X-Factor (1st series) #56

Issue Date: 
July 1990
Story Title: 

Louise Simonson (writer), Steven Carr (penciler), Al Milgrom (inker), Joe Rosen (letterer), Tom Vincent (colorist), Suzanne Gaffney (assistant editor), Bob Harras (editor), Tom DeFalco (editor-in-chief)

Brief Description: 

At a bar, several of the Ravens have gathered and are “tasting” some of the other patrons, until Crimson arrives and announces that she has found someone new to dominate - Archangel. The others think she is crazy, as a mutant will be too dangerous to control. Azure begins to absorb the energies of a stockbroker, causing him to have a heart attack, Azure leaves the man alive, but his fellow Ravens don’t like that, and make Azure go to the hospital where the stockbroker has been taken to finish him off. Meanwhile, Charlotte Jones and Trish Tilby discuss the current situation with Archangel, as Charlotte is worried that, despite the good work Archangel is doing clearing out druggies and petty criminals, Trish is making him out to look like a maniac. At that moment, they find Archangel outside, interrupting a drug-war. Trish’s camera crew catch Archangel attacking the druggies on camera, and it is broadcast almost immediately, for when Cyclops, Beast and Iceman return to Ship after another unsuccessful search for Archangel, the Beast is horrified to see his girlfriend reporting on Archangel in what he feels to be a negative light. Beast and Iceman discuss the schematics of reporting, before Marvel Girl arrives home, sporting a blue and gold X-Men costume, worrying Cyclops that Jean has quit X-Factor to return to the X-Men. They argue for a while, and think about their current situation. At the hospital, Azure learns the history of his stockbroker victim, but before he can absorb all of his victim, Archangel arrives. Azure turns his attention to Archangel, and manages to get him under his control - but only for a moment, as Archangel decapitates him, turning Azure’s body into flaming ash. Azure’s death is felt by Ravens across the country, and Crimson knows that Archangel must now take Azure’s place. X-Factor leave Ship to seek out Archangel, the Beast still annoyed about Trish. Archangel deals with a couple of homeless thugs who are planning to set a homeless woman on fire, before he is dragged away by Crimson. X-Factor arrive at the hospital, and the Beast picks Trish up and climbs onto the hospital roof with her so they can talk this out. Trish explains that she is just doing her job, and reminds the Beast that she has always been supportive of X-Factor and mutants, and tells him that she would be reporting this case exactly the same if a normal human was in Archangel’s place. The Beast suspects that this has something to do with Trish’s ex-husband, and after some more arguing, Trish suggests that they end their relationship. On the last part of her patrol, Charlotte Jones is shocked to see Crimson carrying Archangel, and is confused at the situation, so interrupts - but Crimson begins to absorb Charlotte’s energies, until the sun rises completely, causing her to return to her apartment, without her prey. Charlotte is confused, and Archangel acts even odder when he tells Charlotte that she will hear from his lawyer over this matter. Charlotte is even more confused, and wonders what her life has come to. Arriving at her apartment, Crimson is joined by the other Ravens, and Crimson tells herself that by next sundown, the other Ravens will be as a dead as Azure.

Full Summary: 

Mansons, in lower Manhattan, where Wall Street’s workers come to unwind. Five well-dressed individuals sit together and watch the other patrons. ‘What do you think of her’ one of the women asks, motioning to a young woman sitting at the bar. ‘A pitiful waif if I ever saw one!’ one of the men replies. A short-haired woman addresses the first woman as Coral and urges her to try it. ‘Make her feel pain!’ she exclaims. The woman at bar suddenly convulses and exclaims ‘Papa! No!’. Her companion turns to her and calling her Shana, asks what is wrong. Shana replies that all of a sudden she was at her father’s grave. ‘You’re drunk, come on, let’s go home’ her friend declares.

