of Tryp’s past selves. It was only due to his status outside of his own time stream that this elder version of Tryp survived. [X-Factor (3rd series) #4, 7-8, 10-12]

If Tryp in this issue is to be believed, he has come into conflict with an alternate reality version of himself not yet seen and has been apparently killed during a battle in a story not yet published.

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