The five onlookers watch an image unfold from Shana’s mind - Shana as a young girl being led away from her father’s grave. ‘For this you entered her mind? Worthless!’ the other male in the group ‘Stupid cow. If that’s the worst memory she has to offer, she’s safe from us!’ Coral exclaims. An attractive blonde woman dressed in a skimpy red dress with matching boots and gloves approaches the five, and thinks to herself that it is obvious what has happened. ‘The sobbing secretary, the smirking Ravens…and the mist of memory lingering like smoke in the air’. She sees that the five have ordered drinks, but none are drinking. ‘It is all a sham: our meat and drink is human misery. Give us this, our daily bread…’.

‘Crimson’ states one of the men, acknowledging their companion. ‘Flashy witch. She’ll mean trouble for us yet!’ the short-haired woman mumbles. Crimson reminds herself that there are twenty-four Ravens - ‘Four and twenty blackbirds - scattered here and there, mostly in major cities, ravenous, ravening. Here in New York alone, there are six of us. It’s foolish courting discovery, but we flock together anyway. As we flock, so flocks the world’. Crimson smirks as she tells the others that they will not believe what she has found, while telling herself that the other Ravens are jealous, of course. ‘They hate me. But then, we hate each other…hatred binds us together’.

The other look at Crimson with baited anticipation. ‘They’re a whole new taste sensation…mutants!’ Crimson announces. ‘Mutants? Those super-powered heroes who live in that big Ship that dominates the skyline?’ one of the others asks. ‘Yes, but I plan to dominate one of them!’ Crimson boasts. ‘Who?’ one of the others asks. ‘Archangel!’ she exclaims. ‘The crazy one? The one terrorizing the whole city?’ the brown-haired man asks. ‘You should feel him, Azure…his aura…his pain…it’s delicious, really. He shines like a beacon!’ Crimson replies. Azure narrows his eyes, and Crimson knows that she has challenged him. Crimson also knows that Azure will now try and take Archangel from her, and admits to herself that it adds a lot of excitement to their lives.

Coral suggests Crimson be careful, and points out that if this taste for warriors gets into their blood, then it could be the death of her. ‘Of all of us’. Azure adds that warriors are a treat, ‘But they don’t pay the bills’ he points out, before motioning to a man at the bar and exclaiming ‘Fat little stockbrokers with dull little lives can yield riches untold. ‘Like this pudgy fellow…’. The man at the bar sees Azure pointing at him, ‘What - you? What are you..’ he stutters, before clutching his chest and falling to the floor. ‘What’s wrong with him?’ a woman at the bar asks. ‘He’s drunk!’ someone exclaims. ‘Heart attack!’ another shouts. ‘Call the cops!’ someone suggests. ‘An ambulance’ someone else remarks.

Coral scolds Azure, telling him that was too public, and asks him what he was thinking. ‘Getting market information from the poor fool’ Azure replies. ‘I have a lifestyle to maintain!’ he points out, adding ‘You wouldn’t believe what the little rat’s involved in’, before suggesting that, while no one is looking, they get out of this place. Coral motions to the stockbroker and tells Azure that he isn’t dead. ‘You didn’t kill him!’ she exclaims’ I didn’t want him, Coral. He’s not my type’ Azure replies. ‘But he knows. He felt you. He’ll tell someone!’ Coral exclaims. ‘Who’ll believe him?’ Azure asks. ‘Someone may. It’s happened before. We can’t afford to take the chance’ one of the others suggests. As the six slowly fade in a red haze, one of them tells Azure to follow the stockbroker to the hospital and finish him off.

Meanwhile, the object of Crimson’s desire, Archangel a.k.a. Warren Worthington III soars through a twisted perspective as he is now the victim of a bizarre hallucinogenic power, a homicidal maniac in the service of truth, justice and the American way…but there are many who stalk him - one such in a diner that Archangel flies past, both unaware of each other - more ironic though, is that Archangel’s “hunter” is Detective Charlotte Jones, who has approached renowned reporter Trish Tilby, long-time ally of X-Factor, who is having something to eat with her camera crew.

‘I know Archangel, Miss Tilby. He saved my life, twice. He’s a good man. He needs help…not you newshounds on his heels!’ Charlotte pleads. But Trish replies that Archangel is terrorizing the city, ‘And when somebody does that, it’s news’. One of the camera men declares that, for good or ill, they are assigned to find Archangel and get his story. ‘Not that we’re having any more luck than anyone else’. Detective Jones tells Trish that if she does find Warren, to try and go easy on him. ‘If he’s terrorizing anyone, it’s muggers and pushers!’ she points out.

Charlotte explains to Trish that Warren was drugged during a fight. ‘I know. I found him’ Charlotte adds, declaring that Warren doesn’t know who he is - what he is - and still he’s fighting on the side of right. Charlotte assures Trish that, as a Police officer, she wants Archangel stopped, ‘But as a citizen…’ her voice trails off before she has to finish her statement as she hears gunfire outside. Charlotte rushes outside, followed by Trish and the two men, Trish muttering that perhaps they will get some work done tonight after all.

Trish examines the scene playing out before them - ‘Rival drug pushers!’ she exclaims as she sees two men with firearms blasting at a trio of men in a car. ‘You getting this, Frank?’ she asks one of the men. ‘I - yeah - I’m - Trish, something - in front of the car!’ he mumbles. The driver of the car sees the something too - it’s actually someone - ‘Archangel!’ he gasps as the sleek mutant dives towards the car, and shreds the roof off using his razor-sharp wings.

This causes chaos, as the car smashes into another, which then sets on fire as the druggies make their exit. Archangel fires his deadly knife-feathers at the escaping druggies, one of whom shouts ‘Run…they paralyze!’. Archangel takes flight, ignoring - or not hearing - Charlotte, who calls out to him as he soars over her. ‘That was awesome!’ one of Trish’ crew exclaims. ‘But did you get it?’ Trish snaps. ‘In stereo and living color!’ the other man assures her. ‘Then Lord help us, we’re going to have to run it!’ Trish exclaims.

Elsewhere, at Ship, home to the extraordinary X-Factor, it is past midnight when Ship opens a portal to welcome its sweaty and discouraged residents home. ‘That was a spectacular waste of six or seven hours. How can Archangel have evaded us?’ Bobby “Iceman” Drake complains. ‘He can fly!’ Dr. Hank McCoy a.k.a. the Beast tells his friend, before reminding him that there are only the three of them to cover all of Manhattan. ‘How soon till dawn?’ Bobby asks. ‘You don’t wanna know, Bobby’ Hank replies, before remarking that he is ravenous.

Ship announces that he has taken the liberty of preparing a nourishing snack, before Scott “Cyclops” Summers, the leader of X-Factor asks how his son is. Ship brings the intelligent cot that Nathan Christopher Summers sleeps in towards Scott and informs him that he has slept through the night. Scott asks if Jean has called, and exclaims ‘Blast! She should be back by now…’. Hank tells Scott to give Jean time, as she needs to think. Hank suggests that they all put their feet up for a few minutes to chill out and watch the news, to which Bobby tells him that he cannot fool him with that ploy. ‘You just want to see your girlfriend, Trish Tilby!’.

Hank sits in a chair, with Ship’s healthy snack - bananas - at his side and remarks that seeing Trish on the news is the only time he has seen her recently. On the television, Trish reports that the streets of Lower Manhattan were the most recent battleground in the brutal drug war that has ripped the city apart, but that tonight, one particular skirmish came to an unexpectedly violent conclusion. ‘That’s my girl! On top of the news! Best reporter in the city!’ Hank exclaims, while Trish keeps reporting: ‘…as the mutant known as the Archangel roared into the midst of an ambush staged by rival gang members…evading bullets from assault weapons as he sheared the roof from a drug-lieutenant’s car. By the time the vigilante action was ended, the automobile had been destroyed and property damage was estimated at over two hundred thousand dollars’.

Trish’s report continues: ‘Gang members have been hospitalized, pending arraignment on drug trafficking charges. And amid growing concern for public safety, the hunt for the Winged Vigilante continues…’. Hank frowns and exclaims ‘I can’t believe it! That wasn’t reporting! It was sensationalism…yellow journalism at its most blatant!’. Hank wonders what Trish is doing, exclaiming that she knows Archangel has been drugged and that he is not himself. ‘She’s making him look like a homicidal maniac!’ Hank exclaims.

But Bobby disagrees and declares that Trish isn’t making Warren look like anything - she simply taped and reported what she saw. ‘That’s why we’re looking for Warren, too, remember…?’ Bobby exclaims that Archangel has been in the news for several days now, not as sensationally as this, but… his sentence drifts as he points out that Jean must have heard the report, and exclaims that she should have come rushing back to help. ‘You think something happened to her too? Where can she be that she doesn’t know…? Bobby is interrupted by Ship, who announces ‘That question, gentlemen, is about to be answered’, as there is a knocks at Ship’s “door”.

Ship greets Jean Grey - calling her by her codename, Marvel Girl, and opens the window so she can enter. Jean calls out to Scott and asks him what is going on, ‘Why is everyone still awake?’ she asks. Scott, standing by his son’s cot exclaims ‘Jean! We were worried’ and asks her why she didn’t call. Iceman motions to Jean’s blue and gold costume and exclaims ‘Well, look at that! Haven’t I seen a less daring version of that outfit somewhere before…?’ Cyclops approaches his girlfriend and remarks that this costume is a “take” on their original costume, and asks Jean where she got it from.

‘It’s what the well-dressed X-Man is wearing these days!’ Jean replies, smoothing her hair. Cyclops looks away, ‘X-Man? Jean - you didn’t…you haven’t…?’ he gasps. ‘Haven’t what, Scott? Left X-Factor to join the X-Men?’ Jean asks, before hugging herself and explaining that her clothes were destroyed, so she borrowed this outfit. ‘It’s a long story…’ she remarks, before asking Scott how he could think she would do such a thing. ‘For all our…differences, Scott, we’re still a team…aren’t we?’

‘Point taken, Jean, but that’s now what I…I…’ Scott begins, trailing off as he thinks to himself ‘Don’t kid yourself, Summers, cause you can’t kid her’. Cyclops and Marvel Girl don’t look at each other, while Scott thinks to himself that Jean’s telepathic powers may be lost, but she knows exactly what he meant. He tells himself to back off and give Jean time to decide who she really is and what she really wants. He realizes that the estrangement they are going through cannot be any easier for Jean than it is for him, and knows that if he pushes Jean too hard, he could lose her.

Jean looks at her dear friends and detects something in Scott’s voice. ‘I was so caught up in my own problems, at first I didn’t notice’ she tells herself, before asking ‘Something’s happened, hasn’t it? Beyond my…sudden reappearance. What is it?’. Bobby replies that it is Archangel, and Hank informs Jean that Warren escaped and is now terrorizing the city. ‘If we don’t stop him, a bullet fired by some well-meaning Police officer just might!’

Meanwhile, at St. Vincent’s Hospital, in a private room, the wealthy bar room victim of the Ravens’ attack rests quietly. He is attached to monitors, his face covered with an oxygen mask, but in time, his doctors expect him to recover. The Ravens, however, have other plans, and one Raven in particular - Azure - who materializes in the room and decides that this is a useful asset, and notes that the stockbroker’s room is empty, no doctors or nurses hovering about - no visitors or witnesses.

Azure grimaces as he thinks ‘Who would have thought this plump little nobody would have the sight…that he of all people, could see us for what we are? Could know what we do. Such a cheap, petty, dull little man. Not my type at all!’. Azure motions towards the stockbroker and a red haze appears while he thinks to himself that Coral, for once, is right. ‘For the good of the flock, we can’t let him live!’. An image of the stockbroker’s despair flashes before Azure - it’s dinner time, the man is sitting at the table with his equally plump wife, when suddenly, she stands up and shoots herself in the head with a gun.

Azure smiles now, ‘Well, well, well…an excellent subconscious!’ he exclaims, realizing that there is sorrow, anger, agony and guilt, all buried deep within the stockbroker’s soul. ‘And regrets aplenty!’. Azure declares that it will be a pleasure to kill this man, after all, to die with him, the little death… suddenly, the stockbroker moans, and shouts ‘No! What are you? What are you doing to me? NO!’

‘Oh, this is too delicious! Unexpected depths of agony…and he’s awake!’ Azure exclaims to himself. ‘He KNOWS!’ he thinks as he lunges towards the stockbroker, boasting that this is a treat that will fortify him, strengthen him beyond anything he could have planned. He declares that he will tell the others, and they will be jealous - especially Crimson. ‘Help me! Somebody…help me!’ the stockbroker cries out. Azure realizes that the fat man’s cry is unexpectedly strong, and knows that someone may come for him, so he must make this ending swift.

But, ‘STOP!’ shouts Archangel as he crashes through the window. ‘WHAT?’ gasps Azure, shocked, before realizing that this is Crimson’s Archangel, the winged avenger to the rescue. ‘Yes, I can feel his attraction. He’s almost like one of us…dark…with wings of fire. He glows with power. But he is no match for my mindwill!’. Archangel stands frozen as Azure reaches out to him, thinking that Crimson was a fool to challenge him concerning Archangel, ‘For I shall be the one who will devour him…who will take what misery he possesses…and add his power to my own!’

Azure is under pressure, as it is an effort to hold Archangel in thrall. ‘And yet I must…lest his resistance…prove too strong for me!’. Archangel is frozen as memories gush from him like his life’s blood, leaving him weakened - but not defeated. ‘NO!’ Warren shouts, for even as Azure holds sway over his conscious mind, Warren’s wings, reveling in the madness, fused by the arch-fiend Apocalypse to the darkest portion of his soul…react! ‘NO!’ Archangel screams this time as his wings move forward, and Azure screams as the weapons of Death slice his head off.

The fat stockbroker sits up in bed ‘Good Lord…his head! You…you…’ As the stockbroker points out, Azure’s body turns into flaming mist. ‘He was killing me. Thank heave you heard me. You…you saved my life!’ the stockbroker tells Archangel.

Suddenly, in New York, and indeed across the world, the twenty-three remaining Ravens feel Azure’s ending in a rush of memories and rising lassitude. ‘Azure’s gone…the Archangel destroyed him!’ Coral thinks to herself. Coral realizes that Archangel instinctively knew how to attack. ‘He chose the only way that we can die…’ but she wonders how Archangel knew about that. Another Raven thinks to himself ‘Lost his head, the vicious little beggar! Serves him right! Wonder what it’s like, to die the final death…?’. A Raven wearing a cowboy hat and standing outside a casino exclaims that the circle for two hundred years has been broken.

The short-haired female Raven is out for a jog, and stops in her tracks, ‘For Azure, it’s over. For another, it will soon begin!’ she tells herself, while an older male Raven declares that they have twenty-four hours from this moment to find the Archangel, to invest him as a Raven, otherwise all of them will weaken, one by one, fade into nothing more than shadows, and be blown away on the wind.

Meanwhile, Crimson stands on the roof of a high-rise building, ‘So, Archangel destroyed that pompous fool Azure as I hoped he would!’ she exclaims, before remarking to herself that they are all revitalized by Azure’s death. ‘I feel it like the others, but I alone have a plan to combat this weakness’. Crimson boasts that she will find the Archangel - and devour him. ‘His strength will more than compensate for what I’ve lost in the shattering of the circle…and when the others fade to nothingness, I, alone and powerful will remain!’

Meanwhile, a frantic call from the hospital sends X-Factor racing into the pre-dawn sky, but for the Beast, there is a larger problem. ‘Trish could have said Archangel was drugged…played him as a victim, but no!’ Hank complains as he, Scott and Jean follow along one of Bobby’s ice-ramps. Bobby tells his friend to forget it, as everybody knows Warren has been drugged. ‘Do they? Would it really matter?’ Hank asks, before declaring that studies have shown that people react to what they have seen long after what they have heard. ‘And what people saw - what Trish showed them - was a mutant maniac attacking a band of humans!’

Jean reminds Hank that Trish is a reporter. ‘You can’t expect her to censor -’ she begins, until she is interrupted, ‘Censor? No, Jean, but hear me out!’ Hank exclaims, before reminding everyone that it is “in” to be tolerant now, and not so fashionable to hate. ‘But I remember the past…a broadcast like Trish’s awakens sleeping fears! It reminds people…that mutants - even the “good ones” - are powerful. That we can snap and become dangerous!’. Cyclops replies that may be true, they can snap - like anyone else. Scott declares that Trish would not hurt them deliberately, she is not malicious, she is simply doing her job. ‘I know that’s what makes it all so chilling!’ an exasperated Beast replies.

Jean thinks to herself that it is not like Hank to be so paranoid and wonders why he has changed. Jean tells herself that, unlike the rest of them, Hank has always been obviously physically mutated, but they hardly notice that anymore, while strangers tend to stare, at first, to shy away. Jean, now back in her red and yellow X-Factor costume, wonders if the devil-may-care persona of Hank’s just be a blind to hide his pain, to convince himself, and all of them, that he is okay, that there is no need to be afraid. ‘If I’m right, it worked for years. So what’s different now? Why has the façade begun to crumble?’ Jean wonders, concerned for her friend.

Scott announces that the hospital is straight ahead, and tells Hank to cheer up, reminding him that they have faced negative publicity before. Cyclops declares that there is no predicting public reaction, and points out that Archangel is making a major dent in the criminal population, and people know that. ‘For all his…madness…he may be perceived as a doing more real good for society than all of us put together!’

Elsewhere, Manhattan’s benches provide cold comfort for the homeless, but at least they are off the sidewalk and are better than no bed at all. ‘She’s back - snoring like a buzz-saw!’ a thug tells his friend, motioning to the homeless woman sleeping on a bench on the sidewalk. ‘She’s been warned. This is our bench. She’s interfering with our marketing schedule!’ he exclaims. ‘Not for long. This time we brought gasoline. Not that the smelly old witch is waking up!’ the second thug exclaims as he pours the gasoline on the woman. The first lights a match, joking that she will wake up, and this will put her out forever. The match flares, a single deadly, flickering flame - then, suddenly, the flame is gone.

‘My match blew out! Where’s that wind coming from?’ the thug wonders, only to look up and shout ‘Archangel!’ Indeed, Archangel is hovering above them, ‘Mad dogs! Preying on the weak and helpless…there are those who are stronger…fiercer…madder than you will ever be!’. With that, Warren fires his wing blades at the thugs, leaving a line of blades all up and down their bodies.

Suddenly, there is a crackle of energy in the air, and a voice cries out ‘Archangel…listen to me. Such as they are not worth your effort!’. It is Crimson, who materializes in the air, a pair of pink energy wings keeping her afloat, she thinks to herself that while others - Police, reporters and even his friends - stalk him, she is the one who have found him. ‘Turn! Face me…embrace your destiny!’ Crimson tells Warren, while thinking to herself that the others are fools who never had a chance to hold Archangel. ‘What? Who…are you? You’re like the other at the hospital! And yet…yet…’ Warren’s voice trails off.

Crimson extends a pink energy claw to Archangel, ‘You see it, don’t you? I’m now like him at all. He was gate and bitter anger! He only saw your power…I revel in your beauty and pain. Our souls cry out to each other!’ Crimson exclaims, while stripping his memories, one by one, and she learns how his silver wings were stolen, and how he sold his soul to restore them - how the wings grew back with an edge that binds him to darkness and how he can no longer stand to know what he has become. ‘I rejoice in his agony!’ Crimson tells herself.

Archangel asks her why she is doing this to him. ‘Why are you forcing me to see the horror that I am?’ he pleads. Crimson grins as she thinks to herself that someone has given Archangel madness, and he has embraced it like a lover. ‘He glories in it - in freedom from thought. From memories. From restraint’ she tells herself, before informing Warren that she needs him. ‘Give me your misery…your pain…and I can set you free of them…forever!’

Meanwhile, at the hospital, A doctor is explaining to Trish that, as bizarre as it sounds, there is physical evidence that the Archangel, as his patient states, may have decapitated some kind of flaming vampire, as there were scorch marks on the linoleum. Suddenly, X-Factor appear, and marching down the corridor, the Beast shouts ‘All right! That does it!’ and declares that Archangel, by all accounts, saved some poor suckers life. ‘And you, Miss Tilby…and your film crew attempt to make him look like a vampire killer and a maniac all rolled into one!’

The Beast shoves the camera from the camera man’s hand, and Trish tells Hank that she doesn’t know what has gotten into him, but smashing the camera is not going to change what has happened. ‘And you’d sell your soul for the story, wouldn’t you, Miss Tilby?’ Hank picks Trish up and tells her to come away from the microphones and cameras as they have to talk. ‘Hey! What’s he think he’s doing?’ one of Trish’s camera men asks.

Bobby tells him that it is okay, for whatever is going on between them is private and doesn’t necessarily reflect the opinions of X-Factor’s management. ‘But the Beast won’t hurt Trish. He loves her…I think…’ Bobby adds. The camera man replies that he knows, and remarks that it wasn’t Trish he was worried, he knows she can take care of herself. ‘She takes her job seriously…and given cause, she has one heck of a nasty temper! I wouldn’t want to be in Beast’s shoes right now!’

Climbing up the side of the building towards the rooftop, Hank carries Trish still, who exclaims ‘Hank, I’m a reporter! I work for WNB’s news! I’m not X-Factor’s PR person!’, before remarking that Hank knows she is sympathetic to their problems as a highly visible persecuted minority, and as protectors and role-models for other mutants. ‘You never had a problem when my stories reflected well on X-Factor and on mutant kind. But now something’s gone wrong. Now one of you has been attacked and poisoned! He’s gone berserk, Hank!’ Trish exclaims.

Jean Grey and Trish’s reporter both look out a window and up the building, where Trish is now asking if because that is bad news she should have kept her hands off. ‘Hank, a homicidal maniac…who just happens to be a mutant…is stalking the city. It’s news!’ she exclaims. ‘Just as it would be news if a homicidal non-mutant were to do the same!’. Hank tells Trish that she is deliberately playing up the maniac angle, to which an exasperated Trish asks Hank if he wants her to try and tell people that he is sane. ‘I know Warren’s your friend, but the way he’s acting…’ her voice trails off.

Hank remarks that Warren hasn’t hurt anybody who wasn’t asking for it. ‘Drug dealers. Thugs. Murderers’ Hank points out. ‘And that makes his vigilantism right? Please!’ Trish exclaims, to which Hank asks if it is Burton driving her to attack Warren. ‘Burton? Is that what you think this is, Hank? Some kind of vendetta?’ Trish asks. ‘You were married to the guy once…and he’s the high muckamuck behind your network’. Hank reminds Trish, adding that Burton knows they are involved.

Trish asks what her former marriage has to do with anything, and exclaims that if she is married to anybody, if she has ever really been married to anybody, it is to her job. ‘And Burton is to his. As you are to yours!’ she adds, before declaring that time away from their jobs feels like guilty time spent with an illicit lover. ‘A pity, but…look, if you can’t live with the fact that I’m a reporter…and that I’ll do my job as I see fit, maybe we better call it quits!’ Trish exclaims, her back turned to Hank, as his back is turned to hers.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Lower Manhattan, Detective Charlotte Jones walks her beat, it is nearly dawn, and for her, almost time to be getting off work. Charlotte thinks to herself that it has been a long night, but a relatively quiet one after the shoot out earlier. Charlotte realizes that bad guys seem to be lying low, like they are scared to draw Archangel’s attention. Suddenly, she sees a pinkish light up ahead, and wonders what it is. She doesn’t have to wonder for long though, as Crimson, with her pink energy wings, comes into view - carrying an unconscious Archangel.

Charlotte is shocked to see Warren unconscious, and wonders who the woman carrying is, and more importantly, what she is doing to Archangel. Charlotte raise she gun and shouts ‘Stop right there, sister! Drop him! Leave him alone!’. Charlotte cannot believe she is doing this, pointing her gun at this strange woman, when Archangel is supposed to be her quarry. ‘How dare you interrupt me, Policeman…?’ Crimson shouts, then reaches out her hand to tug the memories from Charlotte - just a taste - but nonetheless, it is enough, and Charlotte shudders - but continues to stand her ground.

‘Yes…yes…I see exactly how you’d dare. There’s more to you than I’d have suspected! But soon all that will be a part of me!’ Crimson boasts. Suddenly though, the sun rises, and Crimson vanishes, leaving Archangel hovering mid-air. ‘Archangel was almost mine, as she would have been’ Crimson thinks to herself. ‘It was the sun…the abominable sun that broke the spell. For all out brilliant strength, our kind has never been able to withstand the sun!’. Charlotte is puzzled by the sudden disappearance of the mysterious woman, while Crimson thinks to herself still that Archangel is no overweight stockbroker, and his heart is strong, so he will be free of her the minute she is gone, at least for now. ‘But madness has its claws in him. That he will never, as easily, escape. I have turned up memories he had buried…I have laid them bare…how will that affect him…what will he do now?’ Crimson wonders.

‘She was death…the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen…you destroyed her…drove her from me!’ Warren exclaims. ‘Archangel?’ Charlotte calls out. ‘Keep back!’ Warren shouts, firing a few feather blades at the ground in front of Charlotte. Warren turns away from Charlotte and tells her that the fortunes of an empire are at his disposal. ‘I’m adamant on this point, my lawyers…will talk to your lawyers!’. With that, he flies into the sky, the rising sun alongside him.

Charlotte watches him go, ‘Lawyers? Is he crazy? What does he think he is? Some big shot millionaire corporate executive?’ she wonders. Charlotte looks at the blades on the ground and realizes that Warren was angry. ‘He could’ve hurt me - or worse - but he didn’t - why?’ she wonders. ‘And who was that woman? How does she fit into this?’ Charlotte decides to contact X-Factor and warn them. ‘But of what? I wonder if I’ll ever have a clue about what’s going on’ Charlotte tells herself, before wondering how she ever got involved in any of this.

While the day breaks bright and clear, the windows of Crimson’s Upper East Side apartment remain deeply shrouded as she materializes in her home. ‘That blasted cop! I was so close to draining him!’ Crimson thinks to herself, before realizing it is no wonder Azure couldn’t hold Archangel’s thrall. ‘Neither could I…if he hadn’t given himself to me. I may lose him during the day, but in the night, he will be mine!’. Suddenly, a voice exclaims ‘You mean, my dear, he will be ours, one of the Ravens!’ Coral and five other Ravens suddenly materialize in Crimson’s apartment, and Coral reminds Crimson that when Archangel killed Azure, he earned his place in Hades with the rest of them.

Crimson thinks to herself that, in time, it had to come to this, it is part and parcel of the way they Ravens live. They way they hate. ‘The Police woman foiled my plan, at sunset, the others will be upon my Archangel’ she knows, but believes they are fools, and she will prevail. ‘And Officer Jones will aid me in my plan!’ she decides, before responding to Coral’s statement: ‘Of course, my dears. The Ravens’ survival is everything to me. I have his pattern in my mind, and come sundown, I will lead you to him!’ she announces, while thinking to herself ‘And tomorrow evening, poor things, all of you will die!’.

Characters Involved: 

Archangel, Beast, Cyclops, Iceman, Marvel Girl (all X-Factor)

Trish Tilby
Detective Charlotte Jones
Nathan Christopher Summers

Azure, Coral, Crimson, and other Ravens

Shana, Stockbroker and others at Masons
Trish’s camera crew
Homeless Thugs
Homeless Woman

Story Notes: 

Crimson got a “taste” of the Beast and Colossus in X-Factor (1st series) #54. At the end of the issue she set her sights on Archangel after seeing him soar past her.

Archangel was drugged while battling Sabretooth in X-Factor (1st series) #52.

Jean Grey took a sabbatical in X-Factor (1st series) #54, her adventures with Forge and Banshee between that issue and this one are chronicled in Uncanny X-Men #261-264.

Jean donned the classic blue and gold X-Men costume (an updated version of the Original X-Men’s blue and yellow costumes) during her time with Forge and Banshee.

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